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With Peel’s background in desserts, it was no surprise the pear tart with cinnamon ice cream was positively orgasmic, with little chunks of glazed sugar adding to one of the best sweets this diabetic has ever had.
A PRE-TURKEY WEAKEND PLANNER
Think of This Week’s Edition as the Sensible Lean Cuisine Prelude to the Imminent Pig-out
TRAKIN CARE OF BUSINESS: THE FALL GUY
1. My Chemical Romance, The Black Parade (Reprise): Meet the new art-rock, same as the old art-rock, younger but still wearing mascara and dressing up. New Jersey-based MCR frontman Gerard Way bids to be the spokesman for his generation on this song cycle about death in all its many forms, which begins with the beep-beep-beep of a flatline on “The End,” a vocal right out of “Ziggy Stardust” and lyrics like “Wipe off that make-up—what’s in is despair.” Ya gotta hand it to producer Rob Cavallo, though.  He knows how to make rock relevant again for an audience that has a lot of alternative ways to discover their identity and find community. Start with a faux, Bowie-like British accent and reference Pink Floyd's The Wall (“The End”). Add some stacked harmonies by way of Queen (“Dead!”). Toss in the obligatory U.K. new wave cop (the Magazine “Shot by Both Sides” riff in “This Is How I Disappear”). Combine stately classic rock and speeded-up punk interludes within a single song (“Welcome to the Black Parade”). Complain about how your peer group is being fucked by society (“Teenagers”). Tie the tracks together in a Who/Beatles-like rock suite and give the whole thing a bitter anti-establishment theme. Hey, it worked for Green Day, and it does here, too. My Chemical Romance takes the classic structure of hard rock (note the Chuck Berry guitar riffs in “Teenagers”) and transposes it to post-punk forms such as goth and emo. The band’s equally capable of the raised cell phone power balladry of “I Don’t Love You” and “Disenchanted,” the full-bore Sunset Strip glam-rock of “House of Wolves” and the Eastern European-flavored Brecht-Weill meets Sweeney Todd anti-war musical agitrock of “Mama,” featuring Liza Minnelli, of all people, in a cameo as Mother War on a track that evolves from a screaming thud-rocker into a sweet klezmer melody played on a single violin. “And though you’re dead and gone, believe me,” sings Way and he may as well be referring to rock itself. “Your memory will carry on.” If it is to survive, bands like MCR will have to carry the torch. —Roy Trakin

2. The Departed: A worthy addition to his impressive body of work, Martin Scorsese’s latest boasts one of his best musical openings, comparable to his use of “Be My Baby” in Mean Streets and “All the Way to Memphis” in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. With the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” blaring on the soundtrack, a flashback finds Jack Nicholson’s Irish mob boss seducing the youngster who’ll grow up to be Matt Damon into a life of crime with a bag of groceries. It’s a great moment, and the film that follows, an adaptation of the Hong Kong action movie Infernal Affairs, has its Scorsesean moments of loyalty, betrayal, corruption, revenge, guilt, religion, sex and unexpected bursts of violence. The intense, revealing performances by Damon and Leo DiCaprio as mirror-image doppelgangers—one a gangster posing as a cop, the other a cop posing as a gangster—create the narrative’s central, noose-tightening conflict, even as Jack’s over-the-top turn verges on Fallstaffian self-parody. The best stuff is done by the characters around the edges of the narrative—Mark Wahlberg’s angry, profane sergeant, Alec Baldwin’s high-strung detective, Ray Winstone’s quiet but deadly hit man, Martin Sheen's paternal police chief and Vera Farmiga’s sensuous, conflicted shrink, who juggles the affections of Damon and DiCaprio with fatal results. The final Shakespearian shoot-out is a model of cinematic precision, but the milieu, even if Irish rather than Italian, seems a little too familiar and pat for Scorsese, whose expertise seems to have been overshadowed by the serial complexity and character development of cable fare like The Sopranos and Brotherhood as well as the higher stakes violence of those who've followed, like Quentin Tarantino. As much as I love him, if Marty finally gets his Best Director Oscar for this, it will be the biggest miscarriage of justice of all. Academy voters, act accordingly. —RT

