THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE...
(Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson in NY, via Billee.)
RICHARD THOMPSON may be getting mildly positive reviews (though better scores from non-critics) for Front Parlour Ballads, but his live show almost never disappoints. Last night's show at the Park West in Chicago (where more than a few Pate fans have seen RT) was no exception. Accompanied only by upright bassist Danny Thompson, RT opened with a driving version of "Mingus Eyes" with a tension-filled "Crawl Back" following shortly thereafter. Of course, he played several from his latest disc, including "Let It Blow," "How Does Your Garden Grow?," " My Soul, My Soul" and "For Whose Sake?," which is also a free download from Amazon. he also subtly altered old favorites, with an almost bouncy version of "Wall Of Death" and a country-tinged solo rendition of "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," which was followed by an unexpected unplugged version of "Read About Love." Indeed, Rumor and Sigh was well-represented, with "Don't Sit on My Jimmy Shands" and "I Feel So Good" popping up in the encores. He played a rumbling "Gethsemane" by request (skipping "Freebird," though he was asked). Other highlights included the duelling solos on Al Bowlly's In Heaven, the banned-by-the-BBC, set closing "Hokey Pokey" and Danny Thompson's exquisite bow work on the final encore, "Ghosts In The Wind." But RT also scattered a number of obscure and unreleased songs throughout, such as "Persuasion," his quasi-rockabilly tribute to "Alexander Graham Bell," and the hysterical "The Hots For The Smarts." As usual, RT's mastery of the crowd was nearly as complete as his mastery of the guitar.
FRIDAY TIMEWASTER: Death's Jr.'s c4 Hamster Challenge.
FRIDAY TIMEWASTER II: Test your ability to recognize rock 'n' roll bigmouths with Jagger vs. Tyler.
SUFJAN STEVENS talks with Chart Attack about John Wayne Gacy, nationalism and road trips: "I think the road trip is the quintessential American vacation. The automobile is the center of gravity for Americans..."
PEZ MP3 PLAYER is now available, preloaded with indie rock from bands like Smoosh.
ERIC CLAPTON has sold his autobiography to Random House for 6.4 million bucks.
ROBERT POLLARD: The post-GbV solo album is coming in January. Pitchfork has the details.
THE ARTIST CURRENTLY KNOWN AS PRINCE is facing hip surgery due to pains brought on by years of performing in high-heeled boots. This must be true: London's Sun picked it up from the Enquirer.
LAURA CANTRELL: The alt-country chanteuse has an unreleased studio track titled "Hammer and Nails" available through Matador Records.
JOHN PEEL DAY was celebrated yesterday with a BBC mini-site devoted to the late DJ and various concerts, including New Order performing an entire set of Joy Division songs. But Andy Kershaw, Peel's friend and former Radio 1 colleague, opined that Peel would have objected to the nolstalgia.
LISTOMETRIC: Carl Wilson links you to some real music geeks. And I mean that in a good way. Scott Woods' battle-of-the-lists is particularly inspired.
MTV: L.A.'s Weekly's Nikki Finke doesn't want her MTV. Original VJ Adam Curry identifies the day the music television died.
METRIC frontwoman Emily Haines does a Q&A with Spin magazine, insisting the band is back in the groove, due in part to Fruit Loops and a bacteria-imbrued teddy bear. There's a legal download available, too.
RADIOHEAD: Thom Yorke blogs about recording a song titled "Rubbernecks," in what may be a haunted house.
THE ARCTIC MONKEYS: Prefix rounds up the hype surrounding the band. You can stream a bunch of tunes at Scenestars.
RICHARD ASHCROFT is excited about his upcoming album, which he describes as raw and inspired by mid-60's British rock.
ON THE PITCHFORK: Middling reviews of the Gang of Four re-recordings and the reissue of the second Dungen album.
MADONNA is reportedly to make a public apology to Kabbalah followers after she "sinned" against the mystic Jewish faith by using of the name of a holy rabbi for profit.
ELIZABETHTOWN is faring badly on the Tomatometer, but my review last Friday is about where Roger Ebert comes out: "In its trimmed version, Elizabethtown is nowhere near one of Crowe's great films (like Almost Famous), but it is sweet and good-hearted and has some real laughs." And how many directors other than Cameron Crowe get reviewed by a music critic?
