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You know, Santa Claus and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe and presents to pretty girls.   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 21, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with BILLY MACK! Because "Christmas Is All Around."

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS:  Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.  Mental Floss has "The Real Story Behind A Charlie Brown Christmas (and why it almost wasn't shown)."

NORAD will be tracking Santa Monday night, per usual.

THE FLAMING LIPS perform "White Christmas" as only they can.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS:  The real deal, not Jim Carrey.  Then he slunk to the ice box. He took the Whos' feast. He took the who pudding, he took the roast beast. He emptied the ice box as quick as a flash. Why, the Grinch even took the last can of who hash.  BONUS:  The late Phil Hartman hosted a documentary on the making of the cartoon classic.

DAVID BOWIE & BING CROSBY'S cross-generational duet o­n "Little Drummer Boy."

THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS:  Many people believe human activity is causing global warming.  I blame Heatmiser.

CHICAGO CHRISTMAS MEMORIES:  If you grew up in Chicago (and I suspect other places), the season is not complete without watching the short cartoons of "Hardrock, Coco & Joe" (a story fantastic, a story so queer), "Suzy Snowflake" and the jazzy version of "Frosty the Snowman."

THE BEATLES fan club messages for 1963, 1964, 1965. 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

HOLIDAY BIN:  Your stocking stuffers -- from Sinatra to Sufjan, from Elvis to El Vez -- are streaming from the Pate page at the ol' HM.

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Pate even had a song titled "Rope Around The Moon," so watch the whole thing.

NOW SHOWING:  This weekend's wide releases are: National Treasure: Book of Secrets, currently scoring 43 percent on th ol' Tomatometer; Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, which is currently scoring 80 percent; Charlie Wilson's War, which is scoring 78 percent; P.S. I Love You, scoring 14 percent; and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, scoring 87 percent.  Atonement and Juno continue to expand -- to 297 and 304 screens, respectively.  BONUS:  Here's a fresh link to the first few minutes of Charlie Wilson's War, and a re-link to the first ten minutes of Walk Hard.

THE RAMONES:  "Merry Christmas, Baby (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)."

RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER:  Pull up an ice block and lend an ear!  Herbie wanted to be a dentistNTTAWWT.  BONUS:  Here's a re-link to the AFLAC commercial.

FESTIVUS:  For the rest of us.  It has been a very happy holiday for the Wagner Co. in Milwaukee, Wisc.

CHRISTMAS CAROLS FOR THE MENTALLY DISTURBED:  It was meant to be a lighthearted seasonal reflection on a serious subject. But not everyone got the joke.  Who'da Thunkit?

NAT KING COLE:  His chestnuts are roasting.

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David Byrne & Thom Yorke, White Stripes, The Boss, Squirrel Threat   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, December 20, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE BLACK LIPS are uncharacteristically laid-back in their new video for "Veni Vidi Vici."

DAVID BYRNE & THOM YORKE talk about the true value of music, carbon footprints, how much Radiohead made from the downloading experiment and more at Wired magazine's site.  Plenty of bonus A/V included.

THE WHITE STRIPES:  NPR's Morning Edition talks with Jack White about the "Conquest" single and collaborating with Beck on its various B-sides.  Bonus A/V at that link also, including the "Conquest" video and Jack on how the White Stripes came up with their peppermint candy color scheme, and about playing Elvis in the new movie Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

BEST of 2007:  Harp magazine's Top 50 Albums includes reax from Okkervil River frontman Will Scheff on topping the list.

BETTYE LaVETTE:  The soul vet was featured on WHYY's Fresh Air, which is streaming on demand via NPR.  You can also stream songs from The Scene of the Crime, which was recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., with the Drive-By Truckers and the legendary session musician and songwriter Spooner Oldham.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & the E STREET BAND told Paris Monday night that "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."  But I still like the vintage video from Passaic, NJ in 1978.

INDIE BANDS have filed a class action lawsuit against RJ Reynolds and Wenner Media, alleging the unauthorized use of artists' names, unauthorized use of artist names for commercial advantage (right of publicity), and unfair business practices, arising out of a multi-page ad called 'Indie Rock Universe' that appeared in the 40th Anniversary issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

ANDREW BIRD's performance on KEXP's Secret Stage at the Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival is streaming on demand via NPR, under the heading "Favorite Sessions."

