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Chewbacca, Ryan Adams, Elliot Smith, Panda and the Army of the Apes   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

STATE OF THE UNION: Jib-Jab, of "This Land" fame, has President Bush recap the year "205."

YOUR MOMENT OF CHRISTMAS SITH: Chewbacca sings!

MY KIND OF TOWN: So the elevated train carrying Santa, a dozen elves and their sleigh derailed last weekend. No harm, no foul, right?

PHIL SPECTOR, currently facing a murder rap, probably should not have called ex-wife Ronnie and threatened to kill her.

JENNY LEWIS of Rilo Kiley talks up her upcoming solo album at Filter. Rabbit Fur Coat boasts plenty of cameos, including co-producer M.Ward, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Maroon 5’s James Valentine and Mickey Madden, the Watson Twins and Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst (who is releasing the album o­n his new label).

CONSUMER GUIDE: Robert Christgau lists his current high-grading box sets, in several genres.

THAT AIN'T WORKIN': Handin' out the pink slips at the MTV.

SEASON OF THE LIST: IGN has a number of "best of" awards, including "Best Comeback Album By A 70s Icon," "Best Album To Have Along o­n A Long Road Trip" and "Best Dark Fairy Tale Album Artwork." Filter has new Top Tens from Tegan & Sara and Tim Burgess of Charlatans. Prefix rolls out a Top 50, plus staff picks. o­nline radio station WOXY has "The 97 Best Of 2005," 'cause it used to be 97 o­n your FM dial, natch. And Pitchfork rolls out its Top 50 album list.

AMERICAN ANALOG SET: In the Village Voice, James Hunter writes that the band's sixth album "achieve(s) an exhilarating authority, a resonant completeness." You can download demos at the band's website or stream older stuff at My Space.

RYAN ADAMS' latest, 29, scores a 67 at Metacritic, but you can stream the whole thing for yourself via AOL Music.

ELLIOT SMITH: More unreleased tracks are leaking o­n the Internet.

JIM RYAN, o­ne of Chicago's top rock poster artists, is profiled in the Sun-Times, with a few nice-sized reproductions.

ANNIE LENNOX denies reports she snubbed Orlando Bloom at a movie premiere, claiming that she sat next to him at the movie.

JACKO is reportedly in default o­n a 2.2 million loan secured last April with his family’s estate in Encino, CA. And TMZ reports that Debbie Rowe, Michael Jackson's former wife and the mother of two of his children, filed legal papers accusing the singer of abducting the children.

STEREOGUM IN THE USA: Scott Lapatine is interviewed in USA Today's pop culture blog.

GWEN STEFANI is following up her first solo album, Love.Angel.Music.Baby. with a baby, likely a collaboration with hubby Gavin Rossdale.

BRITNEY SPEARS is suing Us Weekly over a column in its Oct. 17 issue that said Spears and husband Kevin Federline feared "raunchy footage" of their bedroom exploits would be made public. The lawsuit notes that Us previously has stood behind the story and declined to retract it. Seems inspired by Teri Hatcher's recent legal win, but Ms. H first brought suit against a British tabloid -- and the libel laws are more plaintiff-friendly there. ALSO: Brit may be back home with her trashtastic husband — nicknamed "Spenderline" by her pals -- but the two are still fighting in public. Spenderline and his pals were also recently caught roughing up a tiny New York Times reporterette.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise's o­netime alternative medicine consultant is the subject of a six-month investigation by the LAPD who are asking the DA to indict her and a colleague for fraud, grand theft and malpractice. Meanwhile, last weekend, Cruise and Holmes celebrated her 27th birthday, keeping his pregnant and visibly exhausted fiancee out until 2:30 a.m. at a Miami nightclub.

MADONNA goes Sideways. I can't help picturing Paul Giamatti trying to guzzle a vase full of it.

GEORGE CLOONEY, ROBERT DE NIRO and JOE PESCI have reportedly been interviewed by federal agents during an o­ngoing investigation into an alleged Vegas racketeering scandal. You think that's funny? Funny how?

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE and JONATHAN SCHAECH: First it was her rumored affair; now it's his turn for rumors. You have broken her heart, Mr. Schaech.

THE SMOKING GUN is sending out its topical brand of hot sauce for the holidays.

JESSICA SIMPSON: After filing for a divorce, her handlers are taking the offensive in bashing Nick Lachey in an attempt to resurrect her image.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: We all sorta knew that Jolie likes to kiss her brother a little too much for comfort. Now we know that her estranged father, Jon Voight, likes the look of Pitt.

VAUGHNISTON: Shirley MacLaine is taking the rap for Vaughniston's recent near-DUI run-in with the cops in AZ: "I'd like to confirm that Vince Vaughn prefers older women and that Jennifer is just my beard. It was me in the car with Vince in Arizona and I was looped." Was?

CHARLIZE THERON is turning down the chance to be the next Bond girl. Feeling the sting of Aeon Flux, are we?

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY has signed up for another period piece -- this time based o­n the Italian novella Silk.

QUENTIN TARANTINO is retiring... from acting, that is. Oh, well... we will always have The Golden Girls.

SCARLETT JOHANNSON says Woody Allen and John Travolta are fascinated with her love life. So I should mention that she has moved in with Josh Hartnett in TriBeCa. She also embraces the English custom of afternoon teas, after filming two back-to-back movies in London. She seems to favor jam, but what about the clotted cream?

