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Supergrass, Bob Mould, Eugene Record, Jane Fonda and Tiglons   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 06:20 AM
Posted by: kbade


WILCO adds more tour dates and mulls over 700 ideas for the next album. Wilco is playing not o­nly ACL Fest, but also Stubbs BBQ in Austin the night beforehand. There's more I would like to say about that, but will uncharacteristically restrain myself.

LOLLAPALOOZA was blogged by USA Today. It would have been cool to hear Cake cover Buck Owens' "Excuse Me I Think I've Got a Heartache." And to see the Dandy Warhols - Brian Jonestown Massacre reconciliation. Jon Pareles has his take in The New York Times.

BONAROO organizers will stage a mega-event in Las Vegas around Halloween called Vegoose. Dave Matthews is believed to performing; insert your Halloween-scary joke here.

SUPERGRASS has a new album coming in August; Scenestars is killing music with a leak of the title track.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled singer has a violent fight with his manager, who accused Doherty galpal Kate Moss of breaking up Babyshambles. He took a beating from three men a late night street fight and fled the police, even though he was the victim. And that brawl triggered Doherty's latest breakup with Moss.

STAGE DIVING DEATH: Patrick Sherry, lead singer for the Bad Beat Revue died after an acrobatic leap from the stage went wrong in Leeds.

RYAN ADAMS talks to Pitchfork about his ear infection and the Grateful Dead. He also (unsurprisingly) flew into a rage over minor technical problems at Splendour, an Aussie music fest.

SUFJAN STEVENS tells Radar magazine that he ended up using Carl Sandburg as a muse for the Illinois ablbum "because I found his writing to be more classical and antiquated, and kind of silly, and that lends itself to lyric writing."

BOB MOULD talks to PopMatters about blogging and his new album, which coincidentally drops today.

ON THE PITCHFORK: Negative reviews for Rhino's Whatever: The 90s Box Set and Willie Nelson's Countryman.

PAYOLA: Sony BMG Music Entertainment, agreed Monday to pay ten million bucks and to stop paying radio station employees to feature its artists to settle an investigation by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

EVERYBODY WAS FOO FIGHTING: There's still bad blood between Courtney Love and Dave Grohl. Courtney thinks Dave has "been taking money from my child for years." As opposed to the money she shoveled up her nose, to rehab and to lawyers.

EUGENE RECORD, former lead vocalist of the Chi-Lites, died Friday at 65 after a long bout with cancer. Record wrote "Oh Girl" and co-wrote "Have You Seen Her."

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Celebrity watchdogs are wondering whether the hideous sores that erupted around Holmes' mouth shortly after the couple announced their romance are the side effects of a Scientology "detoxification" procedure involving the vitamin niacin, or stress-induced cold sores. Meanwhile, Cruise gets more criticism from a conservative Catholic psychiatrist.

HOWARD STERN is in talks to move the television version of his popular radio show to subscription video-on-demand.

BRITNEY SPEARS' hubby K-Fed forgot his son's first birthday. At least baby mama Shar Jackson could be comforted by her new boyfriend, Quentin Tarantino, who is undoubtedly a natural at an infant's birthday party.

HOLLYWOOD'S DEATH SPIRAL: At Slate, Edward Jay Epstein looks at the secret numbers that tell the tale.

JANN WENNER sounds like he's not a fun boss.

FLUFF JOURNALISM: Give the Chicago Sun-Times two points: o­ne for truth in labeling, o­ne for the correct editorial stance o­n Lindsay Lohan.

NOT-SO-BLIND ITEM: Page Six asks, "Which newly humiliated actress is not so innocent herself?" I have no idea who that could be... o­n an entirely unrelated note, people are speculating as to whether Jude Law and Sienna Miller remain engaged.

TERI HATCHER: The Desperate Housewife makes love in an old VW van parked in the driveway of her luxury mansion, to prevent her seven-year-old daughter from accidentally interrupting. Shouldn't it be a Chevy Van?

IRAQ: Sunni Arab members rejoined the committee drafting Iraq's new constitution as a suicide minibus bomb attack targeted a checkpoint outside Baghdad's Sadeer Hotel, which Al-Zarqawi previously targeted as the "hotel of the Jew.''

IRAQ II: A joint task force is being set up to decide how the U.S. military will hand over responsibility for the country's security to the Iraqi forces. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who visited Iraq in June, has a report assessing the progress and remaining problems in standing up Iraqi forces (Acrobat pdf). There are 35 battalion-size operations going o­n every day in Iraq, and Iraqi security forces solely are running roughly 20 percent of those, according to Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Alston. The Iraqi army is actively recruiting women. o­ne of the women pictured in the story, Sgt. Bushra Jabar, gets more attention at Publius Pundit.

IRAQ III: A Newsweek "web exclusive" claims that civilian killings by U.S. troops are not nearly as common as the war’s critics would like us to believe.

THE UNITED STATES NOW HAS A MERCENARY ARMY. That's the opening sentence of an op-ed by Prof. David M. Kennedy in The New York Times. He hastens to add, "Neither the idealism nor the patriotism of those who serve is in question here." I can't imagine how anyone would have gotten that impression from his lede.

JANE FONDA intends to take a cross-country bus tour to call for an end to U.S. military operations in Iraq. Fonda said her anti-war tour in March will use a bus that runs o­n "vegetable oil." No word o­n whether Fonda intends to pose atop an Improvised Explosive Device.

THE BLACK PANTHERS plan to sell "Burn Baby Burn" Hot Sauce and a line of clothing o­n the 40th anniversary of the Watts race riots.

STARBUCKS now in churches. At least until the company forms the Church of Starbucks to avoid income taxes.

CARIBOU COFFEE, otoh, operates its business according to Islamic law. Indeed, the company used to be advised o­n Shari'ah by controversial cleric Dr. Yusuf Abdullah Al-Qaradawi, whose views prove that the term "moderate" is a highly relative o­ne.

LONDON TERROR PROBE is "racing against time" to find the bombers, who fled three subway trains and a bus when their devices failed to fully detonate; an explosive found in a park was like those used in the attempted attacks, raising fears a fifth bomber was o­n the loose.

EGYPT TERROR PROBE seeks five Pakistanis believed to have come to Sharm el-Sheik from Cairo earlier this month.

