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Gang of Four, The Decemberists, Pope John Paul II, Sin City and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, April 04, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


ON THE PITCHFORK: Rhino is reissuing Gang of Four's Entertainment! with the Yellow EP as a bonus. The Raveonettes set tour dates. RELATED: Pitchfork and the whole blog, e-zine, MP3 thang is chroncled by Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune.

APRIL FOUR: You know the tune.

PATTI SMITH talks to Newsweek magazine about the possible closing of CBGB and the possible opening of a new movement in rock music.

CBGB is getting a little help from its friends.

NEIL YOUNG was treated for a brain aneurysm last week and remains hospitalized; his doctors expect a full recovery.

CROOKED FINGERS frontman Eric Bachman, interviewed by twenty/forty magazine, makes a great statement about songwriting that's applicable to most everyone: "You know how they say that when you make a judgment about a person, place, or thing it actually says nothing about the person, place, or thing being judged but instead says mountains about the person making that judgment."

THE DECEMBERISTS frontman Colin Meloy resists the charge of elitism: "For all of our high-mindedness, we kind of measure it with lowbrow humor. There’s nothing there that I don’t think can be found appealing. That said, there’s really nothing you can do if someone doesn’t want to hear songs about these things, Victorian prostitutes and homosexual doughboys in World War I trenches. There’s some things there that you just have to draw the line. Some people are just not going to like it. We would hope that everybody would like it."

THE POPE IS DEAD, which you probably already know. But did you know that Pope John Paul II embraced the internet? America magazine has FAQs o­n Papal transition. And if you're so inclined, you can read up o­n John Paul II's Theology of the Body. The New York Times apparently had an obituary with criticism ready to go, but decided that it needed some quote from a supporter, too. David Remnick has a nice summation up at The New Yorker. At Slate, Christopher Hitchens unsurprisingly speaks ill of the dead. Which isn't to say he doesn't have a point, just that he lacks manners.

OH CANADA! The Canadian government may collapse in scandal.

IRAQ: Iraqis are enjoying some Terrorism and the Hand of Justice, reality television that is as educational as it is entertaining. Prominent Sunni clerics who o­nce condemned the new Iraqi government opened the door Friday to participation of their followers in the army and police. Although the fatwa could exclude Sunnis from joint U.S.-Iraqi actions, the most important effect of the edict may be o­n the civilian population. And the Iraqi parliament made some progress in breaking its stalemate Sunday, as I suggested they would last week.

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME: Invented by Ben Franklin to get Parisians to rise before noon. At National Review, John J. Miller claims it became law to help businessmen, not farmers.

THE BRAVERY: Are they poseurs, or not? "It'd be simpler if they were just plain bad," says Rolling Stone contributing editor Rob Sheffield. "The fact that this record is good is a big disappointment to some people. You'll hear people say, 'Officially, I don't like them, but I kinda like that record.'"

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS: John Darnielle talks to the Omaha Reader about the more personal nature of his latest work. The Memphis Flyer gives their forthcoming disc, The Sunset Tree, an A-

THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES founder Ebbot Lundberg talks about his start as a pinball wizard and the red vs. blue divide in the U.S.

KASABIAN break bad o­n Franz Ferdinand and Keane. Seems like post-punk is becoming more like hip-hop all the time.

KAISER CHIEFS: Their appearance o­n The Late Show with David Letterman is streaming in Real format.

SONIC YOUTH has a bunch of free MP3 downloads up at their site.

DINOSAUR JR: J Mascis talks to Play Louder magazine about the remastered re-issues of the band's first three albums, firt-wave punk and reuniting with Lou Barlow.

SIN CITY: Topped the weekend box office, raking in about $28 million against a $40 million budget. The Chicago Tribune's Michael Wilmington enjoyed it, but writes: "it will delight some and repel others—and that's probably the right reaction." The reviewer for the San Diego Union-Tribune falls into the latter category: "It can cause a gasp, not just about its violence, but about where movies are headed." In USA Today, Mike Clark says it "reaps genuine fun with more pummelings than Popeye and enough bad girls to fill a Donna Summer box set." The review by Manohla Dargis for The New York Times says, "it's a shame the movie is kind of a bore." A sidebar to the USA Today review notes that Sin City commits "The Seven Deadly Sins of Moviemaking."

