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Black Keys, Mountain Goats, 'Mats, Bunny hoarding   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, March 24, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE BLACK KEYS are profiled in the Wall Street Journal as they try to breakthrough to a wider audience with their upcoming Attack & Release album.  You can stream two advance tracks at 9bullets.  Or you can go to the laser tag-themed video for "Strange Times," via So Much Silence.

PARTNERS in RHYME: Top producer, soulful singer: it's a marriage made in heaven! But how well do Gnarls Barkley really know each other? Leonie Cooper turns an interview into a round of the Newlywed Game.

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS visit WNYC's Soundcheck for a chat and mini-set, plus a reading from John Darnielle's book on Black Sabbath's 1971 masterpiece, Master of Reality.

THE REPLACEMENTS:  Licorice Pizza has posted a bootleg of the Mats' last show, played in Chicago's Grant Park on July 4, 1991.  You cans stream the sample track, "Swingin' Party," via the ol' HM.

ROBERT PLANT tops Canadian folk magazine Penguin Eggs' seventh annual critics poll.  "To anyone who has followed Plant's career of late, that's not as strange as it seems," said Penguin Eggs publisher, Roddy Campbell, of Plant's collaboration with bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss on their album, Raising Sand.

THE BEACH BOYS amicably settled a long legal dispute over rights to the band's name, possibly pave the way for a long-awaited reunion of the band's three surviving co-founders -- Brian Wilson, cousin Mike Love and Al Jardine -- as they approach their 50th anniversary.  It put me in the mood for Brian's solo version of "Heroes and Villains," plus a bootleg clip of Jardine joining Brian on "The Little Girl I Once Knew" from 2007.

SUPERGRASS tell The Scotsman how a little bit of wife-swapping and a near-death experience goes a long way.

THE NEW FRONTIERS do the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, three previously unreleased.

JENS LEKMAN:  Michaelangelo Matmos tells you five or six things he knows about the sardonic-romantic singer-songwriter from Gothenburg, Sweden.

R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe talks to Billboard about the upcoming album and the lead single, "Supernatural Superserious": "We all have our geek moments that we kind of carry with us or that have some impact on us throughout our lives (laughs). I hate to use the term 'geek anthem' but it's a little bit, for me, like that."

BRITNEY SPEARS's vocal recording secret is exposed by Henry Rollins.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS, the pop wreck's 16-year-old knocked up sister, is seeking professional help for her emotional issues, according to the ever-reliable National Enquirer.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  Horton Hears a Who? repeats as box office champ with 25.1 million; that's a 44 percent drop, comparable to the Ice Age franchise over Easter weekends.  Horton has grossed back its 85 million production budget and should end up plenty profitable. Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns was a strong second with 20 million on only only 2,006 screens.  Shutter came in a distant third with 10.7 million; maybe teens are tiring of Asian horror remakes.  Drillbit Taylor was close behind with 10.2 million, but given the an ultra-wide 3,056 screen release, one has to wonder if Judd Apatow is hitting a dry patch.  10,000 B.C had a better weekend than expected, amking 8.7 mill, dropping only 48 percent.  Vantage Point and The Bank Job held pretty well, while Under the Same Moon snuck into the Top Ten, with America Ferrara perhaps boosting it beyond a Hispanic audience.

BRADGELINA gave more than eight million dollars to charities through the Jolie Pitt Foundation in 2006.  The first year's filing show the foundation's expenses were a mere 27K.  The figure does not include Pitt's Make It Right Foundation, which is going to help build sustainable housing in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward -- and reportedly has raised an additional five million dollars.

SIENNA MILLER and RHYS IFANS are officially engaged, according to his mother.  The couple is alleged to be planning a summer wedding.

JAMIE LEE CURTIS has posed topless to mark her 50th birthday, for the cover of AARP magazine, to convince older women that they can still be beautiful if they take care of their bodies.

KATE BECKINSALE tells Moviefone that she would rather eat kitty than sushi -- or something like that, while noting that her publicist "has literally turned a funny color and is going to go have a lie-down..."

THE McCARTNEYS:  Hearther Mills wants to go back to the High Court, hoping to lift a gag order that prevents her going public on her doomed marriage to Sir Paul.  Mills will argue that a court order banning her from speaking about the proceedings, in which she won £24.3million, should be lifted because it leaves her with no right of reply.

