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NEWLYWEDS, MTV's look into the young, troubled marriage of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey: A+.

RADIOHEAD, who is now on tour, performing live at RED ROCKS: A.

PLASTIC HOTEL KEY CARDS, those little wunderkinds that have replaced old fashioned metal keys at the local Radisson: B+.

THE MCGRIDDLE, a brand-new breakfast concoction from McDONALD'S: B.

TEXT MESSAGING, a way of communicating using phones and thumbs and lots of patience: B.

YOUR ROOMMATE'S SIGNIFICANT OTHER, that not-so-special someone who is always around: B-.

NFL SUNDAY TICKET ON DIRECTTV, the only way you'll ever see out-of-town games if you don't want to hit the bar: C+.

THAT RETRO BEER CRAZE, where young middle class kids opt for beers their working-class grandparents drank out of necessity: D.

THE NFL, if you're completely bored by it and wish it would simply go away again: D+.

BUSH'S NFL INTRODUCTION SPEECH, given to kick off the new season. Bush the public speaker: F. Bush the football fan: A.

NFL UNIFORM PANTLEGS, which come in all kinds of new colors and should really have stayed white: F.

ABC'S NFL KICKOFF SPECTACULAR, in which ABC uses the tired VMA playlist to entertain football fans: FFF-.


THE NFL, A NON-FAN'S PERSPECTIVE: The fall is my favorite season of all, replete with brisk weather, Irish coffees, and comfy sweaters. Only football continues to mar it, year after year. As with most illogical biases, my loathing of football stems from my youth. Picture my father, planted on his ass eating Cheese-Nips and reading the paper. There is a NY Giants hat perched on his head. In between Nips, he might yell "Jesus Christ!" or clap loudly, though never while smiling. In recent years, if the Giants were really fucking up he would turn the game off and sulk. My mother can't even stay in the same room while he watches it anymore (it's too loud, and she likes baseball). Memories of those interminable weekends (how we struggled to grasp the idea that The Dad could read the paper and watch the game at the same time!) bubble up during lunch in my office. Where last week my co-workers spoke of politics or current events, now talk centers around the Steelers or someone's fantasy football league. To a non-football fan, nothing is duller than hearing the game rehash every Monday and Tuesday (and sometimes even on a Friday) till January. The game's one benefit is its ability to put me to sleep. Like a narcoleptic, my head drops to my chest with the first whistle. The clanking of hard plastic helmets. The white noise of the cheering crowd… D+ -- Aileen Gallagher

ABC'S NFL KICKOFF SPECTACULAR: It's impossible to get me to hate football, but ABC almost succeeded. Christ. Weren't the VMAs last week? Put some pants on Britney and would somebody please kill these goddamn Good Charlotte kids? Wait, is that Aerosmith? Nevermind, kill me instead. Hurry. FFF- -- AJ Daulerio

NFL UNIFORM PANTLEGS: Maybe they just didn't want their fans to recognize them, but several teams use their season openers to break out new uniforms. The Redskins went all white, new Bengals coach Marvin Lewis surprised his players by giving them hideous black pants to wear with their black jerseys, the Rams broke out new blue pants and the Titans whipped out some god-awful powder-blue jersey things. Of the four, only the Titans played well, although the Redskins also won. Color me the old guy, but if the NFL really wanted to look out for its game, it'd ban all these things. F -- Matt Pitzer

BUSH'S NFL INTRODUCTION SPEECH: President Bush decided to insert himself into the mega-commercialized NFL kickoff event with a bunch of political blabber before the Redskins-Jets season opener about how football exemplifies all these great American ideals like hard work, team work, etc., etc. His speech was predictably stilted and awkard as are nearly all of his public speaking engagements. Bush, however, revealed his true nature by wrapping up his address with an "Are you ready for some football?!" chant that just seemed, well, a little too natural - like he had been running around the White House all day muttering it to himself because he was so excited the season was starting instead of working on other more worldy problems. Bush the public speaker: F; Bush the football fan: A. -- Matt Pitzer

NFL SUNDAY TICKET ON DIRECTTV: It seemed like a great idea. Why should your allegiance to an out-of-market football team condemn you to spend every Sunday between now and Christmas in some dingy sports bar? With the NFL Sunday Ticket, you can watch every single game in the comfort of your own home! Of course, the Sunday Ticket isn't available on cable--so bring on the satellite. Okay, so it's not as good as digital cable. Lost signals on rainy days, maddening remote control delays, no movies on demand--but it's a small price to pay once game day rolls around, right? (Not literally, at $209 for the season). You sink into your favorite armchair and summon Peyton and his boys to compete for your pleasure, and--what's that? Laundry to be folded? Certainly, my dear! Yes, of course I can keep an eye on the baby... I'm sorry, was the volume a little high? I didn't realize ... well, I'd hardly call four beers getting loaded ... (Meanwhile, just down the block, dozens of fans of all stripes engage in a saturnalia of pitcher specials, all-you-can-eat wings, and back-slapping testosterone). Oh well -- it still beats backing the Jets or the Giants. C+ -- J. Daniel Janzen

