HITS Daily Double
Cable news shows update us hourly on nightmare terrorism scenarios. Ultra-right-wingers dismantle the Constitution. We’re being dragged into a global conflict by a man who can’t pronounce “nuclear.” So what could take us out of this pallid, pre-apocalyptic stupor? Sometimes the only thing that refreshes the senses is some really, really loud rock music.


At Times Like These, Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
Maybe L.A. is Fantasyland. As the market keeps dropping and the troops keep shipping out, as the East is buried under a blanket of snow and what the L.A. Times is describing as “palpable” anxiety, here in SoCal it’s all about the weeks that 50 Cent and Kobe Bryant are having. And you know what? There’s something to be said about allowing yourself to feel good when something good happens—if not then, when? Other things to feel good about: The roof didn’t leak, you didn’t drop the ball on Valentine’s Day this year, and you’re about to start a three-day weekend.

1. 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (Shady/Aftermath/ Interscope):
He name-drops both Biggie and Pac, and lives up to the hype. Dr. Dre and Eminem’s protege is probably the most dynamic rapper to come along since DMX, and the ’burban kids understand. Harrowing slices of ghetto life interspersed with party anthems like “In Da Club” show off the man’s flow, which is smooth and urgent at the same time. If he lives long enough, Cent could well turn out to be as good as he thinks he is…no small feat in the braggadocio world of hip-hop. —RT

2. Kobe: Being a first-time father seems to agree with the 25-year-old Lakers shooting guard, who’s averaged more than 40 points in the seven games since his wife gave birth. This week, you can’t turn on ESPN or Fox Sports without seeing one breathtaking Kobe highlight after another, and he’s virtually the only thing callers are bringing up on sports-talk radio. There’s a good reason for this: No NBA player has been in a zone like this since His Airness was himself a 25-year-old and just discovering—to his great joy and the delight of those watching him—the heights he was capable of scaling. Wednesday night, after dropping 93 on shell-shocked Denver in six quarters, Kobe, hardly believing it himself, told Fox’s John Ireland with utter ingenuousness that he felt like Giapetto, moving his hands like a puppeteer, intimating that he was not only able to do anything he wanted on the court but also somehow capable of pulling his opponents’ strings as well. He can’t stay In The Zone forever, and the pressure on him to keep on keepin’ on increases with each successive game. But pressure just seems to turn this kid on. Two weeks ago, before the Lakers went on their seven-game win streak behind the levitating Bryant, I’d have considered this Friday’s game against the sizzling Spurs a crucible for a team struggling to regain its identity; now it feels more like an especially fascinating Kobe heat check. No two ways about it—if you love basketball, you gotta love Kobe Bryant. —BS

3. 29th or 30th Annual Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll: Even chief Poobah Robert Christgau himself is beginning to realize his exercise in democracy, featuring the weighted votes of 695 music critics, is becoming increasingly irrelevant. The Dean kvetched mightily about the results of this year’s poll, which was topped by semi-populist, semi-obscure corporate bohos Wilco, Beck, Flaming Lips and the Streets. Fearing the worst, Bob wondered why his own marginally even more semi-obscure bohos, like the Mekons (#37), DJ Shadow (#18), Orchestra Baobob (#112) and Imperial Teen (#62) didn’t finish higher. No matter how elitist you are, the fun of pop music is seeing what you like become popular, thereby ratifying your own taste. Which is why, in the final analysis, he admits to a grudging admiration for Missy Elliott, Timbaland and the Neptunes. You’re over-thinking it, Bob. Neat cross-referencing interface allows you to check all 695 ballots, though, at www.villagevoice.com. —RT

4. Rabbit-Proof Fence: This Philip Noyce film, gorgeously shot in the director’s native Australia, tells the story of three little girls who escape a “re-education colony.” They’re refugees from the Aborigines’ Stolen Generation, children who were partially Caucasian and therefore marked for reacclimation to the prevailing white culture. Struggling to overcome a society determined to eradicate the native culture, these girls to return to their family, escaping a fate no child should ever face, using little more than their wills. At its core, Rabbit-Proof Fence is really a morality play about the justifications we make for the things that we do that we know aren't right. Looking at what happened to these children—and to thousands of other children were torn from their families, never to be returned—where the wrong is so obvious and the justification so thin, it makes one question everything in one's life. And that's the good news… —HG

