You could be stuck in a sealed room in your Upper West Side town home with three murderous thieves waiting for you right outside your door, as you watch a bank of closed-circuit monitors, and not one of 'em is showing Maryland-Kansas...


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There's a hint of rebirth and, yes, resurrection in the air this weekend, with the NCAA men's hoops finals on one hand, and the sacred cry of "Play ball!" on the other. It's a time when a young man like our own Bud Scoppa's fancy turns to, unh, burning CD compilations. Oh, well, you could be stuck in a sealed room in your Upper West Side town home with three murderous thieves waiting for you right outside your door, as you watch a bank of closed-circuit monitors, and not one of 'em is showing Maryland-Kansas... Or you could just be looking to spend some of that wad you made off Uncle Sol selling off the afikomen after last night's Seder. Whatever your pleasure, this early edition of our Weakend Planner is a special treat... Because Good Friday is made even better by the fact we don't have to show up for it. But don't worry, we'll be back just in time for April Fool's Day.  And oh yeah... May Uncle Miltie rest in peace...

Panic Room (Columbia Pictures):
One-time rock video director David Fincher’s latest film is a loving Hitchcockian hommage to both the master’s technical wizardry (the one-camera bravura of Rope and Lifeboat) and his urban voyeurism (Rear Window references abound). Jodie Foster steps in for original star Nicole Kidman as the matriarchal figure forced to defend her diabetes-suffering daughter (an impressive Kristen Stewart) and her recently purchased Upper West Side "townstone" against a trio of cut-throat thieves (a sympathetic Forest Whitaker, a psychotic Jared Leto and a sinister, almost unrecognizable—he wears a ski mask through the first half of the movie—Dwight Yoakam). Once Foster and Stewart get locked up in the title closet, the suspense ratchets up considerably, with Fincher’s camera tracking seamlessly in and out of the building structure, constructed on a Hollywood sound stage. This is Fincher’s best overall movie since Se7en, outside of the first 45 minutes to Fight Game, and his technical virtuosity is almost enough to steer you clear of the plot’s general incredulity, with its real-time pacing the cinematic equivalent to TV’s 24. His very formalistic wizardry, though, tends to intellectualize the horror and distance ourselves from maximum emotional impact, making it a more muscular, but less compelling Wait Until Dark. Still, the bursts of humor are both timely and effective and Fincher elicits some truly committed performances. So, while this may be a genre exercise, it’s one constructed with a great deal of intelligence, flesh and, naturally, blood. —Roy Trakin

Death to Smoochy (Warner Bros.):
Danny DeVito returns to the directorial chair with his comedy of cruelty. I’m not the biggest fan of either Throw Momma From The Train or War of the Roses, so it’s hard to tell about this flick. Robin Williams stars as a psycho children’s TV star knocked from his gig by a financial scandal who proceeds to take revenge on his replacement, a guy in a puffy fuchsia rhino suit (Edward Norton). The coming attractions look pretty wacky, and the cast includes such talented comic types as Jon Stewart and Catherine Keener, but I have a feeling the sum of the parts doesn’t quite equal the whole. The website, www.smoochymustdie.com., treats the whole thing a little too seriously, with such features as "100 Ways to Kill Him," "Smoochy Is a Nazi" and "Rainbow Randolph Is All That Is Pure and Good in the World." Yeah, it could be funny…if you like people screaming at one another.

The Rookie (Walt Disney Pictures): Dennis Quaid stars in this G-rated, tear-jerking, true-life story of 35-year-old high school teacher/baseball coach Jim Morris, who actually earned a spot in the major leagues with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays back in 1999. Advance word says the movie’s one of the best baseball films ever made, which is high praise indeed. The movie was produced by former Brewers pitcher Mark Ciardi and directed by John Lee Hancock, making his own major league feature bow after penning the screenplay for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and A Perfect World. Six Feet Under’s Golden Globe-winning Rachel Griffiths is the sympathetic love interest, while Scottish character actor Brian Cox, straight off his acclaimed role in L.I.E., is also on hand as the gruff father. The blues/country-flavored Hollywood Records soundtrack features music by Steve Earle, John Fogerty, Allison Moorer, Guy Clark, John Hiatt, Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and composer Carter Burwell. The website, www.disney.com/therookie, offers a story synopses, cast and crew bios, stills, a trailer, various sweepstakes and promotions and an audio welcome from Quaid himself.

