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Thursday, Dec 7, 2006

The Kids in the Hall Megaset [(A&E - $235.00]


In the talent triumvirate of sketch comedy, the Kids always tend to place third, behind the power of Monty Python and their own Canadian cousins, SCTV. Far more inventive and entertaining than the rest of their late ‘80s counterparts, Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson had that unknown “X” factor, a quality that propelled them past the routine skit kickers. Now their entire output—five years, 101 episodes and countless classic moments - can be had in a single, supplement-loaded box set. Witness their hilariously humble beginnings, their misguided move to CBS Latenight, their eventual decision to ditch the show, and the moment when they “buried” the act forever. While their post-Kids careers have been subdued at best, a collection like this guarantees their consist placement in the top of humor’s hierarchy. [Amazon]



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Thursday, Dec 7, 2006

Fresh Fruits Postcards [Phaidon Press - $14.95]


J-pop devotees, tween fashionistas, photographers, and novice cultural anthropologists will enjoy these funny “Fresh Fruit” 5 x 7 postcards of high quality print good enough for framing, if one is so inclined.  These cards are an offshoot of Fruits, a zine aimed at Tokyo suburban street fashion.  The images by award-winning photographer Shoichi Aoki capture kids ranging from the adorably cute (17-year-old, pierce lipped Hitomi, sitting knock-kneed on steps for her picture) to just darned silly (19-year-old Maitun dressed up Little Orphan Annie style, complete with an eye-piercingly vibrant wig).  Indeed, the “models” range from 12 to 19-years-old, and their delightful, sometimes bizaare sense of style is clearly captured with a joy as bright as their colorful clothing.  The reverse side provides the model’s first name and information about her / his favorite designer (just in case you’re wondering where you might get your hands on those fat, bright, cartoony-looking sneakers Suguru is wearing), as well as information about inspirations and crazes that spark these outfits. Aoki’s work provides a refreshing look at youth sans that nasty, soft porn gaze ala American Apparel, and its refreshing.  Word has it this funny fashion from Japan is spreading.  Maybe it’ll knock out the indie slacker look that’s dominated our youth for far too long.  Whether that’s an improvement or not on what you see on the streets is for you to decide. [Amazon]


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Thursday, Dec 7, 2006

Dazed and Confused: The Criterion Collection [Criterion - $39.95]


Dazed and Confused is a perfect movie. It flawlessly captures the spirit of the ‘70s while arguing for a clear universality in the high school experience. It is a film that expertly illustrates that clichéd concept called ‘coming of age’ while wrapping the usual elements in the era’s cultural make-up within the typical teen dynamic of sex, drugs and rock and roll, all in furtherance of the adolescent art of maturation. Perhaps writer/director Richard Linklater said it best when he commented about wanting the movie to feel “like a camera had just dropped down in the middle” of this specific day at a typical Texas high school. Thanks to the inclusion of a true profusion of added content (commentaries, documentaries) what we end up with is a true motion picture masterwork. [Amazon]



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Thursday, Dec 7, 2006

Various Artists: The Greatest Songs Ever [Petrol/EMI - $14.98-$18.98]


Travel ‘round the world via Petrol’s ambitious “Greatest Songs Ever” project.  Traversing the globe from Europe to Asia, from South American to Africa, the project spearheaded by Chris Murphy, offers up a diverse range of pop sounds and songs rooted deep in indigenous musical traditions.  New volumes this year include: Spain, Greece, Cuba, Middle East, Gypsyland, and 10 more.  Also worth exploring is the related “Seriously Good Music” series with its volumes devoted to the perfect party music: salsa, Latin, bossa nova, cocktail, and lounge.


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Thursday, Dec 7, 2006

The Friend Who Got Away: 20 Women’s True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell [Broadway - $14.95]


“The first time I kissed my friend Carla, I suspected I was doing something dangerous,” writes Dorothy Allison in her essay on lost friendship, one of 20 by various women writers collected here. If the honesty doesn’t get you, the familiarity will. I found myself relating to more than a few of these tales, from writers including Francine Prose, Mary Morris, Helen Schulman, and others. Hard going at times, this would make a fabulous gift for the trusted friend in anyone’s life, male or female, regardless of age. As it outlines the ease with which we can discard those important to us, it reminds us what it is that creates those bonds in the first place. These are stories of real regret, but they’re also unyielding truths about who we let into our lives and hold on to. [Amazon]


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