Eminem smolders like a young James Dean, alternating affection toward his young sister and disgust with his alcoholic mom (Kim Basinger, acting her ass off) with a gaze that burns through you like a laser.


So Does Our Snockered Sports Columnist,
Guy W.T. Goggles, but That’s Another Story
How can this weekend possibly come close to the last one? It started off with a bang—literally—Friday night, when the LakersRick Fox and the KingsDoug Christie duked it out—in an exhibition game, yet! Saturday turned into a classic celebration of the underdog, bookended by a pair of truly dramatic defining moments: In the morning, Carlyle Holiday’s 65-yard touchdown pass to Arnaz Battle on the first play of the game set the tone for Notre Dame’s dramatic upset of Florida State, and in the evening, Scott Spiezio’s pivotal at-bat in Game Six of the World Series culminated in a three-run homer as the scrappy Angels in the driver’s seat in their improbable championship run. Along with an extra hour, Sunday gave much of America a chance to witness the coming of age of the Atlanta Falcons' Michael Vick, who very well may be the most physically gifted athlete ever to play quarterback in the NFL. The weekend came to a screeching halt that night, with Larry David championing the cause of breadwinning husbands in the never-ending struggle they wage with their presumptuous, freeloading wives. The nerve of these women! Yup, this weekend has a whole lot to live up to.

1. New season of 24 (Fox):
It starts at 8 a.m. rather than 12 midnight, but the return of this ultimate "real-time" cliffhanger picks up six months after the last season left off, and immediately plunges you into a world of post-9/11 imminent nuclear disaster. Bearded, bone-weary Kiefer Sutherland’s burnt-out agent Jack Bauer is urged out of an imminent nervous breakdown to save the universe by Dennis Haysbert’s steely President, who seems a lot more calm and collected than the real yahoos running things in Washington. Last year didn’t jump the shark until Dennis Hopper turned up with his fake Russian accent about three-quarters of the way though, but the new season has already taken off like a runaway train. —RT

2. Pat Conroy, My Losing Season: With his usual lyricism, Conroy merges all the major themes of his prior books (including The Great Santini and Beach Music) to frame his final season as a varsity basketball player at the Citadel. Merging the brutality of his father, the family's rootless and his yearning for a "normal" life, basketball, military discipline and his love affair with South Carolina's beaches and marsh country, Conroy illuminates the gentleman's side of team sports, the camaraderie and the agony of defeat in a way that elevates personal character to being the greatest victory of all. —HG

3. Rolling Stones Licks tour rocks L.A.: The three-shows-per-market Licks offensive stormed SoCal Thursday night with an arena-scaled show at Staples Center. As you've undoubtedly heard, this tour eschews the massive special effects we've seen from the band in the past, putting the emphasis squarely on songs and sound, and the Staples show was a gratifying showcase for both (see Roy Trakin's review for details). His facial creases may resemble a topographic map of the Grand Canyon, but Mick hasn't lost a step, and on the basis of Thursday's set, I can say without equivocation that the mature Keef remains my favorite all-time guitarist, Charlie's still my all-time favorite drummer and Woody's a brilliant utility man—his playing on "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" and "Love in Vain" were particularly thrilling. Saturday night the Stones expand to stadium size at Edison Field, followed two nights later by the intimate gig at the Wiltern Theatre. It bears mentioning that the band's Staples appearance follows close on the heels of Paul McCartney’s return performance there Monday night; imagine, the Beatles and Stones in one 72-hour period. The Top 10 of this week’s album chart, meanwhile, has albums from Santana, Rod Stewart, Elvis Presley and, yup, the Stones. Welcome to the sounds of 2002. —BS

4. Auto Focus: A perverse journey into darkness, and very depressing, so much so that I can't recommend it. Greg Kinnear is very good in the title role, though. —LB

5. NBA tipoff: Aside from satisfying the fundamental need for a steady diet of hoops, the 2002-03 pro basketball season will give new broadcaster ESPN (and later on, sister network ABC) to wheel out all the bells and whistles. But ESPN will be hard-pressed to top the coverage of longtime NBA partner TNT, which continues to telecast games as well. TNT, after all, has Charles Barkley, who has become the most entertaining and provocative commentator in sports TV. You tell ’em, Chuck. Now, let the squeaking begin. —BS

