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Blindness by Jose Saramago (review by Karl)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, January 30, 2006 - 11:30 PM
Posted by: kbade

Books

For those of you who didn't read along with Amber Taylor's Blog Book Club this month, Blindness is a Nobel Prize-winning novel by Jose Saramago. It chronicles what happens when an epidemic of "white blindness" strikes a city.

The city is nameless, as are the characters, who are merely described -- the first man, the girl with dark glasses, the doctor's wife, even "the dog of tears." This not o­nly makes the story more universal, but also serves the theme of the book. So does Saramago's style, in which conversations are lumped together without quotation marks and attribution. I've noticed that some readers absolutely hate this style, but it works well for conversation among the blind (though he apparently does this in other books also). Moreover, I found it a quick read and rarely had to check to make sure I knew who was speaking.

Saramago uses the book to explore the truths behind cliches about blindness -- the blind leading the blind, "in the land of the blind, the o­ne-eyed man is king," love is blind, and so o­n. It's an exploration of how dependent people are not o­nly o­n their sight, but o­n each other. It's a tale of societal breakdown that reminded me (and plenty of others, apparently) of books like Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm.

A related point: some readers have complained that the book gets quite scatalogical at times. Anyone who knows me knows this didn't bother me much, though I would avoid reading it while eating. For me, the most difficult part of reading Blindness stemmed from a childhood of wildly deteriorating eyesight, an eye infection that left me extraordinarily light-sensitive for weeks, and the morning when I awoke to discover my eyes had swollen almost entirely shut from an allergic reaction, which left me near-blind for a few weeks. There is a moment where o­ne of the characters reflects o­n the horror of going blind -- a horror he had o­nly seen others experience -- that struck close to the bone for me.

The comparisons some have made to Orwell and Kafka (in the blurbs tucked into the first pages of the paperback) suggest that Blindness may be a political allegory as well. However, if this was Saramago's intent, he may have failed. I don't know that the tale really reflects his decidedly left-of-center politics. At the most literal level, the government does not come off well -- and we are never told what form of government it is, save that it has Ministries and an Army. At a more figurative level, Saramago suggests that we are all blind, even with sight, but to buy into the author's vision of a better society, you have to swallow o­ne of the most unlikely aspects of the book. Without spoiling things for the non-reader, I am referring to the doctor's wife. Moreover, the altruistic doctor's wife arguably does not emerge from the book with entirely clean hands. I would rather credit Saramago with making choices which served the drama of the story over didactic polemics.

If any of the above sounds intriguing, I would highly recommend that you read Blindness.

Unfortunately, comment spam requires this site to limit comments to members. If you want to discuss the book here, feel free to sign up; it's free and our list is private. Otherwise, if you want to discuss the book and anything I've written about it, you can stop by Prettier Than Napoleon, where Ms. Taylor is collecting the reviews. February's Blog Book Club selection is On Beauty by Zadie Smith, should you wish to join us. In the meantime, please stop a moment and check out the rest of the Pate site!

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Sly Stone, Rogue Wave, Nick Cave, Hog-Dogging and Janet Reno sings!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, January 30, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

ROBERT POLLARD talks about his solo career, side projects (including o­ne with touring guitarist Tommy Keene), and supporting himself o­n eBay. As for the touring band, Pollard tells Flagpole that it's "out practicing o­n their own in L.A. because Iím lazy. Iím not quite sure how these guys are as far as consumption of alcohol is concerned, but Iíll probably carry o­n pretty much the same way as I always do." The New York Times covers Pollard's o­ngoing relationship with Steven Soderbergh. They have started working o­n Cleopatra, which is being written by ex-GbV member Jim Greer, also author of the GbV book. The film is described by Soderbergh as "Tommy meets Viva Las Vegas."

SLY STONE may emerge from seclusion to join the tribute to his music planned for the Grammy Awards o­n Feb. 8th.

THE PASSION OF MANCHESTER: The BBC plans to mark the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ this Easter with an hour-long live procession through the streets of Manchester featuring pop stars from The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays and songs by The Smiths and New Order. Some of the sure-to-be-unmissable musical moments include Jesus singing the Smiths' "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" as he is being lashed by Roman soldiers, and Mary Magdalene, accompanied by a string quartet, asking the Buzzcocks' immortal question, "Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't Fallen In Love With)?" And where's your Messiah now?

NADA SURF is touring with Rogue Wave. That's pretty funny. Glide interviews the Rogues -- and they're feisty! You can stream Rogue Wave from two MySpace pages.

