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The Mountain Goats, The Las, The Soup Nazi, Sin City, Pat O'Brien and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, March 24, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS: John Darnielle lists "Music You Should Hear" at Amazon. The band will play the M-Shop April 1st, iirc. And if you're a fan, consider adding to the band's entry in the Wikipedia.

THERE SHE GOES... AGAIN: The La's reunite for a festival date in Japan in August. No word o­n whether Spinal Tap will share the bill.

THURSTON MOORE of Sonic Youth has an article posted about mix tapes, iTunes and file-sharing It's adapted from a book Moore edited, due for release in May.

SOME DEPRESSION: The wryly-titled blog features "Podcast and music news featuring Wilco, Son Volt, Ryan Adams, Drive-by Truckers, and more. No DJs. No talk. No Lincoln Park."

JEFF TWEEDY of Wilco has me pegged. Especially the "retarded" part.

THE DEATH PENALTY FOR UNAUTHORIZED BREEDING: Law and order in the insect world.

SOUP NAZI: Al Yeganeh, the surly New York City soup seller who inspired a character o­n Seinfeld, is plans to franchise his store. However, Yeganeh is adamant that franchisees don't use the term "Soup Nazi" in their promotional materials. Not out of political correctness, mind you; rather, he says he loathes Jerry Seinfeld.

PALESTINIAN SECURITY FORCES have prevented as many militant attacks in recent weeks as their Israeli counterparts, according to a senior Israeli intelligence official.

YOUR BODY could soon be the backbone of a broadband personal data network linking your mobile phone or MP3 player to a cordless headset, your digital camera to a PC or printer, using a technology called RedTacton.

ROTC FOR THE CIA: The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program is seen by some observers as a long-overdue effort to remedy the federal government's collective ignorance about foreign lands. Other scholars, however, view the semisecret program as a profound threat to universities' integrity and to the ethical norms of social science.

GRAY WEDDING: If you were grossed out by the story I linked the other day about Billy Idol's smelly leather pants in the 1980s, you really don't want to know what's going o­n down there these days.

WHITE STRIPES: The duo have banged out a new album in 12 days.

GREIL MARCUS: The veteran rock critic is hailed as the Halberstam of pop culture in a column at MarketWatch. He does not have kind words for Rolling Stone, Hunter S. Thompson or CBS News, among others.

DISCHORD RECORDS is making its entire catalog, including albums long out of print o­n CD/LP, available for downloading at a number of websites, including iTunes.

EDUCATION BLOGGING: The latest Carnival of Education is online.

ANGELINA JOLIE tops FHM magazine's "100 Sexiest Women" list. The 2005 list is kinda sad; shouldn't anyone who ranks below the Olsen Twins (who jointly hold No. 32) be a little embarrassed? "Sure, you're sexy, but not as sexy as the Olsen Twins..." Desperate Housewives' Eva Longoria at number 38? The very mention of her name drives traffic to this site (and I've just done it)! The silver lining: Britney Spears was completely snubbed.

SIN CITY: Two more rave reviews are up at Ain't-It-Cool News. Harry Knowles' family-unfriendly gushing might be considered tainted by his friendship with Sin City co-director Robert Rodriguez. But "Moriarty" is not prone to writing things like, "If youíre anything like me, youíll stagger away from the encounter with two blacked eyes and a broken bloody smile that will last for days." Jessica Alba (No. 22 on your FHM chart and thus hotter than the Olsen Twins) was on The Late Show with David Letterman Tuesday night; she looked great, but proved she needs a writer. Newsweek is conducting an online chat with Rodriguez on Friday, should you want to submit a question.

KYRGYZSTAN: Riot police have violently broken up an anti-government protest hours after President Akayev named a hardliner to take charge of security.

UNITED NATIONS: After months of denials, the United Nations admitted yesterday that, in an exception to its own rules, it paid for the legal defense of Benon Sevan, the oil-for-food program chief. ALSO: Kojo Annan, son of U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, received at least 300,000 bucks from Cotecna, a Swiss inspection company awarded a contract ultimately worth about 60 million clams under the oil-for-food program. The amount was almost double the sum previously disclosed, but payments were arranged in ways that obscured from where the money came or to whom it went.

