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Kathleen Edwards, Roxy Music, Merle Haggard, Richard Feynman and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

MORNING BECOMES ECLECTIC: Wednesday's show will feature Stars, whose latest disc was well-reviewed o­n the Pitchfork. o­n Thursday, Kathleen Edwards is featured. If the show does not air o­n your local NPR station, you can always get it by streaming media or podcast from KCRW (thanks to Sylvia Hauser for the tip).

ROXY MUSIC REUNITES for a new album, including Brian Eno, who left the band in 1973.

ELVIS COSTELLO was interviewed at SXSW.

MERLE HAGGARD was interviewed by Billboard.

FIONA APPLE is emerging from the "Where are they now?" file through file-sharing, because Sony is refusing to sell her shelved album. You can also stream it via Scenestars.

CATS AND DOGS should be brushing their teeth regularly. ALSO: Another Carnival of the Cats. Zippy the pit bull has broken out of death row. And a Belgian loves dogs in an unnatural way.

TOASTED CHEESE SANDWICHES go gourmet in London.

I WANT MY HDTV: High-definition television makes some celebs look better, others not so much.

THE INCREDIBLES: Reviewed as only Jeff Goldstein can.

GENE WILDER: Newsweek has an interview and excerpts from his forthcoming memoir.

CULT OF THE iPod: The gadget has been banned by a Sydney private school because they lead to "social isolation". The New York Daily News does a "person o­n the street" piece asking Podpeople, "What are you listenting to?"

NEW ORDER: The forthcoming Waiting for the Siren's Call is now streaming from overseas.

PAULA ABDUL: Prosecutors are considering whether to file criminal charges against the alleged singer for an alleged hit-and-run freeway accident last December, officials said Thursday. Straight up?

CBGB: Among the efforts to save the landmark New York punk venue is a collection of limited-edition treats from Gotham candy store Chocolate Bar. There is a toll-free number in the linked story, which also mentions the store's website (but there is no listing for the treats at the site yet).

JOURNALISTIC ETHICS: Mickey Kaus (formerly of The New Republic and now with Slate) asks, "How is the American Prospect different from Armstrong Williams?" There is a difference insofar as Williams was paid by the government, but from the standpoint of the payee, Kaus may have a point.

SIN CITY: A ton of advance reviews are up at Ain't-It-Cool News, almost all raves. There's a separate review from AICN semi-regular Neill Cumpston, who has a style all is own, and not a particularly family-friendly o­ne at that.

GIVE NUKES A CHANCE? Kenneth N. Waltz, perhaps the leading living theorist of the foreign policy realists, thinks we should stop worrying and learn to love the Bomb.

IRAQ: You have to love Agence France-Presse. A March 21st story lede: "At least 45 people have been killed in insurgent attacks across Iraq as Washington defended its decision to go to war o­n the second anniversary of the US-led invasion." The next sentence: "Twenty-four Iraqi insurgents were killed and six coalition soldiers wounded in a firefight in a Baghdad suburb overnight..." Does that math work for the insurgents? ALSO: In The New York Times, John Burns reports there have been signs that the tide may be shifting in favor of the U.S. along Haifa Street in Baghdad (a/k/a "Purple Heart Boulevard"). Time magazine reports on the growing professionalism of The Iraqi Special Forces Brigade.

KYRGYZSTAN: There is more heavy unrest over the parliamentary elections. President Askar Akayev o­n Monday ordered the Central Election Commission and Supreme Court to investigate alleged election violations and agreed to talk with the protesters.

SHAWN COLVIN, LORRAINE BRACCO, TERRY BRADSHAW and other celebrities are inking deals with drug companies to talk about their depression.

FEYNMAN LECTURES can be found here in both pdf and MP3 formats, for all you science geeks.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ AND BONO discussed World Bank issues last week. Wonkette can only imagine what that sounded like.

THE STATE OF ADVERTISING: The more things change, the more they stay the same?

PLAYGIRL EDITOR stripped of her duties after she revealed how she voted Republican in the 2004 election.

