U2 continue to hold the torch for what now passes as rock. They’re still proud believers in making love, not war, and finding the sacred in the mundane. And if that’s rockist, then count me in.


U2 Looks for Peace on Earth, Neil McCormick Prays to Bono, Ornette Coleman Goes to Harmolodic Heaven, Hicks Rants and Raves and Arrested Development Isn’t Very Arresting
OK, we’re sorry. We apologize for anything below that may offend, disturb, anger, humiliate, shame or embarrass you. There, we said it. Terrell Owens apologizes for appearing in that sexist, racist, pandering, obscene Monday Night Football promo with Nicolette Sheridan. Excuse me, NFL… have you seen what your average Dallas Cowboy cheerleader is wearing, or should we say not wearing? Anna Nicole Smith says she’s sorry for slurring her words and appearing drunk as a skunk on the American Music Awards. Actually, she said it was because she couldn’t read the teleprompters. So that’s why she almost collapsed like a deck of cards. John Kerry is obviously doing mea culpas for waiting until the bitter end to involve James Carville and the Clintonites in his ill-fated presidential campaign. And just about now, Michael Moore should be offering some self-flagellation for being this year’s version of Ralph Nader, turning certain victory into the jaws of defeat. Hey, if love means never having to say you’re sorry, then you’re going to hate us. Because sorry doesn’t even begin to describe how pathetic the following drivel is in the face of such abject, unh, how do you say… disinterest? So, rather than apologize for what you didn’t do, how about doing something that’ll make you sorry this weekend? There’s not much time left, folks. You’ll be sorry if you don’t.

Friday (11/19)
6:30 p.m.-11 p.m.
Bad Religion
with TSOL and Rise Against @the Hollywood Palladium: Old-school punk night. Comb your hair into a mohawk and prepare to mosh the night away.

7:30 p.m.
Spongebob Square Pants
: The movie opens this weekend. Whether you are into it or not, if you have kids, you will most likely be taking them. Featuring Tom Kenny, Scarlett Johansson, Alec Baldwin and Jeffrey Tambor. See it stoned for laughs.

8 p.m.
A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant:
Thursdays-Sundays thru 12/19 @the PowerHouse Theatre (3116 2nd St., Santa Monica, (866) 633-6246). Besides having the best title ever, this Obie Award-winning show (DEFINITELY NOT put on by actual Scientologists) is my favorite 50 minutes in the theatre in awhile. A cast of 8-13-year old kids tell (and sing!) the story of L. Ron Hubbard’s rise from birth to struggling science fiction writer to the leader of his own freakin’ religion, fer auditor’s sake. The kids explain quite a bit about the way-profitable (for L. Ron, anyway) religion and its teachings. And they do it all within this brilliantly cheesey nativity school play/pageant set. Shit, it’s funny. The best part is also the most frightening one. The entire text of the show is drawn from Scientology materials and details events that have actually taken place, in reality, that is. And the final moments of the show, I’ll just say … wow. It’s running thru Dec. 19 (Thursdays-Sundays). DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT MISSING THIS; I’LL GO AGAIN WITH YOU. (I also now have a crush on Kyle Jarrow, who’s responsible for the book, music & lyrics … so this review might work wonders for me. Oh, and look for Kyle’s band, The Fabulous Entourage, below… he’s got mad talent. (Will someone please tell him I put out?) (Jill Kushner)

10 p.m.
"The Hottest Lead Singer in the World":
Or so he calls himself. Anyway, he’s looking for a date, so e-mail him at [email protected]. In other news, his band American Eyes is having their CD release party at the Key Club with Clear Static this Friday.

Saturday (11/20)
11 a.m.-8 p.m.

LACMA(5905 Wilshire Blvd): "Passion for Drawings: Poussin to Cezanne" features works from the Prat collection. The evolution of French art in the 17th through 19th century, as documented by 100 drawings

Renoir to Matisse: The eye of Ducan Phillips. More than 50 European masterworks from Phillips’ collection (special admission for "Renoir" exhibit $12-20)

12:30 p.m.
L.A Clippers vs. Houston Rockets
: The improving Clips host Dynamic Duo Yao and McGrady as they look to rebound from their disappointing loss against the Lakers.

1 p.m.
"Superfamous": Michael Muller’s latest photography exhibit
(runs thru Dec. 25 @ Lo-Fi Gallery (1038 N. Fairfax Ave., (323) 654-5634): This show features American icons who aren’t doin’ so hot. You’ll see the Cat in the Hat passed out on Hollywood Blvd., Batman slumped against a dumpster and Homer Simpson doing a dance while grabbing his crotch. Muller always shoots big stars. He’s donating some of the proceeds from his show to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which focuses on cleaning up the environment (not looking hot in dirty white T-shirts and backwards baseball caps, oddly).

