HITS Daily Double
I just have a strange feeling that Steamboy is going to be good. I hope it’s not the same one that said James and the Giant Peach was going to be good. I remember I wanted to see that over Fargo, and my father won’t ever let me forget it.


Don’t Get Mad That You’re Not Doing Tequila Shots on Sixth St., Get Into March Madness Instead
Remember the good old days when you had that posh label gig, which got you that all-expenses-paid trip to SXSW every march, and the biggest worry in your life involved scoring a lake-view room at the Four Seasons? Join the club. Those days may be over forever, bub, but look on the bright side. Now you can devote your full attention to the NCAA Tournament. The big show started Thursday morning, with 32 of the 64 teams in action, and the single-elimination games continue all weekend long on CBS. We’ve picked a few games to highlight below, but nearly every game is intriguing, as teams from huge state universities are pitted against squads from tiny schools you’ve never heard of, and there are jaw-dropping upsets every year. Check the TV listings in the sports section of your paper, because some of these contests take place at the same time and may not be featured in your area. OK, so it’s not quite as compelling as following Ivana around as she checks out the hippest new bands, or working the weasels for free drinks at various watering holes with Rodel. But it’s something.

Friday (March 18)
9:15 a.m.
NC State vs. Charlotte

9:30 p.m.
Iowa St vs. Minnesota

11:55 a.m.
New Mexico vs. Villanova

12:00 p.m.
Southern Illinois vs. St. Mary’s (CA)

6:40 p.m.
Old Dominion vs. Michigan State

6:45 p.m. (Eastern Time)
Gavin DeGraw @ the Roseland Ballroom (239 W. 52nd St. 212-247-0200)

6:55 p.m.
Stanford vs. Miss St. on CBS

8:00 p.m.
Stomp: If you have yet to see this amazing show, head on down to the LBC and peep it out, yo. There is hardly any talking, but what the performers do with their bodies is truly remarkable. The stories and dialogue are communicated through percussion, rhythm and high energy using ordinary household items as props. @ Terrace Theater
(300 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, 562-436-3636).

8:30 p.m.
The Posh Experience: This event takes place every Friday night at the Point Moorea Lounge inside the Wilshire Grand Hotel (NE corner of 7th St. and Figueroa, Downtown L.A.). Come mingle, network, socialize and party from 8-2, when they close the bar. Listen to R&B, old-school and more...in a classy and fun atmosphere. This week they’re doing comedy, with special guest Scruncho.

Saturday (March 19)
7:00 a.m.
Catalina Island Marathon.
The 26.2-mile marathon starts at Two Harbors and finishes in Avalon—24.7 miles of the marathon is on the off-road. Or you can enter the Avalon 10k, 5k, or Kids Run. The 10k is challenging and the 5k is fast and flat. It’s a half-mile run for kids under age 7 or a one-mile run for ages 7-12. Call Pacific Sports, 714- 978-1528, or visit www.PacificSportsLLC.com.

10:30 a.m.
A Faery Hunt (giggle, giggle). Calling all kids and open-minded adults. Go search for a flock of mysterious creatures recently spotted cavorting around Heavenly Pond. Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright (they made headlines in 1917 in England when they befriended the famous Cottingly Faireis. Dude, I’ve never heard of those Cottingly Faireis, but I think I ran into them at The Abbey the other night) lead the hunt for fairies, pixies, elves, gnomes, trolls and A&R dudes (just wanted to see if you were paying attention). @ Franklin Canyon Park (2600 Franklin Cyn Dr., Beverly Hills, www.afaeryhunt.com)

12:00 p.m.
Jet Blue goes to Burbank Airport!!! Jet Blue goes to Burbank Airport!!! Jet Blue goes to Burbank Airport!!! Yeah, baby!

2:00 p.m.
Kiehl’s store visit! Spend some time (= spend some money) at the newest store, which comes off very much like the East Village original. 100 N. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills.