IT WAS CHRISTMAS IN JULY at the World Santa Claus Congress in Copenhagen. No doubt everyone had a jolly ol' time.


PREGANANCY DISCRIMINATION at a maternity clothing company? That's what a Boston jury will be asked to decide.

WHAT MAKES LANCE ARMSTRONG CYCLE? A combination of genetics and training, according to Ed Coyle, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin.

PREDICT THE FUTURE with cellphones?

TIGLONS: A Chinese nature park has revealed two "tiglon" cubs -- a cross between a tiger father and a lion mother -- born in May.

CATS: Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia believe they know why Morris was such a finicky eater. And yes, I know the Morris reference dates me badly. But he went from a homeless cat whose hours were literally numbered when he was discovered in a Chicago animal shelter to being named "The Feline Burt Reynolds" in five short years.

DOGS: I thought about just making "Don't Touch My Bone" the headline without mentioning dogs, but thought better of it.

COW gives birth to four calves. Hard to stare unamazed at that.

SQUIRRELS' mating habits are destroying trees.

3000 Reads

Beck, Reunions, Festivals, Long John Baldry and a 500 lb. Moose   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, July 25, 2005 - 06:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


WALK THE LINE: The trailer for the Johhny Cash - June Carter biopic is now online in both Windows and Quicktime formats. Although I'm not thrilled with Reese Witherspoon as June, it sounds like Joaquin Phoenix worked o­n his Cash.

BECK: Scenes From A Mexican Restaurant.

LOLLAPALOOZA: With temperatures near and exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I decided to skip the weekend fest. However, I note that Perry Farrell added Kidzapalooza, a family-friendly area where all children under 10 got in free with a ticketholding adult. The Chicago Sun-Times has more. And Flickr has photos of The Pixies, Spoon, Weezer, The Walkmen, Liz Phair (looking more like Sheryl Crow all the time) and even Billy Idol with guitarist Stevie Stevens.

REUNION ROCK: Geoff Edgers of the Boston Globe is swearing it off, claiming it hurts new artists. Chris Riemenschneider of the Mpls Star-Tribune, however, lists ten bands from the 80s and 90s who would probably have the best reunion outings.

LAURA CANTRELL, an indie country darling, is inteviewed in PopMatters.

ELVIS COSTELLO discusses the unusual format of his tour with Emmylou Harris.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled singer reportedly wants to quit Babyshambles so he can sing with fiancee Kate Moss. She's got to be a better singer than Yoko, right?

COURTNEY LOVE: Off the wagon already? And yet she's upset that daughter Frances Bean was not invited to the bar mitzvah of Steven Spielberg's son. Or was that the straw that broke the camel's back? Oh, wait, the judge reviewing her case has ruled she is "progressing well," though there's no mention of the fainting incident.

IGGY POP: Sure, you've heard the story about Iggy and the peanut butter, but if you have broadband, WFMU has the video from 1970.

INTONATION FESTIVAL RECAP, PART FOUR: Pitchfork has the big finale and even answers Ken King's question.

THE WRENS, who were impressive at Intonation, are planning to record another album and to tour.

MORNING BECOMES ECLECTIC, KCRW's indie showcase is now a podcast.

LONG JOHN BALDRY: The legendary blues singer, who performed and recorded more than 40 albums with Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Jimmy Page, Jack Bruce, Rod Stewart and Elton John, died at in a Vancouver hospital at 64 after fighting a severe chest infection. A friend of Paul McCartney and the man who inspired Clapton to take up the guitar, Baldry later became known for voice work, including a 1998 Grammy nomination for narrating Winnie the Pooh recordings for Walt Disney.

LUCINDA WILLIAMS tells the Rocky Mountain News that Neil Young's Live Rust was a template for her live album.

NEIL YOUNG announces the long-rumored Archives, Vol. 1 o­n the crawl at his website.

MONKEES = MONKEES: Stereogum explains the rules of the game.

CLOSE THE DOORS: Doors drummer John Densmore, singer Jim Morrison's parents and those of his late wife have won a court order banning Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger from performing under the Doors name and requiring them to share profits from their group with the original Doors partnership.

COLDPLAY frontman Chris Martin was named this year's world's sexiest vegetarian by PETA. No Rock 'n' Roll Fun nails the news perfectly.

JACK NICHOLSON: Sell crazy someplace else. They're all stocked up on the set of The Departed.

THE NAKED TICKLER: New Smyrna Beach police believe o­ne man could be responsible for a series of bizarre break-ins in which a naked man enters victims' rooms while they are sleeping and tries to tickle their feet.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: "Oh my god. Actually, I'd run away." That's the reaction of Britney Spears' mom, when asked what Cruise should wear for his third walk down the aisle. I don't know how I missed Cruise's interview with Jesus Christ. And Holmes is crazy... about Chanel. But at least Holmes is completely safe from the naked tickler.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY tops the weekend box office again. I figured as much, as many families were all about Harry Potter last weekend. March of the Penguins went into more theaters, cracked the Top Ten and was number four in per screen average.

JUDE LAW was discreet about the nanny while he was o­n the Louisiana set of All the King's Men. Well, yeah... otherwise I would have heard about it.

LEE ANN RIMES shops at The Pleasure Chest.

P. DIDDY terrorized Rosie O'Donnell's family.

SALMA HAYEK was on Capitol Hill last week, lobbying Congress strengthen a 1994 law against domestic violence.

EGYPTIAN RESORT BOMBING: Police are piecing together the evidence in Egypt's worst-ever terrorist attack and searching for three suspects believed to have survived the bombings. Investigators are checking any link between this attack and the October 2004 Taba bombing, but the sophistication and timing of this attack raised worries of an al Qaeda link. o­ne of the groups claiming responsibility is an AQ affiliate, who called the bombing a "response against the global evil powers which are spilling the blood of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Chechnya." Because Egypt is invading all of those places, right? Of course, some in Egypt blame Israel.

EGYPT AND LONDON: Counterterrorism analysts and government officials in Europe and the Middle East believe that the back-to-back nature of the attacks in Egypt and London, as well as similarities in the methods used, suggests that al-Qaeda might have ordered both operations and is a clear sign Osama bin Laden and his deputies remain in control. There's more analysis of the London and Sharm el-Sheikh bombings at The Fourth Rail.

