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In "Dude, Where's My Car?," a pair of Valley Guys wake up after a night of partying to discover they have no idea where they parked their automobile. No, it's not "The Marc Pollack Story."
PRE-HOLIDAY WEAK-END PLANNER
For Those Who Believe This Weekend
Isn’t Just About Shopping
Welcome to the final installment of Weak-End Planner for Y2K, in which our resident "critics" continue to give their opinions, as if anyone cares what these losers think about anything. But in the spirit of holiday giving, please indulge their insipid bleatings just this once. After all, if a roomful of monkeys with computers...oh, never mind. Thank you, and be careful out there. 

THIS WEEK'S NEW MOVIES
I Know What Girls Like
"What Women Want":
This unabashed chick flick was directed by Nancy Meyers (who penned the "Father of the Bride" remakes and was director of "The Parent Trap") from a screenplay by the creators of TV's "The King of Queens."  It stars Mel Gibson as a womanizing ad exec who suddenly finds he's able to read female minds, which turns out to be an immeasurable help in his interoffice rivalry with Helen Hunt. A postmodern update of those old Ross Hunter concoctions starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day, this one has. rather ironically, already drawn the ire of feminists for its cheeky, cynical approach, though that shouldn't prevent it from reaping box-office bucks. The real question is…which one's the beard in this pairing?

"Chocolat": Lovely Juliette Binoche stars as a single mother in 1959 France in this art-house confection from Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom ("Cider House Rules," "My Life As A Dog"). When Binoche opens a chocolate store during the advent of Lent in an ancient stone village she has stumbled upon with her young daughter, it angers the puritanical town ruler (Alfred Molina). The movie—which also stars Lena Olin, Peter Stormare (the bad guy in "Fargo") and Johnny Depp in a cameo as a handsome river rat who pops into town—is a "Breaking the Waves"-style examination of how strict religious practice can forbid rather than forgive, condemning it for being exclusionary rather than all-inclusive.

"The Emperor's New Groove": The humor in Disney's latest animated feature is reportedly a lot edgier than we're used to from the House of Mouse. There's no better proof of that than the fact smart-aleck David Spade is the voice of the title character, who is turned into a llama and tries to find his way back to human form, with John Goodman playing his Jiminy Cricket-like peasant sidekick, Pacha. Those who appreciated the comic relief of Eddie Murphy as the dragon in "Mulan," Robin Williams as the genie in "Aladdin" or Nathan Lane in "The Lion King" should dig this flick. Features two new songs by Sting, Antonio Carlos Jobim's "The Girl From Ipanema" and Tom Jones singing "Perfect World."

"Dude, Where's My Car?": A pothead film in the glorious tradition of Cheech & Chong, this Gen Z comedy stars Ashton Kutcher of "That 70s Show" and Seann William Scott from "American Pie" and "Road Trip" as a pair of Valley Guys who wake up after a night of partying to discover they have no idea where they parked their automobile. No, it's not "The Marc Pollack Story," and it wasn't made available for critics' screenings, so caveat emptor. Remember, "Ace Ventura" wasn't screened for journalists, either. —Roy Trakin

RECENT RECORDS
Five Unjustly Neglected Albums
A lot of great music came out in 2000, and much of it was celebrated by both critics and consumers. But a few stellar CDs didn't get the attention they deserved—check 'em out, if you haven't already:

Nina Gordon, "Tonight and the Rest of My Life" (WB): The former co-frontwoman of Veruca Salt shed her former band's indie-metal damage and crafted an outstanding batch of melodic ditties, including the evocative title track, the ultra-hooky "Now I Can Die" and sensitive singalongs "Horses in the City" and "Hold Me." Gordon's vocals, meanwhile, are transcendent.

Stew, "Guest Host" (The Telegraph Company): Leader of underground L.A. power-pop favorites The Negro Problem delivered a delicious mix of stylishly upbeat, lyrically hilarious carnival rock and emotionally powerful, introspective ballads. This collection confirms the widespread suspicion that Stew is one of the very best, most sophisticated songwriters we have. If you like that sort of thing.

