In a nutshell:
"I hate pickin’ any...Xerox-machine repairman by day and tribute-band vocalist by night...who undergoes a stunning transformation at the hands of...Hong Kong fight choreographer Xin-Xin Xiong...with some out-of-town color provided by...creamy, falsetto-borne choruses redolent of...the burgeoning billions already squatting on this ravaged planet...so strip down if you’re planning on taking drugs."


We Know, That Headline Really Only Works If Hank Jr. Yells It
Break out the chips and salsa, fill the cooler with ice and PBR and get ready for some football, baby. It may come as some consolation to those of you who are fans of the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Anaheim Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers that Week 1 of that danged ol’ football season begins Sunday. Thus, making it easy to let go of that baseball season (which is pretty much over for you guys, anyway) and fully embrace the smash mouth joys of the gridiron. Sure, there’s some chance that your team might make it into the post-season as a wildcard—well, none, actually, if you’re a Kansas City Royals fan—but you may as well cut your losses now.

Hey, buddy, time fer some perdickshuns. Startin’ with the AFL, as I like to call it… In the Eastern Division, you gotta stick with the Miami Dolphins. In the Central, lots of people are gonna be jumpin’ on that danged ol’ Raven bandwagon, but I ain’t. It’s time for the Tennessee Titans to kick some butt. In the danged ol’ West, I hate pickin’ any of these teams, cuz I hate ’em all. But since this here is perdickshuns, I’m gonna take the dang Broncos, mainly cuz I hate Al Davis. Die, Al, die! As fer them Wild Cards, I have to take the Raiders, even though I hate Al Davis. Die, Al, die! The Ravens are gonna be tough, but when they lost Jamal Lewis, there went the ball control. And ain’t no guy named Elvis gonna win no Super Bowl. My third Wild Card is gonna be the danged ol’ surprise of the year: Them New York Jets is gonna shock the world.

Over in the NFL, I’m takin’ the Eagles in the East. That danged ol’ field is their secret weapon. This here Central is tough to pick, cuz the two Bays and Minnesota are all possibles, but I’m gonna take Minnesota with Randy Moss. In the West, any fool kin see the Rams is the one. Fer the Wild Cards, I gotta go with the danged ol’ Saints, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, as fer the third Wild Card, it’s gonna be either the dang Giants or the surprise team, the Green Bay Packers. The Giants have a tougher schedule, so I’m gonna take Green Bay.

As fer the danged ol’ Super Bowl, it dang sure feels like them Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams in a rematch of two years ago—’cept this time, the danged ol’ Titans is gonna win…and thank Gawd we won’t have to see Kurt Warner’s danged ol’ wife ever’ five minutes. —Guy W. Goggles

Rock Star
(Warner Bros.):
This film tries to do for mid-'80s hair bands what Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous did for the '70s, and that is, apparently, all the difference. Mark Wahlberg plays the role of a Xerox-machine repairman by day and tribute-band vocalist by night (didja catch the parallel?) who becomes the lead singer of Steel Dragon, his favorite group. It's a true-life tale based on the N.Y. Times story of Tim "Ripper" Owens, the Midwestern everyman who fronted a Judas Priest cover band and was tapped to replace Rob Halford in the real thing. The movie's peopled by real-life rock stars, including metal axe god Zakk Wylde, Slaughter's Blas Elias, Third Eye Blind's Stephan Perkins, The Verve Pipe's Brian Vander Ark and Jason Bonham. Unfortunately, the screenplay by John Stockwell (HBO's Breast Men, the story of the guys who invented implants—weirdly appropriate, right?) apparently is filled with Behind the Music-style cliches of sexual debauchery, drugs, trashed hotel rooms and blood transfusions, sans the redeeming Spinal Tap humor. And people wonder why the audiences stay away from rock movies by the droves. So caveat emptor, though Jennifer Aniston and Rachel Hunter are on hand as the requisite rock-star chicks. The flick was directed by Stephen Herek, best-known for Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, with a Tom Werman-produced Priority Records soundtrack that features Bon Jovi, Kiss, Ted Nugent, The Verve Pipe, Everclear, Motley Crue and, naturally, Steel Dragon. The www.rockstarmovie.com website has a VH1 contest, song streams and a karaoke application that allows you to record your vocals over prerecorded tracks.

