RETURN OF THE SMASHING PUMPKINS? On the same day Billy Corgan puts out his first solo album, he places a a full-page ad (Adobe Acrobat pdf) in today's Chicago Tribune, stating in part: "I found that my heart is in Chicago, and that my heart is in The Smashing Pumpkins... For a year now I have walked around with a secret, a secret I chose to keep. But now I want you to be among the first to know that I have made plans to renew and revive the Smashing Pumpkins. I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams." Stereogum has two punchlines I won't beat.
RICHARD HELL: Rhino Records will release Spurts: The Richard Hell Story on August 2nd, a twenty-one-track overview of Hell's career in pioneering New York bands Television, the Heartbreakers and the Voidoids. You can stream or download a few classics from Hell's website.
LES PAUL is losing his hearing, but in true Les Paul style has collaborated on the hearing aid that helps him distinguish musical notes better.
NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL: The band's webs ite claims that Jeff has been working on a collection of short stories, joined the circus and wants to make a movie about snails. And NMH is the sort of band where it might just be true.
IAN McCULLOGH really wants to get in front of Coldplay's fans again, imho.
STEVE EARLE is headlining the Southeast Alaska State Fair; some locals are upset. And the seemingly ubiquitous Nazi and Soviet references rear their ugly heads. Some of these people -- and Earle, for that matter -- might want to study what the Soviet Union was about. Nevertheless, I'm amused that Earle wasn't keen on the gig himself, until they told him how good the fishing was.
WILCO pops up in USA Today's postcard from the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Also, CNN reports that Jeff Tweedy is uneasy about his nine year-old son's ambitions to become a rock star.
ALL YOU NEED IS CASH: John Lennon's handwritten lyrics for "All You Need is Love" and other memorabilia goes up for auction next month in London.
ON THE PITCHFORK: A review of Gold, a new Velvet Underground compilation, rates a 9.3: "while aspiring music fanatics will want and need all of the band's individual full-lengths, this should suit the rest of the world just fine."
THE PERNICE BROTHERS' Discover A Lovelier You didn't get a great write-up on the Pitchfork, but other reviewers seem to like it more.
THE BEST OF 2005 (SO FAR) is a topic of discussion at donewaiting.
THE FULL SPIN LIST mentioned yesterday is online. Although I'm away from my collection, I'm pretty sure I'm somewhere in the forties.
TOM-KAT UPDATE: The Independent asks, Why do we all hate Tom Cruise?" I don't hate Tom Cruise; I just find his current antics as entertaining as Plan 9 From Outer Space. The article suggests that the publicity, even if manufactured, is beginning to pay off with the box office performance of Batman Begins. Warner Bros. seems to disagree, as Holmes is reportedly dropped from the sequel. Also the couple is sticking DreamWorks and Paramount with a hotel bill upwards of 30 grand.
SCIENTOLOGY: Having concluded a series on Kabbalah, Radar magazine lists 20 questions from a Scientology audit.
WAR OF THE WORLDS: The non-Cruise version is appearing a few pages at a time at the Dark Horse Comics site. National Geographic takes a look behind the 1938 panic caused by Orson Welles' radio adaptation.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Two producers of the Oscar-winning Ray Charles biopic are turning their attention to... Otis Redding? No. Aretha Franklin? No, she's still alive. Try Rodney Dangerfield.
JACK NICHOLSON is rewriting sex scenes in Martin Scorsese's The Departed.
LET'S PLAY JEOPARDY: Who is Owen Wilson?
BATMAN BEGINS comes in for serious analysis at PopMatters. In contrast, Forbes totes up the cost of being Batman. Priceless.
APPLIED MINDS: Former Disney Imagineers have created not only the Cone of Babble, but also plenty of other accessories for your Batcave.
NANOTECH: The Foresight Nanotechnology Institute, a futurist organization, and the Battelle Memorial Institute, which manages commercial scientific laboratories, have launched an effort to create a road map for nanotechnology, and it has received early support from some notable scientific organizations and companies. At NanoBot, there's a discussion of irresponsible nanohype.
A COMMON VIRUS that is harmless to people can destroy cancerous cells in the body and might be developed into a new cancer therapy.
ARE POLITICS GENETIC? A new study argues that people's gut-level reaction to issues like the death penalty, taxes and abortion is strongly influenced by genetic inheritance, though environmental influences like upbringing, the study suggests, play a more central role in party affiliation as a Democrat or Republican.
ROBOTS: Repliee Q1 appeared yesterday at the 2005 World Expo in Japan, where she gestured, blinked, spoke, fluttered eyelids and even appeared to breathe, along with the occasional spasm. You can see movies of Repliee Q1 at Osaka University's Intelligent Robotics Lab.