7:30 p.m.
Clippers vs. Sacramento Kings. The clippers have played these guys really tough and lost all three games to them by a combined total of like 6 points. So, if your not doing anything, head on down to Staples Center and help root on the Clips to victory. Our own Bret Bair, who has somewhat converted to being a Clippers fan and a season ticket holder will be, of course, rooting for his hometown kings, so we don’t like him this weekend.

8:00 p.m.
She-She Comedy Comeback Tour: Do not miss this AMAZING night of standup. Comics from SNL, Mad TV, Girls Behaving Badly, Kilborn, etc. And I’m going up. —Jill “Not on Any of Those Shows” Kushner. @ The World Famous Comedy Union (5040 W. Pico Blvd, 2 blocks west of La Brea). Email: [email protected] for a $5 flyer.

8:00 p.m.
Heaven and Earth (Stuart Smith) w/Blue Oyster Cult: Who’s up for hangin’ in Agoura Hills? Get your Agoura Hills-lovin ass over to the Canyon Club!

8:00 p.m.
A Night of Comedy 3: Kevin James, Ray Romano, Garry Shandling and David Spade perform at this benefit for the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation. Hosted by Doris Roberts. @ the Wilshire Theatre (8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-491-1401). Tix: $125-$25.

Sunday (March 20)
8:30 a.m.
Nuts for Mutts. If you’re a dog lover, this is the place for you. The fourth annual dog show takes place at Pierce College (www.nutsformutts.com).

1:30 a.m.
Cyclone Opening Ceremony. Be one of the first 200 people on line & get a free ride on the famous way rickety roller-coaster. @ Astroland Amusement Park (1000 Surf Ave., @ W.10th St., Coney Island, 718-372-0275).

1:00 p.m.
www.bluefly.com. Shop designer discounts with all the cool kids. Well, you’ll be in your home, but it’s a damn hip site, so you’re at-home-on-a-Sunday loser ass will momentarily feel cool. Welcome to our Sundays.

Monday (March 21)
Kaiser Chiefs
@ the Troubadour
We are Scientists @ the Viper Room

The Towels, American Beaus (Platehead Records):
A group of pals from Ohio rediscovered each other in L.A. and started making records together six years ago for the purpose of showcasing their peculiarly witty songwriting and knack with a melody. Their latest effort draws unabashedly on familiar Beatles-y sounds and structures (with a big nod to Harrison) and occasionally wanders into the blissed-out mellow territory of classic Clapton/Bruce Cream vocals. But this is no one-note effort—variety abounds in tracks including “You’re Making Me Nervous,” “Shall We Go,” “From the Hype” and “I Caught You Crying,” each making its own statement without overly shaking the disc’s seriously vibey foundation. Vocalist/guitarists Noral Squizz and Leusley Aschbudt, along with bassist Dennis Davis, are in the business of celebrating the song, but do it with a healthy dose of wry humor that makes American Beaus an even more engaging and absorbing listen. —Jon O’Hara

Two Bums Up: What follows is a shameless plug—if Jill can do it, so can I. Roy Trakin (remember him?) and yours truly are on a subscription drive for our fairly new (there are five posted so far) dia-blog, www.musicsnobs.com, wherein we argue about—what else? —records…or more accurately, CDs and digital sound files…with TV shows and movies thrown in, cuz that’s what we talk about. We think you’ll be entertained and enlightened, but then, what to do you expect us to say? The point/counterpoint is accompanied by a 10-track playlist made up of stuff we both like. The best part is it’s free—we can’t possibly ask anybody to pay to eavesdrop on two know-it-alls IMing each other, can we? I mean, we would if we could, but that’s not gonna happen. But when you’re reading it, think of us as John Cusack and Jack Black rapping it down as they flip through the stacks at Amoeba. Like, imagine Jack saying, “The problem with pop music right now is that artists are afraid to jump the shark—afraid to do a Berlin, a There’s a Riot Going On, an Exile on Main Street, a Plastic Ono Band... Lauryn Hill may be the only one brave enough to shoot herself in the foot in today's toadying record biz…or Paul Westerberg.” And Cusack counters with, “Don’t forget about Chris Gaines—I mean Garth Brooks—although that seems like the distant past. For that matter, so does Lauryn Hill. I figured the Mars Volta had jumped the shark on purpose with that new album, Frances the Mute, but what seemed like career suicide is turning out to be a career move. Not that I've heard it—I'm scared to listen.” Scintillating, right? So sign up, already. —Bud Scoppa

