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Sly Stone, Lambchop, The Specials, Top Dogs of Pop Culture   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, June 02, 2006 - 08:35 AM
Posted by: kbade



...with SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE, winning 10K from a talent show at Ohio State. Now that's old skool.


FRIDAY TIMEWASTER II: W0ne. Collect the barrels and stars with your wheel.

THE SLITS, having reunited earlier this year to play a few UK shows, the seminal punk grrrls are recording an EP due in October, with cameos including Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and Adam & the Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni.

LAMBCHOP: At Chromewaves, Frank writes: "It's a cliche to say that an act is unclassifiable in sound, but in Lambchop's case it's really true - there's a case to be made for calling them country, soul, rhythm & blues, chamber pop, lounge, jazz, rock, indie, and they're all as inaccurate as they are accurate. What is true is that they make music that is unmistakably grown-up and quintessentially American..." He hooks you up with streams and MP3 from the band, and there's more to stream via the Hype Machine, though Frank's pick, "You Masculine You" is a standout.

SMOOSH: The tween sisters continue to generate good press o­n their first proper tour, opening for the Eels, in part because they're so quotable without knowing it. When told that copies from the small initial pressing of She Like Electric are selling for upwards of $40 o­n the Internet, 14-year-old Asya responds: "Really, people were selling our disc o­n, like, eBay? I didn’t know that. That is sooo cool." But Jeff Inman of the Salt Lake City Weekly is dead o­n in noting that "Smoosh is good. And not just ’tween good—like, 'oh look at the little girls playing indie-rock.' Free to Stay is the kind of album English majors with serious faces and clever hair wish they could make: fun, quirky and surprisingly intoxicating... It also helps that Chloe hits the skins like a prepubescent John Bonham, slamming out complex rhythms that buoy the tunes at just the right moment." You can stream songs from the upcoming album via the Hype Machine.

THE LIARS Angus Andrew admits he cares what critics say: "We're not blind or deaf to reaction to our records. It's important to us to really try and listen to what people say about us." Their latest, Drum's Not Dead scored a respectable 77 at Metacritic. You can hear 'em via MySpace.

THE TOP 100 ALBUMS OF ALL TIME? A poll organized by the book of British Hit Singles and Albums and NME.com put the debut album by Oasis ahead of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is silly, but at least Revolver came in third.

GUNS 'N' ROSES: Reasons for the legendary delay of the Chinese Democracy album are suggested in an Onion infographic.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: Though summer doesn't officially start until later this month, we're past Memorial Day and the end of school for a lot of kids. So let's dig The Undertones' "Here Comes The Summer." BONUS: You can enjoy a stream of summer songs via the Hype Machine.

YOUR LOVE: At My Old Kentucky Blog, Dodge celebrates finding a three dollar Greatest Hits package by letting you download or stream the original hit from The Outfield and a cover by The Decemberists.

WILL THE SPECIALS REUNITE? Original singer Terry Hall told the BBC "this is the closest we've been in 25 years to maybe doing something but maybe not what's expected - I don't know." Which is as good a reason as any to revisit the classic "Ghost Town" and the Special AKA's "What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend."

RED HOT CHILI PLAGARISM(?) UPDATE: It seems that Tom Petty is looking into the legal ramifications of charges that the RHCP hit "Dani California" is uncomfortably similar to Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance," as previously noted here.

OH NO! OH MY! This Nashville-based duo's DIY self-titled release has drawn comparisons from the Shins to Simon and Garfunkel and got a decent 7.4 o­n the Pitchfork. You can stream "Jane Is Fat" and many more from the Hype Machine.

GNARLS BARKLEY: Brooklyn Vegan points you to versions of "Crazy" as covered by Ray Lamontagne and the chart-climbimg Nelly Furtado.

THE DIXIE CHICKS topped the US charts this week with their first studio album since criticizing Pres. Bush, but sales were sharply lower than their previous album and Rascal Flatts' debut in April. But with Bush's low approval ratings, it seems more likely that thie driving force here is the band's increasing contempt for its fanbase.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled singer was detained o­n a flight to Barcelona after a syringe was found in the airplane's toilet. Shockingly, when questioned, Doherty became agitated and aggressive.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend brings Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston in The Break-Up, which is currently scoring 17 percent Rotten o­n the Tomatometer, even worse with the "cream of the crop" critics. People may prefer to revisit Vince Vaughn's better moments. It will be interesting to see just how well the movie does as the weekend's sole wide new release. And how many people in the media compare the weeken numbers to the opening numbers for Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

BRADGELINA: Pitt reportedly burst into tears while holding his daughter for the first time. And he is claimed to be desperate to return to the US. The couple is expected to move back to return to Malibu by July 1st for Pitt to start work o­n Ocean's 13.

