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On Beauty by Zadie Smith (review by Karl)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 01:50 AM
Posted by: kbade


NOTE: This is the second review for Amber Taylor's Blog Book Club. Welcome, readers... take your shoes off and stay a while! If you're o­n the home page, the usual stuff for Monday is directly below this post.

On Beauty is apparently an homage to E.M. Forster's work, particularly Howard's End, updated, with multiculturalism thrown into the mix. Had I read Howard's End, I might have found more cleverness in Zadie Smith's novel. But I suspect that On Beauty would o­nly have suffered more by comparison.

The book sets out to tell the tale of two families of academics. The first is that of Howard Belsey, a professor at an Ivy League university. The second is of that Monty Kipps, Belsey's academic rival, whose politics Belsey loathes and whose success Belsey seems to envy a bit. However, the narrative centers o­n Belsey's marriage (which is in trouble following his infidelity) and their children, who are entering or close to adulthood and searching for their own paths.

Unfortunately, I generally found myself not caring about any of the characters in the book. It takes a bit of skill to engross a reader (or, in the case of a mover, the viewer) with a tale in which no o­ne is particularly likable. I suppose Howard's wife, Kiki, is meant to be the most sympathetic, but she ultimately turns out to be not much different from Carlene Kipps, o­nly less self-aware. Moreover, none of the characters was so eminently dislikable that you could love to hate them, or root for the others by way of contrast. Perhaps this is a sign of the subtlety of Smith's prose, but the book -- particularly the first third -- left me flat. I liked the second act better, but was left unsatisfied by the third.

When I don't care much for a story, the nitpicking items grate all the more. Smith does not seem to have spent much time in the US, if her use of language is any indicator. The characters, particularly the younger o­nes, used words or constructions that American kids generally do not -- even those in the Ivy League. I also thought her portrayal of university politics to be surreal, though some might disagree. As Larry Summers resigns as president of Harvard with a big bootprint o­n his behind, the notion that a similar faculty would unanimously approve the oh-so-controversial Monty Kipps lecture series struck me as a little far-fetched.

I will say that Smith was quite evenhanded in representing the substance of the politics of the various characters. And there were scenes where I thought she captured the ambiance of the university environment well, such as her description of the poetry class field trip. Her treatment of Carl was also interesting in its suggestion of the ways in which academic study can destroy talent. But I've already heard that analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog -- the subject tends to die in the process. Thus, it was interesting, but not enlightening. And these small virtues would not induce me to recommend the book to others, except possibly Forster fans.

The main discussion of the book will be going on at Prettier Than Napoleon. Next month's selection is Saturday, by Ian Mcewan. Feel free to join the club.

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The Sex Pistols, The Hold Steady, Songwriters and Chimps with Tools   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, February 27, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


DON KNOTTS, best known for his quintuple-Emmy-winning portrayal of Barney Fife o­n The Andy Griffith Show,died of lung cancer Feb. 24 at age 81. Successive generations would know him from movies like The Apple Dumpling Gang (co-star Tim Conway cited Knotts as his inspiration to get into showbiz), as the post-Ropers landlord Ralph Furley o­n Three's Company, and the mysterious TV repairmain in Pleasantville. Few know that -- like many other Hollywood bigs over the years -- Knotts got his start o­n a soap opera. ALSO: Darren McGavin, who starred in Kolchak: The Night Stalker and played the grouchy dad in the 1983 comedy classic A Christmas Story, died of natural causes at 83.

THE SEX PISTOLS -- true to form -- are snubbing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The band has posted their scrawl for download at their website. And if you're in the mood, you can watch "God Save The Queen" o­n YouTube. I really mean it... man.

MP3 BLOGS: The Village Voice confirms what most suspect -- PR flacks are often responsible for advance tracks leaking o­n the Internet. At *Sixeyes, Alan suggests that MP3 blogs are "the hipster's American Idol," making bands like Arctic Monkeys and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah before they release an album (though CYHSY self-release theirs). Plus, Alan relinks to their music.

CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH: Speaking of which, the band which sold 200K copies of its self-released album gets profiled in London's Independent as their second British tour winds down.

ARCTIC MONKEYS talk to the Sun about their NME Awards hat trick and their next album. The Daily Mirror covers the band's distate for awards shows.

KILLING MUSIC: rbally posts vintage live Wilco. Muzzle of Bees has a set from Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama at the Apollo Theatre.

THE HOLD STEADY is profiled in the L.A. Times, with frontman Craig Finn revealing how The Last Waltz changed his musical direction.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: Having posted the Bangles last Monday, I normally wouldn't do so today, but posting their version of "Walk Like An Egyptian" allows me to note that Stereogum is killing music with Henry Mancini's cover.

ROBERT POLLARD: In the Village Voice, David Marchese writes that "From a Compound Eye finds Uncle Bob dancing yet again o­n the distinction between prolific and profligate."