5. The Doors at Universal Amphitheatre: The critics turned up their collective nose, but the fans greeted the reconstructed group like the second coming of the Lizard King himself. You won’t find me telling Ray Manzarek (much more believable as himself than Kyle MacLachlan played him in the Oliver Stone movie) and Robby Krieger they shouldn’t be allowed to play these songs in their twilight years, whatever the motive—though the increasingly ugly dispute with drummer John Densmore is a little off-putting. Ian Astbury was born to play Jim Morrison, and he’s at least as convincing as Val Kilmer. You may argue his right to sing “Horse Latitudes,” and the Beatlemania nostalgia was in full effect, but the bottom line is, people still want to hear these songs played live. Hey, it’s better than having them on a Cadillac commercial. —RT

6. Site of the Week: In case you’ve been missing those nutty-cuckoo trade shots of John Kalodner that appeared on the pages of our companion rag over the years, you can get your fix on the hirsute dude’s personal website, Johnkalodner.com, an elaborate affair that offers all things Kalodner, from his fave records of the moments (he’s currently into the Avril/Vanessa/Michelle axis) to merch. Yes, your band can go onstage sporting official Kalodner T-shirts and plunk your guitars with official Kalodner picks. Unfortunately, the official Kalodner fake beards are not yet available. —BS

7. Ringo Starr, Ringo Rama (Koch)/Various, Songs From the Material World: A Tribute to George Harrison (Koch): Quietly becoming the pre-eminent classic-rock label, Koch releases a pair of Beatle tributes, one by an ex-Fab Four member himself. Ringo seems to have been revitalized with a rockin’ wall-of-sound that evokes his “Photograph” years, especially on the Cartesian dualist philosophy of “I Think Therefore I Rock & Roll” (featuring Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour), while Eric Clapton’s guitar gently weeps on the touching tribute to Starr’s ex-mate George on “Never Without You.” Material World is a mostly faithful take on some of Harrison’s most popular songs, including Todd Rundgren’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and Dave Davies’ “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth),” which intersperses a lick from Bob Dylan’s “I Want You” that recalls George being sued by the writers of “He’s So Fine” in “My Sweet Lord.” Extra note: The late John Entwistle’s final recording, a “My Wife”-like version of “Here Comes the Sun.” Also worthwhile: They Might Be Giants’ “Savoy Truffle,” along with ex-Wilco Jay Bennett and partner Edward Burch’s epic closer, “Isn’t It a Pity.” —RT

8. Airstream: A double wide in Beverly Hills? Yeah, and it’s right by the mouth of famed luxe-merch drag Rodeo Dr. on Little Santa Monica Blvd. The interior is 1950s hunting lodge—and the fare is comfort food all the way. A billion kinds of breakfast stuff, plus an insane ground beef-on-a-bun combo called "The Butler's Burger" that has everything BUT chili on it (and will make you see pyramids). This is joint food with a healthy twist and tastefully kitschy decor, and the best news is it's open 24/7—eliminating runs to Canters on Fairfax for deli or The Pantry all the way downtown for slabs of late-night protein. —HG

9. You Must Pay the Rent: Here’s a novel way to promote the arrival of the Eminem movie, 8 Mile, to DVD and video—send a scary-looking legal notice, starkly printed on pink paper (and addressed to Em’s character’s mom, played by Kim Basinger) demanding overdue rent. Get it? Rent? Rental? Well, it’s an unusual bit of promo merch, and it’ll probably fetch a nice chunk of change on eBay one day. —SG

10. It Never Rains in Southern California: Not exactly true, especially in January and February. This week’s downpour led to the thought that, if L.A. had New York’s weather, the entire city would just grind to a halt. With or without same-day delivery of the N.Y. Post. —RT

My name is Nicole, and I have a reality problem. Is it pathetic? Oh, I think so. For example, Wednesday night, at the end of the Neil Finn show (which, by the by, was a little touch of terrific), I found myself hoping and praying that I’d remembered to set the TiVo to record The Bachelorette. I had, thank God, and I spent another late night catching up and getting my fix.

