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Links: Friday Street edition   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, February 04, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:

Neither of these is from Hollow Man

YOUR FRIDAY TIME-WASTER: The Movie Game! Fans of Fark's Photoshop Fridays should be doubly amused. Do I have the answers? Yes; I'll link to them... Monday. Heh heh heh...

SXSW: A TRUCKLOAD 'O' BANDS -- The list is enormous.

PETE DOHERTY, late of the Libertines and Babyshambles, recently dumped by Kate Moss, is arrested on an assault charge. No Rock 'n' Roll Fun has the backstory. Meanwhile, Billboard reports that the Libertines are pressing on without Doherty: "What remains to be seen is whether Doherty will ever return to the Libertines. Contrary to popular opinion, the singer/guitarist hasn't been kicked out of the band he co-founded with Carl Barat. However, his return is by no means guaranteed, leaving the status of replacement member Anthony Rossomando uncertain."

ARCADE FIRE (and Final Fantasy) did a fill-in for Maroon 5 on Tuesday's Late Night with Conan O'Brien. On Wednesday, they performed with David Byrne, doing their cover of "Naive Melody (This Must Be the Place).

As if your girlfriend isn't partly to blame!THE SITCOM AS WE KNOW IT is "a dead format whose time has come and gone," says Portia de Rossi, star of Fox's Arrested Development. Tom Poston, the Newhart veteran, who stars as a dying clown who stays in a closet on the new NBC comedy Committed, says the medium itself is corrupting the next generation of writers. "It used to be that good writers wrote about what they knew; they wrote from their lives, so the comedy was based in something real. These days," he says with a heavy sigh, "young writers are raised on TV and movies, so that's what they write about. And it's fake. It's recycled material."

FREE NEWS: The Christian Science Monitor and the Online Journalism Review look at whether online news sites should charge for their news or archives.

OOPS! Mistake Calls for Evacuation of Connecticut.

GRADE THE NEWS complains that Bay Area newspapers and television stations continue to emphasize "the weird, the fluffy, and the gruesome." As if there is some other kind of news in San Francisco. Thank you, I'll be here next week, too. Tip your bartender.

SUPER BOWL: This year, most Super Bowl advertisers are playing it safe. Ford is pulling its ad that depicts a clergyman ogling a pickup truck after receiving complaints from a support group for victims sexually abused by priests. A special episode of The Simpsons airing after the Super Bowl will "point out how TV and the NFL showcase obnoxious behavior even as they go through the motions of condemning it."

GOOGLE CLOUT: How much is it worth to a company's bottom line to place near the top of Google's search rankings? A lot, as it turns out.

FISHBOWL L.A. mockingly blurbs the cover of the Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair.

He covers his own song twice -- how cool is that?ON THE PITCHFORK: A fine review of Chris Stamey's A Question of Temperature: "[T]he final result is one of Stamey's best solo joints and a fun, solid record, so the ancillary benefits make it more than worthwhile."

HARDCORE PORN will be served up by the usually conservative Adelphia system. But the funniest part of the news is buried in the penultimate graf of the story: "Playboy is gearing up to supply a variety of programs on demand that will keep subscribers running up the bill. One goal: to increase the seven-minute viewing time historically clocked by the average person who orders an adult pay-per-view movie..." Here's a hint: more programs will not meet this goal. Try putting coupons for certain well-advertised pharmaceuticals in with the cable bill. Also, publicizing the seven minute figure is going to humiliate your customers.

CHAOTIC MARKETS: A model that assumes stock market traders have zero intelligence has been found to mimic the behaviour of the London Stock Exchange very closely. This result does not mean traders are buying and selling randomly, but suggests that market movements depend less on traders' strategies and more on the structure of the trading system itself. The observation could be useful in the real financial markets. For example market volatility could be lowered by giving incentives for people who place limit orders, and charging people who place market orders.

THIS LOOKS LIKE A JOB FOR SUPERMAN: Thieves with hypnotic powers on crime spree in Russia!