SIN CITY II: So what did I think of it? I think almost all of the reviews have valid points, save for the charge of mysogyny. Sure, the flick has the whole "madonna-whore" complex o­ne tends to find in film noir, but a number of the women dish out as much as they take, as the film is as violent as the advance reviews suggest. Indeed, I would argue it's less misogynistic than some hip-hop videos that run o­n MTV. It is an amazing recreation of Miller's work -- which has its weaknesses as well as its strengths. I think many people may feel as though they are watching a foreign movie. Outside of the Chandler-esque narration, the dialogue is almost as spare as o­ne finds in a graphic novel or comic book, forms in which the visual predominates. And the visuals are stunning; Miller and Rodriguez use both chiaroscuro and high-contrast to fully exploit the near-total black and white format. Nevertheless, while I liked it, I cannot say I loved it, as its bare-bones approach left the characters undeveloped in a way that is tolerable in a graphic novel, but vaguely unsatisfying in a movie (Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis being notable exceptions). I suspect some will be simply baffled by it. Even so, I may well go see it again, just to appreciate it o­n a visual level.

SONY PICTURES wants to create an "iTunes" for films.

MICHAEL DOUGLAS looks like he visited the nip/tuck shop.

MUSLIM WOMEN often have it as bad in Europe as they do in the Middle East. Hirsi Ali, who was born in Somalia and has been a member of the Dutch Parliament since January 2003, now receives death threats in Internet chat rooms and in rap songs and lives at a naval base for security.

TONIGHT, o­n "IT'S THE MIND:" Déjà vu -- that strange feeling we sometimes get that we've lived through something before.

UGLY AWARDS: The Advertising Women of New York don't care much for Xtina or the French Hotel.

NANOTECH: A new paper published by the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology suggests that molecular manufacturing may not be as distant as many believe. Physicists at the California Institute of Technology have created the first nanodevices capable of weighing individual biological molecules.

BRAIN IMPLANTS: Paralysed people can now control artificial limbs -- and other devices -- by thought alone.

UNEMPLOYMENT is high in Europe, perhaps as much as 20 or 25 percent in Sweden, according to that country's largest trade union.

SIDEWAYS PROTESTING: French winegrowers have set off dynamite in government offices to highlight their financial plight. The New Jersey Star-Ledger notes Americans' boycott over France's opposition to the Iraq war as an additional factor, but points out that French vintners have survived worse.

NATIONAL TREASURE UPDATE: Clinton national security advisor Sandy Berger not o­nly took classified documents from the National Archives, but also cut them up with scissors. Previously, Berger had descibed the episode as an "honest mistake.''

FIONA APPLE: Her unreleased, but widely leaked album is well-reviewed by Jon Pareles in The New York Times

RYAN ADAMS AND PARKER POSEY appear to have broken up.

BOB MARLEY: The BBC requested an interview with the legendary reggae artist. If they can get o­ne, I'm definitely tuning in.

THE BRITISH INVASION: The Boston Globe surveys the newest wave.

GOSPEL SINGERS WERE TRICKED into firing their agent by record execs, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Friday.

FILESHARING: Sony BMG, Napster, RealNetworks and others are partnering with universities to try to get college kids in the habit of paying for downloads. Boing-Boing covers an amusing sidebar to the Grokster case. BTW, if you didn't know, there's actually a chart of top peer-to-peer music downloads compiled by Big Champagne.

PODCASTING: Encouraged by examples like KCRW, smaller DJs and record labels mull podcasting as an option. Radio stations around the country are adopting an iPod Shuffle format.

ZIMBABWE: Publius Pundit and WILLisms are rounding up the election and its aftermath. The opposition rejects the results, but it's not clear that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, will lead the people into the streets.

MS. WHEELCHAIR Wisconsin has been stripped of her title because pageant officials say she can stand -- and point to a newspaper picture as proof.

MANCHESTER: Organizers of a major erotic festival are closing for business to a lack of interest, which they blame o­n recalcitrant northern English men. What did they expect? It's the hometown of Morrisey.

THE UNITED NATIONS: The second Volcker committee report, that supposedly "exonerated" United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan of knowing about his son’s alleged links to the Iraqi oil-for-food affair, has been called into question by a key witness. o­ne example: "The committee had acquired a fax from Cotecna, which paid Kojo as a consultant, just weeks before the Swiss firm won a key UN contract in Iraq. The fax asked Kojo if he had received information from his 'main mentor.' The committee’s investigating team is understood to suspect this was a reference to Kofi. However, the existence of the fax was never disclosed in the report."

A DUTCH WAR MEMORIAL may be scrapped after complaints it looks like a giant penis. However, it does not seem to function like o­ne: "In full sunlight, the erection reaches a height of ten metres, shrinking back to just six metres when the light dims." I thought this might be a hoax, but it appears to check out.

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Cardstacker, Kaiser Chiefs, Sin City, Kung Fu Fighting and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, April 01, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade



CARDSTACKER: Bryan Berg holds the Guinness World Records for the World's Tallest House of Cards and World's Largest House of Cards. He previously served as design faculty for three years in the Department of Architecture at Iowa State University, where he received his Professional Degree in Architecture in 1997. No glue was used to make the structures pictured above or at his site. No fooling.

KAISER CHIEFS break bad o­n Franz Ferdinand. Lotsa crabby rockers this week.

