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Rockin' your stocking, Listapalooza, Apples In Stereo and a Sasquatch   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 23, 2005 - 06:00 AM
Posted by: kbade



I WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS... HOT DOG! As Pate fans have fond memories of "Rope Around The Moon," a reference to It's A Wonderful Life was inevitable. Take a moment to revisit a dozen factual nuggets beneath the Wonderful Life myth. The movie is o­n NBC Christmas Eve, or you can go straight to the 30-second version re-enacted by bunnies. The bunnies also have a 30-second version of A Christmas Story for those of you who dig the Leg Lamp. (Thanks, Debbie) ALSO: Clearly, all of the above prove that Itís A Wonderful Internet.

CHRISTMAS TIMEWASTER: Attack of the Mutant Artificial Trees!

CHRISTMAS TIMEWASTER II: Goin' off the rails o­n a Crazy Sleigh!

CHRISTMAS TIMEWASTER III: Reindeer Training School.

SANTA CLAUS is interviewed by the Knoxville News-Sentinel. He's been podcasting. And tomorrow night -- after he finishes water-skiing -- he will be tracked by NORAD.

THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS: Somewhere, John Gibson's head just exploded.


THE SCIENCE OF CHRISTMAS: The New Scientist has a special report covering everything from exotically-flavoured booze to physics of scrooge, an examination of whether Santa uses wormholes to travel through space and time, and the latest developments in animatronic snowmen.

THE PNC CHRISTMAS PRICE INDEX, based o­n the cost of goods and services gifted in "The Twelve Days of Christmas," increased above the regular rate of inflation, as the cost of geese almost doubled this year, while the cost of swans increased by 20 percent.

CALVIN AND HOBBES: Snow Art Gallery.

THE CAROL OF THE CHINS... and they take requests.

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS Christmas Mash-Up. And the Chipmunks' voices are slowed... way... down...

RILO KILEY: Blake Sennett tells Billboard that the solo projects he and Jenny Lewis are readying for release will not force the group to go o­n hiatus.

INDIE ROCK HOTTIE (FEMALE) OF 2005 is revealed at Stereogum. It was a landslide. Better luck next year, Bea Arthur!

SEASON OF THE LIST: Largehearted Boy serves up the linkage to top album lists from NPR's All Songs Considered (w/streaming audio), Andrew Womack of the Morning News, Madison WI's The Capital Times, the Riverfront Times, which also has a lists of overlooked discs and hip-hop, the Chattanooga Pulse, which also has lists for the top ten songs and for local albums, Canadian Press writer Angela Pacienza, the Boston Phoenix (local albums), the Hartford Courant, the Charleston Post and Courier, a new-to-me site called Popjournalism.

MORE LISTS: There are a slew of lists at the Armchair Novelist, including the top 11 musical surprise moments, the top 7 cover songs, thetop ten MF Doom lyrics, the top 6 blogs, the best shows, the top 9 rap albums, the top 10 songs o­n the Arcade Fire's Funeral, the top 8 Seattle releases, the top 8 music videos, the top 10 quotes from bang bang rock and roll, the top 6 underrated bands, the top 3 senior citizens, the top 5 beefs, the bands I'm not cool enough to find out about o­n my own, the top 10 albums I hope are good in 2006, the the most anticipated, yet underwhelming albums of 2005, the top 3 defunct bands I discovered in 2005 and the top 5 EPs.

RYAN ADAMS, having released three albums this year, pretty much knows how the interviews are going to go: "What do you want to ask me today? 'Ryan, why are you so prolific? You are purported to be a kind of a jerk. Your hair is very disheveled...' I am kind of quite sick of people going, 'If he would have just taken all three of these records and dumped them down to o­ne album he would have a perfect double album.' It's like, 'Well you guys be my ... manager, then. I don't know, I like them all. I figure, you know, Mom makes too much meatloaf means we got leftovers. It doesn't mean that she did something wrong." Next up: Makin' Meatloaf with Willie Nelson.

NELLIE McKAY -- contrary to prior reports -- has split with Columbia/Sony after a long dispute over the length of her upcoming second album.

THE APPLES IN STEREO: You Ain't No Picasso is killing music with a guide for folks interested in the band.

NOW HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY? BUT WAIT... THERE'S MORE LISTS: Filter runs more Top Tens from Stephen Pedersen of Criteria, Andrew Broder of Fog, Jason Reece of And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, David Pajo and -- finally -- the Filter staff picks. There's also a Top 25 albums, plus plenty of alternate lists up at Tiny Mix Tapes. The "best of" from Coolfer Glenn lists his favorites, and questions the need for singles lists and charts. And Glide has a bunch of lists from artists, including Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers and Rhett Miller of the Old 97s.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The video of the shamed supermodel snorting cocaine in a London recording studio has reportedly been turned over as evidence to police.

WALK THE LINE is to be screened at Folsom Prison, 38 years after Johnny Cash recorded his classic live album there.

STACY'S MOM is struggling to maintain her appetite after falling ill with a mystery illness earlier this month.

JANET JACKSON: In a shocker, Janet was the most sought-after term o­n Google News -- ahead of Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami, Xbox 360, followed by Brad Pitt, Michael Jackson, American Idol, Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie and Harry Potter.

ELTON JOHN is still catfighting with Madonna. And vice versa.

MADONNA had her plans for a romantic wedding anniversary ruined when her private jet developed problems at Southampton airport. Oh, the humanity!

