Joe Millionaire is like a fresh rock in my crack pipe. Love is in the air... Oh wait, that's not love, it's greed! Welcome to my new guilty pleasure.


Expect Some Violent Hits as the Competitors Battle for All the Marbles. We’re Referring, of Course, to the Next Episode of Joe Millionaire.
As we furiously dog paddle toward the third weekend (and first three-day weekend) of 2003) in the third year in this white-knuckle ride of a millennium, the time seems right to give a plug to good old diversion. The results of the NFL Playoffs and the denouement of Joe Millionaire, for example, will be largely forgotten in a few months, but right now we’ve got hold of them like shipwreck survivors holding onto flotsam. As Jack Nicholson explained to Jim Gray recently in the L.A. Times, his fascination with the Lakers, and with sports in general, is based on not knowing the outcome of a game or a season, so he compulsively follows the plot and the various subplots (this season having to do with Shaq’s late arrival and the hole they’re trying to dig themselves out of) until each outcome is determined. This stuff provides the antidote for the real world, which rarely if ever resolves into tidy, satisfying outcomes. So join us as we celebrate the ephemeral in our weekly ritual. We’re all for living in the moment, provided we can locate some moments worth living in. Now, about tonight’s matchup of Shaq and Yao Ming on ESPN

24 at Midseason (Fox): Or as I like to call it, the most exciting six minutes on TV. The show hurdles one cliffhanger to the next in the span it takes for the ubiquitous commercials to come up, but in this case, you actually need the breaks to catch your breath. While the overall plot is stunningly absurd, from moment to moment, the intensity of Kiefer Sutherland and the crack supporting cast—with Dick Parsons clone Dennis Haysbert’s remarkable gravitas as President David Palmer a highlight—helps propel the proceedings forward at breakneck speed. And, like life itself, there’s nobody you can trust. —RT

2. The Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden (HBO): I had the good fortune to see the Stones at the Garden twice, in 1969 and 1972. The earlier show, which pretty much set the template for arena rock, was electrifying; the ’72 performance was godhead—the best rock & roll show I’ve ever experienced. We had stage-level loge seats on Keith Richards’ side, and I’ll never forget the moment the band came onstage, the crowd roaring in anticipation, and Keef struck the opening chords of “Brown Sugar” on his transparent Dan Armstrong guitar. At that moment, it was if I was lifted as far off the floor as Kobe gets on a breakaway slam dunk (and I’m embarrassed to confess that I was straight). The cool thing about these weathered old Stones is that they still make that same glorious sound I heard all those years ago. These days, I relish the opportunity to watch them crank up in the Garden from the comfort of my couch on the 36-inch Trinitron—it’s just my speed. If they can’t rock me, nobody will. —BS

3. Andrew Loog Oldham, 2Stoned (Random House UK): The one-time manager/producer of the Stones back in their glory days was one of the progenitors of the original Carnaby Street swinging London scene. This oral-history sequel to his first autobiography, Stoned, takes you beyond the ’60s to a three-decade-long hangover that ended up with Oldham living a self-imposed exile in Bogota, Colombia, which he still calls home. The tome is filled with details of those early recording sessions, which came to astonishing life on the recent ABKCO reissues, with testimony from and about the fellow travelers who took part in creating rock & roll history, including how he lost control of the Stones to Allen Klein. —RT