So here's a nice daytime picture insteadTHE FRENCH KEEP ASKING FOR IT: The re-lighting of the Eiffel Tower has been copyrighted, so that you technically must pay to photograph it at night.

WHO DID SADDAM VOTE FOR? No one, but he could have if he had turned up at a polling station, officials said. The former dictator was eligible to vote as an Iraqi citizen with no criminal record. Despite being accused of crimes against humanity and genocide, he has not been convicted. Life imitates Stripes.

JACKO JUSTICE: There's money to be made from the Michael Jackson trial, writes Danny Schechter. How many "experts" will build their careers on the media exposure? How many books and TV movies will result?

I APOLOGIZE: A hospital that accidentally placed the amputated leg of a deceased patient in a plastic bag with the personal belongings of another patient apologized Tuesday. A spokeswoman said officials were trying to determine how the error may have occurred.

Nice to look at, but...ANGELINA JOLIE: Tinseltown lesbians are whispering that there is something fishy about her. Really, must someone destroy all of our myths?

PODCASTING: Podsiphon is updated daily with free, and legal songs from sources all over the internet. In fact, you probably don't even need an iPod to download its MP3s.

THE THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE: Criminal complaint alleges that a teenager robbed banks in New York and Connecticut for her boyfriend.

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Links: It's Cold Out There Every Day edition   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

Rise and shine, campers!

Did I have you for a moment?

GROUNDHOG DAY AND PAYOLA: Can you crack college columnist Melody Joy Kramer's code?

Heard of them through Information LeafblowerTHE BRAVERY recently won the BBC's annual Critics' Poll and are generating some buzz o­n music blogs. You can hear some of their vintage 80s-U2-Cure-New Orderish sound at the band's site.

THE KINGS OF CONVENIENCE are profiled at Flagpole.

ON THE PITCHFORK: former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus is set to release a new album in May.

BIRTHDAYS: Don Everly has turned 68. The late Ayn Rand would have turned 100. Geddy Lee probably celebrated both of them.

BPOC: Apple's iPod is the most popular music player on campus, which is a problem when it's Microsoft's campus.

ARE WE BECOMING CYBORGS? Ann Althouse blogs that her car affects her personality. Wired quotes an academic suggesting that your iPod becomes an extension of your memory and your self.

No match against a clone army, of courseBATTLEBOTS: This spring, the United States armed forces are expected to deploy 18 Talon robots to Iraq. The semi-autonomous machines will be capable of firing rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, and rockets with better accuracy than human soldiers. In development is the R-Gator, built by IRobot, which will use off-the-shelf robotics to serve as an unmanned scout or "point man," guard a perimeter, do reconnaissance, or haul supplies up to 1,400 pounds guided by GPS.

ROBOTS, PART 3: The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency has granted a contract worth at least 400,000 dollars to two professors who are trying to build a machine that can learn by reading.

The slinky betrayed us. I should have known.ACTION FIGURE HOSTAGE UPDATE: Cody tells his story.

MIXING BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE: The New York Post reports that American workers have found a way to cope with the stress of Iraq and the uncertain economy — office romances, which have surged 25 percent in the last two years. Oddly enough, the President did not take credit for increased hijinx atop the office copier in his Wednesday night address: "My Fellow Americans, though we have had much hard work to do these past years, the State of the Union is horny!"

SPEAKING OF WHICH, THE STATE OF THE UNION address (on the off-chance that you found something else to watch or do Wednesday night) can be read in full at NPR. The Democratic response was tougher for the search engines to find -- at least right after the speech -- but I found it at the Omaha World-Herald.

ARE BLOGGERS JOURNALISTS? Do they deserve press protections? Two prominent bloggers of differing politics were asked these questions by The Christian Science Monitor, which also looks at the question of whether bloggers should be protected by laws that give journalists a privilege to protect confidential sources.

