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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.

3062 Reads

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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JB, Kinks, Iowa Comps, Jens Lekman, Cutout Bin, Sheep-Pig   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 28, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with JAMES BROWN!  The Godfather of Soul took his final curtain call last Christmas, so what better way to get ready for a new year than to watch him Live at the Olympia Theatre - Paris, France March 8th, 1971.  Or the 1987 British TV documentary, "The Story of James Brown" (Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6), if you prefer a variety of performances over the decades.  Funk legend William "Bootsy" Collins is staging a tribute concert to his mentor near Cincinnati on Saturday, so I thought you might want to check out JB and Bootsy together on "Sex Machine."   "Dean of Rock Critics" Robert Christgau spoke about JB at a scholarly memorial at Princeton, which you can stream via NPR.  BONUS:  JB's "Funky Drummer" is probably the most sampled drum loop of all time; Sample Spotters has an admittedly incomplete listing of just how pervasive even a few seconds of JB can be.

THE KINKS' original lineup plans to play together for the first time in nearly four decades in 2008, according to frontman Ray Davies.

OF MONTREAL, coincidentally, covers The Kinks' "Days," which YANP has posted along with an embedded concert video.

JENS LEKMAN did a three-song Take-Away show for La Blogotheque in Portland.

THE IOWA COMPILATIONS -- including tracks from Pate, The Eclectics, The Dangtrippers, Moveable Feast, and more --have been posted at Nothin' Sez Somethin'. (Thanks, Ken King!)

RADIOHEAD will be webcasting "a pre-recording of some songs and other bits" on New Year's Eve.

THE WOMBATS are "Moving to New York."  They're from Liverpool, but don't call it an invasion.

THE WEAKERTHANS frontman John K. Samson talked to Canada's JAM! about winter, work ethics, and his love affair with Winnipeg.

FIERY FURNACES are premiering a new video for "Duplexes of the Dead" over at the 'Gum.

PATTI SMITH:  The always outspoken poet-singer-songwriter talked about the selections on her covers album with DC's Express.

REST of 2007:  The A.V. Club lists "The Least Essential Albums of 2007."  The NY Press takes potshots at Ten Overrated Critical Faves of 2007 (a list with which I generally disagree, but it's still funny).

CUTOUT BIN:  This Friday's fortuitous finds -- from Moldy Peaches to the 'Mats, from The Jam to the Jackson 5, from Arcade Fire to ABBA -- can be streamed individually or jukeboxed at the new Pate page on the ol' HM.

MISCHA BARTON, formerly of The O.C., is the latest Hollywood hottie to be busted for DUI, possession of narcotics and driving on a suspended license.  US Weekly asks the obvious question and gets an interesting answer.

REBECCA DeMORNAY, the hooker with a heart of gold from Risky Business, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor DUI, stemming from her October 30 arrest.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS:  The anonymous "entertainment lawyer" who had the 16-year-old's rumored pregnancy in a blind item in October claims Britney wants the 100K currently being offered for new photos of Jamie.

LINDSAY LOHAN, meanwhile, has her ex-bf selling photos he took of her while they were together.  Classy!  Li-Lo denies consuming alcohol or any type of drug before her 2005 Beverly Hills car crash.

JESSICA ALBA is set to wed her longtime boyfriend Cash Warren, according to her her rep.  Cue Vader again.

JENNIFER ANISTON knocked up by Jason Lewis?  Inquiring minds want to know.

NOW SHOWING:  This weekend's wide releases mostly opened on Tuesday, including: The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, which is currently scoring 71 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Alien Vs. Predator - Requiem, which is currently scoring 13 percent; and Denzel Washington's The Great Debaters, which is scoring 76 percentJuno, which I raved about yesterday, has expanded to 998 screens, so let's call it wide to remind you of its 94 percent score.

THE WRITERS' STRIKE:  Though I am generally sympathetic to the writers' plight, a recent piece by Steve Boriss at PJM explains why the studios are hanging tough.

SEAN PENN & ROBIN WRIGHT PENN:  Dunzo, after 11 years of marriage.

