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Weekend Recommendations: Books & 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.

Hey, come on, we can’t be totally selfless in this, can we?

Audiobook of the Week: A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 by Simon Winchester. If you took our advice and checked out Winchester’s Krakatoa, then you know that you’re not about to read a stodgy account of this massive disaster. No, Winchester will take you from one end to the other, talking about all the various reprecussions and keeping the whole thing interesting. And best of all, this Harper Audio release has him reading it himself, and he’s a damn fine reader. (Buy it)

Animation Book of the Week: The Animated Movie Guide by Jerry Beck. Beck, one of the guys behind Cartoon Brew, knows his shit. This becomes evident when you start thumbing through this Chicago Review Press release and realize that every freaking animated film that’s been released stateside is here. The animation fan is going to want to grab this, because it’s a one-stop shop for all the overview info on these films you would want. Want a taste? Check out Beck’s work online. (Buy it)

Film Book of the Week: Once Upon a Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone by Christopher Frayling. Fan of westerns? Know one? This release from Abrams is the book for you. In addition to a slew of photos and artwork from Leone films, there’s interviews with the man himself, with Eastwood, with composer Ennio Morricone, with Martin Scoresese, and tons more. The whole history of Leone’s work and his contribution to the genre is within these covers. Very nice. (Buy it)

“Storybook” of the Week: Grimm’s Grimmest, edited by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm. Brothers Grimm was a fun movie. But if you want to see what it’s all about–especially if you only know the sanitized versions of these tales–check out this Chronicle Books release. There’s nothing like reading some real Grimm fairy tales to make you wonder just why we think our kids need so much protecting these days. Nineteen tales are up for grabs here, so get to it. (Buy it)

History Book of the Week: Her Majesty’s Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage by Stephen Budiansky. Many were the things to like about the movie Elizabeth, but one thing that struck me was Geoffrey Rush as the cold, calculating handyman, Walsingham. This book from Viking talks about…well, exactly what it purports to, mixing history with enough froo-frah in the writing style to keep people who fall asleep while reading Barbara Tuchman (i.e. everybody) awake, alert and interested. (Buy it)

High Weirdness Book of the Week: Sex, Drugs, Einstein, and Elves: Sushi, Psychedelics, Parallel Universes, and the Quest for Transcendence by Clifford A. Pickover. When we refer to something as “High Weirdness,” it’s not a dig in the least. We like things that make us take a peek outside of our own reality tunnels. It’s kind of like Robert Anton Wilson’s whacked out hoedowns, because Pickover will talk about just about anything he damn well feels like, and you just hold on for dear life as best you can. Proust, memory, ontology, language, the nature of time–it’s all put into a bigass cosmic gumbo that you can season as much as you like. For a nice mindgrope, check this tome out from Smart Publications. (Buy it)

CD of the Week: Hellbilly Deluxe by Rob Zombie. I have respect for Rob Zombie. Anybody who knows how to put on a show…I respect that. And seeing him at the Devil’s Rejects panel in San Diego…he seems like a normal twisted horror movie geek like you or me. Just, you know, richer and more respected. Not only do you get the album with this Geffen release, but there’s also the entire album’s worth of videos on the second disc, plus two bonus remix videos. Fans will most definitely dig it. (Buy it)

Twisted CD of the Week: The Broken Record by Twink. I’ve heard a lot of whacked out remixes in my day, but this album takes the cake. And the pie. And the pudding. Twink takes all of those odd, semi-eerie kiddie records from time immemorial and mashes them up with beats and plenty of samples and the end result is…well, simply, “Oh Jesus, am I hearing what I’m hearing?” Don’t believe me? Check out Twink’s page which has three sample songs on it. And see if your eyebrows go up like mine did. Good fun. (Buy it)

Magazine of the Week: Back Issue #13. Another ginormous issue of comics goodness hits from TwoMorrows. In addition to the obvious feature on romance comics (funny, I don’t remember the art on those things being as good as it actually was…weird), you get a feature on comics with the fu, some background info on Eisner’s Contract With God, the usual slew of art on display (by everybody from Neal Adams to Dave Cockrum to Frank Miller), and my personal favorite: a feature on what used to be cool about Marvel–the letters columns. (Buy it)