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July Fourth in Photos   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, July 04, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade



Here are fireworks looking out over Lake Michigan toward Navy Pier...

...and a view from the ground. A lot of cities have fireworks, but...

How many can give you Jim Peterik performing his "Vehicle" unplugged, with the crowd singing the horn part?

And how many can give you Off Broadway (USA)?

They got a good, good band with a U.S. beat... what else could you want for July 4th?

If you answered, "a respite for some of our troops at Camp Victory in Baghdad," you got that too. And they will soon be joined by Lena Haddix, a 73-year-old great-grandmother who recently finished a six-month deployment to Kuwait and then signed up for a six-month deployment to Baghdad.

I will be celebrating the fact that people with the highest standard of living and the lowest taxes in the Western World fought a sometimes unpopular war for our freedom. For some reason, the fact that this nation was started by "the colonial American elite" does not make me want to join Flag-burning Day activities. I'll be back to the usual o­n Tuesday. In the meantime, if you missed it, scroll down for a little bit o­n Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement posted Sunday.

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Sunday Sandy Special   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


SO LONG TO SANDRA D: By now, I'm sure most have heard that Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is retiring. Those interested in the story will want to monitor the SCOTUS blog's nomination sub-blog. There already are posts o­n "Which Important Precedents are Likely to Be in Jeopardy," with more details for non-lawyers, as well as cases in which Justice O'Connor's vote was not decisive, notably Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which declined to overrule Roe v. Wade.

The SCOTUS nomination sub-blog also has a post listing some issues coming before the Court in the upcoming Term, which might be in the minds of those considering the nomination. There are links to interest group reactions. There are profiles of some of the possible nominees there, with a longer list and and shorter analysis at Slate.

William Kristol, who correctly speculated that Justice O'Connor, not Chief Justice Rehnquist, would be resigning, also speculated that Alfredo Gonzales will be the nominee to replace her (though he now has his backpedal in motion). Kristol notes that conservatives would not be overjoyed with that choice, which seems right.What Gonzales has going for him is ethnicity (he would be the 1st Hispanic Justice), his long relationship with President Bush, the fact that he was interviewing some of the other possible nominees (as Dick Cheney did for the Veep job) and the apparent conventional wisdom that he would be more palatable to Democrats than some of the other possibilities (whih I'm not sure is true). OTOH, he was involved in advising the President o­n issues like torture (while it might not be entirely fair to hold legal opinions taken in the position as White House Counsel against someone as a judicial nominee, it would certainly happen) and would probably have to recuse himself from cases involving issues o­n which he advised the President (which should be a big negative to the White House).

As for the advice and consent of the Senate, there are views o­n the example of President Clinton's nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg from the left and the right. If I was a betting man, I would bet that neither suggested lesson will be followed.

If you are the gambling type, Oddjack posted odds for Chief Justice Rehnquist's replacement, so I would think the site may post odds for O'Connor's replacement, too. The old odds favored Luttig, Wilkinson and Alito. If I had to guess, I would say that while Wilkinson might be the easiest of the three to confirm, the WH will conclude that 60 is too old. Luttig seems (or seemed) to be the consensus conservative favorite, but that may change as a replacement for O'Connor instead of Rehnquist. Alito is conservative and Hispanic, so he may move to the top of the list, unless the WH concludes that O'Connor should be replaced by a woman. In that case, Judge Priscilla Owen, Judge Edith Hollan Jones, Judge Edith Brown Clement and (as a longshot) Judge Janice Rogers Brown are possibilities.

Regardless, with people House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi comparing the Supreme Court to the voice of God, it seems like some sort of fight will be inevitable. It would be nice if the debate is as elevated as the one between professors Larry Barnett and Cass Sunstein, but I suspect that won't happen.

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I-Day, Live 8, Garfleck, Carnival Season, a Panther and a Donkey   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, July 01, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade



WHAT WOULD INDEPENDENCE DAY BE without the Declaration of Independence? And movies about alien attacks? Plus, Snopes reviews the fates of the signers of the Declaration.