NEXT STOP, JURASSIC PARK: Scientists hope to clone a Woolly Mammoth with a body recovered from the Siberian tundra.

DO COMPUTERS HELP EDUCATE KIDS? "The less pupils use computers at school and at home, the better they do in international tests of literacy and maths, the largest study of its kind says," according to the London Telegraph.

TURTLE survives a fire, but its shell now bears the image of a devil's head.

I CAN'T BELIEVE I HAVE TO EXPLAIN COKE AND PEPSI TO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, but apparently I do. The Associated Press reports that the Coca-Cola Co. will launch a no-calorie version of its trademark soft drink called Coca-Cola Zero in the United States in June. The drink will be sweetened partly with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium.

The AP then reports "Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo Inc. also has several different varieties of Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, including a one-calorie cola called Pepsi One, which is sweetened with Splenda." This is flat wrong. Splenda is made from sucralose, a modified version of sugar. Pepsi One is not sweetened with sucralose, as a glance at a bottle or can will reveal. Indeed, Pepsi One is sweetened with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium, just like the new Coca-Cola Zero will be, assuming the AP got that right. The AP adds that Pepsi "Spokesman Dave DeCecco said Pepsi does not have any current plans for a zero-calorie version of Pepsi." Of course not; Pepsico already has Diet Pepsi and Pepsi One. Next time, the AP might have its reporter read a pop can, or ask someone to explain it to them.

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Wrapped Detective, Brendan Benson, Tom Waits, James A. Baker III, and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, March 21, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

WRAPPED DETECTIVE: The DJ who brought you "Paperback Believer" now delivers a monster mash-up of Elvis Costello, The Police, Lionel Richie, Peggy Lee, Bob Marley, The Hollies and Led Zeppelin.

BRENDON BENSON is profiled by the Detroit Free Press. Unsurprisingly, he had problems with his label. Check the Benson links I posted Friday if you missed them.

STEVE WYNN: Pitchfork has a review of his post-Dream Syndicate retrospective, the wonderfully titled, What I Did After My Band Broke Up.

FREEBIRD! The Wall Street Journal (by way of the Naples Daily News) tries to clear Chicago as the source of rock's oldest joke.

"I AM A GOLDEN GOD!" Jim DeRogatis recaps Robert Plant's keynote at SXSW. To his credit, Plant paid his respect to Pinetop Perkins.

SEX JUST ISN'T A BIG DEAL ANYMORE: The Chicago Sun-Times kicked off a series with this headline o­n Friday. Of course, if it was true, it would be news, but would not be a page one headline. Rather, sex still sells, so there it is, a series on sex in college replete with sentences like, "Jeans hang precariously below shiny belly rings winking from firm, flat midriffs." Moreover, a glossary provided as a sidebar to the story describes a return home the morning after as the "stride of pride" or the "walk of shame," depending o­n whether a male or female is doing the walking [ though I admit the term "Cincinnati Bengal" is a funny twist o­n a familiar concept.] So it would appear that college has not turned into a judgment-free zone. Indeed, it would appear that college hasn't changed much since Claude Pate was an active band, given that Part Two of the series examines group dating. SEMI-RELATED: The dark underbelly of Spring Break.

DIRTY CHEERING: Legislation filed by Texas State Rep. Al Edwards would put an end to "sexually suggestive" performances at athletic events and other extracurricular competitions.

MEN AND WOMEN: Two new studies suggest that the female "inactive" X chromosome may eventually explain some of the behavioural and biological differences between individual women, and perhaps, between women and men. Clearly, Bill Gates should be working o­n new components.

JUST IN TIME FOR EASTER: Candles that smell like Jesus.

LARRY SUMMERS UPDATE: The Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted that they lack confidence in the Harvard president. Now they don't know what will happen and it is slowing university business. That's a little tardy with those thinking caps, professors.

WARD CHURCHILL UPDATE: The University of Colorado professor whose book blaming the U.S. for 9/11 is titled, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens is finding out for whom the bell tolls.

