Trillin writes 'About Alice'; waking up to 'Dreamgirls'

What the literary folks will be talking about: "About Alice." The newest book from prolific New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin is a tribute to his late wife, Alice, whom the author frequently portrayed in his many essays. A book editor here describes it as "lovely and devastating." (Tuesday)

What everyone's already been talking about: "Dreamgirls." L.A. has been plastered with billboards and bus-boards for months, and stories of midscreening standing ovations and blown-away film critics have been circulating for weeks. Oscar talk has swirled and Golden Globe nominations have already been given -- and now, finally, the film gets a wide theatrical release. (Monday)

What people you may know will be talking about: The new album from Matisyahu, who delivers his reggae with a Hasidic twist. Matisyahu popped onto the scene a couple of years ago, bearded, yarmulke-wearing, and performing a variation on Jamaica's dancehall. He's developed a sizable following in the jam band (he's a former Phish-head), and was one of the must-see acts at Coachella this year. The CD/DVD set coming out this week is called "No Place to Be." (Tuesday)

What must be talked about: Dane Cook. Last summer, the comedic sensation made his HBO debut in a nine-part reality show called "Dane Cook's Tourgasm." The show followed Cook and three other comedians as they traveled the country performing at college campuses. The DVD of the series includes not only stage clips but also scenes from the tour bus where porno stories and fart jokes abound. Why should you care? Because despite many people's disbelief, Cook is one of the most successful comics working today. (Tuesday)

What might be kind of fun to talk about: "Black Christmas." Sick of holiday cheer? How about some holiday horror? This slasher film about a group of sorority sisters who get gruesomely murdered by a psycho killer on Christmas is a remake of a 1970s film of the same name, but who cares? It's Christmas! And it's horror! (Monday)

-- Deborah Netburn

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