Fiona Apple, "When the Pawn..." (Epic): An assured, stylistically daring follow-up to her smash debut, Apple's "Pawn" proved confusing to audiences who liked her as much for the scantily clad, sexpot/waif image she'd paraded in her hit videos as for her music. But it was considerably more adventurous from a musical standpoint, blending cutting-edge beats and classic pop instincts with amazing results. Producer, co-writer and multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion deserves a big shout-out for his myriad contributions. Strong tracks include first single "Fast As You Can," the devastating "Love Ridden" and especially the breathless "Limp."

Elliott Smith, "Figure 8" (DreamWorks): A critics' darling and Oscar nominee, Smith is still an exile in today's largely puerile music mainstream. But he continues to create some of the most insinuating pop-rock heard in decades, with incredible hooks, tough, provocative lyrics and bruisingly intimate vocals. Highlights include the single "Happiness," the piano-driven "In the Lost and Found (Honky Bach)" and the rocking "L.A." Unlike most of what people are jumping up and down about at the moment, this record will still sound great in 20 years.

Abby Travis, "Cutthroat Standards and Black Pop" (Educational Recordings): L.A. chanteuse Travis--a favorite on our Wheels Online site--goes for a cabaret-pop vibe here that never completely disguises her glam-rock roots. It's all held together by her twisted but elegant sensibility and dramatic vocals, not to mention her excellent accompanists, notably key collaborator Kristian Hoffman. Especially noteworthy: "So Far Away," the heartbroken waltz "Everything's Wonderful" and the Bowie-esque epic "The Hate Song." —Simon Glickman

RECENT MOVIES
"You Can Count On Me": Small Town Without Pity
Nothing in writer-director Kenneth Lonergan's previous work, which includes the screenplays to "Analyze This" and "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle," could prepare us for this clear-eyed study of a wayward brother who returns to his small upstate New York hometown to visit his sister. Both are psychically damaged from losing their parents in an auto accident as young kids, and they cope in their own unique ways. Laura Linney, best-known for her role as Jim Carrey's wife in "The Truman Show," and indie film veteran Mark Ruffalo invest their characters with painful vulnerability and existential self-consciousness as they grapple with the emotional distance they can't quite overcome via promiscuity and aimlessness, respectively. There are also finely tuned supporting performances from Matthew Broderick and Macaulay Culkin's younger brother Rory. Critical year-end kudos should lead to Oscar noms in at least the acting and screenwriting categories. Here's a film that dares confront head-on those awkward silences that can never quite be filled. —Roy Trakin

PRESIDENTIAL FACT OF THE WEEK
Martin Van Buren, our eighth president, was born on Dec. 5, 1782, in Kinderhook, NY. Van Buren was merely 5-foot-6. He served only one term, 1837-1841, lost his re-election bid to William Henry Harrison and, in 1848, was an unsuccessful candidate for president on the Free Soil ticket. Best Anagram Of His Name: Tan urban vermin.

WEB SITES OF THE WEEK
AskJesus.org:
If you feel that the main problem with the Internet is the lack of spiritual content within it, there is a simple solution: Ask Jesus. The insidious developers behind AskJesus.org have figured out a way to fit spiritual content into any Web site. The site roughly resembles the AskJeeves Web site (although not so much as the Modern Humorist's AskJeez page). But instead of entering a question, the user enters the URL of a target site and AskJesus replaces important words with their Biblical counterparts, photos with spiritual cartoons and puts it all to music (usually "Good Vibrations" or "Viva Las Vegas"). And while it's entertaining to see Al Gore's name replaced with the name "Abel" and the word "president" replaced with the word "pharoah," the true humor potential of the site isn't unleashed until one sends AskJesus to a porn site. "By continuing thee certify that: (a) Thee covet to view and/or order sexual material; (b) This material is not prohibited in the congregation wither thee live; (c) Thee shall not showest this material to minors. D&S Tower of Babel is not liable to the worshippers of this service for the content, quality, performance or any other aspect of any information provided by or transmitted by this service. D&S Tower of Babel is also not responsible to any sinner for any damages arising from the useth of this service. Indemnification. All models art at least 536 years old." —Jeff Drake

Soulexchange.com: Speaking of spirituality, if you are one of the few people who haven't sold their souls yet, let me help you out. Leave it to the Net to realize an untapped market through www.soulxchange.com. Founded by Louis Cypher, SoulXchange is the only online marketplace for the purchase and sale of human souls. The process begins with registering your soul. Based on your soul valuation, you are assigned SoulBucks, which can be used to purchase other souls. Soul values fluctuate, so the idea is to buy low and sell high, similar to the stock market. It would appear that I have already sold my soul. I wish that I'd known that it was worth something. —Paul Karlsen

"FACTS OF LIFE" SUMMARY FOR THE WEEK
As a fourth semester begins, Tootie ever tired of being treated like a kid, turns to alcohol to prove she isn't.

