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Jens Lekman, White Rabbits, Cover Songs, Dogs Adopting   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, September 10, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


JENS LEKMAN:  I've been wanting to share "A Postcard to Nina," a song about being a beard for a lesbian friend, since he played it at the Pitchfork Fest in 2006.  It's going to be on his next record, but even this solo version on ukelele is great.  BONUS:  Jens and his Swedish all-hotties at "Sweet Summer Night on Hammer Hill" at P-Fest.

THE WHITE RABBITS play new songs and discuss what their early sound was like on at the World Cafe via NPR.

THE MOST ROCKIN' SONG OF ALL TIME is generating plenty of nominations at The A.V. Club -- most better than the author's suggestion.  At the moment -- given the author's rules -- I would go with this one.

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE:  David Portner (Avey Tare) and Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) talk to Drowned In Sound about their evolving psych-folk sound, which you can hear in the videos embedded with the piece.

DEVENDRA BANHART shows the L.A. Times the rock landmarks outside -- and inside -- his Topanga Canyon house and studio.

TOO SOON TO COVER?  Day to Day talks to music critic Chris Martins about the multiple versions of the Rihanna hit "Umbrella" floating around now as a springboard to discuss the issue of race in cover songs (going back to Pat Boone) and indie hipster takes on rap.  The audio segment really does not address what the web summary asks -- "Is there an etiquette dictating how long one should wait before covering a song?"  I would say no.  The indie irony of some other cases aside, I thought it was kinda nifty that Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" was a good enough song to get covered right away by artists as different as Ray Lamontagne, Nelly Furtado, Kooks and Cat Power.  Alternatively, if Richard Thompson covers "Oops... I Did It Again," or Ted Leo puts his spin on the Kelly Clarkson hit "Since U Been Gone," people can listen with fresh ears, and perhaps discover that a song might be good despite who made it famous.  Conversely, Alanis Morissette's "My Humps" video works as scathing satire of the original Black Eyed Peas hit.  Given the way the Internet has tended to throw the music biz back to the days when the single was supreme, we should not be shocked at the return of the contemporaneous cover.   BONUS:  A Stylus staffer lists his "Top Ten Songs I'd Cover If I Recorded an Album of Covers," which isn't nearly as obscure as most Stylus staff lists.

3X3:  You can watch performances from Swell Season, Stateless and G. Love & Special Sauce via Spinner.

PHIL SPECTOR:  As his murder trial goes to jury, we learn that he did one last production before going to trial.

AMY WINEHOUSE's father is trying to cut off her drug money by asking her to sign control of her cash over to him.

PETE DOHERTY was snapped appearing to give his kitten crack - from a mini-pipe he made specially for it.  Sad pic at the link.

SHOOT 'EM UP is -- as generally billed -- an over-the-top action flick, meant as a spoof.  However, the cartoonish level of violence didn't work as well for me in the more realistic setting here as it did in Sin City, which landed squarely between film and graphic novel.  And the plot is probably too original and dark to be a straight satire of the genre; Kiss Kiss Bang Bang did that better.  I'm glad I went for the performances of Clive Owen (in a role even funnier if you have seen him in Children of Men), Paul Giamatti as the villain and the gorgeous Monica Bellucci as the hooker with a heart of gold.  Inasmuch as they were all slumming it, I only wish the script had allowed them to seem like they were having more fun doing it.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  US moviegoers rode the 3:10 To Yuma in the amount of 14.1 million, but that's the worst weekend total for the number one movie in North America since April 27th - 29th. Moreover, the Western had a 50 million budget, 27 million for prints and advertising and (word is) significant negative cost.  Rob Zombie's Halloween reboot tumbed 62 % into second place with 10 million.  Superbad dropped a modest 36 percent to make 8 million and cross the 100 million mark on its 20 million budget.  Balls of Fury dropped 50% to make 5.6 million.  The Bourne Ultimatum rounds out the Top Five with another 5.5 million; it has a worldwide total of 286 million on its 110 million budget.  Shoot 'Em Up underperformed in its debut, making a mere 5.4 million.  Rush Hour 3 made 5.3 million; it has made 182 million worldwide on a 140 million budget, but some 40% of that goes to the starts and director, not the studio.  Mr. Bean's Holiday came in eighth with 3.3 million, just 60K or so ahead of The Nanny Diaries.  Hairspray actually climbed back to the bottom rung of the Top Ten with about 2 million.

BRITNEY SPEARS reportedly told friends she was nervous about performing at the MTV VMAs and was spotted drinking Grey Goose vodka at a party Saturday night -- even though MTV lectured Spears to behave in Las Vegas.  On the one hand, she shouldn't have been nervous, as both she and the show are faded figures in the music biz.  OTOH, perhaps she should have been nervous, as her performance was reportedly snooze-inducing.  The video sems to bear that out.  Meanwhile, limelight-seeking lawyer Gloria Allred is on her way to court in the Spears/Fed-Ex custody fight, claiming she has a secret witness who wants to testify at the Sept. 17 hearing.

KID ROCK allegedly "clocked" Tommy Lee at the MTV VMAs in Las Vegas Sunday night.  Las Vegas Metro Police sources tell TMZ that they have found Kid Rock and have questioned him.

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL starlet Vanessa Hudgens apologized for the recently released nude photos of her circulating on the internet. In response to the rumors that the pics may be leading Disney to re-cast her role, a spokesperson said, "Walt Disney Studios, as a matter of policy, doesn't comment on ongoing negotiations."  Translation:  Take the million dollars before the Mouse finds out you once sent risqué photos of yourself to Nickelodeon star Drake Bell.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE & ANDY SAMBERG took home a statue for outstanding original music and lyrics for "D--- in a Box" at the Creative Arts Emmys, which are a precursor to the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 16.