GENE McFADDEN, half of the hit-making duo McFadden and Whitehead, which wrote "Back Stabbers" for the O'Jays and the Grammy-nominated "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now," died Friday of lung and liver cancer. He was 56 years old.

JENNY LEWIS talks to The New York Times about her love of oldtime country music and her distaste for modern country.

JOE STRUMMER will be the subject of a documentary from Julian Temple.

SOUTHERN CULTURE o­n THE SKIDS bought their mix of garage, country, blues, rockabilly... and now surf to the World Cafe. You can stream the feature, two studio tracks and a bonus live cut at NPR.

PAUL WELLER has angrily rejected an offer to perform a duet with James Blunt at the Brit Awards: "I'd rather eat my own s*** than duet with James Blunt."

ARCTIC MONKEYS clarify that they are not snubbing the Brit Awards; they have a previously-scheduled gig. However, the lads did accidentally snub David Bowie in NYC.

COLIN MELOY: The Decemberist's Saturday solo show in Alexandria, VA was webcast by NPR. Both Meloy's and opener Laura Veirs' sets are available in the archive. Stereogum is killing music with the song Meloy wrote to his baby, due next month. The compilation from Meloy's first band, Tarkio gets a mere 5.7 o­n the Pitchfork.

POLICE RIOT: Der Stingle is outraged at drummer Stuart Copeland's efforts to obtain the rights to Police hits such as "Roxanne," "Can't Stand Losing You," "Walking o­n The Moon" and "Every Breath You Take," so he can re-mix and re-release them.

TEGAN AND SARA: Tegan Quin tells the San Francisco Chronicle: "If It Was You was pop rock and So Jealous was alternative pop. This next record will be even more alternative." In the meantime, there will be exclusive iTunes EP, 5 Songs Live From the Phoenix Hotel, and their first DVD. And you can stream some from So Jealous now at MySpace.

NICK CAVE is the screenwriter of a gritty Australian western, The Proposition, which was screened at Sundance.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The troubled singer was arrested twice in o­ne day. No, wait... make that three times for allegedly carrying class A drugs. He is now in custody and could have been held in contempt for flipping off the judge, but the judge was looking the other way. Meanwhile, Scotland Yard is fuming as the supposed sober surpermodel jetted off to the French Alps instead of returning to the UK for questioning.

BRADGELINA: Page Six reveals the pair and the kids flew commercial to London en route to the World Economic Forum in Davros, Switzerland. Jolie addressed the WEF o­n Friday and warned those present not to be starstruck by her. I'm pretty sure that this photo from Davros has been photoshopped. (Oh, that Golden Fiddle!) The jeweller who designed the late Princess Di's engagement ring has confessed Pitt has commissioned him to craft something special. And Pitt is morphing into Benicio Del Toro.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Big Momma's House 2 tok the weekend, with Nanny McPhee in second and Underworld: Evolution in third, despite dropping almost 59% in its second week. Annapolis came in fourth, which certainly does not bode well for the flick.

AWARDS SEASON: The Directors Guild Awards honored gay cowboys and grizzly bears. However, at the SAG awards, Crash pulled off an upset win over Brokeback Mountain for the overall cast award. Dakota Fanning did a better job reading the teleprompter for Shirley Temple Black's life achievement award than most of the adults. So did Zhang Ziyi, who gave the supporting role award to Paul Giamatti -- who thanked everyone who hung around with him at the craft services table. Terry O'Quinn, speaking for the cast of Lost, called his co-stars "the saddest collection of climbing, grasping, paranoid, backstabbing, scene-grabbing, losers and schmoozers that you ever saw o­n your stage in your life." Felicity Huffman also gave a nice speech in which she declared, "I love actors... I married o­ne... okay, a fantastic o­ne." That husband, William H. Macy, wasn't up for an award, but gave a speech for Paul Newman when he won. S. Epatha Merkerson thanked her divorce lawyers. SAG has more excerpts posted o­n the SAG Awards site. Oscar noms Tuesday, iirc...

JOAQUIN PHOENIX lost control of his car, which flipped over and collided with another vehicle headed in the same direction, but managed to walk away from the crash. Phoenix claims his brakes failed -- so how does that cause your car to flip over?

JUDE LAW has been making time with a stripper he met at the nearby Body Shop, the Sunset Strip mammary mecca famously name-checked in Motley Crue's "Girls, Girls, Girls." He's looking more like Hugh Grant every day.

JESSICA SIMPSON took a break from partying with Kirsten Dunst at the Chateau Marmont the other night to disappear into Maroon 5 man-whore Adam Levine's room - and didn't emerge until the next morning. Popsugar's photos are looking very much like the walk of shame now. The pneumatic blonde also got slapped with a federal lawsuit alleging trademark infringement by her "Dessert Beauty Deliciously Kissable Love Potion" cosmetics.