AC/DC, Family Jewels (Epic): A genuine treasure trove for anyone who holds these Scots/Australian proto-rockers in the proper high regard, this two-disc DVD set collects AC/DC film and video footage from the band’s earliest days (Bon Scott in a dress, 1975), through its glorious rebirth post-Scott with Back in Black (1980) and on to Brian Johnson’s advanced-stage vocal rasp on Razor’s Edge (1990). Many of the clips lack polish by today’s standards, but they serve as an eye-opening reminder of AC/DC’s no-nonsense approach—well, except for the whole Angus schoolboy get-up (but then, no one ever said “no-nonsense” meant humorless). Also especially interesting is seeing just how consistent their brand of triple-distilled guitar onslaught has been down through the years. And what at first might seem like a serious misstep—the five related “totally ’80s” clips shot for 1985’s Fly on the Wall, featuring the band playing in a dive with assorted misfit characters getting into adventures around them—actually provides some of the collection’s most entertaining moments, right through the point where the club literally shakes apart from all the racket. As Rolling Stone’s David Fricke points out in his excellent liner notes, “Some things in rock & roll never change. Some things never should.” Well, until they get around to releasing Let There Be Rock on DVD, this will have to do. —JO

The Ring Two
Starring: Naomi Watts
, Simon Baker, Sissy Spacek, Emily VanCamp, David Dorfman and Elizabeth Perkins
Rachel Keller moves to a small Oregon town with her son, Aidan, to start a new life. When a few locals are killed and a strange videotape reappears, Rachel begins to realize that trouble has followed her from Seattle.
Thoughts: Well, I personally fell asleep during the first one, but it was a big success and it seems now if a movie does any business at all, there will be a sequel. I assume this one will do big business, but you probably won’t catch me at it.

Ice Princess
Starring: Michelle Trachtenberg, Kim Cattrall, Juliana Cannarozzo, Trevor Blumas, Hayden Panettiere and Joan Cusack
Synopsis: Casey, a brainy high-school girl, goes against the wishes of her domineering mother when she decides to pursue her dream of becoming a figure-skating champion. Casey teams with a new coach, Gen, a former skater who's since fallen from grace.
Thoughts: Well, you definitely won’t be catching me at this one, but I have a feeling this one will be a big family film. It has the feel of a total little girl movie, so if you have a daughter, or a sister, I’m sure should they’d love to go to this movie.

the voices of: Anna Paquin, Alfred Molina and Patrick Stewart
Synopsis: In Victorian England, a young inventor named Ra Stim receives a metal ball containing a new form of energy capable of powering an entire nation. Stim must use it to save London from destruction.
Thoughts: I haven’t really seen any trailers for this recently, but I remember seeing a preview for it on one of the Japanese anime movies I rented awhile back and thinking that this movie looked awesome. It was written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, who wrote the famous comic Akira. I just have a strange feeling that this movie is going to be good. I hope it’s not the same one that said James and the Giant Peach was going to be good. I remember I wanted to see that over Fargo, and my father won’t ever let me forget it.

Rolling Stone, March 24 issue:
Hunter Thompson remembered. He defied the rules of traditional writing and reporting. He created the notion of the oft-imitated, never-even-grazingly-replicated "gonzo journalism." Written by the people who knew him best, who loved him without limits or condition, who were thrilled by what would terrify many of more traditional people. Publisher/founder Jann Wenner brings us inside a deeply personal dynamic, while Mikal Gilmore, fresh from the wonderful RS cover piece on Bob Marley—brings humanity to the man, and Johnny Depp writes of a friendship that challenged, recast and in many ways set him free. All of the voices of the lives Thompson touched, challenged and altered are brought together in one final tribute to the rarest reality of them all: a true original. In a world where in Thompson's eyes imitation is often the lamest form of flattery, this is a tribute that doesn't vamp the master but reflects, refracts and redistributes one of the unlikeliest visionaries of our time. Even if you found Thompson's voice/style vexing, to read this issue (which also includes the always enriching 10 New Bands to Watch) is to understand the passion Thompson's readers felt for a full-tilt, total immersion journalisto de nuevo.

