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"can i borrow someone's liver? mine is cooked."
——Jeff Rabhan (or what's left of him)

WEAK-END PLANNER:
SPECIAL ANTI-SXSW EDITION

We Don't Need No Stinking Badges
We're down to a skeleton crew here at the HITS cesspool, as several of our co-workers have slipped out of the office to attend that annual ritual of self-abuse, South By Southwest. But, apart from the fact that a couple of them scored choice rooms at the Four Seasons, we're not jealous—not after getting the following e-mailed SOS from Jeff Rabhan: "can i borrow someone's liver? mine is cooked." BFD. We can do that without leaving the comfort of our own homes. A couple of our ace correspondents have managed to shake off their respective stupors, so we've added their drivel to what the rest of us have assembled below in their unauthorized absence. Are we bitter that they left us to do all the grunt work? You better believe it—but we'll get even. Promise. In the meantime, we've got the NCAA Tournament, and that's enough for us. 

SXSW PICKS
Halfway through SXSW, there are still 500+ acts yet to play… Just realized that if you're reading this, chances are you're not here…in which case, reading the following list of picks will only make you sad. If you do happen to be logged on from Austin, we strongly suggest that you stop by the following shows and buy your friendly hitsdailydouble staffer a drink—everybody's doing it. Performers, venues, etc. subject to change.

Friday night:
8 p.m.:   Junior Brown, Waterloo Park
9 p.m.:   The Jerry Lee Phantom, Mercury Ent. At Jazz—
                      it's Japan Nite
10 p.m.: The New Pornographers, La Zona Rosa; 
                     Tim Easton, Continental Club
11 p.m.:  Ryan Adams, Austin Music Hall; The Minders
                     Buffalo Billiards
12 a.m.: Cash Audio, Blind Pig; Bluebird, Cheetah 
                     Lounge; Ike Turner, Antone's; …And You
                     Will Know Us By The Trail Of Our Dead
                     Red Eye Fly, Black Crowes,
                     Stubb's
1 a.m:    Idlewild, La Zona Rosa; Wesley Willis, Rm 710

Saturday night:
8 p.m.:   The Shins, Emo's Main Room
9 p.m.:   Mark Eitzel, Austin Music Hall; Creeper
                     Lagoon, Buffalo Billiards,
10 p.m.  Tiffany Anders, Blind Pig Pub; Jim White,
                     La Zona Rosa; The Lisa Marr Experiment
                     Saengerrunde Hall
11 p.m.: Mogwai, Austin Music Hall (11:30)
12 a.m.: Red House Painters, Emo's Main Room; The 
                     Gourds, Broken Spoke, Blake Babies,
                     Momo's
1 a.m.:  Superdrag, Buffalo Billiards

DVD RENTAL
"Almost Famous": Cameron Crowe
's bittersweet, autobiographical, coming-of-age film didn't exactly set the box office on fire, but it looks even better on the small screen, with a second chance to concentrate on the film's wonderful characterizations. Oscar nominees Kate Hudson and Frances McDormand have been getting all the ink, but check out young Patrick Fugit's nuanced turn as Crowe, Billy Crudup and Jason Lee as Stillwater's feuding lead guitarist and singer, "Shine" co-star Noah Taylor as the band's loyal road aide de camp, "SNL"'s Jimmy Fallon as the big-name manager brought in halfway through the tour and the magnificent Philip Seymour Hoffman, who magically evokes the late Lester Bangs in all his prophetic bluster. There was a certain amount of kvetching that Crowe viewed the rock world through decidedly rose-colored glasses, but there are any number of intimations of irretrievable loss touched upon subtly, if not profoundly. Along with "High Fidelity" and "Erin Brockovich," "Almost Famous" captures the American mix of optimism and never-say-die innocence tempered by a clear-eyed, down-to-earth humility with remarkable clarity and empathy worthy of such noble forebears as Billy Wilder and Frank Capra. —Roy Trakin

