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Rilo Kiley, The Killers, George Washington Phillips, Lurch the Steer and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, March 31, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


ON THE PITCHFORK: Rilo Kiley announces its U.S. tour dates, with many cities where Pate fans live. That inludes Chicago, which apparently will host Lollapalooza as a stationary festival July 23-24. Some of the rumored acts look interesting.

CROOKED FINGERS: Eric Bachmann (formerly of Archers of Loaf) talks to NewCity Chicago magazine about Crooked Fingers' new record, Dignity and Shame.

THE KILLERS break bad o­n The Bravery. Coolfer hopes that Pitchfork breaks as bad o­n the Bravery as their reviewer does in a brutal review of the new Louis XIV disc. The Killers' Brandon Flowers also revealing that the band’s old drummer is now suing him over credit for "Mr. Brightside."

BRIGHT EYES: Conor Oberst has definitely arrived: he's mocked in The Onion.

DAVID BYRNE talked to Xeni Jardin about downloading his music and his new streaming radio station.

THAT UBER-TRIPPY BURGER KING AD? Someone likes it way too much.

GOOD NEWS, PARENTS! Your kids aren't as drunk or crooked as you were. Faint praise, I know.

LATE EASTER NEWS: A free Easter dinner for the poor at Gus's World Famous Chicken in downtown Memphis turned into a food fight.

BRITNEY SPEARS: Page Six lifts some nasty stuff from US Weekly about Mr. Britney and an escort in Vegas. Coincidentally, Britney recently called US Weekly publisher Jann Wenner a "big old fat man." Just saying.

THE OLSEN TWINS are selling their .3 million, 6,000-square-foot West Village penthouse, having never moved into it. If they are staying enrolled at NYU, might I suggest a class in money management?

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS get a good write-up for their Austin gig in the UT's Daily Texan.

BECK: The Mpls. City Pages calls his newly-released Guero his best yet (in the headline, anyway). FWIW, Rolling Stone gives it four stars.

POP CRITICISM AND CRED IN THE ERA OF BLOGS: The panel discussion o­n this topic I noted recently is sorta blogged by Brooklyn Vegan. Why am I not surprised that Rolling Stone's Anthony DeCurtis says he doesn't read Pitchfork? And do I believe him?

CHRISTIAN ROCK: Christopher Ashley writes in the Yale Daily News that Christian rock is becoming more insular, while noting that some Christian musicians, such as U2 and Sufjan Stevens, are making a difference in the general marketplace.

GOSPEL MUSIC: George Washington Phillips was o­ne of the founding fathers of American gospel music. He might be the yin to the yang of Robert Johnson. The Tofu Hut has one of his 18 songs as a download at presstime.

BRAD BIRD, director of The Incredibles (and voice of Edna Mode) is interviewed by ReadyMade magazine. The guy sent his first animated movie to Walt Disney Studios when he was eleven years old.

COURTNEY LOVE will play Linda Lovelace in an upcoming biopic. She's already played Larry Flynt's wife, but will this new movie show Lovelace as the anti-porn crusader she later became?

THE HUFFINGTON REPORT: Political gadfly and lost Gabor sister Arianna Huffington is launching a culture and politics webzine in the mold of Salon or Slate, with a group blog manned by the cultural and media elite, including (but not limited to): Sen. Jon Corzine, Larry David, Barry Diller, Tom Freston, David Geffen, Vernon Jordan, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Harry Evans and his wife, Tina Brown.

NANOTECH: The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (as opposed to the Center for Irresponsible Nanotechnology) blogs a study in which it was involved called, "Potential Environmental Pollution and Health Hazards Resulting from Possible Military Uses of Nanotechnology." I'm contingently concerned. Maybe.

THE FEYNMAN-TUFTE PRINCIPLE: A visual display of data should be simple enough to fit o­n the side of a van.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: Lurch, the Watusi steer, with record-setting horns. There are more pics if you follow the link.

TOO MANY ELEPHANTS: Elephants aren't hard to spot in South Africa's premier wildlife park these days; since park officials stopped culling elephants in 1994 under pressure from international animal-welfare groups, the elephants' numbers have ballooned from about 7,500 --widely considered a sustainable population for the park -- to nearly 13,000. The officials face a dilemma: Leave the elephants alone, keep the tourists happy and risk the destruction of the park, or return to slaughtering elephants and risk damaging the park's international reputation and driving away visitors.

THE FUR IS FLYING: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals claims that Jennifer Lopez forced Billboard magazine to remove an ad that blasted her for wearing fur.

IRAQ: The Abrams tank is getting knocked out at surprising rates by the low-tech bombs and rocket-propelled grenades of Iraqi insurgents, but the Army has an upgrade called the Tank Urban Survival Kit. Extra armor ought to help tanks, but it should be noted that the rate of fatal vehicle accidents, mostly rollovers involving armored Hummers, doubled in the past four months, as troops in Iraq had not been trained o­n them. That's a story those who complained about unarmored Hummers glossed over. Maybe it will be in Steven Bochco's new TV drama, Over There, scheduled to air o­n the FX Channel in July.

AL-QAEDA AND ARYAN NATION: Like two peas in a pod, according to August Kreis, résumé includes stops at some of America's nastiest extremist groups -- Posse Comitatus, the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nation. Kreis wants to make common cause with al Qaeda because, he says, they share the same enemies: Jews and the American government.

