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Van Halen, Arcade Fire & Bruce, Sharon Jones, Toygers   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


VAN HALEN:  Driving home from the first show in the reformulated ("Three parts original, one part inevitable," to quote David Lee Roth) band's two-night stand in Chicago, I caught audio froma press concert where Roth invited, even dared the press to judge them harshly.  I could do that.  I could say Diamond Dave is down to about 80-85% of his old vocal range and that Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang was alright, but no Michael Anthony, whose high backing vocals could have covered Dave's patchier moments (e.g., "Little Guitars," "Dance The Night Away," where he -- imo -- intentionally blew the lyrics to avoid the high notes, "Hot For Teacher," where the riotous cacophony of the combo helped bury Dave's lead).  But the reason to go see a Roth-fronted VH is not to judge it harshly.  Rather, it is to enjoy Roth's showmanship and smartass swagger, even if he left his signature twirling kicks until the last few numbers.  Who can deliver a line like, "Have You Seen Junior's grades?" or "That suit is you!" like Roth?  No one.  If he avoided some of the trickier vocals by going a bit Vegas, who could do it better than Diamond Dave?  No one.  It is to appreciate his effort (reportedly lacking back in the day) to stay in tune.  It is to soak in the 70s SoCal vibe and the mob singalongs on "Dance The Night Away" and "Jamie's Cryin'," or the joy of fist-pumping fans enthralled that "Mean Street" made the set list.  It is for the warmth that Roth and EVH genuinely seemed to have for each other after decades of estrangement, as the pair wandered into The Who's Live at Leeds version of "Magic Bus" in mid-song, or a bit of the classic "Spoonful" during "Somebody Get Me a Doctor."  It is to realize just how much of the early VH catalog was woven into the fabric of classic rock; I am a casual VH listener at best, yet was familiar -- more or less -- with the entire setlist, mostly from radio airplay over 28 years or so.

But most of all, it is to stand in the same hall and listen to the virtuosity of Eddie Van Halen, who seemingly has enough energy post-rehab for two bands.  It is to discover that you never fully appreciated just how physical Eddie is with his axes.  And it is to hear the roar of one of the Monsters of Rock announcing its authority at well over 100 decibels.  If this type of show is like spending a night at the museum, the guitar of EVH would be the CGI T-Rex that chases you down the hallway, particularly on the iconic openings of songs like "Runnin' With the Devil," "Everybody Wants Some," and the set closing "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love."  You can get a slight flavor of the gig from these extended videos from the band's last rehearsal, both the show opening salvo of "You Really Got Me" and "I'm The One" (on which they were in tune last night) and especially "Everybody Wants Some."  Sadly, a lot of the bootleg clips on the Tube have awful audio, though "Jamie's Cryin'" in Philly turned out alright.  You can see the setlist and more rehearsal clips at Blabbermouth.

DEVENDRA BANHART may be a hippy-folk weirdo who blew a quarter of his recording budget on crystals, but he's just as happy drinking rum and listening to Oasis, according to the Guardian's Sylvia Patterson.

ARCADE FIRE joined BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN onstage in Ottawa, Canada for his "State Trooper" and their "Keep the Car Running."  Let's go to the video!

DAN WILSON talks to the L.A. Times about the long road to his first solo album, which is streaming in full this week via Spinner.  I profiled his first major effort, Trip Shakespeare, last November.

THE KILLERS' new single, "Tranquilize" (featuring Lou Reed), has found its way to the Tube, albeit as audio-only.

SUFJAN STEVENS:  For three nights beginning November 1,  the cult-embraced purveyor of freaky chamber folk-pop-will present an actual symphonic evocation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway at the Next Wave Festival.

SHARON JONES is profiled at JamBase, and read excerpts from Douglas Wolk's 33 1/3 series book about James Brown's Live at the Apollo at Daytrotter.  The latter was probably good prep for an' Oct. 6th gig at the Apollo, for which Jones and labelmate Lee Fields worked up a James Brown medley with the Daptones.

NOW PLAY IT is a (relatively) new website where in a series of video downloads, musicians recite the stories behind their hits and demonstrate how they played them.  Guest tutors include Paul McCartney, Graham Coxon, The Magic Numbers and K.T. Tunstall, with plenty of indie tunes from house tutors.

FEIST spends 60 seconds with Metro, which is twice as long as that iPod Nano ad (which she discusses at the first link).

GRAM PARSONS gets a major addition to his discography with Gram Parsons Archives Vol. 1: The Flying Burrito Brothers "Live" at the Avalon 1969, due November 6 from the newly formed Amoeba records label. The two CD, 27-track set includes a number of never-before-heard -- though long rumored -- rarities.

JOHN FOGERTY:  The CCR songwriter is profiled by the Sunday Times of London in support of his new album, and seems to have reconciled with his stormy past: "It's hard for me to talk about that now, because I'm healed. It's like someone else's story..."

BRITNEY SPEARS turned herself in to be booked on misdemeanor charges of hit and run... and hit the town in a shocking pink wig.

KATE HUDSON is said by the uber-reliable Post-Chronicle to be desperate to woo back Owen Wilson - who was hospitalized in August after a failed suicide bid - after realizing she still loves him.

GEORGE CLOONEY & LEONARDO DiCAPRIO are in discussions to join forces for a movie loosely based on fmr VT Gov. Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign.  Which at least should be short.

DREW CAREY had one contestant flip out -- and wipe out -- during his first day hosting "The Price is Right."  Video at the link.  The same show is the subject of a conspiracy theory.  Video at the link.  BTW, in addition to hosting "The Price Is Right" and "The Power of 10," he's offering libertarian proposals to alleviate traffic gridlock.  Video at the link.