THE FRENCH HOTEL is suing Hallmark Cards, claiming they used her likeness without permission.  And spoiled Christina Aguilera's pregnancy announcement.

GWYNETH PALTROW & CHRIS MARTIN have chosen comedian Simon Pegg to be godfather to their three-year-old daughter Apple.  Pegg says he'll uger the girl to have fun: "It's much more interesting than trying to be a good influence on her. I'm a comedian -- it's what they expect."

THE PATH TO 9/11:  The ABC miniseries, which recently received seven Emmy nominations and drew a combined two-night audience of more than 25 million viewers, is not on the path to DVD.  The miniseries' writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, said he was told by a top executive at ABC Studios that "if Hillary weren't running for president, this wouldn't be a problem."  Oliver Stone says, "It's censorship of the most blatant kind.  I'm not vouching for its accuracy, it's a dramatisation but it's an important work that needs to be seen."

24:  Believing that the show is headed in a more liberal direction next season, Simpsons scribe Daniel Chun pens a script.

TOO MUCH TO BARE?  Nicole Kidman is an award-winning actor. So too is Maggie Gyllenhaal. So why do they - and other talented female Hollywood stars - still have to expose their bodies in order to get into the public eye? Kira Cochrane despairs  at the Guardian.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, meanwhile, admits she is trying to "have her cake and eat it" by taking her clothes off for advertisers while at the same time demanding privacy.  That's an ill-chosen metaphor, given that Knightley doesn't look like she's been near a piece of cake in years.

CARTOON JIHAD:  A sculpture created by the artist at the center of the Muhammad cartoon controversy was torched in southern Sweden on Thursday night.

TERROR in GERMANY:  Three suspected Islamist militants who were planning to attack US targets in Germany had orders to act by Sept. 15 and knew police were hot on their trail before their arrest, according to Der Spegel.  Why 9/15 instead of 9/11?  Maybe because 9/15 is the official date for the progress report from the White House to Congress on Iraq.  BTW, while the suspects arrested this week spent time at a terror training camp in Pakistan, two other suspects still at large are known to have spent time in Lebanon and Syria and the detonators found in Tuesday's raids came from Syria.

ISLAMISM in the UK:  Maajid Nawaz, one of the most senior members of the Islamist Hizb ut-Tahrir movement, has dramatically defected, saying that he no longer agrees with the movement's attempts to transform Islam into a narrow political ideology.

IRAQ:  Though the AP decribes the Iraq debate as a "sea of statistics," the NYT notes that both the US and Iraqi reports note a roughly 50 percent drop in the number of civilians deaths since the end of 2006.  Engram charts all of the different numbers to demonstrate the point (he also addresses the issue of seasonality in the data, showing that in 2005 and 2006, casualties increased in the summer months).  The NYT reports on the chaos remaining on the streets behind the overall data.  The Washington Post has a piece on the debate within the Bush Administration leading to the "surge" decision.  The WaPo also reported that a panel of experts assembled by the US Institute of Peace calls for a 50 percent reduction in US forces within three years and a total withdrawal and handover of security to the Iraqi military in five years.

IRAQ II:  A US airstrike killed a senior al Qaeda terrorist who masterminded truck bombings on the Yazidis last month that killed more than 400 people.  A former official responsible for security at the shrines in Samarra has been arrested for affiliation with the group that bombed the holy site in February of last year.  Blogger Bill Ardolino has a photo-filled post on the final stages of Operation Alljah in Fallujah, involving a coordinated series of counter-insurgency components.

IRAQ III:  On the Iraqi political front, more than 14000 employees in Iraq's Interior Ministry have been fired for failing to respect human rights, the government said on Sunday.  Buried in an AP report is news that the last boycott of parliament ended over the weekend.  For all of the talk about the gov't in disarray, it seems that the boycotts more or less started and ended during the summer recess.  Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister said that huge strides towards peace in Iraq were made during discussions between Middle Eastern power-brokers over the weekend.  The text of the "agreement" doesn't strike me that way, but we'll see.

MIMI the CHIHUAHUA adopts baby squirrels.  Awww... traitor!  BONUS:  A dog in China has adopted a piglet, nursing it as if it were her own puppy.  Pic at the link.

A MYSTERY HAMSTER whizzed past a young boy out on his bike on the street in an exercise ball.

EVERYBODY'S FREE... to wear hippo sweat.

POLAR BEARS:  Two-thirds of the world's polar bears will disappear by 2050, even under moderate projections for shrinking summer sea ice caused by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, government scientists reported on Friday.  Scientists estimate the current polar bear population at 22000, compared to as few as 5000 40 years ago.  So 43 years from now, we may have 40 percent more polar bears than we had 40 years ago.

FOXES made off with dozens of balls at the Addington Court Golf Centre in Croydon.  Sounds like a job for Carl Spackler.

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Rod Stewart, Prefab Sprout, Cutout Bin, 3:10 to Yuma, Hermaphrodite Pony   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, September 07, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with ROD STEWART & RONNIE WOOD!  Let's call it an acoustic set from 1993, as my other adjective might alert copyright holders.  Your setlist is "Handbags and Gladrags," from An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down. Wood then appears for "Cut Across Shorty," from Gasoline Alley, and a whole bunch from the  Every Picture Tells a Story album: "Every Picture Tells a Story," "Maggie May," Tom Hardin's "Reason to Believe," Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" (not from that LP), and  "Mandolin Wind." "Stay with Me" is from The Faces' A Nod Is as Good as a Wink...To a Blind Horse and Sam Cooke's "Having A Party" was previously unreleased.

PREFAB SPROUT:  Tom Terrell of NPR's All Things Considered goes over-the-top in praising the Steve McQueen LP upon its deluxe reissue, but it is a good album in recurring rotation at the Music Works in the mid-80s under the name Two Wheels Good.  NPR is streaming several tracks from the original and bonus tracks, though not "Faron Young," which was my pick to click.

