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Hold off on that Sirius subscription. While his cohorts are nowhere near as interesting as Howard Stern’s crew, Adam Carolla is actually developing a low-key style of his own and a number of regular features, the most fun being “Ass Kiss Rodeo,” wherein his subordinates take turns competing to see who can suck up the most.

AT WEAKEND PLANNER, IT’S ALWAYS THE YEAR OF THE DOG

This is the Annual Non-Weekend—the Dead Zone Between the Conference Championship Games and the Super Bowl. But Don’t Despair, Cuz There’s Still Some OK Stuff to Do
TRAKIN UP HIS TIME
1. Match Point: With its London setting, operatic soundtrack and complete lack of one-liners, Woody Allen’s latest is nothing like a Woody Allen film except for the familiar font of the credits. It’s also his best, most relevant film since, perhaps, Crimes and Misdemeanors, which this one most resembles in its moral fable. There are several plot holes you could drive a truck through, but the main performers, a perfectly slimy Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and an impossibly sexy Scarlett Johansson, make the whole thing believable. Reminiscent in its tennis theme, casual betrayal and murderous passion of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, the ending is still a little jarring, though there are hints along the way as to the inevitable outcome.

2. Grizzly Man: Werner Herzog’s film about naturalist, environmental activist and bear lover Timothy Treadwell starts out as a wildlife documentary (it was co-produced by the Discovery Channel), then turns into something else again, a meditation on one of his favorite topics—self-delusional, but frighteningly committed, outcasts from society with mystical ties to nature, as in his Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre: Wrath of God and The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser. The languid Richard Thompson blues soundtrack belies the careening path towards self-destruction Treadwell is on, but his own footage of giant bears and foxes in the wilds of Alaska arguably redeems his suicidal tendencies.

3. KT Tunstall, Eye to the Telescope (Virgin): On blues-rockers like “Other Side of the World” and “Another Place to Fall,” this Scottish singer sounds more like Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow than her stated aim of Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits, but it’s her funky, sing-song folk novelties like first single “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See,” that achieve perfection, primarily because of her childlike vocals, whose husky sensuousness supports the passionate lyrics. And while the slower songs, like “Silent Sea,” make her sound like a more pop-oriented Norah Jones, the uptempo “Miniature Disasters” places her firmly in the realm of such crossover pop sensations as Melanie and Maria Muldaur, which isn’t such a bad place to be in terms of her commercial potential.

4. Cat Power, The Greatest (Matador): This moody indie-rock fave—real name: Chan Marshall—is known more for her onstage meltdowns and antics than her work to this point, not at all unlike Fiona Apple prior to Extraordinary Machine. Marshall employs some of the same Memphis musicians who worked with Al Green this time, which lightens up the dark corners of her mind without sacrificing depth on songs like the title track and “Lived in Bars,” that portray her as a left-of-center Norah Jones. It all bubbles under until the closing “Hate,” with its Kurt Cobain cop, “I hate myself and want to die,” and “Love & Communication,” which enters PJ Harvey territory as the best of Memphis follow Cat down her hole and live to tell about it.

5. Mary Lynn Rajskub: 24’s slyest joke is casting this onetime stand-up comic, “talent coordinator” on The Larry Sanders Show and roommate of Sara Silverman as the Mensa computer geek Chloe. With her rolling eyes, perpetually curled lip and slightly uplifted nose, as if smelling something putrid, Rajskub is the show’s much-needed comic relief, along with her frustrated suitor Edgar, wonderfully played by Louis Lombardo. As Chloe races around the CTU office, moving from one computer to another, her facial features reveal someone who recognizes the absurdity of the proceedings and offers a knowing wink to the audience.

6. Kobe Bryant: After his incredible 81-point display last week, there’s nothing much to add here except to say to Lakers fans who complain the last pass the guy threw was at that hotel employee up in Colorado: I sentence you to watching a season’s worth of the Knicks. If Lamar Odom could somehow turn into Scottie Pippen, Kobe might have a shot to be the heir to Jordan, though the chances of the former happening appear to be slim and none at the moment. That said, if anybody can do it, it’s Phil Jackson.

