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

CD -- A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box: Break out the black eyeliner and fishnets: This three-CD set (plus a DVD of videos) gathers 20 years of doom-and-gloom, from Joy Division to AFI. All your favorite misery merchants check in, including the Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, and the Sisters of Mercy. That's five hours of wrist-slitting action!

CD -- Cool & Collected: This 13-track compilation assembles some of Miles Davis' best songs. And they don't sound so bad out of context: "So What," "Milestones," and "'Round Midnight" rank among some of the most accessible jazz ever recorded. Cool spans 30 years, distilling Davis' career to a tidy, single-disc primer.

BOOK -- Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?: Gavin Edwards' time-killing read (compiled from his "Rolling Stone Knows" column) takes on some of music's most prevalent and pervasive myths: Did Jim Morrison really whip out his dick in concert? What drugs did the Grateful Dead consume before they made their debut album? What is Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69" really about? We'll give you a hint about that last one: He ain't talking about the year Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

BOOK -- Johnny Cash: The Biography: Hot on the heels of the Hollywood biopic and the new post mortem CD comes this well-researched tome about the Man in Black. Unlike Walk the Line, Michael Streissguth doesn't put a Hollywood gloss on Cash's stormy life, detailing the drug addiction that dogged Cash till his death in 2003.

VIDEOGAME -- Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy: Focusing on the first three films of George Lucas' space saga (you know, the good ones), this game lets you play as Lego-versions of Darth Vader, Greedo, or even a Jawa. Nothing beats blasting a Stormtrooper into dozens of little bricks . . . except making your own mix-and-match Star Wars characters, like the totally awesome Yoda Kenobi.

CD -- The Best Day Ever: Like the Who and the Hold Steady, SpongeBob SquarePants loves concept albums. The new CD from our favorite absorbent yellow sea dweller is all about his underwater band's first gig. Tommy Ramone and Brian Wilson lend a hand. Gabba Gabba Smile!

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Alf: Season 4: We're still not sure how this '80s sitcom -- about an annoying furry alien who shacks up with the most boring family on earth -- ever got the green light. All 24 episodes from the final season are on this four-DVD set, which means you'll hear plenty of Alf's catch phrase, "I kill me." No, please, allow us to do the honors.

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More by Michael Gallucci

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