IRAQ: An Associated Press lede: "A raid by US and Iraqi forces o­n a suspected rebel training camp killed 80 militants dead, Iraqi officials said today." Anyone editing at the AP these days? Or are they making fun of some Iraqi official's broken English? Or subliminally advertising Raid pesticide?

WHY THE GERMANS MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO RE-ARM: Say what you like about Americans, but none has put up a gallery of art paying tribute to the late Maude Flanders.

PAT O'BRIEN: Did the former host of Access: Hollywood go into rehab, or into defense mode? An embarrassing string of dirty voice-mail messages, which expressed a taste for hookers, cocaine and adventurous (if possibly unhygienic) sex, has become public. It appears there's a photo and some e-mail, too. Now sources say O'Brien was reprimanded several times for sexual harassment during his time at Access: Hollywood. And one blogger is having some fun at O'Brien's expense.

MONA LISA: Like Elvis at Graceland, she is trapped by her own celebrity.

SARAH JESSICA PARKER is miffed over her abrupt replacement by Joss Stone as the Gap Girl. I guess SJP is unfamiliar with the idea of competition among older women and younger women.

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The Raveonettes, Robert Johnson, Hogzilla, nude mud wrestling and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, March 23, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE RAVEONETTES... with Ronnie Spector! Teaching the Indie Kids How to Dance has it for download. There's also a link to their cover of "My Boyfriend's Back."

REMEMBER: Kathleen Edwards will be on Morning Becomes Eclectic Thursday morning...

THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN may have been unearthed by archeologists in New Orleans. If that news puts you in the mood, you can download 250 versions of the song.

BECK talked to The Guardian about Strokes clones and his rental car.

JUKEBLOG is a beta test of a MP3 blog recommender.

ROBERT JOHNSON: Sylvia Hauser tipped me to a nifty Page One article in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal about how two photos of the legendary Mississippi bluesman became the subjects of a convoluted, 15-year (and counting) legal tug of war between a blues historian and relatives of Johnson, who died penniless and without a will in 1938. The article requires a subscription to read o­nline, but an Associated Press story about the copyright fight I linked in December is archived at the Blues4U News Wire. Sadly, that article lacks the detail and flair of the WSJ piece: which contains grafs like this:
"To understand the spell that Robert Johnson casts over devotees of American music, just travel here to the Mississippi Delta, a fertile expanse of northwestern Mississippi that spawned a strain of blues that became a foundation for rock 'n' roll.

"Dedicated fans have placed gravestones for Mr. Johnson in three separate rural cemeteries outside Greenwood, after puzzling over the sketchy tale of his burial in an unmarked grave. He had been poisoned, the story goes, at the age of 27 by a jealous juke-joint owner whose wife caught the singer's eye. o­n a recent winter afternoon, guitar picks, cigarettes and coins lay scattered around all three gravesites."

These sites were o­n Sylvia's itinerary when she went o­n sabbatical last Fall. I'll see whether she has any photos or whether she used all the film o­n her then-future fiancee.

BONO is buying a piece of Tomb Raider Lara Croft.

HOGZILLA: A team of National Geographic experts has confirmed south Georgia's monster hog, known to locals as Hogzilla, was indeed real -- 7 1/2 to 8 feet long, and weighed about 800 pounds. The confirmation came in a documentary aired Sunday night o­n the National Geographic Channel; it will be rebroadcast Wednesday and Saturday.

PUSS OF THE BASKERVILLES? A black cat-like animal approximately the size as a Labrador dog prowls the streets of London.

CHELSEA CLINTON partying like a Bush twin? Sure, it also happened while President Clinton was in office; it just wasn't reported in gossip columns.

BILL GATES argues that the PC era is just beginning.

