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PitchforkTV, Kelley Stoltz, The Eels, REM, Snowflake   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, April 09, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



PITCHFORK.TV is online (and not crashing under the traffic now), featuring The Thermals, Radihead, Man Man, The Pixies and more this week...

KELLEY STOLTZ brings his classic pop to not four, but five free songs for Daytrotter, drawn from his past two LPs.

THE NATIONAL is the subject of a film, "A Skin, A Night," by Vincent Moon (La Blogotheque) coming to DVD on May 20th and packaged with a bonus cd, The Virginia EP.  Watch the trailer.

THE EELS:  Mark Everett stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via MPR.

MUSIC FESTIVALS:  The Chicago Tribune notes the fests defy the music industry's troubles, while other music promoters grumble.

R.E.M. turned up on the Colbert Report last week; you can watch the interview and the performance via Red Lasso.  Remember, what's good for GM is good for R.E.M.  ALSO:  At Hitsville, critic Bill Wyman notes that Rolling Stone's reviews of their last four records have all been "comeback"-themed.  Nice allusion to Jane Austen's Emma also.

CARBON/SILICON:  Mick Jones (The Clash, B.A.D.) and Tony James (Generation X) played the World Cafe, so you can stream the whole gig on demand via NPR.

THE ROLLING STONES are taking questions at YouTube.  Paste has suggestions for questions you might ask.

MY MORNING JACKET frontman Jim James gives a video preview of five tracks from the band's upcoming Evil Urges album at Rolling Stone.

PETE DOHERTY has been sentenced to 14 weeks in jail for violating a probation order.  NME cited a court spokesman as saying Doherty had used different kinds of drugs, breached "time keeping," and generally not complied with his probation.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise's Nazi assassination plot film Valkyrie gets knocked to Presidents' Weekend, 2009.  Which is also Valentine's Day weekend.  Because nothing says romance like Nazis.  Or maybe the thing stinks like a whorehouse at low tide.  BONUS:  The latest target of Cruise's legal team?  Randy Jones, the original Village People cowboy.

BEYONCE & JAY-Z:  Buzz is building that this weekend's quickie nuptials were actually a shotgun wedding.

PATRICK SWAYZE has had an "excellent" response to treatment for pancreatic cancer, the actor and his doctor said Tuesday.

JESSICA SIMPSON gives her webcam a workout for the benefit of bf Tony Romo, according to the ever-reliable Star magazine.

THE FRENCH HOTEL in Africa:  'If I bought a cheetah, would it run away from me or could I keep it?'"  I don't know, sheetheat; how about an Oompa-Loompa?

LINDSAY LOHAN offered to do the full monty as a nymphomaniac waitress in the indie film "Florence," for which she is being paid a mere 75K.  The producers declined.  Also, Li-Lo has been slapped with a 55K lawsuit by a man who claims the actress never paid him while he was her bodyguard.

GEORGE CLOONEY chills out with Elle Macpherson, Thandie Newton, Clooney, Natasha McElhone, Helena Bonham Carter and Mariella Frostrup.  It's good to be George Clooney.

ROB LOWE, who accused a former nanny of trying to extort 1.5 million from him and his wife, went a step further on Monday, filing three separate lawsuits against two of his former nannies and his former chef - whom he claims had sex on Lowe's bed "with third parties" and stole prescription drugs.  Lowe has posted an article on The Huffington Post condemning the ex-nanny.

MISCHA BARTON will accept a plea deal in her DUI case, sparing her any jail time, according to People magazine.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON plays sexy nurse Silk N. Floss in Frank Miller's adaptation of The Spirit.  This may be the only pic left online.  Can you beat the lawyers?

STAR TREK:  You can watch the entire original series, thanks to the fine folks at CBSKhaaaaan!

IRAN has begun installing 6000 new centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, state television quoted Pres. Ahmadinejad as saying Tuesday.  Ahmadinejad also accused the US of using the 9/11 attacks as a "pretext" to launch invasions and cast doubt on the accepted version of the terror strikes.

IRAQ:  Moqtada al-Sadr canceled his protest march he scheduled for Tuesday in the streets of Baghdad.  Regarding disbanding the Mahdi Army, al-Sadr's spokesman says on the one hand that al-Sadr has consulted with Iraq's Shiite clerical leadership "and they refused that," but did not provide details of the talks.  OTOH, he also denied that al-Sadr had referred the dissolution of al-Mahdi army to Shiite clerics, describing reports in this regard as inaccurate.  MIchael J. Totten covers reconstruction efforts by the US Marines in Fallujah.  Pres. Bush awarded the Medal of Honor to Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor, who was killed in 2006 when he threw himself on a grenade in Iraq to save his comrades.

