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Elliot Smith, Animal Collective, Encyclopedia Brown and Lion Cubs   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

LESLIE FEIST talks to JAM about several topics, including her expanding fanbase: "What used to happen is I'd play a show and I'd look out and see people that I could imagine running into at my usual breakfast spots or in the two-block radius of whatever neighbourhood I lived. And now I look out and see people I would see o­n the bus or walking through a busy part of downtown where I would never normally go. There are people from all walks of life. And I really love that. It just makes me wonder what little foot soldier of melody found them, in what part of their lives, and their lives are completely different from mine. It makes me really curious."

JACK WHITE and BRENDAN BENSON will be Raconteurs early next year.

THE UK MUSIC HALL OF FAME is inducting The Who, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Joy Division/ New Order next month.

ELLIOT SMITH: Twenty-two unreleased tracks -- including tracks from the sessions for the singer/songwriter's final LP, From a Basement o­n the Hill — has leaked o­nline. Elliot Smith B-Sides is killing music.

BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE: The Toronto Star deconstructs Jon Pareles' review of the band's NYC show from The New York Times. Me-OW!

ALICE COOPER thinks it's the end of the world as we know it, claiming current world affairs match the forecast written in the book of Revelations.

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE: The band's latest, Feels, scores a 9.0 o­n the Pitchfork and a collective 83 at Metacritic. But the music is a little hard to describe in a blurb, so you may want to stream it for yourself.

LIZ PHAIR: Her new album gets a decent review at Slate, but it's scoring a 58 at Metacritic.

THE ARCTIC MONKEYS do not want to be called the next Libertines or Babyshambles. The band's new single "I Bet You Look Good o­n The Dance Floor" came out Tuesday and seems set for the Number 1 spot in the UK charts. You can watch them perform it or stream a bunch of AM tunes.

FIERY FURNACES talk to London's Guardian. So does their grandmother.

ABBA: Bjorn and Benny are going to court to dispute writer Carl-Johan Seth's claim about who wrote the script to o­ne of their musicals.

COLDPLAY frontman Chris Martin outbid Bono at a charity gig I mentioned yesterday, paying £20,000 for a lunchbox designed by Michael Stipe. Do you think Apple will get to take it to pre-school?

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: Moss has reportedly barred Doherty from visiting her in rehab. The troubled singer's friend and former manager has denied leaking the video of now-shamed superwaif Moss tooting the white lines. And I never noticed Mick Jones in that footage, but he's apparently there also.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON believes in plastic surgery: "I don't want to be an old hag. There's no fun in that." Being a shiny cat-person is much better. Scarlett claims to be o­nly 20, but maybe she's really 57.

ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN and the Case of the Hollywood Franchise.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES is still racking up ratings, but these days, Hollywood is increasingly sensitive to viewer response o­n the Internet.

DASHTON: Kutcher believes his marriage to Moore is like a sitcom. So do I, but that doesn't mean I'll watch 30 Year Old Grandpa. And Moore takes a clawing at Radar o­nline.

BRITNEY SPEARS feels sad, fat and is probably insecure about her mothering skills, so going back to drinking and smoking is clearly the order of the day.

ROME, the eleven-part series alrady airing o­n HBO, but the BBC is preparing for a wave of controversy over its decision to broadcast it just outside the family hour. Within ten minutes of the opening credits, the first episode features an explicit sex scene. There are then three more -- including a rape -- in the same episode. It also has scenes of full frontal nudity, crucifixions, gruesome battles, assassinations, a beheading and a graphic animal sacrifice. It's pretty darn good, but not for tykes.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Jolie's Beowulf co-star, Ray Winstone, says she and Pitt are getting married. Jennifer Aniston's rep has stopped commenting o­n Aniston's personal life after pictures of her and Vince Vaughn kissing were published in Britain's News of the World.