3. Noel Gallagher at the Wadsworth Theater, L.A., Lord Don’t Slow Me Down: Oasis has always had a perverse streak, constantly putting foot in mouth about subjects ranging from their debt to the Beatles to success in America. Consequently, while the band remains a cult attraction here in the U.S., known primarily for the constant bickering between sibling rivals Liam and Noel Gallagher, “All Around the World” (to borrow the title of their ubiquitous AT&T commercial theme), they are acknowledged as superstars. This rare solo acoustic set by guitarist/songwriter Noel turned out to be a pretty tough-to-get, even-if-free, ticket, with the show being promoted by local alternative outlet 103.1—not, interestingly enough, market-dominant KROQ. L.A. remains a commercial oasis for Oasis, and the response was enthusiastic even for the opening act, the band’s perverse 2005 tour documentary, Lord Don’t Slow Me Down, a black-and-white nod that is their negative version of A Hard Day’s Night (call it A Hard Night’s Day), focusing, strangely enough, on the moments when the band is not onstage, but rather undergoing excruciating interviews with press and radio and taking the piss out of one another. Now, if only there were subtitles so we could understand the thick Mancunian dialect. The short bursts of live playing showcase a group that has mastered the art of streamlining their working-class roots, folk sensibility and guitar-driven post-punk pop-rock into a cathartic maelstrom. Accompanied by Oasis’ Gem Archer on guitar and organ and local drummer Terry McBride providing fills and shaking an egg, Gallagher warned that he wouldn’t be promoting the new best-of Stop the Clocks compilation, but instead launched into a series of B-sides, “(It’s Good) To Be Free,” “Talk Tonight” and “Fade Away,” to open the show. He warmed up through the 13-song, 90-minute performance, his depictions of everyday British life evoking Ray Davies in songs like “The Importance of Being Idle,” giving his compositions a more contemplative, moody, personal touch than his bombastic rock star brother would. Noel eventually gave in and played an impressive, drawn-out version of “Wonderwall” and the 1994 U.K. hit “Whatever” before a lovingly faithful cover of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” followed by a knowing “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” While Oasis’ shot at being a world-class rock band in the U.S. has probably passed them by, Noel Gallagher proved he’s the group’s real creative genius, with a chance to make his own mark. —RT

4. Lady Sovereign at the El Rey Theater, L.A.: Sometimes the show must not go on, especially in this case, with what should’ve been the 20-year-old U.K. rap phenom’s Hollywood coming-out party after the release of her Island Def Jam debut. The moment she hit the stage to join her three-piece band, flinging a box of tissues after blowing her nose, you could tell something was amiss. Trying to croak her way through “9 to 5” and “Blah Blah,” it was obvious Lady Sov was under the weather, sneezing several times before admitting not only was was she sick, but drunk also. Gamely trying to continue, screaming, clutching her chest and grimacing, then sobbing, she apologized to the audience, wishing aloud she could throw money at them. She disappeared backstage, only to re-emerge vowing to plunge ahead, then collapsed in front of the drum kit in tears before someone mercifully came to escort her backstage, like a trainer removing a fallen boxer from the ring. Fortunately, the fans could see what was happening, and no one seemed too perturbed when she exited a third time for good, leaving her DJ, bassist and drummer to finish up their extended jam before slinking off themselves. It was painful to watch, and just as difficult to listen to, but it was impossible to take your eyes off the diminutive rapper in shades and patented side pony tail, looking particularly vulnerable in her anguish, as I giddily, if guiltily, anticipated a Fiona Apple/Cat Power-styled meltdown. Of course, why she was allowed to take the stage in the first place is something only she and her management can answer. The only time I could remember something comparable was seeing The Who at Madison Square Garden in the mid ’70s for a show that had already been postponed one night because Keith Moon, who would pass away within a year, had the flu. The usually energized drummer was back for the following night’s concert, looking pale and sweaty, hair matted to his forehead, gamely trying to keep up and seemingly held aloft by an electric fan trained on him from less than a foot away. It was a fascinating show, with the question of whether Moon would make it to the end giving the concert an added urgency. Island later announced that all tickets for the Lady Sovereign show would eventually be honored at a makeup date, but what was most intriguing was how the understanding ticket-holders showed no anger, nor did they demand refunds, but simply filed out quietly. —RT