JACK WHITE is Michael Jackson -- Buddyhead makes the case.

BEATLES REUNION: Ringo Starr says the band came thisclose to a reunion when offered a spot following a man fighting a shark.

LIVE 8 AND THE G8: Although Live 8 has come in for some criticism in the UK for being "too white," the AP notes that white rockers leapt to action fastest and loudest o­n African issues that failed to galvanize the rap or R&B community to start a major movement o­n its own. President Bush proposed o­n Thursday to spend .2 billion through 2008 to help fight malaria, which claims an estimated 1.2 million people a year worldwide, 95 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa. He said this was part of an effort to double U.S. assistance to Africa by 2010. Live 8 organizer Bob Geldof heaped praise o­n Bush: "This is the first time we have heard this sort of language," Geldof said. "This is very, very positive indeed." Bono took o­n critics who have charged that he and Geldof are being used by the powerful G8 leaders: "Is there some degree of being used here? Yes. But I am not a cheap date, and neither is Bob Geldof." Meanwhile, Daniel Drezner notes that the IMF has released two extensive research papers that suggest aid to poor countries have not led to higher growth rates, the main driver of poverty reduction. Even requiring good governance is not a magic bullet, according to a co-author of the papers.

FILESHARING IS KILLING MUSIC: In this case, it's killing "The 100 Greatest Pop Songs Since 1963," as determined by nimrods at MTV and Rolling Stone.

SUMMER MIXES: All sorts of downoads are linked at Yewknee. But just look, don't download. Remember, filesharing is killing music.

CBGBs announces a month-long series of benefit concerts to help renew the club's lease. The Dead Boys, Circle Jerks, Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Anti-Nowhere League, Sham 69 and Conflict are among those scheduled to play.

PINK proposed to her boyfriend, motocross racer Carey Hart, by popping the question o­n a pit board during the third lap of Pro 250 class finals last Sunday.

BENNIFER GARFLECK: It's official; Jennifer Garner married Ben Affleck and will be giving birth in November. The National Enquirer has pics of Jen arriving with Alias co-star Victor Garber.

LI-LO UPDATE: The Hohan diet goes from extreme to healthy in just six short weeks!

SHARON STONE is using a body double for the Basic Instinct sequel.

CINDERELLA MAN now comes with a money-back guarantee at AMC Theatres.

DOMINO HARVEY, the teen model turned bounty hunter and subject of an upcoming biopic starring Kiera Knightley, is dead after being found unconscious in her bath at her home in West Hollywood. She was 35.

ROD STEWART: The man who stole Rod the Mod's car is sentenced to 11 years in prison.

CYNDI LAUPER lost her bid to have the rent o­n her Manhattan apartment cut nearly in half. I guess money doesn't change everything.

JESSICA SIMPSON is asked to apologize for her "slutty" video of "These Boots are Made for Walking" and re-shoot a clean version by a Christian group calling itself "The Resistance." I have to wonder whether it's a hoax, given that the group's representative gave the name "John Conner." My suggestion would be to keep the video and dub in Nancy Sinatra. Or compromise by editing out Willie Nelson, who spends the video looking about as comfortable as I imagine he looks in a tax audit.

"I'M ELLEN DeGENERES... and this is Nightline?

YOUR MOMENT OF SITH, courtesy of the British Parliament.

EVA LONGORIA: The desperate housewife denies getting engaged to NBA star Tony Parker, but wouldn't explain why she was wearing a ring o­n her wedding finger.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Scientologist Kelly Preston thinks it's great that Cruise is spreading Hubbard's beliefs. We all remember Preston's best scene playing Avery Bishop opposite (but not opposite) Cruise in Jerry Maguire. Meanwhile, Kevin Drum thinks the press should emulate the movies and just cut to the chase.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: People magazine scores exclusive rights to photos of Pitt and Jolie looking domestic (though some surfaced in UK tabloids as noted here previously). The (in)famous Pitt-Jolie photos from W magazine are going o­n sale to raise funds for charity. A publicity-addicted o­nline casino buys a quart-sized jar of air allegedly captured as Pitt and Jolie walked by at the premiere of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

A WEST VIRGINIA FATHER confessed to killing his daughter because he was fearful she would disclose information that he might have gotten her pregnant.

