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Duke Spirit, 'Mats, 1900s, SI Swimsuits, Valentine Piglet, Uno!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE DUKE SPIRIT has a clip for kinda psychedelic "The Step and The Walk" in advance of their Neptune albume, due in April.  You can also hear the more Motown-influenced "My Sunken Treasure" via the 'Gum.  Both are sounding pretty tasty.

KEREN ANN and DEAN & BRITTA are on tour together (and getting raves), so it's no surprise that both stopped by The Current to chat and play.  You can stream Keren or D&B or both on demand via MPR.

DAN BEJAR of Destroyer and the New Pornographers, talks to Rabble about the upcoming Destroyer album and living in Vancouver, but not about his current side project, Hello, Blue Roses.  Go figure.

LOS CAMPENSINOS! talk to UberDrivel in advance of their full length album, Hold On Now, Youngster... due on February 25th.  You can stream a few tracks via CampesinoSpace.

THE REPLACEMENTS:  Rhino has announced plans to serve up expanded reissues of "Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out the Trash," "Stink," "Hootenanny" and "Let It Be" on April 22.  Tracklistings at the link.

TILLY & THE WALL:  Nick White, keyboardist for the foot-stompin' indie quintet from Omaha, talks to Music Snobbery about the recording of the ban's as-yet untitled third album.  If you haven't seen their flamenco-inflected indie pop, you can watch 'em play "Bad Education" for Letterman.

MGMT:  The psych-pop combo's Ben Goldwasser talks to Matt at YANP about the band's live shows, influences, landing on a major label and more...

THE 1900s, a 7 piece band from Chicago, have a bit of a 60's folk-pop vibe, did the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, alternate takes on selections from their Cold & Kind LP.

CELTIC PUNKS:  Crawdaddy compares and contrasts the Pogues and the Dropkick Murphys.

AXL ROSE has become a "virtual recluse" in his Malibu mansion for the past 15 years, according to a new tell-all on the former Guns N' Roses rocker.

BARRON HILTON, little brother of the French Hotel was busted for DUI in Malibu at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, after allegedly ramming an employee at a Malibu 76 gas station.  However, according to a Sheriff's Department press release, a female in Barron's car may have been driving at the time of the collision, and then Barron took the wheel.  The French Hotel refused to bail him out, reportedly saying, "You're going to learn your lesson," though she was seven years older than he when she was busted for DUI.  So his friends are getting a bail bondsman.

BRITNEY SPEARS taught dance to children not much older than her own boys on Monday at Millennium Dance Complex in North Hollywood.  The pop wreck led the class in "her favorite brown cowboy boots, fishnet stockings, a red short skirt, and a bluish greenish top that hangs down past her skirt."

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS is "really excited" about her teen pregnancy, according to Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus.

THE McCARTNEYS:  Peace appeared to have broken out in court yesterday as Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills edged steadily towards a record divorce settlement.  And here I thought giving peace a chance was John's gig.  Mills will take the money and run, according to her dad.  And here I thought taking the money and running was Steve Miller's gig.  Or Woody Allen's.  Granted, that's one of my favorite Woody pics and one of the first mockumentaries, but Steve Miller might have been funnier when he rhymed "El Paso" with "hassle."

LINDSAY LOHAN may get nudged off the wagon by an old friend.

FERGIE AND JOSH DUHAMEL are moving up their wedding date because the "Glamorous" songbird is pregnant, according to gossips at Clive Davis' pre-Grammys bash.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON & NATALIE PORTMAN, promoting The Other Bloyn Girl, talk to W magazine about their public images, monogamy, their presidential picks and more... The best pictures of them are a bit goth, though, so I went with something from their duel appearance on the Today Show.

GWYNETH PALTROW and CHRIS MARTIN are considering adopting an orphan from the actress' hometown of NYC:  "We might get one from Brooklyn. No baby is more helpless than another baby. And I'm a New York girl."

JUNO:  At Slate, Dana Stevens covers the backlash and the backlash to the backlash to the little film that made 100 million and could win an Oscar.

GARY COLEMAN, the now 40-year-old former child star got secretly married to 22-year-old Shannon Price on a mountaintop in August.  The couple can already go a week not speaking to each other.

NICOLAS CAGE sues KATHLEEN TURNER for writing in her new autobiography Send Yourself Roses that the actor was busted for two DUIs and once stole a Chihuahua.

THE 2008 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT ISSUE is online with over 1000 pictures.  You can get some highlights at Egotastic.  It's like Gratuitous Thursday, but on Wednesday.