KIRSTEN DUNST reportedly was "drunk and obnoxious" at the premiere party for Elizabethtown. Her rep (also Aniston's rep) denies it, though Dunst herself told Jay Leno that she buys champagne at Costco and "maybe in a few months you will see me in a rehab clinic." Hey, the movie wasn't bad, just a little disappointing.

CAMERON DIAZ says that, had she not become a model and actress, "I really think I would have gotten into some sort of science, like zoology, or you know, oceanography, or something like that." For sure!

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Andrew Morton, the notorious unauthorized biographer, was in California last week researching an exposé o­n Cruise and his Scientology pals. He will be interested to learn that Cruise is helping design Holmes' wedding dress.

WILLIAM SHATNER was taken to a hospital from the set of Boston Legal Tuesday after complaining of lower back pain, but it looks... like... he's... going to be... okay.

HOMER SIMPSON is trying to get dubious high school students interested in math. Actually, the effort is being undertaken by three writers of The Simpsons who are college degree-toting mathematicians.

EVANGELINE LILLY: The Lost lovely knew she had hit the big time when a teenager stole her panties.

CULT OF THE iPod: Apple is stepping up its push to get iPod accessory makers to pay for the right to connect to the popular gadget. That's not very hiipie-groovy.

HURRICANE KATRINA evacuees hastily handed 2K in federal relief money last month have been living it up o­n Cape Cod, blowing cash o­n booze and strippers.

GLOBAL WARMING: Next week, the European Space Agency is launching a mission to help understand why Venus fell prey to runaway global warming. It was the Venusians and their SUVs, wasn't it?

THE BRITISH RACIAL AND RELIGIOUS HATRED BILL would punish anybody who publishes or says anything “likely to be heard or seen by any person in whom it is likely to stir up racial or religious hatred” by up to seven years in prison. Which seems like a much bigger threat to freedom of speech than anything proposed in the US after 9/11. Conversely, the British Home Secretary has just modified part of the Terrorism Bill which dealt with "glorifying" terrorism, so that Imams and others would be prosecuted o­nly if their remarks are seen as as inducements to further terrorist acts.

IRAQ: US officials have seen far fewer reports of voting "irregularities" from last weekend's referendum than there were from the January elections. Saddam Hussein is finally facing trial for alleged crimes against humanity, though his attorney will seek a three-month delay. Bill Roggio looks at battles in Husaybah and Karabilah, and has a Flash presentation o­n the Anbar Campaign. Milblogger Warriorjason, currently o­n his second deployment to Iraq and serving in the Ramadi AO, disputes press reports of civilian casualties from air strikes near Ramadi.

SIX LION CUBS have been born in less than a week at the Czech circus. Everybody say, "Awwww..." And where is Elton John?

FLORIDA GATOR UPDATE: This time, a Gainesvillegator lurches out of a lake to make off with two co-eds' spicy chicken.

PAMPERED PETS? A consumer group says 465 sometimes bizarre beauty products have launched so far this year for the world's pampered pets. But is the word "pampered" or "humiliated?"

JURASSIC POND: Researchers have found tracks of a previously unknown, two-legged swimming dinosaur in northern Wyoming.

2225 Reads

CYHSY, Black Mountain, Sly & the Family Harley, and King Midas   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

NOTE: The site was down for a bit yesterday, so if you missed Monday's entry, don't forget to keep scrolling for your full measure of bloggy goodness.

CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH: You Ain't No Picasso is killing music with four live tracks of unreleased CYHSY songs.

PAUL AND YOKO are still fighting after all these years.

MISSION OF BURMA has finished a new album for release early next year.

THE MANY MOODS OF MURRY WILSON: If you ever wondered how Brian Wilson got messed up, a good place to start would be with Bran's abusive father. WFMU has MP3s of a classic Murry tirade and related Flash animations by the wonderful indie cartoonist Peter Bagge.

FOO FIGHTERS and QUEEN: For this surprise pairing, the Foos' drummer (not Dave Grohl) gets promoted to vocalist. It must have been like Foo Fighters squared.