COURTNEY LOVE is broke and wants to raise cash by selling her rights to the song catalog of her late husband, Kurt Cobain, and Nirvana. It was laready rumored that Martha Stewart bought a 25 percent interest.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON, who just moved in with Josh Hartnett, has questioned monogamy and romances between actors. At least she hasn't dragged my name into it.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: New York Daily News gossip Lloyd Grove, who swore off mentioning the French Motel last year, is quitting Pitt forever: "I can well afford to live without him -- just like Jen." But I think he's left himself a Jolie loophole. Meanwhile, Life & Style magazine claims to have "exclusive new evidence" that Jolie is pregnant.

JESSICA SIMPSON is seeking to to remove her divorce from the court system, and into private arbitration. Both sides reportedly favor the motion. And Jessica is developing ulcers, perhaps from the stress of the divorce -- or maybe just from realizing she turned down Nick Lachey's offer of a prenup.

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN wants to play the Penguin in the Batman Begins sequel.

NAOMI WATTS and LIEV SCHREIBER reportedly want to get married as soon, and as secretly, as possible. So people are speculating about Watts' BFF Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban taking a private jet to NYC.

MISCHA BARTON, part of the eye candy o­n The O.C., says: "Pretty people aren't as accepted as other people. It comes with all these stigmas." Actually, studies show that pretty people earn more, attractive students get more attention and higher evaluations from their teachers, good-looking patients get more personalized care from their doctors, and handsome criminals receive lighter sentences than less attractive convicts. Of course, some people stereotype pretty people as spolied airheads who can get by o­n their looks in modeling and showbiz, which undoubtedly wounds poor Mischa. People, don't hate her because she's beautiful -- make fun of her because she says dumb things!

IRAQ: Blogger Gregory Djerejian blurbs New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, with whom he shared a taxi during the NYC transit strike. StategyPage has background o­n the tension between the Sunnis and the Shia in Iraq and throughout the Mideast. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covers a campaign by 48th Brigade Combat Team's 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment to save the life of an Iraqi baby.

NSA INTELL: The Washington Post story o­n plans to brief the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) o­n the NSA's "special collection program" has some details about the program itself that may bear o­n its legality. The story suggests that it is impossible for the Administration to provide FISC with names for warrants because the program, and the technology o­n which it is based, is designed to intercept conversations in real time from among an enormous number relayed at any moment through satellites. This is consistent with my earlier suspicion that the new program is an extension of the Echelon program. If the gov't has no idea whose conversations will be selected, it would be difficult to show that it illegally intentionally targeted particular, known US persons under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

NANOTECH: The San Francisco Chronicle covers a report from California's Blue Ribbon Task Force o­n Nanotechnology, which is due to be published Monday. However, there's nothing o­n tiny reindeer.

PEACE o­n EARTH: Despite the daily horrors in Iraq and seemingly regular spasms of terrorist-sponsored violence, the world is a much more peaceful place than it was a little more than a decade ago, a new study says.

HUBBLE TELESCOPE finds rings around Uranus. Fish in a barrel.

CUTE OVERLOAD: Your one-stop blog for pictures of cute animals.

A DOG'S CHRISTMAS STORY: Kinda like A Christmas Story, except that it's not the dog's tongue that gets stuck to something metal.

PLAYING POSSUM in a Christmas Tree.

SASQUATCH caught o­n video in Sonoma County, California. Surprisingly, the camera work is jumpy and blurry.

...and to all, a good night. Hee-Haw!

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Capt. Beefheart, Tegan & Sara, Feist, and a Double-mouthed Trout (mask replica?)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, December 22, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


THE BEATLES CHRISTMAS RECORDS: It's come to my attention that some people have not heard the records the Fabs used to do as a present to members of their fan club. Each year a little weirder, with their mid-period being almost Pythonesque. WFMU's Beware of the Blog has MP3s, which is naughty and nice.

POWER TOOLS FOR XMAS: Speaking of which, WFMU also has MP3s of Christmas songs played o­n power tools, not to mention belched carols, plus some Sonic Youth and Klaus Nomi. Giving killing music a whole new holiday meaning.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART: Completing a WFMU trifecta, the blog also has video of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band from German TV in 1972, plus an ad for o­ne of his albums.

THE WHITE STRIPES: In the Seattle Weekly Douglas Wolk interviews himself as to why the band covered Tegan and Sara's "Walking With a Ghost."

TEGAN AND SARA talk to Varsity about their current album, So Jealous, and their musical influences. You can stream a few -- including the aforementioned "Walking With A Ghost" (though I prefer "I Know I Know I Know") -- from My Space, natch.

FOO FIGHTERS will not cover Nirvana, but may cover the Spice Girls. Dave Grohl: "I can't believe that came out of my mouth."

THE BRUNETTES' Jonathan Bree talks to the Sydney Morning Herald about the power of positive songwriting: "I don't know, I just think it would be really unfulfilling to have to prepare for a gig by making yourself, like, really angry."

SEASON OF THE LIST: A Reminder compiled a bloggers' poll of the Top 25 Aussie Acts, with plenty of audio linkage. Carl Wilson has a Top Ten a Next Ten and 20 more. Between Thought and Expression rounds up a bunch of lists, including a few -- like Blender magazine's Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Songs -- that I haven't posted. NPR Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker offers his picks for the best music of the year, with audio links and links to other NPR critics' lists.

LESLIE FEIST gives a wide-ranging interview with Stylus. The whole thing is good, but she has the best description of Broken Social Scene to date: "Itís a blanket fort made of cushions from someoneís couch."  Feist has audio at her redesigned website.

BRIGHT EYES: Between Thought and Expression is killing music with Conor Oberst's version of "Blue Christmas."

THE FLAMING LIPS will release At War With The Mystics -- the follow up to 2003's Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots -- o­n April 3.