STEVEN SPIELBERG has decided not to participate in the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing as an artistic adviser, citing the lack of progress in ending the genocide in Darfur.

RUSSIA may target its nukes on... Ukraine.

CARTOON JIHAD:  Danish authorities said Tuesday they have arrested three people who allegedly were plotting a "terror-related assassination" of a cartoonist whose drawing of the Prophet Mohammed sparked rage in the Muslim world two years ago.

COUNTER-INSURGENCY:  Several studies from the RAND corporation on COIN in Iraq and elsewhere in the Muslim world are rounded up at the Small Wars Journal blog.

IRAQ:  The acting director of a Baghdad psychiatric hospital has been arrested on suspicion of supplying AQI with the mentally impaired women that it used to blow up two crowded animal markets in the city on February 1, killing about 100 people.  At TIME magazine, Brian Bennett thinks the US is in danger of understimating radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.  The latest round of talks between US and Iranian officials on Iraqi security will get underway in the next few days.

VALENTINE the PIGLET is so named for an obvious reason.  That's Some Pig.

PETUNIA the PIGLET has taken to eating roast dinners, with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

POULTRY PRANKSTERS CAUGHT ON TAPE:   Surveillance video captured the hooded culprits who let dozens of chickens run amok at Philadelphia's Northeast High School over the weekend, police said.  The prank forced officials to cancel classes Monday for 3600 students.  Pics and video at the link.

SUICIDE MOOSE nearly kills an Alaska State Trooper plunging to its death from the tall cliffs that hug a highway famous for its scenery and wildlife.

WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB DOG SHOW:  Uno the beagle takes Best in Show!  Dr. J. Donald Jones, the judge, had not been aware that his choice of a beagle was unprecedented.  The Boston Globe has your day two slideshow.  Which reminds me... where is my buzzy bee?

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New Releases, Robyn Hitchcock, Kelley Stoltz, Shark   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE WHITE STRIPES -- en español -- with "Conquista!"  Jack doesn't miss an opportunity, does he?

NEW RELEASES:  The Mountain Goats, Raveonettes, British Sea Power, Widespread Panic and more are streaming in full this week via Spinner.  There is also a Neil Young tribute disc benefitting a breast cancer charity.

ROBYN HITCHCOCK answers 20 questions for PopMatters, with topics including his inspirations, best advice taken, Star Trek vs. Star Wars, time travel and stress management.

KELLY STOLTZ answers five questions for Muzzle of Bees, incluuding faves of 2007, his new album and the impact of the Intrernet. You can stream a bunch of new and old tracks via StoltzSpace.

JOE JACKSON talks to the Independent about leaving London for Berlin, his new album, his upcomin musical about Bram Stoker, and more...

LOS LOBOS:  That White Stripes clip put me in the mood for a couple of vintage Los Lobos tracks, like "Don't Worry, Baby" and "Set Me Free, Rosa Lee."  And that is your Twofer Tueday.

BECK, FEIST, SUPERCHUNK and the PIXIES are among the live sets recently featured at the reactivated rbally.  You can jukebox a bunch via the ol' HM.

NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL:  Stereogum marks the 10th anniversary of the seminal  In The Aeroplane, Over the Sea LP with an essay and embedded video of frontman Jeff Mangum.

GRAMMYS REDUX:  Preliminary estimates indicate the Grammy Awards telecast was watched by 17.5 million people, which would make it the third least- watched Grammys ever.

AMY WINEHOUSE should not have won her Grammys, according to Natalie Cole: "I think it sends a bad message to our young people who are trying to get into this business, the ones who are trying to do it right and really trying to keep themselves together."

BRITNEY SPEARS:  More paparazzi are dropping out of the pack following the pop wreck because of the risk - to them.  The throng of photogs has been infiltrated by L.A. gang members, according to some photo-agency heads.  Meanwhile, the conservators of the Spears estate claim that Sam Lutfi demanded money from Spears; the firing of manager Howard Grossman may relate to his failure to turn over e-mail evidence of these demands.  Dad Jamie Spears accused Grossman of trying to "circumvent" the conservatorship in various ways, including sending the pop tart a Mercedes.  The paps are speculating that Dad has confiscated the infamous pink wig.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS, Britney's 16-year-old knocked up sister, was spotted in Louisiana over the weekend with purported baby daddy Casey Aldridge, while the parents attend to Britney.

