Search our listings:
 


BACKSTAGE WITH MARIAN
Blog Background
Story outtakes, celebrity confessions and the latest pop culture news in the Bay Area

About Me
I'm a pop music writer for the San Jose Mercury News. I cover pop, hip hop, punk, rock, dance, and ethnic - well, basically everything you can dance to.

My Articles

MY PICKS
CD: Common:"Be"
Music Video Eminem: featuring Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Trailer: The Year of the Yao
TV: Harvey Birdman
Videogame: Fable

MERCURY REVIEWS
Art: The New Art of India
Bar: Boswell's
Book: Jill Scott
Club: Forum
DVD: Kinsey
Movie: Cinderella Man
Music: Sleater-Kinney
Restaurant: The Melting Pot
Theater:The Mambo Kings

SICK SITE
Earth and Sun Kiss

MY PLAYLIST

1. R. Kelly: "Trapped In The Closet"

2. Weezer: "Hold Me"

3. Bright Eyes: "First Day Of My Life"

4. Ringside: "Miss You" and "Criminal"

ENTERTAINMENT RESOURCES
  • Billboard Charts
  • Encyclopedia
  • iticket.com
  • Moviefone
  • Music Dictionary
  • MTV
  • Pollstar
  • tickets.com
  • Urban Dictionary
  • ticketmaster.com
  • VH1

  • BLOGROLL
  • Adisa Banjoko : San Jose's Bishop of Hip hop
  • Angry Asian Man: Asian American media watchdog
  • Berkeley Blogs
  • Black Electorate : Inside Cultural, Economic and Political industries
  • BLT's Parry
  • Crayone: the trials and tribulations of a graffiti artist
  • Dan Gillmor : Grassroots Journalism
  • Dat Phan : Last Comic Standing season 1 winner
  • East Bay Livin' : Ellen Lee's EB hunt
  • Davey D: Hip Hop Daily News
  • Fortt: black american gen x journalist musician multicultural christian technophile
  • Jeff Chang: fellow Asian hip hop writer
  • Joe Grimm : Ask the Recruiter
  • In Passing : Random Street Conversations
  • Pacific Standard: Bay Area hip-hop
  • Pop And Politics
  • Pop Licks : O-Dub, a cultural critic
  • Scape: San Jose graffiti artist
  • SiliconBeat: News about tech money and innovation
  • Tuesday, May 31, 2005

    John Cho in San Francisco and Sheryl Crow across cultures

    This weekend, I ate a LOT and relaxed.

    But with last week's busyness, I didn't get a chance to talk about how I listened to John Cho speak in San Francisco.

    One thing he said really struck me. As a second-generation immigrant whose parents came from Korea, he described his parents as "cowboys," who came to the US for a better life, who came knowing nothing, not even the language of this future home. (Here's a link to more from his talk.)

    And yet these rebels couldn't understand when their own children wanted to be rebels in paving their own frontiers that weren't as safe (jobs that weren't the doctor, engineer, or lawyer). This was an irony I never thought about.

    This is an irony I go through every day.

    As a fellow second-generation Asian American, I've struggled against a lot of expectations my parents tried to force on my life. Believe me, pop music critic, isn't one of the things immigrant parents can easily brag about.

    So, in my first year as a critic, I took my mom to a concert, to Sheryl Crow - a performer who wasn't too loud, or too offensive. Before the show, I went through all the different genres on the radio - this is hip-hop, this is rock, this is country, and this is Sheryl Crow, so she could recognize the difference. Then I explained to her what a typical night would be like - what she could expect.

    At the concert, my mom got into it and started pointing out potential people I could interview. She even got down with the music -- well, sort of.

    And the only thing she wasn't really down with was Crow's outfit: some low-riding tight leather pants. My mom immediately forbade me from ever wearing pants like that.

    I ended up writing the concert review about the uniqueness of the night, about bridging cultures and generations. (Here is a link to that story.) And the ironic thing is that Crow's public relations person at the time was someone like me, a second-generation Asian American who brought her mom to concerts in order for the mom to better understand what her daughter did for a living.

    The pr person and I bonded over that.

    Ever since that concert, I've continued bringing my parents to concerts, just so they understand me and my passion. Because of this, I've gone to some concerts I usually would never go to, like Yanni.
    Friday, May 27, 2005

    Madagascar and Memorial Day events in the Bay Area

    I caught a preview of Madagascar on Tuesday. I laughed through the whole thing.