JANET RENO tried to sing "Respect" at a Miami fundraiser. Worse yet, there's video. Not a big crowd, though perhaps they all got while the getting was good.

PIXAR CHIEF John Lasseter wasted no time asserting who is boss after Pixar's takeover by Disney, by stopping production of Toy Story 3, the controversial sequel to the two wildly successful animated films.

SALMA HAYEK slams Hollywood's obsession with extreme dieting. Good for her. And us.

PORN STAR TRAGEDIES come in threes. Sure, there's a punchline to be had, but people are dead, okay?

LINDSAY LOHAN was taken to a London hospital after cutting her shin in an accident at singer Bryan Adams' mansion. Wasn't the accident being at Bryan Adams' mansion?

SCARLETT JOHANSSON has reportedly embarked o­n a romance with Hard-Fi frontman Richard Archer after growing close to him while filming Woddy Allen's next movie in the UK. I told you her remarks about monogomy and dating actors were the beginning of the end for Josh Hartnett. BTW, Scarlett getting groped by Issac Mizrahi is now how folks have been finding this site, replacing Hercules the liger as our big search engine draw.

IRAQ: Experience has caused the Marines and the Army to devise more thorough, customized and realistic training programs for everything from urban combat to cultural awareness and humanitarian outreach. Videos of insurgent attacks have also become a handy training aid for US forces. This week, Iraqi security forces took control of security of Diwaniya and Wasit provinces, which are in south central Iraq. At Iraq the Model, Omar translates a local story that "The Anbar tribesí campaign to rid the province of Zarqawiís terror organization, al-Qaeda in Iraq is in its 2nd day and so far, 270 Arab and foreign intruders have been arrested." Knight-Ridder has a pretty balanced look at the state of military ops, perhaps because it wasn't written by K-R's Tom Lasseter, who somehow never found any good news there whatsoever. Embedded milblogger Michael Yon is profiled by the AP. And while it's sad that World News Tonight co-anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt were injured when their convoy was hit by an IED, it might be asked why they get so much more media coverage than troops performing acts of heroism in Iraq.

IRAQ II: US forces got a thank you note from the mayor of Tall Afar: "our city was overrun by heartless terrorists, Zarqawi and his followers, who unloaded their bloodthirsty and voracious action of evil o­n this city for several months by indiscriminately killing men, women and children. Tall Afar was a human slaughterhouse. Simple services were not possible, causing the people to suffer, till the day you dispatched your troops, who were our lion-hearted saviors. Your troops came to rescue Tall Afar led by our heroes, whom Tall Afar will never forget. After the major operation, your wonderful soldiers started nursing the wounds of this city by rebuilding the damaged lives and buildings with great compassion and speed. These soldiers have done more than their original mission required of them. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts." This sort of event does not generate the 1,100+ stories Google News has about the ABC newspeople hit by an IED.

INFOWAR: The BBC looks at a 2003 Pentagon report o­n information operations," which "include a surprising range of military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists, psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks." The document's authors acknowledge that American news media should not unwittingly broadcast military propaganda. "Specific boundaries should be established," they write. But they don't seem to explain how to do this in a global information age.

HOG-DOG RING BUSTED: Five men were arrested for setting up fights between dogs and wild boars at a Seminole Indian reservation near Okeechobee, FL. Undercover agents videotaped the fights. Twenty-one dogs, their owners and at least 14 wild boars participated. o­ne of the arrestees was Art Parker, president of the International Catchdog Association. Parker and his wife were acquitted of other hog-dogging charges in October. A 2004 hog-dogging bust in Alabama yielded video of the bloodsport.

TWO CROCODILES were seized by police in Lisbon, Portugal, where a retired German doctor was keeping them as pets.

A BULLYING GOAT had to be zapped three times with a Taser gun in a town near Charleston, SC.

THE GOLDEN FLEECE comes from pampered Australian merino sheep who listen to opera.

COWS are lounging o­n their waterbeds in Fresno, CA.

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Robert Pollard, Flaming Lips, Neko Case and Canine Freestyle Dancing   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, January 27, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:

What's that I'm listening to? It's the new Belle & Sebastian -- The Life Pursuit is streaming broadband at SceneStars. It's a little more groovy than usual.

FRIDAY TIMEWASTER: Duck Hunt 1945 pits you against Nazis... and ducks!

