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Mpls. in the 80s, Son Volt, Oreo Barbie, Gator Rasslin', Orphan Sea Otter, etc.   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, June 17, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:

FRIDAY TIME-WASTER: A version of Super Breakout that even allows you the option of making your own custom levels.

THE NEXT MAGNET magazine will feature some bands near and dear to many Pate fans.

FREE DOWNLOADING OF BOOTLEGS IS KILLING MUSIC: For example, The Rolling Stones, Live in Sidney, 1973. Or some Russian offering loads of Tom Waits, both live and unreleased studio stuff. That is just so wrong.

JAY FARRAR talks to Pitch about his new album and new-model Son Volt.

SUFJAN STEVENS expands his Illinois tour to include, among other places, Illinois.

LESLIE FEIST talks to SF Weekly about how Patsy Cline and Peggy Lee encouraged her eclecticism.

BONO was horrified during a visit to Ethiopia, when he saw local Muslim women pelting a breast-feeding aid worker with stones.

FOO FIGHTERS' In Your Honor gets a 6.8 o­n the Pitchfork, with the reviewer preferring the acoustic disc to the electric o­ne.

THE ART OF THE MIXTAPE: As you know, the making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. In the Village Voice, Brandon Stosuy (who normally writes for Pitchfork) waxes nolstalgic as he makes his girlfriend a 100-song mix for her iPod. Along the way, he mentions Thurston Moore's new book Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture; NPR recently interviewed Moore about it. The New York Times notes the efforts of record labels to crack down o­n commercial mix discs.

TOM VERLAINE has signed with Thrill Jockey and expects to have an album out early in 2006. Meanwhile, Television is touring Europe.

PITCHFORK PERFECT TENS: The inimitable Uncle Grambo complies a list of 30 albums that sit at the very tip of the Pitchfork.

THE WILLIE AND ANNIE NELSON Professorship in Stem Cell Research is being established at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Defamer reports "rumors spreading around the War of the Worlds publicity tour... that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes... (got) engaged in Rome last night. The rumor holds that an announcement may come in Paris as early as tomorrow."

BRITNEY SPEARS wants to to make hubby K-Fed a movie star, so naturally she's asking Madonna's hubby Guy Ritchie to cast Federline in his next film. She ought to tell Guy what a great impression K-Fed made when she brought those Disney execs to her hotel room, only to find him watching porn... which he did not even rush to switch off. A classy guy, the stuff from which stars are born.

FORBES magazine's Celebrity 100 list is out and can be viewed by categories, too. The musicians' list is depressing.

IRAQ: A deal was reached for Sunni Arabs to participate in a panel to draft the new constitution, ending weeks of political wrangling and raising hopes that the insurgency might be undermined as a result. Also, in a a major defeat for Al-Qaeda's terrorist organisation, U.S. and Iraqi forces have captured Mohammed Khalaf Shakar, Zarqawi's most trusted operations agent in all of Iraq, in Mosul. He is accused of masterminding some of the deadliest attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city and a major front for the insurgency since November. Austin Bay blogs from trips to the Al Anbar province, Tal Afar and Kirkuk, reporting a mixed performance of Iraqi troops in Tal Afar. And the members of the MP squad under callsign Raven 42, which includes two women, are awarded for their heroism in combat on March 20th, 2005.

TORNADO WATCH: A new study of Oklahoma's legendary May 3, 1999 tornado stirs controversy in suggesting that running like a sissy was as safe or safer than hunkering down in homes. The study reconfirmed that people caught in mobile homes face the worst odds.

YOUR MOMENT OF SITH: Princess Leia was born in Episode III, but Princess Leah was just born in Norway. Defective Yeti provides a guide to fast-forwarding through The Phantom Menace. Dan Weaver blogs conversations with his wife about the series. And to promote the Revenge of the Sith videogame, LucasArts has released a series of limited-edition airsickness bags available o­n Virgin Atlantic flights. The punchlines generally write themselves, so I'll just say, "Barf Vader?"

CATS AND DOGS are being replaced by PlayStations and iPods in the UK. However, Brits who do own pets are spending more money than ever o­n their care.

PETA EMPLOYEES ARRESTED o­n ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGES: Andrew Benjamin Cook and Adria Joy Hinkle, were busted for allegedly dumping dead dogs and cats in a dumpster at a shopping center in Ahoskie, N.C. Both suspects were charged with 31 counts of animal cruelty and eight counts of illegal disposal of animals. Officials say the animals were alive when they left the shelters, but have not said how they died. North Carolina officials say they have been investigating reports of dead animals at the shopping center for over a month. A PETA spokesperson told WAVY News 10 that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has a long-standing relationship with shelters to euthanize pets that the shelters feel are no longer adoptable. That's an understatement; PETA put to death over 85 percent of the animals it took in during 2003 alone.

IRAN: There have been 12 bombings in the five days before Iran's presidential election today, leaving more than 10 people dead and dozens wounded. The mullahs blame U.S. mercenaries; reformers blame religious extremists. Polls show that the mullahs' candidates are not expected to do well and may not make it into a runoff election, if o­ne is required. Supporters of the main reform candidate say the violence escalated as he surged into second place.

CELEBRITY KABBALAH: Radar magazine begins a series describing "how a renegade rabbi and his striver wife ended up atop a multi-million-dollar empire built o­n bracelets, bottled water, and Madonna." But even Kabbalah wants nothing to do with Jacko...

JACKO JUSTICE: The verdict may be in, but you can still enjoy Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's visit with some of Jacko's supporters. He may have hardcore fans, but record companies aren't lining up to do business with the sad freak, as he hasn't sold albums in years.

CHILD SACRIFICES IN LONDON: They are brought into the capital to be offered up in rituals by fundamentalist Christian sects, according to a shocking report by Scotland Yard. The report, leaked ahead of its publication next month, also cites examples of African children being tortured and killed after being identified as "witches" by church pastors.

JOURNO TARGETED FOR MURDER... by a Chechen rebel leader. Funny how journo bigwigs like Linda Foley and Eason Jordan claim without evidence that the U.S. military does this, while ignoring those who actually do it.

TROTSKY'S ICEPICK -- the implement of his death -- appears to have been found, 65 years after it was apparently stolen from the Mexican police. It's also a good name for a band.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL) went to the Senate floor Thursday evening to repeat a controversial statement about the interrogation of detainees at Camp X-Ray in Cuba and insist he said nothing objectionable. Dick explained that he was not comparing U.S. soldiers at Camp X-Ray to Pol Pot, Nazis or Soviet guards, but was "attributing this form of interrogation to repressive regimes such as those that I note." Right; Dick accuses our troops of doing things war criminals did, but was not comparing our troops to those troops. Other Democrats, such as Sen. Jay Rockefeller, are not backing his statement. Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita invited more members of Congress "to go down to Guantanamo and see what's going on, because what's going on down there is not the way it's being described by certain members of Congress." Eleven Senators, 77 members of the House, and 99 or a hundred congressional staff members have visited Guantanamo; Dick is not one of them. Durbin's statement also came under sharp attack by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which has 2.4 million members, including tens of thousands in Illinois.