DENISE & HEATHER & RICHIE & CHARLIE & DAVID: Yep, David Spade may be back in the love pentangle after being snapped with Heather Locklear. Denise Richards, rumored to be planning a wedding with Richie Sambora, is set to perform with the Pussycat Dolls, which should bolster her claim for sole custody of her children by Charlie Sheen.

LINDSAY LOHAN has reportedly turned to the help of a hypnotist to help end her shopping addiction. Lohan’s rep, however, didn’t mince words blasting the story.

RACHEL WEISZ is the newest celeb mom, giving birth to a baby boy by director Darren Aronofsky.

JUDE LAW and SIENNA MILLER caught getting cozy. I wonder if they talk about her wacky dad?

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND paid homage to viral video o­n the Internet? Wizbang Pop calls it the "Snakes o­n a Plane Effect."

HALLE BERRY admits that she -- like her X-Men co-star Hugh Jackman -- will don her X-costume for x-rated activity at home.

KEANU REEVES saw a shrink about his midlife crisis.

SANDRA BULLOCK got the protective order against her stalker extended through 2009, by which time she may have starred in enough lame romantic comedies that the stalker will give up voluntarily.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: The couple have secretly asked American Idol runner-up Katherine McPhee to sing at their wedding after meeting at L.A.'s Church of Scientology, where the singer allegedly attended courses with her boyfriend.

NICOLE KIDMAN: Cruise's ex reportedly put a sex ban o­n her fiancee Keith Urban until their wedding night, which is currently rumored to be set for the weekend of June 24-25 in North Sydney.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH confirms she is pregnant. Is it too soon to call DCFS?

PLUMBER'S BUTT seems an unlikely celebrity fashion trend. But that's also what I thought about Kabbalah.

YOUR MOMENT OF SITH: I noticed that Revenge of the Sith starts o­n premium cable this week, so I thought it would be fun to look at this clip from Robot Chicken in which Darth Vader has to explain to the Emperor that the Death Star has been destroyed. (Warning: mild profanity.) BONUS: Vader spoils the whole Star Wars saga for Luke Skywalker.

IRAQ: A Marine captain relieved of command during the investigation of the Haditha shootings has denied any role in the incident. Maybe so, maybe not; that's why it's generally better to try things in court than in the press. At ITM Omar reports o­n a bizzare rumor going around Baghdad that Pres. Bush wants to orchestrate a military coup in Iraq, to be carried out by the Iraqi army under command of a Sunni general. Following up o­n the post from Zayed linked here yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor reports that conditions in the Amariyah neighborhood of Baghdad have improved, while jihadis and insurgents remain strong in Sunni neighborhoods like Dora and Adhamiya. And if you're inclined to believe the past three years in Iraq have been a disaster, compare it to East Timor, South Africa or Zimbabwe.

IRAN is brutally cracking down o­n protests by ethinic Azheris and conducting mass arrests of student protesters at a number of universities. More here. But not o­n your nightly network news. Meanwhile, the government has been training the Revolutionary Guard in irregular warfare and asymmetrical tactics.


A DOG OWNER was put in her own cage in the wake of her failed attempt at breaking her black Labrador out of the local animal shelter.

HANNAH THE STORK: The Hungarian Bird and Environment Protection Association worries she will get into trouble from her aggressive panhandling.

DEADWOOD will not host a "running of the bulls." But it will continue to host the most profane cowboys this side of the Pecos.

BACTERIA would gladly fuel your hydrogen-powered car tomorrow, for some chocolate today.

MUTANT MICE: They don't like, they don't like, they don't like...

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The dB's, Advance Streams, Thom Yorke Leaks, and an Obese Dog   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, June 01, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


THE dB'S talk to Harp magazine about their album-in-progress and the backstory behind the back-in-print classic, Like This. Peter Holsapple sums it up: "The dB’s went from a footnote to an also-ran to an influence—all without selling much in the way of records... It’s made me have to get some day jobs along the way, but if anything it’s taught me to love music for music’s sake rather than having any great expectations of commercial reward." Harp also mentions dB’s in a Can, the rare cassette version of Stands for deciBels housed in a sealed tin can. Paul Miller had o­ne! BONUS: Ken King and I saw both dB's reunion shows in Chi-town and I covered them here. You can download an advance track from the band's website (and a cover of "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted," if you donate to hurricane relief).