Clockstoppers (Paramount): This Nickelodeon feature looks like a poor man’s Back to the Future, a sci-fi adventure about two teens who find a wristwatch than can stop time (holy Twilight Zone episode!), then fight off an evil scientist type from using it to take over the world. The movie stars Bring It On’s Jesse Bradford and Third Rock From The Sun’s French Stewart as the bent-on-destructive Dr. Earl Dopler. Director Jonathan Frakes is a veteran of TV’s Star Trek and Roswell, so he probably knows his way around a flick like this one. Advance word is that it’s a real kids movie, so adults beware. SNL’s Julia Sweeney is the Mom and Terminator’s Michael Biehn also co-stars. The Hollywood Records soundtrack includes lots PoMo/Active Rock icons like Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Fenix TX, Uncle Kracker, Third Eye Blind, Blink 182, Nickelback, New Found Glory, the Dandy Warhols, Lit, Scapegoat Wax, Kool Keith, Lil’ J and the Cranberries. The website, www.clockstoppers.com, is suitably high-tech and fan-oriented e-Collectibles, e-Cards, a trailer, trading cards and message boards.

Hey, now that my taste is at long last becoming "commercial" (at least that’s what APM boy Mike Morrison tells me) maybe I can start selling these compilations. Just kidding, Hilary. As usual, I’ve loaded up this 80-minute CD-R with contempo examples of the traditional song-focused idioms that were once referred to as folk-rock, country-rock and guitar pop. In terms of these areas, 2002 is shaping up to be an exceptional year—of course, I say that every year. I wanted to include "Goin’ Home," the new epic from Neil Young & Crazy Horse, but I didn’t have enough room for its 8:48 length; maybe somebody in Burbank will send me the single edit. As is my custom, I titled this one after another patch of tree-lined Studio City asphalt. Bud Scoppa

Shadyglade Avenue
01. Buddy & Julie Miller: "You Make My Heart Beat Too Fast"
Some Girls meets The Globe Sessions.
02. Paul Westerberg (aka Grandpa Boy): "Between Love & Like" A stupid-simple guitar riff sets up a thrilling hook in the manner of the Mats in their prime.
03. Kasey Chambers: "If I Were You" Adorable-voiced Aussie leans into the title phrase as if her high, lonesome life depended on it.
04. Chris Isaak: "Courthouse" Could be his most intriguing noir rocker since 1986’s Blue Hotel."
05. Pete Yorn: "Strange Condition" I chose the crunchy rerecording for PoMo radio, but I prefer Tom Lord Alge’s remix of the album track, which locates its lush core.
06. Neil Young: "Differently" In which regret is sprinkled with "Green Onions," courtesy of the MG’s their venerable selves.
07. Patrick Park: "Silver Girl" This hot property’s a stone ’70s throwback—aching vulnerability and mandolins.
08. Teenage Fanclub: "Accidental Life" With every LPs, the Scots move closer to pure-pop nirvana.
09. Christy McWilson: "Darkness, Darkness" Crackling cover of the Youngbloods classic features Peter Buck, McWilson’s hubby Scott McGaughey.
10. Matthew Jay: "Let Your Shoulder Fall" Beautifully embroidered album of Matthew Sweet-style pop from young Brit was completely overlooked stateside.
11. John Mayer: "No Such Thing" Early solo acoustic version of current single is even more compelling.
12. Julianna Raye: "The Man That Time Forgot" Post-millennial torch song a showcase for smoky-voiced singer, player/producer Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams).
13. Grand Drive: "Wheels" This gem from the Club Bang: Rarities Vol. 1 Britpop promo comp is a modern-day "Everybody’s Talkin’."
14. Elbow: "Red" Atmospheric beauty crafted by another up-and-comer from the U.K.’s vibrant art-pop scene.
15. Haven: "Where Is the Love" Turbocharged jangle-rocker from new Brit band recalls the Motors’ New-Wave classic "Dancin’ the Night Away." Produced by Johnny Marr.
16. Eels: "Souljacker Pt. 1" In startling change of pace, E artily kicks out the jams a la Beefheart circa Clear Spot.
17. Buddy & Julie Miller: "Dirty Water" Like Delaney & Bonnie fronting Creedence in 1969.
18. Neil Young: "Two Old Friends" Elegiac stunner boasts the killer lines, "The world has changed since I first met you/And the band played “Rock of Ages” in their prime/And the old juke joint was rockin’." Should've been a duet with Levon Helm.
19. Norah Jones: "Turn Me On" Rapidly ascending newcomer covers John D. Loudermilk, accented by her Floyd Cramer-like piano. For the record, "neo-torch" was my coinage.