    Now Mercury News movie critic Bruce Newman said the film was meant for kids, not for their parents - but being a kid at heart, I loved it. True, it wasn't the same kind of fun as "The Incredibles" with its dark humor - but it was good clean fun.

    The animals were funny and could be easily transformed to merchandise. (Okay, I admit it - I've already been to Denny's and got the Madagascar masks.)

    Also, the story premise is not formulaic - it's more of a character movie. I never knew how perfect David Schwimmer as a hypochondriac named Melman the Giraffe. And, Ben Stiller plays pretty much himself, the dorky self-involved type, as Alex the Lion.

    The animal who steals the show is a lemur king named Julian, played by Sacha Baron Cohen. (Comedian Cohen is best known as the blinged out hip-hop wanksta Ali G, who starred in Madonna's "Music" video.) Julian is hilarious and makes you want to get up to dance, and move-it-move-it.

    As for this weekend, besides barbecuing, ch-check some clubbin'...

    SUNDAY

    Grand Openingn of "Super Hyphy Sundays"
    WHERE: Los Robles, 1985 Cleveland Ave, next to Coddingtown Mall, Santa Rosa
    WHEN: Sunday night 5/29
    TIX: 18+; guestlist@enlacasa.com
    WHY: hip-hop, reggaeton, R&B, club classics

    ABZOLUT's Super Memorial Day Bash
    WHERE: DNA Lounge, 316 11th St @ Harrison, SF map
    WHEN: Sunday night 5/29
    TIX: free before 10:30 p.m.; $10 discount before 11 p.m.;RSVP; $5 presale tickets
    WHY: phat Memorial Day party

    CrossRoads
    WHERE: Club Blush, 261 California Drive, Burlingame
    WHEN: Sunday night 5/29
    TIX: 21+; if graduating, discount admission classof2005@blufizz.com
    WHY: Memorial mega event
    Thursday, May 26, 2005

    94.9 Bomb Veinte Backstage!

    Bomb Veinte surprised me. (Here's a link to my review.) Usually radio shows are filled with chaos and bad sound quality, but this one was better produced.

    Check out these links:
    I was the ONLY reporter allowed backstage, so here are some moments from the night, some actually quite funny:
    • I bopped D-Roc from the Ying Yang Twins in the grill while trying to record his interview backstage.
    • In the beginning I wasn't even sure if I could get a straight interview from him. He has spent much of the time making funny noises then hollering. But, after I asked him how he keeps his voice up - the rapper stopped and went into a genteel soft voice - and said it was herbal tea. (You can hear the whole interview online.)
    • One headliner (and you can guess who) brought marijuana plants onstage. Here's the line-up list.
    • While Snoop Dogg was performing, The Game came outside the backstage area and greeted folks. I stood next to him for a long time (he's younger and taller than I thought, maybe around 6 feet or so). Then I stuck my hand out and shook his hand. He has soft fingers. (Earlier when he was performing, he passed out a blunt to a member of the audience and told them to share.)
    • While watching Snoop, The Game jigged, and enjoyed two blond girls who grinded in front of him. When fans noticed him, there was a cell phone photographing frenzy. He later spotted a little girl in the stands - made a pouty face, reached out for hand and kissed it.
    • R&B singer Natalie had watched Star Wars the night before. The former Houston Rockets cheerleader watched the blockbuster in a San Jose theater shut down just for her.
    • Backstage in their dressing room while Snoop was performing, The Frontline and EA-Ski were beat. (Their room made up of painted white brick was pretty bare. It consisted of one table of fruit and drinks and a few metal fold out chairs.) The Frontline, made up of Left and Locksmith, didn't want to touch any of the fruit laid out on the table, citing that they didn't know who else had been in there and that the food had been laying out all night.
    Wednesday, May 25, 2005

    R. Kelly in "Trapped In The Closet (Chapter 3)"

    R. Kelly has devised this musical drama called "Trapped In The Closet."

    There are five chapters. Two are out, and I've been hanging on the edge of my seat to find out the full story.