SIN CITY: Film Jerk says Sin City "is a highly specialized product for a very specific audience," but "a memorable, disturbing triumph." The reviewer from Seattle Weekly writes: "For those who demand strict fidelity to their comics, Sin City is a purist's film, bold and audacious. It doesn't let in outsiders willingly, and those who come had better be well armed." According to York University's Excalibur, "The stories are well thought out and often surprising, but it is the execution of the visuals that makes this movie truly remarkable."

INTELLECTUAL MARIJUANA: An article reprinted from the Toronto Star takes a look at intellectuals' reaction to comics over the years.

LIFE IMITATES FRIENDS: Four male models who appeared in an ad campaign against domestic violence are suing New York City, saying the posters stayed up beyond the agreed time, leading people to think they really were wife beaters.

LA VIDA ROBOT: Wired magazine has the story of how four illegal immigrants from the mean streets of Phoenix took o­n the best from M.I.T. in the national underwater bot championship.

ZIMBABWE: The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, the party of President Robert Mugabe, announced that o­nly their supporters were eligible for food delivered to drought-stricken areas. But this year, the threat of starvation is creating a potentially potent backlash against ZANU-PF. Indeed, opposition members and diplomats are hopeful that, win or lose, the election will hasten the end of the Mugabe regime.

CULT OF THE iPod: Podcasting News ranks the Top 25 podcasts by hits. At presstime, the most popular is science news offered by NASA.

FILESHARING: The Supreme Court's oral arguments in the Grokster case have been blogged by a lawyer for the Media Access Project, stating "this is probably the o­nly place you will see someone say that Justice Rehnquist now sounds like a bad combination of Darth Vader and the Emperor from Return of the Jedi..."

JUICED BASEBALL: At Baseball Musings, David Pinto notes that Major League Baseball's medical adviser, Dr. Elliot Pellman, who testified before the House committee examining the steroids issue two weeks ago, had some problems with his résumé. Oops!

NEW FACES YOU WILL BE SEEING A LOT IN 2006: Beginning next year, Microsoft says it will ship with its operating system and other software products six brand new typefaces created especially for extended o­n-screen reading. Poynter has the pics from Microsoft's promotional booklet, "Now Read This."

4230 Reads

Yo La Tengo, Dinosaur Jr. The Arcade Fire, Madonna and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, March 30, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


ON THE PITCHFORK: A thumbs-up to the double-disc Yo La Tengo compilation, Prisoners of Love.

"CALL ME:" A cover of the Blondie hit by Betty Marie Barnes of Saturday Looks Good to Me (whose albums I was digging last weekend), along with a pair of artists o­n the pas/cal label, is available as a free, legal download from The Modern Age. Definitely lo-fi casual, but fun.

DAVID BYRNE has started an internet radio station. You can check out his playlist at the link, too. UPDATE: A blogger is already urging Byrne to podcast.

BLOC PARTY is tired of being compared to Gang of Four. Understandable, I suppose, though they really should feel honored.

DINOSAUR, JR. will kick off a reunion tour with their TV debut April 15th o­n CBS' The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. The band has also launched a website.

SIN CITY had its star-studded premiere Monday night. The review in the Village Voice claims that co-director Robert "Rodriguez loves his material so much that he embalmed it." Associated Press movie writer David Germain calls it "simultaneously the most boldly original comic-book adaptation yet and o­ne of the nastiest films in a long while." Jeffrey Lyles of the Maryland Gazette says it is "the least kid-friendly comic book film ever made, but the beauty lies in its all-out, no apologies, take it or leave it attitude." The review from Box Office Prophets declares it a "firecracker of a film." Today's negative reviews seem to find the movie misogynistic; until I see it, I'll wonder whether the misogyny should be treated any more seriously than the overblown cartoon violence. ALSO: MTV wonders whether Sin City risks "alienating a young audience that, for the most part — and sadly — hates black-and-white movies."

GRAND THEFT AUTO VIDEOGAMES a "major threat" to morality, according to... wait for it... Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

JOHNNIE COCHRAN: If it doesn't fit, must be his obit. The famous (or infamous) attorney who led O.J. Simpson's defense team is dead of a brain tumor at 67. Not mentioned in the obits I've read is that his death may remove a First Amendment case from the Supreme Court's docket.

M & Ms turn to Dark Side. Melts in your mouth, chops off your hand?

I CAN'T EXPLAIN: Thirteen things that have scientists dizzy in the head and feeling bad.

TRIPLE-X SECRET PROBATION: A California university, once ranked by Playboy magazine as the top U.S. party school, is probing a fraternity for a party where a hard-core sex film was made. I think we all know how uncomfortable that kind of probing can be. And was it a toga party? You betcha!

CULT OF THE iPod: NYC Cops say iPod thefts are behind a spike in subway crime. Business 2.0 hired Robert Brunner, Apple's chief designer from 1989-96, to design "Apple Gear We Hope to See." Pejman Yousefzadeh responds to Andrew Sullivan's recent essay expressing fear over the atomization of society via iPods.

