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A.S. Festivals Release Winterfest Duds

In the weeks before any major event, the festivals coordinators of the A.S. Council are hard at work trying to book popular acts to come to UCSD. But sometimes the bands who are being courted can't come here for one reason or another. Next week we'll have the official list of who is coming to Winterfest. As for this week, we'll see the bands who snubbed UCSD:

Greg Gorman
Paisley Park

ATB -- DJ Andre Tanneberger produced the massive club hit ""9 P.M. (Till I Come),"" which pounded through clubs from TJ to Europe. However, ATB suddenly changed his U.S. tour plans from February to March and may not even come to San Diego at all.

EVE 6 -- Popular alt-rock band caught the ears of the public with lyrics talking about putting a heart into a blender. They will be playing in San Diego the week before Winterfest. By the time Winterfest comes around, Eve 6 will be somewhere in the Midwest.

EVERLAST -- After spending some time with House of Pain, he went solo and even scored a duo with Santana. But he'll be in Texas during Winterfest and he can't change his plans.

GEORGE CLINTON -- Yes, we could've gotten the funk master himself but he's performing in San Diego just a few days before Winterfest and he can't stick around for the weekend.

INCUBUS -- This funk-metal band from Calabasas wanted a lot of money. Money that we don't have for Incubus.

SHAGGY -- Winterfest or David Letterman? Shaggy went with Letterman. Forget him. Next!

Winterfest will be on Friday, Feb. 23. UCSD students get in free with a can of food and there will be a limited amount of guest tickets available.

Prepare For Some L.A. Noise

No Age’s earliest efforts were nice, but they didn’t exactly stand out from the lo-fi crowd — with boundless energy,
hopelessly distorted guitars and catchy vocal lines buried deep within layers of noise. But, starting with 2008’s gorgeous Nouns, the band has varied their approach, balancing squalls of distortion with care- fully crafted noise sculptures.

Songs like “Things I Did When I Was Dead” and “Impossible Bouquet,” though still composed almost entirely of guitar noise, feature vocals that — for a change — are fully audible, floating above dense thickets of ambient feedback loops.

The band continued this maturation on last year’s Everything in Between, combining delicate sound manipulation with energetic punk rock on “Glitter” and “Valley Hump Crash.” While some songs, like the excellent “Fever Dreaming,” main- tain the relentless pace of the band’s early work, much of the record stays at a more relaxed tempo, giving the listener a chance to savor the band’s increasingly hummable melodies.

Though initially strictly a guitar-and- drums duo, on their most recent tour, No Age added a third member to help control the increasingly intricate loop-work on Everything in Between.

The guys are known to put on an incredible live show, maintaining a sense of energy you’d expect from a punk band. No Age is coming to town this Friday for a show at the Che Cafe? — an unsurprising move, since they got their start at their own DIY venue, Los Angeles’ the Smell.

The concert’s $10, but the Che doesn’t sell advance tickets, so anyone set on attending the concert should be sure to line up outside on Friday afternoon.

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The Fine Art of Psycho Animation

This year's installment of the long-running Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation held a great selection of new and charming films, along with some ""classics"" and a couple of easily forgettable pieces.

Amusing and coarse, the festival promotes itself as a collection of the nastier side of animation. In truth, the 18-and-over age requirement seems a bit overrated. Nothing is as offensive as you might expect. Most of the shorts are suitable for network broadcast. Granted, there are some ""adult"" themes: drugs, drinking, suicide, misogyny and sex; but come on, like you've never seen this kind of thing before.

The origins of the festival go back more than 24 years, before the ""classic"" animation festival got started. Spike was living in Riverside, Calif., ""the cultural end of the Earth,"" as he put it, where he was the bassist and vocalist for a '50s parody greaser band.

""We would play old cartoons before and in between the sets,"" Spike recounted. ""You know, old 'Popeye,' 'Betty-Boop,' 'Superman,' that kind of thing.""

Out of sheer desperation for something to do in Riverside Spike began playing cartoons in the party house known as ""The Manor.""

""It was a pretty wild place,"" Spike said. ""It was three levels, and we threw crazy parties, like in Animal House.'""

It was at one of these parties that Spike first met Mike, the now -- deceased half of Spike and Mike.

""He showed up to a party uninvited in a clown costume,"" Spike said. ""He had mirrors on his shoes, and was using them to look up women's dresses. Their boyfriends beat Mike up and threw him out of the party.""