7. Adam Carolla: Hold off on that Sirius subscription. While his cohorts are nowhere near as interesting as Howard Stern’s crew, Carolla is actually developing a low-key style of his own and a number of regular features, the most fun being “Ass Kiss Rodeo,” wherein his subordinates take turns competing to see who can suck up the most. His guests have mostly been from the comic world, and they keep things fairly lively. Hey, it took Howard 20 years to build up the level of intimacy his show has, so I’m willing to give Carolla and company at least 20 more days, if only because yours truly has a Sunday night show on the same station.

8. www.theenvelope.com: The L.A. Times’ new online site for all things award-related is so dull it’s fascinating, just one more sign that, while the media focus on the annual back-slapping grows more intense, the public seems to be losing interest, if you judge from the falling TV ratings. There’s an analogy in the current record business, where downloaded singles dwarf the sales of the album from which they come. While media exposure for awards shows grows ever more frenzied and ubiquitous on- and offline, there are fewer people buying in—which, for advertisers and those looking to make a buck, is the bottom line.

9. Pop Eye: R. Eye P., folks. The groundbreaking L.A. Times column of music gossip and news tidbits, which had become a record industry must-read in its 25 years, the first 11 under “Big Picture” editor Patrick Goldstein, the last 14 under the able watch of Steve Hochman, is no more, a victim of Tribune belt-tightening and the ever-increasing immediacy of Internet news. It has been replaced by “Fast Tracks,” a collection of items compiled by the paper’s inside staffers. Next up for the venerable paper: replacing legendary rock critic Bob Hilburn, who took the company’s buyout and will reportedly write books.

10. Adam Samberg & Chris Parnell, “Lazy Sunday: Chronic of Narnia Rap”: Best thing on SNL in years, this rap video tribute to the film of the same name and the joy of frosted cupcakes is the greatest white-boy hip-hop this side of the Beastie Boys and M.O.T. With its classic refrain, “It’s the chronic.. what?... the Chronic-les of Narnia,” it’s already making its way like a brushfire across the Internet, where you can catch it here. Roy Trakin
 
CALENDAR
The
22nd International Blues Challenge is being held in Memphis, TN, Jan. 26-28. This is yet another record-breaking year for this event. Over 130 acts will play in 16 venues for two nights of semifinals. The third day will include the "Keeping the Blues Alive Awards" and both solo/duo and band finals. The acts will be coming to Memphis from across the country and from around the world for a shot at the national stage. This is truly an International event with 7 countries represented as well as 33 states.
One of the selected few that will represent SoCal will be L.A.-based based regional winner The Forty-Fours. For more info, check out www.blues.org.

Friday, Jan. 27th
6:30pm
Clippers vs. Nuggets on ESPN: The Clips’ first nationally televised game of the year, against one of the hottest teams in the league. After an amazing start, the Clips started to struggle when Corey Maggette went down with an injury. Now it appears they have regained their early-season form from, winning six of their last eight and three in a row, playing some stellar defense during the run. Their defense will be tested in the Mile-High City against the high-octane Nuggets.

7:00pm
TSOL w/ 45 Grave & The Diffs @ Galaxy Theatre, Santa Ana
 Dead Kennedys @ Majestic Ventura Theatre, Ventura


7:30pm
Dramarama, the English Beat, and Thomas Dolby @ House of Blues Sunset (18 and over)

8:00pm
INXS w/ Marty Casey & The Lovehammers @ Gibson Amphitheatre

9:00pm
The Dreaming and Shocknina @ The Whisky: Two killer bands

10:00pm
Morningwood w/ Head Automatica @ The Roxy.

Saturday, Jan. 28th
2:00pm
Idiotarod '06 in Brooklyn: The concept: Which five-person team can pull its tricked-out supermarket cart for about five miles from Brooklyn to Manhattan the fastest?