5. Van Morrison, Live at Montreux (1980/1974) (Eagle Eye Media): This two-DVD set features two very different Van the Man performances at the famed Swiss jazz festival six years apart. As anyone who’s seen Morrison play live through the years knows, he can be brilliant or just plain disinterested, sometimes so uncomfortable onstage, he makes you squirm, other times commanding the mic like the great soul stars who have influenced him. His 1974 appearance comes from the It’s Too Late to Stop Now period, just before the release of Veedon Fleece, fronting a stripped-down band put together by festival founder Claude Nobs, with U.K. vet Pete Wingfield on keyboards, and an American rhythm section consisting of Crosby, Stills & Nash drummer Dallas Taylor and bassist Jerome Rimson. Wearing aviator glasses and a patterned man-tailored shirt, Morrison leads the group through a set of mostly unfamiliar material, including “Bulbs,” the first single from Fleece, and “Street Choir,” the title song from his 1970 album. He plays a honking sax on one number, then pulls out the harp for the rousing finale, “Harmonica Boogie,” but it is Wingfield on organ who almost steals the show, plunking the keys like a New Orleans honky-tonk pianist one moment, then reeling off a jazzy solo the next. Looking skinnier in a buttoned-down T-shirt sans spectacles, Morrison is in superb form for this show just six years later, with a big band that includes James Brown sax legend Pee Wee Ellis, sneaking puffs on a cigarette in between solos, and trumpet player Mark Isham, who would go on to become a major film composer. The generous set is composed of several extended tracks from the yet-to-be-heard Common One, along with elongated workouts on audience faves like “And It Stoned Me,” “Moondance,” “Wild Night” and “Tupelo Honey,” making this a brilliant showing from a musician clearly at the top of his game. —RT

6. The NBA:
Seems to me this year represents a changing of the guard (forward and center) for the NBA, which seems to be in the same position as baseball and football, with overall parity and the lack of a dominating dynasty to define the league. And while the San Antonio Spurs, with Tim Duncan, are the obvious pick as the favorites, they are, like the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, neither scary nor unbeatable, especially when the postseason rolls around. Considering the lack of any dominators, as Shaquille O’Neal has already begun his inevitable steady decline, the race sure looks wide open to possible interlopers like LeBron JamesCleveland Cavaliers in the East and, believe it or not, Lenny Beer’s very well-balanced L.A. Clippers in the West. There is even a glimmer of hope for my beleaguered New York Knicks, not with their overpaid, under-performing starters like Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis or Eddy Curry, but with hustling young’uns like second-year mighty mite Nate Robinson, Dave DeBusschere clone David Lee and scrappy Rodman wannabe rookie Renaldo Balkman. Of course, I’m torn between hoping this team completely tanks so owner James Dolan will run Isiah Thomas out of town, and rooting for them to turn it around and justify Zeke’s unfathomable belief in what he’s put together. In other words, same as it ever was, going back to the days of Richie Guerin, Jumpin’ Johnny Green and the first of many great white center hopes, Darrell Imhoff—the starter the fabled March 2, 1962 night in Hershey, PA, when Wilt Chamberlain went off for 100 points. —RT

7. Campanile (624 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.):
This eatery, created and still overseen by Mark Peel, onetime pastry chef at Alice Waters’ famed Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse and co-founder of Spago, has been a staple on the L.A. scene since its 1989 opening, even if it’s been surpassed in buzz by any number of newer, flashier hot spots. The menu is a bit pricey, with entrees in the $30-40 range, but that’s what you have to pay to eat well these days. I started with a shared Greek salad, the feta cheese so creamy it melted in your mouth, the tomatoes just the right ripeness and consistency, with crunchy olive croutons and a tangy oregano vinaigrette. For the entrée, I went with braised beef short ribs, so soft you didn’t even have to chew them, surrounded by rich mashed potatoes, tasty roasted shallots and just enough spigarello to add some crunch and complete the need for a green vegetable. With Peel’s background in desserts, it was no surprise the pear tart with cinnamon ice cream was positively orgasmic, with little chunks of glazed sugar adding to one of the best sweets this diabetic has ever had. All in all, this venerable establishment is still worth a visit, and you don’t have to reserve a table weeks in advance, either. —RT

8. Lies and Alibis:
From the snazzy animated opening credits, first-time directors Matt Checkowski and Kurt Matilla aim for the breezy sophistication and intrigue of ’60s Stanley Donen and Blake Edwards comedies like Charade or S.O.B. And while this entry at the recent L.A. AFI Film Festival starts promisingly enough, with U.K. comic Steven Coogan as head of a company that creates alibis for adulterers, only to escalate into mayhem as an almost unrecognizable James Brolin pulls Coogan and newest hiring Rebecca Romijn into covering up an accidental death involving his son, played by James Marsden, the plot turns so complicated, you cease caring about it. This is an indie film with the technical polish of a Hollywood studio project while giving any number of veterans a chance to reinvent themselves, including Sam Elliott’s malevolent Mormon with multiple wives and Debi Mazar’s Fargo-like police detective, while punk-rock indie stalwart Henry Rollins gives one of his straight-faced readings as a shady accomplice to the crime. The chemistry between Coogan and Romijn never fully gels, and the entire thing is a little too glib by half, but it’s nevertheless a promising attempt at dusting off a fondly remembered genre. —RT