MICHAEL BAY, director of Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, and Pearl Harbor, is defended by Bryan Curtis at Slate.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Vanity Fair denies that Jennifer Aniston has told the mag that infidelity caused her split with Brad Pitt; Page Six stands by its story. So how is Billy Bob Thornton, Jolie's ex, taking things? "Sex doesn't have to be with a model to be good," Thornton says in July's Esquire. "Sometimes with the model, the actress or the 'sexiest person in the world,' it may literally be like f-ing the couch." Jolie was Esquire's "Sexiest Person in the World" last year, so I'm guessing he has issues. Jolie joined Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and others to promote World Refugee Day. Jolie then appeared o­n CNN to talk about World Refugee Day, but the interview ended up revealing more about CNN than Jolie. The National Enquirer claims Pitt and Jolie recently joined the mile-high club en route to the Mexican premiere of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN OREO BARBIE: Auction expires today o­n eBay.

ELIZABETHTOWN: Production stills from the forthcoming Cameron Crowe movie heve been posted at Coming Soon.

COLIN FARRELL dating secrets revealed!

THE URANUIM FOR "LITTLE BOY," the bomb dropped by the B-29 Enola Gay over Hiroshima o­n August 6, 1945, was enriched in part by a 19 year-old who had no clue what she was doing.

A BLUE CRAB with a feminine side. Literally. The confused crustacean may have mated with itself, but otherwise shows strange mating behavior.

STUNTPEOPLE planned to petition the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a bid to get a long-desired Oscar category for stunt coordinators. They planned to draw attention by staging a stunt display o­n AMPAS's doorstep. Cunning!

THE DISABLED can be integrated into society and accomplish what some might might never expect. For example, wrestling alligators. Okay, so maybe not gator rasslin', but the main point is still right.

TROUSER SNAKES: No, really.

THE COMMIE CATWALK: Chinese authorities will require that models be tested annually o­n their runway skills and have proof of a high school education.

AN ORPHAN SEA OTTER taken in by Chicago's Shedd Aquarium is receiving round-the-clock care and is being taught life survival skills. Sorry, no cute photos; the 8-pound pup won't be o­n public display for perhaps months. For now, Kiana lives alone, spending much of her time sleeping in a playpen lined with SpongeBob SquarePants sheets.

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Tom Waits, John Fogerty, Dogs, Seagulls, Tin Roof...Rusted!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

TOM WAITS is suing Warner Bros. over the royalty rates for downloads of his early recordings. Somewhat similar suits have been filed by voice artists from classic Disney films when those movies were released in a new format, e.g., videotape and DVD.

THE NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL (now sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts) has announced its schedule, which defines "folk" loosely enough to include Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Kasey Chambers and Buddy Miller. Of course, it still would be cool to see them along with Emmylou Harris, Richard Thompson and the rest.

THE HOLD STEADY get a rave review for their live show from the Hollywood Reporter.

JOHN FOGERTY: Guitar tech Tom Spaulding is blogging Fogerty's tour at Caught Up In The Fable. UPDATE: My co-clerk Debbie informs me that her boyfriend, Andon Davis, had to fix Willie Nelson's guitar on a recent tour. (And Andon's no slouch on the instrument himself)

ON THE PITCHFORK: Dinosaur, Jr. expands its reunion tour. The New Pornographers announce their tour dates also.

JUDGE WILLIAM H. PRYOR JR. was confirmed by the Senate for an appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, after fierce partisan debate o­n June 9th. His opponents objected to his comments and writings o­n abortion and homosexuality. Pryor has served o­n the court since early last year due to a recess appointment by President Bush.

ON THE DAY Judge Pryor was confirmed by the Senate, he authored an opinion is the case of Zibtluda, Inc. v. Gwinnet County (Adobe Acrobat pdf), a case in which Zibtluda ("adult biz" spelled backward) challenged county ordinances regulating -- you guessed it -- adult businesses. Zibtluda operates a business in metro Atlanta called "The Love Shack." The allegedly prudish Judge Pryor's opinion noted that the law in question "regulates commercial entertainment akin to the 'Huggin' and a kissin', dancin' and a lovin', wearin' next to nothing' that the B- 52s famously described as occurring in a 'funky old shack.' The B-52s, Love Shack, o­n Cosmic Thing (Reprise Records 1989)."

THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT may not always fit the stereotype, having helped force the State Department to place a higher priority o­n battling religious persecution, set the stage for a cease-fire in Sudan, enact legislation aimed at reducing prison rape in the USA, push for more funds to fight AIDS in Africa, more foreign debt relief and for action o­n global warming.

CELEBRITY E-MAIL VIRUSES: An anti-virus software company has ranked the celebs most often used to spread e-mail viruses o­n the internet. You might guess which o­ne is ranked most toxic.

MOBILE MUSIC: Napster and Ericsson are creating a music service that mobile phone operators can offer to their subscribers. Also, Sony Ericsson, has unveiled a Walkman-branded cell phone, while Motorola has said it will release a phone that works with Apple's iTunes service.

VHS R.I.P.? Wal-Mart will stop selling movies o­n VHS after the holdiay season, following Target, which is discontinuing them in September.

JACKO JUSTICE: Thriller is climbing the chart at Amazon. I wonder whether sales are up in brick-and-mortar stores, where you actually have to be seen buying it. A Jackson family friend and a top Hollywood talent agency are pitching a six-party reality-TV series focusing o­n how the Jacko family dealt with the months following Jackson's November 2003 arrest; the series was o­n the drawing board even before Jackson's acquittal. Jacko could still face a civil case, O.J.-style. But for now, Jackson's acquittal was welcome news to one group in particular...and it's not the BSA.

LUCAS AND SPIELBERG: Covert, passive-aggressive sibling rivalry. Imho, the basic thrust of this Slate piece is correct, though (imho) it's unfair to say that "Lucas' career rests precariously o­n a single film, directed back in 1977." That dismisses American Graffiti, which not o­nly was named to the Natonal Film Registry, but also made 140 million bucks o­n a total budget (production, prints and marketing) of under 3 million. It also ignores the immense impact he's had o­n movies outside of directing them.

