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Bonnaroo, Islands, Guilty Pleasures, Cutout Bin, Clumsy Dog   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, June 20, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:

... with BONNAROO 2008!  Glide magazine's Pullin' Tubes has collected tons of video from last weekend's big fest.  Sadly, much of the Cat Power set has been yanked, but they missed her interpretive medley of "Blue Moon" and "(Dream) All I Have To Do."  The Broken Social Scene set is still there and "Shoreline 7/4" is pretty nice, even without Leslie Feist. The handheld fan footage of Pearl Jam isn't bad, including originals like "Better Man" and "Daughter" along with The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me."  Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings get the crowd whipped up with "Not Gonna Cry."  And though far from the stage, it's still fun to hear Disco Biscuits cover Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance" and Alison Krauss & Robert Plant duet on Zep's "Battle of Evermore."  There's plenty more at that first link-- Ben Folds, My Morning Jacket, Tegan & Sara, the Swell Season, the Raconteurs and more...

LARGEHEARTED BOY has Hallelelujah the Hills singer and guitarist Ryan Walsh interview brother and sister Cassie Berman (of the Silver Jews) and Joe Marrett (of Hallelujah the Hills and Ketman).  Berman reveals: "The first record I remember us both obsessing over was the Chicago Bears 'Superbowl Shuffle.'"

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

RICHARD THOMPSON spends 60 Seconds with the Colorado Springs Independent.

THE PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL has a sampler of this years' artists available for dowload through festival partner emusic, if you're willing to do the site's free trial.

TEN GUILTY PLEASURES of the 80s, compiled by the B-List.  For legal reasons, they have no video for Prince's "When U Were Mine," but this live version from 1981 is pretty sweet.

14 SONGS YOU SHOULD NEVER PLAY IN A BAR, courtesy of Holy Taco.  Hard to argue with 'em, really.

SUZANNE VEGA blogs her status as a two-hit wonder and 20-year musician for the New York Times.  Steaming audio tracks at the link also.  Vega promises more on the DNA remix of "Tom's Diner."

GUNS 'N' ROSES:  Antiquiet had posted nine tracks from the long-delayed Chinese Democracy LP.  They're removed now, but the commentary is still there.

CUTOUT BIN: Walken's got a fee-vah to launch this Friday's fortuitous finds, including the Mummies, Stealer's Wheel, the Pixies, the Violent Femmes, John Lennon, the Zombies and more -- all of which can be jukeboxed or streamed separately via the Pate page at the ol' HM.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS, Britney's knocked-up 17-year-old sis, isn't knocked-up any more, having given birth to a baby girl named Maddie Briann.

AMY WINEHOUSE could be in hospital for weeks after relatives vowed to do whatever it takes to make her quit drugs.

ROB LOWE wins a round in court as his ex-nanny's claims of labor code violations are dismissed.  The sex harassment claims move forward for now.

HULU's DAYS of SUMMER:  The online video service is rolling out a big video daily, including full streams of Lost in Translation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the Three Stooges Collection 1934-1936. N'yuk n'yuk n'yuk!

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY is more comfortable doing nude scenes than singing. She's probably not alone in that opinion.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases are the semi-mod adaptation of Get Smart, currently scoring a (surprising to me ) 54 percent on the ol' Tomatometer, and the Mike Myers vehicle The Love Guru, which is scoring a (not at all surprising to me) 10 percent.  Get Smart even does well with the "Cream of the Crop" critics. Of the three that studios really watch,  Variety and the Hollywood Reporter are thumbs-down, but the most valued Roger Ebert is thumbs-up. BONUS: Anne Hathaway (Agent 99) is on an emotional roller-coaster following her split from long time bf Raffaello Follieri.

ISLAMISM in KUWAIT: They want to outlaw Xboxes and ban Christmas, do away with the Arab world's version of "American Idol," and keep female drivers off the roads. Kuwait is seeing a surge in conservative Islamist legislative proposals just one month after the country's Salafi Islamists and tribal candidates gained a majority in its National Assembly.