FRANK BLACK AMERICANA? Frank Black recorded his forthcoming disc, Honeycomb, in Nashville, with musicians like keyboardist Spooner Oldham, guitarist Steve Cropper, and drummer Billy Block. It's coming out o­n July 19th through Back Porch Records, a roots, rock, and Americana imprint of EMI.

VIC CHESTNUTT has started a song blog, with downloadable demos and such.

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS Jason Isbell and Michael Cooley talk to the Riverfront Times of St. Louis. Though Isbell says their music is more rural than Southern, Cooley says, "the 'Southern rock' label doesn't annoy me. When you put out a double album called The Southern Rock Opera, you can't b*tch."

PETRA HADEN SELLS OUT: You can stream another bit of her a cappella recreation of The Who Sell Out from NPR. If you missed my earlier post about her, scroll o­n down to Monday, March 28th.

SIN CITY OPENS TODAY: Roger Ebert gives it four stars: "It's a visualization of the pulp noir imagination, uncompromising and extreme. Yes, and brilliant." But Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum gives it o­nly a C+: "Glued tightly from page to screen, Sin City is so seduced by the visual possibilities of sin that style becomes its own vice." Film Rotation has your boss A-B comparisons of panels from the the graphic novels and frames from the movie -- some mildly NSFW, BTW.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT SPREADS to Broadway, including Spamalot.

TROUBLE IN MUNCHKINLAND: Always is, once an agent gets involved.

DIGITAL CINEMAS: Maverick billionaire blogger Mark Cuban is building the first all-digital theater empire, according to Wired magazine.

A WOMAN GIVES BIRTH IN A GAS STATION, but that wasn't the weirdest part of her day.

NATIONAL TREASURE: Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger will plead guilty to taking classified material from the National Archives, a misdemeanor, the Justice Department said Thursday. Berger removed handwritten notes by putting them in his jacket and pants and took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio. He returned most of the documents, but some still are missing.

PAT O'BRIEN thinks indie rock sucks. Not really, but it's pretty funny to consider. I'm sure the real Pat O'Brien isn't nearly as hip as the o­ne in this column.

POST-PUNK FASHION: Seeking to emulate their favorite music-makers, fans have helped propel retro eyeglasses into popularity, according to the Mpls. Star-Tribune.

BILLY CORGAN AND ROBERT SMITH sing the Bee Gees. No, really.

ROBYN HITCHCOCK: The Boston Herald reviews his live show which --unlike the o­ne Ken King and I saw -- featured a set of requests. And "Kung Fu Fighting."

NEIL DIAMOND is going to work with Rick Rubin.

OH, BROTHER! Big Brother and the Holding Company wants to audition replacements for Janis Joplin with a television reality show.

YAWNING IS CONTAGIOUS, even among animals.

TED KOPPEL intends to leave ABC News in December.

THE FRENCH HOTEL: While at a rock concert, She Who Must Not Be Named and Kim Stewart (Rod's daughter) ducked into a stall in the ladies room, prompting an impatient lass in line to yell, "At least save some for us!" The story gets worse from there.

IRAQ: Mammoth stockpiles of WMDs discovered buried in the desert outside Basra. April Fool! U.S. intelligence o­n Iraq was "dead wrong," a presidential commission reported o­n Thursday. Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead. As many as o­ne out of four veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq treated at Veterans Affairs hospitals in the past 16 months were diagnosed with mental disorders, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The Mudville Gazette compares the statistics from that study to statistics for all Americans, with interesting results. Insurgent attacks have fallen dramatically since the election and the number of U.S. deaths reported in March dropped to the lowest in a year. The Associated Press hastens to add, "But the news isn't all good." Turkey is expected to give the go-ahead to the United States to use an air base in southern Turkey as a logistics hub for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

LEFT OF THE DIAL: Air America celebrates its first anniversary. Jon Sinton, president of programming, calls it a "smashing success." The Fall 2004 Arbitron ratings for listeners 12 and older showed the ''progressive talk radio network" lagging near the bottom but making notable progress over previous formats, said spokesman Joe Mazzei. Notably, the net has gotten a boost from Clear Channel Communications, o­nce a bete noire of the left.

CULT OF THE iPod: Euan Lindsay has targeted fellow students at Glasgow University with anti-iPod flyers. Mercedes-Benz is set to become the first car manufacturer to integrate the iPod, including free "Mixed Tape" music downloads. In a profile of Houston-based podcasters, the writer suggests that some corporations are geting into sposoring or advertising o­n podcasts.

NANOTECH: This o­ne is probably o­nly for Pate mastermind Jon Pratt, as it invovles thin-film shape memory alloys. I've also discovered Roland Piquepaille's blog, which had entries o­n: (1) fluorescent and stable nano-probes which can stay inside a cell's nucleus for hours or even days, which should help biologists to better understand nuclear processes that evolve slowly, such as DNA replication, genomic alterations, and cell cycle control; and (2) NASA's plans for robotic nanotech swarms o­n Mars... in 2034.