MUST SEE MOVIES of 2008:  I'm guessing most people will not see all 55 listed by /Film.

BRADGELINA:  Jolie is sporting a period look as she starts shooting The Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood.  People are starting to wonder whether she will be taking that year off for her family, as stated back in May.

THE OFFICE:  Joss Whedon is directing another episode this season: "I don't know how much I'm allowed to say about it, but I can say that... Jim kills Pam, which I thought was weird," Whedon says, tongue firmly planted in cheek. "I probably shouldn't have revealed that..."

THE DARJEELING LIMITED:  Though I was disappointed by Wes Anderson's new film, I still agree with Amber Taylor that the critics playing the race card on Anderson's body of work are off-base.

THE TOP TEN HOTTEST SMART GIRLS IN HOLLYWOOD, according to Celebrity Top.  Not all actresses are drop-outs.

INDIANA JONES IV:  Peter Sciretta was among a small group of online press invited to the set by Steven Spielberg as a reward for aiding in the capture of a thief who stole thousands of photographs, scripts and the budget from the Indy offices on the Universal backlot.

TRANSFORMERS came out on DVD this week, so it seems like a good time to watch eight Chinese dudes make one out of a Citroen.

TWO CONCERTS led by Byran Adams, calling for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have been scrapped after Palestinian supporters were threatened, organisers said.  For a second, I though that the Palestinians might hate "Summer of '69," but it turns out the threats came from extremists on the issue of refugees.

AYAAN HIRSI ALI:  The Dutch lawmaker and author has declined an offer to live in Denmark and says that she intends to return to the US, even though the Netherlands cut off funds for the 24/7 security she has had since the 2004 murder of her friend, flimmaker Theo van Gogh, by an Islamic extremist.

IRAQ:  Iraq launched a diplomatic offensive on Tuesday aimed at fending off increasingly vocal Turkish threats to send troops into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels.  On Monday, US soldiers tracked down and detained "the top terrorist" in Baghdad.  Security is improving enough that more Iraqis are volunteering for the police forces, though selecting good candidates will take time.  Iraqi governmental officials met with more than 300 sheikhs from the Mada'in Qada in Baghdad to discuss the way ahead for reconciliation, a plan that would lead to the eventual acceptance of concerned local citizens into the Iraqi security forces, and a plan to increase coordination between tribal leaders and the government.  Since May, there has been an 85 percent reduction in violence in northwestern Baghdad.  A dozen Army captains write in the WaPo that Iraq is a shambles and that the US should leave immediately or reinstitute a draft.  None served in Iraq this year under the new strategy, and the op-ed ignores the falling US and Iraqi casualty numbers.  Shi'ite Islamist political parties are imposing strict Islamic rules in the oil-producing southern provinces of Iraq and using their armed wings to create a state of fear, a group of tribal Shi'ite leaders said.  Eventually, the Shia there will turn on the extremists, as is happening now in Baghdad and in Musayyib.

TOYGERS are quickly becoming the latest must-have designer pets.  More pics at the link.

CATS are highly trainable, but you'll have to make it really worth their while.  "Dogs will work for free. They're happy to please you," says animal-behavior consultant Steve Dale. "Cats aren't going to volunteer their time forever for nothing. They want to be paid."

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  One British restaurant is fighting the grey squirrel invasion by serving up free grey squirrel pancakes to hungry diners.

DISEASED FERAL PIGS pose a threat to farmers and the environment in Queensland, Australia.

HENS lay more eggs while listening to classical music.  And if the eggs weren't being shipped off to market for food, the chicks would be much smarter.

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Fiery Furnaces, New Releases, Isaac Hayes, Tiny Pig, Big Sharks   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE FIERY FURNACES:  Matthew Friedberger says the subject matter of the Widow City album is feminine, but the music is "often the masculine part of the song." (Thanks LHB.)  Part of the melody of "Ex-Guru" seems eerily like John Lennon's "In My Life," but your mileage may vary.

NEW RELEASES:  Oof.  Kinda slow week.  Dan Wilson (Trip Shakespeare, Semisonic) is the main thing streaming via Spinner.  The soulful Angie Stone is streaming via AOL.  R.E.M. releases that live CD/DVD combo.  The Capstan Shafts (a/k/a Dean Wells) brings more lo-fi pop and Americana on Environ Maiden.

THE WHITE STRIPES are selling limited-edition cameras.... but not just any cameras.  No, these are Lomography cameras.  Inasmuch as a picture is worth a thousand words, you can check out the Flickr pool for the Lomographic Society International to see how the original cheap Russian design plays out in today's cameras.

THE CMJ MUSIC MARATHON:  Selected sets are streaming live via KEXP and NPR.  For example, The Hold Steady are playing at 4 p.m. ET today.

RAY DAVIES will release his new solo LP, Working Man's Café, free with every copy of The Sunday Times of London on October 21.  Times Online has the track "Vietnam Cowboys" -- about globalization -- available as a free download, if you register at the site.

ISAAC HAYES:  Sure, we've heard the theme from "Shaft" (and we can dig it) -- but you may not have seen Hayes unveiled by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.  Or heard his take on the Burt Bacharach-Hal David classic "Walk On By."  So that's your Twofer Tuesday.

THE KLAXONS, this year's winner's of the UK's Mercury Prize, got a good write-up from Jon Pareles in the NYT.  But in London's Guardian, John Harris thinks future British Invasions -- by the Klaxons or others -- are a pipe dream.