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan and NATO forces have cleared Taliban militants from a district near Kandahar, killing or wounding hundreds of rebels, a provincial governor said Thursday. There was no confirmation by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

IRAN on Thursday it was ready to negotiate over a new package of economic incentives put forward by major powers seeking to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear work. Analysts also believe Tehran is using delaying tactics to press ahead with atomic work. An Iranian official said on Thursday time was on Iran's side.

IRAQ: Iraqi security forces launched a crackdown on Shi'ite militias in Amara, the latest drive in Prime Minister al-Maliki's campaign to restore order to Iraq. Among those arrested were Amara's mayor, Rafea Abdul-Jabbar, and a member of the municipal council.  The mayor, who also was acting deputy governor for Maysan province, is a Muqtada al-Sadr loyalist. Al-Sadr's aides complained that the mayor's arrest violated the spirit of agreements made in talks with the government in the run-up to the operation.  Iraq's foreign ministry says that Iraqi and US officials are seeking a compromise regarding a new security pact.

CHESTER may be Britain's clumsiest dog. He's broken bones falling down holes, broken his tailbone, lost teeth and dislocated his shoulder, smashed his face on furniture and falls down stairs every week.  Full list, and an a photographed encounter with a planter at the link.

A BLACK BEAR CUB is Lovin' It in South Brunswick.

CIRCLES the DUCK: Still under an order of protection in Mastic, NY.

CHICKENS ain't noise polution.  Or are they?

SKUNK on a PLANE delayed a flight from Miami to Bogotá for nearly 2 ½ hours Wednesday.

BOOMERANG, a racing pigeon, has flown back to her original owner, 10 years after he gave the bird away. A heart-warming story; compelling and rich.

2875 Reads

Mates of State, Bob Pollard, Conor Oberst, Harvey   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, June 19, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

Karl

MATES OF STATE have made "My Only Offer"  the second video from their Rearrange Us album.

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED: Sigur Ros, Sparks, the Dandy Warhols and Wolf Parade are among those featured on the latest episode of the long-running NPR series.

LIZ PHAIR is profiled by NewCity Chicago, while you can download and stream one of her "Girly Sound" demos, "Ant In Alaska," via the 'Gum and 'Gum Mix.

ROBERT POLLARD's latest band, Boston Spaceships, has a new song "Go For The Exit" to download or stream.

CONOR OBERST has two new tracks, "Souled Out" and "Danny Callahan," streaming via his website.

TILLY & THE WALL have a video for their new track "Pot Kettle Black." Profanity.

SHEARWATER frontman Jonathan Meiburg compares songs to sculpture and much more at the Montreal Gazette.

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO has his new song, "Always A Friend," floating around online.

REDD KROSS is back after a decade-long hiatus, and talking to the Toronto Sun and Rock Sellout. (Thx, Chromewaves.)

SOLOMON BURKE, the King of Rock 'n' Soul, is interviewed by Crawdaddy: "Liberace was soulful. In fact, you couldn't get any more soulful than Liberace."

SIENNA MILLER & KEIRA KNIGHTLEY cut very lean figures as they hit the red carpet for the premiere of their new film, The Edge Of Love, in Edinburgh.  Knightley really better have the metablism of a bird, or she's in desperate need of a sammich.  Miller, who now says her relationship with actor Rhys Ifans was never that serious, has confirmed she will play the role of Maid Marian in a film remake of Robin Hood.

BRITNEY SPEARS tried to kill herself on two separate occasions, according to a new unauthorized biography.

MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY's girlfriend is due to give birth next month, but he had to be helped out of a Nicaraguan bar the other night after dancing with an assortment of babes, says a witness.

BRADGELINA are making plans to adopt a baby boy from Ethiopia after Jolie gives birth to the twins, according to OK! magazine.

HOTTEST BACHELORS 2008: Equal time for all the gratuitous cheesecake I link can be found at People magazine.

JOHNNY DEPP kept a promise to give a 12-year-old the hat from his upcoming Dillinger movie -- and then some.

PAKISTAN: The architect of Pakistan's nuclear program on Tuesday rejected a report alleging that his network may have shared blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon with countries such as Iran and North Korea.