LILY ALLEN announced Wednesday that she is "thrilled" to be pregnant with her first child.  The father is Ed Simons of The Chemical Brothers.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE:  The supposedly sober supermodel plans to sue to stop the troubled singer from spilling the beans about their former tumultuous relationship for a Brit TV documentary.

AMY WINEHOUSE:  Psychiatrists were called in to calm a 'screaming and sobbing' Amy Winehouse before she was arrested last night over an alleged £200,000 plot to fix her husband's assault trial.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS, the pregnant 16-year-old sister of Britney, reportedly will be paid a million bucks by OK! magazine for a photo shoot when the child is born.  And her dad is "furious" with Jamie Lynn and ex-wife Lynne for selling the story.  Fed-Ex knew before Britney that Jamie Lynn is pregnant. 

BRITNEY SPEARS has been ordered to appear for a January deposition by the court hearing her custody dispute with Fed-Ex.  The pop tart has ducked four prior dates.  One of the requests Fed-Ex's lawyer reportedly made to the judge is that Spears not be allowed to make any requests to change the current custody status until she has been deposed.

LINDSAY LOHAN has a new best friend (and roommate?) -- Courtenay Semel, the daughter of Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel.  Meanwhile, her ex-con dad played the role of Joseph the other night in a far-out street-scene Nativity recreation in Times Square.

ORLANDO BLOOM has disturbed his neighbors -- including Charlize Theron and Scarlett Johansson -- by painting his £1.35million mansion black.  Black as coal.  Black as night.

EWAN MacGREGOR will play the romantic lead opposite Jim Carrey in "I Love You Phillip Morris," a dark comedy based on the story of Steven Russell, a married father who fell in love with cellmate in a Texas prison.  NTTAWWT.

EVA LONGORIA & TONY PARKER continue to deny he had an affair with French model Alexandra Paressant.  This time, Tony's lawyer issued a statement that Tony has never even met her.  So it's not a shocker that Parker has filed suit against against X17, the photo agency that published the model's claims and text messages.

JESSICA SIMPSON:  Her films may be going direct-to-DVD, but creepy dad-manager Joe is pitching the pneumatic blonde in a remake of Pretty Woman.  And after the poor performance of her new boyfriend, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo at the game she attended last Sunday, wide receiver Terrell Owens told the media, "Right now, Jessica Simpson is not a fan favorite - in this locker room or in Texas Stadium."

TARA REID, on top of the plastic surgery disasters, is looking scary skinny in Bali.  Reid has admitted to suffering from anorexia nervosa in the past.

CHER, otoh, fears she may have to take daughter Chastity to the squeezing room.

AWARDS SEASON:  The People's Choice Awards will undergo a last-minute format change, courtesy of the writers strike.  Instead of handing out awards before a studio audience, the show will consist of magazine-style videos in which celebrities accept awards, thank fans and answer questions submitted to the People's Choice website.

STAR TREK RE-BOOT:  Sci-Fi wire has a piece on the problems plaguing any cameo by William Shatner.

THE HOBBIT:  Peter Jackson will not be directing the two Hobbit movies, but will have approval over all creative elements of both films.  Despite rumors that Sam Raimi, Alfonso Cuarón, or Guillermo del Toro will be taking over directing duties, sources say that no decisions have been made on that subject, nor has a writer been chosen.  John Scalzi theorizes that New Line settled its feud with Jackson beacuse The Golden Compass is cratering at the box office.

MEGAN FOX from the Transformers movie is looking rather hot in the Japanese version of Rolling Stone magazine.  I would normally save that for Gratuitous Friday, but I'm going to try to be holiday-themed then.

WALL*E:  Next summer's Pixar pic has an exclusive trailer running at WallSpace.

TERROR in FRANCE:  A French court Wednesday convicted five former inmates from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, of having links to terrorist groups, while acquitting a sixth man.