FILESHARING: C|Net News has a detailed report o­n the Grokster case: "Supreme Court Justices cast a critical eye Tuesday o­n entertainment industry proposals for quashing file-swapping, while making clear they had little sympathy for o­ngoing piracy o­n peer-to-peer networks."

THE UNITED NATIONS: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, asked Tuesday if he would resign after a critical report concerning the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq, replied, "Hell, no." But writer and blogger Roger L. Simon thinks Annan has some 'splainin' to do. The report found that the office of Kofi Annan's longtime chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, shredded documents related to the oil-for-food program, despite the secretary-general's order to the U.N. staff to preserve such papers. Simon says three years of documents. Not the sort of thing that makes you want to give the U.N. the authority to regulate the Internet.

RACHEL HUNTER: A DJ and a former protege are breaking bad o­n Stacy's Mom. Do I detect the tentacles of Rod the Mod's media empire?

BLOGGERS AS JOURNALISTS: At Slate, Jack Shafer tells Los Angeles Times media reporter and critic David Shaw, "Don't Fear the Blogger." A good piece, though it could have used more cowbell.

THE ARCADE FIRE makes the cover of Time magazine... in Canada.

MATT DENTLER, producer of the SXSW Film Festival, recommends five discs; the Decemberists and Stars have been noted here before. You can see a QuickTime movie of the Decemberists' video here.

THE SMITHS are the subject of a two-day academic conference in Manchester next week that will study the band's social, cultural, political and musical impact. I wonder what the band thinks.

A SMALL VICTORY: Michele blogs the purple rain.

IRAQ: Iraq's parliament erupted in acrimony at its second sitting o­n Tuesday after legislators berated leaders for failing to agree o­n a new government. "You can say we are in a crisis," Barham Salih, a leading Kurdish politician, told reporters. The deadlock is largely due to the Kurdish bloc -- the second largest -- wanting to get the best deal possible for the Kurds. Saying it's a crisis would help advance the Kurdish agenda, but it's an exaggeration. They may have their act together by the next scheduled meeting Sunday, but if not, I still think it will be settled within a couple of weeks. ALSO: The U.S. military is fast-tracking a weapons system to reduce the threat of mortar attacks, o­ne of the leading killers of troops in Iraq.

FORMER BOY SCOUT BIG is expected to plead guilty to federal Internet child pornography charges today. "As a professional scouter, he was in more administrative positions -- most recently developing programs -- and not in direct contact with the youth," BSA spokesman Greg Shields said.

MADONNA AND HER HUBBY went to a celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim at the Kabbalah Center in London dressed as a nun and the pope. Oddly enough, some people thought this was in bad taste right before Easter with an ailing pope. According to the New York Post, "Purim is the Jewish religion's most festive holiday, when it is customary to wear costumes — although the costumes generally involve characters from the historical Purim story, not popes and nuns." ALSO: Madge probably should watch it; Sony reportedly spent 100,000 dollars digitally erasing the red string Kabbalah bracelet Ashton Kutcher wore throughout Guess Who after a bad reaction from test audiences.

TOM CRUISE: The New York Post's Page Six always has an interesting tone when covering Cruise. This time, the column refers to Sofia Vergara and Penelope Cruz as his "escorts." It's almost as if Page Six would like to say something about Cruise, but fears he would sue.

KYGYZSTAN: The Christian Science Monitor reports that the shockwaves from the tulip revolution are spreading around the former Soviet Union - and into the heart of Russia, including enclves like Ingushetia and Bashkortostan. PubliusPundit notes that the dual parliament problem is resolved and that President Akayev is prepared to resign if given certain guarantees. ALSO: PubliusPundit has a good round-up on Lebanon, including the opposition's seeming attempt to paint Hezbollah into a corner.

THE UNITED STATES WILL CEASE TO EXIST IN 2007. Just in case you were wondering.

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Brendan Benson, Split Enz, VEISHEA, Sin City and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, March 29, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


ON THE PITCHFORK: Brendan Benson's The Alternative to Love gets a lukewarm review, finding the second half weak. It's not the o­nly review I've read to make that criticism. I would say the second half is less baroque, but not necessarily weaker for it. The whole thing has some 70s pop, Matthew Sweet-meets-the Fountains of Wayne feel, with a whiff of Brian Wilson during the first half and a bit of Wilco-esque americana toward the end. So the end may be less arranged, but the songwriting is pretty strong throughout.

THE DECEMBERISTS IN THE OUTFIELD: The band's live cover of The Outfield's "Your Love" is available for download at Chromewaves.

CROWDED HOUSE DRUMMER Paul Hester hanged himself in a park in southern Australia Monday; he was 46. He was also the drummer for Split Enz. Sydney's Daily Telegraph has the sad details. MTV notes that Hester went o­n to a career in television including the role of Chef Paul o­n The Wiggles.

A SMALL VICTORY: Michele has yet to resume the Greatest Rock and Roll Songwriters Poll nomination essays linked last week, but has provided blurbs for her "500 Songs" project. Reading them, I could not help but remember that Mike Kelly had a Mr. Bubble t-shirt. Or that I still own a laser-etched version of True Colours by Split Enz.

JACKO JUSTICE: Comparing himself to Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson tells the Rev. Jesse Jackson that he is being persecuted because of race.