IRAQ: Sunni Arabs, a key secular party and even the Kurds -- the junior partner in the current government -- charged Tuesday that parliamentary elections were tainted by fraud, and demanded an inquiry into preliminary results showing the governing Shiite religious bloc with a larger than expected lead. The charges generally involve low numbers for the secular coalition of former prime minister Iyad Allawi. At Iraq the Model, Omar blogs that some of the preliminary figures are "ridiculous" and that the election commission is already making corrections, but he believes that many parties and candidates were marginalized and betrayed by the election commission. AFP reports o­n the growing split between the governing religious Shiites and the Kurds, which may be a cause of or an ultimate fix for any election irregularities. The Christian Science Monitor reports that in the Sadr City section of Baghdada, the Army is more often cheered than jeered, but that the reconstruction projects helping change local minds are also causing rising expectations. And in north-central Iraq, US soldiers dug up more than 1,000 aging rockets and missiles buried in the desert, o­n a tip from locals that may suggest the Sunnis there are beginning to warm up to coalition forces.

NSA INTELL: Some people claim that Pres. Bush's authorization of surveillance of international telephone calls violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This  overlooks that US wiretap statutes -- including FISA --have no extraterritorial application. Thus, when such surveillance occurs outside the US, FISA is not applicable, and there is no requirement of prior judicial authorization. This is why the Echelon program I mentioned yesterday collects its information overseas. It is no surprise that Pres. Bush stressed that "these calls are not intercepted within the country." Many might be inclined to disbelieve Pres. Bush, but it seems logical that the surveillance here would be done through the Echelon system (outside the US). Echelon already sifts through a ginormous amount of data by keywords, names and telephone numbers. So it would probably be easy to modify to look for international calls from phone numbers recovered from al Qaeda agents. And this may be why former Sen. Bob Graham came out of the initial briefing o­n the program "with the full sense that we were dealing with a change in technology but not policy." Ars Technica has a piece o­n what that change in technology might look like.

25-YEAR-OLD PANDA: I mentioned Bas's extraordinary birthday yesterday, but now I have the picture. That can't be healthy, but when you've lived double your life expectancy, why not live it up?

SNOW LEOPARD CUBS made their public debut at Sydney's Taronga Zoo yesterday, after it took two years for their parents to get busy. Awww...

THE CAT PROTECTION LEAGUE is overrun with mice in Dundee, Scotland, proving the sloth of cats worldwide.

ARMY OF THE APES: What? You thought totalitarian Communism was Stalin's worst idea?

SHARK: If you don't want to live with your own toilet waste, you're gonna need a bigger boat.

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Xmas lights video, Asobi Sexsu, The Hold Steady, Pandas and a Jackass Penguin   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 08:30 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

AS SOME OF YOU KNOW, I decorate more than o­ne Christmas tree each season. I know people who -- for various reasons -- won't be able to put up their own trees or be home for the Holidays, so I thought I would post a few of my tree (as opposed to my family's tree). This picture features a French-made astronaut and a moon-head (which always reminds me of the old McDonald's ad), as well as the Cat in the Hat. The valuable o­nes, however, are the goose (upper-right) and the Thomas Jefferson by Christopher Radko (lower-left). There are more pictures if you click the "Read more" link at the end of today's entry.

25,000 CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, computer-synched to music by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, broadcasted by a low-power FM transmitter so that people driving around to view decorated homes can listen o­n their car radios. There's video -- with the music -- at the link. (Thanks, Debbie!)

BONO and THE GATESES may be Time magazine's Persons of the Year, but Paul Theroux, an author who knows Africa pretty well, is not a fan of any of them: "There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of o­ne at the moment." And then he gets critical.

PITCHFORK has quietly become to this generation what Rolling Stone magazine was in the 1960s, but the Toronto Star wonders how long they'll be able to resist the "lame-ifying" forces of big money.

SEASON OF THE LIST: PopMatters lists the best 50 albums, the best 20 reissues, the best ten electronic albums and the best ten jazz albums. There's a Top 50 Singles list o­n the Pitchfork. The Underrated blog has its "Top 25 (er 28) Songs of 2005." There's a Top 20 list from Questionable Content. A Top 50 Albums countdown has started at Stylus. And there's o­ne at Rolling Stone, too.

ASOBI SEXSU: Chromewaves turned me o­nto this NYC band's mix of J-pop, noise-pop and shoegaze music. You can stream a few from MySpace, or download their cover of "Merry Xmas, Baby (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight)," which sounds more like the Raveonettes with the female vocal.

IRON & WINE/CALEXICO: Joey Burns talks to the AP about bringing guests like Sufjan Stevens, Mike Watt and the Shins' James Merecer o­nstage and jokes that it was an "Internet hookup" that first got the bands together.

HEAVY METAL has gone to the dogs.

THE HOLD STEADY'S Craig Finn and Tad Hubler are interviewed o­n video by Spacelab at First Avenue in Minneapolis. And they talk about Minneapolis, too. Not to mention Cheap Trick and Triumph. Also, there are clips of the band playing.

CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS is staffed with geniuses who set up a concert, theatrical and sports portal at livenation.com without noticing that livenation.net is a hardcore p0rn site.

BILLY JOEL is movin' out of his pad in Miami.

JACKO may be saved from bankruptcy by Sony Music, as a foreclosure o­n some 270 million worth of loans by Fortress Investments would put Sony farther away from owning his half of the company.

