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ANYTHING ELSE, THE NEW WOODY ALLEN FILM: I'm not sure what was sticking in Woody Allen's craw when he wrote this movie, but I love it. Everything in the world of this movie is wrong; your girlfriend is oblivious to you and isn't cheats on you almost as an afterthought, your analyst is brainless, your agent is a moron and everyone's out to get you. This sounds angry and repetitive, but somehow the movie isn't. It's like a great free-association of a world -- specifically a city, New York -- that is cold, frightening and pathological in its attempts to crush you. (Who would have ever thought you'd see a Woody Allen movie where the characters escape to Los Angeles?) What makes it work is that, well, it's goddamned funny, as funny as he has been since Deconstructing Harry. And it's buoyed considerably by two great performances. First is Christina Ricci, who is perfectly cast as the obscure object of desire who's so clueless about her own immorality and its effects that you half want to smack her and half want to have sex with her. But the real revelation is Woody's performance as the paranoid, psychotic and weirdly dangerous mentor. Who knew he could play ominous? The scene where he bashes the car windows in is as thrilling as I can remember him. I'm not ready to say the guy is "back," exactly but the zest is there, in more ways than one. Woody could stand to focus a little bit more in his next one -- the movie is really all over the place, which is kind of the point -- but it's clear he's ready to start punching again. I must say, it's great to see. B+ -- Will Leitch

TABLE DANCING: Judging from recent Page Six stories it looks like table dancing is the new blowing coke. Long gone are the wonderfully public drug and alcohol fueled days of Nick Nolte, Paula Poundstone and Bobby Brown (well maybe not Bobby). Now starlets are getting tsked-tsked for one too many and celebrity drug habits are once again industry secrets. The biggest problem with this return to moral decency is that these people still demand public attention for their debauchery. Enter table dancing. Like the Hilton sisters (who might have as well invented this), this Apple-tini induced craze has spread like the plague, infecting everyone from J Timbo to Giselle to Jermaine Dupri. And like the Hilton sisters, it just won't disappear. One can only imagine the next craze once table dancing looses its sugarcoated, decadent appeal. Maybe people will start jumping into pools with all their clothes on or start smoking in bars (only applies to New York and LA). Or maybe, just maybe, they'll pull out the ol' bag of coke and a bottle of Jack, and give us the public train wrecks that we just love to see. F -- Darin Bresnitz

PEOPLE BEING "IRONIC": Sometimes I have only two dollars in my pocket and I want a beer but I don't want to open a tab, so I order a PBR. Sometimes I genuinely want to listen to Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me." Sometimes I haven't done laundry in a few days and all I have left to wear is an old ringer T-shirt that has the Superfriends on it. Is it so bad to want to do this without some Ashton-Kutcher-hat motherfucker standing next to me with a shit-eating grin, nodding like I'm part of his onanistic in-joke? Fuck that guy, man. Fuck that guy. D- -- Justin Achilli

THE DISTUBING NOSTALGIA FOR 80'S TOYS: A lot of the toys that I played with as a kid, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, and yes, My Little Pony's, are now coming back as "cool" and


"retro." Now that I am, at age 24, too old to be on MTV's The Real World, more senior than most of the women on the professional tennis circuit (yes, both Williams sisters were born in the '80s) and personally played with things that could now be considered collectible, I might as well start coloring my hair gray and walking with a cane. If this were a sane world, the toys that are carefully stored in Converse shoeboxes in my parents' attic wouldn't be hip for at least 20 more years. What's worse: If I ever have kids, they'll be thinking that Spongebob is a nifty thing from the past. Now THAT's a travesty. D- -- Miriam Parker

THE 2003 EMMY AWARDS: "I didn't prepare anything, but I wrote some names down from the blood of my competition… hope I don't forget anybody." Like the speeches this year, let's keep it simple. Debra Messing gushed so annoyingly, everyone expected Jane Kaczmarek to jump on stage and sucker punch her in the stomach. Damon Wayans managed to fuck up pronunciation for half the nominees in the Lead Actress in a Comedy category. Note: Everyone does NOT love Raymond. I am so fucking sick of Raymond. 47 nominations. Enough. The lowest point: A package with the interns of the Emmy Academy. They show interviews with 19 year olds who make coffee, but Mr. Rogers only gets a sound bite? Ho-hum. Exciting moments: James Gandolfini thanking Brad Garrett for making news with his own contract hissy fit. Tony Shalhoub and Monk, winning another Emmy for basic cable television shows. But, the best of the "Comedy Co-hosts" came with John Stewart poking fun at shameless all-news stations (including bombs over Baghdad set to music, sadly not that actual song) and the brilliance of one Irish redhead. Who doesn't want to be in a Jon Stewart\Conan O'Brien sandwich… with mustard! San Dimas high school football rules. B- -- Tracy Weiss

