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Bowerbirds, Okkervil, Holsapple, Bad Veins, Tiny Turtle   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, August 14, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


BOWERBIRDS stick close to their name with "In Our Talons," though insects and crustaceans also appear in the animated clip.

OKKERVIL RIVER  has dropped a new song, "Lost Coastlines," in advance of their upcoming album; you can stream the tune via the ol' HM at the moment. 

PETER HOLSAPPLE has joined the NYT's Measure for Measure blog, starting with the germ of a new song (with audio), a discussion of bridges (with the demo for the dB's "Molly Says") and recording demos then and now (with two demos of the new song, "It's All Talk"). Cool backstories, a pic of his first band at age 9, etc.

BAD VEINS do the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, all as yet unreleased.

FRANZ FERDINAND is streaming a new song, "Lucid Dreams," via their website.

SPIRIT: In the 1969 clip for "I Got A Line On You," there's a moment that just screams, "Hey baby, I'll be back to pick you up later!" Plus some raelly bad "psychedelic" effects.

THE KOOKS figure in an Olympic mini-scandal.

INARA GEORGE (The Bird and the Bee, daughter of Lowell George) talks to All Things Considered about her collaboration with lifelong family friend Van Dyke Parks. Plus a track to stream or download.

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT stopped by the World Cafe for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via NPR.

THE BEATLES: Coming to Branson?

JENNIFER ANISTON & JOHN MAYER dunzo? The Mirror claims Mayer has ended it because he wasn't ready for the level of commitment that Aniston deserved (or demanded), The NYDN runs the Ansiton spin that Mayer is crying and she has already moved on.  Better still, maybe she picked her dog over Mayer.  US Weekly claims the pair is just "on a break," but Friends fans know that's a recipe for disaster.

BRITNEY SPEARS gives her first interview since her breakdown to OK! magazine.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS's alleged baby daddy allegedly cheated on her during the pregnancy.

CARRIE UNDERWOOD: The American Idol winner tells Allure that ex-beau Tony Romo still phones her.  Which will thrill Jessica Simpson.

LINDSAY LOHAN & SAMANTHA RONSON: The latter is amazed at the public interest in her relationship with the former.

ADAM WEST may be busting a move on "Dancing With the Stars." They will not be able to resist the Batusi.

RACHEL HUNTER announced that she is marrying 26-year-old ice hockey star Jarret Stoll, ten years after splitting from former husband Rod Stewart. Stacy's Mom has got it going on.

JESSICA ALBA has got a fee-vah! And the only prescription is more Olympics.

GEORGIA, GEORGIA: Georgia and Russia accused each other of violating the cease-fire agreement. Separatist fighters and Russian troops looted and set homes ablaze in Georgia amid the mutual recriminations. Human Rights Watch said its researchers in South Ossetia had "witnessed terrifying scenes of destruction in four villages that used to be populated exclusively by ethnic Georgians." While many Russians said they regretted the loss of life, the conflict appeared mainly to have stoked nationalist pride.  US officials demand an end to the conflict in increasingly stroner terms: "This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia where Russia can threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. NATO cancels an naval exercise with Russia, while the West considers dropping Russia from the G-8. Pres. Bush said the Pentagon had begun a "vigorous and ongoing" humanitarian mission to ease the suffering in Georgia, adding that Russia must not interfere with aid arriving in Georgia by air, land or water -- sounding like a Berlin Airlift-style gambit. Some experts doubt claims of Russian cyber-attacks on Georgia.

ALLEGED AL QAEDA "MATA HARI" is a potential "treasure trove" of information on terrorist supporters, sympathizers or 'sleepers' in the United States and overseas.

IRAN: Parliament declared Wednesday that suggesting that Iran is a friend of the Israeli people is an "unforgivable mistake." Lawmakers called on Pres. Ahmadinejad to dismiss Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, a vice president for tourism, after he repeated on Sunday his earlier comments that "we are a friend of all people in the world, even Israelis and Americans."

IRAQ: The latest draft security pact would have US troops withdraw from the cities by next summer, but not withdraw from the country for three years, provided the violence remains low. Insurgents, who have increasingly turned to women to stage suicide bombings, on Tuesday used a man dressed as a woman in a failed assassination attempt on a provincial governor. The head of an anti-Qaeda militia survived a truck bombing in Kirkuk, the ninth assassination attempt against him.

