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Topic: Karl

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Candylion, Lennon-McCartney, Arcade Fire, Lewis Taylor, Albino Python   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

CANDYLION: The solo album from Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys is getting good reviews from Pitchfork and Gorilla vs. Bear, but while the Fork has it listed as a Team Love release, there's no listing for it at the label's site and GvsB was agnostic o­n a US release date. However, you can stream a few tracks from MySpace and watch the artsy-craftsy video for the title track.

SIR PAUL McCARTNEY is planning to finish an unreleased track he sang with JOHN LENNON. McCartney wanted it o­n The Beatles Anthology, but George Harrison claimed it was not good enough. Of course, now that George is dead, man (miss him, miss him), he cannot object.

MODEST MOUSE: Rolling Stone is killing music by posting a leaked track titled "Dashboard"from the band's upcoming LP. I looked for a streaming copy o­n the Hype Machine, but all posted versions have been wiped clean already -- which is impressive, as bands or labels have missed the HM in the past.  Another version of "Dashboard" was posted at Let's Sexy Fighting, so it may turn up streamable o­n the HM by the time you read this (or not).  Hearsay had a live version.

ARCADE FIRE: For example, since the band's label mistakenly posted a second advance track o­n iTunes, "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations" has turned up o­n Off The Record. But even if the label were to request its removal, a copy would still be streamable from the ol' HM for a while.

JONI MITCHELL is the subject of an upcoming tribute album with tracks from Sufjan Stevens, Emmylou Harris, Prince and more.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: You can thank Sylvia Hauser for sparking me to search out Lewis Taylor's video for "Stoned (Part I)." He's old skool funky Soul in the mode of Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye and Prince.

VANGUARD: The historic record label is opening a Digital Vault o­n iTunes this month, including rare and previously unreleased material.

BISHOP ALLEN: The Village Voice has a piece o­n the band's "near-catastrophic" project to release an EP every month in 2006, including some tracks as free downloads. You can stream a bunch of them o­n the ol' HM at the moment.

JENS LEKMAN has posted a brief essay o­n his next album, which he hopes to have finished by this summer. he talks about the humor involved -- and Ken King and I heard at least o­ne very funny unreleased song at the Pitchfork Fest last summer.

FAITHLESS is streaming a new song, "A Kind of Piece," featuring Chan Marshall, a/k/a Cat Power.

BRITNEY SPEARS has reportedly checked into an exclusive spa for some "R & R," but some are wondering if o­ne of those "R's" is rehab. Cindy Adams claims that her label thinks her new songs stink, which is saying something. The pop tart reportedly has commissioned a nude portrait of herself, apparently unaware she could just get the pics o­n the Internet.

LINDSAY LOHAN has not completely lost her mind (yet), as evidenced by her summary dismissal of advances from Kevin Federline.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE and SCARLETT JOHANSSON are competing for biggest diva o­n the set of his new video. JT cannot have people look at him, while Scar-Jo cannot have anyone watch her eat.

WHITNEY HOUSTON is auctioning her underwear -- in addition to hundreds of her famous stage outfits and accessories -- an event that could earn her hundreds of thousands of dollars in welcome cash.

GEORGE MICHAEL pocketed

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JB, Police Reunion, New Deerhoof, Sahara Hotnights, Fluorescent Pigs   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, January 03, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

JAMES BROWN: PopMatters has an incisive eulogy for Soul Brother #1, noting that the Hardest Working Man in Show Business was big o­n the philosophy of self-reliance (much like Ray Charles). Which is a good excuse to add that Mr. Dynamite had three costume change in three days for his various memorial services. It's also a good excuse to hook you up to these phenomenal clips of JB and the Famous Flames performing "Out of Sight" (introduced by Jan & Dean), "Prisoner of Love/Please Please Please" and especially "Night Train" o­n The T.A.M.I Show. It's no wonder The Rolling Stones were terrified to follow him.

THE YEAR AHEAD: The Denver Post has its own calendar of notable upcoming releases. If I was the Major, I'd be circling Feb 13th, as Lucinda Williams would make a great Valentine's Day gift.

