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If pop culture is about anything, it’s about sexual impulse. You can obviously see that (if not explicitly) in the taboo-busting Kinsey, but also within the magical, fish-out-of-and-in-water imagery of The Life Aquatic, the tortured longing of Elliott Smith, certainly within the libidinous biography of Jack Nicholson and even in the rantings of one Cock Lorge.
A WEAKEND PLANNER SO SALACIOUS, IT WOULD MAKE ALFRED KINSEY BLUSH
Fill Out Your Personal Sex History Questionnaires with The Life Aquatic, Elliott Smith, Family Bonds, Jack Nicholson, Cock Lorge, Ray LaMontagne, Kristine McKenna
Have you ever had a homosexual experience? Have you ever wanted to sleep with your mother and kill your father? Have you ever gazed lovingly at your dobermann pinscher? We know we have, but we ain’t about to admit it in mixed company. At any rate, if pop culture is about anything, it’s about sexual impulse. You can obviously see that (if not explicitly) in the taboo-busting Kinsey, but also within the magical, fish-out-of-and-in-water imagery of The Life Aquatic, the tortured longing of Elliott Smith, certainly within the libidinous biography of Jack Nicholson and even in the rantings of one Cock Lorge. Of course, what’s a Weakend Planner but a primer on what to do, with the hope that maybe, just maybe, you’ll score? And if not, you can always join the rest of us celibate geeks who gorge ourselves passive-aggressively on the Popcult teat.

Friday (12/3)
6 p.m.
KIIS-FM Jingle Ball
@the Arrowhead Pond: Get your pop on with Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, Avril Lavigne, Maroon 5, Ashlee Simpson and others.

6:30-9:30 p.m.
The Happy Hook-Up Book Release Party
@Lola's (945 N. Fairfax Ave. (213) 736-5652): Come out to celebrate the publication of HITS' alumni Alexa Joy Sherman and Nicole Tocantins' marvelously witty book of etiquette for single gals (and, hell, guys) looking for love in a post-Sex and the City world. I may well be prejudiced (of course I am, I'm quoted on the book sleeve), but the duo have managed to build upon such sexual groundbreakers as Fear of Flying, Sex Tips for Girls and their namesake The Happy Hooker.  And with the book's attention to anecdotal detail about affairs, you can call them Kinseys for the new millennium. Come by and hear their friends (including yours truly) read select passage from what the perfect stocking-stuffer for that single woman (or, hell, man) you can't decide what to get for XXXmas. (Trakin)

7 p.m.
Kinsey
: Feelin’ a bit horny? A li’l randy? Wanna see a flick that’s way heavy on the sex, but not in the conventional way? Liam Neeson, Laura Linney and Peter Sarsgaard give killer performances in the true story of the very fascinating, dare we say titillating (giggle, giggle) sex researcher Alfred Kinsey (see Trakin’s take in Popcult Top 10 below). Why couldn’t this dude have been my professor?

7:30 p.m.
Election and Vanity Fair @the Egyptian Theater (6712 Hollywood Blvd.): Followed by Q&A with Reese Witherspoon ($9 admission)

House of Flying Daggers: For those who loved Hero and Crouching Tiger, you won’t want to miss this latest from director Zhang Yimou and star Zhang Ziyi, which may be their best one yet.

8 p.m.
Wanda Sykes’ Cotton T-Shirt Tour
@ the Wiltern LG (info: (213) 380-5005): You might be a fan of her TV show, or just really into her stand-up. She’s always funny, always strong. If you’re in L.A., go see her.

A Mulholland Christmas Carol @Theatre of NOTE (1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd. Runs thru 12/18, For info: (323) 856-861): Craving an Xmas carol, but one that’s a bit out there? This is your carol, baby. Scrooge is re-cast as William Mulholland (former L.A. water honcho). This gets wacky and stays fun.

The Musical Box @the Henry Fonda Theater: Canadian band’s North American authorized presentation of Genesis’ mid-’70s rock opera The Lamb Lies Down on Broadwaycomes to Hollywood with the approval of the original band, which included Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Steve Hackett. For prog-rock diehard Ivana and those who begrudgingly get dragged along... (See below for a fuller appreciation).