A TINY CHINESE BOX TURTLE is small enough to creep inside a matchbox.  No wonder the species is critically endangered.  More pics at the link.

OCTOPUSES have two legs and six arms, according to a new study, which also reveals the most common arm used for feeding.

PET HOARDING: More than 360 domestic and farm animals, many of them emaciated, injured and suffering from mange and parasites, were rescued Tuesday from a filthy southwest Missouri property.  And the hoarder looks like she wasn't exactly caring for herself, either.

A HUMPBACK WHALE is vacationing near one of Germany's favorite nude beach destinations, the idyllic island of Rügen.

BIGFOOT FOUND? Two Georgia men claim to have a body, photos of the body, and DNA evidence - some or all of which will be revealed this Friday, Aug. 15, at a press conference in Palo Alto, Calif.

3166 Reads

I'm From Barcelona, Rosebuds, W.A.S., Stones, Mini-Moo   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, August 13, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


I'M FROM BARCELONA drops the video for "Paper Planes," the new single from the forthcoming album, Who Killed Harry Houdini?

THE ROSEBUDS have four new songs that can be streamed via their MySpace.

WE ARE SCIENTISTS stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via MPR.

THE PRETENDERS are a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll on the upcoming album.

DR. DOG gets a nice hometown profile in the Philadelphia Weekly.

THE ROLLING STONES roll through "Let It Bleed" in a club gig.  Quality sound and video, too.

LOS CAMPESINOS! stopped by KEXP for a chat and mini-set now streaming on demand via NPR.

FRANK YANG of Chromewaves is on this year's Grand Jury for Canada's Polaris Music Prize. Congrats to him!

ANTENNA SHOES did the four free songs thing for Daytrotter.

SOUNDGARDEN inadvertently reuinites at a local Cinnabon.  Oh, wait, that's The Onion.

BRADGELINA: Jolie will replace Tom Cruise in the adaptation Philip Noyce's spy thriller Edwin A Salt, which will need a rewrite and renaming now. Meanwhile, the Bradgelina baby pics disappointed People magazine.

HAYDEN PANETTIERE's father, bailed on a felony spousal abuse charge, tells the paparazzi the whole thing "was blown out of proportion."

SIENNA MILLER broke down in tears after she was quizzed by photographers about her relationship with married father of four Balthazar Getty.  And they took pictures, natch.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON & RYAN REYNOLDS were... wait for it... caught canoodling on a motorcycle.  Pics at the link.

BEN STILLER says disability groups boycotting Tropic Thunder are missing the point.

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS got a really bad review from Ain't-It-Cool's uber-fanboy Harry Knowles, which was taken down (temoprarily), but Valleywag still has it.

HOLLYWOOD'S TOP-EARNING ACTRESSES, according to Forbes magazine.

GEORGIA, GEORGIA: Russian President Dmitri Medvedev reportedly ordered a halt to its military action in Georgia, after Pres. Bush's strongest statement on the fighting since it began at the end of last week and French Pres. Sarkozy, in his current role as EU president, held talks with Medvedev in Moscow for most of the day. Georgia insisted that Russian forces were still bombing and shelling. Georgian Pres. Saakashvili said he would pull his country out of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The websites of Georgia's government have been under cyber-attack for weeks, with Russian hackers fingered as the culprits.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS have arrested a woman in the region of Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia for driving a car.

PAKISTAN: Senior Al Qaeda commander Abu Saeed al-Masri has been killed in recent clashes with Pakistani forces in a Pakistani region near the Afghan border, a security official said on Tuesday. At the Counterterrorism Blog, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is skeptical.

IRAN: Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that resistance by nations against major world powers pays off. State TV also reported that the country has set up offices on a Persian Gulf island also claimed by the United Arab Emirates.

IRAQ: A secular lawmaker expected the Kurds would make concessions to allow the controversial provincial elections bill to be re-approved by the Parliament. Coalition forces captured nine Hezbollah Brigades operatives during three raids in the Adhamiyah district in Baghdad within 24 hours. King Abdullah of Jordan has become the first Arab head of state to visit Iraq since the US-led invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein in 2003.

MINI-CATTLE are catching on at farms, livestock shows and 4-H clubs, as feed costs drive up the price of keeping cows.  Video and pics at the link, but if you're not a WSJ subscriber, go through Google News.  And you may get direct access to the video.

