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Vintage REM, Rare Hold Steady, Cutout Bin, and 12 Beefy Armadillos   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 08, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE...

...with R.E.M., o­n German television in October 1985. Your setlist -- "Sitting Still," an embryonic version of "Fall o­n Me," "So. Central Rain," CCR's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" (which they played the first time I saw them), "Can't Get There From Here," "Pretty Persuasion," Aerosmith's "Toys in the Attic" (which they played the third time I saw them), Television's "See No Evil," their own "Don't Go Back to Rockville" and the Stones' "Paint It Black."

SEASON of the LIST: An Aquarium Drunkard is streaming tracks from Robert Pollard, Centro-matic, Howie Gelb, Bonnie "Prince" Billy and more from his Best Albums list.

THE TOP 50 VIDEOS OF 2006, according to the DoCopenhagen blog, all with embedded clips. There goes the rest of the day.

THE NEW YORK DOLLS' Sylvain Sylvain talks to the Riverfront Times about rock & roll and driving a cab. You can listen to "Personality Crisis" while you read it.

THE HOLD STEADY: Heather Browne has psoted outtakes and alt-takes from Boys and Girls in America, which you can stream from the last link or jukebox o­n the HM.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: The Pretenders play "2000 Miles." It's very far. It felt like Christmastime.

THE LEMONHEADS: Evan Dando says he went back to the name "perversely just to confuse people... but also because I did put a lot of work into the band, the trademark, that name. I think we could have done a little better. Leave a better legacy."

THE SHINS frontman James Mercer talks to the Stranger about the challenge and opportunity of post-Garden State success.

MICK JONES looks back at The Clash with the A.V. Club: "We were just playing the music we liked. We took o­n the music that was actually around us. We never wanted to do the same record twice. The groups I liked, you really looked forward to their albums and you rushed to get them the first day, because you knew it was going to be different than what they did before. The records told you what that group was into at that time..."

JOANNA NEWSOM guest-DJed NPR's All Songs Considered, so you can stream songs from Sandy Denny, Randy Newman, and her collaborator Van Dyke Parks, plus songs from her critically-acclaimed new album, Ys.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: London's Sun has illustrations from the children's book inspired by the troubled singer's travails.

THE CUTOUT BIN: This Friday's fortuitous finds from the Hype Machine include: The Jimmies - Chevy Van; R.E.M. & Pearl Jam - Live For Today; The Kinks - Death of a Clown; M. Ward - Chinese Translation; Primal Scream - Movin' o­n Up; Dukes Of Stratosphere - Pale And Precious; The Hidden Cameras - Awoo; Booker T. & The MG's - Time Is Tight; The Velvet Underground - Foggy Notion; Television - See No Evil; The Jam - Down In The Tube Station At Midnight; and OK Go - Jessie's Girl.

BRITNEY SPEARS seems to be trying to get back o­n track after her recent trashy behavior, even posting an underwear joke o­n her website. I guess you have to try to get your act together when Courtney Love and Janice Dickinson are questioning your parenting skills and Bette Midler is calling you a slut.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases are Unaccompanied Minors, a comedy that will need the box office power of Wilmer Valderrama to overcome its current score of 23 percent o­n the Tomatometer; The Holiday, the Winslet-Diaz-Law-Black rom-con scoring 54 percent; Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, scoring 65 percent, despite reviews suggesting it's even more brutal than Passion of the Christ and Gibson's personal baggage; and Blood Diamond, which features Leo DiCaprio doing an Afrikaner accent and Jennifer Connelly for a current score of 59 percent.

VAUGHNISTON: In the wake of The Break-Up couple's break-up, Star magazine brings you e-mail and blog posts from the 20-year-old American college student who spent some quality time with Vince Vaughn in Budapest. Internet gossip Perez Hilton responds to e-mail from Aniston's PR flack complaining about his claim that the couple have been dunzo for some time.

THE GRAMMY AWARD nominations are announced. And perhaps the best that might be said about them is that most of them are so uniformly lame that we don't have to worry about too many good artists getting snubbed.

THE McCARTNEYS: Sir Paul's estranged wife Heather Mills accused British Airways of humiliating her after staff got a wheelchair instead of a buggy to take her to her flight at Gatwick Airport.

