THE FLAMING LIPS are tackling "Bohemian Rhapsody" for a Queen tribute disc. I hope that doesn't put percussionist Steve Drozd back on the horse.
CBGB AND TALKING HEADS: Stereogum links to a site dedicated to saving CBGB as a landmark and one offering a download of Talking Heads' first show at the venerable venue.
RYAN ADAMS: Golden Fiddle really wanted to dislike Cold Roses, but ended up liking it.
THE DECEMBERISTS' Friday night concert can be streamed from NPR.
LOVE WILL TEAR US APART: The Observer looks back at Joy Division on the 25th anniversary of the release of its signature song, which also happens to be the anniversary of my release. Who'da thunkit? Explains a lot.
BENNIFER: E! online and E! News, citing "multiple sources close to Garner and beau Ben Affleck," report that Jennifer Garner is three months pregnant.
BRADGELINA: Jennifer Aniston is rumored to be furious that her husband is breaking their deal not to date for six months.
WHORE COLLEGE: Get your diploma as a Graduate in Sex Work at the end of a one day seminar. Then you won't care if she's got a face that would stop a clock.
IDENTITY THEFT FUNDS BREAST IMPLANTS: It must be sweeps season!
BREAST REDUCTIONS are on the rise: over 113,000 women will elect to have their breasts made smaller this year, an increase of 11% from previous years.
KIMBERLY STEWART (Rod's daughter) gave her breast implants to Jack Osbourne (Ozzy's son). That's some weird symmetry I can't figure out.
GODFATHER OF SOUL JAMES BROWN, the hardest working man in show business, had a statue in his honor unveiled in Augusta Georgia on Friday.
BRIAN WILSON will put out a Christmas album in October.
ROCK SHIRTS FOR BABIES: Some of these seem inappropriate, but the Sonic Youth Dirty tee sort of works for an infant.
THE BOSS IS TOO HOT FOR STARBUCKS: Bruce Springsteen's Devils & Dust will not be sold at Starbucks coffee shops, because he's channeling Howard Stern.
COLDPLAY make U.S. singles history, but doesn't do as well as... the Spice Girls. Could be why Gwyneth seems a bit cranky lately.
LIVE AID II? Bob Geldof is deflating the trial balloon lofted by people in his office, though the possibility of a second concert event will be discussed at a meeting of the Live Aid Trust this week.
AUDIOSLAVE PLAYS CUBA in the first open-air concert by an American rock band in the communist country. The concert was given the rare approval of both the Cuban and United States governments.
REVENGE OF THE SITH: Variety digs it: "Whatever one thought of the previous two installments, this dynamic picture irons out most of the problems, and emerges as the best in the overall series since The Empire Strikes Back." The London Telegraph concurs: "Lucas has created an eminently satisfying, albeit surprisingly violent, final instalment that brings the story back full circle to the first film. It contains all the ingredients that fans have come to expect: aerial dog-fights, swirling light-sabres, Jedi battles, evil droids -and it packs an emotional wallop."
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: The lucrative summer movie season suffered its worst start in years on Sunday, as the costly epic crawled into the No. 1 slot at the North American weekend box office with meager ticket sales of just $20 million. I saw it and thought it well done in terms of its acting and production values, but Kingdom suffers from two major flaws. First, for a battle epic, it lacks pacing, particulalrly as it runs two and a half hours. Second, while no one should expect historical accuracy from Hollywood, I suspect U.S. audiences are not going to flock to a politically correct revision of history that makes the British Christians foaming maniacs while depicting Saladin and the Sacracen Knights as the epitome of chivalry and having the hero be a man who renounces God. Historians have blasted the picture, scoffing at the notion that Jerusalem was a peaceful, multicultural community at the time in question. The movie almost completely ignores the 450 years of Islamic jihad that preceded the events at issue. And in the real world, Saladin acted far differently than he does at the end of the film.
IRAQ: Iraq's parliament approved six new ministers on Sunday hoping to fill the political void that has stoked the insurgency, but one minister turned down the job. Proposed human rights minister Hisham al-Shibli told Reuters he had been picked purely to placate Iraq's restive Sunni Arab minority: "This post was given to me without anyone consulting me. I was surprised when they nominated me. It was just because I am a Sunni," he said. "This is something I reject completely. I am a democratic figure... and I am completely against sectarianism." While accomodating the Sunnis may help tamp down the insurgency, a politician speaking out against sectarianism this soon in the country's democratic history may be a very good sign.
IRAQ II: Austin Bay writes about how history will view the Iraq war and the extraordinary story of the 19-through-35 year olds who are winning it, including part of his prior interview with former Sen. Bob Kerrey.
IRAQ AND THE HOME FRONT: When that high school student was suspended for 10 days in Columbus GA for refusing to end a cell phone call with his mother, a soldier serving in Iraq, you just knew the backlash from the community (near Fort Benning) would force them to back off. So why didn't the school officials have this sussed in the first place?
PETRA NEMCOVA, the supermodel badly injured in the south asian tsunami, is now able to walk without crutches and plans to return to NYC this week to start raising money for tsunami victims. She will meet with representatives of international charities and develop a plan for how to best help people in the region near Khao Lak, the idyllic area where she and her boyfriend (who was killed in the disaster) were staying.
IDOL GOSSIP UPDATE: ABC's controversial special Primetime Live on the talent show won its time slot, as did American Idol itself. Meanwhile, journos are concerned that the networks are training their guns on each other. J. Max Robins, editor in chief at Broadcasting & Cable, said it ''is valid to ask the question, 'If Idol were an ABC show, not a Fox show, would they be doing the story?'" No, Fox would; so what? And fwiw, Matt Drudge reports that days before the program aired, Paula Abdul's lawyer fired off a detailed two page warning to ABC News strongly denying any wrongdoing regarding Abdul and drugs... though the issue was not part of their investigation.