PAKISTAN's election commission upheld the decision to ban ex-PM Nawaz Sharif from January's general elections, eliminating a key opposition leader and a main rival to Pres. Musharraf.  Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies have quietly set free nearly 100 men suspected of links to terrorism.  Human rights groups and lawyers say it is to try to avoid acknowledging an elaborate secret detention system, but I would not rule out that it could be part of yesterday's hypothesized deal with militants to chill before the elections.  A former senior US official said that Pakistan was the "real front line in the war against Al Qaeda", but the "most frightening concern" is AQ's pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

IRAN:  A top Muslim cleric said on Wednesday that women who do not wear the Muslim headscarf should die.  Iran's growing relations with Nicaragua's Sandinista Pres. Ortega and Venezuela's Pres. Chavez are causing state department officials, former national security officials and counterterrorism researchers to worry that that, if attacked, Iran could stage strikes on American or allied interests from Nicaragua, deploying the Iranian terrorist group Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard operatives already in Latin America.

IRAQ:  Though they are still dominated by Sunnis, the "concerned local citizens" patrols' make-up in Baghdad increasingly reflects the ethnic and sectarian community they are guarding. An increasing number of Shia are now joining their ranks, some in a bid to counter the influence of Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army in their area.

IRAQ and the MEDIA:  According to a new study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the portrait of Iraq that Americans received from the news media from Jan-Oct was in considerable measure a grim one. Roughly half of the reporting has consisted of accounts of daily violence. And stories that explicitly assessed the direction of the war have tended toward pessimism.  As the year went on, the narrative from Iraq in some ways brightened. The drumbeat of reports about daily attacks declined in late summer and fall, and with that came a decline in the amount of coverage from Iraq overall.  Because good news is not news, even when the status quo was bad news.  Go figure.

PETA is trying to wreck Christmas for Japanese whales.

DIESEL, a nine stone Great Dane/Alsatian cross, is just as good as a car alarm.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  Icanhascheezburger.com -- home of the LOLCats -- has a picture of a Secret Squirrel Training Facility.  It was submitted by someone named "karl," but I swear it wasn't me.

A WOLF walks into a bar...

FEMALE MONKEYS take a hint from When Harry Met Sally.

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Beirut, Georgie James, Nicole Willis, Pogues, Rescued Bull   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


BEIRUT:  Zach Condon & Co, played "Nantes" and "A Sunday Smile" on the UK's Later with Jool Holland.  Don't forget that La Blogotheque shot unique live videos of the band for every track on The Flying Club Cup.

BEST of 2007:  Pitchfork unveils its Top 50 Albums of 2007.  You can stream or download a 2007 mixtape from Paper Thin Walls.   And don't forget Largehearted Boy's continuously updated list of lists.

GEORGIE JAMES visited NPR's Studio 4A for the Project Song challenge of writing and recording a song in two days.  Audio and video at the link.

ART BRUT frontman Eddie Argos talks to the Brisbane Times about the origins of the band, forming the "English Travelling Wilburys," and success: "The sort of success I'm after is to be able to meet my favorite bands."

QUEENS of SOUL:  The Philadelphia Weekly talks to soul singers Sharon Jones and Nicole Willis, who both note that they are better known in Europe than in the US... though both seem to hope to change that.  I've mentioned Sharon Jones any number of times, but I may have slighted Willis, so let me note that you can stream a few from Nicole Willis and The Soul Investigators at TheirSpace.

STEPHEN STILLS has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to bandmate Graham Nash, who said Stills is set to undergo an operation on January 3rd.

MALCOLM MIDDLETON:  In his own strange way, the Arab Strapper touches on the true meaning of Christmas with "We're All Going To Die," which is his bid for the UK's Christmas Number One.

THE POGUES' perennial Christmas hit, "Fairytale of New York," is being bleeeped (twice) by BBC Radio 1, which has roused the ire of Telegraph readers, among others.  I posted the uncensored video last Friday.  UPDATE: BBC Radio 1 has backed down, and will air the uncensored version.

DEVENDRA BANHART shares some of his favorite shows and records of 2007 with USA Today's Pop Candy blogger, Whitney Matheson, who put some outtakes in her latest streamable podcast.