LINDSAY LOHAN thinks she may get help with her image from former Vice President Al Gore, maybe even the Clintons. I guess those AA meetings haven't really sunk in yet. TMZ has the Gore dismissal and a no-comment from Sen. Barack Obama's office.

JESSICA SIMPSON claims some guy tried to hit o­n her by flirting with her mother who, coincidentally, gave her daughter a verbal smackdown after her "embarrassing" rendition of "9 to 5" in front of Dolly Parton and President Bush at the Kennedy Center Honors last weekend. I guess her creepy dad-manager must have been busy selling her product placements to do that.

DAMON WAYANS is the first comic to be banned from the Laugh Factory under the club's new ban o­n the "n-word" following the racist tirade of Michael Richards. Meanwhile, Hollywood's Comedy Union club is urging comedians to use the word at least o­nce in their routines during a special show Friday.

ERIK ESTRADA and other lesser celebrities will be packing heat as reserve officers of the Muncie, Indiana police department for a reality show. Just don't tell someone carrying a gun that they are "lesser celebrities" than Erik Estrada.

CHRISTY TURLINGTON regrets spending the early 1990s as o­ne of the catwalk's original four supermodels: ""How could I have spent so many years? So many hours?" My guess would be the money.

PETRA NEMCOVA was snapped sporting a big sparkler o­n her left ring finger, sparking rumors of an engagement to singer James Blunt. Cue Vader. At least we can comfort ourselves with video from her latest photo shoot.

THE VICTORIA'S SECRET FASHION SHOW: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Just in case you were thinking about picking up lingerie as a holiday gift, of course. Or if you're a Justin Timberake fan.

DR. NORMAN E. BORLAUG, who is believed to have saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived, will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the United States' highest civilian honor.

THE IRAQ STUDY GROUP REPORT: The New York Times reported that military experts -- including some from the ISG itself -- describe the report's plan as entirely impractical. The group

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Wilco, The Killers, James Hunter, The dB's, and Gus the Camel   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, December 07, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THEY'RE TOO MUCH: Heat Miser and Snow Miser, natch.

SEASON of the LIST: I Love Music has reprinted NME's Top 50 Albums and Songs. NPR's All Songs Considered is streaming songs from the Top 10 Albums in the show's o­nline listener's poll. NPR is also streaming songs from World Cafe's Top 10 CDs of 2006.

WILCO: Wondering what might be o­n the band's next album? How about the previously unreleased songs they have been playing o­n tour. And y'know the band doesn't mind those unofficial downloads, so no killing music is involved.

OF MONTREAL is offering a free download of a B-side at Pichfork and streaming a track from an EP due in January.

THE KILLERS' Christmas single, "A Great Big Sled," came out Tuersday, and it's not bad. If you like the stream, consider downloading it from iTunes, as it's a charity single.

THE CURE frontman Robert Smith needs a cure for writer's block: "I've given myself a deadline to finish the words before Christmas. If I don't I should be shot."

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: James Hunter playing "People Gonna Talk" is like listening to Sam Cooke with a twist of reggae. Good, soulful stuff.

COLD WAR KIDS have a free covers EP to download, ranging from Elvis Costello to Lawrence Welk.

THE DECEMBERISTS will have a concert and compilation DVD in March, courtesy of former label Kill Rock Stars.

THE dB's have released an expanded version of their Christmas album, bringing Marshall Crenshaw, Don Dixon, Thad Cockrell, Roman Candle and Keegan Dewitt into the mix. So catch the "Holiday Spirit."

SON VOLT: There's word of Zeppelin-esque guitar and Memphis-style horns o­n a new album due in March.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled singer had a fight with an actor who fell to his death from a balcony shortly afterwards. There is no suggestion Doherty was involved in the death, but he disappeared from the scene before cops arrived

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New CYHSY & Graham Coxon, Teenage Fanclub, XTC and Shana the Heroine   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 06, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, much like Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band came to Passaic, NJ in 1978.

SEASON of the LIST: Filter has at least three Top Ten lists from artists I've dug this year: Colin Meloy of The Decemberists; Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear; and Eddie Argos of Art Brut.

MOJAVE 3 was the latest guest at The Interface; you can stream or download their Americana-ish acoustic set via AOL. And as the band formed out of the Shoegaze outfit Slowdive, I must point you to that band's version of "Some Velvet Morning."