WELCOME TO THE O.C.: A 29-year-old Orange County woman has been charged with falsely accusing six men of kidnapping her at gunpoint and raping her. Police said one of the men she had accused provided a tape showing she had orchestrated the sexual encounter.

IRAQ: Gunner Palace, a documentary following the soldiers of the U.S. Army's 2/3 Field Artillery in Uday Hussein's garish, bombed-out palace, came out o­n video this week. The reviews make me want to see it. And while some of the reviews wish there was less of director Michael Tucker's narration, the fact that he's donating some profits to the Fisher House Foundation, a group that offers affordable lodging to families when soldiers are being treated at major military and Veterans Affairs medical centers, deserves kudos.

IRAN: The White House is taking seriously allegations by former hostages that Iran's hardline president-elect was o­ne of their captors at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran a quarter century ago. Abbas Abdi and Mohsen Mirdamadi, two leaders of the radical Islamic student group that carried out the 1979 takeover of the embassy, but who now are leading proponents of democratic reform, said the president was not among the hostage-takers. Given that both men have been imprisoned or beaten by the theocracy for their efforts, we may not know whether to consider them as view them as credible or coerced.

IT'S CARNIVAL SEASON; Indeed, Independence Day weekend may well be the peak of the season, so enjoy this NewCity article about Windy City Amusements: "But o­n this hot Saturday night the rides are going full force. The smell of cotton candy fills the air and Bruce Springsteen's 'Glory Days' blasts over the loudspeaker, blending in with the rolling wheels of the Tilt-A-Whirl and screaming teenagers." And if you can't get to carnival this weekend, you can check out the copious galleries at CoasterImage, which has more than rollercoaster pics.

WARD CHURCHILL UPDATE: The professor who suggested that the 9/11 attack o­n the WTC was justified, calling some of the people working in the twin towers "little Eichmanns," is at it again. According to a tape made at an anti-military forum, Churchill, while speaking about being a conscientious objector, asked his audience: "Would you render the same support to someone who hadn't conscientiously objected, but rather instead rolled a grenade under their line officer in order to neutralize the combat capacity of their unit?" When someone said that the impact such a fragging might have o­n the officer's family should be considered, Churchill replied, "How do you feel about Adolf Eichmann's family?"


NORMAN MAILER has run afoul of the Asian American Journalists Association for calling New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani a "two-fer" and a "token" because she's "Asiatic, feminist." Kakutani won the 1998 Pulitzer for criticism.

DEMOCRATIC DIAGNOSIS: Poll numbers o­n Republicans are declining, but the Democrats' numbers are weakening more, according to Democracy Corps, run by James Carville and Stanley Greenberg, who served as President Clinton's pollster. Greenberg attributes the decline to voters' perceptions that Democrats have "no core set of convictions or point of view." Carville sees voters in a "foul mood" that could lead to third-party bid in 2008.

TAIWAN now boasts its first toilet-themed restaurant. Anyone for heaping bowl of chocolate ice cream?

AN AUSTRIAN ZOO says it has been flooded with requests for paintings created by Nonja the orangutan.

PRAYING PANTHER draws crowds to the zoo in Tobe, Japan. The zoo's dragon, however, remains hidden.

A DONKEY ON THE EDGE has been banished to a deserted island after harassing female donkeys at a Croatian national park. Aga badgered his favourite females for sex as much as 16 times a day.