CINDERELLA MAN A GREAT PUMPKIN: Executives and filmmakers behind the critically acclaimed boxing movie are trying to figure out why it's bombing. Some blame themselves for releasing it during the summer; others blame Russell Crowe's unheroic real-life antics.

DUDLEY DOES-RIGHT: The RCMP discovered al-Qaeda and Taliban "action reports," information about fugitive terrorists, downloaded clips of Osama bin Laden’s voice, songs (including "I Am a Terrorist"), a video clip of a 2003 attack o­n a compound used by Westerners in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and cassettes about insurgent attacks in Afghanistan in a laptop computer and materials seized at Toronto's airport in February. The laptop's owner, Zaynab Khadr, whose late father is officially identified as Canada’s highest-ranking member of Al Qaeda, claims the stuff o­n her computer is not hers: "This sort of thing ain't my bag, baby."

BIN LADEN is alive and probably living in the rugged mountains bordering Afghanistan, according to Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL) refused to apologize Wednesday for comments he made on the Senate floor comparing the actions of American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviet gulags and a "mad regime" like Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's in Cambodia. In refusing to apologize, Sen. Durbin tried to change the subject to the Bush Administration's alleged abandonment of the Geneva Conventions. That's highly debatable, but if Dick is right, the soldiers at Camp X-Ray are committing war crimes. "Just following orders" is not a defense to such crimes, so Dick is smearing our troops, whether he wants to admit it or not.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Jennifer Aniston goes o­n the record in Vanity Fair, suggesting that Mr. & Mrs. Smith split Mr. & Mrs. Pitt.

LI-LO UPDATE: The TVGasm post I previously noted was filled with "allegedlys" is now M.I.A. I smell a lawyer... But every picture tells a story, don't it?

SPAIN: Police arrest 16 people suspected of having links to Islamic terror groups; five were held for alleged involvement in the Madrid train bombings of March 2004, 11 are thought to have links to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

WHY DID THE E.U. CONSTITUTION FAIL IN FRANCE? Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the architect of the proposed constitution, has the answer: "It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text."

THE END OF EUROPE: Economist Robert J. Samuelson writes that "unless Europe reverses two trends -- low birthrates and meager economic growth -- it faces a bleak future of rising domestic discontent and falling global power." He later adds: "Too many people benefit from the status quo to change it; but the status quo isn't sustainable. Even modest efforts in France and Germany to curb social benefits have triggered backlashes. Many Europeans -- maybe most -- live in a state of delusion."

A CASE IN POINT: In France, the unemployment rate has been stuck between 9 and 10 percent for a quarter of a century and not a single enterprise founded there in the past 40 years has managed to break into the ranks of the 25 biggest French companies. By comparison, 19 of today's 25 largest U.S. companies didn't exist 40 years ago. Thus, France looks to the U.S. for lessons, but wants to have more government as the solution. Good luck o­n that.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Defamer is o­n a roll with an item about Cruise interrupting a business meeting for Mission Impossible 3 to order that an aide deliver cupcakes to Katie Holmes at Barney’s. He also invents a fun photo game called Rapture, Acquittal or Cruise? The two-twenty blog imagines Holmes' Scientology audit, which even comes with an MP3. Cruise wants to make Victoria Beckham (a/k/a "Posh Spice") a star. Of course, Cruise has been trying to get the Beckhams into Scientology, too.

BILL MURRAY spanks a fan seeking a photo, but in that fun, playful way.

IRAQ: Following gloomy assessments of the state of Iraqi forces in The New York Times and Washington Post, Bill Roggio provides a wide-ranging review of the training and state of readiness of Iraqi Army units at Winds Of Change. Add to his coverage that Iraqi forces played a key role in freeing an Aussie hostage. Austin Bay blogs from Baghdad that "In at least nine out of ten security operations, the new Iraqi military is providing half of the forces," according to Lieutenant General John Vines, the Commander of the Multi-National Corps.

IRAQ II: Mackubin T. Owens, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College, analyzes the progress of the overall campaign from a strategic perspective. Also, buried at the end of the AP story o­n insurgent attacks, it's noted that Iraqi legislators seemed close to agreement o­n a demand by Sunnis for more participation in drafting the new constitution. Though this has been an obstacle, we should remember that a few months ago, Sunnis were boycotting the political process; now they demand to be included.

DAVID BLAINE is sued by God's messenger o­n Earth. What took so long?

WHEN SEAGULLS ATTACK in Sheboygan, it's less like The Birds and more like High Anxiety.

DOGS: A golden retriever named Murphy has received a summons to appear in court in Newton, MA, to answer a complaint that he was being walked without a leash and was not up to date o­n his license.

NAKED JOB INTERVIEWS are inappropriate. So are naked medical class demos.

KANSAS STUDENT BUSTED FOR VOMITING on his Spanish teacher.

BARTER SYSTEM: You cannot exchange chicken for sex. Similarly, you cannot exchange a pygmy goat for crack cocaine.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'm in love with my wife. You know when you're in love. It's like seeing pornography. You know it when you see it." -- Larry King, who has seen it five times.

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Mammy Nuns, Cat Power, Hair Bands, Elton John and 350 Housepets   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS:

NO SPOILERS: Imho, Ebert got it right this time. Batman Begins works as a movie with "more emphasis o­n story and character and less emphasis o­n high-tech action," though there's a fair amount of the latter, too. In particular, it works because it's about Bruce Wayne. That is crucial to the film, because understanding Wayne allows you to sympathize with The Batman, who is every bit the Dirty Harry-inspired firgure Denny O'Neill brought to the comics in the early 1970s -- the one Tim Burton would have liked to film in the late 1980s and Frank Miller resurrected in print for Year One in the 1990s. Sylvia Hauser's mother is going to have to take a second look at Christian Bale because he was a good Batman and a better Wayne -- good enough to carry the movie without a Jack Nicholson around to play larger-than-life. It can be a scary movie because its central theme revolves around fear, but I would not say that it was as graphically violent as the latest Star Wars flick. The scariness is largely psychological. But it also has its moments of comic relief, played out by Bale, but also by Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, who all seem to have a lot of fun with their roles. I didn't even mind Katie Holmes, who acts much smarter than she's been acting on television recently. Her new beau's movie is going to have to be really good to be better than this one.

THE MAMMY NUNS: Pate's own Mike Kelly sends word that the Mammy Nuns' "The Bob Song" made Jim Walsh's 25 Reasons (the scene is now) list in the summer issue of Minneapolis/St. Paul's City Pages. Mike assured me these Nuns are the demon spawn of former ISU student Rob Rule and indeed, they are. Although the band's regular gig seems to have slipped away, the Google cache reveals an old Mammy Nuns page, complete with Quicktime audio.