The Batch was a Trista-bashing session by the rejected men. Either they don't know how the show works, or they're just plain stupid. Everyone knows the Batch or Batch-ette is backstage watching and will be coming out to face them at the 30-minute mark. What moron would sit there and diss her? Actually, in this case there were two morons: Russ and Blake.

Now, Russ, we all saw how you behaved on the show, and we're not buying it. It wasn't a "character" you were playing (although you tried to use that as an excuse); it was all you. Desperate and pushing aren't going to help you win the ladies. Neither is the black turtleneck—you may want to lose it.

Blake, you're just plain sour grapes. Oh, wait, not plain—frosted, and kinda cheesy too. You're a cowboy, and she's allergic to horses—wanna tell us how that's gonna work? Calling her shallow for not choosing you showed just how bitter and pathetic you are. The knight of the night was definitely Bob, who demonstrated once again why humor always wins.

Next up: the two-hour season finale, where she'll choose either Charlie or Ryan. I, of course, will be glued to my TV to the bitter end, after which I swear I will get a life.
—Nicole Tocantins

What brings solace in these desperate times? Cable news shows update us hourly on nightmare terrorism scenarios. Ultra-right-wingers dismantle the Constitution. We’re being dragged into a global conflict by a man who can’t pronounce “nuclear.” So what could take us out of this pallid, pre-apocalyptic stupor? A hot bath? I think not. No, sometimes the only thing that refreshes the senses is some really, really loud rock music. Which is why the timing is ever so good for Epic’s batch of AC/DC reissues (oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10). The Australian hellraisers’ catalog is back with a vengeance, featuring serious liner notes, links to groovy online content—the works. But that’s just icing on the cake. Listening to the towering Back in Black, the sleazy milestone Highway to Hell, the deliciously nasty Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, the underrated riff-fest High Voltage and the stunning single and double-disc versions of Live (all streeting on 2/18) is about cranking the volume, playing air guitar and making ridiculous Angus faces. It’s rock straight from the crotch, as opposed to, say, rock that regards the navel. Two more handfuls of the band’s works will be released on April 8 (Who Made Who, Let There Be Rock, The Razor’s Edge, For Those About to Rock) and May 20 (If You Want Blood You Got It, Flick of the Switch, Fly on the Wall, ‘74 Jailbreak and Blow Up Your Video). But the current batch is more than enough to make you wanna light a fatty, blow out your speakers and tell the world to fuck off. Get yours now. Simon Glickman

About Schmidt (New Line Cinema):
Death of a Salesman meets Easy Rider some 30-odd years later. For my wife’s birthday, it was a choice between this and The Hours, and we went with aging and dying over suicidal depression. Election auteur Alexander Payne is turning out to be today’s equivalent to Preston Sturges, capable of a black satirical streak that is as close-to-the-vest and unsentimental as the director/screenwriter’s flattened native Midwest, where his films are set. Jack Nicholson has been eliciting raves for a performance that is low-key in the manner of underrated roles in The Passenger and The Pledge rather than the over-the-top mugging of Batman or The Shining, but this is truly an ensemble piece. Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Kathy Bates, June Squibb, Len Cariou and a nearly unrecognizable Howard Hesseman all add to the impression that everyone gets their say, no matter how minor, with nary a touch of condescension, even though all are easy targets. The “Dear Ndugu” narrative gives the movie its comic edge, but Nicholson’s tears when he finally gets a letter back from his African "foster" child represent an unspoken sadness rooted in the realization that, no matter how full (or, in this case, empty) your existence, nobody gets out of here alive. It may be slow and deliberate, but its ultimate effect is devastating.
Roy Trakin

Johnny Cash, American IV: The Man Comes Around (American/Lost Highway): It would have been easy for a legend like Cash to coast on his laurels. Yet on his latest collaboration with producer Rick Rubin, he assays a daring mix of material, uniting it all with his worn but compelling voice. Thus Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” Cash’s new, apocalyptic “The Man Comes Around,” Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” the Beatles’ “In My Life,” Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (featuring Fiona Apple) and more form one spiritual fabric of anguish and redemption. Add classically minimalist arrangements and stellar musicians, and you’ve got an instant classic. —SG