7:00pm
In Flames and Devildriver w/ Trivium and Zao @ The Wiltern LG

The Lashes w/ Paramore @ The Alley, Las Vegas

7:30pm
Nuggets vs. Clippers @ Staples Center: This contest concludes the home-and-home series between the two teams.

8:00pm
Calla @ The Bug Jar, Rochester, NY
 

Sunday, Jan 29th
11:00am-6:00pm
L.A. Times Travel Show @ Long Beach Convention Center: The largest and best-attended travel show in Southern California returns to Long Beach, where thousands of would-be passengers and hundreds of travel agents turned out last year to talk getting away from it all.

11:00am-5:00pm
Lunar New Year Parade and Festival @ Old Town Pasadena: KSCI-TV's annual Lunar New Year Parade and Festival celebrates the Year of Dog with a lavish parade across Colorado Blvd., followed by a cultural festival in Central Park. The festival includes games, food, booths and much more.

12:00pm-5:00pm
New Year's Day Culture Festival & Fireworks Ceremony @ Chinatown.

6:00pm
Winterfresh SnoCore featuring Seether & Shinedown w/ Flyleaf & Halestrom @ Clear Channel Metroplex.

Yellowcard @ Water Street Music Hall, Rochester, NY

7:00pm
Coheed and Cambria @ Carling Bristol Academy - Bristol, UK

A FAN’S NOTES: MUSING ON LOSING
It’s not like I root for truly cursed franchises like the Chicago Cubs, New Orleans Saints, L.A. Clippers or Chicago Blackhawks, who haven’t won a thing during most of their fans’ lifetimes. But it hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park for my favorite teams in the four major sports—the Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders. I experienced the Holy Trinity in 1969, when the Mets, Jets and Knicks all won championships, then a magical ride in the early ’80s, when the Islanders, the only real dynasty I have ever had the pleasure to root for, won four Stanley Cups in a row. But that was ice hockey, and who could I share that with except for losers like me? It’s not the best of times, it’s just the worst all the time.
 
I’ve lived in L.A. now for two decades, but I continue to root for the teams I grew up with in New York. I’ve only changed allegiances twice, once from the New York Giants to the Jets when we got season tickets at Shea Stadium for the latter, and once from the Rangers to the Islanders, because I grew up on the Eastern Hockey League Long Island Ducks as a kid. It’s like your first wife—you don’t give up on the object of your first devotion. I’d probably give up my wife before I’d give up my teams (insert Henny Youngman line here).
 
I don’t know why I get so emotionally involved with my teams. Maybe it’s because my mother was a long-suffering fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who inspired the phrase, “Wait ’til next year” because of their annual humiliation at the hands of their crosstown rivals, the hated Damn Yankees (an antipathy I’ve also harbored since I was old enough to understand it). Like Don DeLillo’s Underworld, my own universe took shape when Bobby Thomson of the equally hated Giants hit the shot heard round the world to defeat the Dodgers in that famed 1951 play-off, which I caught from inside the belly of my mom, five months pregnant at the time. That’s where my miserable luck with sports started, and it hasn’t ended to this day.
 
Anyway, if the Bosox and Chisox can throw off the chains of bad luck, ineptitude and bubbamaisa curses, maybe I can, too. At the moment, I've hit rock bottom. My basketball team is in serious disarray, with club president Isiah Thomas the subject of sexual harassment charges, legendary coach Larry Brown experiencing the worst year of his career and our best player Stephon Marbury in free-fall after declaring about a year ago that he was the premier point guard in the game. The pitiable Knicks, already out of the playoff race in mid-January, are hopelessly bogged down with bloated salaries and unmovable veterans, and they don’t even have a first-round draft choice on tap to keep the fans’ interest. Let the tabloid sniping continue.
 