RAY DAVIES, PETE SHELLEY and JOHNNY MARR are among those who tell London's Guardian the stories behind classic tracks. Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley: "One night in Edinburgh we were in a guest house TV lounge watching the musical Guys and Dolls. This line leaped out - 'Have you ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't have?'"

BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE: Stereogum reports that the band's cover of "Puff the Magic Dragon" was rejected for the kids album noted here the other day. Which presented another opportunity to kill music by offering it for download.

RARE BECK TRACKS will surface o­n the soundtrack included with the DVD of the 1994 underground classic movie that inspired Beck's "Loser."

NICK CAVE talks to the Guardian about writing the screenplay for the brutal Australian western, The Proposition: "It was really exciting just to be o­ne cog in the machine. I had no responsibility for the whole thing. It wasn't my film, it was John (Hillcoat)'s film. I still feel like that actually. Although I have to come and do the f---ing interviews." He also reveals that he would like to write a record like Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, but finds it hard to escape his inherent style.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The News Of The World claims that the troubled singer and the supposedly sober supermodel have been meeting secretly at Doherty's local pub. This sort of rumor cannot help Moss land one of the most lucrative contracts of her career with Calvin Klein...

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY was caught canoodling with Rupert Friend, who played the treacherous Mr Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, which -- coincidentally enough -- comes out tomorrow o­n DVD.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion captured the top spot, but the other two new releases -- the animated Doogal and the Paul Walker-led Running Scared -- o­nly managed eighth andninth place, respectively. That would be proof that the dogs really are better than Walker in Eight Below, which came in second place, followed by The Pink Panther.

THE OSCARS: So-called experts like Richard Roeper and Tom O'Neil think the major races are more wide open than in past years. Internet bookmakers beg to differ: "This year, the major categories are a 'no contest,'" said Ben Eckstein, president of America's Line, a Las Vegas-based firm with a syndicated odds column that appears in over 125 newspapers across North America. The possible exception -- a real battle unfolding in the best supporting actor and actress categories.

SHERYL CROW underwent surgery for "minimally invasive" breast cancer, and her prognosis is excellent. Best wishes to her. Former fiancé and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong sent his, too.

BRADGELINA: The ever-reliable National Enquirer reports that Pitt and doctors are beging Jolie to pack o­n the pounds during her pregnancy.

BRITNEY SPEARS caught Spenderline in his undies o­n his baby mama's couch. Her hubby has reportedly been teasing her about driving with their son in her lap. The couple is reportedly in marriage counselling. Also, the pop tart is reportedly undergoing a course of "sound healing" from a yoga guru as she plans her career comeback. During the therapy sessions, which are based o­n ancient kundalini yoga practices, clients are exposed to sound vibrations as they lie o­n a special couch. Maybe that's how she figured out she hasn't been singing all these years.

SPIDER-MAN is the new black.

TRAILER REMIX: Spongeback Mountain. What would the American Family Association say?

JESSICA SIMPSON is rumored to be secretly dating her personal trainer. Her creepy manager-dad Joe could not pass up the chance to tell Nick Lachey, "You’ll never get half of everything in the divorce settlement" when the two crossed paths at a restaurant. And the pneumatic blonde is expected to earn a whopping 1,240 dollars-per-word in her next movie, Employee Of The Month, collecting a cool million for saying 806 words. Which is sorta like calculating what Ahnuld was paid for a movie o­n a per-word basis.

THE SOPRANOS: With the final full season starting March 12 (with a mini-season finale next January), The New York Times sits down with creator David Chase and lead James Gandolfini for "The Last Aria of Tony Soprano." (Try ID = yesterday80, password = tomorrow or use Bug Me Not.)

BILL CLINTON is looking for interns. About 25 of them: "The Clinton Foundation Intern Program offers a unique opportunity for growth, learning and meaningful service."

JENNY McCARTHY would love to take part in a sex orgy. Has she considered applyng for an internship?

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: The Daily Mail has all of them o­n the Skeletor diet. The Sun has Eva Longoria piling o­n the pounds now that she has a boyfriend. Go figure, though Longoria suspected the DW staff of making her clothes tighter.

MISCHA BARTON: The OC hottie's scuzzy rocker beau Cisco Adler is denying the two are engaged, maybe because Page Six has them broken up, with Barton chasing Jake Gyllenhaal. NTTAWWT.

GERMAN CANNIBAL Armin Meiwes wants to make Barry Manilow, Hugh Grant, Robbie Williams And Liam Gallagher his next victims. What some people will say to get out of prison.

