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New Mt. Goats and Mag Fields, Richard Swift, Cutout Bin, Turtle Tricks   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, January 04, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



... with RADIOHEAD!  Here's your chance to watch "Scotch Mist" -- the band's New Year's Eve webcast, icymi.  Or you can watch individual songs.  Your tracklist includes "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi," "Bodysnatchers," "Jigsaw Falling Into Place," "15 Step," "Videotape," "Reckoner," "House Of Cards" and "All I Need," plus a version of "Faust Arp" from a prior webcast and a video for "Nude."

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS have pre-released the lead track from their upcoming Heretic Pride LP, "Sax Rohmer #1."  More rockin' than usual from them.

MAGNETIC FIELDS:  More tracks from the upcoming Distortion album are popping up on the 'net, including "Three-Way," "Old Fools" and "Too Drunk to Dream."

NILSSON SINGS NEWMAN makes the A.V. Club's Hall of Fame, including a stream of "Vine St."

RICHARD SWIFT:  Speaking of Nilsson, I'd say there's a whiff of him -- and piano-based pop like early McCartney and Elton John -- in Richard Swift, whom I have been negligent in not mentioning last year.  He did the interview and free songs thing at Daytrotter back in May.  That site now hears Swift may be working with Mark Ronson and The Dap-Kings on his next album, which might explain the bluesy demos streaming alongside the poppy studio tracks at SwiftSpace.

CARRY ON BY YOURSELF, you wayward ten-year-old girl.

BETTYE LaVETTE, getting over the shock of a Grammy nom, has advice for aspiring musicians: "If you know how to do something else, do it!"

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS:  Patterson Hood talks about recording with LaVette and working on a new DBT LP at the Independent Mail.

FUNKY FRIDAY:  Covert Curiousity is streaming tracks from up-n-comer Lack of Afro (incl. an Arctic Monkeys cover), plus tracks from a comp of super-rare Texas Funk from 1968-75.

CUTOUT BIN:  From Al Green to the Zombies, from Joe Jackson to Van Morrison, this Friday's fortuitous finds can be jukeboxed or streamed individually on the Pate page at the ol' HM.

BRITNEY SPEARS:  After blowing off a court-ordered deposition in her child custody case the other day, the pop tart showed up -- under threat of contemt, no doubt -- two hours late yesterday, effectively limiting the deposition to about 13 minutes.  Fed-Ex's lawyer may seek sanctions.  UPDATE:  Police, the fire department and an ambulance were at the the Spears house after the traiwreck refused to hand the kids back over to Fed-Ex.  Developing... UPDATE:  Spears was removed from her home strapped to a gurney, and is on a 72-hour mental lockdown!  The lawyers are back in courtUPDATE:  Fed-Ex gets sole legal and physical custody of the kids; Brit gets nothing, until further order of the court.

LINDSAY LOHAN:  Caught on camera falling off the wagon.  And she's strapped for cash.  The first will not help the second.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS: Nickelodeon denies rumors the network was yanking Zoey 101, the teen school drama starring Britney's 16-year-old newly-knocked-up sister.

PAM ANDERSON:  The divorce from Rick Salomon is back on.

TOM-KAT UPDATE:  Cruise and Holmes are reportedly seeking medical advice following a series of failed attempts to conceive a second child, according to Britain's uber-reliable Now magazine,  Oddly, the story implies that it's Holmes that's being checked out, even though Cruise had trouble conceiving with second wife Nicole Kidman and has been dogged by rumors of holoprosencephaly.

JESSICA SIMPSON & TONY ROMO are a phony couple, set up by creepy dad-manager Joe to land a Super Bowl commercial with Pizza Hut, accoridng to the ever-reliable Star magazine.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD:  The latest film from Paul Thomas Anderson is as bleak and unforgiving as the plains where it is set and black as the oil around which its plot revolves.  As the movie is based on Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel Oil!, I suspected there would be some quaint old school socialism in the script.  Ironically -- esp. to those who know me -- my biggest criticism of the film is that PTA took out almost all of the socialism, to the point that viewers may find a major late plot point  to be rather arbitrary.  Nevertheless, the story makes up for it with subtexts of the corruption of capitalism and religion.  More important, Daniel Day-Lewis -- in a star turn intentionally based on John Huston (and esp. Treasure of the Sierra Madre) -- is volcanic, sometimes erupting, but always bubbling and churning beneath the surface.  There is not much to like in Daniel Plainview, but everything to like in the way Daniel Day-Lewis commands the screen.  You can check out both trailers at IMDB.

