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Concert announcement: Popa Chubby

The bluesrock sounds of Popa Chubby will fill the Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.) at 8  p.m. Jan. 28. Tickets go on sale on Dec. 7 and are $14.50 advance and $17 the day of the show through the Tralf box office and Ticketmaster. For info, call 852-2860. Wanted by the FBI is the opening act.

The Thursday Theater Roundup

As the snow falls and the wind whips, the stages of Western New York (well, most of them, anyway) are active. Aside from a pair of performances cancelled tonight ("Murder Squared" at Ujima and "Once Upon a Celtic Christmas" out at O'Connell and Company), the weekend is shaping up to be a busy one on the theater scene.

Because of a cast injury, "Our Song," which opened last Friday in the New Phoenix Theatre, isn't being reviewed until this Friday. We haven't reviewed Road Less Traveled's holiday-themed production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," given its quasi-concert nature, but I hear near-universal good things.

Meanwhile, check out our weekly theater roundup for the shows our reviewers liked:

The cast of Buffalo United Artists' "The Temperamentals," running through Dec. 4.

"The Temperamentals," through Dec. 4 in the Buffalo United Artists Theatre. From the review: "Director Kelly’s cast gives a clinic in ensemble work. Christopher LaBanca as Harry is funny, persuasive and maddening — wild-eyed here, organized and logical there. Marc Sacco’s Rudy is a willing partner but cautious and grounded in the real world. LaBanca and Sacco are superb. They’re ably joined by Ryan Cupello, Adam Rath and Michael Seitz, all in multiple roles, and remarkable here in minimal and often clunky surroundings." --Ted Hadley

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I Never Called Him Shirley, Did You?

You've got to love it. And now, if only we didn't have to wait.

In obvious tribute to the beloved deadpan glories of Leslie Nielsen--who died just last weekend at 84--the Riviera Theater in North Tonawanda will show a double bill of almost everything we all love so much about Leslie Nielsen, when it gives us a double bill of "Airplane" and "Naked Gun."

So, yeah, we're talking about "Don't Call Me Shirley." And "Nice Beaver!" And a hospital is "is a big building with patients. But that's not important right now." And full body condoms.

All that.

Unforuntately, we'll have to wait four weeks for the double bill to happen in the Riviera beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday Jan. 9.

In the meantime, think kind thoughts abot a master movie buffoon.

--Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon live chat at 3 p.m.

Jeff Simon will brave the storm and talk about movies, TV and more.

Google Editions to launch by year's end

Both CNET News and The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Google Editions, the long-anticipated entry by the search technology giant and internet advertising revenue leader Google into the e-books market, is finally scheduled to launch by year's end.

According to the WSJ, a number of trade publishers have confirmed they have recently exchanged digital files with the Google Editions site, and several independent booksellers affiliated with the American Booksellers Association who have agreed to sign on with Google Editions as retail partners in marketing the new e-book technology on their Web sites have received contracts from their trade group.  Both developments are taken to be indications that the frequently delayed launch is imminent, although what percentage of its sales revenue Google will share with the independent booksellers has yet to be announced. 

Google Editions is expected to revolutionize the e-books market by offering a "buy anywhere, read anywhere" technology, which unlike the proprietary software and platforms of the Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad, will permit customers to purchase and access editions of their Google personal library on nearly any device equipped with a web browser, ranging from personal computers and laptops to smartphones and tablet computers.

Where the Kindle and iPad technologies are based on a digital download to a single reading device (with each download constituting the legal equivalent of a software purchase and use license ), Google Editions will employ the International Digital Publishing Forum's free, "open book" standard ePub software. It will sell  "access" to view individual titles from the Google Book Project's vast (over half million titles) digital library which will be available on Google servers around the world.

As many observers have noted, this browser-based "cloud computing" model arrives late to an already crowded e-books market. It also represents a true paradigm shift in what it means to "own" a book, and may face resistance from readers more comfortable with the idea of a book as an object with a fixed physical form, even if that form is housed in a tablet computer or smartphone.