2 p.m.
Naked Catering: Creative Catering and Party Planning: We stumbled upon this ad (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). They’ve got clothing optional services available and organic or vegetarian catering on request. That’s a catering company that really brings it, as far as we’re concerned. (323) 436-9161

8 p.m.
The Futureheads
@the Troubadour: New wave rock with thump that harks back to the classics from this band inked to Seymour Stein’s Sire imprint on Warner Bros.

Sunday (11/21)
10 a.m.
Wake up with
The Fabulous Entourage: We’re not suggesting that you’ll be opening your eyes to a posse of babes/dudes that you’ve bedded from the previous evening. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We’re suggesting that you get your ass to to learn more about this kick ass NY band. They’re punk, they’re pop, they got mad grooves, power ballads and are known for their way-theatrical cool live shows. Find out more about the band The New Yorker says: "The Fabulous Entourage is a quintet of youthful punk-popsters hell-bent on bringing theatrics back to rock & roll."

12 p.m. Pershing Square Park (532 S. Olive St. Los Angeles, CA 90013 (213) 847-4968): Can’t wait another month for Christmas? Get into the holiday spirit a little early this year. Head to downtown L.A. to check out the new outdoor ice rink with your family.

12:30 p.m.
L.A Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns
: The traditionally underdog Clippers are off to a pretty good start, but it doesn’t get any easier. The Clippers host the first-place Suns and former Clipper Quentin Richardson. This game has all the makings of a showdown.

1 p.m.
Watch rookie Eli Manning make his first NFL start for the struggling NY Giants as they look to get back on the winning track against Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons. Or not, as the case may be.

3 p.m.
Iron Giant
: Looking for a good movie for the family? Just re-released on DVD, this 1999 animated feature from Warner Bros. is amazing… and was totally ignored on its release. So, take hope, Zemeckis and Hanks. It’s from auteur Brad Bird, the brilliant mind behind The Incredibles. Not as many people are familiar with it, but it’s definitely a top-notch film and worth checking out with the kids.

8 p.m.
Christmas Tree Lighting
: The Grove @Farmers Market (6333 W. 3rd St.): Come see Santa Claus, Jimmy Kimmel, along with fireworks and fresh man-made snow, every night at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. into the New Year.

8:30 p.m.
Arrested Development
(Fox): We’re pretty sure you don’t need to be reminded to watch this brilliant show religiously. But we’ll give it a shout out, just in case you’ve been stranded on some island without electricity for the past year. (For a divergent view of this Emmy-winning comedy, see Popcult Top 10 below).

11/22 Green Day
performs on Jimmy Kimmel and Tuesday 11/23 in Long Beach

11/25 Happy Thanksgiving!

1. U2, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (Interscope): They still might not have found what they’re looking for, but they’re "One Step Closer" to knowing on their new album. The soon-to-be Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees are at the peak of their power here—Internet naysayers who claim they’ve sold out to Apple be damned. This is their Who’s Next or Abbey Road, a confident encapsulation with a tentative look ahead. The ubiquitous "Vertigo" is what it is, a "Start Me Up" that evokes both the sheer kinetic joy of "Beautiful Day" and "Elevation." The blue-eyed soul of "Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own" is basically last album’s "Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of," but its ability to turn the cosmic into the specific, especially Bono’s heart-rending falsetto, make it one of the album’s standouts. The buzzsaw "Love and Peace or Else" evokes the electric "Bullet the Blue Sky," while twinkling "City of Blinding Light" is what you find "Where the Streets Have No Name." "All Because of You" has the youthful urgency of "I Will Follow" just as clearly as "Crumbs From Your Table" echoes the apocalyptic urgency of "Until the End of the World." With "Origin of the Species," whose expansive string arrangements place it squarely on side two of Abbey Road, or the final benedictory "Yaweh," which nods to an Old Testament god with pride in the name of love, U2 continue to hold the torch for what now passes as rock. They’re still proud believers in making love, not war, and finding the sacred in the mundane. And if that’s rockist, then count me in. (Roy Trakin)

2. Neil McCormick, Killing Bono (VH1/Pocket Books): Despite the inflammatory title, the Irish McCormick, now a pop critic at the Daily Telegraph, one of the U.K.’s largest dailies, comes to praise his one-time schoolmate, whose band was a local rival before the pair’s careers took very divergent courses. A contradictory atheist Salieri to the U2 frontman’s spiritual believer Mozart, McCormick details how his rock dreams died hard after a succession of bands with his brother Ivan resulted in plenty of hilarious music biz calamities. One part the portrait of the rockcrit as a young loser in the mode of recent works from Jonathan Lethem, Donna Gaines and Mark Spitz, it also combines the travails of the—in this case—U.K. record business, which doesn’t sound that much different than the train wreck over here described by Semisonic drummer Jacob Slichter's So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star. And while the failed artist in him envies his pal from afar, the budding writer looks to his accomplishments for sustenance and inspiration. It ends with McCormick happily ensconsed in the suburbs with his wife and three kids, penning a column in a prestigious daily, and finally getting a major label release for an album he recorded just for the fun of it under the name The Ghost Who Walks. A music biz story with a happy ending… so far. (RT)