Kathleen Edwards, Failer (Zoe/Rounder): The taut reticence in the voice of this 24-year-old Canadian feels like the lid of a pressure cooker that could blow off at any moment. The force field Edwards erects between the acts of holding back and letting go is pure Lucinda Williams, but her bracing debut album also parallels the work of Kasey Chambers, her Aussie contemporary, in its trad British underpinnings and hints of modern-day flirtatiousness. Failer has its share of stark, contemplative acoustic ballads, but Edwards seems just as comfortable in front of her rollicking band, sharing the foreground with shredding guitarist Dave Bryson. Together, they evoke the crackling intensity of Richard & Linda Thompson’s Shoot Out the Lights on opener “Six O’Clock News,” while “12 Bellevue” seethes like Zuma-era Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Bud Scoppa

The Datsuns, The Datsuns (V2): Being the latest rock-revival band saddled with next-big-thingness, as well as the latest thing out of New Sweden, er, New Zealand, The Datsuns already have a lot to live up to, but doubters facing this kind of cage-rattling fuzztone fury just don’t last. More ’70s metal than punk, but more punk than ’70s metal, they kick out the jams with everything on 11: “Sittin’ Pretty” and “MF From Hell” get the riff-rock hog rolling like a latter-day Blackfoot on crack, while “At Your Touch,” with its big rock organ sounds like Deep Purple fronted by Queens of the Stone Age’s Nick Oliveri. “Freeze Sucker,” meanwhile, provides the knockout punch. This ain’t your daddy’s import. Jon O’Hara

Cat Power, You Are Free (Matador): I was first introduced to the cult of Cat at UCLA’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” festival last spring, where the slight, 30-year-old Chan Marshall kept a Royce Hall full of Television fans enthralled with her quiet desperation. Her fourth album, and first of new material since 1998’s Moon Pix, is equal parts PJ Harvey, Nico, Hope Sandoval and a distaff Leonard Cohen, featuring cameos by Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl. Power evokes the tension between performer and fan in “I Don’t Blame You,” which could well be about Kurt Cobain, while linking the personal and the political on “Speak for Me.” Sounding like an ancient blues man on the stark, proto-feminist “Good Woman,” this slinky feline purrs regret with a chilling, pre-rapture whimper. Me…ow. —RT

Daredevil (20th Century Fox):
Premise: Another comic book superhero movie, this one based upon the Marvel character Matthew Murdock, left blind by a radioactive isotope which gave him a radar-like ability to go up against his arch enemies, the mob boss Kingpin and Bullseye.
Stars: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau, Coolio, David Keith, Joe Pantoliano, with cameos by director Kevin Smith and Marvel auteur Stan Lee.
Director: Mark Steven Johnson (Simon Birch), who also wrote the screenplay.
Thumbs Up: Lotsa Spider-Man type pyrotechnics and an impressive cast.
Thumbs Down: Originally a low-key, relatively low-budget project, after success of Spider-Man, they went back for reshoots to juice up the action sequences.
Soundtrack: Wind-up soundtrack features hit single by up-and-comers Evanescence, along with Fuel, The Calling, Saliva, Seether, Nickelback, Drowning Pool w/Rob Zombie, Moby, Chevelle, Hoobastank, paloalto, Boy Sets Fire, Autopilot Off, Finger Eleven, Endo and 12 Stones.
Website: www.DaredevilMovie.com
is an elaborate online comic book that allows you to access information on the four main characters, see the trailer, participate in an online auction, and enter the Ray-Ban sweepstakes.