CALEXICO'S Joey Burns shuffled his iPod for the A.V. Club and ended up discussing artists from Theolonius Monk to Scott Walker. I feel bad that I haven't mentioned Scott Walker more often, as The Drift got plenty of rave reviews. But it's pretty rough going, as you can stream for yourself via the ol' HM.

THE POLICE is rumored to be planning a reunion tour to mark their 30th anniversary, coinciding with an anniversary release by the record label A&M in June. Meanwhile, many miles away, something crawls from the slime at the bottom of a dark Scottish lake...

DEERHOOF: "Matchbook Seeks Maniac" is o­ne of the Best Songs of 2007, according to Gorilla vs. Bear, which also quotes fab indie rock author Michael Azerrad: 'Matchbook Seeks Maniac' pulls a "99 Luftballoons" breakdown move in the middle, rocks a Brahms interval in the pop-narcotic chorus, and the Beach Boys and the Who are all over the mix - it's o­ne of the most glorious things I've ever heard..."

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: "Alright Alright" by the Sahara Hotnights, rawk grrls in the mode of The Runaways and The Donnas. Rawr!

SEBADOH: Lou Barlow is a busy man in 2007. He not o­nly plans to tour with the original Sebadoh lineup, but also is part of the first Dinosaur Jr. album in 18 years. Sebadoh is also hosting bootlegs ranging from 1991-2003 o­n their official site.

TOM WAITS: "Lie To Me," the opening track of the Orphans set, made NPR's Song of the Day, with Tom Moon calling it "two minutes and 10 seconds of pure, unfiltered rock 'n' roll bliss."

QUEEN edged out the Beatles to win the title of greatest British band of all time in a vote organized by BBC Radio. They really are the Champions?

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The supposedly sober supermodel's rep denies multiple reports that she married the troubled singer in Phuket, Thailand: "Contrary to various entirely false media reports today, there has not been any kind of marriage ceremony in Thailand. She is o­n holiday."

JESSICA SIMPSON and JOHN MAYER rang in 2007 "full-on making out" at the Hudson Hotel party thrown by Christina Aguilera. Creepy dad-manager Joe was upset that his pneumatic daughter passed up a paycheck to do so. How long until Stereogum revokes Mayer's Strange New Respect? Meanwhile Nick Lachey and TRL host/ET infobabe Vanessa Minnillo were caught canoodling o­n camera, with Minnillo sufficiently excited or drunk to drop an "F" bomb o­n the MTV.

CAMBERLAKE: Are Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz dunzo? Star magazine claims they are...

MADONNA: The father of the Malawian boy being adopted by Madge wants to ask her how his son is getting o­n, but he doesn't have her phone number or mailing addresses.

TERI GARR -- already diagnosed with multiple sclerosis -- is recovering after surgery to treat a brain aneurysm. Her rep says: "The prognosis is very, very good."

COURTNEY LOVE has made a lengthy list of New Year's resolutions. Learning to spell is not o­ne of them.

BRADGELINA: Jolie tells Vogue: "I don't trust anyone." Pitt, meanwhile, is sharing skin cream with Cate Blanchett. It seems that the bald cap must be irritating him.

NICOLE KIDMAN broke down in a roadside rage after requesting a police escort to help reach her Rosedale holiday home. It's the first sign that Kidman is not coping well with the public scrutiny of her marriage and hubby Keith Urban's fall off the wagon. Meanwhile Urban's tattoos may disprove claims he was two-timing Kidman during their engagement.

MISS-CONDUCT: Former Miss Nevada USA Katie Rees -- dethroned after racy photos of her surfaced o­nline -- will not get a second chance from Donald Trump, according to pageant officials.

VICTORIA PRINCIPAL and her plastic surgeon hubby have finalized their divorce, agreeing to split more than 50 million in assets and setting aside a prenup.

RUPERT EVERETT usually does not interest me, but he has some amusing observations about being gay: "Being gay is a young man's game. Who wants an old gay man? No o­ne let me tell you. I could set myself o­n fire in a gay bar, and people would just light their cigarettes from me."

JESSICA ALBA: As post-holiday ennui creeps in, America's Sweetheart comes to the rescue with not o­ne, but two new bikini appearances.

GLOBAL WARMING: Amid the shouting lately about whether global warming is a human-caused catastrophe or a hoax, some usually staid climate scientists in the usually invisible middle are speaking up. MIT's Carl Wunsch: "Denying the risk seems utterly stupid. Claiming we can calculate the probabilities with any degree of skill seems equally stupid."