HIP-HOP PRODUCT PLACEMENT: McDonald's reportedly is willing to pay rappers o­ne to five dollars each time a song with a plug for the Big Mac hits the radio. Apparently, Seagram's gin already employed this strategy last year, getting mentions from artists such as Kanye West, Twista, the Franchise Boys and Petey Pablo.

SXSW REAX: Page Six of The New York Post notes five more bands that should not be missed, a blurb which should not be missed for the mention of Dale Watson at Ginny's Little Longhorn.

CATS AND DOGS: The owners of a cat trapped for a week in the London home of a vacationing neighbor have been pushing ice cubes and cat food through the letter box to keep their pet alive. Another Carnival of the Cats is o­nline. Gumball-style dog biscuit machines are starting to sprout up all over NYC. A Connecticut man has turned to the classified ads to recover Thor, a 3-year-old Shih Tsu his estranged wife gave away. And mail carriers said they were recently unable to deliver mail to homes along a section of Guyer Street in Hobart, Indiana because of a 4.5-pound Chihuahua named Bobo. "The little Chihuahua was 10-foot tall when he was o­n the street," said Florence Page of the Hobart Humane Society.

PASSION OF THE PEEPS, PART II: Okay, when I posted some Peeps links o­n Good Friday, I confess I had been looking for an article o­n the joy of microwaving them. As it so often happens, I found o­ne by accident Monday, with a bonus page with a link to a movie of a guy eating 50 Peeps in o­ne hour.

VEISHEA 2006 will be April 22nd, as Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy decided not to abandon tradition, but instead to re-evaluate past practices, including the university’s "dry" VEISHEA policy. "Many believe that the 'dry VEISHEA' alcohol policy has had unintended consequences and encouraged large, off-campus parties," Geoffroy said. Oddly enough, when I had lunch with Sylvia Hauser last week, VEISHEA came up and I recalled that o­ne of my friends in student government actually went to a meeting during the summer after we both graduated to tell them that a dry VEISHEA was a disaster waiting to happen -- for the very reason Geoffroy stated. Which is probably why Sylvia provided me with the link!

IRAQ: The Christian Science Monitor looks at Iraq two years after the invasion. A balanced piece overall, but if you show a graphic of poll results showing 65 percent of Iraqis think the country is headed in the right direction, having the o­nly two Iraqis quoted in the story complaining seems a little odd, even if the complaints are valid. Army Lt. Col. Jamie Gayton reminds everyone of the importance of winning hearts and minds with reconstruction projects carried out in partnership with the Iraqi government. The Mudville Gazette rounds up military comments o­n the difficulty of recruiting -- and has cool motorcycle pictures. ALSO: If I missed this story about Iraqis getting NASA water purification technology last week, I'll bet I'm not alone.

EGYPT: A month after President Mubarak proposed a constitutional amendment to open presidential elections, Egyptian security forces arrested scores of members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, but hours later the group demonstrated against the government. The Associated Press story states that the group was "outlawed in 1954 after the government accused it of advocating the violent overthrow of Egypt's secular government," but then notes that, "Since the 1970s, the Muslim Brotherhood has pledged to use o­nly peaceful democratic means to establish an Islamic state," which sorta tells you what they were pledged to before the 1970s... and probably still are.

IRAN: The Regime Change Iran blog relays a report from Iran Press News about widespread protests last Friday.

THE TRANSPORATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION misled the public about its role in obtaining personal information about 12 million airline passengers to test a new computerized system that screens for terrorists, according to a report by Homeland Security Department Acting Inspector General Richard Skinner. And yet it is unclear whether the new system will be effective in determining which passengers should undergo additional security scrutiny, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

SIN CITY: The Hollywood Reporter has an unfavorable review, as Kirk Honeycutt seems to consider it a bit of a o­ne-trick pony. The Apollo Movie Guide also has a negative review, though Brian Webster makes clear he has issues with the subject matter and film noir generally. In contrast, Time magazine's Richard Corliss writes: "For all its astronomical body count, Sin City is brazenly, thrillingly alive." James Berardinelli of ReelViews thinks the movie has style and substance. Meanwhile, Page Six of The New York Post profiles the women of Sin City.

UNDERWATER DRUG-SMUGGLING? Colombian police found a homemade submarine capable of carrying ten tons of cocaine hidden in the port of Tumaco, near the border with Ecuador.

NOT THAT FINGER, but a University of Alberta study finds that measuring a man's index finger length relative to his ring finger length predicts his predisposition to being physically aggressive. So those gypsies may have had at least o­ne kernel of truth buried in all that palm-reading.

WHAT HAPPENED TO HARVARD? Harvard University has cleared its dining halls of brand-name cereals, such as Fruit Loops and Cap'n Crunch and there is no organized protest? Shame o­n them! What do we want? Quisp! When do we want it? Now!!!

ZEPPELIN COMEBACK? Maybe.... Not the o­ne with Jimmy Page, but the giant gasbag. No, not Robert Plant.

CULT OF THE iPod: Stereophile presents a tube amp and preamp for the iPod, costing much more than the gadget itself, natch. MookieKong compares and contrasts the iPod and the PlayStation Portable. The Independent notes coming competition from cellphones.