SEASONS BLEATINGS
More Holiday Favorites
Ahh, Christmas. The time of year to show goodwill toward men. Unfortunately, that also means subjecting your ears to off-key carolers, "Jingle Dogs" and Muzak-versions of holiday standards. Several studies indicate what we've long suspected—that bad Christmas music is the cause of most Yuletime homicides. Rather than putting your entire Christmas party at risk of life and limb, here are a few suggestions for making the season brighter.

Possibly the least painful holiday CD is "Yuletunes," a happy, bouncy 1991 offering from Black Vinyl Records. "Yuletunes" contains poppy, jangly original selections by Matthew Sweet ("Baby Jesus"), Material Issue ("Merry Christmas Will Do"), Shoes ("This Christmas") and the Cavedogs ("3 Wise Men And A Baby [Xmas Song]"). If power-pop sits in your craw like fruitcake, there's always the Hip-O/MCA roster. The label has put the swinginest, swankiest songs by Peggy Lee ("Ring Those Christmas Bells"), Louie Prima (What Will Santa Claus Say When He Finds Everybody Swinging?"), Dean Martin ("Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer") and Ann Margaret with Al Hirt ("Baby, It's Cold Outside") on "Yule B' Swingin'" and "Yule B' Swingin' Too!" Throw on another Yule log and mix more Martinis. Instead of dollar drinks at the Westward Ho, Christmas Vegas-style means "A Las Vegas Christmas" (L.A.S. Music Group). The collection includes a special holiday greeting by magical mainstays Sigfried & Roy, and a surprisingly poignant rendition of "The Christmas Song" by longtime Lycra-clad lounge lizard Cook E. Jarr. —Donna DeChristopher

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people."—Oscar Wilde

YOUR WEAK-END WEATHER
Now 75% Correct
As you head out this weekend to finish up your Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Festivus shopping, you need to know what to expect from the outside world. People will be rude; they will steal your parking spot, cut in front of you in line, bump into you in the mall and not apologize…Oh, right, the weather. Yeah, well, in the lovely land of Los Angeles, it's going to be close to perfect. It will be partly cloudy all weekend, with highs in the low 70s and lows in the mid-50s. No precipitation, though we could sure use some rain, as we're several inches below normal—not us personally, but the rain measurement. In the other city that matters, New York, it will be rather nasty. Expect rain and wind both days, with highs in the mid-40s to low 50s and lows in the upper 30s. Here's the weather forecast for Boise, as a shoutout to all our peeps there: Saturday will be cloudy, with temperatures sitting in the upper 30s. Sunday looks to have a mix of rain and snow, with a high in the upper 30s and a low in the mid-20s.
—David Simutis, apprentice meteorologist

GUY WITH THE GOGGLES' GAME OF THE WEEK
New England +7 over BUFFALO
Them dang Bills is banged up. Any other time, Buffalo would be the pick—crappy weather, crappy town. New England sucks. But with 7 points, you gotta take 'em. All these here games over the last few years have been 4 points or less. I may be a danged idiot, but I know 7 is more than 4. God bless, an' Happy Holidaze. (Record to date: 5-2)

FANS WILLING AND ABEL TO RALLY ROUND THE WEEKND
Dept. of unintended consequences (12/1a)
VAUGHN'S FIRST MOVE: MATTERA TO THE TOWER
A company with no corner offices (12/1a)
U.K. MEET THE MANAGERS
Who's hot in Blighty? (12/1a)
RON PERRY: SUPERCHARGING THE BIG RED MACHINE
Hoodie man doin' work (12/1a)
SPOTIFY GIFT-WRAPS
THE YEAR IN MUSIC
How Swede it is. (12/1a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
ZOOM THANKSGIVING
We're virtually stuffing ourselves.
TRUMP'S LAWSUITS
He's lost 25 out of 26, and so tired of winning!
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