EMMYLOU HARRIS: Harp gushes over the legendary singer, but she still gives loads of credit to Gram Parsons for her love of country music and harmony singing. She's pictured with Kathleen Edwrads and Alison Morrer, who are also featured in this month's issue. Edwards said the photo shoot with Emmylou Harris became an unexpected test of "how completely in check" her ego really is. Moorer talks about her new album and (relatively) new marriage to Steve Earle. There's plenty of Emmylou to stream via the Hype Machine.

ADVANCE STREAMS: Full albums from Elvis Costello and Cheap Trick are streaming at VH1 before they hit stores. Leave it to the Tricksters to poke fun at their past with song titles like "Come o­n Come o­n Come o­n Come o­n Come o­n" and "O Claire."

MATES OF STATE list the five best things about making music with your spouse for Paste. They chose that over the five worst things, which is probably better for the band and the marriage. You can hear the couple via MySpace.

PJ HARVEY: London's Guardian has a free download of her set at this year's Hay festival.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: The AV Club just published a playlist called "The Land of Way Too Many Dances," which inexplicably leaves out the B-52's "Dance This Mess Around." How could they leave it out? They do all 16 dances!

GIANT DRAG is profiled by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, noting the angst beneath "funny" song titles such as "You F--- like My Dad." Not that the band doesn't have a lighter side, as evidenced o­n their cover of Journey's "Who's Cryin' Now."

WHO'S LEFT is getting charitable. Pete Townshend has announced the band will be bootlegging and webcasting the upcoming tour and donating the proceeds to charity. Ten-dollar lottery tickets will also be sold at the shows for a chance to win the last guitar Pete ever smashed o­n stage, with the money benefiting the New Orleans Appeal.

THE BLACK KEYS: The bluesier version of the White Stripes recently left the Fat Possum label and have signed to Nonesuch, with an ablum due this September. Drummer Patrick Carney told Pitchfork the band picked Nonesuch because, like Fat Possum, they "want to sell records... but they're not in it to sell records." You can stream a bunch from the Hype Machine.

RADIOHEAD: Thom Yorke's don't-call-it-a-solo album has leaked o­nline. Really? Do tell...

MIKE PATTON: is interviewed by Suicide Girls about his new album, Peeping Tom (currently streaming at MySpace), but my favorite bit is his answer to the question: How do you know when o­ne of your songs is finished? "That’s a tough thing and the best answer is, you just know. laughs The older I get the more conscious I’ve gotten of that..."

DAVE GROHL: Rumors of the Foo Fighter's death are greatly exaggerated.

BRADGELINA: Jolie had attorneys secure shilohnouveljoliepitt.com almost immediately after Pitt cut the umbilical cord. The couple had Jolie's obstetrician specify that she had a cesarean due to breech presentation. I hope she didn't think people believed that really nasty speculation floating around the Internet. London's Sun claims that the couple has been secretly filming a documentary covering their stay in Namibia — which will include footage of their new baby, to make sure it sells.

VAUGHNISTON: Don't look for Jen and Vince to ape Bradgelina o­n the world stage. When asked whether she was interested in global issues, Aniston deadpanned: "No, I'm not interested in any of that. I like to just focus o­n me and my tabloid career." She added, "It's o­ne of the things I always say is these tabloids are just distracting people from the issues and the things that are happening in the world." She should visit here; it's a dessert topping and a floor wax.

SOFIA COPPOLA: The director of Lost In Translation and the panned-at-Cannes Marie Antoinette is three months pregnant by boyfriend Thomas Mars, lead singer of the French band Phoenix.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH is the latest celeb to be placed o­n the media's pregnancy watch list. Indeed, TMZ claims she's five months along, and looking for a way to make money off of the announcement.

BRITNEY SPEARS believes that stories about her are being leaked to the tabloids indirectly through Spenderline.

KATE MOSS: The supposedly sober supermodel's ex-bf, Pete Doherty, is a drug addict. Her new beau is a sex addict.

JESSICA SIMPSON has offered Nick Lachey what is an "insulting" property settlement offer, banking o­n the assumption that Lachey does not want to press the matter in court, according to TMZ. And the pneumatic blonde has resorted to buying up "Team Jessica" T-shirts from the trendy Kitson boutique in L.A. — apparently in an attempt to keep up with the hotcake-like sales of "Team Nick" T-shirts. Star magazine claims Lachey is getting serious with British singer Natasha Bedingfield, because she’s smart and isn’t an actress. People, otoh, claims he's been seeing stylist Kim Kardashian for the past month.

ASHLEE SIMPSON looks like she followed up that nose job with a visit to the trout pout shop.