M.F. McAdam,
Boy Wonder (self-released): If I was making a wistful movie about a guy full of regrets, who figures out a way to trust himself again, I’d use most of this home-recorded album by M.F. McAdam, the former frontman for Sumack. Since I’m not a filmmaker, I’ll just listen to this record and create the movie in my mind. What makes it a complex record is McAdam’s ability to chronicle his ever-changing moods, even when they’re variations of gloom. It’s not a downer of a record, thanks to McAdam’s clever lyricism and the sunny hooks that pop up on "Downtime" and "While You Wait," but it’s certainly meditative. Mostly accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, the singer-songwriter calls to mind the folky ambience of Elliott Smith on "Driftwood" ("I know I’ll never be the boy wonder"), a laidback alt-country feel on "Skin Thick Skin" and brings a southern gothic vibe on "The Roux’s, "without being too easily pigenoholed. Cake drummer (and former Sumack skinsman) Pete McNeal guests on a handful of tracks, as does cellist/actor Dermot Mulroney. McAdam’s sense of humor shows through on the packaging: the upper right-hand corner of the demo says "Your label here." McAdam is repped by Stacy Fass, so that corner is certain to be filled in the near future. David Simutis

Moth, Provisions, Fictions and Gear (Virgin):
Need proof PoMo is moving in a melodic, highly inventive direction? Look no further than this Cincinnati quartet’s energetic major-label bow. Merging indie rock’s adventurous songcraft with hard-rock heft, frontman Brad Stenz and company—with help from producer Sean Beavan—have forged an album to please all the senses. A case in point is the thrilling "Hearing Things," in which slamming riffs give way to ear-candy melody and giddy, twinkling synthesizers. These tracks will also stick in your head: four-on-the-floor singalong "I See Sound," the surging "Burning Down My Sanity," the frantic cautionary tale "Cocaine Star" and the ass-kicking, staccato "Plastics Campaign." Simon Glickman

Dearest Friends: I implore you, don’t make the same horrific fashion mistakes as Gwyneth, Nicole, Jennifer Connelly, and most of the other attendees of the Oscars. Before you invest in an expensive piece of clothing in any of the following hues: blush, nude, ecru, ocher, buff, tawny, beige or any other pale tone, just remember how washed-out and wan they looked, compared to their usual red carpet radiance. If you have pale eyes, pale skin and light hair, the "smoky eye" look is best avoided. Gwyneth was a "Fashion Don’t" on every level—bad makeup, an unflattering dress (way too sheer, for starters), bad hair (doesn’t anyone own a brush?) and an undergarment that made her breasts look like they were mid-mammogram. Just because a certain "look" is the fashion-of-the-moment, it doesn’t mean you should disregard what you know works for you. Famed stylist Phillip Bloch is now an editorial contributor to eBay, writing a monthly column called "Phillip’s Fashion Finds." Unlike a magazine article, this column offers the reader the option of clicking on one of the trends he cites (peasant blouse, for example), which will lead them to every eBay listing of that item. Check it out at http://pages.ebay.com/designer_boutique. Be careful, many of the "designer" pieces sold on eBay are counterfeit knockoffs. One final piece of advice: Although a full-length mirror is a worthy investment, cultivating an "I don’t give a shit what you think" attitude is invaluable.
—Ivana B. Adored

The HITS cesspool of an office notwithstanding, the existence of black holes has never been proven. The theory is that after a star dies, its fusion combustion material is expended, but its gravitational pull does not. The gravitational core is so strong that even light can’t escape. Great, we’ve all seen the Disney movie Black Hole, so what? The latest theory in black hole speculation is that tiny black holes exist in the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere, as cosmic rays from space strike atoms or molecules in the atmosphere. If that’s the case, then there are more than just four dimensions in our universe. Put the bong down for a second and consider this: if there are more than four dimensions, it proves so-called string theory true. String theory, as I’m sure you know, speculates that all matter and energy is made up of minute particles and every point in the universe holds six or seven extra dimensions. —David Simutis, Senior Astrophysics Correspondent