ERNESTO ALMONTE manages to recall both Hannibal Lechter and Lorena Bobbitt.

ROCK FOR KIDS: The Associated Press notices rockers making albums for kids. But aside from They Might Be Giants and former Del Fuego Dan Zanes, it's mostly the rock equivalent of movie stars doing voices for animated flicks.

TOM WAITS makes a Top 20 Favorite Albums list for The Observer.

BECK: Sasha Frere-Jones writes that Guero "sums up everything Beck is good at, like an imaginary greatest-hits album."

ADAM DURITZ: The Counting Crows singer and Sideshow Bob lookalike was hitting o­n Mary-Kate Olsen. He should be more careful; he could have snapped her like a toothpick.

JACKO JUSTICE: Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon told Howard Stern Thursday that when Michael Jackson was a guest star o­n the animated series, he demanded the script be changed so his character could spend more time with Bart.

NO CLOTHES FOR XTINA: Christina Aguilera's multi-million contract to start a fashion line was terminated after she called celebrity lines "tacky."

CULT OF THE iPod: Not everyone is joining.

BLOGGERS AS JOURNALISTS: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Rocky Mountain News come out in favor of granting bloggers the same privileges as journalists. Now if they figure out that this means everyone should have the same rights...

IRAQ: The top Marine officer in Iraq said Friday that the number of attacks against American troops in Sunni-dominated western Iraq and death tolls had dropped sharply over the last four months, according to The New York Times.

KYGYZSTAN: Protests over the parliamentary elections spread, in some cases erupting into riots. The interior department building in Jalal-Abad has been practically burned down. The government said it was ready to negotiate with the protesters who have demanded President Askar Akayev's resignation.

CANADIAN HEALTH CARE: A letter from the Moncton Hospital to a New Brunswick heart patient in need of an electrocardiogram said the appointment would be in three months. It added: "If the person named o­n this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies."

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: How's the rehab going for the troubled singer? On St. Patrick's Day, he was joined o­n stage by former Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan. According to the New York Post's Page Six, "the two Guinness-swilling hellraisers sang incoherently together for 10 minutes, according to a witness, before McGowan stumbled offstage." Doherty galpal-fiancee-whatever Kate Moss fought with bouncers at the bar. And Doherty is inexplicably teaming up with Ocean Colour Scene. Well, maybe not inexplicable, just bizzare.

LOST IN TRANSLATION: The Killers' Japanese hotel hijinx were interrupted by ex-Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

THE "WHERE ARE THEY NOW?" FILE: The London Sunday Times covers Teenage Fanclub as they go indie to release their first disc in five years.

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Brandan Benson, Louis XIV, M Ward, Sin City, Beyonce, Sons of the Wolf and more!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, March 18, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:

FRIDAY TIME-WASTER: Squares 2, at fetchfido. I must admit I'm still not quite over the Babycal throw, either.

BRENDAN BENSON: His forthcoming disc, The Alternative To Love, "is less an album than an ear snuggle," according to the New Musical Express. You can preview a few tracks (and download o­ne) from his website.

GLAM IT UP: Scenestars blogs a couple of early-Bowie-T.Rex-ish influenced bands, Louis XIV and Living Better Electrically, along with three free MP3 downloads. Pretty nice stuff. The Louis XIV site reveals that band is already generating major buzz; the Living Better Electrically site is still under construction.

M WARD: His latest disc, Transistor Radio was well-reviewed o­n the Pitchfork; you can hear it (albeit o­n a slightly wonky media player) at Merge Records. The disc pays homage to days of radio past (a favorite subject of mine), which Ward discusses in an interview o­n Metromix.

SXSW is being blogged at the Village Voice and photo-blogged by Filter magazine.

JOSS STONE replaces Sarah Jessica Parker as the Gap Girl. Maybe.

CATS AND DOGS: Bloggers have started Carnival of the Cats and Carnival of the Dogs.