    Chapter 1:
    • A man meets a woman in a club and they get it on.
    • He finds himself in her bed the next morning but she won't let him leave because her husband has just come home.
    • The man hides in the closet.
    • The woman's husband comes home, only to find the man in the closet.
    • The man pulls out a gun.
    Chapter 2:
    • The husband and wife quarrel.
    • The husband unleashes his own secret to get her back.
    • The husband has been creeping around on his own...with a man.
    Chapter 3: (It's not out yet, but I've heard it and I'll give you a taste of what's to come. )
    • The husband and wife continue to quarrel.
    • The man, in the closet, shoots.
    • This man calls home to find similar problems.
    R. Kelly is planning to unveil a mini-movie for this musical drama. It'll be part of a bonus DVD for his upcoming album, TP3: Reloaded, to released this July 5th.

    The video for Chapter 1 comes out tonight:


    WHAT: R. Kelly's "Trapped In The Closet (Chapter 1)" video
    WHEN: 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT) tonight, Wednesday, May 25th
    WHERE: BET
    Tuesday, May 24, 2005

    Jill Scott, the Mandarin Macbeth and Madagascar plus later Bomb, R. Kelly and Madagascar

    Ch-check out my story today on Jill Scott. (Here's the link.) She was lovely to interview and made an interesting comment about the image of women in videogames like Tekken.

    As for this last weekend, I checked out the Peking Opera version of Macbeth. I wasn't sure what to expect and only had their descriptions to go on - like the backdrop of Scotland was exchanged for the warring period of Ancient China.

    But, I was thorougly impressed.

    As a child, while others wanted to join the circus, I had a quirky dream of joining the Peking Opera. I have many a embarrasing photos of me striking an Opera pose. So, when I was in Beijing last summer, I caught a show. But somehow I liked this Macbeth revision much better. The costumes were brilliant.

    There were changes to Macbeth however. The Opera version of Lady Macbeth was a much more sympathetic creature. This passage is completely missing:
    Come you spirits
    That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
    And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
    Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.
    Stop up th'access and passage to remorse,
    That no compunctious visitings of nature
    Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
    Th'effect and it. Come to my woman's breasts
    And take my milk for gall, you murd'ring ministers (I.v 47-55).
    And her miscarriage comes at the very end before her suicide, making you feel bad for her, not hate her for being an evil mastermind.

    If you check in later, I'll preview some inside info on....
    1. 94.9's Bomb Veinte backstage details
    2. Dreamworks' new funny movie Madagascar
    3. R. Kelly's "Trapped in The Closet Part 3"

    "Demon Days" from Gorillaz, and "Be" from Common

    It took me several listens to like the Gorillaz sophomore album "Demon Days." Their first single off their album "Feel Good Inc." was the same way. It wasn't until I saw their slick animated video (click link for the video) and saw how "Feel Good Inc." was paired with an iPod commercial (clink link for commercial), that I started to feel it.

    The virtual hip-hop group's gimmick this time around is that even cartoon bands can be destroyed by success.

    You can feel their hardened soul through the whole album. It's sad. Their debut album hit, "Clint Eastwood," (link has video) had lines like "I'm happy, I'm feeling glad I got sunshine in a bag." But now, in their sophomore album in "Dirty Harry," they sing about "I need a gun to keep myself from harm/ The poor people are burning in the sun/No, they ain't got a chance."

    It feels like success did harm them and kill their joy for music, which was the reason why I liked them in the first place. It's almost like this album was done for therapeutic reasons.

    The DJ changed on this album, from Dan the Automator to Danger Mouse (of Grey Album fame, the mash-up of The Beatle's White Album and Jay-Z's"The Black Album.")

    When I interviewed Danger Mouse after the Grey Album came out, he said that the mash-up was just an attempt to see what was possible, something to show his parents what he could do.

    "I had no control over what happened," says Danger Mouse from his home in LA. "I tried to chill out and do the best I could. It was that serious. It was like a little art project, just a little guy in his bedroom that did something crazy."

    The self-described loner said "I'm happiest when I'm broke. There are less expectations from people around you."

    He aspired to be the "Woody Allen of hip-hop," and had a workaholic mentality, but said "people discovered me way to quickly."

    Maybe it's his heavy heart that made its way into the Gorillaz album that changed their mood.

