The Handspring Visor is cool enough to make me feel like a geek and cool enough that I feel naked without it. There’s a bet around the office about how long it will take me to either lose interest in it or—more simply—just lose it.


Time To Remind Ourselves What Life
Without Football Is Like

Yo, guys—for the first time this year, you have no excuse when the sig. other asks you to accompany her to Fashion Square, a high tea, a play (yikes!) or a Sunday drive. True, NBC has an NBA triple-header on Sunday, but it's still early in the season, and you've already raised the excuse bar to the playoff level for the NFL. Hoops are not gonna fly, fella. As a last-ditch move, you might try to persuade her that this weekend's Senior Bowl and Hula Bowl are important, but then, if she buys it, you'll actually have to watch them, and you don't wanna do that. So just hope that she opts for a movie rather than any of the above estrogen-driven possibilities, and that she's not set on "What Women Want." In that scenario, you have at least a half-dozen viable candidates, and you're home free, dude. Good luck.

"The Pledge":
Director Sean Penn's fourth exercise in romantic machismo stars previous collaborator Jack Nicholson as a cop who becomes obsessed with the rape and murder of a young girl. Aside from how shockingly old Nicholson looks in the promos, the movie's been getting some good advance word for its air of malevolence and barely repressed rage. It's amazing how much resentment can build up after you've been with Madonna and Lara Flynn Boyle. The movie co-stars the ubiquitous Benicio Del Toro, Aaron Eckhart, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave, Mickey Rourke, Michael O'Keefe and Harry Dean Stanton. Where did the casting take place, Barney's Beanery?

"Snatch": Madonna boy-toy Guy Ritchie now walks where Sean Penn feared to tread. The Brit director returns with his Cockney take on Quentin Tarantino, and while the film never appears to take itself too seriously, the whole thing smacks of '90s nostalgia. The one joke here is that American Brad Pitt's indecipherable Irish guttural is even harder to understand than co-star Benicio Del Toro. From the looks of things, it's all about Ritchie's kinetic visual style, with plenty of jump cuts and weird angles and guys with funny names like Bullet Tooth Tony and Boris the Blade. Of course, there's not a woman in sight, so Madonna has nothing to get her panties in a bunch over, as she's apparently ready to star in her hubbie's next movie. Perhaps Ritchie should check out "Shanghai Surprise" from his local video store before he starts filming. Or maybe Guy's not such a guy's guy after all.

"The Gift": Sam Raimi directs this atmospheric Gothic thriller from a script by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson, with Cate Blanchett as a recently widowed mother of three in a small Southern town, where she plies her trade as a psychic, helping out the locals in distress. Blanchett's abilities include being able to divine the troubles other people prefer to deny, something sure to get her into trouble. There are plenty of visits from the dead and the living, including Giovanni Ribisi, Hilary Swank, Keanu Reeves, Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear. Our sixth sense tells us this is one ghost story whose whole may not live up to its talented parts. —Roy Trakin

"The Hollow Man":
Though its concept is promising—an update on "The Invisible Man" that explores the psychological consequences of not being seen—this glossy potboiler is hollower than its title character. Kevin Bacon brings some grit and authenticity to the by-the-numbers role of Sebastian Caine, a ruthlessly results-driven researcher who tests his own serum on himself and becomes—surprise—a ruthless killer. Co-star Elizabeth Shue, however, is wasted in the heroine role. Meanwhile, all the groovy digital effects in the world (an invisible gorilla that materializes layer by layer, the back of Bacon's latex mask visible through his mouth- and eye-holes) can't disguise this flick's devolution into standard-issue stalk-n-slash fare. Blame a dumb-as-dirt script, which director Paul Verhoeven tries to jazz up with flashy gore and his typically queasy, voyeuristic sex scenes. I want the two hours of my life back, please.
—Simon Glickman

Chaos Into Order…And Pretty Colors Too
Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, especially here in the 21st century. Hey, weren't we all supposed to have jetpacks by now? Well, the answer is yes, we were supposed to have jetpacks, but instead we have porn on demand—fair trade? Almost as cool as jetpacks (but still no match for porn) is the Handspring Visor. Similar to the Palm Pilot (and created by the original team that created the Palm), the Visor is one o' them personal digital organizers, or PDAs as tech heads call ‘em. It takes the place of a planner, an address book, a calculator, a notepad and, apparently, more than that—all in a package about the size of a wallet. I say "apparently" because I haven't even opened the 200-plus page instruction book (digitally included with the software). How cool is the Visor? Well, it's cool enough to make me feel like a geek and cool enough that I feel naked without it. Could this be another of my failed attempts to get organized—just a more expensive way for me to make to-do lists and then ignore them? Well… let's just say there's a bet around the office about how long it will take me to either lose interest in it or—more simply—just lose it. While I can't say with any certainty that I won't lose that bet, I can say that, for now, I love my Visor. For now, technology has brought me a little piece of heaven… without jet propulsion or porn. Jeff Drake