9. Flavor Flav, “Unga Bunga Bunga”: From his very first solo album, Hollywood (Draytown/RedEye), this shoulda-been single is the best jungle boogie since the Dolls’ “Dance Like a Monkey,” with the onetime clown prince of Public Enemy-turned-reality cable TV star showing off what was always his biggest strength as the band's comic relief, a sense of welcome levity to Chuck D’s serious moralizing and Professor Grif’s joyless anti-Semitic rants. Only Flav could get away with lyrics like “Unga bunga binga bunga.” You know what time it is? The right moment for an absolute nonsensical dancefloor smash like this. —RT

10. Gripes of the Week: Doesn’t it piss you off that gas prices dropped in the weeks before the latest election, only to rise again after it was over? I hate the Republicans and the oil companies… Since when has a kiss become a more intimate act than oral sex? How is it women will give you a hummer, but refuse to let you put your tongue in their mouth?… Isn’t it a pain when, just as you get involved in a serialized TV show like Six Degrees, they pull it from the air for two months?… I can’t stand those circular indoor parking garages so popular in Hollywood that not only ruin your brakes but subject you to a near-collision with those coming in the opposite direction as you wind your way to the top… It annoys me when Democrats repeat the common wisdom that a woman or a black can’t get elected President… Sitting next to a person chewing popcorn loudly in a movie theater is one reason I’d rather watch a DVD at home in the comfort of my living room… I hate it when the car in line at the McDonald’s drive-through in front of me takes forever giving their order…—RT  

CALENDAR
Friday, Nov. 17th
8:15pm
Tenacious D w/ Neil Hamburger and Daphne Aguilera @ Gibson Amphitheatre

Saturday, Nov. 18th
12:30pm
Michigan @ Ohio State on ABC HD:
The mother of all games, but will it live up to the hype? My feeling is that it will for a while, but I expect Ohio State to win, and in pretty convincing fashion. One huge advantage for Ohio State is that the game is in Columbus, but the Buckeyes’ biggest edge comes from the simple fact that they are the more skilled team.

7:30pm
Sixers @ Clippers on KTLA: The Clippers return home after being humiliated up in Salt Lake by the Jazz. I expect the Clips to come out pissed and to really take advantage of the Sixers, who will be playing their third game in four nights and the second of a back-to-back.

8:00pm
BET Presents: Ciara w/ Ali & Gipp @ House of Blues Las Vegas

The Damned w/ The Epoxies and The Adored @ House of Blues West Hollywood

Switchfoot @ Cain's Ballroom, Tulsa


8:15pm
Tenacious D w/ Neil Hamburger and Daphne Aguilera @ Gibson Amphitheatre

9:00pm
Army of Anyone @ Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelphia

Zac Harmon @ Holly Street Bar & Grill, Pasadena


Pete Yorn @ Fox Theatre, Hanford, CA

Sunday, Nov. 19th
5:30pm
Sunday Night Football: Chargers vs. Broncos on NBC HD: A big AFC West showdown, with first place on the line. I’m very impressed by San Diego QB Philip Rivers, and I expect the Chargers to come away from Mile High Stadium with the victory.

7:30pm
Gov't Mule w/ Donavon Frankenreiter @ House of Blues Cleveland

8:00pm
Ok Go @ 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
 

Hoobastank @ Hard Rock Live, Orlando

Say Anything @ Town Ballroom, Buffalo

JE-C’S NEW-MOVIE RUNDOWN
Casino Royale
Starring:
Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Giancarlo Giannini
Synopsis:
James Bond's first 007 mission leads him to Le Chiffre, banker to the world's terrorists. In order to stop him and bring down the terrorist network, Bond must beat Le Chiffre in a poker game at the Casino Royale. Bond meets a beautiful British Treasury official, Vesper Lynd, who is assigned to deliver his stake for the game and watch over the government's money. But, as Bond and Vesper survive a series of lethal attacks by Le Chiffre and his henchmen, a mutual attraction develops.
Thoughts:
This is the movie where we get to learn how Bond became Bond, and I’ve been looking forward to it since the summer. I hope it lives up to my hype.