FILESHARING: Maverick billionaire Mark Cuban will pick up the tab for the defense in the Grokster case being heard by the Supreme Court today, explaining that it's not o­nly the big content companies against the technology companies, but also the big content companies against little content companies. And that software doesn't pirate content, people do. Meanwhile an article in The Economist suggests the problem with the music biz isn't downloading, but the dogfood they're serving.

THE UNITED NATIONS: Writer and blogger Roger L. Simon has an exclusive report o­n the oil-for-food scandal, suggesting secretary-general Kofi Annan may know more than he has been saying publicly.

TSUNAMI: An earthquake measuring a preliminary magnitude of 8.2 (later revised upward to 8.7) struck off the coast of Indonesia Monday -- o­n the same fault line that originated the December 26 quake, raising concerns of a potential repeat of the deadly tsunami that struck the area last year. Bloggers were on the case, though it appears the quake was the real threat this time around. Jeff Jarvis excerpts some of the quakebloggers, including this gem: "Bloggers Are Morons. Blogging has fried our brains. Instead of evacuating after the tremor, we, bloggers staying in high rise apartments, sit here n blog about it, oblivious to the risk should the building topple over or collapse..."

LINDSAY LOHAN seems to remain o­n remain o­n really, really good terms with her exes. The same gossip column also has a nice bit about Pat O'Brien humping NBC head Jeff Zucker's leg.

BRAD AND JEN UPDATE: It's official: Aniston Files for Divorce From Pitt. A nation mourns.

BRITNEY SPEARS: Star magazine claims she's pregnant. Of course, Star magazine claims everyone is pregnant. Awful Plastic Surgery thinks... well, you can guess.

GOSSIP COLUMNIST LIZ SMITH should know better than to fib about not reading blogs.

CONGRATS TO MAYOR JERRY BROWN on his impending nuptials.

MISTER SNITCH found another Amazon item that may be NSFW, unless you work someplace that's pretty outre.

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The Who a cappella, Drive-by Truckers, Kaiser Chiefs, dirty voicemail and more..   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, March 28, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


A ONE-WOMAN, A CAPPELLA VERSION OF THE WHO SELL OUT: It was Mike Watt's idea and Pete Townshend digs it the most. And you can stream clips of Petra Haden's multi-tracked arrangements at the link.

YO LA TENGO: The New Jersey Star-Ledger recaps the band's annual appearance o­n WFMU, taking requests from fans in return for donations to the station. They didn't know Rush's "The Spirit of Radio?"

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS must have been in Cleveland. Jason Isbell talks to the Plain Dealer and Patterson Hood talks to the Free Times, both about (among other things) the band's fans:"I think it's frustrating to record-company types because they don't know quite where to focus their attention; it's not like we're all the rage with some demographic that they can aim their little gun at and shoot us into making sales... [Our fans] are really a hodgepodge of people who have come together through word of mouth over the course of us being o­n the road for the last six years. So it's weird. It's cool, though."

THE DECEMBERISTS are profiled by the Daily Nebraskan. Chris Funk notes that Pitchfork was a key ingredient in the band's rise: "The music fans in Europe read Pitchfork like it’s the Bible."

DOGS will be able to avoid getting neutered o­nce these condoms reach the market.

FAMETRACKER audits William Shatner, but which William Shatner?

DENISE RICHARDS is publicly breaking bad o­n hubby Charlie Sheen. Richards' pals say Sheen paid a hooker $15,000 for sex; Former porn star and prostitute Chloe Jones claims Sheen recently paid her more than $15,000 for sex and proposed marriage. Sheen denies Jones' claim and has gone to court to contest Richards' claim for spousal support.

PAULA ABDUL may have pleaded no contest to that hit-and-run charge last week, but the New York Post's Page Six claims she freaked out in Kuala Lampur and the flight home after learning she was being charged.

BRITNEY SPEARS wants a summer job as a waitress at her dad's fast-food restaurant. It doesn't sound like it will actually happen this summer, but I expect it will someday.

OPRAH WINFREY is the target of an assassination plot, according to an anonymous nutjob posting flyers up around NYC.

THE SCHIAVO CASE has a lot of people considering and signing living wills. However, people who want them should be aware that they do not always work, though I'm a bit more positive o­n them than the study discussed in the linked story. The linked story also recommends using a "durable power of attorney" to appoint someone to make decisions for them when they can no longer make their own decisions. I would recommend the same in addition to a living will for those interested. There are companies, like this o­ne, that sell such forms cheaply (though I neither endorse nor recommend this particular company -- it's just an example). I would bet that many states offer such forms for their state as a free download, as does my home state of Illinois. Yeah, that's not the best grammar in the world, but you get the idea.

THE KAISER CHIEFS make The New York Times: "If timing is everything, Monty Python has nothing o­n this rowdy five-piece group from Leeds, England, named for a South African soccer team."

PAUL WESTERBERG: Following his well-received Folker disc, Rhino is putting out a "best of" compilation entitled Besterberg, natch.

METALCARVER produces handmade aluminium guitars. Very cool looking; the company claims they sound good, too.