All the Real Girls (Sony Pictures Classics)
Premise: A young man in a small southern town has had sexual relations with just about every girl in town, but falls in love with his best friend’s little sister, a virgin.
Stars: Zooey Deschanel (Almost Famous), Paul Schneider and Patricia Clarkson (Far From Heaven), who split top acting honors at this past year’s Sundance Festival.
Director: David Gordon Green, who previously helmed the critically acclaimed indie film George Washington and is set to direct the film version of A Confederacy of Dunces.
Thumbs Up: Green’s first feature, George Washington, was one of the best-reviewed movies of 2000.
Thumbs Down: Will the sophomore slump hit?
Soundtrack: Sanctuary
album includes tracks from indie faves Mogwai, The Promise Ring, Sparklehorse, Paul Jones, Will Oldham and Labradford.
Website: www.sonyclassics.com/alltherealgirls/ features stills from the movie and music from the film, but not much else.

Gerry (ThinkFilm)
Premise: A drama of two guys who call each other “Gerry,” stranded in the desert during a hiking expedition, when they suffer dehydration.
Stars: Matt Damon and Casey Affleck (they also co-wrote the screenplay with Gus Van Zant).
Director: Gus Van Zant (Finding Forrester, My Own Private Idaho, Good Will Hunting, Drugstore Cowboy)
Thumbs Up: First screenplay for Damon since Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting; Van Zant’s first since Finding Forrester.
Thumbs Down: Why wasn’t this film released months ago? It was picked up by ThinkFilm at Sundance in 2002.
Soundtrack: None.
Website: www.altana.com.ar/html/ff.html is the production company site, with production information, a slide show and contact numbers.

The Jungle Book 2 (Walt Disney Pictures)
Premise: Sequel to 1967 Disney animated film based on Rudyard Kipling novel, as Mowgli decides to return to the “bare necessities” of jungle life, as he leaves his new village home and girlfriend behind.
Stars: Featuring the voices of Haley Joel Osment as Mowgli, with John Goodman and Tony Jay.
Director: Steve Trenbirth in feature debut, having previously worked as an animation director on several Disney direct-to-video features.
Thumbs Up: A Disney sequel to a classic.
Thumbs Down: Originally slated to go direct-to-video.
Soundtrack: Disney Records album features Smash Mouth track, “I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)”
Website: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/junglebook2/ offers a chance to win a family trip and purchase the soundtrack and read-along albums as well as view trailer, music video and scenes from the movie.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Premise: French film about a student who thinks she’s in love with a married doctor with a pregnant wife, as she attempts to get him to leave his wife and run away with her to Florence. The second half of the film is seen through the doctor’s eyes, which pictures the student‘s feelings as a dangerous obsession.
Stars: Audrey Tatou of Amelie fame.
Director: Laetitia Colombani in her feature debut.
Thumbs Up: Tatou is adorable… Can Valentine’s Day opening help?
Thumbs Down: Critical reviews have been savage so far.
Soundtrack: None.
Website: Wahnsinnig-Verliebt.de/ is the only official site, and it’s in German, so go figure. —RT

Roses are red, violets are blue, Valentine’s Day sucks, and so do you! I bet you didn’t know that I was so well versed in poetry. Now that I’ve gotten that frustration out, I might be able to go on with my day. If I walk into another store filled with cheap helium heart balloons and pink and red streamers, I’m going to scream! Once a year, singles throughout this country are made to feel inadequate for not having a reason to stroll down the Valentine card isle of the grocery store. It’s bad enough to be single in a city where there seem to be no good ones left, let alone having the grim reality shoved in my face over and over again. It’s the only thing people talk about during the first two weeks of February. You can’t turn on the TV or radio, or open a magazine without seeing or reading something about Valentine’s Day. For the love of God, stop the madness! Isn’t there something more important to talk about than some Hallmark-generated holiday? I might not be so bitter if I knew there was a chance that I was getting laid tonight. People think I’m exaggerating about the getting-laid thing. They tell me that a beautiful, smart, funny (and really modest) gal like myself could get a little action any time that she wishes. True, but although I might be a little sexually frustrated, I still have standards, and I’m beginning to think that I’m being a little too picky. Maybe so, but I like what I like, and unfortunately they’re usually already taken or living on the other side of the country (thinking of you, C.T.E.). If you do happen upon an available one tonight, use my cocktail of the week to put him under your spell.

