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As a passionate fan of Laura Hillen-brand’s tome, I had high hopes for Seabiscuit the film. The most exciting non-fiction chronicle I’ve ever devoured, Seabiscuit the book reads like a riveting novel, an exemplary, dazzling work of history, a wise meditation on the native intelligence of horses and much more...
WEAKEND PLANNER CHILLS OUT IN AIR-CONDITIONED COMFORT
Some Things to Do While You Try to Stay Cool
When it gets this hot, the only thing to do is go to the movies. Or take a good book to the beach. Or stay home, crank up the AC and watch DVDs. Or check out some of the new music that’s stacked up next to your stereo. Or play a video game. With those options in mind, we have a number of suggestions. Glad to be of help.

THREE BITES OF THE ’BISCUIT
Seabiscuit
(DreamWorks/Universal)
Win:
Beautifully shot and constructed—if a bit telescoped—this is a story of heart and passion, self-defeating tendencies and the power of dreams to transcend them. Like National Velvet meets Rocky, as Jeff Bridges, Tobey Maguire and Chris Cooper turn in performances in which the humanity elevates what could’ve been merely noble cliches into a credible portrait of struggling believers giving everything they have to something they can't quite understand but are nonetheless willing to follow on blind faith (at times) and sheer drive. Holly Gleason

Place: Rocky on horseback, sure, though Stallone arguably had the better lines. The Hollywood craft shines through for the Oscar voters, but the underdog cliches fly like, well, horses around a track. The PBS-styled Depression narrative bothered some, but it manages to set the film in a modern zeitgeist context. The performances range from the taciturn dignity of Chris Cooper’s horse trainer/whisperer on down to William Macy’s cartoonish radio show host, with Bridges and Maguire’s amiable turns somewhere in between. The racing scenes are kinetic and involving, and Gary Ross’ screenplay rightfully concentrates on the human factor, even while he beats you over the head with the hackneyed underdog theme. Despite that, the director’s assertion that the title horse may have excited the public’s imagination, but it was FDR’s New Deal that brought them to their feet in the first place, is a welcome liberal nod in this era of overweening conservatism.
Roy Trakin

Out of the Running: As a passionate fan of Laura Hillenbrand’s tome, I had high hopes for this film. The most exciting non-fiction chronicle I’ve ever devoured, Seabiscuit the book reads like a riveting novel, an exemplary, dazzling work of history, a wise meditation on the native intelligence of horses and much more. Sadly, Gary Ross’ cinematic adaptation—though exquisite to look at—is a clunky, saccharine melodrama that turns each of the book’s hard-won observations into a childish truism. Rather than weave thorough characterizations that show how owner, trainer and jockey rose above adversity by understanding one another’s strengths, Ross simply tells us so by deploying tremulous voice-over narration. Though the gifted cast, especially Bridges and Cooper, work wonders with the obvious and awkwardly telescoped script, Ross neglects to tell us anything meaningful about the horse—apart from a few fortune-cookie observations that sound like they were distilled from dust-jacket copy, or a discarded draft of The Horse Whisperer. Perhaps most egregiously, the filmmaker trumps up a nauseating, soapy backstory for jockey Red Pollard (Maguire). And is it just me, or is Maguire himself something of a one-trick pony? His squeaky-voiced everyman bit is starting to seem a tad redundant. He lacks the home-schooled eloquence Hillenbrand underscored in Pollard; for the most part, Ross prefers to show the bag of great books the jockey has toted around than build his aphoristic tendencies into the story. Sure, the race sequences are superbly shot and edited, and Ross’ feel for the beauty of the American landscape is undeniable. But when it comes to telling the story of the human and equine characters, he’s an also-ran.
Simon Glickman

THE POPCULT TOP 10
1. American Splendor (HBO Films/Fine Line Features): Comic Harvey Pekar came to national prominence as one of David Letterman's odd little regulars. But the cartoonist's true gift was his ability to channel real-life foibles into a comic strip that captures the agony, ecstasy and irony that is life as lived by a file clerk at a hospital in an urban Midwestern center that's long on ethnicity, dogged people and an often gray reality. (Opening this weekend in most places; see Trakin’s preview below.)
—HG

