While R.E.M. is no longer the center of the rock universe, this retrospective offers proof that they were just as influential on a whole generation of PoMo groups as U2, even if they weren’t able to build on their momentum, as their Irish contemporaries did.
It’s That Magical Time of the Year Again—Baseball Playoffs, the Meat of the Football Season, the Return of the NBA, the New TV Season, Films for Adults and Candy for Kids
If the myriad alternatives below don't float your boat, consider those music fests on Saturday in Downtown L.A. (Detour and Grand Avenue) and Eagle Rock, on Sunday at La Brea Tar Pits Park (TarFest) and all weekend long at Lake Havasu.

1. N.Y. Mets vs. L.A. Dodgers:
This playoff series is obviously steeped in a tradition that goes back to the ’50s, when the then-Brooklyn team seemed to play the Damn Yankees every year in a Subway Series marked by amazing occurrences like the Dodgers’ first-ever victory in ’55 and Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yanks in ’56. The Mets came to life in ’62 in response to the exodus of the National League Giants and Dodgers to California and formed a natural rivalry with both through their early years, while also taking up the blue-collar cudgel against their hated blue-blooded crosstown rivals the Bronx Bombers. This year’s series echoes the last time these two teams met, back in 1988, when the heavily favored Mets of Dwight Gooden/Darryl Strawberry renown were on the verge of taking an insurmountable 3-1 lead when now-Angel manager Mike Sciosia hit a game-tying two-out homer against Gooden in the ninth and the Dodgers went on to win the series 4-3 behind the indefatigable right arm of an unconscious Orel Hersheiser, then defeated the Oakland A's after gimpy Kirk Gibson's memorable round-tripper off Dennis Eckersley. This year’s battle is shaping up the same way, the Mets, having lapped their division long ago, facing the underdog Dodgers, who needed a season-closing seven-game win streak just to get in as the Wild Card entry. Trouble is, the jinxed Amazins’ lost two of their starting pitchers within a week in Pedro Martinez and “El Duque” Hernandez and are now faced with cobbling together a rotation on the fly. The first game was a classic, the Mets prevailing 6-5 in large part thanks to the Blue Crew getting two guys thrown out at the plate on a single off the wall that should have scored both of them. The resultant highlight was rerun endlessly on ESPN as an instant blooper classic, evoking comparisons to a similar play in the movie Major League. Both teams are fatally flawed—the Dodgers lost their left-handed specialist Joe Beimel to a fluke injury on the eve of Game One when he cut his hand on a broken glass, which some claimed took place at the hotel bar, and the Mets are looking at a Game Four start from one Oliver Perez, he of a 3-13 record and an ERA north of 6. So, it should be a dandy, a survival of the unfittest, and I, for one, won’t exhale until the last out is registered, even if the Mets are up 2-0 going back to L.A., where I will be at Saturday's game. It has all the makings of a fall classic. —Roy Trakin

2. Jerry Lee Lewis, Last Man Standing (Art1st):
Hard to believe this all-star duets album couldn’t find a major-label home, but that hasn’t stood in the way of producer Jimmy Rip and movie exec Steve Bing, who bankrolled the project and hired an ace marketing/promotion team headed by Jeff Ayeroff and Michael Plen to launch it. Perhaps the biggest problem is the 71-year-old legend is still “standing,” as the title says, not only as the last of the Sun superstars, which included Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins, but at his piano, where he continues to pound the ivories like a man possessed. Again, unlike Ray Charles’ posthumous Genius Loves Company, Jerry Lee is alive and kicking and more than capable of overshadowing any of his partners here, which include a who’s-who of popular music, from rockers Jimmy Page (“Rock and Roll”), Bruce Springsteen (“Pink Cadillac”), Neil Young (“You Don’t Have to Go”), Keith Richards (“That Kind of Fool”), John Fogerty (“Travelin’ Band”), Kid Rock (“Honky Tonk Woman”), Rod Stewart (“What’s Made Milwaukee Famous”), Ringo Starr (:Sweet Little 16”), Little Richard (“I Saw Her Standing There”) and Eric Clapton (“Trouble in Mind”) to blues legends B.B. King (“Before the Night Is Over”) and Buddy Guy (“Hadacohl Boogie”) to country greats Merle Haggard (“Just a Bummin’ Around”), George Jones (“Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Age”), Willie Nelson (“A Couple More Years”), Toby Keith (“Old Glory”) and Kris Kristofferson (“The Pilgrim”). Jerry Lee’s at his best when backed by either a sizzling guitar player or singing country, but one of the album’s highlights is his exchange with Mick Jagger on “Evening Gown,” featuring Ronnie Wood on slide. “People say I’m a loner, I like to get lost in a crowd,” sings Lewis, as Jagger playfully answers, “Don’t we all?” Jerry Lee comes back with, “People say I’m a dresser,” with Jagger responding “You’re pretty sharp.” “I wear my sports clothes way out loud,” croons the Killer, as even Jagger is reduced to echoing, “Way out loud.” It’s a memorable moment on an album with a number of them. —RT

