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Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007

For such a well-respected Adventure/RPG game, the onset of a new entry in the excellent Ace Attorney series brings with it surprisingly little fanfare. This latest take on the characters brings with it a darker storyline and an end to Phoenix’s domination as the title character. Yelling “OBJECTION!” into your DS microphone at opportune times never really gets old, and the narrative threads presented in this edition of the series are perhaps the most well-constructed of any of the Phoenix Wright games. The graphics, as far as the DS is concerened, are top notch, and the puzzles will have you playing well into the night. Trials and Tribulations is not a role-playing game in the traditional sense, though it does force you to become immersed in your characters and solve puzzles based on personalities, dispositions, and, of course, the copious evidence. All in all, it’s simply a fantastic way to spend 20 hours.



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Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007

Conservatively, hundreds of books have been written about the Beatles. In addition to the plethora of autobiographies and biographies, these include children’s books, at least two separate volumes on the late ‘60s “Paul is Dead” hoax, and titles like Earn Extra Money In Your Spare Time Selling Beatles Memorabilia Online. Yet, if necessary, the truly universally essential titles could be grouped into a Nick Hornby-type Top Five, and the late Ian MacDonald’s Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties, originally published in 1994, would be among them. Why? In short, it’s MacDonald’s ingenious tact of cataloging each of the 188 songs the Fab Four ever released, along with a handful they didn’t, in order of the original date of recording, and writing an individual analysis of each. This setup plays on what Beatles observers love or loathe most about the band—the music, stupid!—and uses it as a springboard for analyzing everything else about the band, including influences on and of, personalities, cultural contexts, relationships, and philosophical musings, rather than vice versa.


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Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007

It’s an unqualified disaster and a ridiculous combination of bombastic period piece, director Tinto Brass bravado, and producer Bob Guccione’s unmatched hubris. Inserting XXX pornography into an otherwise ordinary extravaganza was just the Penthouse publisher’s first mistake. Pissing off screenwriter Gore Vidal and overstating the audience’s desire for smut come a close second. So why would anyone want to revisit this biographical botch job? Well, Image has created one of 2007’s most comprehensive DVD packages. With input from actors Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren, and archival looks at the production, it deconstructs a project destined to fail and the egos that caused it to happen.


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Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007

The Discovery Channel’s massively popular, frightening and enlightening shark series is 20 years old this year and the network is celebrating in grand style. A recent four-DVD set, Shark Week: 20th Anniversary Collection, offers highlights from the history of the show and it’s not just all gory attacks. Many of these episodes offer the latest research on these fascinating creatures and make a convincing case for strengthening and enforcing shark preservation efforts across the globe. A perfect present for all the nature show junkies and shark fans amongst your friends and family.


 


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Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007

The Wilbury’s catalogue has shamefully been out of print for over a decade now. That a band could boast the greatest singer (Roy Orbison) and the greatest lyricist (Bob Dylan) in rock history and find its work completely nonexistent is an inexplicable crime. Thankfully, Rhino has righted that wrong with a two-CD/one-DVD set that chronicles the band’s history and output. The real prize of the collection, however, is the film included on the DVD, titled The True History of the Traveling Wilburys. Watching it makes listening to the albums a totally new experience, as it provides background and context that cast the songs in a new light. True, some of this stuff may border on music geek trivia, but it’s fascinating nonetheless. The inspiration for “Last Night”, for example, was “Sidebury” Jim Keltner drumming on jars in a refrigerator. And, just as odd, the lyrics for “Dirty World” were, in part, lifted from an auto magazine. If you’ve ever wondered how geniuses create, this twenty-five minute documentary is an enlightening watch.


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