6. Kurt Cobain, Journals (Riverside): Would Kurt Cobain want his innermost doodlings turned into a $30 coffee-table book? Would these bits and pieces of a restless mind who created more copy than Lester Bangs be bound into this impressive volume if its creator hadn’t blown his brains out? Is Courtney Love the new Yoko Ono? Will anybody care about my unpublished manuscripts, personal correspondences and rough drafts after I’m gone? I hope not, because my hard drive just fizzled with the last five years of my work. Anyone know the name of a good data-retrieval company? —RT

7. Cody ChesnuTT: Independent artist gets national exposure—including a four-star Rolling Stone review and an MTV News segment—for The Headphone Masterpiece, a self-released double-disc recorded on four-track in his North Hollywood bedroom. The best cuts on this ambitious, format-defying album explain why everyone from The Strokes to the Roots wants to get close to Cody. —SG

8. Nick Nolte’s rehab diary: This may be just another Internet put-on, but it’s hilarious and knowing all at once. Click on this link, and you’ll see the homepage for a user called "noltecide." Click on that and you’ll go to what’s supposed to be Nolte’s online journal, covering his stay in a Connecticut facility, where his roommates supposedly include David Hasselhoff and Chris Burke, the Downe’s syndrome kid from the TV show Life Goes On. Inspirational entry: "My pee smells like ham. That can’t be good. Any idea what that could mean?" —RT

9. Yu-Gi-Oh! Music to Duel By (DreamWorks): If you have any regular contact with boys aged 6-12, you’ve probably encountered this new franchise from the people who brought you Pokemon. They watch the cartoon, they collect and "duel" with the cards (in such feverish demand that the marketers haven’t had time to translate them all from Japanese to English yet)—and now they’ll be clamoring for this soundtrack of seizure-inducing music (packaged with a sheet of "limited edition" stickers). Heaven help us all. —SG

10. Walter Mondale: A political veteran from Minnesota steps in to run in place of the recently deceased Sen. Paul Wellstone. GOP pundits have been spinning on the Sunday shows that Mondale, at 74, is too old—this from the party of Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. As Gil Scott-Heron once said, "Will we take Fritz with our grits? Hell, we'll take Fritz the Cat." —SG

And now, a word from our sponsor, Ameritrade: Choose Commercial 2 and click on your preferred media player. (Actually, we don’t have any sponsors—who’d wanna sponsor this crapola?—but we can dream.) —BS

8 Mile (Universal):
It’s not the Citizen Kane of hip-hop movies—Charlie Ahearn’s Wild Style, John Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing and Warren Beatty’s Bulworth all rate above it. Nor is it Rick Springfield’s Hard to Hold, either. Actually, Eminem’s impressive dramatic debut is closer to the faux biopic approach of Prince’s Purple Rain, complete with its abusive home situation and the latter’s local club competition with Morris Day. The movie combines the working-class release of Saturday Night Fever with the blue-collar wish-fulfillment of Rocky (thanks to Pollack for that one), especially in its kinetic MC battles, starring Em as the only white face trying to represent in a sea of angry blacks.

Director Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys) brings a keen eye to capturing the burnt-out terrain of Detroit circa ’95, focusing on a week in the life of Em and his sharply defined gang. Eminem smolders like a young James Dean, alternating affection toward his young sister and disgust with his alcoholic mom (Kim Basinger, acting her ass off) with a gaze that burns through you like a laser. Em’s searing presence is put into context by well-observed performances from Mehkhi Phifer as his dreadlocked backer, Omar Benson as a fun-loving, rotund rapper, a superb Evan Jones as a dimwitted, Michael J. Pollard-styled sidekick and management stablemate Xzibit with a cameo as a rhyming fellow factory worker. Brittany Murphy has a starmaking turn as the girl who catches Em’s eye, with her come-hither, slightly buck-toothed grin erupting in a smoldering sex scene.