TBA
Strung Out plays @ the Glass House in Pomona

Saturday (12/4)
1:30 p.m.
USC vs. UCLA
@ the Rose Bowl in Pasadena: I don’t know if the Bruins will be able to win this game,but you can bet they are gonna give their hated rivals all they can handle. USC looks to go undefeated and secure themselves the #1 spot.

5 p.m.
Sparta
with Further Seems Forever & Copeland at the Henry Fonda Theater

7 p.m.
Found Magazine Party
@Second City Council Gallery (435 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, info: (562) 901-0997): This mag has been around for three years & the rad founders of Found (say that 10x fast) are in the final weeks of their 136-city book tour. If you’ve never seen Found, it’s a collection of "the best lost, tossed and forgotten items." There’s love notes, Polaroids, discarded lists… totally amusing. Swing by the party to hear readings & music.

7:30 p.m.
L.A. Clippers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
@Staples Center: Currently riding an amazing five-game winning streak, the red-hot Clips take on the big-ticket Wolves and last year’s MVP Kevin Garnett in a Western Conference showdown.

8 p.m.
Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God
@Hudson Backstage Theatre (6539 Santa Monica Blvd., runs thru 12/19 info: (323) 960-4420): You’ll probably remember her It’s Pat! character from SNL. She’s done a few solid solo shows over the past few years & this one will focus on losing her religion.

H.I.M. and Auf Der Maur @the Wiltern LG: At presstime, this show was still on, despite the illness of a member of the Finnish heavy metal sensation which caused a cancellation of a show scheduled for Thursday night at the Avalon. H.I.M. was inked to a U.S. deal by Sire's Michael Goldstone after a highly competitive signing derby. 

TBA
Finch plays @ the Glass House in Pomona

Sunday (12/5)
1:30 p.m.
Closer
: Catch a Sunday afternoon matinee of this Mike Nichols roundelay of adulterous passion, starring Julia Robets, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman and Jude Law. And feel really, really ugly afterward.

6:30 p.m.
MewithoutYou and the Snake
, The Cross and The Crown (Militia Group): Head down to the Troubador to catch a good night of bands.

7 p.m.
Leslie Jordan’s Like A Dog on Linoleum
@Elephant Asylum Theatre (6320 Santa Monica Blvd. Info: (323) 960-1083): We’ve heard such good things about this show & tonight’s your last chance to catch it. You might think you don’t know him, but ya do. You’ve seen Leslie playing Leslie on Will & Grace, which is hysterical. This li’l guy is filled with MUCH energy.

TBA

Mandonna @the Knitting Factory, L.A.: What else? All-male Madonna tribute band plays Tinseltown.

Upcoming:
Monday (12/6)
On the Speakers
@ the Viper Room

Tuesday (12/7)
Mirah @ Motley Coffee House at Scripps College Claremont

Wednesday (12/8)
Stand Up Comedy @ M Bar (8 p.m.)
: Always a killer line-up. Especially when it’s got Jill Kushner on it. God, do we love this particular comic. (1253 N. Vine)

Friday (12/10)
KillRadio, Army of Freshman, Over It, Chronic Future, Bleed the Dream at the Troubadour

Saturday (12/11)
KROQ Almost Acoustic Xmas Night 1: Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, Jimmy Eat World, Keane, THE KILLERS, Modest Mouse, Muse, The Music, The Shins, Snow Patrol, Taking Back Sunday

Sunday (12/12)

KROQ Almost Acoustic Xmas Night 2: Good Charlotte, Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Hoobastank, Incubus, The Used, Velvet Revolver, Social Distortion, Sum 41, Papa Roach, Chevelle

SHRINK RAP
Huff (Showtime):
Even though it leaves you with the nagging feel of HBO Lite, this new series, featuring Hank Azaria as the title character, an L.A. psychiatrist poised on the precipice of a midlife crisis, is actually quite watchable, in no small part due to the presence of rollicking Oliver Platt as his genius lawyer with a serious penchant for drugs and casual sex. The first three episodes dealt with a malpractice suit leveled against Huff by the parents of a teenage boy who shot himself in the shrink’s office after confessing his homosexual desires. Azaria comes across as a likable white-collar professional, trying to keep his wife interested, understand his teenage son and cope with his mother, played by Blythe Danner as a real bitch living in her own "in-law" apartment next door to her son. There’s also a homeless musician who may or may not be a figment of Huff’s imagination/conscience and yet another suicidal patient in an aggressively loony Lara Flynn Boyle. It’s a lot better than it sounds, even if it doesn’t quite match up to its aspirations to be quirky yet believable like Six Feet Under. And while it aims a little too directly for zeitgeist/water cooler status, the characters are interesting enough to keep me hooked for awhile. At least until I ditch Showtime, which is a real possibility now that my monthly cable bill is approaching $100. (Roy Trakin)