IRAN's Iran's parliament will on Sunday discuss a new package of economic, technological and political incentives aimed at stopping its uranium enrichment program.

IRAQ is committed to meeting a deadline for a long-term security pact with the US, as Washington confirmed it dropped a demand concerning the divisive issue of immunity for private contractors. The Iraqi air force is making great strides as it continues to train and begins supporting Iraqi army and police forces. Prime Minister al-Maliki ordered the security forces to refrain from random arrests of supporters of Shiite radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr in a new crackdown on militia. Iraqi officials say radical Shiite militias have agreed to let the government retake control of Amarah without a fight.

HARVEY, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier who used a trampoline to escape over a garden fence, has been reunited with his owners.

A MOTHER DUCK whose six ducklings were sucked into a drain tracked her offspring for more than a mile -- across a busy roundabout, countless roads, a metro rail line, a housing estate, two school playing fields and hospital grounds -- apparently listening to their cheeps of distress at manhole covers.  Pics at the link.

PET GERBIL framed in automobile accident.  Looks to be a rear-ender to boot.

THE ROYAL COWS of NEPAL are in limbo after a special assembly voted in May to abolish the 239-year-old monarchy and turn the Himalayan nation into a republic.

THE TOP TEN NEW SPECIES LIST, compiled by International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. Pics at the link.

2690 Reads

Last Shadow Puppets, Teddy Thompson, Nicole Atkins, Pigeons   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

Karl

THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS crank out a simple, but fab clip for "Standing Next to Me."

TEDDY THOMPSON's new album, A Piece of What You Need, is streaming in full this week via AOL.

DUFFY, THE SEX PISTOLS, LED ZEPPELIN & NEIL DIAMOND were among this year's Mojo Award winners.  Duffy was reportedly left in tears after falling afoul of Johnny Rotten.  Motorhead's Lemmy and Jimmy Page got along so well they wanted to swap phone numbers -- but neither could figure out how to work their cellphones.

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

FAMOUS SONGS and their muses, including Patti Boyd, Sharona Alperin, Prudence Farrow, Caroline Kennedy and many more...

NICOLE ATKINS plays a new song, "Caught In The Way," on a bale of hay at Bonnaroo for SPIN.

R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills comes out as a heterosexual to New York magazine.

KATHLEEN EDWARDS is interviewed for All Things Considered, along with the stream for her NON-COMMvention gig.

BILLY BRAGG tells the Montreal Gazette that his new album is his stab at making it into the Soul section of the record store.

WHEN ROCK STARS ATTACK: The best on-stage outbursts, according to the Limewire blog.  With embedded video.

ANNE HATHAWAY dumped her shady longtime Italian boyfriend Raffaello Follieri,as his scandals were hurting her reputation. Despite their split, it remains to be seen if the separation is permanent.

AMY WINEHOUSE remained in hospital on Tuesday for more tests after fainting at home on Monday and being rushed to a clinic by her father, a spokesman said.

BRITNEY SPEARS's father intends to sell her Studio City home in the latest liquidation of her assets, it was revealed in Los Angeles probate court Tuesday.

LANCE ARMSTRONG dodged the Kate Hudson question on The View. Video at the link.

JENNIFER ANISTON's rep claims that a report in Life & Style magazine that Aniston wanted to exclude her He's Just Not That Into You co-star Jennifer Connelly from a group cover shot for Marie Claire is "absolutely absurd."

DENISE RICHARDS claims to be "setting the record straight" on her new E! reality show, "It's Complicated," but several sources who know the actress say it's a record that she's making up.

BRADGELINA are actual human beings, according to Jolie's Wanted co-stars.

SOPHIA BUSH of One Tree Hill is back on the market.

CYD CHARISSE, the long-legged Texas beauty who danced with the Ballet Russe, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, died Tuesday. She was 86.

THE DARK KNIGHT's running time has been confirmed at 152 minutes: "In the 1950s and early '60s we had long, self-important movies about Jesus. In the 21st Century we have long, self-important movies about Batman."

