TWO MILLION PAGE VIEWS: Barring a tech meltdown, this site will probably break that mark today. Thanks again to Lance for keeping things running, and to y'all for stopping by!
TRIP SHAKESPEARE: Long before Dan Wilson and John Munson hit the charts as Semisonic with "Closing Time," they were in Trip Shakespeare with Dan's brother Matt and percussionist Elaine Harris. Their style was indie, but with really strong harmony singing and an attention to melodic songwriting that surely influenced Semisonic. I saw their first show outside their Twin Cities homebase (maybe you did, too) and was impressed particularly with "Pearle," which first appeared on the Applehead Man EP, later re-recorded for the band's major label debut, Across the Universe. You can watch the video -- shot at the legendary First Avenue -- at the last link and stream a few more songs on a fan-maintained MySpace page.
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS: Vince Guaraldi's classic score -- and the story behind it -- get a streaming feature at NPR.
CHRISTMAS MUSIC PICKS: The critics of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram compile playlists of songs. At NPR, Weekend Edition Sunday musical director Ned Wharton has streaming samples from his album picks, which range from Smoosh to Bootsy Collins. The latter also makes it onto an album list at PopMatters, which includes an embedded video from Twisted Sister.
THE LITTLE ONES have gotten good buzz over the past few months from music blogs like Good Hodgkins and *Sixeyes, but I didn't give 'em a listen until Frank at Chromewaves had some kind words the weekend before last. You can stream their hook-laden, pastel pop from MySpace.
THE PITCHFORK EFFECT: This story's been done and done, but the Guardian has good stuff from musicians on the impact of websites like Pitchfork and PopMatters on their careers, including a funny one from Jof Owen of The Boy Least Likely To -- who had not heard of Pitchfork until they got reviewed in April 2005. There's also a recap of some classic Pitchfork reviews, so RTWT. Also, Slate has a new piece titled, "Die, Pichfork, Die!"
VAN SHE is classified on MySpace as "Black Metal/Powerpop/Techno." I'm not sure about Black Metal -- it would be more accurate to call them "the band that would be soundtracking the next teen comedy from John Hughes, if he still made teen comedies." Even the video for "Kelly" is chock full of 80s refs. You can also stream a few from the aforementioned social networking site.
JAY BENNETT talks to PopMatters about his solo career and the way his departure from Wilco is portrayed in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: "Strangely enough, I go back and forth as to whether I really am vilified in that movie. I have to admit."
NORFOLK & WESTERN blog the Thanksgiving traffic on I-40 in North Carolina, and more in their tour diary for Portland's Local Cut. You cans stream some of their eclectic folk-rock via the HM.
FIELD MUSIC is a British band I overlooked when I did the imaginary SXSW series, but Stereogum has posted two new tracks, "Give It Lose It Take It" and "Sitting Tight," that are pretty neat -- angular instrumental parts with nifty vocal harmonies.
THE FUTUREHEADS have been dropped by their label, but are ready to rawk.
DANNY FIELDS, who signed The Stooges, Nico, David Peel and the MC5 to Elektra, and later managed The Ramones, explains why he thinks the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is "kind of an evil institution."
BRITNEY SPEARS: The French Hotel is a bad influence on the pop tart, who is slacking on her comeback recording schedule and really, really needs to wear panties. (very NSFW.) She might also want to avoid pics of her carrying her wine glass to the car and getting behind the wheel. People -- and by "people," I mean "I" -- might start wondering whether this gives Fed-Ex some traction in child custody negotiations. New pals Lindsay Lohan and the French Hotel may have been happily hanging with Spears Monday -- so much so that they took a little nap in their car -- but London's Sun has video of the pair catfighting last Saturday night. BONUS: Sunday, La Lohan was snapped buying designer handcuffs.
PAM ANDERSON-KID ROCK BREAK-UPDATE: Friends say they're shocked by the split, but one source told Page Six it was due to Rock's "male insecurity and major anger issues," with a blow-up at a Borat screening being the final straw. Speaking of Borat, the film's massive success may have Universal already feeling buyer's remorse about the 42 million laid out for Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno project, with fears of additional lawsuits and that Cohen's cover may be permanently blown.
