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Not just a piece of transcendent pop, Illinois aims for great art by melding our mental and physical geography into a musical odyssey.
WEAKEND PLANNER PUTS ITS GAME FACE ON, PLOPS ON THE COUCH
The NBA Season Begins Just as College Football Hits the Home Stretch, With Crosstown Rivals USC and UCLA Both Still Unbeaten Heading to Their Dec. 3 Showdown

NBA Season Tips Off: Unlike baseball and football, where parity seems to be the order of the day, in the NBA, the rich just seem to get richer. The San Antonio Spurs add Michael Finley and Nick Van Exel to their championship squad in the off-season, the Shaq-driven Miami Heat, who lost in Game 7 to the Pistons last year in the Eastern finals, insert Antoine Walker, Jason Williams and James Posey to their star-studded roster and the Indiana Pacers suit up defensive demon Ron Artest after his season-long suspension last year. As for the downtrodden, the formerly woebegone L.A. Clippers look like they could go over the .500 mark for the first time since Larry Brown was coach, after the addition of Sam Cassell (who just scored 35 points and dished out 11 assists in the club's opening night win over the Supersonics) and Cuttino Mobley. The real question is, why does Cassell get traded every other year, aside from his ornery reputation? The guy's a damn player. The Phil Jackson-led Lakers look to turn Kobe and Lamar Odom into the new Jordan-Pippen in Tex Winter's venerable triangle while crossing their fingers newcomer Kwame Brown can do a reasonable Horace Grant impersonation. As for my beloved Knicks, my Jets/Mets streak of cruel and unusual punishment appears to be continuing, even with the presence of hometown native Larry Brown, who has finally ended his peripatetic journey through pro and college hoops by coming home to the Garden, where he gets to try to emulate his beloved Red Holzman. Unfortunately, without Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Earl Monroe or Dave DeBusschere, that doesn't seem too likely, especially with the enigmatic Stephon Marbury, the most unclutch supposed superstar this side of a missed Patrick Ewing finger roll. If it's anything but Spurs-Heat, Spurs-Pacers or Spurs-Pistons in this year's finals, it will be a tremendous surprise. —Roy Trakin

CALENDAR
Friday, Nov. 4th
6:00pm
Coheed and Cambria w/ Dredg, Blood Brothers and mewithoutyou @ Harro East, Rochester, NY

7:30pm
Hawks vs. Clippers: After a dramatic win on the road against the Supersonics, the Clippers host the Hawks in their Staples Center home opener. Many questioned the trade of Sam Cassell because of last year’s disaster with the T’wolves, but Sam is playing with a new desire and showed it against Seattle as he dropped 35 and 11 dimes to lead the Clippers back from 13 down early in the fourth quarter to win going away. Sam is back, baby!

8:00pm
Royal Crown Revue @ The Derby. RCR, who got their start at the Derby, will play a special show at this
historic venue on Friday. And if developers have their way, it may well be the band's last show at the Los Feliz club. To learn more, and to sign the petition to save the Derby,visit www.savethederby.com. This landmark was owned by Cecil B. DeMille, but more important, it was where Swingers was filmed!

Spoon @ Pearl Street, Northampton, MA

9:00pm
The Samples w/The Southland @ Fox Theater, Boulder, CO (21 and over)

Slipknot w/As I Lay Dying and Unearth @ Bell Centre, Montreal (check local listing for show time)

Saturday, Nov. 5th
1:00pm
Hawthorne Heights w/Silverstein and Aiden @ House of Blues, Anaheim

3:00pm
UCLA vs. Arizona (Fox Sports West): UCLA heads to Tucson to face a much-improved Arizona Wildcats team, this will be another test for the cardiac kids of Westwood who look to keep their undefeated season alive.

4:45pm
Miami vs. Virginia Tech (ESPN): The Hokies look to keep their championship hopes alive as they face the Hurricanes in what has the makings to be a great game, especially if you have High Definition.

7:00pm
Stanford vs. USC (TBS): USC looks to remain undefeated as they face a scrappy  Stanford team, which last Saturday somehow lost a 21-point lead to UCLA in the last seven minutes of regulation, then lost in OT.

All Access Magazine 3rd Annual Awards Show @ Paladino's, Tarzana, featuring performances by Heaven and Earth, Carbon 9, Stoney Curtis Band, The Iron Maidens (all female tribute to Iron Maiden!) and more.