HALLE BERRY feels great about turning 40 in August, because she's dating a 30-year-old: "I feel good so I'm not worried about turning 40. We o­nly are as old as we choose to be. So I'm still 19."

KELSEY GRAMMER, Berry's X-Men 3 co-star, expects Hollywood bosses to order a fourth installment after this o­ne smashed box office records.

MICHAEL MOORE is being sued by a veteran who lost both arms in the war in Iraq, claiming Moore used snippets of a television interview without his permission to falsely portray him as anti-war in Fahrenheit 9/11.

LIZ TAYLOR has dismissed tabloid reports that she was being treated for Alzheimer's disease or was gravely ill. Having had some experience with Alzheimer's, I hope she's not out dismissing it again tomorrow.

JENNY MCCARTHY dating Jim Carrey? And the apocolypse draws just a bit closer.

NATALIE PORTMAN will be strung up naked in the new Milos Forman movie, Goya's Ghost. Probably the best news Star Wars fanboys have had since Leia's metal bikini. Or since Closer, anyway.

IRAQ: Though Rep. Jack Murtha is going o­n TV to claim that there was a cover-up of the Haditha shooting that goes "right up the chain of command," it appears that the military has not dragged its feet investigating. Time magazine gave evidence to military officials in Baghdad; by the time the story ran in March, the matter had been referred to NCIS, which conducted a thorough investigation. The squad involved may have tried to cover up the nature of the shootings, but investigators apparently did not delay reporting their findings. Less noticed, but perhaps as significant, the US is looking to place the main responsibility for securing Baghdad, Ramadi and other hot spots o­n Iraqi forces. And in Baghdad, the newest problem seems to be radical Islamists taking control of several districts.

IRAQ IN THE MEDIA: Back o­n April 5th, I noted that The New York Times didn't care about a five-month trend of declining US troop casualties until some deadly attacks prompted a story that the trend could be broken. I also suggested that when the numbers dropped again, the paper wouldn't report it. Sure enough, the official figures show that troop casualties dropped in May, but The New York Times ran a story about increased insurgent attacks from Feb. 11 to May 12. This is then painted as showing the power of the insurgency, when the numbers over the past three years show that they can cause a spike in US casualties for a few weeks, but cannot sustain it. That's why their preferred methods now are to blow up civilians and attempt to foment civil war.

IRAN dismissed the US offer to join talks about the nation's nuke program if Tehran would suspened enrichment of uranium. That may be a big mistake, if the administration is correct in thinking Russia and China would support sanctions if new talks fail. Meanwhile, members of the Bahai religious minority in Iran say that the government has intensified a campaign aimed at eradicating their religion in the country of its birth.

DOGS o­n a diet of donuts and beer can get just as obese as humans o­n the same diet. The Arizona Humane Society has taken in "Sessa," who weighed almost three times as much as she should have and couldn't even stand. More pics and video at the link.

DOGS DINING ALFRESCO, however, may become more common after FL Gov. Jeb Bush signs a 'dining with dogs' bill o­n Friday. The legislation creates a pilot program that will give local governments the OK to let restaurants permit dogs to eat with their owners in outdoor dining areas.

CARL, I want you to kill all the gators o­n the golf course. "Correct me if I'm wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers they'll lock me up and throw away the key..."

CATTLE-RUSTLER nabbed with seven calves jammed into his 2000 Dodge Neon in Odensburg, NY.

MEGAN HAD A LITTLE DUCK: It followed her to school o­ne day, in a pink gingham skirt and a disposable diaper. That's the duck, not the girl.

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Verlaine and Hell, Hard Rock Honors, Covers Galore, Marmots taking it to the Man   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


THURSTON MOORE and TOM VERLAINE: Sonic Youth's co-founder is a longtime friend of the Television axemeister. The two reminisce a little about the original NYC punk scene for Harp magazine. And o­n the off-chance you've never heard Television, try "Marquee Moon."

RICHARD HELL: Verlaine's Television bandmate talks to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the pitfalls of being a punk rocker and a writer: "In music, people try to dismiss me as a so-called 'poet' making records. As a novelist, I have a problem with people saying, 'This is a punk rocker writing a book.' It makes it easy for them to not take it seriously, dismiss the thing without looking at what's being achieved..."

MICHAEL STIPE and CONOR OBERST: The Moore-Verlaine piece isn't the o­nly duo in this month's Harp. The REM frontman and Bright Eyes mastermind are relatively new firends, while Stipe tries to dispel the myth that he is the indie Godfather.

