NOTE: If you missed yesterday's announcement, there is now a Pate page on MySpace, which is currently streaming four tracks from their 2003 reunion gig. More details yesterday.
LIT-BLOGGING: It looks as though I will be joining Amber Taylor's book blogging club. At the end of January, folks will be discussing Blindness, should you care to join in.
CAT POWER is streaming The Greatest in advance of its release and it sounds pretty darn cool.
THE REVOLTING COCKS will return with a new album this spring, including cameos from Gibby Haynes, Billy Gibbons, Jello Biafra, Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen.
FILE-SHARING networks like Grokster and Morpheus are contemplating what they once couldn't abide -- doing business by the entertainment industry's rules to survive.
CD CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT: When looking at any possible settlement of the Sony XCD debacle, we should keep in mind the settlement of a price-fixing lawsuit brought by Attorneys General in 41 states. Part of the settlement required the major labels to give 76 million in albums to schools, colleges and libraries. To prevent the companies from dumping unwanted inventory, lawyers for the states came up with a formula based on how much time artists spent on the Billboard charts. So how did the Milwaukee Public Library received 1,235 copies of Whitney Houston's 1991 recording of "The Star-Spangled Banner," 188 copies of Michael Bolton's Timeless, 375 of Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1971, and 104 copies of Will Smith's Willennium?
MORRISSEY claims that when he moves house the most important room in the house is the bathroom because that's where he comes up with all his hits.
BORN TO RUN: I was just watching Wings For Wheels: The Making of Born To Run, a DVD included in the Born To Run box set. And while there's riveting video from both sides of the glass in the movie, what immediately struck me was something that should have been obvious, but never occurred to me until now. At the start of the film, Bruce talks about driving "the circuit" in Asbury Park and the album representing an "endless summer night." Yet neither he -- nor anyone I've read, iirc -- has noted the album was written and recorded shortly after the August 1973 release of American Graffiti. That movie is about cruising, telling multiple stories from an endless summer night, and is -- as Born To Run would be -- addressing the theme of escape from that culture. The movie was the first to use wall-to-wall pop music as its score; the album recalls the music of that era, but augmented the Spectorian wall of sound with a lyricism that was cinematic in scope. I figure that someone else must have already noticed this, but a Google search comes up with Bob Seger as one of the few to link the two.
SEASON OF THE LIST: Drive-By Truckers frontman Patterson Hood has posted a Top Ten plus more at his website. One Louder has album lists from Jeff and Rajeev.
UP IN 2006: The San Francisco Chronicle has ten pop discoveries for 2006, some of which have been featured here already.
SHAWN COLVIN is only half-kidding when she says the theme for her new studio album is mid-life crisis. She's moved from Columbia to Nonesuch -- home to acts like Wilco and Brian Wilson.
SUFJAN STEVENS won Stereogum's male indie rock hottie poll. Better luck next year, Colin Meloy. Stereogum followed up with a poll of which state Sufjan should do next in his 50 state project.
PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The troubled singer went on the "bender of all benders" after seeing pictures of the supposedly sober supermodel kissing a fresh-faced 20-year-old.
MILDLY MYOPIC ITEMS: Page Six has some not very blind items, including a reference to "a model, supposedly free of her drug woes, back on the powder, doing lines at Teddy's in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel." That can't be Kate Moss, natch -- when she was at Teddy's she confided to a friend: "I'm drinking but I'm not doing drugs." ALSO: Golden Fiddle asks, "Which increasingly raspy-voiced Tinseltown temptress's once 19-year-old face is rapidly catching up to her 50-year-old hands?" And Spencer gives you a little hint, as if one was needed.
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: The Chronic (what?) cles of Narnia edges out Kong, though not on a per screen average. Gregg Kilday of The Hollywood Reporter argues that part of Kong's problem is Matt Drudge. Actually, if you matched Kong and Narnia at similar points in their runs, Kong falls only a few million behind, which is pretty good for a movie that runs three hours and thus cannot be shown as often as Narnia (which did not have to compete with Kong when it opened). Tom O'Neil -- Tinseltown's answer to Mel Kiper, Jr. -- thinks Kong might grab the most Oscar noms, which is a good predictor of the eventual winner.
THE POPCORN PALACE ECONOMY: At Slate, Edward Jay Epstein notes that movie theaters are in three different businesses -- but primarily the fast-food business.
