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Tegan & Sara, Mystery Jets, Cutout Bin, Iron Man, Dog Slide   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, May 02, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



photo by optionthis

... with TEGAN & SARA!  They have been called "indie music's answer to Laurel and Hardy," and their onstage banter is here among their performances at the Coachella festival.  The correct sequence, afaik, is: "Dark Come Soon," "The Con," "Burn Your Life Down," "Floorplan," "Speak Slow," "I Bet It Stung," "Fix You Up," "So Jealous," "Nineteen," "Back In Your Head," "Walking With A Ghost," "Hop A Plane" and "Living Room." BONUS: It turns out that there is a Tegan & Sara banter blog, with plenty of embedded video.

COACHELLA: In addition to Tegan & Sara, Largehearted Boy is collecting downloads and streams of acts that played the festival, including Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Roger Waters, DeVotchKa, MGMT, the Raconteurs and more...

OTTER, including Friend of Pate Scott Jasper, is playing the Bali Satay House in Ames, IA, tonight at 9:00 p.m. Be there or be square.  Guys wear ties, gals wear dresses. Yes, I'm kidding about the last bit.

OF MONTREAL's Kevin Barnes is doing a solo show in Toronto, so he spoke to Eye Weekly, in part about how he always identified with feminine male artists like David Bowie, Lou Reed, Marc Bolan and Prince: "I love how they transcend gender expectations without sinking too far into campiness - it's a fine line for sure..."

ELBOW stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via MPR.  Frontman Guy Garvey talks to the NYDN about the debt the band owes Radiohead and the dynamics of songwriting.  He discusses a variety of subjects -- politics, the business, self-promotion, etc. --at DCist with Kyle Gustafson, who blogs at Information Leafblower.

THE MYSTERY JETS have a new video for "Two Doors Down" that has a classic cheesy MTV feel to it.  I previously linked the video for "Young Love."

WILCO bassist John Stirratt seems to be doing the press in the current leg of their tour, praising the versatility of the current lineup and hinting about their next record in the Winnipeg Sun, while he talks about the changing nature of the biz and the band's five-night residence in Chicago with the Colorado Springs Independent. (Thx, LHB.)

THE REPLACEMENTS' widely circulated 1985 bootleg, Simply Unacceptable, is posted at PopHeadwound.  You can also stream it for now via the ol' HM.

OKKERVIL RIVER hit WOXY's lounge last week; you can watch the mini-set and download the audio via The Futurist.

CUTOUT BIN: From the Kingsmen to ELO, from Big Mama Thornton to The Babys, from the Ting Tings to the Sex Pistols, The Replcements, The Feelies, Liz Phair and Pavement, this Friday's fortuitous finds can be jukeboxed or streamed individually on the Pate page at the ol' HM.

IRON MAN took a very long and winding road through development Hell to get to your cineplex today.  And it is almost always the better for it.  The original comic sprung from the backdrop of Vietnam; current events make this update seem as ripped from the headlines as an episode of Law & Order -- if Jerry Orbach had worn wicked cool armor.  The script -- which swifty and sharply mixes action and exposition from the outset -- attacks the arms business, though anyone familiar with the comic book's Obidiah Stane stiryline could have seen this variant coming.  The delay also put the project in the hands of director Jon Favreau (who even turns up in Vegas, baby), who does one of the smartest things a director can do -- cast his picture well.  Word is the suits would have preferred someone younger or more bankable than the rehabbed Robert Downey, Jr., but fans immediately saw him as perfect to play the excessive playboy-genius turned redemption-seeking hero Tony Stark -- and Downey does not disappoint.  Favreau lets Downey have his head, and his supporting cast -- primarily Gwyneth Paltrow, Terence Howard and Jeff Bridges -- each bring their game to meet his.  Indeed, while there is enough CGI action to keep the kids' attention, adults may find themselves wishing for more of the character-driven scenes. Downey is also able to fully exploit the comic aspects of Stark's flaws, giving the picture a lighter tone that distinguishes it from most of the recent superhero movies.  As for the music, please note that the first bedroom scene is set to an instrumental version of the theme from the old Iron Man cartoon; you have to wait for the end credits for the Black Sabbath.  BTW, you will want to stay through all of the end credits.  Really.  I cannot stress that enough.