SAM'S CLUB: Yes, Wal-Mart is evil. I know this. I don't shop at Wal-Mart. I direct snotty remarks toward Wal-Mart trucks as I pass them on otherwise-deserted highways in Wyoming. I read all the stories about how bad Wal-Mart is. And it *is* bad. But then there's Sam's Club. Even though it's owned by Wal-Mart, I cannot stay away. I've been a member for three years, and I'm still amused by the giant jars of pickles, the laundry detergent boxes that require a small pickup truck to bring them home. I'm hooked. There is something vaguely reassuring about the idea that, no matter what else may happen in the next year, I will not run out of Glad Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags or Irish Spring Aloe Deodorant Soap. Just don't go to Sam's Club on the weekend at lunchtime, because you'll have to fight through the hordes who treat the free-sample tables as their personal buffet. B- (If not for the Wal-Mart connection, it would be a solid A.) -- Jennifer Philion

HAROLD BLOOM'S DIS OF STEPHEN KING: After Mr. King won the National Book Award, the bloated literary critic and PBS regular said the following, as quoted in last week's Times. "He is a man who writes what used to be called penny dreadfuls. That they could believe that there is any aesthetic accomplishment or signs of an inventive human intelligence is simply a testimony of their own idiocy." Well, as literary sniping goes, it doesn't match Wolfe vs. Updike or 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule, come to think of it -- but kudos to the obese professor for not giving a fuck about the exalted Committee or it's badly disguised worship of Mr. King's book sales. B+ -- Mr. Greg

BEING HUNGOVER AT WORK: You were rockin'… you were rollin'… and now… you are moaning. Perhaps you shouldn't have let that fascist Russian vodka dictate your evening… maybe it was a poor idea to shack up with Rob… Bob… um, whatever his name was. Regardless, your tummy is rumbling and your throat is thickening. Pain, thy name is Hangover. There is nothing more horrifying than throwing up in the corporate restroom. Admit to being bulimic before confessing to tossing cookies from booze-related injuries to your boss. If you really have to let loose, try and bum some gum from a co-worker and don't breathe on anyone. Order a greasy lunch to tide you over. The upside is as soon as it's quitting time, you can knock back a few more to make the badness go away. So blame your green appearance on the lighting and do not feign the flu. The smoking ban is in full effect in cities across the country so you don't smell like smoke… but you reek of beer, body odor and Drakkar. They know. Oh yes, they know. D- -- Tracy Weiss

THE GUY WHO EXPOSES HIS BALLS IN THE STEAM ROOM AT THE WORLD GYM ON MERCER STREET: Yes, he's endowed like a New York Knick, and yes, with my youthful visage and slight frame, I look like an aging coverboy from a NAMBLA circular. But so what? I'm straight, and after an hour of straining at the bench press and the Stairmaster, the only thing I seek from the steam room is hot vapor and the scent of Eucalyptus -- not a man with a handlebar mustache staring at me like I'm the blue plate special at Der Wienerschnitzel. My assumption in joining this gym was that I'd be entering a place to work out, not a deleted scene from the film Cruisin'. There's even a sign admonishing patrons not to engage in "inappropriate behavior." I doubt they mean eating with your mouth full. Or maybe they do. F -- Mr. Greg

WISTERIA SOAP BY FRESH: The best soap ever. At $10, it isn't cheap, but worth every penny. It has the creamiest, frothiest, nicest lather and it makes your skin soft and smell delicious. All the flavors are good but I'm addicted to the Wisteria. It comes wrapped in attractive heavy paper stock with a little wire tie twist with a cute like pebble tied to it. A great gift, if you can part with it, which I usually can't. Also makes a nice potpourri while its sitting around waiting to be used as soap -- even smells good through the paper. A -- kowgurl