SNOWFLAKE (a/k/a FLOCKE) the polar bear cub made her public debut at the Nuremburg Zoo.  More awww...some pics at the link.

CIRCLES the DUCK has received an order of protection to keep it safe after being shot and wounded by a neighbor with a pellet gun.

MISSING ELEPHANT found in Carbondale, IL.  Due to the size, the elephant was transported back to the Murphysboro Police Department by Express Towing.

WILD TURKEYS attack postal workers in Madison, WI.

BEACH DONKEY BINGO:  A donkey code of practice is being brought in to stop anyone over 50.8kg (8st) from riding the animals amid growing fears that Britain's 850 donkeys are buckling under the weight of heavier children and putting their health at risk.

4374 Reads

New Sun Sessions, New Releases, Elvis Costello, Monkey Mini-Biker   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, April 08, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


SUN STUDIO SESSIONS:  Grace Potter & the Nocturnals record "Mystery Train" to kick off a new series in which today's rising artists perform in the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and many other rock and roll greats recorded their first hits.

NEW RELEASES:  The Breeders, Man Man, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Tapes N' Tapes, The Long Blondes and more are streaming in full this week at Spinner.  Billy Bragg has a new album out, as does the fab Richard Swift.  I am also interested in checking out the album from Wye Oak, which is streaming in full via Merge.

LIZ PHAIR reviews Dean Wareham's book, "Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance," for the NYT.

OK GO! frontman Damian Kulash Jr. has an op-ed about "net neutrality" in the NYT, in which he wonders "if Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner sit around arguing who was listening to Vampire Weekend first."

FEIST may have been shut out at the grammys, but she dominated the Juno Awards.

ELVIS COSTELLO and friends do a majestic cover of "Pretty Flamingo" at the Montreux Jazz Festival.  Add an alternative version of "I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea" with The Attractions on TOTP, and you have twofer Tuesday.

MIGHTY MAX WEINBERG gives the Orange County Register an insider's tour of life on E Street.

NADA SURF stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via MPR.

NELLIE McKAY tells the Mpls Star-Trib that "interviews should be vague" and plays cat-and-mouse with the interviewer.

MUSIC MAGS DIE:  Billboard collects reax to the recent passing of Harp, Resonance and No Depression magazines.

TOM-KAT UPDATE:  Cruise has been asked to be godfather to J-Lo and Marc Anthony's babies.  Will he settle all Scientology business?

NICOLE KIDMAN & KEITH URBAN bought a seven million dollar home just down the road from Kidman's ex Tom Cruise in L.A.'s Brentwood neighborhood, the Los Angeles Times reports.

BEYONCE & JAY-Z's WEDDING:  Apparetnly, you could not bring guns into the church.

WOODY HARRELSON & OWEN WILSON skinny-dipping?  Sorry, gals; Wilson kept his trunks on.

PAM ANDERSON will star in an "observational documentary series" that promises to present an intimate portrait of the mother and actress.  Someone is trying hard not to call this a "reality show."

BRADGELINA:  Pittmania reigned at Sunday night's taping for Fox's second annual American Idol Gives Back special, making talking impossible.

MADONNA & GUY RITCHIE will adopt a child from -- (throws dart) -- India!  Madge gave up on her attempt to find a little girl in Africa after getting frustrated with red tape.

DREW BARRYMORE was looking a bit unrehabbed leaving a West Hollywood club Sunday night.

PRINCESS DIANA died because of the gross negligence of the driver, Henri Paul, and the paparazzi, an inquest jury has found.

IRAQ:  Newsweek reports that despite a spate of early grim assessments of Basra in the US media, US military observers on the ground in Iraq are more sanguine, according to retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a long-time critic of the war.  Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia has held on to its weapons and much of its turf. But Iraqi forces appear to be largely in control of the city and its ports, and Basra is still mostly calm. Even more important, the Iraqi security forces have remained mostly intact.  Prime Minister al-Maliki has warned that Moqtada al-Sadr will be banned from participating in the country's political process unless he disbands his militias.  The Mahdi Army says it will voluntarily disband if Shia scholars advise al-Sadr to do so.  Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is already on record as supporting government attempts to disarm the country's sectarian militias.