3. Ornette Coleman/Charlie Haden at Walt Disney Concert Hall,L.A.: I’m not usually a rabid jazz fan, but I’m not a complete philistine, so I jumped at a chance to see these two legends, together on one stage, at least a partial reunion of the quartet whose stint at New York’s Five Spot Café in 1959 is marked as the birth of the free-form, avant-garde era. Bassist Haden, father of Spain’s Josh and That Dog’s Petra, played selections from his new Land of the Sun album, with a band that included Latin pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. The ensmeble painted fleeting pictures of voyage and discovery that drifted into the vast theatre like wisps of smoke, only to disappear before your very ears. The 74-year-old Coleman ambled onstage to a standing ovation, jaunty in a pork-pie hat and powder blue suit, picking up his white alto sax and letting out a pure sound that sounded like one-half of a conversation. With two bassists and son Denardo on drums, the venerable musician shifted trumpet, then a violin, without missing a beat, veering in and out, gurgling with enthusiasm, as his bandmates scrambled to frame his fragments into coherent thoughts until ending all at once, bringing reason to the rhyme. You may not walk out humming Coleman’s patented harmolodics, but you know you’ve been in the presence of something special. My only quibble: I wish I was watching it spontaneously combust in some smokey jazz club rather than the museum-like confines of the much-ballyhooed Disney Concert Hall along with a subscription audience that started walking out 10 minutes into Coleman’s set. Too bad they missed the encore, where Coleman and Haden re-teamed on their wistful ’59 piece "Lonely Woman," which drew appreciative applause of recognition from the cognescenti with the first notes. (RT)

4. Bill Hicks, Live (Ryko DVD): Rykodisc has been methodically cataloguing on audio disc this social satirist, who died at the age of 34 in 1994, with an impressive following of fellow comics. This first DVD release includes three separate performances, including an HBO "One Night Stand" at the Old Vic Theatre in Chicago and his "breakout" show earlier that same year (’91) in at the Montreal Comedy Festival, as well as a 45-minute documentary featuring testimonials from his peers. Sort of a combination of Lenny Bruce’s social outrage and hipster persona with fellow Texas Sam Kinison’s preacher-like zeal, Hicks was an expert at puncturing society’s hypocrisy and contradictions. His bits about the first George Bush and the Gulf War could well be subtituted for today without missing a beat. Perhaps best-known for the sardonic, pro-smoking routine that Denis Leary allegedly pilfered as his own, Hicks was a fatalistic pessimist with the heart of a hopeful optimist. He often finished his show with a bit about using the country’s massive aresean of weapons to fire food at the hungry, a sentiment he seemed to wistfully, but no less sincerely, believed would solve the world’s problems. If only… (RT)

5. Arrested Development (Fox): It took me a couple of seasons to get Seinfeld and even Ally McBeal, but this critically kudoed comedy just doesn’t tickle my funny bone. The comedies I like these days are the ones that don’t try to be funny, and this one just tries a little too hard for my taste. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Jeffrey "Hey Now" Tambor and I find David Cross stalking his wife as a member of the Blue Man Group and in-jokes about B-movie actors like Thomas Jane mildly amusing, too. Though I don’t know Jane well enough to even tell if it’s him, which means the joke is kinda lost on me. But an Emmy winner? Just a little too much forced absurdity for my taste. (RT)

6. Polar Express IMAX 3-D: I read all the scathing, and in some cases, quite hostile reviews of this movie, and wondered if I had watched the same film. And, of course, I hadn’t because I’d seen the IMAX 3-D version. Many of the problems about dead eyes and zombie characters disappear as you literally participate in the film itself. Even L.A. Times pundit Patrick Goldstein failed to note the 3-D version of the movie is selling out through the end of the year in the few venues where it’s showing, and is undoubtedly destined to become a holiday perennial for years to come. And since when is it a criticism that a film is more like a thrill ride? That’s sort of the point of the IMAX 3-D version and it delivers like no 3-D movie I’ve ever seen. Several critics complained the film was like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, which I offered as a compliment. And while the vision of the North Pole was, as some pointed out, a bit fascist in the mode of Leni Riefenstahl meets Soviet agitpop poster art, I found that perversely fascinating. And I didn’t even mind the cloying Christmas tunes… As for those who complained, I have two words for you: Bah! Humbug! (RT)

7. Modern Humorist: A puppy humps a round yellow pig doll to the tune of R. Kelly’s "I Believe I Can Fly." Not necessarily humorous, but strangely relevant. No, this is not the tape used to try to blackmail Gary Sheffield’s gospel singer wife about an underage affair she allegedly had with the singer. (RT)

