THE KILLERS' Christmas single, "A Great Big Sled," now has a video.
ELVIS COSTELLO and DIANA KRALL are the parents of twin boys -- named Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James.
SEASON of the LIST: You can stream songs from KEXP's "10 (Well, 11) Best Debut CDs of 2006." You can also stream healthy samples from Other Music's Year End Recap. (thx, LHB.) The New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones also has some links for an eclectic Top 31 singles and 30 albums.
THE DECEMBERISTS: Stephen Colbert has accepted the band's challenge to a guitar solo duel: "Decemberists, you walked right into my trap." He has invited them on The Colbert Report December 20th.
AMERICA, with RYAN ADAMS, BEN KWELLER and ADAM SCHLESINGER: Stereogum will hook you up with several streaming formats for "Ride on," from America's upcoming album, due in January.
SEEN YOUR VIDEO: Young@Heart cover Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia," from 1987's Sister.
YEAR IN REVIEW: In The New York Times Jon Pareles looks at the year that was, focusing on the domocratizing force of the Internet. In the Sunday Times of London, two critics debate: "Is now a good time to be a rock and pop fan?"
ROBIN HITCHCOCK talks and plays a mini-set with the Venus 3 for the World Cafe at NPR.
LUCINDA WILLIAMS talks to Billboard about her upcoming album, West, due in February 13th: "The songs deal with a chapter in my life and they definitely tell a story."
THE HOLD STEADY played Columbia, MO's Hickman High School for a music club called Academy of Rock. Between songs, students asked questions, mainly about how the band made its music a success.
THE PIPETTES rate iPod speakers for London's Observer. Which is a good enough excuse to jukebox the ladies via the Hype Machine.
BRADGELINA: Rumors that Pitt and Jolie were planning a fairytale Christmas wedding in a small village outside Johannesburg, South Africa are "all made up," a rep told US Weekly. So if Oprah shows up, she'll be disappointed. The couple did tour Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpiece in Mill Run, PA, where they celebrated the actor's upcoming birthday. Pitt does love him some architecture.
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: New releases Apocalypto and The Holiday took the top slots, albeit with a sluggish 14.1 and 13.5 million dollars, respectively. That's far from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, but about what Braveheart did opening (though whether Apocalypto will have legs remains to be seen). Prior leaders Happy Feet and Casino Royale dropped to third and fourth in the eight million range. the remaining new releases, Blood Diamond and Unaccompanied Minors, took fifth and sixth. Blood Diamond had the third highest per screen average, but if it drops much next weekend, it will likely be a severe disappointment. Deja Vu, The Nativity Story, Deck the Halls and The Santa Clause 3 all dropped four slots to round out the top ten.
MAD MEL UPDATE: Mel Gibson turned up on The Tonight Show to promote Apocalypto and to joke about his four months of sobriety: "If I ever feel like clutching for the turpentine, DeVito and Clooney just talk me through it." Video at the link.
TOM HANKS remains America's favorite film actor in a new Gallup poll. But given the relative success of Apocalypto this weekend, it's more interesting to note that Mel Gibson remains sixth most popular -- and only third on the list of those people would deliberately avoid. Who is more of a "must to avoid" than Gibson? Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie.
NTTAWWT: From London's Independent: "Hollywood may fancy itself as a politically progressive sort of place, where gay people are not only accepted but are employed in large numbers. But the unwritten rule -- unchanged in many decades -- is that no actor ever admits he is homosexual..."
MARILYN MONROE: Previously unseen candid pictures of the blonde bombshell as she relaxes and learns her lines are now on show to the public in selected galleries across the UK. Slideshow at the link.
BRITNEY SPEARS: In Touch Weekly claims the pop tart is taking a cocktail of drugs, including the antidepressant Paxil and Xanax for anxiety, as well as boozing it up.
JESSICA SIMPSON: The National Enquirer claims she botched a tribute to Dolly Parton due to her concern for long-time friend Lane Garrison, the Prison Break star who lost control of his SUV, killing his 17-year-old passenger. So maybe she was just clutching the midsection of her dress because she's starving herself for her new movie.
WESLEY SNIPES was arrested Friday in Florida on charges of tax fraud. Snipes, who had been filming in Namibia, flew into the Orlando International Airport and voluntarily surrendered. Snipes pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on a million-dollar bond.
JENNIFER LOPEZ may be turning to a Scientology ritual to help get pregnant, though some say the ritual itself is unhealthy.
50 MORE 80s COMMERCIALS, courtesy of Giant magazine, by popular demand. Included is the ad for Mister Microphone: "Hey, good-lookin', we'll be back to pick you up later!"
NANOTECH: The first large-scale survey of public attitudes towards nanotechnology shows that folks are neutral, with a risk-to-reward curve of some sort in mind.
GLOBAL WARMING: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reduced its overall estimate of mankind's effect on the climate by 25 percent. The IPCC also has been forced to halve its predictions for sea-level rise by 2100. But don't worry, we're still doomed!
IRAQ: Bill Roggio, blogging from Fallujah, writes about the American Military and Police Transition Teams and PTT medics winning hearts and minds. The Iraqi Army graduated another 500 new troops at Camp Taji. Over 1000 British and Danish troops stormed a suburb of Basra, arresting five militia leaders accused of kidnapping, murder and attacking the multinational forces. The Army Times has deployment data showing the strain of combat operations on our troops. At ITM, Mohammed writes about Iraq's increasing income from oil exports and proposals to set aside thirty percent to distribute among the citizens of Iraq. The NYT/IHT has more details. And Major partners in Iraq's governing coalition are in behind-the-scenes talks to form a new parliamentary bloc that would seek to replace the current government and would likely exclude supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
THE IRAQ STUDY GROUP: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy on Syria-Lebanon issues thinks the ISG report is wrong to assume there is a common interest among states in the Mideast to stop a slide into chaos in Iraq.
LEBANON: A reminder that Abu Kais is continuing to blog Hezbollah's ongoing efforts to topple the legit government at Michael J. Tooten's journal, including possible threats to kill one of their own allies. However, as Hezbollah is apparently unable to stop an international court from trying suspects in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, it looks like the terror gang is making a deal that would give them veto power over measures to disarm them.
HOLLY the SHORT-HAIRED COLLIE is compulsively climbing trees on an illuminated trail in a Worcestershire park.
ABUSED HOLLYWOOD CHIMPS will spend the rest of their lives in an animal sanctuary in a cruelty lawsuit settlement, an animal rights group said on Thursday. The group brought the case after an undercover primatologist worked for a year with California trainer Sid Yost, whose stage name is Ranger Rick.
RATS do not sweat -- plus 19 other things you didn't know about them.
LLAMAS are enlisted in the fight against biological weapons.
A 500-LB PIG that tumbled from the back of a truck on the Interstate in Washington State is being reunited with her owner. Was it trying to escape a trip to the market?
A FROZEN FROG came back to life when defrosted in Australia. Smashing, baby!