STEVEN SPIELBERG is denying rumored plans for a film version of the new Mary Poppins musical.
MUNICH: Judea Pearl, mother of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, is not a fan of Spielberg's current film: "Regrettably, Spielberg's Munich now adds a Hollywood-styled confusion to the moral relativism on terrorism..."
THE SOPRANOS have a teaser trailer and a behind-the-scenes clip posted at HBO -- March 2006 is not far away.
GWYNETH PALTROW has started taking her Jewish roots seriously after missing out on two years of fasting during the religion's high holy days.
HOLLYWOOD 2006: The Washington Post posts a deliberately silly list of who and what is "in" and "out" this year. MSNBC has suggested resolutions for our favorite A-listers. Example: Tom-Kat should resolve "To fulfill their dreams of being the perfect, most well-adjusted family in Hollywood. one that no one could possibly suspect of being a complete sham perpetrated by a 40-something Scientologist who worries that his days of being the go-to stud are numbered and a former WB refugee who sees only horror movie sequels in her future..."
MICHA BARTON: The OC hottie seems to have realized that new beau and rocker Cisco Adler is not all that. At his band's last gig, "Every time Cisco would look over at her, she was not even paying attention," says an observer.
JACK BLACK finally speaks of his fear of Sean Penn.
BRADGELINA UPDATE: Perez Hilton is sticking by those Jolie pregnancy rumors. And now the rumors have found their way to Britain's News of the World, which claims that Jolie had a secret scan at Santa Monica's St John's Hospital Health Center in California last month.
ORLANDO BLOOM is the poster boy for a New York Times article arguing that the studios' strategy of shying away from bigger stars and the huge price tags that accompany them, in favor of trying to boost up-and-comers like Bloom to the A-list, is failing. But as TMZ notes, Bloom has just been paid 11.9 million to reprise his role in back-to-back sequels of Pirates of the Caribbean.
IRAQ: At Iraq the Model, both Omar and Mohammed have updates and thoughts on the continued negotiations among the political parties, particularly the surprising involvement of the largely Sunni Arab Accord Front. US News has a lengthy piece on cracking an insurgent cell. Unsurprisingly, it's neither pretty nor easy; Given the chance by the media, someone thousands of miles away will second guess some of the tactics described. Bill Roggio notes that the insurgents' New Year’s Day bombings were a bust, but Monday's suicide attack in Baquba was far more effective, as al-Qaeda appears to be shifting operations northward. London's Telegraph has a story on a US sniper dropping an Iraqi insurgent who had just killed an American soldier from three quarters of a mile away.
IRAQ II: The Washington Post ran an article on reconstruction funds being "diverted" to security, a story the WaPo seems to like a lot, given that they did the same story in May, July and October. What you won't find in that coverage is any story about the reconstruction that has been accomplished, even though President Bush gave a major speech on it last month.
SYRIA: The Baath Party has expelled former Vice-President Abdul Halim Khaddam -- a day after parliament voted to bring treason charges against him for remarks implicating President al-Assad in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.
IRAN: Pres. Ahmadinejad, who has said the Holocaust was a myth, now has charged that European countries sought to complete the genocide by establishing a Jewish state in the midst of Muslim countries. He also said that anti-Semitism had a long history in Europe, while Jews had lived peacefully among Muslims for centuries -- which sorta contradicts his first point.
VENEZUELA: President Hugo Chavez decided Christmas was a good day to make a speech claiming that "the descendants of those who crucified Christ... have taken ownership of the riches of the world." Sounds sympatico with Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad.
CULT OF THE iPod: According to figures from Hitwise, the online intelligence company, visits to music download sites, such as Apple’s iTunes Music Store, saw a 50 percent increase between December 24 and 25. And Queen Elizabeth II has been rocking the Pod enough to name designer Jonathan Ive a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
PANDA CUBS: A record 21 pandas survived after being born using artificial insemination in China last year, state media said, as scientists hailed the program aimed at saving the endangered species.
TOMMY THE CAT called 911 when his owner had fallen and couldn't get up. The man got the cat three years ago and tried to train him to call 911, unsure if the training ever stuck. Now he knows.
DOG'S BEST FRIEND... is another dog. That's one finding of a study that measured stress levels in dogs that become anxious during thunderstorms.
FORTY-ONE BEACHED WHALES had to be put down in New Zealand.
A COBRA has an obvious downside as a pet.