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

CD -- Stax 50: A 50th Anniversary Celebration: Back when Motown was churning out one pop hit after another, the Memphis-based Stax label was producing a purer version of soul music. This terrific two-disc set features just about every legend on the label's star-studded roster, including Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Booker T. & the MGs. Even if you don't know the names, you know the songs: "Green Onions," "Soul Man," "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay." Essential stuff.

DVD -- The Ernest Hemingway Film Collection: Hemingway had a way with words. But he also spun a pretty good yarn, as the five movies in this box make clear. The big-studio gloss and stars (like Rock Hudson and Gregory Peck) can be needlessly melodramatic at times. But most of the movies -- The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Sun Also Rises, particularly -- overcome their 1950s Hollywood schmaltz. Plus, the bonus commentary and behind-the-scenes features are insightful.

TV -- Fools of April: Encore celebrates April Fools' Day on Sunday with a 24-hour marathon of comedy classics . . . and Houseguest, a 1995 stinker starring Sinbad. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, The Waterboy, and Hot Shots! lead the parade of fools. It all starts at 6 a.m. with the prank-loving Revenge of the Nerds.

TV -- Billy & Mandy's Big Boogey Adventure: In this feature-length movie based on Cartoon Network's gross-out show about a pair of kids who pal around with the Grim Reaper, the gang takes on the power-hungry Boogey Man. Time-traveling robots and break-dancing-monster pirates also get in on the action, which revolves around the self-descriptive Hand of Horror. It airs at 7 p.m. Friday.

DVD -- Happy Feet: This year's Oscar winner for Best Animated Film is the best-looking CGI movie ever made. Scenes set in vast Antarctica are breathtakingly real (as is a deleted segment featuring a blue whale that's included in the disc's extras). The story's not bad either, though we could do without the Vegas versions of Prince and Beatles songs. After tiny penguin Mumble (voiced by tiny actor Elijah Wood) is banished from his colony for dancing like Savion Glover, he hooks up with other, less uptight birds. Robin Williams -- who provides two different stereotypes -- joins the fun.

CD -- March of the Empress: Speaking of penguins, French chanteuse Emilie Simon's soundtrack to The March of the Penguins finally gets a stateside release. Simon's 2006 U.S. debut, The Flower Book, was a smooth and sexy blend of the singer's exotic purr and electroblips. March of the Empress sets a similar mood. Best of all, you don't need images of frolicking birds to enjoy it.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Faking It: How to Seem Like a Better Person . . . Without Actually Improving Yourself: The writers of put together this faux self-help book for those who want to delay adulthood. Nothing wrong with that. But they go about it so boorishly that even potentially funny tips ("Being Dismissive to Hide Your Ignorance") land with a thud. Grow up.

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Staff Pick Events

  • Greg Fitzsimmons @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Thu., Jan. 17
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Concert @ Severance Hall

    • Sun., Jan. 20
  • Tinder Live with Lane Moore @ Grog Shop

    • Tue., Jan. 22

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