KASEY CHAMBERS: The Aussie alt-country singer married her long-term love Shane Nicholson last Saturday.

BOB GELDOF dismissed the deal struck at last week's World Trade talks as "thin gruel" for Africa. And he's not o­ne of Time's Persons of the Year, either.

RYAN ADAMS: An Aquarium Drunkard is killing music with a previously unreleased song that is heard in Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown. AAD's radio blog (also at the link) is holiday-themed at the moment -- everything from Loretta Lynn and Clarence Carter to the Waitresses and John Denver.

ELTON JOHN got civilly hitched. Contrary to the popular joke ahead of the big day, he did not wear a white wedding dress. Of course, that didn't stop London's Sun from running lookalike photos. The dead giveaway is that Elton could never get away with wearing white.

JACKO: Fox's Roger Friedman claims that Jackson is being investigated by the Department of Justice for lying to get his kids new passports and taking them out of the U.S. illegally.

LUKE WILSON, a/k/a "the Butterscotch Stallion," and Johnny Knoxville really dove into the spirits of the season.

BEHIND THE GLOBES: The events surrounding the suicide of a colleague causes The New York Times to look at the inner workings of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which appears to be a pretty wacky crew. For example, the HFPA does not represent internationally renowned publications like Le Monde or The Times of London - indeed, it has repeatedly rejected applications from a correspondent for Le Monde, while accepting applications from freelance writers from Bangladesh and South Korea.

WOODY ALLEN is podcasting and doing satellite radio to boost Match Point for the Oscars. But as Steve Pond notes, putting Woody out front risks alienating academy members uncomfortable with his private life.

JESSICA SIMPSON: Star magazine catalogs her rumored dalliances, ensuring that Nick Lachey's PR crew gets the Christmas bonus. And she's the latest name mentioned as a possible Bond girl, now that Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron have passed o­n it.

GEORGE CLOONEY: Looks like his planned 3 billion Las Ramblas condominium and entertainment project may be scrapped. I suppose being questioned by the feds doesn't help, either. He also wants to be married with six children by next year. I'm not a doctor, but that seems to be biologically unlikely. It also appears that the movie hero can't take a little cold weather. Finally, Faces From the Front has an unorthodox theory about the politics of Three Kings and Syriana. (Warning: Syriana spoilers at that link.)

DAVID LETTERMAN: What is it about him that attracts the totally crazy chicks?

COUPLES: Star magazine lists the tackiest couples of the year... And Tom-Kat didn't win? Janice Min, editor of Us Weekly, rates top splits of 2005 o­n a fascination scale of 1-100.

RENEE ZELLWEGER and KENNY CHESNEY: Speaking of couples, their insta-marriage was officially voided o­n Wednesday. Since going their separate ways for good, both have found the going a bit rough.

THE PRISONER is returning for a new series of episodes?

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Jolie just about has all of her furniture moved into Pitt's pad.

JESSICA ALBA was caught buying sexy lingerie at Agent Provocateur. So I guess I'll just have to act surprised o­n Christmas Eve.

IRAQ: Sunni Arabs and secular Shiites forces Wednesday to decide whether to call for a repeat of parliamentary elections, but the election commission's initial assessment was there were no complaints or incidents that would throw into question the results of the election. At Iraq the Model, Mohammed blogs that high-ranking officials are reaching out to the Accord Front to try to convince them to abandon their threatening attitude and invite them to be part of the new government, but that a likely alliance of the religious Shiites and the Kurds will spell trouble for the future. Meanwhile, an Iraqi court hears more graphic evidence at Saddam's trial of a prison where captors administered electric shocks and used molten plastic to rip the skin off prisoners. The press chose to focus Saddam's grandstanding, including facially bogus claims of torture.

NSA INTELL:  U.S. District Judge James Robertson, o­ne of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, resigned from that court, supposedly due to concerns over the "special collection program" authorized by Pres. Bush after 9/11, but John Schmidt, an associate attorney general under President Clinton, and Cass Sunstein, a prominent liberal law professor and author, both offer some support for the program. The New York Observer reports that the decision of The New York Times to move forward with the story -- after sitting o­n it for over a year -- was accelerated by the forthcoming publication of its reporter's book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.

NATURE PHOTOS: Check out the winners of National Wildlife magazine's 35th annual photography competition.

A DOUBLE-MOUTHED TROUT is discovered in a Nebraska lake. He'll need a cute name like Blinky.

GORILLAS WITH MENOPAUSE are being studied at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo. I am swelling with local pride.

PETS will not be sold o­n eBay. The internet site had considered lifting a long-standing ban o­n the sale of live animals (except fish and snails), but rejected the idea after an outcry from the site's users.

A WANDERING MOOSE is captured in eastern South Dakota, lured by the siren call of the saxophone.

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Chewbacca, Ryan Adams, Elliot Smith, Panda and the Army of the Apes   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


STATE OF THE UNION: Jib-Jab, of "This Land" fame, has President Bush recap the year "205."


MY KIND OF TOWN: So the elevated train carrying Santa, a dozen elves and their sleigh derailed last weekend. No harm, no foul, right?

PHIL SPECTOR, currently facing a murder rap, probably should not have called ex-wife Ronnie and threatened to kill her.

JENNY LEWIS of Rilo Kiley talks up her upcoming solo album at Filter. Rabbit Fur Coat boasts plenty of cameos, including co-producer M.Ward, Death Cab for Cutieís Ben Gibbard, Maroon 5ís James Valentine and Mickey Madden, the Watson Twins and Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst (who is releasing the album o­n his new label).

CONSUMER GUIDE: Robert Christgau lists his current high-grading box sets, in several genres.

THAT AIN'T WORKIN': Handin' out the pink slips at the MTV.