NOW SHOWING: In addition to Iron Man,  which is currently scoring 95 percent on the ol' Tomatometer, this weekend's only other wide release is the counter-programming of Patrick dempsey in Made of Honor, which is scoring 19 percent.

ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. is already looking ahead to a possible Iron Man sequel and added that he'd like to explore the burden his superhero responsibilities impose. One possible sequel storyline thread, Downey said, could be based on the "Demon in a Bottle" comic series. In it, an overwhelmed Stark becomes an alcoholic.

GWYNETH PALTROW, on the Red Carpet for Iron Man, was asked whether she had any well wishes to share with ex-bf Brad Pitt, who is rumored to be on the way to fatherhood again, didn't even play the usual "I-wish-them-the-best" lip service, curtly saying, "no," and moving on.

BRADGELINA: The potential release of a tape showing Jolie snorting and smoking heroin in the 1990s may do some serious damage to the soon-to-be mother of six's new reputation as a much hotter version of Mother Teresa.  Hey, it's in the National Enquirer, right?

BRITNEY SPEARS: Bills for lawyers, rehab and psychiatric care, combined with the pop wreck's inability to work, may have cost Spears 61 million dollars.

UMA THURMAN testified against her stalker Thursday; TMZ live-blogged it. BTW, it's not surprising that Uma didn't look at the defendant or in his lawyer's direction.  She was probably instructed by the prosecutor or her personal attorneys to speak to the jury.

BEYONCE KNOWLES is knocked up? That's what multiple sources tell the Hollyscoop blog, which is allegedly why she and Jay-Z rushed their wedding.

MARIAH CAREY & NICK CANNON married?  Carey's nephew was in the Bahamas, but his Facebook account throws doubt on the rumor.

MILEY CYRUS on top of the controversy surrounding her portrait in Vanity Fair, has also been criticized for telling the magazine that Sex and the City is her "favorite show!" - and for comparing the racy series to her Disney mega-hit Hannah Montana. She watches the edited version on TBS. Meanwhile photog Annie Leibovitz has clammed up.

JESSICA SIMPSON may be dispatched to jinx the Democratic National Convention in Denver... or so Pres. Bush joked in front of members of the Super Bowl-winning New York Giants who visited the White House Wednesday.

ANNE HATHAWAY's boyfriend Raffaelo Follieri has agreed to pay 1.3 million bucks to settle a lawsuit with billionaire Ron Burkle, who had accused Follieri of squandering the sum to support his lavish lifestyle.  Earlier this month, Follieri was arrested and charged with trying to pass a bad check, reportedly for around 250K.

THE WORLD'S 15 TOP-EARNING MODELS, according to Forbes magazine.  Giselle Bundchen towers over the rest -- even Heidi Klum -- but that is due to her savvy business sense off the catwalk.  Yes, there is a slideshow at the link, but the pics at the Daily Mail are better. Metro asks, "Is it all over for Naomi Campbell?"

THE INCREDIBLE HULK has a new trailer online. Ed Norton's hair is pre-Hulked.

GLOBAL WARMING will stop until at least 2015 because of natural variations in the climate, scientists have said. Yet we rarely hear stories about natural variations in the climate exaggerating the warming trend.

SOMALIA: The US military killed a man believed to be the head of al-Qaeda in Somalia and 10 others in an airstrike overnight, an Islamic insurgent group said Thursday. The question now is whether his removal will take the energy out of the Islamists' Jihad or simply provoke a series of revenge attacks.

IRAQ: The apparent respite in fighting ended as US forces killed an additional 27 Mahdi Army fighters and a senior Special Groups leader during a series of engagements in the afternoon and throughout the night in Sadr City. A group of Iraqi Shiite MPs is in Iran for talks with radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in a bid to end clashes between his fighters and troops that have killed hundreds of people, a Sadr aide said on Thursday. A tip from a member of the Sons of Iraq led directly to the capture of a key AQI terrorist, reportedly known for vehicle-borne improvised-explosive device attacks, improvised-explosive device attacks, sniper attacks on Coalition Forces, the kidnapping and murder of Iraqis, and weapons trafficking.  An Iraqi govt spokesman stated that the findings of the committee looking into the recently discovered mass-graves in the "Triangle of Death" proved involvement of AQI and other organized crime rings in the massacres.  The head of the Basra operations room revealed that 324 wanted and suspects were arrested in Basra during the last three weeks.