RACK OF LAMB
Progressive rock—though the bane of most 'serious' rock fans--yielded some more-than-worthwhile albums between 1972 and 1975: King Crimson's Red and Yes' Close to the Edge are particular standouts. The pinnacle of the movement, however, was Genesis' 1974 masterwork The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway a dense, multi-layered, and immensely listenable double album that examined the deteriorating mental state of a Puerto Rican street thug named Rael. Sound preposterous? Amazingly, it's not... and neither was the tour that the band undertook between Nov. '74 and May '75. For the album/tour's 30th anniversary, Montreal's scarily accurate Genesis tribute band The Musical Box has undertaken its own tour, replicating the '74-75 tour in its entirety. They're the only Genesis tribute band in the world to be given the green light from the band itself to use the actual slides, costumes and instruments that they used back in the day. Even for skeptics and long time fans, witnessing TMB in action is a mind-blowing experience that can only be fully realized tonight (12/3) at Hollywood's Henry Fonda Theater. Don't be scared. (Michael Howe, Virgin Records)

POPCULT TOP 10
1. Kinsey: Director/writer Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) brings an arch comic sensibility to this biopic of famed sex researcher Alfred Kinsey which balances the dryness of its subject’s scientific approach with his revolutionary zeal as a cultural provocateur. Liam Neeson’s vulnerability and sexual confusion softens his tireless quest to compile "personal histories," but it is Laura Linney as his long-suffering wife who registers the dichotomy between theory and reality in her luminous, forgiving gaze. The remarkable Peter Sarsgaard is a slam-dunk to nab a supporting Oscar nod for his role as Kinsey’s bisexual follower/confidante and sometime lover. In the end, though, it is Condon’s sympathetic realization of the contradictions in Prok’s scientific approach to sex, and its inextricable link to the concept of love, that truly hits home. Especially in the wake of the recent presidential election, which hinged on the same issues of priggish morality that plagued and ultimately defeated Kinsey’s original crusade. (RT)

2. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: After three straight bull’s-eyes in Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, wunderkind director Wes Anderson’s latest, an idiosyncratic tale of a Jacques Cousteau-styled oceanographer/underwater documentarian’s quest to find the mythic Jaguar Shark which ate his partner, kinda misses the target a bit. Anderson once again creates a retro-futuristic, meticulously detailed, Joseph Cornell-like gadget-pop world, and his top-notch cast, including Bill Murray in the title role, Anjelica Huston, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum and Cate Blanchett, play the sometimes-slapstick comedy with admirable deadpan. The director returns to his recurring themes of extended families, both blood-related and professional, and the pursuit of art and science, along with typically hilarious set design and costumes, including red beanies in the shape of a condom worn by members of the mythical Team Zissou. Unfortunately, like Huckabees, the movie is a little too cerebral and insular in its required suspension of disbelief, which makes it much easier to appreciate than embrace. Everything’s a little off, including a typically eccentric soundtrack that features City of God’s Seu Jorge singing and playing David Bowie songs on guitar as acoustic sambas in Portuguese. There are some remarkable animated ocean sequences (by Henry Selick of Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas) and a sense of shock and awe, but Anderson’s whimsy comes across a tad too calculated this time to achieve the full-fledged wonder of his previous work. (RT)

3. Elliott Smith, From a Basement on the Hill (Anti): This isn’t an easy album to listen to, especially given the artist’s strange death a little over a year ago at 34 from what was originally called a self-inflicted knife wound, but has since been shrouded in mystery. The pity is what a waste of talent that loss represents, because this may well be Smith’s best album. At the very least, it leaves a haunting impression. I always associated Smith with his DreamWorks labelmate Rufus Wainwright as two melodically driven composers who wouldn’t allow themselves to settle for memorable melodies. Smith seemed frustrated by his flirtation with the mainstream after receiving an Oscar for Good Will Hunting’s "Miss Misery." Increasingly moving towards the experimental production effects heard here, his muse turns awfully insular on eerily prescient, druggy songs like the Neil Youngish "Strung Out Again," the foreboding "A Fond Farewell" and the cautionary "Twilight." And while he’s closer to Lennon, there’s still a bit of McCartney on the gently strummed "Memory Lane," which gives the album its foreboding title. "This is the place you end up/When you lose the chase/When you’re dragged against your will/From a basement on the hill/And all anybody knows is/You’re not like them." Chilling sentiments delivered with a lilting melody that belies its desperation, a heartbreaking cry from beyond the grave. (RT)