LEBANON: George Hawi, a former Communist Party leader and a recent opponent of Syria, died when his car blew up as he drove through the Wata Musaitbi district. Another senior opponent of Syria, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, said the people would have to pay a heavy price for taking the country into their own hands. "The life of anybody who wants a democratic Lebanon is in danger," he told BBC World TV.
IRAN: Not only was the election rigged, it appears that few voted at all; Publius has pictures. And there are more links at Power and Control.
IRAQ: Nearly six in 10 Americans oppose the war in Iraq, with a similar number against closing Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and most approving of how the U.S. has treated prisoners there, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday. Bill Roggio reviews friction and outright warfare between the nationalist Iraqi insurgents and the Jihadists. Iraqi bloggers write that the chairman of the constitution drafting committee claims that the branch teams of the committee have succeeded so far in completing 80% of the constitution's draft. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants to "reassure the Iraqi people that the international community stands with them in their brave efforts to rebuild their country, and that we recognize how much progress has been made in the face of daunting challenges." Austin Bay looks at progress since he left Baghdad in September 2004. Vietnam vets in-country see Iraq as an entirely different war. Compared to Vietnam, "this is probably more difficult. In the big picture, this is probably more important," one says.
DEMOCRATIC DIAGNOSIS: In Mother Jones, Steven Hill argues that Democrats lose due to structural barriers, such as the Electoral College and "winner-take-all" electoral systems. Which explains why the Democratic Party controlled the House of Representatives for four decades prior to 1994, and the Senate for most of that period. The factors Hill mentions favor the majority party and make it more difficult for an emerging majority party to win a majority of seats, but imho, they do not favor a particular party. The Florida Democratic Party has a more urgent problem: It's flat broke and has been slapped with a lien by the IRS for failing to pay payroll and Social Security taxes in 2003.
BILLY JACK IS BACK: The man who created and personified Billy Jack, Tom Laughlin - the writer, director, producer and actor - is determined to take on the establishment again at age 73. Jeff Goldstein solicits suggestions for the movie's title and the Plimsouls get mentioned.
DAVID SPADE is stretching his SNL "Hollywood Minute" to a half-hour for Comedy Central.
THE SUPERFICIAL posts "I have no idea what to call this one." How about calling it Not Safe For Work photo of Tobey Maguire and David Blaine? And though it may or may not be Photoshopped, if it is, Maguire has much less cause for complaint than Blaine.
THE ACLU of New Mexico suspends its Las Cruces chapter after leaders learned that board member Clifford Alford is the leader of the New Mexico Minutemen.
SEN. DICK DURBIN apologized Tuesday for comparing American interrogators at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviets and the Khmer Rouge: "I made reference to Nazis, to Soviets, and other repressive regimes. Mr. President, I've come to understand that's a very poor choice of words." His voice quaking and tears welling in his eyes, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate also apologized to any soldiers who felt insulted by his remarks: "They're the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them."
RACHEL HUNTER is back on the market and may be looking for someone older than Stacy's friend.
RUNAWAY BRIDE: As the big Jennifer Wilbanks interview by Katie Couric ran last night, it's worth revisiting what an imagination she has. Maybe that's why the guy still wants to marry her.
LEGAL MUSIC DOWNLOADS may surpass pirated copies by next year.
COLLEGE NEWSPAPERS can be censored by college administrators, according to a new ruling from the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in a seven-to-four vote.
CHIMP'S PAINTINGS outsell Renoir and Andy Warhol at auction. Congo the chimp has been hailed as the Cezanne of the simians. Reached in the afterlife, Warhol remarked that in the future, even chimps will be famous for 15 minutes.
A SIX-LEGGED PUPPY is drawing curious stares at a temple in Malaysia. It might be more than the legs, though.
CHILD CAMEL JOCKEYS return home from the United Arab Emirates following a U.N.-sponsored agreement.
WOMBAT launches a truck into a tree.
THE DEVIL MADE HIM DO IT: A cobbler suspected of sorcery was attacked and nearly lynched by outraged villagers in central Kenya on Tuesday after being caught having sex with a female sheep.
A BULL AND A COW hook up in a stationer's store in Russia.
A TWO-FACED KITTEN is born in Lake City, FL.
WHITE TIGER CUB SMUGGLING ring busted by U.S. customs agents in Mexico City.
THREE LIONS rescued a 12 year-old girl kidnapped by men who wanted to force her into marriage, chasing off her abductors and guarding her until police and relatives tracked her down in a remote corner of Ethiopia. The girl had previously removed a thorn from the palm of one of the lions. Not really, but it would make for a good story.
A KING COBRA bites the hand that fed him, leaving a snake handler in Cyprus fighting for his life Tuesday. Lesson: A snake is a snake.