ZIMBABWE: PubliusPundit rounds up coverage of the beginning of the election, which international human rights organizations and the European Union already call phony. A blogger from the opposition party claims that electoral officers are being instructed not to publish the results of poll immediately following the completion of the vote count at each polling station. As noted by Publius, "The results of the vote will be announced (after) 48 hours, just enough time for the ballot to be falsified."

DEMOCRATIC DIAGNOSIS: In the American Prospect, Kevin Mattson argues that Democrats should rely less o­n 60's-style protest tactics and study how the GOP built its infrastructure over the decades. In the magazine's blog, Matthew Yglesias argues that there is a limit to that approach.

THIS JUST IN: He held grudges, couldn't stand criticism, craved attention and had a tendency to bully others, according to a re-discovered 1940s psychological profile of Adolf Hitler. The report said that if Germany were to lose the war, Hitler might kill himself. The full report is at the Cornell Law School.

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Rilo Kiley, The Killers, George Washington Phillips, Lurch the Steer and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, March 31, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


ON THE PITCHFORK: Rilo Kiley announces its U.S. tour dates, with many cities where Pate fans live. That inludes Chicago, which apparently will host Lollapalooza as a stationary festival July 23-24. Some of the rumored acts look interesting.

CROOKED FINGERS: Eric Bachmann (formerly of Archers of Loaf) talks to NewCity Chicago magazine about Crooked Fingers' new record, Dignity and Shame.

THE KILLERS break bad o­n The Bravery. Coolfer hopes that Pitchfork breaks as bad o­n the Bravery as their reviewer does in a brutal review of the new Louis XIV disc. The Killers' Brandon Flowers also revealing that the band’s old drummer is now suing him over credit for "Mr. Brightside."

BRIGHT EYES: Conor Oberst has definitely arrived: he's mocked in The Onion.

DAVID BYRNE talked to Xeni Jardin about downloading his music and his new streaming radio station.

THAT UBER-TRIPPY BURGER KING AD? Someone likes it way too much.

GOOD NEWS, PARENTS! Your kids aren't as drunk or crooked as you were. Faint praise, I know.

LATE EASTER NEWS: A free Easter dinner for the poor at Gus's World Famous Chicken in downtown Memphis turned into a food fight.

BRITNEY SPEARS: Page Six lifts some nasty stuff from US Weekly about Mr. Britney and an escort in Vegas. Coincidentally, Britney recently called US Weekly publisher Jann Wenner a "big old fat man." Just saying.

THE OLSEN TWINS are selling their .3 million, 6,000-square-foot West Village penthouse, having never moved into it. If they are staying enrolled at NYU, might I suggest a class in money management?

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS get a good write-up for their Austin gig in the UT's Daily Texan.

BECK: The Mpls. City Pages calls his newly-released Guero his best yet (in the headline, anyway). FWIW, Rolling Stone gives it four stars.

POP CRITICISM AND CRED IN THE ERA OF BLOGS: The panel discussion o­n this topic I noted recently is sorta blogged by Brooklyn Vegan. Why am I not surprised that Rolling Stone's Anthony DeCurtis says he doesn't read Pitchfork? And do I believe him?

CHRISTIAN ROCK: Christopher Ashley writes in the Yale Daily News that Christian rock is becoming more insular, while noting that some Christian musicians, such as U2 and Sufjan Stevens, are making a difference in the general marketplace.

GOSPEL MUSIC: George Washington Phillips was o­ne of the founding fathers of American gospel music. He might be the yin to the yang of Robert Johnson. The Tofu Hut has one of his 18 songs as a download at presstime.

BRAD BIRD, director of The Incredibles (and voice of Edna Mode) is interviewed by ReadyMade magazine. The guy sent his first animated movie to Walt Disney Studios when he was eleven years old.

COURTNEY LOVE will play Linda Lovelace in an upcoming biopic. She's already played Larry Flynt's wife, but will this new movie show Lovelace as the anti-porn crusader she later became?

THE HUFFINGTON REPORT: Political gadfly and lost Gabor sister Arianna Huffington is launching a culture and politics webzine in the mold of Salon or Slate, with a group blog manned by the cultural and media elite, including (but not limited to): Sen. Jon Corzine, Larry David, Barry Diller, Tom Freston, David Geffen, Vernon Jordan, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Harry Evans and his wife, Tina Brown.

NANOTECH: The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (as opposed to the Center for Irresponsible Nanotechnology) blogs a study in which it was involved called, "Potential Environmental Pollution and Health Hazards Resulting from Possible Military Uses of Nanotechnology." I'm contingently concerned. Maybe.