Love Potion #9
1 oz. rum
oz. vodka
oz. Blue Curacao
1 oz. peach schnapps
Splash lime juice, lemon juice, cranberry juice
Pinch of sugar
Shake with ice and strain into martini glass

Yummy and strong, just like I like my men. So, it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re single; what do you do? Back in college, my friends and I started a tradition that I still keep to this day. Why be a prisoner in your home on Valentine’s Day because you don’t want to deal with the nauseating sight of lovey-dovey couples kissing everywhere? Instead, get all your single friends together, tear up the town and make all of those kissing couples jealous that they’re not single, too. My lists seem to go over pretty well with you guys, so here’s another one. Sorry, guys, if it seems like it’s directed for the ladies—it is. Get over it! Here are five ways to prepare for your “gals’ night out” Valentine celebration.

A Single Gal’s Valentine Present to Herself
1. Wake up and call in sick—
Hell, you’re single, so they’ll buy it. If you’re already at work, then you should suddenly come down with something. It must be all those flowers arriving for the coupled-up gals making you sick.

2. Facial and Massage—Why wait for a man to gift you with the good crap? Give it to yourself. Plus, the spas shouldn’t be busy today, because all the chicks with boyfriends are at work waiting for their flowers.

3. Silky and sexy—First stop, Victoria’s Secret. Why is it the first stop, because it’ll be pure entertainment watching all of those dumbfounded men trying to buy last-minute gifts for that special woman in their lives. Men would rather break out in hives than walk into a place like this, and what a hoot it’ll be to see. Go ahead and buy yourself something nice, not to impress any man but to reward yourself for having to deal with all the schmucks you’ve dated over the past year.

4. The little black dress—You need more than just a dress, you need THE dress. I’m talking about one that you put on and think, “Damn! I’m a sexy bitch!” One that’s so sexy even the women check you out. I have one hanging in my closet, waiting for me to slink into later this evening.

5. Find your inner vixen—Who needs red roses or red heart-shaped boxes when you can have your favorite manicurist pamper you with a manicure and pedicure, of course with vixen red nail polish to top it off? Keeping in the spirit of V-Day, stop by the drugstore and pick up some vampy red lipstick. Tonight’s not the night for the girl-next-door look.

Sure, this sounds like a lot of money to spend, but if you were dating a guy, you would’ve spent it on a present for him. So just think of it as dating yourself. Now you’re ready to break some hearts! Let’s not forget—there will be single men out there looking tonight. You look like a goddess, feel great and are having a blast with your girlfriends—what a winning combo. I’m sure they’ll be swooning over you (or at least drooling all over you), hoping for the chance to sweep you off of your feet (and into their beds)—get a number and make ’em wait…it’s girls' night.

De’s L.A. bar pick of the week: Question: Where can you and your single friends go that won’t be overrun by couples? Answer: The Whiskey Blue at the W Hotel in Westwood. MatchLive (part of Match.com) is holding simultaneous Pajama Parties in the four largest cities. Pajamas aren’t required, but what the hell—especially if you find something great on your trip to Victoria’s Secret. I’ll be in my sexy black dress. You must buy tickets online at www.match.com. With the admission price you’ll receive two drink tickets, hors d’oeuvres and a Valentine’s gift bag. Various prizes will be given out throughout the evening, along with a guest appearance by Alex Michel (the first Bachelor), and make sure you take part in the “pillow games.” Try something different with the gals this year, and you never know, your prince charming might be there waiting—stranger things have happened.

De’s diss of the week: I’m dissing anyone who sits home alone tonight, sulking about not having a Valentine. I don’t care if you don’t have anyone to drag out with you, just go by yourself. No pouting, whining or bitching allowed! Having someone in your life is great (I’ve heard), but being okay by yourself is the real accomplishment. Have a great day alone or with that special someone.

I love your responses, so keep sending them. Thank you to everyone who sent me suggestions of places to check out. Keep them coming. Until next week—hugs & kisses. Denise Bayles

Contributors: Denise Bayles, Darren Cava, Holly Gleason, Simon Glickman, John O’Hara, Marc Pollack, Nicole Tocantins and Roy Trakin

Edited by Bud Scoppa