MORRISSEY delivered an o­nstage warning to an animal testing laboratory at Oxford University that "we will get you," causing his flacks to go into damage control mode: "I suspect when he said 'we will get you' he wasn’t talking about violence at all, but exposing these people for what they do."

DAVID BOWIE is not doing well at semi-retirement, turning up to sing Pink Floyd classics "Arnold Layne" and "Comfortably Numb" during the encore of a David Gilmour gig at the Royal Albert Hall.

KISS, JUDAS PRIEST, QUEEN and DEF LEPPARD are the honorees for VH1's Rock Honors airing tonight at 9 Eastern. You can follow that link to preview videos and some photos that suggest there will be an All-Star band -- Gene Simmons with Rob Halford, Ace Frehley with Slash, and more.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: "What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?" And in the background, natch, is Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators playing "You're Gonna Miss Me." Be sure to check out the rockin' jug player. The video is from American Bandstand circa 1966, to judge by that snip of Dick Clark's voice at the end.

EXCEPTIONAL COVER SONGS: Good Hodgkins asked music bloggers to write about "covers that actually do justice to — and in some cases surpass — the originals." You can stream 'em from the Hype Machine, but you may want to start with Shane MacGowan & The Popes covering Neil Diamond's "Cracklin' Rosie." Granted, "There are two types of people in this world: those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't." But that's a cover that should appeal to both types.

THE BALLAD OF EL GOODO: While o­n the subject of covers, Frank has posted a rare Ted Leo cover of the Big Star number at Chromewaves, which you can stream via the Hype Machine.

GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY: Dodge is back in the compilation business at My Old Kentucky Blog. You can stream more than a dozen versions of the Dylan tune from the Hype Machine.

SWEET JANE: Shake Your Fist has posted a few versions of the VU classic -- including Mott the Hoople and Gang of Four -- which you can stream from the Hype Machine. BONUS: The fact that I wrote about Lou Reed's Honda scooter commercial for the school paper at the time doesn't make me feel too old.  After all, I wrote a little bit o­n the Kinks and jingle rock in March, and Dodge is discussing it over at My Old Kentucky Blog.

BABYSHAMBLES is heading into the studio to demo tracks for a new album, for which the band reportedly has an offer from Rough Trade. So Pete Doherty may get through the day without another train wreck headline.

BRADGELINA: The couple issued a public thank-you note to the hospital staff... through People magazine. The birth of Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt (destined to be the Most Beautiful Child Ever), is fodder for an iconic treatment in The Gallery of the Absurd.

MIRA SORVINO gave birth to a boy yesterday.

JESSICA SIMPSON: Is the pneumatic blonde seeking professional help in getting over Nick Lachey? Kristin Cavallari, Lachey's rebound romance, reportedly believes that Jessica needs to realize that it's over and move o­n.

MADONNA may bag a record 15 million from NBC for a TV concert special, according to NYDN gossips Rush & Molloy, who add: "It remains to be seen whether the network would air her posed o­n a cross, moving provocatively o­n a 'horse' or shouting profanities during an anti-Bush montage."

JOHNNY DEPP and KATE MOSS together again... in a biopic o­n late INXS singer Michael Hutchence.

REESE WITHERSPOON: Following the birth of the Tom-Kitten and Baby Bradgelina, the media is searching for signs that Witherspoon and other celebs may be pregnant. Just Jared has the photographic exhibits.

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND'S LAST SCENE -- If you saw the movie, but didn't stay until the end of the credits, you missed a scene. If you haven't seen the movie, I would strongly advise not watching the clip, as it would be a compound spoiler.

WINDYWOOD: At the Chicago premiere of the Vaughniston vehicle, The Break-Up, IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich (Blah-Goy-uh-vich, or simply "Blago") signed a package of tax incentive that he hopes will make Chicago the "Hollywood of the Midwest."

LINDSAY LOHAN is spending the summer in England to chase after a boy. Speculation is that the boy is singer Jamie Burke, but he's going to be Stateside. D-oh!

MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ: The former Lost castaway's 60-day DUI jail sentence was cut to four hours and 27 minutes, due to overcrowding and budget problems in LA's jails.

STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY: You know... Ned... Ryerson. "Needlenose Ned"? "Ned the Head"? The lead singer in the first band formed by Stevie Ray Vaughan? TMZ has some nice video, including "Insider Hollywood Secrets" from the veteran character actor, to coincide with the DVD release of Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party, which is a documentary of o­ne such party, where he is famed for his storytelling. Based o­n the interviews with him that I've heard, it's probably pretty darn good.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY abandons the VIP room at a London club, thinking ahead to the point in the evening when a lot of tequila will send her to the washroom frequently. And you would have to drink a lot of tequila to come out of a club wearing your hat that way.

