One of two things will happen this weekend, meteorologically speaking. One, Thursday’s light dusting of snow will render the city helpless, closing all major traffic routes, depleting supplies and driving Green Hills matrons into a gut-munching cannibal frenzy. Two, nothing. In the event of either emergency, the Scene has prepared this late-breaking weekend entertainment contingency plan.
NO SNOW: Catch veteran Nashville soul man Pat McLaughlin Friday night at 3rd & Lindsley. “Aw, he plays here all the time,” goes the lazy clubgoer’s mantrawhich is probably what folks in Asbury Park say about Southside Johnny. The lesson: Every city has lifers who slug it out month after month in the clubs, and often nobody appreciates them less than their own hometown. McLaughlin deserves better. On his latest album, Next Five Miles, his gritty vocal attack and confident phrasing call the likes of Delbert McClinton and Van Morrison to mind, and his live shows resemble a cross between a roadhouse gig and a really cool senior prom. Come back to 3rd & Lindsley the next night and you can see Lari White, the underrated country vocalist whose muse has leaned more toward full-band R&B recently.
SNOW: Frozen pizza and the marathon of Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown, the best advertisement for gambling addiction since Pete Rose’s autobiography. Five celebs sit down every week and play Texas hold ‘em for charitywhich sounds noble, but really means that every time some idiot rock star bets on a pair of queens like it’s Casino Night at the nuthouse, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation watches its chips dwindle. Even so, buddy, you haven’t seen TV drama until you’ve watched Ben Affleck hand a five-digit lead, pot by pot, back to a ruthless “Evil” Willie Garson. Four episodes air back to back 8 p.m. Friday, leading up to Tuesday’s grand finale.
NO SNOW: Go watch the Titans lay a Boston Tea Party ass-walloping on the Patriots at the Belcourt’s awesome indoor Tailgate Party. Last week’s was the rowdiest football fiesta in Nashville. People of every race, creed and background crammed wall-to-wall into the city’s historic arthouse for the Titans’ literally last-minute plucking of the Ravens. At one point, the cheering was so loud it drowned out a mortar attack in the Hindi war movie playing next door. For Saturday’s 7 p.m. game the theater’s using both sides, but arrive early anyway: last weekend more than 100 people couldn’t get in.
SNOW: Kraft macaroni and cheese, along with the first six-episode “season” of the BBC import The Office on DVD. A knowing portrait of wage-slave hell set in the stifling bureaucracy of a British paper company, the crackling sitcom requires a couple of episodes to establish the characters. But episodic TV compilations were made for snowbound viewing, and by the time the show hits its peakin a brilliant and painfully acute episode about an all-day customer-service seminaryou’ll be hooked. I swear the character played by Ricky Gervais was once my boss, but the truth is, at some point he’s been everybody’s boss. Try the cool Belmont-area DVD rental store Spun, 386-4994. More recommended winter viewing: the DVD compilations of Alias, 24, and the astonishing third season of Homicide: Life on the Streets.
NO SNOW: CCR, a tribute to the Clash, Cheap Trick, and the Replacements featuring former members of Superdrag and Ryan Adams’ band along with Mike “Grimey” Grimes, Friday at 12th & Porter. It’ll be like the Slow Bar never closed, and guys can pretend all eyes are on them when the band cranks up “He’s a Whore.” If your tastes run more toward the new century than the old, check out the propulsive garage pop of The Pink Spiders, with former members of Oliver’s Army and Silent Friction, as they celebrate their new CD Friday at The Muse.
SNOW: Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers, plus a fun book. The world’s unlikeliest Vanderbilt graduate, junk-movie maven Joe Bob Briggs, returns with Profoundly Disturbing (Rizzoli, $24.95), a bracingly sharp assessment of shocking movies whose release altered the cultural landscape in some way. Each entry, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S., allows Briggs to delve into the history and meaning of various subgenres. Some of these movies have been jawed to death elsewhere (e.g., Herschell Gordon Lewis’ ur-splatter movie Blood Feast), but Briggs’ emphasis on context, background and analysis, spiced with caustic wit, makes the entries fresh. The more disreputable the subject, the more seriously he takes the writing and reporting: a coldly compelling chapter on Deep Throat serves as a dry-eyed obit for star Linda Lovelace, a tart overview of changing sexual mores, and a thumbnail history of the mob’s involvement in porn. What’s more, this has to be the most attractively designed movie book I’ve seen in years. All that’s missing is the Joe Bob shtick, and it isn’t missed. As the man himself used to say, check it out.