THE McCARTNEYS:  At the end of day one of the couple's divorce hearing, Heather Mills emerged smiling, while Sir Paul looked distraught.  It is expected that a deal will be rubber-stamped this week, though it was feared that allegations over the weekend that Mills was unfaithful at the start of their relationship might have jeopardized the smooth progress of the settlement.

LINDSAY LOHAN and the FRENCH HOTEL reportedly got into a catfight over access to hit producer Timbaland at a Grammy after-party.

RHIANNA was involved in a car accident following the Grammy Awards ceremony.  No one was injured.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON reportedly took her mother and sister to a boutique in LA recently to look at wedding dresses, but her rep says, "A family member is getting married, not her. She is not engaged." 

BRUCE WILLIS has a new gal pal -- 29-year-old lingerie model Emma Heming.  Guess who she sorta looks like?

TILDA SWINTON, named Best Supporting Actress at the BAFTAs, brought her 29-year-old lover, leaving her long-term partner in Scotland looking after their twins.  Come and knock on their door.

MADONNA:  Has her new face cream put hair on her chest?

JACK NICHOLSON uses a foolproof pick-up line to win over the opposite sex - he asks women if they are pregnant.

REESE & RYAN UPDATE:  Ryan Phillippe tells W magazine that his divorce from Reese Witherspoon, after seven years of marriage, was "the darkest, saddest place I had ever been."  He also says, "I had difficulties in my relationship, and in my marriage, long before I ever met" new gal pal Abbie Cornish.

THE FORCE UNLEASHED:  Billed as the "next great chapter" in George Lucas's Star Wars saga, the videogame scheduled to be released this summer is "on the cutting edge of a huge leap forward for the video-game industry -- a technological breakthrough nearly as revolutionary as the introduction of sound in film."  Let's go to the video.

CARTOON JIHAD:  In Nigeria, three people, including a police officer, were killed after Muslim students rioted over a caricature of Prophet Mohammed by their Christian colleagues, police and teachers said Friday.  After the death of the youth who drew the picture, other rioters went on rampage and looted houses of policemen in town and burnt shops belonging to Christians.  The police station was also burned down during the unrest. Officers arrested 44 people.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS:  The Kingdom's religious police have banned red roses ahead of Valentine's Day, forcing couples to think of new ways to show their love.  BONUS:  Hardliners in Kuwait will discuss ways to repress all public displays recognizing the international day of love.

ISLAMISM in the UK: Anglicans greeted the Archbishop of Canterbury with a standing ovation Monday, despite his recent controversial statments about the role of Islamic law in Britain.  The Archbishop claimed his words had been distorted but that he took responsibility for the lack of clarity in his pronouncements about Sharia law in a radio interview and a speech.  At Slate, Anne Applebaum writes that reading his comments, "it becomes instantly clear that every syllable of the harshest tabloid criticism is more than well-deserved... This was a call for the evisceration of the British legal system as we know it."  ALSO:  Up to 17000 women in Britain are being subjected to "honor" related violence, including murder, every year, according to police chiefs.

AFGHANISTAN:  In the WaPo, Ann Marlowe argues that we labor under two myths about the situation there.  The first is that Hamid Karzai is a good president who looks after American interests. The second myth is that the situation in Afghanistan is going from bad to worse.

THE WEINERMOBILE wiped out on snow-covered Route 15 in Pennsylvania Sunday.  And there were puns all over the highway.

THE GREAT WHITE SHARK:  London's Telegraph prints a series of pics of nature's most efficient killing machine hunting and killing its prey with remarkable ease.  Even in the afterlife, Police Chief Brody needs a bigger boat (nsfw).

KILLER JELLYFISH are on the move. Scientists are warning that their populations are exploding and will pose a monumental problem unless they are stopped.  Pics at the link.

POLAR FOX CUBS are cutest evah.  Slideshow at the link.

TINY PTERODACTYLS were the size of a sparrow.  Scientists are welcoming their new find as another piece in the puzzle of ancient life.

UNO the BEAGLE took his first winning steps at the Westminster Dog Show.  The best in show award has been presented 100 times by the Westminster Kennel Club and a beagle has never won.  Cue Spoon.  ALSO:  The Boston Globe has a gallery from the first day of the show.