JOE SIMPSON, Jessica & Ashlee's creepy dad-manager has been acting a lot like a single man and making an even bigger fool of himself.

THE JACKSONS:  Stiffed by their superstar brother Michael and plagued by decades of bad fiscal decisions, the once-mighty Jackson family is barely scraping by, with one brother stocking groceries, another repairing cars and others living at home with mom while hoping for sister Janet's next handout.

RYAN PHILLIPPE said nice things about Gyllenspoon and denied rumors of hook-ups with an array of famous women on The Howard Stern Show Thursday.  Meanwhile Reese Witherspoon was snapped buying piglets for their kids.

JOSS WHEDON has wrapped his latest project -- Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, an entirely independent made-for-Internet (but no word yet on where you'll find it) musical-comedy, starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day.

GARY BUSEY, as I forgot to mention, apologized for his misguided attempt to garner attention by embracing Jennifer Garner at last month's Oscars.  Which is a good excuse to watch the incident again.

PEEPS:  What with being ill most of last week, I forgot to do a Peeps blurb for the Easter holiday -- all the more unforgivable once you know my Dad even e-mailed me about it.  But there are probably cheep Peeps in stores today, so here's a link to a Peeps gallery and to The Lord of the Peeps.

AFGHANISTAN:  There is increasing talk of a troop "surge" to reinvigorate the war effort against the Taliban and other extremist factions.  The US is now sending some 3200 Marines, but senior defense officials expect some announcements to come at next month's NATO summit in Bucharest, including a possible commitment by France to send as many as 700 additional troops.

IRAQ:  Shiite leaders warned followers in Friday prayers to brace for more violence following a gruesome attack by a female suicide bomber earlier in the week and continued clashes between Iraqi security forces and followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.  Renewed violence in Kut could test a cease-fire ordered by Sadr last August.  AQI has decided to enlist widows to carry out suicide bombings, according to a study by the Voices of Iraq news agency.  The US military said on Saturday it had hampered al Qaeda's ability to recruit new members in Iraq by capturing or killing many of the people who make slick videos used to attract disaffected young Muslims.

IRAQ PRE-WAR INTELL:  David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group, tells Der Spiegel that the German intelligence service BND created the "biggest fiasco" in his career in intelligence by failing to do even the most basic vetting of their Curveball source before the Iraq war, and then lying about him to keep Americans from verifying his authenticity.

MALE MOOSE can hear for miles and miles.  So don't think they don't know about the little tricks you play.

BUNNY HOARDING:  Police removed 57 rabbits from a home in... wait for it.... Egg Harbor, NJ, after a raid revealed that many had soars, open wounds, tumors and lesions.  Just in time for Easter.

THEY CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA:  Huge sea snails, jellyfish with tentacles up to 4 meters (yards) long and starfish the size of big food platters were some of the species found during a major survey of New Zealand's Antarctic seas that ended last week.

ROGUE RATS savage woman on toilet.

A GOOSE passes for a swan under the Tamar Bridge in Plymouth, England.

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MMJ, Stephen Malkmus, Cutout Bin, Jerry the Dachshund   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, March 21, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with MY MORNING JACKET!  Breakfast on Tour has video of eight new MMJ songs from the band's upcoming Evil Urges LP -- performed live in Houston -- for your viewing and listening enjoyment.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND singer-guitarist Ezra Koenig talks to the L.A. Times about being a "blog buzz band": "You'll hear about bands on blogs now," he observes, "because that's just a new form of media. Yeah, some bloggers really got behind us, which is awesome. But I think that before, like, 90% of any blogs wrote about us, we had a piece in the New York Times. So does that make us, like, 'a newspaper band'?"

STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via MPR.  Malkmus also talks to the Nashville Scene about new drummer Janet Weiss, his parents' record collection and being "the Pavement dude."

THE INDIE ROCK 25:  Entertainment Weekly compiles its list of the adventurous artists and albums that defined each year from 1984 to the present outside the major label sphere.

BOB MOULD is pressured into a round of "Who'd You Rather Dü?"

THE MUSIC EXPLO SION sync their way through the classic "Little Bit O'So ul."

MOUNTAIN GOATS mastermind John Darnielle does a presser on the difference between songwriting and writing prose.

FOURTEEN OVERBLOWN CHARITY/ADVOCACY SONGS, besides "We Are The World" (with embedded videos) courtesy of The A.V. Club.