WILCO frontman Jeff Tweedy would like to give his audiences a big bag of shhh.

OKKERVIL RIVER:  The Portland Mercury claims that "If more proof is needed of the clever wordplay of (Will) Sheff, 'Plus Ones' -- the perfectly penned ode to love songs, complete with a dizzying amount of lyrical references -- is all you need to hear. Sheff adds numbers (literally, plus one) to well-known lyrics, as he declares, 'No one wants to hear about your 97th tear,' discusses 'the 51st way to leave your lover,' and my personal favorite, 'No one wants a tune about the 100th luftballon'..."

THE SADIES guitarist/singer Dallas Good talks to Chart attck about recording their new LP in Spain with ex-Jayhawk Gary Louris producing.  You can still stream all of New Seasons via YepRoc, which aptly describes the band's sound as an "inspired amalgam of psychedelic country rock, surf, bluegrass and Ennio Morricone-inspired instrumentals."

LUCIANO PAVAROTTI:  The late legend sings "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" with James Brown, "My First, My Last, My Everything" with Barry White, "Too Much Love Will Kill You" with Queen, "Perfect Day" with Lou Reed, and "Miss Sarajevo" with U2.

SIR PAUL McCARTNEY:  Live at Amoeba Records this past June, via KCRW.  Beep beep beep beep beep, yeah.  (Someone in his band has got a fee-vah.)  He also talks about Beatles songs, the new album, how he came to hook up with Starbucks, and the impact of the Internet: "You've got to remember, I go back to vinyl... I've been through tape cassettes, and CDs, and now the Internet."

BRIGHT EYES is doing a gig with the Los Angeles Philharmonic September 29 at the Hollywood Bowl.  Yo La Tengo and M. Ward open.

NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL:  False 45th has posted one of Jeff Mangum's final shows, billed as the "World of Wild Beards Incorporated."  You can stream it via the ol' HM.

JOE ELY:  The Texas honky-tonk singer and guitarist talks about The Flatlanders and plays a few for the World Cafe, which you can stream via NPR.

THE CUTOUT BIN:  This Friday's fortuitous finds from the ol' HM (and zShare) are: The Vogues - Five O'Clock World; The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night; The Hollies - Bus Stop; The Hombres - Let It All Hang Out; Them - I Can Only Give You Everything (partial); Bob Dylan - Tombstone Blues; Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar (alt-take with Eric Clapton on slide); The Allman Brothers Band - Midnight Rider (live at World Cafe); James Brown - It's A Man's Man's Man's World; Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - How Do I Let A Good Man Down?; Sam Cooke - Twistin' The Night Away; The Jackson 5 - ABC; Bay City Rollers - Saturday Night; Placebo - 20th Century Boy; Iggy Pop - Lust for Life; Rush - Working Man; The Replacements - F*** School (nsfw, obvs.); Weezer - Uptown Girl (Billy Joel); Crowded House - Don't Dream It's Over; and The Beach Boys - All Summer Long.

3:10 TO YUMA:  I'm not a huge fan of Westerns, but I went to the sneak preview as a service to you, the Pate visitor.  James Mangold's remake of the 1957 Glenn Ford flick works primarily because of the casting.  Christian Bale (our hero) does what he does best -- single-minded intensity bordering on obsession -- while Russell Crowe (our villain) does what he does best -- irritating charm.  That last bit I mean in a good way; the role requires charisma as well as malice and in this iteration, some of the psychological skill of Hannibal Lecter -- you don't want Ben Wade inside your head.  The rest of the cast does a worthy job as well, including Alan Tudyk, whom I must mention because he is Alan Tudyk.  The final sequence -- which was the weak spot of the original movie -- is significantly altered... but it's the weak spot of this version also, mostly due to an inadequate set-up.  For that reason, I am probably not as enthusiastic in my praise as some of the blurbs I hear in the TV commercials.  And I don't know if I would be making Oscar predictions.  But it's still pretty darn good.

NOW SHOWING:  In addition to 3:10 To Yuma, which is currently scoring 81 percent on the ol' Tomatometer, this weekend's other wide release is Shoot 'Em Up -- an over-the-top action flick starring Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti and Monica Bellucci currently scoring 70 percent.

CHRISTIAN BALE talks to The A.V. Club about why he chose to take the 3:10 to Yuma.

X-RATED HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL:  The nude photo of Vanessa Hudgens floating around the Internet is the real deal.  A bunch of websites are claiming that execs at Disney have parted ways with Hudgens and have decided to replace her with Cheetah Girls star Adrienne Bailon, but the linked story at US Weekly doesn't say that... now.

DREW BARRYMORE was... wait for it... caught canoodling actor Justin Long, her co-star in the movie adaptation of He's Just Not That Into You.

OWEN WILSON:  The NYP's Cindy Adams sorta explains why his circle thinks Kate Hudson was a bad influence on him... and it may not be what you think.

JENNA FISCHER and her writer/director husband, James Gunn, have separated after more than six years of marriage, the couple tell People magazine in an exclusive statement... and on Gunn's MySpace page.  Really doesn't get more exclusive than that.  As I noted last week, you can see Jenna in a Wisely video.  And if you can't wait until the end of the month for Pam, The Office Summer Vacation is on the Tube.

LINDSAY LOHAN reunited with her estranged ex-con dad at the Cirque Lodge rehab facility, where he believed he would be joining in a therapy session.

GEORGE CLOONEY is sporting a beard.  And he has a new babe on his arm.

DID GLOBAL WARMING boost the Summer box office?  Variety speculates.