7:30pm
Timberwolves vs. Clippers: Marko Jaric makes his return to Staples Center as the starting point guard for Minnesota. Sam Cassell faces his old team and will definitely be out to prove that they should never have given up on him.

8:00pm
Hawthorne Heights w/Silverstein and Aiden @ House of Blues, Anaheim
9:30pm-2:00am
Lamar “Blunt Boy” Odom’s Birthday Bash: With celebrity and pro-athlete guests, @ Here Lounge (696 N. Robertson Blvd., WeHo). Dress code enforced; Formal attire suggested. BYOB (Bring your own blunt).

Sunday, Nov. 6th
8:00am
New York City Marathon

10:00am
Raiders vs. Chiefs (CBS): The Raiders have won two in a row and look to remain hot against the struggling Chiefs.

10:00am-5:00pm
Dia de los Muertos Festival @ Sherman Way and Canoga: Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, does have its somber and respectful overtones, but those who participate do so joyfully, with love and often with a sense of humor. It is in that spirit that Canoga Park throws its annual street party, which asks visitors to remember and honor those who have passed on while also celebrating our lives, here and now.

6:00pm
10 Years of Brutality Tour w/Hatebreed, If Hope Dies, Most Precious Blood, Full Blown Chaos, Gizmachi and Manntis @ Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

Against Me! @ The Trees, Dallas

8:00pm
The Addicts w/Bang Sugar Bang, The Diffs and So Unloved @ House of Blues, Anaheim

9:00pm
The Family Guy (Fox):
Animated series returns with an all-new episode, finally. I’ve been waiting for this for weeks.

9:30pm
American Dad (Fox)

Monday Nov 7
th
8:00pm
Liz Phair
w/Missy Higgins @ House of Blues, Sunset Strip

ROY’S RAVES
Sufjan Stevens, Illinois (Asthmatic Kitty Records):
Like a 21st century version of Brian Wilson's Smile, Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle or the works of "serious" composers like Charles Ives and John Adams, this current critical darling and Pitchfork Media fave (the album got a 9.2 out of 10 from the very picky indie music website) has set out to make an Americana-based musical travelogue that is as personal as it is historical. Picture a production of Our Town as conceived by Einstein on the Beach's Philip Glass and Robert Wilson and you begin to get the idea of this sprawling, 74-minute meditation on Illinois, the second of what Mr. Stevens promises to be, ESPN-style, an album for all 50 U.S. states. Starting with an overture that concerns a UFO sighting near Highland, Illinois, and seguing to "The Black Hawk War," which details the massacre of the native Americans and a nod to poet Carl Sandburg ("Come On! Feel the Illinoise"), the first song to kick in is a Cat Stevens-like meditation that you realize halfway through is about notorious serial killer "John Wayne Gacy" ("He dressed up like a clown for them/With his face paint white and red"). "Jacksonville" follows, with its plucked banjo evoking Stephen Foster as filtered through Neil Young, while "Decatur or Round of Applause for Your Step Mother" taps the great Lincoln-Douglas debates as its subject matter. The centerpiece of the album is "Chicago," in which our narrator goes from the macro to the micro, reminiscing about a trip to New York by van when he slept in a parking lot ("I was in love with a place/In my mind, in my mind"). There are songs about superheroes ("The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts") reminiscent of the flights of surrealism in Jonathan Lethem's novel Fortress of Solitude, the power of the urban landscape ("The Seer's Tower") and the prairie ("The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders"), as well as an epilogue that goes from the earth below to the avant-garde of the sky above with (Steve) Reichian mathematical precision. Not just a piece of transcendent pop, Illinois aims for great art by melding our mental and physical geography into a musical odyssey.

 

The Weather Man (Paramount): Critics seem to be pretty evenly divided over star Nicolas Cage’s upper-middle-class white male midlife crisis turn, alternately taken in or bored by his many problems, which include a disapproving male alpha father (Michael Caine), separation from his alienated wife (Hope Davis), a pair of children who suffer from low self-esteem and an unchallenging job as a local TV weatherman that provokes people in the street to pelt him with fast food for no good reason.  Director Gore Verbinski, best-known as the in-house Disney hack behind box office smashes Pirates of the Caribbean and The Ring, successfully mines the anomie of the subject with a grayish vision of wintry Chicago landscape that, like Elizabethtown, is more the province of an earnest indie film than a major studio project, harking back to ’70s anti-establishment classics like Five Easy Pieces, Save the Tiger and Network. And while the metaphoric conceits are rather blatant (Cage takes up archery to improve his focus), the movie stays true to its downbeat conviction until the end, even as our hero lands a million-dollar-plus job on Hello! America, a national, N.Y.-based morning show featuring a real-life Bryant Gumbel as host. Ultimately, the effectiveness of the film depends on how you feel about the title character, imbued by its star with a hangdog, hunched-shoulders, weight-of-the-world shrug minus his usual behavioral tics and eccentricities. For me, The Weather Man’s black humor and depiction of the absurdity of the American obsession with material success (a rarity for Hollywood) overshadowed its tendency toward spoiled whining.

