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The year is 1962. The setting is Baltimore. Tracy Turnblatt (newcomer Nikki Blonsky) is a plus-sized teenage optimist who is out to solve the problem of racism with dance. Tracy is obsessed with The Corny Collins Show, a variety show that exasperates her mother Edna (John Travolta – playing role in drag originated by Divine in John Waters’ 1988 film of the same name). When the chance comes to be a performer on the show, Tracy jumps at it, and gets a spot on the program, winning everyone over with her moves and her heart. Everyone except, of course the villainous Von Tussells, mother Velma and daughter Amber (played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Brittney Snow, respectively). Director Adam Shankman colorfully updates Waters’ version, and the recent stage production in what will make a delightful gift for those of us who were not among the most popular in high school.

Almost every gamer out there either misses the LucasArts heyday or knows someone who does. The Monkey Island series, Day of the Tentacle, heck, even Loom... these are all classic games for their time, all of which used a point ‘n click interface that only truly made sense on a PC. Of course, perhaps the greatest of these adventures was Sam & Max Hit the Road, a crazy little adventure featuring Steve Purcell’s unforgettable characters that was just difficult enough and hilarious enough to be memorable. To date, the exchange of “Do you mind if I drive?” “Only if you don’t mind me clawing at the dashboard and shrieking like a cheerleader” remains one of the funniest moments in gaming history. Those longing for the halcyon days of LucasArts will find everything they’re looking for in Sam & Max: Season One, a six-part serial game that retains every bit of both the humor and the skewed sense of puzzle-solving logic that makes the series great. Plus, if you buy the whole shebang, you can get it on DVD with a case and everything, not to mention a bunch of fun little extras, including a gag reel. And really, every game based on animated characters should include a gag reel, right?  Right.  [Find Sam & Max at Telltale Games.com.]

Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection launches an upcoming reissue campaign of compilations and original albums from Vee-Jay’s vast catalog (here’s hoping they reach into the label’s considerable stores of unreleased material). To say it’s an education—not only into the label’s history, but also into the growth of American popular music—is an understatement, as the roughly-chronological set reveals how the label played a part in the development of multiple genres. It’s especially interesting to hear the smooth sounds of doo-wop glide into equally smooth R&B and Southern soul.

The South isn’t just the birthplace of American music, it’s also home to some of America’s greatest food. Edge offers something compelling and different from standard cookbook fare in this travelogue/ social history/ restaurant guide. Traversing all the most delectable corners of Dixie, Edge highlights the best restaurants in the South and provides tips on cooking many favorites.  Very much in the tradition of classic Southern storytelling, he also manages to weave the cultural history of the region while spinning his tales.

Throw together some top-shelf bluegrass, some cornball humor, and some cooking tips. Stir in praise of Martha White’s lip-smacking plate of biscuits. Add the general store and log cabin backdrops. And for a bit of spice, include a dash of the fact that the Nashville address they display for recipe requests doesn’t even include a zip code. Then let the music heat things up. It all makes for a delicious set of shows.  As the announcer says, “Goodness gracious, it’s good!”

//Blogs

Is Black Widow Still a Hero? Dissecting the Misogynistic Outrage Against the Avengers

// Short Ends and Leader

"Black Widow may very well be the pinnacle of the modern action heroine, so why is there so much backlash about her role in the new Avengers film?

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