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO would likely beg to differ.  The actor's enviro documentary, The 11th Hour, has been a total bust at the box office, grossing under 500K after 18 days in release.  Reportedly, when the film was shown to journalists at Cannes, nearly the entire room fell asleep.  BONUS:  Roger Friedman, after reporting these tidbits, adds that "this certainly is not meant to belittle the idea of global warming," citing the melting snowcaps on Mount Kilimanjaro -- which researchers say is probably not due to global warming.

REDACTED:  Brian De Palma's new film inspired by the rape and killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by US soldiers who also murdered her family stunned the Venice Film Festival, with shocking images that left some viewers in tears.  "The movie is an attempt to bring the reality of what is happening in Iraq to the American people," he told reporters, apparently believing that US troops committing war crimes is typical of what is happening there.  Entertainment Weekly's Chris Willman seems unimpressed: "If Arabs upset at the American presence in Iraq kidnapped some American actors and forced them to make a propaganda film, they'd be hard-pressed to make one much more simple-minded than Redacted - though at least theirs probably wouldn't resemble a stagy, overacted, off-off-Broadway play quite as much as this one does..."  DePalma's 1989 flick Casualties of War is set in Vietnam, but also focuses on US soldiers raping a girl, so this is a theme that clearly strikes some chord with DePalma.

SAMUEL L. JACKSON dreams of making a comeback as a football player.

WIND POWER from politicians beats wind power from turbines.

TERROR in GERMANY:  A US intelligence intercept of suspicious communications between Pakistan and Stuttgart was the initial break that ultimately led to the arrest this week of three suspected Muslim militants accused of plotting massive car-bomb attacks here against Americans, US and German officials told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.

IRAQ:  About 26000 US and Iraqi forces are taking part in an offensive against al Qaeda in Iraq in northern Iraq, but (afaik) CNN seems to be the only major media outlet to notice.  Gen. Petraeus has told Pres.Bush he wants to maintain heightened troop levels in Iraq well into next year but could accept the pullback of about 4000 troops beginning in January.  Realistically, US troops likely have to start rotating out around next April.  Coalition forces announced the capture of "a highly-sought individual suspected of being an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force affiliate" during a raid in Karbala.

IRAQ and the MEDIA:  Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a story headlined, "Experts Doubt Drop In Violence in Iraq," which airs accusations that the US military is "cherry-picking positive indicators," but then cherry-picks negative indicators, makes a flagrant error and contradicts information the paper published on Tuesday.  I wrote a bit on Tuesday about the dubious "unofficial" Iraqi statistics the media has been touting.  Separately, the CIA (whose record on Iraq has been less than inspiring) has a problem with how the US military classifies deaths as sectarian killings.  However, the WaPo has no problem understanding it, as the paper called execution-style killings "a key indicator of the level of sectarian violence" back in May, when those statistics were looking bad for the US.  A story from NPR relays complaints that the military does not classify mass casualty bombings as sectarian killings, though -- according to the WaPo -- such attacks are most often linked to AQI, who use them to try to spark sectarian violence and influence US public opinion.  The different numbers can be useful for understanding different phenomena, as long as the methodology is consistent.  A SIDE NOTE:  In the NPR piece, former Army Col. Doug MacGregor says the increasing cooperation between US forces and Sunni tribes in Anbar started more than 18 months ago, long before the "surge."  True, but it does reflect the military's improvement in counter-insurgency tactics... and the WaPo totally blew reporting that story, too.  As popular support is crucial to the survival of an insurgency, the negligence of the WaPo (and many other media outlets) in missing the turning of the Sunni tribes for so long cannot be overstated.

TOOTSIE the HERMAPHRODITE PONY finds friendship with Derek the Donkey.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  A 3-year-old boy, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper and another adult were hurt on Wednesday afternoon in a bizarre attack by a squirrel on a day care playground in Orange County, FL.  Video at the link.  BONUS:  The Yankee Stadium squirrel has been nicknamed "Lucky," as the the Bronx Bombers go 4-for-4 when the brazen squirrel has appeared atop the right-field foul pole.

A BEAR CUB left its sibling and mother in the tree behind City Hall in Aspen CO, ambled down the alley and into the back door of the Thrift Shop.

A BULL ELK failed to master a swingset in Estes Park, CO.  Video at the link.

MONTY the MEERKAT photographed his family at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, England.  Pics at the link.

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Advance Go! Team, Rogue Wave, The Knack, Rally Squirrel   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, September 06, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


ANIMAL COLLECTIVE:  "Peacebone" is the first video/single from the collective's new album, Strawberry Jam, which comes out next week.  If you have not heard the band, I should add that the music may be much different from what the still above might suggest.

THE GO! TEAM:  MuchMusic is streaming the new album, Proof Of Youth, in advance of its release next week.  (Thx, Chromewaves.)  Team leader Ian Parton talks to Drowned in Sound about working with Chuck D, licensing songs for ads, and keeping it trashy.

INDIE SELLS OUT:  The Ads of the Weird blog slags TIAA-CREF's use of Bob Mould's "See A Little Light" (with video), though not Mould himself: "The issue is that advertisers think co-opting our favorite songs will get us to buy their products instead of just ruining the songs for us."  BONUS:  Be sure to read Mould's response in comments.  (Thanks, LHB.)

ROGUE WAVE is streaming their new album in full from RogueSpace.

THE MOST PERFECT SONGS are led by a song that loop-samples the Rolling Stones, according to a songwriters' poll conducted by Q magazine.  The songwriters' individual picks are better, and come with Tube video.  However, you won't get why Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody picked Marlena Shaw's version of "California Soul" -- the version my friends know I favor -- unless you stream that last link.  That drum break just slays me.

AMY WINEHOUSE, for all of the bad pub she brings on herself, can sing, as her unplugged version of "Love Is A Losing Game" from the Mercury Prize awards shows.