MICHELLE WILLIAMS & RYAN GOSLING were spotted enjoying a romantic meal in NYC, according to the ever-reliable Star magazine.

THE HILTONS could be likely to contest the will of Hotel magnate Barron Hilton, after he announced that he's leaving 97% of his wealth to charity.  Of course, they really cannot do that before he dies, can they?

VANESSA HUDGENS & ZAC EFRON ate still making High School Music with each other, most recently at Hollywood's hottest hole-in-the-wall, Lola's, which apparently forgot about the drinking age being 21.

BRANDY:  According to TMZ, the hang-up in deciding whether to file vehicular manslaughter charges against the singer-actress is that Brandy may have been a victim, not a culprit.

GRATUITOUS FRIDAY:  Having behaved myself for the holidays, it's time for six naked Victoria's Secret supermodels.  And all sorts of Marisa Tomei nudity fdrom Sidney Lumet's latest movie, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead.

PAKISTAN:  Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, icymi (though that would have been tough to do).  A spokesperson for the al-Qaeda terrorist network has claimed responsibility for the murder.  US intell officials say they cannot confirm the report, but Russia's Foreign Ministry called Bhutto's death a terror attack.  You can read varying obituaries from London's Telegraph and Christopher Hitchens.  Nawaz Sharif, an Islamist sympathizer and opponent of Pres. Musharraf -- who one might expect to benefit from Bhutto's death -- announced his party was boycotting next month's elections.  Earlier Thursday, at a different political rally in the same city, a rooftop sniper opened fire on supporters of Sharif, leaving four people dead and at least five injured.  Given the tense relations between Pakistan and India, you can find lots of coverage at NDTV.  Author Aaron Mannes argues that a real investigation of the assassination is needed, while recognizing it likely will not happen.  Meanwhile, US Special Forces were already set to increase their presence in Pakistan amid assessments that the country is to become the central battlefield for al Qaeda as it is driven from Iraq.

IRAQ:  The Washington Post reports on competing Shiite factions in Iraq, while IraqPundit notes the elephant in the story.  The L.A. Times reports on the US nudging Iraqi officials to stop turning to US forces for services and logistics such as fuel deliveries and clinic construction, and to begin working through the relevant ministries in Baghdad.  Michael Yon has a new dispatch from Anbar, as well as a thank-you letter to America from LTC Jim Crider, the commander of the 1-4 CAV soldiers based at FOB Falcon in southern Baghdad (one of the more restive areas, iirc).  The Iraqi Army claims to have captured the minister of defense of the Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda's political front organization.

SHEEP-PIG:  A shaggy hog story.  Does whatever a sheep-pig can

PEACHES the WOMBAT was a little too tubby for a flower pot at an Aussie wildlife rehabilitation center.

THE SIBERIAN TIGER that mauled three visitors at the San Francisco zoo, killing one, may have had inside help escaping from its den,

A DOG OWNER is taking on China's 30000 web censors by attacking the Beijing municipal government's regulations barring any dog over 14 inches high and restricting each family to only one dog.

THE TOP TEN NEW ORGANISMS OF 2007, courtesy of Wired magazine.

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Beatnix, Zep, Stu Murdoch, Smithereens, Movies, Pig Spleens   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, December 27, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE BEATNIX play "Stairway To Heaven."  This is today's must-click selection.

LED ZEPPELIN:  Speaking of which, Captain's Dead has the reunion concert, which you can jukebox via the ol' HM.  Not great quality, but alright.

SHOUT OUT LOUDS did a chat and mini-set at the World Cafe you can stream via NPR.

BEST of 2007:  At I Am Fuel..., Heather Browne is streaming tracks from her fave albums, which she'll be discussing at the World Cafe on New Year's Day.  New York magazine's Vulture blog has posted Pitchfork's Top 100 Tracks as a Pie Chart.  The Rawking Refuses To Stop has posted the Best (and the Rest) of the Songs of 2007, which you can jukebox via the ol' HM.

BRIAN WILSON talked with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about being awarded one of this year's Kennedy Center Honors (telecast last night on CBS), favorite songs, meeting great people, etc.