IMHO, the answers to those questions are not difficult. Are bloggers journalists? Sometimes, but not often, yet. Do they deserve press protections? Yes. Journalists, bloggers and everyone else should enjoy the same rights to free speech and freedom of the press. The First Amendment protects freedom of the press because the Founders were against the colonial system which required that the press be licensed by the government. Legislatures and courts should not become involved in deciding who is "the press," but that is what would happen if "the press" has greater rights than you or I.

ARROGANCE AT THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: In a semi-related story, the AP announces it will provide a blog to its premium clients in a tone that mocks blogs as junk journalism. Did it occur to anyone at the AP that this might not be the tone to strike o­ne day after being hoaxed by a terror gang's picture of an action figure?Probably not, sadly.

He don't like media...BOB GELDOF: The former Boomtown Rat and Band-Aid organizer complains that the media has confused the roles of politicians and celebrities and has choice words about visiting Africa: "More often than not, it bores me profoundly - the pace of change is far too slow, and Africans excuse their own complicity in exactly the same way as our politicians."

THE SLITS reunite (sort of). Reissues and tour to follow.

MICHAEL STIPE tells Blender way more than you want to know about him.

JOHN PERRY BARLOW, a lyricist for the Grateful Dead and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- a cyberspace civil liberties group -- told the World Social Forum (an annual protest against the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland) that poor nations can't solve their problems unless they stop paying expensive software licensing fees. "Already, Brazil spends more in licensing fees on proprietary software than it spends on hunger," said Barlow.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOLOUS AND TED KOPPEL switching shows? Or is it a celebrity edition of Trading Spaces?

Nah, nah-nah, nah-nah, na-na-na-nah...MTV UNDER FIRE: The Parents' Television Center -- a group responsible for many of the indecency complaints lodged with the FCC over the past year -- has issued a report accusing MTV of peddling smut to teens. MTV called the report unfair, saying it ignored the network's public service efforts, such as its Emmy-winning Choose or Lose campaign during last year's presidential race.

That is as lame a defense as Hugh Hefner telling everone about the great articles in Playboy. MTV would have been better off to note that the PTC studied the channel's Spring Break coverage. This is not regular MTV programming. Moreover, most of the raciness of MTV's Spring Break coverage is showing partying college students. MTV could have replied that the Parents Television Center should be concerned about the parenting that led to those displays instead of the fact that MTV televised them.

Primetime Live, but taped. Go figure.TERI HATCHER UPDATE: On an upcoming Primetime Live, the Desperate Housewife tells Diane Sawyer, "I breast-fed for two and a half years. I mean you don't want to see me out of my bra — that's why I haven't had sex in however many years and I'm shy about the whole thing!" Hey, she cannot call the whole "spectacular" thing into question without offering proof. That is simply unacceptable.

NANOTECH: Extending battery life for cellphones.

DAVID BOWIE encourages his fans to mash-up his new material with his classics.

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Links: It's Coooooold Out There Today edition   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

I got flowers...in the Spring...

First D.J.: Rise and shine, campers and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today.
Second D.J.: It's cold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?
First D.J.: Not hardly. So the big question on everybody's lips...
Second D.J.: on their chapped lips...
First D.J.: ...their chapped lips is, "Does Phil feel lucky?" Punksatawney Phil! That's right, woodchuck chuckers it's...

[IN UNISON]: GROUNDHOG DAY!!!

The real Punxsutawney Phil has been called the Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary. In fact, he's only right about 40 percent of the time. Nevertheless, tens of thousands will make the journey to Gobbler's Knob in the tiny Pennsylvania hamlet that has become known as the "Weather Capital of the World." All of which is really beside the point, because the event has been dwarfed by the movie.

This is o­ne time where the internet really fails to capture the true excitement of a movie about a large squirrel predicting the weather.

Last Sunday, Roger Ebert revisited Groundhog Day, declaring that the film "finds its note and purpose so precisely that its genius may not be immediately noticeable. It unfolds so inevitably, is so entertaining, so apparently effortless, that you have to stand back and slap yourself before you see how good it really is."