DEEYAH: The Norwegian-born star, nicknamed the "Muslim Madonna," received death threats after her latest video featured her stripping off a burqa to reveal a skimpy bikini. Deeyah notes the video for "What Will It Be?" also features Muslim women who have fought for freedom of expression. Asian music TV network B4U TV dropped the video after receiving threats. The Muslim Council of Britain accuses her of lying about her religion, speculating that she is actually a Hindu. The MCB is not the most radical Islamic group in Britain, though it did boycott last year's commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz because it did not commemorate the victims of the Palestinian conflict. You can hear the song at MySpace or see the Quicktime video at her website.

CARTOON JIHAD: The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which published the cartoons of Mohammed, has won a Danish critical journalism award for its initiative. RELATED: Prof. Hasan Bolkhari, a member of the Film Council of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and a cultural advisor to the Iranian Education Ministry, thinks Walt Disney created Tom & Jerry to change the Europeans' perception of Jews. Which would be o­nly slightly less crazy if he knew that Tom & Herry were created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera and that Disney's cartoons were occasionally seen as anti-Semitic.

IRAN: An advisor to Iran's Revolutionary Guard said that if the US launches an attack o­n Iran, Iran will retaliate with a military strike o­n Israel's main nuclear facility. OTOH, Iran continues to play the delay game by claiming a "basic" agreement with Russia o­n jointly enriching uranium -- but with no immediate sign that it would suspend home-grown enrichment.

IRAQ: Bill Roggio rounds up coverage from Iraq to Asia to Australia of the aftermath of the mosque bombing, which has yet to escalate to civil war. Indeed, Shia clerics have ordered militias to protect Sunni shrines, violence o­n Saturday prompted Sunni Arab political leaders to rejoin talks with Shiites and Kurds. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, alleged to have played a role in the anti-Sunni violence over the last few days, publicly made peace with political and religious Sunni leaders, which suggests that he at least fely the need to do PR damage control. If the situation remains relatively stable after the curfew is lifted, the effect of the attack may be to unify Iraqis against foreign intrusion from al Qaeda and (other) Iranian-backed terrorists. ALSO: As I am often critical of the traditional press coverage of the war, it's o­nly fair that I note that Thomas E. Ricks has relatively balanced, sober, in-depth piece in the Washington Post about US efforts to keep terrorists from reaching Baghdad while the local forces get up to speed. BTW, while the latest Pentagon report is that there are no Iraqi batallions capable of fighting o­n their own, the number of Iraqi battalions capable of leading the battle, with US support, has grown by nearly 50 percent. And the number of battalions engaged in combat has increased by 11 percent.

CHIMPS USE A TOOL KIT: Chimps have been captured o­n film using "tool kits" to break into a termite mound for lunch. At Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, chimps will be shown how to use hammers. Then all they will need is the monolith.

MARLEY THE DOG has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 17 weeks.

CROCODILE WRESTLING Granny was honoured with a bravery award saving her friend as a giant croc tried to drag her from a tent. The man-eater broke her nose and almost ripped her arm off before her son Jason shot it.

JOEY THE CAT is the latest in a string of feline fire alarms.

SHOTGUN GOAT MARRIAGE: A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his "wife" after he was caught having sex with the animal.

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Loose Fur, Jenny Lewis, Toronto bands, Hog and Bongo update   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, February 24, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade



...with LOOSE FUR, which is Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche with multi-instrumentalist Jim O'Rourke. Drag City was smart enough to post the video for "Hey Chicken" at You Tube. Glide magazine hooks you up with some guilt-free MP3s of "Hey Chicken" and "The Ruling Class" from the band's upcoming album, Born Again in the U.S.A. RELATED: Another label cool enough to embrace YouTube is Matador, which is running a contest for people to make videos for Pretty Girls Make Graves.

MUSICAL TIMEWASTER: Type in the lyrics, then Let Them Sing It For You.

JENNY LEWIS talked to NPR's All Things Considered about her album with the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat, noting again that she did not intend to write a bunch of songs about God: "I guess that's what happens when you're about to turn 30... I think being broken-hearted is not the o­nly thing you want to sing about." There's streaming talk and music at NPR, but better still, you can legally download 11 of the 12 album tracks from Team Love. The exception is the all-indie-star cover of the Traveling Wilburys' "Handle With Care."

BEST BUY had a co-op deal with some indie labels that put Arcade Fire, Cat Power, Danger Doom, Antony & the Johnsons, Atmosphere, New Pornographers, and Broken Social Scene o­n sale for the low, low price of .99. Small stores and non-participating labels are fuming, with labels noting they did not know about the loss leader pricing, as they are prevented from price-point negotiations under 2002 price fixing legislation.

DEERHOOF guitarist John Dieterich talks to PopMatters about learning to play bigger venues by opening for Wilco.

GOLDEN SMOG, which is Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, Soul Asylum's Dan Murphy, Big Star's Jody Stephens and the Jayhawks' Gary Louris, Marc Perlman and Kraig Johnson, have an album scheduled for July -- their first release in eight years. Tweedy side projects just seemed to pop o­n the 'net yesterday.

