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Album Review

Wu Tang

""The Clan Strikes Back""

Sony Music



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

Lunar Rise

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).


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.


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.

Blue Man Group

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.

Vegas Vacation

Las Vegas has always been known as the city built by mobsters and beset with gambling, sex, drugs and alcohol. Vegas is the ultimate City of Sin. Vegas is the kind of city that God would like to smite. Countless movies have been made about the rampant hedonism of Vegas, and Hunter Thompson's novel ""Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"" almost glamorized the use of drugs in Vegas. One cannot compare the beautiful neon lights of Vegas to any other city in the world.

Tyler Huff

Over the last decade Las Vegas has slowly been shedding its image of complete decadence. Although it is probably still quite easy to be sinful in this city, Vegas has started to create this image of being more accessible to a wide range of people of all ages.

Vegas has bloomed into a city of entrancing lights, wonderful sights, and it shows off capitalist might. The strip, or Las Vegas Boulevard, is lined with beautiful new hotel-casinos with shopping malls located right inside along with art exhibits, quaint coffee shops and many different performances.

Here are some of the hotel-casinos that line the strip and some things to do besides gamble away your savings.


DESCRIPTION: The 3,025-room Bellagio is the most beautiful and praised resort on the strip. Costing $1.6 billion, the Bellagio offers a 116,000-square-foot casino, 12 specialty restaurants and a luxurious shopping arcade. The Bellagio opened in October of 1998 and is located right in the middle of the strip, just south of Caesars Palace. Room rates range from $159 to $499, varying with the season and on the day of the week without notice.

WHAT TO DO: The Fountains at Bellagio is one of the most visually appealing shows on the strip. It is also free. Dozens of high-powered fountains are gorgeously choreographed with lights to the music of Frank Sinatra, Lionel Richie and Andrea Bocelli.

If you have about $90 to burn, you can watch ""O"" by Cirque Du Soleil, which uses 1.5 million gallons of water as its stage. The Bellagio Conservatory is an amazing collection of fresh flowers and trees that changes with the holidays and seasons. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art rotates exhibits on a quarterly basis. The current visiting exhibit displays paintings from Picasso, Monet, Degas, Cezanne and Van Gogh.

If you just won the lottery or have a great financial aid package, you can window shop at Tiffany & Co., Gucci, Chanel and Giorgio Armani.


DESCRIPTION: Across the strip from Bellagio lies the $785 million Paris Las Vegas, complete with an Arc de Triomphe and a 50-story Eiffel Tower. The hotel features an 85,000-square foot casino adjacent to ""Le Boulevard,"" an indoor cobblestone street lined with 31,500 square feet of shops and eight French-inspired restaurants. The spacious guest rooms include master baths with imported stone floors and counters. The price of the rooms can range from $129 to $369. Suites can be as large as 6,670 square feet and they cost a small fortune.

WHAT TO DO: Aside from the exquisite cuisine, the quaint cafes and the European specialty shops, you can also ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower for under $10. The elevator flies up at 340 feet per minute. From the observation deck you can enjoy a picturesque view of Las Vegas that will be breathtaking any time during the day or night.


DESCRIPTION: The Venetian is another Italian-themed resort. Each of the 3,036 rooms at The Venetian is a suite providing 700 square feet of living space. A canal winds through 500,000 square feet of real estate in the Grand Canal Shoppes. The casino is among the largest, taking up 120,000 square feet of land. The Venetian is located right across the street from Treasure Island.

WHAT TO DO: Take your pick from five-star restaurants created by culinary masters like Emeril Lagasse, after which you can go to The Venetian's 63,000-square foot health club.

In the evening you can head to the C2K dance club and listen to '70s and '80s dance music along with some '90s pop and some house music. The club is 21 and up. You can also check out Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, and for $10 you can take a half-mile ride through The Venetian on one of the six gondolas.