MELISSA ETHERIDGE did the medicinal marijuana thing as part of her cancer treatment. Otherwise, she doesn't touch the stuff.

BLACK MOUNTAIN a band that a Pitchfork profile has drawing upon Zeppelin, the Stones, the Velvet Underground and even E-Street Shuffle-era Springsteen, is o­ne of several interrelated bands. *Sixeyes hooks you up to multiple streams and legal downloads.

INDIE METAL: PopMatters reports o­n the resurgence of the genre.

RYAN ADAMS and THE STROKES play together -- chess, that is. No, really.

WOXY, the indie internet station long touted by Ken King (which also has a vintage channel) has posted photo sets of some of the bands that have visited to a Flickr account.

101 THINGS You Didn't Know About Rock N' Roll. Actually, I knew more than a few of them, but I am a music geek. Some of them are even true.

WYCLEF JEAN is a fan of Saddam Hussein?

SLY STONE'S FOUR-WHEELED HARLEY ROAD KING is up for auction o­n eBay at what seems like a very reasonable price right now. Actually, it's o­ne of two such cycles; this o­ne is owned by Sly's daughter, which makes it a family affair.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: Her coke habit has cost her some contracts, but Moss appears in a new press release from Yves Saint Laurent and will still appear in the exclusive Pirelli tire calendar. Doherty plans to visit Moss in rehab -- like that's a good idea. And Doherty's plans to get into fashion design coincide nicely with a new poll picking him as the worst dressed celebrity.

SHARON STONE showed up to the opening of the new Louis Vuitton flagship store wearing something from the Basic Instinct collection.

MADONNA doesn't let her children watch TV, look at magazines, drink milk or eat ice cream. If nine-year-old Lourdes leaves dirty clothes o­n the floor, she is forced to wear the same outfit every day to school "until she learns her lesson." I'll bet she doesn't like wire hangers, either. And FWIW, Matt Drudge reports that Madge wants to warn us that people "are going to go to hell, if they don't turn from their wicked behavior." None of which stops Madge from dressing like a hooker.

THE SEXIEST MEN ALIVE are avoiding People magazine. Apparently, that cover is almost as jinxed as the cover of Sports Illustrated.

BONO is the ultimate ubersexual. But if ubers treat and respect women as equals, how did former President Clinton make the Top Ten?

TOM-KAT UPDATE: The Church of Scientology is not amused by ScienTOMogy.info, which mercilessly ridicules Cruise, his engagement, and his devotion to the controversial religion.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: The producers of Casino Royale would love Jolie as a Bond girl, but click for the sheer genius of the headline writer for London's Sun. Jolie may be busy with other things, like turning up o­n the home page of the Holocaust Museum and collecting English beer coasters. OTOH, she may want to kick it up a notch with Vaughniston going semi-public...

GEORGE CLOONEY has a "real problem with artists attacking other artists. Unless it's Clooney himself, attacking Russell Crowe.

ZACH BRAFF: The Garden Stater, who has been dating Mandy Moore for months, was caught canoodling with Rachel Bilson, who has been with O.C. co-star Adam Brody for some time now.

ALEC BALDWIN in the latest bit of nastiness of his bitter child custody battle with ex-wife Kim Basinger, argues that Kim is inflexible, given that she "has dramatically fewer professional and non-professional commitments" as compared to him. She will probably respond that if he's so busy, it argues against giving him more custody.

THE FRENCH HOTEL says her TV show will begin shooting Nov. 1st. She also says, "All the networks are fighting over it," despite the fact that Fox took a pass o­n it.

THE MANOLO, he has joined Pajamas Media as a contributor. And even screenwriter Roger L. Simon, who did not know the Manolo, he finds he must write like the Manolo when writing about the Manolo.

JESSICA ALBA is standing up for women with curves, because everyone goes for women o­n the Skeletor diet. And she reveals that the secret of success with her is to treat her like a lady. If you make her feel that she's for real, she'll give you happiness.

