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For Wolfe, it’s more about the archetypal characters and the fatalistic machinations of the narrative, which he proves as deft as ever at spinning.
THIS WEAKEND PLANNER SWEEPS OUT THE OLD AND USHERS IN THE NEW, WHICH APPEARS ONE AND THE SAME
Welcome 2005 With Some Football, Hawke & Delpy, Tom Wolfe, Napoleon Dynamite, Chronicles, The Fockers, Tatum O'Neal and The Cure
Welcome to 2005, and do you know where your pop culture is? The old year ended with Ashlee Simpson lip-syncing on Saturday Night Live and begins with her getting boisterously booed off-stage at the Orange Bowl… or was that just football fans voicing their preference for a wardrobe malfunction rather than a playback mishap. Are we missing something? Can anyone tell us why every year-end movie release was so depressing? Guess that’s been a tradition since the suicide-inducing It’s a Wonderful Life, which we dutifully watched on network television without TiVo, which means we had to sit though an hour’s worth of commercials. And that was enough of a downer, never mind what happens to Jimmy Stewart’s much beleaguered everyman George Bailey. With the holidays’ unrelenting commercialism, it might as well be every time a cash register rings, an angel gets its wings. But that was last year… and 2005 is going to be much better, right? Right?

CALENDAR
Ahhhh yigitty yeah! After a long, relaxing break, we are back in the heezee! It’s 2005 and for some damn reason, everything still seems the same. Remember when you used to watch those then-futuristic movies that took place in the very far-off year, 2005? Why doesn’t our society have those flying cars and Jetson-like houses? We promise to do our part and bring you a new look for our Weakend Planner, but we need your feedback. And your women. And your credit card number. And your weed. Send us feedback and all the other stuff to: [email protected]

Buckle up as we blast into ’05! Or do nothing. As per usual, we don’t care either way. But obviously, still love you a great deal in addition to whatever record you’re currently working.

Fri. (1/7)
7 a.m.
Jennifer Garner
is OK! Wake up feeling exuberant knowing that Jen’s much-talked -about viral infection/nerve damage/possible pregnancy has improved enough for her attend her movie premiere. The world is a happy place after all.

7:30 p.m.
Pomodoro (14622 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks): Check out this new Italian haunt. Wehear it’s awesome & hip. Much like us. So for us, this restaurant is like looking in the mirror.

11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Greater LA Auto Show 2005: AKA Karen Glauber’s favorite place to hump the new Cadillac. Every major manufacturer is on hand to display their latest & greatest & even some rad top secret stuff. And those wonderfully cheesey car show girls (we do not mean Karen Glauber) will be sprinkled all over for your viewing pleasure. You can totally touch them, by the way. The girls, that is. Please be careful about touching the cars. Through Jan. 16

1 p.m.-11 p.m.
Body Art Expo ’05
@ Fairplex (1101 W. McKinley Avenue, Pomona, (909) 623-3111): Supposedly the largest body art & tattoo show in the nation. This ’lil get together is perfect if you just can’t come up with what you want to get done. Be it a soothing nipple-piercing or the words "Weakend Planner Sucks So Much That It’s Laughable" tattooed on your inner thigh.

2 p.m.-whenever
Tsunami Relief.
In the aftermath of Southeast Asia’s 9.0 earthquake and tidal waves
many of us are left counting our blessings and wondering what we can do to help. With more that 150,000 people from dozens of countries killed and many more in danger of losing their lives, support from each of us is crucial and every dollar helps. Events such as NBC’s Jan 15th telethon airing across all NBC-owned cable outlets: USA, Bravo, Trio, Sci Fi, MSNBC and CNBC (Clooney, Aguilera, Sheryl Crow and Tim McGraw are scheduled to perform) and organizations such as (see below) are all doing their part to raise every penny.

Linkin Park's tsunami (Southern Asia) relief fund:
www.musicforrelief.org
http://www.americares.org/
http://www.unicef.org/index.html
http://redcross.org/

8 p.m.
Geisha House (6633 Hollywood Blvd., (323) 460-6300): For dinner. Wacky playasAshton Kutcher & Wilmer Valderrama have opened another restaurant for our diningscene-making pleasure. This setting is a futuristic Tokyo nightclub with sushi, tempura, skewers & cool cocktails. The boys have actual geishas milling about, but my favorite feature is the TV sets above the bar showing actual Japanese commercials by Hollywood A-List types.You know, the ones they do for the money that we’re not supposed to see.

Sat. (1/8)
11 a.m.
Go CD Shopping: Je-c’s CD Pick
John Legend
’s Get Lifted (Sony Urban) may be the best R&B CD I’ve heard in years. It’s truly amazing. If you don’t have it yet, or are on the fence, take it from me. Ifyou like R&B, you will love this album! And yes, I said "album," not one bad track on the whole CD. A definite classic.