Awraht, awraht—awla them there theoreez ’n’ roominayshuns about how some dang Virginny driver was shore ta win the Food City Fahv Hunnert cuz that’s where Food City’s from didn’t exactly pan out. Them Burton Boys didn’t have what you’d call speshly good days at the .533-mile high-banked concrete oval of Bristol. But that don’t mean there weren’t good racin’ deals goin’ on raht ’n’ leff awl day—both days, even. In Sattidy’s Bush race, it was all about young gun Kevin Harvick lookin’ reel good in that dang #29 car until this Greg Biffle character turns him inta tha wall. Well, shit howdy, was that Harvick pissed. He done waited around fer Biffle at the end o’ the race ’n’ ran over Biffle’s car ta git in his face. Biffle’s been known ta throw a punch or two, but managed ta contain hisseff, and Harvick seemed ta be satisfied with makin’ Biffle smell his bile breath, but is was a raht fine spektackle nonetheless. Harvick then proceeded ta call Biffle an idiot on camera, an maybe he’s raht: That’s Dale Earnhardt’s legacy you’re fooling with, son—he’ll do the turnin’ of cars into the wall, if you don’t mind.
          Now, alla that was jest Sattidy’s proseedins. Sundy’s Cup race at Bristol brought more o’ the same, cuz everbuddy gits mad cuz that dang Bristol track’s too short. This tahm it was Robby Gordon—who, despite his apparent love of groceries, wasn’t in it to win it—mixin’ it up with mah Bud-swillin’ favrit, Junior. It all started at the start, where you had Robby Gordon and Jeff Gordon in that there front row. So you got grocery boy and divorce boy facin’ off for the lead, and Robby Gordon dee-sides he wants to win that there Food City race and git him some o’ that good grub they must be givin’ away to the winner so bad that he deesides to pass divorce boy before they git to the green flag, which ya jes’ cain’t do. Grocery boy done got black-flagged, which put him a lap down.
          Junior went to town on grocery boy’s ass cuz he was up front and on the lead lap, and grocery boy was in the way (though he’ll tell ya diffrint, of course). Grocery boy thought Junior raced him mean, and at the end o’ the race, as them cars is comin up pit road, he rams his Cingular machine raht up Junior’s rear end, then comes off in the interview with awl this "nobody hits me" crapola. There was a scuffle, and a well-deserved "fuck yew, mane" could be heard comin’ outta Junior’s mouth on the teevee, and it was over.
          Now lookee hyah: Bendin’ up them cars jes’ cuz yew screwed up your chances at the start o’ the race is just low IQ, son! And that’s an Earnhardt you’re foolin’ with—yew know he’s gonna race ya hard, so what’s the big deal? If grocery boy’s gonna keep up that whinin’ an bendin’ cars up fer no good reasin, why don’t he go back ta them go-karts er whatever he was tryin’ ta race before with all the other whiny brats. Hell, if he behaved like that around them bootleggers ’n’ gangsters what started NASCAR, they’d a took him into the woods, kicked the tar outta him and burned his house down. Settle down, boy, and have another donut.
          The above rantin’, ravin’ and generalized carryin’ on is brought to y’all by the fact they ain’t no racin’ this week (on accounta they done nailed Jesus to a cross, an’ then he done come back to life or some such). And cuz they ain’t no racin’, they ain’t no preedicktin’ and therefore ya git rantin’ instead. Ya git me?—Guy W.T. Goggles

After too many packed-house shows in tiny clubs, Le Tigre are finally playing venues big enough for their fans. On Friday night, they'll be at Bowery Ballroom, a club that's excellent sound is sure to do justice to their live show. I've never really done this before, but my pick for Saturday is a band I've never seen live yet have heard the craziest stories about their shows: The World Inferno Friendship Society are performing at North Six in Brooklyn. If you decide to check them out, let me know if the stories about them setting their drums on fire are true. Sunday, Smokey and Miho will be at Joe's Pub. He's Beck and Tom Waits’ guitarist and she's part of Cibo Matto. For a while they only could perform covers, but now they’re doing their own songs. And for those making bets, my picks for the Final Four are Maryland over Kansas, Oklahoma over Indiana and Oklahoma to win it all. Heidi Anne-Noel

Actual information hidden in tall grass:
Easter is a demarcation for Spring, which officially began March 20. It’s a time for rebirth, reawaking and that refreshing feeling that comes from taking an extra day off. As all the gangsta rappers say in their liner notes, Thank you, Jesus. If you live in NYC, get the hell out of Dodge. Friday looks rainy, and the rest of the weekend looks cloudy. Temps in the low 50s and low 40s. In Godless city that is Los Angeles, it will be partly to mostly cloudy, with highs in the upper 60s to mid-70s, with lows in the mid-50s. You ever notice that they put the weather at the bottom of this page? Sometimes even I can’t find it. That's what Suge Knight would call a "bitch move." —David Simutis, Senior Godless Meteorology Correspondent

Team Lipman doubles up. (11/26a)
Season's bleatings (11/23a)
Deck the Grammys with boughs of Holly. (11/24a)
Rolling out our U.K. Special print issue (11/24a)
Olivia, the Biebs, H.E.R., Doja Cat, Billie and Jon Batiste lead the way. (11/24a)
Stuffing (in face).

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