Happy Feet

Starring the voice talents of: Nicole Kidman, Elijah Wood, Hugh Jackman, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Hugo Weaving
Synopsis:
In the great nation of Emperor Penguins in Antarctica, you're nobody unless you can sing, which is bad news for Mumble (Wood), who is the worst singer in the world. But he sure can tap dance. Mumble's mom, Norma Jean (Kidman), thinks his dancing is cute, but his dad, Memphis (Jackman), says it "just ain't penguin." Besides, they both know that, without a "heartsong," Mumble may never find true love. His one friend, Gloria (Murphy), happens to be the best singer around, and the two have a connection from the moment they hatch, even though she has a tough time understanding her pal's eccentricities.
Thoughts: Perfect for the whole family. From what I’ve seen so far, I think this movie will be very entertaining.

Bobby
Starring:
Emilio Estevez, Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Elijah Wood, Harry Belafonte
Synopsis:
Directed by Estevez, this historical drama revisits the night Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968. The film follows 22 individuals who are all at the hotel for different purposes but share the common thread of anticipating Kennedy's arrival at the primary-election-night party.
Thoughts:
The buzz on this movie has been really good; we may have another Best Film of the year candidate.

Other movies opening this weekend:
For Your Consideration:
The latest satire from Christopher Guest.
Fast Food Nation:
With Greg Kinnear, Bruce Willis, Patricia Arquette, Paul Dano, Ethan Hawke and Kris Kristofferson

HOT NEW MUSIC TO CHECK OUT
The Lupe Fiasco CD is a must-have if you’re a hip-hop fan—it’s a nearly flawless debut for the Chicago-based rapper. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as soon as I popped the disc in the car, I found myself hypnotized.

John Legend’s sophomore album, Once Again, is absolutely brilliant. It’s definitely more adult than the big-selling 2005 debut, as Legend solidifies himself as one of the best R&B singers around. A must-have for R&B fans, young or old.

The Game’s just-released Doctor’s Advocate is one of the best rap records of the year. He takes it back to old-school West Coast rap, and the production has a Dr. Dre feel to it. A must-have for any hardcore rap fan. This one might help the West Coast make a comeback.

JE-C’S TOP MOVIES OF THE YEAR SO FAR
V for Vendetta:
This is my favorite movie of the year so far, for many reasons. It's more than just a comic book adapted for the big screen; it’s a movie that makes a big political statement that we can all relate to these days. Definitely a movie that was slept on, and I advise everyone to check it out if you haven't yet.

The Last King of Scotland: All I can say about this one is Forrest Whitaker is unbelievable, and although there are still plenty of good movies to come out, I hope Forrest wins for this role. He is truly one of the most underrated actors of our time.

Babel: This may be the most depressing movie I have ever seen, but also maybe one of the best. It’s simply breathtaking and almost leaves you speechless when it ends. I must warn you that this film isn’t easy to watch, but it’s definitely worth seeing.

Borat: All I have to say is, “very niiiiiiiiice, I like it.” This is by far the funniest movie of the year.

World Trade Center: Another important movie that I urge people to see. I was in tears, and although a lot of it is hard to watch, it’s quite an astonishing story.

The Prestige: I was a fan of The Illusionist until I saw this one. The twists in this movie are so much better executed, and the acting is amazing. I mean, you can’t go wrong with a cast of Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett and Michael Cain.

Little Children:
This movie is incredible in so many ways, including the unique way it was executed. Hard to describe, it’s one of those movies that just leaves you breathless.

The Illusionist: Giamatti and Norton are truly brilliant.

X-Men III: The Last Stand: If this is the last one, it certainly satisfied my appetite. It had it all, including some incredible action sequences.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Simply awesome! Johnny Depp is brilliant, Bill Nighy is creepy, Keira Knightley is sexy and it has great special effects and nonstop action.

Mission Impossible III: OK, people are getting sick and tired of Tom Cruise, but if you can just get past him, this movie is actually really good. A lot of people are missing out because they’re so turned off by the star’s off-screen antics.

An Inconvenient Truth: The most important movie of the year. A must-see.

The Devil Wears Prada: Makes my list because Meryl Streep is truly brilliant, and if you haven’t seen it, or are on the edge about seeing it, go for her performance, if for nothing else.

NEAR TRUTHS:
THE CAKE AND
THE CANDLES
Marketshare machers. (10/27a)
KENDRICK INKS WITH UMPG
Lamar enters the House of Jody. (10/27a)
YTD MARKETSHARE: AND THE WINNER IS...
It's a lock. (10/27a)
MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, PT. 8,761: SURGERY IN THE TIME OF COVID
Planning for an Election Day hopped up on painkillers. (10/28a)
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
Vote. Do it now. (10/28a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
HALLOWEEN IN QUARANTINE
Why not wear a mask indoors?
ELECTION 2020
What drugs will help us get there?
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