Needless to say, Mike eventually moved into the The Manor's attic, and the two became fast friends. As a twosome, Spike and Mike were able to compensate for each other's talents: ""Mike was a great MC, and I wasn't,"" Spike remembers. ""He was always good at things I wasn't, and I was good at things he wasn't.""

A Festival of Animation began slowly.

""At first we just scrapped things together,"" Spike said. ""It was very crude.""

Soon they found a source for several films in the National Film Board of Canada. As time went on, a reputation began to build, and people began to send in films, but this did not happen overnight. Spike has traveled the world to find new and interesting shorts. He was on the road for 10 months of the year in earlier days, though now he spends more like four.

""The show is definitely fun,"" Spike said, ""but it's a lot of work, and a lot of commitment.""

Spike and Mike's has approximately 50-city run throughout the year, allowing for wide exposure for the festival and the animation. All that time and effort are really beginning to pay off.

""We got mentioned this year on 'The Simpsons,'"" Spike said. ""And we went on tour with Korn; it became titled the 'Sick and Twisted' tour.""

Many now-famous and infamous cartoons have passed through the ranks of Spike and Mike, from ""Wallice and Gromit"" to ""Beavis and Butthead"" and even the ""Powerpuff Girls.""

Watching this rise in the popularity of cartoons that have been helped along by the festival has been bittersweet for Spike.

""In the beginning we really got screwed on the legal issue,"" he recounted, ""so we've never gotten any money or even any recognition when people use the shorts.""

Still, Spike remains optimistic.

""It's coming back to us,"" he said coyly. ""It's getting bigger, and more and more people are hearing about us now.""

Audience participation is popular throughout the festival, building a consistent rowdiness that ""does not support the quiet movie-going experience,"" Spike said. ""You had better be prepared for childish comments from the more vocal attendees, but often it's all in good fun.""

Intermission entertainment was also provided. To the great delight of male audience members, there were five women up on stage, competing in the ""Best Ass"" competition. The pre-show entertainment was three massive balloons left to be tossed around the auditorium. It's amazing how completely enraptured people become by a large plastic sphere of helium. Since when did we all become cats?

There are a string of fabulous shorts that can be seen this year: ""Timmy's Lessons In Nature"" shows you what you expect to happen more often to the Crocodile Hunter, and in ""Voltron & Heroin"" you find a couple of great practical jokes for children. ""Maakies"" was featured on an episode of ""Saturday Night Live"" a few years back, but is great whether you've seen it before or not. After all, when isn't alcohol and suicide a winning combination? Chris Rock's voice and head star in ""Bad Phone Sex,"" which is humorous, if not predicable. Tenacious D, the acoustic-freaky-funk duo, and Jack Black of ""High Fidelity"" fame have an animated presence along with singing the soundtrack to ""Fuck Her Gently.""

The great and bizarre Bill Plymton (Liquid Television, and the animated GEICO ads) has a new film, ""Eat,"" that manages to capture the sick part of the festival fairly well. His twisting presentation of reality constantly blurs the lines of fantasy, allowing you to see what a character is thinking. The vomiting seemed inevitable somehow, but the crowd was pleased by the queasy sequence.

Both ""L'Amour"" and ""Rejected"" were present again this year; these are stick figure animations that manage to be some of the funniest films Spike and Mike have ever shown. ""Rejected"" has actually been nominated for an Academy Award; it's pretty amusing to imagine members of the Academy watching that fluffy little thing bleeding out of its anus. All you can do is laugh.

If you're not expecting to have the absolute limits of good taste and judgment pushed back, then Spike and Mike will certainly amuse you. Fans of early ""Beavis and Butthead"" will rejoice in the simple and often blatant gags that take place on screen. With around 20 short films, you can't really expect every single cartoon to be the most entertaining gem. Yet, what is occasionally disappointing in a film here or there, is more than made up for with the other shorts and the atmosphere, which includes stage antics involving the crowd.

In general, almost everybody will be pleased by attending, as long as they aren't expecting anything more than what this festival is: animation that celebrates its own lack of refinement.

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Classic jazzman Dave Brubeck jams in San Diego

Dave Brubeck is an American music icon.