Semisonic, "All About Chemistry" (MCA):
The long-anticipated third album by the trio behind 1998's pop-rock megahit "Closing Time" is another satisfying suite of lush melodies, incisive guitar work and compassionate lyrics. Frontman/axeman Dan Wilson's best tunes—the driving, whimsical first single "Chemistry," the moving "One True Love" and the playful but heartfelt masturbation ode "Get a Grip"—are sensitive enough for Pop radio but more substantial than most such fare. Elsewhere, Wilson mixes Prince-like eroticism with power-chord punctuation ("Sunshine and Chocolate," "Bed") and finds sublimity in simplicity ("Follow"). In an era of throwaway pop, it's refreshing to hear a solid album rooted in the best of the rock tradition. Here's hoping the world still remembers how to listen. Official release: March 6. P.S. If you never heard Semisonic's 1996 debut, "Great Divide," pick it up ASAP. —Simon Glickman

Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th president, was born April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, OH. While many claim the "S" stood for "Simpson," Grant's real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant and the "S" (as in Harry S. Truman) stood for nothing. The Four Best Anagrams Of His Name: Less gassy runt; ten gassy slurs; ass slugs entry; yes, lass grunts.MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
Upcoming Birthdays
19—Janis Joplin
21—Geena Davis
22—Sam Cooke
23—Django Reinhardt
24—John Belushi
25—W. Somerset Maugham

Special Events
23—National Pie Day
24—Chinese New Year: The Year Of The Snake (the 4,699th year, according to the Chinese calendar)

"Good sex is like good Bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand." Mae West

Last month, in our staff top 10s list on the site, I opted to list the sequence of a 90-minute driving/jogging cassette I titled "Ventura Boulevard." I've been throwing these year-end compilations together for as long as I can remember, and I've gotta say this tape contains the most satisfying batch of songs, hooks and smarts since 1992 or '93. And that's not all, folks. There was enough cool stuff left over that I was inspired to string together a second tape. This compilation ends with a new song from an old pal in anticipation of an equally strong 2001. Fingers crossed. —Bud Scoppa

"Sunshine Terrace": More Y2K Tracks
1. Doves: "Catch the Sun" (4:48)
2. Coldplay: "Don't Panic" (2:17)
3. Dandy Warhols: "Get Off" (3:10)
4. Jayhawks: "Pretty Thing" (4:19)
5. Crowded House: "You Can Touch" (3:47)
6. Emmylou Harris: "I Don't Want to Talk About It
Now" (4:47)
7. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Surrender" (2:54)
8. Wilco: "Any Major Dude" (3:06)
9. Steely Dan: "Cousin Dupree" (5:28)
9. OutKast: "B.O.B." (5:04)
10. Jill Scott: "The Way" (4:16)
11. U2: "In A Little While" (3:40)
12. Shelby Lynne: "Lookin' Up" (3:28)
13. Richard Ashcroft: "A Song For The Lovers" (5:26)
14. Travis: Luv" (4:55)
15. Kasey Chambers: "Cry Like A Baby" (4:01)
16. Nina Gordon: "Now I Can Die" (3:08)
17. Aimee Mann: "Deathly" (5:37)
18. Coldplay: "We Never Change" (4:07)
19. U2: "Beautiful Day" (4:08)
20. Badly Drawn Boy: "Stone On The Water" (3:59)
21. Delerium featuring Matthew Sweet: "Daylight" (3:04)

Shark Cam 3:
The words "shark" and "soothing" rarely end up in the same sentence. But there is something oddly soothing about the incredible Shark Cam 3 on the Discovery Channel's Web site. The live image is streamed via RealNetworks from the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA. And it's a shark's eye view of the marine life tank the aquarium has there, filled with somewhere around 40 species of fish, sea turtles and other underwater creatures. The shark circles and circles with the regularity of a metronome, blocking out the view every minute or so as he swims by. And if you watch long enough, you'll see the scuba diver in the tank feeding the fish. Sounds simple. Sounds almost dull. But it's hypnotic, and…as I said…oddly soothing. Jeff Drake

Blair is positive her childhood friend Harrison Andrews will ask her to the country club cotillion, but is devastated to learn that, for some unfathomable reason, he has invited Jo.

With Subliminable Messages In Tribute To Dubya
A low-pressure system is headed across the eastern third of the nation, bringing subtropical moisture with it. The Northeast should see rain today, changing to a mix of snow, rain and sleet. New York City should see that same inviting mix on Saturday, with temps ranging from a low in the mid-20s to a high in the upper 30s. The precipitation should clear out by Sunday, though it will be cloudy, with temps just a couple of degrees warmer. Across the country in Los Angeles, it will be a bit less chilly than it has during the week, with temps over the weekend ranging from the low 50s to the mid-60s. Saturday should be sunny, and Sunday should have a few clouds. If you're making an illegal trip across the Texas-Mexico border as a way of celebrating the inauguration of the 43rd President of the United States, and staying in Marfa, TX, look for partly cloudy skies with temps in the low 20s to upper 50s. Have a good 'un.
—David Simutis, apprentice meteorologist.

There is no game of the week this week. Consequently, Guy With The Goggles has this week off. Come back next week for his Super Bowl pick.