THIRTEEN:  Over at MOKB, Dodge is streaming multiple covers of the Big Star classic.

A PALER SHADE OF WHITE:  At The New Yorker, Sasha Frere-Jones wonders "why rock and roll, the most miscegenated popular music ever to have existed, underwent a racial re-sorting in the nineteen-nineties."  That he refers to the nineteen-fifties as "when Elvis Presley stole the world away from Pat Boone" suggests a certain lack of clarity, but we get the point.  OTOH, the folks at NPR recently wrung their hands when white artists covered Rhianna's "Umbrella" -- a song originally offered to Britney Spears.  It's so hard to figure out the politically correct position these days.  Maybe we should just let people make music.

LED ZEPPELIN is finally offering its catalog to digital-music fans; ringtones this week, downloads at spots like iTunes on Nov. 13.

KEITH RICHARDS, LORD of the UNDEAD, has staged interventions with bandmate Ron Wood, at knife- and gunpoint.  Of course, if you're so wacked that Keith Richards thinks an intervention is needed, weapons are likely also required.

SIENNA MILLER was... wait for it... caught canoodling co-star Rhys Ifans over the weekend in Notting Hill.  Pics at the link.

PAM ANDERSON and French Hotel sex tape co-star RICK SOLOMON, contrary to prior reports, may not have gotten hitched due to pregnancy, but instead to pitch a reality TV show.

THE FRENCH HOTEL:  Remember how the heirhead was going to show the world she's a changed woman?  It turn out that her trip to Rwanda may be filmed not only for a reality TV show, but also by her own crew for a film about herself.  In the meantime, she's been spotted partying with Kid Rock in Toronto.  I'm sure neither one was thinking of Pam Anderson or Rick Solomon, either.

PEREZ HILTON, high-traffic gossip blogger, is being sued by Lindsay Lohan's friend Samantha Ronson for libel, by Britney Spears' label for copyright infringement, and was booed at an AIDS benefit in L.A. the other night.

CHAD VADER:  The NYT profiles Aaron Yonda and Matt Sloan, who have become Tube stars with their satirical series depicting Darth Vader's brother as a power-hungry manager at a grocery store.

COLIN FARRELL has revealed that his four-year-old son James was born with a rare form of cerebral palsy called Angelman Syndrome.

JENNIFER ANISTON is reportedly obsessed with bikini waxing, according to the ever-reliable Star magazine.

RATATOUILLE:  The animated French rat is really cooking overseas, having raked in 271.4 million so far.

JUSTICE LEAGUE:  Director George Miller flew in Saturday from his native Australia for a marathon casting session of younger (and cheaper) actors.

STACY HEDGER:  It seems right -- but so very wrong -- to feature Miss Douglas County on the same day as Chad Vader.

TERROR in the US?  The FBI's elite Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark says it is not only monitoring a number of North Jersey residents with ties to al-Qaeda, but that agents have quietly "disrupted" their activities and even deported a few.

MIDEAST MYSTERY:  The NYT joins the list of media outlets reporting that Israel's air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.  The paper claims that "Neither Iran nor any Arab government except for Syria has criticized the Israeli raid...North Korea did issue a protest," when in fact Iran did condemn the raid.  So the two remaining members of the "Axis of Evil" are identifying themselves here.  We can all take great comfort that the UN's nuke watchdog did not know about any undeclared atomic plant in Syria and has asked Damascus about information that such a site was targeted by the Israeli air strike.  If Syria had an undeclared nuke site, would they start blabbing about it to the UN now?

IRAQ:  There is widespread agreement that AQI has suffered major blows over the past three months, but is not defeated.  There has been a 50% drop in monthly suicide bombings, from more than 60 in January to around 30 a month since July. Captures and interrogations of AQI leaders are on the rise; the flow of foreign fighters from Syria has slowed, as AQ may be sending them to Afghanistan instead.  Lt. Gen. Odierno, the second-ranking US commander in Iraq, estimated that the group's capabilities have been "degraded" by 60 to 70 percent since the beginning of the year.  Writing the linked article had to gall the WaPo's Thomas Ricks.  A year ago, he was painting Anbar province as lost, while milbloggers and embedded reporters were reporting on the Anbar Awakening Council's nascent campaign against AQI.  In March, as the first "surge" troops were getting in plcae, Ricks wrote a piece trying to throw cold water on one of its premises -- that the February 2006 Samarra mosque bombing was a major tipping point for the war; the bias in that piece was exposed by Evan Kohlmann at the Counterterrorism Blog.  Ricks should re-read his own book to remind himself that the personnel, strategy and tactics have changed since the time he wrote it, in ways that should encourage him.

TETLEY the miniature pig is the smallest of a litter of eight piglets born to Poppy Two Socks.  More awww...some pics at the link,

COW!  It was like a scene from a Steven Spielberg movie, Roger Rollin said, describing what began in a dense fog and ended with "squealing tires, thuds and a few moos mixed in there."

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  The Irish Squirrel Survey recommends that grey squirrels should be given a contraceptive in a bid to prevent the wiping out of their red cousins.  However, the co-author of the survey said such a product was not currently available.  If left unchecked, the grey squirrel population could also affect the timber industry.

THE WORLD'S WEIRDEST MOTHS:  The Death's Head Hawkmoth made famous in The Silence of the Lambs is just the beginning.

