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Mammy Nuns, Cat Power, Hair Bands, Elton John and 350 Housepets   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade



NO SPOILERS: Imho, Ebert got it right this time. Batman Begins works as a movie with "more emphasis on story and character and less emphasis on high-tech action," though there's a fair amount of the latter, too. In particular, it works because it's about Bruce Wayne. That is crucial to the film, because understanding Wayne allows you to sympathize with The Batman, who is every bit the Dirty Harry-inspired firgure Denny O'Neill brought to the comics in the early 1970s -- the one Tim Burton would have liked to film in the late 1980s and Frank Miller resurrected in print for Year One in the 1990s. Sylvia Hauser's mother is going to have to take a second look at Christian Bale because he was a good Batman and a better Wayne -- good enough to carry the movie without a Jack Nicholson around to play larger-than-life. It can be a scary movie because its central theme revolves around fear, but I would not say that it was as graphically violent as the latest Star Wars flick. The scariness is largely psychological. But it also has its moments of comic relief, played out by Bale, but also by Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, who all seem to have a lot of fun with their roles. I didn't even mind Katie Holmes, who acts much smarter than she's been acting on television recently. Her new beau's movie is going to have to be really good to be better than this one.

THE MAMMY NUNS: Pate's own Mike Kelly sends word that the Mammy Nuns' "The Bob Song" made Jim Walsh's 25 Reasons (the scene is now) list in the summer issue of Minneapolis/St. Paul's City Pages. Mike assured me these Nuns are the demon spawn of former ISU student Rob Rule and indeed, they are. Although the band's regular gig seems to have slipped away, the Google cache reveals an old Mammy Nuns page, complete with Quicktime audio.

LEONARD COHEN responds to the extortion suit filed against him. I'm not surprised at the response, but did not float it before for legal reasons.

LIVE 8 may include Jacko? Fortunately, I think that's just the promoter being diplomatic. RELATED: Ex-members of the Boomtown Rats may sue Sir Bob Geldof over alleged unpaid royalties.

CAT POWER is beginning work o­n her next album in Memphis, at the famed Ardent Studios, with veteran Memphis musicians.

OASIS cannot seem to get through a tour without a Gallagher brother storming off stage, so it's nice that's out of the way now.

BILLY CORGAN channels Rodney Dangerfield in a Pitchfork interview -- he gets no respect. "Think about it. I mean, there are books o­n Radiohead, theories. As far as a theoretical point of view for my generation, I'm probably the most successful theoretician. I mean, double albums and concepts and dresses and major disasters and wonderful successes and yet you don't see the critical review of my work. Why? Because it's all focused o­n the persona. Billy Corgan..."

INDIE LABELS have formed a second trade association called the American Association of Independent Labels, to (among other things) negotaite better rates from o­nline music services. In part, this is a recognition among the big music services of the importance of the "long tail" -- the idea that virtually all back catalog and independent releases will draw a few fans, and that the aggregate consumption of all these obscurities can rival the value of hits.

ALANIS MORRISETTE albums were pulled off shelves by Canadian music retailer HMV Canada o­n Monday protest at her exclusive agreement to sell an acoustic version of her 1995 hit album Jagged Little Pill in Starbucks for six weeks. I think they're still upset that she became a U.S. citizen. I know I am.

REVENGE OF THE HAIR BANDS: Perhaps the best that can be said of the Rock Never Stops 2005 Tour, featuring Cinderella, Ratt, Quiet Riot and Firehouse, is that it does not include Poison.

JAMES LILEKS lists personally meaningful songs. Pate fans will want to scroll to the bottom.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Warner Bros. execs are hoping to keep Cruise away from the red carpets for Batman Begins. Indeed, while puting out happy PR, behind the scenes, Warner Bros. is mightily miffed at Holmes' (or Cruise's) insistence that a Church of Scientology official accompany Homes every step of the way o­n her Batman Begins press tour, monitoring (and occasionally interrupting) every single press interview. Sources close to Holmes tell Page Six of the New York Post already credit her Invasion of the Body Snatchers-like behavior to her being brainwashed by the Scientologists, with detriment to her career. Holmes' Pieces of April co-star Patricia Clarkson is quoted in the June issue of In Style magazine: "So many young women have given up their dignity, but not Katie. It's refreshing. She's managed to remain in the public eye without losing a sense of herself. And she's so charismatic." I'll bet that interview was B.C. The L.A. Times looks at Cruise's behavior as continuing a disturbing trend of celebrities acting like reality TV subjects. But he was looking completely normal in Tokyo for the premiere of War of the Worlds...

NORWEGIAN WOOD: The father of Norwegian Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Sven Hoeiby, 68, and his wife, ex-stripper Renathe Barsgaard, 34, are to file for divorce after just three months of marriage. It turns out he's the wacky hedonist; his wife got "tired of this wild life" which she said centered o­n parties and pub crawls.

DALEK kidnapped and held for ransom has been found abandoned o­n Glastonbury Tor after thieves said it was "too hot."

P2P-WATCH: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development issued a report Monday finding that filesharing networks alone are not to blame for the recording industry's woes and might plausibly be converted into legitimate channels for distributing music. The recording industry responded that this could happen, but that piracy and copyright protection still have to be addressed.

THE DOWNING STREET MEMO, a classified British memo some see as proof that the Bush Administration was committed to invading Iraq as early as the summer of 2002, is contradicted by another contemporaneous classified British memo, which indicates that no political decision had been made o­n the invasion.

GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES? Gene Expression notes that there may be reasons why we refer to women as "the fairer ex" and some men as "tall, dark and handsome."

JACKO JUSTICE: TVNewswer rounds up newspapers' reviews of the TV coverage of the verdict. The New York Daily News tried to avoid having the same headline as the New York Post. They outsmarted themselves. Jackson's website compares his acquittal to the birth of Martin Luther King, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the release of Nelson Mandela. Nevertheless, Jackson's attorney claims that Jackson would no longer let children or their families sleep in his room. Instead, he will go sleep in their rooms. Thank you; don't forget to tip your waitress.

JIM CARREY AND CHER are among celebrities falling off Forbes magazine's annual Celebrity 100 List, hitting newsstands June 17th.

IRAQ: U.S. and Iraqi officials are mulling amnesty for Iraqi insurgents as a way to isolate foreign extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

RUPERT MURDOCH SAVES EUROPE? It's the sort of claim you're unlikely to see anywhere, let alone let alone in London's Guardian, but there it is.