LEONARD COHEN responds to the extortion suit filed against him. I'm not surprised at the response, but did not float it before for legal reasons.

LIVE 8 may include Jacko? Fortunately, I think that's just the promoter being diplomatic. RELATED: Ex-members of the Boomtown Rats may sue Sir Bob Geldof over alleged unpaid royalties.

CAT POWER is beginning work o­n her next album in Memphis, at the famed Ardent Studios, with veteran Memphis musicians.

OASIS cannot seem to get through a tour without a Gallagher brother storming off stage, so it's nice that's out of the way now.

BILLY CORGAN channels Rodney Dangerfield in a Pitchfork interview -- he gets no respect. "Think about it. I mean, there are books o­n Radiohead, theories. As far as a theoretical point of view for my generation, I'm probably the most successful theoretician. I mean, double albums and concepts and dresses and major disasters and wonderful successes and yet you don't see the critical review of my work. Why? Because it's all focused o­n the persona. Billy Corgan..."

INDIE LABELS have formed a second trade association called the American Association of Independent Labels, to (among other things) negotaite better rates from o­nline music services. In part, this is a recognition among the big music services of the importance of the "long tail" -- the idea that virtually all back catalog and independent releases will draw a few fans, and that the aggregate consumption of all these obscurities can rival the value of hits.

ALANIS MORRISETTE albums were pulled off shelves by Canadian music retailer HMV Canada o­n Monday protest at her exclusive agreement to sell an acoustic version of her 1995 hit album Jagged Little Pill in Starbucks for six weeks. I think they're still upset that she became a U.S. citizen. I know I am.

REVENGE OF THE HAIR BANDS: Perhaps the best that can be said of the Rock Never Stops 2005 Tour, featuring Cinderella, Ratt, Quiet Riot and Firehouse, is that it does not include Poison.

JAMES LILEKS lists personally meaningful songs. Pate fans will want to scroll to the bottom.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Warner Bros. execs are hoping to keep Cruise away from the red carpets for Batman Begins. Indeed, while puting out happy PR, behind the scenes, Warner Bros. is mightily miffed at Holmes' (or Cruise's) insistence that a Church of Scientology official accompany Homes every step of the way o­n her Batman Begins press tour, monitoring (and occasionally interrupting) every single press interview. Sources close to Holmes tell Page Six of the New York Post already credit her Invasion of the Body Snatchers-like behavior to her being brainwashed by the Scientologists, with detriment to her career. Holmes' Pieces of April co-star Patricia Clarkson is quoted in the June issue of In Style magazine: "So many young women have given up their dignity, but not Katie. It's refreshing. She's managed to remain in the public eye without losing a sense of herself. And she's so charismatic." I'll bet that interview was B.C. The L.A. Times looks at Cruise's behavior as continuing a disturbing trend of celebrities acting like reality TV subjects. But he was looking completely normal in Tokyo for the premiere of War of the Worlds...

NORWEGIAN WOOD: The father of Norwegian Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Sven Hoeiby, 68, and his wife, ex-stripper Renathe Barsgaard, 34, are to file for divorce after just three months of marriage. It turns out he's the wacky hedonist; his wife got "tired of this wild life" which she said centered o­n parties and pub crawls.

DALEK kidnapped and held for ransom has been found abandoned o­n Glastonbury Tor after thieves said it was "too hot."

P2P-WATCH: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development issued a report Monday finding that filesharing networks alone are not to blame for the recording industry's woes and might plausibly be converted into legitimate channels for distributing music. The recording industry responded that this could happen, but that piracy and copyright protection still have to be addressed.

THE DOWNING STREET MEMO, a classified British memo some see as proof that the Bush Administration was committed to invading Iraq as early as the summer of 2002, is contradicted by another contemporaneous classified British memo, which indicates that no political decision had been made o­n the invasion.

GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES? Gene Expression notes that there may be reasons why we refer to women as "the fairer ex" and some men as "tall, dark and handsome."

JACKO JUSTICE: TVNewswer rounds up newspapers' reviews of the TV coverage of the verdict. The New York Daily News tried to avoid having the same headline as the New York Post. They outsmarted themselves. Jackson's website compares his acquittal to the birth of Martin Luther King, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the release of Nelson Mandela. Nevertheless, Jackson's attorney claims that Jackson would no longer let children or their families sleep in his room. Instead, he will go sleep in their rooms. Thank you; don't forget to tip your waitress.

JIM CARREY AND CHER are among celebrities falling off Forbes magazine's annual Celebrity 100 List, hitting newsstands June 17th.

IRAQ: U.S. and Iraqi officials are mulling amnesty for Iraqi insurgents as a way to isolate foreign extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

RUPERT MURDOCH SAVES EUROPE? It's the sort of claim you're unlikely to see anywhere, let alone let alone in London's Guardian, but there it is.

MILBLOGGING: fishbowlDC notes that a new memo by Lt. Gen. John Vines, the commander of day-to-day operations in Iraq, lays out new rules for websites and soldier-written blogs in the theater.

OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL: Investigators are "urgently reviewing" a newly-discovered memo suggesting that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan may have known more than he revealed about a contract that was awarded to the company that employed his son.

ELTON JOHN becomes a life-sized chocolate, sculpted by Madame Tussauds. The Hershey jokes write themselves.

A FIRE EXTINGUISHER is not a toy.

ANDY WARHOL'S FACTORY is going condo.

CBGBs is still in danger of moving to Vegas.

AN EXPLOSIVE HOLLYWOOD SEX TAPE in the works, or a Liz Hurley fantasy chased by a blogger? I report, you decide.

SEAN PENN, JOURNALIST: o­n assignment for the San Francisco Chroniclein Iran, the prickly actor lets loose with another controversial opinion: chanting "Death to America" does not encourage dialogue between Iran and the U.S. Problem solved.

THE MODEL MUSLIM SCHOOL? Time magazine has posted a "Web Exclusive" titled "The Model School, Islamic Style." The subhead: "As they learn about the American Dream, these kids wonder if it's theirs to pursue." So what are the kids learning about the American Dream? According to Time: "Assigned by his English teacher to write an essay about his own American Dream, a 15-year-old wrote that the occupied territories should be returned to the Palestinians and 'the Jews should be left to suffer.'"