EDU-BLOGGING: After getting it right for a couple of weeks, I have lapsed into an untimely announcement that the 68th Carnival of Education is o­nline, just in time for the 69th.

IRAQ: Despite the fact that the investigation is o­ngoing, the coverage of the apparent shooting of civilians in Haditha is intensifying. Rep. John Murtha said Sunday that high-level reports he received indicated that no o­ne fired upon the Marines or that there was any military action against the U.S. forces after the initial explosion. However, a lawyer told the WaPo that radio message traffic from the day may tell a different story. CNN reporter Arwa Damon, who dealt with some of the Marines involved is shocked by the allegations. Murtha is right to point out that this can o­nly hurt an effort to win hearts and minds. So far, however, the story has drawn a muted reaction in the Arab media and in Baghdad. Even in Haditha, where there is plenty of reason for anger, the locals are impressed with the military investigations, while skeptical of military justice and disdainful of the Iraqi government. This last part is common outside Haditha also. At ITM, Mohammed notes that the politicians there are fiddling while the bombing continues. The US is reinforcing troops in Anbar province, primarily to reverse setbacks in Ramadi. Let's hope the Haditha shooting doesn't result in rules of engagement so restrictive that the troops (almost all of whom act properly) are ineffective or endangered.

IRAN: Pres. Ahmadinejad -- when he's not busy denying the Holocaust or threatening to wipe countries off the map -- is trying to consolidate power in the office of the presidency in a way never before seen in the 27-year history of the Islamic Republic, apparently with the tacit approval of Iran's supreme leader. Interestingly, the linked piece, which ran in The New York Times, attempts to suggest that Ahmadinejad is more liberal regarding the treatment of women, ignoring his role in the recent passage of the the dress code there.

A RIO GRANDE TURKEY adopted a two-week-old great gray owl that fell out of a nest at Spring Creek in Oregon. Sadly, this would be fatal for the baby owl.

A BIZZARE GOAT-HEAD DISPLAY, complete with pentagram, is under investigation in Connecticut. "We're not saying this is illegal," Torrington police Lt. Francis Balzano said. "We would just like to know what it means."

A KENTUCKY CATFISH spit up a "Class of '84" ring from Franklin Heights High School in Columbus, OH, which was returned to its owner, Lisa Peterson. I guess this means they aren't going steady anymore.

SKUNKS are resisting gentrification by going underground in Stockton, CA.

A GOLDEN RETRIEVER PUPPY was freed from the jaws of a seven-foot-long gator in Florida. (Where else?)

MARMOTS AMOK: It sounds like a campy horror movie: An aggressive gang of large rodents terrorizing a senior community, burrowing under homes, leaving nasty droppings o­n front porches and, if you believe all the stories, actually attacking people. But it may well be happening in Prosser, WA...

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The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni (review by Karl)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - 04:25 AM
Posted by: kbade


NOTE: If you're here for the usual, just scroll down a tad, but you may enjoy the review. If you came for the review, please visit the home page and make yourself comfy.

This month's Blog Book Club selection was The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni, considered to be widely underappreciated outside of Italy, where it is considered a real masterpiece of Italian literature. It truly is a great historical novel. But since I know that Amber has o­nly good things to say about the book, the contrarian streak I've been o­n compels me to mention the part that bugged me about it.

The Betrothed is largely about the struggle of Renzo and Lucia to get married in the face of a number of terrible obstacles. So the aspect of the book that irritated me (at least at first) was Manzoni's failure to give the reader a little more "backstory" of their romance at the outset. Thus, I did not think I had a good read o­n the inner workings of the characters with whom we are to sympathize until later (and in the case of Lucia, much later) in the book. A fateful encounter between Lucia and Don Rodrigo that sets much of the plot in motion is glossed over in the space of a paragraph. Granted, Lucia's quiet, demure nature may reflect the time in which the story is set, but showing a more private, romantic moment between the couple near the beginning of the book would have made the read a bit less daunting.

This omission irritated me even more when contrasted with Manzoni's treatment of some of the secondary characters. For example, Father Cristoforo and Gertrude (the Signora) get great backstories, which inform the choices they make throughout the narrative. Yet Renzo's motivation in detouring from his mission in Milan did not click for me until he spoke afterward, connecting up to his frustration at finding a conventional solution to the initial obstacle to his marriage.

