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:
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.
When you realize you are frustrated and fed up with the music scene, you go ahead and create your own scene.
After being burned out by the local music scene, musician and performer Chuck Perrin took matters into his own hands. Perrin said he was ""frustrated by the lack of acceptable venues to present music the way I envisioned it."" So he opened up a small space in downtown San Diego, named it Dizzy's and dedicated it to music.
Dizzy's has torn down all of the distractions found at many other clubs, and placed all of its focus on the music itself. There is no bar or restaurant to divide your attention. Dizzy's is a place where you get lost in the sounds of the fantastic talent that comes to play. Perrin explained that more often than not, ""performers are competing with three or four televisions tuned to sports in other areas of the room.""
There are no such annoyances at Dizzy's.
Nestled on the edge of downtown San Diego's East Village, Dizzy's is a haven for jazz purists, blues musicians and folk performers. The small venue offers an intimate setting as well as a high ceiling that provides fantastic acoustics. Unlike other venues, the stage at Dizzy's is only eight inches off the ground and is set very close to the audience. This gives the people the chance to interact with the musicians on stage, and it allows the musicians to connect with their audience. A professional lighting system gives way to a slightly more laid-back feel with chairs that are set around small candle-lit tables on a concrete floor.
As a bit more than a casual fan of jazz, and as a musician, I crave places such as these. I want that relaxed atmosphere where the focus is on the musicians and their music. In that respect, Dizzy's does not disappoint, because Dizzy's has eliminated all of the pretenses.
Slide guitar player and New Orleans funk and blues performer Billy Thompson was the first act to grace the Dizzy's stage last April, and little has changed since. As Perrin put it, Dizzy's ""is what it is."" I get the feeling that Dizzy's is not a place that will cave to the over-commercialization that turns artists into sales-generators and makes them a part of the background.
""It's OK for a musician or artist to work as an actor for bar and restaurant owners, because that can pay the rent,"" Perrin said. ""But for their sanity and growth as artists, there has to be a place where the focus is only on the art.""
Dizzy's is a brick building that was built in 1913 and it looks cold, but when you step inside, there is more than enough warmth because of the hospitality and dedication. The entire ambiance of Dizzy's makes you feel like you've stumbled across some underground jazz club in a dark alley deep in the city where all the hip cats go to relax and listen to some soothing jazz.
There are also paintings by local artist John DeMarco projected behind the performers, which depict legendary as well as local jazz musicians. Perrin has described the venue as having a ""New York City, Greenwich Village vibe.""
Although the emphasis seems to be on jazz and blues, Dizzy's does book a wide variety of performers. From bluegrass to spoken word performances and acoustic folk performances, Dizzy's has something for everyone. You can also catch Gilbert Castellanos hosting the East Village Late Nite Jam, which runs every Friday from midnight to 2 a.m. Saturday.
The O'Brien Brothers from Dublin, Ireland also recently graced Dizzy's stage and treated the crowd with an acoustic folk performance with distinctive Irish influences. Band members Donal and Gerard O'Brien were in the States to promote their new album ""Morning Sun,"" which can be found on their Web site at http://www.obrienbrothers.com. The dapper kids from the Ryan Mar-Tet played straightforward jazz and jammed for nearly two hours during another performance. So you can be sure to catch almost any kind of music on most nights during the week.
What is especially wonderful about Dizzy's is that the music is not limited to those who are 21 and up. It opens its doors to all ages, which gives many younger people the chance to go to a small club and listen to live music.
You can also rest a bit easier knowing that 70 percent of the eight bucks you pay to get into Dizzy's goes directly to the artists. The other 30 percent just pays the bills to keep the place open. This isn't about the profit. Dizzy's is truly about the music.
Dizzy's is located at 344 Seventh Ave., and there is parking along the street as well as at the parking structure in the nearby Clarion Hotel. Check the hiatus calendar for performance dates, times and cover charge. You can also call (858) 270-7467 for more information.