"POP CRITICISM and Cred in the Era of MP3s, Zines, and Blogs" is a panel discussion to be held Tuesday at Columbia University. "These days, every aspiring pop critic can create his or her own soapbox. The resulting atmosphere is as fragmented as it is high-speed: A blogger shows up at a club, orders a beer, and reviews a show in real time. New trends break at a faster clip than ever before. How can anyone keep up? And which critical voice do you trust?" Panelists will include Sasha Frere Jones, pop music critic for The New Yorker (to whom I often link), Tunde Adebimpe of TV o­n the Radio, Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone, Amy Phillips, blogger at More in the Monitor and Michael Azerrad, author of Our Band Could Be Your Life (a book I highly recommend).

BECK is interviewed by Elle magazine, which is a little... different from what you would get from a music mag. It's like what I magine a Barbara Walters interview of Beck would be like.

WEEZER: o­n their previously linked video-shoot at the Playboy mansion, frontman Rivers Cuomo looked just a bit uncomfortable as Playmates cavorted around him in the mansion's infamous grotto. Who'da thunkit? But MTV News has video at the link.

SIN CITY: Brad of Bradley's Almanac tries to resist the raising of your expectations and the all-out gushing, but o­nly partially succeeds. Superherohype runs interviews with the men and women of Sin City. Coming Soon interviews co-director Robert Rodriguez.

FAMILY MOVIES sell tickets, says John Fithian, President of the National Association of Theatre Owners. Last year, PG titles grossed $2.3 billion domestically, with $2.1 billion for R-rated films. PG-13 movies did the most business with $4.4 billion. The story doesn't mention G-rated flicks, but it's no secret that G and PG-rated movies together regularly outgross R-rated movies.

PEZ MP3 PLAYER: Why didn't I think of that? But it's a big mistake that it won't carry the candy.

SIX-SHOOTER HAIRDRYER: Okay, I know why I didn't think of that.

GRAFEDIA: ...and the e-mail addresses of the prophets are written o­n the subway walls.

HONEYBEES are being killed in large numbers by the resurgence of a pesky mite, with a potentially broad effect o­n agriculture in California.

CULT OF THE iPod: The iTunes music store catalog now tops o­ne million songs. The Guardian finds UK complaints about Apple's customer service.

PODCASTING is now offered by the classic comedy troupe Firesign Theatre.

FILE-SHARING: The Big Picture questions the record industry's claims of big losses from music downloading. PC World magazine reports that industry lawsuits against file swappers may be forcing Internet users to using e-mail, instant messaging, blogs and other methods for exchanging songs and videos.

TiVo IS KILLING THE WATER COOLER? That's what an article in USA Today claims. I think HBO might beg to differ. And the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) --a pioneer in developing ethernet, laser printing and the graphical user interface for computers -- is developing Social TV, which would allow geographically dispersed friends to chat and watch TV together. Social TV software, located o­n a device like TiVo or even your TV set, might notice that your and your buddy’s yacking has gone well past the commercial break. The software would conclude that you are no longer watching the show and, perhaps, pause the program until you are ready to resume, says Nic Ducheneaut, member of PARC research staff.

IRAQ: A bipartisan Senate delegation, including four Democrats and two Republicans, all indicated they are encouraged by signs of progress in bolstering Iraq's security forces, economy and political system. Even Sen. Barbara Boxer, a leading critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, seemed upbeat about the future of the new Iraq government. However, Iraqis who defied insurgent violence to vote in the historic January elections say they are increasingly angry at the failure of politicians to agree o­n a new government. The Australian Broadcasting Corp. notes that Iraqi soldiers, backed by U.S. helicopters, reportedly have seized 131 suspects in a dawn raid o­n insurgents planning attacks o­n the holy city of Kerbala. The sooner that Iraqis can conduct these operations regularly, the faster that the U.S. can take a smaller role.

IRAQ II: While insurgent attacks continue, including the Friday assassination of a senior Iraqi army commander, the Financial Times reports that many insurgents, including former officials of the ruling Ba'ath party, army officers, and Islamists have been searching for a way to end their campaign against U.S. troops and Iraqi government forces. Similarly, The Guardian reports that "at least two Middle Eastern intelligence agencies believe that recent 'backchannel' initiatives aimed at persuading Sunni Muslim tribes in western Iraq to cease their resistance are meeting with some success."

CAMP BUCCA: Last Friday, U.S. military police thwarted a massive escape attempt by suspected insurgents and terrorists when they uncovered a 600-foot tunnel the detainees had dug under their compound. The Hill article compares this to The Shawshank Redemption. A better movie reference might be The Great Escape, though perhaps The Hill didn't want to be accused of comparing our troops to the Nazis -- nor do I!

COKE ZERO UPDATE: The other day, I had a little rant about an Associated Press story that had the sweeteners in various Diet Pepsis and Cokes badly confused. In the interest of fairness, I note that this weekend, some of the Pepsi o­ne bottles at my grocery store are marked as having a "brand new taste" using Splenda. The AP story thus might have been correct o­n that point in the market where it was written, though it failed to note that it was a new development. Indeed, given this new development, the AP may have missed the real story -- that Coke Zero is adopting the sweetener blend used in Pepsi o­ne at the very moment Pepsi is abandoning it for Splenda.

SMACKDOWN: New York State officials yesterday ordered radio station Hot 97, which bills itself as the "Official No. 1 station for hip-hop and R&B," to stop its controversial Smackfest, in which women wallop each other in the face in order to compete for a grand prize of $5,000.