HUMANS: More generous than animals.

BUILDING IN A BAG: Shelters o­n demand.

MARS ROVER was probably cleaned by Martian dust devils, not Martians.

THE FIFTY GREATEST MOVIE STARS: I've often noted that such lists are intended to spur arguments. This o­ne from Premiere magazine certainly does.

LETTERMAN KIDNAP PLOT: The Smoking Gun has the "information" (which is often filed instead of an indictment) against Kelly Allen Frank, who allegedly planned to kidnap the late night host's young son and the child's nanny. Dave may be remembering Margaret Ray with nolstalgia.

CULT OF THE iPod: Author Joshua Clover writes an unorthodox review covering the first ten songs from his iPod Shuffle.

FREE TURBO TAX: Very Raw writes that the feds wanted to develop a free e-filing program, which -- as you might expect -- irked the folks who make TurboTax. "They came to an agreement that TurboTax would develop a free version instead of the government, then they just donít advertise it." It's also pretty bare bones, but might work for you or your friends.

AMAZON has patented a technology for guessing your age, sex, birthday and wedding anniversary simply from the types of gifts purchased for you o­nline by others and their timing. Amazon would remind potential gift purchasers by sending them emails or an alert when they log o­n to the website.

SIN CITY: There's a good advance review from The Daily Starlet. "Mr. Evil" is clearly another Alba fan, but I think it's probably unfair to refer to some of Alba's co-stars as "some other less hot chicks." Many of them are hot in their own right, but are not playing strippers in the movie. Indeed, elsewhere o­n The Daily Starlet, Mr. E calls Rosario Dawson "ultrahot." And in the Sin City review, he says "Carla Gugino is amazingly hot and amazingly naked." So it's not all about the Alba. Indeed, another advance review at Ain't-It-Cool News suggests Alba is the tamest o­ne of the bunch.

NO-WAVE: A new breed of noise bands is surveyed by the Village Voice.

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE: The Guardian interviews Josh Homme about songwriting and his split from bassist and sidekick Nick Oliveri, who hopes to rejoin the band. The new disc, which comes out later this month, can be streamed from MySpace.

PITCHFORK is profiled by the Los Angeles Times, by way of the Wichita Eagle.

JACKO JUSTICE: How bad off are you when you're getting unsolicited life coaching from Britney Spears? And Jay Leno, who is o­n your witness list, tells the police that he thinks you are a child molester?

JUICED BASEBALL: David Pinto blogged Thursday's Congressional hearing o­n the use of steroids in Major League Baseball.

SOCIAL SECURITY: In Thursday's Washington Post, Dana Milbank inadvertently demonstrates that politicians from both parties are behaving like Carrot Top.

IRAQ: More Iraqis believe their country is headed in the right direction and fewer think it's going wrong than at any time since the U.S. invasion two years ago, according to a new poll.

IRAN: The first celebration of the Iranian New Year's Festival of Fire was met with celebrations as well as huge protests and demonstrations against the Islamic regime of Iran. The protestors chanted: "We need no Sheikh or Mullah, we curse YOU - RUHOLLAH!" In some areas, they burned the French flag. Iranian authorities beat up and tear gassed them, though Reuters' coverage makes no mention that politics were involved.

BEYONCE KNOWLES offended the French citizenry by "murdering" their language during her performance of Vois Sur Ton Chemin at last month's Oscars, according to actress Juile Delpy. I blame Karl Rove.

POP CULTURAL OBSESSION: I saw Star Wars many more times than Jonathan Lethem, but I never came close to the depths he's plumbed -- not even with music. That being said, the author of the linked article mis-identifies Jack Kirby as a Spider-Man artist, when even Kirby would give the credit to Steve Ditko.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ is nominated to head the World Bank. He would replace James Wolfensohn. I wonder whether a Kerry Administration would have picked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's former consultant, Howard Wolfson. Y'know, since they all have the same name in different languages.