WHO'DA THUNKIT? According to the Hollywood Reporter, "The number of broadband Internet access homes (33 million) now exceeds HBO subscriber homes (32 million) and satellite subscriber homes (24 million)."

MISFIT TOYS: The gallery at Toy Lab is right out of Toy Story or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

CBS NEWS UPDATE: Gawker notes that Mary Mapes, the producer who was fired after Dan Ratherís MemoGate, has sold her memoirs, while Josh Howard, the 60 Minutes Wednesday executive producer laid off in the wake of the memo debacle, is about to resign. Gawker seems to believe both are being well-paid.

BLOGGERS AS JOURNALISTS: A sophomore journalism major at the University of Texas at Austin calls blogging "the Dadaism of journalistic form." He acknowledges that "blogs can levy accountability in an area sorely lacking it," but then asserts that what "blogs offer increasingly is an irresponsible, rabid and at times maniacal fringe with a vitriolic bent that has little desire to represent truth or accuracy, o­nly an at-all-costs battering ram for storming the gates of opposition ideology." I would say that lunatic fringes existed before blogs. These fringes may now publish their ravings to a world-wide audience, but this allows those ravings to be challenged and debunked. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis put it, "A little sunlight is the best disinfectant."

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN are thoughtfully compiling their copious EPs and singles o­nto a single CD.

MARIAH CAREY claims that o­n her honeymoon with ex-husband and ex-Sony exec Tommy Mottola, she was "running down the beach, miserable, crying and alone." I wonder whether her forthcoming disc will feature a cover of Freda Payne's "Band of Gold?"

CULT OF THE iPod: Now there's an entire site for those wanting to listen to their iPods through their car stereo.

PODCASTING: After getting into some trouble for its early marketing practices in the blogosphere, Warner Brothers Records will sponsor podcasts of the Eric Rice Show and provide exclusive audio content from o­ne of its bands. Much better than WB employees making anonymous posts to MP3 blogs -- a case of honesty being the best policy.

RED HOT CHILI PEPPER Anthony Kiedis had to be subdued by eight security guards after a recent fashion show in Los Angeles.

IRAQ: Shopkeepers and residents o­n o­ne of Baghdad's main streets pulled out their own guns Tuesday and killed three insurgents when hooded men began shooting at passers-by.

CAMP BUCCA: The woman booted from the military for baring her breasts during a wild mud-wrestling party at the U.S. Army's main prison in Iraq may appeal her general discharge because it will deny her some veterans' benefits. Which I mention because people somehow find this site while searching for nude mud wrestling o­n the 'net. And now I've mentioned it twice.

THE REAL INCREDIBLES: "Moriarty" of Ain't-It-Cool News took a behind the scenes tour of Pixar Animation Studios. And took plenty of pictures.

KYRGYZSTAN: As President Akayev orders a review of some parliamentary poll results amid growing protests over alleged irregularities, Russia's Foreign Ministry condemned the protests and rebuked the Organization for Security and Cooperation for declaring that the elections had fallen short of democratic standards.

ESTONIA: The government collapses after lawmakers said they had no confidence in the justice minister because of a controversial anti-corruption plan. Estonia was another "captive" republic of the Soviet Union. When I visited Tallinn (the capitol city), you could not help but notice that the language was more Finnish than Slavic and the architecture looked like something out of Pinocchio.

JAPANESE WWII SUB WRECKAGE discovered in the waters off Oahu. The submarine is from the I-400 Sensuikan Toku class of subs, the largest built before the nuclear-ballistic-missile submarines of the 1960s.

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Kathleen Edwards, Roxy Music, Merle Haggard, Richard Feynman and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

MORNING BECOMES ECLECTIC: Wednesday's show will feature Stars, whose latest disc was well-reviewed o­n the Pitchfork. o­n Thursday, Kathleen Edwards is featured. If the show does not air o­n your local NPR station, you can always get it by streaming media or podcast from KCRW (thanks to Sylvia Hauser for the tip).

ROXY MUSIC REUNITES for a new album, including Brian Eno, who left the band in 1973.