GISELLE BUNDCHEN tells GQ that current beau Tom Brady "really, genuinely doesn't have a bad bone in his body," though Brady's baby mama, Bridget Moynahan, might have a different opinion.  Bundchen also discusses her split from Leonardo DiCaprio, whom she dated before Brady.

IRAN said on Tuesday uranium enrichment was its "red line" and would continue, despite an enhanced offer of incentives from big powers to stop activity the West fears could yield nuclear bombs.  Meanwhile, Aacorrespondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Persian-language Radio Farda, was barred from covering a UN food summit in Rome, because he wanted to ask Pres. Ahmadinejad, "If Iran is the second-largest oil producer in the world after Saudi Arabia, and the second-largest gas producer after Russia, and has more than $40 billion in reserves, why does such a rich country have 7 million people living under the poverty line of less than $1 a day?"  Apparently, Ahmadinejad has responded in the past in Iran with answers suggesting that "the economy is managed by the 12th imam," a religious leader whose return devout Shi'a await to usher in a golden age, or by challenging conventional wisdom by asking, "Who says inflation is a bad thing?"

IRAQ: The Iraqi government and military continue to shape the battlefield for the confrontation with the Mahdi Army in Maysan province. Iraqi troops replace border guards. Local police forces are raised. Maliki gives deadline for Mahdi Army to disarm. Sadrists fear being targeted.  European and Asian companies are beating their US rivals into Iraq now that security has improved the investment climate, Iraq and US officials say.  A military judge has dismissed charges against a Marine officer accused of failing to investigate the killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha, amid concerns that a four-star general overseeing the prosecution was improperly influenced by an investigator.

PIGEONS are as smart as three-year-old children. And some art students.

FEMALE CHIMPS are total sluts. NTTAWWT.

ALBINO SNAKES fail to attack the police on their owner's command.  Oops. Video at the link.

MONITOR LIZARDS, JACKALS & BIRDS delayed over 100 flights in New Dehli, India, by straying onto the runway a day after a monsoon hit.

A PUFFER FISH sent a Cambodian teenager to the hospital by attacking the boy's scrotum.

5987 Reads

The BPA, New Releases, Spoon, Vampire Weekend, Qahr   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, June 17, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

Karl

THE BRIGHTON PORT AUTHORITY (f/k/a Fatboy Slim, Norman Cook) teams up with Dizee rascal and David Byrne for "Toe Jam," which is probably NSFW above and beyond the F-bomb Byrne drops. You have never seen so many black bars in one video.

NEW RELEASES: Wolf Parade, Tilly & the Wall, Verve remixes and Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue are among the albums streaming in full via Spinner.  The Silver Jews release Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. My Brightest Diamond unleashes A Thousand Shark's Teeth.

THE TING TINGS' Katie White talks to Daytrotter about how she and Jules De Martino celebrated topping the UK charts, the difference between playing London and Helsinki and more...

SPOON does the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, including a cover of Paul Simon's "Peace Like A River."

THE OLD 97s frontman Rhett Miller answers the usual 20 questions from PopMatters.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND  drops an F-bomb on the way to covering Tom Petty's "Dont Come Around Here No More" with Andrew W.K. at NYC's Centerstage.  Pair it up with TP & the Heartbreakers on "Here Comes My Girl" for Twofer Tuesday.

THE HOLD STEADY gets a positive review for Stay Positive in the New York Times.

JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN:  Joan Wasser, violinist for artists like Lou Reed, Antony and the Johnsons, and Jeff Buckley, chats and plays a couple of her own songs for WNYC's Soundcheck.

R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe talks to Metromix about the millennial angst that drives the new Accelerate LP.

ARTS & CRAFTS: The Canadian label fueled by Feist, Broken Social Scene, The Constantines and more is profiled by the National Post.

JEN & JOHN: Aniston and Mayer headed for a little R&R at Casa Aramara, the sprawling beachfront home of Girls Gone Wild mogul Joe Francis, in Punta Mita, Mexico.  Meanwhile, Aniston is said to have demanded that her He's Just not That Into You co-star Jennifer Connelly not appear with her in a cast photo for the cover of Marie Claire.