Some market analysts, however, believe that the inherent advantages of Google's searchable text and its promise to make hundreds of thousands of classics and other titles to which copyright no longer applies available free of charge can establish such brand goodwill as to capture 20 percent or more of the e-book market in relatively short order. Amazon's Kindle technology currently commands approximately two-thirds of the e-book market, but despite the introduction of the Kindle 3 this past summer, that share is rapidly declining in the face of stiff competition not only from the Apple iPad, but also from upgraded versions of the Barnes and Noble Nook, the Sony E-Reader, and the Borders Books Kobo e-reader.

"Because of the complexity of this project, we didn't want to come out with something that wasn't thorough," Scott Dougall, a product management director and spokesperson for Google recently commented when asked about the numerous obstacles the Google Editions launch originally scheduled for this past May has faced.  In September, Google spokeswoman Jeannie Hornung told CNET News, "The real answer is, we'll launch the service when it's ready." 

--R.D. Pohl

The cutting edge

Money Talk is swirling today -- along with the snow -- about County Executive Chris Collins' proposed cuts to local arts entities. Voices were raised in protest, and legislators have voted to renew grants for a variety of cultural entities that Collins had budgeted out.

Not everyone opposes the cuts. This morning, Tom Bauerle's talk show on WBEN-AM focused on whose responsibility it is to fund arts entities. The discussion grew heated. One caller called the taxpayer funding "involuntary charity."

It's not an easy matter to resolve. If the money is not there, reinstating the funding could result in higher taxes. Everyone seems to agree that our taxes are too high, but whenever or wherever cuts are threatened, the protests begin.

Collins' cuts have been on everyone's mind for weeks now. The situation came up after a talk given at UB recently by British author Norman Lebrecht. Lebrecht has written a series of tell-it-like-it-is books about the music industry, including "The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors and Their Pursuit of Power" and "The Life and Death of Classical Music." He knows where all the bodies are buried. And though his talk at UB focused on his newest book, "Why Mahler?," UB asked him to talk about the changing music industry, too. He did that.

And in a Q&A session afterward, someone spoke up and asked about government funding for the arts, and what to do when it is threatened.

You would have expected Lebrecht to speak out in outrage against proposed cuts. Well, I expected that. But he did not. He acknowledged, instead, that there are no easy answers.

He said, "Maybe it's time to start getting away from government dependency."

He went on to make suggestions, some off the top of his head, others things he has thought about. Thinking about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra -- a bunch of BPO musicians, including Music Director JoAnn Falletta, attended his talk -- he wondered out loud if perhaps the orchestra should court younger listeners by scheduling concerts at offbeat times. "When do you go out?" he asked students. "You go out late at night, right?" They laughed in agreement. Lebrecht said, "Maybe the BPO could have a concert at 10 p.m. Forty minutes long. You could go, and see what you might discover."

That was just one idea of a number that he floated. But it stuck in my head. And so did the bigger reality that it illustrated. Our cultural entities make our society richer. Practically speaking, they help make our town attractive to the kind of people we would like to see live here -- successful people, who create jobs. But I think Norman Lebrecht is right and it is time to start thinking of ways to get around depending on the government.

One of these days we might have no choice.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Jeff Beck coming to UB

The University at Buffalo Center for the Arts announced today that legendary guitarist Jeff Beck will perform with his band at the CFA at 8 p.m. April 22.

Beck -- widely regarded to be one third of the "Holy Trinity" of British rock guitarists, alongside his friends and contemporaries Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page -- commenced his career in the mid-'60s with the Yardbirds, formed the Jeff Beck Group shortly thereafter, and has been releasing groundbreaking, forward-looking solo albums for nearly four decades now.

Tickets for Beck's CFA performance go on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 10 through Ticketmaster and at the Center for the Arts box office. They are $57 to $77. More information is available at

-- Jeff Miers

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