Two Can Play That Game (Screen Gems): An African-American middle-class comedy along the lines of Kingdom Come (also produced by Doug McHenry) and How to Be a Player (with a screenplay by this movie's writer/director/producer Mark Brown) with the always-lovely Vivica A. Fox who catches her boyfriend (Morris Chesnut, who made a memorable debut in John Singleton's Boyz N the Hood as the promising young athlete whose life is tragically cut short) red-handed stepping out with her arch rival and institutes her "Ten Day Plan" to get her man in line. Among the many tricks in her bag: playing the damsel in distress and starting nasty gossip. Naturally, things go awry when her beau comes under the sway of his good buddy, who brings the playa's perspective to bear. It's a battle of the sexes like Doris Day and Rock Hudson used to wage, and the development of the genre is long overdue. There's also a cameo by Bobby Brown as a man who undergoes a stunning transformation at the hands of his own girlfriend, so you know it's a movie. The MCA soundtrack provides the perfect showcase for label acts Mary J. Blige, Melky Sedeck, Jodeci, The Roots, Rahsaan Patterson, Avant, Damozel and Chante Moore, while the website at www.sony.com/twocanplay, offers a trailer, cast bios, synopsis, trailers and streaming songs.

The Musketeer (Miramax/Universal): If you're thinking what I am, you're wondering who the hell needs yet another remake of Alexander Dumas' by-now done-to-death classic. And, I s’pose, who the heck gave hack director Peter Hyams (End of Days, 2010, Capricorn One) yet another shot. The twist is, the movie's done Hong Kong stylee. Call it Crouching Knight, Hidden Handmaiden. The highly kinetic trailers tout Hong Kong fight choreographer Xin-Xin Xiong, rather than Hyams and a star-studded international cast, including Catherine Deneuve, American Beauty/American Pie's Mena Suvari, Crying Game's Stephen Rea, Battle of the Apes' Tim Roth and The Wedding Planner's Justin Chambers. Screenwriter Gene Quintano's credits include Police Academy 3 and 4 and a bunch of TV movies, so that tells you the action had better carry it. The early-September release date apparently means the studios are dumping this puppy on a somewhat unsuspecting public. The swashbuckling David Arnold score, available on Dekka/UMG, features tracks like "Jailhouse Ruck," "Mansion Impossible" and the single, "Prepare Duchamps for Hell," while the www.the-musketeer.com site feels as attenuated as the film itself. Consider yourself forewarned.

Down From The Mountain (Artisan): Like the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack that inspired it, this D.A. Pennebaker (Don't Look Back, Monterey Pop)-directed (along with his wife, startup.com's Chris Hedegus) documentary could well be a sleeper on a Buena Vista Social Club level, or, more likely, find its audience on home video. It's a film version of the concert put on last May at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, bringing together many of the principals on the best-selling O Brother soundtrack album. It features performances by neo-bluegrassers like Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Chris Thomas King, alongside veteran practitioners John Hartford, Ralph Stanley, the Fairfield Four, the Whites, the Cox Family and others, with some out-of-town color provided by Joel Coen, Holly Hunter and Billy Bob Thornton. What, no Soggy Bottom Boys? The stunning success of the Lost Highway/Mercury/IDJ soundtrack has focused a great deal of attention on the bluegrass phenomenon, with pundits pointing out how it was all done without the help of the holy grail of radio play. Does it mean we'll see a return to washboards and Jew's harps? Not likely, but it'll sure be fun while it lasts. But why doesn't the T Bone Burnett-produced Lost Highway soundtrack not include Ralph Stanley's wrenching version of the film's classic "Man of Constant Sorrow"? They're not worried about overkill, are they? —Roy Trakin