TIFT MERRITT brings her country-Americana to Studio 4A for chat and mini-set you can stream via NPR.

AMY WINEHOUSE, nekkid.  More like a Wendy O. Williams duct tape special, really.

THE CUTOUT BIN:  From Strauss to Billy Bragg, from Muddy Waters to the dBs, from Johnny Cash to The Kinks, to AC/DC unplugged and the arrival of spring announced by Thin Lizzy, this Good Friday's fortuitous finds can be jukeboxed or streamed individually on the Pate page at the ol' HM.

BRITNEY SPEARS is worth 120 million dollars to the US economy, according to big business magazine Portfolio.  After an exhaustive study, the magazine has published statistics that make the pop wreck a boost to American finances.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS, Britney's 16-year-old knocked up sister,  is living it up - shopping, hanging out with her friends and behaving like any other normal teenage girl with less than three months left before she becomes a mom.

NOW SHOWING:  This weekend's wide releases include Drillbit Taylor, an Owen Wilson comedy currently scoring 21 percent on the ol' Tomatometer, plus the horror flik Shutter and Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns, which were either embargoed or not screened for critics.

JENNIFER LOPEZ's babies are finally going public in this week's issue of People, but several sources familiar with the early stages of bidding among the many interested magazines said that the arrangement wasn't an easy deal to strike.

BRADGELINA:  Jolie is said to be "ecstatic" to be expecting a boy and a girl, according to the Daily Mail.

THE McCARTNEYS:  I think I forgot to note that Heather Mills, after being awarded £700/hr. in her divorce from Sir Paul McCartney, responded by throwing a glass of water over the hair of Sir Paul's lawyer.  Mills may not have cared for the High Court ruling, which stated that Mills had a "warped perception" of the world, "indulged in make-believe," was "not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid" and criticized her "explosive and volatile character."

OWEN WILSON & KATE HUDSON are definitely rekindling their romance in Miami, according to the NYP's Page Six.  On Monday, the duo "ate off each other's plates" at a local restaurant, according to a source.

LINDSAY LOHAN's ex boyfriend Calum Best denies that images making the rounds are from a sex tape of them.  Meanwhile, the ever-reliable Star magazine claims two Hollywood lesbians are fighting for her affections.

RYAN PHILLIPPE, a/k/a Reese Witherspoon's ex, told Jay Leno he has stopped Googling himself: "Some of the stuff that you see when you are someone who is known is so depressing. Just the comments. People make really hateful comments sometimes, because there's anonymity and you can get away with it."  And that's even before you get to movie critics.

WHY IS THIS SATURDAY DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER DAYS?  Because ABC has its annual showing of The Ten Commandments.  A critic once called it "sublime hootchy-kootchy hokum," a description that can't be improved upon.  Most people will immediately think of Charlton Heston as Moses, but the grand DeMille spectacle also featured acting from Edward G. Robinson and Anne Baxter that is so over-the-top that Yul Brenner starts to look good by comparison.  And while Robinson's Dathan never actually spoke the line "Where's your Messiah now?" at the Red Sea in the movie, it  -- like "Play It Again, Sam" (not spoken in Casablanca) -- has become part of a part of our culture. The line actually comes from Billy Crystal (sample), originally a bit from the Oscars, iirc. It later turned up o­n The Simpsons, with Chief Wiggum playing Dathan to Ned Flanders' Moses.

GLOBAL WARMING:  Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.  But some 3000 diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS plan to retrain its 40000 prayer leaders - also known as imams - in an effort to counter militant Islam.

IRAQ:  A growing number of foreign fighters are leaving or attempting to flee Iraq as US and Iraqi forces have weakened AQI and forced its members from former strongholds, US military officials say.  The departure of some fighters doesn't mean al-Qaeda is quitting the fight, said Brig. Gen. Brian Keller, the chief intelligence officer for the US command in Iraq.  Gen. David Petraeus said Iran continues to support Iraqi insurgents and Syria is allowing foreign fighters passage into Iraq.  The NYT looks at Mosul as a test of the reborn Iraqi Army.