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS won't have an album of new songs until next summer, but they will have a limited edition live album for sale through their website.

NEW MUSIC: Stereogum has new tracks from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah -- "Love Song No. 7" and "Underwater (You And Me)" (plus a new song at ClapSpace) -- as well as two from Graham Coxon, "Tell It Like It Is" and "Standing o­n My Own Again."

TEENAGE FANCLUB reunited with with original drummer Brendan O

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New Releases, My Morning Jacket, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Beer Ape   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, December 05, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

SLADE: "Merry Xmas Everybody."

NEW RELEASES: You know it's a slow week when OC Mix 6: Covering Our Tracks -- indie bands covering older alternative songs for The OC -- is the most interesting thing streaming in ful from AOL this week (unless you're jonesing for Gwen Stefani). I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness has re-released its debut EP for wider distribution o­n the band's new label.

SEASON of the LIST: Today, I'm just featuring lists from two of my favorite music blogs, Chromewaves and Gorilla vs. Bear. Both note that these aren't necessarily "Best of" lists as much as the albums that affected them the most this year. G vs. B also hooks you up with downloads of a bunch of free and legal mp3s from their fave albums.

MY MORNING JACKET frontman Jim James ticks off a few of his favorite things for Pitchfork's "Guest List" feature. Here's a preview clip for the band's Okonokos CD/DVD.

TONY SILVESTER of the MAIN INGREDIENT passed away at the age of 65. Unfortunately, I was hard-pressed to find their biggest hit, "Everybody Plays The Fool," o­nline, but you can watch the group perform "Just Don't Want To Be Lonely" o­n Soul Train.

IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME for Jerry Lee Lewis, but he got around to recording Led Zep's "Rock and Roll" o­n his first album in 20 years. This performance from the Today show isn't as sharp as the recorded version, and lacks Jimmy Page, but nice to see the man still has the "Killer" instinct. BONUS: The man is a blur in this 49 second version of "Down The Line." DOUBLE BONUS: The Killer cranks out "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' o­n" o­n Shndig, with the legendary James Burton playing a guitar solo from atop the piano, later joined by Jackie Wilson and the Righteous Bros.

CAT POWER: Chan Marshall talks to Harp about love, loss and becoming the new face of Chanel: "I was sitting o­n a pile of Louis Vuitton luggage, drinking water, with an apple and a cigarette in my hand, my cell phone, oh, and two guitars, and out comes Karl Lagerfeld. He walks up, looks at me and says, 'Only a woman can look glamorous when smoking.'"

EMILY HAINES, of Metric and Broken Social Scene, is touring to support her solo debut. You can stream a couple of songs from a World Cafe gig at NPR.

THE HOLD STEADY frontman Craig Finn talks about the the benefits of being o­n the Vagrant label with Pitchfork.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The troubled singer escaped jail time o­n drug possession charges after suffering a "breakdown" in his rehab, but reportedly owes a massive undisclosed sum to the Malmaison Hotel in Clerkenwell after he "caused mayhem" there over the weekend with an unnamed female companion.

GWYNETH PALTROW says that she feels "so proud to be American," adding, "I am a New York girl, that's how I always think of myself and see myself." She's busy doing damage control after a Portuguese newspaper quoted her as saying that the "British are much more intelligent and civilized than the Americans." She blames her rusty seventh-grade Spanish. So I wonder what language she used in August when she told Harper's Bazzar that London is "not has hectic as New York and not as vapid as Los Angeles" and her British friends are "intelligent and they're not looking over my shoulder at dinner to see if there's anyone better walking in." For that matter, Gwynnie has previously had to backpedal from suggestions she was going to move out of the US entirely.

SIR PAUL McCARTNEY is battling MORRISSEY and Sir David Attenborough in a BBC show's search for Britain's greatest living icon.

BRITNEY SPEARS is taking pole-dancing lessons from the French Hotel, according to unidentified British reports. The pop tart also is reported to have spent quality time with Hilton's ex-bf in the bathroom of the Hollywood Roosevelt. No word o­n whether she was wearing panties. The latest exhibit in the Gallery of the Absurd is a piece portraying Spears, Hilton and Lindsay Lohan as "The Three Disgraces."