CULT OF THE iPod: The Scotsman argues that your iPOd may be obsolete within a year. In the meantime, the Writers Guild of America West is arguing over the residuals for video o­n iPods.

BIT TORRENT: Fortune magazine writes about the filesharing software and its creator, Bram Cohen, noting that Hollywood may embrace both.

IRAQ: The election commission will investigate alleged voting irregularities, though two provinces with mixed population that are crucial to the results were not among those that appeared unusual. Iraqi blogger Sooni speculates about why there were so few attacks o­n the referendum day. Newsweek reports from Mosul o­n the US military role in the referendum, falling somewhere between the prior reports from the WaPo and the NYT Major K got to watch dismissive coverage of the referendum o­n CNN International. Major K would probably not like the way newspapers like the Miami Herald did its best to ignore the story altogether.

IRAQ II: Gen. David Patraeus is interviewed about the status of Iraqi forces. Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, a military historian and former commandant of the Army’s War College (who has criticized the post-invasion planning and supported a recent bill regarding standards for interrogating detainees) finally did an op-ed o­n his recent visit to review an Iraqi unit. As I noted earlier, Scales seems to think there has been progress in the past months. A Knight-Ridder story notes that the real estate market in Baghdad is booming, despite it remaining a locus of insurgent attacks. Usually, Knight-Ridder writes stories like "Saddam rose from squalor to become a defiant, destructive leader." Bill Roggio writes about the military operations around Ramadi, which may follow the pattern of Tal Afar.

KING MIDAS, a 300 lb green sea turtle, returned to his home tank in New Orleans.

PANDA CUB is finally named Tai Shan, which means "peaceful mountain." Pics that make you go 'Awwww..." at the link, natch.

MOOSE attacks moose statue in a coastal town in Norway.

CAT hitchhikes with a man deathly afraid of cats.

BRITISH POLICE DOG takes early retirement after bosses at South Yorkshire Police noted his poor motivation - and a fondness for making friends with rowdy drunkards. Now Buster the German Shepherd just hangs out at the donut shop. Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh.

3573 Reads

BRMC, The Book of Playlists, Hugh Jackman, Harvey Pekar and a Two-tongued Cat   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, October 17, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB bassist and vocalist Robert Levon Been talks to PopMatters about the evolution of the band's self-proclaimed Americana album, Howl. You can (and should) stream a couple from MySpace.

THE BEATLES top Variety magazine's poll of the most influential entertainers of the past 100 years.

SUFJAN STEVENS: Gorilla vs. Bear is killing music with a track from Dream Brother - The Songs of Tim + Jeff Buckley.

THE ROLLING STONES tour with a defibrillator, as if no o­ne knew that they have been among the undead for decades.

SON VOLT frontman Jay Farrar talks to the Chicago Sun-Times about the political nature of the new album, Okemah and the Melody of Riot: "I try to avoid being strident. It seems to turn people away. At most, I'd like to provoke discussion of some things, but it's not like I have answers," he said. Then he chuckled, "As of yet, I haven't been asked to play any peace marches."

NICK DRAKE: London's Guardian has a "snapshot" in advance of Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal (Island Remasters), which comes out next week, but looks to be a UK-only release.

SMOOSH: The sisters from Seattle -- aged 13 1nd 11 -- get a profile in Canada's Globe and Mail, albeit with mentions of polar opposites like Kidz Bop.

MY MORNING JACKET vocalist Jim James is all about the power of positive thinking.

ROGER DALTREY is getting a Gold Badge award from The British Academy of Composers and Songwriters for singing songs composed and written by Pete Townshend.

GREG DULLI: The ex-Aghan Whig talks about learning the music biz by self-releasing his new album, Amber Headlights: "With the Internet and iTunes and the various doppelgangers that have spawned, I don't think you can stop anybody now. Anybody can be Ani DiFranco today."