4. When Stoners Rule the Earth: Small tourist towns have often suffered from declining economies once the fickle touring public loses interest in their attractions. Such is the case with tiny Soap Lake, Wash., which boasts a mineral lake that once made the town a bustling spa destination. It seems mineral lakes aren’t the draw they once were, however, and Soap Lake has suffered as a result. Civic leaders have searched in vain to find a way to revitalize Soap Lake, but now two visionaries have stepped forward with a bold new idea they think will do the trick: a giant lava lamp in the center of town. “People will come to see this from all over the world, just as they do when visiting other structures of awe,” say Soap Lake residents Brent Blake and John Glassco, who came up with the 60-foot-high, 18-foot-wide giant lava lamp concept. “Think of the interest this structure will have for people. It is an active, mesmerizing, vividly colorful and always changing kinetic structure. What other theme structures in the world possess such features? Visitors will be thrilled to see such a thing and will be rewarded by its scale, show of light and constantly changing elements." Blake has already compared the proposed structure, which would also feature a raised platform so tourists could pay for the privilege of getting close to the burning-hot, reinforced-glass lava bottle, to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Seattle’s Space Needle, and the pair’s idea was recently featured on CNN. Should the giant lamp actually be built, Blake and Glassco propose that it be serviced and maintained by the city and a private foundation to be dubbed “SoLa LaLa,” for Soap Lake Lava Lamp. In a related story, we hear that Pacific Northwest weed is pretty darned potent these days. —JO

5. Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles: Here's the drill: Lighter-than-air but savory fried chicken; buttery, weightless warmth that’s crunchy on the outside. It ain't showy. You're sure you're in the wrong place…till you dig in. Then when you get started, there will be no stopping. And don't forget the sides. Breakfast. Dinner. Or do the Carole C. and have both: a breast on a waffle—which doesn't make sense 'til you’re face down in it! In the heart of Hollywood at Sunset & Gower. —HG

6. About a Boy (Universal Home Video): If you missed the Weitz brothers' charming, but never sentimental, version of Nick Hornby’s novel, by all means rent the DVD/video. The American Pie guys bring the requisite light touch to the story of a cynical perpetual adolescent (Golden Globe-nominated Hugh Grant at his most charmingly self-effacing) taught the responsibilities of adulthood by a misfit surrogate son (a most effective Nicholas Hoult) he employs as a decoy to pick up single mothers. Grant, whose behavioral ticks were so annoying in Two Weeks Notice, here uses his stuttering, aw-shucks persona to bring out the shallowness of the character through his first-person narrative. —RT

7. Commercials as Postmodern Art: Nobody grabs the zeitgeist like the people who create television advertising. As we approach Super Bowl Sunday, which doubles as the Tournament of Roses Parade of high-priced TV spots, several brand names have already hit us with their best shots. These include the striking VW Beetle commercial that presents a visual litany of photographed squares, from archways to dumpsters—looking for all the world like William Eggleston artshots of everyday objects—before resolving into the rounded silhouette of the Bug; VW’s clever appropriation of ELO’s forgotten “Mr. Blue Sky,” which sounds wonderfully fresh and vital; the Coke spot featuring Mya and Interscope’s unlikely hipster Steve Berman, who reprises his role from several Eminem clips as the stereotypical label villain; and, last but not least, Miller Lite’s ur-male-fantasy girl fight, made more delicious by various networks’ decision to cut prior to the final line, as one caked-in-mud hottie says to the other, “Let’s make out.” —BS

8. Joe Millionaire (9 p.m. Monday, Fox): This show is like a fresh rock in my crack pipe. Love is in the air... Oh wait, that's not love, it's greed! Welcome to my new guilty pleasure—and apparently I'm not the only person tuning in. Proving once again that we all like to watch a good train wreck (remember Anna Nicole?). The premise: 20 women fight for the attention of one average Joe whom they think just inherited $50 million, when in fact (heh-heh) he's a construction worker who makes $19,000 a year and has the personality of a puddle of mud. After they train the big lug to dance and eat with a fork, they introduce him to the group of women who do everything but claw each other’s eyes out to get his attention. The first week he gave 12 of the girls pearl necklaces (not that kind, silly), which ensured them one more week in the castle and another shot at scoring the millionaire. After making the remaining girls pick grapes in the rain, slop manure and shovel coal on a train, he cut seven more. (Favorite line of the night: "But I'm a princess; my daddy says so.”) Now here's the rub. I find myself rooting for the girls I like NOT to be cut, when in fact I should want to save them the humiliation of finding out on national TV that they've been played. Maybe it'll work out for him and he'll prune out the gold diggers and end up with the girl who likes him for who he is. Oh, please. Does anyone remember Darva Conger? —NT