2. Swimming Pool (Focus Features): This erotic French psychological study stars Charlotte Rampling, most memorably seen crawling around on all fours opposite Dirk Bogarde in the 1974 Italian S&M art film The Night Porter. Here, she plays a sexually repressed English best-selling mystery novelist who goes to live in her publisher’s home in the French countryside for the summer to work on a new book. While there, a beautiful stranger (the luscious, lascivious Ludvine Sagnier), claiming to be the publisher’s daughter, moves in and proceeds to guide the writer into rediscovering her sensuality…and muse. The ending is a bit of a letdown, but the mysterious process of transforming experience onto the printed page (or in this case, the computer screen) is outlined in all its alchemy. Like Adaptation or The Man From Elysian Fields, director Francois Ozon’s sunny film noir succeeds in exploring the interior life of the writer—thanks in large part to Rampling’s finely calibrated turn—where, as the film’s tag line goes, fiction and reality can often blur. —RT

3. The Whale Rider (Newmarket Films): Last week I decided to check out a film I hardly knew anything about. It was one of those midweek, let-me-finish-up-work-and-escape-to-a-movie sort of deals. Didn't matter what was playing, as long as it fit into my time frame. Well, my goodness, I really ought to do that more often, because now I can't seem to tell enough people to go see this movie. The film is set in New Zealand (a country near and dear to my heart), and the incredible landscape helps set the mood for this mystical tale of a young Maori girl, Pai (who absolutely deserves an Oscar for her portrayal). Despite many setbacks in her life, Pai is on a mission of enlightenment—enlightening her grandfather, her people and the villagers that their tradition of male empowerment should also include females. I'm no movie reviewer, so please let me apologize for my simplicity. But if you want to see a movie that is truly special, take my word on this one and enjoy. Be prepared with some kleenex, though, because it’s a real tear-jerker. —ES

4. The Quiet American (Miramax Home Entertainment): Aussie director Phillip Noyce’s understated adaptation of the Graham Greene novel perfectly captures the political hothouse atmosphere of 1952 Vietnam. Michael Caine’s cynical, seen-it-all British colonialist earned the Oscar nomination, but Brendan Fraser’s fresh-faced but guileful American do-gooder is the film’s revelation. Exotic beauty Do Thi Hai Yen represents the seductive femme fatale tug of her native land but is never less than human with her open-arms policy. The fin de siecle ambience is offset by the world-weary knowledge this war will drag on another 20 years, and the steamy atmosphere captures Greene’s humid prose as well as any previous film adaptation of the author. Like Vietnam itself, this one sneaks up on you and won’t let go. —RT

5. Almost Famous: Untitled, The Bootleg Cut (Universal Home Video): A demi-perennial for me, but when invoking Lester Bangs’ hyper-kinetic rockcrit attack, one simply cannot forget Philip Michael Hoffman's performance as the cough-syrup-swilling Motor City madman who made criticism as much a manic jazz exercise as anything ever written. To see what criticism can be when it's unrelenting, read Mainlines, Blood Feasts & Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader (edited by John Morthland). To get the sense of the sweetness beneath the raging critic, see this. Bangs is deified through the lens of the young boy—grown into Oscar-winning director/screenwriter/life chronicler Cameron Crowe—and though there could be a skosh of Disney-izing to protect the illusion, it's the truth beneath the veneer that matters—the truth of someone who cares desperately about the music and the human heart. Untitled shows the humanity and complications of these characters' realities—a much closer portrait of the desolation, terror and price extracted for chasing these rock & roll dreams, even during a far more innocent age. —HG

6. Damien Rice, Live From the Union Chapel (Vector Recordings): This live, eight-song promo-only disc is being distributed to 200,000 members of BMG’s BeMusic Music Discovery Program as an introduction to the critically praised Irish singer/songwriter. His debut album O, is the first release from industry vets Jack Rovner and Ken Levitan’s new Vector Recordings label, but like other mesmerizing performers such as Van Morrison and Jeff Buckley, this disc finds Rice on his natural turf. Backed by strings that add expressive gravity, the songs from the first album, like “Delicate,” “The Blower’s Daughter,” “Volcano” and “Amie” expand the emotional range from a black-and-white whisper to a widescreen full color scream, frequently in the context of a single tune. Sometimes, an artist’s greatness relies on context. For Damien Rice, this live CD busts that talent wide-open for everyone to hear. —RT