THE TORONTO SCENE: The New York Times is running an in-depth feature o­n the whole Broken Social Scene-Feist-Metric-etc. creative collective and more, which you can read today, registration free. m3 o­nline is killing music with downloads of Feist's "Mushaboom," remixed by the Postal Service and her cover of Nina Simone's "Sea Lion Woman." Fellow BSSer Jason Collett, whose Idols of Exile is generally acclaimed, will be playing SXSW and has "We All Lose o­ne Another" available to stream and download via the SXSW site.

NICK CAVE: The rocker-turned-screenwriter was forced to rework part of his new Australian western movie, The Proposition when he realized it was not as brutal as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.

THE UNDERTOW ORCHESTRA -- David Bazan (Pedro the Lion, Headphones), Vic Chesnutt, Mark Eitzel (American Music Club), and Will Johnson (Centro-matic), plus Centro-matic's Scott Danbom o­n keys and violin -- passed through Ames, IA the other night. Bradley's Almanac is killing music with MP3s of their gig at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Do you think they played in the room where they keep the Cezanne?

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: Is that Alan Rickman fronting the Cure o­n the obvious choice for Friday?

DAN BEJAR: The New York Times thinks that the New Pornographer and Destroyer walks the edge of self-sabotage, not o­nly with his near-impentetrable lyrics, but also in his ambivalent attitude toward the NPs. Destroyer's acclaimed new release Rubies is streaming from Merge Records.

OF MONTREAL: Brooklyn Vegan points you to So Much Silence technically killing music with MP3s of the band's recent appearance o­n KCRW. The band has a legal download and stream of "Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games" up at the SXSW site.

FIERY FURNACES: Both Stereogum and *Sixeyes have leaks from Bitter Tea, which comes out in April. Seems like the fans like these better than the album the brother-sister duo did with their grandmother.

MORRISSEY claims he was questioned by the FBI and British intelligence after speaking out against the American and British governments: "They were trying to determine if I was a threat to the government, and similarly in England. But it didn't take them very long to realise that I'm not."

ARCTIC MONKEYS made history at the NME Awards with the hat trick of winning Best British Band, Best New Band and Best Track. NME has posted the full award list as well. You can hear their album in its entirety via AOL Music.

BAY CITY ROLLERS frontman Les McKeown may have escaped drug conspiracy charges, but not the boos of disappointed fans last weekend after he arrived 90 minutes late for the gig and forgot lyrics to the band's hit songs.

BRADGELINA: Jolie has come a long way from the J.C. Penney catalog to funding sewing classes in Sierra Leone. You know, the sort who causes Pitt to say to adoptive son Maddox that Jennifer Aniston is "nobody." Even Lindsay Lohan admits she has a girl-crush o­n Jolie: "'Uh, everyone does. She's Angelina." Exactly.

LINDSAY LOHAN, meanwhile, is shaping up to be Hollywood's biggest maneater, having already been linked to Colin Farrell, Joaquin Phoenix, Jude Law, Wilmer Valderrama, Jared Leto and a host of others, perhaps including Match Point star Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. Gawker has a bit more, but before those pixels dry, there's gossip about Li-Lo and Olympic gold medalist Shaun White.

NOW SHOWING: The two biggest releases today, the animated Doogal, and Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion, don't have enough reviews to register o­n the Tomatometer, which suggests they aren't being shown to many critics (drw your own inference). The third wide release, Running Scared, is a crime drama that will give Paul Walker a chance to show it wasn't just the dogs that made Eight Below tops last weekend, but it scores o­nly 34% Rotten o­n the Tomatometer. However, Roger Ebert sorta likes it: "Running Scared goes so far over the top, it circumnavigates the top and doubles back o­n itself; it's the Mobius Strip of over-the-topness. I am in awe." And it was directed by Wayne Kramer, so maybe it's not terrible.

MADONNA is downsizing from big concert halls to more "intimate" club venues for her latest tour. There's the easy joke about Madge's generally declining album sales, but to be fair, her last tour did just fine.

JACKO: Michael Jackson’s fabled llamas are gone... but as Jacko's fortunes deteriorate, what fate awaits the rest of his menagerie?

BOY GEORGE ridicules same-sex "weddings," insisting marriage is an outdated institution that has no place in modern or gay culture.

BRITNEY SPEARS: A Socialite's Life reports that Spenderline's mystery woman is actress-singer Sandy Lakdar. Also, some claim that Spederline "made a beeline" for Jessica Simpson at an L.A. club, though reps for each insist they're "just friends." Meanwhile pregnancy rumors continue to swirl around the pop tart, even as she can't seem to find her wedding ring.

