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By late Sunday, we’ll know which, if any, of the higher seeds is up to the ultimate gut check of regaining control during two games in enemy territory. Yikes. As Magic used to say, it’s nervous time.
ANOTHER FUNKY OL'
WEAKEND PLANNER
The Names May Have Changed, but the Tired Shtick Remains the Same
We must sound like a broken record these days, as week after week, we expound on the unparalleled drama of the NBA Playoffs, while praising a couple more cool records and damning another weekend’s worth of crappy movies. Well, get over it, kids, cuz we’re about to do it all over again. Word.

WEAKEND POPCULT TOP 10
1. George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic: We want the funk! And we can get it this Saturday at UCLA’s Sunset Canyon Rec Center, as funkateer pioneers Clinton and Billy "Bass" Nelson bring the funk, along with their 25-piece orchestra, to the outdoor amphitheater. Medusa and her eight-piece band Feline Science open. Show starts at 5:30 p.m.; general admission tickets are $30. (KY)

2. NBA Playoffs Second Round: Speaking of the funk, three of the four favorites—the Kings, the Pistons and our beloved Lakers, are in just that as I write this, having lost home-court advantage in each of their second games, as they deal with the tsouris of having been defeated in their own houses. By late Sunday, we’ll know which, if any, of the higher seeds is up to the ultimate gut check of regaining control during two games in enemy territory. Yikes. As Magic used to say, it’s nervous time. (BS)

3. Rob Cohen & David Wollock, Why We Rule! (HarperEntertainment): Subtitled “101 Great Reasons to Love Our Country,” this follow-up to the pair’s witty Etiquette for Outlaws is just what it says it is, a xenophobic celebration of what makes us proud to be Amurikans. It starts with no-brainers like Freedom, The Constitution and Apple Pie before touching on Rock & Roll, Shit Works, Howard Stern, Porn, The ATM and Starbucks. Not least (to us, anyway) is a nod to hitsdailydouble.com as “an American website that rules.” Kul. (RT)

4. "Beverly Winwood Presents The Actors Showcase": L.A. improv giants (including Paul Reubens and Jennifer Coolidge) bring their genius to bear on bad acting. Paralyzingly funny. (SG)

5. Horse Racing at Hollywood Park: Vegas just too long a drive on a Friday night? Dude, nothing beats the horses running in beautiful downtown Inglewood. And, when the races end, its just a short crawl over to the casino for your choice of Texas Hold ’Em or seven-card stud. (MP)

6. Moby: When Eminem disses you in his lead single, you've truly arrived. Couldn't happen to a nicer spaceman. (SG)

7. Y Tu Mama Tambien (Volcano): The soundtrack to the year’s best movie, compiled by KCRW’s Liza Richardson along with Zomba’s Jonathan McHugh, is an ecelctic mix of edgy rock en espanol (Molotov, Plastilina Mosh), quirky new wave (Natalie Imbruglia, Bran Van 3000, Eagle Eye Cherry), cult heroes (Brian Eno, Frank Zappa), classic Tex-Mex (Flaco Jimenez) and even a neo-lounge version of Kraftwerk’s ”Showroom Dummies” by Senor Coconut. (RT)

8. Macca: After making fans' dreams come true, he IS The Beatles. All of a sudden, we just can’t stop playing “Fixing a Hole.” (SG)

9. Love Makes Things Happen: Co-produced by Babyface, this musical play features classic and new songs from the hitmaker and stars his brother, singer Kevon Edmonds, former En-Vogue/Lucy Pearl member Dawn Robinson, and ex-SWV singer Coko. Remaining dates at the Wiltern Theatre in L.A. through 5/12, Philadelphia 5/28-6/2, NYC 6/10-6/16, DC. 6/18-6/23. (KY)

10. Pardon My Interruption (ESPN): Washington Post sportswriters Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon do their own version of water-cooler polemics with this spirited mano a mano take on the burning sports issues of the day. A tribute to the dying art of civilized discourse, well-lubricated with wisecracks. (RT)

