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What better way to celebrate the death of Napster than by listening to a downloaded copy of the most tightly controlled release since Radiohead?
WEAKEND PLANNER VOWS
TO SHAPE UP FOR SUMMER
The Countdown to Memorial Day Weekend Begins, but You Can’t Relax Just Yet
Like you, we can hardly wait to blow this pop stand and get the hell outta Dodge for a much-desired three-day weekend. Word to the wise—in times like these, we can’t afford to look like we’re just going through the motions. But take heart—it’s helpful to realize that our bosses are just as stressed-out as we are. So, before we force ourselves to tough it out and look like we care for another grueling work week, let’s live in the moment, rent some movies, watch some games and hit the health club in anticipation of bikini season. Hold the fries, kids—you’ve got 10 pounds to drop.

WEAKEND POPCULT TOP 10
1. Lakers-Kings:
If the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals lives up to the advance hype—and assuming the casualty list doesn’t grow any bigger—this match-up of the two best teams in the NBA could be one for the ages. The winner gets either the Nets or the Celtics, who’ll hopefully avoid a sweep in what’s expected (on paper, at least) to be an anti-climactic championship round. Game One Saturday at 3:30 PT on NBC; Game Two Monday night on TNT and KCAL.

2. Taste for sale: Everybody knows the culture’s divided into two types—those who love sports and those who love shopping. Those in the latter category would be wise to zip over to Sherman Oaks on Sunday for an estate sale being given by a major music-pub weasel and his photographer/designer wife, who are moving up the hill (as people like these always do). It’s taking place 10- 5 at 12040 Roblar Rd. (south of Ventura between Stansbury and Murietta, west of Woodman, just east of Hazeltine; enter through driveway gate).

3. Ally McBeal, R.I.P. (Fox): In the end, viewers proved as fickle as Ally herself, but it only goes to prove even the zeitgeist must get canceled. And while the flurry of guest stars (Jon Bon Jovi, Christina Ricci, Heather Locklear) signaled "jump the shark" desperation, the groundbreaking mix of surrealism and imaginary musical interludes (who can forget channeling the likes of Barry White?) made David E. Kelley's show true water-cooler fodder, even if the idea of unisex bathrooms never took hold. We hear that in the series finale Monday night (5/20), Calista eats a cheeseburger.

4. Jay Bennett & Edward Burch, The Palace at 4am (Part I) (Undertow): Just scored a copy of this album by the former Wilco mainstay, which quietly came out on a Chicago indie the same day as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. While we haven’t had time to get all the way through the nearly 70-minute opus, the first half is dense, epic roots rock that belies the principals’ Midwestern roots—sounds something like Love’s Forever Changes rammed through Phil Spector’s wall of sound. A more complete assessment next week.

5. Kids in the Hall live: The clever Canadian cross-dressers reportedly look as fetching as ever on their tour of North American concert halls, nearing its conclusion Saturday night at the Wiltern Theatre. Expect lotsa laffs, but be sure to stay in your seats for the solo, gadget-powered mini-set by musical director Craig Northey (former frontman of the underrated Odds), which inspired a backstage congratulatory visit from his eminence Elvis Costello following a recent stopover in Seattle. Afterward, log on to craignorthey.com and check out his online journal, which currently doubles as a tour diary.

6. EAT'M Conference: Music and tech weasels high-tail it to Vegas at the end of the month for shmoozefest. I like those odds.

7. Attack of the Clones: Star Wars alpha-geek spin: Lucas knew the last one sucked, but it was necessary to move the story along and get to this flick, which is gonna be really good. Or something.

8. Paste Magazine: Upper-demo music mag covers artists with adult appeal. And the guide to 401k plans is off the heezee.

9. Eminem The Eminem Show (Aftermath/Shady/ Interscope): What better way to celebrate the death of Napster than by listening to a downloaded copy of the most tightly controlled release since Radiohead? You say Napster's not dead? Never mind. 

10. Kelly Osbourne: Proving that any girl with a dream, a smash TV show and a rock-star dad can have a hit with a Madonna cover. What a great country we live in.