When Eminem is onscreen, it’s hard to take your eyes off him, but the narrative ambles a bit, and the climax isn’t quite the payoff you’d expect—in fact, the trailer showing the star pounding out the soundtrack’s hit single, "Lose Yourself," is slightly misleading. The rap soundtrack gives the film its forward momentum, but you keep wanting Eminem’s smoldering anger to burst free in shotgun blasts of his inspired wordplay. And while Hanson does capture those moments where creation comes out of observation and is finally wrenched into art, the raps Eminem creates onscreen are little more than playground putdowns, compared to the complex Pirandellian conceits of "Stan" or "My Dad’s Gone Crazy." Oh, well, admittedly, it's about an early stage in his development. With Eminem walking off into the darkness at the end like John Wayne in The Searchers, perhaps he’s just setting us up for the sequel, when he becomes the larger-than-life Slim Shady we’ve come to know and love. Unlike the film careers of Madonna and Prince, Eminem gives every indication he can tackle characters other than himself. Roy Trakin

I Spy (Columbia Pictures)
Premise: Eddie Murphy
and Owen Wilson channel duo Bill Cosby and Robert Culp in remake of groundbreaking TV series. The plot involves a Michael Jordan-like NBA star coerced into helping the CIA retrieve a fighter jet prototype invisible to radar purchased by an Eastern European arms dealer who also owns various European basketball teams.
Stars: Murphy, Wilson, Famke Janssen (James Bond’s man-crushing foe in GoldenEye) and Malcolm McDowell
Betty Thomas (Dr. Dolittle, 28 Days, Private Parts) is the current version of the late Arthur Hiller, an amiable hack.
Thumbs Up: Charlie’s Angels was a hit and this film looks headed to the top of the box office charts in a slow week.
Thumbs Down: Murphy is on a downward roll coming off the Pluto Nash disaster.
Website: www.Sonypictures.com offers nothing out of the ordinary.
Soundtrack: Strangely, no album, but the ad touts the "hit single," "Full Mode Remix" by N.O.R.E. and Capone

The Santa Clause 2 (Walt Disney Pictures)
Sequel to Disney’s successful film featuring Tim Allen as Kris Kringle, this time hunting for a whie while a substitute Santa threatens Christmas
Stars: Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson
TV’s Michael Lembeck (Friends) makies his feature debut
Thumbs Up: The original wasn’t half-bad, and the new one was re-written by the co-authors of the screenplay for There’s Something About Mary.
Thumbs Down: Whatever happened to Tim Allen’s career?
Website: www.disney.go/disneypictures/santaclause2 offers enough cross-promotion to fill up a thousand Santa’s gift bags.
Soundtrack: The Disney Records soundtrack features Christmas classics by Eddie Money/Ronnie Spector, Chuck Berry, SHEDaisy, Louis Armstrong, Smokey Robinson, the Shirelles, Unwritten Law/Sum 41, Brenda Lee and Steve Tyrell.

Love in the Time of Money (ThinkFilm)
Premise: Indie film set in Manhattan during the Internet boom, with a roundelay series of nine romantic vignettes loosely based on Eyes Wide Open author Arthur Schnitzler’s play Reigen, later made into the movie La Ronde by Max Ophuls.
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Rosario Dawson, Carol Kane and The SopranosMichael Imperioli
Director/screenwriter Peter Mattei makes his feature debut, thanks to an budget infusion from Robert Redford’s Sundance Filmmakers Lab
Thumbs Up
: Talented performers, interesting premise, satisfying narrative structure.
Thumbs Down: Feels like an indie clich already, shades of Slacker.
Website: The budget must not have included money for one.
Soundtrack: None

The Weight of Water (Lions Gate)
Based upon the novel by Anita Shreve based on a true story about a photojournalist and her husband who said to a New Hampshire island to investigate the murders of two Scandanavian immigrants in 1873, as the story alternates between past and present.
Stars: Catherine McCormack, Sean Penn, Elizabeth Hurley, Sarah Polley
Action director Kathryn Bigelow (Strange Days, Point Break, K-19: The Widowmaker, Blue Steel, Near Dark) changes pace
Thumbs Up: Bigelow never less than interesting, and this cast is filled with heavyweights.
Thumbs Down: David Guterson’s similarly themed Snow Falling on Cedars made a pretty bad movie.
Website: www.TheWeightofWaterthemovie.com offers the usual information, albeit in a rather kinetic way.
Soundtrack: None

Femme Fatale (WB): Opening Wednesday (11/6)
A contemporary film noir about an alluring seductress suddenly exposed to the world and her enemies by a voyeuristic photographer who becomes ensnared in her surreal quest for revenge. At least that’s the way the official website puts it.
Stars: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Antonio Banderas, Peter Coyote, Jean Reno
Director: Brian de Palma
tries to return to form after Mission to Mars
Thumbs Up: Will it be another Blow Out?
Thumbs Down: Or another Snake Eyes?
Website: www.Femmefatalemovie.warnerbros.com opens like a film trailer.
Soundtrack: None —RT