GOING TO NEED A BIGGER BOAT:  Six friends went to a fishing tournament looking to catch some grouper. They caught an 844-pound shark instead.  Pics and video at the link.  BONUS:  An Australian woman who was attacked by a great white shark described how she fought back.  Her husband described how he saw the shark rise up and bite the back of his wife's sea kayak: "(It) literally lifted itself in the back of Linda's boat ... and had the back of the boat in its mouth and gave it a shake."  Of course, this means we must go to the video. (NSFW)

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Decemberists, CMJ, Steve Earle, Python Attack   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, October 15, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE DECEMBERISTS were on this weekend's edition of Austin City Limits.  Laura Veirs joined them for "Yankee Bayonet."  There's another clip and an interview in glorious Quicktime at the ACL site.

SPOON frontman Britt Daniel spins some songs for Harp magazine.  The band stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream now via MPR.

THE CMJ MUSIC MARATHON, which officially begins on Tuesday and runs through Saturday, has once again attracted 1,000 buzz-seeking bands to play at more than 50 locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Hoboken, NJ.  Insound has a free digital sampler of 15 of them, including Jesu, Health, British Sea Power, Georgie James, Hallelujah the Hills and younger-than-Smoosh rockers Tiny Masters of Today.  Or you can stream 237 songs from CMJ artists via iMeem.

RADIOHEAD = GREEDHEADS?  The sentiment among many fans seems to have gone from admiration for the group's willingness to let the consumer decide how much to pay for the new album to anger over the low quality of the downloads - and dismay over the band's manager's statement that the you-choose-the-price downloads were just a promotional tool for the release of the physical CD.

BEIRUT isn't exactly a "breaking band," but Rolling Stone thinks so, so they have some interview and performance video from Zach Condon.

PAUL SIMON turned 66 over the weekend.  To celebrate, here's a clip of Stevie Wonder and the Dixie Hummingbirds joining Simon on "Loves Me Like A Rock" at the concert earlier this year honoring Simon's selection as the first recipient of The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.  Wonder goofs it up, but recovers nicely.

SUFJAN STEVENS:  A profile in this month's Smithsonian magazine suggests that his "old" sound and intense, starkly personal lyrics make more sense when you know his history.  Stevens plans to speak at NYC's PENultimate Lit event Nov. 28, on the topic, "What Makes Writing Matter in the 21st Century?" The Franciscan Friars, who trace their lineage back to Francis of Assisi, chose Stevens' "All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands" as October's "theme for Franciscanized World Vocation."

INTERNET RADIO:  Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora -- a free service suggests artists and songs users might enjoy, based on preferences they submit -- tells The NJ Star-Ledger that he's "cautiously optimistic" Internet radio will survive a negotiation of new royalty rates.

STEVE EARLE performed a concert for World Café Live in Philadelphia on Friday.  You can stream the whole gig on demand via NPR.

PETE DOHERTY interviews SIR PAUL McCARTNEY for the Sunday London Observer.

ORLANDO BLOOM was involved in a car wreck early Friday morning.  According to LAPD sources, speed was not a factor in the accident, nor were alcohol or drugs.  However, Bloom was reportedly acting strangely shortly before the crash, and tried to walk away from the scene, leaving two women -- one injured and bleeding -- in the smashed-up car.  The paparazzi actually talked him into returning to the scene.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? took the top slot with a surprisingly strong 21.5 million -- at least surprising to Hollywood, which still hasn't figured out that Black churchgoers don't turn up in their consumer surveys, but do turn out for Tyler Perry, regardless of bad reviews. The Game Plan dropped to second, earning 11.5 million, a drop of only 31% from last weekend.  George Clooney's turn as Michael Clayton finishes third with 11 million, below analysts' predictions and tracking survey results.  Clooney's domestic popularity isn't what the media or Hollywood thinks it is; he opens big in ensemble movies, otherwise, not so much.  We Own The Night opened in fourth place, just a few thousand shy of Clooney.  The Heartbreak Kid dropped 47% from second place to round out the Top Five with 7.4 mil.  Elizabeth: The Golden Age, took in more than the original did over any of its weekends at 6.2 mil, but will probably fail to reach the 30 mil that the original grossed.  The Kingdom skidded from third to seventh, earning a mere 4.6 million, on a painful 53% drop.  Across The Universe made it to eighth place from twelfth as it expanded to wide release, earning 4 mil.  Ninth goes to Resident Evil: Extinction, which made 2.7 and looks to end up with about the same total as its predecessor.  The Seeker rounded out the Top Ten with 2.1 mil.

JESSICA SIMPSON is rumored to have gotten a hefty three-million-dollar paycheck for new Proactiv infomercials that will air close to Christmas.

O.J. SIMPSON:  A lawyer said one of the co-defendants in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery case has agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge and testify against Simpson and four others.

THE McCARTNEYS:  Sir Paul and Heather Mills are said to be close to reaching an agreement over a divorce deal, claimed to be worth as much as £60 million, following a secret meeting at the High Court in London.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH IS STILL DEAD, but agents from the California Department of Justice served two of her doctors search warrants Friday and raided six different locations, including the physicians' offices and residences.  State Attorney General Jerry Brown said that detectives had "serious evidence" in the case, but no arrests have been made.

BRITNEY SPEARS:  I don't think this one is her fault -- A federal prison inmate alleges that the pop tart forced him at gunpoint to commit identity theft, to pay for her abortions, breast implants, cocaine and alcohol.

LINDSAY LOHAN is broke after squandering a staggering seven million dollars on her wild partying, according to the uber-reliable News of the World.

MADONNA:  The day after news leaked that Madge was close to leaving Warner Bros. Records and hitting the road with concert promoter Live Nation, Warner Music was quick to forward a report from a Bank of America subsidiary titled "For 120 Million, She's All Yours," explaining why the former material girl is no longer worth a nine-digit payday.