ATONEMENT, like There Will Be Blood, is a period drama with not much in the way of likeable characters.  But this respectable adaptation of Ian McEwen's novel is -- again like TWBB -- one of the year's best dramas.  Well-acted by its ensemble cast, it is about a romance that takes a tragic turn, but also about... yes, atonement.  The look and cinematography of the film are also gorgeous, even when what is shown is quite ugly.  Similar to the Coen Bros.' No Country For Old Men, some viewers may be put off by the end of the film, which is true to the book, rather than a conventional movie ending.

NOW SHOWING:  This weekend's wide release is One Missed Call, a horror movie not screened for critics.  However, Juno expands to almost 2000 screens with its 94 percent score on the ol' Tomatometer, while Atonement expands to 583 screens with an 85 percent score.

RUSSELL CROWE:  Anti-gambling crusader.

EDDIE MURPHY's new marriage may not be legally valid, according to a report in the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

STAR TREK REBOOT spoilers are up at UGO's Movie Blog.

STAR TREK:  Speaking of which, there is a photoset of "The Galactically Hot Women of Star Trek TOS" posted on Flickr.  Because it's Gratuitous (and Geeky) Friday.  I know someone will be forwarding this link to his brother.

HONOR KILLINGS in the US?  Police in a Dallas, TX suburb continue to search for Yaser Abdel Said, who they believe killed his two teenage daughters and left their bodies in a taxi at an Irving hotel.  Police said they are looking into the possibility that the father was upset with his daughters' dating activities.  ALSO:  In the Chicago suburbs, Subhash Chander is accused of setting an apartment fire -- killing his pregnant daughter, her husband and their young child -- because the son-in-law didn't ask permission for the marriage, prosecutors said.

PAKISTAN:  The party of slain Benazir Bhutto will take part in Pakistan's delayed elections, her husband announced Thursday.

IRAQ:  Rival Shiite factions met to cement a tenuous peace agreement, while factions in Anbar grumble about each other.  A top Shiite politician acknowledged the contribution of US-backed Sunni Arab groups to the decline in violence across Iraq and called for their use in the continuing fight against al Qaeda.  Blogger Michael J. Totten finds out the sign on the door of Fallujah's Combat Operations Center, which says "Have a Plan to Kill Everyone You Meet," is no joke.  Foreign Policy interviewed Gen. David Petraeus to find out how he plans to draw down without leaving chaos behind.

A TURTLE was taught stupid pet tricks over the course of a decade... for child therapy.  Let's go to the video!

PITBULLS also do therapeutic work.

IT WAS RAINING IGUANAS in south Florida's Bill Baggs Park on Thursday morning.

HOT DOG:  A man's effort to keep his pig warm during Wednesday night's freeze ended up starting a fire that caused about 50K in damages to his home in St. Johns County, FL.

MALE MACAQUES pay for intercourse by using grooming as a currency.  And the market goes up and down.

6247 Reads

Wonderground, Gigs of MP3s, Flaming Lips, Giant Shark   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, January 03, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE CREATION:  "Making Time."  Mostly because I ran across Rushmore on cable last night, and was reminded of that nifty guitar riff and the pre-Zeppelin guitar bowing.

THE WHITE STRIPES:  Jack White and Patti Page did a conference call with USA TODAY  about their respective recordings of "Conquest."  Here are your his and hers videos.

WONDERGROUND RADIO:  You can stream an excellent music mix spanning the decades via MPR.  The recent playlist is at the link.

PITCHFORK has posted its 2007 Readers Poll.

STEREOGUM has posted its Top 50 Downloads of 2007... and its entire year of nearly three and a half gigabytes of free and legal mp3s.

LEARN TO DANCE... the James Brown way!