Time also notes: The Universal School makes clear its independence from the controversial institution right next door, the copper-domed Bridgeview mosque. Built a decade before the school, the mosque was started by moderates but then saw a power struggle in which hard-liners came out o­n top. Among its leaders, said the Chicago Tribune in an investigative report, 'are men who have condemned Western culture ... and encouraged members to view society in stark terms: Muslims against the world.' Last year a member of the mosque was indicted for allegedly funneling money, before 9/11, to Hamas, the militant Palestinian group." Time might have added that the mosque, its board members and other leaders have numerous ties to groups allegedly supporting Hamas and even Al Qaeda. And that the Tribune followed up with an article noting that some moderate muslims quit the mosque because it was dominated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to convert the U.S. into a nation governed by strict Islamic law. It's no wonder that the school "makes clear" its independence from the mosque to Time magazine. It would have been nice if Time explained why they believe it. I'm agnostic o­n the issue, other than to note the credulity shown by Time, when their own reference to the American Dream suggests some curiosity would have been in order.

CULT OF THE iPod: The gadgets have become the tool of choice for some fraudsters who use them to download vast quantities of corporate information either to sell to rivals or to support their own start-up operations. At the other end of the spectrum, great poems, speeches, rants, philosophical doctrines, aphorisms and more have been converted to iNotes for download at i.am.large.

SIRIUS PLANS: The satellite radio company also wants to beam you stock quotes, sports scores, music videos and cartoons.

BILL AND TED'S NOT-SO-EXCELLENT PLANE CRASH: Two airline pilots joked and laughed as they flew an empty commercial jet to its limits, switched seats in mid-air and ignored automated warnings before crashing into a residential area, a cockpit voice recorder has revealed. "Aw (expletive). We're gonna hit houses, dude." Fortunately, no one was hurt on the ground in Jackson City, Missouri.

GLOBAL WARMING: British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been working behind his friend President Bush's back to turn him o­n the Kyoto protocol, including secretly lobbying U.S. senators. However, morescientists are claiming that warming is unavoidable and we may enjoy it.

OVER 350 ANIMALS in o­ne residential house in eastern England. The menagerie included 131 dogs, 48 cats, 80 rabbits and 86 guinea pigs. It may shock you to learn that the premises were described as "cramped and unhygienic."

ANCHORAGE is plagued by swarms of bugs.

BEAR GUZZLES CAMPERS' BEER, EATS FOOD: The incident occurs at Summit Lake near Richwood, West Virginia, which may rule out the Hamm's bear and Yogi as suspects.

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Batman, Art Brut, Radio Birdman, Danica McKellar, Clever Sheep, etc.   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

BATMAN BEGINS AT MIDNIGHT:

It's currently rating 85 percent o­n the Tomatometer, though the "elite" opinion listed there is o­nly at 50 percent. Roger Ebert gives it four stars: "I said this is the Batman movie I've been waiting for; more correctly, this is the movie I did not realize I was waiting for, because I didn't realize that more emphasis o­n story and character and less emphasis o­n high-tech action was just what was needed. The movie works dramatically in addition to being an entertainment. There's something to it." WARNING: The full Ebert has some spoilers! Harry Knowles, who can be tough o­n Batman movies, says much the same: "This is the BATMAN movie we’ve been dreaming of for a long time."

As Batman Begins it was shot in part in Chicago, often right in the area where Sylvia Hauser and I work (scroll down at the link for a map), I can offer you these exclusive photos taken by my co-clerk Debbie of the cars we would see parked nearby last summer...

ON THE PITCHFORK: Art Brut's Bang Bang Rock & Roll rates a 9.5 (and it seems to be drawing similar raves from a number of places). You can legally download a few of their tunes at their website, as well as covers of "Always o­n My Mind" and "I Fought The Law." (FWIW, I preferred the former to the latter.)

LIVE 8: After an intervention from Peter Gabriel, Sir Bob Geldof adds Africa acts to the Scottish leg of the concert event.

DESTINY'S CHILD: Done.

RADIO BIRDMAN gets a little tribute at the Something Old, Something New blog.

FOO FIGHTERS: You can stream their new album and an exclusive interview with Dave Grohl from the band's MySpace page.

GANG OF FOUR, THE RAVEONETTES and more have been playing KEXP for your listening pleasure.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled ex-Libertines singer gets kicked off a yacht because he kept asking for tin foil. This follows his galpal Kate Moss' dazed and confused acceptance of an award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America o­n Monday.

ELVIS PRESLEY not a King in the bedroom, according to Peggy Lipton. Imho, based o­n her appearance and reputation, it would be hard to blame Lipton for any performance issues. A powerful anti-drug message.

ROCK IS DEAD, according to UK broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson (not to mention Pete Townshend and Lenny Kravitz). But o­n the heels of a Roxy Music reunion concert, Clarkson still seems to have quite the man-crush o­n Bryan Ferry.

RON WOOD will paint the Naked Chef's naked wife.

MOTOWN'S NEW CEO is trying hard not to freak out over the fact that Stevie Wonder can't seem to deliver his album o­n time.

JACKO JUSTICE: You may have heard that Michael Jackson was acquitted of molestation and other charges. O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake were unavailable for comment. Jackson is now expected to work o­n restructuring his finances in an attempt to retain ownership of his his valuable music publishing businesses. Indeed, if Jackson is unable to generate income by releasing new music or performing live concerts, he will have to count o­n the income that he receives from those publishing assets to pay the interest o­n the outstanding loans.

CELEB GOSSIP: The New York Times notes that a deluge of celebrity-centered magazines has quickly changed how the niche operates.

HOTEL HIJINX: ABC News catalogs celebrity misbehavior in luxury hotels. Sadly, the o­nly rocker discussed at length is Courtney Love, with no mention of Keith Moon's highlight reel or Led Zeppelin's infamous "Red Snapper" incident.

JESSICA SIMPSON'S CREEPY DAD is still creepy, managing to make her daughter look bad in comparison to the likes of Lindsay Lohan.

THE FRENCH HOTEL claims she will give up her public life in two years. She also claims that the she was embarrassed and humiliated that her sex tape -- which coincidentally hit the internet just before the start of her reality series -- ever became public. Because she's just not the sort of girl who flashes a crowd anytime someone suggests it. Nevertheless, she may have millions of reasons for wanting to have a child right away.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Dreamworks exec goes on the record with concerns the Cruise-Holmes affair will damage War of the Worlds. Holmes confirms that she's studying Scientology. In response to a question about whether he'd asked Holmes not to do "Factory Girl" — about Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol — because of the drug use in the movie, Cruise says: "I don't even know what 'Factory Girl' is." So an earlier rumor that Cruise was helping Katie research Edie was wrong or Tom isn't playing it straight. Possibly both.

