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Richard Thompson, Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, and Circus Elephants   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, June 05, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

IGGY POP and THE STOOGES are in their prime crashing through "TV Eye" and "1970" o­n live TV, but the icing o­n the cake (or the peanut butter o­n the chest) is the play-by-play announcer.

CHEAP TRICK has a new album coming out tomorrow, which you can stream from VH1, but the aptly-named He's A Whore blog has "Give It Away" and "All Those Years" posted, which led me to find "On Top of the World" from ChicagoFest 1981 o­n the Hype Machine.

RICHARD THOMPSON is profiled by the Lexington Herald-Leader, with some nice quotes from co-founding Fairport Convention guitarist-vocalist and longtime Thompson cohort Simon Nicol. There's also a nice nod to Del McCoury's hit bluegrass revision of 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. Thompson knows how to cover a tune himself, as shown o­n Donovan's "Season of the Witch" (including a mean guitar solo) and an acoustic take o­n Squeeze's "Tempted," which appears o­n his 1000 Years of Popular Music disc.

MORRISSEY: London's Independent has a profile portraying him as both national treasure and scourge.

WHO'S LEFT is releasing an 11-minute rock operetta as a single. The BBC Radio 2's head of music, Colin Martin, said: "An 11-minute track is unlikely to be playlisted, but it could be fitted into a more specialist programme. In the past record companies have supplied radio edits, for example 'Layla' by Derek and the Dominos, so we may play an edited version."

THE 100 GREATEST LIVING SONGWRITERS, according to Paste magazine (and Richard Thompson, Morrissey and Pete Townshend are all o­n it). However, the mag must be using the term "living" a bit loosely, as number 12 is The Rolling Stones, who are more accurately characterized as "undead."

BELLE & SEBASTIAN: "White Collar Boy" (with those Gary Glitter-esque drums), the third single from The Life Pursuit will be released as a 7”, CD and DVD, with three new songs spread across the formats, including a cover of Rod Stewart’s "Baby Jane." Checking the Hype Machine, I found that Cable and Tweed recently posted a whole mess of live covers by B & S. A couple of them are songs Pate used to cover, like The Who's "The Kids Are Alright" and The Zombies' "Time of the Season." Others are a bit more in the B & S vein, like The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star," The Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack," The Byrds' "So You Wanna Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star" and Scott MacKenzie's execrable "San Francisco." And if you click through the "read post" link for any of those, you'll find plenty more where those came from.

CAMERA OBSCURA: A piece in the Scotsman argues that the band's latest album, Let's Get Out Of This Country, brings them out of the shadow of their fellow twee Scots, Belle & Sebastian (who are less twee these days also). I tend to agree -- the new o­ne has an early 60s flair -- but you can decide for yourself by checking out "Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken," "Let's Get Out Of This Country," "If Looks Could Kill," "Country Mile" and "Come Back Margaret."

SMOOSH: The Denver Post asks 12-year-old drummer Chloe if she's kept up with the homework for the last two weeks of school she's missed while o­n tour.

INTERNET HYPE: The Independent looks at two recent cases, Sandi Thom and Lily Allen to see whether you can separate the grass roots from the astroturf.

THE HEART ATTACK: Tucked into the first pressing of the Gnarls Barkley album was a disc from the Heart Attack, a collaboration of Cee-Lo and Plantlife, whose The Return of Jack Splash has a definite 70s funk feel to it. Gorilla vs. Bear has posted a couple of tracks, including o­ne under the combo's working name, Lovestink. Check out "Gangsta Boogie" and "Right Now."

VINCE WELNICK, a keyboardist who possessed a fluid and precise style and played with the Tubes, Todd Rundgren and the Grateful Dead, died Friday in Sonoma County at the age of 51. The cause appears to be suicide, Sonoma County sheriff's department said.

NOW SHOWING: The Break-Up beat tracking numbers to upset X-Men 3 for the top slot, with a 38 million dollar opening. A Box Office Prophets columnist argued that Vince Vaughn may be the new Adam Sandler, though word of mouth may prevent the movie from having legs. The 66.6 percent drop for X-Men 3 suggests a flameout, despite its Memorial Day record numbers. Over The Hedge dropped to third, The Da Vinci Code to fourth. That leaves Mission: Impossible III to round out the top five, which is as good an excuse as any to link to some Lalo Schifrin.

WOLVERINE of the X-Men is ranked as Hollywood's top fictional character by Entertainment Weekly, " based o­n a devoted, built-in audience and early excitement over his planned solo flick, which could be out as soon as 2008," according to writer Tim Stack. I'm guessing the mag wishes they could take some of that back this week.

DENISE & HEATHER & RICHIE & CHARLIE & DAVID: Though Sheen has had his Denise Richards tattoo removed, Denise hasn't returned the favor yet. The National Enquirer claims that Sheen is planning to demand a paternity test to determine the father of his baby daughter.

BRITNEY SPEARS is meeting with divorce lawyers, according to Star magazine, which claims she and Spenderline now communicate through their bodyguards.

MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY and PENELOPE CRUZ are on a break.

NATALIE PORTMAN and JAKE GYLLENHAAL are dating?

BRADGELINA: Jolie turned 31 this weekend... Happy Birthday, Angie!  The Celebrity Baby Blog looks at the astrological chart for Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. TMZ has photos of the baby's diamond encrusted pacifier. It turns out that the new mom reserved not o­ne, but 24 domain names featuring various versions of her daughter Shiloh Nouvel's name. The couple appeared to have learned from the misfortunes of the Tom-Kat, whose daughter's name, Suri, was co-opted by someone else who registered the URL "suricruise.com"

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Cruise has sent in the lawyers to get hold of Internet domains sporting his name. TomCruiseIsNuts.com is currently the third ranked link in a Google search o­n his name.

JULIA ROBERTS: Don't be shocked when she's ringing your doorbell.

SINEAD O'CONNOR is pregnant with her fourth child. Perhaps most surprising is that her eldest is 18.

LINDSAY LOHAN is underage -- but that didn't stop her from partying in Las Vegas.

O.J. SIMPSON may have a sex tape. *shudder*

THE MTV MOVIE AWARDS don't air until Thursday, but the results are public, should you wish to spoil yourself. o­nTD has a gallery of backstage snaps.

JESSICA ALBA wants to go topless this summer while vacationing o­n the beaches of Europe, but is paranoid the paparazzi will catch her out. This is paranoia. I would advise her to do what she wants.

NANOTECH: A spray sealant called Magic Nano was pulled from European store shelves because at least 110 customers reported symptoms including racking coughs, chest pain and difficulty breathing. Last week, German regulators released tests that showed Magic Nano contained no nanoparticles. But it's never too soon for a little hysteria.

IRAQ: At ITM, Omar notes further dithering o­n the defense and interior cabinet appointments delays security improvements. With the Haditha incident front and center, author Frank Schaeffer had a piece in the Washington Post reming us (with examples) that even in "good wars" things go horribly wrong. An investigation has concluded that the allegations of intentional killings of civilians by US forces in Ishaqi are unfounded, according to ABC News. As both that case and Haditha involved videotape, it's worth noting Capt. Andrew Del Gaudio's account of coming under fire, o­nly to be confronted with gunmen who had a line of children standing in front of them and two men filming with video cameras. It's o­ne reason why the investigations should take their course, with trials and punishment as determined by the facts. The coverage of the 11th conviction in the Abu Ghraib prison case tended to focus o­n the fact that the military police dog handler won't do jail time. He was sentenced to 90 days of hard labor, reduction of rank and a fine of 600 from his monthly pay for a year, but the press doesn't give enough detail of his particular case for the public to judge whether that's too light a sentence.

IRAQ IN THE MEDIA: While o­n the subject, The New York Times admitted that it exaggerated prime minister al-Maliki's comments about the US military's treatment of civilians, but reported that "President Bush expressed concern today over reports that 24 Iraqi civilians may have been killed by American marines in an unprovoked attack in the city of Haditha," though the transcript shows that Pres. Bush never called it such. Which is a good thing considering that such a comment would be seized upon by defense lawyers to claim he was interfering with the process. The AP is claiming that investigators believe that their criminal investigation into the deaths of about two dozen Iraqi civilians points toward a conclusion that Marines committed unprovoked murders. But when they actually get into quoting the usual anonymous sources, the word used is "unjustified." Legally, that will be a big difference, which the press seems to be missing.

IRAN: Oil prices spiked o­n Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's threat to use oil production as a weapon in its nuclear dispute with the West. Given that restricitng its oil output would ruin Iran's economy (which isn't great now), this could be seen as a bluff (Sec. of State Rice's implication), or a sign of how committed the regime is, which would be even more disturbing. Left largely unreported are the Azerbaijani protests in several cities, in part over a cartoon (the world is full of irony). In Tabriz, there were 10k protesters, despite undeclared marshal law. You cans see some of it via Google Video. There were bloody clashes and gunfire, which you saw o­n the network news, no?

TERROR BUSTS IN CANADA: Seventeen Canadian residents were arrested Friday o­n terrorism-related charges, including plots to use explosives in attacks o­n Canadian soil. The group allegedly acquired three tons of ammonium nitrate. The two-year investigation grew out of surveillance of Internet sites and tracing the paths of Canadians believed to have ties to international terrorist organizations. Syed Haris Ahmed, 21, a student at Georgia Tech, met with the group to discuss US terror targets, including oil refineries and military bases. Ahmed is now in US custody, indicted in March for material support of terrorism. The Canadian gov't hurried to assure everyone that the fact that the suspects all appear to be Muslim in no way reflects negatively o­n any specific community or ethnocultural group in Canada, adding that "Terrorism is a dangerous ideology, and a global phenomenon... Canada is not immune from this ideology." Actually, terrorism is not an ideology; it's a tactic. These suspects almost certainly do not share an ideology with the late Timothy McVeigh. And though it may not reflect o­n Muslims as a whole, it does reflect o­n certain fundamentalist branches of Islam.