STAR FLAWS
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
(Fox): First things first. Yeah, it’s better than the disappointing Phantom Menace, if only because nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker has matured into heartthrob Hayden Christensen, and there are enough sparks in the romance with Natalie Portman’s Senator Amidala to potentially hook a female audience. Not to mention Jar Jar Bink’s scenes are mercifully cut short. It’s unlikely the movie will top Spider-Man’s $114 million opening week, because that film had the field to itself when it opened last week, but it should come awfully close.
          That said, the fifth installment of George Lucas’ space saga takes the best part of the first movie—the Cantina scene, with its motley collection of space creatures—and goes into overkill mode. Cramming every shot with an assortment of computer-generated characters that are often more animated than their human counterparts, including Ewan MacGregor’s rather wan Obi-Wan, Lucas seems to forget what made his original so compelling. It wasn’t the guy in the Chewbacca costume or R2-D2’s beeping tincan, but the romantic triangle between Luke, his sister Princess Leia and Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. The relationship between Christensen and Portman is pretty pedestrian by comparison, leaving one going from action set-piece to action set-piece, which are every bit as spectacular as the CGI effects in Spider-Man. There are stunning shots of the air traffic on the planet Coruscant, which leads into a chase scene right out of Universal theme park’s Back to the Future ride. There’s also a gladiator fight with a series of mutant monsters, including a lobster-like creature, a mongrel dog and a bucking bull-like wild boar, as well as an amazing shot featuring the titular army of clones.
          The film’s climax is a dynamic, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-like light-saber fight between Frank Oz’s revitalized Yoda (the true star of the movie) and Count Dooku (horror film vet Chrisopher Lee, who was a lot scarier in Lord of the Rings). It’s kinda amazing how the film’s themes and structures resemble that movie’s mythic bent, and true fans should devour this movie’s return to form. Compared to his pal Steve Spielberg, who explored themes of love and loss in his sci-fi A.I., it seems Lucas is still in a state of arrested adolescent development. In fact, it would seem he’s every bit as big of a geek as the legions of Star Wars fans he continues to enthrall. —Roy Trakin

FEMMES MUSICALES
It’s been a rough couple of years for female artists who play rock or otherwise don’t fit into a safe pop pigeonhole. Women have been all but banished from heavier formats, and also often suffer the same fate as their male counterparts who seem to straddle too many genres. But judging from some recent signings and some artists now seeking deals, we’ll be seeing a distaff wave in the next year or so that’s bound to destroy some longstanding barriers. Here are some examples… J Records chanteuse Lamya (best known Stateside for her work with Soul II Soul) brings a wealth of global styles to her R&B brew. Her showcase this week at the Viper Room showed much promise, and the sampler of tracks from her forthcoming album, Learning From Falling, boasts some instantly hooky fare… Tasha Taylor, the daughter of blues legend Johnnie Taylor, weaves soul, rock and pop into a compelling whole—her songs, like the aching "Older," "If Tomorrow Never Comes" and the mighty "Hairdown," feel like old friends on first listen. The warmth and grit of her vocal delivery is evident on the demos now making the rounds, and she's a force of nature onstage… Charlotte Martin is signed to RCA but has a completed indie album, One Girl Army, due out on Bongload. The young singer/songwriter is a virtuoso pianist who attacks her instrument with an almost startling intensity—in other words, she kills live—and Army captures the vertiginous emotional experience of her performances beautifully (thanks to producer/Bongload head Tom Rothrock). Some wags will point to the Tori Amos and Fiona Apple similarities, but Martin’s songs, especially fierce workouts "Silver Honey" and "Mayday for the Girl" and the lovely "Across the Water," show a very distinctive signature. One newer song not on the album sounded like radio paydirt to me. Check her out at the L.A. Knitting Factory on Monday night… Recent Atlantic signing Sierra Swan has a tough, smart alterna-rock sensibility that co-writers/producers Anne Preven and Scott Cutler have placed amid stark, synth-pop sonics reminiscent of Eurythmics and Depeche Mode. The results are striking, to say the least… Unsigned singer/songwriter Francesca Gregorini blends highly eroticized pop-rock with inventive trip-hop textures; armed with a strong band and some new demos (including one song co-written with Moby), she’ll be making the rounds soon… On a heavier tip, Hole alumnus Mia Ferraro has teamed up with two former members of Betty Blowtorch in the new outfit Tadpole, which already boasts some specialty radio action and hardcore fans. Check ‘em out on 5/11 at the Garage in L.A. Simon Glickman

THE OVERGROWN SUPERSHIT
Cornershop, Handcream for a Generation (Beggars Group):
The long-awaited follow-up to Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres’ late-’90s classic, When I Was Born for the Seventh Time, is a postmodern porridge containing seemingly every major groove of the last 35 years, from reggae to raga, from disco to hip-hop. Singh, a bona fide post-millennial Jesus of Cool—he has all the winking charm of Stiff Records-era Nick Lowe—purveys a delightfully dadaist sensibility on such wacko gems as “Wogs Will Walk,” “Staging the Plaguing of the Raised Platform,” the 15-minute trance workout “Spectral Mornings” (ideally suited for working up a sweat on the Precor Elliptical Trainer) and “Lessons Learned From Rocky I to Rocky III,” which nails the modern-day music biz as “the overgrown supershit,” while the band cranks out ’70s-style corporate-rock boogie riffage. Sublime.
Bud Scoppa