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Grammys, They Might Be Giants, Ivana XL, Geep   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, February 11, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


FOO FIGHTERS performed "The Pretender" as part of this year's "My Grammy Moment," produced in partnership with YouTube and CBS.com. The segment gave up to 20 unsigned musicians the opportunity to play with the band at tonight's Grammy Awards as part of an orchestra that was arranged by special guest conductor John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin.  The hawt Asian-American violinist won; who'da thunkit?   This may be the first video I've linked via Red Lasso, which is pretty cool.

THE GRAMMYS, btw, went to all of these folks.

NEIL YOUNG says music has lost its power to change the world.  As if.  Young added: "I think the world today is a different place, and that it's time for science and physics and spirituality to make a difference in this world and to try to save the planet."

THEY MAY BE GIANTS hit the World Cafe on Friday; you can stream the gig on demand via NPR.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND talks to London's Guardian about the influence of Ralph Lauren, the less gritty vibe of today's NYC, and more.

IVANA XL has a new song, "Sundowner," posted at IvanaSpace.

AMY WINEHOUSE stayed in London for the Grammy Awards, where she won a bunch that should have gone to Feist... She won Record of the Year after performing a medley of "You Know I'm No Good/Rehab."  (The frame grab above is her in shock as the crowd goes wild around her in London.)  The rehabbing singer also got her teeth fixed.  The troubled singer is reportedly moving in with the Osbournes, which would be a ready-made reality show, but for The Osbournes already having had theirs.

WILCO:  As I write this, I have the Grammy Red Carpet on in the background, so I just heard Jeff Tweedy telling the story about being mistaken for an usher at the Grammys by P. Diddy.  BARELY RELATED:  I just saw Jay-Z say that he is interested in working with Feist.

PATTI SMITH:  Renaissance woman, or pompous windbag?  Reuters makes her out to be a bit of both.

SPIN MAGAZINE has put its entire February issue online, "enhanced" with links to bands' MySpace profiles, iTunes info, other stories and more.

LILY ALLEN is being touted as the saviour of BBC Three, but during recording of her first program, more than a third of the studio audience walked out, saying they were bored and complaining it was "horrible" and "limp."

PETE DOHERTY is playing birthday parties for just £100.  The 28-year-old has hit hard times after splitting up from supposedly sober supermodel Kate Moss.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  Fool's Gold took the top slot with 22 million -- a bit less than what McConaughey and Hudson took in five years ago with How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, even before inflation.  However, it is about typical for a moderate hit this time of year and not bad, given the generally bad reviews for the pic.  Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins opened in second place with about 17 million -- probably not bad for Martin lawrence these days.  The Hannah Montana movie's extended run took in ten million, which was down 66% from last weekend, but still more than the seven million budget for shows Disney did not plan on having.  Pure gravy for a 53.4 million total.  The Eye dropped 46 percent, which says something about Jessica Alba's drawing power for a typical poorly reviewed suspense flick.  The adorable Juno dropped a mere 18.4 percent, having raked in 117.6 million -- about twice what Little Miss Sunshine made, though about half of all-time indie queen My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  27 Dresses dropped about a third, but has made over twice its 30 million budget.  The Bucket List dropped 20%, but has made 75 million on a 45 million budget.  Rambo and Meet the Spartans both slid over 40 percent, while There Will Be Blood only dropped 12.5 percent to round out the Top Ten.  BONUS:  The French Hotel's new film, The Hottie and the Nottie, opened Friday to 9000 bucks on 111 screens, or 81 bucks per screen.

THE WRITERS GUILD looks to have resolved its strike against the studios, with guild president Patric Verrone crediting News Corp. No. 2 Peter Chernin, Disney chief Bob Iger, and CBS boss Les Moonves, as "instrumental in making this deal happen" after the WGA spent 3 months "getting nowhere" with the AMPTP negotiators and lawyers.

THE WRITERS GUILD also gave their awards to the adorable Juno for comedy and the Coen Bros.' No Country for Old Men for drama over the weekend.

JUNO and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, btw, may be the odds-on favorites for Best Picture come Oscar-time. Since the decade began, Best Picture has gone to one of the top two domestic grossers among the five movies in the category every single year. And with 101 million and 51 million earned, "Juno" and "No Country" are the clear box-office leaders this year.  However, outside of "Shakespeare in Love," a comedy hasn't won since 1977, which likely brings a smile to the faces of the brothers Coen.

HEATH LEDGER was memorialized in a service attended by hundreds and a 10-person private funeral Saturday in his hometown of Perth, Australia.  But what started out as a subdued wake after the funeral ended in an emotional goodbye by mourners including Michelle Williams, who all took a plunge into the ocean as the sun began to set.

