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Media Mix

A Quick Take on New Releases for Sunday, January 7, 2007


  Title Basic Story Sample Grab What You'll Love What You Won't Grade
Book
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Mothers and Sons

By Colm Tóibín

Scribner

$24

The award-winning Irish literary giant ("The Master") pens a captivating collection of nine short stories.

"She seemed to Miguel like a strange, hungry animal who was living with them... "

— A son begins to see his deranged mother for what she is: an addict

Tóibín nails the inextricably bound yet often elusive relationship between mother and son in every story.

"A Long Winter," a harrowing story about an alcoholic mother's disappearance during a snowstorm and its debilitating effect on her husband and sons, will leave readers unsettled for days.

— Reviewed by Alexis Burling

A-
Book
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Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties

By Robert Stone

Ecco

$25.95

The Pulitzer Prize-nominated novelist plows through experiences from the 1960s to craft an engaging memoir of his life during the turbulent era.

"Things were speeding out of control before we could define them. Those of us who cared most deeply about the changes... were, I think, the most deceived."

— Stone recalls the rapidly shifting status quo of the day

Stone's fascinating life story is hugely colorful, with adventures taking him from Antarctica to George Plimpton's Paris and hippie be-ins with "Merry Prankster" Ken Kesey.

Anecdotes about drug use (LSD experimentation and harder stuff) abound and may be a turnoff for some readers.

— Sara Cardace

B
CD
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Live From Austin, Texas

Neko Case

New West Records

$15.98

The alt-country queen's heralded 2003 "Austin City Limits" performance is finally released on CD.

"Wet shoes drag you off to school / Shoes that never dry / Crows curse and beat their wings / Why can't you be smarter, girl?"

— "Ghost Wiring"

The Alexandria native's tunes sound elegant and ethereal, and her cover of Hank Williams's "Alone and Forsaken" is truly haunting.

That pesky cavernous live-album sound makes her dynamic performance seem a bit monochromatic at points.

— Chris Richards

B+
CD
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Sing You Sinners

Erin McKeown

Nettwerk Records

$15.98

The Virginia-raised singer-songwriter raids grandma's record collection for an album of jazz standards by Judy Garland, Fats Waller and Cole Porter, among others.

"Ol' whiskey comes from ol' Kentucky / Ain't the country lucky? / New Jersey gives us glue / And you, you come from Rhode Island / Little old Rhode Island — it's famous for you"

— "Rhode Island Is Famous for You"

McKeown's tasteful arrangements are snappy and inoffensive, most notably her hand-clap-happy take on "Paper Moon."

This thing's already playing at a Starbucks near you.

— C.R.

C+
Comic
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Rock Bottom

By Joe Casey and Charlie Adlard

AiT/Planet Lar

$12.95

When his body mysteriously starts turning to stone, musician Thomas Dare suddenly has to take stock of his life and relationships before he becomes totally insensate.

"It's weird, though... I can almost feel the blood creeping through the veins in my arm. Slow, like maple syrup... "

— Dare explains what the petrifaction process feels like

By having Dare become ever more helpless, Casey cleverly deconstructs a common sci-fi superhero premise and uses it to illuminate rough truths about the way we treat ourselves and the people in our lives.

The story gives more weight to a cruel cynicism than any kind of uplift or reconciliation.

— Evan Narcisse

B
DVD
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Extras: The Complete First Season

Not Rated

HBO

$29.98

Ricky Gervais's and Stephen Merchant's follow-up to "The Office" concerns a hopeless actor named Andy (Gervais) who, while convinced of his own brilliance, has yet to utter a line on-screen.

"I'm doing it because I've noticed that if you do a film about the Holocaust, you're guaranteed an Oscar."

— Kate Winslet discusses her actorly motivation

Watching such big-name stars as Winslet, Patrick Stewart and Ben Stiller make fools of themselves is great fun.

While hilarious, Andy is petty, vindictive and barely likable. Viewers who like their comedy broad and good-natured may be put off by the relentless pessimism.

— Greg Zinman

B+
DVD
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Idiocracy

Rated R

20th Century Fox

$27.98

"Office Space" director Mike Judge's satire involves a perfectly average Army private (Luke Wilson) who wakes up in 2505 to find that the population has become incredibly dumb.

"You are an unfit mother. Your children will be placed in the custody of Carl's Jr."

— A fast-food machine makes a quick decision

Judge's vision of the future, in which the hit movie is a single shot of someone's butt, has some inspired moments.

Wilson is indeed perfectly average. Somehow the film's funny premise rarely translates into big laughs.

— G.Z.

B
game
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Super Swing Golf

Nintendo Wii

Rated Everyone

Tecmo

$49.99

You have been chosen to enter a golf tournament on the mystical island of Pangya — get ready to swing that Wii remote.

The sports action may be realistic, but the setting — including a polar bear caddy and rocket-powered clubs — most certainly is not.

The golf motions are easy to pick up and play but take lots of practice to master.

You start off with only one character, creating confusing multiplayer games in which every player's avatar looks the same.

— Christopher Healy

B-

PHOTOS: Courtesy
Adapted from version orginally published in The Washington Post



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