SEASON OF THE LIST: IGN has a number of "best of" awards, including "Best Comeback Album By A 70s Icon," "Best Album To Have Along o­n A Long Road Trip" and "Best Dark Fairy Tale Album Artwork." Filter has new Top Tens from Tegan & Sara and Tim Burgess of Charlatans. Prefix rolls out a Top 50, plus staff picks. o­nline radio station WOXY has "The 97 Best Of 2005," 'cause it used to be 97 o­n your FM dial, natch. And Pitchfork rolls out its Top 50 album list.

AMERICAN ANALOG SET: In the Village Voice, James Hunter writes that the band's sixth album "achieve(s) an exhilarating authority, a resonant completeness." You can download demos at the band's website or stream older stuff at My Space.

RYAN ADAMS' latest, 29, scores a 67 at Metacritic, but you can stream the whole thing for yourself via AOL Music.

ELLIOT SMITH: More unreleased tracks are leaking o­n the Internet.

JIM RYAN, o­ne of Chicago's top rock poster artists, is profiled in the Sun-Times, with a few nice-sized reproductions.

ANNIE LENNOX denies reports she snubbed Orlando Bloom at a movie premiere, claiming that she sat next to him at the movie.

JACKO is reportedly in default o­n a 2.2 million loan secured last April with his familyís estate in Encino, CA. And TMZ reports that Debbie Rowe, Michael Jackson's former wife and the mother of two of his children, filed legal papers accusing the singer of abducting the children.

STEREOGUM IN THE USA: Scott Lapatine is interviewed in USA Today's pop culture blog.

GWEN STEFANI is following up her first solo album, Love.Angel.Music.Baby. with a baby, likely a collaboration with hubby Gavin Rossdale.

BRITNEY SPEARS is suing Us Weekly over a column in its Oct. 17 issue that said Spears and husband Kevin Federline feared "raunchy footage" of their bedroom exploits would be made public. The lawsuit notes that Us previously has stood behind the story and declined to retract it. Seems inspired by Teri Hatcher's recent legal win, but Ms. H first brought suit against a British tabloid -- and the libel laws are more plaintiff-friendly there. ALSO: Brit may be back home with her trashtastic husband ó nicknamed "Spenderline" by her pals -- but the two are still fighting in public. Spenderline and his pals were also recently caught roughing up a tiny New York Times reporterette.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise's o­netime alternative medicine consultant is the subject of a six-month investigation by the LAPD who are asking the DA to indict her and a colleague for fraud, grand theft and malpractice. Meanwhile, last weekend, Cruise and Holmes celebrated her 27th birthday, keeping his pregnant and visibly exhausted fiancee out until 2:30 a.m. at a Miami nightclub.

MADONNA goes Sideways. I can't help picturing Paul Giamatti trying to guzzle a vase full of it.

GEORGE CLOONEY, ROBERT DE NIRO and JOE PESCI have reportedly been interviewed by federal agents during an o­ngoing investigation into an alleged Vegas racketeering scandal. You think that's funny? Funny how?

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE and JONATHAN SCHAECH: First it was her rumored affair; now it's his turn for rumors. You have broken her heart, Mr. Schaech.

THE SMOKING GUN is sending out its topical brand of hot sauce for the holidays.

JESSICA SIMPSON: After filing for a divorce, her handlers are taking the offensive in bashing Nick Lachey in an attempt to resurrect her image.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: We all sorta knew that Jolie likes to kiss her brother a little too much for comfort. Now we know that her estranged father, Jon Voight, likes the look of Pitt.

VAUGHNISTON: Shirley MacLaine is taking the rap for Vaughniston's recent near-DUI run-in with the cops in AZ: "I'd like to confirm that Vince Vaughn prefers older women and that Jennifer is just my beard. It was me in the car with Vince in Arizona and I was looped." Was?

CHARLIZE THERON is turning down the chance to be the next Bond girl. Feeling the sting of Aeon Flux, are we?

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY has signed up for another period piece -- this time based o­n the Italian novella Silk.

QUENTIN TARANTINO is retiring... from acting, that is. Oh, well... we will always have The Golden Girls.

SCARLETT JOHANNSON says Woody Allen and John Travolta are fascinated with her love life. So I should mention that she has moved in with Josh Hartnett in TriBeCa. She also embraces the English custom of afternoon teas, after filming two back-to-back movies in London. She seems to favor jam, but what about the clotted cream?

IRAQ: Sunni Arabs, a key secular party and even the Kurds -- the junior partner in the current government -- charged Tuesday that parliamentary elections were tainted by fraud, and demanded an inquiry into preliminary results showing the governing Shiite religious bloc with a larger than expected lead. The charges generally involve low numbers for the secular coalition of former prime minister Iyad Allawi. At Iraq the Model, Omar blogs that some of the preliminary figures are "ridiculous" and that the election commission is already making corrections, but he believes that many parties and candidates were marginalized and betrayed by the election commission. AFP reports o­n the growing split between the governing religious Shiites and the Kurds, which may be a cause of or an ultimate fix for any election irregularities. The Christian Science Monitor reports that in the Sadr City section of Baghdada, the Army is more often cheered than jeered, but that the reconstruction projects helping change local minds are also causing rising expectations. And in north-central Iraq, US soldiers dug up more than 1,000 aging rockets and missiles buried in the desert, o­n a tip from locals that may suggest the Sunnis there are beginning to warm up to coalition forces.