SOMALIA: As Islamists flee the country, southern sea routes were being patrolled by the US Navy, hunting for three al-Qaeda suspects wanted for the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.

IRAN: A top advisor to Pres. Ahmadinejad claimed in an interview that Adolf Hitler's parents were both Jewish and that Hitler himself was o­ne of the founders of the State of Israel. Which would have been quite a surprise to the Nazis.

WHO IS CAPT. JAMIL HUSSEIN? Although the name appears as a quoted source in over 60 Associated Press stories from Baghdad, former CNN Chief News Executive Eason Jordan, now blogging from Iraq, writes that "If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it" and that "Until this controversy is resolved, every o­ne of those AP reports is tainted." The response from the AP is more stonewalling, with exec. editor Kathleen Carroll stating that she had not read Jordan's item, and likely would not.

IRAQ: Multiple media reports suggest that Pres. Bush is planning to send more US troops to bring greater security to the population, rather than to train Iraqi forces. Some sort of campaign against al-Sadr's Mahdi Army may also be involved. This would mark a change from the strategy championed by Gen. Casey and hasten his departure from Iraq. It also differs from the Iraq Study Group report, which recommended increased troop levels to accelerate traning the locals. The Belmont Club picks up an analysis from the Small Wars Journal suggesting such an approach would likely increase the rotation time of Marine units from 7 to 12 months and Army units from 12-15 months.

FLUORESCENT GREEN PIGS: Made In China. They are not the other white meat.

"SICK THIEVES stole my dead hamster!" I wouldn't even try to top that hreadline.

COWS stare unamazed as Huey and Black Hawk helicopters airlift hay to cattle stranded in blizzard-stricken areas of Colorado and Kansas.

SNAKE knocks out a power grid in Florida. What will happen if the snakes join forces with the suicide squirrels?

AUSTIN the PUG ricochets around the Ritz-Carlton hotel room, bouncing from bed to chair and leaping high to lick the face of his personal masseuse.

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Bowie at 60, The Slip, Jimi on the Rose Bowl, and Gay Sheep   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

BOWIE at 60: London's Observer looks forward to David Bowie's birthday next Monday with an essay and quotes from famous fans like Scarlett Johansson, Clive Owen, Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos, and more. I considered rolling out the standard video links -- "Ziggy Stardust," early Pate staple "Rebel Rebel" and so o­n. But there are more interesting and obscure Bowie clips o­n the Tube, like these pre-"Space Oddity" psych-pop clips for "When I'm Five" and "Let Me Sleep Beside You." Or this o­ne-camera video of "Suffragette City" from a gig at a French college in 1972. There is the spectacle of the Thin White Duke showing all the symptoms of his Dukedom in a 1974 interview with Dick Cavett. Bowie worked the R &B and funk during this period, as he does o­n this clip for "Stay" from The Dinah Shore Show circa 1975. He seemed wacked in that interview also, but Dinah liked him enough to have him back to play "Funtime" with Iggy Pop in '76. Someone named Gary White has posted rehearsal footage from Bowie's '76 tour, so you can watch him sing scat during "Changes."

From his "Berlin period," there is Bowie performing a short take of "Heroes" o­n that infamous Bing Crosby Christmas Special. And given his kinship with Lou Reed (who had his own Berlin period), it's a good spot to add the Velvet Underground-inspired "Queen B*tch" and "Waiting For The Man" with Lou Reed at Bowie's 50th Birthday Concert. I should also include 1979's "Ashes to Ashes," as it's mentioned in the Observer essay. That same year, Bowie reached into the back catalog to play "The Man Who Sold the World" o­n a nameless late-night comedy show, backed in part by a then-unknown Klaus Nomi. And while there's plenty of clips from his resurgence to super-stardom in the 80s, there is also his camp cover of "Dancing In The Street" with Mick Jagger from Live Aid, which was issued as a single and made a pile for charity (they were backed by Paul McCartney live). I think I'll skip right over the whole Tin Machine period and go right to Bowie touting new bands, including playing "Five Years" with the Arcade Fire while he was still recovering from his heart attack. Fortunately, he looks much better joining David Gilmour and Richard Wright for "Arnold Layne" in tribute to the late Syd Barrett. So, early Happy Birthday, Dave.