CHUPACABRA caught on camera? 

HORSE MASSAGE: "This isn't just a career for me, it's my passion."

A BLIND RETIREE was told he did not walk fast enough to be given a new guide dog.

A SNAKE had to be removed from a car after a mechanic discovered the reptile while clearing an impounded vehicle.

2397 Reads

Dusty, New Releases, Ingrid Michaelson, Pig Wrestling   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, August 12, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


DUSTY SPRINGFIELD may be the subject of three biopics, starring Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Kristin Chenowith.  So why not revisit "Son of a Preacher Man" and her take on "How Can I Be Sure?"  That would be Twofer Tuesday, but I toss in the audio for "No Easy Way Down" from Dusty In Memphis so we have a clip for each biopic.

NEW RELEASES: Pierre de Reeder (Rilo Kiley), The Pack A.D. and the Walkmen are streaming in full this week via Spinner. Conor Oberst, Elvis Presley and more are streaming via AOL.

SIR PAUL McCARTNEY is still cruising Route 66, playing harmonica for a four-month old boy named Jude in Amarillo.  The Cute One supposedly told daughter Stella he intends to marry new galpal Nancy Shevell, according to the uber-reliable News of the World.

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED: The latest edition of the long-running NPR series features tracks from David Byrne & Brian Eno, Inara George & Van Dyke Parks, Earlimart, The Avett Bros, and She & Him with Jim James.

INGRID MICHAELSON: The indie sweater girl does the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, including a cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love With You"

SEALS & CROFT: A rare live performance of "Summer Breeze" from 1974.  Because it's, like... summer.

ISSAC HAYES: The L.A. Record has what may have been his final interview. Bonus points to Rena Kosnett for asking, "Does anyone understand you ‘cept your woman?"

THE MOST INFLUENTIAL INDIE ALBUMS of the 80s and 90s, according to JamsBio. I agree with most of the list, though it leaves out quite a few, like the dB's and the Feelies.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND will rock Super Bowl XLIII, according to the NYPost's Page Six.

ROLLING STONE is shrinking to a normal magazine size.  Publisher Jann Wenner promises the magazine will contain just as much lame celebrity coverage and fawning reviews of popular bands as always, but hopes to include stinky cologne ads.

BRADGELINA: John McCain and Barack Obama are seeking the coveted Jolie endorsement for president.

HAYDEN PANETTIERE's father was arrested Monday morning on allegations of spousal abuse. Alan Panettiere will face a felony count of domestic violence for allegedly hitting wife Lesley in the cheek, leaving a visible mark.  TMZ also has some backstory.

JESSICA SIMPSON was bullied as a shy high schooler growing up in Texas, according to the ever-reliable National Enquirer.

TROPIC THUNDER faces a national boycott from a coalition of disabilities groups because of what the groups consider the movie's open ridicule of the intellectually disabled.

ANNE HATHAWAY says her June split from Italian beau Raffaello Follieri - currently under investigation for wire fraud - made her stronger.

LOST: Looks like the cast are all trying to renegotiate their salaries.

HOW BIG IS THE DARK KNIGHT? It depends how you look at it. In raw dollar figures, the Batman sequel is now the third-biggest film of all time.  However, adjusted for inflation, The Dark Knight ranks No. 49, with Gone With the Wind topping the chart.

IRON MAN comes home Sept. 30th.

I LAUGHED THROUGH "THE BIRDS" as a toddler. It may be genetic.

GEORGIA, GEORGIA: Russian forces overran the strategic city of Gori as troops prepared to defend the capital Tbilisi from what one official called a "total onslaught". Georgian president Saakashvili said that Russian troops had in effect sliced his country in half, and appealed for Western aid via the Wall Street Journal. Reaganite Fred Kagan and Clintonites Ronald D. Asmus and Richard Holbrooke actually have similar bottom lines in the dispute. The CSM has backstory on the conflict.

IRAN has an interest in the Georgian conflict, as outlined by Meir Javedanfar at PJM.  Meanwhile, Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashai says Iranians are "friends of all people in the world - even Israelis." Mashai added that his comments did not constitute recognition of Israel's legitimacy.

