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Conor Oberst, Natalie Merchant, Lone Bellow, Laura Marling, Excited Pup   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 29, 2014 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


RYAN ADAMS & JENNY LEWIS played "She's Not Me" and "Just One of the Guys" for Kimmel.

CONOR OBERST played Holiday Cheer fro WFUV at the Beacon Theater.

NATALIE MERCHANT played Holiday Cheer fro WFUV at the Beacon Theater.

THE LONE BELLOW played Holiday Cheer fro WFUV at the Beacon Theater.

LAURA MARLING played Holiday Cheer fro WFUV at the Beacon Theater.

THE BANGLES: This rawkin' version of their cover of "Hazy Shade of Winter" has resurfaced on the Tube, but the linked version is better quality.  More cowbell, Debbie!

YO LA TENGO's Top 20, according to Paste.

SYLVAN ESSO's lead singer Amelia Meath discusses the duo's priestly superfans and feminism at SPIN.

CHUMPED singer Anika Pyle writes about women in Punk for Vulture.

WHAT YOUR FAVE 2014 ALBUM says about you, according to Flavorwire.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies tops the holiday weekend chart with 41.4 million, which is a resurgence, tho still about 54 million behind The Return of the King, which had a similar release calendar. Unbroken places with 31.7 million (47.3 since Christmas), with word of mouth apparently making up for less enthusiastic reviews. With Jolie making the Zamperini biopic for 65 million (instead of the originally projected 120), this should be big for Universal. Into the Woods shows with 13 million (46 million since Christmas); this one was also made for a relatively modest 50 million with big names working for small money on this prestige musical. The Mouse counts his money.  Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb drops to fouth place with 20.6 million, though that's a 20 percent jump over last weekend.  Folks seeking nonmusical family fare for the holidays have put this installment back on track for possible profit.  Annie rounds out the Top 5 with 16.6 million and 45.8 total against a 65 million budget, despite poor reviews.Below the fold, The Interview made 1.8 million (2.9 since Christmas) on about 300 screens--but it reportedly made another 15 million in the video-on-demand market, which would be good enough for No. 6 on the chart, if the charts allowed it.  Whether this strange tale can sustain more streaming revenues is anyone's guess.  The Gambler is in the seventh slot (eighth if you count The Interview)with a less-than-hot 9.3 million debut (14.3 million since Christmas); here again,not terrible against a 25 million budget.  The Imitation Game leapt up to No. 8 8 million in expanding to 747 screens, outperforming the similarly released The King's Speech.  Tim Burton's Big Eyes debuts with 3 million (4.4 since Christmas), against a mere 10 million budget.  

THE IMITATION GAME is likely the best movie I've seen since Interstellar two months ago, and perhaps longer than that. I once programmed computers in the basement where this was built, and I like WWII flicks, so I may be a bit biased.  But I will still say this biopic of the admittedly not-normal computing pioneer Alan Turing is one of the best of the year.  Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley easily deserve their Golden Globe nominations, particularly Knightley, who makes the absolute most of a smaller, less flashy role as one of Turing's collegues in the British effort to break the 159 million million possibilities of Nazis' Enigma code (which changed daily).  Mark Strong also gets some delicious moments as the head of MI6, thugh he also has the challenge of never revealing exactly what he knows about Turing. Rory Kinnear is also good as a police detective whose investigation of a robbery of Turing's home takes a surprising (to him) direction.  A slightly didactic epilogue is one of the rare flaws in a sceenplay that follows Turing through three periods in his life that turn out to be even more interrelated than they initially seem. I highly recommend this one.

BIG EYES: Tim Burton's biopic of Walter and Margaret Keane is named for the primary feature of the kitschy, sometimes crrepy paintings of children that the Keanes launched from the art world into the popular consciousness in the early-to-mid 60s.  One could immediately imagine that Burton would be drawn to this sort of pop culture artifact, and the film is evidence that he's better off paying homage to this sort of thing than when he wallows in it (See, e.g., Dark Shadows).  If anything, one of the flaws of this movie is that Burton may maintain too much of a distance from how he feels about the art itself.  I also tend to wonder how much direction actually came from Burton.  Amy Adams does her usual stellar job with the repressed and suppressed Margaret, but Christoph Waltzreally chews the scenery as Walter.  It may be that Walter was every bit as over-the-top as depicted, but as the villain in this Mad Men-esque tale, the seeming caricature tends to gloss over his contribution to the partnership (however fraudulent it was) and diminish the charm that a top con man has to possess. None of this means Waltz isn't fun to watch chew the scenery mind you -- the performances and the visuals from Burton's team are engaging and the story is briskly paced. I ended up liking it, while being slightly disappointed.