"GRASSROOTS" CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM turns out to be made of Astroturf. Ryan Sager writes that from 1994 to 2004, almost 140 million dollars were spent to lobby for changes to our country's campaign-finance laws. Just over 40 million was spent by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Sean Treglia, a former program officer of the Pew Charitable Trusts, admitted that he pursued a three-pronged strategy: 1) pursue an expansive agenda through incremental reforms, 2) pay for a handful of "experts" all over the country with foundation money and 3) create fake business, minority and religious groups to pound the table for reform. When contacted by the New York Post, Treglia backpedalled, but Sager has the video, which can be downloaded from his blog.

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St. Pat's, Smoosh, Billy Bragg, Brendan Benson, Ann Coulter (sorta) and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

ST. PAT'S SHOCKERS: The Lucky Charms leprechaun is not Irish. And the creator of Lucky Charms was anything but.

APPROPOS OF ST. PAT'S DAY, the Kansas City Star recently profiled Flogging Molly; at The Nation, John Nichols profiles Damien Dempsey.

BOB MOULD: Contrary to earlier whispers, Billbooard reports that Mould's forthcoming solo disc will be more acoustic and "rock-based" than his last o­ne.

COCTEAU TWINS reunion, scheduled for Coachella and other festival dates, is cancelled, with Elizabeth Fraser citing unspecified personal reasons.

SMOOSH, a Seattle-based indie rock duo formed by kid sisters Asya, 13, and Chloe, 11, recorded their debut disc, She Like Electric at Egg Studios (well-known to fans of the Young Fresh Fellows and the Posies). The Associated Press interviewed them before they went to play SXSW.

THIRD-GRADER Commutes to School by Mule: A North Dakota girl really will be able to tell her kids, "When I was your age..."

STATISTICALLY IMPROBABLE PHRASES: Amazon ought to integrate this technology into its A9 search engine.

LILEKS, after a bit about his daughter, weighs in o­n a debate over the impact of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and the worth of John Williams' soundtracks. Plus, he tells us what was o­n his iPod while writing it.

EDUCATION BLOGGING: The latest Carnival of Education is o­nline.

BILLY BRAGG is releasing "official bootlegs" through his website, with free preview downloads.

JON SPENCER, formerly of ***** Galore and his Blues Explosion, is teaming with Matt Verta-Ray to form Heavy Trash. Their album isn't out yet, but you can hear a track at the link to YepRoc records.

THE NAME GAME: The Wikipedia has a nice entry listing songs containing overt reference to real musicians. The listing for Reunion's "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)" is about as lenghty as the entry for that song in the list for covert references to other musicians. I may have to submit an entry for "(Let's All) Turn o­n," by the Hoodoo Gurus.

DID THE NAZIS HAVE THE A-BOMB? According to Der Spiegel, a new book claims that the Nazis conducted three nuclear weapons tests in 1944 and 1945. But the reviewer says the book has no proof to back up that theory.

SEX BOMB: A blow-up doll sparked a bomb alert in a German post office after it started to vibrate inside a package awaiting delivery, police said Wednesday. The sender told police he was returning the doll because it kept turning itself o­n at the wrong moment.

JESSICA ALBA: I know what you're thinking: "Now he doesn't even have a Sin City story and he's still posting that Alba promo!" But it's not quite as bad as posting something from her GQ photo shoot. And certainly not as bad as the take you get o­n those photos from The Superficial.

VAL KILMER is not known for his sense of humor (Top Secret! notwithstanding), but he was pretty funny while having dinner at The Ivy Restaurant in London with Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Spacey.

NANOBACTERIA? Particles an astonishing 100 times smaller than bacteria have been observed inside dying cells in lab tests. Scientists are not sure that they are living organisms, but studies have linked them to kidney stones, aneurysms and ovarian cancer.

DOCTOR WHO: The pilot episode of the BBC's highly anticipated new Doctor Who series may have been intentionally leaked o­nto file-sharing networks to generate buzz, a source who instructed the network o­n viral advertising told Wired News. Viral or not, the leak has generated good advance buzz...

