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LOST IN TRANSLATION, that new movie with BILL MURRAY that's all weird and set in JAPAN: A



BEN AFFLECK, GUN OWNER: Ben Affleck has applied for a gun permit in the State of Georgia. Good idea! Now he can keep drunken Tara Reid at bay, fend off unruly fans buoyed by his apparent breakup with J-Lo and really scare the pants off Matt Damon. Ben, all we ask is if you're going to bust a cap on a questionable entertainment reporter lurking in the bushes, spare poor Jerry Penacoli. Hasn't he suffered enough? A -- Miriam Parker

TOM'S OF MAINE DEODORANT: I should have known better than to buy sundries at Trader Joe's. But the situation was dire, and I picked up the hippie stick of deodorant: Tom's of Maine. All natural. Unscented. Deodorant, no antipersperant. I usually go for the iron man, chock full of aluminum and other toxins, guaranteed to stay dry variety, but I had no choice. And you know what happens when you buy hippie deodorant? You smell like a hippie. Somehow you smell even worse. Goodbye, pleasant girl sweat scent. Hello, full on truck stop stank. F -- Claire Zulkey

PROFESSIONAL BULL RIDING: I'm lying on the sofa on a Friday night, drinking myself into a stupor and flicking through the cable TV channels. And I stumble upon -- Bullriding. Why don't more people watch this? It's excellent entertainment -- the classic man/beast confrontation with the distinct possibility of gore -- and it's perfect for my short attention span (or is it the nods?). Yeah, those bullriders keep it moving at a nice clip. There are no time outs, no instant replay, no "coaches' challenge." He's got 8 seconds to ride that two-horned snot slinger, and then they're on to the next cowboy in chaps and tight jeans. The lone imperfection? No Cowgirl cheerleaders! A- -- Rhiannon Brown

OUTKAST SPEAKERBOXX/THE LOVE BELOW: This much-delayed, long-awaited double disc from OutKast's Andre 3000 and Big Boi could save hip hop from the greedy producers who stick to the same tired formula on every album. (Tired Rhymes About Nothing + Thin R&B Hook From Ashanti = Top 40 Smash.) This pair crib from the last 80 years of black music -- using everything from the jazz that fueled the Harlem Renaissance to the soul that juiced the black power movement -- and resuscitate the stale art of MCing in the process. By forcing these older, overlooked styles to rub shoulders with modern breakbeats and innovative rhymes with actual content, OutKast have managed to achieve two impressive feats. One, they become the first hip hop act to put out five good records. No other act -- not even the Tribe Called Quest, who failed with "The Love Movement" -- has left this kind of legacy on wax. And two, they become the first hip hop act to put out a double CD that doesn't feel like it should have been a single disc. Yeah, people bitch that 10 of the 39 tracks are intros or skits and complain that the pair of albums could be tighter, especially Andre 3000's contribution. Savor this one, people. If Andre's comments in the recent issue of Fader are serious, this could be the last OutKast record you'll ever get. A- -- Eric Gillin


LOST IN TRANSLATION, IF YOU'VE SEEN IT ALREADY: There's that scene near the end, where Bill Murray whispers something in Scarlett Johannsen's ear, and she says, "Okay." And we're not supposed to hear what he said, just that they've shared a private moment together. And then he walks away, and leaves, without sleeping with her, having only shared one kiss. Everything that precedes this is moving, without being cloying -- it captures moments in life that nobody really ever thinks about -- and Sofia Coppola is very successful at showing us that this is our existence. A series of moments in which we often feel better than we think when we're down, but still not necessarily as good as the world wants us to feel when we're up. Add to all this that when Murray did the whispering, some confused bat sitting behind me cackled loudly to her husband, "What did he saaaay!!!" and you've got yourself a satisfying film experience. A -- David Gaffen

CELEBRITY DEATHS: These days, it seems much safer to be a hohum commoner than it does to be famous. We always take note of celebrity deaths, and there have been so many notes to take of late. It started with Bob Hope, which wasn't such a surprise. But it turned out he was just the beginning of a trend that would include the likes of Johnny Cash, John Ritter, Edward Said, Robert Palmer, George Plimpton, and most recently, Althea Gibson. This is enough to make all of us ambitous, dreamladen New Yorkers give up and get an office job already. Who wants to find fame if this is what's happening to famous people? It could be that the increased probability of dying is actually worth it to you, that's how bad you want to be famous. Then again, if you *are* a struggling nobody, you have found the perfect consolation prize - you can say to yourself, "They might be famous, but at least I'm not dead." C- -- Sarah Stodola

NEXTEL'S "DO. DONE." AD CAMPAIGN: The television bit where the Shakespeare players put on an extremely brief version of Romeo and Juliet cracks well, but Nextel needs its head check for the baffling and so-ironic-it's-just-boring penchant for papering the word "Do." up on billboards only to replace them with "Done." signs weeks later. So basically, technology teaches us that we should have a short attention span and we should waste a lot of paper. I think I knew this when I was two years old, and back then, a cell phone wasn't even necessary to discover this. C- -- David Gaffen

CRAM, A TELEVISION SHOW ON THE GAME SHOW NETWORK: This is the most retarded, but addictive shows I have seen in a while. Couples stay up all night memorizing specific articles, books or manuals. They come to the show, with no sleep, in their pajamas and have to answer really specific questions about what they studied, while doing something physical. An example? One couple had to match up Amish symbols with their appropriate meaning while answering questions about inventors, such as "Who invented buttons?" in under 30 seconds, tag team style. The finale involves log-rolling. If you get the Game Show network or have digital cable, this is fucking must see (or Tivo) TV. A -- elizabeth

ONE-NIGHT-STANDS: What can I say, kids? I hope you've had your fun, because one-night-stands are over. Doornail dead. Flirting is the new fucking -- it turns out that when you flirt a lot, kiss a little, and just leave it where you found it in the bar, the night, and you in it, will forever be stardust-coated in history. Whereas in days passe, when you took it home and played hide-the-salami with it, you wound up with all those icky "Who is this person? Who am I?? Ewwww" stuck to the sole of your memory like a dirty piece of gum. Come join the new guard, people. Honestly -- one-night-stands?! D- -- Nomi

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: He's doomed. And it's not just because Dean will trounce him in New Hampshire, that he wanted to bomb the Russians while he commanded NATO, or that he's raised less money than the Singin' Crackheads on the 1 Train. It's that his candidacy exists solely to inoculate Democrats against the claim that they are soft on national defense. But does anyone who doesn't live on the Upper West Side think Clark can oust Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld on the claim he'd make a better warrior? Clark has no overall vision on foreign affairs, no specific position on the economy, and thus far nothing new to say about anything. The best you can say is that he's photogenic and he'd make a good bitch -- err, vice presidential candidate -- for Hillary. I liked him better on CNN. F -- Mr. Greg