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Calexico, Gogol Bordello, Voxtrot and the Komodo Dragon   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


CHEAP TRICK and the Allman Bros. have filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that Sony BMG has paid artists and producers "only a miniscule percentage of royalties owed for licensing of the recordings" to various o­nline music stores.

CALEXICO drummer John Convertino talks about getting used to their new material of Garden Ruin and announces a beefy tour schedule. Frank at Chromewaves is killing music with the band's cover of "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Law-abiding types can stream it from the Hype Machine. And just 'cause I like it, here's the band's cover of "Alone Again Or," which features the traditional Calexico sound.

THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS' new double-disc is streaming in its entirety at VH1.

THE KILLLERS' next album will be influenced by Bruce Springsteen, according to frontman Brandon Flowers: "Springsteen touches o­n the American dream, and that's everybody's dream. And it's such a great idea — whether or not it's still happening today. Most of the songs are about getting to that place, of making it to the promised land. I don't think it's about getting rich; it's the idea of working hard and having your castle in the sky."

DEBBIE HARRY has a new track posted o­n her MySpace page. But she's rapping about L'il Kim, so proceed at your own risk.

GOGOL BORDELLO, whose new album, Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike, mixes punk, ska, jazz, and the traditional Roma music of Ukraine, have streamy goodness at NPR.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: If you're a fan of the Upper-Class Twit of the Year compentition, you will enjoy the Housemartins classic "Happy Hour" from 1986. The band's a cappella cover of the Isleys' "Caravan of Love" is also top-notch.

EDITOR ROCK: "They are white, intellectual (or at least semi-intellectual), ineffectual, and generally namby-pamby, albeit with occasional forays into, you know, distorted guitars. No aggression. It's very polite and well-mannered--way too much so, in fact--for rock music. It's music for the head, and not the hips and gut." Names are named... at BusinessWeek?

VOXTROT: Bacharach-esque horns, plaintive keys, distorted guitars and swelling strings make "Soft & Warm" NPR's Song of the Day. Brooklyn Vegan hooks you up with a hidden link full of rare/live MP3s o­n the band's website, plus a podcast and a video. It sounds like these dudes are making progress.

THE WIGGLES: As some portion of the Pate audience are aging hipsters with kids, I note the Guardian profiles Australia's leading entertainment export and perhaps the world's leading children's entertainers. I've heard from folks who have taken their Kids to see them that it's really strange to see toddlers trance-dancing in the aisles.

GOMEZ: Stereogum thinks the new album is a return to form and it's getting generally favorable reviews, so I note that the whole thing is streaming at AOL Music this week.

GARY GLITTER: The disgraced former glam rocker now denies ever abusing underage girls and blames the UK media for his downfall: "Your daughter will come into your bed in the night because she's scared or something like that. This happened in this case over here. She was scared of ghosts, so under pressure I said OK." I thought he had some story about how he was teaching them English.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Holmes' has hired Buff Brides to help her shed the post-pregnancy weight in preparation for her marriage to Cruise; the plan has been met with opposition from her father. Brook Shields thinks the irony is perfect that her daughter was born o­n the same day as Princess Tom-kitten, but wishes them all well. Which is more than you can say about Nicole Kidman.

NICOLE KIDMAN and KEITH URBAN, meanwhile, had been rumored to have set a wedding date, but the National Enquirer claims that Urban has called off those plans to focus o­n his sobriety.

DENISE & HEATHER & RICHIE & CHARLIE... & DAVID: Richards strikes back at David Spade, with a Richards ally telling Page Six that "(Spade) is notorious for preying o­n married women like Heather Locklear and Rebecca Romijn and Krista Allen, who goes back and forth between David and George Clooney... And Heather was seeing David last year." Spade's rep denies it, natch. The Richards ally also takes a whack at Sheen's manager, Mark Burg, who defended Sheen, noting that Richards fired Burg after the two squabbled over a TV deal he was negotiating for her.  And Richards herself gives a video interview to TMZ, denying she was involved with Sambora before his split with Locklear.

EBERT & ROEPER & TED & ALICE: Richard Roeper's 23-year-old model galpal Annabelle says she's brought women home so she and Roeper can enjoy threesomes. Three thumbs up, Rich!

THE FRENCH HOTEL has split from Greek shipping heir Stavros Niarchos. Although they seemed cozy just last week at his 21st birthday bash, Life & Style magazine reports that Stavros was caught canoodling with Lindsay Lohan hours after Hilton left town and Hilton (wearing a wig) has been spotted with quarterback Matt Leinart, the USC star drafted last weekend by the Arizona Cardinals.

LINDSAY LOHAN fractured her foot when she slipped while exiting the shower, not in a catfight with the Romanian Victoria's Secret model dating her 37-year-old-producer "friend," Brett Ratner.

JESSICA SIMPSON and Nick Lachey have been sneaking off to the San Fernando Valley to meet in what is described as "discreet hotels?" So maybe we should believe Dane Cook's denials of stories that the pneumatic blonde is "smitten" with the comedian?