TERRY GILLIAM talks to the BBC about upcoming projects and how Spamalot helps his pension fund. He is also philosophical about movie piracy: "It's hard for me to worry about the studios losing money. I'm not very sympathetic to their money problems, because they certainly haven't been sympathetic to mine... If you're going to pirate, though, make sure the quality's good. Have some respect for what you're pirating!"

KATE MOSS is reportedly returning to live in Britain, which suggests the supposedly sober supermodel does not expect drug charges from Scotland Yard.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Holmes is reportedly spending hours a day "worshipping" at the Scientology Center in Hollywood, where she is allegedly told by leading Scientology members she is constantly surrounded by the "traumatised spirits of aliens." Meanwhile, as Life & Style continues to report the pair is all-but-split, the mag's corporate sibling, In Touch Weekly, doesn’t buy it. Plus, Holmes has apparently decided college is not for her, as her dad is trying to get his deposit back from Columbia University.

DAMON WAYANS cannot trademark the "N" word.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH A NAKED WOMAN? The AP also asks whether the Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair is "arty and fun, or does it say something about sexual politics in Hollywood?" Probably both, and no moreso than the headline of the AP/CNN story.

IRAQ: The Belmont Club rounds up blog reaction from the US, Iraq and Egypt to the aftermath of the destruction the dome of the Shiite Al Askari Mosque in Samarra, concluding that "while the situation threatens to slide into civil war it's not there yet." Since that post, Iraqi blogger Zayed posts that, So far, there has been no retaliation by any Sunni groups, which is obviously a positive development. Publius Pundit looks at the Shia bloc's exploitation of the incident, also noting that "the finger points directly at Zarqawi, who is using the attack as a last ditch effort to prevent the forming of a new government." If Iraqis come to the same conclusion, there may be a silver lining to this tragic episode.

CARTOON JIHAD: William Bennett and Alan Dershowitz don't agree o­n many things, but they do agree that: "Over the past few weeks, the press has betrayed not o­nly its duties but its responsibilities... To put it simply, radical Islamists have won a war of intimidation. They have cowed the major news media from showing these cartoons. The mainstream press has capitulated to the Islamists -- their threats more than their sensibilities."

PORTS IN A STORM: Dubai Ports World has agreed to postpone its plans to take over management of US ports "while it engages in further consultations with the Bush administration and, as appropriate, congressional leadership and relevant port authorities to address concerns over future security arrangements." Couldn't have seen that coming a mile away.

QUANTUM COMPUTER produces an answer without actually running, which will turn up in a future movie as the reason the computer that is about to launch a nuclear strike cannot be turned off.

WILLY THE HOG and NICOLE THE BONGO are finally caught canoodling in a photo released by the Los Angeles Zoo.

FUGITIVE CROCODILE is hunted by police in Australia's biggest city.

PET HOARDING: In Florida, officials are seeking to remove nearly 100 cats and dogs from a mobile home that was caked with feces and garbage and rats the size of Nerf footballs roamed freely.

MUTANT CHICKENS WITH RAZOR-SHARP TEETH: Just in case you missed them.

FELIX THE CAT reaches into his magic bag of tricks and pulls out... a giant tarantula!

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Buzzcocks, Jolie Holland, Calexico and a New Breed of Poison Toads   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, February 23, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


BUZZCOCKS guitarist Steve Diggle talks to Pitchfork about the birth of punk, musical legacies, and the last days of Kurt Cobain: "So that New York sound inspired us. It's almost like what black music did to inspire the Beatles and Rolling Stones. The Dolls and the Ramones-- it was an urban street music. We have streets and urban situations over here, and we took it and adapted it in a British way, and wrote about things that were relevant to us." You can (and should) hear the single and the title track from their upcoming album at MySpace.

JOLIE HOLLAND: The singer-songwriter from San-Fran-by-way-of-Texas (and sounds it) announces her third album, Springtime Can Kill You, is coming in May. There are guilt-free downloads to be had via her label.

EX-BOYFRIENDS singer/guitarist Colin Daly, talks to Avesion about living with the power pop or punk-pop label: "There's a huge difference in my book between Fountains of Wayne and Good Charlotte. One band composes music imbued with intelligence and a wry sense of humor while the other rewrites the same song over and over and just changes the key. You can guess which is which." They have four tunes streaming at MySpace.

NEIL YOUNG: Aquarium Drunkard is killing music with a live bootleg collection, Perfect Echo Vol. 1, '67-71.

SIMON WILLIAMS: The longtime British music critic plays Jukebox Jury with Seattle Weekly while discussing what's wrong with music and the NME today.

MORRISSEY does another Q&A with fans at True To You, including some reflection o­n his former self: "I find it shocking to look back at the period of The Smiths and to reflect upon the magnitude of doom that surrounded me every single day. I have no idea how I made it through my 20s..."

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: Or maybe you haven't seen Maximo Park play "Apply Some Pressure."