MADONNA and hubby Guy Ritchie have reportedly been seeing a marriage counsellor, with their union hitting "rock bottom" after the couple's controversial adoption of a Malawi baby.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise just blew 4.75 o­n a British masion near Scientology's UK HQ, but he and Holmes won't be staying there until the horrific stench problem is fixed.

JESSICA SIMPSON apparently botched a tribute to Dolly Parton at Sunday night's 29th annual Kennedy Center ceremony, which honored Parton, Steven Spielberg, singers Dolly Parton and Smokey Robinson, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and conductor Zubin Mehta.

GEORGE CLOONEY is mourning the death of his nearly 300-lb. potbellied pig Max. Clooney sometimes shared the same bed with Max, NTTAWWT.

KEITH URBAN was out of rehab and o­n a periodic furlough with wife Nicole Kidman last weekend. Urban has been offered help by Kidman's Fur co-star Robert Downey Jr. Apparently, he volunteered to call Urban with encouragement, but Kidman suggested they wait until he's out (of rehab) so they can all sit down for a long talk. Uh-huh.

KATE BECKINSALE has been sporting a bald patch, which people speculate may be due to alopecia or the use of hair extensions.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON has vowed to do a nude scene before she gets old and gray.

LANE GARRISON, of FOX TV's Prison Break, struck a tree with his SUV Saturday night, killing a 17-year-old boy. According to the Beverly Hills Police, actor Lane Garrison displayed "symptoms of alcohol intoxication."

THE 50 GREATEST COMMERCIALS OF THE 80s, courtesy of Giant magazine, complete with embedded YouTube video! I must note that number two is the ad for Freedom Rock. I also agree with the commenter who decried the absence of Apple's "1984" ad.

WHO IS CAPT. JAMIL HUSSEIN, Pt. V: I thought this story was done, but Monday's New York Times ran an article that seems to criticize both the AP and bloggers suspicious of a story about six Sunni worshipers allegedly doused in kerosene and burned alive by Shiite attackers. Yet the article, by Tom Zeller, Jr. omits the dispute over whether the AP's source is in fact an Iraqi policeman. Worse, the article notes that it was unusual that "little in the way of fallout over the event itself has been detected" in Baghdad -- without noting that the point was first made o­n the newspaper's own blog. However, the article does nicely capture the AP's arrogant and paranoid attitude toward bloggers, sometimes known as readers. Speaking of the media and bloggers, Bill Roggio has returned to Iraq and the first thing he reports is that our troops have near-unanimous contempt for the media. Granted, the troops will have their own biases, but the troops are not monolithic, either.

IRAQ: The leader of the largest Shiite party urged senior US officials not to withdraw US troops from his country but to transfer more military authority to the government in Baghdad. Iraq's national security adviser says he is shocked by UN head Kofi Annan's suggestion that the average Iraqi is worse off than under Saddam. I'm not, given that the oil-for-food scandal was an Kofi Annan special. At ITM, Omar relays reports that PM al-Maliki and tribal chiefs of Sadr City have agreed o­n a security plan that would exclude coalition forces. A piece in Newsweek suggests that the US military is fed up with al-Maliki. The WSJ has more o­n current military thinking.  Another report that Zalmay Khalilzad is leaving his post as US ambassador.  Sunni insurgents claimed they killed Shiite militia commander Abu Deraa, a deputy of Maqtada al-Sadr o­nce known as the "Siite Zarqawi." Sunni clerics in Basra joined the fatwa against killing Shiites or belonging to extremist or terrorist groups. The Iraqi Army's 9th Mechanized Division apparently did not do well under fire in Baghdad's crowded Fadhil quarter last week.

LEBANON: Renewed clashes erupted in Beirut late Monday after the body of a Hezbollah supporter slain a day earlier was paraded through the heart of the capital. Abu Kais notes that the Hezbollah supporter may not have been shot by the Sunni residents of the Beirut neighborhood of Qasqas. Kais writes that the area is "infested" with pro-Assad Ahbash (Sunni) Islamists; he would not put it past o­ne of them or some Syrian intelligence operative to have pulled the trigger.

THE ROLLING ROCK BEER APE: If you've heard the radio commercials from the phony group complaining, here's the viral ad the brewery wants you to see.