KING MSWATI III of Swaziland took an 18-year-old former Miss Teen Swaziland finalist as his 12th wife during the weekend, barely two weeks after marrying his 11th. Number 11 was controversial also, plus you'll want to read up o­n how the King picks 'em.

JIFFY-SURG! 3,800 patients at two hospitals run by Duke University Health System were operated o­n last year with instruments that were washed in hydraulic fluid instead of detergent.

LUST IS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM LOVE, now proven scientifically.

KIDS KICKED OUT OF THE HOUSE: A passerby found a 12-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister walking along a highway near Marchfield, Missouri. The kids were dragging suitcases, shopping bags and garbage bags full of clothing. They were about a quarter of a mile from their home, scared, crying and hungry. Police say the children said their mom awakened them and told them to pack and leave immediately. The kids say their mother gave them 5 dollars and went back to sleep.

DANICA McKELLAR went to college after The Wonder Years. Now she's a mathematician, co-author of a proof of an original math theorem and on the cover of Stuff magazine.

ALICIA SILVERSTONE married her long-time boyfriend last Saturday in Lake Tahoe.

IRAQ: Following Friday's Washington Post article o­n the sorry state of o­ne Iraqi unit, an article in The New York Times has a more mixed assessment of progress in training Iraqi units. The story is headlined "As Iraqi Army Trains, Word in the Field Is It May Take Years," though there are no quotes to this effect in the body of the story.

IRAQ II: A new Gallup poll shows nearly six in ten Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq. Meanwhile, Arthur Chrenkoff's regular round-up of under-reported good news, includes polling data showing that two-thirds of Iraqis believe their country is headed in the right direction, with the percentage of Sunnis holding that view rising from 11 percent to 40 percent since January. For some reason, Iraqis' perception of how things are going there seem to differ from Americans' perception. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) intends to introduce legislation seeking a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, which would probably have greater impact if he was not also the guy who got French fries renamed "freedom fries" in Capitol Hill's cafeterias in March 2003.

IRAQ III: The story which may get the most attention in the coming days, however, is the Knight-Ridder piece quoting top U.S. military officials in Iraq concluding that the o­nly way to end the guerilla war is through Iraqi politics. Capt. Jason Van Steenwyk of the Florida National Guard, who served in Iraq from May 2003 to February 2004, writes that "I've never met an officer in my life who didn't think that the decisive point in the counterinsurgency was political, not military," then links to several entries from his blog making this exact point. The military effort is necessary, but not sufficient by itself, which is why the poll mentioned in the previous item showing increasing Sunni support for the direction of Iraq, communications with Sunni insurgents, and continued haggling over the number of Sunnis to be involved in drafting the new constitution are so important.

HUNTER S. THOMPSON: The late writer has inspired a microbrewery to produce Gonzo Imperial Porter, complete with labels by longtime Thompson collaborator Ralph Steadman. A dollar from the sale of each case will go towards building the Gonzo Memorial Fist in Aspen.

CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN: A 31 year-old serial impostor who passed himself off for a month as a 15 year-old schoolboy is being questioned by police in France. Frederic Bourdin is nicknamed "the Chameleon," but "Babyface" would be more alliterative.

PODCASTING extends to old-time radio shows.

GRIEVING 9/11 WIDOW was given millions of dollars -- including 2.1 million from the Federal Victim Compensation Fund -- and has blown almost all of it already.

CHINA is grappling with peasant revolts.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA head Williamm Schultz now argues that it's okay to call Camp X-Ray at Gitmo a "gulag" because "Amnesty got more media time to discuss US detention policies in the past three weeks than we have in the past three years." Apparently, it's okay to lie for a supposed good cause... unless you're the Bush Administration, which regularly gets accused of having done so with regard to Iraq. Also, Mr. Shultz claims that "Amnesty International understands the difference in magnitude between forcing millions into labor camps where tens of thousands starved, and illegally imprisoning and sometimes abusing prisoners in US detention." Millions died in the Soviet Gulag; Amnesty's apparent amnesia o­n this point may explain why they persist in defending this grotesquely offensive trope. Mr. Shultz adds, "Amnesty truly is an international organization with members in more than 100 countries and, whether we in the US think it an appropriate historic reference or not, 'gulag' truly is how much of the rest of the world perceives US detention practices." Apparently, Mr. Schultz's mother never gave him the talk entitled, "If all your friends wanted to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?"

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Jolie's former assistant is shopping a screenplay based o­n the Hollywood beauty's tempestuous marriage and subsequent split from director and actor Billy Bob Thornton, though it sounds like names may have been changed.

RUSSELL CROWE'S phone-throwing incident caused the White House to cancel a screening and overnighter for the Aussie actor.

GOV. AHNULD SCHWARZENEGGER has called a special election for November to try to change the way California spends money, picks its politicians and hires its teachers. His poll numbers have been down lately; maybe he sees this as a way to pump... them up. After all, these are issues o­n which he campaigned as a reformer.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON tells Playboy her big fantasy is to romp in the back seat of a car, calling it "crazy and kinky and sexy." As fantasies go, that's about o­ne notch above Sally Albright's faceless man.

LIBERALS IN THE MEDIA need to lighten up. At least that's the suggestion implicitly offered by Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz and explicitly made by Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Wolff.

ENDANGERED TORTOISES RESCUED from a man who wanted to turn them into soup.

A CLEVER SHEEP (that most dangerous of animals) been spared the slaughterhouse after a daring James Bond-style escape from a Welsh farm.

GATOR GOES SIDEWAYS, invades California wine country. The local woman who discovered it began hollering that she had a big lizard or something in her backyard.

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Eleni Mandell, Billie Holiday, The Redwalls, Lacey Underall and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, June 13, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

ELENI MANDELL may break through to a wider audience thanks to Cole Porter and the French Hotel. My review of o­ne of her concerts is right here o­n the site. You can stream stuff from her last album, Afternoon (which I recommend), at her own website.

LIVE 8 REUNITES PINK FLOYD: Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour are putting aside their differences for the gig. No Syd Barrett, natch. ALSO: TalkLeft points you to a MP3 of Sir Bob Geldof's conference call with Joe Trippi and prominent bloggers mentioned in this space previously.

MEET THE NEW BOSS: Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein suggests in an Onion A.V. Club interview that classic rock is the new punk rock.

LEONARD COHEN is being sued by a Colorado investment company for civil conspiracy and extortion.

BILLIE HOLLIDAY: Robert Christgau essays "The First Lady of Song" for The Nation magazine.

ARE WE NOT MEN? In a new interview, Devo's Jerry Casale explains how devolution sprung from the Kent State shooting. I had no idea he was that old.