MONKEY RIDES MINI-BIKE:  Let's go to the video!

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  Militant squirrels recruited a rat to take down the grid in Stockholm.

A WOLF and a GOAT have become unlikely sweethearts after sharing a cage together at a Chinese park.  Pic at the link.

THE SHEEP of TURIN:  Doing the jobs Italians just won't do.

RAISE YOUR HANDS... and step away from the hedgehog.

3878 Reads

Joe Jackson, Tapes N' Tapes, Jens Lekman, Rex & Roo   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, April 07, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


JOE JACKSON did a set mixing new tracks with old faves at the World Cafe, streaming on demand via NPR.  Joe is still The Man, in a good way.

BILLY BRAGG talked with the New York Times about what he's listening to now.

TAPES N' TAPES stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream via MPR.

GNARLS BARKLEY talk about defying expectations in a profile for the L.A. Times.

MYSPACE struck a deal with three of the four major music companies to start a music website.

Vote for Pedro

PROCOL HARUM Gary Brooker on Friday sorta won his court battle over royalty rights to the band's most famous hit, the 1967 song "A Whiter Shade of Pale."  In 2006 London's High Court awarded former keyboard player Matthew Fisher 40 percent of the copyright of the track.  On appeal, John Mummery said that, while Fisher should be credited with co-authorship of the seminal track, the fact that it took him 38 years to take the case to court meant he should not benefit financially.

GEORGIE JAMES:  John Davis talks to Fredricksburg.com about the band's influences and moving from the drums to the guitar.  The drummer always wants to be the guitar player.  Jon Pratt's daughters should ask him about this.

JENS LEKMAN performs and takes questions from listeners about his work and his influences on NPR's Talk of the Nation.

THE ROLLING STONES get a primer to their body of work (w/plenty of streaming audio) at The A.V. Club.

LILY ALLEN has stepped down as a judge on the Orange Prize (a women's literary award), the organisers have confirmed.

CHARLTON HESTON, the Oscar-winning actor who achieved stardom playing larger-than-life figures including Moses, Michelangelo and Andrew Jackson, and gained another generation of fans as the hero of dystopian sci-fi classics like "Planet of the Apes" (1968), "The Omega Man" (1971) and "Soylent Green" (1973), died at 84.  Heston, who fought for freedom and civil rights throughout his life, was one of the last American movie stars.

BEYONCE & JAY-Z got hitched over the weekend, according to People magazine.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: 21 cashes in for a second weekend with 15.1 million as the three new releases -- Leatherheads, Mim's Island and The Ruins -- all underperformed.  Universal had been hopeful that Leatherheads would rake in the high teens and with luck even 20 million, rather than 13.4 million on its 60 million budget.  George Clooney continues to prove he cannot open a move big as the main draw.  Shine A Light, the Rolling Stones concert shot by Scorsese, opened in 15th place, but had the highest per-screen average.

RENEE ZELLEWEGER told Letterman Thursday night that she will be calling her therapist over Tracy Ullman's impression of her.  But the box office returns for Leatherheads may have jumped to the top of the list since then.

TOM-KAT UPDATE:  Cruise isn't getting any giggles from a new strain of medical marijuana being marketed as "Tom Cruise Purple."  One weed devotee said, "I heard it's the kind of pot that makes you hallucinate."

SHAKIRA may have a threesome tape, but it is being held by the prosecutors evaluating the case against Carlos González and his wife, Sylvia Alzate, who are accused of extortion against the artist.  People en Español released an article citing that both artists' agencies have denied the existence of such a tape.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS, Britney's knocked-up sister, turned 17 years old over the weekend.

CAMERON DIAZ has fallen for the obvious charms of buff Scottish actor Gerard Butler ("300"). The duo were caught looking cozy at L.A.'s Shutters Hotel last week.

LINDSAY LOHAN:  Don't call it a comeback... yet.  But analysts think she could be on the right track toward becoming big business again, or at least more respected.

EVANGELINE LILLY & DOMINIC MONAGHAN had Lost that lovin' feelin', but are reportedly back together, according to the ever-reliable Star magazine.

THE McCARTNEYS:  The ubre-reliable News of the World has nude pics of Heather Mills from 1991, while reporting that Sir Paul is dating three women.  His main squeeze, Nancy Shevell, was spotted spending some dough at Stella McCartney's boutique, while Heather Mills goes redhead, according to the Daily Mail.  BONUS:  Sir Paul writes about his late wife Linda for the Times of London.