ELVIS COSTELLO was interviewed at SXSW.

MERLE HAGGARD was interviewed by Billboard.

FIONA APPLE is emerging from the "Where are they now?" file through file-sharing, because Sony is refusing to sell her shelved album. You can also stream it via Scenestars.

CATS AND DOGS should be brushing their teeth regularly. ALSO: Another Carnival of the Cats. Zippy the pit bull has broken out of death row. And a Belgian loves dogs in an unnatural way.

TOASTED CHEESE SANDWICHES go gourmet in London.

I WANT MY HDTV: High-definition television makes some celebs look better, others not so much.

THE INCREDIBLES: Reviewed as only Jeff Goldstein can.

GENE WILDER: Newsweek has an interview and excerpts from his forthcoming memoir.

CULT OF THE iPod: The gadget has been banned by a Sydney private school because they lead to "social isolation". The New York Daily News does a "person o­n the street" piece asking Podpeople, "What are you listenting to?"

NEW ORDER: The forthcoming Waiting for the Siren's Call is now streaming from overseas.

PAULA ABDUL: Prosecutors are considering whether to file criminal charges against the alleged singer for an alleged hit-and-run freeway accident last December, officials said Thursday. Straight up?

CBGB: Among the efforts to save the landmark New York punk venue is a collection of limited-edition treats from Gotham candy store Chocolate Bar. There is a toll-free number in the linked story, which also mentions the store's website (but there is no listing for the treats at the site yet).

JOURNALISTIC ETHICS: Mickey Kaus (formerly of The New Republic and now with Slate) asks, "How is the American Prospect different from Armstrong Williams?" There is a difference insofar as Williams was paid by the government, but from the standpoint of the payee, Kaus may have a point.

SIN CITY: A ton of advance reviews are up at Ain't-It-Cool News, almost all raves. There's a separate review from AICN semi-regular Neill Cumpston, who has a style all is own, and not a particularly family-friendly o­ne at that.

GIVE NUKES A CHANCE? Kenneth N. Waltz, perhaps the leading living theorist of the foreign policy realists, thinks we should stop worrying and learn to love the Bomb.

IRAQ: You have to love Agence France-Presse. A March 21st story lede: "At least 45 people have been killed in insurgent attacks across Iraq as Washington defended its decision to go to war o­n the second anniversary of the US-led invasion." The next sentence: "Twenty-four Iraqi insurgents were killed and six coalition soldiers wounded in a firefight in a Baghdad suburb overnight..." Does that math work for the insurgents? ALSO: In The New York Times, John Burns reports there have been signs that the tide may be shifting in favor of the U.S. along Haifa Street in Baghdad (a/k/a "Purple Heart Boulevard"). Time magazine reports on the growing professionalism of The Iraqi Special Forces Brigade.

KYRGYZSTAN: There is more heavy unrest over the parliamentary elections. President Askar Akayev o­n Monday ordered the Central Election Commission and Supreme Court to investigate alleged election violations and agreed to talk with the protesters.

SHAWN COLVIN, LORRAINE BRACCO, TERRY BRADSHAW and other celebrities are inking deals with drug companies to talk about their depression.

FEYNMAN LECTURES can be found here in both pdf and MP3 formats, for all you science geeks.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ AND BONO discussed World Bank issues last week. Wonkette can only imagine what that sounded like.

THE STATE OF ADVERTISING: The more things change, the more they stay the same?

PLAYGIRL EDITOR stripped of her duties after she revealed how she voted Republican in the 2004 election.

NEXT STOP, JURASSIC PARK: Scientists hope to clone a Woolly Mammoth with a body recovered from the Siberian tundra.

DO COMPUTERS HELP EDUCATE KIDS? "The less pupils use computers at school and at home, the better they do in international tests of literacy and maths, the largest study of its kind says," according to the London Telegraph.

TURTLE survives a fire, but its shell now bears the image of a devil's head.