BLOG ADVERTISING is o­n a steep rise, but many companies are wary of putting their brand o­n such a new and unpredictable medium. But credit The Wall Street Journal for making this story a free link to generate traffic from blogs to its site.

PLAYSTATION PORTABLE: Sony's new handheld PSP, a device for playing games, music and video, has gotten nicknamed "PornStation Portable."

THE UNITED NATIONS has been battered by a series of allegations embroiling its peacekeepers in a web of global sexual misconduct, usually involving children. But in East Timor, it appears that not even goats were safe. No wonder U.N. secretary-general, Kofi Annan is said to be struggling with depression and considering his future.

PAT O'BRIEN: That voicemail of his that's been floating around the internet is graphic. Probably NSFW, unless you work at a strip club. But he's pretty repetitive. You would think someone in the communications biz could think of ways to vary the basic message.

LEBANON: Beirut is now a place from which Syrians can protest their government, including a Syrian journalis who worked for the past 20 years for a Syrian state newspaper. ALSO: Senior U.S. officials met in Washington o­n Thursday with prominent Syrian Americans, including political activists, community leaders, academics and an opposition group. U.S. officials denied the meeting was meant to coordinate efforts to oust the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

TSUNAMI NEWS: Three months after the largest natural disaster in living memory struck South Asia, Aussie blogger Arthur Chrenkoff rounds up the follow-up coverage.

KYRGYZSTAN: Registan has a first-hand account of the Tulip Revolution from from Elnura Osmonalieva of Bishkek, with plenty 'o' pictures. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was ready to work with the Kyrgyz opposition, but also has offered refuge in Russia to ex-president Akayev. Putin, who is ex-KGB, has undoubtedly noticed that Felix Kulov, freed from jail by supporters o­n Thursday and appointed acting interior minister, was o­nce head of the National Security Ministry, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB. And Fulov now is in the middle of discord in the newly formed government involving the legitimacy of dual parliaments.

BELARUS: A thousand White Russians rallying outside the office of authoritarian President Lukashenko o­n Friday were beaten back by riot police swinging truncheons. Lukashenko, who has largely retained the Soviet system and hasn't changed the name of the KGB in his country, has stifled dissent, persecuted independent media and opposition parties, and prolonged his power through elections that international organizations say were marred by fraud. Gateway Pundit has pictures of the rally and its aftermath.

TAIWAN had massive protests denouncing Beijing’s recent approval of an anti-secession law aimed at Taiwan. If Taiwan is relying o­n U.S. help, this is bad timing; right now, it's more likely Secretary of State Rice would offer to calm down Taiwan in return for Chinese help with North Korea.

DEMOCRACY IS ALSO o­n THE MARCH in places as far-flung as Mongolia and Bahrain, maybe even Zimbabwe.

LET'S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF: New Jersey residents are divided over a Statehouse effort to designate the Jersey tomato as the official state vegetable. "The tomato is a highly partisan issue in New Jersey," said Clay Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Democrats say it's a vegetable, while Republicans and independent voters believes it's a fruit." Of course, technically, it's a fruit, which we should all know from Reagan Budget Director David Stockman's attempt to classify ketchup as a vegetable in federal school lunch programs.

A SURE THING: A bill changer at the Bluffs Run Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa began spitting out 100 dollar bills instead of 20s. Customers walked away with almost $47,000 extra.

THE GENE GENIE: Researchers have shown that plants can overwrite the genetic code they inherit from their parents, and revert to that of their grandparents. The finding challenges textbook rules of inheritance.

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Kaiser Chiefs, Sin City, Diving Pigs, Horny Alligators, The Bush Twins and more!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, March 25, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade



IMPROV EVERYWHERE throws an office party in an unsuspecting building.

PASSION OF THE PEEPS: What would the Easter weekend be without chocolate bunnies and Peeps? More religious and serious, I suppose. But can't we have it all? Peeps art and Peeps statistics? Maybe even a gadget to make Peeps at home, made by Wham-O?

THE KAISER CHIEFS, fresh off some boffo buzz from SXSW are profiled in the London Telegraph: "In Austin, Wilson's group exemplified a new attitude of hard, selfless graft, which is essential for success in the post-millennial pop world. Indeed, so charged up was the garrulous vocalist for the band's first US tour dates that, o­n the opening night in Seattle, in the middle of the first song, he slipped over and tore the ligaments in his foot. Bandaged and forced to use a crutch, he careered about the stage in Austin with an energy which clearly impressed US industry bods, who are naturally sceptical about the UK's latest cool sensations having the requisite gumption to undertake a gruelling campaign across the pond." It's very Craig O'Neill-esque music. 'Nuff said.

THE FUTUREHEADS, another hot UK prospect following SXSW, talk to PopMatters about being the opening act and gig culture.

A SMALL VICTORY is starting a poll of the Greatest Rock and Roll Songwriters, with nomination essays. So far there are entries for Difford and Tillbrook, Joe Strummer and Roger Waters and David Gilmour, with plenty more to come, including (but not limited to) the Glimmer Twins, Paul Westerberg, Lou Reed, David Byrne and Tom Waits.

SLANT magazine throws out a list of 50 Vital Pop Albums.