AFGHANISTAN:  In public, NATO is demanding that all allies contribute their fair share to the ongoing effort in Afghanistan. But behind closed doors, a paper has been circulated that may provide the beginnings of an exit strategy. Germany is pushing the plan.

IRAN is again urging OPEC members to form a joint bank and stop pricing oil trades in US dollars.  The Basij, the volunteer paramilitary wing of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, is organizing battlefield tours at a week-long camp for the young dedicated to martyrdom and patriotism.

IRAQ:  Bill Roggio looks at the Iraqi gov't asssault on the mahdi Army in Basra, finding that the plan was rushed by Prime Minister al-Maliki and included a brigade of raw recruits just out of training (which may account for the four percent desertion rate).  Gen. Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, is expected to tell Congress this week that Iranian forces were involved in the recent battle for Basra.  PM al-Maliki's faltering crackdown on Shiite militants has won the backing of Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties that fear both the powerful sectarian militias and the effects of failure on Iraq's fragile government.  The political council of national security, which comprises the president, the prime minister and the heads of political blocs in parliament, issued a 15-point statement calling on all parties to disband their militias before provincial elections this year, an apparent attempt to isolate Moqtada al-Sadr.  With the Sadr bloc politically isolated, the US and Iraqi military launched a fresh raid on Sadr City, its main Baghdad fiefdom, triggering heavy fighting.  Militiamen loyal to al-Sadr have been positioning explosives to defend the major routes into Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood in anticipation of a major battle with US and Iraqi government forces.

REX the POINTER adopted a four-month-old joey after a road accident killed the mother kangaroo.  More awww...some pics at the link.

POLAR BEARS are not going extinct, according to the only peer-reviewed paper on polar bear population forecasting that has been accepted for publication in an academic journal.  Three scientists audited the government studies commissioned studies to support the listing of polar bears as a threatened or endangered species, to assess whether they were consistent with forecasting principles -- concluding that they were not.

A CAMA is a cross between a llama and a camel; there was only one in existence, but now there are four.

HEY, IS THAT A BOA CONSTRICTOR in your pants?  Must be, since you're a woman.

A DEAD GATOR caused a tractor trailer to topple on southbound Okeechobee Road in Miami.

TONY the CHIMP was killed in a police standoff at the the University of Texas, Austin.

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Beat Farmers, Wilco, Ting Tings, Cutout Bin, Albino Croc   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, April 04, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with THE BEAT FARMERS!  Performing at the 1988 CMA Awards and introduced by no less than classic MTV VJ Martha Quinn, Part 1 includes "Ridin'" and "Riverside." Part 2 includes "There She Goes Again" (L. Reed) "Lucille" (K. Rogers)(profanity) and "Happy Boy."  Part 3 features "Bigger Stones" and "Hollywood Hills."

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED:  New tracks from Colin Meloy, DeVotchKa and Man Man are among those featured in the latest edition of the NPR staple.

WILCO:  The band's Sky Blue Sky outtake, "Glad It's Over," is on the Heroes soundtrack available only at Best Buy, but you can stream it via the ol' HM.

ELVIS COSTELLO will host a new talk/music series that will air on CTV in Canada, the Sundance Channel in the US, and Channel 4 in the UK, starting in December.

NELLIE McKAY composes a new song, "Cavendish," for NPR's Project Song feature.

THE BEATLES:  Apple Corps Limited and Fuego Entertainment, Inc. struck an agreement filed in Miami federal court that requires Fuego to halt plans to release eight song recordings featuring Ringo Starr on drums as a Beatle for the first time at a German club in 1962.

THE TING TINGS have new video for "That's Not My Name," with a bit of a "Hey, Mickey!" bump to it.

FEEDBACK:  New software for sound engineers promises to make feedback a thing of the past -- but should it?

BRYAN SCARY did the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, including a previously unreleased track.

EVANGELICALS, currently touring with Headlights, answer five questions for Muzzle of Bees.

NADA SURF frontman Matthew Caws talks to NewCity Chicago about carrying on after the success of "Popular" threatened to relegate the band to one-hit wonder status: "Some of it was just an ill-advised perseverance, in that I just didn't want to get another job...I'm really lucky that music worked out."  Drummer Ira Elliot talks to NOW Toronto about chilling out.

APRIL 4:  A shot rings out in the Memphis sky.