YAHOO! is preparing to introduce a new service that blends several of its popular features with blogging and social networking -- much like LiveJournal.

AOL INSTANT MESSAGING UPDATE: As I speculated earlier, AOL has wisely revised its Terms of Service for AIM to make clear that your messages remain private until posted to some public forum.

JANE FONDA claims that she was forced into threesomes with women while married to director Roger Vadim, according to the Daily Mail, apparently based o­n leaks from her forthcoming autobiography.

DEMI MOORE-ASHTON KUTCHER HELLSPAWN RUMORS: Moore's publicist issues another denial, though immediately following it with, "All I can tell you is what Demi tells me."

THE "WHERE ARE THEY NOW?" FILE: Sir Mix-A-Lot, the Seattle-based 17-year veteran rap artist known for such hits as "Baby Got Back," has sold over 500,000 copies of a ringtone for cellphones.

FABCHANNEL: If you have broadband access, you can stream concerts from Guided by Voices, Bettie Serveert, Sonic Youth and more from Paradiso Amsterdam.

WHENEVER POSSIBLE, PUT o­n SIDE o­nE OF LED ZEPPELIN IV: Boing-Boing has a thumbs-up for Erik Davis' book o­n the classic LP, including a short excerpt with some amusing sword-and-sorcery analogies.

TACKY XTINA: I recently gave drrty girl Christina Aguilera kudos for calling the practice of pop stars launcing fashion lines "tacky" and suggestive of an aimless career. I have to take those kudos back, as it turns out that Aguilera signed a deal reportedly worth millions of dollars to do the same.

BRENDAN BENSON is profiled by the Detroit Metro Times as he returns to the Motor City to work with Jack White.

PODCASTING: Former Senator and 2004 Veep candidate John Edwards is launching a weekly podcast to answer your questions and update you o­n his family and projects.

WONKETTE: Potty-mouthed DC gossip-blogger Ana Marie Cox was temporarily barred entry to a party being held for her at SXSW.

ANN COULTER is running for Mayor. No, not that Ann Coulter -- this o­ne, who apparently was accused of being an atheist in her bid to become Mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

BASEBALL o­n STEROIDS: Since it looks like the House Government Reform Committee will be holding that hearing o­n steroid use in pro baseball today, I thought I would link to blogging o­n the subject at Baseball Musings. The StatsGuru rightly points to element of grandstanding here -- though that's nothing new for Congress. However, when he wrote, "What I don't understand is why so many people think the drug testing policy has no teeth," he lost me. After all, he wrote the next day about how easy it is to beat the testing. Moreover, the o­nly way to detect human growth hormone is through blood testing, but MLB o­nly tests players' urine.

WOODY ALLEN gives an interview to Suicide Girls (shouldn't someone give the Woodman some PR advice?), in which he admits that Diane Keaton "always used to steal the picture from me."

KEVIN FEDERLINE: Mr. Britney Spears stinks. By which I mean he smells. Bad.

JACKO JUSTICE: Michael Jackson usually wakes up at about 4:30 a.m. to pray with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the minister and the singer's spokeswoman said Tuesday.

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Billy Idol, Kathleen Edwards, Black Mountain, Laleh Seddigh and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

REBEL SMELL: Billy Idol describes the hazards of taking only two pairs of leather pants o­n tour in the 1980s. And yes, the smell would be o­ne of them.

ANTI-DRUMMER BIAS festering o­n the Internet... and in Cedar Rapids! These arhythmic people should be forced to watch Buddy Rich o­n The Muppet Show (in QuickTime).

ON THE PITCHFORK: Pitchfork will "curate" the Intonation Music Festival in Chicago o­n July 16-17; bands TBA. ALSO: Brian Wilson confirms Smile DVD details: it will be a double-disc set that will include the (justly) acclaimed 2004 documentary Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of SMiLE, as well as a full concert performance.

SXSW officially kicks off in Austin today. Keynote speaker Robert Plant is looking a little puffy. Jimmy Page looked better at the Grammys.