LONDON BOMBING: The police arrest a third suspect and discover that some of the July 21 attackers may have visited the same Welsh whitewater rafting center as two of the July 7 suicide bombers.

LONDON II: The supposedly moderate Muslim groups in the UK are back to apologizing for terrorism and playing the victim. A new poll of Muslims for the London Telegraph shows the vast majority disagree with these so-called moderate leaders, but also contains alarming statistics. For example, while o­nly six per cent insist that the bombings were fully justified, that number suggests about 100,000 Muslims in the UK feel this way. Moreover, 24 percent have some sympathy with the feelings and motives of the bombers. Nearly o­ne British Muslim in five, 18 per cent, feels little or no loyalty towards the country. Meanwhile, o­ne of Iran's most powerful clerics suggested during the Friday sermon in Tehran that last week’s bombings could have been the work of the U.K. government.

LONDON III: The Guardian dismissed Dilpazier Aslam, the "trainee journalist" who failed to disclose he was a member of the radical Islamist political party, Hizb ut-Tahrir. The paper then did a second article complaining that Aslam was identified by a "rightwing blogger" who applied to be a Guardian intern, and that "The story is a demonstration of the way the 'blogosphere' can be used to mount obsessively personalised attacks at high speed." Another way to put it would be that someone did a better background check than the Guardian did o­n Aslam, just by Googling his name. The Guardian learned its lesson: the second article is bylined to "a Staff Reporter."

CULT OF THE iPod: Numark announces the iDJ Mixing Console for iPod portable music players. NBC's Meet the Press joins the ranks of podcasters.

DISTRACTED BY TECHNOLOGY: Carl Honore, journalist and author of In Praise of Slowness, contends that the typical office worker needs about eight uninterrupted minutes to get into a creative state, but is interrupted every three minutes by a phone call, e-mail, instant message or other distraction.

IRAQ: Iraq's electoral commission will begin registering voters Aug. 1 for this year's constitutional referendum and election, amid hopes Sunni leaders will succeed in their push for more participation. The Sunnis seem ready to rejoin the commission drafting Iraq’s constitution and Iraqi police announced the capture and purported confession of a suspected mastermind of the July 16 bombing in Musayyib that killed nearly 100 people. However, the insurgency continues; Phebe Marr, author of Modern History of Iraq, who just returned to from a visit, came away thrilled by the "very genuine and very lively political progress" in Baghdad but discouraged by the insurgents' stubborn hold. First Lt. David Lucas, who just returned after spending 367 days patrolling downtown Baghdad with the Army's 10th Mountain Division, writes that "the war my men and I fought is a totally different war than the o­ne I see being reported by almost the entire media." To read the whole thing, BugMeNot suggested using silviom@mailinator.com as the ID and helsinki as the password.

IRAQ II: The Guard Experience has a piece from the Army News Service about the ICE device, which is roughly the size of a bread box and uses commercial and military technology to thwart enemy IEDs. "Phil," currently stationed in Iraq, has an upclose look at the glass-half-full-or-empty progress of the Iraqi Army. Major General Stephen T. Johnson, commander of the II Marine Expeditionary Force Forward and of Multinational Forces West, says the Al Anbar province has no Iraqi forces that are ready to conduct independent operations, because Al Anbar did not get newer Iraqi forces until a few months ago. However, in the last six or eight weeks, he has "started to see some great results from this partnering and from the training and from the efforts of the Iraqi soldiers." Another draft of the Iraqi Bill of Rights has been translated and looks like an improvement over the first version noted here earlier, both in terms of women's rights and in not overpromising social welfare benefits. In Saddam's birthplace, the villagers have fond memories of Uday and Qusay, presumably because none was ever thrown into an industrial plastic-shredder by Saddam's sons.

WHY DO THEY HATE US? Olivier Roy, professor at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences and the author of Globalized Islam, argues that it's not because of Iraq. He also argues the biggest threat to the West generally comes from Westernized Muslims living or even born in Europe who turn (or convert) to radical Islam. American Enterprise Institute fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht analyzes Roy's thesis.

DISORGANIZED LABOR: The Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union decided Sunday to bolt the AFL-CIO, paving way for two other labor groups to sever ties in the movement's biggest schism since the 1930s. The four dissident unions, representing nearly o­ne-third of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members, announced they were boycotting the federation's convention that begins today.

MISS UNIVERSE UPDATE: Toronto Mayor David Miller has issued an apology to Miss Universe after the city barred her from opening a festival o­n municipal property based o­n a city bylaw against sexual stereotyping. Former Toronto mayor June Rowlands cited the same bylaw years ago while refusing to let the Barenaked Ladies play at the square in front of City Hall because of the pop-rock group's name.

WAITING FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT IS NOT ALWAYS BAD, according to the Canadian government's new point man o­n wait lists. But it has also been recognized for years that Canada lacks a coherent system for managing wait times, a fact highlighted by last month's Supreme Court of Canada ruling that long waits in Quebec were an infringement of people's rights to life and security.

INA'S, a restaurant recommended to me by our own Susan Jasper at the 2003 Pate reunion, recently got help from eatery mogul Rich Melman o­n CNN's The Turnaround.

FUZZY MATH: Last Thursday, Congress had to pass some "technicall corrections" to a bill funding National Highway Traffic Safety Administration programs in billions instead of millions. Oops.

DOUBLE-SUPER CREEPY: Super creepy is trying to hook up with a 13-year-old girl in an AOL chat room. Double-super creepy is showing up to the hoped-for rendezvous with your 14-month-old son.

BONDAGE BARBIE: A trademark case brought by Mattel against Barbies Shop, a Canadian store selling bondage clothing, has been dismissed by a New York court, but the nation's largest toymaker said Thursday the case "isn't resolved."

FORT CARSON INVADED by a 500 pound moose. The animal was taken to Grand Mesa; the military provided 600 pounds of ice to put in the trailer to keep the moose cool for the drive through record-high temperatures.

PET HOARDING: Animal control officers have seized 105 cats from a Lorton, VA home in o­ne of two major cases of pet hoarding reported in the county this month, police said Friday.

WATER MOCCASIN IN TOILET attacks a Jacksonville woman in the middle of the night. So I guess the alligator story is an old wives' tale.

THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE was probably made worse by his medicine. Somewhere, Tom Cruise is saying, "I knew it!"

3090 Reads

80's Redux, Dandy Warhols, Miss Universe and 137 Dachshunds   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, July 22, 2005 - 07:45 AM
Posted by: kbade



YOUR FRIDAY TIMEWASTERS: Games made by TONYPA. Pictured above is Starrunner.

RETURN OF THE 80's? It seems like bands are starting to mine another decade for inspiration. Waltham, which oddly has an album o­n Rykodisc, is getting compared to Rick Springfield (and with good reason, I might add). You can stream a few from the band's MySpace page and download a couple from the band's site. Group Sounds is a bit more alternative and danceable, but undeniably drawing from the 80's. If Waltham wouldn't sound out of place o­n the soundtrack to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Group Sounds would fit o­n the soundtrack to a John Hughes movie. But you can hear for yourself here.

JEFF TWEEDY knows how good he has it with Wilco: "We have the luxury of getting together and making (stuff) up, that's our job."

BILLY BRAGG has pushed his deluxe reissues and box set into 2006, where they will compete with the debut album from Steven Seagal. No, really.

BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB is streaming a new tune from the upcoming album o­n their MySpace page.

BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE: At Hello, Newman, Newman argues that BSS could be the new Grateful Dead, though the two sound nothing like each other.

BAD ALBUM COVERS: The Boston Globe is hosting a gallery of the gauche.

THE INTONATION FEST, PART 3 is on the Pitchfork.

THE DANDY WARHOLS: Scenestars has a download from the new album, which I note not because I want to kill music, but because the new album will apparently begin with narration by Bill Kurtis; best known from A&E television shows, he anchored the CBS local news in Chicago when I was a kid.

WHAT IS "INDIE ROCK?" At Coolfer, Glenn cracks the code.

R. KELLY: At Slate, Hua Hsu thinks that sex tapes leaked to the Chicago Sun-Times scandalized Kelly the man, but had a liberating effect o­n Kelly the performer. And while the girl in the alleged R. Kelly sex video was o­nly 14 years old when it was made, according to the testimony of the girl's best friend, the criminal case against Kelly may yet get tossed out of court.

METALLICA will be the subject of an upcoming issue of the journal Essays In Philosophy. Further comment at Crooked Timber.

SUFJAN STEVENS, having completed Michigan and Illinois, hints at how he might actually finish his ambitious 50 state project: franchising.

"PEOPLE I DON'T KNOW ARE TRYING TO KILL ME:" You've seen the London bombings o­n television, get ready to download the single next week.

LONDON ATTACKED AGAIN: A massive man hunt is o­n for the four would-be suicide bombers. NBC News reported that British authorities told their U.S. counterparts that the backpacks used in Thursday's planned attacks and the explosives found in the backpacks are identical to those used in the July 7 attacks. There are also fingerprints o­n the backpacks. Outside experts are puzzled as to the seeming failure of the four bombs. Police last night told Tony Blair that they need sweeping new powers to counter the terrorist threat, including the right to detain a suspect for up to three months without charge instead of the current 14 days. Also, special intelligence units are being planned across Britain to monitor Muslim communities. UPDATE: Today armed police killed a man suspected of trying to attack an Underground train in the station (Note: Bobbies are usually unarmed). As I did yesterday, I recommend The Counter-terrorism blog for further updates.

IRAQ: Michael Yon has another incredible article o­nline (with plenty of pictures) that starts with an explanation of how U.S. troops protect bases from mortar and rocket attack and concludes with undercover raids that bag four kidnappers and over a ton of explosives. Also, next year, the U.S. may deploy ray guns for riot control.

GITMO: This week, the Pentagon named Marine Corps Lt. Col. Dwight Sullivan, a reservist who worked for the American Civil Liberties Union's Maryland branch for six years, as the new chief defense lawyer for the military tribunal process at Camp X-Ray.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Press junketeers say Cruise has o­nly two ways of expressing himself and find it disturbing. Scientologists are getting hinky over Glamour magazine's coverage of Cruise and Scientology generally.

PAM ANDERSON AND TOMMY LEE both deny that they are re-marrying.

JUDE LAW'S ex-wife publicly offered sympathy to Sienna Miller over Law's fling with the nanny: "I didn't see this o­ne coming -- it was a shock to everyone." The cynic in me thought that Sadie Frost could have hired a hot nanny to muck things up... but then I saw the nanny.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: A pediatrics expert says Jolie saved her adopted daughter from almost certain death of salmonella, dehydration and malnutrition in an Ethiopian orphanage. Think someone was upset by those stories about the grandmother who wanted to care for the girl?

ROMAN POLANSKI SUES LEWIS LAPHAM, which is sheer entertainment, as I wish both sides could lose. UPDATE: Polanski wins, but not much.

JESSICA ALBA AND A MONKEY. A female monkey. French kissing. No kidding. Alba also mentions Natalie Portman, but Alba must not have seen Closer.

IRAQ II: The Washington Post gets the improving troop morale story in the way that the The New York Times didn't. Indeed, the WaPo story makes another interesting point: "The survey also reported that when soldiers were asked about their own morale -- as distinct from their unit's morale -- there was marked improvement from 2003 to 2004: 52 percent described their morale as low or very low in the first survey, and that number dropped to 36 percent in 2004." Those familiar with political polling have probably seen a similar pattern with regard to the economy -- people will say they are doing well, but think that their neighbor is not.

RENOVATE MY TV SHOW: Fox Broadcasting’s Renovate My Family promised the Rosier family a new and improved home designed to accommodate their recently paralyzed son, Steven; instead, they allegedly got a shoddy wreck of a house that latest estimates say will cost 350,000 bucks to fix.

I'M NOT A GUMMY BEAR FAN, but this still made me laugh.

WEB SURFING AT WORK: arstechnica pokes some holes in the recent study claiming that internet misuse in the workplace costs American corporations more than 178 billion dollars annually in lost productivity.

OAK PARK, ILLINOIS made real estate mogul Barbara Cochran's list of the Top 5 Sexiest Suburbs in America (as seen o­n The View, no less). The write-up for the city does not specifically mention that it is currently home to our own Sylvia Hauser, but I think the "vibe of total and utter confidence" is a reference for those in the know.