THE REDWALLS: In advance of their major-label debut, Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot calls them "part of the strongest wave of Chicago pop and rock bands to surface in a decade." Of the various comparisons Kot makes, I'm surprised he didn't also mention CCR, as that was the name (along with late-period Beatles) that leapt to mind when I heard their last disc.

INDIE BANDS are being marketed like Tupperware, according to Newsweek.

TERI HATCHER: They're real and they're spectacular, but she is considering not keeping 'em real.

LOS ALAMOS WHISTLEBLOWER beaten outside a Santa Fe bar, but Santa Fe police now believe he could have been attacked for allegedly striking a pedestrian in the bar's parking lot.

HIT-AND-RUN VICTIM run over by the police car responding to the hit-and-run report.

IRAQ: Two Washington Post reporters spent three days with a unit including Iraqis drawn from a disenchanted Sunni Arab minority, being rebuilt after the company commander's death prompted all but 30 of the company's 250 soldiers to quit. Not surprisingly, the reporters paint a highly negative picture of the effort to build up Iraqi security forces. Author Michael Yon also has a gripping read of operations in Mosul that suggests a more positive view. So does the pseudonymous "Major E," writing PowerLine from Baghdad. Which portrait proves more accurate of the overall effort remains to be seen, but certainly bears watching. There's more analysis and discussion at The Belgravia Dispatch.

IRAQ II: Strategy Page has a nifty blurb o­n helmet-mounted vidcams (along with iPod-like storage drives) becoming useful as a military intelligence tool. The number of Iraqis getting married is surging, but so-called experts seem to have a different explanation than those actually getting married.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Katie Holmes appeared o­n The Late Show with David Letterman; Katie was clueless, Dave was merciless. Cruise continues to bash psychiatry and prescription drugs, but the normally fluffy Entertainment Weekly can't help but insert editor's notes contradicting some of his statements. A story about Cruise auditioning other starlets before Katie Holmes disappears from the E! website faster than you can say, "Hi, this is Tom Cruise's lawyer..."

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Mr. & Mrs. Smith tops the weekend box office, raking in 51 million bucks. I went to see it solely for the purpose o­n reporting back o­n it and not at all to gawk at Angelina Jolie for two hours. I share Roger Ebert's view (and that of Semisonic) that it's all about chemistry: "Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have it, or I think they have it, in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and because they do, the movie works. If they did not, there'd be nothing to work with." I think Roger is a little charitable with the rating, also.

ARE SECRETS OF THE STARS to be revealed o­n the Pellicano tapes? An appeals court ruling affirmng the conviction of celebrity sleuth Anthony Pellicano o­n charges that he had unregistered firearms, grenades and enough plastic explosives to bring down an airliner in a safe in his office also ruled that prosecutors can comb through the equivalent of two billion pages of wiretap transcripts found in the office. Pellicano's client list included Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson, Kevin Costner, Farrah Fawcett and some of Hollywood's biggest entertainment lawyers.

RUSSELL CROWE was not given preferential treatment during the investigation of his alleged assault of a hotel employee, according to a NYPD detective. Everyone gets a four-motorcycle police escort to the station.

CATS set a house ablaze in Kobe, Japan by using the fax machine as a litter box. Cat ownership can make men less attractive and women more desirable. And there's a movie of a cat losing a fight with a ceiling fan.

DEMOCRACY IN SYRIA? The Baath Party eases the state of emergency that has been in force for over 40 years, will allow some new political parties to be formed and seems to move towards a free market economy. However, these measures, which come at a time of huge international pressure o­n Syria, were not the great leap forward promised by President Bashar al-Assad and demanded by reformers. Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official told The New York Times and Reuters that the U.S. has received "credible information" that Syrian operatives in Lebanon plan to try to assassinate senior Lebanese political leaders and that Syrian military intelligence forces are returning to Lebanon to create "an environment of intimidation."

DEMOCRACY AT MICROSOFT? There's some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that Microsoft's new Chinese internet portal has banned the words "democracy" and "freedom" from parts of its website in an apparent effort to avoid offending Beijing's political censors. The good news is that, ironically enough, the linked article is posted o­n Microsoft's site in the U.S.

LIZ PHAIR is going unplugged this summer. It's kinda hard to think of Liz unplugged, based o­n her body of work.

THE DOUBLE DOOR, the Chicago venue where Rob Gordon DJed in High Fidelity, where I have seen acts like the Soft Boys, Van Hunt and Eleventh Dream Day, was in danger of closing in a landlord-tenant dispute (shades of CBGBs). Fortunately, the o­ne-time speakeasy will remain a Wicker Park fixture for the foreseeable future.

SAD SONGS: In the Guardian, Tom Reynolds, author of I Hate Myself and Want to Die, compiles a 25 miserable tracks. But the commenters at Althouse do better, for the most part.

BOB DYLAN'S NEVER-ENDING TOUR: Prof. Althouse also has some observations and questions for the latter-day Bobby Z based o­n a piece in The New York Times o­n Sunday (but o­nline Saturday).

JIMI HENDRIX'S boyhood home is saved from the wrecking ball.

BONNAROO: The Chattanooga Times Free Press blogged the festival. Kings of Leon and Iron & Wine seem to draw raves; Dave Matthews, not so much.

CONDOLEEZA RICE: The Secretay of State played a rare and unpublicized piano gig for the improbably named Charity Sunshine, a 21-year-old soprano who was diagnosed with often-fatal pulmonary hypertension a little over a year ago. Sunshine is a granddaughter of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), and his wife Annette, who Rice has known for years.

YOUR MOMENT OF SITH: You may think you know what Darth Vader looks like under that mask, but you probably haven't seen this photo. George Lucas gets the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute at a black-tie dinner attended by a who's who of Hollywood, including the stars of the original "Star Wars" films. Carrie Fisher called Lucas the man "who ruined my life." In accepting the award, Lucas joked that he started out not being able to write a word, but became "the king of wooden dialogue." At the official website, a father is blogging the reaction of his seven year-old son, who is familiar with Eps. I-III, to seeing the original Star Wars as the fourth in the series. And you may want to check out Passed Out Wookies.

THE DUTCH-MUSLIM CULTURE WAR: An article by Deborah Scroggins for The Nation o­n Somali-born Dutch legislator Ayaan Hirsi Ali seems awfully confused. Scroggins writes:

"Seven months ago, Hirsi Ali's implacable campaign against what she views as Islam's oppression of women prompted a Muslim fanatic to ritually slaughter Theo van Gogh, her Dutch collaborator o­n the film Submission. The murderer used his knife to affix a five-page letter to the corpse promising the same treatment for Hirsi Ali and another Dutch politician who has criticized Islam."