BELLE & SEBASTIAN frontman Stu Murdoch has been scoring a movie titled God Help The Girl; you can stream a few songs from the soundtrack via the film's page on MySpace.  (Thx, Chromewaves.)

THE CAPSTAN SHAFTS:  Lo-fi, melancholic pop rocker Dean Wells is profiled in Crawdaddy! (Thanks, LHB.)  You can stream a few tracks online, too.

WILCO play "What Light" and "Impossible Germany" from Sky Blue Sky in their loft, because we did not have Twofer Tuesday yet this week.

SUFJAN STEVENS talked to the Sydney Morning Herald about being a youngest child, trying to control his output, and the effect of technology on humanity, among other things.  Yopu can watch him play and talk literature in Brooklyn via the 'Gum.

CAN'T GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD:  The IHT has a piece on earworms and musical memory.

THE SMITHEREEENS played some Christmas tunes and some of their hits at the World Cafe last week, now streaming on demand via NPR.

CHIP KIDD:  The acclaimed book cover designer (and author) is getting good reviews for his new band, Artbreak.  Kidd is best known for designing the iconic Jurassic Park cover and logo, but his designs for books like Naked (by David Sedaris) are equally striking in their own way.

SHANE MacGOWAN of The Pogues was profiled in the Guardian to mark his improbable 50th birthday on Christmas.

CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR is one of several movies I saw over the weekend, and was possibly the best of the lot.  Directed by Mike Nichols from a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, this tale of the Afghan War against the Soviet Union plays even more like a screwball comedy than Primary Colors or The American President... and probably hits closer to the mark of how the US Congress works than many more serious pics.  Tom Hanks is not a particularly convincing Texan, but he is funny, which is more important here.  Julia Roberts is not given much to do as Wilson's conservative ex-fiancee Joanne Herirng, but Philip Seymour Hoffman is given plenty of scenery to chew as Gust Avrokotos, the Orthodox, but unorthodox CIA agent who supervised America's biggest covert war ever.

Some movie critics, like Roger Ebert and Newsweek's David Ansen, have criticized the movie as not stressing that the Afghan "freedom fighters" would later become the Taliban, but they are mistaken about this.  The Taliban were not on anyone's radar screen before 1994 - significantly after the events depicted in the movie. The screenplay misleadingly suggests that US support went only to the Tajik faction led by Ahmad Shah Massoud, when much more went to the virulently anti-American Pashtun, Gulbaddin Hekmatyar.  However, the story at the last link incorrectly claims that Hekmaytar established terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan with Osama bin Laden and Abdul Rasul Sayaf.  To the contrary, Hekmaytar had become Prime Minister of Afghanistan, but was forced out of power by the Taliban in 1996 and went into exile in Iran until 2002.  OBL returned to Afghanistan in 1996, and cemented ties with the Taliban after they seized power; the camps came later.  So the story of Afghan "blowback" is considerably more complex than either the movie or its critics suggest.  The movie stays on solid ground by suggesting that the US erred greatly in leaving Afghanistan as a failed state.

JUNO:  Jamie Lynn Spears aside, if you think the story of a 16-year-old getting pregnant can't be as funny as it is poignant, think again.  Done badly, this could have turned into a low-budget after-school special, but Juno hits all the right notes -- primarily on the strength of the title performance by Ellen Page, but with really good support from almost all involved, particularly Jason Bateman as a putative adoptive father and J.K. Simmons as Juno's father.  The delightful indie soundtrack is just the icing on the cake.  This movie did not reach Top Ten on just 304 screens for no reason, so if it's playing near you, I highly recommend it.

WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY may disappoint at the box office, but that is all the worse for it being an enjoyable, if not gut-busting, send-up of music biopics like Walk The Line and Ray.  Indeed, you need not have seen these movies to enjoy Walk Hard.  John C. Reilly may not be a big enough name to open a movie (yet, anyway), but he sure can carry one, as he has to hit the dramatic notes of a biopic within the comic package... and sing.  Fortunately, the music is also up to the task; the title track was penned by early pate fave Marshall Crenshaw.  The downsides?  Too many of the jokes are too obvious, and Jenna Fischer is not given nearly enough to do (Kristen Wiig gets more as Cox's first wife and makes the most of it).