THE SUPREME COURT: The New York Times has a lengthy profile of nominee John G. Roberts. Prof. Ann Althouse and Wonkette think there was a subliminal message in it. NTTAWWT.

THE PLAME GAME: While waiting to see whether U.S. Atorney Patrick Fitzgerald comes up with anything in his investigation of how CIA analyst Valerie Plame turned up in a column by Robert Novak, Gawker has run a poll pitting Novak against Angelina Jolie.

IRAQ III: The NYT and the WaPo again ran "glass half full or empty" stories Thursday. The NYT piece is headlined "Iraqis Not Ready to Fight Rebels o­n Their Own, U.S. Says." (D-uh; if the Iraqis were ready, the U.S. would already be building down our troop level.) The NYT reports that o­nly 3 of the 107 military and paramilitary battalions are able to plan, execute and sustain independent counterinsurgency operations. About o­ne-third of the Iraqi batallions is fully capable of operating against the insurgency, with U.S. support, usually supplies, communications and intelligence. However, half of the police units and two-thirds of the army battalions are o­nly "partially capable" of carrying out missions with American help; the remainder are still forming. What the WaPo reports --and the NYT omits -- is the improvement from last year, when whole battalions collapsed and absenteeism was regularly in double digits. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's blog from Iraq has members of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 48th Brigade Combat Team giving good marks to the Iraqi Army’s 4th Brigade: "Our military units are starting to beg to have the Iraqis participate in their operations," o­ne said. Attacks o­n recruiting stations are not deterring Iraqis from joining the fight. Both the NYT and WaPo skip the parts of the report noting that the average number of weekly insurgent attacks is dcereasing (though the insurgents' focus o­n civilians may increase casualties) and that the attacks are largely concentrated in four provinces. Moreover, attacks o­n infrastructure are decreasing, which should help boost oil and electricity production going forward.

MISS UNIVERSE was forced to take off her official sash at a local festival when Toronto authorities invoked a law against sexual stereotyping.

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: Is the book a commentary o­n the War o­n Terrorism, or is the war a way to define Harry? Also, it appears that the book's readers may need grief counseling.

COMIC-CON: Beneath the geeky exterior, there be pirates! Arrrgh!

THE WAR o­n TERRORISM: There seems to be a trend toward mass protests against terrorism, from Pakistan to an interfaith effort in Germany. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer had much to say about the war in an interview with Der Spiegel -- including a comparison of jihadist terrorism to freeware -- but the most important may have been this: "We've got to see Jihadist terrorism for what it is: A nihilist totalitarian ideology which must be fought. For this we need young Muslims." Fischer also calls the notion that Germany is safe from attack because it did not join in the invasion of Iraq "nonsense."

NANOTECH: Scientists at The University of Manchester have discovered a new class of materials which are o­ne atom thick and exhibit properties which scientists had never thought possible. Depending o­n circumstances they can be ultra-strong, highly-insulating or highly-conductive.

INHERIT THE WIND: The Smithsonian's website has posted recently discovered photos of the Scopes "monkey trial."

ELEPHANTS are being abducted by loggers and put to work dragging trees from the forest in Myanmar.

GIANT MUTANT TROUT are being bred by the USDA's National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture in Kearneysville, WV.

BEARS prefer to vacation in New Mexico.

PET HOARDING: Animal control officers seized 137 dachshunds from a couple's home in New Hanover County, N.C., along with 14 cats and two birds. What would Cruella de Ville say?

2900 Reads

Bonny Prince Billy, Elvis and Emmylou, Monty Python, Scotty, Owen and Mzee   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


LONDON ATTACKED AGAIN: The coverage is being rounded-up at the Counter-terrorism blog.

SUFJAN STEVENS' Illinois gets rave reviews from Seattle Weekly and Rolling Stone, fwiw.

ON THE PITCHFORK: Wilco to open for the Stones and play Farm Aid. A tepid review of Frank Black's Honeycomb and a rave for a double-disc new wave retrospective. And Part Two of their Intonation retrospective, which has plenty more cool photos. At the risk of being barred from ever teaching journalism, I'll note that some of the pics in this installment were almost certainly taken by a really hot woman wearing a "Smile If You're Gay" t-shirt.

THE ARCADE FIRE has bought a church in rural Quebec to house a new recording studio.

BONNIE PRINCE BILLY AND TORTOISE have collaborated o­n an upcoming album of covers of Elton John, Richard Thompson, Devo, The Minutemen and more.

THE AUSTIN CITY LIMITS FEST highlights from 2004 will be collected o­n CD by Rhino.

JAY FARRAR of Son Volt lists music you should hear at Amazon, including albums by R.L Burnside, Richard and Linda Thompson and Guided by Voices.

ELVIS COSTELLO AND EMMYLOU HARRIS had themselves a hoedown in Central Park, dueting o­n "Sleepless Nights" and "Wild Horses" and covering Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Hank Williams.

MY MORNING JACKET: Stereogum didn't care much for the trailer to Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown, in which the band will appear, but digs the Z album, set for release ten days before the movie.

ROBERT POLLARD is providing the soundtrack to Steven Soderbergh upcoming movie, Bubble.

CREAM may reunite for three gigs in Madison Square Garden. The source for this story is supposed to be Billboard's website, but I didn't see it there.

THE GODFATHER OF SKA, Laurel Aitken has died at 80, following a battle with bronchial pneumonia. His musical style spawned a huge following among "mods" in Britain, including the 80's 2-Tone movement which led to the creation of bands such as The Specials, The Beat, The Selector, Bad Manners and Madness.

MADONNA: Should you ever get invited to celebrate Madge's wedding anniversary, don't say I didn't warn you against going.

BRITNEY SPEARS believes that having a baby may change her life. No, really.

MONTY PYTHON is compiling a new six-part series of old clips and new material.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON is sneaking out for midnight trysts with supposed ex-boyfriend Jared Leto. Porn starlet Corina Taylor knows why.

STRANGER THAN FICTION is the title of the latest movie to film in my neck of the woods. It's been shooting up and down Wells Street (for the El train, I'll bet) and in front of my building. I would have taken pictures, but Will Farrell, Gwyenth Paltrow, et al. were nowhere to be seen -- just a lot of craft services tables with fancy coffee.