AMY WINEHOUSE has been hospitalized after fainting at home, her rep tells US magazine.

GEORGE CLOONEY has clearly got over his recent love split, as he is reported to be enjoying a visit at his Lake Como villa, from two beautiful house guests.

JESSICA SIMPSON likes to eat meat, much to the chagrin of Tony Romo's ex-girlfriend, country superstar Carrie Underwood -- and PETA.

BRITNEY SPEARS swam with the dolphins at the Mirage in Vegas over the weekend. Plus, the pop wreck will not be charged over an incident last year in which she allegedly ran over the foot of a paparazzo.

DENISE RICHARDS is considering shedding her clothes for Playboy magazine once again: "I think that my niche is as a sex symbol. I'm never going to be the girl next door, so why not play up my niche?"

ROBERT DOWNEY, JR, is in negotiations to star in DreamWorks/Universal's "Cowboys & Aliens," a pulpy mix of the sci-fi and Western genres that could serve as a potential 2010 tentpole.

HAYDEN PANETTIERE & MILO VENTIMIGLIA of Heroes were... wait for it... caught canoodling at the Kira Plastinina US Launch Ace Gallery in Los Angeles.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY's mother has attacked 'playground bullies' for a whispering campaign suggesting the 23-year-old actress is anorexic.

THE DARK KNIGHT; A tantalizing new video has popped up at Why So Serious?

STAN WINSTON the Oscar-winning visual effects artist whose resume stretched from the Terminator and Jurassic Park movies, to Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but with a ton of credits in between, has died at age 62 after a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma.

"IOWANS are at their best when their backs are against the wall," said Gov. Chet Culver said Saturday, as the Hawkeye state was hit by floods and tornadoes. A tornado that smashed through a Boy Scout camp in western Iowa with little warning killed four of the campers and injured 48, but the state's governor and scout leaders said they marveled at how the surviving boys rallied to dig out their friends, set up triage sites and administer first aid.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS will raise oil production to record levels within weeks in an attempt to avert an escalation of social and political unrest around the world.

IRAN: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans Monday for new European sanctions against Iranian banking, oil and natural gas interests, signaling a growing willingness by Western allies to join President Bush in punishing Tehran for its nuclear enrichment program.

IRAQ: Although the Shiite bloc serving as the backbone of the current government joined the other political forces in rejecting the terms of the preliminary draft of the US-Iraqi security pact, it has taken steps to prevent the negotiations from breaking down under the pressure of opposition from much of the Iraqi political spectrum. A representative of top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Friday called Iraqi officials to show patience during the US-Iraq negotiations, terming pledges of withdrawing foreign troops from Iraq as transitory and elections-oriented. The signatures of more than two million Iraqi Shi'ites, demanding that Iran cease its interference in Iraq, were presented on Saturday during a convention in Ashraf, northeast of Baghdad, the London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported. The government will take over responsibility of Anbar and Qadisiya (Diwaniya) provinces in the coming weeks. Iraq's security forces tightened their grip on the southern city of Amara on Monday and appealed to Shi'ite militias to hand over heavy weapons before a government deadline for launching a crackdown.

IRAQ and the MEDIA: The Associated Press that violence is down, armed extremists are in disarray, government confidence is rising and sectarian communities are gearing up for a battle at the polls rather than slaughter in the streets -- but that these positive signs are attracting little attention in the US.  Indeed.  If only there were an international news service that could get the word out...

QAHR: Hey! Did you happen to see the Most Beautiful Goat in Riyadh?

ORPHANED BIRDS are learning how to sing by listening to recordings of the dawn chorus. Tim Thomas, of the RSPCA, said: "The ability to sing is extremely important to the males of most bird species because it is vital for them to form and then defend their own territory and find a mate."

THE BIRDS: Train services were disrupted in parts of eastern India for three hours after flocks of agitated crows snapped overhead powerlines when railway workers tried to clear their nests, officials said on Monday.

