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RIP Vic Chestnutt, Clem Snide, Ray Davies, Cute Animals '09   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 28, 2009 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


VIC CHESTNUTT died on Christmas Day at 45 from an apparent drug overdose. Chesnutt was partially paralyzed and has used a wheelchair since age 18, when he was involved in a car accident. Tributes have been posted at REM HQ and by Kristin Hersh. He played a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR in 2008, and a set with Elf Power for Daytrotter last June.

CLEM SNIDE did the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, one previously unreleased.

THE BEST OF NPR MUSIC LIVE: Downloads, downloads, downloads.

RAY DAVIES: NPR's Jeff Lunden sings with his choir.

SCOTT NEUSTADTER, co-writer of (500) Days of Summer, played Guest DJ at KCRW.

MIIKE SNOW dropped "Silvia" in advance of its release on January 25th.

CRACKER: David Lowery talks to the North County Times about visiting Iraq and the band's latest album.

MYSPACE: Carrie Brownstein reports on the site's continuing import as a music discovery service.

HA HA TONKA: Brian Roberts talks to JamBase about the literaray influences on the band's latest album.

IN MEMORIAM: NPR Music remembers the singers, instrumentalists, songwriters and producers who died in 2009.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Avatar dominated cineplexes again with another 75 million total, a mere 2.6 percent drop from its near-record opening, shattering the 200 million mark domestically.  Avatar has made almost twice as much elsewhere, for a total to date over 615 million dollars.  Sherlock Holmes debuted in the second slot with 65.4 million, which would be mighty impressive in just about any year without Avatar. Holmes took in a record 25.5 million on Christmas.  Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel took in 50.2 million over the three-day weekend for a 77 million total.  It's complicated opened in the fourth slot with 22.1 million.  Up in the Air expanded to the round out the Top Five with 11.8 million, and has almost recouped its 25 million budget domestically.  Below the fold, Nine expanded and jumped from 20th to eighth place with 5.5 million.  The Princess and the Frog dropped from second to seventh and A Christmas Carol managed only 12th place, in what must be a double disappointment at Disney.

SHERLOCK HOLMES falls into my "good, but not great bin."  Borrowing ideas from similarly-themed films (Young Sherlock Holmes, From Hell), this one will do much better on the performance of Robert Downey, Jr. as Holmes.  The supporting cast is pleasant enough, but Jude Law is not all that impressive, and Rachel McAdams is given action, but not much to do with her character.  The other reason this one will do better is timing.  In one sense, this movie is CSI: Old London, and the success of the CSI franchise on TV (and NCIS, for that matter) has brought deduction back into fashion.

CHARLIE SHEEN was busted in Aspen on a domestic violence beef... but his wife Brooke has fessed up that her allegation was phony? Or is the recantation phony, to be followed by a divorce? Sheen's manager denies the divorce claim.

SUSAN SARANDON and TIM ROBBINS split after 23 years of non-marital relations.

STEVEN TYLER has entered a rehab facility after months of bizarre, back-and-forth behavior that left his band mates wondering if the ride was over for good.

COURTNEY LOVE: New docs filed by the guardianship for Frances Bean Cobain ask to seal all court documents that relate "to a minor and allegations of domestic violence."

AMY WINEHOUSE was charged with assault after heckling at a pantomime and allegedly attacking a manager who asked her to leave.

ANGELINA JOLIE doubts that fidelity is absolutely essential for a relationship.

THE INCREASINGLY POOR DECISIONS OF TODD MARGARET: David Cross, Will Arnett and... Spike Jonze! Watch three minutes now. (language) (Thx, TV's Andy Levy.)

THE 50 HOTTEST DEAD PEOPLE of the DECADE, courtesy of Best Week Ever.

THE BEST USES OF CHICAGO IN FILM of the decade, according to TimeOut Chicago.

TERROR in the USA: A Nigerian man who said he was an agent for al Qaeda tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane Friday as it was preparing to land in Detroit, but travelers who smelled smoke and heard what sounded like firecrackers rushed to subdue him. The plot was organized and launched by al Qaeda leaders in Yemen who apparently sewed bomb materials into the suspect's underwear before sending him on his mission, according to federal authorities. Officials now say tragedy was only averted on Northwest flight 253 because a makeshift detonator failed to work properly.

IRAN: Police opened fire on protesters in Tehran on Sunday, killing at least four people, including a nephew of the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi, as vast crowds of demonstrators flooded the streets of cities across Iran and fiercely fought security forces, according to witnesses and opposition Web sites. Slain protester Neda Soltan was named Person of the Year by the Times of London.

AFGHANISTAN: Secretive branches of the military's Special Operations forces have increased counterterrorism missions against some of the most lethal groups in Afghanistan and, because of their success, plan an even bigger expansion next year, according to American commanders.