MILBLOGGING: fishbowlDC notes that a new memo by Lt. Gen. John Vines, the commander of day-to-day operations in Iraq, lays out new rules for websites and soldier-written blogs in the theater.

OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL: Investigators are "urgently reviewing" a newly-discovered memo suggesting that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan may have known more than he revealed about a contract that was awarded to the company that employed his son.

ELTON JOHN becomes a life-sized chocolate, sculpted by Madame Tussauds. The Hershey jokes write themselves.


ANDY WARHOL'S FACTORY is going condo.

CBGBs is still in danger of moving to Vegas.

AN EXPLOSIVE HOLLYWOOD SEX TAPE in the works, or a Liz Hurley fantasy chased by a blogger? I report, you decide.

SEAN PENN, JOURNALIST: o­n assignment for the San Francisco Chroniclein Iran, the prickly actor lets loose with another controversial opinion: chanting "Death to America" does not encourage dialogue between Iran and the U.S. Problem solved.

THE MODEL MUSLIM SCHOOL? Time magazine has posted a "Web Exclusive" titled "The Model School, Islamic Style." The subhead: "As they learn about the American Dream, these kids wonder if it's theirs to pursue." So what are the kids learning about the American Dream? According to Time: "Assigned by his English teacher to write an essay about his own American Dream, a 15-year-old wrote that the occupied territories should be returned to the Palestinians and 'the Jews should be left to suffer.'"

Time also notes: The Universal School makes clear its independence from the controversial institution right next door, the copper-domed Bridgeview mosque. Built a decade before the school, the mosque was started by moderates but then saw a power struggle in which hard-liners came out o­n top. Among its leaders, said the Chicago Tribune in an investigative report, 'are men who have condemned Western culture ... and encouraged members to view society in stark terms: Muslims against the world.' Last year a member of the mosque was indicted for allegedly funneling money, before 9/11, to Hamas, the militant Palestinian group." Time might have added that the mosque, its board members and other leaders have numerous ties to groups allegedly supporting Hamas and even Al Qaeda. And that the Tribune followed up with an article noting that some moderate muslims quit the mosque because it was dominated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to convert the U.S. into a nation governed by strict Islamic law. It's no wonder that the school "makes clear" its independence from the mosque to Time magazine. It would have been nice if Time explained why they believe it. I'm agnostic o­n the issue, other than to note the credulity shown by Time, when their own reference to the American Dream suggests some curiosity would have been in order.

CULT OF THE iPod: The gadgets have become the tool of choice for some fraudsters who use them to download vast quantities of corporate information either to sell to rivals or to support their own start-up operations. At the other end of the spectrum, great poems, speeches, rants, philosophical doctrines, aphorisms and more have been converted to iNotes for download at i.am.large.

SIRIUS PLANS: The satellite radio company also wants to beam you stock quotes, sports scores, music videos and cartoons.

BILL AND TED'S NOT-SO-EXCELLENT PLANE CRASH: Two airline pilots joked and laughed as they flew an empty commercial jet to its limits, switched seats in mid-air and ignored automated warnings before crashing into a residential area, a cockpit voice recorder has revealed. "Aw (expletive). We're gonna hit houses, dude." Fortunately, no one was hurt on the ground in Jackson City, Missouri.

GLOBAL WARMING: British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been working behind his friend President Bush's back to turn him o­n the Kyoto protocol, including secretly lobbying U.S. senators. However, morescientists are claiming that warming is unavoidable and we may enjoy it.

OVER 350 ANIMALS in o­ne residential house in eastern England. The menagerie included 131 dogs, 48 cats, 80 rabbits and 86 guinea pigs. It may shock you to learn that the premises were described as "cramped and unhygienic."

ANCHORAGE is plagued by swarms of bugs.

BEAR GUZZLES CAMPERS' BEER, EATS FOOD: The incident occurs at Summit Lake near Richwood, West Virginia, which may rule out the Hamm's bear and Yogi as suspects.

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Batman, Art Brut, Radio Birdman, Danica McKellar, Clever Sheep, etc.   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade



It's currently rating 85 percent o­n the Tomatometer, though the "elite" opinion listed there is o­nly at 50 percent. Roger Ebert gives it four stars: "I said this is the Batman movie I've been waiting for; more correctly, this is the movie I did not realize I was waiting for, because I didn't realize that more emphasis o­n story and character and less emphasis o­n high-tech action was just what was needed. The movie works dramatically in addition to being an entertainment. There's something to it." WARNING: The full Ebert has some spoilers! Harry Knowles, who can be tough o­n Batman movies, says much the same: "This is the BATMAN movie weve been dreaming of for a long time."

As Batman Begins it was shot in part in Chicago, often right in the area where Sylvia Hauser and I work (scroll down at the link for a map), I can offer you these exclusive photos taken by my co-clerk Debbie of the cars we would see parked nearby last summer...

ON THE PITCHFORK: Art Brut's Bang Bang Rock & Roll rates a 9.5 (and it seems to be drawing similar raves from a number of places). You can legally download a few of their tunes at their website, as well as covers of "Always o­n My Mind" and "I Fought The Law." (FWIW, I preferred the former to the latter.)

LIVE 8: After an intervention from Peter Gabriel, Sir Bob Geldof adds Africa acts to the Scottish leg of the concert event.


RADIO BIRDMAN gets a little tribute at the Something Old, Something New blog.

FOO FIGHTERS: You can stream their new album and an exclusive interview with Dave Grohl from the band's MySpace page.

GANG OF FOUR, THE RAVEONETTES and more have been playing KEXP for your listening pleasure.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled ex-Libertines singer gets kicked off a yacht because he kept asking for tin foil. This follows his galpal Kate Moss' dazed and confused acceptance of an award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America o­n Monday.

ELVIS PRESLEY not a King in the bedroom, according to Peggy Lipton. Imho, based o­n her appearance and reputation, it would be hard to blame Lipton for any performance issues. A powerful anti-drug message.

ROCK IS DEAD, according to UK broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson (not to mention Pete Townshend and Lenny Kravitz). But o­n the heels of a Roxy Music reunion concert, Clarkson still seems to have quite the man-crush o­n Bryan Ferry.

RON WOOD will paint the Naked Chef's naked wife.

MOTOWN'S NEW CEO is trying hard not to freak out over the fact that Stevie Wonder can't seem to deliver his album o­n time.

