HITS Daily Double
Then there’s Quentin Tarantino’s camera lovingly gazing on Uma Thurman’s gnarled piggies in Kill Bill, Vol. 1, a segment that seems to go on forever as the actress orders her toe to move.


Take Your Eyes From the Flames and Gaze Upon Ziggy, Uma, Keanu, Dexter, the D...
Has Southern California taken enough punishment lately? We think so, the opinions of Baptist ministers in the Deep South and New York editorialists notwithstanding. Energy crises, budget meltdowns, earthquakes, Ahnold—and now horribly destructive wildfires. What’s a state to do? Our hearts go out to the people most affected by these relentless blazes; it’s at times like these that we’re reminded of how much we depend on music, movies, sports and other forms of entertainment to keep our spirits up.

Funny how smash hits sometimes don’t age as well as "cult" albums. David Bowie’s Let’s Dance was a phenomenon upon its release in 1983, and the fractured disco of its title track and the triumphal power-pop of "Modern Love" were staples of early MTV. Yet despite its canny blend of Nile Rodgers’ sleek production and the earthy wail of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar, it all sounds uncharacteristically eager to please. Still, there are several solid songs (notably two collaborations, his collaboration with Iggy Pop, "China Girl," and the Giorgio Moroder co-write "Cat People") and EMI’s new hybrid SACD edition sounds incredible (on either regular or SACD players).

1972’s classic The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is also among EMI’s "Direct Stream Digital" reissues—with all the disc space devoted to the best-quality presentation of the original album, rather than a bunch of extra tracks. While most Bowie fans already own Ziggy in some form, audiophiles will most certainly want this version; do I really need to explain the glory of "Moonage Daydream," "Starman," "Hang On to Yourself," the title track, "Suffragette City," "Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide" and, well, every other track?

The hybrid reissue of 1980’s Scary Monsters is also true cause for celebration. Produced by Tony Visconti and graced by Robert Fripp’s exuberantly weird fretwork, it’s Bowie’s last great howl of freakdom. Starting with a blurt of angry Japanese words and the Thin White one’s desperate vocal, "It’s No Game (Part 1)" sets an appropriately enraged and paranoid tone. We then move on to the distressed Bo Diddley groove of "Up the Hill Backwards," the galloping title track, the Major Tom sequel "Ashes to Ashes" (a minor hit), the lacerating "Fashion" and much more. The emotional intensity here is overwhelming.

Next time: the SACD reissue of Roxy Music’s Avalon.—Simon Glickman

Boo! It’s been a creepy week here in the City of Angels. The fires have cast an eerie gloom over the city, making it difficult for those of us here to breathe, once again proving that we do indeed live in Hell. As if the smog and the smoke weren’t enough, someone had to throw in a small earthquake just to shake things up a bit. All of that is definitely scary, and I have something to tell you that’s nearly as scary. I’ve always thought it would be a sure sign that the world was coming to an end, if I ever found myself in a somewhat normal relationship—the end is here, my friends. I don’t know how it happened, but it appears as if I’ve found a hot guy to be a series regular in my bedroom and it happened in record time. It’s Halloween and the city’s on fire and so is my bed. I’ll be celebrating my re-ignited sex life this Halloween night at what’s sure to be the city’s best party—The Haunted Hotel at the Roosevelt. You can read more about this bash in my bar pick of the week section. This week’s cocktail is dedicated to all of you who have ever been spooked by the possibility of retiring your single status to enter the world of coupledom.

Spooky Juice
1 oz. vodka
1/4 oz. blue curacao
Splash grenadine, orange juice and serve over ice.

The decision to date someone exclusively wasn’t a hard one. He’s hot, he’s sexy, he brings me flowers and he’s obviously smart because he likes me. Plus, I haven’t been dating anyone at all, so it’s not like I have to knock anyone out of the running. The difficult thing for me is giving up my selfish ways and learning to factor someone else into the equation. I’ve mentioned my commitment-phobic tendencies before and I’m battling to keep them at bay this time. My friends are pleading with me not to screw this one up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely thrilled to know that I’ll be getting laid on a regular basis, ending my very long drought and curbing my bitterness somewhat. The problem is I’m so used to dating complete flakes that once I find a guy who appears relatively normal, I anxiously await for the axe to fall, making him just as bad as the ones before him. Everyone has heard the saying, "If it seems to good to be true, it probably is." Does that apply to men and relationships? Can you ever really believe that a man is smitten with you? That question keeps racing through my mind, causing me to get a little spooked. I’m hoping waking up next to a gorgeous half-naked man will be enough to keep me firmly planted next to him, instead of looking for the nearest fire exit.

