NEW RELEASES: Foo Fighters, J.J. Cale & Eric Clapton, PJ Harvey's Peel Sessions, and early Bee Gees are streaming from AOL this week. Isobel Campbell rolls out the Brit-folk on Milkwhite Sheets. Pavement has a deluxe reissue of Wowee Zowie. Voxtrot puts out another EP, titled Your Biggest Fan. And the self-titled album fom El Perro del Mar (a/k/a Sarah Assbring) hits US shores, which is a good excuse to link the video for "God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)," a lovely song in the mode of early Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark and Pet Sounds.
U2 vs. R.E.M.: Stylus pits the two alternative icons against each other in a number of categories, including "More Ridiculous Frontman" and "Better Simpsons Cameo."
THE BLACK KEYS and the Black Angels played DC's 9:30 Club Saturday night, so you can stream both sets now from NPR, which says both bands "make raw, fuzz-filled riff-rock in the spirit of classic '60s and early '70s metal bands."
HERE COMES YOUR TOP TEN NERVOUS BREAKDOWNS: The New York Post compiles a list of the biggest onstage meltdowns in rock history.
BECK and Marissa Ribisi are expecting their second child this April.
TWOFER TUESDAY: Jonathan Richman, in a two-person There's Something About Mary mode, plays "Pablo Picasso" and "I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar."
MARIANNE FAITHFULL has made a full recovery from breast cancer, her publicist said yesterday.
DIGGING BRIAN JONES? on the eve of a BBC documentary raising questions about the former Rolling Stone's "death by misadventure," Trevor Hobley, the 56-year-old chairman of the Brian Jones fan club, will present a dossier of evidence from a team of forensic experts to the Attorney General in the hope of getting a fresh inquest, including exhuming the body. The BBC video may still be streaming at the first link.
SUFJAN STEVENS & CALEXICO are the subjects of this week's Austin City Limits on PBS, which offers video previews in glorious Quicktime.
GENESIS officially announced its long-threatened reunion tour. Former frontman Peter Gabriel will not be participating. Also apparently not involved is guitarist Steve Hackett, who played with the band in the Gabriel era but left in 1977.
SCARLETT JOHANSSON: The typically gorgeous bombshell turned up at the UK premiere of The Prestige in a frumptastic ballgown and hair the color of a rodeo clown. You have to wonder whether she was distracted by scandalous rumor.
THE McCARTNEYS: Everyone has an opinion on their divorce, including Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler.
BRITNEY SPEARS is reportedly planning to stay at the Four Seasons indefinitely, after Spenderline allegedly went on a crazy rampage at their Malibu home.
ZACH BRAFF was spotted walking the dogs with Jessica Biel at Griffith Park in Los Angeles on Saturday.
PETRA NEMCOVA: Is the tsunami-surviving supermodel def jamming with Russell Simmons? The hip-hop mogul insists they are "just friends" and charity partners.
BRADGELINA: While Jolie talked refugees and Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy with India's minister of state for external affairs, Pitt flew back to Tinseltown for the Babel premiere. Pitt also supported Madonna's adoption of a 13-month-old boy from Africa; maybe he missed Madge's jab at Jolie in this week's Time magazine.
MADONNA: Speaking of Madge, she now fears she's becoming an unpopular parent because hubby Guy Ritchie leaves all the disciplining to her.
JESSICA SIMPSON was on hand to launch BLOCKBUSTER Total Access. No word as to how soon Simpson will be available for rental.
HILARY DUFF has an 18-year-old stalker who was arrested over the weekend, after allegedly threatening to kill Duff. And apparently, he's one of those in-love stalkers, which is even crazier than someone threatening her on purely artistic grounds. Just plain wrong.
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY turned down a threesome with two sisters, for all the right reasons.
DEMI MOORE: Entertainment Tonight had a hilarious interview with Moore in connection with the movie Bobby: "In the movie, Demi and co-star Sharon Stone share a powerful scene about the pressure on women to be perfect. In real life, Demi -- who has three daughters -- says that, at 43, she takes a philosophical approach..." Yes the "philosophical approach" of spending over 400K on cosmetic surgery. And that if you have a full facelift, Botox and collagen injections, you too can be the new face of L'Oreal in more than one way.
ELECTION DAY '06: I'm generally not big on predictions. Why? Because predictions are based on polls, and conducting and intrepreting them is as much art as science. Take, for example, the final USA TODAY/Gallup poll, which finds that 68 percent of adults are "absolutely certain" they will vote -- a number higher than ever recorded for a mid-term election. Add in that the 2002 elections had record turnout, but that was only 69 percent of registered voters -- a smaller group than adults. The eligible-voter turnout of 2002 was 39.5 percent. At which it becomes fairly clear that many people lie to pollsters about their voting records. And that's just for generic national polls; at a statewide level, a 5 percent lead in the polls predicts the winner 60-65 percent of the time. The polling done for any given House race will be even more problematic.
However, in lieu of predictions, I can provide some yardsticks. The average post-WWII loss for a presidency in its sixth year has been 29 House seats and six Senate seats. At websites where people actually bet on such things, such as InTrade and TradeSports, the Tuesday night numbers suggested that most people think the Dems will pick up between 20-25 House seats, with about a 70 percent chance the GOP will retain control of the Senate. So pundits and partisans will make their predictions and try to game expectations, but the final tallies should probably be measured against those numbers.
IRAQ: A round-the-clock curfew imposed in Baghdad before Saddam's conviction of crimes against humanity eased on Monday, as the surge in violence expected immediately after the verdict did not materialize. Iraq's appeals court is expected to rule by the middle of January. The Iraqi government has proposed a law that would enable thousands of former Baath party members to win back their jobs, in hopes of enticing them away from the insurgency. The AP has a fine report that US Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad is likely to quit: (a) in the coming months; (b) as soon as the end of this year; or (c) after next Spring. Special Iraqi Army forces detained three suspects on a raid in Sadr City. Iraqi police commandos killed 53 suspected Al Qaeda members in a fierce gunbattle on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. The Washington Post reports that many US soldiers serving in Iraq believe that pulling out "would set Iraq on a path to civil war, give new life to the insurgency and create the possibility of a failed state after nearly four years of fighting to implant democracy."
GATORLAND ABLAZE: Two 8-foot-long pythons and a 5-foot-long crocodile died in a three-alarm fire at Gatorland, in Orlando, FL. And here I thought all of Florida was Gatorland. But it seems that the attraction opened in 1949 and attracts about 400,000 tourists each year to watch some fine gator wrasslin'! Video at the link.
DOGS, having grown tired of the traditional belly-scratch, are increasingly enjoying a good, professional massage.
A PEKINGESE, otoh, was not as lucky, as the German Army called him up for national service. Tommy Jakob, however, will not be serving, as he died in 2002.
A WATER BUFFALO wrecked a 32-ton truck... near Newcastle, England? Driver Ronnie Storey said, "It