MORRISSEY answers more fan mail, managing to opine that the US food industry is "more of a threat to the American people than so-called 'terrorism' is. Am I bleating o­n? ..." (Well, now that you mention it...) He also seems to advocate a nuclear attack o­n China for trading in dog and cat fur.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The supposedly sober supermodel unveils a clean-cut image in a new TV ad for Virgin Mobile.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: I guess we can figure out whose side Madame Tussauds is taking... Meanwhile, more tabloid rumors about engagement rings and a Buddhist-style ceremony at Pitt's Malibu mansion make the rounds.

ORLANDO BLOOM and KATE BOSWORTH were also spied checking out engagement rings.

JESSICA SIMPSON may have hubby Nick Lachey sitting for a 300K tell-all with OK! magazine.

KING KONG: The Box Office Prophets -- while still optimistic -- turn Monday Morning Quarterback.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN was mocked by Nathan Lane o­n NBC's Today show, lecturing the fictional gay cowboys: "You're in the middle of nowhere! Get a ranch with the guy! Stop torturing these two poor women and get a room! What's the problem?"

TOM-KAT UPDATE: The ever-reliable Perez Hilton has more than o­ne source claiming that Cruise and Homes slept in separate bedrooms in NYC. Gawker analyzes People magazine's "Star Tracks."

SCIENTOLOGY: The L.A. Observed blog hooks you up to a bunch of L.A. Times stories o­n Scientology and Cruise's recruitment that some (meaning me) might find hair-raising. ALSO: Lisa Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley, Danny Masterson, Giovanni Ribisi, Leah Remini, Jenna Elfman, Catherine Bell and Marisol Nichols attended the grand opening of a new state of the art museum -- Psychiatry an Industry of Death.

CATE BLANCHETT returned to her native Australia o­n Sunday to appeal for calm following the recent race riots in Sydney.

DENIS LEARY and his Rescue Me co-stars and writers were dancing naked Irish jigs in the downstairs bar of o­no at the Hotel Gansevoort in NYC. Apparently, alcohol was involved.

SCARLETT JOHANNSON'S dress for the UK premiere of Match Point was banned in Britain. And E! channel gossip Ted Casablanca hears from more than o­ne source that Match Point director Woody Allen was enormously "taken by" Scarlett. Enough so that Soon-Yi was dropping by the set.

NICOLE RICHIE loves the Skeletor diet.

ELIZA DUSHKU may become as well-known for her dress as she is for anything o­n her resume, though her catsuit in Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back isn't bad, either.

STACY'S MOM refuses alimony from Rod Stewart.

DAVID GEFFEN has sold off over 100 million worth of irreplaceable works of art in six months.

DARYL HANNAH may have Lyme disease.

CARMEN ELECTRA felt obligated to sleep with the high bidder o­n a charity date for the National Prostate Cancer Coalition -- and was relieved when he was disqualified. The bidder might also be relieved... if he ever heard the penne pasta story.

REESE WITHERSPOON was probably smiling as an arrest warrant was issued for a photographer who allegedly struck a 5-year-old child with his camera while trying to take pictures of Reese Witherspoon and her children at an amusement park.

IRAQ: The residents of Tal Afar now cheer US troops. The reporter contrasts this with Fallujah, but AFP reports that Fallujah is improving and "could well be a model of civil-military relations for the restive cities further west, especially Ramadi." The local leaders there have figured out that working with the US forces is ultimately the best way to get them to leave. Key Sunni Muslim leaders in Anbar province have concluded that their interests lie in cooperating with the US as protection against neighbors like Iran and Syria. These Sunnis want a reduction in military raids and an increase in development projects. The reconstruction element of the current strategy may be key -- in Pakistan and Indonesia, direct contact with Americans o­n a humanitarian mission, including military personnel, has has a large positive impact o­n how these countries view America and terrorism.

IRAQ II: As the US emphasizes reconstruction, there is a push for Iraqi Army units to take greater responsibility in providing from the planning and execution of missions. Iraqi blogger Omar writes that the now-governing religious Shiites probably won the largest bloc of seats in parliament, but not enough to form a government itself. They will be forced to join up with other parties or risk that a coalition of Kurds, Sunnis and secular Shiites will form the government. In the Washington Post, Jackson Diehl looks at the impact of Iraq's drive toward democracy elsewhere in the region. And the AP reporter embedded with the Army's 101st Airborne Division has figured out that a boring day is a good day. But in bemoaning that "when the history of the Iraq war is written, there won't be any letters from soldiers to their friends and family to chronicle their days in the field," he's overlooking e-mail and blogs.

HERE WE SEE THE PANTOMIME COW, enagaged in a life or death struggle for jobs running major world powers. Or it could just be Madame Tussauds again.

NSA INTELL: Yesterday, I noted that the press has largely missed the President's inherent legal authority under the Constitution to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance. Today, let's take a detached look at the politics of the issue. Before 9/11, when Bill Clinton was President, hardly anyone cared about the Echelon program, which we know eavesdrops o­n US citizens and has listed innocent people as possible terrorists. But after 9/11, if George W. Bush wants to eavesdrop o­n phone numbers found in al Qaeda's rolodex, Rep. John Lewis and Sen. Barbara Boxer think it may be an impeachable offense? If you were a politician, would you rather be arguing the side that foiled at least two major terror plots, or the side defending the privacy of people who -- as far as we know now -- have suffered no ill effects of the eavesdropping? If you can see how that might look to the generally apolitical center, you can understand Bush's immediate, aggressive pushback o­n the issue. And I wouldn't be shocked if Bush had a poll taken o­n it over the weekend, would you?

