HITS Daily Double
Perhaps only Tweedy, along with Dylan, Young and Springsteen, could accompany himself with just a single stroke on guitar and make you believe the lines, “I was maimed by rock and roll/I was tamed by rock and roll/I got my name from rock and roll.”


Houston, We Have an NBA All-Star Weekend;
Let the Bling Begin
The Winter Olympics: Or, the two weeks in between the end of the Super Bowl and the beginning of baseball spring training. Sorry, but the luge and figure skating just don’t do it for me. Some of these so-called sports are hardly sports at all, though I’ll admit to a certain mathematical-leaning fascination with curling, though it seems more like a combination of bocce, shuffleboard, horseshoes and billiards, none of which are, the last I looked, Olympic sports. And the 12-hour delay certainly takes away from sports' most involving aspect--the unpredictability of the outcome. Anyway, at least ice hockey has begun, which is, for me, the most involving, especially the world iteration, which resembles the trap-and-hold NHL version in name only. Wake me in time for Canada vs. Russia in the finals...or until a figure skater takes a lead pipe in the knee. Any sport that your wife likes to watch can’t be a real sport anyway. Anyone know where I can get tickets to the World Baseball Classic at Anaheim Stadium?
Roy Trakin

2. Jeff Tweedy at the Henry Fonda Theater, Hollywood: It could be, in our rush to anoint Conor Oberst or, before that, Ryan Adams, as the next Dylan, we managed to overlook the Wilco frontman, who has amassed a passionate, loyal following while pursuing his own unique muse as leader of America’s answer to Radiohead in terms of left-hand stylistic turns. This rare solo acoustic performance brought out the faithful, and you could literally hear a pin drop during the performance, a fact the often garrulous Tweedy noted wryly, wondering how the audience was responding to “some of the most depressing songs ever written...by me.” He started out with “Sunken Treasure” from Wilco’s 1996 album Being There, and, in this sparse setting, you could concentrate on revealing lyrics like “But there is no sunken treasure/Rumored to be/Wrapped inside my ribs/In a sea black with ink.” And perhaps only Tweedy, along with Dylan, Neil Young and Springsteen, could accompany himself with just a single stroke on guitar and make you believe the lines, “I was maimed by rock and roll/I was tamed by rock and roll/I got my name from rock and roll.” There were more highlights, such as bringing his son Spencer onstage to play drums on “I’m the Man Who Loves You,” dedicating it to his wife, and a moving “Thelogians,” with its lyric, “No one’s ever gonna take my life from me/I lay it down/A ghost is born.” For “Heavy Metal Drummer,” he brought out his Wilco bandmate, drummer Glenn Kotche, for a playful version of the closest thing the band has had to a hit, then finished, sans microphone or amplifier, on “Acuff Rose,” the 1994 Uncle Tupelo tribute to the famed publishers, ending the show in a rush of pure musicality. For once, the fans’ rapt attention was rewarded and then some. —RT

3. The Odds, “Someone Who’s Cool” (Elektra, 1996): I didn’t even get around to checking out the CBS series Love Monkey until the day I learned the show was “on hiatus” after three low-rated episodes (by which time the DVR had unilaterally eliminated the first two). That’s a pity, not only because the episode I viewed was a far wittier fiction about A&R weaseldom than it had any right to be, but also because the show’s star, Tom Cavanagh, had convinced music supervisor Nic Harcourt to make the theme song a 10-year-old single by an obscure and long-defunct Vancouver band…a band that I’d signed to Zoo and A&R’d late in the last century. When it came on, my ears instantly perked up, but it took me a minute to realize what I was hearing, since I had no frame of reference. "I know this song—I LOVE this song," I thought to myself. “The clanging guitars and the wounded but game lead vocal most of all.” Then it hit me—the voice belonged to my old pal Craig Northey, and the song was the closest thing to a hit the Odds ever had in the States. Just the luck of this edgy/cuddly band, for whom the timing was always slightly off—and continues to be, long after their breakup. As a Beatles-loving, groove-pumping pop group with a sharp, twisted world view, the Odds foreshadowed Spoon, and if that means anything to you, look around for “Someone Who’s Cool” online—unless you remembered to set your DVR to “Keep until I delete” for Love Monkey, in which case you already have a verse and chorus… Cosmically, as I was writing this, TNT ran a Heineken spot improbably featuring Big Star’s “I’m in Love With A Girl,” immediately followed by a car commercial that I swear had Harcourt doing the voiceover. —Bud Scoppa