7. Jeff Bates, "I Wanna Make You Cry," "Long Slow Kisses" (from Rainbow Man, RCA Nashville): At a time when the member has been removed from country music, both in terms of song content AND the lack of deep voiced men who don't require microscopic assistance for a testicle check—because the cojones can be more than heard in that deep throat that brings it all back home and into the boudoir—Jeff Bates, as old-school a redneck singer as they come, digs in for all things carnal. Got a voice that's Conway Twitty channeling Elvis at Barry White's funeral, which means all bedroom promise, coil and release, with depth, some gravel, a know-what-to-do confidence that reads as “Lie back and let me do everything” and a look that's bargain Waylon-over-Springsteen, which makes him a guy any woman can imagine taking home. But what really makes this work is the frankness of what he sings about—getting it on. The New York Times leaned full on into the slow-jam nation that’s being mined, especially when the Mississippian talks his way through the open of "Kisses." We're not talking full-on gynecologic reportage, but promises meant and kept, fulfillment delivered in straightforward language—and the notion that (as country once was), we do more than hold hands, beam at each other and think about love eternal down South. And yes, I do mean that literally and figuratively. —HG

8. Arthur Kempton, Boogaloo (Pantheon Books): Some have been put off to this history of black popular music as traced through its gospel roots in the so-called “Aframerican” church by its author’s slightly sour, awkwardly academic language. That said, Kempton's enthusiasm for the music he writes about is tempered by his distrust of the business machinations behind it, which particularly colors his assessment of Motown’s Berry Gordy and Sam Cooke manager Allen Klein. Still, despite the fact Kempton (the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Murray Kempton) admits he relies solely on available sources, his chronological study traces an unmistakable line that starts with gospel giant Thomas A. Dorsey and runs through Sam Cooke, Motown and George Clinton, concluding with the obligatory rap denouement of Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre and Suge Knight. When writing about things he’s passionate about—say Cooke’s genius or Gordy’s avarice—Kempton’s sometimes-clumsy language is liberated by his flights of ecstasy. —RT

9. Ellis Hooks Takes L.A.: An old-line, gutbucket-smooth soul singer. This is where the spark of Muscle Shoals and Stax/Volt has been igniting for the last 10 or 20 years. Songs about life, lust, ache, want and gittin' bizzy, Hooks reminds us about the core of music: sweat, blood, cum and a sense of taking life by the throat before getting throttled by the way it can be. A voice, moxie and a will to throw down—this is the real deal in a world where people think they're funky but chic. Check him out—two chance this very weekend in the City of Angels: the Temple Bar in Santa Monica Saturday (16) at 9:15; Hollywood Bowl Sunday, opening the prestigious JVC Jazz Festival at 6. Both sets are solo. —HG

10. Mars Is Closer Than Ever: Power-pop fans should check out Circular Haze (Kool Kat Muzik), the sophomore album from L.A.’s Maple Mars; songwriter-frontman Rick Hromadka knows his way around a big, Beatlesque chorus, and the band kicks it with an energy all too often missing in the genre. The band’s record-release party takes place Friday night (that’s tonight) at Club Lush (2020 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica) at 8. Cosmo Topper will also appear. Call 310-829-1933 or email [email protected] for more info. —SG

PS2 GAME OF THE WEEK
Madden 2004 (EA): Football season is three weeks away—unless you’re a smart and pick up Madden 2004. It’s hands-down the franchise football video game for good reason: realistic game play, rosters, action, play calling, whew…it’s all there. This year’s model includes an owner mode that allows players to control every aspect of a team, right down to ticket and concession prices. If that’s a bit much for you, there’s Playmaker Code, which lets you point out people to block, change plays on the fly and switch the direction of plays at the line. Yeah, it sounds geeky to read, but when you play it with a few friends and beers, you’ll notice the differences. And the commentary from the namesake is as goofy as ever. David Simutis