PYLON:  The Athens combo releases its long out-of-print debut album, Gyrate, as a remastered and expanded CD in October.  The band has come off hiatus in recent years, but their "final" show from 1983 is Tubed in three segments -- Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.  I was never a huge fan, but you can certainly hear tell they come from the same Georgia stew as the B-52s and R.E.M.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN:  You can watch the "Radio Nowhere" video exclusively at Amazon, with fleeting glimpses of the E Street Band.

BO DIDDLEY has been released from the hospital and is now resting at home, after suffering a heart attack during a routine medical exam on Aug. 24.

THE KNACK:  He's A Whore has posted tracks from "Live at Carnegie Hall 1979," which he calls "perhaps the pinnacle of Knack-mania, if you will."   You can stream it via the ol' HM.

BLOC PARTY:  For some reason, this band never quite jelled for me, but singer Kele Okereke has a nice story about their security putting Madonna in a headlock at Live Earth.

SIR PAUL McCARTNEY is a chick magnet, keeping company with supermodel Elle Macpherson and later attracting the attention of Natalie Imbruglia at GQ magazine's Men of the Year ceremony.

JUDE LAW has been arrested for allegedly assaulting a photographer outside the actor's home in Maida Vale, West London.

BRITNEY SPEARS has been cleared of recent complaints to child welfare workers, but one of her goons has been charged with one count of battery in connection with an altercation with a photographer last month.  Meanwhile, Vegas magician Criss Angel is a "press whore" who's just "using" the pop tart to get more attention and fame for himself, friends of his say.  Nice friends, even if honest!

LUCIANO PAVAROTTI:  Sadly, it sounds like the fat lady is warming up... and she sings.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH IS STILL DEAD, but Larry Birkhead is explaining why he and fmr rival Howard K. Smith attended a gay pride parade.  NTTAWWT.

BRADGELINA: Pitt laments losing some of his looks at 40, but is otherwise happy that Jolie got him involved in social causes.

THE DARJEELING LIMITED:  TimeOut London reports from the Venice Film Festival that Wes Anderson's latest film finds the talented director on good form but very much playing to the gallery.  Before the screening, Anderson presented a seventeen-minute short called Hotel Chevalier-- originally conceived to play before the main feature, but which may only be available to see online.  The short provides some "backstory" to the feature and allegedly has Natalie Portman nude -- but how could you not show that before the main feature?  Anyway, it's a good enough excuse to re-link the trailer on the Tube and in glorious Quicktime,

OWEN WILSON ex-gf Kate Hudson has been trying to get in touch with him in his time of need, but his family "doesn't want her anywhere near him." NYDN's Gatecrasher reports that Owen's ex has been "very frustrated" that she's getting the cold shoulder from the Wilson clan, who "don't think Kate is good for him."

TOMMY LEE and a blond party girl "were flat-out (bleep)ing" on a banquette at Dune in the Hamptons on Sunday night, according to multiple witnesses.

ZACH BRAFF, the Garden State auteur and toxic bachelor, was almost as public with Roswell star Shiri Appleby at the Four Seasons on Hawaii's Big Island over the Labor Day weekend.

BRIDGET MOYNIHAN is already wheeling her newborn around without dad Tom Brady.

NICOLE KIDMAN let slip that she was secretly engaged for a short time after her marriage to Tom Cruise and before she wed Keith Urban, to a man she refused to name.  Page Six says it was Lenny Kravitz.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG got her backpedal in motion once PETA heard her comments rationalizing Michael Vick's dogfighting.

SEXY STRUT STUDY SHOCKER:  The "study" reported in London's Telegraph last week, purporting to show that Jessica Alba has the sexiest walk in the world was corporate flack from Clarion Communications, a PR firm that reps a hair removal product!  Internal e-mail reveals that Alba actually ranked seventh in survey data and had the second-best hip-to-waist ratio.  Professor Weber, cited by the PR firm and the media, tells the Guardian's Ben Woodacre: "The Clarion press release was not approved by me and is factually incorrect and misleading in suggesting there has been any serious attempt to do serious mathematics here. No 'team of Cambridge mathematicians' has been involved..."

SWAZILAND:  Tens of thousands of bare-breasted virgins lined up for inspection by King Mswati III on Sunday in Swaziland's annual reed dance.  The 39-year-old king, who already has 13 wives, sometimes controversially uses the occasion to select a new bride.

TERROR in GERMANY:  The three suspected terrorists seized Tuesday were allegedly planning bomb attacks with more explosive power than those used in the Madrid and London terror attacks.  According to German Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms, the three men belong to a German cell of the terror group "Islamic Jihad Union," a group that reportedly originated in Uzbekistan, but whose German network has recently attracted recruits of other nationalities. Investigators also suspect it may have established contact with Al Qaeda's high command.  The case also has possible Turkish links which trouble some terrorism experts.  Threats against USS facilities in Germany seem to have been bubbling up since last April.

IRAQ:  CBS anchor Katie Couric is in country, noting that despite mutual distrust, Sunnis and Shiites are working together in the ISF to fight AQI in places like Anbar province.  The Fighting 6th Marines report that the Iraqi Army has ceded their counterinsurgency operations in Fallujah to the Iraqi Police.  Blogger Bill Ardolino is doing another embed and reports that the positive change in Fallujah since his January visit is astounding.  The Christian Science Monitor reports that as security concerns recede, Anbar's tribal chiefs are turning to the US for more mundane community needs.  The Times of London reports that the former chief of staff of the Provisional IRA, who is now Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive, was one of 30 participants at the four-day seminar for Iraqi Sunni and Shia groups held at a secret location in Finland.  Lord Alderdice, the former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, was also present at the talks, as were representatives from South Africa.