JACKO JUSTICE: You may have heard that Michael Jackson was acquitted of molestation and other charges. O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake were unavailable for comment. Jackson is now expected to work o­n restructuring his finances in an attempt to retain ownership of his his valuable music publishing businesses. Indeed, if Jackson is unable to generate income by releasing new music or performing live concerts, he will have to count o­n the income that he receives from those publishing assets to pay the interest o­n the outstanding loans.

CELEB GOSSIP: The New York Times notes that a deluge of celebrity-centered magazines has quickly changed how the niche operates.

HOTEL HIJINX: ABC News catalogs celebrity misbehavior in luxury hotels. Sadly, the o­nly rocker discussed at length is Courtney Love, with no mention of Keith Moon's highlight reel or Led Zeppelin's infamous "Red Snapper" incident.

JESSICA SIMPSON'S CREEPY DAD is still creepy, managing to make her daughter look bad in comparison to the likes of Lindsay Lohan.

THE FRENCH HOTEL claims she will give up her public life in two years. She also claims that the she was embarrassed and humiliated that her sex tape -- which coincidentally hit the internet just before the start of her reality series -- ever became public. Because she's just not the sort of girl who flashes a crowd anytime someone suggests it. Nevertheless, she may have millions of reasons for wanting to have a child right away.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Dreamworks exec goes on the record with concerns the Cruise-Holmes affair will damage War of the Worlds. Holmes confirms that she's studying Scientology. In response to a question about whether he'd asked Holmes not to do "Factory Girl" about Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol because of the drug use in the movie, Cruise says: "I don't even know what 'Factory Girl' is." So an earlier rumor that Cruise was helping Katie research Edie was wrong or Tom isn't playing it straight. Possibly both.

KING MSWATI III of Swaziland took an 18-year-old former Miss Teen Swaziland finalist as his 12th wife during the weekend, barely two weeks after marrying his 11th. Number 11 was controversial also, plus you'll want to read up o­n how the King picks 'em.

JIFFY-SURG! 3,800 patients at two hospitals run by Duke University Health System were operated o­n last year with instruments that were washed in hydraulic fluid instead of detergent.

LUST IS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM LOVE, now proven scientifically.

KIDS KICKED OUT OF THE HOUSE: A passerby found a 12-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister walking along a highway near Marchfield, Missouri. The kids were dragging suitcases, shopping bags and garbage bags full of clothing. They were about a quarter of a mile from their home, scared, crying and hungry. Police say the children said their mom awakened them and told them to pack and leave immediately. The kids say their mother gave them 5 dollars and went back to sleep.

DANICA McKELLAR went to college after The Wonder Years. Now she's a mathematician, co-author of a proof of an original math theorem and on the cover of Stuff magazine.

ALICIA SILVERSTONE married her long-time boyfriend last Saturday in Lake Tahoe.

IRAQ: Following Friday's Washington Post article o­n the sorry state of o­ne Iraqi unit, an article in The New York Times has a more mixed assessment of progress in training Iraqi units. The story is headlined "As Iraqi Army Trains, Word in the Field Is It May Take Years," though there are no quotes to this effect in the body of the story.

IRAQ II: A new Gallup poll shows nearly six in ten Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq. Meanwhile, Arthur Chrenkoff's regular round-up of under-reported good news, includes polling data showing that two-thirds of Iraqis believe their country is headed in the right direction, with the percentage of Sunnis holding that view rising from 11 percent to 40 percent since January. For some reason, Iraqis' perception of how things are going there seem to differ from Americans' perception. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) intends to introduce legislation seeking a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, which would probably have greater impact if he was not also the guy who got French fries renamed "freedom fries" in Capitol Hill's cafeterias in March 2003.

IRAQ III: The story which may get the most attention in the coming days, however, is the Knight-Ridder piece quoting top U.S. military officials in Iraq concluding that the o­nly way to end the guerilla war is through Iraqi politics. Capt. Jason Van Steenwyk of the Florida National Guard, who served in Iraq from May 2003 to February 2004, writes that "I've never met an officer in my life who didn't think that the decisive point in the counterinsurgency was political, not military," then links to several entries from his blog making this exact point. The military effort is necessary, but not sufficient by itself, which is why the poll mentioned in the previous item showing increasing Sunni support for the direction of Iraq, communications with Sunni insurgents, and continued haggling over the number of Sunnis to be involved in drafting the new constitution are so important.

HUNTER S. THOMPSON: The late writer has inspired a microbrewery to produce Gonzo Imperial Porter, complete with labels by longtime Thompson collaborator Ralph Steadman. A dollar from the sale of each case will go towards building the Gonzo Memorial Fist in Aspen.

CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN: A 31 year-old serial impostor who passed himself off for a month as a 15 year-old schoolboy is being questioned by police in France. Frederic Bourdin is nicknamed "the Chameleon," but "Babyface" would be more alliterative.

PODCASTING extends to old-time radio shows.

GRIEVING 9/11 WIDOW was given millions of dollars -- including 2.1 million from the Federal Victim Compensation Fund -- and has blown almost all of it already.

CHINA is grappling with peasant revolts.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA head Williamm Schultz now argues that it's okay to call Camp X-Ray at Gitmo a "gulag" because "Amnesty got more media time to discuss US detention policies in the past three weeks than we have in the past three years." Apparently, it's okay to lie for a supposed good cause... unless you're the Bush Administration, which regularly gets accused of having done so with regard to Iraq. Also, Mr. Shultz claims that "Amnesty International understands the difference in magnitude between forcing millions into labor camps where tens of thousands starved, and illegally imprisoning and sometimes abusing prisoners in US detention." Millions died in the Soviet Gulag; Amnesty's apparent amnesia o­n this point may explain why they persist in defending this grotesquely offensive trope. Mr. Shultz adds, "Amnesty truly is an international organization with members in more than 100 countries and, whether we in the US think it an appropriate historic reference or not, 'gulag' truly is how much of the rest of the world perceives US detention practices." Apparently, Mr. Schultz's mother never gave him the talk entitled, "If all your friends wanted to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?"

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Jolie's former assistant is shopping a screenplay based o­n the Hollywood beauty's tempestuous marriage and subsequent split from director and actor Billy Bob Thornton, though it sounds like names may have been changed.

RUSSELL CROWE'S phone-throwing incident caused the White House to cancel a screening and overnighter for the Aussie actor.