INCREDIBLE JOURNEY: A cat returned home five days later after making a 460 mile round trip to London.

CRABS on a PLANE: The force of the crash broke off the plane's nose gear and crumpled the plane's fuselage. And while no one was hurt from the crash, one passenger aboard the plane did receive a number of crab pinches.

TWO SENTIMENTAL GEEKS have been charged with second-degree burglary after they attempted to free a dog from the city animal shelter so they could take it to its owner's funeral over the weekend.

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Jason Collett, Morning Benders, Mudcrutch, Duck Xing   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, May 01, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


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Feist, Death Cab, Foals, Shins, Knut Update   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


FEIST sits for an interview on The Colbert Report, then plays "I Feel It All," which is introduced in the spangly "1 2 3 4 " top he got from Ms. F.  And Kevin Drew will be in for a shock some evening.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE did six free songs for Daytrotter, some of which are to appear on the forthcoming Narrow Stairs LP.

JIMI HENDRIX may have a sex tape, but the identity of the man in the film is fiercely disputed by experts and former associates.

THE FOALS stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via MPR.

ROGER WATERS: The fmr Pink Floyd frontman's inflatable pig has gone missing: "He escaped and went floating off into the desert," according to Coachella Fest spokeswoman Marcee Rondan.  There's a 10K award out for the porker. UPDATE: The pig is dead.

THE SHINS perform an original song, "It's Okay, Try Again," for Nick Jr.'s show Yo Gabba Gabba! which will air May 23.

SMOOSH: Chloe spoke with Exclaim! about her worst tour memories and some changes in the band.

TINY MASTERS OF TODAY, another accomplished kid band, is profiled in the New York Daily News. Michael Palms, co-owner of the club Southpaw in Park Slope, gives bands like Tiny Masters a regular venue: "They write interesting songs about angst and rejecting pop culture, which is essentially what rock music is really all about."

STEVE EARLE talks to the Dallas Morning News, where he seems to view the international movement of labor as different from the the international movement of capital.

THE POSIES are getting a three-disc tribute from dozens of bands so obscure that even I haven't heard of them!

MILEY CYRUS:  Photogate, Day 3 features reax from dad Billy Ray Cyrus, Rosie O'Donnell, Heidi Montag & Spencer Pratt, Bill O' Reilly and Hilary Duff.

CSI PALM SPRINGS: Gary Dourdan was busted in Palm Springs on suspicion of possessing heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and prescription drugs.

MINDY McCREADY & ROGER CLEMENS had a longterm affair; the two met in a Florida karaoke bar when McCready was a 15-year-old aspiring singer and Clemens was a 28-year-old ace for the Red Sox and a married father of two. It wasn't until later, after McCready had moved to Nashville and become a country singing star, that the relationship turned intimate.

BRADGELINA and their brood are holed up in Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen's vlla on the French Riviera, scouting locations for Jolie's next delivery.

MY NAME IS DAD: Jason Lee and his girlfriend, Ceren Alkac, are expecting a baby.

BRITNEY SPEARS gives onlookers a shock as she wanders into a hotel gym in nothing but a towel.

MADONNA is finally shocked by a sexual practice.  And she only had to go to Africa.

SCIENTOLOGY has started its own YouTube channel, but you just know they aren't going to post the really wacky stuff we want to watch.

VANILLA ICE is off the hook on domestic abuse charges, marking the first time Ice has been off the hook in decades. Wife Laura Van Winkle retracted allegations that he had hit and kicked her during a spat at home.

PAM ANDERSON has become a US citizen, further exposing systemic weaknesses at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

IRON MAN: There's an exclusive clip posted at Yahoo! Movies, plus a version with commentary from director Jon Favreau.  The Detroit Free Press calls it the buzz-magnet kiciking of this summer's movie season.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS: A governor in northern Saudi Arabia has ordered authorities to punish men who flirt with women in public places by cutting their hair, local media said Tuesday.  Which I suppose is better than beheading, but still...

IRAN is demanding that Azerbaijan deliver a Russian shipment of nuclear equipment blocked at its border with Iran for the past three weeks. Meanwhile, Western scientists are intrigued by photos from Iran's nuclear site at Natanz.