3. Friday Night Lights (NBC, Tuesdays, 8 p.m.):
Having not read the bestselling book nor seen the film upon which it’s based, this series opener from the movie’s writer/ director Peter Berg about a Texas high-school football team’s influence on its small town rings pretty true. King Kong’s Kyle Chandler registers as the rookie coach under big pressure from team backers to produce, and from his wife (24 and West Wing’s Connie Britton) to up their standard of living. Scott Porter is a natural as the clean-cut star quarterback Jason Street, as is newcomer Gaius Charles as the stud running back Smash Williams. The football scenes are well-directed, and the documentary-style handheld camera adds a sheen of authenticity. Ironically, for a show about football, it’s the female members of the cast who add the pizzazz, from Minka Kelly’s perky cheerleader to Adrianne Palicki’s blonde bad girl to Aimee Teegarden’s precocious coach’s daughter. There are more than enough story lines for a single season, which begins with the team’s star QB getting knocked out of the first game, to be replaced by Zach Gilford’s underdog benchwarmer, who leads the team to an unlikely victory in the final seconds. The problem with sports shows is that truth is always stranger than any fiction you can come up with, but this glossy soap opera could just move the chains. —RT  

4. R.E.M., When the Light Is Mine: The Best of the I.R.S. Years (1982-1987) DVD (Capitol/EMI):
For those who appreciate the band’s early, funnier (but still pretentious) years, this video compilation (and its audio companion) takes you back to the roots of college/alternative rock’s standard-bearers coming of age in the ‘80s. Michael Stipe is impossibly young, with a full head of curly hair, and Pete Buck’s a beanpole, while the group itself is a frisky, jumpy foursome with a pleasingly arty edge that would flower during the MTV years. And while R.E.M. is no longer the center of the rock universe, this retrospective offers proof that they were just as influential on a whole generation of PoMo groups as U2, even if they weren’t able to build on their momentum, as their Irish contemporaries did. R.E.M. never were interested in the mainstream, as the 20-minute avant-garde film, “Left of Reckoning,” which takes the concept of the music video and turns it into art, makes clear, representing a forerunner for classics like “Losing My Religion” to come. Considering the thorough coverage of bands like the Beatles and Stones in their youth, it’s rather amazing that R.E.M., whose birth coincided with the video-killed-the-radio-star revolution, have had to wait until now for this kind of documentation. For all Gen X’ers, here’s a chance to experience your own brand of nostalgia. —RT

5. The Science of Sleep:
Writer/director/music video auteur Michel Gondry’s wisp of a film is like a dream in several ways, as you forget what happened as soon as you walk out of the darkened theater, but while watching it, it’s so real you can practically feel it. Like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which he directed, though without its screenwriter Charles Kaufman’s rigid, formalist sense of narrative, Gondry tries to examine the exact ingredients that go into romance—its scientific explanation—only to fall back on the sheer exhilaration of the mind’s internal dialogue with the heart. He expresses that through a series of surreal images like oversized hands, a shoe that ties its own laces, cardboard skylines and a stuffed play horse that rears to life. Gael Garcia Bernal is the James Thurber-like Stephane, who lives inside his head, where he stars in his own TV talk show on a handmade set that looks like something out of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, while toiling by day in a mundane job as art director for a calendar company. Charlotte Gainsbourg is Stephanie, his female equivalent, a gamine Patti Smith look-alike who lives across the hall from him in a Paris apartment owned by his mother, veteran French actress Miou Miou. The two meet cute (when her piano falls on Bernal’s head while moving in), then begin to inhabit one another’s dreams, though in real life, they frustratingly fail to connect. It’s all quite charming, with nice touches like a sweet rendition of the Velvets’ “After Hours” and plenty of dazzling MTV-like eye candy. It’s a movie for the heart, but as in waking up from a dream, when it’s over, your head feels like it never happened. —RT