AL PACINO, 65, is reportedly romancing Rose MacGowan, 31. A few weeks ago, he went o­n a date with newly single former supermodel Elle Macpherson and reportedly hooked up with Winona Ryder several years ago.

DARYL HANNAH, who recently had a career revival with Kill Bill, Vol. 2, is going o­n hiatus to help save the environment.

DAVID LYNCH, a devotee of transcendental meditation and its founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is announcing the formation of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. Lynch believes that today's students "are even more stressed out. Their schools are hellholes. They're getting pathetic educations. They're not going forward with full decks of cards." Lynch did not say whether the foundation will be headquartered o­n Mulholland Drive or in Twin Peaks.

"HE'S DEAD, JIM." James Doohan, who played "Scotty," the burly chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise in the original "Star Trek" TV series and movies, is dead at 85 of pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease. He was among the Canadian forces that landed o­n Juno Beach o­n D-Day. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: o­ne that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger o­n screen), four in his leg and o­ne in the chest (which was was stopped by his silver cigarette case). Doohan's ashes will be sent into space in accordance with his wishes.

STAR TREK AND THE SUPREME COURT: At the Huffington Post, business futurist Steven G. Brant has two questions he would like Judge Roberts to answer at his confirmation hearings: "What does Judge Roberts think of Star Trek?" and "What does Judge Roberts think of Bush v. Gore?" Brant is a fan of Star Trek's Prime Directive of non-interference with the development of other cultures. If Brant is a Trekker, he must know that the Enterprise violated the Prime Directive o­n any number of occasions. As for Bush v. Gore, Brant should know what Roberts thinks, because Roberts was one of Jeb Bush's lawyers during the Florida recount. Brant might be interested in the comments of David Boies, who represented Gore: "John Roberts is a brilliant lawyer, a brilliant judge. He is a very careful judge, a thoughtful judge. I would agree with what the president said earlier. He is a decent man."

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D-MA), discussing the Supreme Court nomination o­n NBC's Today show, imho managed to display a near-total lack of understanding of what a judge does. Sen. Kennedy said, "The American people during this process want to know is he going to be o­n the side of the major corporate interests or is he going to be o­n the consumers’ interests? Will he be o­n the side of the polluters or will he be o­n the side of those that believe that the Congress had the right to pass important legislation o­n the environment? And will he be o­n the side of workers or is he going to be o­n the side of the bosses?" But the job of a judge is to decide cases impartially, not to automatically favor a "side." The part Kennedy gets right is the issue of the scope of the power of Congress to legislate o­n a given topic; what he calls "commerce clause issues" should be fair game, if properly asked. However, given the Supreme Court's decision in the medical marijuana case this past Term, Ted probably doesn't need to worry about the Court restraining the power of Congress under the commerce clause.

ONE MORE THING: I have to give President Bush credit for not cracking up in the middle of introducing Judge Roberts when four year-old John G. Roberts, Jr. decided to bust some moves.

LONDON BOMBINGS: London Mayor Ken Livingstone blames western policies for contributing to the spread of the extremism that inspired the bombers: "This particular strand of extremism was funded by the West in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was just another businessman until he was recruited by the CIA." The 9/11 Commission Report notes that the West aided the Muhajadeen through Pakistan, but "Bin Ladin and his comrades had their own sources of support and training, and they received little or no assistance from the United States." Mayor Livingstone also defended Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the cleric who visited London at his invitation last year and who was scheduled to attend a conference in Manchester next month, calling him a "leading progressive Muslim" who had condemned the London attacks. Yusuf al-Qaradawi has not o­nly defended suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq, but also suggested that last year's Asian tsunami was Allah's punishment of immorality in tourist areas.

MODERATE MUSLIMS are split o­n suicide bombings. The uncle of Shahzad Tanweer, o­ne of the four London bomb suspects, has defended his nephew's actions as a desperate "sacrifice" in an interview with the British tabloid News of the World. Britain's Muslim leaders have demanded a judicial inquiry into what motivated the suicide bombers. In London's Guardian, Norman Geras, professor emeritus in government at the University of Manchester (and a Marxist) addresses the apologists for terror.

YEMEN is being rocked by anti-government protests, with at least 20 dead and hundreds injured.

SAUDI ARABIA: The U.S. warned its citizens in SA that militants were planning fresh attacks as Saudi security forces said they found a militant bomb factory.

CHOCOLATE ADDICTION is unlike other types of addicition in the brain (at least among women), according to a Texas A&M University psychology professor.

MYSPACE: The social networking site is bought by media mogul Rupert Murdoch; pranks ensue.

THE INTERNET AND TRADITIONAL MEDIA: A recent poll suggests that fear of spyware helps drive net traffic to trusted media brands. Business Week explains its differing editorial processes for its blog and magazine content.

FREE COLLEGE FOR VIRGINS: That's the offer made by a Ugandan member of parliament to girls living in his district.

TIME-TRAVEL: Physicist Amos Ori of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology has come up with a time machine design which, unlike most previous proposals, requires o­nly normal matter and the vacuum known to exist in space.

CAR KARAOKE: Motorists who sing while driving tend to concentrate more and fall asleep less than their silent counterparts, but drivers should avoid overly rousing tunes or complex rhythms which can divert attention away from the road.

LEBANON: The U.N. wants to help the newly-formed Lebanese government expand its military presence in the south, with Syrian forces no longer in the country.

PAKISTAN has detained about 200 suspected Islamist extremists in a series of raids o­n religious schools, mosques and other properties. Most belong to banned militant groups and are wanted "in terrorist cases", Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said.

IRAQ: The draft Bill of Rights mentioned here yesterday prompts The New York Times to write: "A working draft of Iraq's new constitution would cede a strong role to Islamic law and could sharply curb women's rights..." Also: "The draft chapter... has ignited outrage among women's groups, who protested Tuesday morning in downtown Baghdad at the square where a statue of Saddam was pulled down by American marines in April 2003." (That's an interesting location.) Religious Shiite politicians tried o­nce before to abolish the 1959 law that has for decades been considered o­ne of the most progressive in the Middle East in protecting the women's rights. As is happening now, women took to the streets. Protests by women and relatively secular blocs o­n the constitutional committee, like the Kurds, may force Shiite members to tone down the religious language. "Some of the points regarding women's rights in this chapter are still to be reviewed," said Mariam Arayess, a religious Shiite o­n the committee. Other members of the committee said there were many different drafts in circulation and that women would have equal rights under the law: "There will be no humiliation for women," said committee member Kassim Daoud. It may be more difficult to lobby for more secular terms if Sunni drafters decide to walk away from the process for security reasons. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated publicly that Iraqis would make "a terrible mistake" in adopting any constitution that sharply curbs women's rights.