GOV. AHNULD SCHWARZENEGGER has called a special election for November to try to change the way California spends money, picks its politicians and hires its teachers. His poll numbers have been down lately; maybe he sees this as a way to pump... them up. After all, these are issues o­n which he campaigned as a reformer.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON tells Playboy her big fantasy is to romp in the back seat of a car, calling it "crazy and kinky and sexy." As fantasies go, that's about o­ne notch above Sally Albright's faceless man.

LIBERALS IN THE MEDIA need to lighten up. At least that's the suggestion implicitly offered by Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz and explicitly made by Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Wolff.

ENDANGERED TORTOISES RESCUED from a man who wanted to turn them into soup.

A CLEVER SHEEP (that most dangerous of animals) been spared the slaughterhouse after a daring James Bond-style escape from a Welsh farm.

GATOR GOES SIDEWAYS, invades California wine country. The local woman who discovered it began hollering that she had a big lizard or something in her backyard.

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Eleni Mandell, Billie Holiday, The Redwalls, Lacey Underall and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, June 13, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


ELENI MANDELL may break through to a wider audience thanks to Cole Porter and the French Hotel. My review of o­ne of her concerts is right here o­n the site. You can stream stuff from her last album, Afternoon (which I recommend), at her own website.

LIVE 8 REUNITES PINK FLOYD: Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour are putting aside their differences for the gig. No Syd Barrett, natch. ALSO: TalkLeft points you to a MP3 of Sir Bob Geldof's conference call with Joe Trippi and prominent bloggers mentioned in this space previously.

MEET THE NEW BOSS: Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein suggests in an Onion A.V. Club interview that classic rock is the new punk rock.

LEONARD COHEN is being sued by a Colorado investment company for civil conspiracy and extortion.

BILLIE HOLLIDAY: Robert Christgau essays "The First Lady of Song" for The Nation magazine.

ARE WE NOT MEN? In a new interview, Devo's Jerry Casale explains how devolution sprung from the Kent State shooting. I had no idea he was that old.

THE REDWALLS: In advance of their major-label debut, Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot calls them "part of the strongest wave of Chicago pop and rock bands to surface in a decade." Of the various comparisons Kot makes, I'm surprised he didn't also mention CCR, as that was the name (along with late-period Beatles) that leapt to mind when I heard their last disc.

INDIE BANDS are being marketed like Tupperware, according to Newsweek.

TERI HATCHER: They're real and they're spectacular, but she is considering not keeping 'em real.

LOS ALAMOS WHISTLEBLOWER beaten outside a Santa Fe bar, but Santa Fe police now believe he could have been attacked for allegedly striking a pedestrian in the bar's parking lot.

HIT-AND-RUN VICTIM run over by the police car responding to the hit-and-run report.

IRAQ: Two Washington Post reporters spent three days with a unit including Iraqis drawn from a disenchanted Sunni Arab minority, being rebuilt after the company commander's death prompted all but 30 of the company's 250 soldiers to quit. Not surprisingly, the reporters paint a highly negative picture of the effort to build up Iraqi security forces. Author Michael Yon also has a gripping read of operations in Mosul that suggests a more positive view. So does the pseudonymous "Major E," writing PowerLine from Baghdad. Which portrait proves more accurate of the overall effort remains to be seen, but certainly bears watching. There's more analysis and discussion at The Belgravia Dispatch.

IRAQ II: Strategy Page has a nifty blurb o­n helmet-mounted vidcams (along with iPod-like storage drives) becoming useful as a military intelligence tool. The number of Iraqis getting married is surging, but so-called experts seem to have a different explanation than those actually getting married.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Katie Holmes appeared o­n The Late Show with David Letterman; Katie was clueless, Dave was merciless. Cruise continues to bash psychiatry and prescription drugs, but the normally fluffy Entertainment Weekly can't help but insert editor's notes contradicting some of his statements. A story about Cruise auditioning other starlets before Katie Holmes disappears from the E! website faster than you can say, "Hi, this is Tom Cruise's lawyer..."

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Mr. & Mrs. Smith tops the weekend box office, raking in 51 million bucks. I went to see it solely for the purpose o­n reporting back o­n it and not at all to gawk at Angelina Jolie for two hours. I share Roger Ebert's view (and that of Semisonic) that it's all about chemistry: "Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have it, or I think they have it, in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and because they do, the movie works. If they did not, there'd be nothing to work with." I think Roger is a little charitable with the rating, also.

ARE SECRETS OF THE STARS to be revealed o­n the Pellicano tapes? An appeals court ruling affirmng the conviction of celebrity sleuth Anthony Pellicano o­n charges that he had unregistered firearms, grenades and enough plastic explosives to bring down an airliner in a safe in his office also ruled that prosecutors can comb through the equivalent of two billion pages of wiretap transcripts found in the office. Pellicano's client list included Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson, Kevin Costner, Farrah Fawcett and some of Hollywood's biggest entertainment lawyers.

RUSSELL CROWE was not given preferential treatment during the investigation of his alleged assault of a hotel employee, according to a NYPD detective. Everyone gets a four-motorcycle police escort to the station.

CATS set a house ablaze in Kobe, Japan by using the fax machine as a litter box. Cat ownership can make men less attractive and women more desirable. And there's a movie of a cat losing a fight with a ceiling fan.

DEMOCRACY IN SYRIA? The Baath Party eases the state of emergency that has been in force for over 40 years, will allow some new political parties to be formed and seems to move towards a free market economy. However, these measures, which come at a time of huge international pressure o­n Syria, were not the great leap forward promised by President Bashar al-Assad and demanded by reformers. Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official told The New York Times and Reuters that the U.S. has received "credible information" that Syrian operatives in Lebanon plan to try to assassinate senior Lebanese political leaders and that Syrian military intelligence forces are returning to Lebanon to create "an environment of intimidation."

DEMOCRACY AT MICROSOFT? There's some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that Microsoft's new Chinese internet portal has banned the words "democracy" and "freedom" from parts of its website in an apparent effort to avoid offending Beijing's political censors. The good news is that, ironically enough, the linked article is posted o­n Microsoft's site in the U.S.

LIZ PHAIR is going unplugged this summer. It's kinda hard to think of Liz unplugged, based o­n her body of work.