ANOTHER SOPRANO ARRESTED: John Ventimiglia, who plays Vesuvio chef Artie Bucco, was busted o­n cocaine possession and drunk driving charges.

COURTNEY LOVE made a surprise live appearance, backed by Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan and former 4 Non Blondes songwriting guru Linda Perry, for a Gay and Lesbian Community Center benefit in L.A. According to Love, "you could have heard a pin drop, although apparently there was speculation about whether I was wearing underwear."

TERI HATCHER: The Desperate Housewife tells Oprah she wants "wild, crazy sex." So why o­n Earth was she trying to date Ryan Seacrest?

JAKE GYLLENHAAL shocked American Gulf War veterans by joking they did nothing but masturbate during their time in the desert in 1991. I don't know why they would be shocked -- his politics are well-known and his knowledge of the Gulf War is likely limited to his reading of the script for Jarhead.

VAUGHNISTON: Aniston and Vaughn are rumored to have bought Mr. T's former home in Vaughn's hometown of Lake Forest, IL. Pics at the link. If that's true, it could explain why Aniston doesn't want Vaughn to go o­n location to London for three months.

BRADGELINA: Jolie then and now -- Just Jared has the video of her recent Dateline NBC interview, which gets good near the end when she can't control her hysterical giggling. Screenhead has two early, quirky shorts she made with future Secretary director Steven Shainberg; it's easy to believe she's not acting much in them.

PRESIDENT BUSH needs to get his mojo back, according to new White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, who has ordered the defrosting of Austin Powers for the mission.

IRAQ: At ITM, Mohammed analyzes the politicking behind key cabinet nominations and the parliament's process for suggesting amendments to the constitution. Bill Roggio looks at al-Qaeda's assassination program in Anbar and Monday night's Coalition raid o­n a terror cell near Balad. A new study shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 18 to 24 still cannot find Iraq o­n a map. I suspect the numbers aren't much different for Americans over age 24, as I tend to get blank stares when I say that people who want to understand the invasion of Iraq need to look at a map. In waging a war o­n terrorism, especially state-supported terrorism, Iraq sits in the middle of the Mideast chessboard -- whether you're talking about water, oil, movement of general trade or terrorists in the region, increased isolation of hostile regimes in Iran and Syria, increased leverage over Saudi Arabia, and so o­n.

IRAN: Gen. Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani threatened to attack Israel if the US makes any "mischief" for the mullahs. Prof. Juan Cole has suggested that Pres. Ahmadinejad did not threaten to "wipe Israel off the map," requiring Christopher Hitchens to give him a lesson in Persian and honest English. European nations, backed by the US, have outlined a planned UN Security Council resolution to give "mandatory force" to the IAEA demands that Iran halt uranium enrichment, but Russia and China continue to oppose any meaningful UN action, just as they do with respect to Darfur, just as they did with Iraq.

TERRORISM: An independent panel tasked with investigating biased coverage at the BBC provides a definition of terrorism for the broadcaster to use. The BBC, like Reuters and other major media, generally refuse to use the term, even when describing someone beheading an innocent civilian, and even when referring to Osama bin Laden.

KOMODO DRAGON: The as-yet unexplained birth of four rare Komodo dragons by a female called Sungai, when the last time she is known to have had intercourse was two years ago, reminds me to check out the special guest dragon at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The dragon has a mouth full of sharp teeth, like a shark's, which are covered in deadly bacteria. So what's not to like?

BEES use an open forum for opinions and a decentralized, competitive "debate" that filters out extreme or inaccurate opinions to select the location of a new hive.

SELF-CLONING SNAILS from New Zealand are invading Minnesota.

DOGS may be welcome at the Hotel Cortisen in the Alpine village of St Wolfgang, but leave the kids at home.

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New Releases, Covers Galore, Josh Ritter and Squirrel-blogging   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


YO LA TENGO: James McNew tells Pitchfork that there will be a new album of songs that are "by our standards, short and upbeat" coming in September. In the meantime, Yo La Tengo Is Mudering The Classics, a collection of covers from their infamous WFMU pledge drive gigs (scroll down here for the track listing), was not highly rated o­n the Pitchfork, though the reviewer had to admit that their take o­n Archie Bell & the Drells' "Tighten Up" is pretty darn good, and that when a young caller named Lela sings "Route 66" over the phone while the band plays softly in the background, it's "so genuinely sweet that the band's uncertaintly over the chord sequence doesn't much matter." BONUS: Here are two non-WFMU covers -- "Somebody's Baby" (Jackson Browne) and "Little Honda" (The Beach Boys).

NEW RELEASES this week include full albums from Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Wolfmother, The Charlatans, World Party and more are streaming at AOL Music. The Posies' Jon Auer releases the long delayed Songs from the Year of Our Demise. The BellRays have a new album of rock 'n' soul. DeVotchKa has a covers EP, including "Venus In Furs." The Black Keys have an EP of Junior Kimbrough covers.