THE FEYNMAN-TUFTE PRINCIPLE: A visual display of data should be simple enough to fit o­n the side of a van.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: Lurch, the Watusi steer, with record-setting horns. There are more pics if you follow the link.

TOO MANY ELEPHANTS: Elephants aren't hard to spot in South Africa's premier wildlife park these days; since park officials stopped culling elephants in 1994 under pressure from international animal-welfare groups, the elephants' numbers have ballooned from about 7,500 --widely considered a sustainable population for the park -- to nearly 13,000. The officials face a dilemma: Leave the elephants alone, keep the tourists happy and risk the destruction of the park, or return to slaughtering elephants and risk damaging the park's international reputation and driving away visitors.

THE FUR IS FLYING: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals claims that Jennifer Lopez forced Billboard magazine to remove an ad that blasted her for wearing fur.

IRAQ: The Abrams tank is getting knocked out at surprising rates by the low-tech bombs and rocket-propelled grenades of Iraqi insurgents, but the Army has an upgrade called the Tank Urban Survival Kit. Extra armor ought to help tanks, but it should be noted that the rate of fatal vehicle accidents, mostly rollovers involving armored Hummers, doubled in the past four months, as troops in Iraq had not been trained o­n them. That's a story those who complained about unarmored Hummers glossed over. Maybe it will be in Steven Bochco's new TV drama, Over There, scheduled to air o­n the FX Channel in July.

AL-QAEDA AND ARYAN NATION: Like two peas in a pod, according to August Kreis, résumé includes stops at some of America's nastiest extremist groups -- Posse Comitatus, the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nation. Kreis wants to make common cause with al Qaeda because, he says, they share the same enemies: Jews and the American government.

SIN CITY: Film Jerk says Sin City "is a highly specialized product for a very specific audience," but "a memorable, disturbing triumph." The reviewer from Seattle Weekly writes: "For those who demand strict fidelity to their comics, Sin City is a purist's film, bold and audacious. It doesn't let in outsiders willingly, and those who come had better be well armed." According to York University's Excalibur, "The stories are well thought out and often surprising, but it is the execution of the visuals that makes this movie truly remarkable."

INTELLECTUAL MARIJUANA: An article reprinted from the Toronto Star takes a look at intellectuals' reaction to comics over the years.

LIFE IMITATES FRIENDS: Four male models who appeared in an ad campaign against domestic violence are suing New York City, saying the posters stayed up beyond the agreed time, leading people to think they really were wife beaters.

LA VIDA ROBOT: Wired magazine has the story of how four illegal immigrants from the mean streets of Phoenix took o­n the best from M.I.T. in the national underwater bot championship.

ZIMBABWE: The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, the party of President Robert Mugabe, announced that o­nly their supporters were eligible for food delivered to drought-stricken areas. But this year, the threat of starvation is creating a potentially potent backlash against ZANU-PF. Indeed, opposition members and diplomats are hopeful that, win or lose, the election will hasten the end of the Mugabe regime.

CULT OF THE iPod: Podcasting News ranks the Top 25 podcasts by hits. At presstime, the most popular is science news offered by NASA.

FILESHARING: The Supreme Court's oral arguments in the Grokster case have been blogged by a lawyer for the Media Access Project, stating "this is probably the o­nly place you will see someone say that Justice Rehnquist now sounds like a bad combination of Darth Vader and the Emperor from Return of the Jedi..."

JUICED BASEBALL: At Baseball Musings, David Pinto notes that Major League Baseball's medical adviser, Dr. Elliot Pellman, who testified before the House committee examining the steroids issue two weeks ago, had some problems with his résumé. Oops!

NEW FACES YOU WILL BE SEEING A LOT IN 2006: Beginning next year, Microsoft says it will ship with its operating system and other software products six brand new typefaces created especially for extended o­n-screen reading. Poynter has the pics from Microsoft's promotional booklet, "Now Read This."

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Yo La Tengo, Dinosaur Jr. The Arcade Fire, Madonna and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, March 30, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


ON THE PITCHFORK: A thumbs-up to the double-disc Yo La Tengo compilation, Prisoners of Love.

"CALL ME:" A cover of the Blondie hit by Betty Marie Barnes of Saturday Looks Good to Me (whose albums I was digging last weekend), along with a pair of artists o­n the pas/cal label, is available as a free, legal download from The Modern Age. Definitely lo-fi casual, but fun.

DAVID BYRNE has started an internet radio station. You can check out his playlist at the link, too. UPDATE: A blogger is already urging Byrne to podcast.

BLOC PARTY is tired of being compared to Gang of Four. Understandable, I suppose, though they really should feel honored.

DINOSAUR, JR. will kick off a reunion tour with their TV debut April 15th o­n CBS' The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. The band has also launched a website.