ROY SCHEIDER who became one of the leading figures in the American film renaissance of the 1970s, died on Sunday afternoon in Little Rock, Ark. He was 75 and lived in Sag Harbor, NY.  He had suffered from multiple myeloma for several years, and died of complications from a staph infection.  His credits included Klute, The French Connection, All That Jazz, Blue Thunder, 52 Pick-Up and of course his role as Amity Police Chief Martin Brody in Jaws.

BRITNEY SPEARS' business manager is close to being fired and her divorce attorney has asked the court for permission to drop her as a client.

PAT O'BRIEN has checked an undisclosed rehab facility, which gives TMZ an excuse to relink to his nsfw phone messages.

THE McCARTNEYS:  Sir Paul will be forced to disclose how much he earned from his last world tour in his High Court showdown with Heather Mills today.  The former Beatle claims the two-year series of concerts generated losses of £3million, but friends of Mills say she played a key role in drawing up the accounts of the tour - and can prove it netted him millions.  He only gives you his funny paper.  COINCIDENTALLY, the uber-reliable News of the World claims that Mills cheated on Sir Paul for six months.

RANDY QUAID has been banned-for-life from the union representing American stage actors, due to his wacky misbehavior while working on the Broadway-bound musical "Lone Star Love."

TOM-KAT UPDATE:  Cher confirmed rumors that she had dated the pint-sized Cruise in the 80s, despite their huge age gap.

GLOBAL WARMING:  Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these "green" fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.  Oops.

ISLAMISM in the UK:  The Archbishop of Canterbury faced demands to quit as the row over sharia law intensified.  Other bishops, politicians, and prominent Muslims were critical of the Archbishop's claim that the UK would eventually accomodate Islamic law.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS:  The National Society for Human Rights, a non-governmental rights body, will address the Governorate of Riyadh regarding the case of the 37-year-old American businesswoman and married mother of three was thrown in jail by religious police for sitting with a male colleague at a Starbucks coffee shop in Riyadh.  The woman was bruised and crying when she was freed from a day in prison after she was strip-searched, threatened and forced to sign false confessions.  Apparently, someone has figured out this was very bad PR.

IRAQ:  Part 2 of Bill Ardolino's look inside Iraqi politics highlights the status of initiatives charged to the executive branch, primarily reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.  Islamist killings of women are still occurring in Basra.   Abu 'Azzam Al-Tamimi, a former leader in the "Islamic Army" in Iraq, told Al-Arabiya that US withdrawal would be a disaster and that an Iranian occupation would be far worse.  US commanders welcome the revival in Fallujah, but a simmering provincial power struggle threatens to raise new tensions among the Sunni tribal chiefs and politicians of Anbar that some fear could distract them from the fight against AQI.  However, Al-Qaeda in Iraq faces an "extraordinary crisis," according to a 39-page letter seized during a US raid on an AQI base near Samarra in November. 

LISA the GEEP is a cross between a goat and a sheep.  She is now booked into a specialist animal medical school in Hanover for genetic tests to determine her hybrid status.

BARNACLES go to great lengths to mate, even while attached to something else.  Dirk Diggler has nothing on barnacles.

RUDI the GIANT RABBIT escapes being eaten: "He is the king of the barn!" said Erwin Teichmann, of Berlin.

LET'S GO HORSESURFING now, everybody's learning how, come on a rodeo with me.

GODSPEED, tiny fish.

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Later's 200th, MacArthur Parks, Cutout Bin, Nessie in Tokyo   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, February 08, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with JOOLS HOLLAND!  His 200th "Later" show features Radiohead playing "Bodysnatchers," "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi," "15 Step," and "House Of Cards," Feist playing "My Moon, My Man," "1 2 3 4," and "Sealion," Cat Power covering "New York, New York" and "Lost Someone," interviews with Dionne Warwick and Mary J. Blige, who sings "Just Fine," "Feel Like A Woman" and "Work That," plus Robyn Hitchcock playing "Sounds Great When You're Dead."

CAT POWER:  Keboardist Gregg Foreman talks to the Philly City Paper about the formation of Chan Marshall's Dirty Delta Blues band, and the recording of the Jukebox album.

BOB MOULD stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via MPR.

ARCTIC MONKEYS frontman Alex Turner's side album with Rascals' Miles Kane is set to have a "60s" sound to it, according to producer James Ford.

MACARTHUR PARK:  The sweet green icing is melting in a dozen videos and three audio tracks compiled at WFMU's blog.