The life of Brubeck is a long and amazing journey. As a teenager in the 1930s, Brubeck started to play professionally in small dance clubs. While in college, he abandoned the idea of becoming a veterinarian and pursued music. Brubeck served under General Patton in World War II, and after he was discharged in 1946, he continued his musical journey.

He formed his trio with Cal Tjader and Ron Crotty in 1949 and then added saxophonist Paul Demond in 1951. This was the beginning of an incredible musical partnership with Desmond that yielded dozens of hits that are classics today.

Brubeck and Desmond stepped away from common 4/4 time and dived into deeper waters with 9/8 time signatures and influences from African folk music and even Turkish folk rhythms.

With Desmond came the hit ""Take Five,"" which is a familiar song that has made appearances in television commercials and has been a constant standard in jazz clubs around town.

Brubeck also toured with the likes of Stan Getz, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. As a musical innovator, Brubeck also performed and recorded with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

Brubeck is also socially progressive. He was insistent on adding an African-American bassist Eugene Wright to the band in the early 1960s, which cost him shows in the South.

The president of one college refused to let the band play in the midst of students demanding that they perform. With an intervention by the governor, the band was allowed to play if Wright was hidden backstage. But Brubeck told Wright that his mic was broken and when Wright's feature solo came up, Brubeck had instructed Wright to play at the very front with Brubeck's speaking mic.

Brubeck is now graced with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. In 1999, he was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). In 1994, he was honored with the National Medal of the Arts from the NEA in a White House ceremony. He has also been awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Even in his mid-70s, Brubeck keeps himself busy. He still composes, records and embarks on international tours. Perhaps there is a fountain of youth hidden within the beautiful rhythms of jazz.

Dave Brubeck and the Dave Brubeck Quartet will be at the Copley Symphony Hall as a part of the Winter Pops Series on Nov. 9 and 10. Look to the Hiatus Calendar on pg. 12 for details on the show.

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The Men Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

By Krystle Wong

Like its titular hero, “The Green Hornet” is less about defeating bad things than befriending them. Despite director Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) in the driver’s seat and writer/actor Seth Rogen riding shotgun, “The Green Hornet”’s original 1930s cohesion is lost in a haze of clunky kitsch — choosing to follow its own invented premise.

“Hornet”’s Britt Reid is the son of wealthy newspaper publisher James Reid, who dies from an allergic reaction to a bee sting. An irresponsible playboy who has little in common with his hardworking father, Reid is unfazed by his death (“He was a bit of a dick”) and apathetic to the media empire left in his incapable hands. Shortly thereafter, Reid is introduced to Kato — a talented Chinese mechanic with high-precision martial arts and latte skills (played by Jay Chou).

But here’s where “Hornet”’s logic starts to sting: Reid unexpectedly decides the duo should use its untapped potential to achieve his childhood dream of crime fighting. The billionaire hopes to rid L.A. of its local baddies by making nice with them — minus, thank God, the spandex.

“Green” is one way to describe Rogen’s action debut — even trimmed down and gussied up, the funnyman is all klutz and white noise as he delivers lukewarm dialogue with incredulity and fumbling tact, he makes his turn as the womanizing party-boy Reid a conflict of character rather than a refreshing outlook on the superhero archetype. A look at the long line of heartthrobs who passed on the role only adds salt to the wound: George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Wahlberg were all contenders before Rogen took the reins.

The rest of the casting is equally baffling — Cameron Diaz plays smart femme fatale Lenore Case in her perky, doe-eyed best, Chou’s broken English slows the already- decelerated action sequences and overqualified Christoph Waltz plays arch-nemesis Chudofsky, a part originally meant for Nicholas Cage — who demanded the villain speak with a Jamaican accent (Gondry was reportedly relieved when the “National Treasure” star abdicated his role).

Though Chou’s tongue-tricks may not be up to speed, his fighting style is: Fighting sequences are slowed by Kato-vision — a 3D-tunnel view that follows the actor throughout his scenes — playing up Chou’s form as he high-kicks and jumps with exacting timing and precision.

But with such an inconsistent mess on its hands, “The Green Hornet” has squandered inherent movie buzz and marred any cin- ematographic merits. Still, superhero-flick fanatics will probably give “Hornet”’s crew the box office moneymaker that Sony Pictures is betting on. To those less devout to the world of comic book oldies: Wait for a more prolific green hero to take the silver screen come June. (C)