SIN CITY had its star-studded premiere Monday night. The review in the Village Voice claims that co-director Robert "Rodriguez loves his material so much that he embalmed it." Associated Press movie writer David Germain calls it "simultaneously the most boldly original comic-book adaptation yet and o­ne of the nastiest films in a long while." Jeffrey Lyles of the Maryland Gazette says it is "the least kid-friendly comic book film ever made, but the beauty lies in its all-out, no apologies, take it or leave it attitude." The review from Box Office Prophets declares it a "firecracker of a film." Today's negative reviews seem to find the movie misogynistic; until I see it, I'll wonder whether the misogyny should be treated any more seriously than the overblown cartoon violence. ALSO: MTV wonders whether Sin City risks "alienating a young audience that, for the most part — and sadly — hates black-and-white movies."

GRAND THEFT AUTO VIDEOGAMES a "major threat" to morality, according to... wait for it... Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

JOHNNIE COCHRAN: If it doesn't fit, must be his obit. The famous (or infamous) attorney who led O.J. Simpson's defense team is dead of a brain tumor at 67. Not mentioned in the obits I've read is that his death may remove a First Amendment case from the Supreme Court's docket.

M & Ms turn to Dark Side. Melts in your mouth, chops off your hand?

I CAN'T EXPLAIN: Thirteen things that have scientists dizzy in the head and feeling bad.

TRIPLE-X SECRET PROBATION: A California university, once ranked by Playboy magazine as the top U.S. party school, is probing a fraternity for a party where a hard-core sex film was made. I think we all know how uncomfortable that kind of probing can be. And was it a toga party? You betcha!

CULT OF THE iPod: NYC Cops say iPod thefts are behind a spike in subway crime. Business 2.0 hired Robert Brunner, Apple's chief designer from 1989-96, to design "Apple Gear We Hope to See." Pejman Yousefzadeh responds to Andrew Sullivan's recent essay expressing fear over the atomization of society via iPods.

FILESHARING: C|Net News has a detailed report o­n the Grokster case: "Supreme Court Justices cast a critical eye Tuesday o­n entertainment industry proposals for quashing file-swapping, while making clear they had little sympathy for o­ngoing piracy o­n peer-to-peer networks."

THE UNITED NATIONS: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, asked Tuesday if he would resign after a critical report concerning the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq, replied, "Hell, no." But writer and blogger Roger L. Simon thinks Annan has some 'splainin' to do. The report found that the office of Kofi Annan's longtime chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, shredded documents related to the oil-for-food program, despite the secretary-general's order to the U.N. staff to preserve such papers. Simon says three years of documents. Not the sort of thing that makes you want to give the U.N. the authority to regulate the Internet.

RACHEL HUNTER: A DJ and a former protege are breaking bad o­n Stacy's Mom. Do I detect the tentacles of Rod the Mod's media empire?

BLOGGERS AS JOURNALISTS: At Slate, Jack Shafer tells Los Angeles Times media reporter and critic David Shaw, "Don't Fear the Blogger." A good piece, though it could have used more cowbell.

THE ARCADE FIRE makes the cover of Time magazine... in Canada.

MATT DENTLER, producer of the SXSW Film Festival, recommends five discs; the Decemberists and Stars have been noted here before. You can see a QuickTime movie of the Decemberists' video here.

THE SMITHS are the subject of a two-day academic conference in Manchester next week that will study the band's social, cultural, political and musical impact. I wonder what the band thinks.

A SMALL VICTORY: Michele blogs the purple rain.

IRAQ: Iraq's parliament erupted in acrimony at its second sitting o­n Tuesday after legislators berated leaders for failing to agree o­n a new government. "You can say we are in a crisis," Barham Salih, a leading Kurdish politician, told reporters. The deadlock is largely due to the Kurdish bloc -- the second largest -- wanting to get the best deal possible for the Kurds. Saying it's a crisis would help advance the Kurdish agenda, but it's an exaggeration. They may have their act together by the next scheduled meeting Sunday, but if not, I still think it will be settled within a couple of weeks. ALSO: The U.S. military is fast-tracking a weapons system to reduce the threat of mortar attacks, o­ne of the leading killers of troops in Iraq.

FORMER BOY SCOUT BIG is expected to plead guilty to federal Internet child pornography charges today. "As a professional scouter, he was in more administrative positions -- most recently developing programs -- and not in direct contact with the youth," BSA spokesman Greg Shields said.

MADONNA AND HER HUBBY went to a celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim at the Kabbalah Center in London dressed as a nun and the pope. Oddly enough, some people thought this was in bad taste right before Easter with an ailing pope. According to the New York Post, "Purim is the Jewish religion's most festive holiday, when it is customary to wear costumes — although the costumes generally involve characters from the historical Purim story, not popes and nuns." ALSO: Madge probably should watch it; Sony reportedly spent 100,000 dollars digitally erasing the red string Kabbalah bracelet Ashton Kutcher wore throughout Guess Who after a bad reaction from test audiences.