RINGLING BROS. CIRCUS ELEPHANTS may be out of work, if animal-welfare groups get their way in court.

A WOMAN MARRIED A SNAKE in a ceremony in India’s eastern Orissa state, it was reported o­n Friday. Granted, women marry snakes all the time, but usually not literally.

CAT RESCUED from a tree in Great Fall, MT, along with its owner.

MIKE THE HAMSTER passed through a huge industrial shredder -- and survived to tell the tale. Which is good, not least because it's rare to find a talking hamster, let alone o­ne with a cool story.

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Sly Stone, Lambchop, The Specials, Top Dogs of Pop Culture   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, June 02, 2006 - 08:35 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE...

...with SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE, winning 10K from a talent show at Ohio State. Now that's old skool.

FRIDAY TIMEWASTER I: Friday Foosball.

FRIDAY TIMEWASTER II: W0ne. Collect the barrels and stars with your wheel.

THE SLITS, having reunited earlier this year to play a few UK shows, the seminal punk grrrls are recording an EP due in October, with cameos including Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and Adam & the Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni.

LAMBCHOP: At Chromewaves, Frank writes: "It's a cliche to say that an act is unclassifiable in sound, but in Lambchop's case it's really true - there's a case to be made for calling them country, soul, rhythm & blues, chamber pop, lounge, jazz, rock, indie, and they're all as inaccurate as they are accurate. What is true is that they make music that is unmistakably grown-up and quintessentially American..." He hooks you up with streams and MP3 from the band, and there's more to stream via the Hype Machine, though Frank's pick, "You Masculine You" is a standout.

SMOOSH: The tween sisters continue to generate good press o­n their first proper tour, opening for the Eels, in part because they're so quotable without knowing it. When told that copies from the small initial pressing of She Like Electric are selling for upwards of $40 o­n the Internet, 14-year-old Asya responds: "Really, people were selling our disc o­n, like, eBay? I didn’t know that. That is sooo cool." But Jeff Inman of the Salt Lake City Weekly is dead o­n in noting that "Smoosh is good. And not just ’tween good—like, 'oh look at the little girls playing indie-rock.' Free to Stay is the kind of album English majors with serious faces and clever hair wish they could make: fun, quirky and surprisingly intoxicating... It also helps that Chloe hits the skins like a prepubescent John Bonham, slamming out complex rhythms that buoy the tunes at just the right moment." You can stream songs from the upcoming album via the Hype Machine.

THE LIARS Angus Andrew admits he cares what critics say: "We're not blind or deaf to reaction to our records. It's important to us to really try and listen to what people say about us." Their latest, Drum's Not Dead scored a respectable 77 at Metacritic. You can hear 'em via MySpace.

THE TOP 100 ALBUMS OF ALL TIME? A poll organized by the book of British Hit Singles and Albums and NME.com put the debut album by Oasis ahead of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is silly, but at least Revolver came in third.

GUNS 'N' ROSES: Reasons for the legendary delay of the Chinese Democracy album are suggested in an Onion infographic.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: Though summer doesn't officially start until later this month, we're past Memorial Day and the end of school for a lot of kids. So let's dig The Undertones' "Here Comes The Summer." BONUS: You can enjoy a stream of summer songs via the Hype Machine.

YOUR LOVE: At My Old Kentucky Blog, Dodge celebrates finding a three dollar Greatest Hits package by letting you download or stream the original hit from The Outfield and a cover by The Decemberists.

WILL THE SPECIALS REUNITE? Original singer Terry Hall told the BBC "this is the closest we've been in 25 years to maybe doing something but maybe not what's expected - I don't know." Which is as good a reason as any to revisit the classic "Ghost Town" and the Special AKA's "What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend."

RED HOT CHILI PLAGARISM(?) UPDATE: It seems that Tom Petty is looking into the legal ramifications of charges that the RHCP hit "Dani California" is uncomfortably similar to Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance," as previously noted here.

OH NO! OH MY! This Nashville-based duo's DIY self-titled release has drawn comparisons from the Shins to Simon and Garfunkel and got a decent 7.4 o­n the Pitchfork. You can stream "Jane Is Fat" and many more from the Hype Machine.

GNARLS BARKLEY: Brooklyn Vegan points you to versions of "Crazy" as covered by Ray Lamontagne and the chart-climbimg Nelly Furtado.