Maxwell, Now (Columbia):
Hoping to achieve a truly empirical result in this critique, I decided to put the third album by the soulful throwback through its paces in a pair of revealing tests. Bacara, a year-old resort a few miles north of Santa Barbara, proved to be an ideal testing ground. For the first listen, I took the album with me on an hourlong jog along the flat, hard-packed beach that stretched for miles in both directions from the grounds, and it performed admirably. The tightly sprung, insistent grooves of "Get to Know You," "Temporary Nite" and "Now/At the Garden," acted as a turbocharger on my movements, while unexpected details such as the interplay of blues guitar and pedal steel on "Was My Girl" and the banjo adorning "For Lovers Only" took on an all but shimmering presence in this picturesque locale. In terms of daytime activity, Now had scored impressively. But the record’s true test would take place the following evening, over wine, etc., on the balcony of our lovely third-floor room, with the fireplace flickering seductively just inside the French doors. In this dusky, romantic environment, Now really showed its stuff, taking on a languorous, seamless aspect that perfectly lent itself to the luminous atmosphere. In this sensuous environment, Maxwell’s ballads, with their creamy, falsetto-borne choruses redolent of early Prince, took center stage; particularly poignant was his knowing performance of Kate Bush’s "This Woman’s World." Clearly, longtime Maxwell collaborator/co-producer Stuart Matthewman—best known for his ongoing partnership with Sade—played a major part in achieving the understated classiness that pervades the album. In conclusion, I’d take this baby with me on any romantic excursion, from an extended holiday on Kauai to a stroll into the bedroom. —Bud Scoppa

Snapdragon, Family Jewels (Straight Line/Atlantic): Championed in Wheels & Deals since they were called Ripe, this L.A. band plays hook-heavy, anthemic rock with passion and brains, and they’ve come through with a killer debut album. Singer Summer Rose's smoky, emotional vocals are in full command on amazingly catchy tunes like the soulful "There for You," "Laughing on the Inside," "Heaven or Hollywood" and "Life's No Picnic." Summer and keyboardist Rick Jude crafted the majority of the band's material, and the solid, old-school production does right by the songs. Snapdragon's recent Viper Room show was one of the most memorable club performances I've seen in a very long time—a New York trip is said to be in the works. If they hit your town, don't miss 'em. —Simon Glickman

"If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts." Satchel Paige

All Star Baseball 2002:
I know that baseball season iz almost over and those weak-asss Dodgers are not going to make it to the post-season, but let’s get down & dirty to sum real baseball. Acclaim's All-Star Baseball series has been widely praised as one of tha best baseball games made, but it hasn't been made available to PlayStation gamers...until now. Finally, we get a chance to step up to the ultra-realistic graphics and precision batting control of All-Star Baseball. Better yet, tha game haz gone straight for tha cutting edge of gaming by debuting on PS2. Featuring all 30 Major League teams, plus a Cooperstown Hall of Fame team of All-Stars as well as tha ability to "Turn Back the Clock" to classic team uniforms and a complete roster of 700 players (each painstakingly rendered with real facial features and accurate body models), every Major League stadium rendered fully in 3-D, with multifaceted animated crowd, play-by-play from Arizona Diamondback Manager Bob Brenly and co-anchor Thom Brennaman, complete Exhibition, Season, World Series, Home Run Derby and Batting Practice modes, and over 1,500 motion-captured animations, All-Star Baseball has got all itz bases covered. But how does it do with tha details? Just watch tha waterfalls run at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium and prove to yourself that everything imaginable iz there. Does All-Star Baseball 2002 do for Baseball what Madden 2001 did for football with the PlayStation 2 hardware? Step up to the plate and find out, & that’s word, bitch! —Latin "SuperStar" Prince

Lyndon Baines Johnson
, our 36th president, was born Aug. 27, 1908, in central Texas not far from Johnson City, a town which his family had helped settle. Johnson first took office after JFK, for whom he served as VP, was assassinated by the Warren Commission in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza in 1963. Johnson’s biggest challenge during his administration was Vietnam. Controversy over the war had become acute by the end of March 1968, when he limited the bombing of North Vietnam in order to initiate negotiations. At the same time, he startled the world by withdrawing as a candidate for re-election so that he might devote his full efforts, unimpeded by politics, to the quest for peace. When he left office, peace talks were under way; he did not live to see them successful, but died suddenly of a heart attack at his Texas ranch on Jan. 22, 1973. Best Anagram Of His Name (minus one "N"): Slosh in yon banjo den.