THE McCARTNEYS: Sir Paul is swamped for autographs at rare public appearance in London, while estranged wife Heather Mills announces a celebrity auction to a couple of office workers eating their sandwiches. Mills also seems to be a recurring target for celebs at awards shows.
KATE HUDSON-CHRIS ROBINSON BREAK-UPDATE: Is Owen "The Butterscotch Stallion" Wilson planning to propose to Hudson before she's officially divorced?
MICHAEL RICHARDS CRACK-UPDATE: The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for a boycott of the latest Seinfeld DVD, a way of exacting economic punishment for the ex-Kramer's racist meltdown. Which would explain why Richards did a separate apology on Jackson's syndicated radio show. Huffington Post blogger Trey Ellis advised Richards to stop apologizing, especially to the likes of Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton (even while excusing Jackson's "Hymietown" remark as an "ill-chosen quip"). Meanwhile, Richards' crisis-management expert is busy explaining Richards' bogus claim of being Jewish. Maybe the Rev. Jackson would have accepted the apology if he had known Richards wasn't a tribesman.
TOM-KAT UPDATE: Britains uber-reliable Daily Star claims that the couple may release a rendition of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," though record labels are allegedly loathe to have the money go to Scientology. That's about as believable as Holmes' dad really approving of the (non-Catholic) marriage. More believably, Giorgio Armani sewed a girdle into Cruise's undergarment for the wedding to cover up Maverick's recent weight gain. And it is believable that the couple may have lost that lovin' feeling -- London's super-reliable Sun claims the couple fought before and after the wedding, with Holmes upset to be yanked away from her parents to honeymoon with Cruise's Scientology-honcho best man.
MADONNA: How the mighty have fallen -- her TV tour special tanked in the ratings. Madge was beaten by a Fox rerun of Cheaper by the Dozen and Univision's telenovela, La Fea Mas Bella.
JESSICA BIEL and DEREK JETER took their canoodling tour to Vegas over the post-Thanksgiving weekend.
REESE & RYAN BREAK-UPDATE: Witherspoon is reportedly growing close to Jake Gyllenhaal on the set of their new movie Rendition. Jake has been her shoulder to cry on, according to US Weekly.
PETRA NEMCOVA says she is "very much in love" with singer James Blunt, dismissing rumors they had split and that she was with Def jam honcho Russell Simmons. I am so disappointed, I can't even post her picture right now.
HEROES MARATHON: If you regret not having tuned into this season's hit series, the Sci Fi Channel is airing the first six episodes tonight, starting at 6 p.m. ET. Sci-Fi also reruns the week's new episodes Fridays at 7 p.m. ET.
THE INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS nominees are announced, with Little Miss Sunshine and Half-Nelson leading the contenders with five noms apiece. Coming Soon has the full list.
WHO IS CAPT. JAMIL HUSSEIN, Pt. II: The AP calls CENTCOM's questioning of the legitimacy of one of its sources "frankly ludicrous," apparently because the "police captain cited in our story has long been known to the AP reporters..." The AP is incurious as to why Capt. Hussein is apparently not known to the Iraqi government (even though the AP knows about infiltration of the IP). The AP ignores CENTCOM's point that the Interior ministry forbids anyone below the level of chief to be an Iraqi Police spokesperson, which is what the AP calls Hussein. The AP also ignores that "another AP-popular IP spokesman, Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq, supposedly of the city's Yarmouk police station, does not work at that police station and is also not authorized to speak on behalf of the IP" -- and is apparently wanted for questioning. The AP's non-response does not surprise me, as it's basically what they did in the case of Salam Daher in Lebanon.
IRAQ: At ITM, Mohammed writes about the fear and organization in his mixed neighborhood during the curfew period in Baghdad. Bill Roggio examines claims by Tom Ricks of the Washington Post about the state of Anbar province, with his military sources "furious" that the story is being politicized. ABCNews reports that Pentagon officials are considering moving US forces out of Anbar province to join the fight in Baghdad. Hey, I wish I had thought of that. And if it happens, maybe Anbar isn't as bad off as the WaPo suggests.
IRAN, btw, is reportedly training members of Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army in both Lebanon and Iraq. Because all the mullahs want to do is give peace a chance.
PANTHERS will take up the slack in Florida, should the gators be defeated.
RACOONS invade Brooklyn. Where they came from is anyone