1:30 p.m.
Let Wildcard Weekend begin!
Kick it off with NFC match-up: Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams. The Rams won both regular season games, so look for the Seahawks who will be aiming for some revenge when it counts!

5 p.m.
More Wildcard Action!
AFC game: New York Jets vs. San Diego Chargers. All the makings of an awesome game: Both teams are strong, and anything can happen.

8 p.m.
Elvis was born Jan 8, 1935
, so pull out your dancing shoes. Ideas for this Glorious day: The Thai Elvis impersonators at The Palms Thai Restaurant (5273 Hollywood Blvd. (323) 462-5073) are sure to put on a show. Other ideas from a more cynical Planner contributor: take drugs, get fat & sleep with 14-year-old girls. How about a fried-banana-and-peanut butter sandwich?

Sun. (1/9)
10 a.m.
Football Hell, We Mean Fun, Continues
: Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos in what’s sure to be a fast-paced, high-scoring game.

1:30 p.m.
My God There’s More? (written by a girl): Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings in NFC Showdown (written by a boy). This last wild card game could be a blow out. Minnesota will be limping into Green Bay with a bunch of injuries and a losing streak.

2 p.m.
Getting back into the swing of things. Taking it easy and catching up on the lengthy list of films still on the big screen, is what yours truly will be doing all weekend. Sounds fabulous!

We recommend Meet the Fockers, The Motorcycle Diaries, The Life Aquatic…, The Aviator, Ray, Finding Neverland

6 p.m.
People’s Choice Awards
@ Pasadena Civic Auditorium & Conf. Ctr. (300 E. Green St., Pasadena (626) 793-2122): Critics Shmitics. This is the show where the American public gets to vote. Which usually & frighteningly exclusively seems to translate to middleAmerica.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
Mon (1/10): The Futureheads in-store at Amoeba
Wed 1/12 Coheed and Cambria, Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance + more play the Starland Ballroom in NJ to raise money for Music for Relief (www.musicforrelief.org). Tickets will be $25. Doors at 7pm

POPCULT TOP 10
1. NFL Playoffs: I have no reason to believe my J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets have any chance at all against the high-flying San Diegans after their late-season blow-out and the injuries to their offensive (Chad Pennington) and defensive (John Abraham) leaders. But given the cruel and unusual nature of being a J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets fan, the team is usually at their best when the least is expected of them, and vice versa. This battle has all the earmarks of the last time they actually won a road playoff game, back in 1982 against the then-L.A. Raiders in the Coliseum, when they also, like they do this year in Curtis Martin, had the league’s leading rusher in Freeman McNeil, albeit in a strike-shortened season. I just refuse to believe a team helmed by Drew Brees is going to beat us, even if he did have a turnaround season. Like all football games, this one will be played in the lines. Especially given the fact the forecast is for four to eight inches of rain.  If the J-E-T-S defensive line can harass Brees, and the J-E-T-S offensive line can protect Pennington and spring Martin, it could be an upset. At any rate, I have the Saturday 5 p.m. PST slot on the couch all set for my football season to get a huge boost, or to end. As for the other games, who the hell cares? The only real question is whether record-breaking Peyton Manning can beat New England and/or Pittsburgh and whether New England can beat the Steelers in what will certainly be this year’s Super Bowl. I’m going on a limb and picking Brett Favre and the Packers to go all the way in the NFC and serve as this year’s sacrificial wardrobe malfunction at XXXIX in Jacksonville. (Roy Trakin)

2. Before Sunset/Dogville/Coffee & Cigarettes: Most people think movies should be about the visuals, but these three, all available on DVD, pay homage to words in all their glory, how they’re used to manipulate, cajole, seduce, self-serve, paint pictures and try to make sense of the world around us. Richard Linklater’s lovely, Paris-based sequel to his own film about a ships-passing-in-the-night romantic tryst between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy 10 years after their first encounter, is the best movie about two people talking since Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre. The much-praised ending is emotionally satisfying, but just ambiguous enough to warrant yet another chapter a decade hence. Danish auteur Lars Von Trier’s parable of American hypocrisy is like Thornton Wilder’s Our Town meets his own Breaking the Waves, a fairy tale with an unhappy ending in which the big, bad wolf destroys all the villagers. Nicole Kidman and Paul Bettany lead an impressive cast that acts out its rawest, most intimate emotions against a backdrop of invisible houses and landscape that looks like something out of the computer game The Sims. Finally, indie flag-bearer Jim Jarmusch’s series of luminous black-and-white encounters between unlikely conversationalists is notable for several individual set-pieces. There’s a great, cringe-worthy tete-a-tete between Steve Coogan and Alfred Molina, Cate Blanchett playing herself and her hick, envious Aussie cousin and a final, moving set-piece with avant-gardists Bill Rice and Taylor Mead that ends the movie on a Mahler-induced grace note. Not all the segments are as compelling as these, but the DVD allows you to skip to the chase. (RT)