ROY ORBISON may turn up o­n a postage stamp, if Bono and Olivia Harrison have anything to say about it.

BAKER KNIGHT, writer of "Lonesone Town" and many others, is dead of natural causes at 72.

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS: *Sixeyes does a Q&A with John Darnielle, including the contents of his iPod. 4AD has a couple of older tunes for legal download. A couple of band-approved sites have downloads also.

STEVEN SEAGAL is making a blues album with Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters Band members Bob Margolin and Hubert Sumlin, Koko Taylor, James Cotton, Robert Lockwood Jr., David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Willie "Pinetop" Perkins and Ruth Brown. If you didn't have the blues, Seagal will give them to you.

THE BOOK OF PLAYLISTS: London's Independent has some excerpts from the new Rough Guide, including lists from Nick Hornby, Al Green, Billy Bragg and more...

FATS DOMINO returns to the Big Easy to find 18 of his 21 gold records are missing.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The troubled singer's band has cancelled the rest of its tour, blaming "constant pressure and continued harrassment from outside sources." This will give Doherty time to work o­n his fashion designs, so shamed supermodel Moss won't be completely out of gigs.

NEIL YOUNG will be Conan O'Brien's musical guest for the entire week of shows November 1-4.

INDIE CHICKS, including the Raveonettes' Sharin Foo, model Fall fashions in The New York Times Magazine.

THIS IS SPINAL TAP was voted the greatest rock'n'roll movie of all-time in a poll conducted by Blender magazine. The top ten are at the link; the full list hits newsstands tomorrow.

MICHAEL STIPE gets fugged by Go Fug Yourself.

BRITNEY SPEARS may be forced back to work by the ridiculous spending of hubby Cletus.

BEYONCE: Did Vanity Fair lighten her up for her cover?

NOT-SO-BLIND ITEM is how most websites have referred to a blurb about a not-gay actor and his not-a-beard fiancee.

ELIZABETHTOWN comes in third at the weekend box office, behind The Fog remake and Wallace & Gromit. But despite the generally bad reviews, Elizabethtown had a higher per-screen average than the others.

SALMA HAYEK, recently spotted with Jude Law, was caught cuddling with Sideways director Alexander Payne, who must be moving o­n from his marriage to Sandra Oh.

HUGH JACKMAN was rejected for the role of James Bond because the producers thought him "too fey." Tyler Durden has commentary and a photo gallery for you Jack-fans (you know who you are).

THE FRENCH HOTEL pens an apology note to former BFF Nicole Richie, now that her engagement is over and their TV show nearly so.

HARVEY PEKAR talks to the Cleveland Jewish News about his carreer and his Jewish roots to help promote his new graphic novel, Quitter.

HOMER SIMPSON is not as funny in Arabic. And Arabs are unhappy about it.

BLOGGERS AS JOURNOS: Mickey Kaus and former San Jose Mercury News journo Dan Gillmor argue that any federal "shield law" should focus o­n journalism, not journalists.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Jolie and Pitt make lunchboxes for charity. Recovering toesucker Dick Morris muses about a Hillary vs. Condi race in 2008, but wouldn't Jolie be the "third way" candidate? And Jolie is nervous about the possible use of landmines along the borders of Iraq.

SYRIA has been offered a "Gaddafi deal" to end the Assad regime’s isolation if Damascus agrees to a long list of painful concessions. The offer comes as cross-border military operations may become a new front in the war.

IRAQ: I wrote about the constitutional referendum -- and the press reax thereto -- yesterday, so if you're if you're interested, keep scrolling past today's entry.

THE SINGING NEANDERTHALS in not a band; it's a book examining the evolutionary history of music.

MOVING PICTURES are coming to a magazine ad near you.

WOMEN GAIN WEIGHT from living with men.

NANOTECH: Cancer cells may be destroyed by nanobombs. And VoA is reporting (with video) o­n the Associated Nanotechnology Congress, which was held at Rice University.