4. Transamerica: I went in thinking Reese Witherspoon was a shoo-in for Best Actress and came out thinking Felicity Huffman has a real shot, and would have even a better one if this very indie-looking film was out on DVD. Wouldn’t it be something if the two acting awards were won by Hoffman and Huffman, playing a flamboyant homosexual and a closeted, “stealth” transsexual, respectively? Never mind that Brokeback Mountain appears to be the odds-on fave for Best Picture. The Desperate Housewife is remarkable as the tranny-with-a-heart-of-gold on the verge of sex change, bringing out her inner male to where you accept the condition wholeheartedly. Writer/director Duncan Tucker would have been more daring if he actually used a man in the main role, though Huffman does manage to squeeze every bit of empathy in a role Oscar voters traditionally embrace, an attractive woman purposely playing unattractive—call it the Charlize Theron syndrome. And while the film plays on several things that are hard to believe—like Huffman’s sex change would be held up until she visited an alleged son conceived during a one-night affair—veteran performers like Kevin Zegers, Elizabeth Pena, Fionnula Flanagan and Burt Young manage to sell the more improbable parts of the plot. In the end, though, it’s a triumph for Huffman, who brings a quiet pathos and dignity to the role. And it’s odd because at the screening I saw out at my suburban theater, the audience, who applauded at the end, was made up of mostly senior citizens. Maybe things are changing after all. —RT

5. The Matador: Writer/director Richard Shepard’s black comedy is about an unlikely odd couple consisting of an aging hit man, a hilarious performance reeking of self-parody by Pierce Brosnan (who also produced), and a suburban advertising executive, played with understated comic verve by Greg Kinnear, both worrying about job security and obsolescence in the modern world. The two meet in a Mexico City bar and immediately strike up a friendship as they reveal truths (and some untruths) about themselves to each other. Nothing really happens plot-wise, but the interplay between Brosnan and Kinnear is enough to keep the momentum going until the two, predictably, switch roles, and each goes off wiser in his way, thanks to their encounter. The soundtrack, on Superb Records, starts with the boisterous Jam classic, “A Town Called Malice,” then incorporates a variety of great songs, including the Cramps’ “Garbageman,” Los Fabuloso Cadillacs’ “El Matador” and Dave Van Norden’s version of the standard, “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” during a pivotal scene in the movie. —RT

6. The Buzzcocks, Flat-Pack Philosophy (Cooking Vinyl): If the Sex Pistols and the Clash were the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, respectively, of the original British punk wave, and the Jam the mod descendants of the Who, then the underrated Buzzcocks are definitely the Kinks, their veddy English, music-hall-on-amphetamine brand of social satire and lickety-split power-pop riffs the most underrated of the class of ’76. Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle continue to alternate as incisive, socially conscious songwriters, with tracks like the former’s “Credit” and the latter’s “Between Heaven and Hell,” which accurately sums up the band’s buzz-saw, existential present, teetering in the middle of past and future shock. There’s no “Orgasm Addict” or “Ever Fallen in Love” here, but these Mancunian vets can still pogo with the best of those they’ve influenced, from the Smiths and Joy Division to Franz Ferdinand and, yes, Arctic Monkeys. —RT

7. Beth Orton, Comfort of Strangers (Astralwerks): This techno diva is the forerunner of current quirky singer/songwriters from Fiona Apple to Imogen Heap, Chan (Cat Power) Marshall, KT Tunstall and labelmate Sia. This time out, produced by Wilco and Sonic Youth mastermind Jim O’Rourke, Orton moves nearer the center—her country-folk flavor on songs like “Countenance,” “Heartland Truckstop” and “Rectify” are closer to original art-folkie Joni Mitchell and blues crooner Norah Jones than they are to, say, synthpop “Chewing Gum” diva Annie. In “A Place Aside,” Orton confesses, “I forgot how to sing my song.” Maybe that explains some of her retrenching. —RT

8. www.editorialemergency.com: Ex-HITS editor, Oxford grad and English PhD. Simon Glickman has established this handy site as a way to attract attention for the editorial, copywriting and website-creation-services business he runs with partner Julia Rubiner. The site’s official e-zine, Editorializing, tackles all sorts of thorny grammatical and syntax issues, such as “The Zen of Editing,” useful synonyms for the word “said” and the most commonly misused homonyms (“peak, peek and pique,” “shutter and shudder,” etc.), as well as touting new local talent such as Willie Wisely and Quincy Coleman. If you need a bio, press release, one-sheet or pitch letter—and neither Scoppa nor I is available, of course—this is the first place you should go for all your editorial needs. —RT

9. Wonton Egg Drop Soup: An East Coast delicacy that is offered rarely out here, it’s the perfect texture, the slightly thickened egg drop the backdrop for the plump wontons, best served with a dash of hot mustard to open up the nasal passages. You can find this at most any Chinese restaurant in New York or Miami, but it’s a lot scarcer here in L.A. The only place I’ve discovered that has it on the menu is Uncle Chen’s on Ventura Blvd. in Encino, next door to Jerry’s Deli. They also have those great flat crisp noodles, real duck sauce and the greasy Noo Yawk-styled honey roast pork and spareribs we used to have on Long Island every Sunday night, when we went out for “Chinx.” Only trouble is, their main dishes are singularly mediocre, the shrimp with lobster sauce way too thin, and with peas to boot, and the beef with broccoli practically inedible. Oh, well. —RT