MORE FROM THE SO-CALLED ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONY: The O'Jays were... less than thrilled about being inducted by Justin Timberlake. Stereogum nicely recaps Bruce Springsteen's induction speech for U2.

BONO should not be the next president of the World Bank, according to... Angelina Jolie. Is your head swimming yet? ALSO: Bono and his wife are launching a clothing line. Granted, the clothes are created from organic materials and made in family-run factories in South America and Africa with fair-labor practices... but what would Xtina say?

UAW SURRENDERS: After telling Marine reservists who drive foreign vehicles or display pro-Bush bumper stickers they no longer could use a parking lot at the United Auto Workers headquarters, union officials have changed their minds.

BRANDING AMERICA: The nomination of Karen Hughes, o­ne of President George W. Bush's closest and most powerful advisers, as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy is part of a major effort to revamp the apparatus of U.S. public diplomacy, which studies say has languished over the past decade under poor leadership and inadequate funding. Clay Risen (an assistant editor at The New Republic) and Ivo Daalder (a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution and an adviser to Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign) argue that the problem is U.S. foreign policy, not the marketing of that policy. There certainly is something to the old saying about putting lipstick o­n a pig. However, if Karen Hughes knows anything, it's the value of a gig where expectations are low. With American aid to tsunami victims turning Indonesian public opinion in favor of the U.S. and the war o­n terrorism and anecdotal evidence that public opinion of the U.S. is improving in the Middle East, marketing may be helpful, but might be unnecessary. And Hughes will get the credit.

KATHLEEN EDWARDS is interviewed by the Toronto Sun. She contrasts her experience opening for Bob Dylan with opening for AC/DC.

THE BRAVERY: Lead singer Sam Endicott is interviewed at Arjan Writes.

THE TOP 100 SINGLES OF THE SEVENTIES, courtesy of Superseventies. Rankings were compiled through an analysis of national trade chart activity, major market radio air play, industry sales figures, and music licensing tally reports.

BLACK MOUNTAIN: I had skipped posting the profile of the Vancouver quintet, even though Pitchfork also ran a complimetary review of their disc. But o­ne of the first and foremost music blogs, Said the Gramophone, currently has a MP3 download that has Dan Beirne excited. It's piqued my interest, too.

IS DAVID HASSELHOFF THE ANTI-CHRIST? A website puts forth the case.

SOUL TRAIN: Little Richard, Smokey Robinson, Ashanti, Mya and Stevie Wonder got the crowd on its feet in a tribute to Don Cornelius of Soul Train, recipient of the Pop Culture Award at the third annual TV Land Awards ceremony, which aired Tuesday night.

IRAN: Laleh Seddigh is fast emerging as o­ne of Iran's foremost race car drivers, leaving the best of the men racers behind in her saloon car. As you might expect, this does not sit well in a sexist theocracy. "Every time I want to practice or make a test drive, the track staff ask me for a letter of permission -- even though I am the captain of the Proton speed team. Men never have this kind of hassle." And consider Iranian state television's coverage of her wins: even though Seddigh pulls a poncho over her tight race overalls before taking the winners' podium, pictures of her holding a trophy are for some reason censored.

DEMI MOORE PREGNANT? That's what Star magazine is reporting, but it's Star, so we can hope it's wrong. Moore's publicist and Ashton Kutcher both issued non-denial denials.

...AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: A man with two penises.

CLOCKY: The M.I.T. Media Lab has invented an alarm clock that -- when its snooze bar is pressed -- rolls from your nightstand and finds a new hiding place each day.

QUENTIN TARANTINO says that he plans (or threatens, depending o­n your p.o.v.) to make movies for the next fifteen years, starting with his oft-delayed war flick, Inglorious Bastards.. He also lists his favorite movies of 2004.

A FORMER DENTIST accused of using syringes to squirt semen into the mouths of female patients was charged in North Carolina with multiple misdemeanor counts of assault o­n a female. I'd make the "I didn't know they had dentists in NC" joke, but I'm just too creeped out.

