After deciding on the snacks, because that's most important, ask each participant to bring a shade of polish that they wouldn't normally wear, a bottle of their favorite wine and their makeup kits. Assign each guest an item to bring: cotton balls, Q-tips, mild astringent, mild mud masque and a cucumber peel, etc. As host, you're responsible for the emery boards and other nail tools.
——Kenya's Super Bowl party plan


Hey, Sports Fans: This Web Page Is Best Viewed
On a Big-Screen TV
Confession time: We've watched all 35 (or is that XXXV?) Super Bowls, despite the fact that 29 or 30 of them turned out to be crashing bores, and this Sunday's no-contest seems fated to uphold that legacy of suck. Nonetheless, we're gonna take it all in once again, root for the underdog, as usual, and hope that it's not all over by halftime. But for those of you who choose to bail, we've got some ideas for you. Read on...

New England + 14 over St. Louis
Dang, this here prognosticatin' is tough! But ah got me an edge this time—some real super-secret, down-low info. There's a reason Nawlins is called the Big Easy. Now, anybody in their right mind is gonna pick the danged ol' Rams to win this here game and cover the spread with no problem. Not only are the Rams NOT gonna cover the spread, ah'm here to tell you they ain't even gonna win this here game. Them Pats is gonna shock the world. You think ah'm crazy, but ah'm crazy like a fox. Ever'body knows that the danged ol' NF of L is fixed like a WWF champeenship bout. Ah ain't the only one that cain't stand the thought of 72 shots of Kurt Warner's wife in the stands. Ah got it on good authority that Paul Tagliabue feels exactly the same. So take the 14 and run to the bank. —Guy W .T. Goggles
(Playoff record: 3-7)

1.   A Beautiful Mind: They're just figments of his
2.   Black Hawk Down: The helicopter is destroyed
      and 18 Americans die.
3.   In the Bedroom: The father shoots the guy who
      murdered his son.
4.   A Walk to Remember: Mandy Moore dies.
5.   The Royal Tenenbaums: Gene Hackman dies.
6.   Lord of the Rings: The quest to destroy the ring
7.   Ali: He knocks out George Foreman in Africa.
8.   Moulin Rouge: Nicole Kidman dies.
9.   Vanilla Sky: Tom Cruise wakes up to discover  
      that it was all a bad dream...or was it?
10. Amelie: She gets the guy.
Roy Trakin

Birthday Girl (Miramax): Nicole Kidman seems to be everywhere these days. In this Something Wild-styled thriller, she plays a Russian mail-order bride transacted through the Internet by a mild-mannered, unlucky-in-love banker played by Ben Chaplin (The Truth About Cats and Dogs, The Thin Red Line). Kidman's Nadia is, of course, too good to be true, and when her Russian "cousins" turn up unexpectedly to celebrate her birthday, Chaplin's John is plunged into the middle of a treacherous scam. Director/writer Jez Butterworth's only previous movie was the 1997 flick Mojo, which starred Ewen Bremner (best known for his role as the cockney-talking Daniel Spud Murphy in Trainspotting, but has also appeared in Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor and Snatch) and playwright Harold Pinter. Considering the presence of Kidman, this movie has the feel of being dumped into the very slow January market, and its skimpy website at www.miramax.com/birthdaygirl does little to allay those fears. Still, the coming attractions promise at least a modicum of action and a much more sexually alluring Kidman than in Moulin Rouge.

Slackers (Screen Gems): Not the original Richard Linklater movie (whose title was in the singular), but yet another college hijinks flick along the lines of the recent How High,Orange County and the American Pie flicks. The cast includes Jason Schwartzman (from the band Phantom Planet (see below) and so good in Wes Anderson's Rushmore), Devon Sawa (Final Destination, Idle Hands, SLC Punk), ex-Kid Rock girlfriend and supermodel James King (Pearl Harbor) and a cameo by Cameron Diaz, so it may be better than your average raunchfest. The premise involves a geek (Schwartzman) who discovers that three fellow college students are funning a scam that allows them to get perfect grades without doing any homework, so he blackmails one of them (Sawa) into helping him win the heart of the most popular girl on campus (King). Director is first-timer Dewey Nicks, with David H. Steinberg as screenwriter (American Pie 2). The cartoon-like website at www.spe.sony.com/movies/slackers, lets you visit each of the principle's dorm rooms, where you can click on various figures or enter a contest. There doesn't appear to be an official soundtrack, but the website does include tracks by Phantom Planet and Reel Big Fish. —R.T.

Phantom Planet The Guest (Epic, 2/26): When this L.A. quintet made its Geffen debut about five years ago, their precocious pop was a breath of fresh air—but scarcely strong enough to blow down radio's door. Since then, as you probably know, drummer Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore, Slackers) has achieved cult status as a film actor. What you may not know is that Schwartzman and his mates have also grown by leaps and bounds as both writers and players. The Guest, produced with energy and sensitivity by Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake, displays an expanded sonic palette, the band's Beatlesque instincts augmented by the apparent influence of Elliott Smith, Radiohead and who knows what all else. More to the point, the hooks are enormous, and frontman Alex Greenwald has developed into a great rock singer. Witness the way his voice hits the stratosphere in leadoff track/first single "California," which begins with an insistent, moody piano figure and builds to a breathtaking peak. Note, too, his anguished, intimate falsetto in "Turn Smile Shift Repeat," which picks up the melodic gauntlet Thom Yorke tossed aside some years back. Which is not to say the Planet has abandoned the gloriously sunny guitar pop of its early days; "Always on My Mind," "Nobody's Fault" and "Hey Now Girl" are perfect examples of the form. There are plenty of other stellar tracks, including the slam-dunk "Lonely Day," the stunning, ambitious "Wishing Well," the lovely "Anthem" and the slammin' "All Over Again." Those of you clowns who've derided smart, melodic pop can kiss my ass—the kids are ready for this, and so, for that matter, are the grown-ups. It may be early, but I already have one entry for my Top Ten of 2002.
Simon Glickman