A LOUD BUZZ
The Hives, Veni Vidi Vicious (Sire/Reprise/Burning Heart/Epitaph):
If you dig the garage-punk fury of The Strokes and White Stripes, you’ll find a lot to love on this Swedish band’s breathrough disc. The Hives conjure that ’77 nihilist party vibe, thanks to sledgehammer guitars, regimented beats and singer Pelle’s anthemic shouts, but they never sound like mere nostalgia mongers. Just check out the rude, intoxicated hooks on “Main Offender,” the brief but incendiary “A Get Together to Tear It Apart,” the swaggering “Hate to Say I Told You So” and the ruthless “Statecontrol.” This shit rocks, but I’ll bet it sounds even better on vinyl. —SG

TRAKIN’S PICKS TO FLICK
Unfaithful
(Fox):
Director Adrian Lyne has explored the turf of cheating marriage partners before, in Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal, and more recently, in his film adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. This time around, it’s the woman, the always-alluring Diane Lane, who is literally blown into the arms of tall dark French stranger Olivier Martinez after stepping out on Richard Gere and her kid Charlie (Maclolm in the Middle sibling Erik Per Sullivan). The film’s supposedly a loose adaptation of Claude Chabrol’s 1968 La Femme Infidele, but what seems sophisticated in France is merely cheesy in America. Although there’s supposedly some erotic heat generated (there always is in a Lyne movie), it’s the parts in between you have to get through, with the script by Alvin Sargent (Ordinary People) and William Broyles Jr. (Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes) coming in for some pretty heavy criticism. If Lyne was really daring, he wouldn’t come up with the same old moral payoffs Hollywood has always specialized in—tempering the camera’s love of lust with the hypocritical puritanism which runs through most American popular culture. The website at www.unfaithfulmovie.com is pretty artful itself that recreates the story in images and offers the usual information about the film, cast and crew, production notes, trailer, image gallery and downloads.

The New Guy (Columbia Pictures): Yet another lowest-common-denominator teensploitation flick, this one from respected Hollywood producer Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios, and what was he thinking? Loser geek DJ Qualls (looking like a cross between a modern-day Don Knotts and Arnold Stang), who is constantly abused at high school, winds up in jail (don’t ask), where he learns to be cool from con Eddie Griffin. Qualls emerges from prison as the title character, now transformed into a hipster. Along the way, he ditches old pal Zooey Deshanel, who fronts a funk-rock band that covers Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” and then romances cheerleader Eliza Dushku (best-known as the other cheerleader in Bring It On and the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer). If you must look for cameos by the likes of skateboarder Tony Hawk, Henry Rollins, Vanilla Ice (he plays a Sam Goody record clerk in a case of life imitating art) and a braces-clad Lyle Lovett, who takes a flaming marshmallow to the eye. Director Ed Decter penned the screenplay for There’s Something About Mary, so at least he knows comedy when he sees it, but he may have a hard time living this one down. The Epic/Sony soundtrack album features a potpourri of rap and rock, including Mystikal (the title track), Eve 6, Juvenile, Green Day, Wheatus, Nine Days, Vertical Horizon, J.T. Money and SR-71. The website at sony.com/TheNewGuy offers a chance to go from “geek to chic” and win a $750 shopping spree or a PlayStation 2 and video from DJ Qualls seven-city promotional tour and clips from the movie, which probably beats sitting through the whole thing.

ESPN’s Ultimate X -The Movie (Touchstone): While most of the older generation is immersed in the traditional sports of baseball, basketball, football and even ice hockey, youngsters have shown a lot more interest in skate- and snowboarding, shovel-racing, BMX bike riders, motocrossers and street lugers. This IMAX film, directed by Bruce Hendricks and based on ESPN’s coverage of the X Games, captures all the high-adrenaline rush of a Mountain Dew commercial as well as the extreme sports cultural philosophy (the art of snowboarding compared to The Beatles?). This would probably make a nifty double feature with the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, and features a Hollywood Records soundtrack boasting 3rd Strike’s hit single “No Light” as well as tracks from Fatboy Slim, Pennywise, Tricky and OPM. The website at www.espn.com/ultimatex features a streamed trailer, movie info, soundtrack information, a picture gallery, a profile of the various athletes, dates for the promo bus tour and a list of theaters where the film’s playing. —RT