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE:  GvsB has some excellent pics from the band's annual Holiday Extravaganza at the Lakewood Theater in Dallas.  Though holiday-themed, the sets apparently also included their relatively new show-stopping cover of "Live and Let Die."

AMY WINEHOUSE has reportedly vowed to kill herself if she is parted from her husband by a lengthy jail sentence.  And police believe that Winehouse herself may be linked to Blake Fielder-Civil's charges of allegedly perverting the course of justice.  The singer was arrested, questioned and released without filing charges, in line with standard British procedure.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS: Britney's 16-year-old sister is knocked up.  The father is her boyfriend, Casey Aldridge, whom she met... wait for it... in church.  A source close to Britney Spears tells TMZ that the popwreck is "frantic" over the news.  Maybe all that talk about being a bad role model for young girls might finally sink in.  Mama Lynne Spears's parenting book has been "delayed indefinitely."  Who'da thunkit?

BRITNEY SPEARS, btw, gets nothing but high marks from the producer of her new video, which has received a mixed response from critics, amid reports the pop tart was digitally-slimmed down for the promo.

SIR PAUL McCARTNEY raised eyebrows as he left a charity event with a mystery brunette balanced precariously on his knee.  A source told The Daily Mirror: "Yes, she's very attractive but she's just a friend. She works for his company and organizes charity events."

JOHNNY DEPP has been named the best celebrity autograph signer for the third year running in the 15th annual survey of who's cool -- and who's cruel -- to autograph collectors by Autograph magazine.  Spider-Man and Ricky Bobby, otoh, have some 'splainin' to do.

JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT is not pregnant.  Or fat.  Just ill-attired.

THE FRENCH HOTEL:  When I joked that the heirhead wants an Oompa-Loompa now, I should have known better.

KATE HUDSON's explanation of her split with husband (and Black Crowe) Chris Robinson) is taken out of context, I hope: "We had Ryder, and we both sort of looked at each other and went, ‘Something's off,'" she said.  If it's accurate, it's a good thing the parents can afford therapy for the tyke.

TOM-KAT UPDATE:  United Artists and MGM have pushed back the release of Cruise's Nazi thriller "Valkyrie" from the July Fourth holiday frame to Oct. 3, 2008 -- ostensibly due to shooting delays and coincidentally from one of the best dates on the calendar to one far less competitive.  "Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography" is set to drop next month.  The NYPost's Cindy Adams claims it's not being published in Britian because it's too "scandalous" for the UK's celebrity-friendly libel laws.  The counter-spin is that biographer Andrew Morton, whose disclosures about Princess Diana's miserable marriage made him many millions, failed to discover anything salacious about the 45-year-old actor.  We won't have long to wait to settle that question.

DAVID HASSELHOFF and his ex-wife have agreed to share custody of their teenage daughters and reached a financial settlement, ending months of bitter wrangling played out in the celebrity media.  Ooga-chucka!

BRADGELINA:  Pitt tells Newsweek there is "not a chance" he will run for the US Senate... or direct.

MICHAEL FLATLEY is undoubtedly dancing a jig after a court ordered the woman who accused him of sexual assault to pay him more than 11 million bucks for making false allegations to extort money from him.

THE WRITERS' GUILD has denied waiver requests for the Golden Globes and Oscars telecasts, which also raises the prospect of boycotts by the stars, as noted here last Thursday.

THE HOBBIT:   Oscar-winning "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson has settled a feud with the New Line studio and will make two films based on J.R.R Tolkien's "The Hobbit."  There was no mention in the statement of whether Jackson would serve as director on the two films.

CLOVERFIELD "star" Michael Stahl-David talks to Ain't-It-Cool-News about the mystery-shrouded J.J. Abrams project.  The title may be unfamiliar to you, but you may have seen the trailer.  And if you haven't seen the trailer, you really should, though I might still prefer the teaser trailer.  Ain't-It-Cool-News has an advance review from Neill Cumpston, who is -- for those who don't know -- a strong drink of coffee.  By which I mean whiskey.