NEW RELEASES: There is nothing worth streaming from AOL again this week. Things start looking up next Tuesday, however.

THE YEAR AHEAD: Indeed, Stereogum already has a list of notable upcoming releases.

THE YEAR BEHIND: The BBC, to its credit, looks back at its critics' poll of picks to click for '06 to see how they did.

THE SLIP: These Berklee-trained, reformed hippies were about to give up when they were discovered by My Morning Jacket's Jim James, who raved about them to both The New York Times and Rolling Stone, as well as putting them o­n the MMJ tour. You can stream or download a mini-set for the Interface, as well as wqatch an interview o­n the DL, both via AOL.

JIMI HENDRIX congratulates the USC Trojans for "beating the h*ll out of Michigan before launching into "Power of Soul." Ripped from today's headlines!

THE LINE BETWEEN CREATIVITY and INSANITY: Chuck Klosterman compares the cases of Syd Barrett and Brian Wilson, though I think it slightly unfair that he ended his Wilson hunk with the Dr. Landy period.

RBALLY is still going strong, posting classic sets from the Jesus & Mary Chain o­n French radio (jukebox) and Social Distortion at First Avenue (jukebox).

DUELLING CRITICS' POLLS: The L.A. Times looks at the new rivalry between the Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll and the Idolator blog poll due Friday, following the VV firing founder Robert Christgau, who will nevertheless vote in both polls: "I'm flattered that people care. I'm flattered that it matters to people so much. I've been mildly surprised about how big a deal it seems to be to a lot of people."

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The troubled singer flouted court-ordered travel restrictions in order to to see in the New Year with the supposedly sober supermodel o­n the appropriately-named island of Phuket, Thailand. And the Daily Mail is reporting the pair "married" there, though it's unclear whether it was a legal ceremony that would give Doherty the right to half the estimated

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All is NOT Quiet...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, January 01, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

...BUT IT HAS BEEN a pretty slow time of the year for news, as usual. So I thought that -- as this year was the Year of YouTube -- that I would use New Year's Day to list my Favoritest Video Moments of 2006. But the Wild West nature of videosharing means that some of them are no longer o­nline. So here are A Few of My Favoritest Things, in no particular order. And though they appeared here in 2006, a minority was made in 2006. So there.

THE BUGGLES: What better way to start than with "Video Killed the Radio Star," the clip that launched MTV o­n August 8, 1981 (though the song itself charted in December 1979). The song was not performed live until a concert for the Prince

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The Beatles, The Hold Steady, The Stones, Doc Watson, and Exploding Toads   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 29, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE...

... with THE FAB FOUR'S Royal Variety Performance from 1963: "From Me To You," "'Til There Was You" and "Twist & Shout." Those in the cheaper seats, clap your hands. NEW YEAR'S EVE BONUS: "Shout" twice with The Isley Brothers and Otis Day & the Knights.

JAMES BROWN: A white, horse-drawn carriage carried the body of music legend James Brown through the streets of Harlem o­n Thursday to the Apollo Theater, where a sea of people waited to say farewell to the "Godfather of Soul." Friends and fans walked behind the caisson in the street, singing the chorus of Brown's anthem, "Say it Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud." The Rev. Al Sharpton raced through the night in a van with the late singer's casket, arriving in New York about three hours late a day after leaving Georgia. Even in death, former Pres. Ford just cannot catch a break.

SEASON of the LIST: As 2006 runs down, I refer you to Largehearted Boy's master list of 2006 o­nline music lists. These go beyond the type that were my focus here, so if you're looking for lists of Best Metal, Jazz, Country, Rap, or cool Family albums, you can find them there, and then some!

THE HOLD STEADY: You can stream or download a performance and interview from The Interface via AOL. The site notes: "The band came into the Interface studio armed with a bottle of Jaegermaister."

SUPERCHUNK guitarist-vocalist Mac McCaughan shuffled his iPod for the A.V. Club and ended up talking about Bruce Springsteen, Jenny Lewis and more.

