HITS Daily Double
The second football game will keep you glued to your
La-Z Boy until approximately 8:30 p.m., at which point you might wanna let your Significant Other know that you're available for the rest of the evening.


Conjugal Pressure Mounts During One Of
The Year's Biggest Couch-Potato Weekends
If you thought last weekend was bustling, wait'll you get a load of this one, sports fan. Here's how you should proceed, in our opinion: Saturday morning, as soon as you're done working out or eating pancakes at Du-Par's or both, race home for the 10 a.m. tipoff of the Lakers-Spurs on NBC. It'll be over well before 1:30, the start of the first of the four games that comprise the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs (see below for details), allowing you a respite in which to read a few more pages of The Corrections. If it's close, the second football game will keep you glued to your La-Z Boy until approximately 8:30 p.m., at which point you might wanna let your Significant Other know that you're available for the rest of the evening. But you'll probably be too spent to take her out to dinner. Better suck it up and dine out, dude, cuz Sunday looks very much like Saturday, except that the first of the day's two NFL playoff games starts at 9:30 a.m. Then settle back for six or seven hours, and when the second game is decided, toss another Duraflame on the and pop in that borrowed viewing copy of Black Hawk Down. We're not a betting man, but if we were, we'd wager that before the last hand grenade explodes, your S.O. will present you with a brand-new TiVO, explaining, "I think you need this—our relationship needs this." Monday afternoon, assuming you've got your new TiVO hooked up, we suggest you thank her by taking her to see Gosford Park at the new multiplex in the Galleria. You don't have to thank us, bunky—it's our job.

Philadelphia + 3 over CHICAGO (Sat. 1:30 PT, Fox)
Holy bratwurst, Ah cain't believe the dang Bears are even in these playoffs. Ah jest cain't imagine this here team in a NFC Championship game. Both of these here teams play great dee-fense, and the danged ol' Eagles play great on the road. The difference in this here game is Donovan McNabb. The A Train stops here—ah'll take Philly and three.

NEW ENGLAND 2 over Oakland (Sat., 5, CBS)
Ah think them danged ol' Raiders shot their wad last week. Ever'body'as gonna be pickin' the Raiders, but them Patriots is playin' dang good dee-fense, and Bill Belichick has had two weeks to come up with a game plan for this here game. Besides, ah cain't pick the dang Raiders, cuz ah hate Al Davis. Die, Al die!

Baltimore + 5 over PITTSBURGH (Sun., 9:30 CBS)
Holy Heinz ketchup. Kin you believe we've got Kordell Stewart vs. Elvis Grbac in this game? It's a danged ol' miracle. Ah figger the Steelers win this game, but with Baltimore's dee-fense, five points jest feels like too many. Ah gotta take the Ravens and the five.

ST. LOUIS -10 over Green Bay (Sun., 1, Fox)
Ah ought to have mah head examined fer giving Brett Favre 10 points, but good God almighty, these here ain't the 49ers—these are the danged ol' Rams, and they're at home in the dome, on turf, not on the frozen tundra. Ah hate the thought of more shots of Kurt Warner's wife, but damn, ah gotta go with the Rams.
—Guy W.T. Goggles
(Playoffs to date: 0-4)

Snow Dogs
(Walt Disney Pictures):
You know we've hit the winter doldrums when this is the major release of the week. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a successful Miami dentist who learns he was adopted, then travels to Alaska to inherit his birth mother's sled dogs. Plenty of humor ensues as Gooding learns to "mush" while bonding with his crotchety biological father (James Coburn) and falls for a local caf owner (Joanna Bacalso), but it's all about the slapstick dog tricks. Watch out for the yellow snow Directed by Brian Levant, who previously helmed Beethoven, the two Flintstones movies, Jingle All the Way and It's a Dog's Life, so you know he works well with animals. How he works with humans is another story. The website, www.disney.com/snowdogs, features the usual bells and whistles as well as an interactive Snow Dogs Challenge.

I Am Sam (New Line Cinema): Critics have been divided on this tear-jerker, but there've been mostly accolades for Sean Penn's performance as a mentally challenged father fighting for custody of his seven-year-old daughter (Dakota Fanning) with the help of high-powered, self-absorbed attorney Michelle Pfeiffer. Together, they struggle to convince the system that Sam deserves to get his daughter back. The film was directed, produced and written by Jessie Nelson, who previously helmed Corrina, Corinna and co-wrote both Stepmom and The Story of Us, so you know she can tug at the heartstrings. The film was produced by Once and Again/thirtysomething principals Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz. The film's chief asset may well be its buzzing V2 soundtrack, which takes off on the film's tagline, "Love is all you need," with superb Beatles covers by the likes of Eddie Vedder, Sarah McLachlan, the Wallflowers, Aimee Mann & Michael Penn, Sheryl Crow and the Black Crowes, among others. The website, at www.iamsammovie.com, which tells you everything you need to know about the movie, includes downloads and soundtrack information.