FAB POWER
Fabrice Morvan at Club Lingerie:
One of the hottest, and most heartwarming, local club stories over the summer has been the continuing comeback of Fabrice Morvan. Next Wednesday (8/20) will mark his third live performance, and second at the Club Lingerie, starting at 9:30 p.m., with a crack four-piece band backing him up.  The shows have been marked by enthusiastic crowds as Morvan debuts material from his just-released Love Revolution album, including a dynamite encore of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," which he recently performed sitting in with Grammy-winning producer Don Was at a local club. Listen for "It's Your Life," Fabrice's stirring tribute to his late partner Rob Pilatus, which never fails to bring down the house. (RT)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"I suppose the crux of their relationship basically means to him that age doesn't matter and to her that size doesn't matter," Brittany Murphy told David Letterman when asked about her thoughts on ex-boyfriend Ashton Kutcher and his new love, Demi Moore. Murphy’s Uptown Girls movie hits theaters this weekend. [Ed. note: Marc Pollack had nothing to do with the posting of this item.] —Valerie Nome 

TRAKIN’S PICKS TO FLICK
American Splendor (Fine Line Features)
Premise:
The life and times of Cleveland file clerk/comic-book legend Harvey Pekar has been an HBO-financed festival favorite at Sundance and Cannes. The trailer alone is already my favorite movie of the year.
Stars: Paul Giamatti (son of the late baseball commish Bart, who kicked Pete Rose out of the game), Hope Davis (as his wife, who met him through the comic) and the real-life Pekar and Joyce Brabner
Director: Columbia University film grads Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini make their feature bow after the critically acclaimed, award-winning documentary, Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen’s.
Thumbs Up: I’ve been looking forward to this movie for a year. If it’s anywhere near as good as Ghost World or Crumb, it will have been worth it.
Thumbs Down: The pre-release hype is almost enough to start a backlash in the fiercely parochial nerd/alternative world this movie’s aimed at.
Soundtrack: New Line Records album includes original score by Mark Suozzo.
Website: http://www.americansplendormovie.com/main.html looks like a Roy Lichtenstein painting, reads like a comic book and is faithful to its source material.

Freddy vs. Jason (New Line Cinema)
Premise:
Two of the giants of the ’80s slasher phenomenon, from Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, respectively, go head-to head in one of those take-offs of the old The Godzilla vs. Rodan horror standards. We hear Freddy Krueger brings Jason Voorhees back from hell and back to Elm Street, to scare some of the kids who have been prevented from dreaming through sedation.
Stars: Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Kelly Rowland
Director: Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky, Formula 51)
Thumbs Up: Time is ripe for the premise, and if the approach is as playful as it promises to be, could be a sleeper. But who gets the winner? Michael Myers? How about Jeffrey Dahmer?
Thumbs Down: Finds new, grislier ways to kill off teenagers… do you care?
Soundtrack: Metal-charged Roadrunner album features Ill Nino’s single, tracks by Spineshank, Mushroomhead, Hatebreed, Slipknot, Sevendust, Powerman 5000, Seether, Sepultura w/Mike Patton, Nothingface, In Flames, Lamb of God and Type O Negative.
Website: www.freddyvsjason.com lets you bet on who’ll win (Jason tops Freddy 51-48%), watch the trailer, send a slash card, view film clips, etc.

Open Range (Touchstone Pictures)
Premise:
Director/star Kevin Costner follows the lives of freelance cattle herders who roam the countryside in the final years of the Wild West, then team up to rid a remote town of an evil rancher who rules by violence and terror.
Stars: Costner, Annette Bening, Robert Duvall, Michael Gambon, James Russo
Director: Costner’s first film since the disastrous The Postman and his one-time buddy Kevin ReynoldsWaterworld looks like a remake of the classic High Noon good vs. evil formula.
Thumbs Up: Will a return to the western genre return Costner to the glory days of the Oscar-winning Dances With Wolves?
Thumbs Down: No way, Jose.
Soundtrack: Hollywood Records album features Michael Kamen’s original score.
Website: http://openrange.movies.go.com/ has a preview, director’s commentaries, posters to download, information about the film, gallery and clips, which can be accessed by loading bullets into a six-shooter’s chamber.