THE 13 CUTEST ANIMALS of 2009, courtesy of Videogum.

OTTERS on a PLANE: An employee at Houston's Bush Airport was hurt Tuesday night after a bizarre incident that delayed a Continental Airlines flight bound for Columbus for about 90 minutes.

A MALE DEER was caught shopping at a grocery store in Palm Harbor, FL.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT: Militant rodents stole Christmas in Fredericton, Canada.

A STOLEN EXOTIC LIZARD was recovered after a father and son tried to exchange it for booze. Did I mention this was in Kentucky?

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His Heart Grew Three Sizes That Day!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



... with CHRIS ISAAK, live at Universal Studios on December 12th. Your holiday-themed numbers include "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Hey, Santa," "Last Month of the Year," "Blue Christmas," and "Christmas on TV." Bonus: Dreidel banter!

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS:  Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.  Mental Floss has "The Real Story Behind A Charlie Brown Christmas (and why it almost wasn't shown)."

THE POGUES:  It's not Christmas Eve in the drunk tank (or even St. Patrick's Day) without a "Fairytale of New York."

JULIAN CASABLANCAS of The Strokes covers SNL's "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" with Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, and The Roots.

NORAD will be tracking Santa, per usual. CNET has a history and behind-the scenes story.

BILLY MACK: Because "Christmas Is All Around."

THE FLAMING LIPS perform "White Christmas" as only they can.

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS: "The Keep That Keeps Giving."  Not to be confused with "The Gift," which is not Christmasey at all.

GLAM XMAS:  I started the month with Wizzard's awesome "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" and Slade's "Merry Christmas Everybody" (1973's UK Xmas No. 1). The circle is now complete.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS:  The real deal, not Jim Carrey.  Then he slunk to the ice box. He took the Whos' feast. He took the who pudding, he took the roast beast. He emptied the ice box as quick as a flash. Why, the Grinch even took the last can of who hash.  BONUS:  The late Phil Hartman hosted a documentary on the making of the cartoon classic. (Part 1, Part 2).

DAVID BOWIE & BING CROSBY'S cross-generational duet o­n "Little Drummer Boy."

THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS:  Many people believe human activity is causing global warming.  I blame Snow Miser and Heat Miser.

CHICAGO CHRISTMAS MEMORIES:  If you grew up in Chicago (and I suspect other places), the season is not complete without watching the short cartoons of "Hardrock, Coco & Joe" (a story fantastic, a story so queer), "Suzy Snowflake" and the jazzy version of "Frosty the Snowman."

THE BEATLES fan club messages for 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

HOLIDAY BIN:  Your stocking stuffers -- from Sufjan Stevens to James Brown, from Frank Sinatra to the Ramones, from Herb Albert to Slade, plus the Kinks, Lou Rawls, Jan and Dean, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and and more  -- are streaming from the Pate page at the ol' HM.

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Pate even had a song titled "Rope Around The Moon," so watch the whole thing.  BONUS: Bailey backlash from warped, frustrated old people appears at the New York Times and Portfolio.

NOW SHOWING:  The wide Christmas releases are Sherlock Holmes, which is currently scoring 69 percent on the ol' Tomatometer, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, which is scoring 25 percent, and It's Complicated, scoring 48 percent. Up in the Air expands wide with a 90 percent score.

RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER:  Pull up an ice block and lend an ear!  Herbie wanted to be a dentistNTTAWWT.  BONUS:  The Rankin-Bass classic continues to inspire ads like this season's Verizon ad, following last year's Apple ad, (and this one) and even more so 2007's AFLAC commercial.

FESTIVUS:  For the rest of us.  Technically started yesterday, so I can be one of your grievances.

CLASSIC TV CHRISTMAS SPECIALS by the truckload, linked at WFMU.

NAT KING COLE:  His chestnuts are roasting.


100 ANIMALS in Santa hats. You're welcome.

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New Releases, Laura Veirs, RATM, Om Nom Nom   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE RAMONES: "Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight)," plus Joey's cover of "What a Wonderful World," for Twofer Tuesday.

NEW RELEASES: Great Lake Swimmers, Nosound and more, plus Christmas albums from the Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, Sinatra and Spector are streaming this week via Spinner.

LAURA VEIRS is advance streaming her July Flame album via NPR.

FREE ENERGY did the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, one previously unreleased.

2009's TOP 12 NEW DISCOVERIES, according to KEXP.

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE: "Killing in the Name" breaks Simon Cowell's four-year stranglehold on the UK's Christmas Number One.

YEAR IN REVIEW, courtesy of Aquarium Drunkard, with plenty o' streaming tracks.

NOTES ON THE NOUGHTIES: In this decade of webbed connectivity and media supersaturation, the divide between underground and overground has steadily dissolved.