THE FLAMING LIPS:  Video from the band's New Year's Eve show is posted over at the 'Gum.


MARGOT & THE NUCLEAR SO & SOS:  There's a new demo -- and live tracks of other candidates for their 2008 LP -- streaming via MOKB.

JASON ISBELL talks to NC's News & Observer about the musical differences that precipitated his split from the Drive-By Truckers.

BRITNEY SPEARS checked into a Palm Springs hotel with photog Adnan Ghalib around 2 a.m. on Jan. 2 - and then checked out around 7 a.m.  Later in the day, she skipped her court-ordered deposition in her child custody case.  Coincidentally, the pop tart's lawyers have moved to dump her as a client.  She goes through lawyers almost as fast as she goes through men.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS is reportedly getting support from Fed-Ex in the wake of the 16-year-old's shock pregnancy.

PAM ANNDERSON just said she had "plenty of problems" and thought 2008 would be "more of the same," so I guess I'm not shocked if the ex-Baywatch bombshell left her kids in a Vegas hotel room on New Year's Eve, while she did a paid party event.

KATHERINE HEIGL:  Wedding photos and interview (and more) from OK! magazine.

EDDIE MURPHY married his producer fiancée Tracey Edmonds on New Year's Day.

THE McCARTNEYS:  Sir Paul had secret heart surgery amid the continuing strain of his split from Heather Mills.  The Daily mail also covers the pair's Christmas blow-up and Heather's dwnward spiral.

JESSICA SIMPSON has gone to Nashville to begin work on her much-dreaded country album.

NOT ENGAGED:  Not Ashlee Simpson.  Not Kim Kardashian.  Not even to each other.

NICOLE KIDMAN:  The Murdoch media empire is still running with that pregnancy rumor, both explicitly and in a not-so-blind item.  Which is a little weird, given that both are under the PageSix brand.

VIVICA A. FOX reportedly has a sex tape floating around.

INDIANA JONES IV:  Vanity Fair magazine got access to the set for a piece with Annie Leibovitz photos and mild George Lucas spoilers.  Lucas and Spielberg also talk about the Bourne franchise.

FRANCE:  Vandals torched 372 cars to celebrate the New Year... but that's down from 397 last New Year's Eve.

PAKISTAN:  Wild theories about the death of Benazir Bhutto making the rounds in Pakistan are becoming levers of political power... but will anyone buy that she was killed by a frickin' laser beam?  Presi. Musharraf has called out Scotland Yard to help clear up the confusion.

IRAN:  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has spoken out against... negative campaigning.  Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have appointed senior hard-liners to monitor the elections, stoking fears of a replay of the 2004 legislative elections when thousands of reformists were barred from running.

IRAQ:  AQI continues to target Awakening Councils and Concerned Local Citizens' groups, which is only driving those forces away from AQI.

A KAYAKER had hoped to stealthily track a great white shark, only to find the tables turned.  Cue Sheriff Brody (nsfw)!

A CARPET PYTHON required surgery after mistaking four golf balls for a meal of chicken eggs.


BUFFALO RIDING:  Trickier than you think.

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Plant+Krauss, Replacements, Moby Grape, Crouching Kitty, Hidden Chipmunk   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, January 02, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


ROBERT PLANT & ALISON KRAUSS make rootsy music in a disco-ball filled room (and other sets) in this new clip for "Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)."  BTW, Robert Plant has the beard of the year, according to the Beard Liberation Front, an informal network of beard wearers.

LED ZEPPELIN:  Unsubstantiated rumors have resurfaced about the band headlining the next Bonnaroo festival.

THE REPLACEMENTS, Live at CBGB's - October 12, 1984, marks rbally's official return to semi-regular blogging.  You can jukebox the gig via the ol' HM.

RADIOHEAD picked a boutique label for the non-download Canadian release of In Rainbows.  Remember, you can stream the album this week via Spinner, if you didn't do the "pay what you want" download.

JAMES BROWN:  The legal feud over the Godfather of Soul's estate is stalling the release of his final recordings.

IDA MARIA is kinda... intense in the video for "Oh My God."

THE INDUSTRY:  New York magazine has a piece on the record labels' continuing war against file-sharing and album leaks, including the claim that that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his or her computer.  It's enough to get people wondering whether the RIAA will die in 2008.