9. The Surreal Life (WB): What hath reality TV wrought? The nadir of celebrity culture has arrived, as seven self-admitted has-beens shack up in Glen Campbell’s onetime Beverly Hills mansion with hopes of jump-starting their moribund careers with such planned activities as camping out and putting on a talent show. If it were Survivor, the hapless, thoroughly self-involved Corey Feldman would be voted off the island first, with an unctuous Hammer, a bloated and dazed Vince Neil, a creepily sexual Emmanuel Lewis and a shell-shocked Gabrielle Carteris not far behind. The former Beverly Hills 90210 star seems caught between looking incredulous at how far she’s fallen and wanting to strangle her agent. The only thing that’d save this from being a total train wreck would be Feldman and Lewis sharing their most intimate memories of Michael Jackson or Neil running them all over in a car. —RT

10. A Blizzard in Nashville, Jan. 16: Nashville is beyond shut down, cuz we can't cope with inclement weather—not enough salt, plows, etc. So, while the streets are strewn with car wrecks, SUVs in ditches, it's time to go out in the backyard with the dog, flop in the snow—start sweeping one's arms and legs up and down to make snow angels. It's like being young, even though you're not. It's like imagining that guardian spirit manifested in the impression you leave in the snow. It's like cold and crisp and clean—as if the slate was washed blank again, and we're reduced to hope and promise. Not a bad way to spin a lost day into something filled with joy and light. —HG

Tampa Bay + 4 at Philadelphia (Sunday 12, Fox)
Holy cheese steak. Let me begin by saying I hate the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets, which ain’t got nuthin to do with this here game—but sometimes you jest gotta git things off yer chest. Now, as far as this here game is concerned, it seems to me that the danged ol’ Eagles and the rat-infested, urine-smellin’ Philly fans are too dang much fer the swashbucklin’ Bucs to overcome. Now, as far as bettin’ yer hard-earned shekels (which is a term I learned by workin’ here at HITS magazine, by the way), I’d have to say, take the 4 points and the Bucs, and say a little prayer that the temperchure don’t go below 30.

Tennessee + 7 1/2 at Oakland (Sunday 3:30 CBS)
Dang, this here one really hurts. Now, as you know, when it comes to the danged ol’ Raiders, I only have one thought: Die, Al, die. But shoot, ya have to be crazy not to see that this here game looks like a danged ol’ mismatch. The only hope for us here Raider haters is that the danged ol’ Eagles or Bucs kin beat this team in the Super Bowl and send dear old Al to the black hole in the sky. I’ll take the Raiders and lay the 7 1/2.
—Guy W.T. Goggles
(Playoffs record: 2-2)

Warren Zanes, Memory Girls (Dualtone):
Zanes, the younger sibling in ’80s indie-rock vanguard group the Del Fuegos, turns up more than a decade later with a doctorate and a head full of tunes, which he’s whipped into an utterly delightful smart-pop souffle, aided by members of Nashville’s pop underground. Zanes’ songs are simultaneously wry and touching, as is his cracked, boyish tenor, framed by arrangements as heady as the lyrics. I can’t find a stiff among the 12 tracks, but it’s hard to top “Sidewalk Sale,” in which a dumped boyfriend makes a pathetic attempt to get back at his ex by threatening to sell the stuff she left behind to “strangers.” Zanes resolves each chorus by sliding up to a wan, desperate falsetto; it’s a perfectly imperfect moment on a surprisingly accomplished debut album. Bud Scoppa