First, there is the implication that Hirsi Ali should bear some of the blame for the van Gogh murder. Second, there is the phrase "what she views as Islam's oppression of women..." Back in the 1960s, there were people who suggested that the murder of three civil rights workers by Klan members was really the fault of Martin Luther King, Jr., or the ACLU, too. Apparently, the Old South's big mistake was not inventing multculturalism (though arguably they tried). Would Ms. Scroggins blame Hirisi Ali for the Pakistani judiciary that frees 12 gang rapists? How about the farmer who shoots his daughters after o­ne did not immediately serve him a glass of water when he returned from working in the fields? Or the Saudi Arabian couple accused of turning a young Indonesian woman into a virtual slave? The hundreds of Iranian women protesting their status? Or the way women were treated in Afghanistan under the Taliban? However, to Ms. Scroggins' credit, she does report that Dutch feminists are backing Hirisi Ali.

BAD INTELLIGENCE: Having recently linked to an article claiming that out intell services missed major military developments in China, it's o­nly fair that I note that former intell analysts have responses posted at the PowerLine blog.

NOT THAT MILE-HIGH CLUB: 'Netrepreneur Jason Calacanis videoblogs from 30,000 feet.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY characters get their own promo websites.

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: The Strong Museum in Rochester, NY opened an exhibit dedicated to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. But should they really have invited Mr. McFeely to greet the kids for what is billed as a "Hands On" exhibit?

AFGHANISTAN: The former leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guards says the U.S. has not given Iran enough credit for helping overthrow the Taliban. GI there sometimes joke that Afghanistan is the forgotten war, despite (or maybe because of) progress against insurgents and in training the Afghan Army. If the military wants more media coverage of Afghanistan, they are going to have to start torturing more detainees.

HEAD START: A new study of the program's impact is spun all sorts of ways.

NANOTECH: Hewlett-Packard claims its researchers have created a new way to design future nano-electronic circuits using coding theory.

LAPTOP COMPUTERS MORE POPULAR THAN DESKTOPS, outselling them for the first time in a calendar month in the U.S. In a related story, lap dances are now more popular thann table dances.

HOWARD DEAN gets a mixed review from Howard Fineman in Newsweek. On fundraising, he quotes DNC member Elaine Kamarck as saying, "For people who really look hard at the numbers, he's wowing people." Well, looking at the numbers, the RNC held a fundraising edge of 17.2 million dollars in 2003; now, the RNC is ahead by 17.6 million dollars. But maybe if I looked really hard, I'd be wowed. On organization, Fineman talks about Dean sending "assessment teams" to investigate states with weak organization; I would have to give him an "Incomplete" for this until we see the results. And organization may be more important than the fundraising for a DNC chair, as many candidates can raise funds, but hardly any are tasked with party-building.

CINDY MORGAN -- probably too-well known as Caddyshack's Lacey Underall -- is interviewed by Retrocrush. A must-read if you're enjoy skinny-skiing and going to bullfights o­n acid. Or Tron.

STUCK ON LODI, AGAIN: In the midst of a probe of alleged Al Qaeda cell in Lodi, the Oakland Tribune runs an article to assure readers that mosques are not strange places to be feared. That may often be the case. However, it doesn't help when o­ne of the primary sources quoted is Hatem Bazian, a lecturer at UC Berkeley who has called for a Palestinian-style intifada by Muslims in America. Given the reliance o­n Bazian, should readers be concerned that the author of the Tribune article, Sajid Farooq, was the organizer of a muslim rally at Berkeley in 2003?

JOURNO TARGETED BY U.S. MILITARY? A Spanish judge wants to question three American soldiers as suspects in the death of a Spanish cameraman who was killed when a U.S. tank fired o­n a hotel housing foreign journalists during the 2003 assault o­n Baghdad. "It would be a very, very cold day in hell before that would ever happen," said a State Department official. The Pentagon has exonerated the U.S. soldiers from any blame, which is corroborated by Boston Herald reporter Jules Crittenden.

TORTURE BY THE U.S.: The New York Times Magazine o­n Sunday has a lengthy piece by the paper's former executive editor, Joseph Lelyveld. It's a serious piece of work, but what does it say about the NYT that it is illustrated with photographs by Andres Serrano? After all, this is the photographer who produced an infamous photograph that has again been raised by some in the context of the debate over Quran mishandling at the detainee camp at Gitmo. Imho, the topic of torture is already inflammatory enough without gratuitously inserting Andres Serrano into the middle of it.

TORTURE II: Time magazine will probably make a splash with the story of the interrogation of Mohammed al Qahtani, who is widely believed to be the so-called 20th 9/11 hijacker. Special interrogation techniques were approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for use o­n a select few detainees like al-Qahtani, who was forced to hear Christina Aguilera music and watch a puppet show. No, really.

THE DOWNING STREET MEMO: Michael Kinsley has about the same opinion of it as I did, but adds: "Nevertheless, I am enjoying it, as an encouraging sign of the left's revival. Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence. It takes a critical mass of citizens with extreme views and the time and energy to obsess about them. It takes a promotional infrastructure and the discipline to settle o­n a story line, disseminate it and stick to it."

SEAN PENN is on assignment in Tehran for the San Francisco Chronicle ahead of presidential elections o­n June 17th. The Iranians confiscated his video camera temporarily.

PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE MEDIA hits an all-time low in the latest Gallup Poll. The military topped the poll with a 74 percent confidence rating.

MONSIEUR MOM: In a new survey, nearly 40 percent of French men said that they would like to become pregnant, science permitting.

SMART AND DUMB STATES are ranked by the Morgan Quitno Press, which appears to be the work of a former Bob Dole staffer. The list seems suspect to me, as the rankings are based in part o­n per-pupil expenditures, average class size and pupil-teacher ratios, which do not by themselves make a state dumb or smart. Indeed, I would bet that many states with higher per-pupil expenditures have lower student reading and math proficiency and graduation rates.

VIOLENT CROWS BLOODY A BRITISH JOGGER in Battersea Park. Joanna Leonard, an interior designer, saw the birds - which she thought were ravens - in the same place an hour after the attack: "I thought they were very nasty, sinister things."she said. "Two of them focused in o­n me as I walked past. I couldn't help thinking of that Hitchcock film."

WHEN PIGEONS attack!

THE UNDERWEAR GANG: Thai thieves prove to be slippery and elusive.

VETERAN'S CORPSE STOLEN FROM THE MORGUE for an alleged insurance scam, then dumped in the trash.

WOMAN'S ASHES MISSING and replaced with a can of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips.

GOODNESS! GRACIOUS! Great balls of snot explain an ocean mystery.

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