Just Like The Dinosaurs:
It’s hard to dislike an organization that was for its motto: "May we live long and die out." In a nutshell, that is the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. No, the VHEMT is not asking anyone to commit suicide. Nor is the group asking you to stop fucking—just to stop making babies. "Each time another one of us decides to not add another one of us to the burgeoning billions already squatting on this ravaged planet, another ray of hope shines through the gloom," the brains behind the VHEMT explain. "When every human chooses to stop breeding, Earth's biosphere will be allowed to return to its former glory, and all remaining creatures will be free to live, die, evolve (if they believe in evolution), and will perhaps pass away, as so many of Mother Nature's ‘experiments’ have done throughout the eons." To pass on the message globally, the site is available in German, French, Italian and Portuguese. And even if you don’t agree with what they have to say, you gotta admit, those T-shirts are pretty awesome. Jeff Drake

Plus Lucky Numbers!
In case you forgot to have Chinese food this week.
You find beauty in ordinary things. Do not lose this ability.
10, 33, 41, 44, 45, 46

Let the Fucking Begin:
A politician in a Finnish town above the Arctic Circle has challenged residents to produce more babies to boost its dwindling population by promising to step down if they reach a target quota. Teuvo Niemela, chairman of the town council of Inari in Finnish Lapland, vowed not to stand for re-election in 2004 if at least 80 babies are born next year and at least 85 the year after. The town’s counted only 7,366 residents last year. "This is a challenge at least to those who want to get rid of me. I am prepared also to begin operating in the field myself, and in fear of that I think many Inari people will reproduce," said Niemela, an ear, nose and throat doctor who already has two adult daughters. The birth rate has been falling faster than the mercury in Inari, where temperatures can drop below minus 45 degrees Celsius (minus 49 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter. Last year only 69 babies were born there, down from more than 100 in 1995. Only 75 babies are expected this year. Niemela has in the past dug into his own pockets to encourage Inari mothers. He paid 20,000 markka ($3,000) to the mother of the first baby born in the town last year, and one markka to the father, which he said corresponded to the father's input. The joke’s on Niemela, of course, as that payment is actually inversely proportional. J.D.

Upcoming Birthdays
Sept. 7-13

7—Buddy Holly (would have been 65) & Chrissie Hynde (50)
8—Sid Caesar (79) & Peter Sellers (would have been 76)
9—Otis Redding (would have been 60)
10—Raymond Scott (would have been 93) & Yma Sumac (73)
11—D.H. Lawrence (would have been 116)
12—Ian Holm (70) & George Jones (70)
13—Roald Dahl (would have been 85)

Special Events
September is Latino Heritage Month
8—International Literacy Day
9—International Larceny Day
11—Jinnah Day (Pakistan)

How About Those Bulldogs?!
If you’re looking forward to the weekend as a time to take some Ecstasy and go to Fresno with Anne Heche’s alien friends, this is the weekend to do it. In New York City, temps will range from the low 80s to the upper 60s overnight. Skies will be mostly cloudy for the better part of the weekend, with isolated storms on Sunday. Out here in Los Angeles, where the air is so delicious you can see it, the weekend will be sunny, sunny, sunny. Temperatures will hit the low 80s in the day and drop to the low 60s at night. In Fresno, which has been experiencing a spike in UFO tourism traffic, temps will come close to the 100-degree mark, so strip down if you’re planning on taking drugs. —David Simutis, Senior Meteorology Correspondent and UFO Believer

Tootie's personality changes and her grades slip because of a sudden hearing loss she refuses to acknowledge.

UMG chief is sitting on top of the world. (9/17a)
Let's be Frank. (9/17a)
Stars across the board (9/17a)
Will she be able to clean up the mess? (9/17a)
WMG snags a cornucopia of sound and vision. (9/16a)
A chronicle of the inexplicable.
We make yet more predictions, which you are free to ignore.
2022 TOURS
May we all be vaxxed by then.
Power pop, global glam and the return of the loud.

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