SXSW 2008 has announced its list of showcasing artists.

THE BUDDYREVELLES -- from Chicago -- tell the story of a determined man preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime in "I Dream of Rodney."

GRIZZLY BEAR frontman Ed Drozte shuffles his iPod for The A.V. Club's Random Rules feature.

FAT FRIDAY:  I slighted Fat Tuesday, so if anyone still wants to aurally transplant themselves to the bayou, you can stream a 2006 gig from the Dixie Hummingbirds with Dirty Dozen Brass Band, as well as the Cajun stylings of the Pine Leaf Boys via NPR.

THE TOP TEN ALBUMS Every Music Snob Name Checks, courtesy of IGN.  The VU & Nico wuz robbed!

AMY WINEHOUSE has been denied a US visa, but will perform at this Sunday's Grammy Awards show via satellite.  She may also get to write the new James Bond theme as well as croon it - but only if she stays off drugs for two months.

CUTOUT BIN:  From Tom Petty to Devo, from Otis Redding to Television, from Cat Stevens to the Beastie Boys, this Friday's fortuitous finds overfloweth and can be jukeboxed or streamed individually on the Pate page at the ol' HM.

BRITNEY SPEARS is a free woman and her parents are clearly frustrated; they will likely return to court -- perhaps today -- to have the court put teeth into the conservatorship, so that they can stop the pop wreck from shacking up at the Beverly Hills Hotel with her married boyfriend, photographer Adnan Ghalib.

NOW SHOWING:  This weekend's wide releases are the Matthew McConaughey-Kate Hudson action comedy Fool's Gold, which is currently scoring six percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Martin Lawrence's Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, currently scoring 39 percent; and Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show, which is scoring 54 percent.

BRADGELINA:  Jolie gave an exclusive interview with CNN while visiting Iraq to draw attention to the refugee crisis in the wartorn country, while begging off Hollywood questions.  Transcript and video at the link.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON & PENELOPE CRUZ reportedly have a steamy lesbian scene in Woody Allen's upcoming "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

TYRA BANKS may have had an "unfortunate accident" at Fashion Week, according to former New York "It" boy and Paper magazine blogger Fabian Basabe.  This is not a wardrobe malfunction, it's more like the kind of accident usually the province of small children.

MADONNA & GUCCI held a fundraiser for UNICEF and Raising Malawi on the lawns of the United Nations, under tight security.  That it was cross-promoted as a Gucci store opening was pure coincidence.  PopSugar has scads of pictures of all the other crazy people attending including Tom-Kat with J-Lo and Marc Antony, who are on the Scientology recruitment list.

VAL KILMER will replace Will Arnett as the voice of KITT on its "Knight Rider" revival, because Arnett has done voice-over work for General Motors, while KITT is a Ford Mustang.

CHARLIZE THERON danced to disco music, struck modeling poses, wooed someone wearing an elephant suit and a pink sparkly bra, and led a parade flanked by drag queens to pick up her Hasty Pudding pot from Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals -- the nation's oldest undergraduate drama troupe.  According to Theon, "the only challenge was keeping down all the alcohol they fed me."  In accepting the award, which is presented to a performer who made a "lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment," she said she had no idea why she was being honored. "After all, I don't have a great rack,"  And we have parade video.

GLOBAL COOLING:  Ken Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, oversees the operation of a 60-year-old radio telescope that he calls a "stethoscope for the sun." Recent magnetic field readings are as low as he's ever seen, he says, and he's worked with the instrument for more than 25 years. If the sun remains this quiet for another a year or two, it may indicate the star has entered a downturn that, if history is any precedent, could trigger a planetary cold spell that could bring massive snowfall and severe weather to the Northern Hemisphere.

ISLAMISM in the UK:   The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable."  Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS:  A 37-year-old American businesswoman and married mother of three was thrown in jail by religious police for sitting with a male colleague at a Starbucks coffee shop in Riyadh.  The woman was bruised and crying when she was freed from a day in prison after she was strip-searched, threatened and forced to sign false confessions.

IRAN is establishing a deep-water shipping port in Nicaragua and can can now project a threat close to America's borders and Mexico's petroleum infrastructure in the event of severe enough sanctions or even war.  While Iranian money has yet to materialize, the embassy that national security experts most fear as cover for terrorist plots is up and running.  Meanwhile, Iran is testing an advanced centrifuge at its Natanz nuclear complex, a move that could lead to enriching uranium much faster and gaining the means to build atom bombs.