DESCRIPTION: A landmark on the strip since its opening in August 1966, Caesars Palace features over 2,400 rooms, a 45,000-square foot casino and over 100 restaurants and shops. Rooms, many of which feature Roman tubs or whirlpool baths, range from $79 to $500.

WHAT TO DO: The main attractions at Caesars are the Forum and Appian Way shops. The Forum Shops include Banana Republic, The Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch, which are relatively affordable compared to the Appian Way specialty shops such as Bernini Couture and Cottura.

Visitors to Caesars will also find an IMAX ride, two talking statue shows and an aquarium.


DESCRIPTION: Located on the south end of the strip, the 3,309-room hotel includes a 135,000-square foot casino featuring over 2,400 slot and video poker machines and 122 table games. Rooms at Mandalay Bay range from $97 to $140.

WHAT TO DO: Rumjungle, one of Vegas most popular clubs, features techno, Top 40 and Latin house music. The hotel also has 11 specialty restaurants, a 12,000-seat events center, a 1,700-seat showroom, and the 1,500-person House of Blues live music venue. Mandalay Bay is also home to The Shark Reef, a $40-million aquarium that contains 1.5 million gallons of seawater and 2,000 animals.


DESCRIPTION: The facade of this hotel is an approximation of the New York skyline, complete with the Manhattan Express, a 2-minute, 45-second roller coaster that winds its way around the outside of the hotel. The interior of the casino at New York-New York is modeled on Times Square and Central Park. Rooms at the hotel range from $60 to $309.

WHAT TO DO: New York-New York features 10 specialty restaurants, 11 stores and a Coney Island-style area with games and a video arcade. The Manhattan Express plummets riders down a 160-foot drop and through a 540-degree spiral at speeds up to 67 mph.


DESCRIPTION: The giant pyramid on the strip whose beam can be seen for miles is home to 4,476 rooms and a 120,000-square-foot casino. Rooms in the pyramid, which range from $69 to $139, are custom-designed with unique views. Inclinators take guests up to 30 stories high at a 39-degree angle.

WHAT TO DO: The Luxor is home to Ra, a club that was part of the hotel's $400 million renovation. A host of local DJs spin deep house, techno, top 40 and trance mixes nightly. Luxor also features a two-story video arcade and an IMAX theater.


DESCRIPTION: The Monte Carlo is an elegant blend of European and American tastes. It has a 90,000-square foot casino along with 3,014 rooms with prices that range from $59 to $399. The Monte Carlo is located toward the south end of the strip and is located between New York-New York and Bellagio.

WHAT TO DO: World-famous magician Lance Burton performs two shows nightly between Tuesday and Saturday in a 1,200-seat theatre. A massive 21,000-square foot pool includes waterfalls and a wave pool. Monte Carlo also offers a wide range of shops.


DESCRIPTION: Ballys is the hotel-casino that was host to the ""Flying Elvises"" in the movie ""Honeymoon In Vegas."" There are 2,814 rooms in Ballys and they can start as low as $59 in the middle of the week. The casino floor is 67,000 square feet. There is also a monorail that links Ballys to the MGM Grand.

WHAT TO DO: There are various gourmet and casual restaurants, such as The Big Kitchen Buffet, to satisfy your appetite. The 1,040-seat Jubilee Theatre is host to various performers and is home to ""Jubilee!""


DESCRIPTION: Treasure Island is right next to The Mirage and offers 2,891 rooms at prices from $60 to $360. The casino is 75,000 square feet, and there is a variety of stores like the Calvin Klein Store and the Treasure Island Store.

WHAT TO DO: Treasure Island can fulfill your dreams of being a pirate, with live pirate battles complete with stunts and explosions. The Hispaniola and the HMS Pinafore battle it out every night. There is also a massive 18,000-square foot game center.

Film Review

With Microsoft under the watchful eye of the Department of Justice and on the verge of being split apart, I could imagine Chairman Bill Gates could use some cheering up.

Sorry, Bill. Looks like Hollywood is also going to take a gut-wrenching stab at your life in its ""tell-all"" movie, ""Antitrust."" Although a better title would have been ""Bill Gates is a Flesh-Eating Monster.""