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The Posies, The Greenhornes, Flaming Possum and Spiny Norman   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, June 30, 2005 - 08:10 AM
Posted by: kbade


WAR OF THE WORLDS: Given my daily chronicling of the foibles of Tom Cruise, it's o­nly fair that I report that I thought the movie was a fairly solid popcorn movie. The AP reviewer may think it shortchanges character, but I think that's inherent in the original story, let alone Spielberg's version. After the war starts, things move a bit fast for further character development. The AP complains that in the broad sweep of humanity, Cruise and his two kids are the o­nly characters that matter in the movie; Ebert's two-star review says, "The movie adopts the prudent formula of viewing a catastrophe through the eyes of a few foreground characters." Rock, hard place. The AP finds the alien ships "refreshing," then derivative; Ebert dislikes them entirely. The AP suggests that some of the f/x shots seem unfinished, but later prefers that we don't see the aliens full-on (as does Ebert). I think Spielberg learned from Jaws that your mind is often better than a special effect and chose not to show certain things. Ebert wonders, "What happened to the sense of wonder Spielberg celebrated in Close Encounters of the Third Kind," but I would argue that sense would be entirely misplaced in a movie about the mass extermination of humanity. Ebert is upset that we do not know why the aliens invade -- as if there's some greater explanation in the book or in similarly themed flicks like Independence Day or even Alien. Indeed, Ebert's review, when not filled with spoilers, is filled with questions I think he believes are rhetorical instead of merely pointless. The other day, I quoted a review saying the first 100 minutes were great and the last 17 were terrible. I would say the last two or three minutes bugged me a bit, but the other 15 will not disappoint anyone familiar with the Wells book or the George Pal production. It's not Spielberg's finest hour, but I would give it more than two stars, probably three.

THE POSIES talk to Aversion about their reunion and new album, which was released Tuesday. The short version: "Just when I thought that I was out... they pull me back in."

LIVE 8: Stereogum has the nine-city lineup, with corrections in the comments. The New York Times has an article skeptical of celebrity politics.

SHINE ON, YOU CRAZY DIAMOND: o­n the cusp of a Pink Floyd reunion, Syd Barrett (a/k/a Roger) remains a recluse.

THE GREENHORNES is a wonderful garage band I have dug since their Dual Mono album -- when Craig O'Neill, Ken King and I drove to the Pate reunion, I put a track o­n the road trip discs and Craig asked who it was. Since then, the band has recorded with Loretta Lynn and Jack White o­n Van Lear Rose, as well as with Brendan Benson, Karen O and Kim Deal. Now you can call them the opening act o­n The White Stripes' tour. The band is streaming a new song and an old o­ne at the official site and you can strem clips from Dual Mono at Tower Records (I'd try "Satisfy My Mind" and "There Is An End," which features guest vox from Holly Golighty).

BLOC PARTY: PopMatters makes the most of 15 minutes with the band.

BRIGHT EYES: Conor Oberst apologizes for making disparaging remarks about John Peel and the Make Poverty History campaign at the Glastonbury music festival, though New Musical Express won't say what they were.

WE LOVE THE '90s: Prof. Althouse's son asks: If you could go back in time either to the 50s or the 60s, what songs would you bring to convince people that the 90s was a great decade musically? Althouse readers answer.

HARRY SHEARER reacts to the news that Oasis' Liam Gallagher o­nce thought the 1980s spoof rockers were a real band.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise is angering the Incredible Hulk. Paramount Pictures reportedly pressed NBC to edit 20 minutes out of Cruise's wacky interview with Matt Lauer. Heather B. says "He can't handle the truth. FemaleFirst headlines a story "Tom Cruise's 'confusing' sex." The Superficial again baits Cruise's attorneys, all the while stressing that "the story is based o­n conjecture and hearsay." Page Six adds a twist with the claim that elite Scientologists are not allowed to breed. Which doesn't make this any less funny or creepy. And don't miss The Borowitz Report.

LI-LO LOWDOWN: Lindsay Lohan -- who has lost a great deal of weight in a short period of time because she's learned how to be healthy -- reportedly collapsed at her LA gym and was unconscious until revived by friend and gym partner Kimberly Stewart. The folks behind "FreeKatie.net" launch FeedLindsay.com.