THE CUTOUT BIN: From Black Flag to the Black Hollies, from Labelle to Chris Bell, from Cheap Trick to Fairport Convention to Urge Overkill covering Neil Diamond, this Friday's fortuitous finds can be jukeboxed or streamed individually on the Pate page at the ol' HM.

JERRY SEINFELD cheated death in the Hamptons when the brakes on his 1967 Fiat BTM failed and the car flipped over.  Miraculously, the comic walked away "without a scratch," wife Jessica told The NY Post. The accident was chalked up to mechanical failure. Seinfeld had not been drinking and no summonses were issued, Sarris said.  Newman!

NOW SHOWING:  This weekend's wide releases are the family adventure Nim's Island, which is currently scoring 52 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; George Clooney's screwball football comedy Leatherheads, which is also scoring 52 percent; and the unscreened horror flick The Ruins.  Shine A Light, Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones concert doc, opens on 276 screens with an 86 percent rating.

NAOMI CAMPBELL was arrested at Heathrow Airport after allegedly spitting at a police officer.  The supermodel was hauled away "ranting and screaming" from her flight at Terminal Five after a row over a lost bag.

BOBBY BROWN is suggesting that Whitney Houston drove him into a nightmare of drug addiction.  Houston's rep issued a high-road non-denial.

THE McCARTNEYS:  Heather Mills is househunting in NYC's Greenwich Village, where apartments range in price from 900K for a studio apartment to 12 million four-bedroom penthouses.

BRADGELINA:  In Touch exclusively reveals photos shot by Sean McCall of a beautiful 16-year-old Angelina Jolie posing for a sensual modeling shoot.  Meanwhile, Pitt has dropped his publicist on the advice of Jolie, who has never used a publicist, preferring to manipulate the media on her own.

ANNE HATHAWAY's boyfriend Raffaelo Follieri was popped by the NYPD for bouncing a 250K check.

IRAN:  China has betrayed one its closest allies by providing the UN with intelligence on Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear technology, diplomats have revealed.  China denies the report, natch.  Diplomats say Iran has assembled hundreds of advanced machines in an attempt to speed up a process in its nuclear program that can produce both fuel for power plants and the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

IRAQ:  The NYT covers the pluses and minuses of the Iraqi gov't operation against Shiite militias in Basra.  A thousand or so desertions has to be a minus, though that was only 4 percent of the Iraqi troops in the fight.  Muqtada al-Sadr has hinted at retaliation if Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government does not immediately stop arresting his followers.  OTOH, al-Sadr has offered to help purge Iraqi security forces of militia members.  Meanwhile, the US is making progress in Diyala province.

WHITIE is one of only ten albino alligators and crocodiles in the world.  More pics at the link.

A COURAGEOUS HUSBAND jumped on a crocodile and poked it in the eyes to rescue his wife from its crushing jaws.

WOMAN BITES DOG to save her dog.  She may have rabies.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  Sorry, not wearing underpants is just part of their psy-ops.

OCTOPUSES live in a kinky and violent society of jealous murders, gender subterfuge and once-in-a-lifetime sex.

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Cat Power, Elf Power, Foals, Marmosets   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, April 03, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


CAT POWER sings "Metal Heart" for Letterman, who does not want to let go of her hand afterward.  The man is a dawg.

JENS LEKMAN talks to The A.V. Club about songwriting and to DC's Express about romanticism and touring.

THE FOALS are advance streaming their Antidotes album via MuchMusic.

ELF POWER frontman Andrew Rieger talks to the Charleston City Paper about the band's new 13-song album In a Cave, as well as some of the band's influences: "I feel like we have our influences. We have an original sound, but I'm not going to deny that we're inspired by people like T. Rex, Robert Wyatt, Brian Eno, and others."  Free MP3s at the link, and you can stream a bunch via ElfSpace at the moment.

EMI, hit by artist defections and general industry malaise, has hired one of Google Inc.'s top engineers to help turn the label around.  "It's a bold move, very exciting," an industry veteran said. "The question is, why did he say yes?"

CAJUN DANCE PARTY has dropped the video for "The Race," the propulsive single from their debut LP, The Colourful Life, due Aprl 28th.

KRISTIN HERSH did the four free songs thing for Daytrotter.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Yesterday, after I linked to some baseball-related folk-rock, I find that Hidden Track has linked to Yo La Tengo's cover of "Meet The Mets" and the Hold Steady's cover of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame"

INGRID MICHAELSON, whose songs have been featured on Grey's Anatomy and Old Navy commercials, stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set you can stream via MPR.