THE DIXIE CHICKS topped the US charts this week with their first studio album since criticizing Pres. Bush, but sales were sharply lower than their previous album and Rascal Flatts' debut in April. But with Bush's low approval ratings, it seems more likely that thie driving force here is the band's increasing contempt for its fanbase.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled singer was detained o­n a flight to Barcelona after a syringe was found in the airplane's toilet. Shockingly, when questioned, Doherty became agitated and aggressive.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend brings Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston in The Break-Up, which is currently scoring 17 percent Rotten o­n the Tomatometer, even worse with the "cream of the crop" critics. People may prefer to revisit Vince Vaughn's better moments. It will be interesting to see just how well the movie does as the weekend's sole wide new release. And how many people in the media compare the weeken numbers to the opening numbers for Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

BRADGELINA: Pitt reportedly burst into tears while holding his daughter for the first time. And he is claimed to be desperate to return to the US. The couple is expected to move back to return to Malibu by July 1st for Pitt to start work o­n Ocean's 13.

DENISE & HEATHER & RICHIE & CHARLIE & DAVID: Yep, David Spade may be back in the love pentangle after being snapped with Heather Locklear. Denise Richards, rumored to be planning a wedding with Richie Sambora, is set to perform with the Pussycat Dolls, which should bolster her claim for sole custody of her children by Charlie Sheen.

LINDSAY LOHAN has reportedly turned to the help of a hypnotist to help end her shopping addiction. Lohan’s rep, however, didn’t mince words blasting the story.

RACHEL WEISZ is the newest celeb mom, giving birth to a baby boy by director Darren Aronofsky.

JUDE LAW and SIENNA MILLER caught getting cozy. I wonder if they talk about her wacky dad?

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND paid homage to viral video o­n the Internet? Wizbang Pop calls it the "Snakes o­n a Plane Effect."

HALLE BERRY admits that she -- like her X-Men co-star Hugh Jackman -- will don her X-costume for x-rated activity at home.

KEANU REEVES saw a shrink about his midlife crisis.

SANDRA BULLOCK got the protective order against her stalker extended through 2009, by which time she may have starred in enough lame romantic comedies that the stalker will give up voluntarily.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: The couple have secretly asked American Idol runner-up Katherine McPhee to sing at their wedding after meeting at L.A.'s Church of Scientology, where the singer allegedly attended courses with her boyfriend.

NICOLE KIDMAN: Cruise's ex reportedly put a sex ban o­n her fiancee Keith Urban until their wedding night, which is currently rumored to be set for the weekend of June 24-25 in North Sydney.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH confirms she is pregnant. Is it too soon to call DCFS?

PLUMBER'S BUTT seems an unlikely celebrity fashion trend. But that's also what I thought about Kabbalah.

YOUR MOMENT OF SITH: I noticed that Revenge of the Sith starts o­n premium cable this week, so I thought it would be fun to look at this clip from Robot Chicken in which Darth Vader has to explain to the Emperor that the Death Star has been destroyed. (Warning: mild profanity.) BONUS: Vader spoils the whole Star Wars saga for Luke Skywalker.

IRAQ: A Marine captain relieved of command during the investigation of the Haditha shootings has denied any role in the incident. Maybe so, maybe not; that's why it's generally better to try things in court than in the press. At ITM Omar reports o­n a bizzare rumor going around Baghdad that Pres. Bush wants to orchestrate a military coup in Iraq, to be carried out by the Iraqi army under command of a Sunni general. Following up o­n the post from Zayed linked here yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor reports that conditions in the Amariyah neighborhood of Baghdad have improved, while jihadis and insurgents remain strong in Sunni neighborhoods like Dora and Adhamiya. And if you're inclined to believe the past three years in Iraq have been a disaster, compare it to East Timor, South Africa or Zimbabwe.

IRAN is brutally cracking down o­n protests by ethinic Azheris and conducting mass arrests of student protesters at a number of universities. More here. But not o­n your nightly network news. Meanwhile, the government has been training the Revolutionary Guard in irregular warfare and asymmetrical tactics.

THE 100 GREATEST DOGS OF POP CULTURE HISTORY, courtesy of Retrocrush.

A DOG OWNER was put in her own cage in the wake of her failed attempt at breaking her black Labrador out of the local animal shelter.

HANNAH THE STORK: The Hungarian Bird and Environment Protection Association worries she will get into trouble from her aggressive panhandling.

DEADWOOD will not host a "running of the bulls." But it will continue to host the most profane cowboys this side of the Pecos.

BACTERIA would gladly fuel your hydrogen-powered car tomorrow, for some chocolate today.

MUTANT MICE: They don't like, they don't like, they don't like...

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The dB's, Advance Streams, Thom Yorke Leaks, and an Obese Dog   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, June 01, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE dB'S talk to Harp magazine about their album-in-progress and the backstory behind the back-in-print classic, Like This. Peter Holsapple sums it up: "The dB’s went from a footnote to an also-ran to an influence—all without selling much in the way of records... It’s made me have to get some day jobs along the way, but if anything it’s taught me to love music for music’s sake rather than having any great expectations of commercial reward." Harp also mentions dB’s in a Can, the rare cassette version of Stands for deciBels housed in a sealed tin can. Paul Miller had o­ne! BONUS: Ken King and I saw both dB's reunion shows in Chi-town and I covered them here. You can download an advance track from the band's website (and a cover of "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted," if you donate to hurricane relief).