PAKISTAN:  A key suspect in the alleged Heathrow bomb plot was on the run after escaping from his police custodians after an extradition hearing in Pakistan. tHE police said they have laid formal charges against the two officers who were escorting Rashid Rauf, whois suspected in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners with liquid explosives.  The extraordinary "escape" may point to a deal between the authorities in Islamabad and militants in an effort to ensure smooth national elections on January 8, but al-Qaeda remains a threat to this seemingly "inventive" initiative.

IRAQ:  The Shiite-dominated government has agreed to take over support of a US-funded plan that has organized thousands of Iraqis - including former insurgents and their sympathizers - into local security groups.  ABC News' Jonathan Karl and Luis Martinez sum up the Pentagon's quarterly report to Congress on stability and security in Iraq, including the economy and political reconciliation.  Security will be increased at Baghdad's mosques and other holy sites ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday that begins today.  US troops uncovered a network of underground hideouts used by AQI in the town of Al-Eskandariah south of Baghdad.  Turkey sent hundreds of troops about 1 1/2 miles into northern Iraq early Tuesday in an operation against Kurdish rebels, but withdrew them later in the day.

IRAQ and the MEDIA:  The Washington Post reports: "Overall violence continues to decline in Iraq, although the rate of decrease has slowed since September and a few indicators have actually gone up in recent weeks, according to U.S. military figures released yesterday by the White House."  Glass half-empty much?  And as the numbers get lower any increase is that much larger of a percentage.  I guess this is why journalists are journalists, rather than mathemeticians.

A BULL was rescued from a well by clever firefighters in China.  It's like the Jessica McClure story, only with a bull.  And Chinese firefighters.

A FLATULENT COW that breaks wind on the hour has become Edinburgh's latest tourist attraction.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  The cagey rodents chew shed rattlesnake skins and then lick their fur with their snake-scented spit, to defend itself against predators.

PETA is trying to keep bears from entering a pizza-eating contest in Cincinnati.

MAN vs. DEER:  A Maryland man subdued a deer that ran through the front picture window of his house.

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Iron & Wine, Aimee Mann, Sufjan Stevens, Petra Swan Update   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, December 18, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


IRON & WINE:  Sam Beam's latest video is for "Boy With A Coin."  If it comes up blank, try the "F5" key on your 'puter.

NEW RELEASES:  A week before Christmas?  Not likely!  Rivers Cuomo of Weezer has a compilation of odds and sods.  And there is the Peaches remix of Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" -- you can watch a video version and the original at So Much Silence.

AIMEE MANN brought her Christmas show to the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., last night -- with a cameo from Nellie McKay.  You should be able to stream the whole gig on demand via NPR.  Mann talks about the holiday tour with DC's Express.

BEST of 2007:  Pitchfork has posted its Top 100 Tracks of 2007 (with plenty of A/V linkage), as well as Top 25 lists from the staff writers.  PopMatters has posted a Top 60 albums list (also with plenty of A/V linkage).

SUFJAN STEVENS is among those with new holiday tracks for free downloading at Sounds Familyre.  You can still stream his Christmas box via the Great Sufjan Song Xmas Xchange.

THE SHAKY HANDS did the profile and four unreleased songs thing for Daytrotter.

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS frontman James Darnielle was backed by Superchunk's Jon Wurster on drums.for three Christmas covers -- including Chuck Berry's "Run, Run Rudolph" at last year's Trekky Records Christmas show.  It's like Twofer Tuesday, but it's one more.

KEVIN DREW talks about having two first names, J Mascis, kitchen tools and more at Incendiary -- which I presume was named by a fan of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous.

MINOR THREAT:  The legendary hardcore band inspires a fruity hot sauce!

AMY WINEHOUSE sought comfort in cocktails at 6a.m. amidst reports she is set to be grilled by police over the charges against her husband.

PETE DOHERTY is to reveal all about his life with ex-girlfriend Kate Moss in a new TV documentary... if the price is right.

PAM ANDERSON filed for divorce from sex tape impresario Rick Salomon after just 72 days of wedded bliss.  But wait!  The couple have reconciled, though no word on whether Pam withdrew the legal papers. 