BOYS TO MEN
About a Boy
(Universal):
Taking its chances by opening opposite the latest installment of Star Wars, this warm-hearted, but resolutely unsentimental, comedy is the third movie made from English writer Nick Hornby’s books (after his autobiographical soccer novel Fever Pitch and Stephen FrearsHigh Fidelity). With its English backdrop, American Pie director brothers Chris & Paul Weitz have proven adept at graduating from the adolescent growing pains of their first feature into the far trickier domain of an adult discovering the emptiness of prolonging the narcissism and self-involvement of a fleeting youth. Self-satisfied yuppie Hugh Grant brings his usual bag of stuttering, self-deprecating neurotic tics to the part, but for once, his hollow eyes reveal the emptiness at the center of his jack-the-lad persona. Grant is befriended—against his will, naturally—by a misfit 12-year-old (sensitively portrayed by newcomer Nicholas Hoult), who wants to hook him up with his suicidally depressed, hippie mom (a red-eyed Toni Collette). The match doesn’t work, but the geeky kid ends up learning how to be cool from his older mentor, who picks up tips on commitment and compassion from his unlikely companion. The movie expertly veers between pathos and clear-eyed observations about modern-day alienation and egotism, but also the aching need to connect with others and altruism. In addition, Badly Drawn Boy’s marvelous, evocative soundtrack (ArtistDirect) is as important a part of the film as Simon & Garfunkel’s songs were to The Graduate. For Hornby, a bit of a rock critic himself (for the New Yorker, among others), the healing power of music is one of his work's central themes. Here, it's climaxed by frustrated musician Grant saving his young charge from utter humiliation by accompanying him on guitar at a school talent show in a heart-breaking version of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly.” The year’s best American comedy does just that. —Roy Trakin

ONE’S A CROWD
Neil Finn, One All (Nettwerk):
On 1998’s Try Whistling This, his first solo album following the 1996 breakup of Crowded House, Finn came up with a frequently diverting but safe effort. This time out, however, he’s made a record that overtly recalls the agitated romanticism and revved-up musicality of his old group’s brilliant early albums. That’s due in part to the return of Crowded House collaborators Tchad Blake (production) and Mitchell Froom (Hammond organ, other keys). But surprisingly, considering a super-tasty lineup of contributors that also includes Jim Keltner, J.J. Johnson, Lisa Germano and Sheryl Crow, the key (wo)man turns out to be onetime Prince stalwart Wendy Melvoin, who not only plays most of the bass and some of the drums on the LP but also co-wrote four of the 12 songs. These include the languid "Rest of the Day Off," the crystalline "Last to Know" and the metaphysical rave-up "Secret God." Melvoin’s partner Lisa Coleman frequently shows up on keyboards as well, and this crack coed crew concocts a delectable stew of grooves, riffs and vamps that serves to expand the notion of pure pop into the new century while still adhering to its hallowed roots. The replacing of two so-so tracks that appeared on One Nil (an earlier version of the LP released in the U.K. and Down Under) with the contemplative “Lullaby Requiem” and “Human Kindness” increases the album’s dramatic/thematic heft, but a deft resequencing (which showcases the previously buried beauty "Driving Me Mad") is what causes One All to flow so elegantly, and so memorably. The guy’s still got it. Bud Scoppa

THEN PLAY ON
Moby, 18 (V2):
The most adventurous star in the pop firmament follows up the breakthrough Play with an equally eclectic, unforgettable set. While 18 is every bit as soulful, symphonic and groove-heavy, the last album’s archival vocal samples are largely replaced by performances from the likes of Angie Stone and MC Lyte (the sleekly funky “Jam for the Ladies”) and Sinead O’Connor (“Harbour”), among others—not to mention Moby himself, whose understated, vulnerable delivery always ups the emotional ante. This is especially true on the stunning, guitar-driven single “We Are All Made of Stars,” which suggests Joy Division and Talking Heads on ecstasy. Simon Glickman