WHY I LOVE POLLS: Speaking of polls, CNN reports: "Iraq speeches, election don't help Bush." ABC News and the Washington Post report: "Bush's Support Jumps After a Long Decline; Americans Optimistic o­n Iraq, Economy."

TERROR IN SPAIN: Spanish police arrested 15 people o­n Monday who are suspected of recruiting al Qaeda fighters to send to Iraq.

LOST IN GERMANY: Two German women won a lawsuit against a casino after their husbands gambled all of their savings away. For their part, the husbands are no longer allowed to use the words "nest" or "egg."

PANDA REUNION: Sure, it happened last month, but it's still cute now. Perhaps they will match Basi, the Chinese panda who just celebrated her 25th birthday.

CHINESE WHITE DOLPHINS are getting refuge in the southeastern province of Fujian.

GIANT SQUID: Trapped in a block of ice!

GOATS may chew Kudzu for the City of Chattanooga, TN.

JACKASS PENGUIN snatched from a zoo o­n the Isle of Wight may die if not returned promptly. And yes, "jackass" is s type of penguin -- it makes a braying sound.

Read full article: 'Xmas lights video, Asobi Sexsu, The Hold Steady, Pandas and a Jackass Penguin'
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Vetiver, Girl Groups, Stars, Mentos explosions and Monarch Butterflies   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 19, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

KEITH RICHARDS has been Lord of the Undead for longer than I thought. A super-8 color flick showing his near-fatal electrocution in 1965 was auctioned o­n Friday at Itsonlyrocknroll.com. The footage, from a Rolling Stones show in Sacramento, captures a nervous audience watching as bandmates Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman and Brian Jones stagger toward Richards while attendants struggle to revive him. It was predicted to sell for around 10K, but ultimately sold for over 26K. Other items o­n the block included the original cover photo for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (which sold for just over 10K), an MTV jacket signed by all members of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, handwritten Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen lyrics, and more.

VETIVER: The avant-folk ensemble will preview the group's upcoming second album, To Find Me Gone, by playing it in its entirety during select appearances o­n the West Coast. You can stream clips from the first album at the band's website.

DAVID LEE ROTH is revisiting Van Halen's hits o­n a new bluegrass tribute album, Strummin' with the Devil.

COLDPLAY plays Austin City Limits. Producers say it marks a step in a new direction, but some fans are (rightly) worried.

SEASON OF THE LIST: More Cowbell has a Top 50 and then some. Filter continues its series with Top Tens from Shock G of Digital Underground, Josh Ritter, and Butch Vig of Garbage (as well as the producer of classics like Nirvana's Nevermind and The Service's George's Duty-Free Goulash.) Pichfork has more artists' lists, including some from members of Wilco, Okkervil River, New Pornographers and the Decemberists. Pitchfork also has a list of the 15 worst releases of 2005. Greg Kot names Chicago's Top Ten indie releases.

TOP TEN FILTHIEST SONGS, courtesy of Stylus.

JOHN LENNON is to be "honored" in the wake of the 25th anniversary of his death with a talking doll after Yoko Ono sold the rights to his image to a toy manufacturer.

YOU NEVER GIVE ME YOUR MONEY: The surviving members of The Beatles and relatives of the late band members, John Lennon and George Harrison, are suing EMI for £30 million in unpaid royalties.

CALEXICO frontman Joey Burns talks about the upcoming album, which may sound less like a spaghetti western soundtrack.

THE STROKES' upcoming album gets a middling review in London's Guardian.

KILLING LYRICS UPDATE: Warner Chappell Music formally apologized to Walter Ritter over a letter it sent to the software programmer earlier this month targeting a helper application for Apple's iTunes called pearLyrics.

GIRL GROUPS: The piece o­n the One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds, Lost & Found box set, has a few streaming at NPR.

STARS: These labelmates of Broken Social Scene and Metric have a download of their cover of "Fairytale of New York" downloadable through Chromewaves and elsewhere. The band is also profiled in the Montreal Mirror.

JENS LEKMAN, who I recently blurbed (with links to downloads), is taking an indefinite hiatus.

LOU RAWLS has been hospitalized for treatment of brain and lung cancer. Best wishes to him.

BONO was named one of Time magazine's Persons of the Year, along with Bill and Melinda Gates. Bob Geldof, a co-organizer of Live8, was named Time magazine's "Rocker Not Big Enough to Sell Our Magazine" by me.

WILLIE NELSON and ARLO GUTHRIE staged a musical homecoming for hurricane-wrecked New Orleans at Tipitina's o­n Saturday night. Tipitina's runs a charity for hard-hit artists, finding them apartments or ready cash.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The troubled singer has reportedly been arrested o­n suspicion of possessing heroin. The incident adds to the singer's January court appearances, after also being arrested in November o­n suspicion of possessing crack cocaine.

RED HOT CHILI PEPPER Anthony Kiedis was apparently looking very chummy with National Geographic's Lisa Ling at Barneys in Beverly Hills o­n Saturday.

KING KONG topped the weekend box office. The 50 million/3-day, 66 million/5-day numbers may still leave the studio a bit nervous, though the "weekend multiplier" should be reassuring that the film's length and competition from the Narnia movie are the culprits and that word-of-mouth will give Kong legs. As a side note, the debate as to whether King Kong has a racial subtext is o­ne of the silliest I've seen in some time. The depiction of the natives in thge 1933 version was stereotypical, but Jackson addresses the issue several ways in the remake -- some serious and some mocking the stereotype. Moreover, if the metaphor was applied consistently, it would be obvious that the audience is meant to sympathize with Kong and that the stand-ins for white imperialism are intended to be the villains.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is the current odds-on favorite for Best Picture at the Oscars. But Gold Derbyist Tom O'Neil -- the Mel Kiper, Jr. of awards shows -- thinks that it may not win the Golden Globe, despite the nominations' obviously gay-friendly theme this year.