NC CAT has two tongues and five toes o­n each paw. And too many punchlines to count, the "cat got your tongue" o­ne being o­ne of the few printable here.

ELEPHANTS are cleaning up in the Big Easy.

THE PYTHON PROBLEM IN FLORIDA: Venom o­ne -- Miami-Dade County's snakebite and snake removal unit -- is training a beagle to sniff out pythons like those that recently attacked a gator, a cat and a turkey. And worrying about the anaconda recently run over by a car o­n U.S. 41 near the Everglades.

DEER can't wait for plumbing.

ALASKAN BULL MOOSE is in a cliffhanger almost certain to end badly. Pic at the link.

I THINK WE'RE GOING TO NEED A BIGGER BOAT: Thirteen-year-old Alex Johnston landed a world record tiger shark down under. Pic at the link.

PETA workers face 25 felony counts of animal cruelty in North Carolina.

2298 Reads

The Iraqi Constitutional Referendum (and the press)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, October 17, 2005 - 05:09 AM
Posted by: kbade

KarlUP TO TEN MILLION IRAQIS turned out to vote in Saturday's referendum, protected by security that deterred all but a few ineffectual insurgent attacks. If the 10 million figure holds, the turnout may be higher than for the January election. Turnout was big in Samarra, Fallujah and other cities that heavily boycotted the January election and exceeded expectations in many parts of North Central Iraq. The initial vote reports suggest this too.

There were no suicide bombings or other major attacks — compared to the over 100 attacks in January. The DoD emphasized that Iraqi election officials and Iraqi security forces led the way. The Washington Post, reported from Balad that "the U.S. military remains an all-encompassing presence." On Friday, the WaPo headlined Balad as a "swing city," though the story described an insurgent stronghold (which it is.) In contrast, The New York Times reported that "the 150,000-member American force was much less evident, with perimeter security at the polling centers left mostly to the fast-growing Iraqi security forces. In many areas, the only sign of the American military occupation came from low-flying Apache attack helicopters circling over known areas of insurgent strength, and occasional patrols by armored Humvees..." The WaPo and NYT also had differing accounts of the voters' mood.

The AP did its best to paint the referendum as bad news: "Iraq ‘s constitution seemed assured of passage Sunday despite strong opposition from Sunni Arabs, who turned out in surprisingly high numbers in an effort to stop it. The U.S. military announced that five American soldiers were killed by a bomb blast on referendum day." The AP followed with "Sunnis Appear to Fall Short in Iraq Vote." Sunday's WaPo followed suit, declaring that the referendum was "less of a victory than yet another chance to possibly fashion a political solution that does not result in the bloody division of Iraq." The story quotes University of Michigan Prof. Juan Cole as calling it an "enormous fiasco," not mentioning that he talked out of both sides of his mouth on the January elections and on the invasion. Imho, a fair number of Sunni Arabs (the Kurds are largely Sunni also, not that the press would know) will see how they do in the December elections and whether they are able to get amendments to the constitution before deciding whether to abandon the political process. For now, Sunni Arab involvement in the process is good news, not bad news. Viewed in this context, political and military progress is being made, though I suspect Danish troops will keep their musical pillows.

1730 Reads

Laura Cantrell, Listometric, Arctic Monkeys and a Squirrel with Puppies   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, October 14, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE...

(Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson in NY, via Billee.)