IRAQ: Al-Qaeda is losing support in Iraq because of a brutal crackdown on activities it regards as un-Islamic - including women buying cucumbers.  The Washington Post looks at the growth of the Commander's Emergency Response Program, which is military-ese for "walking around money."  The NYT reports that Iraq's private sector, particularly its small non-oil economy, has so far failed to flourish as its American patrons had hoped.  The top Marine in Anbar province sees the economy rebounding and a need for less US spending. Iraqi forces halted military operations in Diyala province for a week to give insurgents time to surrender.

NEVER WRESTLE A PIG: You both get dirty and the pig enjoys it.

A HORSE was molested in a field near a busy dual carriageway in West London.

ELEPHANTS' survival depends on their legendary memory.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: A white blackbird -- suffering from leucism, which unlike albinism, does not turn the eyes pink.

VAMPIRE BATS leave 38 dead in remote villages in Venezuela. Or possibly undead.

4565 Reads

Issac Hayes, Conor Oberst, Beat Strings, Prince Chunk   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, August 11, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


ISSAC HAYES, soul singer and arranger, member of the Songwriters' and Rock & Roll Halls of Fame, who won Grammy awards and an Oscar for the theme from the 1971 action film "Shaft," has died at 65, after relatives found him unconscious in his home next to a still-running treadmill on Sunday afternoon.  Here's your choice of the live Wattstock version, the slo-mo mersion, and the Conan O'Brien version.  Of course, Hayes was more than the theme.  He played on classic soul tracks like Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness."  He wrote the Sam & Dave Classics "Soul Man," "You Don't Know Like I Know" and "Hold On, I'm Comin," as well as Carla Thomas' ''B-A-B-Y.''  He had his own hits with Burt Bacharach tunes like "Walk On By."  Decades later, he would be thrilling South Park as Chef with his "Chocolate Salty Balls." He left the show in 2006 after an episode mocked his Scientology religion. Hayes had just finished work on a movie called Soul Men, which also stars Bernie Mac, who passed away on Saturday (see below.).

BRIAN ENO talks to the Times of London about his reunion with David Byrne.

SUMMER PLAYLISTS from UK musicians and DJs, including Gruff Rhys and Norman Jay, appear at the Guardian.

THE BEAT STRINGS, which bring a strand of punky New Wave to their pop, do the four free songs thing at Daytrotter.  All are unreleased, though two are from the band's upcoming album.  Elements of bands like Split Enz and The Cure, I would say.  And just did.

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING FRONTMAN: The Boston Globe reports that the preening rock star of the past is giving way to a decidedly unheroic new species of lead singer.

CONOR OBERST of Bright Eyes is interviewed at the Independent and Fredericksburg.com. NPR has a review plus audio tracks from his solo album.  And he just dropped the video for "Souled Out!!!"

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS' A.C. Newman talks to the Valley Advocate and the Hartford Courant about the band and his upcoming solo LP. (Thx, Chromewaves.)

DURAN DURAN APPRECIATION DAY was yesterday. Is that something I should know?  Plenty more video links at Entertainment Weekly. (Blame Lance.)

NOMO stopped by for a chat and mini-set of their funky Afrobeat-flavored music.  Saw them a couple of years ago at Pitchfork and enjoyed their update of the sounds of the 70s.

KIM DEAL talks about The Pixies with the Jerusalem Post.

BERNIE MAC, comedian and actor, died early Saturday morning of complications due to pneumonia. A few years ago, Mac disclosed that he suffered from sarcoidosis, a rare autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in tissue, most often in the lungs. He was 50.  His Ocean's Eleven co-stars are among those paying tribute.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: The Dark Knight reigns for a fourth weekend, making 26 million, for a US total of 441 million. The last movie to win four consecutive weekends was The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.  Will Tropic Thunder and Star Wars: The Clone Wars team up to dethrone TDK next weekend?  Stay tuned, bat-fans... Pineapple Express opened in second place with 22 million; it has made 40 million since opening Wednesday on a 27 million budget. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 came in fourth with 10.2 million; it has grossed 19.7 million on its 27 million budget since Wednesday. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor came in third, dropping 60 percent to take in 16.1 million.  Step Brothers rounds out the top five with 8.9 million.  Mamma Mia! continued to show legs, making another 8 million in sixth place and breaking the 100 million mark in the US.

JESSICA SIMPSON: According to the National Enquirer, the pneumatic blond took a home pregnancy test and thought it was positive, so she made an announcement to Tony Romo's family that they were expecting.  It turns out that if anyone could get confused between one or two lines on a stick, it's Jessica Simpson.