BAND OF HORSES: Heather Browne is streaming the band's demos. You can also jukebox 'em with some of the band's Sub Pop stuff via the HM.

THE ROLLING STONES: Ms. Browne is also streaming choice Stones outtakes. Again, you can jukebox 'em from the HM if you prefer.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: Hardcore Pate fans will understand that I could not let 2006 pass without hooking you up with the Rick James classic, "Super Freak."

THE STATE OF THE MUSIC BIZ might be summed up by two facts reported in the New York Post: (1) The top-selling album of the year was Walt Disney's High School Musical; and (2) It sold fewer than four million copies -- the lowest-achieving chart topper since 1991.

DOC WATSON: Creative Loafing profiles the 83-year-old bluegrass legend, who has some sage advice: "Flash has no place in playing. It might impress the kids, but it's great songs that endure." In that vein, Watson talks about his cover of "Nights in White Satin." There does not seem to be video of it floating around, but he kills o­n "Summertime."

CULT of the iPod: Did iTunes sales soar or plummet? It depends o­n how you count them. FWIW, put me in the camp that prefers year-over-year comparisons, given the cyclcal nature of the biz.

WOXY: Since the internet radio station's rescue by the LaLa media group, Each Note Secure has become hooked o­n LaLa's other services which include CD trading and personal radio playlists.

THE CUTOUT BIN: This Friday's fortutitous finds from the HM for year's end include: Hoodoo Gurus - I Want You Back; Badfinger - No Matter What; The Who - I Need You; The Clash - Spanish Bombs; The Libertines - Up The Bracket; Sex Pistols - Holidays In The Sun; The Police - When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around; They Might Be Giants - New York City; The Raveonettes - Love In A Trashcan; My Morning Jacket - Rocket Man; Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Honey Child What Can I Do; Dusty Springfield - Breakfast In Bed; Yo La Tengo - Mr. Tough; James Brown - (Get Up, I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine, Pt. 1; Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Pick It Up, Lay It In The Cut; Ella Fitzgerald - Sunshine Of Your Love; Cobra Starship - Snakes o­n a Plane (Bring It); Guns N Roses - Welcome to the Jungle; Queen - Fat Bottomed Girls; and The Flaming Lips - Bohemian Rhapsody.

BRITNEY SPEARS is ditched by her biggest fansite as Star magazine examines the evidence that the pop tart has become a bloated sexaholic. No wonder she's thinking of adopting a tsunami orphan.

NOW SHOWING: There are no new wide releases this Friday, but Dreamgirls, currently scoring 77 percent o­n the Tomatometer, and Black Christmas, scoring a whopping 16 percent, opened Monday. As it's the last weekend of the year, it's worth a look back at the Best-Reviewed Movies of 2006 via Metacritic, and the Top-Grossing Movies of 2006, via Box Office Mojo. It looks like the o­nly two films prominent o­n both lists are The Departed and Borat.

CASINO ROYALE has become the most successful James Bond film at the box office, generating 454 million dollars in cinemas worldwide so far.

MORE MISS NEVADA MISCONDUCT: Last week, the lawyer for ex-Miss Nevada Katie Rees said the racy photos that got her dethroned were of "an isolated incident." TMZ has found that it was maybe not so isolated. Borderline NSFW pic at the link.

ROSIE O'DONNELL: Speaking of the Miss USA pageant, The View "moderator" continued her feud with Donald Trump o­n her blog, writing in her trademark free verse: "beauty pageants/ where women were paraded around/ judged valuable or not/ by old white men/ it is always old white men..." Except it was not true of the Miss USA pageant in 2006. Indeed, it has not been true for decades. There are any number of valid criticisms to be had of beauty pageants like Miss USA, but leave it to O'Donnell to pick o­ne of the few that does not hold up.

CARMEN ELECTRA and DAVE NAVARRO BREAK-UPDATE: The super-relaible National Enquirer claims that the couple "have apparently both gone gay since pulling the plug o­n their two-and-a-half-year marriage earlier this year." NTTAWWT, if true. But iirc, Navarro was already o­n record as bisexual. The kicker is that in November, Electra was caught canoodling with Joan Jett backstage at The Music Box theater in Hollywood. But maybe that was just to fuel interest for Carmen's cameo in Jett's cover of The Sweet's "A.C.D.C."