IRAQ and the MEDIA:  Canada's Globe & Mail does a genre piece on the Anbar Awakening: "While U.S. political leaders like to highlight President George W. Bush's 'surge' strategy of more U.S. troops on the ground to explain the relative calm, local commanders say much of the credit has to go to the Sahwa, as well as a decision last year by radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to impose a temporary ceasefire on his militia, the Mahdi Army."  Yet the same reporter also quotes one of the Awakening's leaders: "We have suffered for two years from al-Qaeda in Anbar. Most of Anbar was destroyed," said Sheik Ali al-Hatem, the head of Iraq's powerful Dulaimi tribe, explaining his decision to help form the Sahwa, or "Awakening," councils. There was another reason too, he confesses: "The American army right now is the power on the ground. We have to be realistic."  The Awakening likely would not have happened without year after year of gritty, relentless patrolling by US troops that convinced the tribes the American military was, as one tribal leader said to Bing West, "the strongest tribe."  Similarly, al-Sadr's ceasefire has a little something to do with the way the Mahdi Army got its rear end handed to it in any engagement with the US and the realization that the US wasn't leaving immediately.

JERRY the DACHSHUND plays fetch with himself.  Awww...

PANDA is a miniature seeing-eye pony in North Carolina.  Awww...

THE MOUSE-DEER of Sri Lanka finally has been photographed to a ‘publishable standard' under truly wild conditions.  Awww...

A 75-LB STINGRAY killed a Michigan woman Thursday when it flew out of the water and struck her face as she rode a boat in the Florida Keys, officials said.  Oooh!

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On the road to recovery   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, March 20, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


I'm still not 100% healthy, even by my standards.  Nevertheless, here is some linkage to keep us all on top of the news of the semi-popular...

THE RUTLES put yet another spin on pop-music reality with a 30th-anniversary event Monday in Hollywood that included what turned out to be the first performance ever by the four members of the ersatz Liverpudlian rock group.  The Prefab Four are also appearing in Rutlemania in L.A.  Let's go to the video.

SxSW VIDEO:  Acts ranging from Sons & Daughters, the Ting Tings and X to Daryl Hall are streaming via Crackle.

BEACH HOUSE talks to Pitchfork about how the duo gelled over "that cockroach song."

THE SPINTO BAND did a set you can stream from No Love For Ned.

THE LONG BLONDES: Drummer Screech takes time out of rehearsals for a chat with ClickMusic about their new album, their live act and his first ever stage-dive.

GARY NUMAN is interviewed by the Guardian where he reveals -- among other things -- that "At heart I'm just a frustrated ... Racing driver."  That much we could have guessed.

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

SNORKY of the Banana Splits is Dead?  Or is it a McCartney-esque hoax?

BRITNEY SPEARS's divorced parents joined forces again last night in their continued efforts to restore normality to their troubled daughter's life.

HEATH LEDGER's uncles are speaking out against his father Kim's handling of the actor's assets, saying Kim has a bad track record of estate management.

KRISTIN DAVIS of Sex & The City is denying that NSFW pics floating around the Internet are of her, but TMZ is thinking differently.

SARAH JESSICA PARKER says that both she and her husband, Matthew Broderick, were equally upset when they learned that Maxim had voted the Sex & The City star the "unsexiest woman in the world."

OWEN WILSON & KATE HUDSON & JENNIFER ANISTON are a triangle, according to the ever-reliable Star magazine.

MAD MEL UPDATE:  Law enforcement sources tell TMZ a construction worker committed suicide at one of Mel Gibson's homes yesterday.

WINONA RYDER was spotted leaving a Hollywood store with make-up on her that she hadn't paid for, according to the ever-reliable National Enquirer.

BENICIO DEL TORO seemed like a natural to play the Wolfman in the remake of the Lon Cheney, Jr. classic, and the pic bears that out, but six-time Oscar winning makeup maven Rick Baker tells Entertainment Weekly that Del Toros already lupine looks made his way more thorny.

KRISTEN, a/k/a Ashley Alexandra Dupre, already shot footage for "Girls Gone Wild."  Her lawyer now says that Dupre was 17 when the footage was filmed, but other reports suggest she may be ten years older than she says.

AUDRINA PARTRIDGE of MTV's "The Hills" has not been on my radar screen, but NSFW Playboy audition pictures almost always are.  Call it Very Gratuitous Thursday.

ARTHUR C. CLARKE went to the big space station in the sky.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS have opened a women-only hotel in Riyadh, designed to encourage Saudi businesswomen to invest in the tourism industry.  Nevertheless, women who would like to reach the capital from remote cities will still find this task difficult to accomplish, as they are banned from driving cars.