My Jets, who won an improbable Super Bowl with Joe Namath 37 years ago, and have been paying for that Faustian bargain in countless ways ever since, just finished a 4-12 season that cost them their voluble preacher/coach Herman Edwards (the fourth to quit on the team in the last seven years), both of their quarterbacks and much of their self-respect. Their solution? To sign an unproven 35-year-old head coach named Eric Mangini, whose chief claim to fame is he served under both former Jets’ coaches Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, the latter of whom split this cursed franchise after 24 hours and went to New England, where he’s proceeded to win three Super Bowls in five years with a quarterback in Tom Brady who never would have become the starter if Jets linebacker Mo Lewis hadn’t knocked out Drew Bledsoe with a crippling tackle to set the whole juggernaut in motion. Oh, cruel fate.
 
As for the Islanders, they have a special punishment for me. For the last decade, their general manager has been one Mike Milbury, a jock from my Colgate class of ’74 who lived in my freshman dorm. Since he’s been in charge, the team hasn’t won a single playoff series, and he’s proceeded to trade away a whole team’s worth of all-star-caliber players, going through coaches like tissue paper and running this once-proud franchise into the ground of the increasingly decrepit Nassau Coliseum. Things got so bad I didn’t even miss it when the NHL went out on strike last year. And now, even after stepping down from the GM position earlier this month, he’ll still be consulting owner Charles Wang on other matters, which can’t be very good. That the guy is paid something approaching $1 million a year to fail upwards is just one more swift kick to my gut.
 
Finally, it’s almost time for pitchers and catchers, and, of course, hope springs eternal for my beloved Mets, whom I’ve been suffering with since their maiden 1962 season at the Polo Grounds, when venerable manager Casey Stengel coined the phrase, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” inspiring Jimmy Breslin’s book of the same name about that 40-120 all-time-losing squad. As they did that inaugural year, and have continued to do, with a brief break in the late ’60s and late ’80s when they built from within and won their only two World Series, the Mets have always stocked their roster with guys just past their prime, from Gil Hodges, Duke Snider and a limping Willie Mays through Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman, Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar to current underachievers Tom Glavine, Carlos Beltran and Kaz Matsui. They recently added fireball reliever Billy Wagner and big slugger Carlos Delgado to the mix, but why should it be any different this year than in the past? Even though homegrown talent David Wright and Jose Reyes could be the real deal, you’ll excuse me for saving my enthusiasm until, say, around July. And I continue to hate the Yankees, of course.
 
Why do I become so emotionally involved with my sports teams? Is it because my own life is so empty? Do I measure my own existence through the day-to-day soap operas of my teams, now covered on literally hundreds of blogs and websites on the Internet, being able to follow those teams on line and on satellite TV like they were my home squads? It reminds me of a Jerry Seinfeld bit asking how one could become so caught up in the outcome of a game based on the teams’ uniforms. After all, in this age of free agency, your team could be entirely different from one year to the next. Last year, I hated Carlos Delgado for turning down the Mets to go with the Marlins. This year, I’m pulling like hell for him, but knowing, as a true Met fan, he’ll undoubtedly have a down year. Because that’s the way it goes when you root for losing teams. —R.T.

JE-C’S NEW-MOVIE RUNDOWN
Big Momma's House 2
Starring: Martin Lawrence, Nia Long, Emily Procter, Zachary Levi, Mark Moses
Synopsis: FBI agent Malcolm Turner goes undercover as the rather enormous old lady known as Big Momma. To avert a national security disaster, he (she?) takes a job as a nanny-housekeeper in a suspected baddie's house, only to be trapped with three annoying children.
Thoughts: After a long layoff, the sequel is finally here. Does anyone care? Yeah, maybe a little bit, I guess there are people who get a kick out of Martin Lawrence dressed in a fat suit.

Annapolis
Starring:
James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Donnie Wahlberg, and Vicellous Reon Shannon
Synopsis:
When Jake, a blue-collar kid, gets accepted into the prestigious Naval Academy at Annapolis, he finds that there are still plenty of battles ahead. Barely making it as a plebe, Jake decides to prove his mettle by entering the Navy boxing competition known as the Brigade Championships, where he faces off against Midshipman Lt. Cole.
Thoughts:
All I have to say is CRAP!! Back-to-back stiffs for James Franco; he better hope a new Spiderman comes out soon!










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WORLDWIDE GROOVE
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