UP FOR GRABS
Sam Jones, My Front Porches:
This unsigned singer-songwriter works the comfort zone between burnished classic rock, PoMo and “y’alternative” with skill and passion. His unpolished, vulnerable voice lends a punkish urgency to the proceedings, and an array of L.A. session cats (including ex-HITS dude Dan McCarroll on drums) gun the engine. Best of all, Jones is a genuine storyteller, and his tales of missed connections and battered but indomitable hope are full of unexpected twists. Most swingin’ cuts on Porches: fiery opening salvo “Hopped Up Bastard,” propulsive singalong “Astronauts in Motion,” the very sad, Gram-influenced “Clint Eastwood” and the bouncily bittersweet “Suit of Lights” (not to be confused with the Elvis Costello song of the same name). Keep an eye on this guy. —SG

SEX AND THE CINEMA
The L.A. Times' Patrick Goldstein took Adrian Lyne’s latest steamy morality play, Unfaithful, as a jumping-off point for a rumination on the puritanical state of current American movies with the observation that neither today’s young directors nor the filmgoing audience seemed particularly interested in seeing sexual activity depicted on screen. Especially, he added, when huge box-office stakes rode on whether a movie came out with a PG-13 or R rating. You certainly won’t see the kind of casual, unsentimental, yet refreshingly erotic carnal activity of Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron's groundbreaking Y Tu Mama Tambien displayed at your local multiplex. Let’s face it, sex has been demystified and drained of its romantic association by years of post-Pill promiscuity, then stigmatized by its association with AIDS…so much so that it probably ranks somewhere between downloading from Kazaa and IM’ing friends on AOL as a social activity for today’s teens. I mean, where do you go after you’ve gotten a bellybutton ring like Britney Spears? Popular culture has become so coarse and explicit, it’s all about payoff without the foreplay. Of course, much of the problem lies in the attitude of pop itself. For Englishman Lyne, as much as he identifies with Diane Lane visually, she must be punished for her sexual transgressions, just as Michael Douglas had to pay the price for his dalliance with Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. What distinguishes Lyne from most of his Hollywood cohorts is an ability to artfully express the illicit allure of adultery. He is fully aware that sexual attraction is capable of convincing even an otherwise moral individual to betray someone they love, which makes its hold that much more powerful. Reviewers have said Unfaithful wants it both ways—titillating its audience, only to make them pay by having them taught a moral lesson...like an R-rated Davey and Goliath. And that’s the problem with too much of today’s popular American filmmaking— there must be a middle ground between Vivid Video and Attack of the Clones where issues of sexuality can be analyzed and even enjoyed without feeling dirty afterward. Or maybe I should just take it up with a shrink.—RT

IVANA’S SECRET
After last week’s ER, I wanted to find out whose version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was played throughout the show. Searching the NBC website revealed nothing. I went to the “Movers & Shakers” section of Amazon.com, which is a chart devoted to the biggest sales increases in books/CDs/DVDs, by percentage, updated hourly. Nary a rainbow in sight. Finally, I found an ER fan-site, which led me to the answer: The artist is Israel IZ Kamakawiwo’ole, and the song is from the album Facing Future, which is now #12 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. Before IZ’s death in 1997, he was regarded as one of Hawaii’s cultural treasures. Now you know…. Last summer, the Louis Vuitton bags adorned with Stephen Sprouse’s graffiti graphics were the must-have accessories of the season. His decades-long influence on pop culture was readily apparent in the artwork for No Doubt’s most recent album, Rock Steady. This summer, fashionistas will be flocking to Target to buy items from the Americaland collection, designed by Sprouse exclusively for the retail giant. As of today, seven items are available on www.target.com (for those who are too squeamish to actually GO to a Target store—like me), including two T-shirts, two shoe designs, jeans and a swimsuit. More items, including home products and sports gear, all bearing Sprouse’s distinctive style, will be added in the next few weeks. In a few years, these items will be selling on eBay for serious money. Whoever thought a pair of $6.99 flip-flops would turn out to be an investment? Go ahead, buy two pairs. —Ivana B. Adored