CARTOON JIHAD against the European Union is the main subject of a new audio message attributed to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.  His last public statement was an audio message issued in December, when he urged his followers in Iraq to continue battling US troops there.  Guess he needs to change the subject.

CHINA faces an internal threat from Al Qaeda.  If only China had not invaded Iraq...

IRAN:  A new Freedom House study of Iranian textbooks finds that the Islamic Republic is teaching its children to embrace Islamic supremacism, preparing them to enter a political system that discriminates against women and non-Muslims.  Meanwhile, many Iranian youths rallied in streets across the country, shouting "Death to Ahmadinejad," in celebrations marking the end of the Persian calendar year.

IRAQ:  The NYT's John Burns took stock upon the fifth anniversary if the invasion, while VoA remembered the 20th anniversary of Saddam Hussein's chemical bombing and gassing of Iraqi Kurds in the northeast city of Halabja.  Iraq's main Sunni bloc boycotted a conference Tuesday aimed at reconciling the nation's sectarian groups, a sign of the deep schisms still facing this country.  The L.A. Times reports on the country's high-tech boom (which is one reason electricity demand continues to outstrip supply).  The AP calls Iraq the first "I-War."

PETRA UPDATE:  The plastic pedal boat once loved by a swan named Petra has been given away.

GOAT kills a prominent Montgomery County, TN pastor.


APOLLO, a Cooktown bull-terrier, gets testicular implants.

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I Break Out... in a Cold Sweat!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

KarlAccordingly, I'm taking the day off.  I hope to be back with the usual stuff for Thursday.  In the meantime, the Godfather of Soul. H-UH!!!

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Spoon, New Releases, 3 O'Clock, Dancing Walrus   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


SPOON has a new video for "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb," a song that still puts up the hair on the back of my neck.

NEW RELEASES:  New albums from The B-52s, Destroyer, DeVotchKa, the Dodos and more are streaming in full this week via Spinner.  Zooey Deschanel and M Ward, a/k/a She & Him, are streaming via Merge, as is the multi-disc anthology from Big Dipper.

THE FIVE FACES of LOU REED, courtesy of The A.V. Club.

SxSW REDUX: Largehearted Boy (of course) is compiling a comprehensive list of streaming and downloadble sets from the Austin fest.

THE BREEDERS:  Kim Deal talks to Harp magazine about working with her sister.

THE THREE O'CLOCK:  It's a trippy Twofer Tuesday with "I Go Wild" and "Jet Fighter."  BONUS: "Her Head's Revolving."  Just because.

R.E.M.  Idolator has an advance review of Accelerate: "Anyone who is expecting a 2008 version of Life's Rich Pageant will be sorely disappointed, but Accelerate's certainly a solid modern rock album, and probably will fall near the top of the bottom third of their catalog, if you're into ranking those sort of things..."

STATE of the INDUSTRY:  Like most purveyors of media, music labels are flailing about for a new business model -- but they do not want to give it away on blogs.

ABBA:  A former drummer for the Swedish pop band was found dead with cuts to his neck in the garden of his house on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Police said Monday an autopsy showed it was an accident.

TUPAC SHAKUR:  I don't normally cover the hppedy-hop much, but The L.A. Times has a lengthy, gripping piece on the rapper's 1994 shooting: "Now, newly discovered information, including interviews with people who were at the studio that night, lends credence to Shakur's insistence that associates of rap impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs were behind the assault. Their alleged motives: to punish Shakur for disrespecting them and rejecting their business overtures and, not incidentally, to curry favor with Combs..."

BRITNEY SPEARS is getting advice and support from Mel Gibson.  No, really.  Former confidante Sam Lutfi has agreed to stay away from the pop wreck for another month, according to People magazine.  It appears the deal was struck as a way of warding off a courtroom confrontation with Spears's parents over the TRO against Lutfi.  And Spears was ordered by a court commissioner Monday to pay Fed-Ex 375K to cover his attorney fees in their child-custody dispute.

THE McCARTNEYS:  Heather Mills said she was "very, very happy" with her 48.6 million dollar divorce settlement, but will appeal, after launching a non-stop rant on the steps of the High Court against Sir Paul, the judge and McCartney's lawyer Fiona Shackleton.

GEORGE CLOONEY has reportedly agreed to be godfather to Nicole Kidman's baby.  Both Clooney and Kidman are notoriously hostile to the paparazzi, so perhaps this will be their chance to settle all family business.