COUGARS: It wasn't all about American Idol last week: ABC News Primetime also examined the phenomenon of older women dating younger men. The Phat Phree site offers a guide to dating women in each age bracket.
CATS: One gets toilet-trained. Another is a dangerous fugitive under a death sentence in Chile.
PENGUINS are dying from chlamydia.
TALES OF THE FRIENDLY SKIES: Hit in the head by a shot fired from the ground, pilot Mike Spicer managed, with the help of his passenger, to get his plane safely back to the Clay Center, Kansas airport. In North Las Vegas, a passenger was forced to crash land a private plane Thursday after the pilot suffered an apparent heart attack.
JOHN BOLTON: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee delayed its vote on embattled nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations after Sen. George Voinovich expressed reservations, but Voinovich hasn't bothered to meet with Bolton since. And we're not going to get to hear his ex-wife dish about his kinky sex life, as she says he didn't have one. Insert your own mustache joke here.
THEOCRACY: At a recent academic conference at the City University of New York on "the real agenda of the religious far right," the central threat speakers raised was "theocracy." No speaker representing religious conservatives was invited to offer a rebuttal.
DISCOUNT DEVIL: The number of the Beast has been marked down from 666 to 616.
AL-QAEDA: So far, Abu Farj al-Libbi has refused to reveal the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and his key accomplices, but having learned that he was ambushed by commandos in burqas, it's nice to learn that al-Libbi also was disguised as a woman. European terror experts doubt that al-Libbi was the number three man in al-Qaeda, but even if he is not, imho, the fact that Pakistani forces were willing to undertake the operation (including dozens of follow-up arrests) in the border area sympathetic to bin Laden represents progress.
SOCIAL SECURITY: Bill Clinton urges his fellow Democrats to offer their own plan.
THE FDA is about to implement rules recommending that any man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years be barred from serving as an anonymous sperm donor. Critics accuse the FDA of stigmatizing all gay men rather than adopting a screening process that focuses on high-risk sexual behavior by any would-be donor, gay or straight. Probably true, but from a health perspective, that's an argument for broader rules, not against the one being implemented.
CULT OF THE iPod: You can now get them from a vending machine in the Atlanta airport.
U.K. ELECTION: Although Iraq was the focus of the media in the election, the opposition's gains also bear out the old saying about politics being local. For example, Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos fame, writing in the Guardian, notes that Iraq eroded voters' trust of Tony Blair, but the Liberal-Democrats picked up votes on the economy and education policy in university cities like Cambridge. The Tories' marginal gains appear to be due in no small part to issues like taxes and immigration.
THE SECOND COMING OF UNDERPASS MARY: Less than 24 hours after being sprayed with mocking graffiti and lacquered in dark brown paint, the "Virgin Mary" emerged again to greet her flock Friday afternoon on the wall of a Kennedy Expressway underpass.
OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL: Former Fed Chair Paul Volcker, who is heading the internal investigation of the UN. scandal, is desperate to get back boxes of information provided to Congress that are believed to contain information damaging to secretary-general Kofi Annan, to the point of claiming witnesses' lives amy be at stake and threatening the former investigator who provided the material under a Congressional subpoena.
CRAZY IN MARYLAND: The current home state of the Pratt family is ordering gas stations to raise prices.
HOWARD DEAN was supposed to attract indivdual donors to the Democratic National Committee, but the GOP raised twice as much from individuals in the last quarter.
THE SIMPSONS: Publicists not connected to the couple are gossiping that they could split could as early as next week. Which I would care more about if they were gossiping about Homer and Marge, as opposed to Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey.
UNBREAKABLE CODES? Australian scientists believe they have developed an unbreakable information code using a diamond, a kitchen microwave oven and an optical fiber to create a single photon beam of light they say cannot be hacked.
THE GERMAN AMBASSADOR in London complains that Britons continue to see the Germans as Nazis. Of course, it doesn't help when the tennis club hosting the German Open puts a photograph of Nazi Hermann Goering in the program and refers to the club's "golden times" after its Jewish members fled in the 1930s. To be fair, I must note that a neo-Nazi march in Berlin was stopped by thousands of anti-fascist demonstrators Sunday. However, the fact that 3,300 neo-Nazis gathered to protest what they called a German "cult of guilt" ought to give that Ambassador a moment's pause. Although I'm sure he's concerned about German kids being beaten by British kids, the anniversary of V-E Day might not have been the most diplomatic moment to complain.
KILLER CHILI POWDER: It is pure capsaicin - the chemical that lends habanero and jalapeno peppers their thermonuclear heat. It is 30 times hotter than the spiciest pepper, the Red Savina from Mexico, and 8,000 times stronger than Tabasco sauce. Although capsaicin does not actually burn - it fools your brain into thinking that you are in pain by stimulating nerve endings in your mouth - some medical experts believe that it could kill an asthmatic or hospitalise a user who touched his eyes or other sensitive parts of the anatomy.
DAVID ROSEN goes to trial Tuesday on charges of repeatedly misleading the Federal Elections Commission about contributions received to stage an August 2000 Hollywood fund-raiser for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. Conversations recorded for the FBI by Ray Reggie, Sen. Ted Kennedy's brother-in-law, are expected to be key evidence. A partial transcript of the Sept. 4, 2002, tape obtained by The Times-Picayune in New Orleans captures a conversation rife with gossip about the seamy side of political life, including the sex, drugs and prostitutes enjoyed by big-name Democratic stalwarts.
TIME-TRAVELLERS' CONVENTION: I just got back from the big weekend convo. Or I never left. Anyway, I picked up a cyborg bodyguard on the cheap.