SID 'N' SUSIE: In an article that name-checks the Paisley Underground of the early 80s, Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet talk to Jim DeRogatis about making the Sid 'N' Susie covers album and the round trip from indie to the majors and back. You can stream a few covers, if you haven't already.

COVERS: As there seem to be a lot of covers in the news, I note that Retrocrush is slowly unveiling a list of "100 Best Cover Songs." Berkeley Place has posted an A-Z of live covers, which you can stream from the Hype Machine.

TOM VERLAINE talks to Rolling Stone about his two new albums: the rocker Songs and Other Things and the instrumental collection Around. You can stream the rocker from Thrill Jockey.

GNARLS BARKLEY, whose "Crazy" has spent four weeks topping the UK singles chart (the first song to debut at the top solely o­n the basis of download sales) is growing quickly o­n US radio, and at stations catering to such disparate genres as R&B and modern rock. Given the covers theme today, here's the band reworking "Crazy" as a ballad o­n Top of the Pops, and it's just as cool in its own way. And since it's Twofer Tuesday you can see them perform "Crazy" at their first live gig (albeit with completely distorted audio) -- a secret show at the Roxy in L.A.

RADIOHEAD will not have their next album ready this year, but will be road-testing the new material this summer.

JOSH RITTER: The Americana/roots rocker's new disc, The Animal Years, is a bit political, but he's more inspired by Mark Twain than Steve Earle. You can hear some of it via MySpace.

ALOHA: The indie-prog quartet never has been ashamed that its influences are more Steely Dan than Rolling Stones: "If you're going to play in a band for seven years, whatever you're doing is going to go in and out of favor," said singer/guitarist Tony Cavallario. "We're into '70s songwriters, prog-rock and experimental stuff, but we come from a punk background." The Denver Post has two free MP3s for you, too.

THE WRENS are working o­n a new album, remastering the Abbott 1135 EP and is planning o­n posting old material and unreleased tracks o­n its Web site later this year.

JOHNNY CASH'S FINAL SONG will appear o­n a train-themed Cash album due o­n the Fourth of July. A trove of sparse solo recordings Cash made in the 1970s will be released May 23rd.

GARY GLITTER: The disgraced British rocker's appeal of his conviction for child molestation will be heard next month by The People's Supreme Court of Appeals in Ho Chi Minh City. Presumably by the Communist version of Judge Wapner.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: As Paramount prepares to release Mission: Impossible III this weekend, there are signs Cruise may have to work a lot harder to secure his most loyal fans: women. The studio is targeting women with ads that play up the movie's romance between Mr. Cruise and actress Michelle Monaghan and his virile defense of imperiled co-star Keri Russell.

BRITNEY SPEARS is frustrating her agents at William Morris as she bounces between pursuing an acting career, her music career and a second pregnancy.

DO RICH ARTISTS MAKE BAD ART? Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones examines whether artists can thrive after overnight success: "Dalν and Warhol both lost the spark of brilliance as money became central to their lives. At least in Warhol's case there was a pertinence, even a kind of martyrdom, to his immersion in the dollar sign, the ultimate Pop icon. When you become as rich as this, being as rich as this becomes your story. If you don't make art about being a multimillionaire, you are being dishonest. If you do, you can hardly claim the universality of great art."

ANNA NICOLE SMITH won her Supreme Court case, which will allow her to purse her claims to money from the estate of the late oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall.

AMERICAN IDOL almost never made it o­nto US television, yet another tribute to the genius of of US showbiz execs.

LOST star Michelle Rodriguez is out of jail and free to resume getting down with hot girl-on-girl action in various gay nightclubs. NTTAWWT. And it might even explain why she chose 65 hours of Caged Heat over community service.

LINDSAY LOHAN walked in o­n her 37-year-old producer "friend" Brett Ratner and the model girlfriend she didn't know about. Awkward. Egotastic wants you to raise your hand if you want to see Lindsay Lohan fight a Romanian Victoria's Secret model.

SIENNA MILLER, having slimmed down to play Edie Sedgwick in Factory Girl, is popping £200-a-pack herbal capsules to increase her bustline. I'm sure that's going to work.

MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY and PENELOPE CRUZ are ditching their swanky Hollywood lifestyle for a mobile home holiday. Which is a great idea, unless they stop in Vegas.

RETURN OF THE SON OF THE REMAKES: Poseidon is just the beginning of a remake tsunami.

DAVID COPPERFIELD was held up at gunpoint after a show in Florida, but the handgun-toting suspects got nothing from the magician. Copperfield pulled out all of his pockets for the thieves to see he had nothing, even though he had a cellphone, passport and wallet stuffed in them.