IRAQ II: The headline is "U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Report Low Morale." The story reports that a majority of U.S. soldiers in Iraq say morale is low; the report itself (Acrobat pdf) states that 54 percent of OIF-II soldiers reported low morale, but noted that in OIF-I 72 percent reported low morale. In other words, morale has been improving, not that we would report it that way. One hopes it continues to improve; o­ne also hopes that the military brass saw this January 2005 report long before the public did Wednesday.

VENEZUELA: There seems to be increasing criticism and protest of Hugo Chavez.

OWEN AND MZEE are a baby hippopotamus orphaned by the same tsunami that hit Asia and a 130-year-old giant tortoise; their true, but highly unlikely friendship has been turned into a children's book.

PET HOARDING: At Slate, Daniel Engber asks, What's the Deal With "Cat Ladies?" Meanwhile, the Chautauqua County SPCA is looking for blankets, old towels, and maybe foster homes for 117 miniature and toy poodles that were taken from a home in the town of Mina, NY o­n Friday. Almost around the clock since Friday, shelter workers and volunteer groomers have been shaving the poodles.

DOG-NAPPING? Engelbert Humperdinck has launched a public appeal for help to find his six-month-old German Shepherd, Charnie. Humperdinck has been scouring the streets of his village with a dog whistle, but fears the pup has been dog-napped.

SQUIRRELS fail in their third attempt to burn down a fruit packing business in British Columbia.

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Dogs, a Parrot, a Panda, a Cow and Circuit Judge John G. Roberts as the Beaver   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


KATHLEEN EDWARDS: Jam! proclaims this the summer of Kathleen, which is probably better than the summer of George. The article also discusses the breadth of country music in the U.S.: "There appears to be room in America for both poles of the country music magnet. The differences extend far beyond music to culture, politics, religion, to wishing there could be a cage match between Steve Earle and Toby Keith."

BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE talks to MTV about their upcoming album, Windsurfing Nation and trying to not become too commercial. Pitchfork has the story of how BSS producer Dave Newfeld was apparently beaten by the NYPD following an arrest for alleged pot possession. The band mentioned this at the Intonation Festival, but I didn't mention it because it was almost said like a joking tall tale and the coverage o­n the internet sometimes made it seem like it might not be the real deal. For that matter, the comments o­n the music blogs suggest that trying to buy pot in Washington Square Park is an extremely dumb thing to do.

MORE INTONATION: The New York Times runs a review of the festival by a reviewer who admits enjoying "being compared to a dog who 'might need to be put down'" by a Pitchfork reviewer. There's an accompanying pop-up photo gallery with nice pics of The Wrens and Petra Haden (who gave us the a cappella version of The Who Sell Out, but is currently playing violin and singing with The Decemberists). Pitchfork itself is running a retrospective o­n its site with plenty of pics, including a couple backstage shots.

THE MERCURY PRIZE, devoted to promoting albums by UK artists, has announced it 2005 shortlist of nominees.

THE POGUES liner notes for a reissue by Bob Geldof.

JOSS STONE wants you to know that is so totally not her butt in her GAP commercial. And Patti LaBelle wants you to know that Stone opens her mouth and a big black woman comes out.

TOM FITE, mentioned here recently, gets reviewed and photoblogged at Brooklyn Vegan.

BALL OF CONFUSION: Norman Whitfield, who co-wrote Motown classics like "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," was sentenced o­n Monday to six months of home detention for failure to file U.S. income tax returns. Politicians say more taxes will solve everything... and the band played o­n.

THE POSTAL SERVICE: Apparently, you can get their CD and singles through an unusual, but apt source.

NO ROCK AND ROLL FUN sums up the upcoming Rolling Stones disc and the Vogue article o­n Madonna so well that I can skip it. The Manolo, he has a comment o­n Madge also.

CHRIS MARTIN admits that he's under Gwyneth Paltrow's thumb. As if anyone thought otherwise.

THE HOLD STEADY: If you missed 'em o­n Conan O'Brien, shame o­n you, but you can set your recorder for Last Call with Carson Daly tonight!

CIRCUIT JUDGE JOHN G. ROBERTS is nominated for the vacancy o­n the Supreme Court. Although Sens. Schumer, Durbin and Kennedy opposed his nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, he was confirmed by the full Senate o­n unanimous consent. The link is worth reading for: (1) Sen. Hatch's highlighting of cases where he took positions some would call "liberal," though they may not represent his views any more than positions he argued when he worked for the Solicitor General; and (2) the fact that he apparently had the support of some Democrats with whom he worked. Perhaps Sens. Hatch and Schumer will engage in the same elevated debate they had when Roberts was nominated for the DC Circuit gig. The SCOTUS blog has plenty of linkage to bios, analysis, and reports from probable opposing groups from when he was considered a potential successor had Chief Justice Rehnquist retired and even more links, and more opinions added. FWIW, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) has previously suggested that Roberts was in the ballpark," whereas Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) says the President has "guaranteed a more controversial confirmation process." At TalkLeft, Jeralyn Merritt argues that: (1) it's too early to bash Roberts; (2) he's not as conservative as many of the other possible nominees; and (3) liberals should not be distracted from other issues by the Roberts nomination. At National Review o­nline, Ramnesh Ponuru excerpts Jeffrey Rosen from The New Republic, which is nice for non-subscribers of TNR. The news had to come as a disappointment to The Magic 8-Ball.

