In this debut column, EW critic-at-large Ken Tucker offers a quick cure for even the worst case of the Monday morning blahs

By Ken Tucker
Updated July 10, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Paul Reubens: Bruce Birmelin/Globe Photos

Men & Mascara

  • Music

Pop gems to get you through the week

1. Julie Roberts
”Men and Mascara” (Mercury single)
The latest single from a country singer who benefits as much from the strength of her material as she does from the potential confusion of her name with that of another Pretty Woman. Her voice isn’t strikingly original — she’s straight out of the Faith Hill, I’m-gonna-knock-you-out-with-my-lungs school of belting — but the former Mercury Record receptionist sure knows how to pick tunes. This song’s instant-classic country pun refrain about commitment-phobic guys (”She was lookin’ for love, he was lookin’ for fun/Men and mascara always run”), delivered by Roberts in a world-weary croon, comes to an emotional point as sharp as the stilettos she wears on the cover of the album of the same name.

2. John Yau
opening lines from ”In the Kingdom of Poetry,” in Paradiso Diaspora (Penguin paperback)
Don’t write poems
about yourself.
Don’t call attention
to your revelations
or make confessions.
Even if your intention
is to expiate pain,
overcome guilt,
temper your
understandable anger,
don’t excavate
your mother’s grief,
brother’s sexual torment,
sister’s thievery,
father’s self-hatred,
step-parent’s fortuitous star-chart.
Feelings are not poems?

3. Pee wee’s Playhouse
(Cartoon Network, weeknights, 11 p.m.)
Paul Reubens’ towering yet delicate artistic achievement disguised as a psychedelic kiddie show is finally back where it belongs — on TV, where out-of-school children can stay up and laugh uproariously, and where adults can do the same while also realizing the full depth of Reubens’ creation, which originally ran on CBS on Saturday mornings (1986-91). From his own mischievous performance to the art direction by the great Gary Panter to the use of actors S. Epatha Merkerson, Laurence Fishburne, and the sly John Paragon as Jambi the disembodied genie head, this is the most aesthetically radical show on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup, and yes, I’ve seen everything else on the schedule.

4. Spider-Man 3 trailer
now in your local theater and online
Already better than Superman Returns and X-Men: The Last Stand — more compressed emotion; more beautiful visuals — it looks like director Sam Raimi is going for a three-peat; nay, the World Series, of superhero movies, and this terrific trailer is his first hard-line-drive single.

5. Call To Greatness
(MTV2; check local listings)
Jackass with brains and brawn: Ostensibly a five-guys-do-stupid-challenges show, it’s so much better than Spike TV’s recently-debuted, dumb Dudesons. In a recent rerun (isn’t everything on MTV rerunning constantly?), I caught Ghost breaking the world’s record for Most Squat Thrusts On a Mall Escalator, and I swear, my palms were sweating for the guy. He did it: 122 of ’em in fact. Congrats, my man.

Men & Mascara

  • Music