FILMS OF INFAMY? Author David Thomson liked United 93, but thinks a greater movie would show the courage of the terrorists and claims: "The history of terrorism — and it includes the independence of this country — is that in the end you have to understand the grievance of the aggrieved, whether you agree with it or not. That film has still to come." Leaving aside that 1776 was a revolutionary -- and perhaps civil -- war (which would make the Founding Fathers "insurgents" by today's journo-jargon), if Thomson has examples of Washington or Adams blowing up civilians, or sawing their heads off, he should have given them. As for understanding the enemy, let's hear from BBC correspondent Frank Gardner: "For the past few years I had tried hard to explain the complexities of the Middle East and the thinking behind the Al-Qaeda phenomenon to western and international audiences. And this was my reward? A bunch of bullets in the guts from men who had convinced themselves they were killing in the cause of Islam. It just did not seem right."

JESSICA ALBA has been tapped to host the MTV Movie Awards; Leather Chaps Not Yet Confirmed.

IRAQ: Bill Roggio reviews the latest government reports, which suggest that terrorists view Iraq as a potential safe haven, but al-Qaeda operational commanders in Iraq are increasingly vexed by the continued loss of popular support, which they attribute to the willingness of Sunnis to participate in the political process. CBS's David Price, who just returned from a five-day trip entertaining some 22,000 troops in Iraq and Kuwait was surprised by the high morale: "My job was to try to cheer the soldiers up. But in most cases, they didn't need it. … It was an amazing experience. I went to Iraq looking to raise morale. But in the end, it was the soldiers who had done that for me." CNN's Lou Dobbs paid tribute to Army Reserve Specialist Jeremy Church, the first Army Reservist to receive the Silver Star in this war. In fact, he received that award over a year ago, but Dobbs did better than the rest of the major media. At the Editor & Publisher site, Bruce Kesler suggests the media needs to send more "troops" to cover the war.

IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION: A report from Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the White House-appointed special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, lists the successes and failures of reconstruction to date. Most of the US coverage focuses o­n the failures, but the CBC lists some of the successes: Three-quarters of all health-care projects planned for the country have been finished, though "progress has been significantly diminished by security and management problems;" more than 90 per cent of school repair or rebuilding projects are done, and more than 47,000 teachers have been trained; contractors have built hundreds of police stations and dozens of firehouses; millions more Iraqis are able to communicate using cellphones compared to access levels before the invasion; electricity is available to more Iraqis living outside the capital of Baghdad than before the war, though power is less available within Baghdad; oil and gas production have seen a slight improvement, though insurgent attacks continue to menace refining and distribution sites; and about 80 per cent of projects aimed at fixing Iraq's ports, railways, roads, bridges and airports have been completed. However, transportation is still being impeded by stringent security measures. Bowen's office also acknowledges that access to drinking water has increased since 2003. As to the oil issue, Iraq's acting oil minister has revealed plans to boost exports to 2 million barrels per day by year-end, while waiting for a new investment law that would boost foreign investment in the energy infrastructure.

SQUIRREL-BLOGGING: After Max the dog killed a squirrel, a MySpace blogger wonders about what might have been. Oh, that water-skiing squirrel is funny.

WATER BUFFALO join the Brazilian Army, contending with diamond smugglers, cocaine traffickers, clashes between loggers and Indians, and Colombian guerrillas.

THE LEGENDARY "RETURNED SWORD" TORTOISE, reported as long as 1.9 meters, hides in Hoan Kiem lake during Vietnam's 10th Communist Party Congress. Can you blame him?

STARLINGS can learn a sophisticated rule of grammar, adding to the extensive list of things Noam Chomsky has gotten wrong.

THE DEATH ADDER, it turns out, is aptly named and does not make a good pet.

3462 Reads

Keef Still Undead, James Hunter, Primal Scream, Live Zeppelin   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, May 01, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


KEITH RICHARDS, Lord of the Undead, suffered a mild concussion after falling from a coconut tree at a resort in Fiji. The Rolling Stones guitarist was airlifted to a hospital in New Zealand. But anyone who has heard Keef speak in the past few decades has to wonder whether doctors have mistaken his usual affect for a mild concussion.

JOHNNY ROTTEN has done a podcast for an exhibit o­n British fashion at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

PEARL JAM: You can stream the new self-titled album from AOL Music.

JOAN JETT is looking for a few good lesbians. Was she inspired by kissing Carmen Electra?

SLOW MUSIC: A group formed by REM's Peter Buck, King Crimson's Robert Fripp and others, is touring the West Coast and sounds like it will sound strange.

JAMES HUNTER brought his old skool R&B to the World Cafe, so you can stream it from NPR now.

DAVID BYRNE & BRIAN ENO: "New Feet," o­ne of seven previously unreleased experiments from 1981's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, made Song of the Day at NPR.

FRANK BLACK of the Pixies is a father again. Congrats to Frank and his wife Violet, especially for naming their new daughter Lucy, instead of cursing her with something ridiculous.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: James Brown (no, not the Godfather of Soul, y'all) has a fairly gonzo profile of Primal Scream in London's Guardian as the band returns with Riot City Blues in June. The single, "Country Girl" comes out May 22nd, but you can see the white-trashtastic video now o­n YouTube or in glorious Quicktime.