Uptown Girls (MGM)
Premise:
The ever-delightful Brittany Murphy gets to see if she can carry a movie by herself with this music-business-based comedy about a spoiled, infantile NYC socialite (and daughter of a music-biz exec) who has to take a job as the nanny of a precocious 9-year-old. You can almost smell the hijinks that ensue.
Stars: Murphy, I Am Sam’s preternaturally sophisticated Dakota Fanning, Heather Locklear, Jesse Spencer
Director: The talented Boaz Yakin graduates from such serious fare Remember the Titans, A Price Above Rubies and Fresh to true Hollywood fluff. Let’s see if he can maintain the edge.
Thumbs Up: Murphy and Fanning look like the teenpop answer to Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon…and I mean that as a compliment.
Soundtrack: Nettwerk America album features tracks by Sixpence None the Richer’s Leigh Nash, Chantal Kreviazuk, The Weekend, Sense Field, Cooler Kids (the way cool “E Is for Everybody”), Jesse Spencer, Toby Lightman and original score by Joel McNeely.
Website: www.mgm.com/uptowngirls/ has the trailer, plot synopsis, photo gallery, sites dedicated to the two stars, complete with clips, soundtrack samples, and a “City Girls Guide” to NYC, guys, dreams, celebrities, etc.

MORE SHINY ROUND THINGS
Rusty Truck, Broken Promises (Coda Terra): What do Sheryl Crow, Rob Thomas, Lenny Kravitz, Jakob Dylan, Gillian Welch, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, T Bone Burnett and Willie Nelson have in common? Apart from having stars in the adult-rock Walk of Fame, I mean. Stumped? They all participated in the making of Broken Promises, the sterling debut album by Rusty Truck. Mark Seliger, having already made it to the top of the heap as a rock photographer—yes, the above were his subjects—wrote and sang these 12 rootsy songs with the vocal and production assistance of his famous friends. But this is no vanity project; Seliger is a real find as a writer, and his understated vocals have a rough-hewn but genuine charm. He’s most at home in the melancholy country-rock territory limned by Gram Parsons, as on the revelatory “Tangled in the Fence” (produced by Welch and David Rawlings), the Nelson duet “A Thousand Kisses” and the heartsick “Never Going Back” (produced by Dylan the younger, as is “Everytime,” the superb midtempo rocker that opens the album). But Seliger also recalls influences like Jimmy Webb, Doug Sahm and, yes, Arthur Lee; even country-phobic listeners will likely be knocked out by the border jam “Candy.” His backup band, meanwhile—anchored by Grant Lee Buffalo alumnus Joey Peters—never fails to hit the sweet spot. The album’s due to drop in late September, but you might be able to get an advance out of Rob Moore if you ask nicely. —SG

The Dandy Warhols, Welcome to the Monkey House (Capitol): When last heard from, the heady Portland band was appropriating big chunks of “Brown Sugar” in the creation of “Bohemian Like You,” which gets my vote for best Stones song of the last 20 years. Too restless to stay in the same stylistic bag for two albums in a row, the Dandys have recast themselves as an early-’80s synthpop combo on their fourth disc, enlisting Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes to co-produce with bandleader Courtney Taylor-Taylor, as well as adding his distinctively retro synth parts to nearly every track. But the Monkey House recipe has other intriguing elements as well—notably, the appearance of legendary producer Tony Visconti, who tarts up “Rock Bottom” in mascara’d T. Rex splendor, along with a cameo from Bernard Edwards (Chic, Bowie) and a sample from Bowie’s “Fashion” on “Scientist.” First single “We Used to Be Friends” cleverly juxtaposes robotic grooves and big rock guitars, but better yet is the captivating “The Last High” (co-written by Evan Dando), whose sultry bounce makes it seem like the belated answer song to the Roxy Music classic “Love Is the Drug.” Bud Scoppa

Alien Ant Farm, truANT (DreamWorks): Call it a sophomore jump: This PoMo quartet’s platinum-plus debut may have soared on the strength of their ingenious cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” but their follow-up will quell any “novelty” claims. Paired with first-time producers the DeLeo Brothers (of Stone Temple Pilots), AAF sound passionate, energized and, frankly, undeniable. What’s more, frontman Dryden Mitchell has stepped to the head of the rock-vocalist class. Tracks like lead single “These Days,” the furious “Drifting Apart” and the soaring “Goodbye” set the overall tone of melodic, glam-informed riff-rock, but the bouncy strum-along “Glow” sounds like a multi-format home run. AAF’s confidence in a variety of musical styles, meanwhile, is showcased on the Latin-inflected “Tia Lupe,” the reggae-fied “Never Meant” and the ambitious, string-laden “Hope.” —SG