While I do enjoy a rowdy get-together, complete with nachos, Tequiza and friends surrounding a big-screen TV with images of big, strong, toned men with calves of steel and arms that bulge like a 3-D map—veins as roadways and muscles as mountainous terrain...  What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the Super Bowl. As I was saying, I like watching the big game, but my friends do not, and I have been outvoted on what we'll be doing Super Bowl Sunday. This year, eschewing the standard options of shopping, shopping and shopping, I've convinced the girls to have a good old-fashioned beautification party at home: manicures, pedicures, facials and gossip, and best of all, I can watch TV. (That Az-Zahir Hakim is a cutie, and I don't want to miss him.) So dial your friends, ladies, and decide who is bringing what. We're trying to stick to diet resolutions, so pizza was batted down like a low kick. I suggest a veggie platter and hot wings. They're dee-lish and still fall into the low-carb diet. After deciding on the snacks, because that's most important, ask each participant to bring a shade of polish that they wouldn't normally wear, a bottle of their favorite wine and their makeup kits. Assign each guest an item to bring: cotton balls, Q-tips, mild astringent, mild mud masque and a cucumber peel, etc. As host, you're responsible for the emery boards and other nail tools. Make sure there's enough to go around. Also, invest in some vanilla candles to burn. Vanilla will absorb the polish, astringent and other scents. Do whatever floats your boat while you're all sitting there with cotton between your toes and green gook on your face. Reading a poem, discussing current events and man-bashing are some good ideas. Complaining about dating dynamics in Los Angeles and discussing what Mariah wears when she sings the national anthem will surely be what my friends will talk about. Hey, they may not notice what's going on in the Big Easy, but taking it easy with them will be pretty fun. Kenya M. Yarbrough

Madden 2002:
With tha Super Bowl coming up, it's time to give props to tha undisputed leader in authentic NFL football simulation. Painstaking football realism cumz alive in true-to-life graphics and time-tested game play. For tha 12th year in a row and tha second score on tha PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, Madden NFL Football brings tha realism of tha pro gridiron right to your fingertips. With all tha teams, players and features that you've come to know and luvvv, Madden puts you right on the field with tha big hitters! Play a full season with your favorite team and take them to tha Super Bowl, or try tha franchise mode and build a dynasty. You can even create teams and players so you can start from scratch! With all-new realistic player animations, Madden Cards, a training mode and the Two-Minute Drill, Madden truly has it all. And a must def, you need to check out tha Echo Team, az they feature hip-hop's hottest personalities, DJ Babu, MC Serch, Mark Echo, Psycholess (Beatnuts) and Xzibit. So this one iz definitely a must-get. Latin Prince

The following utterances were overheard outside the office of HITS Crossover Editor Liz Montalbano:

"Can you keep Paul out of my office? He stinks."
"We need to figure out how to get the playlist frozen earlier—it takes too long. I don't want to be here all night."
"Murphy keeps fucking up the fucking hallway."
"Can Mark Feather be any gayer?"
"I'm surrounded by corny white muthafuckas."

Songs in the Keys of Life: I'm always happy when it's a musician that I respect gets on cover after cover of every magazine and plays multiple nights at Radio City Music Hall. Last time around it was Bjork, this time it's Alicia Keys. She's performing there this Friday and Saturday, and I can't think of a better place to see her perform. Also with multiple shows this weekend, and on the complete other end of the music spectrum is Nada Surf. They had a slight hit five or six years back, yet still have enough oomph to play two nights, Saturday and Sunday at Brownies. Now we get to the hottest event of the weekend—The Faint. Their Thursday night show at Bowery Ballroom and Saturday night show at North Six sold out so quickly that I'd suggest if you want tickets for their just-added Sunday night show at Maxwell's, you head to Other Music or Maxwell's to purchase a ticket in advance. Since the band just got the opening slot on the No Doubt tour, this might be your last chance to check them out in a smaller venue. Heidi Anne-Noel

Melanie Griffith
isn't just a glamorous movie star. She's a glamorous movie star with a website that gives an inkling of just how koo-koo she is. For the record, very koo-koo. Log on to www.melaniegriffith.com and you enter a wonderland of enchantment, mystical beauty and an egomania so powerful it threatens to engulf the entire Internet. Hear Melanie's voice as she coos the names of the pages you click on: "Welcome to Avalon." "Please, sign my guest book." "Gallery." "Latest flick." "The art of giving." Sadly, not "collagen injections." She offers counsel to fans who write in asking for help on issues of sobriety and other difficulties: "Think about the families of the victims of the WTC and perhaps you'll stop feeling sorry for yourself." Wow, thanks—we feel much better now. Speaking of feeling better, consider this syntactically loaded snippet from the "For the Record" page: "I love my husband more every day as he does me." There are also three galleries of photos, because you can never get enough Melanie, as well as chat rooms and much more. But you'll have to wait to find out about the "Goddess Club"—they're taking a little extra time with that one. I'll be waiting for updates, Melanie, with my hand on my magic wand. —Alvin Krinst

Starring Doja Cat, Nipper and Ms. Larry David (5/13a)
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. (5/14a)
Beam us up, Uncle Clive. (5/13a)
Todd gets in. Finally. (5/13a)
She also reviews the best outdoor Bluetooth speakers. (5/13a)
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?

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