De’s L.A. bar pick of the week: Tonight I’m breaking out my fairy wings and tutu, grabbing my craziest gal friend and cabbing it to the hottest monster bash the city has to offer, being held at the historically haunted Roosevelt Hotel. If you want spooky, then this will be right up your alley. The hotel is rumored to house the ghosts of both Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift and has been called on of the most haunted places in America. The party is being hosted by Groove Tickets, Traffic Events and Rob Hirsh and will feature three fully decorated ballrooms, each with a different flavor of music—hip-hop, house and progressive. The night will feature a variety of well-known performers and DJs, including a special guest appearance by Spinderalla from Salt N’ Pepa. The party continues poolside with a Pete Tong CD-listening party sponsored by BPM/Moonshine. While you’re poolside, keep your eye on the full-length mirror where Marilyn has been known to occasionally show herself. Festivities begin at 8 p.m. and continue until 3 a.m., but I recommend arriving early to avoid an enormous line. If you’d like to avoid the line all together and want to be treated like the celebrity you aren’t, then you can purchase V.I.P. tickets, which include express entry, access to all V.I.P. areas and bottle service. Call 323-651-3370 for information or go to www.groovetickets.com. The Roosevelt also has V.I.P. room reservations, if you want to party all night long like a real rocker. Call 323-466-7000 for room reservations. All of the cool kids will be getting spooked at the Roosevelt—don’t be a loser and go. I’ll be there because I’ve always wanted to be cool.

I hope everyone has a safe and scary Halloween weekend. Go to the Roosevelt Hotel, drink some Spooky Juice and have a monster of a time. I know I’ll be getting freaky. Thanks to all of you who read my frivolous ramblings each and every week. Until next week—hugs and kisses.—Denise Bayles

1. Kill Bill, Vol. 1: The self-described "4th film from Quentin Tarantino" is actually half a movie, but it sure packs in a full array of cinematic pyrotechnics. Uma Thurman cuts through the flick like a knife through butter, leaving plenty of spurting blood and severed limbs in her wake. There are many sublime moments in this grab-bag of QT’s various cinematic obsessions, including a vicious knifefight that takes place in a suburban home in front of a young child, an extended animé flashback and a grand guignol semi-climax set in an otherwordly Japanese nightclub. What’s missing, aside from a final denoument, is the director’s naturalistic, deadpan dialogue, like the conversation about the merits of Madonna in Reservoir Dogs and the famed "Le Big Mac" discussion between hitmen Samuel Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. Worth seeing for the extended set pieces, but a few dazzing appetizers does not quite make a full meal. (Roy Trakin)

2. The Strokes/Kings of Leon at Shrine Auditorium, L.A.: A pair of RCA labelmate contenders for rock’s next great garage-band hopes strutted their stuff before a packed house of fervent followers. N.Y.C. post-preppie heirs to the tradition of underground legends the Velvets, Television and Talking Heads, The Strokes—particularly lead vocalist Julian Casablancas—seemed a lot more animated and willing to interact with the crowd this time around. With arrogant confidence, the band roared through a seamless, 50-minute, no-encore set that interspersed the strongest tracks from their debut Is This It like "Last Nite" and "Take It Or Leave It" with songs from the new Room on Fire, including the first single, "12:51" and the more rhythmically complex dub of "Automatic Stop." Not surprisingly, the new material will take a while to fully kick in, but Rolling Stone’s cover band of the moment at least kept pace with, if not lived up to, the hype. Even at that, the city slickers barely beat back the challenge of southern hicks The Kings of Leon, whose Allman Bros.-meets-Staus Quo neo-blooze boogies revved-up to a fitting climax with the head-nodding cruise-down-the-open-highway strains of "California Waiting." (RT)

3. Richard Meltzer, Autumn Rhythm: Musings on Time, Tide, Aging, Dying, and Such Biz (Da Capo): A portrait of the rockcrit as an unrepentant geezer, complete with ruminations on his dying cat, his memory loss, ways to commit suicide, ageism and how he doesn’t want to be remembered as a rockcrit. Alternately crochety and hilariously self-deprecating, the man who most influenced Lester Bangs explores his own mortality with a typically unflinching eye. (RT)