8. Egg Drop-Wonton Soup Combination: Only a few Chinese restaurants in the L.A. area serve this East Coast fave, one of them Uncle Chen’s in Encino on Ventura Blvd. next to Jerry’s Deli. There, you get the big, fat crispy noodles, old school duck sauce and hot Chinese mustard. Throw in a few pork spareribs and you have the makings of Sunday night on Lon Guyland. Mmmmm, good. (RT)

9. Queen on Live-Aid at Wembley Stadium, England (Rhino/WSM home video): Was there actually a time we believed Freddie Mercury was straight? And what were we thinking? (RT)

10. BE: The "new" beer with caffeine, guarana and ginseng from the folks at Anheuser-Busch (we said, "bush"). Somebody better try this ASAP and hit us back with a review. We’re open to the Busch (we said it again) folks sendin’ us out a case to give it a whirl. Please put, "Attention: Jill." (Jill Kushner)

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie
The popular Nickelodeon cartoon about a sponge and his underwater and above water pals from Bikini Bottom hits the big screen.
Stars: Tom Kenny
, Bill Fagerbakke, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass, Mr. Lawrence, Alec Baldwin, David Hasselhoff, Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Tambor
Director: Stephen Hillenburg
(biology teacher who created and co-wrote series makes his feature debut)
Thumbs Up:
The kids have made the show a sensation.
Thumbs Down:
Will teens get into its camp appeal enough to make it a box office smash?
Sire/Warner Bros. album features theme song performed by Avril Lavigne and new songs by altrockers The Flaming Lips, Wilco and The Shins, among others.

National Treasure (Walt Disney Pictures)
Modern treasure hunters, led by an archaeologist who is the eighth descendant in a family all searching for the same thing: a massive, 2000-year-old war chest treasure reportedly hidden by four founding fathers as funds for the Revolutionary War, using a secret code found in the Constitution (and a map that might have been drawn on the back of the Declaration of Independence) to find its location.
Nicolas Cage, Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight, Diane Kruger, Sean Bean, Christopher Plummer
Director: Jon Turtletaub
(Cool Runnings, While You Were Sleeping, Phenomenon, Disney’s The Kid), screenplay by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (Shrek, Aladdin, The Mask of Zorro, Pirates of the Caribbean and sequel)
Thumbs Up:
Could be some mindless cold-weather campy fun in the Pirates of the Caribbean vein.
Thumbs Down:
Could be another loud, brassy, dumbed-down Jerry Bruckheimer action flick.
Soundtrack: Disney Records
album features score by composer (and former Yes man) Trevor Rabin.

Wednesday (11/24)
(Warner Bros.)
Conquering 90% of the known world by the age of 25, Alexander the Great led his armies through 22,000 miles of sieges and conquests in just eight years. Coming out of tiny Macedonia, Alexander led his armies against the mighty Persian Empire, drove west to Egypt, and finally made his way east to India. This film will concentrate on those eight years of battles, as well as his relationship with his boyhood friend and battle mate, Hephaistion before dying of an illness at 33. Alexander's conquests paved the way for the spread of Greek culture, facilitating the spread of Christianity centuries later. As imagined by Oliver Stone.
Stars: Colin Farrell
, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Jared Leto, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
Stone’s first feature since Any Given Sunday, with a screenplay by Christopher Kyle (K19: The Widowmaker)
Thumbs Up:
Is it another Gladiator?
Thumbs Down:
Or another Troy?
Soundtrack: Sony Classical
album features score by Chariots of Fire composer Vangelis.

Christmas with the Kranks (Columbia Pictures)
A father’s decision to forgo the holiday backfires when his daughter decides to come home for a visit at the last minute.
Stars: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, Jake Busey, Cheech Marin, Tom Poston, M. Emmett Walsh
Joe Roth (noted producer, has directed Revenge of the Nerds 2, Streets of Gold, Coup de Ville)
Thumbs Up:
Only if your expectations are very, very low.
Thumbs Down:
I’d sooner believe in Santa Claus than a Tim Allen film for Christmas.
Soundtrack: Hollywood Records album
features holiday songs by the Ramones, The Charms, the Raveonettes, Tina Sugandh, Jean Beauvois, Chesterfield Kings, Brenda Lee, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Elvis Presley, Dan Aykroyd, Joey Ramone, Frankie Rydell, John Debney

Time to get the hell outta Dodge. (7/19a)
The score at the half (7/19a)
Hat trick (7/19a)
He's a one-man dynasty. (7/19a)
One titan salutes another. (7/19a)
Who's already a lock?
Three chords and some truth you may not be ready for.
The kids can tell the difference... for now.
The discovery engine is revving higher.

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