THAT RETRO BEER CRAZE: As a youngster, I learned to love Pabst Blue Ribbon through trips past a giant bottle of Pabst sitting atop the Newark Pabst stockhouse near the Garden State Parkway


and multiple HBO showings of "Midnight Madness" -- an "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" takeoff featuring a frat boy swimming in a vat of PBR. While it remains a staple, I wish that it, Rhinegold, and Ballantine would all just go away. They're awful. Your grandparents drank these beers because they were cheap and available. You think you're being kitsch sipping your Rhinegold and wearing your trucker hat? There's a guy in a VFW right now who had you beat by about three decades. Milan Kundera said that kitsch is the ignorance of shit, and all the guys at Pete's Candy Store swilling Golden Anniversary and Piel's in a year will be proof of it. Want to be original? Come down to the Lithuanian Center and drink and Okocim: Polish-brewed baby. I'll get you that and a Zyweic on my tab. D -- Jason Notte

RADIOHEAD LIVE AT RED ROCKS: Radiohead played Red Rocks, a natural throne of a cliff-faced sound system last week in Colorado. Yeah, they've moved from acoustic-friendly OK Computer to the electronica-orgy of Kid A. I can't believe people still talk about that. Why not talk about a concert where I don't mind relating to thousands of aging hipsters during a dead-silent acoustic version of "Exit Music." A concert where every song begins and ends like a great sex session with "Oh fuck"s and "oh my god"s coming from the audience. A concert where "Paranoid Android" is played and you feel like the luckiest stupid human on the planet, like your heart has been ripped out of your chest and is sliding down one of the jagged rock walls that surrounds you, ventricles snagged and blood pumping uselessly nowhere, and you don't care, you just need to hear Thom wail one . last . time. I'm sorry, for a minute there, I lost myself. A -- Jennie Dorris

YOUR ROOMMATE'S SIGNIFICANT OTHER: It's nice that she/he found someone to occupy her/him, and the new guy/girl seems pleasant enough. And the fact that the roommate goes out more means that you occasionally have the place to yourself for awhile, which is always a bonus, and not to mention those nights when she/he stays over with the new guy/girl, giving you your own shack pad free of interference. Of course, when the happy couple is together in the apartment, that can be a bit tiresome, with those chirpy new-romance conversations that go nowhere for hours on end. Just remember that your roommate's name is on the lease and yours isn't, so let's hope things don't get serious enough that you get kicked to the curb when the new guy/girl moves in. B- -- Chris Mohney

PLASTIC HOTEL KEY CARDS: Yes, yes. We know technology failed during the New York City blackout, and thousands of people with hotel rooms for the night couldn't get back into their rooms because nobody bothers to use the old-fashioned key anymore. But that only makes the score two-to-one, still in favor of these things. To wit: they make a very handy dandy shoehorn. Seriously. And if you ever come out of your hotel room on a trip to the American Midwest or Northeast, and find a layer of ice all over your car, these things make quite an effective ice scraper. All in all, for a little plastic card that gets deactivated the minute you sign the bill, that's not bad. B+ -- David Gaffen

NEWLYWEDS: Just when you thought MTV had exhausted all reality television possibilities, another celebrity couple has guaranteed maximum exposure for their flailing careers by deciding to Start. Being. Real. And boy, for the sake of our hero Nick Lachey, let's hope the editing room can be blamed for the majority of the "realness" we find in his wife and fellow newlywed, Jessica Simpson. I mean... oof. I tell you what,though, dip me in shit and call me stinky because this is the most entertaining 30 minutes on TV right now. Honestly, did the thought ever cross anyone's mind that the bubbly, breathtakingly pretty Jessica Simpson would be such a whiny, self-centered, spoiled little brat? Of course! Well, we were right. Try to take a shot of Cuervo everytime Nick makes the "Are you for real?" face and Jessica pouts. You'll be blasted before the first commerical break. A+ -- A.J. Daulerio

THE MCGRIDDLE: In theory, this breakfast sammich should be a vile concoction. Any time sausage, egg and cheese are paired with a pancake base by a major fast food corporation only grossness can ensue. This time? The syrupy goodness brings you to a whole new state of consciousness. There is no known reason that rubbery eggs, congealed cheese and breakfast meat made from pigeons has any reason being so amazing. How do they get those warm golden griddle cakes to maintain the sweet taste of maple syrup? Some supernatural force! You'll feel the magic that is the McGriddle if you'll only give it a chance. Allow the grease germinate your skin-and then your soul. Pair this treat with a crunchy oval shaped hashbrown. Go on, indulge in the nastiness. You will see your future. B -- Tracy Weiss

TEXT MESSAGING: It's like every relationship I've ever wanted. There when you need it and easily ignored when you don't. Never confrontational, committal, or an encumbrance. This is text-messaging. Whether your sending out a quick "hello", "how are you", "meet us here later", or "<expletive>", it's easy does it all the way. You don't have to wait for an answer or leave a long winded voice message. Responding and receiving is done how it should be: at your leisure. There are some limitations of course. Typing in a long message can be a time-consuming chore, not to mention dangerous while driving (especially in Singapore). The standard canned messages suck and are rarely useful. And for the sensitive types, a text message says nothing to them but "Hi, clearly you're not important enough to warrant a real phone call. I've got better things to do". God you're such a jerk sometimes. But text-messaging somehow always finds a way to my heart. Dependable, pressure-free, and always a cheer up when I need it. Just like that elusive relationship. B -- Shane Abrahamovich









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