4. Foot Fetishism: Two of the most erotic scenes in American films involve feet and toes. First, there was Bill Murray’s inadvertent brushing of Scarlett Johansson’s ankle in Lost In Translation while both are lying on the bed in his hotel room. Then there’s Quentin Tarantino’s camera lovingly gazing on Uma Thurman’s gnarled piggies in Kill Bill, Vol. 1, a segment that seems to go on forever as the actress orders her toe to move. (RT)

5. The Matrix Reloaded on DVD: Sometimes it takes a little distance from the hype to appreciate something. The second Matrix movie was pretty much panned for its boring speeches and non-action action sequences, but watching the DVD release in preparation for next week’s opening of the final movie in the trilogy, it’s not as bad as I thought it was when I saw it at 9 a.m. the day it opened. (Does that make me a geek? Don’t answer that.) The "hurly burly" fight scene between Keanu Reeves and dozens of Agent Smith comes off like a choreographed Fred Astaire clip, you can skip past the boring speechifying of Morpheus, and you can pause when Monica Belluci is on screen. All good things. Advance word on Matrix Revolutions is solid, though you can’t be blamed if you’re skeptical. Whoa. (David Simutis)

6. R.E.M. at the Avalon, Hollywood: A live radio broadcast for fan club members that was heard locally in L.A. on the Adult Contemporary Star 98.7 (but not alternative standard-bearer KROQ), Michael Stipe seemed in a particularly forthcoming mood. He slinked around the stage like a preening cat for the adoring crowd, at once teasing and exhorting with rolling hips and animated hand gestures. The set included songs both well-known—a poignant "Losing My Religion," an uplifting "Man on the Moon," the seemingly prescient "Welcome to the Occupation"—and new, like "Final Straw," dedicated to "New York City in the time between the Presidential election and the blackout." There was a bittersweet aspect to the show that suggested a reluctant abdication of their role as Gen X arena-rock standard bearers to U2. Still, the visible delight shown by guitarist Peter Buck and consistently underrated bassist/instrumentalist Mike Mills, left the impression maybe the group’s current Warner Bros. greatest hits record is a prelude rather than a benediction. (RT)

7. 24 (Fox): The fastest-moving, most pulsating series on television opens up its third season with an entire year’s full of quandaries. Kiefer Sutherland’s counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer is hooked on heroin, his daughter’s now working with him at CTU and dating his new partner on the sly, Dennis Haysbert’s President isn’t feeling too hot himself and a highly contagious virus is about to spread through the population via some tainted cocaine. Tick-tick-tick… (RT)

8. Offspring, Splinter (Columbia): Long before The OC and the X Games, these Orange County thrash-punk standard-bearers forged the blueprint for succeeding on one’s own terms. The band’s seventh album in almost 20 years delivers the foursome’s patented blend of anthem-like hooks, melodic bells and novelty whistles. There’s a Devo-meets-Parliament Funkadelic, self-declared "ghetto vibe" on the first single, "Hit That," a sardonic, typically tongue-in-cheek, but surprisingly conservative, take on how promiscuity can break up the family unit. The band exhibits a myriad of stylistic departures, from the horny, rude-boy reggae of "The Worst Hangover Ever" to the playful acoustic pop of "Spare Me the Details." The biggest surprise is the purposely scratchy, ‘30s Al Jolson/Eddie Cantor take-off, "When You’re In Prison" (don’t bend over to pick up the soap). Dexter and the boys retain their roots, but it’s the band’s commitment to songcraft that lifts them above their punk peers. (RT)

9. Tenacious D, The Complete Masterworks (Epic): More Jables and KG than you can shake a stick at. This two-disc DVD includes videos, the entire HBO series, live performances from London’s Brixton Academy, short films, behind-the-scenes escapades and more. Highlight of the sampler disc that arrived last week: the video for "Tribute," featuring Dave Grohl as the demon. "We said, ‘Nay, we are but men.’ Rock!" (SG)

10. Halloween Parties: An editorial in Time says grownups should leave Halloween to kids. I’ll be hitting that guy with my plastic scythe. "Haunted" L.A. party of choice: Maureen Mahon’s elaborate Hollywood bash, featuring guided tours, a "corpse buffet" and DJ Headfridge. (SG)