GRIME: Sasha Frere-Jones introduces readers of The New Yorker to the dark, minimalist, British mutation of rave music.

PUBLIC PODCASTING: PublicRadioFan has a directory of public radio shows available as podcasts including, but not limited to, the shows from KCRW to which Sylvia Hauser tipped us recently.

JACKO JUSTICE: There's nothing quite like the whipsaw coverage the media gives of a trial. Michael Jackson's accuser told his school Dean that Jackson did nothing to him! Michael Jackson's accuser explains that he denied being molested because schoolmates were "making fun of me" and he wanted them to stop! Michael Jackson confesses o­n videotape! Just kidding about that last o­ne, but that QuickTime movie is a hoot, anyway.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: She's stayed silent, but the troubled singer is confirming he's engaged to Kate Moss, adding, We haven't set a date yet, but if things aren't going well in court regarding the assault case brought against him we may have to marry before the case ends."

RACHEL HUNTER claims that Rod Stewart had given her nothing since separating six years ago, only child support. Which explains how she could identify with her title role in the Fountains of Wayne's video for "Stacy's Mom."

WaPo EDITOR UPDATE: I noted yesterday that Washington Post Managing Editor Phil Bennett gave an interview to the Chinese People's Daily Online which included some quotes that I thought some would consider inflammatory. Bennett says the story "includes numerous and important inaccuracies." and he apparently has the audiotape to back his claim. Hugh Hewitt, the conservative talk show host who prints Bennett's response, probably draws the lesson Bennett should not have needed to learn: "Never trust a state-owned newspaper." But Bennett's taping of the interview suggests he at least borrowed from the same Russian phrase as former President Reagan: "Trust, but verify."

HARVARD PREZ LARRY SUMMERS: The former Clinton Treasury Secretary was rebuked, as members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) voted that they lack confidence in his leadership Tuesday. Professors also passed a milder censure of Summers expressing regret for his Jan. 14 comments o­n women in science and certain "aspects of the Presidentís managerial approach." Professor of Economics Edward L. Glaeser said that Summers is prepared to change his leadership style to accommodate the Faculty. ďI have every confidence that the president has heard the Faculty and that he takes this very seriously,Ē Glaeser said.

If the issue was not just his comments o­n women in science (which, as noted here previously, have been supported by scientists studying the issue), what are those other issues? It seems that FAS members have been ill at ease o­n issues ranging from Summersí management of Harvardís expansion into Allston to his role in the noisy departure of Professor Cornel R. West. Summers allegedly questioned Westís academic integrity and criticized him for allowing grade inflation in his class. This is not surprising, given that West was spending a lot of time making hip-hop records and cameos in Matrix sequels. And Summers was crusading against grade inflation generally (which may not have endeared him to other faculty members). As for the expansion of the Harvard campus to Allston, it seems that the objection is massive transfers of funds from FAS to the Central Administration for Allston and its consequences for other activities.

A column in the Harvard Crimson notes that Summers' opponents probably do not really want him gone: "A status quo administration raising money with o­ne hand and throwing it at professors with the otheróis actually best served by an impotent Larry Summers." Summers probably should have learned from former Harvard faculty member Henry Kissinger: "University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."

BASEBALL ON STEROIDS: Major League Baseball turned over a stack of subpoenaed documents Monday in preparation for a House hearing o­n Thursday, as investigators indicated that Congress' steroid probe will widen to the use of performance-enhancing drugs not just in baseball but also in other professional and collegiate sports. As I figured here earlier, "the hard line against Congress outlined by baseball's attorney Stanley Brand is cracking, if not crumbling." And Brand is not the o­nly DC heavyweight lawyer involved now. Sluggers Frank Thomas, Jason Giambi and Rafael Palmeiro are being represented by David McIntosh and Michael Kantor. McIntosh is a former GOP Congressman from Indiana; Kantor was Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative in the Clinton Administration.

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