6. Vivien Goldman, The Book of Exodus (Three Rivers Press): Ostensibly an analysis of Bob Marley’s 1977 masterpiece, the veteran reggae writer, who also penned a 1981 biography on the subject, offers a fly-on-the-wall viewpoint. She was there with Marley from the start of his career, first as an Island Records publicist and later, a music journalist with U.K. publications Sounds and Melody Maker.  Like Jerry Schilling’s Elvis bio, it concentrates on the man rather than the myth, which proves just as difficult for the larger-than-life Marley as it was for Presley. Goldman sets the table and gives us the backdrop on the artistic steps the superstar had to take before he was able to create what she dubs “the album of the century” in Exodus. It’s a remarkable journey, and Goldman is both eloquent and well-informed, and not afraid to put herself into the tale, as well she should be. I’ve always thought that Timothy White’s Catch a Fire was the definitive Marley biography, but this comprehensive yet personal study adds a human element that gives it the edge. Now for the movie version. —RT

7. The Nine (ABC, Wednesdays, 10 p.m.): This highly touted new series has the enviable time slot after Lost, to which it has many similarities, including people drawn together by a cataclysmic life-changing event. In this case, it’s the robbery of a downtown L.A. bank in which nine ordinary, everyday people are held hostage for 52 hours, one of whom dies. The gimmick is that what actually happens during that time is revealed in bits and pieces, while the major characters cope with the consequences. As several critics have noted, it would be hard to imagine how the story could be extended beyond a single season, once the secret is revealed, but hey, who thought Lost would last into a third year? The individuals, predictably, represent a variety of social strata, races and personalities, including a Jewish surgeon, his girlfriend, a female district attorney, a cop with a gambling problem, an African-American bank manager and his daughter and a portly gentleman in the middle of a suicidal midlife crisis who turns into an unlikely hero. Among the characters that stood out are an almost unrecognizable Tim Daly as the policeman, Kim Raver, Jack Bauer’s galpal on 24, as the D.A. and veteran character actor John Billingsley playing frumpy Egan Foote. With the slew of serial dramas, the nets obviously are programming for the TiVo age, but I’m still having a hard time keeping track of all the loose threads. —RT

8. Indianapolis Colts 31, New York Jets 28: It was one of the most amazing football games we’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something for this long-suffering Jets fan. The lead changed five times in the fourth quarter, leaving the rowdy J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets crowd at Yankee Doodle’s high-fiving one another like maniacs and the somewhat subdued Colts rooters sitting in disbelief as the Jets’ Justin Miller ran a kickoff back a club record 103 yards before Peyton Manning got the ball back with 2:15 left on the clock and no timeouts. Of course, Jets fans, conditioned to decades of failure, knew immediately that their team had left too much time, and Manning, of course, led the Colts steadily down the field before sneaking in for the game-winning TD with a little under a minute left. The real fun came with the Jets’ final play—and the play of the game—starting from their own 30 with eight seconds remaining. A wild multi-lateral playground special ensued, with about eight different guys touching the ball before a fumble from Jets center Nick Mangold, of all people, at the Colts 27, finished the game. All that was missing was the Stanford trombone player getting run over in the end zone. —RT

9. Iowa Farmer Today’s CornCam:  Thanks to resident hick Todd Hensley, and in the spirit of the Weeds episode a couple of weeks ago where Mary-Louise Parker and her business partner literally got stoned and watched “the grass grow,” here’s a website where you can go to see the corn get as high as an elephant’s eye, but better watch carefully after taking a break from your routine and indulging here. “I can’t explain why,” says Hensley. “But it just amuses me.” Doesn't take much, does it? Once again, what did we do before the Internet? —RT