ROBERT POLLARD talks to Harp about staying in Dayton, how From A Compound Eye hastened the end of Guided by Voices, the GbV book and more. The UGA Red and Black preview of Bob's solo tour brings out my inner curmedgeon: "Evans, who has been to a Guided By Voices show but didnít stay the entire time, plans o­n sticking his head in to check out Pollard. 'They usually play for like three or four hours,' he said. 'I couldnít stand for that long so I left early. Three hours is just ridiculous.'"

WHAT IS INDIE MUSIC? PopMatters mulls it over.

WILCO : Hunks of the upcoming tour are now o­n presale.

AIMEE MANN: The ex-'Til Tueday singer-songwriter talks about her soundtrack to an imaginary movie, The Forgotten Arm.

TEGAN and SARA: Tegan talks to the North County Times about being miscategorized as a folk act. The duo will be glad that the story doesn't talk about their private lives. NTTAWWT.

IRON & WINE/CALEXICO: Harp recaps the joint tour, with quotes from those who guested along the way, including Mike Watt.

FLAMING LIPS have a new track, The W.A.N.D. streaming in Quicktime and ASX formats. It's a bit funkier and guitar-driven than some of the band's recent albums.

CAT POWER: Chan Marshall may have more of her act together than the popular myth suggests. You can stream The Greatest from AOL Music (it should be the seveth album in the list).

NEKO CASE has a lovely advance track from Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, "Star Witness," available for download.

GIANTS OF SOUL: I Believe to My Soul, a collection of classic soul and R&B singers doing songs they hadn't done before, produced by singer-songwriter Joe Henry, got an audio feature o­n NPR, along with streams of Mavis Staples, Allen Toussaint and Ann Peebles. Henry previously produced Solomon Burke's Don't Give Up o­n Me, which won a Grammy in 2002.

ARCTIC MONKEYS are refusing to perform at the prestigious Brit Awards next month, because of their intense dislike of televised performances.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: Another day, another arrest o­n suspcision of possessing Class A drugs. Doherty has been released from police custody, though why is a mystery.

BRADGELINA: Jolie is rumored to have told Sin City director Robert Rodriguez that she's never getting married. The same day, Pitt is said to have told Constant Gardener director Fernando Meirelles he and Angie were planning to marry "very soon." Angie, if he loves you more than me, maybe it's the best thing. Star magazine breaks the shocking story that pregnancy has given Jolie mood swings. The duo top a new list of bad-skinned celebrities. Meanwhile, Mr. & Mrs. Smith director Doug Lyman is taking the movie to the small screen without them, which is almost certainly a bad decision.

JENNIFER ANISTON is rumored to be writing a tell-all book about her marriage to Brad Pitt.

NOW SHOWING: This weeken's big openers are Annapolis (10% o­n the Tomatometer -- the WB version of An Officer and a Gentleman), Big Momma's House 2 (20% o­n the Tomatometer -- probably the o­nly gig an unstable Martin Lawrence can get) and Nanny McPhee (a Fresh 68% o­n the Tomatometer, but a Rotten 29% from the "cream of the crop" -- It's hard to make a trailer that makes me want to avoid Emma Thompson and Colin Firth; they managed it, but maybe it's good anyway). Almost enough to make me glad I have to finish Blindness for the Blog Book Club.

AWARDS SEASON: With Oscar noms coming next week, The Envelope has predictions for the Directors Guild of America Awards o­n Saturday and the Screen Actors Guild Awards o­n Sunday.

OPRAH flip-flops to confront author James Frey over the extensive embellishments in his memoirs, which she recommended to her Book Club.

JESSICA SIMPSON: Popsugar thinks she may have been caught doing the walk of shame. Judge the pics for yourself.

NICOLE KIDMAN is taking the modified limited hang-out route to her rumored romance with country singer Keith Urban. But we do know that having had the high-profile Hollywood divorce and the adopted kids, the UN Ambassadorship was in the bag. Glamorizing the UN in The Interpreter was frosting o­n the cake.

CELEBRITIES ARE LIKE SEA-MONKEYS: Speaking of Kidman's ex, Tom Cruise looks to be part of the latest exhibit at the Gallery of the Absurd.

THANDIE NEWTON is reported to be the new Bond girl. Because starring opposite Cruise in Mission Impossible 2 did wonders for her career.

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: It's looking more and more like saving the world in 24 hours leads to plenty of drinking and odd behavior in bars.

LISA LOEB talks about her decision to do the #1 Single reality show.

ADRIAN GRENIER, the star of HBO's Entourage, reportedly put two women and an assortment of toys to good use at Sundance.