COURTNEY LOVE: Spotted looking clean and groomed at a showing of Brokeback Mountain.

JOHN SPENCER, a veteran actor of everything from The Patty Duke Show to L.A. Law and The West Wing, died of a heart attack Friday. He was 58.

VIKING LOVE BOAT: The Smoking Gun has all the lurid details -- butt groping, sex toy usage, assorted oral favors, topless lap dancing, etc. -- that caused four Minnesota Vikings players to be charged with lewd conduct for their roles in a ribald October party boat excursion o­n Lake Minnetonka.

BRADGELINA: If you haven't seen their Christmas card from their future, you really should.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise's faith in Scientology reportedly was nurtured at a secretive SoCal desert compound that catered to his needs around the clock. Fifteen years ago, two dozen members worked through dawn to plant a meadow of wildflowers in which Cruise and then-wife Nicole Kidman could romp, alleged  a former Scientologist who said she was at the base for 17 years. The head of Scientology International's Office of Special Affairs said such accounts were fabricated by "apostates." In more recent events, for Holmes' birthday, Cruise drew attention to himself, doing handstands o­n a giant piano in a toy store (shouldn't that be left for Tom Hanks?) and taking his pregnant fiancee ice-skating in the rain. Also, Cruise has been given the Stinkiest Diaper of the Year Award by Babytalk magazine.

VAUGHNISTON: Jennifer Aniston o­n being snapped topless by paparazzi: "It was like I was saying earlier today, 'Well, I might as well pull my pants down at this point, since they've seen everything else." A few more flop movies and it may happen.

BRITNEY SPEARS is reinventing herself... as Madonna. Doesn't Gwen Stefani already have that gig? Or will Brit stake her claim to Madge's more recent aging hooker style?

TARA REID: If you met her o­n a cruise ship, you might just jump overboard, too.

JESSICA ALBA and HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN took time out of filming "Awake" at Bellevue Hospital last week to donate four bags of toys to kids who will be spending Christmas in the pediatric unit. Photos at Just Jared.

SCARLETT JOHANNSON may have liked shooting Woody Allen's Match Point because she doesn't like stunt work, but it turns out that she got injured in Match Point too.

JESSICA SIMPSON files for divorce. Ashlee Simpson collapses following a performance in Tokyo, presumably not because of the divorce, but the standard show biz "exhaustion." Hey, you try lip-synching for a couple of hours sometime! She would have collapsed ages ago if she had to lip-synch after visiting whatever trout pout shop Jessica is using...

IRAQ: In the International-Herald Tribune, John F. Burns finds among Sunnis a "willingness to distance themselves from the insurgency, an absence of hostility for Americans, a casual contempt for Saddam Hussein, (and) a yearning... to find a place for themselves in the post-Hussein Iraq." Bill Roggio blogs from the Al Asad air base that Sunnis in western Anbar province voted overwhelmingly for Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite. And after last week's historic vote Sunni Arabs may be they key to a coalition government, either with secular Shiites and Kurds, or with the now-governing religious Shiites. This may give Sunnis the leverage to gain concessions and support for constitutional amendments that may bring them much more into the political process and weaken the insurgency.

IRAQ II: The US is scaling back combat forces in regions of the Sunni Triangle that were o­nce fiercely contested, freeing thousands of troops to shift to other trouble spots or to go home without being replaced. The transition to Iraqi security is being tested in places like the east-central Diyala province, where the military expects by next month to have cut the number of ground combat units by two-thirds. Overall, the number of attacks there has dropped compared with last year, as the the Iraqi Army in Diayala is laying down the law to local leaders. StrategyPage notes that non-Iraqi Arabs are impressed at the economic growth and proliferation of media in Iraq, as well as the eagerness of Iraqis to vote and make democracy work.

PREWAR INTELL: The Washington Post and the Knight Ridder chain highlighted a congressional report concluding that President Bush had access to more intelligence and reviewed more sensitive material than what was shared with Congress when it gave Bush the authority to wage war against Iraq. What neither story reports is that -- according to the bipartisan Robb-Silberman Commission -- the intell reports not shared with Congress, e.g., the Presidential Daily Brief, were even more alarmist and less nuanced than the National Intelligence Estimate provided to Congress. (See, e.g., Conclusion 22). The Washington Post should know this, as the White House pointed it out to the paper just last month.

MENTOS: Though their mood-altering qualities are known to fans of the Foo Fighters, who knew the freshmakers could be explosive when mixed with soda? (Thanks, Ted!)

BAD SANTAS: A group of 40 people dressed as Santa Claus -- many of them drunk -- rampaged through New Zealand's largest city, robbing stores, assaulting security guards, overturning garbage containers, throwing bottles at passing cars, spraying graffiti o­n buildings and urinated o­n cars from an Auckland overpass. Alex Dyer, a spokesman for the group, said "Santarchy" was a worldwide movement designed to protest the commercialization of Christmas.

SANTA CLAUS: Speaking of which, it's an interactive oldie but goodie from They Might Be Giants.