People may argue that this movie is not at all related to Microsoft or its founder. But there are, after all, references to Emperor Gates in the movie as a competitor to the film's fictitious, world-encompassing corporation known as NURV (Never Underestimate Radical Vision).

NURV's head honcho is the geeky Gary Winston (Tim Robbins), with bigger-than-your-windshield glasses, mousy hair and a timid posture. It's obvious Winston was modeled after Gates.

Director Peter Howitt shows us the world of software production as a stereotypical society of dorks, loners and sociopaths. Programmers revel in orgasmic delight in fixing program bugs, sporting high-fives and rooting to ""show some kind of creativity"" that Winston demands of his soldiers. This describes the NURV campus as genius programmer Milo Hoffman (Ryan Phillippe) snuggles into his cushy new job with personal assistance from Winston himself.

Financial success, a beautiful girlfriend (Claire Forlani) and a Mercedes-Benz are all Milo could ask for before he begins to suspect NURV's business and research tactics. Soon the film accelerates into conspiracy and murder, leaving us with little time to catch our breath. Phillippe performs admirably when he confronts nothing but paranoia and mistrust, which often builds into scenes of rapid tension and sneaking suspicion.

Though the film thrills and electrifies, it later crashes faster than Windows 2000 running more than four programs, as the action becomes repetitive and a bit too melodramatic.

The megalomaniac Winston becomes more tyrannical by the minute and his secrets are too far-fetched and his plans for world domination would make him more at home against James Bond rather than Milo the programmer.

Nonetheless, ""Antitrust"" is a fast-paced ride through the inside of Hollywood's view of the company we all love to hate. If Gary Winston is supposed to be Bill Gates, then Gates is certainly the devil.

Album Review

Tim Flannery

""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

Wailing the Grammy Blues

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.

The Hiatus Calendar


The Black Eyed Peas will perform at the Belly Up Tavern at 9 p.m. Tickets are $17.50 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling (619) 220-8497.


Chris Calloway is the daughter of swing music legend Cab Calloway and will perform at UCSD's Mandeville Auditorium. Calloway is singer, dancer and bandleader and she will lead the Hi-De-Ho Orchestra and Dancers through some of her father's arrangements. Tickets are $22 and can be purchased through the UCSD Box Office or through Ticketmaster by calling (619) 220-8497. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

UCSD graduate Chris Kilch and the Chris Kilch Jazz Quintet will perform at Dizzy's in downtown San Diego. Kilch will be featured on alto and tenor sax, clarinet and flute. The show starts at 8:45 p.m. and tickets are $8. Call (858) 270-7467 for ticket information.


Countervail along with Give Until Gone, Curl Up And Die and Kareen will play at the Che Cafe at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5. Call (858) 534-2311 for ticket information.

Jam band Clyde's Ride will perform at the Belly Up Tavern. The show starts at 9:15 p.m. and tickets are $7. Call Ticketmaster for more information at (619) 220-8497.


A Martin Luther King Jr. Day Memorial Concert will be held at Mandeville Auditorium. The UCSD Gospel Choir, under director Ken Anderson, will perform spirituals and gospels in celebration of King. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets range from $3 to $5. Call (858) 534-3229 for ticket information.


Touring behind their recent release, ""Jupiter,"" Cave In will perform at the Che Cafe with other hardcore acts The Thrones, Durga and Secret Fan Club. The show starts at 8 p.m. Call (858) 534-2311 for ticket information.


Gregory Isaacs will perform his smooth reggae groove at 4th & B. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $16.50. Call Ticketmaster for tickets at (619) 220-8497.


Metal band Fear Factory will show off their evolving metal sound at Cane's Bar & Grill. Their new album incorporates computer technology for a new groove but with a distinctively metal sound. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $15. To buy tickets call Ticketmaster at (619) 220-8497.