LAURA CANTRELL: As Bob Dylan prepares to make his DJ debut, the alt-country singer -- and sometime DJ -- penned a piece for The New York Times about DJ greats from John Peel to Hank Williams. And Matador has new Cantrell streams and downloads for you.

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO is profiled in The New York Times, with a focus o­n his recovery from Hepatitus C and his new albim, The Boxing Mirror.

LED ZEPPELIN: Jetifoblog has posted a bootleg from Knebworth, ‘79. You can stream it from the Hype Machine.

SUFJAN STEVENS has offered up another free download, "Dear Mr Supercomputer," this time for Pitchfork.

PITCHFORK: Speaking of which, the Washington Post followed Ryan Schreiber around SXSW and chronicles the impact -- for better or worse -- of his influential website.

DAVID BOWIE: After his heart attack, there's no mistaking him for the Thin White Duke.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: London's Sun has run pictures showing the troubled singer injecting an unconscious fan with a syringe. At his bulletin board, Doherty claims the photos are both stolen and staged. However, that didn't prevent Doherty's arrest o­n Saturday, just prior to a planned anti-racism gig in Trafalgar Square. Even Doherty's uncle says this time he should be put in jail. Meanwhile, the supposedly sober supermodel is set to star in her first Hollywood film, taking o­n the role of drug addict Paula Yates. Not much of a stretch for the rookie. The role could reuinite Moss with former beau Johnny Depp.

JOHNNY DEPP, meanwhile, is suing West Hollywood officials who authorized a Sunset Strip construction project that he insists would ruin the scenic view from 5.4 million dollar Hollywood Hills property. Depp asserts that the project would block the view his two children have while playing outside the 7,430-square-foot home, while developers note that Depp has declared that the kids will be raised in France.

NOW SHOWING: The Robin Williams-piloted family vehicle RV won the weekend with 16.4 million, while United 93 took second with 11.6 million and the highest per-screen average. If you've heard that at the end, all you will hear from the audience is silence punctuated by crying, you heard right. It's a powerful film and thus a very tough watch. There will be critics at places like The New York Times and Slate (twice) that seem to take issue with the film's very existence, but that says more about them than the film.

DENISE and HEATHER and RICHIE and CHARLIE: Sheen's manager is furious over Richards' claims that Sheen likes gay porno and gambling and makes death threats, telling Page Six it's all about the couple's child-custody dispute: "Did he gamble o­n sports? Big deal. Every guy I know does. Show me a guy who hasn't seen porn o­n the Internet. Does that mean he's not a good father? No." Page Six also reports that Richards fired her divorce lawyer and her longtime public-relations gurus because they wanted to keep the divorce out of the press.

PAMELA ANDERSON writes about Chimpanzee rights for The Wall Street Journal: "(W)hen I see chimpanzees being used as o­n-screen comedians, dressed up in silly costumes to sell credit cards, I think, Is this any way to treat a relative?" Which might explain how she ends up with Tommy Lee and Kid Rock.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: That's Tom-Kate to you, mister! Cruise has named Kanye West and Jamie Foxx as Suri's uncles; I'm sure they will set great examples for the young lass. Cruise is thinking about hiring imitation Beatles for his imitation wedding. And the Sydney Morning Herald takes a wide-angle look at "The Trouble with Tom," noting "there is an unintentional touch of art imitating life to M:I 3. Hunt is newly married, his wife is a bit Stepford-like in her devotion and she thinks he's a transportation policy bureaucrat. Hunt is grappling for the right balance between his public persona and the authentic private life he craves. And Michelle Monaghan, who plays the spouse, is the spitting image of Holmes: two years older, a couple of centimetres shorter, equally brunette." I don't know whether the movie is a bomb, but folks in Santa Clarita though the movie.s promo material was a bomb... literally.

NICOLE KIDMAN and KEITH URBAN are expected to tie the knot in a Catholic church in north Sydney o­n June 25, according to the New York Post.

JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT got a haircut and now looks like someone's mom. Maybe she's trying for a MILF vibe.

SIENNA MILLER wants to get women into her jeans.

BRITNEY SPEARS hubby Spenderline says he "wouldn't bet" the pop tart is pregnant again.

LINDSAY LOHAN knows you can't pick your family. Her uncle, Paul Sullivan, just pleaded guilty to ripping off a 9/11 victims' relief fund, while her estranged dad, Michael Lohan, is currently in the slammer o­n a drunk-driving rap.

BRADGELINA: The couple's mere presence is boosting the Namibian economy. They are reportedly investigating having a water birth. Jolie made the TIME 100 of people whose power, talent or moral example is shaping our world. Jolie has fired her talent agency CAA after 13 months there, but Pitt is still a client... for now.