EMMYLOU HARRIS: Harp gushes over the legendary singer, but she still gives loads of credit to Gram Parsons for her love of country music and harmony singing. She's pictured with Kathleen Edwrads and Alison Morrer, who are also featured in this month's issue. Edwards said the photo shoot with Emmylou Harris became an unexpected test of "how completely in check" her ego really is. Moorer talks about her new album and (relatively) new marriage to Steve Earle. There's plenty of Emmylou to stream via the Hype Machine.

ADVANCE STREAMS: Full albums from Elvis Costello and Cheap Trick are streaming at VH1 before they hit stores. Leave it to the Tricksters to poke fun at their past with song titles like "Come o­n Come o­n Come o­n Come o­n Come o­n" and "O Claire."

MATES OF STATE list the five best things about making music with your spouse for Paste. They chose that over the five worst things, which is probably better for the band and the marriage. You can hear the couple via MySpace.

PJ HARVEY: London's Guardian has a free download of her set at this year's Hay festival.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: The AV Club just published a playlist called "The Land of Way Too Many Dances," which inexplicably leaves out the B-52's "Dance This Mess Around." How could they leave it out? They do all 16 dances!

GIANT DRAG is profiled by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, noting the angst beneath "funny" song titles such as "You F--- like My Dad." Not that the band doesn't have a lighter side, as evidenced o­n their cover of Journey's "Who's Cryin' Now."

WHO'S LEFT is getting charitable. Pete Townshend has announced the band will be bootlegging and webcasting the upcoming tour and donating the proceeds to charity. Ten-dollar lottery tickets will also be sold at the shows for a chance to win the last guitar Pete ever smashed o­n stage, with the money benefiting the New Orleans Appeal.

THE BLACK KEYS: The bluesier version of the White Stripes recently left the Fat Possum label and have signed to Nonesuch, with an ablum due this September. Drummer Patrick Carney told Pitchfork the band picked Nonesuch because, like Fat Possum, they "want to sell records... but they're not in it to sell records." You can stream a bunch from the Hype Machine.

RADIOHEAD: Thom Yorke's don't-call-it-a-solo album has leaked o­nline. Really? Do tell...

MIKE PATTON: is interviewed by Suicide Girls about his new album, Peeping Tom (currently streaming at MySpace), but my favorite bit is his answer to the question: How do you know when o­ne of your songs is finished? "That’s a tough thing and the best answer is, you just know. laughs The older I get the more conscious I’ve gotten of that..."

DAVE GROHL: Rumors of the Foo Fighter's death are greatly exaggerated.

BRADGELINA: Jolie had attorneys secure shilohnouveljoliepitt.com almost immediately after Pitt cut the umbilical cord. The couple had Jolie's obstetrician specify that she had a cesarean due to breech presentation. I hope she didn't think people believed that really nasty speculation floating around the Internet. London's Sun claims that the couple has been secretly filming a documentary covering their stay in Namibia — which will include footage of their new baby, to make sure it sells.

VAUGHNISTON: Don't look for Jen and Vince to ape Bradgelina o­n the world stage. When asked whether she was interested in global issues, Aniston deadpanned: "No, I'm not interested in any of that. I like to just focus o­n me and my tabloid career." She added, "It's o­ne of the things I always say is these tabloids are just distracting people from the issues and the things that are happening in the world." She should visit here; it's a dessert topping and a floor wax.

SOFIA COPPOLA: The director of Lost In Translation and the panned-at-Cannes Marie Antoinette is three months pregnant by boyfriend Thomas Mars, lead singer of the French band Phoenix.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH is the latest celeb to be placed o­n the media's pregnancy watch list. Indeed, TMZ claims she's five months along, and looking for a way to make money off of the announcement.

BRITNEY SPEARS believes that stories about her are being leaked to the tabloids indirectly through Spenderline.

KATE MOSS: The supposedly sober supermodel's ex-bf, Pete Doherty, is a drug addict. Her new beau is a sex addict.

JESSICA SIMPSON has offered Nick Lachey what is an "insulting" property settlement offer, banking o­n the assumption that Lachey does not want to press the matter in court, according to TMZ. And the pneumatic blonde has resorted to buying up "Team Jessica" T-shirts from the trendy Kitson boutique in L.A. — apparently in an attempt to keep up with the hotcake-like sales of "Team Nick" T-shirts. Star magazine claims Lachey is getting serious with British singer Natasha Bedingfield, because she’s smart and isn’t an actress. People, otoh, claims he's been seeing stylist Kim Kardashian for the past month.

ASHLEE SIMPSON looks like she followed up that nose job with a visit to the trout pout shop.

HALLE BERRY feels great about turning 40 in August, because she's dating a 30-year-old: "I feel good so I'm not worried about turning 40. We o­nly are as old as we choose to be. So I'm still 19."

KELSEY GRAMMER, Berry's X-Men 3 co-star, expects Hollywood bosses to order a fourth installment after this o­ne smashed box office records.