THE IRAQI POLICE FORCE is so rife with corruption it should be scrapped entirely, according to a new independent assessment led by retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones.  The Pentagon opposes the idea, but is attempting to reform the police without a sweeping dissolution of the body.  I would note that one of the big criticisms of the Bush Admin's Iraq policy has been that the old Iraqi Army should not have been disbanded, because it put all the old Baathists out of work and helped make them insurgents.  That's arguable, insofar as  keeping a Baathist Army would have caused some reaction by the Shiite majority -- and probably not a good reaction.  But if you buy the criticism, disbanding the Iraqi Police could similarly exacerbate the problem of Shiite militias.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  One week after a bushy-tailed rodent bedeviled the New York Yankees, a squirrel disrupted play between the Pittsbugh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals (Part1, Part 2).  Coincidence?  I think not.  BONUS: The Benny Hill music is the icing on the cake.

THE ANT THREAT:  Kevin and Gail Gued were attacked by dozens of stinging ants in their honeymoon suite at the Country Inn & Suites in Brandon, FL.  Pics and video at the link.

GOAT SACRIFICE seems like an unlikely method of aircraft maintenance.

MYSTERY CAT BEAST stalks the suburbs of Caracas, Venezuela, as the carcasses of small animals turn up in the wake of its eerie howling.

A COKED-UP CAT had trouble walking, but paced incessantly, according to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.  I almost missed this story, assuming it was Pete Doherty's cat.

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Brian Wilson, Rick Rubin, Woody Guthrie, Small Sharks   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


MENOMENA:  The video for "Evil Bee," a track from the Friend Or Foe album, has some birds in it, too.  Literally and figuratively.

BRIAN WILSON has re-teamed with Van Dyke Parks -- the lyricist behind Smile -- for a new work titled That Lucky Old Sun. You can stream "Midnight's Another Day" from Wilson's website.

RICK RUBIN is the subject of a lengthy profile in The New York Times magazine, as Columbia has brought the famed producer onboard to save the label -- and maybe the music business.

JEFF TWEEDY:  Heather Browne is streaming his 2006 Living Room concert, one of a series of charity gigs where he auctions himself for a fan-directed concert.

WOODY GUTHRIE died in 1967, but is releasing his first live album and collaborating with Lou Reed, jazz bassist Rob Wasserman, cabaret satirist Nellie McKay, the rapper Michael Franti and Son Volt's Jay Farrar.

PETE SEEGER belatedly comes out against Stalin's gulags and imagines what Woody Guthrie might have written had he been around to see the death of his old Communist dream. 

BEIRUT has released an advance track, "A Sunday Smile" from the upcoming sophomore LP, The Flying Club Cup.  Steam and download at the link.

IAN HUNTER & MICK RONSON deliver the goods on "All The Young Dudes" in Cleveland on June 18 1979.  Because Cleveland rocks (nsfw).

ROCK STARS DIE YOUNG:  A Liverpool John Moores University study of 1,050 US and European artists found they are twice as likely to die early than the rest of the population.  And if you're thinking, "What about Keith Richards?", remember that he is the Lord of the Undead.

WRINKLY ROCKERS: Mocked in Germany! (Danke, Ken King.)

LED ZEPPELIN are planning to play a huge comeback concert at the O2 arena, the UK concert hall housed in the former Millennium Dome.  The Zep already has a history with Denmark, but not Germany.

MAN MAN maven Honus Honus tells Stylus that "Modest Mouse is a gateway drug to better music" and "Unless you're independently wealthy or a masochist you're not going to make money off selling records. Bands survive now from playing."

RHORDRI MARSDEN, otoh, writes about how the Internet can make you a pop star for almost nothing.

THE MERCURY PRIZE:  Amy Winehouse ended her run of no-shows to sing "Love Is A Losing Game," but The Klaxons took home the prestigious award.

KATE MOSS enjoyed a 30-hour bender at the weekend with Jamie Hince, guitarist for the garage rock group The Kills, putting to rest rumors she is back with on-off boyfriend Pete Doherty.

HALLE BERRY is knocked up, a source close to the upcoming Lionsgate film Tulia told TMZ.  Berry later confirmed the story to Access Hollywood.

NICOLE KIDMAN has revealed for the first time that she suffered a miscarriage at 23, shortly after marrying Tom Cruise.

BILL MURRAY explains that he was just dropping off people after a party when he was stopped in downtown Stockholm driving a golf cart.  He could face drunken driving charges, though a Stockholm police official has said fines were more likely than a prison sentence.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH IS STILL DEAD, but former ANS boytoys Larry Birkhead and Howard K. Stern have branded a woman who claimed they're gay lovers a liar and a "loser" with a grudge against them.  The Today show has pulled the plug on the Rita Cosby interview about her book which reports those claims after Today received a threatening letter from Howard's lawyer.

THE FRENCH HOTEL, after years of intense practice, has vowed to have children by next year.

MADONNA and husband Guy Ritchie face another setback in the adoption process of Malawian tot David Banda - the welfare official overseeing the case has been replaced after "compromising" his position.

SIENNA MILLER launched a foul-mouthed, drunken tirade at photographers at her new shop, shouting: "F*** off, you f***ing ****s... See you in court, you f***ing rapists."  Video at the link.  She was there with "friend" Rhys Ifans, who was hitting the sauce heavily as well.

JERRY LEWIS called someone - or something - an "illiterate f*ggot" in the 18th hour of his Labor Day telethon.  Video at the link.  GLAAD has accepted his apology.

GWYNETH PALTROW:  OK! magazine claims that all may not be well in the nearly four-year marriage of the Oscar-winning actress and hubby Chris Martin, of the band Coldplay.  Seems pretty flimsy to me, though she is leaving the family to do a cooking show.