IRAQ:  Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army to maintain its six-month ceasefire as members of the militia clashed with US and Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad.  Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has sharply reduced his workload in recent months, raising new questions about the health of the aged leader and the prospect of a dangerous power vacuum.  The number of Iraqis returning to their homes from refuge elsewhere in the country has slowed markedly as fears over security remain.  A long-term "relationship" being negotiated between the US and Iraq will include "security assurances and commitments... to deter foreign aggression against Iraq that violates its sovereignty and integrity of its territories, waters, or airspace," but will not contain a commitment to defend Iraq.  Dozens of Iraqi legislators walked out of parliament to protest parts of a draft law that would lay out rules for provincial elections later this year.  Attacks by Iranian-backed groups have increased in recent months, a senior US official said on Thursday.  The US military has changed the name for neighborhood militia groups frrom "concerned local citizens" to "Sons of Iraq," as the former did not translate well in Arabic, leading Iraqis to mislabel them as part of the Anbar Awakening.

LOCH NESS MONSTER surfaces in Tokyo.

DOGS get to go to the movies at the Admiral cinema in Vienna, Austria.  Visitors pay £4 for a ticket while their pet pooch can go in for free and are given a blanket to snuggle up on in their seats, as well as water and popcorn.  Pic at the link.

PET HOARDING:  In Vero Beach, FL, it's 233 animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, mice, guinea pigs, chickens, pigs, turtles, tortoises, lizards, fish, a duck, ferret, sugar glider, chinchilla and a peacock.  Pics at the link.  Near Fond du lac. WI, it's a repeat offender with 26 cats.

A KOMODO DRAGON gave virgin birth to two males at the at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas -- the first in North America known to have hatched without the fertilization of a male.

A RUNAWAY EMU made drivers gawk and clogged traffic on Interstate 20 before it was finally caught in Appling, GA.

ARE SHARKS WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ON THEIR HEADS responsible for five undersea communications cables in the Middle East being damaged in less than a week?  The Wall Street Journal is on the case!

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New R.E.M., Kelley Stoltz, Van Hunt, Lions on Horseback   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, February 07, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


R.E.M. has put up a promo video for the upcoming Accelerate album.  You can stream the single, "Supernatural Superserious," via Pitchfork.

FEIST won the Shortlist Music Prize for her album The Reminder.  Finalists for the 2007 Shortlist Music Prize also included Arcade Fire, Burial, Justice, LCD Soundsystem, M.I.A., Spoon, Stars, Wilco and Working for a Nuclear Free City.

KELLEY STOLTZ talks to the East Bay Express about playing and singing almost every note on his new album for Sub Pop: "I try to work every day, whether it's going well or not. It's fun to think up a drumbeat and a bass part and then solve the musical arithmetic problem that creates. It's boring to play guitar all day..."  As Pate's Jon Pratt once said, the guitar player always wants to be the drummer.  You can stream a bunch of new and old tracks via StoltzSpace.  Fans of Harry Nilsson, mid-period Kinks and early Paul McCartney (solo) should check it out.

DEAN & BRITTA talk to the Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot about the transition from Luna and covering new ground on their latest album.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND bassist Chris Baio talks to DC's Express, which notes in passing that the band's breakthrough buzz has stirred debate about musical misappropriation and the tension between upper-class privilege and education and rock music.  As to the former, I would note that it was just a few months ago that people were debating whether indie music was too "white."

TWO HOURS TRAFFIC:  At Chromewaves, Frank Yang touts the staying power-pop of the Charlottetown combo.  He's got plenty of A/V linkage, including an album stream, so I'll just tease it with the new video for "Nighthawks."

HAROLD & MAUDE never had an official soundtrack... until now, courtesy of rock critic turned movie maven Cameron Crowe.  And it's a deluxe package on vinyl.

VAN HUNT:  The neo-soul man's latest album, "Popular," was scheduled to be released this month on Blue Note Records, but this week the singer announced that he has severed ties with the label, the latest victim of the turmoil at Blue Note's parent company, EMI.  Blue Note had already sent pre-release copies of the album to the media for review purposes; an EP previewing tracks from the album is streaming at HuntSpace, sounding funkier than evah.

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS:  Gruff Rhys talks to the SF Bay Guardian about the mellower mood that shaped the recording of the band's latest LP, Hey, Venus!

THE 20 MEANEST LOVE SONGS, according to Spinner.