Burning Brides, Fall of the Plastic Empire, (V2): This is the remastered version of last year’s much-acclaimed indie release from the Philly buzz-band duo composed of vocalist/guitarist Dimitri Coats and bassist Melanie Campbell, the latest back-to-the-garage punk-metal Next Big Thing making the world safe for dangerous rock again. Songs like “Plank of Fire” and “Glass Slipper” are closer to the Stooges/Velvets axis than the Stones/Zep influences of The Hives/White Stripes, respectively, while “Blood on the Highway” and “Plastic Empire” are bludgeoning psychedelic blooze riffs worthy of comparisons to Nirvana, no less. At the other end, the catchy, Golden Age of Top 40 “Arctic Snow” wouldn’t sound out of place on Nuggets. This neo-grunge has all the right forebears, unabashed singalong choruses and best of all, they mean it, man. Roy Trakin

National Security (Columbia)
: 48 Hours-like odd couple tale pairing police academy dropout with disdain for rules (Martin Lawrence) and a tightly wound L.A. cop (Steve Zahn) whose partner was killed by thieves.
Stars: Lawrence has proven to be box office gold, now outpacing his buddy Eddie Murphy, while Zahn is developing into a fine comedic actor. Also: thirtysomething’s Timothy Busfield, Bill Duke, SCTV’s Joe Flaherty and Eric Roberts.
Director: Dennis Dugan (Happy Gilmore, Beverly Hills Ninja, Big Daddy, Problem Child, Saving Silverman)
Thumbs Up: Lawrence tops the $20 million salary mark on this one. Bet he makes it back in one week.
Thumbs Down: Wasn’t there already a Rush Hour 2? And why was this one first slated for release more than a year ago?
Soundtrack: None
Website: features a trailer, a plot synopsis, cast and crew information, “surveillance photos,” games, greeting cards, downloads of icons, screensavers and desktop, behind the scenes clips and a contest.

A Guy Thing (MGM)
: An engaged man wakes up after his bachelor party in bed with a strange woman (who turns out to be his fiancee’s cousin), and immediately presumes he must have cheated on his bride-to-be, which leads him to try to cover it up in the week before the wedding.
Stars: Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, James Brolin, Diana Scarwid
Snow Day’s Chris Koch, with a screenplay by Greg Glienna, veteran of several National Lampoon movies.
Thumbs Up: Well, there’s nothing wrong with watching Julia Stiles, and Jason Lee was cool in Almost Famous.
Thumbs Down: Haven’t we just seen this movie as (pick one): Two Weeks Notice, Maid in Manhattan, Just Married
Soundtrack: None
Website: includes a questionnaire as to whether your’e a good guy or a “guy thing” guy, an instant translation of “guy” lingo, a place to receive text messages about the film’s stars to your mobile phone, the trailer and a place to buy tickets.

Kangaroo Jack (WB)
A musician and his childhood friend, the stepson of a crime boss, get caught up with the mob and are forced to deliver $100k to Australia, where the money is stolen by a wild kangaroo.
Stars: The musician is played by Anthony Anderson, one of the three black triplet sons of Jim Carrey in Me, Myself & Irene, while his pal is Jerry O’Connell (the fat kid from Stand by Me, also in Joe’s Apartment, Jerry Maguire, Can’t Hardly Wait and Scream 2). Also: Christopher Walken as the Don, cover girl Estella Warren (Planet of the Apes), inveterate Lakers fan Dyan Cannon
Director: The follow-up from Coyote Ugly’s David McNally, with a screenplay by Scott Rosenberg (Gone in 60 Seconds) and Steve Bing (Missing in Action 2), and a rewrite from Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel.
Thumbs Up: All those kangaroo lovers and Animal Planet fans could show up.
Thumbs Down: Kangaroos aren’t as photogenic as the orangutan was in Every Which Way but Loose.
Soundtrack: The Hip-O/Universal Music Sdtrx album includes tracks by (who else?) Men at Work (“Down Under,” naturally), along with Wiseguys, Lil’ Romeo, Paula Rubio, Sugarbabes, Sheryl Crow, DJ Otzi, Shaggy and Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.”
Website: offers a trailer, poster, behind the scenes action, a Landcruiser kangaroo chase game, a trailer, a place to buy tickets and showtimes. —RT