3. Tom Wolfe, I am Charlotte Simmons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux ): Pop chronicler Wolfe hasn’t really had his finger on the zeitgeist pulse he so zealously pursues since Bonfire of the Vanities, but his sprawling epic look at life on a modern-day college campus, based on a cross between Duke and Harvard, is a classic page-turner. And while his much-ballyhooed look at the current crop of teens’ "sexual behavior" amounts to a single, meticulously described encounter where our naïve, trusting, but oh-so-self-aware title character loses her virginity, most of the rest of his satire could be summed up with the phrase, "Kids do the darnedest things." His glimpse of the corruption of bigtime college athletics, particularly basketball, isn’t quite news, but his description of the racial politics that rule in a sport where blacks substantially outnumber whites rings pretty true. The effect of intellect upon sexual attraction, the power of peer pressure and the politics of academia are among the subjects tackled with earnestness and no small dollop of smirky humor. But for Wolfe, after all is said and done, it’s more about the archetypal characters and the fatalistic machinations of the narrative, which he proves as deft as ever at spinning. (RT)

4. Napoleon Dynamite: Writer/director Jared Hess’ deadpan comedy is, along with Garden State, the best teenage movie of the year, filled with goofy catch phrases that my kids were repeating ad infinitum all through vacation. Hess’ tongue-in-cheek comedy isn’t just intellectualized, either. There is real heart in the performances of title character Jon Heder, Aaron Ruell’s fellow loser Kip, Tina Majorino’s sweet Deb, Efren Ramirez’s sly Pedro, Haylie Duff’s stuck-up Summer and Shondrella Avery’s sassy online find LaFawnduh. Reminscent of Alexander Payne’s Election, another MTV pick-up, Napoleon Dynamite is perhaps too self-consciously "cult" to be great, but Napoleon’s final triumphant soul dance in front of the entire school, a nerd turned hero, is one of the year’s feel-good, triumphant endings. (RT)

5. Bob Dylan, Chronicles (Simon & Schuster): Volume one of Bobby Zee’s autobiography is more fascinating for what he leaves out than what he puts in, though what he includes is pretty insightful in its own "write." It starts and ends with Dylan recording several of his songs for Leeds Music publishing exec Lou Levy, who never actually ended up signing him. The impressionistic, stream-of-consciousness narrative is strongest when it reveals some of the artist as a young folksinger’s influences, including, of course, Woody Guthrie and bluesman Robert Johnson, but such unlikely inspirations as Brecht-Weill, Ice-T, Bobby Vee, Ricky Nelson, the Kingston Trio, Harry Belafonte and Mickey Rourke. The narrative colorfully covers his early folk troubadour years in New York City and, before that, his upbringing in Hibbing and Minneapolis. The middle chapter captures him in New Orleans in the late ’80s, recording Oh Mercy! with Daniel Lanois and feeling inadequate to his legacy and his fans’ expectations. He is particularly nasty putting down those early admirers who saw him as the "voice of a generation," and bemoans the fact the rest of his career was spent trying to recapture the magic of his earliest creations. Some of it is typical Dylan put-on and continual playing with his self-image, but a great deal is also laced with honest, down-to-earth observations and seemingly throwaway asides that inadvertantly, and advertantly, reveal much of what still motivates him. Though you won’t find much about his personal life when it comes to his wives and children, Chronicles goes a long way towards articulating, if not exactly revealing, what makes this enigma tick. (RT)

6. Meet the Fockers: Jay Roach’s sequel to his hit comedy is just as much a one-note joke as its "double-entendre" title. The film pits the hamishe Jewish liberal free-thinkers Dustin Hoffman (who steals the movie as he did I [Heart] Huckabees) and a strangely demure Barbra Streisand against the WASPy sneer of Robert De Niro and a shamefully underutilized Blythe Danner (who is so much better as the acerbic mother-in-law in Huff). The whole thing is as predictable as an episode of, say, Will and Grace, though it’s comforting to know the Jew vs. Gentile thing still plays well enough to attract a boffo holiday box office. And while I wouldn’t exactly recommend plunking down $9 or $10 to see it on the big screen, the expert ensemble playing of Hoffman and De Niro verges on the stereotypical, teetering just this side of cliche. I’d call it hammy, but that would go against the kosher grain of Roach’s obvious affections towards Jewish and toilet humor, in that order… I think. (RT)

7. Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama, There Will Be a Light (Virgin): The other side of the sacred sublime. Funky roots-rock guy Harper gets literal on his path to the heavens—and the merging of the old-school gospel singing and the laidback electric guitars and B-3 organ create a mix that's almost dizzying. Perhaps what's funniest about the creaky-sounding throwback soul and rural call-and-witness songs is the fact the Harper actually wrote most of them, but they still sound timeless and ancient in the way only an old hymnal can. For Sunday mornings—or, for that matter, any time your spirit needs a quick revival—this is required listening of the most satisfying persuasion. (Holly Gleason)

8. Tatum O’Neal, Paper Life (Harper Entertainment): How long can a late-30-something resist buying the tell-all autobiography by the "It" girl we all wanted to be? After all, aside from being the youngest Oscar winner at 12 for her role as the kid con artist in Paper Moon—Tatum hung with the seriously beautiful people (claiming Bianca Jagger as a fashion role model, Michael Jackson as a pal, working as an equal with Walter Matthau). Even the high wire antics—the drugs, the high impact marriage to John McEnroe—pale compared to what she's seen, how she squares it and why she's still here. Yes, she names names—lots of 'em—and is willing to own her role in it.. She takes a long hard look at the road to today, what worked and what failed her, and somewhere in the wreckage is the notion that eventually the price comes due. Not a cautionary tale, exactly, but certainly one that measures the consequences to high living for those who seem beyond the rules that bind the rest of us. (HG)

9. The Cure, Three Imaginary Boys (Elektra/WSM): This reissue of the groundbreaking post-punk band’s 1979 U.K. debut has never been available in CD form in the U.S., with the band’s first U.S. release being the following year’s Boys Don’t Cry. For those who are familiar with Robert Smith and company only in their most popular incarnation as moping progenitors of emo, this album will be a revelation. Just three short years removed from the U.K. punk-rock explosion, this stark, elemental disc is a groundbreaking blend of avant-garde form and emotional content. Today, it sounds light years from the sturm und drang of colleagues like the Pistols, the Jam and the Clash, yet was perfectly in tune with those revolutionary DIY principles. The classic here is "Fire In Cairo," with Smith spelling out the title set against the eerie, existential backdrop of an Albert Camus novel. If only The Cure continued on this path, we’d be talking about them today in terms of greatness. Contains a second disc of rarities and an annotated booklet that is typical of the high quality Warner Strategic Marketing, which includes the old Rhino Records, is putting into reissuing the Warner Music Group back catalog. (RT)

10. Breathe: Ostensibly about yoga, this is a magazine I'd never seen before. Beautifully photographed, even more compellingly written (by some of the best writers currently working in periodicals, from Aaron Gell to Jay McInerny). As a waterfront view of elevated social/pop culture, it's pretty encompassing. Willem Dafoe on the cover—explaining how an actor known for his intensity maintains his balance—strikes a tone that moves far beyond traditional yoga journals. The mag integrates aspects of yoga and its attendant lifestyle, tempered with humor and compassion (Suzan Colon's "Meditation or Margarita?") that brings the practice down from a mountain to where mere mortals don't have to be intimidated by the discipline to a place where even the evolved yogis turn human. Architecture, home furnishings, music, movies, personality bits—it’s all here for a more elevated way of being. (HG)

TRAKIN'S PICKS TO FLICK
White Noise (Universal Pictures)
Premise: Not an adaptation of Don Delillo’s book, but the tale of a grieving architect who attempts to make contact with his late wife through the static on his radio.
Stars: Michael Keaton, Deborah Kara Unger, Chandra West
Director: Geoffrey Sax
Thumbs Up: For all those Michael Keaton diehards out there.
Thumbs Down:  There’s a reason the studio is putting this movie in theatres in January, the slowest release month of the year.
Soundtrack: None
Website: www.whitenoisemovie.com

NEW RELEASES: LE RETOUR DE CELINE (UPDATE)
Best read while dramatically thumping one's breastbone. (11/18a)
ICYMI: HARRY ON SNL (UPDATE)
He's so dreamy. (11/18a)
ARIZONA GOES TO COLUMBIA
Bring on the remixes! (11/15a)
ROSAL√ćA WINS BIG AT LATIN GRAMMYS
A harbinger of things to come? (11/15a)
WILL REI AMI BE THE NEXT ACT TO POP?
Pass the popcorn. (11/18a)
THE GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
They'll soon be here, and then we can start obsessing about who'll win.
U.K. SPECIAL
Forget Brexit--it's our yearly survey of doings in Blighty. And if you still can't forget Brexit, try drinking.
WHAT'S GOING ON BENEATH OUR WINDOWS?
The latest in Hollyweird.
WEED!
That's what Hollywood smells like. Seriously. 24/7.
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