INTO THE WOODS: Right up front, know that I'm not a big fan of musicals.  Some of the classics, sure--Singin' in the Rain, West Side Story, Gigi. And I like any number of the best Disney flicks, which are de facto musicals (E.g., Beauty and the Beast).  But overall, not so much.  So when I write that I found myself fidgeting toward the end, bear that in mind.  I know Sondheim is one of the greats, and that reimagining fairy tales was way ahead of the curve in the late 80s.  But I couldn't help feeling like the music and lyrics were more interested in impressing than moving.  The performances are fine, some more than fine.  We all sort of knew Anna Kendrick could sing, but Emily Blunt and Chris Pine were surprisingly good. I in no way felt cheated and was generally entertained, but this was my least favorite movie of the holiday weekend...for what that's worth from a nonfan of musicals.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE is the top-grossing actor of 2014, according to the latest Forbes list.

CHRIS ROCK and his wife are divorcing after nearly 20 years together.

AMANDA BYNES is reportedly stable, lucid and off her meds. A holiday miracle? Or a temporary reprieve from mental illness?

ALICIA KEYS  and her husband Swizz Beatz welcomed their second child on Saturday.

SOLANGE KNOWLES is getting dogged by the taxman almost immediately after she got hitched.

DUSTIN DIAMOND, a/k/a/ Screech, was busted for an alleged stabbing.

AFGHANISTAN: The US formally ended the 13-year International Security Assistance Force combat mission in Afghanistan, marking the event with a ceremony in Kabul. Some 13K Coalition troops will remain in Afghanistan for NATO's Resolute Support training mission.

THE ISLAMIC STATE has killed 1,878 people in Syria during the past six months, the majority of them civilians, a British-based Syrian monitoring organization said on Sunday.

IRAN's army said Saturday it has deployed a suicide drone for the first time in massive ongoing military drills near the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.

AN EXCITED PUPPY spots its owner.

A HIPPO that panicked while being transported by truck in Taiwan jumped from the vehicle, breaking a leg and causing confused residents to report spotting a dinosaur on the loose.

OBESE PENGUINS are waddling off the holiday weight.

AN OSTRICH on the lam takes off down a Chinese highway.


2401 Reads

Santa comes just once a year   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



... with CHRIS ISAAK, live at Universal Studios. Your holiday-themed numbers include "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Hey, Santa," "Last Month of the Year," "Blue Christmas," and "Christmas on TV." Bonus: Dreidel banter!

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS:  Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.  Mental Floss has "The Real Story Behind A Charlie Brown Christmas (and why it almost wasn't shown)." The WaPo has reflections from producer-director Lee Mendelson.

DARLENE LOVE & RONNIE SPECTOR duet on "Sleigh Ride" and "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree."

THE POGUES:  It's not Christmas Eve in the drunk tank (or even St. Patrick's Day) without a "Fairytale of New York."  From 2012, here's the backstory.

ANTON BARBEAU, an occasional collaborator of the late Scott Miller, crafted his own "Xmas Song."

DEAN WAREHAM Does The Holidays.

THE 10 BEST PUNK CHRISTMAS SONGS, according to L.A. Weekly.

NORAD will be tracking Santa, per usual. CNET has a history and behind-the scenes story.

THE 25 BEST CHRISTMAS ALBUMS, according to Complex.

BILLY MACK: Because "Christmas Is All Around."  ALSO: Is Love Actually is an awful movie?

THE REPLACEMENTS dropped "Poke Me In My Cage", just in time for the holidays.

THE FLAMING LIPS perform "White Christmas" as only they can.

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS: "The Keep That Keeps Giving."  Not to be confused with "The Gift," which is not Christmasey at all.

CALEXICO: Speaking of presents, here's their "Gift X-Change."

THE MUPPETS: "Ringing of the Bells." Not to be confused with Super Furry Animals.

AN XMAS FLASH MOB from the Berklee College of Music broke out into an impromptu performance of the classic Christmas carol “O Holy Night” at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

GLAM XMAS:  I started the month with Wizzard's awesome "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" and Slade's "Merry Christmas Everybody" (1973's UK Xmas No. 1). The circle is now complete.

HALL & OATES: "Jingle Bell Rock," reduced to its molten kitchy essense.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS:  The real deal, not Jim Carrey (may take a moment to load).  Then he slunk to the ice box. He took the Whos' feast. He took the who pudding, he took the roast beast. He emptied the ice box as quick as a flash. Why, the Grinch even took the last can of who hash.