Adipose: What a lovely way to say "fat." And with swimsuit season almost on top of us, too.

Joni Mitchell, Artist’s Choice (Hear Music): So Starbucks helped drive Ray Charles to eight Grammys, and they've not only high-jacked our racing pulses with their overt javanation, they're also now divining the soundtrack to our lives. Thankfully, their artist reverence wins out—and on this Joni Mitchell edition of the commercially issued personal mixtape, they weave a heady garland of the merging of classical and jazz (Philippe Entremonte's take on Debussy's "Clair de Lune" from Suite Bergamasque, Miles Davis' "It Never Entered My Mind," Duke Ellington and His Orchestra's "Subtle Lament" and "Jeeps Blues"), the fetid sultriness of want and desire thwarted (Billie Holiday's "Solitude," Edith Piaf's "Les Trois Cloches," even her own "Harlem in Havana") and growling male reality checks (Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man," Ray Charles' "Lonely Avenue," Leonard Cohen's "Stories of the Street" and Dylan's "Sweetheart Like You"). There's more to it than merely a charm bracelet of songs Mitchell loves. It creates a basket or nest for her dreams to have gestated and grown in—and as one gets lulled into that womb of musical recognition, it's a mighty fine place to be.

2001 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon: It was one of those friend-of-a-friend things, but it came with such a heart-wide-open appellation that if the wine was half as good as the person suggesting it, it would be a soul-stirring experience. And so it was that I brought three people who have nothing in common beyond my highest esteem for their passion and willingness to hurl themselves off cliffs together in the name of a good bottle of red. Good bottle was under-selling. Unfined and unfiltered, it was the essence of rich earth, warm sun, stunning grapes that hit the tongue, opened your imagination, offered fecundity with a dry hint of the richness that makes cabs the big daddy of the vin rouge family. Estate-bottled by people who live for quality over quantity, it is worth seeking out, and not because the critics gave the vintage a 96 out of 100, but because of the way it draws people closer together, creates a plateau for deeper conversation, offers a reason of the highest order to enjoy a fine wine.

Bone-Up: Calcium supplements. In capsules. That help you sleep. Osteoporosis is a choice, in many respects. Six capsules before bedtime—that don't leave that "Mom, I swallowed a brick" feeling that some vitamins, minerals, etc., do—can move you along your path to bones that won't shatter when you look at them as a serious grown-up.

Jake Kelly, BitterParty of One (Jeremiad): Kelly evokes Buddy Holly's inner hick—except that he's a walking lexicon of Southern California country music, with a strong side order of the California rock that Neil Young & Crazy Horse pioneered, and he's got the wry wit that makes him the guy to always pay attention to, ’cause it's his off-handed comments that are the most lethally funny. Bitter...Party of One moves from keening to irreverent to just plain "bite me." It's that will to be true to oneself that makes Kelly's DIY records so captivating. He doesn't care if the powers that be won't respond, because he can look himself in the eye when he brushes his teeth. It's not for everyone, but the ones who can accept the at-times almost atonality of what's going on will find themselves nodding along, laughing with dignity and understanding that sometimes it's the unlikely ones with the odd records we remember long after the Top 40’s rolled over 40 or so times. Indeed, "She Don't Want Me (She Wants My Money)" drips state-of-the-heart reality without flinching, in the same way Sam Kinison told it like it was about women in his life. www.jakekelly.net

Just enjoy your ice cream. Nothing about how it got there matters, except the deep sweet richness. What would be simpler? Or more satisfying? Indeed. Don't make life trickier than it is. Enjoy the moments as they come. Be fully present. Don't worry about the rest.