A BEAVER took a nibble out of a fiber optic cable northeast of Hope and knocked out telephones and other services to part of southwest Arkansas. No evidence of squirrel involvement... yet.

SCREW THE POOCH: Leona Helmsley's pet pooch, Trouble, is going from rich ***** to good dog by throwing a 10 million bone to charity. A Manhattan judge quietly reduced the notoriously ill-tempered canine's 12 million trust fund and signed off on a deal to pay the late billionaire's two disinherited grandchildren $6 million amid allegations that Helmsley wasn't mentally competent when she signed her will.

4430 Reads

MMJ, Shearwater, James Hunter, The Hulk, Muschi & Meauschen   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, June 16, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

Karl

MY MORNING JACKET drummer Patrick Hallahan lists common misconceptions about the band for the Toronto Star. Frontman Jim James "spins" clips featuring James Brown, Jim Henson, Muhammad Ali and John Prine as TubeVJ for a day at Velocity Weekly. (Thx, LHB.)

SHEARWATER hit DC's Black Cat last night, so you should be able to stream the gig on demand via NPR.

LEONARD COHEN is profiled in the Independent as he sets out on his first British tour for 15 years.

JAMES HUNTER brought his classic-tinged soul to the World Cafe on Friday; you can stream his set on demand via NPR.

JIM DICKINSON and the North Mississippi All-Stars: sort of a Father's Day story.

LOVE IS ALL does an art-punk take on the  Flock of Seagulls' classic "I Ran (So Far Away," sans the asymmetric haircuts.

WILL JOHNSON explains the duality of his bands -- the noisy Centro-matic and the contemplative South San Gabriel -- to the Boston Globe.

FLEET FOXES are "the Beach Boys gone feral," according to the Observer -- and it seems that Robin Pecknold has a little of Brian Wilson's reclusive streak as well: "The Foxes are still green enough to be humbled by the applause. 'I spend most of my time in my parents' basement,' confesses Pecknold sweetly, 'so this is very strange.'"

WEEZER frontman Rivers Cuomo is interviewed for NPR's Weekend Edition about changes to the band's music and the brave new world of the Internet. There's also a sidebar from a first-time Weezer listener.

BETTYE LaVETTE talks to Chicagoland's Northwest Herald about preserving her voice and returning to Alabama to record "The Scene Of The Crime."

THE INCREDIBLE HULK: Mr. Green Genes returns to the big screen in a film that is much more what people expect than Ang Lee's 2003 take, with plenty of "Hulk smash" action, though not as good as this summer's adaptation of Iron Man. Ed Norton makes for a more convincing Bruce Banner than Eric Bana, and reportedly polished the screenplay from Zak Penn (who has plenty of experience adapting Marvel comics, including X2 and X-Men 3, Elektra, and the Fantastic Four).  Variety's Anne Thompson has the backstory on Norton's struggle with the studios.  Liv Tyler's Betsy Ross suffers by comparison to Jennifer Connelly, but the script gives her enough time that the viewer cares about her fate as well as that of Banner.  (We can hope the DVD will include the outtakes where Tyler splits her pants repeatedly.)  William Hurt brings his own twist to Gen. "Thunderbolt" Ross; one suspects that we have not seen the last of him.  Tim Roth is suitably nasty as Emil Blonsky, the core villain of the piece.  Stan Lee and original TV Hulk Lou Ferrigno are only two of the cool cameos.