HEATHER MILLS McCARTNEY was slapped with a 250-dollar ticket for by a New York traffic cop for parking in a handicapped space, even after she knocked on her false leg!

TOBEY MAGUIRE married the mother of his 9-month-old daughter in a secret Hawaiian ceremony last night, according to the ever-reliable In Touch Weekly.

IF I BLOG IT:  A blog started with the express purpose of getting Kevin Costner to send a photo of himself looking at a blog about himself fulfilled its mission over the Labor Day weekend.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG  started her regular gig on The View by defending convicted former QB Michael Vick, arguing that he didn't know dogfighting was wrong due to being raised in the "Deep South."  Except that Vick was raised in Virginia -- hardly the Deep South -- and his dad urged him to quit dogfighting in 2001, in part for legal reasons.  Her claim that she had not heard anyone else talk about the culture of dogfighting also strains credulity.

TERROR in DENMARK:  Danish intelligence agents arrested eight alleged militants with links to leading al-Qaeda figures early Tuesday and said the suspects were plotting an attack involving explosives.

TERROR in GERMANY:  German authorities said Wednesday they had arrested three suspected Islamic terrorists for allegedly plotting attacks on Frankfurt airport and the nearby US military base in Ramstein.

IRAN:  Former Pres. Hashemi Rafsanjani was picked Tuesday to head a powerful clerical body.  The AP declares this "another defeat for the current president's hard-line faction," which it is.  But Rafsanjani has been implicated in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish charities office in Argentina (among other terror attacks), gives sermons about nuking Israel and blamed the US for Tehran's then-secret nuke program.  So "hard-line" and "moderate" are relative terms.  Meanwhile, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei blames the US for starting both WWI and WWII.

IRAQ:  The "surge" is having an impact in the former "Triangle of Death," with an assist from Retired Iraqi army Brig. Gen. Mustafa al-Jubouri and his group of "Concerned Local Citizens.''  The AQ-linked Islamic State of Iraq is planning its own "surge" for Ramadan, as it has in past years.  The warning came as Iraq's parliament got back to work after a month-long summer break.  Three members of Saddam's regime -- including the man known as "Chemical Ali" -- will be executed within 30 days, senior appellate Judge Munir Haddad said Tuesday.  Tribal justice can be harsher in Anbar, where the US is trying to stand up the judicial system.  Excerpts from an interview with Sheik Ali Hatem Ali Sleiman of the Anbar Salvation Council, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV and Al-Alam TV in July and August, touch on law enforcement issues, his attitude toward Maliki and the central gov't (not identical) and much more.  Some of it probably should be taken with a grain of salt, but still interesting.  Also in the fwiw bag -- the Crisis Management Initiative claims that Muqtada al-Sadr, Adnan al-Dulaimi (a leader of the largest Sunni Arab political group) and Humam Hammoudi (the Shia chairman of the Iraqi parliament's foreign affairs committee) agreed to work towards peace during talks in Finland.  You can download the text of the "agreement" in. pdf format from CMI's website.

MAXIMUS the BEAGLE crash lands on the highway outside Ottawa, Canada.

A BABY SHARK was saved by a Rockaway Beach lifeguard from a mob of angry swimmers.

THE MICROSHARK is the second rare creature brought up alive by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, which operates pipelines that bring up cold sea water from 3,000 feet below the ocean surface.  (The first was the octosquid.)  We're gonna need a smaller boat.

GOING TO SNAKE CITY, 'cause it's two-to-one...

CHINESE CHOCOLATES contain a wriggly surprise for South Koreans.  Still no Crunchy Frog.

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Big Star, New Releases, Echo, Uncle Earl, World's Heaviest Pig   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


BIG STAR 2.0:  Alex Chilton & Co. play the classic "In The Street" for the late-night show with the lantern-jawed host.  Auer & Stringfield wear their Sunday best.  If you have never heard Big Star for some reason, stop cheating yourself.

NEW RELEASES:  Hard-Fi, Black Lips, Liars, Pinback, the Guilt By Association comp and more are streaming in full via Spinner.  Jon Spencer side project Heavy Trash releases a second album.

ECHO and the BUNNYMEN are the "bridesmaids of rock," according to Guardian music blogger Alan McGee: "There was only one thing that stopped the hugely influential band from reaching the superstardom they deserved - themselves."

OKKERVIL RIVER frontman Will Scheff tells the Arizona Star that the music blogosphere is like Oz, the great and terrible.  The band also gets a streaming audio feature from NPR's All Things Considered.

BROKEN SOCIAL SCENESTER KEVIN DREW tells the Edmonton Sun that he and BSSer Brendan Canning "wanted to do an Outkast thing but his wasn't done in time and I needed this thing out of my life," so he's putting his solo LP out on Sept. 18.  Drew also says that the video shoot for "Backed Out On The ...," which features the members of Dinosaur Jr., "is going to go down on my top three evenings."

CHEAP TRICK:  Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos join King Crimson's Tony Levin to back John Lennon on "I'm Losing You."  Add the full band's signature take on"Surrender" at Budokan and you have your Twofer Tuesday.

ST. VINCENT:  Annie Cark lists a few of her favorite things for Pitchfork's Guest List.  You can still stream a few tracks from the singer-songwriter at HerSpace.

DEVENDRA BANHART, the freak folkster who doesn't care for the label, takes a pop quiz at the San Francisco Chronicle in which he reveals his menagerie, as well as which member appears on his upcoming album.

UNCLE EARL, an all-star, all-female, old-time string band, named in honor of the band members' mutual appreciation for Earl Scruggs and Steve Earle, played a full set for the World Cafe last Friday, which you can stream now via NPR.  They have a nice story bout playing the MN State Fair, too.

THE WORST JOBS in ROCK & ROLL, according to Blender magazine.  Hard to argue with "Pete Doherty's lawyer."