SUNDAY MORNING MUSIC
Duncan Sheik "Phantom Moon" (Nonesuch): This ambitious album aims to rekindle the mystic romanticism of vintage recordings by the likes of Van Morrison, Tim Buckley, Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake; remarkably, pop maven Sheik pulls it off. The lyrics, by playwright Steven Sater, are overtly poetic, with references to chess and mermaids, Proust and Socrates, but the album is far more accessible than you'd expect from its heady premise. Sheik's seductive vocals range from hushed to urgent—his command of pop dynamics works to his advantage in this richly atmospheric context—and the arrangements, featuring the interplay of acoustic guitar and strings, are drop-dead gorgeous, evoking Simon & Garfunkel one moment, mid-century Sinatra the next. Key songs? "Mouth On Fire," which features Sheik's most dramatic vocal performance, can certainly stand on its own, but "Phantom Moon" isn't that kind of record. This 54-minute album is designed to be listened to as a whole, and it floats along with the buoyant mass of a cloud bank. Score one for art. —Bud Scoppa

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Nature abhors a moron." —H.L. Mencken

LP'S PLAYSTATION 2 GAME OF THE WEEK
The Bouncer:
Waz up, freakz of nature? LP-Zoid iz back in your dome with sum more PS2 action this week. We're featuring one of tha hottest games out there right now, a must-have in your pimp PS2 collection. Square's early footage of The Bouncer's in-game action waz peppered with "Tha Matrix"-style freeze-and-spin panning effects, az well az intriguing environment interaction. Tha title also features stunning cut scenes, with realistically modeled bestial humans, detailed urban environments, and (in an uncharacteristic move for Square) full-voice acting. Tha battle environments are fully 3D and interactive, az revealed by tha special effects, explosions, and roaming space in tha fighting scenes, making tha game similar to a Hollywood film. Developed by Dream Factory, tha creators of tha innovative Tobal series and Erhgeiz, The Bouncer haz emerged az a brawler that is clearly more substantial than a straight beat-'em-up action game. The Bouncer promises to be a cross between a story-driven action/adventure game and a classic fighter in other werdz tha sheeiitt. Square, ever eager to create new and wacky genres, has referred to The Bouncer az a "playing action movie." I just can't get enuff of this game, a true LP favorite. —Latin Prince

PRESIDENTIAL FACT OF THE WEEK
Andrew Johnson, our 17th president, was born Dec. 29, 1808, in Raleigh, NC. The former tailor became president when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. While trying to restore the antebellum Union, Johnson ran afoul of Radical Republicans in Congress who opposed his policies. When Johnson discharged Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton on Feb. 21, 1868, he intentionally violated the Tenure of Office Act, and the House voted 11 articles of impeachment against him. He was tried by the Senate in the spring of 1868 and acquitted by one vote. The act was repealed in 1887. Johnson's salary was $25,000 a year. Best Anagram Of His Name: Horn down jeans. (Or are you just happy to see me?)

TRAKIN PONDERS THIS WEEK'S NEW MOVIES
"Exit Wounds":
Maybe this is the new AOLTW's plan to control the world—team up aging action hero Steven Seagal with hot rapper DMX to stir the embers of a moribund career by linking to the lucrative hip-hop urban market. Well, they're not going for critical credibility—the film wasn't screened for journalists—but they have recruited "Romeo Must Die" director Andrezej Barkowiak to see if he can add a little pizzazz to what has become an increasingly exhausted post-"Lethal Weapon" species. Oh, yeah, Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson (the rotund African-American comedian from "Me, Myself And Irene") are around for the requisite comic relief. If you're desperate, it might be fun to see this at some inner city multiplex and savor some of the audience reaction. It'll probably be a lot more raucous—and entertaining—than anything onscreen.

"Memento": "L.A. Confidential" co-star Guy Pearce stars as a guy who can't recall a thing since a savage attack that left his wife dead and him suffering from amnesia and uttering the cryptic line, "I can't make new memories." Ordinarily, I'm not a big fan of memory-loss movies, but apparently director Christopher Nolan, who adapts the film from a short story by his brother Jonathan, has created a devilish puzzle of a thinking man's noir. The film starts at the end (like classics "Sunset Boulevard" and Harold Pinter's "Betrayal") and fills in the blanks, creating a series of philosophical, existential conundrums, as Pearce's Leonard Shelby wanders through a blank SoCal landscape looking for the man who raped and murdered his wife. At once totally confident yet utterly mystified, Pearce tries to figure out who he is, where he's going and what he's doing—as good a metaphor for modern man as any. Joe Pantaliano, memorable from his roles in "Matrix" and as the guy who runs Tony Soprano's "waste disposal management" operation, plays the sidekick Pearce doesn't know whether to trust or fear, while Carrie-Ann Moss is a beautiful barmaid he finds in his bed.