10. Gripe of the Week: The publicist who e-mailed and admonished me for revealing the ending to the documentary New York Doll. Now, I’m all for preserving the surprise denouement of a fictional movie, but to not disclose the fact that the subject of Doll, the late Arthur “Killer” Kane, died less than a month after making his triumphant return as a member of the notorious band is nothing less than an act of outright censorship. Especially considering that it’s now the DVD I’m reviewing, and most critics “revealed” the ending in their reviews of the theatrical release in the first place. The flack even sent me a statement from the film’s director not to spoil the surprise...for whom, I wonder? I’m guessing 90% of the people who have seen the movie or will rent it are Dolls fans fully aware that Arthur passed away, and for the rest, it doesn’t ruin the film-going experience... In fact, it adds to the movie’s poignancy, allowing you to see the character’s ultimate triumph as he experiences it himself. Just another example of the way today’s entertainment promotion and marketing machine over-thinks itself and ends up in a position that could best be described as bending over backwards... or cutting off its nose to spite its face. Or simply absurdity.—RT

11. Women Half-pipers: Hannah Teter. Gretchen Bleiler. American women. Total thrill-seekers. Absolute white speed, but more importantly, surfers who move with an athleticism that gives an almost balletic grace to snowboarding. In an Olympics where Bode Miller reminds us it's about going for it rather than playing it safe, these two women—and American and former champ Kelly Clark, who dropped to fourth when Norwegian Kjersti Buass had the run of her life—not only validated that notion, they celebrated a woman's place in the temple of physical excellence a world apart from the polite figure skating realm and the classicism of downhill skiing. —Holly Gleason

CALENDAR (All times local)
Friday, Feb. 17th
NBA All Star Celebrity Game on ESPN

Taste of Chaos Tour, featuring Story of the Year, Deftones, As I Lay Dying, Thrice and more @ The Mesa Ampitheatre, Mesa, AZ

The Rookie Challenge on TNT

Avenged Sevenfold w/CKY, Bullets & Octone & The Confession @ Gibson Amptheatre, Universal City
Arctic Monkeys @ Carling Brixton Academy, London

B.B. King @ House of Blues in Chicago: This is the concluding show of a back-to-back, and it’s sold out.

Stoney Curtis Band @ Steve’s BBQ, Whittier, CA

Saturday, Feb. 18th
The Lantern Festival @ Olvera Street: The Chinese American Museum marks the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations with a traditional Lantern Festival. For the event, the museum recreates a Chinese village street fair with folk music, acrobats, dragon dances, storytelling, magic shows and a glittering display of lanterns along the plaza. WOW, cool—count us in!!!

NBA All Star Saturday on TNT

Head Automatica & Morningwood @ Rex Theatre, Pittsburgh
Winterfresh SnoCore featuring Seether, Shindown, Flyleaf and more @ Lifestyles Communities Pavilion, Columbus, OH

Buckcherry @ Streeter's, Traverse City, MI

Sunday, Feb. 19th
Get Animated With Wallace & Gromit @ Musuem of The Movie Image in Astoria: The museum will offer extended hours, matinee screenings of Wallace & Gromit movies, hands-on workshops and demonstrations about the filmmaking process.

The 55th Annual NBA All Star Game on TNT.

Hawthorne Heights @ Clear Channel Metroplex, Little Rock, AR

Coheed & Cambria @ Arena, Vienna, Austria

Monday, Feb. 20th
Less than Jake w/ DaMone @ House of Blues (Disneyland), Anaheim

Date Movie
Starring: Alyson Hannigan, Adam Campbell, Eddie Griffin, Fred Willard and Jennifer Coolidge
Synopsis: Julia Jones has finally met the guy of her dreams, Brit Grant Funckyerdoder. But before they can have their big fat Greek wedding, they have to meet the parents, deal with a wedding planner and confront a woman who wants to stop her best friend's wedding.
Thoughts: I saw the trailer for this movie about two months ago and have been planning to see it ever since. This looks like it could be one of the funniest movies of the year—it could also be a total stiff. Either way, I’ve already made plans to see it with some friends.

Eight Below
Paul Walker, Jason Biggs, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood and Wendy Crewson
A trio of scientist explorers—Jerry Shepard, his best friend Cooper and an American geologist—must leave behind their beloved team of sled dogs after a sudden accident that strands them in extreme Antarctic weather. But Shepard can't let his dog team face certain death, so he turns back to rescue them. The film is inspired by the events of a 1957 Japanese expedition to the Antarctic.
This is obviously one of those movies you could take the whole family to. From the looks of the trailer, Eight Below appears to be an amazing story of survival, very heartwarming. I suspect this is one movie you can’t go wrong with because, even if the movie isn’t very good, the dogs will still be fun to watch.

Samuel L. Jackson, Julianne Moore, Edie Falco, Ron Eldard and William Forsythe
A disheveled woman, Brenda Martin, staggers into a New Jersey police station and tells detective Lorenzo Council that a black man stole her car, and her child was in the back seat. Council launches a search for the boy, while a reporter begins to wonder if Brenda is hiding something.
Thoughts: When I first heard about this movie, I was like, “Oh it could be good,” but then I saw when it was being released and quickly changed my tune. I mean, think about it: two big stars in a movie released in February just doesn’t bode well at all. However, since then, I have changed my feelings again, and I actually think this movie could be really good.