    But, if you're looking for something way more light-hearted, check out Common's new album "Be." It's beautiful soulful hip-hop. And, like a line from his single "Faithful" is "for the people God moves."
    Monday, May 23, 2005

    Tuesday preview (Common and Gorillaz albums)

    Check back tomorrow when I'll be reviewing the new Common and Gorillaz albums. I liked both, but was a bit disappointed with the attitude change in Gorillaz. The Gorillaz cartoon crew sound like they have grown up, but have lost a lot of the happy naivete I loved them for the first time.

    Natalie in 94.9's Bomb Veinte

    Hope everyone had a great weekend. Highlights from my weekend were: John Cho and a Peking Opera version of Macbeth, but more on that later.

    Today, ch-check out my story on Natalie,


    (Here is the two of us talking on the rooftop of Universal Music and Video Distribution. The rooftop overlooks all of San Francisco.)

    She's one of the artists in the line-up for Wednesday's 94.9 Bomb Veinte concert (details for the concert are below).

    She was a pleasure to talk to, and so tiny, I felt like I would crush her when I hugged her.

    Here's a pic of Natalie, the photographer (Joanne) and I:



    She also was very punctual, unlike her label-mate Baby Bash. Their road manager Darryl Gooden joked that if Bash had an interview at 10, he would make sure to tell him it was at 9 - otherwise, Bash would just be getting up, eating cereal in his drawers.

    If you look at the print version of the story, the photo inside on page 3C, Natalie is gazing into the mirror, holding up a cross necklace. That day, she wore two necklaces, one with three diamonds and the cross one.

    I asked her what they symbolized. The diamond one was from a close friend. And, the cross one, she bought on her own.

    "I wanted to make sure He's the reason for everything," she said.

    So I asked if she would ever write Christian music. She said she was debating it, and had been afraid in the past about what implication it might bring. But, artists like Kanye West with the song "Jesus Walks" have really paved the way, she added.

    In the future, she would like to do a more Christian song, that is "more personal as if I am talking about a loved one, to be more relatable, but I know it is about (she points up). And if anyone asked me about it, I would say, yes, I wrote it about God."

    Ch-check out her concert Wednesday. I'll be backstage that night, and will be giving you details then!

    Wild 94.9 Bomb Veinte
    WHERE: HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose
    WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
    TIX: $20-$80; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or www.ticketmaster.com
    Friday, May 20, 2005

    Alicia Keys in Oakland and this weekend's roundup

    Ch-check out my story today in Eye on Alicia Keys.

    Truthfully, that girl has the most beautiful voice. If I was a guy I would have been smitten already!

    She was getting over a cold that day, but wow, she was smokin'!

    Ch-check out what to do this weekend...

    SATURDAY

    Mango Kingz
    WHERE: Raging Waters, 2333 S White Rd., San Jose
    WHEN: Sat. all day 5/21
    TIX: $40; Gabe @ (408) 590 - 4295
    WHY: Drinks, prizes, games, barbecue lunch, plus entertainment with the Hawaiian boy band

    and...

    Erasure
    WHERE: Tower Records, 119 Market St., 2280 Market St., San Francisco
    WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday 5/21
    TIX: no cover
    WHY: They'll be signing records!
    Thursday, May 19, 2005

    Kingdom of Desire, a Peking Opera version of Macbeth

    Ch-check out my story today on the Mandarin Macbeth. It's a Peking Opera version of the famous Shakespeare play.

    For the story I chatted with director Wu Hsing-Kuo as he rode from his lecture at San Francisco State to a local Chinese restaurant.

    The man, probably in his 40s (he wouldn't say, only that he could play anyone from age 16 to 60) was really unassuming. While he played these extravagant characters, like Macbeth, in full makeup and colorful robes, that day, he was in all grey - a simple Henley T-shirt and slacks.

    The director of many Peking Opera/Shakespeare fusions (including Hamlet and King Lear) was exceptionally humble, choosing his words carefully.

    While, his wife, producer and choreographer Lin Hsiu-Wei, wore a furry black vest along with black leather pants and boots. She was more loose with her words, telling her perspective on how the whole production came to be - first asking college professors and scholars to help with the translation (they wouldn't do it, exclaiming, who are you to take on Shakespeare?) - and then turning to college students (coming out with a work so long, a whittled down version was 3 hours - the current one is 2)

    Anyways, check out my story to see the differences between Shakespeare's and Wu's vision of Macbeth.