SWEENEY TODD:  I tell you right up front that most musicals leave me cold.  However, I do like Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, and this was playing across the corridor immediately after Walk Hard, so I made it a double-feature.  I would say the movie succeeds in what it sets out to accomplish; there's plenty of Sondheim, dark humor and fake blood.  I was unmoved, but if you're the sort who likes musicals -- and doesn't mind plenty of gore -- you might well enjoy it.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS:  Multiple friends and family say the pregnant 16-year-old actress never wanted to be a star, with one family friend telling US Weekly that mama Lynne "treats her girls like a piggy bank."  The ever-reliable Star magazine insists that Casey Aldridge may not be the father.  Family members reportedly told Star that they believe the real father is a much older executive at her children's TV show, Zoey 101.

BRITNEY SPEARS could be fined or even jailed if she skips out on next week's court-ordered deposition in her ongoing child custody war with Fed-Ex.

EVA LONGORIA & TONY PARKER:  It looks increasingly like the paparazzi at X17 were taken by a hoaxer who accused Parker of cheating on Longoria and even fabricated herself.

THE FRENCH HOTEL:  The Hollywood heirhead's potential inheritance plunged after her grandfather Barron Hilton announced plans to donate 97 percent of his 2.3 billion dollar  fortune to charity.

BRADGELINA got their Christmas dinner at the McDonald's drive-thru window.  Jolie is reportedly treating the bulging veins on her arms, hands and forehead with caviar.

FERGIE & JOSH DUHAMEL are engaged?

QUEEN ELIZABETH II is the current star of the new Royal Channel on YouTube.  You can compare and contrast this year's Christmas Broadcast with her first such broadcast 50 years ago.

THE STANS:  In Afghanistan, the Brits and Afghans seem to be holding Musa Qala, which for 10 months until last weekend had been the most important stronghold of the Taliban in North Helmand.  More than 4500 Taliban insurgents have defected since 2005 and up to 4000 others have been killed in action against British and Canadian forces in southern Afghanistan, according to military intelligence sources.  Agents from MI6 entered secret talks with Taliban leaders despite Gordon Brown's pledge that Britain would not negotiate with terrorists, according to the Daily Telegraph.  Canadian Defense Minister Peter Mackay has accused Pakistan and Iran of supplying weapons to insurgents.  Suicide attacks are part of al Qaeda's plan to disrupt Pakistan's elections on Jan. 8.  Pakistani police stopped a 15-year-old boy they say was carrying a bomb made of dynamite and nails from gettnig into a rally by opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

IRAN:  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia's delivery of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr power station makes it unnecessary for Iran to pursue its enrichment program.  Nevertheless, Iran intends to continue its enrichment program, for the 19 nuclear plants it now claims it intends to build.  And Russia has agreed to sell Iran a surface-to-air missile system.  Meanwhile, the former commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards has become the latest leading "conservative" to attack Pres. Ahmadinejad over the country's high inflation.

IRAQ:  Though violence is down significantly this year, AQI is continuing to target the local security forces formed by the Awakening movements in the Sunni regions in the central and northern regions in Iraq.  The Times of London reports on the Diyala Rescue Council, a mixed Sunni-Shiite force fighting AQI that so far is not part of the Concerned Local Citizens or Awakening militias.  Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the commander of US forces south of Baghdad, warned Tuesday that Sunnis who fight AQI must be rewarded and recognized as legitimate members of Iraqi society -- or Iraq risks losing the hard-fought security gains of the past six months.  The NYDN has video of a carload of important AQI terrorists being shown to Allah by US Hellfire missiles.  A safer Baghdad rolled out the Baghdad Film Festival... though directors of the 40 foreign films at the festival stayed away.  Moreover, hardline Muslim extremists have forced many beauticians to move their trade underground.

CHARLIE the YORKIE swallowed a star-shaped Christmsas decoration.  X-Ray at the link.

WHITE RHINOS in Dublin swallowed holiday glitter to aid their fertility tests.