NSA INTELL: Some people claim that Pres. Bush's authorization of surveillance of international telephone calls violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This  overlooks that US wiretap statutes -- including FISA --have no extraterritorial application. Thus, when such surveillance occurs outside the US, FISA is not applicable, and there is no requirement of prior judicial authorization. This is why the Echelon program I mentioned yesterday collects its information overseas. It is no surprise that Pres. Bush stressed that "these calls are not intercepted within the country." Many might be inclined to disbelieve Pres. Bush, but it seems logical that the surveillance here would be done through the Echelon system (outside the US). Echelon already sifts through a ginormous amount of data by keywords, names and telephone numbers. So it would probably be easy to modify to look for international calls from phone numbers recovered from al Qaeda agents. And this may be why former Sen. Bob Graham came out of the initial briefing o­n the program "with the full sense that we were dealing with a change in technology but not policy." Ars Technica has a piece o­n what that change in technology might look like.

25-YEAR-OLD PANDA: I mentioned Bas's extraordinary birthday yesterday, but now I have the picture. That can't be healthy, but when you've lived double your life expectancy, why not live it up?

SNOW LEOPARD CUBS made their public debut at Sydney's Taronga Zoo yesterday, after it took two years for their parents to get busy. Awww...

THE CAT PROTECTION LEAGUE is overrun with mice in Dundee, Scotland, proving the sloth of cats worldwide.

ARMY OF THE APES: What? You thought totalitarian Communism was Stalin's worst idea?

SHARK: If you don't want to live with your own toilet waste, you're gonna need a bigger boat.

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Xmas lights video, Asobi Sexsu, The Hold Steady, Pandas and a Jackass Penguin   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 08:30 AM
Posted by: kbade


AS SOME OF YOU KNOW, I decorate more than o­ne Christmas tree each season. I know people who -- for various reasons -- won't be able to put up their own trees or be home for the Holidays, so I thought I would post a few of my tree (as opposed to my family's tree). This picture features a French-made astronaut and a moon-head (which always reminds me of the old McDonald's ad), as well as the Cat in the Hat. The valuable o­nes, however, are the goose (upper-right) and the Thomas Jefferson by Christopher Radko (lower-left). There are more pictures if you click the "Read more" link at the end of today's entry.

25,000 CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, computer-synched to music by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, broadcasted by a low-power FM transmitter so that people driving around to view decorated homes can listen o­n their car radios. There's video -- with the music -- at the link. (Thanks, Debbie!)

BONO and THE GATESES may be Time magazine's Persons of the Year, but Paul Theroux, an author who knows Africa pretty well, is not a fan of any of them: "There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of o­ne at the moment." And then he gets critical.

PITCHFORK has quietly become to this generation what Rolling Stone magazine was in the 1960s, but the Toronto Star wonders how long they'll be able to resist the "lame-ifying" forces of big money.

SEASON OF THE LIST: PopMatters lists the best 50 albums, the best 20 reissues, the best ten electronic albums and the best ten jazz albums. There's a Top 50 Singles list o­n the Pitchfork. The Underrated blog has its "Top 25 (er 28) Songs of 2005." There's a Top 20 list from Questionable Content. A Top 50 Albums countdown has started at Stylus. And there's o­ne at Rolling Stone, too.

ASOBI SEXSU: Chromewaves turned me o­nto this NYC band's mix of J-pop, noise-pop and shoegaze music. You can stream a few from MySpace, or download their cover of "Merry Xmas, Baby (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight)," which sounds more like the Raveonettes with the female vocal.

IRON & WINE/CALEXICO: Joey Burns talks to the AP about bringing guests like Sufjan Stevens, Mike Watt and the Shins' James Merecer o­nstage and jokes that it was an "Internet hookup" that first got the bands together.

HEAVY METAL has gone to the dogs.

THE HOLD STEADY'S Craig Finn and Tad Hubler are interviewed o­n video by Spacelab at First Avenue in Minneapolis. And they talk about Minneapolis, too. Not to mention Cheap Trick and Triumph. Also, there are clips of the band playing.

CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS is staffed with geniuses who set up a concert, theatrical and sports portal at livenation.com without noticing that livenation.net is a hardcore p0rn site.

BILLY JOEL is movin' out of his pad in Miami.

JACKO may be saved from bankruptcy by Sony Music, as a foreclosure o­n some 270 million worth of loans by Fortress Investments would put Sony farther away from owning his half of the company.

MORRISSEY answers more fan mail, managing to opine that the US food industry is "more of a threat to the American people than so-called 'terrorism' is. Am I bleating o­n? ..." (Well, now that you mention it...) He also seems to advocate a nuclear attack o­n China for trading in dog and cat fur.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The supposedly sober supermodel unveils a clean-cut image in a new TV ad for Virgin Mobile.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: I guess we can figure out whose side Madame Tussauds is taking... Meanwhile, more tabloid rumors about engagement rings and a Buddhist-style ceremony at Pitt's Malibu mansion make the rounds.

ORLANDO BLOOM and KATE BOSWORTH were also spied checking out engagement rings.

JESSICA SIMPSON may have hubby Nick Lachey sitting for a 300K tell-all with OK! magazine.

KING KONG: The Box Office Prophets -- while still optimistic -- turn Monday Morning Quarterback.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN was mocked by Nathan Lane o­n NBC's Today show, lecturing the fictional gay cowboys: "You're in the middle of nowhere! Get a ranch with the guy! Stop torturing these two poor women and get a room! What's the problem?"

TOM-KAT UPDATE: The ever-reliable Perez Hilton has more than o­ne source claiming that Cruise and Homes slept in separate bedrooms in NYC. Gawker analyzes People magazine's "Star Tracks."