BRADGELINA:  Pitt met with former President Bill Clinton and hundreds of volunteers in the Lower 9th Ward of N'awlins on Sunday at the site where a foundation headed by Pitt plans to begin building affordable homes for Hurricane Katrina victims.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH IS STILL DEAD, but Larry Birkhead has just testified in the Bahamas in the inquest involving the death of her son that Daniel used to steal the supermodel's Methadone.

CHARLIE SHEEN may have been another Client of "Kristen."

WILL & JADA PINKETT SMITH are the new celebrity faces of Scientology? The case is made in "Scientology Under Siege," Radar magazine's April cover story.  Courtney Hazlett notes that d espite a fervent denial from Smith's rep, sources close to Smith earlier told MSNBC that the actor definitely is becoming a member of the religion.  The NYDN previously reported that Smith gave the crew of next summer's comedy "Hancock" a card good for a personality test at your local Scientology center as a "wrap" gift.

HARRY POTTER and the DEATHLY CANCER:  Daniel Radcliffe has recently been smoking up to 20 cigarettes a day, according to the ever-reliable Sun.

HEAVY METAL:  Director David Fincher wants a reutrn-trip ticket to midnight.

ENCHANTED comes out on DVD today; it's full of Disney-fied Easter eggs.

PAUL GIAMATTI talks to the Philadelphia Daily News about starring in the new HBO mini-series John Adams, the debut of which I fully enjoyed.  "Most people have thought of John Adams and many still think of him as a rich, Boston blue blood," author John McCullough said. "A cold Puritan. And he was none of those."  If you want to catch up on Eps. 1 & 2, here is the full schedule.

KRISTIN DAVIS may be giving a whole new meaning to shooting "Sex in the City" on video.  (pretty darn close to NSFW, btw.)  If that is not Davis, it is a remarkable resemblance.  Either way, it's a Very Gratuitous Tuesday.

CREEPY GNOME terrorizes the town of General Guemes, in the province of Salta, Argentina.  Video at the link.

TIBET:  Protests against Chinese rule in Tibet culminated Friday when Tibetans attacked ethnic Chinese and torched their shops in Lhasa, the region's capital. Tibet's governor, Champa Phuntsok, said 16 people were killed and dozens injured. Unconfirmed reports from Tibetan exile groups put the death toll at 80.  Witnesses say Lhasa had been turned into a war zone, with both sides suffering casualties.  Both the Chinese and the radical protesters are angry with the Dalai Lama.  The Chinese government is restricting foreign journalists from entering Tibet and neighboring areas; CNN, the BBC, Google News, Yahoo and YouTube have been blocked or have faced temporary blackouts or service disruptions in some parts of China.  The UN Security Council will likely keep silent about China's crackdown, mostly due to worries that provoking Beijing would accomplish nothing, diplomats said on Monday.

PAKISTAN:  The newly-elected parliament convened Monday and within minutes, it was apparent that the session in the coming days will devolve into a showdown between the newly-elected lawmakers and beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf.

IRAQ:  A new national poll by ABC News, the BBC, ARD German TV and the Japanese broadcaster NHK finds 55 percent of Iraqis say things in their own lives are going well, well up from 39 percent as recently as August. More, 62 percent, rate local security positively, up 19 points. And the number who expect conditions nationally to improve in the year ahead has doubled, to 46 percent.  The number of Iraqis who feel entirely unsafe in their own area has dropped by two-thirds, to 10 percent. With Sunni Arab buy-in, US-funded Awakening Councils, are more popular than the Iraqi government itself.  Just under half of Iraqis now have confidence in the government, but that is up from 39 percent in March 2007.  In almost all cases, however, the improvement since August and March still has not brought Iraqi sentiment back to its pre-2007 levels.

GOO GOO GOO JOOB?  Actually, this walrus grooves to "Smmoth Criminal."

THE SWARM!  A truck flipped on its side Sunday on a highway in Sacramento, California, releasing between six and 16 million bees.  The bees stung cops and firefighters who tried to corral them. They buzzed toward nearby businesses and forced them to shut their doors. They prompted authorities to warn drivers to roll up their windows and turn off their air conditioning.  Video at the link.

HORNY TOADS cause a weeklong highway shutdown in Wales.

EVE UPDATE:  The one -legged pet chicken is recovering at home after becoming the UK's first hen to have radiotherapy for cancer.

A BLUE HEELER MIX DOG is rescued after spending four months in the desert.

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