    Also, here's the info on the Wu's play coming to town:

    Kingdom of Desire
    WHERE: California Theatre, 345 S. First St., San Jose
    WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday
    TIX: $29-$100; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497, www.ticketmaster.com, www.dimensionarts.org
    IN: Mandarin, with English super titles
    ALSO: Gala fundraising dinner, 6-9 tonight; Marriott Hotel, 301 S. Market St., San Jose; $120; (408) 271-6500; (408) 655-2761
    Wednesday, May 18, 2005

    Britney Spears, and the very sultry Cindy Blackman and Nikka Costa

    Did anybody get the chance to ch-check out Britney's new reality show?

    Somehow, I can make it through Jessica and Ashlee Simpsons', even the Barkers, but I wasn't so enthused about Britney.

    I interviewed her at a teleconference before her last tour, The Onyx Hotel. She came off as a bit of a ditz.

    I asked: Your past pastor has denounced your recent activities, what is your response?

    Her answer was like: What does he know? Religion is what causes wars.

    Then, another reporter asked: If you were blind, and had only one hour to see, what would you do with this hour?

    Her answer: That's my kind of question. I would spend it with my friends and family, eating strawberries with whipped cream.

    That said, her latest single "Chaotic" is catchy. She always hooks you somehow.

    Tonight, ch-check it out...

    Lenny Kravitz, with Nikka Costa
    WHERE: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove St., SF
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 5/18
    TIX: $45.50; ticketmaster.com
    WHY: Lenny Kravitz's drummer, Cindy Blackman, kicks butt. She puts her whole body energy into drumming and in doing so and inspires you to be a drummer. Also, Nikka Costa, the sultry rock star and goddaughter to none other than Frank Sinatra, is exceptional - you may just like her more than Lenny Kravitz.
    Tuesday, May 17, 2005

    Jill Scott over the phone and Star Wars spoof

    I spoke with Jill Scott yesterday. She was a good sport, even though she had a bad case of food poisoning - bad fish - and got hives. I told her I hope the rest of the Bay Area food treats you better - she laughed.

    What I liked about her is that she was grounded, "obedient" as she called it - and has a healthy sense of balance in her life.

    She also gave me a good tip on writer's block - instead of trying to fight it, write something else, and come back.

    More on her later - ch-check out the full Q&A next Wednesday.

    Also ch-check out Dean and Nooch's blog on E3

    And something cool this week (being that it's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month)

    BART Celebrates APA Heritage Month
    WHERE: redeem at the following locations
    WHEN: continues to the end of June
    TIX: Print the coupon from www.bart.gov/apa and redeem for coupons
    WHY: This includes a 2 for 1 coupon to the Asian Art Museum, a 15% discount to Q-Cup and a free Kung Fu Hustle poster, plus more.

    As well as this very funny spoof on Star Wars as Store Wars. The characters are: Lord Tater, Princess Lettuce, Ham Solo, Chewbroccoli, C3Peanuts, Tofu D2, Obi Wan Cannoli, and Cuke Skywalker.
    Monday, May 16, 2005

    Unleashed, Clone Wars and Samurai Champloo

    I filled this weekend will a LOT of fighting.

    On the big screen that is.

    First up, I watched "Unleashed." I really enjoyed this film, and not only because I'm a big fan of Jet Li's - I mean, I hated his movie, "The One." That was a big waste of his talent.

    What was funny about "Unleashed" is that his character, a human attack dog, gave him the flexibility of not having to learn a lot of English - just like Arnold in "The Terminator" and the deficient language chip.

    Second up, I watched a "Clone Wars" marathon. The animation version of Star Wars (this saga falls in between the second and third episode) is very impressive, so much so this version is what the first three episodes should have been. The characters are much more powerful. You see the hero quality in both Obi Wan and Anakin. And the clones have amazing weapons. Finally, the fight scenes are jaw dropping - one robotic Sith duels with three light sabers.

    It's directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, the man behind "Samurai Jack" and "The Powerpuff Girls." The film also includes the same stylized animation - the thicker lines of Japanese anime merged with animation. For you Sith lovers catching Star Wars, be sure to catch this animation - it's what "The Animatrix" did for "The Matrix" series, it answers a lot of loopholes.

    Third up, I watched Cartoon Network's newest series, "Samurai Champloo." It combines two of my favs: martial arts and hip-hop. This series is directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, the same guy who directed the anime "Cowboy Bebop."