At the other end of the politcal spectrum, Jonah Goldberg's equally effusive movie meditation grabs the cover of the latest National Review. Goldberg writes: "When I set out to write this article, I thought it'd be fun to do a quirky homage to an offbeat flick, o­ne I think is brilliant as both comedy and moral philosophy. But while doing what I intended to be cursory research — how much reporting do you need for a review of a twelve-year-old movie that plays constantly o­n cable? — I discovered that I wasn't alone in my interest. In the years since its release the film has been taken up by Jews, Catholics, Evangelicals, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, and followers of the oppressed Chinese Falun Gong movement."

Indeed, a 2004 article mentioned by Ebert (but not linked) from London's Independent observes that the Harold Ramis comedy has been hailed by some religious leaders as the most spiritual film of all time. In addition the examples given in that article, another can be found in today's Christian Science Monitor.

Don't drive angry!

As Phil Connors ultimately observed: "When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter."

[UPDATE: This morning, Punxsutawney Phil's handlers said the groundhog has seen his shadow -- which legend has it signals six more weeks of winter.]

So I'm a sucker for lists - sue meON THE PITCHFORK: Their Top 100 Singles: 2000-04 Some will be familiar, some might become new favorites. They also link to the contributors' personal lists, so you can avoid the folks who were kind to Britney and Justin. ALSO: A big thumbs-up (of course) to the new compilation of singles by Super Furry Animals. They're Welsh, y'know.

ROBERT POLLARD is not slowing down; just take a gander at his planned projects for 2005 -- including a GbV book by former GbV bassist and rock critic Jim Greer.

IRAQ ELECTION REAX: Leaders Say Vote Decides Equality for Iraqi Women.

Cowards picked o­ne without the Kung Fu gripIRAQI TERRORISTS TAKE ACTION FIGURE HOSTAGE, hoaxing both the Associated Press and Reuters.

AL-JAZEERA IS GOING PUBLIC: The Qatar-based TV net is (as noted yesterday) o­ne of the top brands in the world, but despite gaining as many as 40 million viewers daily, it's not making money. Andy Borowitz jokes that Fox News could buy it.

BLOGS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT: Anastasia Goodstein's Ypulse blog has become a must-read for those into youth culture, from Seventeen's Atoosa Rubenstein to youth ministers and librarians, according to the San Fransisco Chronicle.

Be careful when you eat at Satriale'sFUHGEDDABOUTIT: A&E bids a record 2.5 million bucks per episode to broadcast edited versions of The Sopranos. The Emmy-winning mob drama will begin o­n the basic cable network in fall 2006. A&E will have to sell a lot of commercials to pay that tab, but I imagine an edited Sopranos episode will leave plenty of time for commercial breaks.

SUPER BOWL: The New York Post previews the much-anticipated advertising. Meanwhile, Editor and Publisher chats up the four ink-stained wretches who have covered all 38 Super Bowls.

COUPLES MAGAZINES may be the new trend in the post-Maxim era.

JACKO JUSTICE: The Los Angeles Times reports that Santa Barbara County is asking news organizations covering the Michael Jackson trial to pay the expenses the county will incur through having all that media to deal with.

GLOBAL WARMING may be responsible for the evolution of bats 50 million years ago.

OUTKAST has finished shooting o­n a movie musical.

Where have you gone, J.J. Jackson?THE TWO-HEADED DOG: A sign of the apocolypse? It's the new logo for MTV2, so you be the judge. Both MTV and MTV2 will preview the new MTV2 during the halftime show at the Super Bowl. The new faster-paced network will officially launch at midnight following the game. Apparently, MTV is not catering enough to an short attention spans.

ROY ORBISON: I don't know what Roy would have thought about a trove of stories about being wrapped in "clingfilm." Perhaps "Only The Lonely?"

DOODLES FROM DAVOS: Scribbled notes were found on British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s desk following last week’s International Economic Forum in Switzerland.

Experts drooled over what the notes, squares, circles and jottings revealed about his personality. Graphologist Emma Bache concluded Mr Blair was "slightly out of control, very frustrated and stressed", and that the doodles suggested "more than a hint of megalomania". Psychologist Elaine Quigley said the notes showed that Mr Blair was "struggling to concentrate and his mind is going everywhere".

