Favorite

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

DVD -- Saturday Night Live: The Best of Alec Baldwin: This 90-minute compilation of Baldwin's SNL appearances -- he's hosted a near-record dozen times -- would be a keeper even if "Canteen Boy Goes Camping" weren't included. Fortunately, the sketch anchors the set, so you can relive Baldwin's come-ons to Adam Sandler's clueless Boy Scout again and again. Also on tap: Baldwin's wicked Charles Nelson Reilly impersonation and hot-dog maven Pete Schwetty: "Nothing compares to a little child's face when they get their hands on their first Schwetty wiener." Classic.

BOOK -- Anime: From Akira to Howl's Moving Castle: The authoritative primer on Japanese cartoons -- first published in 2001 -- has been expanded to include recent critical and commercial hits like Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. Author Susan J. Napier offers a comprehensive viewers' guide while detailing the social and cultural significance behind the genre's greatest films. Plus, you're just not gonna find good cyborg sex in any of Disney's animated films.

TV -- Austin City Limits: This awesome twofer (airing at 9 p.m. Saturday on PBS) features sensitive brainiacs Death Cab for Cutie and reverb rockers My Morning Jacket. Death Cab headlines the concert program, but we're more geeked for MMJ, long-haired Kentuckians who make psychedelic hippie music loaded with elastic guitar solos and lots of incomprehensible lyrics. It's enough to scare off all those moody O.C. fans tuning in for Death Cab's set.

CD -- Other People's Lives: Kinks frontman Ray Davies' first solo album after 40-plus years is filled with characteristic wit and whimsy. He's more "Picture Book" reflective than "You Really Got Me" rockin' on Lives, but nobody sketches England's working class with more empathy and humor. With a recent shout-out on Lost and those ubiquitous Hewlett-Packard commercials, the time's ripe for a Kinks revival.

TV -- Web Junk 20: VH1's weekly internet-video-clip show (airing at 11:30 p.m. Friday) scours websites and blogs for the funniest online bloopers and shorts. In addition to enabling you to watch clips of news anchors falling on their asses on a 42-inch television screen, Web Junk saves long download times, is virus-free, and sidesteps scowls from disapproving co-workers. Who knows? You might even find something to replace that "Lazy Sunday" clip you've been forwarding to all your friends.

PRODUCT -- Worn Free: You, too, can now dress like a rock star -- or at least a dead rock legend -- with this T-shirt line based on designs John Lennon, Frank Zappa, and others used to sport back in the day. Concepts created by underground artists like Robert Crumb top the hip fashion statements. And Lennon's wearable messages ("You Are Here," "Come Together") will have you singing "Yeah, yeah, yeah." Annoying Japanese wife optional.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Snarling Tiger, Dirty Rat: Stella Hyde's book is another one of those faux guides that gently mocks astrological convention by applying modern-day personality traits to age-old symbols and myths. Snarling Tiger tweaks Chinese astrology with smug, obvious, and moldy jokes. For example, a "rat" would make a good used-car dealer, politician, or lawyer. We're pretty sure Confucius rolled his eyes over that one back in his day.

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More by Michael Gallucci

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