I CAN'T BELIEVE I HAVE TO EXPLAIN COKE AND PEPSI TO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, but apparently I do. The Associated Press reports that the Coca-Cola Co. will launch a no-calorie version of its trademark soft drink called Coca-Cola Zero in the United States in June. The drink will be sweetened partly with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium.

The AP then reports "Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo Inc. also has several different varieties of Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, including a one-calorie cola called Pepsi One, which is sweetened with Splenda." This is flat wrong. Splenda is made from sucralose, a modified version of sugar. Pepsi One is not sweetened with sucralose, as a glance at a bottle or can will reveal. Indeed, Pepsi One is sweetened with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium, just like the new Coca-Cola Zero will be, assuming the AP got that right. The AP adds that Pepsi "Spokesman Dave DeCecco said Pepsi does not have any current plans for a zero-calorie version of Pepsi." Of course not; Pepsico already has Diet Pepsi and Pepsi One. Next time, the AP might have its reporter read a pop can, or ask someone to explain it to them.

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Wrapped Detective, Brendan Benson, Tom Waits, James A. Baker III, and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, March 21, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

WRAPPED DETECTIVE: The DJ who brought you "Paperback Believer" now delivers a monster mash-up of Elvis Costello, The Police, Lionel Richie, Peggy Lee, Bob Marley, The Hollies and Led Zeppelin.

BRENDON BENSON is profiled by the Detroit Free Press. Unsurprisingly, he had problems with his label. Check the Benson links I posted Friday if you missed them.

STEVE WYNN: Pitchfork has a review of his post-Dream Syndicate retrospective, the wonderfully titled, What I Did After My Band Broke Up.

FREEBIRD! The Wall Street Journal (by way of the Naples Daily News) tries to clear Chicago as the source of rock's oldest joke.

"I AM A GOLDEN GOD!" Jim DeRogatis recaps Robert Plant's keynote at SXSW. To his credit, Plant paid his respect to Pinetop Perkins.

SEX JUST ISN'T A BIG DEAL ANYMORE: The Chicago Sun-Times kicked off a series with this headline o­n Friday. Of course, if it was true, it would be news, but would not be a page one headline. Rather, sex still sells, so there it is, a series on sex in college replete with sentences like, "Jeans hang precariously below shiny belly rings winking from firm, flat midriffs." Moreover, a glossary provided as a sidebar to the story describes a return home the morning after as the "stride of pride" or the "walk of shame," depending o­n whether a male or female is doing the walking [ though I admit the term "Cincinnati Bengal" is a funny twist o­n a familiar concept.] So it would appear that college has not turned into a judgment-free zone. Indeed, it would appear that college hasn't changed much since Claude Pate was an active band, given that Part Two of the series examines group dating. SEMI-RELATED: The dark underbelly of Spring Break.

DIRTY CHEERING: Legislation filed by Texas State Rep. Al Edwards would put an end to "sexually suggestive" performances at athletic events and other extracurricular competitions.

MEN AND WOMEN: Two new studies suggest that the female "inactive" X chromosome may eventually explain some of the behavioural and biological differences between individual women, and perhaps, between women and men. Clearly, Bill Gates should be working o­n new components.

JUST IN TIME FOR EASTER: Candles that smell like Jesus.

LARRY SUMMERS UPDATE: The Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted that they lack confidence in the Harvard president. Now they don't know what will happen and it is slowing university business. That's a little tardy with those thinking caps, professors.

WARD CHURCHILL UPDATE: The University of Colorado professor whose book blaming the U.S. for 9/11 is titled, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens is finding out for whom the bell tolls.

ERNESTO ALMONTE manages to recall both Hannibal Lechter and Lorena Bobbitt.

ROCK FOR KIDS: The Associated Press notices rockers making albums for kids. But aside from They Might Be Giants and former Del Fuego Dan Zanes, it's mostly the rock equivalent of movie stars doing voices for animated flicks.

TOM WAITS makes a Top 20 Favorite Albums list for The Observer.