TAPES 'N TAPES talk to Drowned In Sound about the delicate balance involved in making their sophomore LP, Walk It Off.

BRITNEY SPEARS:  Normally, I would find OK! magazine's story about her slim-down secrets to be boring, but it turns out that one of those secrets is slapping a picture from 2003 on the cover of OK! magazine.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS, Britney's 16-year-old knocked-up sister, is making plans for her dream shotgun wedding.

EVA MENDES is taking some "me time" off after spending several weeks in rehab.

JANE FONDA turned up at the afterparty for "Smart People" on Monday with a new boyfriend -- Lynden Gillis, who met her when he asked her for an autograph at a book signing.

CHRISTINA RICCI wants Jessica Biel's butt, which makes it pretty much unanimous.

HEATH LEDGER:  A Perth woman said to be the mother of the late actor's love child and her current husband have given an extraordinary interview to a Western Australian newspaper, in which she declined to answer direct questions about whether Heath was the father and refused to have any part of a DNA test suggestion.

ORLANDO BLOOM was snapped cozying up to Jennifer Ansiton (again) at a star-studded party that fornd the former Pirate of the Caribbean surrounded by a bevy of beauties, including Desperate Housewives' star Eva Longoria and Aniston's best Friend Courteney Cox.

ROGER EBERT returns to the movie beat after recovering from his most recent cancer surgery.

MACHETE -- one of the faux films previewed in the trailers included with the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse double-feature -- looks set to be made into a direct-to-DVD flick directed by Robert Rodriguez.

BOTOX may move from the face to the brain, which explains a fair portion of celebrity news items.

MADONNA has given an extraordinarily candid magazine interview to Elle magazine about her "amazing" sex life with director Guy Ritchie in a bid to finally put to bed persistent rumours about the state of her marriage.  So I'm going with "methinks she doth protest too much," just to mess with ol' Madge.  She also tells the mag that she is following in the footsteps of Oprah with plans to build a girls' school in Africa.

MIDEAST MYSTERY: Israel has admitted for the first time that an air strike in Syria last year was aimed at a nuclear facility built with assistance from North Korea. The Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun cited sources at the Japanese foreign ministry for its report of a meeting between Ehud Olmert, the prime minister of Israel, and Yasuo Fukuda, his Japanese opposite number.  "While we cannot confirm the facts, the fact that such an assertion was made at an official occasion such as a summit meeting is significant, making it highly credible," said one foreign ministry official.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS remains the world's leading source of money for Al Qaeda and other extremist networks and has failed to take key steps requested by US officials to stem the flow, the Bush administration's top financial counter-terrorism official said Tuesday.

AL QAEDA No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri responded to criticism Wednesday about the organization's notoriously brutal tactics, maintaining that it does not kill innocents, in hour-and-a half-long audio response to questions submitted to the terror group on extremist websites.

IRAQ:  The Iraqi military has continued to target Mahdi Army elements in Basra, Baghdad and southern Iraq, but the government is now referring to them as "criminal elements" -- a move apparently urged by Gen. Petraeus, according to a Colonel in Baghdad, who is otherwise mostly critical of the Iraqi gov't.  Austin Bay, a retired Col. from the US Army Reserve who served in Iraq in 2004, sees the episode as a short-term triumph for Moqtada al-Sadr, but part of a war of political attrition.  Meir Javedanfar notes that al-Sadr decided to publicly condemn the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei as part of the intra-Shia conflict playing out now.  At the Counterterrorism Blog, Andrew Cochran is more pessimistic, comparing the situation to Hezbollah in its defensive standoff in Lebanon in 2006 against the Israelis.

MARMOSETS were swept up in Colarado's latest crackdown on illegal immigrants.  Apparently, they are doing the jobs American monkeys just will not do.

DOGS are doing doga at yoga studios in DC, including the "chair" pose and the "downward-facing human" stretch.

CANE TOAD UPDATE:  An Australian politician on Wednesday proposed designating a special day for residents to hunt and kill the poisonous cane toad population that has hopped amok since the 1930s.

THE PET WHISPERER: Clare Metcalf talks to the animals and says they talk to her.

PET HOARDING:  Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources seized seven rattlesnakes, a gaboon viper, a king cobra, an iguana, two monitor lizards, two alligators, a boa constrictor and a python from a Frankfort home while the owner was at a hospital having fingers amputated after a snakebite.

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