We all enter movie theaters with preconceived notions. I waited to see ""Save The Last Dance."" The movie got mixed reviews. Some said it was good while others told me not to waste my time.
Naturally, I decided to take the risk. Without high expectations, I sat down and got comfortable as the lights dimmed. Once the movie was over, the lights brightened again and I was thoroughly pleased with the time I spent in my ruby-red theater chair.
""Save The Last Dance"" is a story of fulfilling dreams, conquering fears, falling a little into love and, of course, dancing. The plot is interesting, attention grabbing and led by vivacious characters who can, incidentally, all dance extremely well. Whatever abilities they lack as actors -- and at times the acting talent does fall short -- are made up for on the dance floor. Of course, some scenes were cheesy and some of the story was unrealistic, but for an MTV production, I was impressed.
All the little subplots involving one character with another make for a well-choreographed story that was as entertaining as the dance routines. What I loved is that despite the obvious conflicts and serious obstacles the characters have to face, the plot revolves around the dance. The predictable but satisfying ending encourages you to confidently accomplish any goal, or at least to catch the next bus heading for TJ for some clubbing.
Considering that ""Save The Last Dance"" is, for the most part, a love story, I would recommend this movie for a light-hearted night out with the girls. For all the Romeos out there, it is a worthy first-date movie. Don't expect magic to bounce from the screen and pluck at your emotional chords, but do expect an interesting story and lots of entertaining dance moves.
Hardcore: A new look for Vanilla Ice who will perform on Friday at the Pub.
R.L. Burnside is 74 years old, but he can still play the blues guitar like no other. With classic tunes about moonlight train rides and loneliness, he stands as a living legend. He performs at the Belly Up Tavern at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling (619) 220-8497.
New York City guitar player and songwriter Leni Stern performs at Dizzy's in downtown San Diego. Stern has developed her unique guitar style over a 15-year recording career. Her 1998 release, ""Recollection,"" hit the Top Ten of the Year in the Billboard Jazz Chart. The show starts at 8:45 p.m. and tickets cost $8. Call (858) 270-7467 for ticket information.
Vanilla Ice is still alive, and better yet, he is coming to Club Ritmo at Porter's Pub in the Student Center. The show starts at 9 p.m. and the party goes until midnight. Tickets are $10 for UCSD students. For more information call (858) 534-5259.
San Diego natives Celia Lawley and Joel Reese perform their style of fiddle music and country ballads at Dizzy's. They will be backed by their band, Thunder Rose. The show starts at 8:45 p.m. and tickets cost $8. Call (858) 270-7467 for more information.
Neil Diamond cover band Super Diamond will put their own spin on all the classics that your parents made you listen to. This San Francisco group will be at the Belly Up Tavern tonight at 9:15 p.m. and on Saturday at the same time. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster at (619) 220-8497.
Prince Tamino goes on a quest to save a beautiful princess in a world of sorcery, dungeons and wild animals in the San Diego Opera's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute. The words will be sung in German while English translations are projected above the stage. The performance starts at 8 p.m. Additional performances this Sunday start at 2 p.m. and on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $33 to $124. Call (619) 570-1100 for ticket information.
The infamous Blue Oyster Cult will perform their wholesome Satanic metal at 4th & B. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $15. Call Ticketmaster to buy your tickets at (619) 220-8497.
Salsa combo Orquesta Primo will perform at the Belly Up Tavern. Primo will be the host of the Belly Up Tavern's Salsa Sundays. A one-hour class at 7 p.m. will help you with your moves. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are only $5. Call Ticketmaster at (619) 220-8497 for more information.
Poison the Well is a south Florida metal band that will be supported by Martyr A.D. and American Tragedy. The show at the Che Cafe will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6. Call (858) 534-2311 for ticket information.
Creeper Lagoon was voted the best new artist of 1998 by ""Spin"" magazine. They will perform songs from their upcoming album, which will be released on March 27. Creeper Lagoon have performed with Elliott Smith, the Dandy Warhols, Rocket from the Crypt and Harvey Danger. Call (619) 232-4355 for ticket information.