Review: Album

""Blur: The Best Of""
EMI Records


After six albums and more than a handful of hit songs, Blur has finally released ""Blur: The Best Of."" The album provides 18 tracks of Blur and their growth from their 1991 release, ""Leisure,"" through their most recent release in 1999, ""13.""

For those of you whose knowledge of Blur doesn't go beyond the techno-casino sounds of ""Girls & Boys"" and the familiar ""Whoo-Hooo!"" of ""Song 2,"" then this album will open your eyes to the music that is distinctively Brit-pop.

Blur was first known as Seymour and started out playing their style of art-punk in various places around London in the late '80s. In 1989 they changed their name to Blur, signed to Food Records and released ""Leisure,"" which included hits like ""She's So High"" and ""There's No Other Way.""

""Modern Life is Rubbish"" was released in 1993 and it pioneered the Brit-pop sound of the early- to mid-1990s. The lush My Bloody Valentine-esque guitar work with Beatles-esque harmonies and the use of string and brass sections achieved a witty collection of songs.

Their first No. 1 album, ""Parklife,"" continued Blur's collection of hit songs including ""Girls & Boys"" and gave them four Brit Awards.

With the release of their next album, ""The Great Escape,"" Blur became part of a media-created rivalry with Oasis. ""The Great Escape"" reached No. 1 in the British charts and sold 1 million copies in Britain.

Their self-titled album, ""Blur"" was released early in 1997 and they were instantly known stateside with their two-minute hit simply titled, ""Song 2.""

""Song 2"" also found its way into commercials, movies and other promos. Largely ignored were songs like ""M.O.R."" and ""Beetlebum.""

Their most recent studio album, ""13,"" was lyrically direct and emotional with beautiful musical textures. Blur songwriter Damon Albarn wrote about his painful break-up with Elastica's Justine Frischmann and used the brilliance of William Orbit to produce the album.

Their ""best of"" album collects all of the songs that define Blur and their career. Classics such as ""Parklife"" and ""Charmless Man"" are included with the light melodies of ""Country House"" and ""To the End."" The bonus disc includes 10 songs from their concert at Wembley Arena.

""Blur: The Best Of"" is a fantastic way to open your eyes to more than just the American radio hits and it's a great way to start the foundation of your Blur collection.

Under the Scope

The first year of the new millennium brings many new films that will try to offset the horrible selection of movies that plagued 2000. Winter may prove chilly, but Hollywood intends to brighten and warm this season with films that range greatly in style and genre. Unfortunately, this winter may seem cold because many of the new films coming out continue the downward trend that began last year. Here is a look at some films coming to theaters this winter.



Jan. 19

The Mexican

Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, Jason Flemying, Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, Rade Sherbedgia and Jason Statham.

Turkish (Statham) is a boxing promoter who gets in trouble when he works with gangster Black Top to rig a boxing match. At the same time, a diamond theft occurs, but the diamond disappears; as a result, the mastermind of the heist, Avi (Farina), goes to England to get the lowdown. The two stories intertwine with each other, creating havoc in the process.

Outlook: This film looks to be a winner with a fresh, fast-paced plot that is sure to bring out a bit of everything. Although it may be over the top, the chaotic yet stylish storyline should make this film fun and exciting to watch.

The Wedding Planner

Jan. 26

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Justin Chambers and Judy Greer.

When wedding planner Mary Fiore (Lopez) meets Steve Edison (McConaughey), she thinks she has found the man of her dreams. This is great until she finds out that Steve is engaged to Fran Donelly (Wilson-Sampras), who has hired Mary to plan her wedding. Mary now has to manage the fine line between her job and her love life.

Outlook: A chick-flick that is sure to be a crowd pleaser this year. Chemistry between Lopez and McConaughey is good, but the predictable and simple plot makes this one seem like an ordinary romantic film.

Sugar & Spice

Jan. 26

Starring: Marley Shelton, Jame Marsden, Rachel Blanchard, Mena Suvari, Sean Young, Sarak Marsh and Melissa George.