The doodles were actually created by Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates, who had been sitting with Blair and Bono. Draw your own conclusions.

THE LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: In the year since the controversial CAN-SPAM Act went into effect, the quantity of junk e-mail has increased by a third, now comprising about 80 percent of all e-mail. The FTC is working o­n closing loopholes in the law. I wouldn't hold my breath.

SCENES FROM AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT: As imagined by Jeff Goldstein.

TEEN VOGUE: Gawker notices something kinda creepy about the cover, particularly for a mag aimed at girls.

THE STATE OF DISNEY: ESPN and theme parks boosted Disney earnings to 723 million dollars last quarter, but profits from home video plummeted.

BRAD-JEN BREAKUP AFTERMATH: The Pittston split leaves Ali G homeless. I hope he captured that o­n video.

Just a head shot? What was I thinking?TERI HATCHER: The Desperate Housewife clarifies that her breasts are real, knowing that Seinfeld fans will fill in the "spectacular" part themselves.

THAT AND 15.6 MILLION DOLLARS will get you a cup of coffee.

I HAVE NO IDEA whether this story about the Orange Revolution in Ukraine is true. Indeed, I would take it with a shaker full of salt. But it would make a good movie!

NIH STUDY: The part of the human brain governing risk-taking does not fully mature until age 25. Every auto insurance company in the world knows this, but it's nice to have some science behind it, I guess.

STEREOGUM can't get the image of clay Lionel Richie out of his head.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

I got your numberPOPMATTERS interviews Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis.

ON THE PITCHFORK: Wire is set to release another archival CD/DVD set, this time covering their recent output.

COACHELLA: After bringing the reunited Stooges in 2003 and helping the Pixies reunite in 2004, Coachella will host Bauhaus and Cocteau Twins this year.

POLICE BLOTTER: Stuart Copeland and his former partner Andy Summers will be walking their old beat again, but with Incubus, not der Stingle.

I STRIKE AGAIN, WITH MORE COWBELL! To know me is to know that I enjoy a good cowbell, particularly in the summer. So when I read someone talkin' 'bout Christopher Walken o­n their TV screen, I cannot help myself.

CAFFEINATED BEER: the poor man's speedball!

DAD READS THE DAILY POOP, MOMMY SHAKES HER HEAD: One in three U.S. high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them, according to a survey being released today.

IRAQ ELECTION REAX: Washington Post foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid was asked in an o­nline chat: "What surprised you most o­n election day?" His reply: "My biggest surprise was the way voting surged through the day in Baghdad..." That inspires confidence that the WaPo has its finger o­n the pulse of Iraq, eh?

Check those Parsons photosJAM! previews Back To Me, the sophomore disc from alt.country Canuck Kathleen Edwards, due out March 1. She will be hitting Dave Letterman's show for the release. I noticed her o­n the PPV tribute to Gram Parsons organized by Keith Richards, Lord of the Undead. You can hear a few cuts from her debut, Failer, at the Rounder Records site, including "One More Song the Radio Won't Like." A bit too self-deprecating, methinks.

BOB MOULD plans to release an album called Body of Song this summer, his first solo release since 2002's Modulate, a project that opposed his loud, guitar-rock roots. He still tours solo, but has shifted his focus toward producing electronica and house music.

BLOG LAUNCHES: Nick Denton's Gawker Media, which produces Gizmodo, Gawker, Defamer and other blogs occasionally linked here, has launched Lifehacker -- covering useful software downloads-- and Gridskipper -- covering travel, both in the Gawker Media style. Where else can you learn whether the recent tsunami has affected sex tourism to Bangkok?

LARA FLYNN BOYLE has been accused of stripping nude and trying to seduce a fellow passenger during a recent first-class flight to London. A shocked witness adds, "People recognised she was Lara Flynn Boyle and saw her popping pills o­n board early in the flight.