SIENNA MILLER is begging lover Balthazar Getty to save her Hollywood career by getting his estranged wife to clear her of marriage-wrecking, according to the uber-reliable News of the World. Despite reports Balthazar is desperate to reconcile with his wife, Miller and Getty still look pretty cozy in L.A.

PAUL NEWMAN has finished chemotherapy treatment for cancer and may have only weeks to live.

JENNIFER ANISTON visiting the trout pout shop?  She does look like a duck in this photo, but maybe it was snapped at the wrong moment.

SALMA HAYEK, newly separated new mother, was spotted shopping at erotic boutique Coco de mer, which stocks luxury bondage gear, designer sex aids and risqué underwear.

BERNIE BRILLSTEIN, a pioneering manager and producer who helped steer the careers of John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler, Geena Davis, Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Dabney Coleman, John Larroquette, Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller, Nicolas Cage, Rob Lowe, Jay Tarses and Jim Henson, died Thursday night of chronic pulmonary disease. He was 77.

AN IRANIAN SWIMMER refused to compete alongside Israeli Tom Be'eri, apparently under the orders of the chiefs of the Iranian delegation.  The Iranian basketball team shook hands with Russia's coach, who previously coached for Maccabi Tel Aviv.  But Russia is helping Iran with its nuclear program.

AFGHANISTAN: US SecDef Robert M. Gates will endorse a 20 billion dollar plan to substantially increase the size of Afghanistan's army and will also restructure the military command of American and NATO forces in response to the growing Taliban threat, senior Pentagon and military officials said Thursday.

SYRIA blocked a follow-up visit by UN nuclear watchdogs investigating intelligence that Damascus built a secret nuclear program built with help from North Korea. Hey, Iran gets away with it, so why not?

IRAQ's foreign minister says negotiators are on the brink of reaching a long-term security pact with the US. A suspected leader of AQI in Anbar province has been arrested after a tip-off, police said on Friday.


ORPHAN DEER adopted by a pack of fox hounds.  Totally awww...some pics at the link.

PRINCE CHUNK, the 44-lb cat, has found a new home at an undisclosed location.  Perhaps VP Dick Cheney is stroking him even now. (Thanks, Dad.)

EAT KANGAROO, save the world. I am not sure how the cheerleader figures into this yet.

FUGITIVE VIPER remained at large as Houston's Moody Gardens reopened its rain forest pyramid Saturday.

RENEGADE COWS: The news is out in Bangor, Maine.

A BRITISH BESTIALITY INVESTIGATION has been hampered because their main suspect has a twin brother who could also be behind the attacks.

6389 Reads

Wilcopalooza, British Sea Power, Cutout Bin, Hector   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, August 08, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



(via DarkroomDemons)

...with WILCO at LOLLAPALOOZA!  Last weekend's set has found its way online -- MisunderstoodI Am Trying To Break Your HeartYou Are My FaceImpossible GermanyIt's Just That SimpleHandshake DrugsPot Kettle BlackOne WingSpidersA Shot In The ArmJesus Etc.Hate It HereCan't Stand ItWalken, and Monday/ Outtasite (Outta Mind).  On the last four clips, Tweedy & Co. are backed by the Total Pros on horns.

SIR PAUL McCARTNEY and his new girlfriend, Nancy Shevell, are cruising historic Route 66, having been spotted in Clear Lake and Joliet, IL.

BRITISH SEA POWER stopped by the World Cafe for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via NPR.

THE TING TINGS talk to Metromix about their second chance at pop, which Jules De Martino describes this way: "The kind of people we are, we're just happy to be having a good evening and paying our rent. When we were getting emails from (Columbia Records president) Rick Rubin, we thought it was our friends making jokes. It just felt so surreal..."

BEN FOLDS & REGINA SPEKTOR duet on "You Don't Know Me," an original track from the upcomung Folds album, Way to Normal.

GHOSTY, from Lawrence KS, does the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, three previously unreleased.

AGAINST ME's video for "New Wave" pays obvious homage to The Replacements.

NME's 25 BANDS MAKING AMERICA COOL AGAIN, reprinted at Stereogum. Regular Pate visitors will recognize most, if not all of them.

THE HOLD STEADY: Craig Finn tells IGN about his voice coaching and tells The Quietus all about touring.

