Music » Culture Jamming

The week's best releases from the pop-culture universe:

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DVD -- The Tennessee Williams Film Collection: If you know what to look for, the seemingly restrained movie versions of Williams' steamy plays are fraught with simmering sexual friction. This exemplary eight-disc set features six films: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth, Baby Doll, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, Night of the Iguana, and A Streetcar Named Desire. Most retain Williams' lifelong fixation on the uneasiness that arises when repressed men and women get together -- especially the Brando-charged Streetcar (in a two-disc special edition loaded with outtakes and documentaries), which still seethes after all these years.

CD -- Hip Hop Essentials: The last four discs in Tommy Boy's old-school series -- volumes 9 through 12, if you're keeping score -- include indispensable tracks by Run-DMC ("It's Like That"), Naughty by Nature ("OPP"), and Kurtis Blow ("The Breaks"). Even if the chronology is a little wack, the set includes just about every pre-1992 rap song that matters.

VIDEOGAME -- Metroid Prime Hunters: Yes, it plays a lot like Quake, but this is one of the few first-person shooters for a portable format (in this case, the Nintendo DS) that doesn't suck. Bounty hunters, big-ass weapons, and fighting styles collide in a galaxy far, far away. Best of all is the wireless multiplayer mode, in which four people can take part in a bloody, winner-takes-all deathmatch while dining on Big Macs. We're lovin' it!

BOOK -- Pimp My Cubicle: This book comes with everything you need to bling out your 30-square-foot workspace: a "Pimp" mousepad, gold push-pins, and a dollar-sign paperweight. The book itself offers other makeover ideas (like the spiritual Zen cubicle and the sports-themed stadium cubicle), just in case you don't want your personal office space looking like Fiddy's crib.

DVD -- The Robert Altman Collection: Only one of the four movies in this set can be called a masterpiece: the anti-war black comedy M*A*S*H. But the other films -- A Perfect Couple, Quintet, and A Wedding -- are rife with the overlapping dialogue, multiple storylines, and sinuous direction that netted Altman a lifetime-achievement Oscar this year. So stop bitching that Nashville isn't included. At least there's no Popeye.

CD -- Studio One: For 50 years, the Jamaican label has recorded and released records by almost every major reggae artist known to Jah. The first four CDs in this new series pick out the finest buds in the batch. The Best of Studio One and Full Up: More Hits From Studio One are self-explanatory (Wailing Souls, Culture, and Burning Spear all check in), and Downbeat the Ruler: Killer Instrumentals From Studio One is karaoke-ready. Don't miss Bob Marley and the Wailers' One Love at Studio One, which includes 40 early tracks, some previously unreleased.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Lord of the Dance: My Story: Michael Flatley's autobiography chronicles the career of the hoofer who founded Riverdance -- every narcissistic moment of it. From his early genius to how totally awesome he is now, Flatley gives readers a tediously detailed outline of the path his self-proclaimed feet of flames have walked. It's a wonder there's ever any room onstage for other dancers, with Flatley's ego hogging so much of it.

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