Ten years ago, when Neil O’Donnell threw Super Bowl XXX away, I sent my daughter Dara running out of the room in tears cos I yelled at the TV so loud, and I did it again this year in the Colts game to poor Ava.
I ain’t proud.


Time Again to Experience the Only Day of the Year During Which you’re Expected to Be Blotto by Mid-Afternoon (on the West Coast, at Least)
On the face of it, this weekend’s Pittsburgh-Seattle match-up doesn’t seem to have much drama to offer outside of their respective communities, but look closer and you’ll see a fascinating game within the game. For one thing, they are most certainly the two best teams left standing, playing at their peak at exactly the right time. And, as the cliché goes, they are mirror images of one another on a number of levels.

Both have names that begin with an “S” and are eight letters long.

Both have quarterbacks on the come, with names that are not only a challenge to spell, but also barely fit on their uniform backs in Roethlisberger and Hasselbeck.

Both sport hard-nosed defenders from USC of Samoan descent with nifty names of their own in the Seahawks’ ace rookie Lofa Tatupo and the Steelers’ nonpareil safety, Troy Polamalu.

Both have respected coaches that look like cartoon characters in the Steelers’ lantern-jawed, bug-eyed Bill “Popeye” Cowher and the Seahawks’ frumpy, walrus-like Mike “I’d Gladly Pay You Tuesday for a Hamburger Today” Holmgren.

Each sports a monster, scary defender who plays with heart and tenacity in the Steelers’ Joey Porter and the Seahawks’ Grant Wistrom.

Each has a more-than-capable running back—actually the Steelers have a pair in Willie Parker and, of course, Jerome Bettis, who’s returning to his hometown of Detroit in the game’s only real storyline—while the Seahawks sport the league’s MVP in Shaun Alexander.

As a staunch AFC fan, you’d think I’d be rooting Steelers, but the four-point favorite Pittsburgh, an original pre-AFL NFL club, is actually the NFC team in this game, with its bruising defense and run-first mentality, while the Seahawks are the more wide-open traditional AFC entry.

That said, the outcome will be decided by which team imposes its will, offensive and defensive line-wise, on the other, and begins to open up the field for its passing game, which, in turn, gets the running game in gear. The smart money is on Pittsburgh, I gather, from the tenor of the talk-show patter, but I’m going with the dog, if anything owned by Paul Allen could be considered an underdog. The ’Hawks in a more wide-open game than many might expect, 28-24. —Roy Trakin


Please consider yourself warned that the following are spoilers to the Oscar-nominated films, as well as other notable recent releases. Ruining movies for others is one of life’s great pleasures.

Brokeback Mountain: Jake Gyllenhal is killed at the end and they never wind up together as a couple.

Capote: The man suspected of being the killer is in fact the killer. Capote witnesses the execution.

Crash: The dead guy at the beginning of the movie turns out to be Don Cheadle’s brother.

Good Night, and Good Luck: David Strathairn rules. No ending to kill, he just rules.

Munich: Everyone dies but Eric Bana.

Match Point: Jonathan Rhys Meyers murders Scarlett Johansson and gets away with it.

The Family Stone: Diane Keaton has cancer and Sarah Jessica Parker winds up with Luke Wilson.

The Constant Gardener: Rachel Weisz dies.

Syriana: George Clooney dies.