EVANGELINE LILLY: I already noted that the Lost hottie o­nce did a commercial for some cheesy chat line, but now -- thanks to the Internet -- we have the must-see mash-up video.

IRAQ: Bill Roggio notes that a demonstration in Samarra is the latest evidence of the growing split between the Sunni Arabs and al Qaeda. The No. 2 official in Saddam's air force says Iraq moved WMDs into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed. It's not the first time that this sort of thing has been suspected -- weapons inspector David Kay thought so, for example. The man now making the claim, former Gen. Georges Sada, has a fascinating backstory.

IRAN: When bombs went off in Ahwaz o­n Tuesday, the government line was that it was not an attack o­n President Ahmadinejad. A little-known ethnic Arab separatist group has said it was behind the blasts, but Iran has now accused the UK of co-operating with the bombers. British officials have denied any involvement. And just to show how wacky the mullocracy is, Iran has asked the US to allow direct flights between the two countries after a break of more than two decades.

ANOTHER FRONT in the war is the largely unreported 500 million dollar US military operation in Mali, Niger, Algeria, Mauritania Senegal, Chad, Sudan and Nigeria. The Village Voice covers the hunt for Ammari Saifi, who has been called the "bin Laden of the Sahara."

NANOTECH: An international team of scientists has created the first solar-powered molecular motor. Such motors could be used in the construction of chemical computers or to help deliver anti-cancer drugs.

EDU-BLOGGING: The 51st Carnival of Education is o­nline.

GUERRILLA TURTLE RESCUE: As terrapin harvests have surged along the Chesapeake Bay, Marguerite Whilden has bought 5,000 terrapins from a clandestine network of sellers, tagged them and returned them to the bay. (Thanks, Debbie)

PAW-ROOM DANCING: Dancing with dogs, also known as musical canine freestyle to enthusiasts, might make some people roll their eyes. But it's a growing pastime that has thousands of devotees worldwide. (Thanks again, Debbie)

KAUAI WOLF SPIDERS: For the first time ever, Hawaii scientists snapped a baby Kauai wolf spider being carried o­n its mother's interlocking back hairs.

NICE BEAVER! Thank you. I just had it stuffed.

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Ditty Bops, The Minus 5, Road Songs, Arctic Monkeys and a Skating Monkey   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, January 26, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

ART BRUT is kicking off their first US tour at SXSW. You can -- and should -- stream two of the band's best at MySpace. Now. Use the standalone player if you must. At least until you hear the lyric, "And yes, this is my singing voice..."

SXSW 2006: The latest, massive list of performers is up at Brooklyn Vegan. It's SXSW, Baby! is a community blog o­n all the festivals -- o­ne recent post addressed SXSW.com's plans for releasing artist MP3s and film trailers via BitTorrent this year. And See You In the Pit continues to post MP3s from the performers, including The Boy Least Likely To and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

THE DITTY BOPS turn up in Frontier Publishing's list of "Lesbians We Love." You can stream their album and check out their 2006 Bicycle Bikini calendar at their website.

LESLIE FEIST is working o­n her next album and gives hints to Billboard as to what it may sound like.

ANTHONY & THE JOHNSONS sells better in wealthier neighborhoods. NTTAWWT.

KEITH RICHARDS failed to make this year's top ten list of celebrities most likely to die. And though most people would take this as good news, Keith is not happy: "I was really p**sed off when I fell out of the chart. Some years I was o­n it and I was number o­ne. I'm just not rock 'n' roll enough any more."

MINUS 5 & WILCO: Stereogum is killing music (I think) with another track from The Gun Album. And Decemberist Colin Meloy will turn up elsewhere o­n the album.

THE DISEMBODIMENT OF MUSIC has been noted here before, but Carl Wilson has a round-up and discussion of the issue, though the side issue of the ubiquity of music may be more interesting, as music was unembodied prior to Edison.

GLENN TILBROOK: The former Squeeze songwriter is touring in a 1988 camper van at age 48. American indie film-maker Amy Pickard -- a huge Squeeze fan -- is turning it into a documentary, Glenn Tilbrook: One for the Road. No word o­n whether he plays before or affter the puppet show.

THE RACONTEURS, a side project of Jack White and Brendan Benson, will release just 1000 copies of their single.

COLIN MELOY, the Decemberist with a solo tour and Tarkio comp to promote, is interviewed in The New York Times, but you can skip registration by reading it at ONTD.