I do not want this point to overshadow my overall appreciation of the book, though. The personal story is ultimately compelling, as is the depiction of some of the historical events (which I won't spoil here). Plus, Manzoni's eye for the bigger picture has elements of the timeless. Consider, for example, his description of a bread shortage in Milan in the early 17th century:

"But when prices rise more than a certain amount, they always produce a certain effect -- at least they always have done up to the present day. And if it still happens today, after all that learned authors have written about the subject, anyone can imagine what it was like in those days. This effect is a common conviction that it is not in fact the shortage of goods that has caused the high prices. People forget that they have feared and predicted the shortage, and suddenly begin to believe that there is really plenty of grain, and the touble is that it is being kept off the market. Though there are no earthly or heavenly grounds for that belief, it gives food to people's anger and to their hopes. Real or imaginary hoarders of grain, landowners who did not sell their entire crop within twenty-four hours, bakers who bought grain and held it is stock -- everyone in fact who possessed grain or was thought to possess grain was blamed for the shortage and high prices, and made the target of universal complaint and of the hatred of rich and poor alike."

Do a search and replace to substitute "oil" for "grain" and this 19th century author would be smarter than most 21st century pundits.

This is merely a digression in the epic scope of the story, but suggestive of the masterful grasp Manzoni has o­n the human condition. My o­nly quibble is that I wish he had demonstrated it a bit more with regard to the title couple more quickly. So if I was forced to recommend an epic historical novel, my nod would still go to War and Peace. But The Betrothed would not be far behind, which should be a good enough a recommendation for anyone, with the possible exception of Manzoni.

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Advance Smoosh, New Releases, Feelies, Cats In Boxes, Giant Wild Boars   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


SMOOSH: The Chicago Tribune has a lengthy profile of the talented tween sisters, noting the lengths taken to protect their last name and their down-to-earth attitude: "I'm not like, 'Oh yeah, I'm so good and everything.' I never think that," said Chloe o­n the phone while jumping o­n her back yard trampoline. "I don't talk about the band when I'm in school. My friends would get bored at me and think I'm stuck up." Their sophomore album, Free To Stay, comes out later this month, but you can download "Find A Way" from Barsuk Records and stream it with other leaked tracks via the Hype Machine.

NEW RELEASES: The holiday weekend created a bit of a vacuum for new releases. As I write this, AOL Music hasn't even updated its album streams. However, Dave Alvin (Blasters, X, etc.) has an album of covers of California songwriters -- including Merle Haggard, John Fogerty, Tom Waits, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, Jerry Garcia and more -- called West of the West, with Kate Wolf's "Her In California" streaming from MySpace. Mike Patton, vocalist for Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, reportedly redicovers melody o­n Peeping Tom. He performed "Mojo" o­n Late Night with Conan O'Brien last week. The Radio Dept. brings more Swedish shoegazing o­n Pet Grief. Boards of Canada have a new EP out, from which you can stream the ambient "Left Side Drive" via MySpace.

RAY DAVIES: The former Kinks frontman worries Britain is losing its national identity as the country becomes increasingly multi-cultural, describing working with a school in north London where 52 languages were spoken: "I'm not saying people from Croatia or Afghanistan should sing songs by William Blake. I'm not suggesting Morris dancing in the mosque. "But it would be interesting for people to realise we have a culture here too."

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: Mocking Music is killing music with a bunch of VU covers -- including tracks from Bowie, Belle & Sebastian, Olivia Tremor Control, Jim O'Rourke and more -- which you can stream from the blog's playlist at the Hype Machine.

MOUNTAIN GOATS have a new album coming in August, titled Get Lonely.

BEN VAUGHN: Folks from the Pate era may remember him as the writer of "I'm Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee)," but NPR has an audio feature with extra clips about his TV work and new instrumental album.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: I came across a vintage TV clip of the Feelies playing the title track to their debut album, "Crazy Rhythms." They were even more frantic by the time that Ken King and I started seeing them. And though the band is long since defunct, Glenn Merecer and Dave Weckerman recently rounded up some friends to play Feelies tunes like "All Night Long" and "Morning Light" at an event in Hoboken. Where else?

FASTER THAN THE WORLD: Legendary blogger Michele Catalano returns to the 'net as the co-founder of a blog focused o­n punk rock and muscle cars. There is copious killing of music there as well. So if you've ever wanted to download Dead Milkmen's "Takin' Retards to the Zoo" while comparing the '68 and '69 Dodge Chargers, f.t.t.w. is the place for you!

GNARLS BARKLEY: "Crazy" topped the UK singles chart for a ninth consecutive week, but the first song to top the charts based o­n downloads will no longer be sold o­nline, because the band is fed-up with hearing it.

ORIGINALITY IS OVERRATED: At least, that's the premise of a Top Ten list at Stylus.

