Shouting the lines-between-the-lines at the television by yourself is the highest rung on the "cool" ladder.
——Ivana on the "Rocky Horror" Marathon


Stuff We Like To Do When They
Let Us Out Of Here
Today we're introducing a weekly feature in which we tell you what to do with your weekend free time. It's based on the ridiculous presumption that anyone would give a flying utensil what the wonks who toil for this sorry site have to say about music, movies, TV or any other non-potty-related activities.

Nonetheless, Fridays are notoriously slow news days—heck, even the staid Wall Street Journal cops to that reality with its lite and kicky Weekend Journal section. Consequently, we need to fill some virtual space in order to give the impression that we're actually working, so we'll be throwing out our uninformed opinions on a weekly basis until we're ordered to stop. So here goes nothing—literally.

U2's "All That You Can't Leave Behind": Hope Gets Hip
I first saw U2 in 1981 at a medium-sized venue, and the passion and uplift of the experience was unforgettable. In the intervening years, unfortunately, the band's often-sanctimonious political stances and—later—experiments in image-manipulation and irony diluted the power of their original vision. But with their latest, "All That You Can't Leave Behind" (Interscope), the band achieves an overwhelming emotional directness and universality. Gone are the techno soundscapes and fly-eyed archness; "I'm just trying to find a decent melody/A song that I can sing in my own company," offers Bono in one of several standout tracks, the incandescently soulful "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of." This sentiment, however simple, cuts to the heart of what makes the new disc so galvanizing—the band's power always derived from Edge's elegant guitar lines, the mixture of power and vulnerability in Bono's voice and a hopeful lyrical vision. In the Y2K, with irony everywhere on the pop-cultural landscape, hope seems pretty subversive. And rather than political manifestoes, the band hits the mark with personal, compassionate imagery. But all this would be moot without those "decent melodies," and the hooks of this album's finest songs work like a shot of adrenaline, from the explosively upbeat chorus of lead single "Beautiful Day" to the anthemic "Walk On." By returning to their roots, U2 have hinted at a brighter future for rock.—Simon Glickman

"Charlie's Angels": Booms & Boobs
Sure it's suspicious that it took a dozen people to write Charlie's Angels, but it's a lot like a James Bond flick in that the plot is secondary to the explosions and jiggling. The movie doesn't take itself seriously, taking a tongue-in-cheek approach, but the stunts and action are what you should expect from a movie with a $100 million budget. Plus the Angels are divine. The goofy and gorgeous Drew Barrymore doing stop-action, Matrix-style kung fu, kicking the asses of five bad guys at once? Awesome. Cameron Diaz busting the robot on "Soul Train" and driving a Formula One car through the streets of Long Beach? Bad ass. Lucy Liu in disguise as a leather-wearing efficiency expert? Oh, my. What more do you need than explosions and booty and lots of funny lines? --David Simutis

"High Fidelity": Too Much Record-Junkie Business
I didn't see Stephen Frears' "High Fidelity" in the theaters, but I guess I wasn't alone. Like Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous," it sorta died at the box office. Maybe the majority of people can't relate to the experience of pop-music/culture addicts, but those of us who got into the record biz because of our love for—ahem—"the music" can certainly relate. As the owner of an indie retail store in Chicago called Championship Vinyl, John Cusack is the chief creative force behind turning Nick Hornby's book into a celebration of how much pop music infiltrates our lives and, especially, our relationships. As a fan of the original novel, which was quintessentially about an English lad, I questioned moving the story from the U.K. to the U.S., but it turns out to add a brand of Americanized optimism—and universality—to the story. Cusack spends much of the movie talking directly to the camera, a device that puts across the first-person narrative better than any film version of a novel in memory. The musical banter is well-scripted, especially the rant from hyperdriven record store clerk Jack Black (of Tenacious D fame), who nails a businessman that wanders into the store wanting to buy "I Just Called To Say I Loved You" for his daughter, by asking, "She isn't in a coma, is she?" And even though the movie has Cusack realizing the error of his noncommital ways just in time for a Hollywood happy ending, it truly captures how pop culture can color our perceptions—how we use it to judge a potential mate by the records, books and movies that define a shared world view. —Roy Trakin

Kansas City +3 over OAKLAND
Hey, any dang fool kin pick the Redskins over the Cardinals. I'm givin' you one to sank your teeth into, people. The first rule in pickin' NF of L games is, who's the more desperate team? If Oakland (7-1) wins, they got the division locked up tighter than a bullfrog's butt—watertight—and KC (5-3) cain't let that happen. The first game the two teams played, the Chiefs kicked butt in the first half, then turned wussy, lettin' the Raiders back into the game. This time, they ain't gonna do that, not agin. No matter who wins, history says it stays within three points. Elvis has not left the building—but I may if this here pick don't pan out. Die, Al Davis!

Elsa, "Ed," Etc.
Going out on the weekend is for amateurs. The truly hip are at home watching the television they "TiVo'd" during the week. Big plans for tonight: "Real World" (the housemates confront David), "Entertainment Tonight," "Access Hollywood," "West Wing," "The $treet," "Titans" (which makes me long for the subtlety of "Models, Inc."), "20/20" and "Madigan Men" (as close as I'll ever come to spending the night with Gabriel Byrne). I'll be awake by 7:00 a.m. on Saturday for "Fashion File" on E!, followed by "Style With Elsa Klensch" at 7:30 on CNN and "Fashion Television" on E! at 8. Why did they cancel "Saved By The Bell" on TNBC—"City Guys" and "One World" pale in comparison. Saturday nights are problematic, with nothing to watch until the East Coast feed of "Saturday Night Live." Last weekend's "Rocky Horror" Marathon on VH1 provided hours of Saturday evening entertainment. Yes, shouting the lines-between-the-lines at the television by yourself is the highest rung on the "cool" ladder. Faced with "Sex And The City" on hiatus, I decided to check out "Ed," the new romantic comedy on NBC. While the parallels to "Northern Exposure" are many and blatant, this is my pick for the best new show of the season. Watching it reminds me of the same joyous sense of discovery I felt when "Ally McBeal" first launched. The cast is incredibly likeable and the characters are quirky without resorting to farce and slapstick (unlike "Ally McBeal" now). David Letterman is one of the executive producers of "Ed," so it's no surprise that the writing is sharp and intelligent. I'll be watching the East Coast feed of "Ed" at 5 p.m., though, because The Who are guest stars on "The Simpsons" this Sunday. My weekend plans are set.