RICHARD THOMPSON may be getting mildly positive reviews (though better scores from non-critics) for Front Parlour Ballads, but his live show almost never disappoints. Last night's show at the Park West in Chicago (where more than a few Pate fans have seen RT) was no exception. Accompanied o­nly by upright bassist Danny Thompson, RT opened with a driving version of "Mingus Eyes" with a tension-filled "Crawl Back" following shortly thereafter. Of course, he played several from his latest disc, including "Let It Blow," "How Does Your Garden Grow?," " My Soul, My Soul" and "For Whose Sake?," which is also a free download from Amazon. he also subtly altered old favorites, with an almost bouncy version of "Wall Of Death" and a country-tinged solo rendition of "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," which was followed by an unexpected unplugged version of "Read About Love." Indeed, Rumor and Sigh was well-represented, with "Don't Sit o­n My Jimmy Shands" and "I Feel So Good" popping up in the encores. He played a rumbling "Gethsemane" by request (skipping "Freebird," though he was asked). Other highlights included the duelling solos o­n Al Bowlly's In Heaven, the banned-by-the-BBC, set closing "Hokey Pokey" and Danny Thompson's exquisite bow work o­n the final encore, "Ghosts In The Wind." But RT also scattered a number of obscure and unreleased songs throughout, such as "Persuasion," his quasi-rockabilly tribute to "Alexander Graham Bell," and the hysterical "The Hots For The Smarts." As usual, RT's mastery of the crowd was nearly as complete as his mastery of the guitar.

FRIDAY TIMEWASTER: Death's Jr.'s c4 Hamster Challenge.

FRIDAY TIMEWASTER II: Test your ability to recognize rock 'n' roll bigmouths with Jagger vs. Tyler.

SUFJAN STEVENS talks with Chart Attack about John Wayne Gacy, nationalism and road trips: "I think the road trip is the quintessential American vacation. The automobile is the center of gravity for Americans..."

PEZ MP3 PLAYER is now available, preloaded with indie rock from bands like Smoosh.

ERIC CLAPTON has sold his autobiography to Random House for 6.4 million bucks.

ROBERT POLLARD: The post-GbV solo album is coming in January. Pitchfork has the details.

THE ARTIST CURRENTLY KNOWN AS PRINCE is facing hip surgery due to pains brought o­n by years of performing in high-heeled boots. This must be true: London's Sun picked it up from the Enquirer.

LAURA CANTRELL: The alt-country chanteuse has an unreleased studio track titled "Hammer and Nails" available through Matador Records.

JOHN PEEL DAY was celebrated yesterday with a BBC mini-site devoted to the late DJ and various concerts, including New Order performing an entire set of Joy Division songs. But Andy Kershaw, Peel's friend and former Radio 1 colleague, opined that Peel would have objected to the nolstalgia.

LISTOMETRIC: Carl Wilson links you to some real music geeks. And I mean that in a good way. Scott Woods' battle-of-the-lists is particularly inspired.

MTV: L.A.'s Weekly's Nikki Finke doesn't want her MTV. Original VJ Adam Curry identifies the day the music television died.

METRIC frontwoman Emily Haines does a Q&A with Spin magazine, insisting the band is back in the groove, due in part to Fruit Loops and a bacteria-imbrued teddy bear. There's a legal download available, too.

RADIOHEAD: Thom Yorke blogs about recording a song titled "Rubbernecks," in what may be a haunted house.

THE ARCTIC MONKEYS: Prefix rounds up the hype surrounding the band. You can stream a bunch of tunes at Scenestars.

RICHARD ASHCROFT is excited about his upcoming album, which he describes as raw and inspired by mid-60's British rock.

ON THE PITCHFORK: Middling reviews of the Gang of Four re-recordings and the reissue of the second Dungen album.

MADONNA is reportedly to make a public apology to Kabbalah followers after she "sinned" against the mystic Jewish faith by using of the name of a holy rabbi for profit.

ELIZABETHTOWN is faring badly o­n the Tomatometer, but my review last Friday is about where Roger Ebert comes out: "In its trimmed version, Elizabethtown is nowhere near o­ne of Crowe's great films (like Almost Famous), but it is sweet and good-hearted and has some real laughs." And how many directors other than Cameron Crowe get reviewed by a music critic?

JESSICA ALBA has recreated some favorite movie roles for the British edition of Esquire. There's another Dr. No at the link, plus 9 1/2 Weeks, Secretary and more...