PJ HARVEY has reportedly written a new album o­n the piano. Pics of her tickling the keys at the link.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: Page Six claims that the supposedly sober supermodel emerged from her London townhouse a few days ago looking disheveled with an apparently swollen and bruised cheek, after a visit from the troubled singer. Kate's flacks say the photos in the British papers were merely "an unfortunate camera angle" and Doherty had o­nly stopped by to take a shower.

BRADGELINA celebrated the birth of their daughter by donating 300K to help other babies in Namibia. Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt was born in a private hospital, but most Namibians rely o­n state hospitals. The couple also pledged 15K for a school and a community center in Swakopmund.

MATT DAMON and his wife are reportedly expecting a baby girl, to be named Isabella, in the next few weeks.

SANDRA BULLOCK wants to have kids and thinks she was too immature to have them before: "I think most children are harmed because they are born to other children. I am the most immature person I know. No, that's not true -- there's Hugh Grant."

JACKO makes his first round of public appearances since being acquitted of child molestation charges last year... starting with an orphanage.

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND? Director Brett Ratner suggests we haven't seen the last of Wolverine and Magneto. I tend to doubt we've seen the last of them at all.

HUGH JACKMAN put a limit o­n what he was willing to have shaved to fit into his Wolverine costume for X-Men 3.

ANNE HATHAWAY, of The Princess Diaries and Brokeback Mountain, charges 10K an hour... for baby-sitting services at a charity auction: "You have to prove you actually have children, according to my boyfriend," she joked.

BRITNEY SPEARS bought the self-help tome, Getting The Love You Want, during her stay in NYC. Maybe her Mom can read it to her.

HEATHER MILLS McCARTNEY may do a tell-all TV interview with a friendly questioner o­n Britain's ITV.

STEPHEN COLBERT, of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, may have ripped Pres. Bush at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, but admits he voted for (now former) Sen. Strom Thurmond, due to his office's constituent services. All politics is local?

LINDSAY LOHAN may have been offering an olive branch to the French Hotel. Which will do wonders for her efforts to be taken seriously as an actress.

THE SOPRANOS get high praise from Tom Hagen.

PETRA NEMCOVA, the tsunami-surviving supermodel, has fallen under the spell of womanising pop star James Blunt? Her friends are reportedly alarmed... and rightly so! This is the guy who was asked if he ever got sick of hearing "You're Beautiful," and replied: "I don't have to listen to it, I'm the o­ne who sings it. And it's continued to get me laid." An English radio station said it has banned songs by Blunt after listeners said they were fed up with hearing him, but if it bagged you Nemcova, you could probably run it o­n a loop. It's just the rest of the world that has this reaction.

IRAQ: Reserve Marine Maj. Owen West has a must-read for proponents and opponents of the Iraq invasion. Two members of a CBS News team were killed and correspondent Kimberly Dozier was seriously injured when the Army unit in which they were embedded was attacked. Insurgent snipers are trained to target journos. A German hostage in Iraq was freed, but there is no link to Germany releasing a Hezbollah terrorist jailed for life for the murder of a US Navy diver. BTW, I have a bridge for sale, if anyone's interested.

IRAN appears to have slowed its drive to produce nuclear fuel, according to European diplomats who have reviewed reports from inspectors. The diplomats say the slowdown may be part of an Iranian strategy to lower the temperature of its standoff with the West over its nuclear program, and perhaps to create an opening for Washington to join the negotiations directly. We've seen this movie before.

TERROR IN BRITAIN: Home Sec. John Reid claims that 20 “major conspiracies” by Islamist terrorists in Britain have been uncovered by the security services. He failed to give further details but the claim appears to fit in with briefings by MI5 which suggest that as many as 1,200 potential terrorist suspects may now be in the UK.

CATS do seem to have a thing for boxes, don't they?

GATOR AND SHARK ATTACKS are nasty, but deer are more dangerous.

MASSIVE WILD BOARS: Packs of them are marauding through northeast Pennsylvania. "These hogs are smart, especially if they’ve been pursued," state biologist Tom Hardisky said. "They learn what to do and what not to do. When o­ne of their buddies gets killed, they remember it and adapt."

ALPACA: Somehow, I don't think that scene in The Graduate whould have been as powerful with that guy whispering, "Alpaca" to Dustin Hoffman, instead of "Plastics."

GIANT EARTHWORM surfaces in Seattle. Unfortunately, it's not Godzilla or Them! level giant, just giant for an earthworm.

GOLDFISH have feelings too, say fish researchers. Everybody say, "Fish are friends, not food."

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