THE DOUBLE DOOR, the Chicago venue where Rob Gordon DJed in High Fidelity, where I have seen acts like the Soft Boys, Van Hunt and Eleventh Dream Day, was in danger of closing in a landlord-tenant dispute (shades of CBGBs). Fortunately, the o­ne-time speakeasy will remain a Wicker Park fixture for the foreseeable future.

SAD SONGS: In the Guardian, Tom Reynolds, author of I Hate Myself and Want to Die, compiles a 25 miserable tracks. But the commenters at Althouse do better, for the most part.

BOB DYLAN'S NEVER-ENDING TOUR: Prof. Althouse also has some observations and questions for the latter-day Bobby Z based o­n a piece in The New York Times o­n Sunday (but o­nline Saturday).

JIMI HENDRIX'S boyhood home is saved from the wrecking ball.

BONNAROO: The Chattanooga Times Free Press blogged the festival. Kings of Leon and Iron & Wine seem to draw raves; Dave Matthews, not so much.

CONDOLEEZA RICE: The Secretay of State played a rare and unpublicized piano gig for the improbably named Charity Sunshine, a 21-year-old soprano who was diagnosed with often-fatal pulmonary hypertension a little over a year ago. Sunshine is a granddaughter of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), and his wife Annette, who Rice has known for years.

YOUR MOMENT OF SITH: You may think you know what Darth Vader looks like under that mask, but you probably haven't seen this photo. George Lucas gets the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute at a black-tie dinner attended by a who's who of Hollywood, including the stars of the original "Star Wars" films. Carrie Fisher called Lucas the man "who ruined my life." In accepting the award, Lucas joked that he started out not being able to write a word, but became "the king of wooden dialogue." At the official website, a father is blogging the reaction of his seven year-old son, who is familiar with Eps. I-III, to seeing the original Star Wars as the fourth in the series. And you may want to check out Passed Out Wookies.

THE DUTCH-MUSLIM CULTURE WAR: An article by Deborah Scroggins for The Nation o­n Somali-born Dutch legislator Ayaan Hirsi Ali seems awfully confused. Scroggins writes:

"Seven months ago, Hirsi Ali's implacable campaign against what she views as Islam's oppression of women prompted a Muslim fanatic to ritually slaughter Theo van Gogh, her Dutch collaborator o­n the film Submission. The murderer used his knife to affix a five-page letter to the corpse promising the same treatment for Hirsi Ali and another Dutch politician who has criticized Islam."

First, there is the implication that Hirsi Ali should bear some of the blame for the van Gogh murder. Second, there is the phrase "what she views as Islam's oppression of women..." Back in the 1960s, there were people who suggested that the murder of three civil rights workers by Klan members was really the fault of Martin Luther King, Jr., or the ACLU, too. Apparently, the Old South's big mistake was not inventing multculturalism (though arguably they tried). Would Ms. Scroggins blame Hirisi Ali for the Pakistani judiciary that frees 12 gang rapists? How about the farmer who shoots his daughters after o­ne did not immediately serve him a glass of water when he returned from working in the fields? Or the Saudi Arabian couple accused of turning a young Indonesian woman into a virtual slave? The hundreds of Iranian women protesting their status? Or the way women were treated in Afghanistan under the Taliban? However, to Ms. Scroggins' credit, she does report that Dutch feminists are backing Hirisi Ali.

BAD INTELLIGENCE: Having recently linked to an article claiming that out intell services missed major military developments in China, it's o­nly fair that I note that former intell analysts have responses posted at the PowerLine blog.

NOT THAT MILE-HIGH CLUB: 'Netrepreneur Jason Calacanis videoblogs from 30,000 feet.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY characters get their own promo websites.

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: The Strong Museum in Rochester, NY opened an exhibit dedicated to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. But should they really have invited Mr. McFeely to greet the kids for what is billed as a "Hands On" exhibit?

AFGHANISTAN: The former leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guards says the U.S. has not given Iran enough credit for helping overthrow the Taliban. GI there sometimes joke that Afghanistan is the forgotten war, despite (or maybe because of) progress against insurgents and in training the Afghan Army. If the military wants more media coverage of Afghanistan, they are going to have to start torturing more detainees.

HEAD START: A new study of the program's impact is spun all sorts of ways.

NANOTECH: Hewlett-Packard claims its researchers have created a new way to design future nano-electronic circuits using coding theory.

LAPTOP COMPUTERS MORE POPULAR THAN DESKTOPS, outselling them for the first time in a calendar month in the U.S. In a related story, lap dances are now more popular thann table dances.

HOWARD DEAN gets a mixed review from Howard Fineman in Newsweek. On fundraising, he quotes DNC member Elaine Kamarck as saying, "For people who really look hard at the numbers, he's wowing people." Well, looking at the numbers, the RNC held a fundraising edge of 17.2 million dollars in 2003; now, the RNC is ahead by 17.6 million dollars. But maybe if I looked really hard, I'd be wowed. On organization, Fineman talks about Dean sending "assessment teams" to investigate states with weak organization; I would have to give him an "Incomplete" for this until we see the results. And organization may be more important than the fundraising for a DNC chair, as many candidates can raise funds, but hardly any are tasked with party-building.

CINDY MORGAN -- probably too-well known as Caddyshack's Lacey Underall -- is interviewed by Retrocrush. A must-read if you're enjoy skinny-skiing and going to bullfights o­n acid. Or Tron.

STUCK ON LODI, AGAIN: In the midst of a probe of alleged Al Qaeda cell in Lodi, the Oakland Tribune runs an article to assure readers that mosques are not strange places to be feared. That may often be the case. However, it doesn't help when o­ne of the primary sources quoted is Hatem Bazian, a lecturer at UC Berkeley who has called for a Palestinian-style intifada by Muslims in America. Given the reliance o­n Bazian, should readers be concerned that the author of the Tribune article, Sajid Farooq, was the organizer of a muslim rally at Berkeley in 2003?

JOURNO TARGETED BY U.S. MILITARY? A Spanish judge wants to question three American soldiers as suspects in the death of a Spanish cameraman who was killed when a U.S. tank fired o­n a hotel housing foreign journalists during the 2003 assault o­n Baghdad. "It would be a very, very cold day in hell before that would ever happen," said a State Department official. The Pentagon has exonerated the U.S. soldiers from any blame, which is corroborated by Boston Herald reporter Jules Crittenden.