Thank God for the weekend, because I’ve had a week from hell! If I’ve ever needed a cocktail, it’s this week. Good news—I got a really cool new car! Bad news—I might have to go back to my bartending ways, only part-time, to pay for the car and my new apartment by the beach. I blame it on my New Year’s resolutions. I wanted a new and improved life, and damn it, I’m getting it. The good news for all of my loyal fans—I’m sure there will be lots of exciting adventures for me to share in my new zip code, hopefully some that are racy enough to make all of us blush. One can only hope. My cocktail of the week is dedicated to an adventure I found myself in last week. I’m still not mentioning your name.

Sexy Bartender
2 oz Malibu rum
1/4 oz Midori
Equal amounts of orange and pineapple juices
Shake and strain into a martini glass

In the quest to grant my own Christmas wishes, I found myself where I’m most comfortable…with a sexy bartender. I’m not confirming that any wishes were granted, but I will say there’s a definite problem. You see, last year I took an oath to never, ever, ever again, under any circumstances, be involved with another bartender, but last week I discovered that old habits die hard—and what the hell, it’s a new year. Why would I swear off such charming and witty men? For that exact reason, it’s their jobs to be charming, cute, and boy, do these men know how to flirt. Hell, they get paid for it. I’ve dated many bartenders in my life, and it’s not easy knowing that there are a plethora of drunk, desperate women anxiously awaiting closing time, hoping to accompany your man home. Why does she think she has a chance? He’s flirted relentlessly with her all night to keep the tips coming, making her think there’s mutual interest. I’m not saying he’s going to sleep with her, but it definitely doesn’t make me sleep any easier knowing he’s tempted on a nightly basis. I better be careful or the next thing I’ll be doing is dating actors again—oh shit!

I know it’s very hypocritical for an ex-bartender like myself to discriminate against one of my own, but I’m a woman, therefore I can have double standards. The truth is…women are always tempted, because we have a never-ending line of desperate men wanting to go home with us. The difference is that we’re usually annoyed by the drunken guys slurring pick-up lines sitting at our bars rather than turned on by it, and most of us have standards—just having a penis isn’t enough for us to drop our panties. I would like to apologize to all of the male bartenders out there for ruining your game, but now that I’m allowing myself to indulge once again, I want to keep you guys all to myself.

De’s L.A. bar pick of the week: This is more of a restaurant than a bar, but it’s definitely a place where you can eat and drink a ton and pay a little. Katsu-ya is located on Sushi Row (Ventura Blvd.) in Studio City. I was there Saturday night, and even with a large group, the food was fast, the sake never stopped flowing, which was the cause of my huge Sunday hangover, and the bill was CHEAP! If you want good sushi, especially if you’re on a budget, go to this joint—do a sake bomb for me.

De’s diss of the week: The first two weeks of the new year and still no diss. If someone doesn’t piss me off soon, I might have to change this part of my column. Don’t worry…I have faith, because I’m a ticking time bomb, and someone will light the wick soon.

Your comments always amuse me, so please keep them coming, because they distract me from any real work that I might contemplate doing. Until next week—hugs & kisses. Denise Bayles

Contributors: Denise Bayles, Holly Gleason, Guy W. T. Goggles, John O'Hara, Bud Scoppa, Nicole Tocantins and Roy Trakin

Edited by Bud Scoppa

A second sonic Boom (4/18a)
Bunny's hoppin' again. (4/17a)
Hats off to Larry (4/17a)
So many questions (4/18a)
The coziest way to experience the fest (4/18a)
Gosh, we hope there are more press releases.
Unless the Senate manages to make this whole thing go away, that is.
No, not that one.
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