"Enemy At The Gates": This World War II epic—at $90 million, the most expensive European-made film ever—is being touted as the next "Saving Private Ryan." It's probably closer to—as Wall Street Journal's trusty Joe Morgenstern points out—"Quest for Sniper Fire," a dig at director Jean-Jacques Annaud, who apparently does for German and Russian soldiers at Stalingrad what he did for cavemen in his '81 camp classic, "Quest For Fire." Like that movie and his 1977 "Black & White In Color" (about a group of Frenchmen at a remote African trading post who decide to attack a German fort after the outbreak of WW1), this international co-production is light on dialogue and heavy on harrowing images. "Talented Mr. Ripley" Oscar nominee Jude Law plays a Russian sniper who becomes a folk hero and then a national symbol in war-torn Stalingrad, where he sets his sites on an equally adept Nazi gunslinger played by the ever-credible Ed Harris. Joseph ("Shakespeare In Love") Fiennes co-stars as the Russian political officer who seizes on Law's real-life Vasilli Zaitsev as someone who can be used to rally his fellow countrymen, while Bob Hoskins plays—and this should be good for some guffaws—Nikita Khrushchev, who has been sent to the front by Stalin himself to grease the propaganda machine and apparently does so without having to bang his shoe on a table.

"The Dish": A comic sleeper from Down Under about an Australian radio telescope situated in the middle of a sheep meadow in New South Wales in 1969 that becomes a crucial link in the communications network NASA has set up to track the Apollo 11 moon landing. Directed by Rob Sitch, the plot details how the small town deals with preparations for the big event and its possible catastrophes, reflecting the genial Australian national character, which derives from Oz's geographic isolation and provincial nature. The movie satirizes the notion of U.S. domination of the bumpkinish Aussies, with native son Sam Neill leading a buffoonish scientific team rescued by an American adviser from NASA. —Roy Trakin

MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
Upcoming Birthdays
March 16-22
16—Jerry Lewis (72) & Chuck Woolery (59)
17—Shemp Howard (101) & Nat King Cole (82)
18—Wilson Pickett (60) & Queen Latifah (31)
19—Ornette Coleman (71) & Earl Warren (110)
20—Carl Reiner (78) & Carl Palmer (54)
22—William M. Gaines (79) & William Shatner (70)

Special Events
March is Women's History Month
16—Freedom of Information Day
17—St. Patrick's Day
20—Vernal Equinox
21—Human Rights Day (South Africa)
22—Saka (Indian New Year)

YOUR WEAK-END WEATHER
Like Hoof & Mouth Disease On Your Computer
The other afternoon I was sitting out on the balcony at the palacial hitsdailydouble offices. The air was warm, leaves are starting to come out and the lottery sign said that the jackpot was $17 million. Must be just about springtime. Of course, in L.A. it's either raining or it's beautiful. This weekend will be partly cloudy, with highs approaching 70 and lows in the low 50s. Absolutely perfect. Which is the opposite of New York City; Saturday will be mostly cloudy with a good chance of the nasty cold rain/snow mix. No accumulation, though, with temps hovering in the mid-30s. Sunday will be the same, though with a slight chance of precipitation. Down here in Austin, Saturday will be mostly cloudy, with scattered rain and temps ranging from the upper 40s to upper 50s. Sunday, after everyone gets the hell out, will be the same, though a bit colder.
—David Simutis, apprentice meteorologist.

"FACTS OF LIFE" SUMMARY FOR THE WEEK
When Mr. Bradley rescues Blair and Tootie from a rising flood, Blair is more than pleased to express her gratitude.

 

HITS LIST: AMPERSANDS
Dynamic duos (12/3a)
TAYLOR'S TREMENDOUS YEAR
She'd make one helluva CEO. (12/3a)
THEY CALL THE WINDFALL MARIAH (HOLIDAY EDITION)
Ch-chingle bells (12/3a)
SONG REVENUE:
BOWS OF HOLLY
Adele is money. (12/3a)
UTA MUSIC EXPANDS IN NASHVILLE
Reshuffling the deck (12/3a)
CHESTNUTS
Roasting.
STOCKINGS
Stuffing.
PIPERS
Piping.
SANTA
Coming.
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