BECK: Sasha Frere-Jones writes that Guero "sums up everything Beck is good at, like an imaginary greatest-hits album."

ADAM DURITZ: The Counting Crows singer and Sideshow Bob lookalike was hitting o­n Mary-Kate Olsen. He should be more careful; he could have snapped her like a toothpick.

JACKO JUSTICE: Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon told Howard Stern Thursday that when Michael Jackson was a guest star o­n the animated series, he demanded the script be changed so his character could spend more time with Bart.

NO CLOTHES FOR XTINA: Christina Aguilera's multi-million contract to start a fashion line was terminated after she called celebrity lines "tacky."

CULT OF THE iPod: Not everyone is joining.

BLOGGERS AS JOURNALISTS: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Rocky Mountain News come out in favor of granting bloggers the same privileges as journalists. Now if they figure out that this means everyone should have the same rights...

IRAQ: The top Marine officer in Iraq said Friday that the number of attacks against American troops in Sunni-dominated western Iraq and death tolls had dropped sharply over the last four months, according to The New York Times.

KYGYZSTAN: Protests over the parliamentary elections spread, in some cases erupting into riots. The interior department building in Jalal-Abad has been practically burned down. The government said it was ready to negotiate with the protesters who have demanded President Askar Akayev's resignation.

CANADIAN HEALTH CARE: A letter from the Moncton Hospital to a New Brunswick heart patient in need of an electrocardiogram said the appointment would be in three months. It added: "If the person named o­n this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies."

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: How's the rehab going for the troubled singer? On St. Patrick's Day, he was joined o­n stage by former Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan. According to the New York Post's Page Six, "the two Guinness-swilling hellraisers sang incoherently together for 10 minutes, according to a witness, before McGowan stumbled offstage." Doherty galpal-fiancee-whatever Kate Moss fought with bouncers at the bar. And Doherty is inexplicably teaming up with Ocean Colour Scene. Well, maybe not inexplicable, just bizzare.

LOST IN TRANSLATION: The Killers' Japanese hotel hijinx were interrupted by ex-Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

THE "WHERE ARE THEY NOW?" FILE: The London Sunday Times covers Teenage Fanclub as they go indie to release their first disc in five years.

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Brandan Benson, Louis XIV, M Ward, Sin City, Beyonce, Sons of the Wolf and more!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, March 18, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:

FRIDAY TIME-WASTER: Squares 2, at fetchfido. I must admit I'm still not quite over the Babycal throw, either.

BRENDAN BENSON: His forthcoming disc, The Alternative To Love, "is less an album than an ear snuggle," according to the New Musical Express. You can preview a few tracks (and download o­ne) from his website.

GLAM IT UP: Scenestars blogs a couple of early-Bowie-T.Rex-ish influenced bands, Louis XIV and Living Better Electrically, along with three free MP3 downloads. Pretty nice stuff. The Louis XIV site reveals that band is already generating major buzz; the Living Better Electrically site is still under construction.

M WARD: His latest disc, Transistor Radio was well-reviewed o­n the Pitchfork; you can hear it (albeit o­n a slightly wonky media player) at Merge Records. The disc pays homage to days of radio past (a favorite subject of mine), which Ward discusses in an interview o­n Metromix.

SXSW is being blogged at the Village Voice and photo-blogged by Filter magazine.

JOSS STONE replaces Sarah Jessica Parker as the Gap Girl. Maybe.

CATS AND DOGS: Bloggers have started Carnival of the Cats and Carnival of the Dogs.

HUMANS: More generous than animals.

BUILDING IN A BAG: Shelters o­n demand.

MARS ROVER was probably cleaned by Martian dust devils, not Martians.

THE FIFTY GREATEST MOVIE STARS: I've often noted that such lists are intended to spur arguments. This o­ne from Premiere magazine certainly does.

LETTERMAN KIDNAP PLOT: The Smoking Gun has the "information" (which is often filed instead of an indictment) against Kelly Allen Frank, who allegedly planned to kidnap the late night host's young son and the child's nanny. Dave may be remembering Margaret Ray with nolstalgia.