The Fluffer (First Run Features): Billed as the "real" Boogie Nights, this is our favorite art-house flick of the week. The title refers to the crew person on adult film sets who helps the male star "stay in character." The plot, as it were, is set in the world of gay porn, and involves a straight male porn star named Johnny Rebel (Scott Gurney), his hetero stripper girlfriend (Roxanne Day) and the young gay man (Michael Cunio) who idolizes him and gets a coveted job as his fluffer. The movie was directed by Richard Glatzer and gay porn veteran Wash Westmoreland, known in the biz as Wash West, whose previous work includes the provocatively titled '96 feature, Toolbox. There's usually nothing as boring as legit porn, so caveat emptor. It'll probably be on Cinemax within the next few months anyway. In a sign of the times, the official www.fluffer.com website has already been hacked, but you can order a poster of the movie from there if you want. Roy Trakin

Craig Northey, Giddyup (self-released): Since the breakup of his band, the underrated Odds, in 1999, Vancouver-based Northey has juggled film scoring, professional co-writing (under the auspices of his Warner/Chappell handler, Kenny MacPherson), playing in the Booker T & the MG's-inspired Sharkskin and cooking up material for a solo recording career in his home studio. The eight tracks and 28 minutes of Giddyup (you can audition it on CDBaby) represent Northey's first release under his own name, and the big surprise is how funky this guitar-popster has become.
Opening track "Take a Hit Off This," which serves as a sort of mission statement, intersperses samples from a Curtis Mayfield interview, while the title song and "Famous Grave" feature phat grooves as well as heady lyrics and melodic hooks. The EP's most beguiling tracks achieve a common ground between the wry but heartfelt narratives that distinguished Northey's work in the Odds and his more recent focus on the booty: "Sons and Daughters" shapes a dad's protectiveness into a stirring anthem, and "Old Mistakes" portrays an autumnal courtship with vividness and empathy; both move along on amiable but forceful rhythmic currents. But the most compelling piece is "Slow Motion," produced by David Gamson (Scritti Politti, Me'Shell Ndegeocello), on which Northey's shimmering electric guitar and choirboy harmonies rub seductively against Gamson's tapping, drum & bass-derived electro-beats.
Industryites will get a chance to find out how this stuff comes off live on Jan. 29, when Northey brings his rhythm section, electronics and boyish charm to L.A. for a showcase at an as yet undetermined space. Now, I signed the Odds to Zoo, and Craig is one of my best friends, so you have every reason to be suspicious of my assessment of his work. But I'm not the only one who's aware of his talents—stopping by and checking out his act wouldn't kill you. Northey's lawyer is Alan Mintz; contact his office for details. Bud Scoppa

Willie Nelson, The Great Divide (Lost Highway):
The folks who brought you O Brother present another rootsy gem. Thanks to Matt Serletic's production, songs by Rob Thomas and others and a wealth of guest vocalists, Nelson could be looking at a Supernatural-type resurgence. Standouts include the rollicking romance of Thomas' "Maria (Shut Up and Kiss Me)" and a stately take on Cyndi Lauper's moving perennial "Time After Time." But Willie's also more than up to the outlaw anthem "Last Stand in Open Country" (featuring Kid Rock), the simmering soul of "Be There for You" (with Sheryl Crow) and the timeless balladry of the Bonnie Raitt duet "You Remain." Simon Glickman

NBA 2K2:
That's right, pimps & hoes, ya boy Lpzeee iz back for the new year with sum heaters for that asss. That's right, ya heard it right, & as the new year is here there's quite a few new games that you need so you and your boyz can get into while your wifey/GF/Mistress is rapping your credit card, so here we go. We're goin to start with a new b-ball joint. Oh and my opinion they should had put Kobe on the cover I hate Philly. Sega Sports' NBA 2K2 makes its way onto tha PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system with all-new game-play enhancements and features specific to tha system. Smarter AI: Improved team rotation, rebounding, and all-around tenacious D. New steal system: Players fill tha passing lanes and attempt to steal tha ball. Revamped low-post game: Exploit the defender with lightning quick drop step moves, back him down for a rim-rattling dunk, or shoot a sweet fadeaway jumper. New street courts: Hoop it up at urban playground courts, including Oakland's legendary Mosswood Park. Updated rosters, arenas, team uniforms, and signature moves for the 2001-2002 season. New NBA Rules: Add new strategy to tha game by choosing to play man or zone defense. Revolutionary TV-style presentation, with dramatic cutaways and seamless commentary. New playbooks and a new play-calling system give players unlimited opportunities to dominate their opponents. Expanded crossover game increases one-on-one gameplay depth and strategy. New player animations and highly detailed player models and arenas. Additional street courts such as Philadelphia's Hank Gathers Rec Center and Houston's Ronde Rec Center. Latin Prince

Martha, My Dear:
Why Martha Wainwright has yet to put out a full album is beyond me. Her songwriting capabilities are brilliant, just like her father and her brother. Friday she's appearing at the BAM Cafe. If you check her out now, it'll be good "I saw her perform when..." conversation for parties in the future. Saturday, check out Felix da Housecat at Hammerstein Ballroom. I really try to steer clear of writing about things that I have personal attachment to, but Felix is the bomb. Seriously. On Sunday, head to Tonic for Karla Schickele's set. You probably know her as part of the fabulous Ida, and she also has performed under the moniker k. Whatever name it's under, you can be assured that the songs will be gorgeous. And for those keeping up, you'll be happy to know I found a new apartment and I move in Feb. 1st. Goodbye roommates! Heidi Anne-Noel