NAYSKAR PUHREEDICKSCHUONS, Y’ALL
Now lookee hyar: Ain’t no preedicktin’ ta do, cuz they ain’t no racin’ this week. That’s on accounta it bein’ Mother’s Day and all, an’ them drahvers, crew chiefs, crew, and hell, even them owners shore love they mamas. Evin Grocery Boy’s left-rear tahr carrier, evin Dee-vorce Boy’s catch-can man love they mamas. Me, ah wuz hatched out o’ a egg in a dang ole petrie dish, so ah couldn’t give two shits onna shingle bout no Mammy’s Day. But anyhoo, we comin’ atcha hyar wiffa itty bitty giftin’ sujjeschin, if you care ta reespekt the gal what gave you lahf: Thassraht, we talking bout thuh gift what keep on givin’ thuh new dang ole NASCAR on Fox Crank It Up compilation disc, out on MCA Records. Now, ah done herad me some dang fahn yodelin’ comin’ up outta that thar Mary J. Bliges an’ whatnot, so you kin count onna quality product hyah. Lemme jes axe you this, boyee: What mammy wouldn’t thrill to thuh sounds o’ the NASCAR on Fox theme blarin’ outta her speakers on command? Tha’s track one. What mammy wouldn’t trade her liposuction gift certificate in without so much as battin’ one dang false eyelash tuh hear the dulcet refrain of Slayer doin’ “Born To Be Wild”? Type O Negative doin’ “Highway Star”? Buckcherry doin’ “On the Road Again”? Shit howdy, cowboy, the best damn giffs ya ever done gived was ones you’d give yerseff, raht? Am ah raht?!? Them classic songs what ah jes’ mentioned was only a few o’ thuh many rockin’ car-type jingles what appear on this ceedee raht hyar, so git on out thar ’n’ buy it fer yer ma, an’ make sure ya axe her if’n yew kin borry it fer yer truck. This hyar’s drahvin’ music, friend!!!!!
—Guy W.T. Goggles

IVANA’S SECRET
You’d think I would’ve taken my own advice, but noooooooo. So now I’m stressing about a Mother’s Day gift. In case you’re in the same boat, here are some last-minute ideas: 1) Instead of taking Mom out to brunch, have brunch flown to Mom. The world’s best bagels can be ordered from the world-famous H&H Bagels at www.handhbagel.com. Gotta have lox, so I recommend www.portchatham.com. They’ll ship it overnight for Saturday delivery, even if you order as late as Friday. After brunch, take Mom to see the delightful Kissing Jessica Stein—let her spend the movie wondering what other surprises are in store for her! Even if you don’t know any of the local florists near your Mom’s house, call Amy at Hidden Garden (310-475-4647) and she’ll probably have a connection with a nearby florist. If Mom is in L.A., she’s in luck—Hidden Garden absolutely has the most gorgeous flower arrangements, priced very reasonably. If Mom lives in the boondocks, order her flowers from www.calyxandcorolla.com (I LOVE the peonies) or www.flowerbud.com. Maybe Mom would like to see Neil Diamond in concert this summer—in the U.K.! Cash in some miles and check out www.pollstar.com for tour dates. If Mom has a sense of whimsy, perhaps she’d appreciate a Hello Kitty coffee maker or toaster from www.sanrio.com. Adventurous moms might be interested in learning about kayaking or theater production or art history (a few of the many summer programs offered) while attending an elder hostel. Information about this can be found through www.elderhostel.org. If nothing else, just remember to call—she DID carry you for nine months and ruin her figure (and probably also her life) for you, so it’s the least you can do. —Ivana B. Adored

A NEW YORK MINUTE
Friday night, one of my favourite bands, Rilo Kiley, are at the Knitting Factory opening for Ben Kweller and Ozma. Being from LA, their appearances are few and far between, so I always make sure to catch them when they come through and highly recommend it to anyone else. Saturday night, Seattle sweeties 764 Hero will be at the Knitting Factory, or, if you prefer your boys a little rougher, Mike Watt will be performing at Maxwell's. Sunday night, strap on the legwarmers and head to Luxx in Brooklyn for Punk Rock Aerobics. During a session in Boston, J. Mascis was working out when a Dinosaur Jr. song came on, which inspired him to pick up his guitar and start strumming along. The guy can play guitar, but can he do jumping jacks? Check it out to see what NYC luminaries will show up and let people see them sweat. —Heidi Anne-Noel

COUNTRY'S NEW KING
The Gospel of Luke (11/11a)
BIEBER BY CHRISTMAS?
How's that for a tease, Bieber Nation? (11/12a)
NEAR TRUTHS: MEET
THE NEW BOSSES
Not the same as the old bosses (11/11a)
CMA CENTERPIECE
CARRIE UNDERWOOD
This sure feels like her moment. (11/11a)
A TASTE OF RAINMAKERS II:
SARAH TRAHERN
It's a marathon, not a sprint. (11/11a)
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH KANYE
And lo, there was much earned media.
MOE, MARSHMELLO AND MONEY
The story of a "faceless" brand that got very, very big.
THE NEW WORLD OF A&R
The trap they all fell into.
GRAMMY NOMS
Who deserves consideration in the genre categories?
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