LINDSAY LOHAN is reportedly back to hitting the "water" bottle and looking for a sugar daddy.  The latter would jibe with the story that Li-Lo is colluding with paparazzi for extra cash as movie and industry party offers dry up: "Nobody is comfortable bringing her into an environment with alcohol," a source tells the NYDN. "Whether she's rehabbed or relapsed, it's bad either way."

BRITNEY SPEARS:  More details from the unlikely Star magazine story about Spears wanting to marry Sam Lufti in Vegas are reprinted over at MSNBC.

JACKO is keeping his face on with Post-It Notes.

JOHN TRAVOLTA has been dropped from the "Dallas" movie after being promoted as the project's anchor for more than two years.  "John was given a nice seven-figure 'gift' to go away quietly," a source told Page Six.

TARA REID flew to the isle of Bali, where she accidentally fell and injured herself on her first night partying.

THE WORLD'S MOST INFLUENTIAL TODDLERS, according to Forbes magazine, all seem to have celebrity parents.


JESSICA SIMPSON is getting blamed for Dallas QB Tony Romo's abysmal performance against the Eagles on Sunday.  Her next film, ironically titled "Major Movie Star," could very well be headed toward the same straight-to-video fate as "Blonde Ambition."  Creepy dad-manager Joe is already cutting costs on the pneumatic blonde's photo shoots.

HUGH GRANT:  The Asian beauty caught in his bar snog-fest last week is revealed to be former pr0n star Shu Qi.

JENNA FISCHER reveals the secret to lip-syncing in "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," also mentioning that her "Office" co-worker "Creed" was the guitarist for The Grass Roots.  Really, you can see him about 1:30 into "Let's Live For Today" and playing the solo.

DAVE LETTERMAN, off the air for six weeks due to the continuing writers' strike, plans to pursue an interim agreement with the Writers Guild of America that would permit his full staff to return as early as Jan. 2.  Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien also seem set to return to late-night TV with fresh episodes on Jan. 2... with or without writers.

THE BRADY BUNCH has a lesbian photo scandal that has nothing to do with Marcia and Jan.  Who'da thunkit?

THE DARK KNIGHT:  That spoilerrific footage yanked off the Tube by lawyers yesterday resurfaced at Gizmodo.  Will you beat the lawyers this time?

30 YEARS of LucasFilm Christmas Cards.  I would have thought the Star Wars TV Christmas Special would have put ol' George in permanent Grinch mode.  RELATED:  "That's not a galaxy... it's a space station."

TERROR in the UK:  An Electrician accused of being a Muslim holy warrior testified in court that he was hunting the Loch Ness Monster during an alleged jihad training course.  He also said he was being framed by the same anti-Muslim elements who faked the September 11 attacks on America and the London attacks.

ISLAMISM in the UK:  "Aisha Salim" has paid for painful surgery to "restore" her virginity, because the horror and outrage that would ensue if it was discovered she had already slept with a man would be such that her own strictly religious relatives might kill her rather than face public shame.

NORTH KOREA has made significant progress in disabling its nuclear facility in Yongbyon but has hesitated at providing key details about the extent of its nuclear programs, including whether it has weaponized the plutonium harvested from the reactor, according to US officials.

IRAN:  Russia delivered an initial shipment of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, so does anyone want to bet that Iran stops its enrichment program?  Of course not.  However, it has forced the Iranians to admit (or claim)  that they are building a second nuclear facility themselves in Darkhovein.

IRAQ:  Bill Roggio has Multinational Forces-Iraq's charts and graphs on the reduction in deaths, attack trends, sectarian violence, IED, suicide and car bomb attacks.  A truck packed with explosives blew up close to the Mosul Dam, which US Army engineers have previously warned is poorly constructed and in danger of imminent collapse.  Iraq launched its first new oil tanker in 27 years, and delivery of two more tankers is expected within three months.  The US is providing Turkey with real-time intelligence that has helped the Turkish military target a series of attacks this month against Kurdish separatists holed up in northern Iraq, including a large airstrike on Sunday.