Badly Drawn Boy, Have You Fed the Fish? (ArtistDirect):
"How can I give you the answers you need, when all I possess is a melody?" asks singer/songwriter Damon Gough on this masterful new disc. The melodies themselves answer one question: How do you top the superb About a Boy soundtrack? Yet Fish is a quantum leap, full of beauty, grandeur, wit and sadness. Producer Tom Rothrock (Beck) adds elegant touches, but it’s all about the material and Gough’s subtle, infinitely expressive vocals. Standouts include the surging title track, the amazing "Born Again" and the suite-like "Tickets to What You Need." One of the year’s best. Simon Glickman

Simian, We Are Your Friends (Astralwerks): Living up to the high melodic standards their Manchester pedigree demands, these four experimentalists’ brand of swinging, pop-meets-electronica fusion can etch a tune on your brain like a microcircuit on so much silicon. Their disarming songwriting is set against a vast field of synethetic sounds, from classic Farfisa and vintage Moog to more far-out tone generators (the minimal liner notes thank Brian Eno for guidance and "toys"), which has prompted comparisons to the Beta Band and Aphex Twin, while their high-harmony perfectionism prays at the temple of Pet Sounds. It’s an entrancing combination, especially in the robo-groove of "Sunshine," the funky syncopations of "In Between" or the rocking march of single "Never Be Alone." Heavy mental. Jon O"Hara

Jurassic 5, Power in Numbers (Interscope): "We humble, but don’t mistake us for some corny-ass crew," they chant on "If You Only Knew," its jazzy flute recalling old-school forebears like Gil Scott-Heron and Sly Stone. "[We] try to give you whatcha ain’t used to." This organic, prog-hop L.A. sextet—two DJs and four MCs—has been called the rap group for people who don’t like rap, but they continue expanding their reach on this sophomore effort. With the slinky funk of the first single, "Golden Years," the deft wordplay of "Thin Line," a song examining relationships featuring Nelly Furtado, or the Latin/African/Asian melting pop of "Acetate Prophets," the 5 elegantly usher hip-hop out of the gangsta era into the future. —RT

Polara, Jetpack Blues (Susstones): Minneapolis artist/producer Ed Ackerson starts his group’s fourth album with the emphatic whoosh of "Can’t Get Over You," as if he were recording in a wind tunnel with the blower turned up to 11. Throughout the bulk of Jetpack Blues, he keeps the settings on interstellar overdrive, employing an arsenal of guitar, synth and computer-generated sounds to sustain the sonic blast. On "Is This It?," the effect recalls the Who’s soaring "I Can See for Miles," while "Hold On to the Thread" echoes Oasis at its most inflated. But squeeze your way through the aural membrane and you’ll discover creamy pop hooks underneath; indeed, the title track is a quintessential power ballad, albeit one that would only chart on Venus and Mars. Crafty stuff. Bud Scoppa

Our fearless forecaster went 0 for 2 last week, causing him to go off the deep end. We expect him to make a fill recovery. Thank you for your patience.
(Year to date: 9-5)

by Lisa Teasley

This serialized story, which runs weekly in this space, is about two boys from Reno, Eddie & Penguin, who come down to LA to make it with their band. They're 21, 22-ish, one's white, one's black, they're funny & witty, and have been close since they were 10.

: Penguin was always taking off for weeks at a time, looking, and waiting for Godot. He’d tell me he was up in S.F. with his father, but I knew he was a goddamn lie. I found him once in an abandoned building—back when I was walking around with the tape recorder and harmonica, before I discovered the drum—and that day, I’ll never forget. He won’t let me bring it up, though, and at this point I won’t. Getting sweaty and scared is not Penguin’s way of getting off. The fucking ladies’ man.

He just didn’t want his mother knowing that he wasn’t really in the city with his father. Didn’t want her to know how many times he’d been stood up by him. But you aren’t made of shit if you’ve never spent the night out, with nowhere to go, nowhere to lay your head but anywhere that you can.

Pen’s never seen me cry, but once. I do that in the privacy of my own bedroom. But now that we’re rooming here in Hollywood, the bathroom’s my sanctuary. Not that he can’t walk in on me, but in the tub I am self-contained. The tub holds my body, my water, my scum, and nothing or no one can mix with it.

