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Soundbites

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KING FOR A DAY: With this (I hope) being the slowest music week of the year, I've elected to spice things up a bit by using this space as a formal writing exercise. In case you've never had the pleasure of attending a writing workshop--hopefully, for your sake you haven't, unless the idea of a bunch of smug, turtlenecked literate types sitting around tearing each others' work into tiny, tiny shreds sounds like a good time--one of the most popular writing exercises is the art of imitation.

The exercise is pretty self-explanatory: The aspiring writer chooses a beloved, more established writer, and attempts to seamlessly recreate a piece of writing by her/him. It's been a while since my workshop days, so I've decided to sharpen my writing skills by using that exercise in the column this week. The writer I've chosen is someone whose work I've admired for years; his brevity and humble candor combine for some of the most succinct newspaper inches this reader has ever come across. And so I present to you, dear reader, my imitation exercise in the style of Larry King. I can only hope that I won't soil his good name. Away we go --

I know he'll always be remembered for his remarkable work in sitcoms, but trust me, there's no better song and dance man in all of Vegas right now than the twinkle-toed, frog-throated Tony Danza. He simply shines on the stage. -- And speaking of stages:

If you only make it to three shows this week, make sure they're Black Sun Ensemble, The Molehill Orkestrah and The Alchemysts.

The eight guys and gals that comprise that terrific gypsy ensemble they call The Molehill Orkestrah are getting ready to launch their first West Coast tour, which will take them nearly through the end of August, but before they do, they'll be holding court at a combination tour benefit/release party for their fabulous new CD, To Anima Mundi, which they've self-released, and which should be in stores any day now. Joining the band onstage will be special guests Naim Amor (Amor Belhom Duo), Jeff Holsen (Borderlands Klezmer Ensemble), Dante and Marco Rosano (Crawdaddy-O) and Mssr. Shemallow (Flam Chen). From the sound of it, they'll have to build a bigger stage to fit everyone.

Check out The Molehill Orkestrah, along with opener The Inevitable Jazz Bros., at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 26 at Plush, located at the southwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street. For more info call the friendly folks at 798-1298.

My good friends from England, The Alchemysts, have a heavy-duty sound guaranteed to knock your socks off. If you miss that grimy, heavy-blooze stuff that they used to serve up like water in Detroit back in the late '60s and early '70s (think MC5, The Stooges, and heck, let's throw in San Francisco's Blue Cheer while we're at it), this power trio is exactly what you've been looking for. More overtly psychedelic than any of those aforementioned bands, the Mysts are heavy on grungy four-chord anthems with trippy-dippy lyrics sung with a Jaggeresque swagger, and believe me, they are dynamite.

The Alchemysts appear along with New York's Aytobach Kreisor at 9 p.m. on Monday, July 30 at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. For details call 884-0874.

It hasn't made its way to D.C. yet, but folks who have seen Madonna's current Drowned World Tour tell me it's worth every penny of its $1,250 ticket. Can't wait to see the material girl riding that mechanical bull in the flesh.

You heard it here first: Chicago urban cowgirl Neko Case will make an extended stop in Tucson in the fall to record her next album for Bloodshot Records at Wavelab Studio.

Sudden thought: If Shecky Greene had voiced Shrek in the movie of the same name, would they have called it Dreck?

My old buddy Willie Nelson tells me that recording his first Muppets cover, found on his brand new album, was "a real hoot." His rendition of "Rainbow Connection" reduced yours truly to tears.

We lost a folk giant this week when Mimi Farina passed away. She'll always be remembered in our hearts as Joan Baez's sister.

I finally got around to reading Charles Bukowski, whom Tony Randall has been urging me to discover for years. Found him to be hilarious, but I tell you what, someone should have spanked him while he was still alive. He was a naughty, naughty boy. And speaking of naughty --

If you look up "nasty" in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of Janet Jackson. Several songs on her new album discuss the finer points of male anatomy ("packages" in Miss Jackson-speak), and she's been telling every journalist who will listen about her "size queen" tendencies. And to think this is the same girl who played sweet-as-pie Penny on Good Times. Guess she's all grown up, huh folks?

The world will never see another talent like Sammy Davis Jr.

I get a kick out of those crybaby record company execs. First they complain that Napster is putting a dent in their sales during a period when sales were actually up over the previous year. And now, with Napster shut down, they're whining again because album sales actually are down and they don't know who to blame. Listen up, suits: It just might have something to do with that $18.98 list price you're expecting us to pay for sub-par recordings. Just a thought.

Is it just me or is my beloved wife Shawnie better looking than any of Hef's 12 beauties? Thank you, Viagra!

Hey gang, I know that Robert Goulet has a new album just around the corner, and hopefully he'll make me eat my words, but I'll be surprised if I hear a better album this year than either Built To Spill's Ancient Melodies of the Future (Warner Brothers) or The Shins' Oh, Inverted World (Sub Pop).

When they finally get around to releasing a Britney Spears greatest hits album, I hope they include that Pepsi jingle. I've been humming that thing since the Super Bowl.

For my money, America's Sweethearts is the finest movie to hit the silver screen since whatever movie my last cameo appearance was in. Billy Crystal is one of the finest comedy minds of the last century, John Cusack is the next Brando, Catherine Zeta-Jones is the most stunning actress I've seen since Audrey Hepburn, and the always-dazzling Julia Roberts deserves 10 more Oscars. It's a winner.

Isn't it about time for a reunion from the band Chicago?

It seems like every time I see Barry Bonds come to the plate, they walk him. Come to think of it, that's not a bad idea.

OK, OK, you got me; short on Larry-isms and with deadline looming, I stole that last one directly from the King himself. I hope you'll find it in your hearts to forgive me.

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