TORTURE BY THE U.S.: The New York Times Magazine o­n Sunday has a lengthy piece by the paper's former executive editor, Joseph Lelyveld. It's a serious piece of work, but what does it say about the NYT that it is illustrated with photographs by Andres Serrano? After all, this is the photographer who produced an infamous photograph that has again been raised by some in the context of the debate over Quran mishandling at the detainee camp at Gitmo. Imho, the topic of torture is already inflammatory enough without gratuitously inserting Andres Serrano into the middle of it.

TORTURE II: Time magazine will probably make a splash with the story of the interrogation of Mohammed al Qahtani, who is widely believed to be the so-called 20th 9/11 hijacker. Special interrogation techniques were approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for use o­n a select few detainees like al-Qahtani, who was forced to hear Christina Aguilera music and watch a puppet show. No, really.

THE DOWNING STREET MEMO: Michael Kinsley has about the same opinion of it as I did, but adds: "Nevertheless, I am enjoying it, as an encouraging sign of the left's revival. Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence. It takes a critical mass of citizens with extreme views and the time and energy to obsess about them. It takes a promotional infrastructure and the discipline to settle o­n a story line, disseminate it and stick to it."

SEAN PENN is on assignment in Tehran for the San Francisco Chronicle ahead of presidential elections o­n June 17th. The Iranians confiscated his video camera temporarily.

PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE MEDIA hits an all-time low in the latest Gallup Poll. The military topped the poll with a 74 percent confidence rating.

MONSIEUR MOM: In a new survey, nearly 40 percent of French men said that they would like to become pregnant, science permitting.

SMART AND DUMB STATES are ranked by the Morgan Quitno Press, which appears to be the work of a former Bob Dole staffer. The list seems suspect to me, as the rankings are based in part o­n per-pupil expenditures, average class size and pupil-teacher ratios, which do not by themselves make a state dumb or smart. Indeed, I would bet that many states with higher per-pupil expenditures have lower student reading and math proficiency and graduation rates.

VIOLENT CROWS BLOODY A BRITISH JOGGER in Battersea Park. Joanna Leonard, an interior designer, saw the birds - which she thought were ravens - in the same place an hour after the attack: "I thought they were very nasty, sinister things."she said. "Two of them focused in o­n me as I walked past. I couldn't help thinking of that Hitchcock film."


THE UNDERWEAR GANG: Thai thieves prove to be slippery and elusive.

VETERAN'S CORPSE STOLEN FROM THE MORGUE for an alleged insurance scam, then dumped in the trash.

WOMAN'S ASHES MISSING and replaced with a can of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips.

GOODNESS! GRACIOUS! Great balls of snot explain an ocean mystery.

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Flaming Lips, Richard Thompson, Craig O'Neill, Grey Goo and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, June 10, 2005 - 08:20 AM
Posted by: kbade



...WITH A FORAY into the widely recognized phenomenon of Friday catblogging, just because I enjoyed these photos of my co-clerk Debbie's felines, Malcolm and Ella.

FRIDAY TIMEWASTER: Test your knowledge of 80s lyrics.

THE FLAMING LIPS will be spending the autumn playing headline dates o­n a Carnival cruise ship, for the first ever Xingolati Groove Cruise. The Lips are great live, but that's a tough gig. After all, that quintet o­n The Love Boat manages to sound like 20 musicians.

RICHARD THOMPSON, Live from Austin, TX rates a 7.6 o­n the Pitchfork: "On this CD, Thompson could be a guitar salesman demonstrating his product. See how simple it is to sound like three guitars at o­nce. Now you too you can mimic a banjo or a slide guitar in your home or office."

LES PAUL is recording an album with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Santana and more, then a bluegrass album. The man who dreamed up multi-track recording and the father of sorts to Jon Pratt's guitar has even more to say in a wide-ranging interview with Modern Guitars magazine.

JONATHAN DEMME, who brought Talking Heads and Robyn Hitchcock to the big screen (and even gave a cameo to The Feelies playing Bowie and The Monkees before directing their video for "Away") is going to shoot a Neil Young concert at the Grand Ole Opry.

HOMES OF THE STARS: Jimi Hendrix's house is in danger of demolition. Johnny and June Carter Cash's home is on the block.

YOUR MOMENT OF SITH: James Lileks delivers a definitive review of Episode III. Meryl Yourish interviews Darth Vader, who claims "Lucas got almost nothing right, not even my name," which we discover is Leonard.

THE CASTING COUCH: Movie producer Chris Hanley says it's alive and well in Hollywood: "Almost every leading actress in all of my 24 films has slept with a director or a producer or a leading actor to get the part that launched her career."

STEVE McQUEEN went AWOL from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, but also rescued five Marines in a training accident, and took advantage of military educational benefits to study at the Actors' Studio. That's just o­ne of many stories in U.S. military documents released o­n Thursday.

NERDS MAKE BETTER LOVERS. I hear this all the time, but I guess some folks didn't know.

THE LODI TERROR PROBE expands; we all know how uncomfortable that can be.

THE STORY OF THE SEX PISTOLS, in comic book form.

JONATHAN RICHMAN doesn't do an interview with The Huntsville Times.

WITH A REBEL YELL, Billy Idol gives a Lamborghini Gallardo a makeshift sunroof with some sort of power tool.

SIMON "SI" WARONKER, founder of Liberty Records, o­ne of the top indie labels of the 1950s and early '60s, died in his sleep Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 90. During the rock 'n' roll era, Liberty was the home of singer-guitarist-producer Eddie Cochran, teen idol Bobby Vee, rocker-turned-pop vocalist Johnny Burnette and surf duo Jan & Dean.

LIVE 8: Ordinary Africans are questioning whether Western extravaganzas like the Live 8 concerts, however well intentioned, can help. Sir Bob Geldof is playing the expectations game: "It will be, not for me but for everyone involved, a glorious failure."

COLDPLAY: Critics clash over the band in the Telegraph. Art experts decode the cover of the new album, which will almost certainly be added to this gallery of coded covers.

DAVE GROHL AND PETE DOHERTY: The Foo Fighters frontman tells the troubled ex-Libertines singer to just say no, man.

CRAIG O'NEILL is the man. Not The Man, mind you; after all, The Man can't bust our music. No, Craig is the exact opposite of The Man. He's the man as anti-Man.

NANO-BOTS: The new science of claytronics will use nanotechnology to create tiny robots that can turn into any shape. Intel's robotics expert, Jason Campbell, says: "The more you look at it, the more likely it seems we will be able to manufacture these things. I think there's a good chance we'll get to see it. Now whether that's five or 20 years, I don't know." Expect a round of hype about "grey goo."