BRADGELINA:  After a little over a month, Maddox Jolie-Pitt had his last day at the swank Lycee Francais de New York in NYC; this is at least the fourth school change for Maddox, who has also been a student in New Orleans, Prague, and L.A.  Meanwhile, Pitt may not be getting enough action from Jolie.

JOSH HARTNETT and RHIANNA were... wait for it... caught canoodling at NYC club Pink Elephant Thursday night.

THE OFFICE:  You do not have to be a fan of the show to enjoy this fabulous highlight from last Thursday's episode.  All you need to know is that Angela recently broke off her secret relationship with co-worker Dwight.  Andy is now interested, but Angela has rebuffed him.

COUNTER-INSURGENCY:  The IHT has the transcript of Charlie Rose interviewing David Kilcullen -- an adviser to Gen. Petraeus, a reserve lieutenant colonel in the Australian army, with a doctorate in political anthropology.  I have yet to read something he's written without learning something.  The NYT has a piece on how Fort Leavenworth (which one Friend of Pate has called "a real gated community") has become a front line in the military's tension and soul-searching over Iraq.  Though most of the debate the NYT covers whether SecDef Rumsfeld or the generals bore more responsibility for decisions on troop levels, it's a bit more complicated than that.  For example, Pentagon consultant Thomas P.M. Barnett has argued that a light force was right for the initial invasion, but should have been followed on by a much larger force of "System Administrators."  There is the argument that a heavy footprint would have made Iraq resemble Vietnam or Algeria even more closely.  There is the argument that the current generation of senior officers simply didn't have the experience in addressing the unstructured problems one faces in COIN wars.  And the argument that the post-Vietnam Army, for all of its suppsed soul-searching, mistakenly assumed was that if the military trained for major combat operations, it would be able to easily handle less-violent operations like COIN.  And so on.  Also, the NYT reporting, if true, suggests that the "Shinseki myth" lives in some quarters, which is a shame.

IRAN:  Police have warned 122K people, mostly women, about flouting strict Islamic dress codes since April and nearly 7K of those attended classes on respecting the rules, a newspaper said on Thursday.  Presidents Ahmadinejad of Iran and Chavez of Venezuela are sponsoring projects to underline "the ideological kinship of the left and revolutionary Islam," even though socialism -- like liberal democracy -- is punishable by death in the Islamic theocracy.

IRAQ:  In a major reconciliatory gesture, a leader of Iraq's largest Shiite party visited Sunni Anbar province, delivering a message of unity to tribal sheiks who have staged a US-backed revolt against AQI.  The LA Times looks at Sheik Ahmed Buzaigh Abu Risha, who is taking his brother's place leading the Anbar Salvation Council.  The AP reports on Sheik Faisal Chilab's clan striking a deal with the US in the "triangle of death." A senior AQI terrorist was killed in Mosul Saturday, according to the US military.  Iraqi forces ckilled 48 suspected AQI-linked insurgents during a four-day operation in a Sunni enclave of central Baghdad.  The Iraqi army was supported by local Sunni tribal members and other armed civilians who have turned against AQI in the volatile Fadhil neighborhood.  Anthony H. Cordesman, long pessimistic on Iraq, thinks the odds still aren't good, but that the US should stay another year.  The civilian death toll in Iraq fell to its lowest level in recent memory Saturday, with only four people killed or found dead nationwide, according to reports from police, morgue officials and credible witnesses.

THE WAR and the MEDIA:  Pres. Bush announced Thursday that the Medal of Honor would be posthumously awarded to Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL killed leading a recon mission deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan in 2005.  The New York Times did not bother to report it, even though Murphy hailed from Long Island.  Neither did NPR.  Indeed, outside the AP report, few media outlets bothered.

A GIANT PYTHON attacked reptile expert Brady Barr, who was wading waist-deep in liquefied bat poop in a dark, bat-infested Indonesian cave.  Let's go to the video!

SCOOBY was best dog at the wedding of his owner, who does not appear to be named Shaggy.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  Militant squirrels take down the power grid at the U of Kentucky -- for the third time.  Grey squirrels have caused 10K of damage to a home in Esquimalt, Canada.

A CAT picked the winning lottery numbers for a Shenzhen resident surnamed Wang, but does not seem to be getting a cut of the winnings.

THE SECRETIVE WORLD of Chinese "Lettuce dogs."  Metro is there.

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British Indie, R Hitchcock, Black Lips, Cutout Bin, Dogs & Gators   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, October 12, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



... with THE SEVEN AGES of ROCK: BRITISH INDIE!  This documentary from the BBC traces a Manchester-centric line from the first appearance of The Smiths of the UK's venerable Top of the Pops through the biggest days for Oasis, and on to the Libertines and the Arctic Monkeys.  That's a little sad, as it excludes stuff like the Stiff label, and mentions the Hacienda nightclub w/o recognizing the club exists due to Factory Records.  I would have liked a bit more about the literally riotous early days of the Jesus & Mary Chain, too... but they didn't ask me.  Nevertheless, the JAMC, the Stone Roses, Blur and Suede get decent time; Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets and more have cameos.  Tubed in segments:  Part 1- Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8 - Part 9.  There's the more-than-occasional f-bomb lobbed in the interviews as well.

ALL THE BEATLES LPs, compressed into one hour, is streaming from WFMU's blog.  (Thanks, Ken King!)