VICTORIA BERGSMAN -- former Concretes frontwoman and the female voice on Peter, Bjorn and John's "Young Folks" -- gets an audio feature for her solo LP on All Things Considered at NPR.

MOBY GRAPE:  The pop-psych band's decades-long streak of bad luck continues, but you can stream a killer live take on "Omaha" at the link.

PETE DOHERTY has denied that he's going to spill the beans on life with his ex, Kate Moss.

THE McCARTNEYS:  Heather Mills says she will have to sell the £3.25million mansion Sir Paul bought her -- to pay the legal bills for her divorce.  Which would be more believable if she had not thrown a £30,000 New Year's party.

PAMELA ANDERSON tells People magazine that she still has plenty of problems after filing for divorce and announcing a reconciliation with third husband Rick Salomon.  On her website, she asks, "What's the definition of insanity?"  Some define insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  Anderson also told People her plans for 2008 are "More of the same. More excitement, more fun."  So expect more train-wreckage this year.

MISCHA BARTON was such a diva as she was preparing to host Saturday's grand opening of the CatHouse Loungerie club at the Luxor in Las Vegas, the owners were happy when she was arrested for DUI last week and canceled her appearance.

KATE MOSS has decided to move her new nanny into her new home in a bid to curb her hell-raising lifestyle.

JUDE LAW has been haunted by the ghost of Frank Sinatra in Cuba.  Law he reportedly saw a vision of Ol' Blue Eyes raiding his hotel mini-bar after celebrating his 35th birthday at Havana's Hotel Nacional de Cuba on Saturday.  So there clearly was some sort of spirit involved in the incident.

JUNO had the second-biggest haul ever for an indie flick last Friday.  Award prognosticator Tom O'Neill thinks that success makes it a heavyweight contender for an Oscar best-pic nomination and that star Ellen Page may be emerging as the best-actress frontrunner.  Fox Searchlight is upping its rollout to 2000 screens this weekend.

PAKISTAN:  In a dramatic U-turn, the government apologized for claiming that former premier Bhutto died of a skull fracture after hitting the sunroof of her car during a suicide attack.  Bhutto was slain just hours before she was to go public with "proof" that Pakistani intelligence and electoral officials were planning to rig polls, an official from her party said on Tuesday.  However, there is no evidence of a causal link.

IRAN:  The L.A. Times reports that no one really knows who is running the country.  Energy Minister Parviz Fattah says Iran is constructing its first homemade 360-megawatt nuclear plant in Khuzestan province.  And Russia continues to resist any further sanctions against Iran for failing to comply with UN resolutions regarding its nuclear program.

IRAQ:  Milbogger Tony Sidoti had a Blackhawk's-eye view of New Year's Eve in Baghdad: "Sure, flying low over the city in a helicopter while people are shootings fireworks and weapons into the air isn't the greatest place to be, but the beauty and energy coming up from the streets far outweighed my fears."  Coalition forces captured the Special Groups recruiter for Karbala Province and 21 al Qaeda operatives during operations in central and northern Iraq. The Iraqi Army arrested 40 al Qaeda fighters, including a Saudi national, in northern Babil and another six in Haditha. Police captured an al Qaeda leader and two aides in Baqubah.


A BARN OWL is flying in the rings for the bride and groom at a wedding in Denbighshire.  The owl has experience from its day job delivering mail to Hogwarts.

TINK, a Pomeranian-Chihuahua, nabbed fugitives, made them drop their chalupas.

CODY, a Sheltie, treed a mountain lion in San Juan Capistrano.

PTERODACTYL blamed for a one-car accident in Wenatchee, Wash.  I suppose that would be startling.

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New Year, New Releases, Hendrix, Beck, Knut Update   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, January 01, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


WELCOME... TO THE NEW YEAR:  You can stream a live version of Pate's "New Year" (and three others from the 2003 reunion) at PateSpace.

U2:  Crushingly obvious, I know.

NEW RELEASES from Radiohead and Interpol are streaming in full via Spinner.