THE CHRISTMAS GOAT in Gavle, Sweden has been burned again -- the 22nd time it has gone up in smoke since the town began the tradition in 1966.

DEWEY READMORE BOOKS, a 19-year-old cat who became a mascot for the city library in Spencer, IA after being found in a book drop, passed away last week the arms of librarian Vicki Myron.

A 62-YEAR-OLD LOBSTER wowed crowds in the northern Algerian coastal town of Jijel after a local fisherman netted that crustacean, along with two 59-year olds, and two more aged 48 and 46.

AN AUSSIE CATHERINE THE GREAT was nabbed in a paddock, getting too friendly with Mr. Ed.

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Bob Pollard, Ryan Adams, VU, Covers, Johnny Cash, the Snake King   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 04, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

WIZZARD: Roy Wood & crew with the seasonal "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day."

THE HOODOO GURUS confirm they will tour the US next spring, including a stop at SXSW.  You heard it here October 30th.  Celebrate by checking out the videos I linked o­n October 6th.

SEASON of the LIST: Exclaim! lists its best albums in the genres of pop & rock, punk, funk & soul, folk, country & blues, metal & hardcore and more. There's a Top Ten from NPR's Folk Alley. Harmonium has lists from members of Of Montreal and Oh No! Oh My! Filter has a Top Ten list from Sondre Lerche. I Love Music reprints decibel magazine's Top 40, which is mostly metal. There's a Top 21 albuma list from Filmoculous. And a Top 50 list from the legendary rocker Al Kooper.

ROBERT POLLARD tells Billboard he is done with touring for now, and plans to make seven albums for 2007. Maybe he noticed that...

RYAN ADAMS has posted three more albums of bizzare stuff -- including Holla Dayz Inn and Christmas Apocalypse -- at his website, for a total of at least eleven this year.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: An apparent o­ne-of-a-kind test pressing of early VU & Nico Scepter Studio Recordings was obtained for 75 cents but may auction o­n eBay for over 20 grand.

TOM WAITS: If you missed his appearance o­n The Daily Show, you can watch the interview and performance of "Day After Tomorrow" you-know-where.

THE DECEMBERISTS have responded to comedian Stephen Colbert's challenge, asking fans to send videos of how they would "Mulch" him, and challenged him to a guitar solo duel.

THE JACKIN' POP POLL UPDATE: The Village Voice has blackballed the new poll's editor, Michaelangelo Matos, from writing for its sister publication, the Twin Cities' City Pages -- and barred its writers from the balloting for the would-be successor to the VV's Pazz & Jop poll. Former Voice editor Robert Christgau will vote in both polls.

THE COVER SONG CATALOGUE: The Torontoist breaks 'em down into several categories, including "better than the original" and "bizzare and way out." There's also plenty of embeded video and killing music at the link.

JOHNNY CASH: You can stream his duet with Louis Armstrong (one of Armstrong's last performances) while rbally has posted another rare, early radio perfomance with the Tennessee Two, which you can jukebox o­n the HM.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled singer has been voted the most "undeserving icon" of the year in a poll for Arena magazine. And yet he will appear o­n the cover of Vogue magazine.

BRITNEY SPEARS: With no o­ne willing or able to intervene, the pop tart has continued partying into the early hours of the morning, with Britain's uber-reliable Daily Star claiming she intended to stage a mock wedding to the French Hotel at her 25th birthday party. No word as to whether that happened, though we know Spears took Sean Preston to the L.A. Zoo that day. Meanwhile, Fed-Ex is in negotiations to develop his own reality series with Kenneth Crear, the brains behind the show House of Carters. There is a non-denial denial regarding Fed-Ex from former pr0n star Kendra Jade posted at her website. And Spears apparently made a veiled threat to her first (55-hour) hubby Jason Alexander before he taped a TV interview to air o­n The Dr. Ablow Show today.

THE FRENCH HOTEL: Kay S. Hymowitz argues that in our divided nation, our shared contempt for the airheaded heiress brings us together and is "a sign of lingering cultural sanity."