JOY DIVISION:  Someone from the US distributor for the Ian Curtis biopic Control asked whether Joy Division could play the NYC premiere,  Bassist Peter Hook took it pretty well. The movie, which moves outside NYC on the 26th, is currently scoring 90 percent on the ol' Tomatometer.  Director Anton Corbijn -- who famously photographed Joy Div back in the day -- has been doing the PR thing with Entertainment Weekly, Salon, the Seattle Times, and so on.  BONUS: An hour-long documentary, Heart & Soul: The Story Of Ian Curtis And The Making Of 'Control', is streaming from Xfm Manchester.  (Thanks, Terry Nielsen!)

ROBYN HITCHCOCK:  You can stream his entire box set, which comes out at the end of the month, via YepRoc.  Doesn't include his major label stuff, but still hours of twisted listening pleasure.  (Thanks, Chromewaves!)

JENS LEKMAN talks to Drowned In Sound about a variety of things, including letting his friends decide which songs went on his new album, Night Falls Over Kortedala, which is streaming in full via Spinner through the weekend.

THE BLACK LIPS rocked "O Katrina" like a hurricane for the big redhead on the Peacock the other night.

RADIOHEAD:  The (almost) freely downloadable In Rainbows LP continues to reverberate through the mediasphere.  Guitarist Johnny Greenwood talked to Gothamist on launch day.  Fortune magazine reported on downloading the album.  Business Week looked at "The Big Record Labels' Not-So-Big Future."  Last 100 looked at five alternative models for the industry.  A writer for the Michigan Daily observes: "Though probably not the demise for the record industry, what the Radiohead digital release may signal is the tipping point for death of the local indie-music store..."

OKKERVIL RIVER did a studio session for the World Cafe you can stream from NPR.  The band also serves as the springboard for a Village Voice essay on how "indie" became part of the Indusrty of Cool:  "The inevitable irony, of course, is that this all winds up being sublimated self-loathing..."

IMPERIAL TEEN stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via MPR.

THE CUTOUT BIN:  This Friday's fortuitous finds from the ol' HM are: Bill Murray - Star Wars Theme; The Mountain Goats - Cubs In Five; Joe Dassin - Les Champs Elysees; The Decemberists - The Sporting Life; The Beach Boys - Sloop John B; Billy Bragg - A Lover Sings; The English Beat - Tears of a Clown (Smokey); Elvis Costello - (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea; The Bravery - It's All I Can Do (The Cars); A Flock Of Seagulls - I Ran; Devo - Girl U Want; The Bangles - If She Knew What She Wants (Jules Shear); Big Star - September Gurls; The National - Pretty in Pink (P-Furs); Lily Allen - Don't Get Me Wrong (Pretenders); The Pretenders - Not A Second Time (Beatles); Damone - Just What I Needed (The Cars); Luna - Sweet Child O' Mine (GnR); Jens Lekman - A Postcard For Nina; The Zombies - She's Not There; The Pipettes - Dirty Mind; Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Tell Me; Otis Redding - I Can't Turn You Loose; Wilson Pickett - Land of 1000 Dances; Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road (Acoustic Version, 914 Studios, 1974); Robyn Hitchcock - Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus; Bright Eyes - Four Winds; Ringo Starr - It Don't Come Easy; Pearl Jam - I Can't Help Falling in Love; and Elvis Presley - Are You Lonesome Tonight?

MICHAEL CLAYTON, which stars George Clooney as the "fixer" for a large NYC law firm is so good that I really didn't care that I knew the outcome in advance and could have guessed it had I not known it.  Which is to say the picture is well-written and better-acted.  It is more subtle than a plot synopsis would suggest, and all the better for it.  Even the somewhat foreseeable ending is somewhat redeemed by a particularly catchy line.  Clooney does well enough (though he remains more star than actor), but it's the supporting performances of Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton that make the picture.  Indeed, actors stepped up to the plate across the board, even in the smaller roles taken by the likes of Danny O'Keefe and Sydney Pollack.  And always good to see Ken Howard, even if the White Shadow is looking kinda puffy these days.

NOW SHOWING:  In addition to Michael Clayton, which is currently scoring 89 percent on the ol' Tomatometer, this weekend's wide releases are:  We Own The Night, which is scoring 50 percent; Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married, which was not screened for critics (shocka!); Elizabeth: The Golden Age, which is scoring 25 percent; and The Final Season, which is scoring 19 percent.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX, promoting We Own the Night and the upcoming Reservation Road, hung up on an interview with TimeOut NY, but he was highly quotable before that: "I've been acting since I was eight, and I never looked at entertainment magazines, never watched entertainment shows. I don't think one should be comfortable standing on a stage with people applauding and laughing at every stupid thing you say."  That's just the tip of the 'berg, too. 

BRITNEY SPEARS gets one-night-a-week visitation rights with her sons, but the visits must be supervised by a court-appointed monitor (as opposed to mama Lynne, as Spears sought).  This followed a hearing in which Court Commissioner Scott M. Gordon reminded the pop tart that she has "substance abuse issues and emotional issues... (which) could have devastating effects on the children."  This is what happens when you ignore court orders and act like a diva to the decision-maker.  But Spears seems stuck in denial, still trotting around town without panties on the day she is trying to regain parental rights.

JUDE LAW has been cleared of assaulting a paparazzi photographer, according to People magazine.

THE McCARTNEYS:  Sir Paul and Heather Mills last night ended eight hours of mediation without reaching a deal on what could be the costliest divorce on record.  The Daily Mail claims the sticking points are a privacy clause preventing 39-year-old Mills from discussing the marriage and her annual income from the ex-Beatle's £825million fortune.

MADONNA is close to leaving her long-time Warner Bros. Records label for a wide-ranging 120-million-dollar deal with concert promotion firm Live Nation.  Regular Pate visitors knew this in July.