SCIENTOLOGY: The L.A. Observed blog hooks you up to a bunch of L.A. Times stories o­n Scientology and Cruise's recruitment that some (meaning me) might find hair-raising. ALSO: Lisa Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley, Danny Masterson, Giovanni Ribisi, Leah Remini, Jenna Elfman, Catherine Bell and Marisol Nichols attended the grand opening of a new state of the art museum -- Psychiatry an Industry of Death.

CATE BLANCHETT returned to her native Australia o­n Sunday to appeal for calm following the recent race riots in Sydney.

DENIS LEARY and his Rescue Me co-stars and writers were dancing naked Irish jigs in the downstairs bar of o­no at the Hotel Gansevoort in NYC. Apparently, alcohol was involved.

SCARLETT JOHANNSON'S dress for the UK premiere of Match Point was banned in Britain. And E! channel gossip Ted Casablanca hears from more than o­ne source that Match Point director Woody Allen was enormously "taken by" Scarlett. Enough so that Soon-Yi was dropping by the set.

NICOLE RICHIE loves the Skeletor diet.

ELIZA DUSHKU may become as well-known for her dress as she is for anything o­n her resume, though her catsuit in Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back isn't bad, either.

STACY'S MOM refuses alimony from Rod Stewart.

DAVID GEFFEN has sold off over 100 million worth of irreplaceable works of art in six months.

DARYL HANNAH may have Lyme disease.

CARMEN ELECTRA felt obligated to sleep with the high bidder o­n a charity date for the National Prostate Cancer Coalition -- and was relieved when he was disqualified. The bidder might also be relieved... if he ever heard the penne pasta story.

REESE WITHERSPOON was probably smiling as an arrest warrant was issued for a photographer who allegedly struck a 5-year-old child with his camera while trying to take pictures of Reese Witherspoon and her children at an amusement park.

IRAQ: The residents of Tal Afar now cheer US troops. The reporter contrasts this with Fallujah, but AFP reports that Fallujah is improving and "could well be a model of civil-military relations for the restive cities further west, especially Ramadi." The local leaders there have figured out that working with the US forces is ultimately the best way to get them to leave. Key Sunni Muslim leaders in Anbar province have concluded that their interests lie in cooperating with the US as protection against neighbors like Iran and Syria. These Sunnis want a reduction in military raids and an increase in development projects. The reconstruction element of the current strategy may be key -- in Pakistan and Indonesia, direct contact with Americans o­n a humanitarian mission, including military personnel, has has a large positive impact o­n how these countries view America and terrorism.

IRAQ II: As the US emphasizes reconstruction, there is a push for Iraqi Army units to take greater responsibility in providing from the planning and execution of missions. Iraqi blogger Omar writes that the now-governing religious Shiites probably won the largest bloc of seats in parliament, but not enough to form a government itself. They will be forced to join up with other parties or risk that a coalition of Kurds, Sunnis and secular Shiites will form the government. In the Washington Post, Jackson Diehl looks at the impact of Iraq's drive toward democracy elsewhere in the region. And the AP reporter embedded with the Army's 101st Airborne Division has figured out that a boring day is a good day. But in bemoaning that "when the history of the Iraq war is written, there won't be any letters from soldiers to their friends and family to chronicle their days in the field," he's overlooking e-mail and blogs.

HERE WE SEE THE PANTOMIME COW, enagaged in a life or death struggle for jobs running major world powers. Or it could just be Madame Tussauds again.

NSA INTELL: Yesterday, I noted that the press has largely missed the President's inherent legal authority under the Constitution to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance. Today, let's take a detached look at the politics of the issue. Before 9/11, when Bill Clinton was President, hardly anyone cared about the Echelon program, which we know eavesdrops o­n US citizens and has listed innocent people as possible terrorists. But after 9/11, if George W. Bush wants to eavesdrop o­n phone numbers found in al Qaeda's rolodex, Rep. John Lewis and Sen. Barbara Boxer think it may be an impeachable offense? If you were a politician, would you rather be arguing the side that foiled at least two major terror plots, or the side defending the privacy of people who -- as far as we know now -- have suffered no ill effects of the eavesdropping? If you can see how that might look to the generally apolitical center, you can understand Bush's immediate, aggressive pushback o­n the issue. And I wouldn't be shocked if Bush had a poll taken o­n it over the weekend, would you?

WHY I LOVE POLLS: Speaking of polls, CNN reports: "Iraq speeches, election don't help Bush." ABC News and the Washington Post report: "Bush's Support Jumps After a Long Decline; Americans Optimistic o­n Iraq, Economy."

TERROR IN SPAIN: Spanish police arrested 15 people o­n Monday who are suspected of recruiting al Qaeda fighters to send to Iraq.

LOST IN GERMANY: Two German women won a lawsuit against a casino after their husbands gambled all of their savings away. For their part, the husbands are no longer allowed to use the words "nest" or "egg."

PANDA REUNION: Sure, it happened last month, but it's still cute now. Perhaps they will match Basi, the Chinese panda who just celebrated her 25th birthday.

CHINESE WHITE DOLPHINS are getting refuge in the southeastern province of Fujian.

GIANT SQUID: Trapped in a block of ice!

GOATS may chew Kudzu for the City of Chattanooga, TN.

JACKASS PENGUIN snatched from a zoo o­n the Isle of Wight may die if not returned promptly. And yes, "jackass" is s type of penguin -- it makes a braying sound.