The weaknesses of the film are generally what I always found to be the weaknesses of the comic.  The Hulk - at least the classic Hulk - is inherently simplistic, a manifestation of suppressed rage.  He is so powerful that he is most often opposed by either the military or a comparable behemoth, and there is nothing new on that front in this movie. One of the great bonuses of the film is that Marvel Studios continues to bring the audience into the wider Marvel Universe.  Those who have seen Iron Man will spot some familiar names; comics geeks will recognize the allusions to the Captain America saga. Non-comics geeks reading this will be able to deduce what those allusions are.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  The Incredible Hulk won the weekend with 54.5 million -- not as good as the 2003 opening, but exceeding projections with an impressive per screen average and likely more legs than the 2003 version.  Overall it ranks about average for a Marvel movie opening. It opened bigger than the last major comics-franchise reboot, 2005's Batman Begins, and is the best debut ever for Edward Norton and Ed Norton's hair. Kung Fu Panda placed second, falling a respectable 43% to 34.3 million -- it seems likely to end up somewhere between Shark Tale and Madagascar in the Dreamworks catalog, and a big seller on DVD at the holidays.  M. Night Shyamalan' The Happening came in third with 30 million -- beating expectations, though nowhere near the opening of Signs or even The Village.  Bad buzz will likely cause a big tumble next weekend.  You Don't Mess with the Zohan fell a stiff 57% to 16.4 million -- not as good as Adam Sandler's other recent movies over this time span, but okay.  Rounding out the top five is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which remains a little ahead of Iron Man over the same time frame for top earner this summer.

MADONNA & GUY RITCHIE have reportedly turned to the Kabbalah to help them through their latest marital problems, taking private his-and-hers ‘teachings' at their local center in Oxford Street, London, every Friday night.

R. KELLY was acquitted of child pr0n charges that he appeared on a videotape having sex with a girl as young as 13. Several jurors said one weakness in the prosecution's case was that neither the alleged victim nor her parents testified, even though 14 people personally identified the girl and 12 of them identified Kelly.  Classic celebrity justice.

GEORGE CLOONEY has been dating a woman in her mid-30s" for months now, even before he split with Sarah Larson, according to Page Six.

SIENNA MILLER, who is rumored to be separated from her Welsh actor boyfriend Rhys Ifans, thinks she is too selfish to have children right now.

TONY ROMO denies rumors that creepy dad-manager Joe Simpson has been meddling in his nearly seven-month-old courtship of the pneumatic Jessica.

ADRIANNA LIMA received an engagement ring Thursday night - her birthday - from basketball star Marko Jaric. Let's celebrate by checking out her last photoshoot and video for GQ.  And her new photoshoot for Elle.

NAOMI CAMPBELL almost tumbled to the ground after a night out with friends in Italy. Pics at the link.

KID ROCK was rushed to the hospital minutes before he was to head on stage Friday, suffering from stomach cramps and dehydration.  It seems unlikely that Kid Rock would ever be short of hydration.

TERROR in the UK: More secret government documents detailing the UK's policies towards fighting global terrorist funding, drugs trafficking and money laundering have been found on a London-bound train and handed to 'The Independent on Sunday'.

THE STANS: Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened Sunday to send Afghan troops after notorious Taliban leaders inside Pakistan in an angry warning to his eastern neighbor that he will no longer tolerate cross-border attacks.

THE A.Q. KHAN weapons smuggling ring that sold bomb-related parts to Libya, Iran and North Korea also managed to acquire blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon, according to a draft report by a former top UN arms inspector that suggests the plans could have been shared secretly with any number of countries or rogue groups.

IRAQ: Prime Minister al-Maliki said negotiations over the security pact with the US had reached "a dead end"... but would continue, while rebuffing Iranian overtures. "Dr. iRack" looks at the positioning of different factions over the proposed pact. Moqtada al Sadr ordered the Sadrist political movement to boycott the upcoming provincial elections, one day after his order to disband the Mahdi Army as a fighting force and the creation of a small, armed wing to attack Coalition forces exclusively. The Iraqi Army has begun an offensive against the Mahdi Army in Maysan province. The US Army detained a senior Mahdi Army commander in Baghdad. Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured two Mahdi Army operatives in Baghdad.

MUSCHI & MAEUSCHEN:  This odd couple are so close that zookeepers in Berlin have had to reunite the pair after they were separated.  More pics at the link.

A SPIDER MONKEY new to the the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City, IN, used a garden hose to scale the walls of a moat and make a break for freedom.

A LEATHERBACK TURTLE has nested on a Texas beach, at the Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi, for the first time since the 1930s.

NEARLY 800 RATS have been trapped from one house in Sutherlin, OR.

MAN & SHEEPDOG survive a 220 ft. plunge off a cliff.  The dog fared better than the driver.

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