DARFUR: Thousands gathered o­n the National Mall in DC Sunday to urge US and world leaders to do more to stop the genocide in Sudan. Speakers included George Clooney, US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Reps. Donald M. Payne and Michael E. Capuano, NJ Gov (and former Sen.) Jon Corzine and the Rev. Al Sharpton. I note them because each of them opposed forcibly deposing Saddam Hussein, who ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Shia and Kurds during his reign of terror in Iraq. Lawrence F. Kaplan noted the double-standard in The New Republic.

THE SWEDISH MUSLIM ASSOCIATION has demanded that Sweden introduce separate laws for Muslims, according to Swedish television. Sweden's equality minister Jens Orback called the proposals "completely unacceptable." Liberal Party leader Lars Leijonborg also slammed the idea of separate laws.

IRAN has ignored a UN Security Council call to freeze uranium enrichment and is stonewalling efforts to determine if it is developing nuclear arms. Pres. Ahmadinejad was defiant: "The Iranian nation won't give a damn about such useless resolutions." Mohammad Saidi, the vice-president of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation says that Iran is developing an advanced centrifuge that would speed up purification of uranium towards the 90 per cent level required for bomb-making.

IRAQ: Iraq's National Security Adviser said he expects current US troop strength to be cut to less than 100,000 by the end of 2006 and an "overwhelming majority" should be home by the end of 2007. President Talabani met with reps of seven armed groups and is optimistic they may agree to lay down their weapons. Prime Minister-designate al-Maliki hopes to name his Cabinet by May 10, but US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad doubts it. At ITM, Omar thinks it might happen, but notes that blocs that used to fight for the interior ministry are now trying to avoid it. Mohammed looks at the issues raised by proposals to disbanding and integrating the militias into gov't forces. The Army Times has a good piece o­n the hunt for Zarqawi. Joseph E. Robert Jr., the chair of an investment firm, just returned from Iraq with praise for the millitary o­n reconstruction, but criticism of State, Justice, Commerce and Agriculture.

GITMO: A long-running effort by the Bush admin. to send home many of the terror suspects held at Gitmo has been stymied in part because of concern among US officials that the prisoners may not be treated humanely by their own governments.

ALLIGATORS are not just for Florida anymore. Now they're turning up in Maine. I would have thought they would wait for summer to vacation in a cooler clime.

ILLEGAL ALIEN PUPPY has been granted what amounts to unconditional amnesty. Indeed, he was adopted by a Minuteman volunteer from Phoenix.

WATUSI RODEO: Two women were trambled by horses breaking through electric fencing at the Clovis Rodeo in Cali.

THE GREAT APE PROJECT wants the UN to grant gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutangs and bonobos something comparable to human rights. The members may also want to get laid by Pamela Anderson.

A CHINESE PANDA bred in captivity was the first to be released into the wild. The bear scampered into a nearby bamboo forest where he will be ">monitored by satellite.

SHEEP can learn how to medicate themselves.

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Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman (review by Karl)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Sunday, April 30, 2006 - 02:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


(NOTE: Those of you looking for the usual music news, gossip and such need o­nly scroll down a bit, though I think you might well enjoy Anansi Boys. Those of you here to read this review should visit the home page to plumb the depths of shallowness.)

I confess that Anansi Boys is the first Neil Gaiman book I have read. I use the word "confess" for two reasons. First, given my general love of comics, graphic novels and fantasy, o­ne might expect that I would be more familiar with his work, instead of knowing of him o­nly by reputation. Second, based o­n this book, I suspect his reputation as o­ne of today's most talented practitioners of the genre is well-earned, so I feel a slight twinge of guilt at having cheated myself by ignoring him to date. I mention this to note that I come to Anansi Boys with a blank slate; I cannot compare this book to his other work.

Anansi Boys is built o­n the Anansi folk tales that originated in Ghana and migrated to the West Indies and ultimately to the southern US (focusing o­n the mythological "trickster" who became B'rer Rabbit by the end of that journey). Thus, it's no surprise that the story visits locales including Florida and the island of St. Andrews. Nor is it a surprise that the characters seem to be black, though it's slightly surprising that Gaiman is more subtle in his characterizations o­n this point than Zadie Simith was in On Beauty, February's book club selection.

Proving that you can't judge a book by it's cover, Anansi Boys is every bit as funny as the classic trickster tales -- some of which are expressly retold, with others being echoed throughout the narrative. The blurb from Susanna Clarke o­n the back of the book provides the best hint to what lies within by name-dropping Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And though that might be the most apt fantasy reference, I would venture that the style of the book is often Pythonesque (or prehaps Gilliamesque, a la Time Bandits)

For example, here's Gaiman describing protagonist Fat Charlie (who is not fat) going to visit four old women:

"IT WAS SORT of like Macbeth, thought Fat Charlie, an hour later; in fact, if the witches in Macbeth had been four little old ladies and if, instead of stirring cauldrons and intoning dread incantations, they had just welcomed Macbeth in and fed him turkey and peas spread out o­n white china plates o­n a red-and-white patterned plastic tablecloth -- not to mention sweet potato pudding and spicy cabbage -- and encouraged him to take second helpings, and thirds, and them, when Macbeth had declaimed that nay, he was stuffed nigh unto bursting and o­n his oath could truly eat no more, the witches had pressed upon him their own special island rice pudding and a large slice of Mrs. Bustamonte's famous pineapple upside-down cake, it would have been exactly like Macbeth."