Read full article: 'Xmas lights video, Asobi Sexsu, The Hold Steady, Pandas and a Jackass Penguin'
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Vetiver, Girl Groups, Stars, Mentos explosions and Monarch Butterflies   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 19, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


KEITH RICHARDS has been Lord of the Undead for longer than I thought. A super-8 color flick showing his near-fatal electrocution in 1965 was auctioned o­n Friday at Itsonlyrocknroll.com. The footage, from a Rolling Stones show in Sacramento, captures a nervous audience watching as bandmates Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman and Brian Jones stagger toward Richards while attendants struggle to revive him. It was predicted to sell for around 10K, but ultimately sold for over 26K. Other items o­n the block included the original cover photo for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (which sold for just over 10K), an MTV jacket signed by all members of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, handwritten Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen lyrics, and more.

VETIVER: The avant-folk ensemble will preview the group's upcoming second album, To Find Me Gone, by playing it in its entirety during select appearances o­n the West Coast. You can stream clips from the first album at the band's website.

DAVID LEE ROTH is revisiting Van Halen's hits o­n a new bluegrass tribute album, Strummin' with the Devil.

COLDPLAY plays Austin City Limits. Producers say it marks a step in a new direction, but some fans are (rightly) worried.

SEASON OF THE LIST: More Cowbell has a Top 50 and then some. Filter continues its series with Top Tens from Shock G of Digital Underground, Josh Ritter, and Butch Vig of Garbage (as well as the producer of classics like Nirvana's Nevermind and The Service's George's Duty-Free Goulash.) Pichfork has more artists' lists, including some from members of Wilco, Okkervil River, New Pornographers and the Decemberists. Pitchfork also has a list of the 15 worst releases of 2005. Greg Kot names Chicago's Top Ten indie releases.

TOP TEN FILTHIEST SONGS, courtesy of Stylus.

JOHN LENNON is to be "honored" in the wake of the 25th anniversary of his death with a talking doll after Yoko Ono sold the rights to his image to a toy manufacturer.

YOU NEVER GIVE ME YOUR MONEY: The surviving members of The Beatles and relatives of the late band members, John Lennon and George Harrison, are suing EMI for £30 million in unpaid royalties.

CALEXICO frontman Joey Burns talks about the upcoming album, which may sound less like a spaghetti western soundtrack.

THE STROKES' upcoming album gets a middling review in London's Guardian.

KILLING LYRICS UPDATE: Warner Chappell Music formally apologized to Walter Ritter over a letter it sent to the software programmer earlier this month targeting a helper application for Apple's iTunes called pearLyrics.

GIRL GROUPS: The piece o­n the One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds, Lost & Found box set, has a few streaming at NPR.

STARS: These labelmates of Broken Social Scene and Metric have a download of their cover of "Fairytale of New York" downloadable through Chromewaves and elsewhere. The band is also profiled in the Montreal Mirror.

JENS LEKMAN, who I recently blurbed (with links to downloads), is taking an indefinite hiatus.

LOU RAWLS has been hospitalized for treatment of brain and lung cancer. Best wishes to him.

BONO was named one of Time magazine's Persons of the Year, along with Bill and Melinda Gates. Bob Geldof, a co-organizer of Live8, was named Time magazine's "Rocker Not Big Enough to Sell Our Magazine" by me.

WILLIE NELSON and ARLO GUTHRIE staged a musical homecoming for hurricane-wrecked New Orleans at Tipitina's o­n Saturday night. Tipitina's runs a charity for hard-hit artists, finding them apartments or ready cash.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The troubled singer has reportedly been arrested o­n suspicion of possessing heroin. The incident adds to the singer's January court appearances, after also being arrested in November o­n suspicion of possessing crack cocaine.

RED HOT CHILI PEPPER Anthony Kiedis was apparently looking very chummy with National Geographic's Lisa Ling at Barneys in Beverly Hills o­n Saturday.

KING KONG topped the weekend box office. The 50 million/3-day, 66 million/5-day numbers may still leave the studio a bit nervous, though the "weekend multiplier" should be reassuring that the film's length and competition from the Narnia movie are the culprits and that word-of-mouth will give Kong legs. As a side note, the debate as to whether King Kong has a racial subtext is o­ne of the silliest I've seen in some time. The depiction of the natives in thge 1933 version was stereotypical, but Jackson addresses the issue several ways in the remake -- some serious and some mocking the stereotype. Moreover, if the metaphor was applied consistently, it would be obvious that the audience is meant to sympathize with Kong and that the stand-ins for white imperialism are intended to be the villains.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is the current odds-on favorite for Best Picture at the Oscars. But Gold Derbyist Tom O'Neil -- the Mel Kiper, Jr. of awards shows -- thinks that it may not win the Golden Globe, despite the nominations' obviously gay-friendly theme this year.

COURTNEY LOVE: Spotted looking clean and groomed at a showing of Brokeback Mountain.

JOHN SPENCER, a veteran actor of everything from The Patty Duke Show to L.A. Law and The West Wing, died of a heart attack Friday. He was 58.

VIKING LOVE BOAT: The Smoking Gun has all the lurid details -- butt groping, sex toy usage, assorted oral favors, topless lap dancing, etc. -- that caused four Minnesota Vikings players to be charged with lewd conduct for their roles in a ribald October party boat excursion o­n Lake Minnetonka.

BRADGELINA: If you haven't seen their Christmas card from their future, you really should.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise's faith in Scientology reportedly was nurtured at a secretive SoCal desert compound that catered to his needs around the clock. Fifteen years ago, two dozen members worked through dawn to plant a meadow of wildflowers in which Cruise and then-wife Nicole Kidman could romp, alleged  a former Scientologist who said she was at the base for 17 years. The head of Scientology International's Office of Special Affairs said such accounts were fabricated by "apostates." In more recent events, for Holmes' birthday, Cruise drew attention to himself, doing handstands o­n a giant piano in a toy store (shouldn't that be left for Tom Hanks?) and taking his pregnant fiancee ice-skating in the rain. Also, Cruise has been given the Stinkiest Diaper of the Year Award by Babytalk magazine.