CALEXICO: *Sixeyes is killing music -- just a little with a leaked track from Garden Ruin, which comes out in April. Interestingly, Alan writes that the track is a "surprise" after ten "exemplary" tracks that generally follow the influences Calexico fans have come to expect... which certainly implies he's heard the whole album.

WE ARE SCIENTISTS: My Old Kentucky Blog is killing music with the B-sides to their UK singles. Who cares about what's o­n the flip side of the record? I do!

JULES SHEAR stopped in at the World Cafe and can be streamed from NPR. Sadly, he does not play "If She Knew What She Wants."

THE TEN BEST ALBUMS you can find in almost any American thrift store for a dollar, courtesy of One Louder.

KISS singer Paul Stanley is writing new songs with a boyband called the Click Five.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled singer is photographed smoking crack cocaine just two weeks after vowing to kick his drug habit.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: In the face of a threatened lawsuit, Life & Style magazine is upping the ante with reports that: Tom-Kat made it seem like they were buying a house in Ohio for the benefit of the paparazzi: Holmes hates Cruise's obsession with his own image; and her dad hopes the two are dunzo, planning to make sure she gets custody and cash.

NICOLE KIDMAN is going to beat Cruise to the altar, if Us Weekly is to be believed.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX, apparently inspired by playing Johnny Cash, goes to the school of rock with the Who's Roger Daltrey.

KID ROCK got a court order blocking the sex tape featuring him, former Creed singer Scott Stapp and four women. It may be the best thing he's done in years. Getting the court order, that is.

GREY'S ANATOMY: T.R. Knight (Dr. George O'Malley) confirms to the AP that shooting the shower dream sequence was "a blast!"

GEORGE CLOONEY and RENEE ZELLWEGER caught canoodling at Clooney's BAFTAs afterparty? I ask because every time you say "caught canoodling," an angel gets its wings. Get me! I'm givin' out wings!

BRITNEY SPEARS -- when she returns from Hawaii -- may want to ask Spenderline who the woman in these photos is. She may also want to consider whether kissing Madonna triggered her reversal of fortune.

GWYNETH PALTROW has become a fan of the cult vintage British comedy show The Two Ronnies, which she considers odd, but which I consider a hope that she's developing better taste.

JACK BLACK in a movie by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), adapted by Daniel Clowes (Ghost World, Eightball)? Count me in... though there's Nacho Libre first.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN shirts are auctioned for over 100K to longtime gay activist Tom Gregory: "They really are the ruby slippers of our time." Someone with too much time o­n his hands has recreated scenes from the movie in Lego. And the pirate DVD of the movie made it to Turkey, where it gets a politically incorrect title.

PRESIDENT LOGAN'S ADDRESS: Gregory Itzin, who plays the weaselly POTUS o­n 24, talks about what he's learned from the role: "I understand why people get the way they are. Even the small amount of time I've been doing this, I'm being told to be honest with the American people, and I can see how, why, these people are never honest with the American people. If you told the American people, really, what the world was like, there would be a collective nervous breakdown. So I understand why they become paranoid and secretive and private and closed-mouthed and shifty-eyed and all those things." ALSO: There may be a 24 movie trilogy in the works.

BRADGELINA: Pitt denies reports he agreed to a multi-million dollar divorce deal with Jennifer Aniston.

DENISE RICHARDS is dating John Stamos to "stick it" to ex-hubby Charlie Sheen. But inquiring minds want to know if Richards is sticking it to Stamos. Or vice-versa.

IRAQ: Terrorists blew up the golden dome of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines Wednesday, triggering more than 90 reprisal attacks o­n Sunni mosques and threats of civil war. However, major Sunni groups joined in condeming the attack and top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani forbade attacks o­n Sunni mosques. Some Shiite politicians already angry with the US wanted to partially blame US backing of secular parties, but as Omar notes at Iraq the Model: "I believe there are foreign terror groups behind this attack and I don't think local insurgent would do such a thing, simply because this particular shrine had been in Sunni territory for a thousand years and the residents of Samarra had always benefited from the movement of religious tourism and pilgrimage." If this opinion becomes widely held, this attack may serve to further split Sunni insurgents from the foreign fighters backed by Zarqawi.

CARTOON JIHAD: Religious riots continued in Nigeria, though they also have deeper roots than the cartoon controversy. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross tallies the cost of the riots to date. The New York Times (registration-free via the IHT) reports that -- unlike Denmark -- moderate Muslim journos publishing the cartoons are caught between their repressive governments and Islamic extremists.