ORLANDO BLOOM... and Jessica Simpson!?  (Cue Vader.)  What happened to Jennifer Aniston?

BRADGELINA:  Contrary to prior speculation, Jolie and dad Jon Voight remain estranged.  Not to mention just plain ol' strange.

DAVID HASSELHOFF will likely not lose custody of his daughters just because he fell off the wagon with sufficient velocity to land in the hospital, his lawyer Melvin Goldsman tells People magazine.

LARS and the REAL GIRL:  How do you market a wholesome, old-fashioned film about a churchgoer who falls in love with his sex doll? Grass-roots screenings with religious groups, maybe?  Star Ryan Gosling talks to Entertainment Weekly about the movie which he compares to Harvey.  And here's the trailer.

RAMZI YOUSEF, the mastermind of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, claims he converted from Islam to Christianity.  Of course, if you're stuck in a Supermax prison, you're probably not worried about some jihadi trying to kill for your apostasy, either.

INDONESIA:  Convicted Bali nightclub bombers feasted on kebabs with Indonesia's anti-terrorism chief at an evening party held at his house.  The party, which brought together more than 20 Muslim hardliners and former terrorists who have shown "regret" for their actions, was the latest "soft" strategy in Indonesia's anti-terror campaign to try and turn former militants into informers, or advocates of religious moderation.  Unfortunately, at least one of the quoted bombers doesn't sound very reformed yet.

IRAN:  Watch Hashemi Rasfanjani -- often described as a "moderate" and a "reformer" in the Western media -- tell his audience that the Holocaust was at least partially the fault of the Jews, who were a "pain in the neck" to the Nazis and other European countries.

IRAQ:  Six main Iraqi insurgent groups announced the formation of a "political council" in a new attempt to assert the leadership of the groups, which have moved to distance themselves from another coalition of insurgent factions led by AQI.  The Marines want to take the lead in Afghanistan, in anticipation of drawdowns in Iraq's Anbar province.  SecDef Gates yesterday played down the discussion.  Michael J. Totten has posted video of a walking tour of Ramadi with Army Capt. Phil Messer taken in August.  In a number of Shiite neighborhoods across Baghdad, residents are beginning to turn away from the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia they once saw as their only protector against Sunni militants.

IRAQ II:  Over 37 terrorists were killed, 25 suspects detained, and several weapons caches were discovered during military operations conducted by the Multi-National Forces in Diyala province, an MNF statement said.  Iraqi authorities said Wednesday that they had arrested the killer of a policeman who was murdered earlier in Kirkuk.  Thirteen suspected insurgents, including three members of AQI responsible for the assassination of a Sunni Arab preacher, were killed within hours by a US airstrike, the US military said on Thursday.  A recent raid in the town of Sinjar near the Syrian border yielded "literally terabytes of electronic files," including 800 names of al Qaeda terrorists - 143 of those either "en route or already delivered" to Iraq.  The intel included the terrorists' names, passport numbers, home addresses and their transit routes.

SUPER GROOM 2007:  A day after blurbing the Cat Championships in NYC, how can I overlook pooches preened and painted with non-toxic temporary food dyes in Vegas?  Yep, that's the Teenage Mutant Ninja Poodle.  More pics at the link.

CATS & DOGS: Thumper the black Lab saved his owner from a house fire, which fire officials believe was caused by Princess, the family cat.

DOG SPAYED as the veternary clinic goes up in flames.

TREE LIZARD UPDATE:  A nearly four-foot-long monitor lizard, suspected of killing small pets in an Orange County community, was finally caught Thursday.   Pics and video at the link.

KILLER GATOR snuffs it in Savannah, GA.  The nearly eight-foot alligator was responsible for the death of an 83-year-old Canadian woman -- said to be the first fatal gator attack in Georgia in more than 25 years.

GATOR THIEF sentenced and married on the same day, by the same judge, in Chambersberg, PA.  Franklin County Judge John R. Walker said: "By God, he got a life sentence."

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Meat Pups, New Raveonettes and Metric, Glenn Mercer, Kangaroos   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


MEAT PUPPETS:  Both Curt and Cris Kirkwood talk to The A.V. Club about the past and present.  At the moment, there's new and old to stream via the ol' HM.  BONUS:  Curt Kirkwood and Rufus Leaking perform "Backwater" on Pancacke Mountain.

ROGUE WAVE did an interview and mini-set at the World Cafe, streamable on demand via NPR.

RADIOHEAD:  Pitchfork has a track-by-track guide to the newly downloadable In Rainbows album, with plenty of embeded video.  Oasis, Jamiroquai, Nine Inch Nails and the Flaming Lips all seem likely to follow Radiohead's move to self-releasing albums.

THE RAVEONETTES: BiBaBiDi is streaming four new demos from the duo.

METRIC, along with taking requests, debuted a few new songs during the band's "Hey, Play This" gig for MySpace.

GLENN MERCER:  The former Feelies frontman talks to Things I'd Rather Be Doing about his "stunningly good solo album," which features almost all of the Feelies... minus Bill Million.  You can stream a couple via GlennSpace.  BTW, the album is available via Pravda, which is Pate's former label also.  Mercer covered the Feelies' "Only Life" at a Brooklyn gig in April.  The Jonathan Demme directed vid for "Away" is a bonus, though even that clip doesn't fully capture the frenetic energy of one of their live shows.  Mercer and Million would bounce off of each other; guitar picks would fly out of Million's hand with great regularity.

DAMON & NAOMI (formerly of Galaxie 500) talk about their melancholy melodies and more with the San Francisco Bay Guardian.  You can stream a few via D&NSpace.