JIMI HENDRIX plays "Auld Lang Syne," live at the Fillmore on New Year's Day, 1970.

BEST of 2007:  You can listen to KEXP's Top 90.3 Albums of the Year, as voted on by the station's listeners.  You can access the entire playlist, too; just enter Dec. 28, 2007, between 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  If you're not strictly indie, you may want to check Metacritic's 30 Best-Reviewed Albums of the Year; if you keep scrolling there, you'll find even more lists.  And if you're even less strictly indie -- like Friend of Pate Sylvia Hauser -- you can stream tracks from the Top Ten Blues Albums of 2007, according to WXPN.

R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe says the band's focus is back and razor-sharp on their new album. Accelerate, due in April.  Stipe elsewhere has called it "a big change."

ABBA wishes you a "Happy New Year."  Mildly paradoxical, I know.  Anyway, for a "happy" song its seems a bit downbeat, so I'll toss in "Take A Chance On Me" for your Twofer Tuesday.

BECK has announced the deluxe re-release of his landmark 1996 album, Odelay, due at month's end.

ARCTIC MONKEYS have revealed their 2008 New Year's resolutions to the NME.  Which reminds me...

OTIS & CARLA: "New Year's Resolution."

DECISION '08:  With the Iowa caucuses imminent, I note this WSJ piece on presidential campaign playlists, with mockery from Idolator

OLDSTAND:  SPIN magazine''s July 1989 issue is reviewed at the 'Gum.

MUSIC LAWYERS take a look at major label "360-degree" deals, under which the labels share a piece of most -- if not all -- of the artists' rights in all types of revenue streams, not just record sales, but also concert tickets and t-shirts.

LINDSAY LOHAN was... wait for it... caught canoodling three men in a 24-hour span, as documented by the Daily Mail.  Remember, ex-bf Riley Giles recently told the uber-reliable News of the World that Li-Lo has traded her dangerous drug habit for a manic addiction to sex.

BRITNEY SPEARS faced fresh humiliation as Fed-Ex was spotted cozying up to the French Hotel.  Even funnier, K-Fed dismissed the heirhead... for now.  OK! magazine reports that the pop tart and her two young sons planned to ring in 2008 with her new beau - paparazzo Adnan Ghalib, who, sources tell OK!, happens to be a married man.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS:  Britney's 16-year-old knocked up sister meets Juno at the Gallery of the Absurd.

MADONNA & GUY RICHIE have sent aides to Cambodia to shop for a new daughter, according to London's Sun.

MISCHA BARTON:  A police source told TMZ that the ex-O.C. hottie blew a .12 on her breathalyzer, and admitted to smoking pot earlier on the day of her DUI arrest.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY has vowed never to live in Hollywood because it's a city with a one-track mind -- comments well-timed for awards season.  The 22-year-old actress was voted the top beauty icon for women in a UK chain store poll.  Meanwhile, her friends bet on how long it will be before she manages to keep her clothes on before a camera.

J-LO is struggling to control her hormones during pregnancy, and is reportedly planning to follow Scientology guidelines when she gives birth next year.

TOE-SUCKING:  Sting and Nicollette Sheridan are among those following the path of fmr Clinton pollster Dick Morris.

2007 POP CULTURE POLL, courtesy of Parade magazine.  Categories inlcude most annoying celebrity, hottest Jolie-Pitt, hottest Clinton, most shocking celeb story, and more...

PEOPLE WHO DIED, courtesy of AOL News.

FOREIGN POLICY GOES GLAM:  Daniel W. Drezner, bogger and associate professor of international politics at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, asks, "Should celebrities set the global agenda?"

PENELOPE & MONICA CRUZ dub scenes from a lesbian pr0n film into Spanish in their brother's latest music video.  NTTAWWT.  Yes, it's Gratuitous Tuesday.

THE STATE OF JIHAD, 2007 is surveyed by Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal.