Oh, ye of little faith! Omar Minaya has made some darn good-looking moves and could pull off for the Mets what the Bosox did in order to beat the Yanks and end the curse: play Yankeeball better than the Yanks spend spend spend! I am a Steelers diehard, but being from the Boston area, still a Bosox fan through and through (though also with some black-and-gold bleedover to the Pirates, who, mark my words, will make some noise this year with a manager and pitching coach who, you should know from their Dodger days, oughta know how to develop some of the Bucs’ fab young pitching and other talent). And you talk about a sports experience bringing people together! During that Yankees series in ’04 en route to ending The Curse, I was live-blogging via e-mail to a half-dozen or so friends from Beantown to Lalaland during each game—it was fabulous. Sports brings us together. It’s genetically encoded AND culturally reinforced, from our DNA to our dreams made external flesh on the John Facenda-voiced field of battle. I actually watched Game Three of that Sox-Yanks ’04 ALCS at a Rockville Center sports bar full of hooting Yanks fans cos Dara and Ava had each of our TVs tied up that Saturday—that was the game the Yanks won at Fenway like 17-6 or something. Talk about hell on earth. (And speaking of the kids and TV, 10 years ago, when Neil O’Donnell threw Super Bowl XXX away, I sent Dara running out of the room in tears cos I yelled at the TV so loud, and I did it again this year in the Colts game to poor Ava. I ain’t proud.) And from THAT black pit of despair, with Shelob sitting on their chest dripping venom, up the Sox climbed. It Can Happen for the Jets, too, who tasted stunning champeenship champagne a helluva lot more recently than the Bosox had—but who sure did have a nonstop run of rotten luck this year. I fear Pennington may be done…I mean ALL done, with his shoulder (arm strength was never his forte but…), but they are talking of drafting the jaw-droppingly named Virginia Tech OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Watch the Houston Texans shock everyone by taking him first cos they finally realize that Reggie Bush, like David Carr, will be on a stretcher in weeks cos their OL sucks so hard. Then the Jets may have to decide between Bush to replace Curtis Martin, or Leinert! Or this guy Cutler from Vanderbilt (Vanderbilt???) everyone is suddenly raving about. As for the Jets’ bad karma, you forgot that mortifying incident with Joe Willie ashking Shoozhie Kolber for a kish, oy... it’s late, am I making ANY sense at all? —Michael Shore

1. New York Doll: As modest and humble in its aims as its protagonist, the late New York Dolls bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane, Greg Whiteley’s sympathetic documentary, originally started as a project for the Mormon Church, turns into a paean for the healing power of God and rock, in that order for the reformed alcoholic. With dreams of playing again with the reformed seminal punk-rock glam band still fueling him, Kane toils in the library of L.A.’s Mormon Church, ruefully riding the bus to his job and regaling disbelieving co-workers of his notorious past. The kicker is that Morrissey himself lures the band back to play London’s Royal Albert Hall at his Meltdown festival, where they’re welcomed as returning heroes, giving Kane one more chance to bask in the adulation before he dies, less than a month later. It’s almost too good to be true, but it’s real proof of not only the indomitable Kane, but the groundbreaking influence of his band. —RT

2. Wikipedia: The encyclopedia of the Internet and a remarkable, evolving record of civilization that actually allows users to update and add to each entry. When I was researching a recent project that required me to access information on various bands, it consistently outperformed the current “industry standard,” allmusic.com. The notion of this body of knowledge continually reflecting the vox populi is the clearest proof yet of the Internet’s potential as a human brain, an ongoing melting pot of facts, dates, ideas and reference points. —RT

3. www.coolfer.com: A nifty New York-centric music/blog site that also congregates and offers access to the best industry news from the Net (and graciously provides a link to the site you’re now on). —RT

4. Rosanne Cash, Black Cadillac (Capitol): A meditation on death, memory, moments, love, life and what lasts beyond the mortal coil, Rosanne Cash—daughter of now-departed Johnny Cash and Vivian DiLiberto and stepdaughter of June Carter Cash—uncoils a song cycle that musically moves from quiet acoustic ruminations to raging frustration attacks that rock as hard as her sorrow. Weighted down with the details of lives shared, lessons imparted and images etched on her mind, the merlot-velvet-voiced songwriter weaves a portrait of what love means beyond what is shared in this life—and the lessons, truths, beauty and connections make “God Is in the Roses” the most fragile binding insight about love's universality and the power of faith through the pain written in a long, long while, while “Black Cadillac” is as much as elegy for a life in progress as it is a witness about to the way most of us shall end our time here. Holly Gleason

5. Flightplan: If you enjoy the sight of Jodie Foster, all tight-lipped, buff and taut, running around a luxury airliner searching for her lost daughter, by all means, rent this DVD. Like Red Eye, it starts off with some claustrophobic, paranoid Hitchcock tension, but as soon as the plot is revealed, it gets pretty outlandish fairly quickly, with enough suspension-of-disbelief required to fill up the entire interior of the futuristic, two-decker plane. The usually reliable Peter Sarsgaard is too low-key by half to bring any tension to his role, while the denouement, like that of Red Eye, descends into just another frenzied chase scene quicker than a plane running out of fuel. After Panic Room, you have to wonder whether Jodie actually enjoys running up and down stairs and climbing through crawl spaces, or whether she’s just a masochistic glutton for punishment. Whatever, this is one film that lives down to its trailer. —RT