The duo known as the Rembrandts might be better known as the duo who sing the theme song from the hit television show ""Friends."" They will perform at the Brick by Brick. Tickets cost $10 and the show starts at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets call Ticketmaster at (619) 220-8497.
""Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"" boasts an unusually complex cast of heroes, villains and heroines. Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat play two warriors who conceal their love for each other. Debutante Ziyi Zhang counters as the seemingly complacent young daughter of an aristocrat.
The film's soothingly exotic atmosphere comes from its non-Western setting. The references and symbolism in the movie are probably lost on a Western audience.
However, the story deals with universal themes. Two pairs of lovers have to choose their paths in life, toward honor, loyalty, pride or love. A legendary sword called ""The Green Destiny"" forms a point around which the characters' lives revolve. The plot follows the characters and their supernatural fighting moves, which never stop surprising the audience.
Viewing this film requires a certain ability to delay gratification: The dialogue is subtitled, not dubbed, and there is little ""surface action"" in the first 20 minutes. Be warned: Do not leave. The action eventually hits and takes you so high that you might lose sight of your seat.
We're talking platinum-level fantasy-fighting choreography.
There is a scene in the film that might qualify as this year's longest flashback. Lean back and indulge.
""Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"" played in independent cinemas right before Christmas. It is now in general release, much to the annoyance of those who saw it without being prompted by the huge billboards outside the megaplexes.
Sony has really taken its hat off -- and opened its money bag -- for this picture, for good reason. If we all give in to our inner desire, scrap our food budget and see the movie more than once, maybe other films will be granted the same privilege and the world will become a better and more informed place, populated by people with the ability to read subtitles.
""The Clan Strikes Back""
When RZA proclaimed on ""Wu-Tang Forever"" that ""the next Wu album ain't even comin' out till the year 2G,"" many scoffed at the notion or dismissed it as typical Shaolin posturing. Then 2000 came and true fans waited eagerly until the release-heavy fourth quarter rolled around for RZA's prediction, given some four years prior, to be realized.
The Wu Tang Clan has been hip-hop's leading innovator since the early 1990s, when they released their seminal debut, ""Return to the 36 Chambers."" Since then, the members of the Clan have released several sterling solo projects, another group album and appeared on many collaborative projects, all the while spawning legions of imitators -- most of whom aren't worthy of carrying Ol' Dirty Bastard's urine sample.
Now the boys are back with their new album, ""The W,"" a banging collection of RZA-produced gems that will have even the most skeptical Wu fans bobbing their heads.
The record features a return to the eerie, gritty style so prominently featured on early Wu works but which has recently been replaced with a more glittery and commercialized sound that attempts to appeal to the mainstream.
""Hollow Bones,"" one of the album's best tracks, is vintage Wu-Tang at its finest. Over a looped sample of a bone-chilling moan, RZA couples a subdued bass line with jangling strings to provide Ghostface Killa, Raekwon and Inspektah Deck with a desolate sonic soundscape over which to drop their tales of misery.
Many will mourn the near absence of Ol' Dirty, one of the Wu's most charismatic members. His presence is reduced to a set of prerecorded verses thrown together with an almost unlistenable Snoop Dogg guest spot, since ODB was in rehab for much of the album's production.
Despite the lack of material by the Dirty one and the atypical inclusion of guest appearances, which -- other than the Redman verse on ""Redbull,"" only detract from the album -- ""The W"" is an impressive collection of tracks and a much-needed return to form by the Shaolin MCs.
-- By Scott Burroughs
Chances are, most Americans spent their Wednesday with the usual proclivities -- working, studying, watching the rain fall, maybe refueling with a mid-afternoon cappuccino before going back to the drudgery of hump day. And amid our scurrying, billions of others were lighting firecrackers, drinking plum wine and watching paper lions dance through streets of red and gold. In fact, half the globe had already closed up shop, getting ready for the Chinese New Year (otherwise known as the Lunar New Year, for those unwilling to be labeled sinophiles).