THE UNITED NATIONS cannot find its blueprints that give comprehensive details of how to build and test equipment essential for making nuclear bombs.

BAD INTELLIGENCE: U.S. spy agencies failed to recognize several key military developments in China in the past decade. Critics of the study say the report looks like a bid to exonerate analysts within the close-knit fraternity of government China specialists, who for the past 10 years dismissed or played down intelligence showing that Beijing was engaged in a major military buildup.

IRAN has plans to install tens of thousands of advanced centrifuges at its huge underground nuclear plant near Natanz, which eventually would enable the nation to enrich uranium nearly twice as fast as anticipated, Western intelligence officials say.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise used The Tonight Show for damage control, poking fun at his meltdown o­n Oprah, though he faced stiff competition from Russell Crowe, who went o­n David Letterman's Late Show Wednesday to apologize for throwing a tantrum and telephone at a hotel clerk. Cruise's second ex-wife, Nicole Kidman, thinks he ought to stop mixing the private with the public. Don Imus apparently apologized for a sidekick's o­n-air comments that actor Tom Cruise is gay. Katie Holmes admits she has looked into Scientology and thinks it's "wonderful." And if you want to know why everyone is joining in making fun of Cruise the Hollywood Reporter has an excellent explanation, in which Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have supporting roles.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO READ GERMAN to figure out the subject of this Bild story about the heiress named after a French Hotel.

SPACE: The final frontier. In advertising.

IRAQ: President Jalal Talabani averted a crisis Thursday by promising Sunni Arabs a big say in drafting the constitution.

BOLIVIA: The nation's high court chief took office as president late Thursday during an emergency congressional session, setting the stage for early elections aimed at curbing violent protests.

GLOBAL WARMING: The White House is defending Philip Cooney, a lawyer and former lobbyist with the American Petroleum Institute and now chief of staff for the White House Council o­n Environmental Quality, who changed descriptions of climate research approved by government scientists. Rep. Henry Waxman and Sen. John Kerry have asked the General Accountability Office to probe the matter. If they do, I hope the investigation includes the long history of policymakers changing or pressuring scientists to alter the wording of the summary of reports of the Intergovernmental Panel o­n Climate Change (IPCC), up through 2001, where the National Academy of Sciences later found that the "change in emphasis appears to be the result of a summary process in which scientists worked with policymakers o­n the document." Maybe scientists like Chris Landsea can testify about the politicization of the IPCC. But somehow I don't think Waxman or Kerry would care to hear what they have to say.

IT'S SUMMER, AND THAT CAN ONLY MEAN THAT IT'S CARNIVAL SEASON: You really don't want the carnival owner's son to be the sole technical investigator in two unexplained fatalities o­n the same piece of equipment. You can track lovely stories like this through the ptly-named Ride Accidents site. o­n a lighter note, you can download Ice Cream Truck Music and check out hamburger-blogging, hotdog-blogging and pizza-blogging through WFMU's blog.

A GREAT WHITE SHARK attacked a teen surfer off New Jersey's Surf City o­n Sunday. The kid needed a bigger board.

A KILLER COW was arrested and detained by Nigerian police o­n Thursday.


ROBOTS were hitting fastballs, drawing portraits and more at the 2005 Robot World Expo in Japan.

BILL CLINTON may have gotten some prank phone calls after a Delray Beach busboy found Jimmy Buffett's cellphone and kept it for a week. Of course, the busboy didn't make those calls, but his friends may have.

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Kirsty MacColl, Festivals, Owen Wilson, David Byrne, Pupfish, Goats and Cats   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, June 09, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade



...as captured in "lost" photographs by the legendary Stanley Kubrick. The State Lake theatre is long gone; there's a Borders there now.

KIRSTY MacCOLL: The reissue of her Titanic Days album, which adds a dozen tracks o­n a bonus disc, rates an 8.2 o­n the Pitchfork.

SASQUATCH: The festival was heavily photographed by Ice Cream Man. Plenty of Pixies pics; Wilco, Bloc Party and more, too.

THE KERRVILLE FOLK FESTIVAL is blogged by Richard Laurence Cohen. He paints with words, which is just as well, based o­n his description of "Camp Nekkid."

SOMETHING CORPORATE singer Andrew McMahon has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. Thankfully, McMahon's doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

COLD WHITE PEAS: The New York Times opines o­n the sad state of the music industry.

OASIS frontman Liam Gallagher calls U2 "wankers." Hey, who isn't? The occasion of Liam's outburst was hearing that the U2 study video footage of themselves after gigs.

IRAQ: Austin Bay, who heads off to Iraq and Afghanistan this Friday, has analysis of Syrian involvement in the insurgency, based o­n a good piece in the Washington Post linked there. The number of active-duty soldiers getting divorced has been rising sharply with deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq; the trend is severest among officers. Iraq's would-be founding fathers are hunkering down to draft a constitution, as an alliance of influential Sunni Muslims said that it would not take part unless its community was given a fair number of seats o­n the committee working o­n the project. U.S. officials are negotiating with Sunni Arab leaders to pull insurgents into the political process. A. Heather Coyne of the U.S. Institute of Peace writes that the media's focus o­n dramatic events in Iraq, whether they be attacks or elections, obscures slow and steady progress Iraqis are making o­n the securty and political fronts.

BOLIVIA IS WRACKED with violent protests demanding nationalization of the oil and natural gas industries. Publius has an extensive round-up.

THE WORLD TRADE CENTER MEMORIAL is being steered away from 9/11 to focus instead o­n man's inhumanity to man, while the actual Memorial Center will be much smaller, all out of sight and underground, according to Debra Burlingame, the sister of the pilot of American Airlines fight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon. Jeff Jarvis says that the memorial is being turned into the Why They Hate Us Pavillion.

OH LORD, STUCK IN LODI with suspected Al Qaeda terrorists.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Both Pitt and Jolie (in a black leather Versace dress, no less) faced the photogs outside the premiere of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Their now-infamous photoshoot for W magazine, based around the concept of a dissolving marriage, turned up o­n the web.

MRS. ROBINSON UPDATE: Sterogum has some funny Graduate trivia, including a tidbit Roger Ebert would probably like to forget.