IRAQ: The US ambassador to the UN on Monday slammed the alleged destabilizing role of Iran and Syria in Iraq and urged them to stop the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into the country. Heavy fighting broke out between Coalition and Mahdi Army forces in Sadr City as US troops killed 28 Mahdi Army fighters after being ambushed during a patrol. Seven more Mahdi Army fighters were killed during strikes Monday. In Basra, shops and cafes have reopened as the pious young men who for years had been shutting them down -- declaring music "haram" (forbidden) and threatening to kill women for not wearing headscarfs -- have vanished.  Finally, a look at the improbable work of the self-proclaimed "Cat Lady of Baghdad."

KNUT UPDATE: The once cuddly polar bear cub, now a grown psychopath addicted to human attention, may be gay. NTTAWWT.

A GIANT BEAVER crashed into a Russian food store, smashing a shop window and several bottles of vodka.

THE BIGGEST SQUID EVER CAUGHT, boasting a fearsome beak and razor-sharp hooks, may be small compared to others still lurking in the depths, scientists said Tuesday.

A LEGLESS LIZARD and a DWARF WOODPECKER are among 14 discovered species believed to be new to science in central Brazil, a wildlife conservation group said on Tuesday.

GATOR vs. GOLFER: A golfer used a four iron and a rake to save the life of a diver attacked by a giant 11ft alligator as he searched for lost balls in a lake at his local course in Tampa, Florida.

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Prince, New Releases, Justin Townes Earle, Weiner Dogs   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


PRINCE rocked the indie kids at Coachella with a surprise cover of Radiohead's "Creep." Catchit before the Purple One's lawyers do, won't you?

NEW RELEASES: Les Savy Fav, Joy Division, Kid Creole, Sarah McLachlan, and more are streaming in full this week via Spinner. Portishead releases its Third. The Constantines visit Kensington Heights.  Robert Forster introduces The Evangelist. Bearsuit goes Oh:lo.

THE LEGENDARY CAPITOL RECORDS ECHO CHAMBERS are threatened by a condo development.

JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE plays and talks on Morning Edition about his addiction and his musician-dad, Steve: "It's a really hard family to rebel in. I could have become an accountant. Or I could have become a Republican - that would have really pissed him off."

SHE & HIM: Zooey Deschanel tells the LA Times she's uninterested in keeping up with new bands, preferring instead the thrill of "discovering something old that might've been forgotten. I like the feel of being in a musty record store," she says with a laugh.

I WANT CANDY from The Strangeloves and a super-charged Bow Wow Wow for Twofer Tuesday. 

TIFT MERRITT gets riled up when the Irish Independent raises the tricky subject of genre and how she's perceived as an artist.

LAURA GIBSON stopped by Oregon Public Broadcasting for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand, broken up into handy segments.

NICK CAVE talks to The List about... the press: "I'm represented in all sorts of different ways. But it does become frustrating to read a lot of what's written about me. The same set of anecdotes strung together by yet another lazy writer who lacks any imagination. Not you of course (laughs). It's frustrating that no matter what your efforts are in terms of music the press lags behind."

THE BYRDS are set to release a recording of their 1971 appearance at London's Royal Albert Hall - featuring a line up of Roger McGuinn, Clarence White, Skip Battin and Gene Parsons. Roger McGuinn told Uncut that the recording came from his private collection and that more releases of a similar kind would probably follow it.

MILEY CYRUS: Everybody weighs in on Hannah Montana's semi-topless Vanity Fair photoshoot, from photographer Annie Leibovitz to Jamie Lee Curtis to the Christian Coalition.  Along with reax from Disney and The View, The Superficial looks at the behind-the-scenes pics and opines that she's probably not really embarrassed.

BRITNEY SPEARS: The Child Custody Evaluation report is in, and it's a "mixed bag" that "makes it more likely that Britney will show for the hearing" on May 6, according to TMZ.

AMY POEHLER & WILL ARNETT are to become first-time parents, in a fabulous promotion for Baby Mama.

CHERI OTERI, formerly of SNL, mourns the loss of her father, who was stabbed to death on Saturday in Nashville.


TOM-KAT UPDATE: Oprah Winfrey's upcoming interview with Cruise includes questions about Scientology, his verbal smackdown with Matt Lauer on the Today show and, yes, the infamous couch-jumping incident.  Winfrey leaked this and more during last weekend's Vegas taping of a joint interview with Tina Turner and Cher, who talks about her affair with Cruise at the start of his career.