YES, IT IS A BIG DEAL
There is a large misconception that the Chinese New Year wavers under its Gregorian counterpart with regard to pomp and circumstance. But, one can blame the press for that.
Western media blitzes 24-hour coverage from ""around the world"" with the solar New Year, while the lunar New Year might get a 2-minute montage on the nightly news. True, the ""whole"" world does not celebrate -- let alone recognize -- the Chinese New Year, which would explain the discrepancy in media coverage. However, it also suggests that those who do celebrate the holiday view it to be less important or significant.
Big mistake. There's a reason why most Asian countries don't carry the luster or glitz of Paris or New York at midnight on January 1. Simply put, it's not that big of a deal to them. So, more as a token, they get together and ceremonially gong an old bell or throw some weird performance piece calling for global unity and the like. Many are also preparing for the oncoming lunar New Year, buying gifts for family and making travel arrangements to go back to their hometowns. These preparations take longer than the West, primarily because the New Year is celebrated during a week-long period, rather than one whopping night and a hung-over day. In China alone, government officials are expecting 1.6 billion trips to occur during the holiday week. Worldwide, 2.1 billion trips are expected to occur during the first three days of the New Year. All Asia-bound airlines have added approximately 20 percent more flights, while bus stations can expect 4,000 customers daily.
The Chinese New Year is the Asian equivalent of Christmas in terms of economic growth. That one season can make the difference between profit and bankruptcy. By extending last year's official holiday from three days to one week, retail profits jumped from single- to double-digit percentages. China's growing leniency toward loosened social controls has also caused a boom in the travel industry, where 20 years ago there really was no such thing as ""New Year's"" season.
WHEN IS IT?
Because the Chinese New Year follows the lunar cycle, the dates change every year under the Roman calendar. However, the solar year is taken into account. Because the lunar cycle lasts for 29.5 days, extra months must be inserted every few years in order to ""catch up"" with the solar calendar. This can best be compared to adding an extra day on leap year. The Chinese New Year starts with the new moon on the first day of the year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. This 15th day is better known as the ""Lantern Festival,"" where children parade through the streets brandishing an assortment of colorful lanterns. According to legend, the Yellow Emperor, Huang Ti, started to compute time in 2696 with the help of his prime minister. Therefore, under the Chinese calendar, this year is really 4697 rather than 2001.
Historically, there isn't so much to go on in terms of triangulating an academic explanation of the Chinese New Year. What roots the East to the lunar calendar is a tradition so deeply embedded into its culture, it has become a marker of national pride and identification. Virtually everything drunk, eaten or played with has symbolic value.
The holiday itself carries a nifty little creation myth concerning a beast named ""Nian,"" translated into English as ""year,"" who gets hungry for humans after a terribly bad winter season. Consequently, an immortal god, disguising himself as an old man, tricks the beast into swallowing all the other animals terrorizing humankind. He eventually mounts the beast and rides off into the proverbial sunset. Before leaving, however, the god warns the people to place red lanterns and light firecrackers at each year's end to scare away the Nian in case it happens to sneak back.
Not only does this explain the importance of the color red as well as its exorbitant use of firecrackers in New Year's festivities, it also uncovers a smart pun on words. ""Guo Nian,"" meaning ""celebrate the (New) Year,"" may also be translated as ""surviving the beast,"" as the word ""nian"" refers to the mythical creature and ""guo"" carries the double definitions of ""observing"" as well as ""passing over."" However, this creation myth is generally restricted to the Chinese, as other Asian cultures who celebrate the New Year do not share this view or may not even be familiar with it.
New Year's Day is celebrated as a family affair throughout Asia. It is considered a time for reconciliation, reunion and most importantly, thanksgiving. The holiday was traditionally celebrated with a religious ceremony honoring Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household as well as family ancestors. Consequently, the most vital ritual concerning the New Year was a sacrifice to the ancestors, which promised unity among living members of the family and a peaceful rest for ancestral spirits. Therefore, on New Year's Eve, the communal dinner called ""weilu,"" or ""surrounding the stove,"" was held in their honor and became a symbol for cohesion and reverence for the past.
