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Tough-talking wiseguys top our pop-culture picks of the week.

Al Pacino introduces some very bad men to his little friend - in Scarface, one of the many blood-saturated flicks - in Bullets Over Hollywood.
  • Al Pacino introduces some very bad men to his little friend in Scarface, one of the many blood-saturated flicks in Bullets Over Hollywood.
TV -- Bullets Over Hollywood: This documentary (airing at 8 p.m. Friday on Encore) chronicles the history of gangster flicks -- from the original 1932 Scarface to Quentin Tarantino's modern-day blood-soaked opuses. There are looks at real-life old-school g's -- like Al Capone and John Dillinger -- whose careers in crime inspired biopics, but the real action comes from classic clips culled from The Godfather, Goodfellas, and Reservoir Dogs. Watch it . . . or else!

CD -- Horse/Horses: Patti Smith's beat-punk masterpiece celebrates its 30th anniversary with a two-disc set that compiles the original album (remastered and sharper than ever) and a performance of the entire work recorded live in London this year. And it holds up quite well -- particularly when Smith twists lyrics to fit today's technology-obsessed culture (she goes off on cell phones, among other things, during one of her rambling, poetic riffs). Giddyup!

DVD -- Lady Sings the Blues -- Special Collector's Edition: Prostitution and drug addiction have never looked as inspiring as they do on the restored disc of the 1973 Billie Holiday biopic. Diana Ross snagged an Academy Award nomination as Lady Day, who channeled a life of misery into her music and became the greatest female jazz singer ever. Extras include commentary (alas, Ross is nowhere to be found) and deleted scenes. Find out where tons of soul singers (from Aretha to Erykah) cribbed their style.

VIDEOGAME -- Mario Kart DS: This new take on the old-school classic comes with multiplayer capabilities -- all the better experienced while downing a Big Mac. Nintendo recently rolled out wi-fi connections at more than 6,000 McDonald's for the game giant's latest world-conquering project -- free, wireless access for your portable Nintendo DS (a special USB connector is required, however). It won't be long before they're asking, "Want fries with that Quake?"

BOOK -- The Modern Drunkard: Sometimes, it seems like a book was written just for us. This fact-filled tome -- subtitled "A Handbook for Drinking in the 21st Century" -- includes a little history (discover how alcohol changed entire civilizations), fashion tips (find out what threads drunks are sporting these days), and etiquette lessons (learn proper behavior when you're hammered). Best is the chapter on "The Lost Weekend," in which author Frank Kelly Rich clues us in on how to go on a weekend bender and still have time for the little things. Should come in handy during the holidays.

BOOK -- Rock Formations: Ever wonder where Toad the Wet Sprocket got its name? (It's from a Monty Python sketch.) Or how Snoop Dogg ended up with his moniker? (His mom thought he looked like Charlie Brown's pooch.) More than a thousand group names are traced to their origins in Dave Wilson's engrossing book. From the Too Much Information department: Seventies soft-rockers 10cc took their name from the amount of semen in a typical male ejaculation, and Steely Dan is a reference to a dildo in William Burroughs' Naked Lunch.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Gone in 60 Seconds -- Collector's Edition: There's nothing that can be added to this 1974 action flick that would make it anything more than just 98 minutes of metal-smashing mayhem. Not three behind-the-scenes featurettes, not a DVD-ROM game, not even a license-plate-shaped picture frame -- all of which are included with a newly remastered DVD set. When a movie boasts "Over 500 Crashes!", don't expect plot, character, or even logic to factor into its mess.

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More by Michael Gallucci

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