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May 31, 2008

Pump it up


We had hoped to hear more from "Green," and maybe a bunch of "Murmur" tossed in. But hey, that's because we're old.

What we did hear at the packed R.E.M. show at the Hollywood Bowl last night still warmed our nostalgic hearts like only the band from Athens, Ga., and its politically-outspoken frontman (Stipe for Obama!) can do.

The multiple-Grammy-winners, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, do have a new record to promote, after all. (The very solid return-to-form "Accelerate.") But they didn't forget tunes like "Pretty Persuasion," "Fall on Me," "The One I Love," and "Man on the Moon."

It was only their second Bowl appearance ever (hard to believe) and just the third outing on the current tour. You'd never have known it, though. Spectacular night for a band that sounds as tight as ever (Mike Mills, please sing us to sleep every night!).

One major complaint: sound so low during the early songs that a chorus of, "Louder, louder!" erupted from the audience. Problem never really got solved, especially for those of us in the (let's just call them) modestly priced seats.

We realize it's a neighborhood and all, and it was a school night, but we hope the venue works out those kinks soon. Don't recall any such issues last season, and with bands like Thievery Corporation coming up on our list of Bowl dates, we'll be wanting to hear that loud. At least louder.

Still, memorable show under cloudless skies. Sweet music, indeed.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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