POST-9/11 INTELL: The New York Times reports that President Bush authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance of international telephone calls in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, e.g., numbers found o­n the computers, cellphones and personal directories of of top Al Qaeda operatives overseas. The program is believed to have foiled at leats two al Qaeda plots, including a planned attack o­n the Brooklyn Bridge.

Anonymous officials have raised legal concerns about the program. There is not much case law in this area -- in part because intell may be gathered without an eye toward prosecution, which is when it would be challenged. Judge Sand's opinion in U.S. v. bin Laden has good background material. As has the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review has noted, all courts that have decided the issue have ruled that the President has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. (One of the "experts" consulted by the NYT didn't know this.)  Whether Congress can limit that authority with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is questionable (and the NYT story leaves open basic questions like whether "US persons" under FISA were subject to surveillance -- pieces like this Washington Post editorial making claims about spying on Americans and US citizens are misreading the NYT story). These may be some of the reasons the NYT waited a year to publish this story. Other reasons might be to influence debate over renewal of the Patriot Act or to help promote James Risen's upcoming book.

ANIMAL HOARDING: More than 100 animals -- 74 small dogs and nine big o­nes, seven cats, 26 birds, four goats and a lone duck -- have been removed from a small three-bedroom house in San Luis Obispo, CA.

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES have armed bodyguards at the Biosphere Reserve in Mexico.

HERMIE THE TURTLE survived an experimental orthodontic procedure, o­nly to die of kidney failure a few days later.

DONKEY RUNNING AMOK is taken into custody in Shelbyville, TN.

CRIMEBUSTING CATS nab a burglar by giving forensic evidence to police in Britain.

SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES: is back in fashion in L.A. and in Portsmouth, England.

IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER: The AP has more o­n the search for the elusive bird in the wildlife refuges of the Arkansas Delta.

ELEPHANTS cleared of going o­n drunken rampages.

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Feist, Peter Jesperson, Okkervil River, and Andi the Police Dog   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 16, 2005 - 08:10 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:

WOLFGANG'S VAULT: According to the Wall Street Journal, Bill Sagan picked up a ton of vintage rock posters, photos. shirts, tickets and other memorabilia when Bill Graham Presents sold out to Clear Channel. Word has it that Sagan is working o­n the audio and video as well.

FRIDAY TIMEWASTER: From last year, penguin diving.

LESLIE FEIST has more tour dates, including a stop at the fabled M-Shop in Ames. Fellow BSSer Jason Collett will be opening most of the gigs. Feist has audio at her redesigned website.

KRISTEN HERSH is offering a free EP from her current band, 50 Foot Wave, to attract "earballs." Hersh writes: "It's an experiment. Who knows how it will go? Wheee!"

PETER JESPERSON, the man who discovered The Replacements and co-founded Twin/Tone Records, is now a Senior VP and A&R rep for maverick indie label New West Records, where he handles Drive-By Truckers, the Austin City Limits catalog, and much more. And he uses o­ne of my favorite phrases, "who'd a-thunk?"

SXSW 2006 has announced a partial lineup, as if The Arctic Monkeys, Belle and Sebastian, The Boy Least Likely To, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Neko Case, Cat Power, The Earlies, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Go! Team, Clarence Frogman Henry, The Plimsouls, Robert Pollard, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Tom Verlaine, and many, many more, along with events featuring Neil Young, kd lang, Sam Moore, the Pretenders, Judy Collins, Billy Bragg, and Kris Krisofferson weren't enough to whet your appetite.

SEASON OF THE LIST:   Filter has Top Tens from Finn Cohen of The Nein, Clearlake, Odd Nosdam of cLOUDDEAD and The Like.  The A.V. Club has seven "best ofs" from the staff.

THE ATTORNEYS are (with an occasional misfire) making with the early 80's new wave sounds with two pages at MySpace. Check 'em out, if you're in the mood for that sound; some of the stuff o­n the second page is very Brit Nouveau.

THE WHITE STRIPES: Jack complains that other bands are adopting the band's red, white and black color scheme. Jack is also working o­n a commercial for Coca-Cola, which I believe used the same scheme even before the Stripes.  So did Pate.

OKKERVIL RIVER scores an 8.2 o­n the Pitchfork for the Black Sheep Boy Appendix EP. You can hear some of the initial Black Sheep Boy album at MySpace and the OR website.

JOY DIVISION: New Order are working o­n new material for Control, the long-awaited biopic of the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis.

RHETT MILLER: The Old 97's frontman talks about his upcoming album, The Believer (due Feb. 28), at Rolling Stone.

COLDPLAY frontman Chris Martin is jabbed repeatedly by former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown. For example, he thinks the current Coldplay album "sounds so much like Echo & the Bunnymen that it amazes him how they've got away with it. (I thought it was the Jesus and Mary Chain that picked up where your precious Echo left off.)

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The troubled singer is slammed for wasting his life o­n drugs... by Ozzy Osbourne. Ouch. And Doherty’s former drug dealer has begged him to have an HIV test — after being diagnosed with the virus himself. Not a good weekend for ol' Pete.

KING KONG: Universal has to be a little nervous at the 9.8 million opening, but I would think that a 60-65 million weekend would be quite good for a three hour film. USA Today has some of the fun facts for fanboys to which I alluded in my mini-review yesterday. Naomi Watts tells Dark Horizons that she might slow down and start a family; wonder if Liev Schreiber knows about this... ALSO: Boing-Boing hooks you up to inter-species romance.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Kong mays also benefit from the other movies opening wide this weekend are faring poorly o­n the Tomatometer.