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. In Los Angeles, this weekend will be cloudy and chilly. Which is so much better than hot and smoky. Highs will only be in the upper 50s and lower 60s, which is good if you're a firefighter. It might even rain on Monday, so do your rain dance or whatever. In New York, the city isn't encircled by fire, so quityerbitchin'. Also, it should be about 10 degrees warmer there than here. Try and remember that in three months when you're freezing. (DS)

The Human Stain (Miramax)
Based on the Philip Roth book about a respected classics professor who gets involved in a heated affair with a poor cleaning woman with a jealous, violent husband, which threatens his academic career.
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise
Oscar winner Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer, Places in the Heart), with a screenplay by Nicholas Meyer (Time After Time).
Thumbs Up: It’s one of perennial Oscar contender Miramax’s chief candidates for Academy Award accolades.
Thumbs Down: Advance word is muffled, with critics saying Hopkins, Kidman are miscast.
Soundtrack: Lakeshore Records soundtrack includes tracks from Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey, Fred Astaire, Oscar Peterson, Marian McPartland, Teddy Wilson and Johnny Hodges & his Orchestra. There’s also a Lakeshore Records album featuring original score by Rachel Portman.
Website: www.miramax.com/the_human_stain/ is a typically truncated Miramax.com site, with trailer, plot synopsis, cast and crew listing and movie showtimes.

Shattered Glass (Lions Gate Films)
The real-life story of Stephen Glass, a staff writer at New Republic and Rolling Stone, who rose to meteoric heights, only to fall when it was discovered most of his stories were total fabrications.
Stars: Hayden Christensen, Chloe Sevigny, Hank Azaria, Rosario Dawson, Peter Sarsgaard, Steve Zahn.
Director: Billy Ray in feature film debut, produced by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner’s production company.
Thumbs Up: A searing look at the rise and fall of media manipulation, especially timely since Jayson Blair’s escapades at the N.Y. Times, with several touted performances.
Thumbs Down: Yet one more nail in the coffin of beleaguered journalists.
Soundtrack: The Orchard album features original music by Mychael Danna (Antwone Fisher, Hearts in Atlantis, Monsoon Wedding).
Website: www.shatteredglassmovie.com/ includes trailers, teachers’ guides, the original story, cast and crew, reviews, movie showtimes.

Die Mommie Die! (Sundance Film Series)
Based upon play by Charles Busch, an ode to the Ross Hunter goth-camp classics of harpydom like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte about a singer with a troubled past who may have poisoned her husband after he discovers she’s having an affair with the tennis pro, a gigolo and failed actor.
Stars: Busch, Natasha Lyonne, Jason Priestly, Nora Dunn, Sara Gilbert, Philip Baker Hall, Frances Conroy.
Director: Mark Rucker
(feature debut) from a screenplay by Busch with Anthony (ER) Edwards’ production company.
Thumbs Up: Like Hedwig, some crossdressing fun for the Rocky Horror Picture Show crowd.
Thumbs Down: Can Busch follow in the tradition of drag icons RuPaul and Eddie Izzard to the mainstream?
Soundtrack: None.
Website: www.sundancefilm.com features info on the movie and other films in the Robert Redford-sponsored indie film series.

Jessica Simpson
is proud to be a dumb blonde, she tells MTV News Online. In fact, she's even pleased that gaffes are now called "doing a Jessica." After all, she says, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera don't have slang in their honor.

"For some reason, the ditzy blonde thing is endearing to people, like you love to watch Cameron Diaz in Charlie's Angels, or Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin, or Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy, because they're a total mess, and they're goofy, and you love them at the same time. Hopefully I've become one of those characters." (Valerie Nome)

The stars will be out for Halloween. On Friday, Skid Row take the stage at the Hard Rock Cafe (221 W. 57th St.), Cypress Hill play Roseland (239 W. 52nd St.), and Norah Jones' daddy Ravi Shankar will light up Newark's New Jersey Performing Arts Center (36 Park Place).

What about the rest of the weekend? The only other option is Johnny Mathis, who performs Saturday at New Jersey Performing Arts Center. (VN)

Thanks to Roy Trakin, Simon Glickman, Denise Bayles, David Simutis and Valerie Nome for keeping the fire inside.