DAVID BOWIE & BING CROSBY'S cross-generational duet o­n "Little Drummer Boy." This historic even was recreated by Will Farrell and John C. Reilly. Plus, Jack Black and Jason Segel have done a cartoon cover

NOW SHOWING: Christmas brings Unbroken, scoring 49 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Into The Woods, scoring 68 percent; The Gambler, scoring 51 percent; and Big Eyes, scoring 71 percent. The Interview, in a reversal of fortune, will be shown in a few theaters; it's scoring 52 percent.

THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS:  Many people believe human activity is causing global warming.  I blame Snow Miser and Heat Miser.

CHICAGO CHRISTMAS MEMORIES:  If you grew up in Chicago (and I suspect other places), the season is not complete without watching the short cartoons of "Hardrock, Coco & Joe" (a story fantastic, a story so queer), "Suzy Snowflake" and the jazzy version of "Frosty the Snowman."

THE BEATLES fan club messages for 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

THE TRON 1982 HOLIDAY SPECIAL, courtesy of Funny Or Die.

THE SEX PISTOLS' final UK show was a Christmas benefit.

PU$$Y RIOT will be home for Christmas, in what the band calls a PR stunt by the Russian government.

HOLIDAY BIN: Your stocking stuffers are now streaming from the Pate page at the ol' HM..

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Pate even had a song titled "Rope Around The Moon," so watch the whole thing. BONUS: Vintage Bailey backlash from warped, frustrated old people at the New York Times and Portfolio. DOUBLE-BONUS: 22 TV variations on It's A Wonderful Life.

RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER:  Pull up an ice block and lend an ear!  Herbie wanted to be a dentistNTTAWWT.  BONUS:  The Rankin-Bass classic continues to inspire ads like 2009's Verizon ad, following 2008's Apple ad, and even more so 2007's AFLAC commercial.

FESTIVUS:  For the rest of us.  Technically already started, so I can be one of your grievances.

SCARY GHOST STORIES: I overheard Andy Williams crooning "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" in a store this month, and the lyric about "scary ghost stories" never really struck me before.  Took me a second, but I supposed he was referring to Dickens.  It turns out -- as noted by a coworker -- that this was a thing in Victorian England...  and the modern day. BONUS: Krampus!

TEN UNFORGETTABLE Musical Christmas Moments On Film.

THE 30 BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIES, according to Empire magazine.

CLASSIC TV CHRISTMAS SPECIALS by the truckload, linked at WFMU, the post is a few years old, but many of the links still work. Also, 23 TV Episodes based on "A Christmas Carol."

NAT KING COLE:  His chestnuts are roasting.

MAYMO THE BEAGLE gets 210 bottles for Christmas.

100 ANIMALS in Santa hats. You're welcome.


14 ANIMALS Who Tried to Ruin Christmas.

AN AUSTRALIAN FAMILY shot into the Guinness Book of Records in 2011 after decorating their home with an astonishing 331038 Christmas lights. If the video at the link doesn't work, try this one.

3369 Reads

Joe Cocker RIP, The Allah-Las, White Lung, Ian McLagan, Monkeys   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


JOE COCKER, the gravelly British singer who became one of pop’s most recognizable interpreters in the late 1960s and ’70s with passionate, idiosyncratic takes on songs like the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends,” died on Monday at his home in Crawford, Colo. He was 70.The cause was lung cancer, his agent, Barrie Marshall, said. His other hits included a version of the Box Tops’ hit “The Letter” (check the late Bobby Keys on sax) and the standard “Cry Me a River,” both in 1970, and “You Are So Beautiful,” in 1975. His only No. 1 single was “Up Where We Belong,” recorded as a duet with Jennifer Warnes for the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman, for which he won his only Grammy Award. The late John Belushi famously impersonated his performing style in a 1975 sketch on Saturday Night Live, and later joined Cocker on stage during a 1976 performance of Traffic's "Feelin' Alright," on the show. The Guardian has a life in pictures.  Weekend Edition has a 2012 interview.

THE ALLAH-LAs play a live set on KEXP.

WHITE LUNG also stopped by KEXP for a mini-set.

IAN McLAGAN stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set shortly before his death.

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED offers a spacey holiday mix.

KIM WILDE drunkenly warbles "Kids In America" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" on the subway.

JARVIS COCKER: Not dead, not related to Joe.

FUTURE ISLANDS gets a meaty profile from Stereogum.

AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd wants his job and reputation back.

PAUL STANLEY of KISS once did a Folger's coffee commercial.

BILL COSBY's latest accuser is an ex-girlfriend of Sammy Davis, Jr.

ANGELINA JOLIE talked to The Weekly about the work-family thing.

NATALIE PORTMAN is among those paying tribute to the late Mike Nichols.

CASEY CASEM was finally buried. In Norway.

IGGY AZALEA is being threatened by a branch of the Anonymous hacker group who say they'll release an alleged sex tape of the hip hop star if she doesn't apologize to Azealia Banks.

THE UNITED STATES and partner nations carried out 10 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and 12 in Syria Monday. Fifteen airstrikes were conducted by the US and partners in Iraq and Syria against the group on Dec. 19, and 13 more took place over the weekend of Dec. 20-21.

LIBYA: Pro-government forces conducted airstrikes on Islamist fighters on Dec. 21 as clashes for the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil ports continue.

NIGERIA: Recent events show how neighboring countries are increasingly being drawn into Nigeria's Islamic uprising.

EGYPT: The interior ministry announced that security forces killed five Islamic State-affliated Ansar Bayt al Maqdis fighters in a raid in northern Egypt.

A MONKEY saves a friend electrocuted at a station in Kanpur.

AN ORANGUTAN held in an Argentine zoo can be freed and transferred to a sanctuary after a court recognized the ape as a "non-human person" unlawfully deprived of its freedom, local media reported on Sunday. He's the King of the Swingers.

A POLICE DOG tracked a fugitive to a dog house.

A DISTRESSED SEAL found in a field in Merseyside has been taken to a wildlife hospital "exhausted" after being rescued.

2405 Reads

Lucinda Williams, Temples, Cold Specks, Kangaroo   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 22, 2014 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


FIRST AID KIT covers R.E.M.'s "Walk Unafraid."

LUCINDA WILLIAMS plays a Tiny Desk Concert at the offices of NPR.

TEMPLES stopped by WFUV's Studio A this autumn to play a couple of songs from Sun Structures.

COLD SPECKS play a live set at KEXP.

EMMET OTTER'S JUG-BAND CHRISTMAS: The unsanctioned soundtrack.

FIELD REPORT drops "On Christmas Eve."

PINK MOUNTAINTOPS drop “Asleep With An Angel” as a single.

DARLENE LOVE's final Christmastime Letterman performance.

DAVID LOWERY (Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker) is profiled by Wondering Sound. (Thx, LHB.)

THE THOMPSON FAMILY concert was a reunion of sorts

NPR MUSIC's 50 Favorite Albums Of 2014.

HIDDEN GEMS 2014: The albums that got away.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies easily tops the chart with 56.2 million (90.6 million since opening).One way to look at this is to note that this final Middle Earth film seems to be the weakest performer since the first one, The Fellowship of the Ring.  The other way is to note that The Hobbit films likely need to make 2.2 billion worldwide  to profit and may have reached that mark this weekend (if not, surely next weekend).  So a "weak" performance here likely projects to a billion dollars in profit overall, which ain't bad.  Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb places with 17.3 million, again far behind the prior installments (30 and 54 million).  But it's family-friendly and --with The Interview canceled--perhaps the big option for comedy during the big money holiday season, sot his may prove leggy.  Annie shows with 16.3 million, which may not be bad against a 65 million budget, especially in light of the awful reviews.  Exodus: Gods and Kings tumbles a Biblical 66.6 percent to the fourth slot with 8 million.  The dominance of The Hobbit worldwide will likely plague Exodus. Mockingjay rounds out the Top 5 with another 7.8 million, perhaps benefitting from the Exodus implosion.

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES.  Over the past few years, I've complained that too many filmmakers simply cast about for clones of The Lord of the Rings saga, or "reimagined" even projects as unlikely as Alice In Wonderland in that mode. It is perhaps less strange to see Peter Jackson warp The Hobbit into the LotR mold... but it's still strange.  The titular battle is certainly impressive, perhaps moreso with the insertion of Orcs, but devoting essentially an entire film to it may be too much of a good thing (though many will be relieved the drarves don't sing in this one).  Indeed, the Battle may be a visual feast, but we know it is ultimately not decisive.  The insertion of elements from LotR and new characters may help retention of casual viewers, but ultimately forces digressions from the main narrative--which would bother me less if I thought it improved the final product.  Instead, Bilbo Baggins often seems more of an afterthought than the title character should.  The film is not without its redeeming qualities -- as mentioned, it's as visually compelling as the rest of the series, and the fighting (particularly the hand-to-hand fighting within the larger Battle) is well-executed.  I did not feel cheated, but I was a bit disappointed.