There are a cornucopia of traditions involved with the Chinese New Year. Of the more notable, all debts are to be paid before the New Year. Otherwise, one is subjected to another year of debt. All sons and daughters are expected to return to their families, married couples generally going to the groom's family. All homes are cleaned thoroughly, not only in anticipation of returning children, but also as sign of purity within the household. Doors are decorated with red and gold cut-outs with themes of wealth and longevity. New Year's Eve is usually spent at home, feasting together with traditional dishes such as rice pudding and steamed dumplings. Midnight is received with firecrackers bursting through the streets, intended to drive evil spirits away. Lights are kept on throughout the night, again to discourage evil spirits from entering.
On the first morning, children are given envelopes filled with money from their families, symbolizing wishes for good luck. In return, children are expected to wish all adults an auspicious and lucrative new year. After the whole family gets up, it begins caravaning door to door, wishing good luck and fortune to relatives, friends and neighbors.
Although these customs are primarily Chinese, other Asian nations that celebrate the Lunar New Year share similar traditions with minor variant features. The Taiwanese carry a more elaborate tradition with their fireworks, whereas Korean children must ceremonially bow to their elders before receiving their monetary ""blessings.""
No matter what the changes in detail may be, the East as a whole, if it may be grouped as a ""whole,"" considers the Lunar New Year to be a time of family reunion and ritual pageantry. The spontaneity of deciding where to ""spend"" New Year's Eve is replaced with tradition and reminiscence. It might not be as ""exciting"" as millions of couples kissing at midnight amidst thousands of fireworks under the Eiffel Tower. But hey, at least you don't have to find a date.
""Pieces of the Past""
Whale Bone Records
If you're wondering what music by a former professional baseball player sounds like, then this is it. ""Pieces of the Past"" is by former baseball player and current coach of the San Diego Padres Tim Flannery.
Flannery's debut album is a mix of folk and bluegrass and it combines acoustic guitar, fiddle and bagpipe, among other instruments, to create an old-country sound. The instrumental music on this album is well-crafted and intricately layered with lots of harmonizing effects, but overall, it evokes little emotion because of Flannery's insipid lyrics and droning voice.
""Foot of the Cross"" is a standard Christian song, with such overused lyrics like ""At the foot of the cross love will be found ... there's a place I go to when life gets me down."" Perhaps the song would sound better if sung by someone with a more expressive voice, but it sounds disappointingly tedious with Flannery's average set of pipes.
""Million Miles Away,"" however, is a soothing six-minute song inspired by a lonesome walk on the streets of San Francisco.
Flannery writes his own songs and explains them in the liner notes. That fact shows promise. Flannery also employs standard instruments (acoustic guitar, bass, percussion, etc.), instead of imitating other kinds of music.
""Pieces of the Past"" successfully does what Flannery probably intended to do, which is to evoke images of nature and tell the stories of his childhood- but whether he suceeds in provoking any sort of interest from the listeners is another story.
-- Brenda Xu
What do you do when you lose a Golden Globe award and a Grammy to Phil Collins? Well, as far as Aimee Mann is concerned, you express your disapproval at live shows and play a kick-ass set that proves that the judges were either incompetent or deaf.
Mann's Dec. 13 stop at the Sun Theater in Anaheim was the 15th on her tour promoting her third solo album, ""Bachelor #2.""
She mockingly showed her distaste when she introduced ""Save Me,"" the song for which she received two award nominations. However, as she put it, she lost to a song about ""Tarzan and a cartoon monkey. That's kind of how I feel about the election right now.""
Playing to an audience of mostly middle-aged people, Mann's 13-song set included work from her solo albums ""Whatever"" (1993), ""I'm With Stupid"" (1995) and ""Bachelor #2"" (2000). It also included songs from the ""Magnolia"" soundtrack (2000), which made her music known to a mainstream audience.
