THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE is still doing quite well on the ol' Tomatometer, but what did I think of it, and can I make it spoiler-free? (Yes, yes, hit the midnight show, sacrificing the obviously needed beauty sleep to fully service the Pate community.) Many of the reviews call this one the best yet. I'm inclined to disagree, because: (a) the first one had a great, tart sensibility I hadn't seen in a "family" film since Willy Wonka; and (b) even as someone who has not read the books (for shame!), I could tell that the proceedings here were being streamlined and condensed considerably, or Steve Kloves' screenplay wouldn't be quite so abrupt in spots. Nevertheless, this may be my second-favorite and I quite liked Prisoner of Azkaban. Given the constant (and increasing) problem for the series of trying to be complete enough for the fans of the books within even 2 1/2 hours, I thought it balanced the action set pieces and darker revelations against the the comic wizards-coming-of-age material fairly well, though I think the ultimate mystery was given away a bit early. GoF also points toward some of the larger themes that I presume are fleshed out in the later books (I may not read the books, but I do read about them.) Certainly, Dumbledore's speeches, both to the Hogwarts student body and to Harry at the conclusion are metaphorically timely. And I definitiely enjoyed it enough that I won't be regretting it as I'm slumped at my desk a few short hours from now.
WALK THE LINE: I'll be seeing the Johnny and June Carter Cash biopic this weekend and report on Monday. In the meantime, I have to say my all-time favorite book is Johnny Cash's autobiography "Cash" by Johnny Cash.
FRIDAY TIMEWASTER: Spot the Fake Smile. Can you tell the undisputed truth?
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE co-founder Brendan Canning thinks the band is a source of Canadian pride: "People are a bit tired of bigger different artists (who) I don't want to name being ambassadors for our country."
A COMPUTER PROGRAM THAT PICKS HITS has been developed by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. grads. The response is so specific at times that it can forecast how a single will perform on the charts and spit out a review, guessing what words will be used to describe it: "My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you."
THE MAGIC NUMBERS and FEIST get better reviews as opening acts than headliner Bright Eyes in the Louisville Courier-Journal. ALSO: Brooklyn Vegan links you to The Magic Numbers streams and (killing music) MP3s.
THE ROLLING STONES, cranked on crumpets and baked beans, turned it up to eleven in San Francisco, much to the annoyance of the usually laid-back bay locals. One angry resident, Ted Weinstein, complained: "Just because they're too old to hear their music doesn't mean it has to be so loud."
DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS' Jason Isbell talks to Creative Loafing about being the new kid.
INDIE GONE MERSH: Scott at Stereogum posts about commercial artistry. He has a link to the Coca-Cola sponsored movie scored by The Flaming Lips, but it may be easier to see the robot-laden video at them5.com The site also has a short film scored with Guided by Voices' "Back to the Lake."
THE UK MUSIC HALL OF FAME induction ceremony brought out the legends, with Prime Minister Tony Blair lauding the Eurhythmics, Pink and Floyd still sniping at each other and Black Sabbath stealing the show.
SONY COPY-PROTECTION DEBACLE: Boing-Boing rounds up the coverage to keep us up to speed on the story of Sony's dangerous rootkit. It looks like some heads will roll in the aftermath.
BONO spent ,700 to have his hat flown to him in Italy - first class. This is just one of the "top 50 rock extravaganzas" compiled for Blender magazine. "We love pop stars at this magazine, but it is clear that in many ways they are complete idiots," said Clark Collis, a senior writer at Blender.
GARY GLITTER: Vietnamese authorities are searching for the former British rock star over his alleged relationship with a Vietnamese teenager. Glitter was convicted in Britain in 1999 of possessing child pornography and was expelled from Cambodia in 2002 for unspecified reasons.
TOM-KAT UPDATE: The Malcontent has posted a clip from South Park's "Trapped In The Closet" episode. E! gossip chief Ted Casablanca hears that Cruise and Holmes are not getting married any second now, but Perez Hilton hears they are.
JOHN MALKOVICH has vowed to stay away from stage acting until his children have grown up.
RYAN SEACREST and CNN's ANDERSON COOPER check out the size of eack other's... neckties.
GEOFFREY FEIGER, the high-profile attorney for clients like Dr. Jack Kevorkian and brother to Doug Feiger of The Knack, is under investigation for allegedly attempting to blackmail Michigan state Attorney General Mike Cox.
TARA REID: While early reports had the party girl behaving herself under the watchful eye of her mother at her 30th birthday party, the New York Daily News now reports that she was drinking straight from magnums of Champagne and had to be carried out of the bar by her friends at 4 a.m. Now that's the Tara we all know!
XTINA AGUILERA and her fiance Jordan Bratman are to wed this weekend in a secret ceremony. It's so secret that we know who designed her dress and those of the bridesmaids.
MARK McGRATH of Sugar Ray lands Pam Anderson and still gets no respect. Ouch.
BRITTANY MURPHY has been a very bad girl. Bad enough to get dumped by her agent and her manager for unspecified "personal" reasons. And in Hollywood, that's saying something.
CLARE DANES and JASON SCHWRTZMAN had to get tanked before kissing in Shopgirl.
MICHA BARTON had a wardrobe malfunction on The O.C. this week. So of course it's on iFilm already.
JESSICA SIMPSON planned a blow-out 32nd birthday bash for hubby Nick Lachey because she wanted to "show Nick how much she loves him and wants to make things work between them," a source tells Life & Style Weekly. Lachey reportedly told her, "Do what you want, but leave me out of it."
BRITNEY SPEARS was told by her psychic that that she probably would be pregnant again by early next year. Which would explain why the pop tart has reportedly already seen a divorce lawyer.
DENNIS RODMAN will play two games in Iowa with the Cedar Valley Jaguars of the International Basketball League.
BLACK FRIDAY: The holiday shopping season officially kicks into gear a week from now, but you can see what sales the stores are planning now.
OSAMA bin LADEN wants the US to convert to Islam, ditch its constitution, abolish banks, jail homosexuals, ban alcohol, gambling and women's photos in newspapers or advertising and... sign the Kyoto climate change treaty.
IRAQ: Bill Roggio looks at Operation Panther, which seeks to capitalize on three key al Qaeda in Iraq insurgents captured in Ramadi. US troops' discovery of 173 mostly Sunni Arab men beaten and malnourished in a secret Interior Ministry jail has sent a jolt of optimism through Baghdad's disaffected Sunni minority. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) made headlines by calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops because he's seen as a "hawk." But Murtha called the war "unwinnable" a year and a half ago. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a frequent critic of the conduct of the war, disagrees with proposals to withdraw, to put it mildly. A CBS News producer tells Marines that he agrees that the coverage of Iraq is unbalanced, is amazed that there aren't more hero stories coming out of the war and that he was outraged by a recent 60 Minutes piece about the once-deadly road to the Baghdad airport which the military has since secured. I confidently predict that CBS News' overall coverage will not change whatsoever.
SENS. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA) and TOM HARKIN (D-IA) got caught trying to get public buildings named after themselves.
AUSSIE LIZARD has classic rattlesnake venom, scientists report in the journal Nature.
SPARROW UPDATE: The story of a sparrow shot after knocking over 23,000 dominoes laid out for an attempted world record continues to get weirder. Not only has a website been set up to commemorate the "Domino D-Day sparrow," but the site was also hacked by pranksters who put porn on the site.
ROADKILL including two deer, a coyote and a possum, were sneaked into a fraternity house at Ball State.
LISBON LEMUR limits locomotive line.
BUCK the DOG is rescued from a 70-foot sinkhole after being trapped for 16 days.