PAKISTAN:  An American Arms Control Association report concludes that there is little reason to worry about Pakistan's nuclear weapons.  But just in case, US special forces snatch squads are on standby to seize or disable Pakistan's nukes in the event of a collapse of government authority or the outbreak of civil war following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

IRAN's first nuclear plant will start operating in mid-2008, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Sunday.  Turkmenistan has stopped natural gas exports to Iran, causing winter shortages in some parts of the country, Iranian officials said on Monday.  The major Central Asia producer blamed technical problems but some Iranian media reports suggested it had halted deliveries because it wanted to raise the price of gas.  The latter seems plausible in light of Iran's soaring inflation.

IRAQ:  As 2008 arrived in a less-violent Baghdad, residents said it was the first real party they had seen in years.  US forces captured a wanted AQ leader in Kirkuk.  Sunni tribal and political leaders singled out as "traitors" by Osama bin Laden have hit back, accusing him of being un-Islamic and mocking him as being weak.  The Marines' accused leader in the 2005 killings of 24 civilians in Haditha will face voluntary manslaughter charges but not more serious murder charges.

KNUT UPDATE:  The once-cuddly polar bear cub is to star in an animated Hollywood movie by the maker of the Garfield films in a deal that could net Berlin Zoo €3.5 million.  However, my favorite part of the story concerns Knut's ongoing relationship with his keeper, Thomas Dörflein: "Media speculation that Knut may eventually eat Dörflein has so far proved unfounded..."

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  Militant squirrels (and pitbulls) are getting their own suits of armor.

A FISH FANATIC has become the first man in the world to breed rare stingrays in his living room.

BRITISH BADGERS may be whacked en masse to curb a tuberculosis epidemic in cattle.

A BEAGLE and TWO LAB MIXES inherited an 800K estate, and look forward to spaghetti night.

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Raveonettes, Okkervil River, St. Vincent, Cheating Greyhound   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 31, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE RAVEONETTES:  Sune Rose Wagner talked to AFP about getting back to the band's minimalist roots, and it doesn't get much more minimal than he and Sharin Foo playing "Dead Sound" in a Black Cab Session.  (Thx, Chromewaves.)

BEST of 2007:  The Times of London lists Songs of the Year in several genres.  NPR is streaming tracks from the Top 10 Great Unknown Artists of 2007 (though regular visitors here will recognize a few).  At Sound Opinions, you can stream 2007 mixtapes from Windy City music critics Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis.   And don't forget Largehearted Boy's updated list of lists.

2008:  The NYDN looks ahead to notable future releases, including an album from the North Mississippi AllStars, produced by Jim Dickinson.

OKKERVIL RIVER did a chat and mini-set (incl. a John Cale cover) at KUT's Studio 1A, which you can stream on demand via NPR.

CONCERT TICKET GENERATOR... and timewaster.  (Thx, Ken King.)

ACE FREHLEY showed his true face to DC's Express, which was probably a mistake.  But Pate bassist Mike Kelly should enjoy it.

THE APPLES IN STEREO have a new video for "Eyes Open" that combines live footage with recent advances in aviation.  It should be right up Craig O'Neill's alley.

BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB:  Robert Been talks to the Sydney Morning Herald about touring, playing with the Jesus & Mary Chain, heroes and more.

ST. VINCENT:  I forgot to post Annie Clark's in-store performance at Other Music last month, but it's still just as good today.

LILY ALLEN has turned down the chance to launch her own range of maternity wear because she thinks it will send out the wrong message to young girls.

AMY WINEHOUSE jetted off to the Caribbean for an impromptu holiday to see in the new year, but will appear in a Norwegian court to appeal her drug conviction on Leap Day.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  National Treasure: Book of Secrets remained atop the chart in its second weekend, but the real story this weekend is the adorable Juno, which vaulted into fifth place after expanding to 998 screens, and had the highest perscreen average in the Top Ten.  Juno has already made 25 million, which has to be a multiple of its cost.  Other winners this week included the unacclaimed Alvin and the Chipmunks, as well as Charlie Wilson's War, P.S. I Love You, and Enchanted -- all of which increased their receipts over last weekend.  This was especally important for Charlie Wilson's War, which may now be profitable if award nominations keep folks coming.  The news was less good for Alien Vs. Predator - Requiem and The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, which debuted in sixth and seventh places, Sweeey Todd, which dropped from fifth to ninth, and Walk Hard, which dropped out of the Top Ten.  I saw Atonement and Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood over the weekend, so I'll be blurbing them post-holidays, as traffic returns to normal.