ANGIE EVERHART was busted for DUI last Thursday, and no longer engaged to Joe Pesci.

SCOTT WEILAND, once again the frontman for Stone Temple Pilots, has been sentenced to 192 hours in county jail for his November DUI arrest.

KATHY GRIFFIN has split from billionaire Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, but it seems amicable.

THE HOBBIT movies are officially under the directorial hand of Guillermo del Toro. Though no screenplay deal's been set, it's expected that the "LOTR" scripting team of Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens will collaborate with Del Toro.  TheOneRing already has an interview with del Toro, who says -- among other things -- that Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis seem game for more.

HEATHER LOCKLEAR still looks quite healthy at 46.  BONUS:  Add her ex-pal Denise Richards for a Gratuitous Twofer Tuesday to mark the onset of bikini season.

CARRIE FISHER reveals that she got quite cozy with Harrison Ford while waging Star Wars.

LEE ELIA: It is the 25th anniversary of one of the most notorious sports rants evah.  Present and former Chicagoans may remember that Les Grobstein and a young Mark Giangreco were responsible for recording the Cubs manager's profanity-laden tirade.

MIDEAST MYSTERY: CIA Director Michael Hayden said Monday that the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in September would have produced enough plutonium for one or two bombs within a year of becoming operational.

IRAN: A top Iranian judiciary official warned Monday against the "destructive" cultural and social consequences of importing Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter dolls.

IRAQ:  TIME asks, "Is AQI is back in Baghdad?"  ITM's Omar Fadhil asks, "Is AQI teaming with Moqtada al-Sadr?" US forces killed 45 Shiite militiamen in Baghdad in fierce fighting that included a tank battle with dozens of gunmen who attacked a checkpoint under cover of a dust storm. The CFR's Greg Bruno looks at the upside and potential downside of the "Sons of Iraq."  Meanwhile, the McClatchy chain reports that one of the most powerful men in Iraq is Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who commands the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, an elite paramilitary and espionage organization whose mission is to expand Iran's influence in the Middle East.

WEINER DOG RACES in Austin. Let's go to the slideshow.

DOLPHIN DIES IN MIDAIR COLLISION at SeaWorld in Orlando, FL. Sharky was 30 years old.

BEE FAITHFUL: A religious beekeeper in Serbia has started making beehives shaped like tiny monasteries and churches "because bees have a soul too."

SPIDER PLAGUE closed a tiny Australian hospital.


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Duffy, B-52s, Vampire Weekend, Penguin Wetsuit   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, April 28, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


DUFFY brings the Dusty-esque melancholy in the video for "Warwick Avenue."

THE B-52s played for WXPN at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia; you can stream the whole gig on demand via NPR. 

NICOLE ATKINS talks to the Times of London about dreams and monsters, and how Rick Rubin put her Neptune City album on hold to remix it.

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED:  New tracks from Circulatory System, Elf Power, the Black Keys, Gnarls Barkley and folk singer Laura Gibson are featured in the latest edition of the long-running series from NPR.

THE NATIONAL frontman Matt Berninger talks to JamBands about R.E.M., lyrics and Phish.

WEEKEND VAMPIRE talks to The List, with guitarist and singer Ezra Koenig commenting on the African rhythms in some of their music: "But it was important for us, if we were going to be playing rock instruments, not to use the same rhythms, the same styles of playing that so much rock has used. It becomes kind of boring."  The band was joined by a drum line on Kimmel for a rendition of "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa."

MICK JONES (The Clash, B.A.D., Carbon/Silicon) has written a song ttitled, "Don't tase me, bro!" after the arrest of an excitable college student.

CLOUD CULT stopped by WNYC for a chat and a twofer you can stream on demand va NPR.

AMY WINEHOUSE was released from a London police station Saturday after spending a night in custody following her arrest for an assault -- but her distraught dad wants her forcibly locked up in a mental hospital for her own good.

PHIL COLLINS is to retire from recording and performing after over 30 years in the music industry.