ARCTIC MONKEYS: Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not is selling so fast that the first pressing may sell out this week. The album came fifth in a new NME poll, while the Beatles' Revolver o­nly made ninth place (This is insanity.). Glyn Jones is the band's Pete Best. However, the backlash may be starting with an underwhelming 7.4 score o­n the Pitchfork. Popmatters gives it a cleverly written 8. In the meantime, Untouched by Work or Duty is killing music with the Monkeys' cover of "Love Machine," by UK prefab popsters Girls Aloud.

THE TOP 10 SEMINAL ALTERNATIVE ALBUMS posted at About.com is cramped, to say the least.

ROAD SONGS: Your tax dollars are hard at work as the Federal Highway Administration compiles a list of highway songs, many with lyrics included, in advance of the 50th anniversary of the Interstate System. (Memo to Craig O'Neill: There's o­ne from Sniff & The Tears, but not "Driver's Seat.") (Thanks, Ken)

STEELY DAN is mulling a series of performances near the end of the summer.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND will be played by members of Weezer in the Edie Sedgwick biopic Factory Girl. But you can see the real Velvets with clips from their reunion DVD.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The troubled singer will be quizzed by cops for allegedly smashing a microphone stand into a fanís face. The supposedly clean supermodel was out drinking and baring her claws when Sienna Miller became the topic: "Sienna's not a professional model -- she shouldn't be o­n the cover of magazines."

SIENNA MILLER caught canoodling with Factory Girl co-star Hayden Christensen? Just Jared has more pics for you to examine...

BAI LING is at Sundance, singing Bon Jovi songs and claiming she was a Chihuahua in a past life. Clearly, moving from Communist China to the US is proving to be a bumpy adjustment for the actress.

CHARLIZE THERON and GEORGE CLOONEY financed their latest movies through eBay.

MADONNA gets an apology from Jon Bon Jovi, who had accused Madge of exploiting her kids by showing them off at premieres. Which is true, but even an Italian from Jersey should know not to cross Madge.

MICHAEL JACKSON visited a mall in Bahrain's capital Wednesday, covering himself in a black abaya robe traditionally worn by conservative Bahraini women and a veil hiding his face.

CHRISTOPHER PENN, brother of Sean and an actor in movies including Footloose and Resevoir Dogs, is dead at 40, though no o­ne knows why yet. Until they do, Tyler Durden has the definitive word.

BRADGELINA: Jolie is having a boy, a girl, or twins. Quadruplets are right out. We'll all know sooner than we thought.

FELICITY HUFFMAN, after wearing a fake penis for her role in Transamerica, says she now understands "why it's all guys think about."

JOE PESCI is not a funny guy if you take his picture after he tells you not to do it.

CELEBS PUSH ALT-CURES: Scientologists don't have a monopoly o­n the market for alternative medicine, and don't have Larry King to help them do infomercials.

COLIN FARRELL deliberately chooses movies with sex scenes, because he loves stripping off o­n camera. So why is he blocking the sex tape he made with that ex-Playmate? Bad production values?

HALLE BERRY caught canoodling with Versace model Gabriel Aubry.

JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT may soon be a centerfold, sources tell Star magazine (must be true, then).

IRAQ: The Iraqi army may control more of the country than the US-led coalition by this spring, US military officials say. But there's a dificult balance between being strong enough to fight the insurgents and defend against outsiders and strong enough to threaten neighboring countries. At Iraq the Model, Omar looks at the public mood with three cartoons from Iraq's top cartoonist.

IRAN is racing to dig a network of tunnels and upgrade its air defences to protect its nuclear facilities from possible attacks by America or Israel. And threatening military retaliation against Israel in the event of an attack.

CINDY SHEEHAN has an... interesting... opinion o­n Bill Clinton: "You know, I really think he should have been impeached, but not for a b***job. His policies are responsible for killing more Iraqis than George Bush."

NSA SURVEILLANCE: Attorney General Gonzales offered a detailed response to critics of the NSA eavesdropping o­n international phone calls. Protesters held up a banner that misquoted Ben Franklin. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called the arguments "strange" and "far-fetched," suggesting that she has not read case law like Hamdi v. Rumsfeld or In re Sealed Case. What is strange is that you almost never hear those in Congress attacking the program actually demand that Pres. Bush stop it.

FURRY GUN-MO goes ice skating in Seoul, South Korea ó after learning in two weeks.

WORLD'S SMALLEST FISH: A member of the carp family, with a translucent body and a head unprotected by a skeleton, was discovered in threatened swampland in Indonesia.

TOOTHLESS, TWO-LEGGED CROC ANCESTOR that walked upright and had a beak instead of teeth was discovered in the basement of New York's American Museum of Natural History, according to a report published o­n Wednesday. The report went o­n to clarify that this was a fossil, not something from the NYC sewer system.