GETTING INTO YOUR GENES: A study in Nature claims that a woman's genetic make-up accounts for at least a third of her ability to climax during sex and may even account for as much as 60 percent. o­nly 14 percent of the women studied reported always achieving an orgasm.

AT THE DRIVE-IN: A German city is rushing to install a series of drive-in wooden "sex huts" in time for next years soccer World Cup and an expected boom in the local sex trade.

SWIMMERS' COMPETITION: Men who view pornographic images of two men and a woman produce better-quality sperm than men viewing pornographic images of just women, suggesting that men may be capable of subconsciously increasing semen quality when faced with the possibility that their sperm will have to outrun those of other men in a womans reproductive tract.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Katie Holmes' whirlwind romance with Tom Cruise is taking its toll o­n her friendships and career. Page Six reports that it's the Scientology. After a week of budget negotiations, Paramount has finally greenlighted Cruise's Mission: Impossible III.

RUSSELL CROWE is in full-on damage control mode following his assault arrest for throwing a phone at a hotel clerk. "One thing that I don't want to do is imply that I'm trying to make out it's somebody else's fault," Crowe said. "It's not, I know it's my fault, I've got to face up to it and deal with it."

OWEN WILSON is not impressed by the Dalai Lama and thus will notreceive total consciousness o­n his deathbed.

MAN SAVES DRIVER FROM BLAZING AUTO, then sues him. It's like the Bizzaro version of The Incredibles.

EDU-BLOGGING: The latest Carnival Of Education is o­nline.

GOT TO BE A MACHO MAN? A study led by French marketing and style consultants claims that Macho man is an endangered species, with today's male more likely to opt for a pink flowered shirt and swingers' clubs than the traditional role as family super-hero. However, a Harris Interactive survey shows that women want the "man" back in "manly:" "61 percent of women surveyed said they would rather see a man's hands rough and working hard than well-manicured, a slap in the face to the extreme-makeover, suave-guy crowd."

LESS SKIN is back in for young American girls. Designers have been focusing o­n "ladylike and almost old-fashioned" styles inspired by the 1950s.

MARYLAND WOMAN BUSTED for driving her kids around in the trunk of her car.

THE DOWNING STREET MEMO: o­n Tuesday, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair forcefully denied that Bush manipulated intelligence to build support for war with Iraq, as some claim a controversial British government memo suggests. The so-called Downing Street Memo, originally published last month in The Sunday Times of London, had received scant coverage in the U.S. The key passage in te memo for Bush critics states that in Washington, "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Robin Niblett of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says it would be easy for Americans to misunderstand the reference: "'Fixed around' in British English means 'bolted o­n' rather than altered to fit the policy." That would also be the suggested reading from the dictionary; just ask an English teacher. Phil Taubman, Washington bureau chief for The New York Times, has given additional reasons why he does not see the memo as a "smoking gun."

PAGE TWO of the memo suggests that the U.S. and U.K. governments truly believed Saddam had WMD capabilities, or they would not have been thinking about what would happen "if Saddam used WMD o­n day o­ne" or if he used them o­n Kuwait or Israel. As for the Bush Administration having decided to go to war as early as July 2002, any reader of the NYT (at least twice)the Associated Press, the Telegraph, or Haaretz, to name a few, knew that the U.S. had war plans o­ngoing. The Downing Street memo, imho, confirms what played out in the media at the time -- that the U.K. wanted to try going through the U.N., a path to which the U.S. reluctantly agreed, though the resulting delay was probably disadvantageous, e.g., it gave Saddam and his thugs time to plan for an insurgency, perhaps destroy key evidence of crimes and weapons-related activities, etc.

CULT OF THE iPod: The British government is funding a program offering unemployed teens iPods if they complete courses aimed at helping them find jobs. The teens, that is.

JOHNNY CASH: The Man in Black's seven Sun Records have been put together in a limited edition box set, featuring all the original tunes and artwork, with a few bonus tracks tacked o­n for good measure.

DAVID BYRNE blogs o­n how he finds the ubiquity of music oppressive and suggests that some recording artists should not feel pressure to be performers as well.

YOU WANT MP3s WITH THAT? McDonald's has entered into deals to provide Wi-fi and media centers when you stop in for a Royale with Cheese.

AHHH... BACH... A previously unknown vocal piece by Johann Sebastian Bach has been discovered by researchers in Germany. He was probably saving it for the box set.

THE SOPRANOS may not be sleeping with the fishes as soon as expected. At the DVD release party for the fifth season of The Sopranos Monday, show creator David Chase again said he was mulling the idea of extending the show's run. Floating the rumor o­n the release date was purely coincidental, I'm sure.

HOWARD DEAN defended his recent statement that the Republicans are "pretty much a white, Christian party." He's right: about 84 percent of Republicans are white Christians, compared to about 47 percent (possibly 57 percent) of Democrats. Another way of putting it would be that Sen. John Kerry's failure to make inroads with white voters cost him the 2004 election. Moreover, as Chairman Dean has called Republicans evil and brain-dead, adding that a lot of them "have never made an honest living in their lives," identifying them as a white, Christian party may cause people in that group to conclude he was not being complimentary of white Christians, even if he did not intend it. It should also be noted that President Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic and Asian vote, as well as a larger-than-average gain among Jews, winning 25% of the vote ­ up from 19% in 2000. Perhaps Dean's strategy -- if he has o­ne -- is to demonize Republicans in an attempt to slow the migration of minorities to the GOP.

RAINFOREST MYTH GOES UP IN SMOKE: The L.A. Times reports: Ever since saving the Amazon became a fashionable cause in the 1980s, championed by Madonna, Sting and others, the jungle has consistently been likened to an enormous recycling plant that slurps up carbon dioxide and pumps out oxygen for us all to breathe. Think again, scientists say... The Amazon is now a major source for pollution, as rampant (and mostly illegal) burning and deforestation, release hundreds of millions of tons of smoke and carbon dioxide each year. To be fairer than the L.A. Times, I think Madge and Gordon were against the legal deforestation of the Amazon, so I'd bet they would also oppose illegal deforestation.

SCIENTISTS had to endanger the endangered Devils Hole pupfish to save it.

A GERMAN WOMAN living with 43 goats was evicted from her rented house after the animals left "knee-high" piles of droppings around the garden and laid waste to the building's interior. However, a report from Mishawaka, Indiana shows that having 70 cats in the house is not much better: "Everything was covered in a lacquer of yellow urine," said Eric Durcinka, executive director of the Humane Society.

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