MILEY CYRUS issued a statement apologizing for a series of playfully provocative photos that circulated on the Internet last week, as well as those from a racy, as-yet unreleased Vanity Fair photo shoot in which she appears to be nude. Retail sales for her Hannah Montana franchise are expected to total about $1 billion in 2008. A motion picture is in the works for 2009 and Ms. Cyrus signed a seven-figure book deal with the Disney Book Group last week.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  Over the the weekend before summer box office season, Baby Mama takes the top slot with 18 million on a 30 million budget.  Harold & Kumar 2 followed with 14 million on a 12 million budget.  That's good, as Baby Mam may have more legs as a counter to Iron Man this weekend and Speed Racer next weekend.  Harold & Kumar made almost as much as the entire theater run of the original, thouhg that went on to make 60 million in DVD sales.  Forbidden Kingdom edged out Forgetting Sarah Marshall, though the latter dropped only 38 percent -- not bad in the face of Baby Mama.  The Judd Apatow production has laready recouped its budget.  Nim's Island rounds out the Top Five and also recoups its production budget.  Deception debuted in tenth and is DOA, for all sorts of good reasons.

JENNIFER ANISTON & JOHN MAYER are in a hot new romance - thanks to matchmaker Sheryl Crow, according to the ever-reliable National Enquirer.

BENNIFER, ROB LOWE, PAM ANDERSON and ASHLEE SIMPSON were among the celebs attending this year's White House Correspondents' Association dinner Saturday night. "Pamela Anderson and Mitt Romney in the same room?" Pres. Bush said. "Isn't that one of the signs of the apocalypse?"

SCARLETT JOHANSSON talks to The Scotsman about her new album, and sitting in with the Jesus And Mary Chain with a show at the 2007 Coachella Festival.

SHANNON ELIZABETH & DEREK HOUGH getting married in Vegas?  I'm pretty sure they were kidding.

MADONNA hired her gardener to direct her new documentary about HIV/AIDS orphans in Malawi, which delivers a sizeable wallop of the Kabbalah Center of Los Angeles without informing the audience about what's going on.

GYLLENSPOON: Looking more serious all the time.

RUMER WILLIS picks up where Carrie Underwood left off? 

CHRISTINA RICCI is used to steamy scenes, but nothing could prepare the actress for being groped a chimpanzee on the set of Speed Racer.

UNTOONED: Homer Simpson, Mario and Jessica Rabbit are made flesh through the magic of Photoshop at Pixeloo.  Jessica even has a video showing how it's done.

GLOBAL SOMETHING: While the last Arctic summer was the warmest on record, we had a cold summer with a sea-ice maximum in the Antarctic.

INDONESIA: Chastity belts, which went out of fashion with knights in shining armor and damsels in distress, are making a comeback in the massage parlors of East Java. In recent years, conservative Islamic values have gained influence in a society that has long enjoyed liberal freedoms, such as easy access to alcohol, gambling and the sex trade.

IRAN: A ship contracted by the US Navy had to fire warning shots in the direction of two unidentified speedboats in the Gulf, US military officials say.  In January, the US said speedboats from Iran had harassed US Navy ships in the Gulf.  In the latest incident, Tehran said its vessels had had no confrontations with US ships.

IRAQ: Less than one week after threatening to conduct an uprising against the Iraqi government and US forces, Moqtada al Sadr called for the Mahdi Army to maintain the self-imposed cease-fire. Five British hostages who were kidnapped in Iraq almost a year ago are being held inside Iran by Revolutionary Guards, according to two separate sources in the Middle East and London. If confirmed, the involvement of Revolutionary Guards would be seen as evidence that senior figures in the Iranian government had backed the decision to hold them in the country.  Have the US's three most important Asian alliances - with Australia, Japan and South Korea - been strengthened by the Iraq campaign?

PIERRE the PENGUIN,  a venerable 25 years old, was going bald -- so the California Academy of Sciences had a wetsuit created to help him get back in the swim of things.  Let's go to the video.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT: It used to be Grey vs. red, but now mutant black squirrels have already taken over in parts of England and appear to be spreading.

THE BIRDS: Hungry seagulls have forced playtime to be cancelled in Croatian schools after they started grabbing pupils' packed lunches.

THE SWARM:  A giant cloud of thousands of bees mysteriously appeared and began to swirl in a "tornado pattern" around a Central Florida Mexican restaurant. Video at the link.

GONNA NEED A BETTER BOAT: A day after a deadly shark attack near San Diego, a hardy few ignored warnings that a killer great white might still be lurking below the surface and paddled back into the Pacific Ocean on Saturday. What say you, Police Chief Brody? (nsfw)

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