None of the old weirdness lingers now. Pen knows what he wants. Sometimes I think that it’s less and less me, or the band. I’m doing all the work and he’s running ‘round with that old pregnant bitch of his. I make an effort to keep up the cool steady thing we had in Reno, but here he’s closing off and out to Shangri-la-la land.

Visit www.lisateasley.com to read past excerpts you may have missed.

BOO!!! It’s been a scary week for me. I’m blaming all of my strange behavior on Halloween. I love Halloween! It’s my absolute favorite holiday, aside from all of the holidays that I get the day off with pay. I’ve been exhibiting certain behaviors that frighten me. For example, I’m addicted to the show The Bachelor. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I am. The show goes against my entire belief system regarding men and relationships. The producers choose 25 beautiful, single and desperate females to compete against each other for the attention of one man—the grand prize…marriage. Ladies, is this what it’s come down to? PATHETIC! That’s all I can say. This one man, the bachelor, gets to have his cake and eat it too. He’s put up on a pedestal as the ultimate prize. Call me old-fashioned, but what happened to romance and courtship? And I certainly don’t believe in love by elimination. Each week the bachelor spends time with each woman, and at the end of each week he has a tough decision—which women must be sent home broken-hearted? Those unfortunate ladies say their tearful farewells and leave feeling unworthy of love, and therefore they must face their inevitable fate—dying alone, because the bachelor didn’t choose them. Even worse, the lucky ones who get to stay must live with the other women who are dating the same man they are. Talk about tension at home. Plus, this guy is tonguing more people than a puppy trying to get adopted. Am I the only one who is bothered by this?

I’m betting the person who thought up this testosterone-driven show is a really bitter man in desperate need of an ego boost and a swift kick in the balls. I just want to ask him, "Who fucked you over?" The thing that pisses me off even more is that I’m watching it! It’s like driving past an accident and gawking at it. You know you’re going to see something brutal, but you look anyway. My cocktail of the week is dedicated to those females who’ve let the idea of catching a husband put such a spell on them that they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be the pursued and not the pursuer.

1 oz. B&B
1 oz. vodka
1 part cream
Shake with ice and pour into a cordial glass

I feel much better now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest. I really have to be careful about what I take off of my chest, because there’s not a lot there to begin with. I still have one more behavior that’s disconcerting. I know what you’re thinking: The last one was a doozey; how could there be more? Well, it’s Halloween and I’m sitting at my desk writing this column dressed as Special Forces Barbie. No joke. I’m wearing a short camouflaged skirt, knee-high boots, tight black turtleneck and, of course, a push-up bra. I don’t even like Barbie. She is the epitome of impossible standards we could never live up to. No way are those boobs real, and a carbohydrate has never touched her lips with a waist like that. So today I’m aspiring to be the boobless version of Barbie—ok, my waist isn’t as small either, and I’m missing a Ken doll.

De’s bar pick of the week: Keeping with the Halloween theme, I’m picking the scary bar of the week. If it’s costumes you want, then the Queen Mary Nightclub in Studio City should be quite the unusual treat for you. If you like female impersonators, then this place is the cat’s meow, with nightly drag shows and go-go dancers. The Queen Mary has been praised as having one of the best drag shows in town. If female impersonators aren’t your flavor, be careful not to drink too much or you might be the recipient of a lap dance from a lady with a bigger package than you.

De’s diss of the week: Last week I went to Platinum also in Studio City, to watch a co-worker perform stand-up comedy. This is a strange place to watch comedy because it was originally designed to be a strip club but they couldn’t get zoning for it, so a comedy club is what it became. I’m not dissing the club itself, just the rudeness of the patrons who were there. People were holding full-on conversations during the performances. I don’t know what the problem is, but I’m guessing that certain people in this city think they’re entirely more important than they are. Consequently, they feel it’s ok for them to disrupt a performance and annoy everyone around them. Well, it’s not ok! I was so pissed off that I was about to say something, but I bit my tongue instead. Why? My mother taught me manners, and I didn’t want to add to the disruption. People really need to learn to be a little less self-centered and take others into consideration. A note to the managers: It’s your job to handle these types of problems. You really should be more attentive.

Remember that I always love praise, so send all of your fan mail to my e-mail link below. Until next week, hugs and kisses. —Denise Bayles

Contributors: Denise Bayles, Lenny Beer, Hanna Bolte, Holly Gleason, Simon Glickman, Guy W.T. Goggles, Jon O'Hara, Lisa Teasley, Roy Trakin

Editor: Bud Scoppa

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