ANNUAL BOX OFFICE:  Hollywood's revenue incread on higher ticket prices, but ticket sales were flat, and down 12 percent from the record of 1.61 billion in 2002.  Sales and attendance both were up through Labor Day, boosted by 14 summer sequels, but tanked afterward.  It turns out there were not huge audiences for anti-war movies or The Golden Compass.  Who'da thunkit?

WRITERS' STRIKE:  The Late Show With David Letterman and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, will return to the air on January 2nd fully staffed with scribes, but the controversy has already started.  BTW, I wonder whether -- if the strike drags on long enough -- that people will move on to cable, Netflix, etc. to a degree that the writers' strike ends up like the last baseball strike.  How would Hollywood recover?  Baseball did it with steroids, so maybe Hollywood will do it with unnaturally large breast implants.

CLOVERFIELD:  J.J. Abrams has put several minutes from the "Blair Godzilla" movie online.  And the trailer for his Star Trek reboot will run before the pic when it opens on 01-18-08.

BRADGELINA:  Jolie tops a Reuters poll of the best celebrity humanitarians of 2007.

NICOLE KIDMAN & KEITH URBAN are expecting their first baby, accrding to the Daily Mail.  Kidman's rep rubbishes the report: "It is incorrect . . . she must have had about 30 babies by now."  Kidman ceratinly won't give it away until she's showing; that Botoxed brow gives the perfect poker face.

JIMMY FALLON:  The former SNL funnyman married girlfriend Nancy Juvonen, a Hollywood producer who worked on Fallon's 2005 romantic comedy Fever Pitch.

MARILYN MANSON:  Officially divorced from burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese.

HAYDEN PANETTIERE & MILO VENTIMIGLIA:  The Heroes co-stars are officially a couple.  She's 18; He's 30.  NTTAWWT.

JENNA FISCHER & DAVID SPADE:  Unofficially dating, according to the ever-reliable Star magazine.  She's 33; He's 43.  Don't underestimate the power of funny.

SEAN PENN:  Unofficially dining with a mystery brunette four days before filing for a divorce from Robin Wright Penn.  She's "very young, very attractive"; he's 47.

JIB-JAB rolled out its 2007 Year In Review, albeit with a soundtack that is so last century.

PAKISTAN:  Dramatic new video of the assassination of fmr Prime Minister Bhutto emerged Sunday, showing her slumping just after gunshots ring out.  The Pakistan government already offered to exhume her body.  Get your grassy knoll on.  Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party chose her 19-year-old son and her husband as co-leaders of the party.  The other main opposition party, led by Nawaz Sharif, another former prime minister, also decided Sunday to call off his previously announced boycott of the upcoming election.

IRAN has witnessed more than 240 protests during the past month, organized by various groups and segments of society against the policies of the Iranian government.

IRAQ:  At the start of December, the AQ-linked Islamic State in Iraq ordered a renewed bombing campaign against Iraqi security forces.  At month's end, we find that there was a slight uptick in suicide bombings, but that overall violence in Iraq has dropped to levels not seen on a sustained basis since the summer of 2005.  Iraq's interior ministry spokesman claimed that 75 percent of AQI's terrorist network had been destroyed this year, but that claim could not be independently verified and he did not elaborate on how the percentage was determined.  The Baghdad Zoo has been revitalized by US support troops.  General David Petraeus was named The Sunday Telegraph's Person of the Year.

GREYHOUND cheats at the track.  Let's go to the video.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  A militant squirrel is to blame for a quiet Midway, FL, neighborhood being awakened Thursday to cop cars and an armed SWAT team.

LUCKY KITTEN saved by mouth-to-mouth and heart massage from nurse mandy Wood.  The pic at the link suggests Lucky could be a candidate for the Cats Who Look Like Hitler website.

ALFIE the AFGHAN:  Saved by a shearing.

MONKEY in a HAT on a PLANE dies in quarrantine.

YEAR-END WEIRD QUIZ, courtesy of Metro.  BONUS:  Top 11 Weird Stories and poll, according to AOL News.

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