TOM WAITS talks music and acting with The Globe and Mail.

LIKE A ROCK: Bob Seger's Greatest Hits is officially the decade's best-selling catalog album in the US, according to SoundScan.

THE LEAST ESSENTIAL ALBUMS of 2009, according to The A.V. Club.

BRITTANY MURPHY likely died of natural causes.  Murphy was taking prescription meds for flu-like symptoms she had been experiencing for several days.  Her husband told hospital staff at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center he did not want an autopsy, but there will be one.  The actress had been fired from her last film just two weeks ago, and had lost consciosuness during shooting. People reports on her "inner demons."

CARRIE UNDERWOOD and Ottawa Senator hockey player Mike Fisher are engaged.

TILA TEQUILA claims she is serving as a surrogate mother for her brother and his wife.

TIGER WOODS has reportedly set sail from Florida.

JESSICA SIMPSON screams through an ear candling. Video at the link.

TOM CRUISE is being sued for allegedly hiring notorious P.I. Anthony Pellicano to illegally wiretap a magazine editor's phone.

CATHERINE ZETA-JONES had a wardrobe malfunction on Broadway.

JACK BAUER INTERROGATES SANTA: The following events occurred when not even a crere was stirring.

IRAN's president is dismissing a newly revealed secret document that purportedly shows Iran has been trying to develop a crucial component of a nuclear bomb, calling it a fabrication concocted by the US government. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of mourners turned the funeral procession of the country's most senior dissident cleric into an anti-government protest.

OM NOM NOM: A Brief History.

BILLY THE KID: A goat is behind bars in a German police cell after he was 'arrested' for disrupting traffic.

A BABY BELUGA WHALE was born at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.

HUNTING WILD BOAR dressed in animal skins ends badly.

MEERKATS mocked for the holidays. As if most families don't have similar home pics.

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Dave Stewart, Monsters of Folk, Fun, Riverdance Cat   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 21, 2009 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


DAVE STEWART dropped "Christmas is For Lovers" last week for free! BONUS: Annie Lennox (the other half of Eurythmics) and Al Green covered Jackie DeShannon's "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" for the Scrooged soundtrack.

THE MONSTERS OF FOLK play a mini-set for the World Cafe, now streaming on demand.

FUN did three free songs for Daytrotter. And with a name like Fun...

EIGHT CRIMINALLY UNDERRATED ALBUMS from 2009, according to Paste, with links to listen.

THE FLAMING LIPS: Wayne Coyne is interviewed by NPR's All Things Considered. The band's cover album of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon drops Tuesday online.

JAMIE LIDELL, FEIST and NELS CLINE are featured on "War in Peace," the lastest track from Beck's Record Club cover of Skip Spence's 1969 LP, Oar.

THE TOP 25 SONGS and ALBUMS of 2009, according to Rolling Stone.

GRANT HART holds nothing back when talking to Blurt about hsi new album, addiction, his relationship with Bob Mould and the prospects of a Husker Du reunion.

TORI AMOS gives Rolling Stone a track-by-track tour through her 1992 debut, Little Earthquakes.

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE: Tom Morello of RATM has just announced a massive free gig if they beat out the X Factor candidate for the UK Christmas Number One.  Apparently, the sales are coming right down to the wire! 

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: To the surprise of absolutely no one, Avatar dominated cineplexes to the tune of 73 million. It was not the biggest December debut evah (that was I Am Legend's 77.2 mill), most likely to blizzards on the East Coast.  Avatar will have 3-D screens and young audiences to itself for a few weeks, so this should rake it in through mid-January at least.  Though it likely cost about 300 million to make, it could gross as much as 750 million worldwide. The Princess and the Frog dropped to second -- and it was a nasty 50 percent drop for a Disney movie -- bringing in 12.2 million.  The Blind Side continued on strong in the third slot, making another ten million.  Did You Hear About the Morgans? Not too many people did, as it opened in the fourth slot with only seven million on a lot of screens. Ouch.  New Moon rounds out the Top Five, though another big drop to 4.4 million means it will be a stretch to break 300 million domestically.

AVATAR: I will be in a very small minority, but I almost walked out on this thing.  I could have overlooked its trite, ham-fisted politics and its cliche-ridden plot if there had been any characters to care about, but they too were all cardboard stereotypes.  The screenplay makes Titanic seem downright Shakespearean. The protagonist, Jake Sully, is actually set up with a big conflict at the outset that is resolved without more than an ounce of drama by Act II.  If you hear someone joke about this movie being "Dances with Wolves meets Ferngully," it's no joke -- or a bad one on its audience. Technically, the CGI is gorgeous, the motion-capture well-done and the 3-D is occasionally stunning.  And in every one of those moments I couldn't help but be annoyed at that all of that technical talent was so completely wasted.