BOBBY BROWN: Video vixen Karrine Steffans' tell-more-than-you-wanted-to-know book says she never saw Whitney Houston's husband take drugs. But he did claim he was a member of Al Qaeda and that President Bush was looking for him.

EDU-BLOGGING: The latest Carnival of Education is o­nline.

FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC BOOKKEEPER takes the blame for the state party's failure to pay its Social Security and payroll taxes. Debbie Griffin-Bruton also said she never informed her boss, gubernatorial candidate Scott Maddox.

DEMOCRATIC DIAGNOSIS: Political scientist Henry Farrell analyzes an essay comparing the Democratic Party to Boeing to examine the difference between long-term and short-term strategies. Matt Yglesias responds that it's more like Starbucks. Megan MacArdle (whose day job is with The Economist)argues that even as a discussion of business strategy, the original essay is naive.

VANITY FAIR: International and national buzz has had little or no effect o­n the mag's slumping newsstand sales. The exception is pictured here.

GOT BOTULISM? The National Academy of Sciences is proceeding with publication of a study outlining how terrorists could contaminate the U.S. milk supply with botulism -- despite complaints that the article is a "road map for terrorists."

IRAN: An Iranian lawmaker reveals why US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is so tough o­n his country -- she had her heart broken by a young man from Qazvin while they were students.

IRAQ: The Washington Post marks a year of sovereignty with "Another Year of Living Misery in Baghdad." In contrast, The New York Times finds "Some Iraqis Optimistic About Sovereignty." Jeff Jarvis points out that the story leads with an unhappy butcher and you have read eight more grafs to find this: "But perhaps more striking, considering the huge gap between the hopes stirred when American troops captured Baghdad in April 2003 and the grim realities now, were the number of Iraqis who expressed a more patient view. Among those people, the disappointments and privations have been offset by an appreciation of both the progress toward supplanting the dictatorship of Mr. Hussein with a nascent democratic system and the need for American troops to remain here in sufficient numbers to allow the system to mature." But that's still an improvement over Ed Wong's version of the same story in the International Herald Tribune, which ran without the contributions of John Burns. The AP noted a split in Iraqi opinion over the issue of a timetable for U.S. withdrawal.

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN accidentally gets a SuperBowl ring.

IN SEARCH OF PRO-AMERICANISM: Although the title suggests narration by Leonard Nimoy, author and WaPo Anne Applebaum breaks down the Pew Global Attitudes Project and gets interesting results. There's a shorter version at the WaPo, but the longer o­ne doesn't require registration.

NORTH KOREA has cut most of its international phone lines since late March over concerns that sensitive information about its society will flow out of the isolated country, South Korea’s spy agency reportedly said Tuesday.

CULT OF THE iPod: The new product line-up is analyzed at the iPodlounge.

MINNESOTA MADNESS: The state Commerce Department is accusing Midwest Oil of Minnesota of undercharging for gas. A state law apparently requires stations to charge at least 8 cents more per gallon than they pay.

DEMOCRACY IN EAST ST. LOUIS: A federal jury o­n Wednesday found five East St. Louis Democrats guilty of vote fraud. o­ne defendant, Kelvin Ellis, a top city administrator, will also be tried for the attempted murder of a government witness who had threatened to expose a prosititution ring Ellis was running out of East St. Louis City Hall. Gateway Pundit rounds up the coverage.

THAT OL' BLACK MAGIC had a girls soccer coach in its spell. At least that's his defense to eleven counts of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child and o­ne count of continuous sexual abuse of a child.


GIANT CATFISH: It weighs 646 pounds and is the size of a grizzly bear... but you shoulda seen the o­ne that got away. That joke is normally like shooting a fish in a barrel, but not this time.

250 STARVING GOATS get aid from a towing company in Ohio.

IOWA TEENS videotaped themselves setting live possums o­n fire.

SHRINKAGE: Apparently, there are men who don't know about it, either. Better to get the info from a doctor than a book by Austin Powers.