PENGUIN PARENTAL UPDATE: Zookeepers in southern England are considering a contest to name a chick expected by the parents of a juvenile penguin stolen just before Christmas.

WINDFALL THE BEAR, raised from a cub by a father-and-son duo who consider themselves modern-day incarnations of Grizzly Adams, is now caged at the Applegate Park Zoo in Merced, CA. The Dr. Pepper and pizza is gone; she is now harassed by monkeys.

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Buzzcocks, Isobel Campbell, ABBA, Michigan J. Frog and Lassie   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE: Kevin Drew is inteviewed in his bathtub about the pros and cons of the digitial age, sometime-bandmate Leslie Feist ("the hardest working person in show business"), America and the influence of Pitchfork.

BUZZCOCKS have a new album coming o­n March 7th, but you can stream the single now.

SILVER JEWS: Pollstar asks David Berman about his decision to launch the band's first-ever tour.

MISSION OF BURMA has a new studio album, The Obliterati, coming out May 9th.

THE KAISER CHIEFS got a record six nominations for the NME awards, but will Arctic Monkeys make off with the biggest trophies?

ARCTIC MONKEYS: Whatever People Say I Am, Thatís What Iím Not became the fastest-selling debut by a rock band ever in the UK. London's Independent asks artists, commentators and a Labour MP about the phenomenon, including Alan Sillitoe, the author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, which gave the album its title (through the Albert Finney movie adaptation). While waiting for the album you can see the "When the Sun Goes Down" video in glorious Quicktime.

ISOBELL CAMPBELL and MARK LANEGAN: Brooklyn Vegan hooks you up with the video for their cover of Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" and notes that Eugene Kelly -- member of the legendary Vaselines, Eugenius and Captain America -- will fill in for Lanegan o­n the tour. You Ain't No Picasso has a legit download of "Deus Ibi Ist." These two tracks suggest Campbell was right in calling Lanegan "her Lee Hazelwood."

ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN is o­ne of the bands with a recent streamable set at KEXP.

WE ARE SCIENTISTS: Rachael blogs the more flippant answers from her interview of the band for Underrated magazine, which ends with an electrical fire during the band's set at Maxwell's in Hoboken.

ABBA has gained a hold o­n the imagination of todayís youth. Stylus examines why.

THE CELESTIAL JUKEBOX: Subscription music services from Yahoo and RealNetworks are hoping that playlist makers like Robert Berke of scopecreep will help the subscription model battle Apple's iTunes purchase-only business model.

JOSE GONZALES: The Argentinian-Swedish singer-songwriter talks to Le Blogotheque about his sudden media exposure and influences from Nick Drake to electronica.

KANYE WEST has a new feud brewing with America's Catholic League after posing as the wounded Jesus Christ o­n the cover of the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone. A Catholic League spokeswoman says, "It's moronic. I mean, Kanye West as Jesus? He's a pop star." West insists he has a lot in common with Christ because he has to fight for recognition and suffer for success. He doesn't mention that the reason record companies put him aside was that he was born into a privileged family and was not a former "street hustler." As for suffering, most guys wouldn't compare fondling Pam Anderson's butt to being scourged.

FIVE VOICES YOU SHOULD HEAR, according to Time magazine. And it's not lame.

JANETTE CARTER, the last surviving child of country music pioneers A.P. and Sara Carter, and -- through the Carter Family Fold -- a preserver of not o­nly old-time country music, but also the history of the Appalachian way of life, died at 82 years old.

MORRISSEY, who publicly backed violent attacks o­n scientists and companies involved in animal testing, has been condemned by Huntingdon Life Sciences: "People can have whatever opinions they want, but to condone and encourage acts of violence is entirely wrong and should not be allowed in democracy."

100 OVERLOOKED ALBUMS: Red magazine lists masterpieces that didn't make Rolling Stone's alleged top 500 albums of all time. o­ne of the "overlooked" albums is Live Evil by Miles Davis, but that may be because The Cellar Door Sessions box wasn't out yet.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The troubled singer's band, Babyshambles was joined by former guitarist Pat Walden in Cambridge. The supposedly sober supermodel has inked a two million dollar deal for a tell-all autobiography.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: "Havin' My (Alien) Baby," courtesy of e-greetings. I hope that's a narrow demographic. The mysterious disappearance of a steamy sex scene between Katie Holmes and Aaron Eckhart from the Sundance screening of Thank You for Smoking had people suspecting more Cruise wackiness, but the director claimed it was a "technical glitch."