JOSH RITTER, "quickly becoming the standard-bearer for a new generation of Americana artists," played DC's 9:30 Club the other night; you can stream the whole gig now via NPR.

BOB DYLAN:  The NYT Magazine ran a piece on "I'm Not There," the unconventional biopic by Todd Haynes featuring six Dylans.

NELLIE McKAY:  The idiosyncratic singer, songwriter and skilled multi-instrumentalist is profiled the San Diego Union-Tribune, with embedded video.

BRITNEY SPEARS hit Fed-Ex "several times during their marriage," or so an "insider" tells the uber-reliable Life & Style magazine.  A "friend" of the pop tart tells OK! magazine that she loves her pet Yorkie more than her kids.  Her estranged dad is so worried by her erratic behavior he wants to have her committed.  Her new album will be released two weeks earlier than expected, on Oct. 30, ostensibly due to Internet leaks... but a Halloween release seems about right.  And she's kinda topless in the uncut version of the "Gimme More" video, as though you can't see even more than that on the Internet.

UMA THURMAN, contrary to prior reports, is not engaged to her Swiss millionaire boyfriend.

REESE WITHERSPOON & RYAN PHILLIPPE are officially divorced.

PAMELA ANDERSON:  The newlywed is already pregnant, according to the uber-reliable InTouch Weekly.

JENNIFER LOPEZ:  More evidence of pregnancy on the set of MTV's Total Request Live.

LINDSAY LOHAN denies responsibility for breaking up the marriage of a British heiress and her musican husband.  Her new boyfriend is 25-year-old snowboarder Riley Giles, who she met during her stay at the Cirque Lodge rehab center.  An "insider" told OK! magazine that Li-Lo fired her mother, but her rep denies it.

DENISE RICHARDS & CHARLIE SHEEN:  Richards got plenty of pixels to tell her side of the bitter custody story to Cindy Adams in the NY Post.

GEORGE CLOONEY doesn't want Palisades Medical Center employees suspended for allegedly leaking Clooney's and girlfriend Sarah Larson's private medical records to the media after his recent motorcycle crash.  He's mellowed considerably from the days when he organized a celebrity boycott of Entertainment Tonight...

JACKO suffers from lupus, sources close to the former pop star tell Roger Friedman.

HUGH GRANT:  The Daily Mail has more than you ever wanted to know about Scandinavian beauty Caroline Hargreaves, who was caught canoodling Grant on camera the other day.

CHARLIZE THERON is Esquire magazine's new "Sexiest Woman Alive."  Interview and pics at the link.  Prior honorees include Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel.

NANOTECH:  Nanotextiles may help protect the wearer from viruses, bacteria and the harmful components of air pollution.

MILITARY RECRUITMENT:  All US military Services met or exceeded their active duty recruiting goals for FY 2007.  The Army National Guard and Air National Guard fell a few percent short.  The Army is offering cash bonuses of up to 35K to retain young officers serving in key specialties.

SWISS UNREST:  The capital of Berne was turned into a battle zone at the weekend when leftwing radicals seized control of the main square outside parliament, routing the main far-right political party two weeks before a general election and catching the Swiss police off guard.  The Swiss People's Party (SVP), which is tipped to win elections later this month, has used posters and ads with racist overtones.  But the Guardian omits that the SVP is already the largest party in Parliament as populists representing a strong strain of Swiss national conservatism who despise liberals and the left, but not as  neo-Nazis. There has been at least one recent case of an African immigrant being attacked by masked assailants wielding chainsaws.  Sadly, it is not tough for a party to tap into anti-immigrant sentiment when, according to federal statistics, about 70 percent of the prison population is non-Swiss and supporting poor immigrant families is an increasing drain on the national budget.  And Switzerland has not been really progressive when it comes to women, either.  There is likely a partial chicken-egg problem here, too -- unassimilated immigrants in Europe may have less success and create more social strain than in the US melting pot (though we're less melting alll the time). 

IRAQ:  None of the 1000-plus Iraqi detainees freed recently have returned to the insurgency, according to the Marine general who oversees US detention centers in Iraq.  The Iraqi government is willing to hand over wanted detainees to Saudi Arabia and will not allow terrorism to be exported to the kingdom, according to Vice Pres. Hashemi.  Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim returned to Baghdad after five months of hospital treatment in Iran, according to media reports.  After more than 20 months, September was the first month that there were no murders within the western Ameriya neighborhood of Baghdad.  Barring a spectacular attack in the next day or so, this year's Ramadan witnessed a 37 percent decrease in terrorist operations in comparison to the same period last year.  Michael J. Totten blogs from Ramadi about "The Best Police Force In Iraq."

A LUCKY KANGAROO decided to hop across the track during qualifying day for the Bathurst 100 car race in Australia last weekend.  Video at the link.  BONUS:  Greenpeace argues that more kangaroos should be slaughtered and eaten to help save the world from global warming.  I'm hoping for a Greenpeace-PETA cage match.

A PINK FLAMINGO that escaped from a Wichita, KS zoo in 2005 was spotted in Louisiana about three weeks ago -- apparently with the same companion it had the last time it was spotted.

GIZMO the RABBIT is missing... and allergic to lettuce and carrots.

OLYMPIC PIGS:  The Chinese communist regime is secretly breeding high-cost, high-quality porkers for its athletes, which has stirred anger among Chinese citizens.

THE CAT CHAMPIONSHIPS:  The claws will be out in NYC this weekend as hundreds of pedigree cats, with stage names such as "Disco Nofurno" and "Leonid the Magnificent," compete to win.

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