Adam Green, Friends of Mine (Rough Trade/Sanctuary): Post-9/11 finds the Moldy Peaches singer/songwriter in full retreat on his second solo effort— to the safety of his room (the sexually ambiguous “Hard to be a Girl”), a womb (“Frozen in Time”), a brothel (“Bunnyranch”) or even an amputee. In “No Legs,” he laconically suggests: “There’s no wrong way to fuck a girl with no legs/Just tell her you love her as she’s crawling away.” With a conversational tone equal parts Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Jonathan Richman and Johnny Cash, Green, accompanied by the expressive string arrangements, wears his heart on his sleeve—whether it’s a love song/critique for Jessica Simpson (“Where has your love gone? / It’s not in your music”), a girlfriend hurtling to her demise in “Bungee” or his own matter-of-fact death wish (“I wanna choose to die/And be buried with a Rubik’s Cube”). —RT

Adema, Unstable (Arista): This sophomore blast from Bakersfield’s Korn-related krew churns like a fault crack spewing ash and magma out of unbearable tectonic pressure, and that’s a good thing. The urgency and drive of the material is a credit to Mark Chavez’ still-increasing lyrical savvy, as well as the rest of the band for breaking the nu-metal mold, capitalizing on their broad touring experience and just making heavy, modern rock, without formula or restriction. While still aggro as a Central Valley trucker, for the most part, the breadth of vibe is impressive and welcome: Rager “Rip the Heart Out of Me,” for example, is balanced by the soothing “Let Go.” Single “Unstable” and the downtempo “Blame Me,” meanwhile, are positively melodic next to closing crusher “Needles.” Explosive. Jon O’Hara

INSPIRATIONAL LINE OF THE WEEK
"Sometimes in a record company…all you can do better than anybody is believe in it." So said John Grady, newly appointed Sony Music Nashville President John Grady in The Tennesseean Amen, O, Brother, amen! Now, let's—all of us entrusted with people's precious, precious dreams— actually start trying to incorporate this notion into what we do. Believing—there's no substitute for it.
—HG

NEW YORK MINUTE
Assuming the power’s back on, all the cool kids from the suburbs will be at the Rock the Mic Tour this weekend. On Friday, the tour, featuring 50 Cent, Fabolous, Chingy, Obie Trice and Snoop Dogg, rolls into PNC Bank Arts Center (Exit 116 Garden State Parkway), before rolling to Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Theater (1000 Ocean Parkway, Jones Beach State Park, Wantagh, N.Y.) Saturday... Bridge-and-tunnel alert: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy plays the Bowery Ballroom (6 Delancy St.), and Suzanne Vega shakes up Count Basie Theatre (99 Monmouth St., Red Bank, N.J.), both on Friday… On Saturday, Tito Puente Jr. plays Jersey City’s Puerto Rican Parade… Just call Sunday old-farts day: Steely Dan plays PNC Bank Arts Center, while Kenny Rogers suits up for a gig at Westbury Music Fair (960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury, NY)… Don’t despair, undergae kiddies. There’s hope later in the week, when Bow Wow hits the City for Hot 97’s Back to School Party. The formerly lil’ rapper takes the stage Thursday at Pier 54 (14th St. and the West Side Highway) as part of the Hudson River Park Summer Concert Series. Lumidee opens the show. —VN

YOUR WEAKEND WEATHER
If you’re in NYC, I hope you have electricity and the day off. And since you can’t read this or get there, it doesn’t matter what the weather will be like this weekend. Here in Los Angeles, where we have power, telephones and other conveniences of the 21st century, it will be just as hot as it’s been for the past couple days. So, stay away from Sherman Oaks, where it’s so hot old people are bursting into flames. —DS

DENISE’S WEAKEND COCKTAIL
This week, I’ve decided to deal with a frustrating phenomenon—the disappearing man. Is it the man or the city? Dating has never been as difficult for me as it is has been since I’ve moved to Los Angeles. I can’t figure out if it’s due to the large amount of single people here or the fact that flakiness is acceptable. The rest of the country snidely refers to us as “L.A. people.” Any sort of bad behavior is scoffed off and pegged on being spoiled by the city that caters to the thin, beautiful and famous. Frankly, I don’t blame everyone for thinking we’re nuts—we have a porn star, has-been child actor and the Terminator running for Governor—only in Hollywood. My cocktail of the week is dedicated to the city that keeps me single and sexless.