PAM ANDERSON, Electra's former co-Baywatch babe, was reportedly not impressed by the smooth talk of wealthy playboy Steve Bing. A source told Us Weekly that Anderson "likes guys who are a little rough with her." Bing -- and "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss, who set up the date -- may be the o­nly two people in America who don't remember Tommy Lee and Kid Rock.

TIM BURTON is being sued for fraud by ex-gf Lisa Marie, who claims the quirky director owes her palimony from their 10-year relationship, and that after their split she'd settled for a lesser amount under false pretenses.

JAKE and MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL escaped a fire at the hotel where their family was vacationing early Wednesday morning.

LINDSAY LOHAN jumped o­nstage at Scores West to do a wild bump-and-grind Wednesday night, then ushered topless dancers into the bathroom to apologize for recently calling them all "whores." Of course, she reportedly called strippers worse than that. But more interesting is why she ushered them into the bathroom. At least she got better reviews from the strippers for her dancing than Britney Spears did at the Forty Deuce.

GO FUG YOURSELF: I don't usually cover the fashion beat (nttawwt), but celebs who can't even dress themselves are fairly amusing.

THE TOP 50 YOU TUBE VIDEOS of 2006, according to Spinner. I've posted a numbe of them here throught the year, but it's quite a timewaster.

DANNY BONADUCE is not a figure who generally inspires sympathy. But since he stood up to 9/11 conspiracy theorists, his family started receiving death threats, and some of those compassionate progressives sent abusive messages and images of maimed Iraqi children to his 12-year-old daughter's MySpace page. It is hard to imagine someone could be threatened by the viewpoint of Danny Partridge, or so cowardly as to use his daughter as a target.

THE TOP FIVE NANOTECH BREAK-THROUGHS of 2006 are listed by Forbes magazine.

A PARASITE that makes men act dumb and women act like sex kittens has reportedly infected about 40 per cent of the world's population. So how is it that I've o­nly run into the infected men?

SOMALIA: Islamists fled Mogadishu as government and Ethiopian forces retook the Somali capital. Analysts warned that the force's apparent collapse could be followed by an Iraq-style insurgency that would keep the impoverished country unstable through a mix of assassinations, car bombs and political action. No word on whether analysts think a Taliban-style government in Somalia -- led by al Qaeda associates and establishing a network of terrorist training camps -- would be a better outcome for Somalia or civilization in the long run.

IRAQ: NBC reports that Saddam will be hanged by Sunday, though Reuters quotes officials as saying he may not hang within a month. Either the gov't would like some operational security here, or there are concerns about killing him before the end of his second trial for genocide. Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general of Camp Pendleton's I Marine Expeditionary Force and commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command, reviews the status of the Marines' deployment in Anbar province. Tony Perry of the L.A. Times reports o­n sniper attacks along Route Mobile in Anbar, noting a new tactic of planting fake IEDs as bait. Bill Roggio blogged from Route Mobile earlier this month. Iraqi special forces backed by US advisers captured an AQ cell leader believed to be behind the June kidnapping of two US soldiers later found tortured and killed. The head of an Iranian opposition group claims that two Iranians detained by US forces in Iraq were senior members of the elite Revolutionary Guards and had coordinated attacks against coalition troops and Iraqi civilians.

AFGHANISTAN: A British Army interpreter is to stand trial next month accused of passing secret information to Iran.

IRAN: There is a growing interest by NATO in intelligence collected worldwide o­n Iran's nuclear program, according to Israeli defense officials.

EXOTIC ANIMALS may be exotic, but increasingly common in Britain, thus ensuring a steady supply of wacky animal stories for this site in the years to come.

BLACK-FOOTED FERRETS and BOLSON TORTOISES are among the endangered species wintering at Ted Turner's ranch in New Mexico. Besides, I'm a sucker for any story datelined to "Truth or Consequences."

KITTY saves a family of four from a house fire in Cairns, Queensland.

GIANT PANDAS are finicky eaters.

SNAKES can predict earthquakes? At least o­ne province in southern China thinks so...

EXPLODING TOADS UPDATE: In 2005, German toad experts were baffled by an acute outbreak of exploding toad syndrome, but the mystery has been solved. And crows stare unamazed at the answer.

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