MUSIC | Somebody asked me about the first album I ever owned. I instantly remembered listening to my little AM radio up in my room and hearing "Telephone Line" by Electric Light Orchestra. Mesmerized by the starship art by the legendary John Kosh, 1976's A New World Record became my first love — "Tightrope," "Livin' Thing," "Shangri-La." It holds up. And Jeff Lynne, the genius behind ELO, is still at it, with a new record, ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE, out this past November. All these years later, he's still got it. If you really want to bask in it all, check him out in beautiful Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl, Sept. 9-11, backed by a full orchestra.
DVD | Speaking of Hollywood, one of the great satires of the fantasy-industrial complex is out in a new Criterion Collection edition. Robert Altman's cameo-laden 1992 pseudo-thriller THE PLAYER gets the deluxe treatment, with tons of extras. Known for its epic opening tracking shot around the back lot, it features a boyish Tim Robbins as the soulless exec dressed in high '90s style. A rejected screenwriter starts stalking him, and you're into a twisty story with so many old Hollywood references, it takes a special feature to make sense of it all.
BOOK | Speaking of listening to the radio in your room at night, that's exactly what Bill Walton used to do, according BACK FROM THE DEAD. Instead of listening to ELO, he was tuning in to the Los Angeles Lakers, up the coast from his home in San Diego. It all worked out, as Walton became one of the great centers of all time. (Bonus: His son Luke will coach the Lakers next season.) Bill Walton is now flourishing as a Zen master of basketball announcing and a Grateful Dead-lyric quoting machine. You'll also get a great insight into his coach at UCLA, John Wooden. Walton was punished like Job, injured for most of his career and beyond. Despite all that pain, his book features such a refreshing, upbeat attitude, you'll love him even more. ♦