LOVE MONKEY: So, how 'bout that Ben Folds cameo last night? Nice but Ben needs to keep his day job. The New York Times examines how realisitically music A & R reps are depicted o­n the show.

MICHIGAN J. FROG is getting a pink slip, as the WB merges with UPN to form CW.  Sure, the Frog had been rumored to be dead in July 2005, but that was just a cover story.

MADONNA rubbishes rumors of marital woes with director Guy Ritchie and making diva demands for her upcoming tour, such as a private jet for her family and entourage, which includes her kabbalah teachers, a personal chef and a masseuse.

DISNEY IS BUYING PIXAR Animation Studios Inc. for 7.4 billion bucks in a deal that could restore Disney's clout in animation while vaulting Pixar CEO Steve Jobs into a powerful role at the media conglomerate. To infinity, and beyond!

BRADGELINA: George Clooney mocks Pitt. Rumors of a Valentine's Day wedding continue to circulate. Jolie headlines coverage of the World Economic Forum starting today in Davros. After all, she is much hotter than Germany's new Chancellor, Angela Merkel. Jolie's bump was snapped as the couple and the Jolie-Pitts made their way through Heathrow en route to Davros. The tattoo is Latin for "What Nourishes Me Also Destroys Me" -- exactly the message the infant(s) need to see upon exiting the womb.

MEG RYAN: Now that Jolie is having her own kid(s), Ryan is picking up the slack by adopting a baby girl from China.

VAUGNISTON are shacking up in Aniston's L.A. home. Of course, this week, Aniston is at Sundance, freaking over the paparazzi.

THE OSCARS will start even earlier this year. The Academy must have given up o­n the idea of trying to stop the actors from blathering.

SHOCK for JOCKS: Sirius satellite radio execs are developing standards-and-practices to set boundaries for Howard Stern and other shock jocks. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Meanwhile, Stern's NYC successor, David Lee Roth is slammed as "impossible to work with. A real arrogant, self-righteous a--."

JESSICA ALBA poses for photographers, while Matthew Broderick will later get the frying pan from Sarah Jessica Parker.

LOST: Ex-hobbit Dominic Monaghan is hush-hush about his private life, especially his rumored proposal to co-star Evangeline Lilly. But he will tell you of his love for Scrabble. Publicly, all we know is that they and the rest of the cast just got big raises.

IRAQ: Iraqis and Afghans are [among the] most optimistic people in the world when it comes to their economic future, in a new survey for the BBC. The pollsters venture the guess that war may have created a "year zero" experience of collectively starting again, but socialist blogger Norm Geras has other theories. At Iraq the Model, Omar notes that the 25 percent female quota for parliament may be tough to meet and links to an unlikely scenario in which the Sunni Arab parties form the government. Bill Roggio has more o­n the split between Iraqi insurgets and al Qaeda. L.A. Times columnist (and Time contributor) Joel Stein doesn't support the troops and thinks that "being against the war and saying you support the troops is o­ne of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken." Stein is apparently not kidding when he writes that he is "desperate for attention."

IRAN: At least six people were killed and 40 injured in two blasts in the south-western Iranian city of Ahwaz. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been due to give a speech at a religious center nearby, but a spokesman did not believe the bombs were linked to the planned visit. This despite the fact that one of Ahmadinejad's bodyguards was killed and another wounded in an attempted ambush of the presidential motorcade in December.

MEN ARE FROM MARS: Boys are kinetic, maddening and failing at school, creating a widening a chievement gap. Throughout elementary, middle and high school, girls earn higher grades than boys in all major subjects, including math and science, but men enjoy greater professional success. More women value friendship and cuddling to sex, though they don't mind having more sex when their men ask.

CULT OF THE iPod: Traffic to iTunes has more than tripled over the past year, with users more likely to be younger males, disposed towards brands like Volkswagen, Audi, Subaru, Wired, Rolling Stone, and FHM, Cartoon Network, BBC America, and HBO. And you can now get Valentine's Day lingerie for your iPod or Mini.

PENGUIN JOY ERUPTS as the parents of a baby penguin, whose theft from a British zoo just before Christmas attracted worldwide attention, produce a new egg.

ORANGUTAN POOP not o­nly reveals why King Louie is no longer the King of the Jungle, but also supports a genetic theory that could in future be used to provide early warning of the decline of any species.

WHALE VOMIT is big money -- 32 pounds netting almost 300K.

FLAMINGOS LOCKED UP at a German zoo to stop them from ice skating.

WHAT'S THAT LASSIE? Woof! Woof, woof-woof! George has been thrown from his horse and can't get up? Woof! Let's get him!

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