FEARLESS GIANT RATS, each as large as a cat, have been discovered in a "lost world" of exotic animals and plants that scientists liken to the Garden of Eden.  BONUS: Click through for the Pygmy Possum.  DOUBLE BONUS:  These rats should not be confused with giant rats from the "lost world" of New Jersey, which few scientists liken to the Garden of Eden.

PETRA, the rare Black Australian swan that made international headlines when it fell in love with a pedal boat has ditched its plastic lover for the real thing.

THE WORMORATOR:  Guess what powers a newly-invented composting toilet?

NAUGHTY PETS can unleash Christmas chaos.  Pet-friendly holiday decorating tips at the link.

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Vampire Weekend, New Malkmus, The Kinks, Glowing Cats   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 17, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


VAMPIRE WEEKEND perform "I Stand Corrected" -- a track from their upcoming album -- on Indie 103.1FM.  They were also on MTV recently, defining "crunk," and talking about David Byrne and blog buzz.  Bassist Chris Baio talked to Eye Weekly about the band's misleading name and turning their buzzworthy CD-R into a debut album.  Singer-guitarist Ezra Koenig tells the Boston Herald about the influence of his parents' record collection.  In the Guardian, Dave Simpson notes the band is just one of several seemingly influenced by  the exuberant and often polyrhythmic sound of African "hi-life."

BEST OF 2007:  Vampire Weekend has a Top Ten list at Filter, as does The National's triple threat, Aaron DessnerPitchfork had some of their favorite artists name their own for the most recent Guest List feature.

SHARON JONES and the DAP-KINGS performed a concert from WXPN and the Fillmore at the TLA in Philadelphia on Friday, so you can stream the whole gig on demand via NPR.

STEPHEN MALKMUS and the JICKS have a new album coming in March; the advance track is "Baltimore."

ROBERT POLLARD:  Pitchfork rounds up all things Bob, including a duo of releases due in January and February.  ALSO: Fmr GbV guitarist (and sometimes Pollard collaborator) Doug Gillard talks to Harp magazine about his work on movie soundtracks.

DAN FOGELBERG, the singer and songwriter whose hits "Leader of the Band" and "Same Old Lang Syne" helped define the soft-rock era, died Sunday at his home in Maine after battling prostate cancer. He was 56.

THE KINKS' video for "Father Christmas" from The Old Grey Whistle Test isn't hi-quality, but I know my former roomie Dale will want to see it.  BONUS:  Here's a faithful cover from OK Go.

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED offers a streaming holiday mix, including a sneak preview of the upcoming Magnetic Fields album.

MISSION OF BURMA is playing a January benefit for the people of Burma (and presumably not the gov't of Myanmar).

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS:  A.C. Newman wants those who call his band dorky or geeky to take a look in the mirror.

JENS LEKMAN talks to Harp magazine about his new album and his first kiss.

AMY WINEHOUSE has reportedly wants a festive season binge before entering a  one-week rehab and detox treatment course in Israel.

I AM LEGEND, based on the 1954 sci-fi novel by Richard Matheson (adapted twice before  -- with Vincent Price as The Last Man on Earth and Charlton Heston as The Omega Man) is unfortunately like all too many modern remakes.  The film takes advantage of modern technology to create a far more impressive post-apocolyptic world than its predecessors.  But once you have absorbed that world, the movie devolves into a not-so-impressive zombie flick.  And, as Amber Taylor notes, gratuitously inserts Big Pharma as a villain.  Will Smith is competent playing Will Smith in generally-serious mode.  The German Shepherd who plays Sam apparently gets no credit, but certainly should.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  Will Smith was Legend at the cinema, with a shockingly large 76.5 million this weekend -- Smith's biggest opening evah and the biggest opening for a December release evah.  That's right; bigger than LotR, bigger than Narnia. That's ginormous.  Alvin and the Chipmunks also did a surprisingly big 45 million -- about twice as much as studio estimates.  The Golden Compass tanked 65 percent to earn nine million -- ouch!  Enchanted dipped to fourth with six million, but I wonder if it may yet stage a comeback once word-of-mouth gets out on Alvin.  No Country For Old Men inched into the Top Five with three million, a mere 29 percent drop made possible by those Golden Globe noms.  Fred Claus skidded 51 percent to make 2.3 million.  This Christmas was right behind on a 54 percent drop, though it has already made 46 million on a 13 million budget.  Atonement moved into ninth place on an expanded release, making 1.8 million and a 15K+ per screen average.  August Rush rounds out the Top Ten with 1.7 million.  Juno made it to eleventh place on just 40 screens, with 1.4 million -- a whalloping 36K per screen average.