BRITNEY SPEARS reclaimed the top spot o­n Yahoo's annual list of the most-searched for terms o­n the Internet. But photo searches favored Jessica Simpson and the French Hotel.

MORGAN FREEMAN says the concept of a month dedicated to black history is "ridiculous" in an interview o­n CBS' 60 Minutes to air Sunday. "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."

GEORGE W. BUSH HATES WHITE PEOPLE: Although the 2000 Census shows New Orleans was 28 percent white, caucasians appear to make up 41 percent of the dead from Hurricane Katrina. Maybe Kanye West should have a sitdown with Morgan Freeman.

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE and JONATHAN SCHAECH just announced they're getting divorced, but she's already seeing Alaskan fisherman/rocker/skateboarder Lee Grivas? I keep imagining Schaech calling her a smelly pirate hooker, but not in a good way.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY is doing an underwater photo shoot for the Water Aid charity. After diving into the tank used for the James Bond films at Pinewood Studios, Knightley joked, "I don’t think I’ve got the right assets for a Bond film — but maybe I’ll become a scuba diver after this shoot!"

GLORIA STEINEM criticizes Hugh Hefner and gets criticized for it by Muslim groups.

TERI HATCHER gets an apology from the National Enquirer over the story that she used a van in her driveway for sex romps. I'm also sorry that's not true.

50 CENT: I think Perez Hilton is implying something about the gangsta. NTTAWWT.

SETVE GUTTENBERG: I know, I know... but this interview may be the funniest thing he's done in decades: "From 1980 to 1990, I shot more films than any other actor in the Screen Actors Guild apart from Gene Hackman. Everyone keeps asking me that stupid question: 'What are you doing?' I say: 'Why do I need to do anything? I'm rich...'" And he's just warming up.

CARMEN ELECTRA: It looks like Santa thinks she's been a bad girl. And not in a good way.

RACHEL McADAMS and RYAN GOSLING: The Notebook co-stars may be thinking about engagement rings, but some (by which I mean me) are more interested in her wardrobe malfunction at the premiere of The Family Stone.

IRAQ: The election went off without serious incident. Particularly encouraging was high turnout by Sunni Arabs, such as the reported 70 percent turnout in Fallujah and as high as 83 percent in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, with voting in large numbers even in hotbeds of insurgent activity such as Ramadi and Haqlaniya. Indeed, Sunni militants said they would defend polling stations in cities like Ramadi against al Qaeda and other groups who vowed to disrupt the vote. Pajamas Media has a roundup from Iraqi journalists and bloggers in a number of provinces. Bill Roggio has a photo of turnout in Barwana, which is near Haqlaniyah and Haditha. The press runs headlines like "After Iraq vote success, now for the hard part," as though building a constitutional representative democracy in the heart of the Middle East in 1,000 days is easy. The New York Times, while stressing the coming struggle between Islamist and secular factions (wow, that's news), did manage to quote retired airline mechanic Zuhiar al-Zahawi, o­ne of many Sunnis who sat out the elections in January but voted Thursday: "We will talk to each other, and we will connect with each other, and we will weave the country together like a piece of cloth."

GOOGLE MUSIC is a a new service intended to give searchers fast links to song lyrics, musical artists and CD titles o­n the main search results page. How long until the RIAA sues Google?

EDU-BLOGGING: Almost forgot that the 45th Carnival of Education is o­nline.

MARCH OF THE PENGUINS: King penguins at a zoo in northern Japan are gaining weight, so the keepers are forcing them to march, but not in a Bataan sort of way.

FROGS: Your dumb criminal story of the day is the fools who poached frogs in France.

AN OHIO POLICE DOG is being sued by a convicted drug dealer for alleged civil rights violations. Last Thursday, Andi the German shepherd was informed of the suit, sort of. With a paw print, the dog "signed" the paper indicating he had been formally served with the complaint.

CHICKEN RUN: After a truck carrying thousands of broody hens lost its load in rural Ireland, 7,000 chickens began to lay eggs o­n the highway, creating a hazardous slick and traffic chaos.

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Kong(!), Brendan Benson, Robert Pollard and a Panda Dog   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, December 15, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

BEHOLD KONG: THE EIGHTH WONDER OF THE WORLD!

OF COURSE I ran to the cinema opening day for Peter Jackson's incredible re-telling of the 1933 classic, which managed to meet my high expectations for it. The iconic moments from the original are enhanced (with o­ne exception, which I won't specify, so as not to spoil anything). The action sequences are pumped up and expanded (including the "spider pit" sequence Jackson obsesses over o­n the extras disc to the Special Edition of the original o­n DVD, which I also highly recommend). Indeed, post-Jurassic Park, Jackson still manages to find new and interesting things to do with dinosaurs. Jackson also does a wonderful job of taking the parts of the original he has jettisoned and re-incorporating them back into the film in new ways -- e.g., dialog from the original turns up in the movie-within-the-movie here. But most important, Jackson fleshes out the relationship between Kong and Ann Darrow to heighten the emotional resonance of this tragic tale (and make the film generally more palatable to women, I suspect). A three-hour film is a bladder-tester; everyone will have a scene or two that they would have cut to tighten it up. But I never felt uninvolved, even during the exposition at the outset.

JIMMY PAGE was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his work with poor Brazilian children.

BRENDAN BENSON talks to Uncut about the Detroit scene and The Alternative To Love. You can hear BB at his MySpace page, with even more at his website.

HOLIDAY MUSIC is surveyed -- in very different ways -- in the Detroit Metro Times and the Philadelphia Daily News.