Diane (Shelton) is the captain of the school cheerleading squad and dates the quarterback Jack Barlett (Marsden). Everything is fine until Jack and Diane find themselves in an unexpected situation and need cash immediately. In order to help the couple, the rest of the cheerleading squad, the A-squad, plot a bank robbery. The girls put their futures on the line in order to help out their friend in this comedy.

Outlook: Can you give me a ""D-U-M-B?"" The idea of a bunch of peppy cheerleaders turning to a life of crime is not exactly A-material. The only thing these cheerleaders can motivate you to do is to not see this poor excuse for a movie.

Head Over Heels

Feb. 9

Starring: Monica Potter, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah O'Hare, Shalom Harlow, China Chow, Ivana Milicevic and Tomiko Fraser.

Amanda Pierce (Potter) is a single art restorer who resides in Manhattan in this comedy. When she lands a great deal on a new, luxurious apartment, she is both surprised and uncertain when her new roommates are four beautiful, gorgeous models. The models quickly change Amanda's lifestyle and Amanda is attracted to Jim Winston (Prinze). Things are turning out fine until she witnesses what appears to be Winston committing a murder. Pierce and her new roommates are now on the trail to find out the truth.

Outlook: ""Head Over Heels"" is another teen-pop flick that proves that all you need to make a movie is a pretty face. This movie lacks the credibility and plot to be much more than another chance to see an attractive actress or actor. Not only is the plot ridiculous, but it also has the intelligence of the movie's character, which is none.


Feb. 9

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, Frankie R. Faison, Giancarlo Giannini, Francesca Neri and Zeljko Ivanek.

The sequel of ""The Silence of the Lambs"" has the escaped Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) being the hunted instead of the hunter when an old victim of Lecter, Mason Verger, tries to seek revenge and attempts to kill Lecter. In order to do this, Verger uses FBI Agent Clarice Starling (Moore) as a tool to capture Lecter.

Outlook: The original movie proved such a success that Thomas Harris wrote another chilling book in order for a movie to be made. Although money was the catalyst, this film will prove to be one of the more thrilling and haunting films of the year. With director Ridley Scott and Anthony Hopkins back as the lead, this film will bring a realistic, spine-chilling thriller that is macabre and gruesome.

Sweet November

Feb. 16

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs, Greg Germann, Frank Langella and Liam Aiken.

Keanu Reeves plays a busy executive too concerned with himself to care for the well-being of others. His way of life changes when he meets an awkward but free-spirited woman (Theron) who persuades him to spend a month with her in order to change not only his views, but also his way of life. However, neither of them expected to fall for each other.

Outlook: This weak premise portrays itself as a warm, sentimental romance. A love story demands chemistry between the two leads, but Reeves and Theron are not known for their great acting. The odds of seeing not only good acting but also great chemistry from the two actors are the same as having a legitimate and fair election in Florida.

The Mexican

March 2

Starring: Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and James Gandolfini.

Jerry Welbach (Pitt) is in a tight situation because he has to not only recover an antique pistol for his mob boss, but also has to deal with the fact that his girlfriend Samantha (Roberts) wants him to end his association with the mob. Trouble ensues when Jerry recovers the pistol, which turns out to be cursed, and by the fact that Samantha is now held hostage by a hit man.

Outlook: Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, with their immense starpower, will ensure that this film will be seen by many and will be a success at the box office. This predictable film looks to be decently funny with a good blend of not only comedy, but also romance, drama and action.

Animal Husbandry

March 30

Starring: Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear, Hugh Jackman, Marisa Tomei and Ellen Barkin.

In this romantic comedy, Ashley Judd plays talk show producer Jane Goodale who is in a romantic relationship with Ray (Kinnear). When their relationship turns south, Jane uses her knowledge of the male animal to write a sex column. In the process, Jane and her column become a sensation.

Outlook: This look into men-women relationships falls flat as the script seems shallow and it clarifies the obvious. As a result, a meaningful understanding is never developed. Judd has been in many bad movies lately and this seems to be just another one of them.