TARA REID has been reduced to soliciting 60-second videos of men for potential dates o­n Ellen DeGeneres' talk show. The New York Daily News twists the knife by referring to Reid as "[t]he newly buxom actress."

Did they airbrush the cover photo?NEWBEAUTY is a newly-launched magazine offering news, advice and advances regarding age-fighting beauty products, laser surgery, facelifts, Botox, cosmetic dentistry, dermatology, liposuction and breast augmentation. Maybe they can sell subscriptions to newly buxom actresses.

LEGALIZED PROSTITUTION UPDATE: New Zealand Sex Workers Get Ergonomics Guidelines. So much for the Kama Sutra.

RODNEY DANGERFIELD gets no respect, even now.

BLACK DAYS AT BLACK ROCK: New York magazine reports that "[i]nside CBS News, the rage over the handling of the National Guard fiasco o­nly deepens." The article makes Dan Rather and Andrew Hayward out to be more culpable for the scandal than they would have the public believe. ALSO: The New York Post's "Page Six" dishes that Mary Mapes, the o­nly CBS News staffer fired in the wake of Memogate, may be about to spill her guts to Diane Sawyer or Barbara Walters.

APPLE TOPS THE CHART: After a two-year hiatus Apple has returned to win the 2004 Readers’ Choice Awards for the brand with the most global impact — a title held by Google since 2002. Rounding out the top five 2004 Global Brands is a surprise winner: the Arab-focused, 24-hour news source Al Jazeera.

PODCASTING: Later this winter, former MTV VJ Adam Curry and partners plan to launch a podcasting network, offering an edited selection of the web's best dispatches and tools for neophytes to create their own casts.

Would you allow your kids to spend the night at Mike's house?THE JACKSON 12 will soon be selected, as Michael Jackson heads toward a trial o­n child molestation charges. The Toronto Star had some choice material:

[B]eing stuck in adolescence is not grounds for conviction, warns Tom Lyon, a University of Southern California law professor and expert in child molestation cases. "He could be a serial pedophile for all we know. But the fact that he's kind to children or that he likes to play children's games doesn't suggest that he's going to molest kids," said Lyon. "That's more a reflection that stereotypically, men are uninterested in kids." o­n the other hand, "As many people love Michael Jackson, you say `Would you allow your kids to spend the night at Mike's house?' I think those that say yes are probably lying," said Vibe magazine writer Cheo Hodari Coker.

The article also discusses the importance of venue selection and the race card as compared to the O.J. Simpson trial. Perhaps Michael will be asked to try o­n his o­ne glove in court...

Another important factor is jury selection, which the prosecution botched in the O.J. case. It looks like that topic will be covered at the brand new Jury Blog.

WARD CHURCHILL UPDATE: The embattled University of Colorado professor released a statement defending his controversial essay concerning the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks o­n the United States, but also resigned his post of chairman of the ethnic studies program because he did not want the attention focused o­n him to reflect o­n fellow department members.

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Monday, January 31, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

Break out the strange brewCREAM REUNION SET FOR MAY at the Royal Albert Hall, according to Jack Bruce.

RYAN ADAMS will be releasing three albums in 2005. Some samples from o­ne of the records can be heard o­n his website.

ROBERT POLLARD AND TODD TOBIAS announce a second Circus Devils disc for 2005.

CROOKED TIMBER recently had a Friday Fun Thread" asking readers to suggest songs that should have been hits, but were not. Ken King will be glad to note "Big Bird" was suggested; you'll undoubtedly see a few of your favorites as well.

BARRY WILLIAMS, A/K/A GREG BRADY, a/k/a Johnny Bravo, is getting divorced again.

SUNDANCE FILM FEST screens were awash in all kinds of bodily fluids, as audiences were treated to graphic scenes of rape, castration, dismemberment and sex acts that crossed the threshold of almost every imaginable taboo - sometimes by performers who will be too young to attend these movies when (or if) they make it into theaters.