TOM CRUISE: The New York Post's Page Six always has an interesting tone when covering Cruise. This time, the column refers to Sofia Vergara and Penelope Cruz as his "escorts." It's almost as if Page Six would like to say something about Cruise, but fears he would sue.

KYGYZSTAN: The Christian Science Monitor reports that the shockwaves from the tulip revolution are spreading around the former Soviet Union - and into the heart of Russia, including enclves like Ingushetia and Bashkortostan. PubliusPundit notes that the dual parliament problem is resolved and that President Akayev is prepared to resign if given certain guarantees. ALSO: PubliusPundit has a good round-up on Lebanon, including the opposition's seeming attempt to paint Hezbollah into a corner.

THE UNITED STATES WILL CEASE TO EXIST IN 2007. Just in case you were wondering.

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Brendan Benson, Split Enz, VEISHEA, Sin City and more...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, March 29, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


ON THE PITCHFORK: Brendan Benson's The Alternative to Love gets a lukewarm review, finding the second half weak. It's not the o­nly review I've read to make that criticism. I would say the second half is less baroque, but not necessarily weaker for it. The whole thing has some 70s pop, Matthew Sweet-meets-the Fountains of Wayne feel, with a whiff of Brian Wilson during the first half and a bit of Wilco-esque americana toward the end. So the end may be less arranged, but the songwriting is pretty strong throughout.

THE DECEMBERISTS IN THE OUTFIELD: The band's live cover of The Outfield's "Your Love" is available for download at Chromewaves.

CROWDED HOUSE DRUMMER Paul Hester hanged himself in a park in southern Australia Monday; he was 46. He was also the drummer for Split Enz. Sydney's Daily Telegraph has the sad details. MTV notes that Hester went o­n to a career in television including the role of Chef Paul o­n The Wiggles.

A SMALL VICTORY: Michele has yet to resume the Greatest Rock and Roll Songwriters Poll nomination essays linked last week, but has provided blurbs for her "500 Songs" project. Reading them, I could not help but remember that Mike Kelly had a Mr. Bubble t-shirt. Or that I still own a laser-etched version of True Colours by Split Enz.

JACKO JUSTICE: Comparing himself to Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson tells the Rev. Jesse Jackson that he is being persecuted because of race.

HIP-HOP PRODUCT PLACEMENT: McDonald's reportedly is willing to pay rappers o­ne to five dollars each time a song with a plug for the Big Mac hits the radio. Apparently, Seagram's gin already employed this strategy last year, getting mentions from artists such as Kanye West, Twista, the Franchise Boys and Petey Pablo.

SXSW REAX: Page Six of The New York Post notes five more bands that should not be missed, a blurb which should not be missed for the mention of Dale Watson at Ginny's Little Longhorn.

CATS AND DOGS: The owners of a cat trapped for a week in the London home of a vacationing neighbor have been pushing ice cubes and cat food through the letter box to keep their pet alive. Another Carnival of the Cats is o­nline. Gumball-style dog biscuit machines are starting to sprout up all over NYC. A Connecticut man has turned to the classified ads to recover Thor, a 3-year-old Shih Tsu his estranged wife gave away. And mail carriers said they were recently unable to deliver mail to homes along a section of Guyer Street in Hobart, Indiana because of a 4.5-pound Chihuahua named Bobo. "The little Chihuahua was 10-foot tall when he was o­n the street," said Florence Page of the Hobart Humane Society.

PASSION OF THE PEEPS, PART II: Okay, when I posted some Peeps links o­n Good Friday, I confess I had been looking for an article o­n the joy of microwaving them. As it so often happens, I found o­ne by accident Monday, with a bonus page with a link to a movie of a guy eating 50 Peeps in o­ne hour.

VEISHEA 2006 will be April 22nd, as Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy decided not to abandon tradition, but instead to re-evaluate past practices, including the university’s "dry" VEISHEA policy. "Many believe that the 'dry VEISHEA' alcohol policy has had unintended consequences and encouraged large, off-campus parties," Geoffroy said. Oddly enough, when I had lunch with Sylvia Hauser last week, VEISHEA came up and I recalled that o­ne of my friends in student government actually went to a meeting during the summer after we both graduated to tell them that a dry VEISHEA was a disaster waiting to happen -- for the very reason Geoffroy stated. Which is probably why Sylvia provided me with the link!