BRITNEY SPEARS was discharged from the psych ward at UCLA Medical Center, after doctors determined she did not pose the legal danger to herself or to others, such that they could continue to hold her against her will.  The conservatorship is still in place.  The pop wreck was pursued by a swarm of paparazzi, as caught on helicopter video.  Rolling Stone has posted an excerpt from its cover story on the decline and fall of the pop tart,  US Weekly has more tidbits from the RS piece, starting with the disclosure that as a teen, mama Lynne, allowed her to get breast implants, which were later removed.  Sam Lufti admitted to giving Spears "a handful of pills" before her parents arrived to get her into treatment.  She apparently also believes Lutfi is the one who stole items from her house.

KIRSTEN DUNST checked herself into the Cirque Lodge rehab clinic in Utah, according to the ever-reliable Star magazine.  Fellow actress Eva Mendes is also in the mountaintop facility right now.

DELTA BURKE checked herself into a psychiatric hospital last week for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and "hoarding."

BRADGELINA:  Jolie's rumored pregnancy may be more the result of insecurity than love, according to the ever-reliable National Enquirer, which claims she spent the last year terrified that Pitt would end their relationship if she failed to give him another child.

KATHERINE HEIGL and her new hubby, musician Josh Kelley wuz robbed!  By a dumb car thief who passed up guitars worth thousands, instead picking up a GPS device worth about a few hundred bucks.

HEATH LEDGER died from an accidental overdose of prescription medications including painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills, the New York City medical examiner's office said Wednesday.  In a statement released through Ledger's publicist, Ledger's father, Kim, said Wednesday: "While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."  The Drug Enforcement Administration is stepping in to determine how the actor was able to obtain so many prescription drugs.  Baby mama Michelle Williams and her two-year-old daughter arrived in Perth, Australia, Wednesday afternoon local time for Ledger's funeral.  There is a rumor that his dead body was snapped, and 300K is the price on that photo.

COLIN FARRELL says the release of his cop movie Pride & Glory keeps getting delayed because The Golden Compass was a financial disaster for New Line pictures.

SCIENTOLOGISTS are at war with a member of their own family - the outspoken niece of the church's powerful leader, David Miscavige.

ERIC DANE, a/k/a Dr. McSteamy on Grey's Anatomy, was treated for skin cancer.

JASON BATEMAN confirmed that the folks behind Arrested Development have put the wheels in motion toward a major motion picture of the cancelled cult comedy.

CONAN O' BRIEN, JON STEWART & STEPHEN COLBERT, filling time due to the writers' strike appeared on each other's late-night TV shows Monday in a mock feud over who "made" Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.  Eventually, blowtorches, bricks, stunt doubles and even a little dancing were employed.  The magic of the Internet brings us the video from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, followed by the finale on Late Night.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS:  The Christian Science Monitor looks at the varied reasons The Kingdom has not done much to ease oil prices.

IRAN has sentenced a 22-year-old to death after being found guilty of drinking alcohol for a fourth time.

IRAQ:  Bill Ardolino is posting a guide to Iraqi politics, starting with the structure of the executive branch under the Iraqi constitution: "Applied to American politics, such a scenario might look like a Republican president's cabinet divided among Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and Libertarians, roughly proportional to their prevalence in Congress..."  Iraqi and UN officials toured a bomb-damaged Shiite shrine in northern Iraq on Wednesday as workers took the first steps in a long-delayed reconstruction - nearly two years after the attack on the famed golden dome became a rallying point for Shiite rage.  The US military said videos seized from suspected AQI hideouts show militants training children who appear as young as 10 to kidnap and kill.  Here's one of the videos.  And here's video of Iraqi Special Forces rescuing an 11-year-old boy who had been kidnapped and held for ransom by a ring of terrorists near Kirkuk.

THIS SHOCKING PICTURE come from the animal park at Xiamen in Fujian, south-east China, where the public seem to delight in humiliating circus-style stunts and have no regard for animal cruelty.  More at the link.

SEVERAL DOGS were saved by cardiopulmonary resuscitation and mouth-to-mouth from Kissimmee firefighters.  Pics and video at the link.

RATTLESNAKE dispatched by three cops with shotguns in Ozona, FL.

PET HOARDING:  Apache Junction police found 96 rabbits, 47 dogs, chickens, pigs, goats, horses, an African Grey Parrot and a cockatiel kept in abusive conditions when they responded to a tip Tuesday at a house in a rural area of Arizona.

DOLPHINS don't let friends drive drunk.

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