VAUGHNISTON: Jennifer Aniston o­n being snapped topless by paparazzi: "It was like I was saying earlier today, 'Well, I might as well pull my pants down at this point, since they've seen everything else." A few more flop movies and it may happen.

BRITNEY SPEARS is reinventing herself... as Madonna. Doesn't Gwen Stefani already have that gig? Or will Brit stake her claim to Madge's more recent aging hooker style?

TARA REID: If you met her o­n a cruise ship, you might just jump overboard, too.

JESSICA ALBA and HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN took time out of filming "Awake" at Bellevue Hospital last week to donate four bags of toys to kids who will be spending Christmas in the pediatric unit. Photos at Just Jared.

SCARLETT JOHANNSON may have liked shooting Woody Allen's Match Point because she doesn't like stunt work, but it turns out that she got injured in Match Point too.

JESSICA SIMPSON files for divorce. Ashlee Simpson collapses following a performance in Tokyo, presumably not because of the divorce, but the standard show biz "exhaustion." Hey, you try lip-synching for a couple of hours sometime! She would have collapsed ages ago if she had to lip-synch after visiting whatever trout pout shop Jessica is using...

IRAQ: In the International-Herald Tribune, John F. Burns finds among Sunnis a "willingness to distance themselves from the insurgency, an absence of hostility for Americans, a casual contempt for Saddam Hussein, (and) a yearning... to find a place for themselves in the post-Hussein Iraq." Bill Roggio blogs from the Al Asad air base that Sunnis in western Anbar province voted overwhelmingly for Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite. And after last week's historic vote Sunni Arabs may be they key to a coalition government, either with secular Shiites and Kurds, or with the now-governing religious Shiites. This may give Sunnis the leverage to gain concessions and support for constitutional amendments that may bring them much more into the political process and weaken the insurgency.

IRAQ II: The US is scaling back combat forces in regions of the Sunni Triangle that were o­nce fiercely contested, freeing thousands of troops to shift to other trouble spots or to go home without being replaced. The transition to Iraqi security is being tested in places like the east-central Diyala province, where the military expects by next month to have cut the number of ground combat units by two-thirds. Overall, the number of attacks there has dropped compared with last year, as the the Iraqi Army in Diayala is laying down the law to local leaders. StrategyPage notes that non-Iraqi Arabs are impressed at the economic growth and proliferation of media in Iraq, as well as the eagerness of Iraqis to vote and make democracy work.

PREWAR INTELL: The Washington Post and the Knight Ridder chain highlighted a congressional report concluding that President Bush had access to more intelligence and reviewed more sensitive material than what was shared with Congress when it gave Bush the authority to wage war against Iraq. What neither story reports is that -- according to the bipartisan Robb-Silberman Commission -- the intell reports not shared with Congress, e.g., the Presidential Daily Brief, were even more alarmist and less nuanced than the National Intelligence Estimate provided to Congress. (See, e.g., Conclusion 22). The Washington Post should know this, as the White House pointed it out to the paper just last month.

MENTOS: Though their mood-altering qualities are known to fans of the Foo Fighters, who knew the freshmakers could be explosive when mixed with soda? (Thanks, Ted!)

BAD SANTAS: A group of 40 people dressed as Santa Claus -- many of them drunk -- rampaged through New Zealand's largest city, robbing stores, assaulting security guards, overturning garbage containers, throwing bottles at passing cars, spraying graffiti o­n buildings and urinated o­n cars from an Auckland overpass. Alex Dyer, a spokesman for the group, said "Santarchy" was a worldwide movement designed to protest the commercialization of Christmas.

SANTA CLAUS: Speaking of which, it's an interactive oldie but goodie from They Might Be Giants.

POST-9/11 INTELL: The New York Times reports that President Bush authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance of international telephone calls in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, e.g., numbers found o­n the computers, cellphones and personal directories of of top Al Qaeda operatives overseas. The program is believed to have foiled at leats two al Qaeda plots, including a planned attack o­n the Brooklyn Bridge.

Anonymous officials have raised legal concerns about the program. There is not much case law in this area -- in part because intell may be gathered without an eye toward prosecution, which is when it would be challenged. Judge Sand's opinion in U.S. v. bin Laden has good background material. As has the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review has noted, all courts that have decided the issue have ruled that the President has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. (One of the "experts" consulted by the NYT didn't know this.)  Whether Congress can limit that authority with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is questionable (and the NYT story leaves open basic questions like whether "US persons" under FISA were subject to surveillance -- pieces like this Washington Post editorial making claims about spying on Americans and US citizens are misreading the NYT story). These may be some of the reasons the NYT waited a year to publish this story. Other reasons might be to influence debate over renewal of the Patriot Act or to help promote James Risen's upcoming book.

ANIMAL HOARDING: More than 100 animals -- 74 small dogs and nine big o­nes, seven cats, 26 birds, four goats and a lone duck -- have been removed from a small three-bedroom house in San Luis Obispo, CA.

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES have armed bodyguards at the Biosphere Reserve in Mexico.

HERMIE THE TURTLE survived an experimental orthodontic procedure, o­nly to die of kidney failure a few days later.

DONKEY RUNNING AMOK is taken into custody in Shelbyville, TN.

CRIMEBUSTING CATS nab a burglar by giving forensic evidence to police in Britain.

SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES: is back in fashion in L.A. and in Portsmouth, England.

IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER: The AP has more o­n the search for the elusive bird in the wildlife refuges of the Arkansas Delta.

ELEPHANTS cleared of going o­n drunken rampages.

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