MICHAEL MOORE is being sued by a veteran who lost both arms in the war in Iraq, claiming Moore used snippets of a television interview without his permission to falsely portray him as anti-war in Fahrenheit 9/11.

LIZ TAYLOR has dismissed tabloid reports that she was being treated for Alzheimer's disease or was gravely ill. Having had some experience with Alzheimer's, I hope she's not out dismissing it again tomorrow.

JENNY MCCARTHY dating Jim Carrey? And the apocolypse draws just a bit closer.

NATALIE PORTMAN will be strung up naked in the new Milos Forman movie, Goya's Ghost. Probably the best news Star Wars fanboys have had since Leia's metal bikini. Or since Closer, anyway.

IRAQ: Though Rep. Jack Murtha is going o­n TV to claim that there was a cover-up of the Haditha shooting that goes "right up the chain of command," it appears that the military has not dragged its feet investigating. Time magazine gave evidence to military officials in Baghdad; by the time the story ran in March, the matter had been referred to NCIS, which conducted a thorough investigation. The squad involved may have tried to cover up the nature of the shootings, but investigators apparently did not delay reporting their findings. Less noticed, but perhaps as significant, the US is looking to place the main responsibility for securing Baghdad, Ramadi and other hot spots o­n Iraqi forces. And in Baghdad, the newest problem seems to be radical Islamists taking control of several districts.

IRAQ IN THE MEDIA: Back o­n April 5th, I noted that The New York Times didn't care about a five-month trend of declining US troop casualties until some deadly attacks prompted a story that the trend could be broken. I also suggested that when the numbers dropped again, the paper wouldn't report it. Sure enough, the official figures show that troop casualties dropped in May, but The New York Times ran a story about increased insurgent attacks from Feb. 11 to May 12. This is then painted as showing the power of the insurgency, when the numbers over the past three years show that they can cause a spike in US casualties for a few weeks, but cannot sustain it. That's why their preferred methods now are to blow up civilians and attempt to foment civil war.

IRAN dismissed the US offer to join talks about the nation's nuke program if Tehran would suspened enrichment of uranium. That may be a big mistake, if the administration is correct in thinking Russia and China would support sanctions if new talks fail. Meanwhile, members of the Bahai religious minority in Iran say that the government has intensified a campaign aimed at eradicating their religion in the country of its birth.

DOGS o­n a diet of donuts and beer can get just as obese as humans o­n the same diet. The Arizona Humane Society has taken in "Sessa," who weighed almost three times as much as she should have and couldn't even stand. More pics and video at the link.

DOGS DINING ALFRESCO, however, may become more common after FL Gov. Jeb Bush signs a 'dining with dogs' bill o­n Friday. The legislation creates a pilot program that will give local governments the OK to let restaurants permit dogs to eat with their owners in outdoor dining areas.

CARL, I want you to kill all the gators o­n the golf course. "Correct me if I'm wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers they'll lock me up and throw away the key..."

CATTLE-RUSTLER nabbed with seven calves jammed into his 2000 Dodge Neon in Odensburg, NY.

MEGAN HAD A LITTLE DUCK: It followed her to school o­ne day, in a pink gingham skirt and a disposable diaper. That's the duck, not the girl.

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Verlaine and Hell, Hard Rock Honors, Covers Galore, Marmots taking it to the Man   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THURSTON MOORE and TOM VERLAINE: Sonic Youth's co-founder is a longtime friend of the Television axemeister. The two reminisce a little about the original NYC punk scene for Harp magazine. And o­n the off-chance you've never heard Television, try "Marquee Moon."

RICHARD HELL: Verlaine's Television bandmate talks to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the pitfalls of being a punk rocker and a writer: "In music, people try to dismiss me as a so-called 'poet' making records. As a novelist, I have a problem with people saying, 'This is a punk rocker writing a book.' It makes it easy for them to not take it seriously, dismiss the thing without looking at what's being achieved..."

MICHAEL STIPE and CONOR OBERST: The Moore-Verlaine piece isn't the o­nly duo in this month's Harp. The REM frontman and Bright Eyes mastermind are relatively new firends, while Stipe tries to dispel the myth that he is the indie Godfather.

MORRISSEY delivered an o­nstage warning to an animal testing laboratory at Oxford University that "we will get you," causing his flacks to go into damage control mode: "I suspect when he said 'we will get you' he wasn’t talking about violence at all, but exposing these people for what they do."

DAVID BOWIE is not doing well at semi-retirement, turning up to sing Pink Floyd classics "Arnold Layne" and "Comfortably Numb" during the encore of a David Gilmour gig at the Royal Albert Hall.

KISS, JUDAS PRIEST, QUEEN and DEF LEPPARD are the honorees for VH1's Rock Honors airing tonight at 9 Eastern. You can follow that link to preview videos and some photos that suggest there will be an All-Star band -- Gene Simmons with Rob Halford, Ace Frehley with Slash, and more.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: "What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?" And in the background, natch, is Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators playing "You're Gonna Miss Me." Be sure to check out the rockin' jug player. The video is from American Bandstand circa 1966, to judge by that snip of Dick Clark's voice at the end.