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: It truly was deja vu all over again for a traditionally quiet weekend, with Happy Feet, Casino Royale and Deja Vu taking the top three spots again, with the penguins being the first to win three weeks in a row since Dead Man's Chest. The pics took in 17, 15.1 and 11 million, respectively. The Nativity Story opened in the fourth slot with 8 million, knocking Deck the Halls, The Santa Clause 3 and Borat each down a notch. New releases Turistas and National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj placed eighth and tenth, with Stranger Than Fiction sandwiched between with 3.4 million.

DANNY DiVITO DRINK-UPDATE: In an interview to air today o­n Today, George Clooney confirms that he and DiVito had a "brutal night" of drinking before DiVito turned up wrecked o­n The View last Wednesday.

MICHAEL RICHARDS CRACK-UPDATE: The ex-Kramer planned to meet with the targets of his racial tirade under the supervision of a retired judge, with a cash settlement possibly o­n the table.

LINDSAY LOHAN: Her mother confirms she's been going to AA meetings, but the young actress drank champagne and had a tirade over the presence of Jessica Biel's assistant (an ex-Lohan employee) at the GQ Men of the Year dinner -- in view of her mother. Will Ferrell turned to Leo DiCaprio, Al Gore and Ben Affleck and said, "Who cares about that freak anymore, anyway?"

SCARLETT JOHANSSON and NATALIE PORTMAN stole the limelight at the bash after Christina Aguilera's sell-out Wembley gig -- much to the chagrin of Xtina, who stormed out of her own party.

GWENYTH PALTROW finds dinner talk is far more interesting in the UK, 'cause it's not all business.

JENNIFER CONNELY: Folks are wondering whether she's got another bun in the oven.

OPRAH WINFREY is an "Oreo," according to rapper 50 Cent, who has not been invited o­n her show because she's not down with the G thang.

KEVIN SMITH: The director's iTunes Celebrity Playlists was rejected by Apple because the comments were too long. Couldn't have seen that coming! Anyway, he's posted the whole thing o­n his blog.

IRAQ: Some Sunni Muslim clerics are breaking with the militant Muslim Scholars Assn. Clerics representing the group in Basra, Nasiriya, Amarah and Samawah issued religious edicts banning the killing of all Iraqis, supporting reconstruction of a revered Shiite shrine and disavowing "any terrorist organization targeting the innocent blood of our people." A Sunni tribal militia battled suspected Al Qaeda fighters north of Fallujah and in Ramadi. Ramadi's police chief says the security forces have started to take over important responsibilities and missions that are having a great impact o­n Al Qaeda. The "Baghdad Sniper" has been arrested. The commander of coalition forces in northern Iraq says that four Iraqi Army divisions in his area would be put under Baghdad's control by next March. The Bush admin. is mulling whether to abandon reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents. The parliamentary bloc loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr announced a possible new political alliance with Sunnis and Christians, which may be prompted by Pres. Bush's scheduled meeting with Iraq's top Shia politician (a rival of al-Sadr).

LEBANON: Abu Kais has been blogging Hezbollah's mass demonstration and partial siege of Beirut, with civil war possible as sectarian clashes broke out o­n Sunday. Incidentally, I like that the press seems bound to refer to the legit gov't of Lebanon as "US-backed," even in stories that note it is also backed by France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and pretty much everyone else except Iran and Syria.

GORBACHEV: Der Spiegel has a lengthy piece o­n previously undisclosed minutes of Politburo meetings published in Russia this month, which the paper thinks might get Mikhail Gorbachev the historical recognition he deserves. But if you read far enough, you discover that Gorbachev ultimately advocated arms contol because the USSR could not compete with Reagan's space defense program. Which is something I knew from a fairly high-placed source at the time, so it's nice to have it o­n the record.

THE SNAKE KING of Taiping died kissing a King Cobra. You always hurt the o­ne you love.

A RABID BAT was found crawling o­n a woman's ankle at a movie theater in Uvalde, TX.

PIGS get bored, which is a problem because farmers in the UK are legally required to provide an outlet to stop pigs from becoming aggressive. Sounds to me like a business expansion opportunity for Confuse-a-Cat.

ONLINE DATING for GiRAFFES? Or is it more like arranged marriages?

COPS TASER A PYTHON found in a home near Uniontown, PA. Police found a man kneeling o­n the basement floor of the home with the eight-foot albino snake wrapped around his left arm, eating the man's left hand.

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