PIG SPLEENS confirm the National Weather Service three-month forecast for North Dakota.

MARCELLA the ELEPHANT assisted a marriage proposal at Blackpool Zoo, Lancashire.

SANDLER, a six-year-old border collie, saved his family from a fire, but perished trying to save the family's 17-year-old Australian shepherd.  Raja the cat escaped unharmed.

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Richard Hawley, Van She, Emily Haines, Led Zep, Goats Gone Wild   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 26, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


RICHARD HAWLEY has a new video for "Valentine."  Never too early for that.

PHIL SPECTOR, sweetheart that he is, criticized Tina Turner during his eulogy at Ike Turner's funeral.

BEST of 2007:  Drowned In Sound posted its Top 50 Albums of 2007.  PopMatters adds a list of the best Americana albums.  ABCNews burnishes its indie street cred with a Top 50 list.  All Songs Considered is streaming tracks from the listeners' poll Top 25.

2008:  Stereogum looks at the year's upcoming releases and points you to British experts' predictions for 2008 breakouts.

RBALLY is back for a limited time, starting with R.E.M. fan club limited edition singles, but you can jukebox Radiohead, Sonic Youth and Wilco, too via the ol' HM.  (Thanks, Ken King!)

VAN SHE, a band I haven't blurbed in over a year, has a video out for "Cat & The Eye" that's a bit psychedelic without sounding retro.

EMILY HAINES of BSS, Metric and the Soft Skeleton was interviewed at Thirsty, which also posts the video for "Dr. Blind."

FEIST talked to Chart attack about SNL and getting a boost from infamous gossip blogger Perez Hilton.  (Thanks, LHB.)

LED ZEPPELIN:  Jason Bonham has put a dampener on the prospects of the band touring... but he's up for it.

AMY WINEHOUSE the target of a £100,000 gangland kidnap plot?  It's in the News of the World, so it must be true!  Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports the signer won't be turning to Kabbalah for assistance with her personal trainwreck.  And the Sun claims the singer has been banned from no-strings visits to her jailbird husband after he failed a drugs test.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS:  Nickelodeon is considering a special for its young audience about sex and love following the news that 16-year-old "Zoey 101" star is pregnant.  A generation of tweens may be traumatized by getting the "birds and bees" talk from Linda Ellerbee.  Teen magazines are shunning the younger Spears.  Britney Spears, however, reportedly bought sis a tank top with the words "Hot Mama 2 B" on it.

BRITNEY SPEARS nevertheless called up mama Lynne, and read her the riot act after receiving the news of Jamie Lynn's pregnancy on Tuesday, a source tells PageSix.com.  But Dr. Phil thinks Lynne is "is a great and dedicated mother."  Meanwhile, Spears reportedly spent early Sunday morning in a Beverly Hills hotel room with a paparazzi photographer who regularly covers the pop tart.  Beverly Hills analyst and addiction expert Marty Brenner says Spears is living in a "bubble of illusion" that "could end in suicide" if she doesn't get help.  Spears kicked off her holiday weekend with a bizarre trip around the greater L.A. area that included profanity-laced tirades, hours of aimless driving, scuffles with paparazzi, a stop at a hotel, and several trips to gas station bathrooms.

LINDSAY LOHAN:  Ex-bf Riley Giles tells the uber-reliable News of the World that Li-Lo has traded her dangerous drug habit for a manic addiction to sex: "We once did it four times in a row straight. That was crazy. Lindsay was insatiable. She'd demand sex again and again. We'd go at it for hours. She'd have worn out most guys."  So you may be shocked to hear that Lohan does not think the underage, unmarried Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy is a big deal.

WILL SMITH is miffed that people misinterpreted his comments about Adolf Hitler.

BRADGELINA:  Pitt and Jolie were in N'awlins for the holidays (as planned), promoting post-Katrina rebuilding efforts.  In the new issue of Grazia magazine, Jolie admits she got too skinny this year but says she was bothered by all the negative scrutiny. 