6. Morningwood (Capitol): Catcalls and a buzzsaw girl singer who can also coo in the best icy Debbie Harry pop tone when she needs to, Morningwood sideswipes the raging out-of-control excess of rock dilettante-ism with the pure pop for now people aesthetics that color the rest of the songs like too much clear lipgloss and feathered bangs. “Nth Degree,” the lead single, has all that frothy, foamy sheen with a circling tinny guitar part, a bass beat that expands and the ether-lite choirgirl/stripper vocals of Chantal Claret, while “Jetsetter” oozes decadence from every undulating hormonal bump… and when you get to the crowd-pleasing, erogenous zone-teasing “Take Off Your Clothes,” it's easy to understand why--not the Cibo Matto/Spacehog/Wallflowers alum line-up—this Brooklyn-based foursome is the party band for the Horizontal Generation. —HG

7. President Charles Logan: As played by Gregory Itzin, 24’s current President of the U.S. physically resembles a twitchy Richard Nixon, bumbles ineffectually like Gerald Ford and seems as dumbly obstinate as Dubya while presiding over an America on the brink of apocalypse. His incredible weak will, waffling and desperate need to preserve his public standing all results in a serious vacuum at the top of the power pyramid. Classic moment in last week’s episode as Logan tries to use his power to prevent Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer from gouging out the eyes of his traitorous Chief of Staff to find out the location of missing canisters of deadly nerve gas. Of course, any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is completely coincidental. Right. —RT

8. The Vacation, “Trash” (Echo): This track from the L.A. four-piece’s 2004 album, Band From World War Zero, is the perfect example of the New York Dolls’ legacy, a garage-band gem that both pays tribute to its predecessor’s song of the same name and carves out some new turf at the same time. Long live punk! —RT

9. Coca-Cola Black Cherry Vanilla Soda: The New Coke fiasco seems to be something from the distant past, as the syrup and seltzer monolith introduces a great new concoction, combining two of my favorite flavors into one tasty blend. It may be rotting out my teeth and playing havoc with my diabetes, but I will go down a happy man. And no less a cultural icon than White Stripes chief Jack White has said, in announcing why he’s writing original music for a Coke TV spot, that he imbibes “six cans a day” and “it’s the greatest drink ever made by man.” —RT

10. Art Brut, “Formed a Band” (Banana Recordings/Fierce Panda): English art-punk-rock experimentalists like only they can do it, with a music hall enthusiasm and total commercial appeal. From the same “Art Wave” movement that brought you Franz Ferdinand and the Bloc Party, with a keen love of ’80s music and the inspirational verses: “We’re going to be the band/That writes the song/That makes Israel and Palestine/Get along” and “We’re gonna write a song as universal as ‘Happy Birthday.’ To make sure everybody knows, everything is gonna be OK.” They almost make you believe that’s true. —RT

Friday, Feb. 3rd
Clippers @ Celtics: The Clippers look to go 10 games above .500 for the first time all year as they battle Paul Pierce and the new-look Celtics, who bear a passing resemblance to the old-look T’wolves.

Spoon @ La Zona Rosa, Austin
Tiger Army @ House of Blues (Downtown Disney), Anaheim
(all ages)

David Copperfield @ Boston Opera House: True to its title, 'Grand Illusion' is David Copperfield's most spectacular stage show to date. The entire evening revolves around making our wildest dreams come true -- from winning the lottery to reuniting with a long lost love.

Saturday, Feb. 4th
Golden Dragon Parade in Chinatown: Celebrate the Year of the Dog with this amazing event, which brings more than 50,000 spectators to Chinatown's North Broadway to marvel at the sea of passing marching bands, elaborate floats, community groups, celebrity grand marshals, television personalities, politicians and, of course, painted dragons. The parade has been held since 1898, and since 1956 the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles has sponsored it. Our own Jesse Beer was born in the Year of the Dog and even has a nifty tattoo reppin it, so who knows, he may even show up. (N. Broadway and Cesar Chavez Blvd.)

Disney on Ice: The Incredibles Magic Kingdom Adventure @ United Center: Great fun for the whole family.