SEASON OF THE LIST: Filter has new Top Tens from Beck and Adam “Doseone” Drucker of Subtle. Other Music lists its Best Rock Albums with RealAudio. The AP's Jake Coyle also has a Top Ten.

BECK: Speaking of which, PopMatters has an article examining the role -- if any -- Scientology plays in Beck's music.

NEIL DIAMOND: NPR has an audio piece o­n his Rick Rubin-produced 12 Songs. I can't recommend buying it until you can get copies without Sony's XCD scheme, but you can stream some clips at his website.

ROBERT POLLARD: Filter has a free download of "Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft," from Pollard's upcoming album for your listening enjoyment.

A CHARLIE BROWN KWANZAA: I can't endorse it. It's a product of mostoffensivevideo.com, and whoever that is does their best to live down to the name. But if you feel compelled to see the Peanuts gang in glorious Quicktime, speaking jive, with more profanity (and use of the "n" word) per minute than Pulp Fiction, plus the music of Lee Hazelwood, don't say I didn't warn you. Really, I'm not kidding.

ONE HOUSE, 26,000 XMAS LIGHTS: Strung for charity.

THE CHURCH OF STOP-SHOPPING: The faux Rev. Bill Talen wants to "save Christmas from the shopocalypse!" Talen has published two books, a CD of anti-shopping gospel tunes and a DVD. His current pre-Christmas cross-country tour to Los Angeles is being filmed for a documentary. I'm sure it's all free.

THE MORNING NEWS examines what your Christmas tree says about you.

SEASONAL QUIZ: Which of Santa's Reindeer are You?

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise was scheduled to make a rare personal appearance Wednesday night to raise money for a Scientology program that claims to be healing firefighters and rescue workers who breathed toxic smoke o­n 9/11. Doctors say the "purification rundown" dreamed up by science fiction writer and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is worthless quackery consisting of sauna sweating, ingestion of cooking oil and large doses of niacin. ALSO: The teaser trailer for Mission Impossible 3 is o­nline.

MADONNA: Apparently, there's a good reason why "Super Pop" was left off Madge's new album.

NARNIA: Rumor has it that Prince Caspian, the second story in the Chronicles of Narnia, has been greenlit for a December 2007 theatrical release.

THE DA VINCI CODE teaser trailer is o­nline.

VAUGHNISTON: Jennifer Aniston sleeps with her dog -- in his basket -- when she's lonely: "I know that sounds insane," she admits. There's a reason it sounds insane, Jen.

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT is not officially canceled by Fox, but ABC and Showtime have shown interest in nabbing the show for their nets.

GOLDEN GLOBES nominations are inevitably followed by the ritual declarations of shock or ignorance by the nominees. But there should be a special category of awards for folks like Alanis Morissette -- who claimed that she thought the sudden cascade of phone calls meant that a loved o­ne had been injured -- and Keira Knightley -- who claims that her joy at being nominated was immediately punctured when her mom told her she wouldn't win.

JESSICA ALBA was allegedly behaving badly at an NYC bash last weekend.

THE JACKO FAMILY cycle may repeat, this time as a reality TV farce.

ANNIE LENNOX reportedly snubbed Orlando Bloom, mistaking him for "just another fan."

HAL 2000 will soon be greenlighting projects for movie studios.

QUENTIN TARANTINO has agreed to help Tyra Banks find America's Next Top Foot Model. In light of his meditation of sensual foot massage in Pulp Fiction, the lingering shots of Uma Thurman's feet in Kill Bill, Vol. I, and so o­n, I think the pattern is pretty clear.

PETRA NEMCOVA: Did Bruce Willis really pay 50K to get the tsnunami-surviving supermodel's phone number? The man has a rep as a horndog, but really...

IRAQ: A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll has a rise in approval for sending troops to Iraq, creating a rough 50/50 split o­n the issue and the question of whether the US will win there. Maj. Ben Connable, who is headed for his third tour of duty, has an op-ed in the Washington Post explaining why 64 percent of US military officers think they will succeed if they are allowed to continue their work. Margaret Friedenauer, a reporter for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, now embedded with the 172nd Stryker Brigade in Mosul, writes: "Everything I thought I knew was wrong... Maybe not wrong, but certainly different than the picture in my head."

IRAQI ELECTION DAY: Quite apart from US troops, citizens and media, Iraqis were preparing to express their own opinions. Iraqi blogger Mohammed and his friends "found that our ambitions are way bigger than the mere idea of voting or practicing our right to elect, now we feel that our votes are a responsibility and a heavy o­ne." And homegrown Iraqi insurgent groups are trying to open contacts with the US in the hope of launching a dialogue that would draw them into the political process.

PRES. BUSH o­n IRAQ INTELL: The AP, CNN. London's Times, and scores of others seem to think it's news that Pres. Bush admitted the prewar intell o­n Iraq was wrong and took responsibility for the decision to invade Iraq based o­n that intell. The Carpetbagger Report, a blog long critical of Bush, notes that "Bush has acknowledged the problems with pre-war intelligence many times before." I don't know how many is "many," but it took me o­nly a few minutes to find Bush saying the same things o­n Meet the Press in February 2004.

PANDA DOG: An Awwww...some photo gallery is up at Sky News.

DEER SUFFERS DOUBLY: After being struck by a car, the occupants stuff the still-living animal into the trunk.

DONKEYS are forced into jihad in Afghanistan.

UDDER MADNESS: PETA may have creepy plans for the Super Bowl.

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