 

The Magic Numbers @the Troubadour: This marvelous four-piece from the U.K. by way of Trinidad via New York consists of a pair of brother-sister duos, lead singer/guitarist Romeo Stodart and his bass-playing sister Michele, along with drummer Sean Gannon and melodica-playing sibling Angela. Enamored with a variety of pan-American influences ranging from the romantic pop of Burt Bacharach ("Love Me Like You") and the sunny countenance of a pre-Smile Brian Wilson (the cheery, but deceptive “Forever Lost”) to the bass-driven melodies of Motown (the beat-happy “Love’s a Game”), the quartet strike a very un-California image, with bearded, cherubic frontman Stodart evincing the plump charm of Jerry Garcia, while his two female cohorts, adding their heartaching harmonies, are unabashedly full-figured. Lush melodies and catchy choruses are the order of the day, as an enthusiastic crowd, including a bevy of Capitol Records employees, chief among them Andrew Slater, Mark DiDia and Joe McFadden, egg them on for an encore, a sly folk-rock cover of Beyonce's "Crazy in Love."

 

Shaun of the Dead: Director/writer Edgar Wright and co-screenwriter/star Simon Pegg's British take-off of George A. Romero's zombie movies is that rare film that manages to effectively combine slacker humor with gross-out horror, often in the same instant. The movie takes a while to get going, but once it does, it proves a worthy successor to Romero's films, especially those scenes where the terrified characters start turning on one another by screaming their bloody heads off. Keep your eyes peeled for Lucy Davis, the receptionist Dawn from BBC America's The Office, as well as a walk-through by Martin Freeman, who played her smitten suitor Tim on that show, while the great British comedy actor Bill Nighy also has a prominent role. The film's deft mix of yucks and gore stays pretty consistent throughout, with a fine, "everything's back to normal" coda that includes blink-and-you-missed-'em cameos by Coldplay's Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland. Now featured prominently on HBO's On Demand film library for free, this one's worth checking out.

 

HOLLY’S CORNER
Damian Marley, Welcome To Jamrock: With the exception of Bob Marley, one of the true icons in any musical genre for his Buddha-meets-Roger Daltrey Jamaican reality, reggae has always been sort of a non-starter in the realm of mainstream popular culture. Damian Marley, one of his many children, may well be the son who realizes the legacy of his father: taking a highly-charged aesthetic, making it modern urban and street and offering up the narcotic undertow that gives the irie beat its stealth power. With the title track a class-contrast indictment of the people who come to vacation and party in a place where the locals have so little, he moves his father's socially conscious legacy forward as much through content as music, while "Pimpa's Paradise" tackles the drugs-into-prostitution path. Special guests range from Buju Banton to Nas, Bobby Brown to Bounty Killer.

JE-C’S NEW-MOVIE RUNDOWN

Jarhead
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard, Lucas Black, Chris Cooper
Synopsis:
Anthony Swofford, a third-generation enlistee in the Marines, goes from boot camp to active duty in the first Gulf War. As an elite sniper under the command of a hardcore sergeant, Swofford and his fellow soldiers face nearly intolerable heat, an expansive desert, an enemy they often can't see and a growing disillusionment over why they were sent to Iraq in the first place.
Thoughts:
Sam Mendes has done it again. This one looks like a for-sure Academy Award contender for best picture. I cant wait to see it

Chicken Little
Starring
: Zach Braff, Joan Cusack, Garry Marshall, Catherine O'Hara, and Amy Sedaris
Synopsis: When an acorn falls to the ground, a young chicken (Braff) thinks the sky is falling and causes widespread panic by spreading the inaccurate news to the rest of his animal friends, Abby Mallard, Runt of the Litter and Fish Out of Water. Later, after his reputation is ruined, the chicken is clobbered by a real piece of the sky as it falls to Earth.
Thoughts: I am a sucker for these movies, but I’m a little worried that this one might be not that good. I’m hoping it’s good, plus seeing it in all new Disney Digital 3-D would be cool, too.

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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