4. Family Bonds (HBO): It took me awhile to get into this reality series about a family of N.Y.C. bail bondsmen, and while the blue-collar cultural milieu was a bit of a turn-off at first, the show proved to have a heart hidden beneath all the piercings, tattoos and, yes, fat. The message is pretty universal. Happy families are essentially alike, while unhappy families are unhappy in very different ways. The sheer joy and pride on patriarch Tom Evangelista’s face as his daughter gives birth (in one of the most graphic delivery scenes I’ve ever seen outside of PBS) proves that blood ties are the strongest of all, and roly-poly nephew Chris’ romantic woes also touched a chord. Too bad the season ended just as it picked up steam. (RT)

5. Edward Douglas, Jack: The Great Seducer--The Life and Many Loves of Jack Nicholson (HarperEnter-tainment): Apparently, this is what passes for celebrity biography these days, leaving little doubt why the author, a reported "best-selling biographer," used a pseudonym. There’s certainly nothing damaging in this meticulously footnoted laundry list of Nicholson’s many bedroom conquests and movie triumphs (most definitely in that order), all laid at the Rosebud of Jack’s strange childhood, where he was raised by his maternal grandmother, thinking it was his mother, who was really his sister. And if that sounds like the denoument of one of his his greatest movies, Chinatown, it was no mistake, given the appearance of John Huston, father of his longtime companion, Anjelica Huston. And while this veritable cut-and-paste offers breezy, Entertainment Weekly-styled gossip in dollops, the only real revelation here is that John Kerry once dated Mama Michelle Phillips (where was The Drudge Report on that one?), who definitely got around herself, having been with not only Jack and noted satyr/buddy Warren Beatty, but married briefly to Dennis Hopper. Come to think of it, I may have to go back and read Phillips’ California Dreamin’: The True Story of the Mamas and the Papas. (RT)

6. www.cocklorge.com: Cock Lorge is a singer-songwriter described by Blender magazine as "John Mayer on a 72-hour porno binge… but dirtier." If that’s your idea of fun, check out his animated video, "I Want You," which features him as a lascivious rooster crooning his desires to his fellow clucks. With songs like "Cock in the Pussy" and "Balls Deep," think Red Peters’ classic ode to his dog, "Come Stainze" and you basically get the idea. (RT)

7. Ray LaMontagne, Trouble (RCA): Pieces of Van Morrison, scraps of sun-drenched bohemia, the funky earthiness of the Band, bits of earliest Elton John, wisps of fragile angst and want and desire. It's a smart bit of genre-blurring music that is built around songs sung with a voice that may not stun with its force, but will drop your guard, your reserve, even your clothes, with repeated listens. Revelatory in its willing to be open, Trouble excavates the human heart with dignity even as it opens the veins… gypsy rhythms giving way to lonely piano fills that may be swept away in bright acoustic guitar part or waves of a wheezy accordion. The way LaMontagne's voice catches and starts, the almost jazz phrasing, makes him a confessor as much as a singer. And there's never a deep-steeped angst at work here, but more a need to connect with his own core—and the object of his desire in many of these songs—that we're peeping tom witnesses to. (Holly Gleason)