10. Gripe of the Week:
I’ve never shied away from my heritage—in fact I’m proud of it—but I’m more of a cultural Jew than an observant one. I don’t keep kosher or make love to my wife through a hole in a sheet, but at the same time, I’d never think of having milk with a pastrami sandwich or voting Republican, even if my mother dutifully fed me milk for every meal growing up, meat or no. Anyway, I’m kind of a once-a-year Jew; I go to temple for only a handful of occasions—Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, my kids’ bar and bat mitzvahs, my wedding. Over the last few years, I’ve even taken to working on Yom Kippur, which I don’t ordinarily like to do, but hey, deadlines are deadlines; I’ll deal with God in my own time. I do, however, take pride when a Jewish ballplayer like Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax or Shawn Green decides to take the day off. Anyway, this year, while breaking the traditional day of atonement fast (which I had already done with El Pollo Loco), there was a whole deal going on over who had held out from eating the longest, who had the biggest headache, who was hungrier, whether brushing your teeth or taking Xanax counted, that kind of thing. When religion gives way to that kind of one-upmanship, that’s when I’m out. It seems to be the root of many of the problems in today’s world. —RT

Fri, Oct. 6th
Twins vs. A’s in Oakland (ESPN): All I have to say is, why did nobody but Oakland want Frank Thomas?

Yankees vs. Tiger in Detroit (Fox): The Tigers blew their chance to make any noise in the playoffs by getting swept by Kansas City at home in the final weekend of the regular season, and bye-bye went home-field advantage.

Queen Mary’s Shipwreck in Long Beach: The frightfest is not recommended for kids under age 13. Costumes are not permitted and reservations are recommended.

Sat, Oct. 7th
Carlos Mencia @ The Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal Citywalk

Bruce Hornsby @ Pick- Staiger Concert Hall in Chicago: The bands include Megadeth, Dave Mustaine & Co. are joined by Lamb of God, Opeth, Arch Enemy, Overkill, Into Eternity, Sanctity and The Smashup.

Sun, Oct. 8th
Cowboys vs. Eagles (ESPN): Terrell Owens returns to Philly—whoa Nelly!

Gigantour @ Hard Rock Live in Orlando.

The Haunted Hotel @ Gaslamp Quarter and East Village

The Departed
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio
Billy Costigan is an undercover cop South Boston assigned to infiltrate a mob syndicate run by a boss named Costello. Meanwhile, a young criminal, Colin Sullivan, has embedded himself in the police department's Special Investigation Unit. Both their lives become endangered when the two organizations realize they have moles within their ranks.
Thoughts: The score on Metacritic was a 93, making this one of the best-reviewed movies of the year. With a great cast and strong early buzz, looks like Scorsese may have another classic on his hands.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Jordana Brewster, Cyia Batten, Andrew Bryniarski, Matthew Bomer, and Diora Baird
Oh, so that's how Leatherface became a murderous psycho! Jordana Brewster and a bunch of other young hot people star in this prequel to the classic horror series.
Thoughts: Word is this could be one of the scariest movies of the year. It will be hard to convince the fiancée to see this one, but I figure since I agreed to go to the ballet with her this weekend, potentially missing a Dodgers playoff game, she owes me one.

I just got the Lupe Fiasco CD, and if you are a hip-hop fan, this is a must-have—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.

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.
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 Illusionist: Giamatti and Norton are truly awesome.
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.
Nacho Libre: The funniest movie of the year. Jack Black rocks.
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 nothing else.

That's a nice return there, Len. (5/26a)
The next mogul. (5/26a)
Is Larry Gaaga related to Lady Gaga? And other musical questions. (5/26a)
You just need these six credit cards... (5/26a)
President Glauber knows it don't thrill you but she hopes it won't kill you. (5/26a)
Enjoy being even more confused by the calendar.
Celebrating the music that fuels the biz.
Dammit, we said DILL pickles!.
Just wondering if you still give a fuck.

 First Name

 Last Name


Captcha: (type the characters above)