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  National Treasure: Book of Secrets topped the North American box office with an estimated 45.5 million over the first three days of the Christmas weekend, beating the original's 35 million opening as expected.  I Am Legend slipped to No. 2 with 34.2 million.  Alvin and the Chipmunks slipped to third, with a still-impressive 29 million.  Charlie Wilson's War was fourth with 9.6 million; it is appealing mostlky to the over 30 crowd, so its numbers may pick up through Christmas.  Rounding out the Top Five was Sweeney Todd with 9.35 million; it's numbers dropped through the weekend, as the less-informed discovered it was a musical.  P.S. I Love You was sixth with a modest 6.5 mil.  Enchanted dropped from fourth to seventh, but seems likely to break the 100 million mark by the time you read this.  Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story debuted at No. 8 with a disappointing 4.1 million; this Apatow flick was not low-budget either, so this is going to be a big ouch.  The Golden Compass, however, plunged from third to ninth and is approaching atomic bomb status.  Juno, the indie teen-pregnancy comedy crept into the Top Ten on just over 300 screens with 3.4 million.  I'll have reviews for four of the above movies up later this week... but I've given you a hint as to one of my picks to click.

JESSICA SIMSPON:  Blonde Ambition opened on eight screens this weekend in Texas, grossing a whopping 1,300 dollars.  Creepy dad-manager Joe was an idiot to not to suffer the lesser embarrassment of going direct-to-DVD.

JACKO has been forced to undergo emergency surgery after his lip burst and collapsed, according to reports.

LEO DiCAPRIO back with his supermodel girlfriend Bar Rafaeli?  Looks that way...

JESSICA ALBA and boyfriend Cash Warren currently don't have plans for a wedding.  A source tells US Weekly, "She doesn't want to be pregnant in a dress!"

KATHERINE HEIGL has exchanged vows with musician Josh Kelley in scenic Park City, Utah.

IRAN:  Pres. Ahmadinejad gave a speech in Saudi Arabia last week stressing the need for global government by Islam.  Iran will be announcing bidding for 19 nuclear power plants, an MP was quoted as saying.

IRAQ:  The Iranian government has decided "at the most senior levels" to rein in the violent Shiite militias it supports in Iraq, according to US Amb. Ryan Crocker.  Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the biggest party in the Shi'ite-led government, called for US-backed, mainly Sunni neighborhood patrols to be more tightly curbed under government control.  There are plans to absorb about 20K men into the security forces, and Crocker said America plans to spend 155 million to help create new jobs and provide vocational training, with the Iraqi government matching that amount.  The Iraqi Security Forces is expanding with the Iraqi Army now growing to 61 planned brigades in 15 divisions while the Iraqi Special Operations Forces becomes the defacto 16th division.

IRAQ II:  Residents of Baghdad packed the capital's parks and amusement rides on Saturday, taking advantage of a lull in violence and the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha to venture out of their homes in droves.  Iraqi Christians who fled a district of Baghdad that declared itself an al-Qaeda caliphate have returned home to celebrate their first Christmas in two yearsThousands of Iraqi Christians made their way to church through checkpoints and streets lined with blast walls, many drawing hope from a lull in violence to celebrate Christmas Mass in numbers unthinkable a year ago.  Talks are underway to reopen the key bridge linking Shiite and Sunni districts of the Iraqi capital closed almost three years ago due to bloody sectarian violence.  Approximately 1000 Iraqi citizens, of both Shia and Sunni religions, joined together on the sectarian fault line in Rawaniyah, the Karkh District of Baghdad, to march with one another in what they called a "Peace March", Dec. 19.


GOATS GONE WILD are the talk of a small Oklahoma town.  BONUS:  Fugitive goat gunned down by police outside El Paso, TX.

ADOLF, a German Shepherd crossbreed trained to give the Nazi salute, landed his owner in jail.

GREEN-GLOWING CLONE RABBIT ready to do what rabbits do in about three months.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  A militant squirrel crashed the grid in Eagle, ID last week.

PESKY BEAVERS near the Kern Recreational Bike Path in Bakersfield, CA, have been saved after a surge of response via email, blog comments, phone calls and more.  Let's face it; everybody likes the beavers.

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