AN AMY WINEHOUSE-PETE DOHERTY CONVERGENCE?  Make sure your Apocolypse survival gear is packed.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH IS STILL DEAD, but an explosive tell-all book about the late spokesmodel's sad demise alleges the two men who battled for custody of her baby girl and control of her fortune were gay lovers.  Larry Birkhead has threatened suit against the book's author, fmr. FNC and MSNBC reporter Rita Cosby.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  Rob Zombie's horribly-reviewed remake of "Halloween" made a Labor Day-weekend record of 26.5 million.  "Superbad" is still doing well in its third weekend, with 12.2 million.  Debuting at No. 3 was "Balls of Fury," which grossed 11.5 million; its total slighly exceeds its budget.  "The Bourne Ultimatum" slipped to No. 4 with 10.2 million, bringing its US total over the 200 million mark.  "Rush Hour 3" slid to No. 5 with 8.6 million; it has made 162 million worldwide on a 140 million budget.  "Mr. Bean's Holiday"  took in 5.93 million;   Scar-Jo and "The Nanny Diaries"  made 5.11 million; revenge flick "Death Sentence," debuted to 4.2 million of Kevin's Bacon; "WAR" plunged from fifth to ninth with 3.61 million; and "Stardust" continued to bomb with three million.

BRITNEY SPEARS has reportedly hired a hotshot CA P.I. to monitor Fed-Ex as the couple begins its child custody battle.  Meanwhile, her former assistant Shannon Funk not only sold her down the river by giving an exclusive to OK! Magazine about the singer's odd behavior, but Funk is doing all she can to be famous in her own right.

BRADGELINA:  Pitt says that with four children, "sleep is non-existent," but says he and Jolie were ready for a fifth child.  Meanwhile, we have pics of Pitt being attacked by a crazed fan at the Venice Film Fest. And video.

X-RATED HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL?  Nude photos Vanessa Hudgens took for her boyfriend Zac Efron have been leaked, the ever-reliable National Enquirer is reporting.  If true, it could threaten the gazillion-dollar Disney franchise.

OWEN WILSON may be looking a bit haggard, but he is doing well and even making colleagues laugh, according to director Wes Anderson.

JOHN MAYER is non-exclusive with Cameron Diaz, while a friend explains one reason he dumped Jessica Simpson: she "used to call photographers and set him up all the time."

BRIDGET MOYNIHAN & TOM BRADY got a thousand-dollar gift basket from Gisele Bundchen, including a onesie with the word "supermodel" written across it.  As NYDN gossip Ben Widdicombe notes: "Which is exactly what you want when your boyfriend leaves you for a Brazilian supermodel just after you get pregnant. Tactful!"

JERRY LEWIS:  This year's MDA telethon raised another record 63.7 million.  The broadcast returned to Lewis' home town of Las Vegas last year after 11 years in Los Angeles.

JULIETTE BINOCHE, promoting her new film A Few Days in September, reveals herself to be a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.

STATUTORY RAPE at RON WEASLEY'S birthday party.  Not involving Hermoine, but you figure Dumbledore is still going to hit the roof.

MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL is not your typical sex symbol, yet Agent Provocateur has picked her for its saucy new campaign. Why? Because she appeals to women, too.

BILL CLINTON & MICHAEL DOUGLAS are having a hand war.

IRAN, still defiant on its nuclear program, has appointed Mohammad Ali Jaafari as head of the Revolutionary Guards.  Not only was he in charge of anti-American activity in Iraq, but he also seems to be one of the 1979 kidnappers of Americans at the US Embassy in Tehran.  And why not?  Pres. Ahmadinejad's mad math skillz tell him the US will not attack: "I am an engineer and I am examining the issue. They do not dare wage war against us and I base this on a double proof."

IRAQ:  In the NYT/IHT, Michael Gordon has a detailed look at the turning of Sunni sheikhs and insurgents against AQI.  Stars & Stripes also has a piece on Sunni recruitment from the same area south of Baghdad.  Near Abu Ghraib, new Iraqi volunteers are making gains but are not always well-received.  The US military said Muqtada al-Sadr's order to suspend his Mahdi Army militia for the next six months would enable the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi security forces to "intensify their focus on al Qaeda in Iraq...without distraction from (Mahdi Army) attacks."  Even so, gunmen killed an aide of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Basra.  Bill Roggio rounds up security ops following the crackdown in Karbala.

IRAQ and the MEDIA:  The L.A. Times, the Associated Press and The New York Times all report that civilian casualty numbers rose in August, based on unofficial reports from anonymous Iraqi gov't officials.  The L.A. Times numbers partially match the paper's prior report, which ostensibly dealt only with Baghdad.  LAT reporter Tina Susman -- who did both stories -- has told NPR that we really have no reason to believe the Iraqis have accurate numbers... which hasn't stopped her from reporting them. The AP claims that August had the second-highest monthly casualty count, which is at odds with the AP reports compiled by the iCasualties website.  And the NYT numbers are out of whack with everyone else's numbers by around thirty percent.  BTW, the "official" number from the Iraqi Interior Ministry is 1011... not that I buy that any more than I do the "unofficial" numbers.  The relatively transparently calculated numbers from iCasualties currently show a slight decline from 1690 in July to 1674 in August.  Coincidentally, that's very close to the average of the "official" and "unofficial" Iraqi numbers.

THE WORLD'S HEAVIEST PIG has been sacrificed as part of a religious ceremony, sparking fury among animal welfare groups.

SAVE THE WHALES... from the cats.

COYOTES are stalking grocery shoppers in Phoenix, AZ.  Pics and video at the link.

HAS THE CHUPACABRA been found in Cuero, TX?  Or is it just some sort of mutant dog?

FERAL CAT CASSEROLE:  Tastes like chicken!

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