    Like "Cowboy Bebop," the characters in "Samurai Champloo" are renegade warriors. Along with aiming to please their own greed, they act like Robin Hood, helping out the needy.

    All three tapped into the fighter spirit in me. I took judo in college, but besides that - I have an grand-uncle who was a kungfu expert. He could do much of the Crouching Tiger-like stunts, and was one with the chi.

    And on the other side of the family, I have another grand-uncle who was such a judo expert, his sparring partners tracked him down after class, and ganged up on him - killing him.

    The stuff of movies.
    Friday, May 13, 2005

    R. Kelly is trapped in the closet and Nelly has been canceled in San Jose

    Ch-check out the first song on my play list, the hot new single by R. Kelly, "Trapped in the Closet."

    It's peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard Hip-Hop Songs chart, and is part of five chapters.

    The first chapter is about a man and a woman having a tryst, only to have the husband come home and the lover hide in the woman's closet.

    The second one is not out yet, but I've heard an MP3 - and like the ending of the first, it begs for the rest. I'll divulge a little detail - the woman's husband is a priest.

    And for all you heading out to E3 or always wanted to go to E3, one of biggest showcases of videogames not out yet - the Mercury News has a new blog out on E3.

    I've gone before, and let me tell you, it's mind boggling. There are models dressed like all kinds of videogame characters and movie screens where you can test out the games. And, the parties were amazing, don't let me start on the parties - Garbage and OutKast were there.

    As for this weekend, ch-check it out:

    FRIDAY

    Jimmy Eat World / Taking Back Sunday
    WHERE: Henry J Kaiser Arena, 10 Tenth Street, Oakland
    WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday 5/13
    TIX: $25; ticketmaster.com
    WHY: Happy pop-punky ballads

    SATURDAY

    Sweat/Suit Tour with Nelly, Fat Joe, T.I. that was supposed to be Saturday at the San Jose Event Center Arena was canceled.

    ALL WEEKEND

    Mamapalooza

    FRIDAY

    WHERE: Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
    WHEN: 9:30 p.m.
    TIX: $10; (510) 841-2082

    SATURDAY

    WHERE: Slim's, 333 11th St., San Francisco
    WHEN: Noon -4 p.m.
    TIX: $12; under 12 free; (415) 255-0333

    SUNDAY

    WHERE: Little Fox, 2209 Broadway, Redwood City
    WHEN: 7 p.m.
    TIX: $13 in advance, $15 at the door; (650) 369-4119
    WHY: These moms can rock! (link to my story on them)
    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Dave Chapelle in psych ward, Yahoo selling songs, and Bow Wow dating

    Some news off the entertainment press:

  • Dave Chapelle reportedly checked into a psych ward in South Africa, halting production of the third season of his show on Comedy Central. Let's hope he gets well soon - his show was a conversation starter.

  • Yahoo is selling downloaded songs for 79 cents, competing head to head to Apple's 99 cents each. Already stocks are plummeting for Napster and RealNetwork. This calls to mind the price fight between Netflix and Blockbuster. Let's see who wins.

  • Ciara is not a dude - despite rumors, the crunk-stress is a lady, and is reportedly dating none other than Lil Bow Wow, I mean Bow Wow (he dropped the Lil).

  • I talked to the now 17-year-old when his voice was still crackin' at 15, coming off of his basketball comedy "Like Mike."

    At that point he said: "I like ghetto girls. You know, the ones with blue or green hair, with names you can't pronounce."

    Let's hope 18-year-old Ciara is ghetto enough.

    As for tonight, ch-check it out:

    New Wave Thursdays
    WHERE: Zoe Nightclub, 417 S. First Street, San Jose
    WHEN: b4 10:30 p.m. get 50 cent drafts
    TIX: no cover
    WHY: The best of the 80s mix

    And...

    Miguel Migs
    WHERE: Pink, 2925 16th St. @ Mission
    WHEN: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday 5/12
    TIX:
    guestlist only; RSVP here
    WHY: He's at the forefront of dance music.
    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    George Lucas in San Francisco plus Wide Hive Records Present Scout

    Tomorrow night, for you Sith aficionados out there unwilling to wait in line, the Force is coming to you - that is - if you're willing to fork out $500. George Lucas, himself, will host a benefit preview of the new Star Wars at the Metreon, as a fundraiser for the Koret Family House, which provides temporary housing for families with children with cancer. For more info, contact (415) 621-2255, or visit www.familyhouseinc.org.