Grant Lee Phillips was the opening act that night, playing a fairly long 11-song all-acoustic guitar set. ""You guys might be able to rent 'Magnolia,' and by the time it's finished, I'll be done,"" he joked at the beginning of the set. This remark was one of many odd yet comical comments that Phillips made throughout the night.
Aside from the jokes, his performance consisted of deep, metaphorical lyrics sung to beautifully elaborate chord progressions. His folk-blues set included songs from his recent album ""Mighty Joe Moon.""
The transition from Phillips to Mann encompassed a change from acoustic to electric guitar. Her set list ranged from heart-wrenching, slow ballads such as ""4th of July"" and ""Wise Up"" to upbeat tunes like ""Ghost World."" The show's highlights included an amazing acoustic rendition of ""It's Not Safe,"" with violins fusing in after the first verse.
After the song, Mann joked about the despondent nature of her music and sarcastically declared, ""That was my all-purpose protest song with my usual message, which is 'Give up -- it's hopeless!'""
Other highlights included the energetic classic ""Choice in the Matter,"" the emotionally charged ""Susan"" and the desperate and vulnerable ""Long Shot.""
The night ended with two encores, the last of which was a moving, acoustic version of ""I've Had It."" Mann left the stage graciously thanking the audience while the crowd cheered earnestly, affirming Mann's position as a great performer and one of the more prolific songwriters of our time.
It's a little surprising that a theatrical act as quirky as the Blue Man Group began its run in Las Vegas only last year. After all, Vegas is the place to find white tigers, dancing fountains, pirate shows and X-rated hypnotists all within a square mile of one another. The Blue Man Group's indefinite run at the Luxor provides a refreshing form of entertainment for those who have tired of the chintzy monotony and glamour of the typical Las Vegas show.
The concept behind the Blue Men is simple and tenders widespread appeal. Three performers, dressed in black but daubed in cobalt blue face paint, fascinate the audience with an irreverent succession of ingeniously entertaining escapades, totally devoid of any speech. It's a show that can appeal to the 5-year-old or the 50-year-old.
The Blue Man Group began its run in New York in the early '90s, and the success it garnered there prompted runs in Boston and Chicago. The Las Vegas run opened in March 2000 and combines material from the East Coast runs with new material, designed specifically to take advantage of the capabilities of the high-tech Luxor Theatre.
As the show kicks off, the Blue Men beat paint-soaked drums, splattering canvases with neon pigment. One Blue Man tosses paint balls to another, who catches them in his mouth and sprays another canvas, creating art that looks something like what you might have created in kindergarten. The audience is mad for it, and the paintings get sold after the performances.
The Blue Men are backed up by a seven-piece, fluorescent-suited band, but they also create their own music. Mid-show they emerge wearing giant PVC-pipe instruments that look like a cross between an organ and a dinosaur's rib cage. They bang on these and create a variety of tunes. They toy with the audience and plink out a few familiar melodies. At one point in the show, this results in a sing-a-long to Jefferson Airplane's ""Go Ask Alice.""
The show is not merely a passive sit-and-watch experience. At several points in the performance, audience members are invited to participate in the ruckus. The Blue Men rush the seats and shove a camera down an unsuspecting person's throat, projecting the image for everyone to see. They invite a woman onstage for a proper sit-down Twinkie dinner, complete with knife and fork. They kidnap a man, suit him in white, slather him in paint and catapult him against a giant canvas backstage. And in a finale in which everyone can participate, giant rolls of paper stream down from the back of the theater, draping people as they rush to pass it down through the aisles to the stage.
The fun that the Blue Man Group propagates is the sort of innocent amusement that most people had to leave behind during early adolescence. The 90-minute performance is refreshing, as it awakens in the audience the wonder and delight that can only be evoked by things such as Cap'n Crunch cereal, paper streamers, Twinkie feasts and neon lights.
At a cost ranging from $55 to $65, the price for such fun can seem a little steep. However, when you compare it to the thought of spending $100 for two hours with a couple of kooky Germans and their albino menagerie, the Blue Man Group shines as an example of entertainment value that's hard to meet in a place like Vegas.