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QUIZNO'S POTATO CHIPS, which have replaced any other kind of chip at the sandwich chain: A-

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE'S new record "TRANS-ATLANTICISM," which is really good: A-

R.E.M. staggers on into decade number seven, continuing to bring rock goodness: B+

GETTING DRUNK WITH YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY, proving that you're not only an adult, but a lightweight, too: C+

EDDIE IZZARD, that gender-bending British comedian in SEXIE, his dumbed-down new show: C+

LITTLE TINY COCKROACHES, which are better than large nasty ones: C-

THE POP-UNDER AD THAT'S ON OUR SITE, an experiment in revenue generation: C-

CHEX MIX TRAIL MIX, where smaller than usual M&Ms go to die: D-

MARIA SHRIVER'S FACE, the horror... the horror... : F


GETTING DRUNK WITH YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY: This is the perfect opportunity to prove to your parents -- as well as those aunts, uncles, and cousins whom you see very rarely -- that you're in the ol' peer group now. Finally, it's your turn to sit at the adult table and drink with the whole gang and you have important things to tell them about your fabulous grown up life in the big city. And they are very interested. Look at them nod and smile! You should speak louder. Noooo, you're not saddled down with a house and kids, like they were at your age. God, why did they ever do that? Seriously, what were they thinking?! Anyway, did you mention that you saw Ethan Hawke last week? The fam will love hearing about every single celebrity you ever passed on the street. Hold on, is Aunt Margaret rolling her eyes? Oh, now you don't feel so well. Fortunately, your mom is on hand to rub your back while you puke. C+ -- Liz Moran

MARIA SHRIVER'S FACE: Well, Schwarzenegger won the California recall election, but that is far from the worst of it. Dude's wife is an uggo. Not just regular Republican wife frumpy ugly, or Ann Coulter-esque minotaur ugly but, "Damn, girl, was your father an ugly farmer?" ugly. All my preconceptions about California have been unsettled. Of course they're going to elect a shady, vaguely misogynist, overtanned gleaming-toothed actor to their highest office. But apparently you can look like some nightmarish cross between Nancy Reagan and Skeletor and get to be California's first lady. This alone would have kept me from voting for Schwarzengroper. What happened to lookism? How could Californians in the land of plastic surgery not rise up and stop this aesthetic travesty? The she-monster is going to be everywhere, not just on one of the many Datelines, staring out at us with her dead eyes and sharpened cheekbones from hell. Thanks a lot, California. F -- Hikma Ghani

DATING A SOCIOPATH ON THE NERVE PERSONALS: So when That Guy told you he was a widower, you freaked. And when he told you that Wifey died in the World Trade Center attacks, you totally lost it there for a minute, didn't you? A lot to handle? Sure. But you were up to the task, being generally supportive, asking about The Dead Wife without being overly nosy or morbid and taking things slowly because he was only now ready to start dating. Now, of course, what you *hadn't* counted on was that *maybe* The Dead Wife didn't exist. Maybe, instead, you'd managed to randomly stumble upon a hilariously funny, highly functioning, full-blown sociopath. Yes -- you'll admit it -- you Googled The Dead Wife


right after That Guy first mentioned it. Who wouldn't? But did you *really* think that you *wouldn't* be able to find her name on any of the lists of the 9/11 victims? Of course not. Because, hey, That Guy is smart, funny, kinda cute and you like him. So when he asks to finally meet you in person you say yes. Because you need to look That Guy in the eye when you ask him why you can't find The Dead Wife's name anywhere? Call this the Ultimate Game of the Heebie Jeebies. A veritable Skin Crawl 3000. Just don't call it easy to do, especially when he accuses you of being "untrustful" and "a Googler." Come on, you knew he'd never cop to the lie. Why? Because That Guy is a sociopath, goddammit, and don't you forget it. He's been working on this story for a long while now. This story's been honed to the point where he really believes it. And he's not dropping it for your benefit. But he will send you a couple of nasty e-mails after the fact, just to scare the living crap outta ya. F -- Allison Bojarski

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE'S NEW RECORD "TRANSATLANTICISM": Argh! I hate this band. I hate all of the posturing associated with this kind of whimpster indie rock, from the $6 haircuts, to the unwashed fans, to the whole pretense of sensitivity contrived solely to fuck groupies but not be perceived as a cock-rocker while doing it. Attention, stupid girls: Emo band members still want to go up in you. They're just telling you different lies to get to your (emotionally damaged and almost certainly sub-premium) sweet bits. Why, then, is this goddamn album so good? It defies natural law. Beginning with a feedbacky paean to a long-distance relationship, concluding what would have been an anthemic jam-band handjob if handled less honestly, this album kicks your ass up to its apex and then kicks your ass down the other side. Now please excuse me while I go kick my own ass for listening to this thing more than once and liking it. A- -- Justin Achilli