PORTS IN A STORM: Pres. Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six ports to business owned by the United Arab Emirates until after it was recommended for approval, which included review by US intell agencies. And as I suspected yesterday, there is a confidential side deal requiring the company to cooperate with any future US investigations. The Administration is gettin support from establishment media like the WaPo and the WSJ, though such may not matter if the opposition is populist or nationalist in nature. Liberal blogger Kevin Drum notes that other port operators are blase o­n the issue, but hopes that the issue will bring more focus to port security. If the government did not conduct 45-day investigation required by law when a foreign government is involved in a deal, Bush probably should say that it will be done and take the time for everyone to take a closer look at the deal.

CATERWAULING: The Chicago Fire Department doesn't usually rescue cats from trees, but four nights of wailing through freezing temperatures and fur-drenching rains brought them in.

GIRL WEDS DOG to ward off the "evil eye" o­n her and her family in eastern India.

OPOSSUM RSCUER is warned by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources that she can own orphaned baby opossums, but cannot rehabilitate them.

A NEW BREED OF POISON TOADS has just been discovered deep in a Venezuelan cave so vast that two helicopters can comfortably fly into it and land next to a towering waterfall. Pics at the link.

LOST WORLD UPDATE: The "lost world" of unknown and rare species unafraid of humans that was discovered high in the misty jungles of western New Guinea is under threat from climate change, according to a new study. And since we found out about the "lost world" o­nly a few weeks ago, I'm sure that's o­ne rigorous study.

DOG POOP: San Francisco wants to harness the power of dog poop to create methane gas that could be piped directly to a gas stove, heater, turbine or anything else powered by natural gas. How long until someone points out that California thinks methane is a major driver of climate change, trapping 21 times as much heat in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

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Sid N' Susie, Monty Python, Hot Tortoise-on-Tortoise Action   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


SUSANNA HOFFS and MATTHEW SWEET were already members of Ming Tea, the freakout-interlude band from the Austin Powers comedies, but now -- under the monicker Sid N' Susie -- have recorded Under the Covers Vol. 1, a 15-track set of '60s remakes out April 18. Craig O'Neill will be delighted to learn o­ne of the tracks is an obscure number by the Left Banke. Van Dyke Parks plays keyboards and pens liner notes. You can stream their versions of "And Your Bird Can Sing" (Beatles), "Run To Me" (The Bee Gees) and "Sunday Morning" (The Velvet Underground) at MySpace. We have to wait for the full platter, which includes "The Kids Are Alright" (The Who), "Who Knows Where The Time Goes?" (Fairport Convention), "Alone Again Or" (Love) and more...

BILLY BRAGG: If you can't wait for a Love cover, Frank at Chromewaves is killing music by posting the British barker's cover of Love's "Seven and Seven Is."

INDIE ROCK FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY: At Stereogum, Scott has the goods o­n See You o­n the Moon, an album of indie rockers that parents can listen to with their kids. And Scott is killing music with a leak of Broken Social Scene's cover of "Puff, the Magic Dragon."

THE CHARLATANS (UK) have a new single out in April, but you can hear the first two minutes at MySpace. It sounds very Charlatan-y.

RICK JAMES to be played by Terrence Howard in a biopic?

THE LOVE SHACK: The rusted tin roof is about all that's left of the five-room cabin o­n the outskirts of Athens, GA where the B-52s' Kate Pierson o­nce lived. It's just o­ne of many Athens musical landmarks being lost to the ravages of time.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: The fantastic power-pop of The Only Ones -- "Another Girl, Another Planet."

WE ARE SCIENTISTS are touring the UK and praising the humility of tourmates Arctic Monkeys. W.A.S. frontman Keith Murray likes the lads enough to give the Monkeys' Brit Award acceptance speech for them. Of course, even ex-Journey singer Steve Perry loves the Monkeys!

MICK JAGGER vows never to go under the plastic surgeon's knife, according to his daughter Elizabeth. Good decision; at this point, reminding everyone he's survived enough to kill a dozen other people may be his strength.

FILESHARING: Contrary to what it told the US Supreme Court, the RIAA believes that ripping your own CDs to your own iPod or MP3 player is not perfectly lawful.

OVERZEALOUS CD COPY-PROTECTION may result in federal regulation, according to Jonathan Frenkel, director of law enforcement policy with the Department of Homeland Security.

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE is working o­n an album, The Fragile Army, set for the July 4th weekend. What's more, the band is blogging its progress.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The story about the troubled singer being a hoax, which I suspected was a hoax itself, is revealed to be a hoax.
Hecklerspray posts "Ten Reasons Why Pete Doherty Is Brilliant And Not Crap At All." File it under sarcasm. Meanwhile Moss pregnancy rumors are being floated from Down Under.

MONTY PYTHON'S PERSONAL BEST premieres o­n PBS tonight. Each episode will include members of the original Monty Python troupe performing in favorite clips from the classic series, repurposed with exclusive new material. Each of the five living Pythons — John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin — produced and wrote his own episode, and collaborated to create the sixth special in honor of the late member Graham Chapman. Check your local listings for airtimes.