Later, when Fat Charlie's brother, Spider, is decribed as having more fun than a barrelful of monkeys, Gaiman adds a footnote:

"Several years earlier Spider had actually been tremendously disappointed by a barrelful of monkeys. It had done nothing he had considered particularly entertaining, apart from emit interesting noises, and eventually, o­nce the noises had stopped and the monkeys were no longer doing anything at all -- except possibly o­n an organic level -- had needed to be disposed of in the dead of night."

Though these examples might be a little densely-packed, Gaiman largely maintains a flow that makes for a quick read. If not for the intervention of some family business, I might well have read the entire book o­n a single Saturday.

The book is also a bit Pythonesque structurally, quite willing to abruptly digress into "something completely different" before returning to the main narrative. This might bother some readers. It bothered me o­nly a little, near the end. As the story progresses, Gaiman keeps putting more balls into the juggling act, which makes creates a little awkwardness when he has to stop juggling.

That is, however, a rather small criticism of a book I enjoyed thoroughly. When Amber Taylor proposed various selctions for the blog book club, I voted for Anansi Boys because I thought I would likely enjoy it. And as much as I enjoy proving myself right, I enjoyed Anansi Boys even more.

UPDATE: The Book Club is discussing it over at Amber's blog.

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Tapes 'N' Tapes, Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, Croc with a Chainsaw   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, April 28, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade



MISSION OF BURMA: Roger Miller talks briefly to Billboard about the reunited band's upcoming album and documentary DVD. Clint Conley talks more about them in a nifty article about his visit to the "History of Punk Rock" class at Tufts. The band continues to roll out preview tracks from The Obliterati every three days.

FRIDAY TIMEWASTER: Can you handle the speed of the menacing mushroom? Play Sushi Samauri to find out.

TAPES 'N' TAPES — who are often compared to the Pixies and Pavement — signed a contract with XL Recordings that will see the band's disc The Loon released worldwide this summer. Music blogs sparked label interest that was further fueled by a string of live shows, including at SXSW. Four tracks from The Loon are o­n the band's MySpace page.

ISLANDS drummer J'aime Tambour tells Tuscon Weekly how the band emerged from the ashes of the Unicorns. You can stream a few from Return to the Sea via MySpace.

NEIL YOUNG has finished Living With War, which should be streaming from Young's website for a week starting today.

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS are often asked about Lynyrd Skynyrd, the subject of their Southern Rock Opera. Jason Isbell reveals what members of Skynyrd thought about it.

MINUTEMEN: The acclaimed documentary, We Jam Econo, will be out as a double-DVD (on the dime?) June 27th.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: Long out of print in the US, the first five Jesus and Mary Chain albums are being reissued by Rhino in DualDisc format in July! As videos are part of the reissues, let's celebrate with two early JAMC classics, "Never Understand" and "Some Candy Talking."

MARGOT & THE NUCLEAR SO AND SO'S got a record deal from V2/Artemis and a spot o­n MTV News, but songwriter and lead singer Richard Edwards isn't sure wat it all means: "I really like traveling and playing, but it's really tiring. I think I'm more suited to being private. So I'm trying to be more rock & roll about things. We're starting to see more people at shows, and things have gotten busy, like grownups are busy. That's weird." You can hear the band's off-kilter pop you-know-where.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: NPR has an audio interview for We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions and a Springsteen-Seeger A/B Boss comparison.

DANIEL JOHNSON: The influential bipolar musician released a "best-of" this week as he prepares to play his first L.A. show in five years. Meanwhile, his music is being turned into a rock opera.

MY EX-BEST FRIEND is a music blog featuring the good, the bad and the ugly... but mostly the last two and mostly from the 70s. Styx, The Captain & Tennille, K.C. & The Sunshine Band (Ken King, beware of the England Dan & John Ford Coley)! Stream it all from the Hype Machine. The horror... the HORROR!

SMOOSH: The tween duo are sounding beyond their years with this new track, "Find A Way."

KING BISCUIT TIME is over, as founder (and ex-Beta Band singer) Steve Mason signs off.

BRADGELINA: Jolie is the face of People magazine's "World's Most Beautiful People." The magazine reportedly paid 700K for pics of the Pitt-Jolie doings in Namibia. Jolie says she's not quite eight months pregnant and that it has given her the giggles: "I get hysterical now, like. it'll go o­n for hours; it's really horrible. It's hormonal." There's video of Jolie losing it and talking about educating kids in Africa at MSNBC. You can see Pitt in the teaser trailer for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford at Yahoo. And the couple plans to re-team o­nscreen for a movie version of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Let's hope the soundtrack is by Rush.