Winterfresh SnoCore featuring Seether, Shinedown, Flyleaf and HaleStrom @ The Avalon Hollywood

Goo Goo Dolls @ House of Blues Sunset (21 and over)

INXS @ Chicago Theatre: With new lead singer J.D. Fortune in tow, this venerable Aussie band makes a stop in the Windy City.

Super Bowl Sunday, Feb 5th
Old Town Trolley's Chocolate Tour in Downtown Boston: A THREE-HOUR CHOCOLATE TOUR!!! Wow, sounds amazing… If only I wasn’t lactose intolerant.

Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown in New York.

The Game. Seahawks vs. Steelers on ABC: Jerome Bettis returns to his hometown looking to win his first Super Bowl and go out in style.

Yellowcard @ Key Club, Club Morango, Cabazon, CA

Coheed & Cambria @ Carling Liverpool Academy, U.K.

Tuesday, Feb. 7th
Les Paul & Friends: 90th Birthday Salute: A small army of hotshot guitarists will take the stage at the Gibson Amphitheatre to honor the guitar innovator on this milestone occasion. Among those pickin’ and grinnin’ will be Buddy Guy, Merle Haggard, Alison Krauss, Steve Lukather, Joe Perry, Joe Satriani, Neal Schon, Shayna Steele, Switchfoot and Edgar Winter. Proceeds from the concert will benefit A Place Called Home (www.apch.org), which for the past 15 years has provided at-risk youth with a secure, positive family environment where they can regain hope and belief, earn trust and self respect and learn skills to lead a productive lifestyle through learning.

The movies that open this weekend are absolutely terrible except for the ones that are academy award nominated films opening nationwide, like Capote. So, because of this fact, I have decided to review some of next week's movies including the Neil Young Documentary.

Curious George
Starring: Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, David Cross, Eugene Levy and Dick Van Dyke
Synopsis: The Man in the Yellow Hat accidentally transplants a curious young monkey, George, from the jungle to the big city.
Thoughts: OK, here is the deal: My girlfriend really wants to see this movie, so I am going to see the movie. However, I don’t mind seeing it because I always liked Curious George when I was little, and it will probably be fun!

Final Destination 3
Ryan Merriman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Texas Battle, Gina Holden
and Dustin Milligan
A high school senior has a premonition in which she dies in a roller coaster accident along with three of her friends. She uses her knowledge of the future event to cheat death … but the Grim Reaper isn't happy about that and comes to seek his revenge.
I’ve seen the first two so it’s too late to stop now. The death scenes are pretty harsh—definitely not for those with weak stomachs.

Pink Panther
Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Beyoncé Knowles, Kevin Kline and David Beckham
A famous soccer celeb is murdered and his ring stolen—a ring set with the Pink Panther diamond. Chief Inspector Dreyfus assigns the case to Inspector Jacques Clouseau, a man with a penchant for bumbling his way to success, and Gendarme Gilbert Ponton, a stuffy Frenchman. Along for the ride: International pop superstar Xania.
Thoughts: Something tells me this movie is going to be really stupid, considering what a great cast it has and the fact that they are opening it in a month when only flops come out, but I still find myself wanting to see it. Steve Martin always has a way to make me laugh, and I am hoping he can instead of making me walk out in the middle of the movie.

Neil Young: Heart of Gold
Starring: Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Ben Keith, Spooner Oldham
and Rick Rosas
Filmmaker Jonathan Demme's intimate portrait of Neil Young proves that the singer/songwriter is still going strong after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2005. The film, which follows Young on a return trip to Nashville to premiere Prairie Wind live in concert, premiered last week at the Sundance Film Festival.
Thoughts: I saw the trailer for this movie the other day and I really want to see it. Neil Young is one of my favorite artists and to see an intimate story about this amazing singer/songwriter after he suffered a brain aneurysm will be truly special.

What glass ceiling? (3/4a)
The planets align for genre-transcending artist. (3/4a)
Hip, hip, hoo-RAYE (3/4a)
A talk with Top Dog's "Top Dawg." (3/3a)
He is incomparable, but not in a good way. (3/4a)
Just kidding. But we'll get there.
How guitar music got big again.
Start digging out your formal wear and let's do this.
it's not what you think.

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