HELENA BONHAM CARTER & TIM BURTON have welcomed their second child, a daughter to joins four-year-old Billy.

BRITNEY SPEARS was denied admittance to the Four Seasons Hotel and disinvited from being a guest judge on Fox's American Idol.  OTOH, she was named Us Weekly's Worst Dressed Celeb of the Year, which has to count for something.

LINDSAY LOHAN used her celebrity to try and get Hannah Montana tickets for a friend's kids.  And it looks like she could get a gig with director Quentin Tarantino.

JESSICA SIMPSON:  Blonde Ambition, costarring Luke Wilson, will be hitting a handful of theaters in Simpson's home state of Texas before going direct-to-DVD.

RUPERT EVERETT calls Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, Diane Keaton, Woody Allen and Al Pacino "all just tragic parodies of themselves."  And George Clooney's Ocean's 11 series "a cancer to world culture."

HUGH GRANT outraged diners at a chic West End restaurant by openly snogging a mystery woman while a friend caressed her thigh.

ALEC BALDWIN offers to hold the 2007 Golden Globe Awards at his Manhattan apartment, to avoid problems with the writers' strike.

REESE WITHERSPOON and VINCE VAUGHN are not seeing eye-to-eye on the set of their new new film, "Four Christmases."

THE DARK KNIGHT trailer is online at one of the movie's viral websites, with plenty of shots from LaSalle St. in Chicago.  I can also confirm that the first six minutes of the movie -- shown in front of the IMAX version of I Am Legend -- is as good as others have said it is.  UPDATE:  Speaking of which, someone was very, very naughty.  Hope you get there before the lawyers do!

TERROR in the US:  Two men accused of plotting behind prison walls to launch Jihad-style attacks on military sites, synagogues and other targets in 2005 pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiring to levy war against the United States.

TERROR in the UK:  Investigators examining the bungled terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow six months ago believe the plotters had a link to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.  While officials stopped short of saying that the plot originated with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, or was directed by the group, they did say it was the closest collaboration they knew of between the Iraq group and plotters outside the Middle East.

TERROR in ALGERIA:  Two convicted terrorists who had been freed in an amnesty carried out the suicide bombings at UN and government buildings that killed 37 people, an Algerian security official has said.  Hey, you can't just lock terrorists up indefinitely; that would be, y'know, not nice.

IRAQ:  Oil production is above the levels seen before the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, according to the International Energy Agency.  Britain's weekend handover of Basra province will have a limited effect on security in Iraq's biggest oil region because rival Shiite warlords and local officials have been wielding the real power in the area.  Basra's police chief says the Brits left the city in chaos, though this was the subject of debate back in October also.  In addition, the Iraqi Army now has four brigades and an Iraqi Special Operations Forces battalion in Basra province... though the police chief might argue that is part of the problem.  Elsewhere in the south, Shiite leaders are reimagining Najaf as a new hub of Shiite political and economic power, not just for Iraq but for the entire Middle East.  Iran is playing a significant role in the plan, which would further weaken the Iraqi central government.  Kurdish leaders rule out a Kurdish state but stress they want a continued US presence in northern Iraq and a strategic alliance similar to that between the Washington and Baghdad.  More than 20 Turkish planes took part in airstrikes early Sunday against Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq, Turkish media reported.

GLOW-IN-THE-DARK KITTIES!  Just in time for the holidays!

MONKEYS AMOK in New Dehli, as the Indian government is cracking down on thousands of roaming monkeys after the deputy mayor reportedly died while fending off monkeys.  Let's go to the video.

A PUPPY in Cambodia teaches a drunken man not to urinate through the owner's fence.

SHARK 1, Kangaroo 0.

CRINKLY the UGLY SWAN may finally have a girlfriend.

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