    And, over the weekend I hung out with some reporter friends. We commiserated over what stars that were challenging to interview.

    On their list:

  • Lance Armstrong: wouldn't give my television producer friend the time of day. He didn't even look up at her for his 5 minute interview. She said that folks at Nike felt sorry for her that she had to talk to him

  • Wolfgang Puck: strong accent and a bad connection lead to an interview that was filled with one of Lil Jon's favorite statements: "WHAT?!?"


  • On my list:

  • LL Cool J: After I asked him what inspires him, he said, Do you know that I have ten albums and I'm a moviestar? I didn't have the heart to mention Rollerball.

  • Tori Amos: Here's the link to the story and blog entry on her - let's just say, I'm not a fan.

    As for tonight, ch-check it out:

    Wide Hive Records Presents Scout
    WHERE: The Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk Street, San Francisco
    WHEN:10 p.m. Wednesday 5/11
    TIX: $7; more info
    WHY: Scout is a series of live recorded performances. At the very end, Wide Hive Records will choose the best for a fall record release. Tonight's line-up: Celsius 7 and Spidey of Psychokinetics; Mic Blake and HoFlow (Bopcity/Alphabet Soup); all four MCs from Felonius: One Love Hip Hop (D. Wolf, Soulati, A kid named Keith, and Infinite); All three MCs from The Greans (Oposit, Cold Showda, and King Solomon); The Genie-scratch guitar
  • Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    Mamapalooza and Hayward graffiti

    It's sunny today!

    Yesterday was freaky - I didn't know whether to wear sunglasses or open my umbrella, or both. I ended up doing both and felt equally, well, awkward.

    Ch-check out today's paper! Here's the link. I have a story on mother rockers - Mamapalooza that is. It's a fun concert series born out of mothers' frustration over what mainstream music had to offer. They sing everything from sultry tunes, singer-songwriter ballads, to the pouty punk songs like "Pee Alone." (Here is a link to their concert listings.)

    And tonight, the story will be featured (they'll hold up my printed story too) on KTVU, Bay Area's channel 2. Ch-check that out.

    All of the mothers I dealt with were spunky. They all asked me: Are you a mother? I tried not to laugh. I could only muster - Not yet? Or my editor had a funny quip back: Not that I know of?

    As for tonight, ch-check out a very impressive graffiti show.

    The Art of Graff: A Graffiti Exhibit
    WHERE: California State University-East Bay, 28500 Carlos Bee Blvd., Hayward, University Union Room 311
    WHEN:10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday
    TIX: Free; more info
    WHY: All kinds of graffiti art will be showcased, from the Bay to all the way from Great Britain. (Here is a link to my story on how graffiti has grown up.)
    Monday, May 09, 2005

    Cinco de Mayo and Maroon 5 in San Jose

    Despite the rain, I had fun this past weekend.

    I dropped by 94.9's Cinco de Mayo party in downtown San Jose at The Vault. The music was crackin' and the place was beautiful - you should check it out when you have a chance.

    Then, I went to the Maroon 5 concert. Despite the fact, the whole band showed up with bed hair, looking like they just woke up, they played like they were fully conscious. It was a sweet concert, and I especially liked the acapella rendition of their hit "This Love." (Here's my rapid review)

    Besides that, I went over to the even rainier East Bay and played some pool at the very cool Broken Rack in Emeryville. It's right next to Kimball's East which featured live jazz that night.
    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    Natalie in San Francisco and later San Jose, plus Maroon 5 at HP tonight

    Yesterday I had the chance to interview and have lunch with an up-and-coming R&B singer Natalie. She was wonderfully humble and a pleasure to talk to. Instead of her road manager, San Jose native Darryl Gooden, getting drinks for lunch, she asked him first what he wanted. (She performs in a stellar line-up with The Game, Snoop, Baby Bash, etc. May 25th at the HP Pavilion.)

    All kinds of industry insiders came to her showcase at Universal Records in San Francisco. Two were people I regularly listen to: Jose Melendez and Lesley Perez of KYLD-94.9 FM. Checking them out today at San Jose's club, Vault spinning the night away.

    The two were really approachable and saw Natalie's music as having potential.