THE PHANTOM MENACE gets a devastating and funny, 70+ minute deconstruction from Red Letter Media (language warning).  The first segment also doubles as a good guide to movie criticism.  And Avatar suffers from almost all of the problems identified in that first segment.

BRITTANY MURPHY died of a heart attack. She was 32. Whoa.

TIGER WOODS is reportedly staying at his second home in Orlando.

AMY WINEHOUSE is re-engaged to ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, and they want to have kids. What. Could. Go. Wrong?

JON and KATE: Divorced.

KATE HUDSON tried to avoid a Blue Christmas without Alex Rodriguez.

THE GOLDEN GLOBES nominations went to these folks.

SCREEN ACTORS GUILD nominations went to these folks.

CLASH OF THE TITANS has a second trailer online. Release the Kraken!

THE RUNAWAYS has a trailer online that does not relieve my anxiety.

ROGER EBERT lists his Best Films of 2009, both mainstream and inependent, though most will not have seen many of the mainstream ones, either.

BREAKOUT STARS of 2010, according to Film.com.

DAN O'BANNON, the creative force behind the enduring 'Alien' franchise, has died at the age of 63 in Los Angeles after a short illness. Dark Star was fun, too.

IRAN acknowledged Saturday that at least three people detained in the country's postelection turmoil were beaten to death by their jailers. On Friday, the regime's nuke chief said the country has started making more efficient centrifuge models that it plans to put in use by early 2011. And the regime is on alert following death of dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.

AFGHANISTAN and IRAQ: Turns out that insurgents can see through the eyes of all kinds of US combat aircraft, not just drones, as previously reported.

RIVERDANCE CAT: Let's go to the video.

FROGS plague Christmas trees in Alaska.

HEY, IS THAT A KING COBRA IN YOUR MOUTH, or are you just... oh.

COWS stare unamazed as they take over Clark County, Wisconsin.

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Aimee Mann, Daisy Kitty & Lewis, Cutout Bin, Cowboy Monkey   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 18, 2009 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with AIMEE MANN's CHRISTMAS CAROL (profanity warnings): Part One has your Scrooge-y set-up with Michael Penn. Part Two features The Office's John Krasinski. Part Three has Michael Cera. Part Four has John C. Reilly.

FANFARLO did a Tiny Desk Concert at the offices of NPR.

KITTY, DAISY and LEWIS did the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, including a cover of "Going Up the Country."

VAMPIRE WEEKEND are streaming another advance track, "White Sky."

FLORENCE and the MACHINE stopped by WFUV for a chat and mini-set streaming on demand.

THE PRETENDERS: "2000 Miles." It felt like Christmas time.

THE TOP ARTISTS OF THE DECADE, based on review data compiled at Metacritic, along with an analysis and compilation of album lists from various magazines. (Thanks, TV's Andy Levy.)

THE TOP 50 ALBUMS of 2009, according to Pitchfork.


IDOLATOR is getting refocused on pop music. Not shocking I guess... owner Buzzmedia already has Stereogum to cover the indie scene.

CUTOUT BIN: From the Crystals to the Buzzcocks, from James to Ted Nugent, from Billy Bragg to Billy Squire, plus M Ward, the Flirtations, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the Clash, the 5,6,7,8s and more -- this weekend'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 Avatar, which is currently scoring 82 percent on the ol' Tomatometer, and the rom-com Did You Hear About the Morgans?, which is scoring nine percent.

TIGER WOODS: Elin Nordegren is taking the kids and traveling to Sweden for the holidays, as divorce rumors mushroom.  Nordegren reportedly hired a celebrity divorce attorney.  Meanwhile, Theresa Rogers may be getting a payoff.

JESSICA SIMPSON denies a tabloid report connecting her to Tiger Woods.

KATE HUDSON, upset by her breakup with Alex Rodriguez, found a sympathetic ear from Madonna.

ROBERT PATTINSON and KATY PERRY up close and personal Wednesday night at a supper club in Burbank.

IRON MAN 2: The first full trailer is unlocked.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: David Beckham dishes about an uncomfortable dinner with the couple.

BRADGELINA: New baby rumor.


IRAQ: Iranian-backed insurgents have used cheap, off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor US military operations. Bonus: The US has known about the security hole since the 1990s, but assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it.

WHIPLASH the COWBOY MONKEY: Okay, it's an old Taco John's ad, but still awesome. More Trumpet!

A COW has been caught jumping six feet on to a roof, after the owners thought they had been burgled. Pic at the link. Maybe it was chasing reindeer.

KUNG FU MONKEYS turn on their master. Pic at the Link.

SANDI the CAT took the ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao, Spain. He has been brought back to Britain, but can't come home for up to six months because of quarantine rules.

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