CULT OF THE iPod: Author Joshua Clover writes an unorthodox review covering the first ten songs from his iPod Shuffle.

FREE TURBO TAX: Very Raw writes that the feds wanted to develop a free e-filing program, which -- as you might expect -- irked the folks who make TurboTax. "They came to an agreement that TurboTax would develop a free version instead of the government, then they just donít advertise it." It's also pretty bare bones, but might work for you or your friends.

AMAZON has patented a technology for guessing your age, sex, birthday and wedding anniversary simply from the types of gifts purchased for you o­nline by others and their timing. Amazon would remind potential gift purchasers by sending them emails or an alert when they log o­n to the website.

SIN CITY: There's a good advance review from The Daily Starlet. "Mr. Evil" is clearly another Alba fan, but I think it's probably unfair to refer to some of Alba's co-stars as "some other less hot chicks." Many of them are hot in their own right, but are not playing strippers in the movie. Indeed, elsewhere o­n The Daily Starlet, Mr. E calls Rosario Dawson "ultrahot." And in the Sin City review, he says "Carla Gugino is amazingly hot and amazingly naked." So it's not all about the Alba. Indeed, another advance review at Ain't-It-Cool News suggests Alba is the tamest o­ne of the bunch.

NO-WAVE: A new breed of noise bands is surveyed by the Village Voice.

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE: The Guardian interviews Josh Homme about songwriting and his split from bassist and sidekick Nick Oliveri, who hopes to rejoin the band. The new disc, which comes out later this month, can be streamed from MySpace.

PITCHFORK is profiled by the Los Angeles Times, by way of the Wichita Eagle.

JACKO JUSTICE: How bad off are you when you're getting unsolicited life coaching from Britney Spears? And Jay Leno, who is o­n your witness list, tells the police that he thinks you are a child molester?

JUICED BASEBALL: David Pinto blogged Thursday's Congressional hearing o­n the use of steroids in Major League Baseball.

SOCIAL SECURITY: In Thursday's Washington Post, Dana Milbank inadvertently demonstrates that politicians from both parties are behaving like Carrot Top.

IRAQ: More Iraqis believe their country is headed in the right direction and fewer think it's going wrong than at any time since the U.S. invasion two years ago, according to a new poll.

IRAN: The first celebration of the Iranian New Year's Festival of Fire was met with celebrations as well as huge protests and demonstrations against the Islamic regime of Iran. The protestors chanted: "We need no Sheikh or Mullah, we curse YOU - RUHOLLAH!" In some areas, they burned the French flag. Iranian authorities beat up and tear gassed them, though Reuters' coverage makes no mention that politics were involved.

BEYONCE KNOWLES offended the French citizenry by "murdering" their language during her performance of Vois Sur Ton Chemin at last month's Oscars, according to actress Juile Delpy. I blame Karl Rove.

POP CULTURAL OBSESSION: I saw Star Wars many more times than Jonathan Lethem, but I never came close to the depths he's plumbed -- not even with music. That being said, the author of the linked article mis-identifies Jack Kirby as a Spider-Man artist, when even Kirby would give the credit to Steve Ditko.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ is nominated to head the World Bank. He would replace James Wolfensohn. I wonder whether a Kerry Administration would have picked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's former consultant, Howard Wolfson. Y'know, since they all have the same name in different languages.

"GRASSROOTS" CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM turns out to be made of Astroturf. Ryan Sager writes that from 1994 to 2004, almost 140 million dollars were spent to lobby for changes to our country's campaign-finance laws. Just over 40 million was spent by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Sean Treglia, a former program officer of the Pew Charitable Trusts, admitted that he pursued a three-pronged strategy: 1) pursue an expansive agenda through incremental reforms, 2) pay for a handful of "experts" all over the country with foundation money and 3) create fake business, minority and religious groups to pound the table for reform. When contacted by the New York Post, Treglia backpedalled, but Sager has the video, which can be downloaded from his blog.

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