KRISTEN BELL & DAX SHEPARD welcomed their second baby girl together. They named her Samsung...no, wait, Delta.

ELTON JOHN and David Furnish have officially married - exactly nine years after they tied the knot in a civil partnership ceremony.

LANCE BASS and Michael Turchin also got married.

MARGARET CHO and her artist husband Al Ridenour have split after 11 years of marriage.

IDRIS ELBA as the next James Bond? Sony exec Amy Pascal likes the idea.

TURKEY: Mehmet Dogan, the leader of Turkey's Tahşiye group, said he "loves Osama bin Laden"; President Erdogan has defended Dogan. Authorities arrested over 100 members of a teachers' union in Ankara yesterday as they marched in support of secular education, after attacking them with water cannons and tear gas.

NIGERIA: Boko Haram released a video of gunmen mowing down civilians in a dormitory for being infidels.

THE UNITED STATES transferred Guantanamo detainees Mohammed Zahir, Abdul Ghani, Khi Ali Gul, and Shawali Khanto to Afghanistan, at the request of Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. The Afghan government is not required to further detain the four men.

THE UNITED KINGDOM: Ali Mohammed Said, of north London, was arrested as he tried to travel to Belgium with a fake passport; he is accused of seeking to help C.F., a terrorist with international connections, travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.

A KANGAROO takes out a drone.

THE CASE OF TWO COWS that wandered from a Pocatello meat-processing business caught the attention of a national group that helps farm animals.

A POSSE OF RACCOONS takes over West Harlem.

A DOG accidentally shot his owner with a rifle.

2330 Reads

Aimee Mann, New Pronographers, Parquet Courts, Lily & Madeleine, Rottweiler   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 19, 2014 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with AIMEE MANN's CHRISTMAS CAROL (profanity warnings): Part One has your Scrooge-y set-up with Michael Penn. Part Two features The Office's John Krasinski. Part Three has Michael Cera. Part Four has John C. Reilly.

THE NEW PR0NOGRAPHERS stopped by WFUV for a mini-set; A.C. Newman chats about the new LP.

PARQUET COURTS performs from the stage of World Cafe Live.

LILY & MADELEINE stopped by World Cafe for a chat and mini-set.

ELEPHANT STONE combines the sounds of Indian classical music and '60s psychedelic rock at World Cafe.

BAND OF HORSES & GRANDADDY "Hang an Ornament."

TOM WAITS gives a reading of a "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis."

ARIEL PINK talks to Bomb magazine about the ugly nature of performing, his method of creating an album, and how recording is a rip-off.

NICK CAVE's Handwritten Dictionary.

THE TOP ALBUMS of 2014 according to the staff at The Guardian.

STEREOGUM's 70 Favorite Songs of 2014.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide reelases are The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which opened on Wednesday scoring 62 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,currently scoring 49 percent; and Annie, scoring 19 percent.

STEPHEN COLLINS  released a lengthy statement in which he admits to inappropriate sexual contact with three female minors.

STEVIE WONDER has welcomed his ninth child.

KRIS & BRUCE JENNER have settled their divorce.

ASHLEE SIMPSON and Evan Ross are expecting their first child together.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE and... director and producer Gabe Polsky?

BRAD PITT was dismissed from jury duty for being too distracting.

THE NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY at the Library of Congress recognizes The Big Lebowski, Saving Private Ryan, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Rosemary's Baby, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and more.

UNITED STATES Army Lt. Gen. James Terry, commander of US forces in the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said it is likely to take "a minimum of three years" to reach a turning point against the group. The Pentagon said that coalition airstrikes in Iraq since mid-November have killed "multiple senior and mid-level" Islamic State leaders.

SYRIA: A mass grave holding 230 bodies was uncovered in Deir Ezzor province. Those killed, including many civilians, were members of the Shaitat tribe, which had resisted the Islamic State.

THE ISLAMIC STATE gained ground in the Iraqi city of Baiji in northern Iraq, close to the country’s largest oil refinery, forcing Iraqi forces to retreat on December 17.

A ROTTWEILER and a CAT, snuggling together... mass hysteria!

THE SQUIRREL THREAT: Arctic ground squirrels could play a greater role in climate change than was previously thought.

THIS ADORABLE BIRD is one of the most vicious creatures in the world.

AN UNHAPPY CAT is extracted from a car engine.

2536 Reads

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