JESSICA ALBA has recreated some favorite movie roles for the British edition of Esquire. There's another Dr. No at the link, plus 9 1/2 Weeks, Secretary and more...
JESSICA BIEL: The US version of Esquire just named her Sexiest Woman Alive, leading me to believe the staff did not see her dance.
DENISE RICHARDS was not impressed by estranged hubby Charlie Sheen's grovelling on the Letterman show: "He's just said he was a 'gigantic a**'. I don't recall an 'I'm sorry' in there."
TOM-KAT UPDATE: Holmes has quit her current movie to focus on delivering Cruise's alien love child. Holmes' aunt says the actress conceived her baby with Cruise without the aid of in-vitro fertilisation treatment. I don't even want to think about how she knows this.
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS: The Musical.
THE FRENCH HOTEL: Fox may have cancelled the The Simple Life, but the producers are now shopping the show to other networks. Anybody have a wooden stake?
JUDE LAW-SIENNA MILLER UPDATE: Law retaliates by going out with Salma Hayek.
SURVIVOR: The next edition will be set on the Island of Misfit Toys.
AL PACINO has gone from romancing Rose McGowan and Elle Macpherson to canoodling with Kirstie Alley?
GEORGE CLOONEY: Having previously noted Clooney's tenuous support of free speech, it's only fair to note that the light bulb may have gone on over his head.
IRAQ: With the constitutional referendum coming Saturday, it might be useful to look at Iraqi public opinion about the constitution and the direction of the country, which generally seems positive. Bill Roggio looks at divisions among the Sunni Arabs and the current state of Iraqi Security Forces as seen from a variety of sources. And Michael Yon is re-embedded.
FRENCH PRISON CELLS are condemned as "squalid and inhumane dungeons" by the European Council's commissioner for human rights. Human rights organisations have uncovered evidence of prisoners, mainly illegal immigrants, going without food, drink and lavatory paper as they huddle together for warmth. There have been numerous violent attacks and cases of detainees mutilating themselves and smearing their blood on the walls. At least no one has improperly touched a Koran.
CULT OF THE iPod: Jeff Jarvis looks at the broader implications of the iPod video. In the meantime, folks are already figuring out how to rip DVDs to the iPod.
OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL: Jean-Bernard Merimee, France's former U.N. ambassador and advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was detained for questioning in Paris in connection with an investigation into corruption in the 64 billion dollar UN program. A magistrate took Merimee into custody to investigate why Saddam's regime granted him rights to purchase about 4.5 million of barrels of Iraqi oil at a discounted price.
THE NAME IS... (YOUR NAME HERE): Her Majesty's Secret Service is much less secret now, having launched a website to attract newcomers from a wider variety of backgrounds.
STATE OF THE PARTIES: Newsweek's Howard Fineman writes that the conservative movement is falling apart at the seams. US News' Michael Barone writes that the Democrats' chief problem is that too large a part of their constituency, and their primary electorate, is made up of liberals who reject values and positions held by large majorities of Americans.
K-Y SEX OILS SALES SKYROCKET through Wal-Mart, with K-Y Touch Massage oils in the top 10 list of new health and beauty products of 2005.
HERSHEY HIGHWAY DOWN UNDER: Rush hour in New South Wales is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get.
SQUIRREL JOINS DOG FAMILY: If the picture makes you say "Awwww...," wait until you read the story behind it. There's a photo gallery at the link also.
DOGS do not think like you, so get a grip on yourself already.
70-POUND CAT caught stalking a dog.
ANIMAL HOARDING WITH A TWIST: A man found operating on a pigeon that he sedated with vodka was later arrested after animal control officers raided his house and discovered about 300 living and dead birds inside.
ELEPHANT at the Los Angeles Zoo gets an orthopedic shoe after toe surgery.
GATOR vs. RABBIT: A youth who snatched a white rabbit at a zoo and threw it into the alligator pool is being sought by police.
BEAR vs. MOTORCYCLE: Bear wins. A cautionary tale for Ms. Hauser as she starts her new life as a biker chick in the Southeast.