PORTISHEAD: Adrian Utley and Geoff Barrow have picked a number of their favorite Tube clips... which they discuss on the Tube.

CUTOUT BIN: From Chuck Berry to 10cc, from Sonic Youth to the Beach Boys, from Wire to the Cardigans, from Big Star to Travis to Pilot and more -- this Friday's fortuitous finds can be jukeboxed or streamed separately via the Pate page at the ol' HM.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases are the stoner action comedy Pineapple Express, currently scoring 69 percent on the ol' Tomatometer, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, which is scoring 64 percent.  Both actually opened Wednesday, and I missed it.  My only excuse is that I had some cleanup to do after a big storm earlier this week.

BRITNEY SPEARS, contrary to recent reports, will not play a killer lesbian stripper in Quentin Tarantino's remake of the 1965 cult film Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!  The silver lining is that we got two days of talking about killer lesbian strippers out of it.

SHIA LeBEOUF, who sustained a seriously mangled mitt in a rollover accident, is not in danger of losing any of his digits, E! News has confirmed.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON says she's eager to become an honorary Canadian by marrying Canadian-born actor Ryan Reynolds - and hopefully pass through the border quickly from now on.

LINDSAY LOHAN & SAMANTHA RONSON got matching black heart tattoos. NTTAWWT.

NICOLE KIDMAN & KEITH URBAN talk about the joys of parenthood on TV down under.  Apparently, their dughter looks like Urban.

ROBERT DOWNEY, JR.: Rolling Stone excerpts its profile and interview of the actor who may have triumphed over his demons, yet still seems more than a bit wacky.

MORGAN FREEMAN was released from a Tennessee hospital - and says he is glad to be on the upswing.

SIENNA MILLER's pals say the gorggeous actress is no home wrecker - and she never would have gone near her new love, Balthazar Getty, if he was still with his wife, Rosetta.

ALEC BALDWIN: These days, just about everything -- music, politics, the Internet -- interests him. Except acting.  Maybe that's why he's been doing some of his best work recently.

JOSS STONE amazingly headbutted her brother as a family baptism descended into an ugly brawl.  She blew her chance to be godmother, but settled some family business.

BERNIE MAC hospitalized for pneumonia since the beginning of the month, continues to recover, a rep for the actor-comedian said Thursday.

WATCHMEN: Non-geeks may not know what a big deal the film adaptation coming in 2009 is; this ReelTalk clip from the big Comic-Con in San Diego, featuring interviews with the cast and crew, sorta explains why comicdom is equal parts joy and fear over the project.

LIL' KIM B-DAY PARTY SLAYING: The body of a 24-year-old woman who attended a birthday party for the rapper Lil' Kim on Sunday was found Wednesday on the roof of the Midtown karaoke club where the party was held, NYC police said.  A bar employee has been charged in the case.

ERIC "DIGGER" DOWLING, who forged passports, made maps and helped to dig the one tunnel that the Germans did not discover before the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III, has died, aged 92.


IRAN: Israel is building up its strike capabilities amid growing anxiety over Iran's nuclear ambitions and appears confident that a military attack would cripple Tehran's atomic program, even if it can't destroy it. The Kuwait Times reported on Thursday that two more US aircraft carriers are headed for the Persian Gulf. The paper did not say which two carriers they are and the US Navy refused to confirm or deny the report.

IRAQ and the US are reportedly nearing agreement on a security pact that -- conditions permitting -- would have most US combat troops out by 2010, with a residual force in place through 2013.  Those dates may be doable if current trends continue. More good news from Samarrah -- hundreds of Muslim worshippers on Wednesday visited a revered Shiite shrine in northern Iraq that is being rebuilt after a deadly bomb blast which triggered bitter sectarian bloodshed.

HECTOR, a Great Dane, may think twice before swallowing a two-foot long stick again.

A MASSIVE CATFIGHT leads to boob bite, tetanus shot, five arrests.

BOOGER the pitbull -- and source of the cloned puppies noted here this week -- heroically saved his owner, who reportedly fled England after being charged in a bizarre sex crime case. Bernann McKinney denied she is that woman in the Times of London.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT: They lure house dogs into chasing them, setting up attacks by hungry hawks.

A WOMAN ON A DONKEY beat off a lion with a machete.  Yes, she had the machete.

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