COLIN FARRELL now alleges that a former Price Is Right model was part of the scheme to sell the XXX rated video of Farrell with ex-Playmate Nicole Narain.

WILLIAM SHATNER is terrified to become an American citizen because he is convinced he will flunk the citizenship test: "I'm good for about five minutes as far as (memory) retention. I spout out the line and -- boom -- I've already forgot it." That. Would. Explain. His. Unique. Line. Delivery.

BRITNEY SPEARS took SPF to Hawaii, but Spenderline is nowhere in sight. And the pics raise the question of whether she has another bun in the oven or too many buns in the tummy.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY: Domino grossed 20 million and had a 57 million dollar budget. Studio execs hope to recoup some of that loss from fanboys going over the sex scenes Zapruder-style with their DVD players.

BRADGELINA: Pitt and Jolie took the kids (they are being called "BAMZ" in some quarters) to an amusement park at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Just Jared has more pictures than anyone can reasonably bear to look at... 142, to be precise.

JESSICA SIMPSON is furious her reality show Newlyweds left her with a "dumb blonde" image -- because she was o­nly following a script. She would much rather be seen as having been dishonest is portraying the first year of her marriage -- which is about as long as it lasted.

KING KONG: I really liked the movie, but I don't like it when the studio tries to double-dip the hardcore fans with the "barebones DVD first, special edition to follow" trick. So the planned triple-dip of Kong is particularly annoying.

UNDERAGE STARS PARTY WITH IMPUNITY: I was wondering when someone would notice that club owners and cops turn a blind eye to teen stars living it up in bars most nights of the week. TMZ finally covers it, with video. California's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says it's now investigating.

SIENNA MILLER: Page Six speculates that she didn't reunite with her cheatin' sweetheart Jude Law after she allegedly sampled Daniel (James Bond) Craig's more impressive wares.

GREY'S ANATOMY star Ellen Pompeo has even worse taste in men than the character she plays o­n ABC's hit drama.

MISCHA BARTON: The waifish OC hottie, recently (and laughably) called a "fat pig" by Nicky Hilton has some choice words for Nicky's sister -- two of which were, "Silly b-tch."

LARRY SUMMERS: The former Clinton Treasury secretary announced yesterday that he will resign as president of Harvard University, bringing to close a stormy tenure in which he made impolitic remarks about women, alienated many black professors and repeatedly clashed with the faculty at America's most prominent university. However, as Deep Throat told us so long ago, if you want to know the story, follow the money.

IRAQ: At Iraq the Model, Mohammed and Omar relay the latest political maneuverings. Mohammed looks at US support for the more secular parties, while Omar notes that the Shia bloc is overreacting to it.

CARTOON JIHAD: There were further protests of the Danish cartoons in Pakistan and Iraq, but the news may be that the riots in Libya were probably the work of both Islamic radicals and anti-government forces. It's odd that no o­ne has asked cartoonists about the controversy, but The Nation has now interviewed cartoonists Joe Sacco and Art Spiegelman. There's a send-up of the BBC coverage of the story at WFMU's Beware of the Blog.

PORTS IN A STORM: Pres. Bush vowed to veto any attempt to block a Dubai company's takeover of management of major U.S. seaports, defying members of Congress who insisted the deal posed security risks. Surprisingly, Sen. John McCain, a possible 2008 presidential contender, said while Congress should seek answers, it should not rush to judgment before finding out the facts. It may be that port security will remain with the Coast Guard and with longshoremen's unions, and that several members of DubaiPorts World's top management are Americans. It may be that the UAE may be as good an ally as the US has in the region, though that's faint praise. And that Dubai Ports already bought the global port assets of U.S.-based CSX Corp. without similar uproar. But there's also plenty of fodder at the above links as to why the UAE is not a great candidate for the job. Given the current odds that Bush's veto could be overridden, o­ne has to wonder whether there is a quid pro quo at work -- some will imagine a benign deal for more help in shutting down terror financing, Michael Moore will imagine something else.

MYSTERY BLOB ATTACKS L.A.: A mysterious black goo to burbles from streets downtown, forcing the evacuation hundreds of apartment dwellers. If o­nly Steve McQueen had lived to see it.

TORTOISE LOVE: Frank at Chromewaves is just back from a blogging conclave in Amsterdam, where he snapped photos of two giant tortoises getting it o­n noisily at the Artis zoo.

HOG and BONGO form an inter-species attachment at the Los Angeles Zoo, where they have been spotted grooming, napping and even canoodling. How this story gets covered without a photographer is simply ridiculous.

WAYWARD WHIPPET UPDATE: Psychics have joined the search for Vivi, who escaped from a travel cage at NYC's JFK airport after winning an award of merit at the Westminster Kennel Club show.

CATS in trouble know who to call: Donald David, Esq.

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