A NEW YORK MINUTE
I'm going with the theme of cute boys in bands for my picks this weekend. [Ed note: In marked contrast to most of Heidi’s columns.] Friday night, one of the greatest singer/songwriters and the publicly acclaimed "nicest guy in rock" will make his second appearance of the year at Brownie's. San Fran-based John Vanderslice's East coast appearances are usually few and far between, but his current string of extensive touring is a welcome treat (hair color: blond). Saturday, check out Bright Eyes at Bowery Ballroom. If there weren't enough girls at his shows before, after recent spots on Conor in Jane and Seventeen, I'm sure that they'll all be coming out for this show (hair color: brown). Sugarcult return to the Knitting Factory on Sunday for a headlining show after a recent stint opening for Unwritten Law. Take the cute-boy factor and times it by four, throw in some amazing songs and there you go—show perfection (hair color: two blonds, red, black). —Heidi Anne-Noel

PUNK UNCLES
Green Day at Mars Amphitheater, West Palm Beach, FL: Who said punk is dead? You’d never know it by the throngs of teenage girls who flocked to see Green Day at the Mars Amphitheater in south Florida. Billie Joe Armstrong, sporting a black and white tie and jet-black short hair, egged on the enthusiastic crowd by encouraging them to rush to the stage before even a single note was struck.
          "West Palm Beach," he shouted, causing the frenzied crowd to erupt. The charismatic lead man held the audience in the palm of hands, raising his arms to reveal the white tops of his jockey underwear and the fans went wild. At one point, he lifted his button-down shirt to display a hair-free chest, eliciting squeals of delight from the hip-huggered, navel-exposed schoolgirls. The audience could well have been transported from a 1977 Ramones show.
The stage set lit up with streams of fire spurting skyward intermittently throughout the show.    
          The highlight was clearly "Minority," with Armstrong imploring his minions to flaunt their individuality. Square red confetti with the words "Green Day 2002" was shot into the air during the song from machines strategically placed around the stadium, leaving everyone covered in the stuff, momentarily shunning individual expression in favor of communal celebration. Punk's always been about that, anyway.
          The trio’s rapport with its rabid following was never so clearly demonstrated as when Billie Joe plucked three young boys from the audience to play drums, bass and guitar in a tribute to the music's "do it yourself" roots. Seventy jam-packed minutes later, Armstrong concluded the festivities with what has become the band's raison d'etre, "I hope you had the time of your life." There was no argument from the sated masses to that sentiment.
—Janet Trakin

YOUR WEAKEND WEATHER
I’ll be wearing a tux: If you live in NYC, while you wait in line to see Star Wars, there’s a good chance you’ll be standing in the rain on Friday. The rest of the weekend will be cloudy, with temps in the upper 50s/low 60s and lows in the low 40s. Isn’t it spring yet? Out in Los Angeles, the lines will be just as long and the skies just as cloudy, but temps will be 15 degrees warmer. If you’re in Chicago, say for the Purivs-Kluzak wedding, it— [Ed. Note: Due to his abrupt departure for Chicago and the Purivs-Kluzak wedding, David was unable to complete this assignment. Thank you for your understanding.]
—David Simutis, Senior Meteorology Correspondent/Best Man

NEAR TRUTHS: REVOLUTIONS AND ROCKET SHIPS
IB Bad weighs in on the "youthquake." (11/19a)
GRAMMY SHOWDOWNS
In the red corner... (11/19a)
ARIZONA GOES TO COLUMBIA
Bring on the remixes! (11/15a)
NEW RELEASES: LE RETOUR DE CELINE (UPDATE)
Nothing lost in translation. (11/18a)
WILL REI AMI BE THE NEXT ACT TO POP?
Pass the popcorn. (11/18a)
THE GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
They'll soon be here, and then we can start obsessing about who'll win.
U.K. SPECIAL
Forget Brexit--it's our yearly survey of doings in Blighty. And if you still can't forget Brexit, try drinking.
WHAT'S GOING ON BENEATH OUR WINDOWS?
The latest in Hollyweird.
WEED!
That's what Hollywood smells like. Seriously. 24/7.
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