Hollywood Martini
1 oz. Bombay Sapphire
1/2 oz. Goldschlager
Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass and have aspirin ready for the morning.

Don’t worry—just like the some of the flaky guys in Hollywood, the flakes in Goldschlager won’t hurt you, but they also won’t help you the next morning when you’re hung over—they’ve magically disappeared.

Today, I told one of our interns she should enjoy men while in her twenties, because once 30 rolls around, men become a huge pain in the ass. Twentysomething guys are too eager to be flaky. They’re trying to get laid by as many girls as possible, and they certainly don’t want to burn any bridges that might lead to your bed, so they behave and keep calling. I’ve been on a two-date roll. I can’t even make to Date Three (when I get to have sex) without him disappearing.

It goes like this—I meet a guy who has potential, maybe he’s even a little rough around the edges, but I’m working on my extreme pickiness, so I give him a shot. He asks me out, and we hang out on a great Date One—drink, laugh but no hanky panky. He calls (or e-mails) the next day—like he should. He says he had a great time and wants to see me again, so we hang out and have a great Date Two. What’s going through my mind now? I’m happy, because we’re hitting it off, and excited—Date Three is right around the corner, which will put a necessary end to my sexual dry spell. The problem is we never make it around the corner to the next date. He’s stops calling and e-mailing, and it appears as if he’s fallen into an abyss. Maybe he sensed my pent-up sexual energy and was frightened to embark on Date Three, because he might be not be able to handle a woman with my sexual magnetism—but I doubt it.

What’s even more frustrating about the disappearing-man syndrome is when a guy who I’m not that into disappears. I’m like, “Wait…I didn’t even like you that much. Where the hell are you going?” Then, as pathetic as it is, I suddenly start liking the guy more. I’ve had endless discussions with my gal pals, and none of us can figure out what went wrong with our men who have vanished. Did they meet someone else? Did we seem too anxious and scare them away? Or was it simply that they didn’t like us very much and, since they weren’t getting laid, they had no reason to stick around? Maybe it’s as unexplainable as a woman’s sudden departure upon hearing or seeing the word “sale”—no one knows why it happens, nor will they ever. If any my male readers can clue us in, please do so by e-mailing the link below.

De’s L.A. bar pick of the week: If it’s Hollyweird you want, then you can’t pass up a stop at Jumbo’s Clown Room on Hollywood Blvd. Jumbo’s is practically a Tinseltown landmark and the bottom feeder of strip joints, decorated with uncoordinated dancers and drunks who could care less that the girls are topless and can’t dance. There was a lot of dating going on the night I first discovered this dirty little gem—couples chatting it up, paying little regard to the dancers except to throw a single on the stage when the music stopped. One tip—pay attention to the Annie Lennox look-alike. She’s really flexible.

I hope everyone enjoys a safe and sex-filled weekend. Until next week—hugs and kisses. Denise Bayles

Contributors: Denise Bayles, Darren Cava, Holly Gleason, Simon Glickman, Valerie Nome, Jon O’Hara, Erika Schultz, David Simutis and Roy Trakin

Edited by Bud Scoppa

HITS LIST IS
IN THE MAIL
A not-so-subtle reminder to fill out that ballot. (10/15a)
NEAR TRUTHS: THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD
The lives behind live music. (10/14a)
HARVEY MASON JR.:
THE HITS INTERVIEW
The Grammy chief takes our call. (10/14a)
RAINMAKERS 2020: COMING SOON
It will rain again this fall--we guarantee it. (10/13a)
STEVIE WONDER PARTNERS WITH REPUBLIC
First music in 15 years. (10/14a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
HALLOWEEN IN QUARANTINE
Why not wear a mask indoors?
ELECTION 2020
What drugs will help us get there?
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