LONDON BOMBING: Criticism of the British government grew Monday over the revelation that the vaunted domestic intelligence service did not detain o­ne of the London attackers last year after linking him to a suspect in an alleged plot by other Britons of Pakistani descent to explode a truck bomb in the capital. One of the London terrorists bought more than 2,000 dollars of designer perfumes as a deadly napalm-style ingredient in the bombs. Moderate British Muslim leaders yesterday decided to develop a network which will counter extremism within their own communities after meeting Tony Blair and senior colleagues at Downing Street, but many of his visitors reject his insistence that a different foreign policy in Iraq would not have prevented the attacks. As I suggested yesterday, Spain remains threatened after pulling out of Iraq. The group claiming responsibility for the bombing also wants a pullout from Afghanistan. And British intelligence memos suggest that thousands of people in Britain passed through Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, long before the invasion of Iraq. Maybe these so-called moderates should start by sitting down with Mufti Zubair Dudha, who condemned the London atrocities and signed the Sunni Muslim fatwa against suicide bombings, but blames British foreign policy for the bombings and is advocating "physical jihad" in the hometown of o­ne of the suicide bombers.

IRAQ: A Sunni Arab appointed to a committee to draft Iraq's constitution was assassinated Tuesday in a drive-by shooting; two other Sunnis had already quit because of threats from the insurgents. The al-Mada newspaper published what is apparently a draft version of the equivalent to the Bill Of Rights. An Acrobat pdf file of a translation by Nathan J. Brown of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace shows that the new government may attempt a large welfare state, including free health care and guaranteed maternity leave.

IRAQ II: A British research group said Tuesday that about 25,000 civilians died in violence in Iraq in the two years after the start of the U.S.-led invasion. The new estimate was much lower than the figure of 98,000 civilian deaths that appeared in a study in medical journal The Lancet in October 2004. Iraqi and U.S. forces established a joint/combined operations center to develop intelligence and track operations during a series of missions July 15, resulting in the capture of 39 suspected terrorists. o­n more personal notes, Chief Warrant Officer 04 Randy M. Kirgiss is running Operation Teddy Drop, which is pretty much what it sounds like. And Who's Your Baghdaddy blogs a recent trip to Shomali.

LEBANON has a new government, with the first cabinet free of dominant Syrian influence in three decades. However, the State Department said it will have no dealings with the o­ne cabinet official described as an active member of Hezbollah.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Berkeley Breathed's Opus may seem like it's taking a dig at Holmes, but I think it ends up as a sneaky dig at Cruise. I Don't Like You In That Way panders to a prurient interest in Holmes.

JUDE LAW: A fan site has this picture of Law in happier times with Sienna Miller. I think the ladies may want to take a peek. Yes, it's safe for work. Also, the ever-reliable Sun reports that Law wanted the nanny in a threesome.

TWENTY THINGS that o­nly happen in movies.

COLIN FARRELL got a judge to issue a temporary restraining order enjoining former Playmate and galpal Nicole Narain from selling, distributing or displaying a 15-minute videotape that shows her and Farrell having sex.

PAM ANDERSON to re-marry Tommy Lee?

COMIC-CON: Defamer has a report from a non-Geek describing the bizzaro world for celebrities.

CASTING COUCH KAPUT? The California Supreme Court has ruled that an employer can be sued for sexual harassment for conveying a message that the way to get ahead at work is to sleep with the boss. The court said widespread "sexual favoritism" at work may add up to sexual harassment even when the plaintiffs haven’t been personally harassed. The San Francisco Chronicle manages to namecheck Justice Clarence Thomas, but somehow missed the more recent case of former President Bill Clinton. SEMI-RELATED: A former Boston Herald columnist was fired from a part-time job teaching journalism at Boston University after posting a note o­n an Internet site that a female student was "incredibly hot."

BRADGELINA UPDATE: The Washington Post offers up Cheeseball Magazine Awards for excellence in covering Brad & Jen & Angelina & Vince: "These snooty, snotty (media) critics are forever yipping and yapping about how magazines just don't spend time and money to really dig deep into the stories they cover. Well, maybe that's true for trivial topics like global warming or the budget deficit or genocide in Sudan, but it's definitely not true for o­ne of the great epics of our time: the star-crossed love triangle of Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie..."

SAN DIEGO is even wackier than Chicago! San Diego's acting mayor was convicted o­n Monday of taking illegal campaign cash; by the end of the day, the third different San Diego mayor in four days was installed.

EDUCATION: The Professional Association of Teachers will consider banning the word "fail" from use in classrooms and replace it with the phrase "deferred success" to avoid demoralizing students.

SHOE-BLOGGING: The average woman in Britain spends more than 54,000 dollars o­n shoes during her lifetime, an insurance group said. The Manolo, I cannot believe he has not posted this as I write now.

CULT OF THE iPod: Dylan Jones, the author of iPod, Therefore I Am, sums up how the gadget changed his life: "My whole life is here, 40Gb of memory, 30 years of memories. Every song I've ever cared about is in here somewhere, waiting in its chosen spot, hugging the wall until it's chosen to dance." As someone else o­nce put it, "Every o­ne of my records means something! ...When I listen to my records they take me back to certain points in my life, OK?"

NANOTECH: The Royal Society and the Food and Drug Administration are concerned over the use of nanotech in anti-aging cosmetics.

DARK CHOCOLATE can lower blood pressure, according to a study published by the American Heart Association. A week-long international cocoa workshop and seminar in Kuala Lumpur was already buzzing about promoting the health aspects of chocolate.

WOULD YOU FLY AN AIRLINE run out of a teenager's bedroom?

AIR FOLLIES: An American Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale to San Juan was diverted after a passenger found a suspicious note written o­n a napkin behind her tray table. The note read, "Bomb, bomb, bomb ... meet the parents," which I would have thought was a review of the in-flight movie. But better safe than sorry, I suppose.

DOGS: Missy Jo has probably had more cheeseburgers and shakes than Morgan Spurlock. And dogs remain the best detectors of bombs.

PARROT MATH: A 28-year-old African Gray parrot named Alex may comprehend the mathematical concept of zero — an abstract notion that human children rarely understand until around four years of age.

BIRDS have learned to imitate the ring tones of mobile phones, say German ornithologists.

A WILD PANDA CHASE in the Chinese city Dujiangyuan ended after a day of scrambling over rooftops and swimming a river with firemen using a tranquiliser dart and a rope.

COW COLLISION blocks a cross-country train from Edinburgh to Bournemouth for seven hours. It's probably insensitive to be critical of train service in the U.K. at the moment, but haven't the Brits heard of a device called the "cow-catcher?"

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