JESSICA BIEL: The US version of Esquire just named her Sexiest Woman Alive, leading me to believe the staff did not see her dance.

DENISE RICHARDS was not impressed by estranged hubby Charlie Sheen's grovelling o­n the Letterman show: "He's just said he was a 'gigantic a**'. I don't recall an 'I'm sorry' in there."

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Holmes has quit her current movie to focus o­n delivering Cruise's alien love child. Holmes' aunt says the actress conceived her baby with Cruise without the aid of in-vitro fertilisation treatment. I don't even want to think about how she knows this.

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS: The Musical.

THE FRENCH HOTEL: Fox may have cancelled the The Simple Life, but the producers are now shopping the show to other networks. Anybody have a wooden stake?

JUDE LAW-SIENNA MILLER UPDATE: Law retaliates by going out with Salma Hayek.

SURVIVOR: The next edition will be set o­n the Island of Misfit Toys.

AL PACINO has gone from romancing Rose McGowan and Elle Macpherson to canoodling with Kirstie Alley?

GEORGE CLOONEY: Having previously noted Clooney's tenuous support of free speech, it's o­nly fair to note that the light bulb may have gone o­n over his head.

IRAQ: With the constitutional referendum coming Saturday, it might be useful to look at Iraqi public opinion about the constitution and the direction of the country, which generally seems positive. Bill Roggio looks at divisions among the Sunni Arabs and the current state of Iraqi Security Forces as seen from a variety of sources. And Michael Yon is re-embedded.

FRENCH PRISON CELLS are condemned as "squalid and inhumane dungeons" by the European Council's commissioner for human rights. Human rights organisations have uncovered evidence of prisoners, mainly illegal immigrants, going without food, drink and lavatory paper as they huddle together for warmth. There have been numerous violent attacks and cases of detainees mutilating themselves and smearing their blood o­n the walls. At least no o­ne has improperly touched a Koran.

CULT OF THE iPod: Jeff Jarvis looks at the broader implications of the iPod video. In the meantime, folks are already figuring out how to rip DVDs to the iPod.

OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL: Jean-Bernard Merimee, France's former U.N. ambassador and advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was detained for questioning in Paris in connection with an investigation into corruption in the 64 billion dollar UN program. A magistrate took Merimee into custody to investigate why Saddam's regime granted him rights to purchase about 4.5 million of barrels of Iraqi oil at a discounted price.

THE NAME IS... (YOUR NAME HERE): Her Majesty's Secret Service is much less secret now, having launched a website to attract newcomers from a wider variety of backgrounds.

STATE OF THE PARTIES: Newsweek's Howard Fineman writes that the conservative movement is falling apart at the seams. US News' Michael Barone writes that the Democrats' chief problem is that too large a part of their constituency, and their primary electorate, is made up of liberals who reject values and positions held by large majorities of Americans.

K-Y SEX OILS SALES SKYROCKET through Wal-Mart, with K-Y Touch Massage oils in the top 10 list of new health and beauty products of 2005.

HERSHEY HIGHWAY DOWN UNDER: Rush hour in New South Wales is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get.

SQUIRREL JOINS DOG FAMILY: If the picture makes you say "Awwww...," wait until you read the story behind it. There's a photo gallery at the link also.

DOGS do not think like you, so get a grip o­n yourself already.

70-POUND CAT caught stalking a dog.

ANIMAL HOARDING WITH A TWIST: A man found operating o­n a pigeon that he sedated with vodka was later arrested after animal control officers raided his house and discovered about 300 living and dead birds inside.

ELEPHANT at the Los Angeles Zoo gets an orthopedic shoe after toe surgery.

GATOR vs. RABBIT: A youth who snatched a white rabbit at a zoo and threw it into the alligator pool is being sought by police.

BEAR vs. MOTORCYCLE: Bear wins. A cautionary tale for Ms. Hauser as she starts her new life as a biker chick in the Southeast.

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