R.E.M.: Thank God they resisted the urge to play Shiny Happy People. I swear I would have slit my wrists. R.E.M. strayed away from the stale hit parade at last week's Washington, D.C. show and served up a platter of lesser known but much scrumptious songs including She Just Wants to Be, Daysleeper, Final Straw and Finest Worksong. Scrawny crooner Michael Stipe gyrated around stage for over two hours like a cracked out meth-head but made the waggling and weaving, jerking and jiving look like an art form. Stipey's voice sounded better than ever and Peter and Mike were at the top of their game. Opening act Pete Yorn on the other hand [Mister mumble mumble-burrito--mumble mumble--7-Eleven] gave a subdued and snoozer of a show. B+ -- Andrew Noyes

CHEX MIX TRAIL MIX: At lunch today, I tried the new Chex Mix flavor, "Trail Mix." I place it in quotation marks because one can hardly call it that. What a disappointment. For me, a true trail mix devotee, this is a laughably amateurish attempt. It's simply lightly-sweetened Chex Mix with a tiny smattering of dwarf peanut halves, smaller-than-regulation fake M&Ms, and dinky, crumb-coated raisins. And every one of the vital trail mix extras were stuck way at the bottom; a series of hearty shakes did nothing to dislodge them from their place of residence. Trail mix needs to have a good proportion of all elements, and it needs to be the perfect combination of sweet and salty. This one was mostly sweet, and mostly crap. D- -- Meredith Modzelewski

EDDIE IZZARD IN SEXIE: Why is England's favorite transvestite comedian spending his time doing sloppy bits about dentists, Bush choking on a pretzel, and babies crying on airplanes? Comedic genius Eddie Izzard's new show, Sexie, reaches some of the absurdist heights of his earlier work, but is bogged down by routines that wouldn't be out of place in a Bill Cosby routine circa '86. At his best, Izzard makes the audience work to keep up, and can breathtakingly link together an evening's worth of seemingly incongruous ramblings in one split-your-sides-laughing summary. However, his new show coasts on the expected laughs, relying on the obvious rather than the imaginative. Memo to the smartest and most inventive comedian working: Your humor will never be for everyone (the dresses see to that) so don't dumb down you smartness and Dadaist sense of humor for the mass acceptance and t-shirt sales. C+ -- Paul Casey

QUIZNO'S POTATO CHIPS: Yeah, I was stunned, too. Quizno's did indeed stage a coup d'chip and get rid of all the "foreign" chip influences from its stores -- farewell, Lay's, we hardly knew ye. All of those shiny plastic bags filled with air and chips have been replaced with Quizno-branded snacks, a virtual spud monopoly. It'd be enough to raise my capitalist danders -- except the damn chips are better than Lay's. Some sort of Italian grandmother high of crack and basil must've seasoned the Sour Cream and Onion chips -- putting one on your tongue is like doing a hit, except instead of sweet, sweet lysergic acid diethylamide you get a dusty layer of sour cream power and nonfat milk solids. Sadly, the Mighty Q refused to fill the bags with more chips than the other guys -- Chef Jimmy needs to get his ass out of the kitchen and deliver more crisps. A- -- Adam Tamashasky

LITTLE TINY COCKROACHES: Everybody hates roaches for being gross and ugly and dirty and startling -- and for reminding us that unseen nasties scurry around behind what we think is perfectly clean. Until now all the roaches I'd seen were monsters, well over an inch long and heavy enough to have clicking footsteps as they occasionally scuttled across the kitchen floor. The thought of the slimy crunch they would make if squashed sent me running for the Raid bottle, usually to find the critter ominously gone by the time I came back armed. But the roaches that disappear into the cracks around the sink when I turn on the kitchen lights now are like a thousandth the size of their southern brethren. They're smaller than a Rice Crispy, seem kinda clean and unintimidating to squish. While I still hate them and am trying to make them go away, I guess if you have to have roaches, it's much better if they're very small. C- -- Sandra Barron

THE POP-UNDER AD THAT'S ON OUR SITE: On Friday afternoon, we got an email from someone in the online advertising business, offering us $5 for every 1,000 people who saw that little 150 pixel ad over there for nu-metal heshers Finger Eleven, who are, apparently, on tour with Evanesence. It was so easy. All we had to do is throw a few lines of code into our pages, and presto, The Black Table could start paying off some of that monthly nut. Seeing that this was like finding $20 in the street, we so excited and debated the merits of online advertising so quickly that we didn't exactly realize that our shiny new ad included a pop under window that automatically played music when it opened. A simple email, a puny amount of cash, and just like that, we were over on the Dark Side. Sigh. Doesn't it make you miss 1999? C- -- Eric Gillin