8. Kristine McKenna, Talk to Her (www.fantagraphics.com): Upon moving to L.A., Kristine McKenna, with her copper hair and hooded black coat, walks across alleys embodying the worldly hipness of a girl who fished all pools of cool—be it intellectual, punk-rock or cinematic. I'd peak around corners to sneak looks at the L.A. Times cultural critic and listen breathless to snippets of details about her personal life, this gamine whose writing and insights opened worlds to me and offered context, humanity and grace to an eclectic mix of the ni plu ultra. This collection of essays with Q&As makes the inscrutable harbingers of cultural currency accessible in terms that lift us up and pull back the veil of infamy to let in enough light to make up our own minds. The subjects range from punk icons Iggy Pop, Joey Ramone, Elvis Costello, Chrissie Hynde to poets or rockers cum poets Allen Ginsberg, Exene Cervenka, Richard Hell, Joni Mitchell, philosopher Jacques Derrida (who defined deconstructionism), film auteur Robert Altman, legendary actress Eva Marie Saint, pioneer galleryist Walter Hopps and pulp genius Russ Mayer. What arises are conversations of soul-searching, discovery, sex, art, politics, religion and enough provocative exchange to fuel the greatest cigarettes & coffee Paris café’s late-night activities for decades. Open a book, open your world; it's that simple. (HG)

9. www.stereogum.com: A blog that merges pop culture at its zenith with fast-action gossip, cutting-edge bands, social commentary and a lot of links to life beyond the middle of the road. It's quick, it's fun, it'll turn you onto a world that'll keep you current—and make you laugh. If the Britney obsession is irksome, put your hand on your chest and invoke the theatre of grand fame burlesque—because that's just what it is: a cultural corpse bloating on its own entrails. (HG)

10. Neil LaBute, Seconds of Pleasure Stories (Grove Press): Turn off the TV and read a book already. This one’s a collection of short stories, so it will work with your short attention span. Labute’s dark, brutal and ironic. LOVE him. You might’ve seen his films: In the Company of Men, Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty or one of his many plays like The Shape of Things (later made into a movie). You won’t believe this guy’s a Mormon. (Jill Kushner)

TRAKIN’S PICKS TO FLICK
Closer (Columbia Pictures)
Premise:
The lives of two couples intertwine when the man from one gets acquainted with the woman from the other, based on Patrick Marber stage play.
Stars: Jude Cole, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen, Julia Roberts
Director: Mike Nichols
(Angels In America)
Thumbs Up: Beautiful people in adulterous situations, acted out by a quartet of compelling performers. Wonder if there’s any nudity?
Thumbs Down: A downbeat tale of betrayal is just the ticket for the holiday season, no?
Soundtrack: None, but film features major use of Damien Rice’s "The Blower’s Daughter" for front and back credits.
Website: www.sony.com/Closer

House of Flying Daggers (Sony Pictures Classics)
Premise:
Police deputies tangle with a dancer suspected of having tgies to a revolutionary faction known as the House of Flying Daggers. Enraptured, the officials concoct a plan to save her from capture, then lead her north in a perilous journey in the unknown.
Stars: Zhang Ziji, Andy Lau, Anita Mui, Takeshi Kaneshiro
Director
: Zhang Yimou, the man who brought you Hero and Raise the Red Lantern
Thumbs Up: If you liked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you’ll undoubtedly respond to this martial arts spectucular.
Thumbs Down: You’ll have to read subtitles, folks.
Soundtrack: Sony Soundtrax album features score by composer Umebayashi Shigeru.
Website:
www.sonyclassics.com/houseofflyingdaggers/

Wednesday (12/8)
Blade: Trinity (New Line Cinema)
Premise:
Third film in the trilogy based upon Marvel Comics’ vampire hunter character. The vampires who now control human society set Blade up to appear like a psychopathic serial killer, with the FBI in close pursuit, limiting his ability to hunt vampires, especially the resurrected Dracula, a pure vampire with superpowerful abilities. Blade accepts the help of a team of human vampire hunters called the Nightstalkers.
Stars: Wesley Snipes, Ryan Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, Jessica Biel, John Michael Higgins, Natasha Lyonne, Parker Posey, Dominic Purcell, James Remar
Director: David S. Goyer
, who also wrote the screenplay as he did for the first two installments, as well as The Crow: City of Angels and the upcoming Freddy vs. Jason and Batman 5.
Thumbs Up: Fans of the vampire genre say this is one of the better examples.
Thumbs Down: Has someone bitten Wesley Snipes? He won’t even do promo for the film.
Soundtrack: New Line Records rap-heavy soundtrack features RZA, Lil’ Flip/Ghostface Killah/Raekwon, O.D.B./Black Keith, Thee Undatakerz, Overseer, Black Lab, Paris Texas, The Crystal Method, Manchild and Ramin Djawadid
Website:
www.bladetrinity.com


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ELECTION 2020
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