THE SLOW RIDE IS OVER: Guitarist Rod Price, the founding member of Foghat who also played with blues legends such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Willie Dixon, died Tuesday after falling down a stairway at his New Hampshire home. He was 57.

SIN CITY: More advance rave reviews in the Monteal Film Journal and Slant magazine. Nick Schager's review for Slant says the movie is a verbatim translation of Frank Miller's graphic novels, which he calls "pulpy noir o­n steroids, amplified black-and-white visions of seedy, nightmarish urbanity in which dangerous men consume o­nly steaks and brews, women are either angelic 'babes' or tough 'dames,' and cops, clergymen, and politicians hungrily wallow in the corrupt mire." Lest you think that it's all about the striking female half of the cast, Victoria Anderson liked it, but leads her review as follows: "My husband’s decree immediately after leaving the screening: 'Anyone who likes that movie is seriously ****ed up.'" And a common theme in the advance reviews is that this movie could do for Mickey Rourke what Pulp Fiction did for John Travolta. ALSO: Michael Madsen talks a little about Sin City, but more about Quentin Tarantino's planned WWII pic, Inglorious Bastards.

FILE-SHARING: Panels at SXSW debated the effect of P2P technology o­n the music biz and speculated about the Grokster case that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court o­n March 29. Meanwhile, the Decembrists, frustrated with the narrow playlists of MTV and VH1, are distributing their new video with BitTorrent.

BIG RED, THE DIVING PIG was electrocuted when it dived into a pool of water that had a live wire connected to it by mistake. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was unsuccessful, but handlers were able to save another diving pig named Sweet Georgia Brown.

HORNY ALLIGATORS invade a Florida suburb, but are now in the custody of the Pesky Critters Wildlife Control Company facility in Miami.

OLD T-REX: A 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil dug out of a hunk of sandstone has yielded soft tissue, including blood vessels and perhaps even whole cells, U.S. researchers reported o­n Thursday. Jurassic Park is melting in the dark/ All the sweet, green icing flowing down...

RAY CAESAR, an animator who probably chafes at the idea that he has "become" an artist, is getting plenty of good buzz about his latest showing of prints in Chelsea. There some pics at the linked story, even more at Ray Caesar's site. Do I think he would be attracted to Christina Ricci? Yes, I do.

ROBERT JOHNSON: Here's a link to that nifty story about the legal battle over the photographs of the Mississippi bluesman. As Sylvia Hauser noted, it's the sort of story that fits the Johnson legend.

ANTHONY AND THE JOHNSONS: Their I Am a Bird Now gets a rave in the Sydney Morning Herald. If you've never heard of 'em, you might want to take a look, if not a listen.

DOUG GILLARD, former lead guitarist and anchor of Guided by Voices, talks to Cool Cleveland about the end of GbV, his new solo disc Salamander, and Cleveland.

THE LAs add three UK dates to their aforementioned reunion gig in Japan. Just when they thought they were out...

THE BUSH TWINS IN MAXIM magazine: It's the April 1st issue, natch. Susan Whitson, press secretary for Laura Bush, said the first lady had not seen the photo and offered a "no comment" after the image was e-mailed to her. I suppose this will upset some people, but if someone said that they never would have done this to Chelsea Clinton, my response would be that there's a non-political explanation for that.

GREAT LEAPFROG FORWARD? The Chinese are dismounting their bicycles and putting them in their cars. But the PRC is also aggressively pursuing hybrids, electric cars and propane taxis, while building conventional cars and infrastructure at a furious pace. Will the PRC gain the sort of advantage other Asian nations got from going directly to wireless phones, leapfrogging the old phone technology?

KYRGYZSTAN: Opposition leaders took the reins of power after President Akayev's hardline regime collapsed. Akayev reportedly fled on Thursday after protesters stormed his headquarters, seized control of state television and rampaged through government offices, throwing computers and air conditioners out of windows. The government apparently had hijacked opposition newspapers' websites and are pointing their URLs to pro-government news sites. Gawker reports that that the folks at CNN are not as up o­n this story as regular readers of this site.

IRAQ: Hundreds of power workers marched through Baghdad o­n Thursday to protest attacks by insurgents. The rate of U.S. deaths in Iraq has fallen sharply since the elections; American military leaders tout progress against the insurgency, but warn of a long road ahead. Along those lines, this week, Daniel Drezner asked "So how's Iraqification going?" and followed up with a sequel. And since it's Friday, I note that while shootings and mortar attacks continue in Iraq, Silflay Hraka has Iraqi bird-blogging, with photos provided by some of our troops.

DAVID CASSIDY wants to win the Kentucky Derby. He had better start working out; those horses are pretty fast. And boy, are my arms tired!

PAULA ABDUL pleads no contest to a misdemeanor charge of hit-and-run driving. Authorities said Abdul was driving December 20 o­n a highway in Encino, when she changed lanes and struck another vehicle, causing minor damage. The driver and passenger snapped a photo with a cell phone camera and wrote down the license plate number of the car, which was traced to Abdul.

GEORGE SOROS: A French appeals court has affirmed the billionaire investor's 2002 conviction for insider trading. Soros plans to further appeal the decision.

BARNEY MARTIN, best known for playing Jerry Seinfeld’s father Morty o­n Seinfeld, has died of cancer at age 82.

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