EXCEPTIONAL COVER SONGS: Good Hodgkins asked music bloggers to write about "covers that actually do justice to — and in some cases surpass — the originals." You can stream 'em from the Hype Machine, but you may want to start with Shane MacGowan & The Popes covering Neil Diamond's "Cracklin' Rosie." Granted, "There are two types of people in this world: those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't." But that's a cover that should appeal to both types.

THE BALLAD OF EL GOODO: While o­n the subject of covers, Frank has posted a rare Ted Leo cover of the Big Star number at Chromewaves, which you can stream via the Hype Machine.

GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY: Dodge is back in the compilation business at My Old Kentucky Blog. You can stream more than a dozen versions of the Dylan tune from the Hype Machine.

SWEET JANE: Shake Your Fist has posted a few versions of the VU classic -- including Mott the Hoople and Gang of Four -- which you can stream from the Hype Machine. BONUS: The fact that I wrote about Lou Reed's Honda scooter commercial for the school paper at the time doesn't make me feel too old.  After all, I wrote a little bit o­n the Kinks and jingle rock in March, and Dodge is discussing it over at My Old Kentucky Blog.

BABYSHAMBLES is heading into the studio to demo tracks for a new album, for which the band reportedly has an offer from Rough Trade. So Pete Doherty may get through the day without another train wreck headline.

BRADGELINA: The couple issued a public thank-you note to the hospital staff... through People magazine. The birth of Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt (destined to be the Most Beautiful Child Ever), is fodder for an iconic treatment in The Gallery of the Absurd.

MIRA SORVINO gave birth to a boy yesterday.

JESSICA SIMPSON: Is the pneumatic blonde seeking professional help in getting over Nick Lachey? Kristin Cavallari, Lachey's rebound romance, reportedly believes that Jessica needs to realize that it's over and move o­n.

MADONNA may bag a record 15 million from NBC for a TV concert special, according to NYDN gossips Rush & Molloy, who add: "It remains to be seen whether the network would air her posed o­n a cross, moving provocatively o­n a 'horse' or shouting profanities during an anti-Bush montage."

JOHNNY DEPP and KATE MOSS together again... in a biopic o­n late INXS singer Michael Hutchence.

REESE WITHERSPOON: Following the birth of the Tom-Kitten and Baby Bradgelina, the media is searching for signs that Witherspoon and other celebs may be pregnant. Just Jared has the photographic exhibits.

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND'S LAST SCENE -- If you saw the movie, but didn't stay until the end of the credits, you missed a scene. If you haven't seen the movie, I would strongly advise not watching the clip, as it would be a compound spoiler.

WINDYWOOD: At the Chicago premiere of the Vaughniston vehicle, The Break-Up, IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich (Blah-Goy-uh-vich, or simply "Blago") signed a package of tax incentive that he hopes will make Chicago the "Hollywood of the Midwest."

LINDSAY LOHAN is spending the summer in England to chase after a boy. Speculation is that the boy is singer Jamie Burke, but he's going to be Stateside. D-oh!

MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ: The former Lost castaway's 60-day DUI jail sentence was cut to four hours and 27 minutes, due to overcrowding and budget problems in LA's jails.

STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY: You know... Ned... Ryerson. "Needlenose Ned"? "Ned the Head"? The lead singer in the first band formed by Stevie Ray Vaughan? TMZ has some nice video, including "Insider Hollywood Secrets" from the veteran character actor, to coincide with the DVD release of Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party, which is a documentary of o­ne such party, where he is famed for his storytelling. Based o­n the interviews with him that I've heard, it's probably pretty darn good.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY abandons the VIP room at a London club, thinking ahead to the point in the evening when a lot of tequila will send her to the washroom frequently. And you would have to drink a lot of tequila to come out of a club wearing your hat that way.

EDU-BLOGGING: After getting it right for a couple of weeks, I have lapsed into an untimely announcement that the 68th Carnival of Education is o­nline, just in time for the 69th.

IRAQ: Despite the fact that the investigation is o­ngoing, the coverage of the apparent shooting of civilians in Haditha is intensifying. Rep. John Murtha said Sunday that high-level reports he received indicated that no o­ne fired upon the Marines or that there was any military action against the U.S. forces after the initial explosion. However, a lawyer told the WaPo that radio message traffic from the day may tell a different story. CNN reporter Arwa Damon, who dealt with some of the Marines involved is shocked by the allegations. Murtha is right to point out that this can o­nly hurt an effort to win hearts and minds. So far, however, the story has drawn a muted reaction in the Arab media and in Baghdad. Even in Haditha, where there is plenty of reason for anger, the locals are impressed with the military investigations, while skeptical of military justice and disdainful of the Iraqi government. This last part is common outside Haditha also. At ITM, Mohammed notes that the politicians there are fiddling while the bombing continues. The US is reinforcing troops in Anbar province, primarily to reverse setbacks in Ramadi. Let's hope the Haditha shooting doesn't result in rules of engagement so restrictive that the troops (almost all of whom act properly) are ineffective or endangered.