    Melendez emphasized that music to him is not what's supposedly on the charts, but what the fans ground level think is hot - this includes what's shakin' in high schools.

    So tonight, there's lot of great music to check out:

    TWO SOLD OUT SHOWS

    Maroon 5, The Thrills, Simon Dawes
    WHERE: HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose Mercury News
    WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday 5/5
    TIX: sold out but here's a link to tix
    WHY: Maroon 5 skyrocketed from playing San Jose's Music in the Park to having a sold out show in HP.

    And...

    Bruce Springsteen, acoustic style
    WHERE: The Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland
    WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday 5/5
    TIX: $75.50-$85.50; sold out but here's a link to tix
    WHY: He's not called "The Boss" for nothing.
    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Hand-modeling for Food

    Ch-check out today's paper. I was a model...

    ...a hand model that is.

    In today's Food section, my mom and I hand-modeled for a story about bonding over won-ton making.

    To friends I've been joking, saying it took time and commitment, lots of lotion and finger exercises, but really - it took all of 15 minutes. Also, I forgot to put some lotion on.

    The last time I hand modeled was for a past edition of the Food's Valentine section, where my hand, nails adorned in red, held a truffle to my mouth. You can't tell it's me. First of all I never wear bright red on my nails, and I don't usually wear lipstick.

    As for tonight, ch-check it out:

    Coldplay
    WHERE: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Street, SF
    WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday 5/4
    TIX: sold out but here's a link to tix
    WHY: See if the new daddy still has it.
    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe: Zaphod is from Daly City, and Marvin the robot's blog

    Like many this weekend, I caught the movie "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe." It debuted at No. 1 with $21.7 mil in box office sales, surprisingly beating out "XXX."

    I loved the movie, but I really don't remember the book. Usually, I make a point of watching the movie first, then reading the book - that way I'm not disappointed.

    What really made the movie were the Jim Henson puppetry and the computer graphics. Here is a link to the movie's production notes.

    My favorite two characters were the galaxy president, Zaphod Beeblebrox, which Sam Rockwell played with a wacky glee (he's born in Daly City!), and the robot Marvin, voiced by Alan Rickman. He added a delicious depressive quality to it. I just wanted to squeeze the poor robot and tell him everything will be OK. So this weekend, I looked everywhere for his figurine, and couldn't find anything to my dismay.

    The person who plays the robot, Warwick Davis, of Willow and Ewok fame, has a website and blog here. He also obligingly answers fan's stupid questions like how tall are you and are you married?

    And here's the official movie blog.

    For those who are really into the book, here's a webpage that details what was left out of the movie.

    Finally, I was seriously disappointed in Mos Def's role in the film as reporter Ford Prefect. He was one of the reasons that drew me to the movie, but except for the line, "Do you want a hug?" I wasn't really impressed. He could have been replaceable. But then I thought back on his past work - how he has a laidback cool-man quality about him - and how maybe he was so laidback in the film he was un-noticeable. Anybody have any other thoughts on him?
    Monday, May 02, 2005

    Graffiti grows up, plus more on the other elements of hip-hop

    Ch-check out my graffiti story in today's Mercury News on this link! It's spread over the whole Arts and Entertainment section front.

    Also, click here for a graffiti lexicon.

    Plus, a link to a brief history of graffiti:

    One of the first widespread graffiti writers who tagged (sprayed on signatures) was TAKI 183. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), according to this article, he has put down his cans to work at a legitimate business, a foreign car repair shop. The story is a bit old, but it's interesting how a guy who helped start this trend has denounced his whole past.

    And, if you want to learn more about graffiti, here are other places to check it out. They frequently have urban art exhibits:

  • Anno Domini

  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

  • Plus more on other artists:

  • Basquiat: among the first of graffiti artists now considered a fine artist

  • Barry McGee: A San Francisco Mission district artist who has gained cross-over success.

  • Quality of Life: A graffiti documentary about an artist coming of age in the Mission District of San Francisco. Last year, it had its US premiere at Cinequest and won a jury award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

  • And, with this graffiti story, I've written about three of the four elements of hip-hop. Here are the other two:

  • Dancing

  • Deejaying

  • On the last element, emceeing, I've only written about it in increments. Davey D, however, has a very comprehensive one here
     
    Photo of Marian Liu by Stephanie Grace Lim, Mercury News
    You can e-mail me at mliu@mercurynews.com.