STAR WARS EPISODE III: THE REVENGE OF THE SITH: The "crawl" at the beginning of the movie that sets the scene for the end of the saga is officially public.

IRAQ ELECTION REAX: Regardless of o­ne's position o­n the invasion of Iraq, I think most feel glad that the election went off without major incidents or attacks. The Arab street was split, but mesmerized, according to the Associated Press. Some in Europe were outright against the election, as this photo demonstrates. Jeralyn Merritt rounds up blogger reactions to the election, both here and in Iraq. Andrew Sullivan printed an e-mail from a war critic that raised some interesting points.

Aside from the Sunni triangle, the Iraqis turned out by the millions, walking for miles (some o­n crutches) and looked pretty happy. Some of what comes next was covered in my weekend update below, but even if Sunnis are under-represented in the drafting of a new constitution, the interim constitution provides that the new o­ne can be vetoed by three provinces, which helps ensure that Sunnis will be part of the process.

IRAQIS BITTERLY DIVIDED OVER OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Sunnis May Sit Out Awards Night, U.S. Fears.

CLINT EASTWOOD takes the Directors Guild of America award for best director. Marty Scorsese sweats. I thought Million Dollar Baby was a better picture (and better directed) than The Aviator, though it was also far more heart-rending.

SPACE-AGE ROBOT GUIDE DOGS for the blind. Which would also be a good band name.

I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE MOVIE about the man who urinated his way out of avalanche.

BEN FOLDS LEAVES SHATNER BEHIND, starts making real music again. Actually, that's not my headline. I would note that Shatner's disc got generally good reviews. Besides, no o­ne leaves Shatner behind.

Not unlike John BarleycornJIM CAPALDI, a founding member of Traffic, is dead of stomach cancer at the age of 60.

RAY PETERSON, who hit the top ten with "Tell Laura I Love Her" in 1960, died last Tuesday in Smyrna, Tennessee.

KIM JONG IL, last seen in Team America: World Police, may be seeing his regime unravel in slow motion, according to the London Sunday Times.

A DOWNSIDE OF LEGALIZED PROSTITUTION: A 25-year-old woman who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year, according to the London Telegraph

WISCONSIN ELECTION FOLLOW-UP: According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, city officials said Thursday that 1,305 same-day voter registration cards from the Nov. 2 election could not be processed, including more than 500 cases where voters listed no address and dozens more where no name was written o­n the card. This number was far lower than previous estimates of 8,300 or more, but raised new concerns, because it leaves a clear gap of more than 7,000 people who voted o­n Nov. 2 and cannot be accounted for in city records.

Even a broken clock, or a crazy o­neCELEBRITY CATFIGHT AT DAVOS? Sharon Stone raised $1 million in five minutes o­n Friday for mosquito nets in Tanzania, turning a panel o­n African poverty into an impromptu fund-raiser. In the audience was Angelina Jolie, who has been a U.N. goodwill ambassador for refugee issues for four years. Jolie later said she thought it was "wonderful" what Stone had done." Jeffrey D. Sachs, who is leading U.N. anti-poverty efforts and who was speaking when Stone stood up, said before the session he intends to meet with bed net manufacturers to speed up production. "There's actually donor money coming in, but there's a bottleneck in production because there are o­nly two or three companies right now that really have this technology to make these high-quality nets," he told The Associated Press. That may explain why Jolie said o­n Saturday that celebrities grandstanding as advocates of the poor can do more harm than good. "I think you can do damage," Jolie said. "Celebrities have a responsibility to know absolutely what they're talking about, and to be in it for the long run."

RELATED STORY? Angelina Jolie gave Brad Pitt a vial of dried bat.

OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL: Kojo Annan, son of the U.N. Secretary-General has admitted he was involved in negotiations to sell millions of barrels of Iraqi oil under the auspices of Saddam Hussein. He is understood to be co-operating with UN investigators probing the discredited oil for food programme.

RAY CHARLES WAS GREAT, but what about Esref Armagan? His paintings aren't masterpieces, but amazing when you consider he has been blind since birth.

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