NOW SHOWING: This week's wide releases are the Robin Williams vehicle RV (32 percent Rotten o­n the Tomatometer), the spelling drama Akeelah and the Bee (85 percent Fresh), the gymnasts-bring-it-on comedy Stick It (25 percent Rotten) and the let's-worry-if-it's-too-soon-because-it's-not-Michael-Moore tragedy United 93 (92 percent Fresh). David Beamer, the father of passenger Todd Beamer, gives it a good review. Universal Studios, in true Hollywood style, has included a section in the movie's website titled, "Why Do They Hate America?

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE is running "The Best of Saturday TV Funhouse" this week, featuring Robert Smigel's cartoons. The Ambiguously Gay Duo (voiced by Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell) will host. But you probably won't see "Conspiracy Theory Rock."

THE CHRONIC(what)LES OF NARNIA: Walden Media announced plans for the future of the Chronicles of Narnia series of seven films.

DENISE and HEATHER and RICHIE and CHARLIE: In Touch Weekly claims Richards told Locklear to file for a divorce from Sambora. David Spade, recently caught canoodling with Locklear, told Us Weekly that Locklear was nursing the knife wounds in her back, though Us later pulled the item from its blog. Charlie Sheen had his "Denise" tattoo removed and is being sued by a woman claiming she is the inspiration for a "wacky neighbor and female stalker" character o­n his sitcom.

GEORGE CLOONEY has joined forces with conservative Sen. Sam Brownback and liberal Sen. Barack Obama to focus attention o­n genocide in Sudan's Darfur region. The Bush Admin. has succeeded in getting UN sanctions against four of the men accused of responsibility for atrocities in Darfur.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise's Mission: Impossible III co-star Michelle Monaghan called kissing him "an experience of a lifetime." Yet he is now the subject of ridicule by a drag queen who tours college campuses. (2nd item) Of course, when you hear that Cruise likes to sing his own soundtrack while performing his movie stunts, you probably can make a career out of mocking him.

JESSICA SIMPSON is said to be "devastated" by a recent tell-all interview that future ex Nick Lachey, gave to Rolling Stone about their relationship, though she apparently doesn't deny what he says in it, just that he did it. The pair has had a secret dinner to hash it out.

ALEC BALDWIN has caused his Entertaining Mr. Sloane co-star to abandon the play. Jan Maxwell quit, declaring in an e-mail that the "bottom line was my physical safety, mental health and artistic integrity..."

ROSIE O'DONNELL is replacing the exiting Meredith Vieira o­n The View. Set your V-Chip to block the show -- though you really should have done it a long time ago.

JESSICA ALBA turns 25 today. How better to celebrate than to point you to the pics of her near-wardrobe malfunction as she arrived to be named Style Icon of the Year by Us Weekly.

IRAQ: The sister of the new Vice-President was assassinated during Thursday's morning rush hour. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's highest-ranking Shiite Muslim cleric, called o­n militias to disarm, saying o­nly government forces should be permitted to carry weapons o­n the streets. Sistani also urged Iraqis to form a government blind to religious and ethnic differences. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch claims Iraq is moving away from civil war, with reports of sectarian violence dropping 60 percent since last week. Lynch added that while there were claims that more than 36,000 Iraqis had fled ethnic strife in cities such as Baghdad, Fallujah, Kut, Nasiriyah and Basra, the US military has not found evidence of this.

IRAN: The IAEA is set to rule that Iran has failed to to end its nuke enrichment program within the 30-day deadline set by the UN security council. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a threat: "The Americans should know that if they launch an assault against Islamic Iran, their interests in every possible part of the world will be harmed." And Iran received North Korean surface-to-surface missiles that put European countries within firing range, according to Israel's military intelligence chief. The missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Yet Russia and China seem bent o­n doing nothing.

HURRICANE KATRINA: Though the headlines for a new Senate report focused o­n abolishing FEMA and blasting the federal response to the disaster, the report also faulted New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco for failing to protect sick and elderly people and others who could not evacuate the city o­n their own. Indeed, if you read the report yourself, you will find plenty o­n the state and local governmental failures to evacuate the poor and elderly from the city, and later from the Superdome. Had these jobs been done, the feds would not be looking nearly as bad.

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE OIL: Senators personally feel the pinch of high prices at the pump as they jump into their cars to drive to their offices across the street from the Capitol, or to the gas station o­n the next block for photo ops complaining about high gas prices.

MR WADDLE befriended Bill shortly after the 73-year-old was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and walks with him every day.

FIFTY THE PITBULL, who likes to dig in the backyard, turned up a possible World War II-era grenade.

A WIILDCAT is trying to join the Air Force.

SEAFOOD AND EAT IT: A public service announcement from Sen. John McCain. And there are few places more in need of some brain food than the US Senate.

PIGNAPPING, or did the potbellied oinker go for a joyride?

A 4.4-METER CROCODILE stole a man's chainsaw and chased him up a tree Down Under.

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