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Weekend Recommendations: Books and CDs

Each weekend,’s staff of whackos will wrack our brains to give you interesting and new things to do over the weekend. Books, movies, whatever. We’ll throw them out, you do with them what you will. And hey…if you have something you want to recommend–whatever it is–drop us a line.

Incidentally, we’ve provided links where we can for you to buy the stuff or find out more if you’re interested, courtesy of those Amazon types, in the US, the UK and Canada.

Hey, come on, we can’t be totally selfless in this, can we? Okay, books and music first…

Book of the Week: Extraordinary Exhibitions by Ricky Jay. Ricky Jay is many things: magician, actor, author and guy you definitely do not want to face in a game of poker. This release from Quantuck Lane Press is absolutely fascinating: it’s a tour of Jay’s own collection of broadsides, dating back to the early 17th Century C.E. These advertise performances and exhibitions including “The Wonderful Remains of an Enormous Head,” a rabbi mnemonist, a “Hottentot Venus” (that had incredible back), and very smart pigs and horses. Best coffee table book I’ve seen in a while now. (US)(UK)(CAN)

Audiobook of the Week: Sideways by Rex Pickett, read by Scott Brick. I was curious about this simply because I thought the movie was quite good, with some excellent performances, but I didn’t find it to be the Second Coming of Indie Movie Christ like a lot of critics did. So this release from Blackstone Audio is a nice (and unabridged) way of checking out the source material to see what the score is. This comes on nine CDs and is capably read by Scott Brick. Perfect for a long weekend drive. Whether or not wine is involved. (US)(CAN)

Graphic Novel of the Week: Why Are You Doing This? by Jason. After losing his girlfriend, a young man (well, dog-man) is depressed and doesn’t like leaving his apartment. However, a favor asked by his best friend ends up with him framed for the murder of that aforementioned best friend. And things just get wilder from there. All in forty-eight pages. Egad. This short comic story from Fantagraphics is a perfect shot glass of graphic wonder for your weekend enjoyment. Now I just need to go back and grab his earlier books… (US)(UK)(CAN)

Comic Book of the Week: Planetary #23 by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday. One of the coolest books out, when it comes out, our story lumbers onward with the semi-origin story of The Drummer as Elijah Snow is off doing his own thing and not telling anyone what the hell is up. There is plenty of badassery to be had here, but I will say this: just when you thought you’ve seen every possible application of ice powers, The Warren goes and one ups it. And ouch, by the way. Maybe with his run on Astonishing whimpering to an end, Cassaday can pick up the pace a little. Well, we can pray, anyway.

Music CD of the Week: The Best of Poi Dog Pondering. My God, has it really been fifteen years since Wishing Like a Mountain and Thinking Like the Sea? I am so freaking old, I just need to go crawl under my desk and weep for a while. But before I can do that, let me tell you about this Sony release: it’s the best of their first three albums, including such songs as “Everybody’s Trying,” “Thanksgiving,” and “The Watermelon Song.” Sadly, some of my favorites from Wishing aren’t here, but what is here is quite good. If you’ve already gotten the three albums, no need to grab this one, as the two unreleased tracks are a single edit and “Bury Me Deep,” which was actually released on a compilation disc I grabbed years ago. (US)(UK)(CAN)

Comedy CD of the Week: When I Was a Kid by Bill Cosby. Recorded live in 1971 at the Westbury Music Fair, this is Cosby at his most classic. Starting right off with his tale of his hernia (which he expected to a present and then turned out to be the equivalent of a party trick–long story), it’s filled with funny tales of his old neighborhood starring Fat Albert and the gang. While my favorite stand-up of his is still the dentist story, this stuff is gold as well. This re-release is from Geffen Records. (US)(UK)(CAN)