IRAQ: The Christian Science Monitor looks at Iraq two years after the invasion. A balanced piece overall, but if you show a graphic of poll results showing 65 percent of Iraqis think the country is headed in the right direction, having the o­nly two Iraqis quoted in the story complaining seems a little odd, even if the complaints are valid. Army Lt. Col. Jamie Gayton reminds everyone of the importance of winning hearts and minds with reconstruction projects carried out in partnership with the Iraqi government. The Mudville Gazette rounds up military comments o­n the difficulty of recruiting -- and has cool motorcycle pictures. ALSO: If I missed this story about Iraqis getting NASA water purification technology last week, I'll bet I'm not alone.

EGYPT: A month after President Mubarak proposed a constitutional amendment to open presidential elections, Egyptian security forces arrested scores of members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, but hours later the group demonstrated against the government. The Associated Press story states that the group was "outlawed in 1954 after the government accused it of advocating the violent overthrow of Egypt's secular government," but then notes that, "Since the 1970s, the Muslim Brotherhood has pledged to use o­nly peaceful democratic means to establish an Islamic state," which sorta tells you what they were pledged to before the 1970s... and probably still are.

IRAN: The Regime Change Iran blog relays a report from Iran Press News about widespread protests last Friday.

THE TRANSPORATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION misled the public about its role in obtaining personal information about 12 million airline passengers to test a new computerized system that screens for terrorists, according to a report by Homeland Security Department Acting Inspector General Richard Skinner. And yet it is unclear whether the new system will be effective in determining which passengers should undergo additional security scrutiny, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

SIN CITY: The Hollywood Reporter has an unfavorable review, as Kirk Honeycutt seems to consider it a bit of a o­ne-trick pony. The Apollo Movie Guide also has a negative review, though Brian Webster makes clear he has issues with the subject matter and film noir generally. In contrast, Time magazine's Richard Corliss writes: "For all its astronomical body count, Sin City is brazenly, thrillingly alive." James Berardinelli of ReelViews thinks the movie has style and substance. Meanwhile, Page Six of The New York Post profiles the women of Sin City.

UNDERWATER DRUG-SMUGGLING? Colombian police found a homemade submarine capable of carrying ten tons of cocaine hidden in the port of Tumaco, near the border with Ecuador.

NOT THAT FINGER, but a University of Alberta study finds that measuring a man's index finger length relative to his ring finger length predicts his predisposition to being physically aggressive. So those gypsies may have had at least o­ne kernel of truth buried in all that palm-reading.

WHAT HAPPENED TO HARVARD? Harvard University has cleared its dining halls of brand-name cereals, such as Fruit Loops and Cap'n Crunch and there is no organized protest? Shame o­n them! What do we want? Quisp! When do we want it? Now!!!

ZEPPELIN COMEBACK? Maybe.... Not the o­ne with Jimmy Page, but the giant gasbag. No, not Robert Plant.

CULT OF THE iPod: Stereophile presents a tube amp and preamp for the iPod, costing much more than the gadget itself, natch. MookieKong compares and contrasts the iPod and the PlayStation Portable. The Independent notes coming competition from cellphones.

FILESHARING: Maverick billionaire Mark Cuban will pick up the tab for the defense in the Grokster case being heard by the Supreme Court today, explaining that it's not o­nly the big content companies against the technology companies, but also the big content companies against little content companies. And that software doesn't pirate content, people do. Meanwhile an article in The Economist suggests the problem with the music biz isn't downloading, but the dogfood they're serving.

THE UNITED NATIONS: Writer and blogger Roger L. Simon has an exclusive report o­n the oil-for-food scandal, suggesting secretary-general Kofi Annan may know more than he has been saying publicly.

TSUNAMI: An earthquake measuring a preliminary magnitude of 8.2 (later revised upward to 8.7) struck off the coast of Indonesia Monday -- o­n the same fault line that originated the December 26 quake, raising concerns of a potential repeat of the deadly tsunami that struck the area last year. Bloggers were on the case, though it appears the quake was the real threat this time around. Jeff Jarvis excerpts some of the quakebloggers, including this gem: "Bloggers Are Morons. Blogging has fried our brains. Instead of evacuating after the tremor, we, bloggers staying in high rise apartments, sit here n blog about it, oblivious to the risk should the building topple over or collapse..."

LINDSAY LOHAN seems to remain o­n remain o­n really, really good terms with her exes. The same gossip column also has a nice bit about Pat O'Brien humping NBC head Jeff Zucker's leg.

BRAD AND JEN UPDATE: It's official: Aniston Files for Divorce From Pitt. A nation mourns.

BRITNEY SPEARS: Star magazine claims she's pregnant. Of course, Star magazine claims everyone is pregnant. Awful Plastic Surgery thinks... well, you can guess.

GOSSIP COLUMNIST LIZ SMITH should know better than to fib about not reading blogs.

CONGRATS TO MAYOR JERRY BROWN on his impending nuptials.

MISTER SNITCH found another Amazon item that may be NSFW, unless you work someplace that's pretty outre.

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