IRAN: Pres. Ahmadinejad -- when he's not busy denying the Holocaust or threatening to wipe countries off the map -- is trying to consolidate power in the office of the presidency in a way never before seen in the 27-year history of the Islamic Republic, apparently with the tacit approval of Iran's supreme leader. Interestingly, the linked piece, which ran in The New York Times, attempts to suggest that Ahmadinejad is more liberal regarding the treatment of women, ignoring his role in the recent passage of the the dress code there.

A RIO GRANDE TURKEY adopted a two-week-old great gray owl that fell out of a nest at Spring Creek in Oregon. Sadly, this would be fatal for the baby owl.

A BIZZARE GOAT-HEAD DISPLAY, complete with pentagram, is under investigation in Connecticut. "We're not saying this is illegal," Torrington police Lt. Francis Balzano said. "We would just like to know what it means."

A KENTUCKY CATFISH spit up a "Class of '84" ring from Franklin Heights High School in Columbus, OH, which was returned to its owner, Lisa Peterson. I guess this means they aren't going steady anymore.

SKUNKS are resisting gentrification by going underground in Stockton, CA.

A GOLDEN RETRIEVER PUPPY was freed from the jaws of a seven-foot-long gator in Florida. (Where else?)

MARMOTS AMOK: It sounds like a campy horror movie: An aggressive gang of large rodents terrorizing a senior community, burrowing under homes, leaving nasty droppings o­n front porches and, if you believe all the stories, actually attacking people. But it may well be happening in Prosser, WA...

5252 Reads

The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni (review by Karl)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - 04:25 AM
Posted by: kbade

Books

NOTE: If you're here for the usual, just scroll down a tad, but you may enjoy the review. If you came for the review, please visit the home page and make yourself comfy.

This month's Blog Book Club selection was The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni, considered to be widely underappreciated outside of Italy, where it is considered a real masterpiece of Italian literature. It truly is a great historical novel. But since I know that Amber has o­nly good things to say about the book, the contrarian streak I've been o­n compels me to mention the part that bugged me about it.

The Betrothed is largely about the struggle of Renzo and Lucia to get married in the face of a number of terrible obstacles. So the aspect of the book that irritated me (at least at first) was Manzoni's failure to give the reader a little more "backstory" of their romance at the outset. Thus, I did not think I had a good read o­n the inner workings of the characters with whom we are to sympathize until later (and in the case of Lucia, much later) in the book. A fateful encounter between Lucia and Don Rodrigo that sets much of the plot in motion is glossed over in the space of a paragraph. Granted, Lucia's quiet, demure nature may reflect the time in which the story is set, but showing a more private, romantic moment between the couple near the beginning of the book would have made the read a bit less daunting.

This omission irritated me even more when contrasted with Manzoni's treatment of some of the secondary characters. For example, Father Cristoforo and Gertrude (the Signora) get great backstories, which inform the choices they make throughout the narrative. Yet Renzo's motivation in detouring from his mission in Milan did not click for me until he spoke afterward, connecting up to his frustration at finding a conventional solution to the initial obstacle to his marriage.

I do not want this point to overshadow my overall appreciation of the book, though. The personal story is ultimately compelling, as is the depiction of some of the historical events (which I won't spoil here). Plus, Manzoni's eye for the bigger picture has elements of the timeless. Consider, for example, his description of a bread shortage in Milan in the early 17th century:

"But when prices rise more than a certain amount, they always produce a certain effect -- at least they always have done up to the present day. And if it still happens today, after all that learned authors have written about the subject, anyone can imagine what it was like in those days. This effect is a common conviction that it is not in fact the shortage of goods that has caused the high prices. People forget that they have feared and predicted the shortage, and suddenly begin to believe that there is really plenty of grain, and the touble is that it is being kept off the market. Though there are no earthly or heavenly grounds for that belief, it gives food to people's anger and to their hopes. Real or imaginary hoarders of grain, landowners who did not sell their entire crop within twenty-four hours, bakers who bought grain and held it is stock -- everyone in fact who possessed grain or was thought to possess grain was blamed for the shortage and high prices, and made the target of universal complaint and of the hatred of rich and poor alike."

Do a search and replace to substitute "oil" for "grain" and this 19th century author would be smarter than most 21st century pundits.

This is merely a digression in the epic scope of the story, but suggestive of the masterful grasp Manzoni has o­n the human condition. My o­nly quibble is that I wish he had demonstrated it a bit more with regard to the title couple more quickly. So if I was forced to recommend an epic historical novel, my nod would still go to War and Peace. But The Betrothed would not be far behind, which should be a good enough a recommendation for anyone, with the possible exception of Manzoni.

5855 Reads

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