SHRUBBERY STOLEN from a Norwegian family's yard. Børre Botnmark, has a few theories: "Someone clearly is trying to profit o­n this." Clearly, he has not considered that the thieves may be o­n a quest for the Holy Grail.

LUTON: The English town uses a story about aliens choosing Luton as an ideal landing spot to improve its image after it was voted "crap town" of the year last year. Why do they need aliens when they have Spiny Norman out at the airport?

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Fountains of Wayne, Stooges, Bono & McCartney and Flesh-eating Aliens   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE'S Out of State Plates came out yesterday. It's a double-disc of non-album material -- two new tracks, live tracks and B-sides (for those who care what's o­n the flip side of a record), for the price of a single disc, I might add. If you like FoW, you'll like this, too; if FoW is anything, it's consistent. Much of it will remind you of other FoW songs, e.g., "California Sex Lawyer" reminds me of a crosss between "Radiation Vibe" and latter-day Jesus & Mary Chain tracks. I wouldn't say it's essential for the casual fan, but there's virtually no filler, either. The covers are all pretty good, including an acoustic take o­n Jackson Browne's (and Nico's) "These Days," a deliciously countrified take o­n Gene Pitney's "Today's Teardrops," Their infamous take o­n Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time" rendered as a ballad and a live version of ELO's "Cant Get It Out Of My Head," which Ken King could tell you is great without hearing the disc, as he commented that it might make him re-evaluate ELO generally when we heard it a little over a year ago. The version we heard was even more Lennonesque than this 1997 take, but this o­ne's still pretty darn good. Plus, you get two Christmas songs and a Chanukah number to take you to years' end. And sardonic liner notes from Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood. All told, a nifty package at a nice price. Don't forget you can stream samples at the Amazon link above.

ON THE PITCHFORK: Rhino is releasing deluxe editions of the Stooges' first two albums, The Stooges and Fun House, in August. The Decemberists and Ted Leo will headline the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle over the Labor Day weekend; Son Volt is opening its tour there. Nike apologizes to Minor Threat and Dischord Records for imitating the band's cover art in an ad for the shoe company's skateboarding tour.

CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH: Brooklyn Vegan directs you to nine downloads from the band's vocalist, Alec Ounsworth.

A VENTI CAFFE LATTE'S A-GONNA FALL: Starbucks will produce and exclusively release a CD of 10 Dylan bootleg recordings from New York's Gaslight Cafe in 1962, including the earliest known recordings of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right."

RYAN ADAMS cancels his UK tour due to an ear infection.

BONO WANTS HIS HAT BACK. And his earrings and sweatshirt. U2 went to court Tuesday to recover items from former stylist Lola Cashman, who has a range of memorabilia from her work o­n their 1987 Joshua Tree world tour.

BONO-McCARTNEY LIVE 8 FEUD: The Cute o­ne threatened not to play Saturday's Hyde Park Live 8 concert unless he both opened and closed it, causing conflict with U2. A Live 8 source said that "Bono, in particular, was quick to demand a share of the opening number and sees what he has done politically over the years as a bit more relevant to Live 8 than what Paul has to offer." The compromise: Paul and U2 will open the day with a version of "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" - reworded to honour the achievements of Bob Geldof - wearing the multicoloured militarystyle suits the Beatles wore o­n the 1967 album cover.

AN EX-CORNETIST with the River City Brass Band has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming he was fired from the band because of his age, ethnicity, gender and his opposition to commands that violated "sincerely held moral and ethical belief as to right and wrong."

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled ex-Libertines singer and his galpal, Kate Moss followed through o­n their faux two-day marriage plan for the Glastonbury music festival.

CHUCK KLOSTERMAN (mentioned here as recently as yesterday) has written a book, Killing Yourself to Live, recounting his road trip to visit rock and roll death sites. Chuck provides Largehearted Boy (a blog from which I steal mercilessly) a soundtrack for the book.

WAR OF THE WORLDS open today, which may begin to draw the curtain o­n the Tom-Kat experience. The movie seems to be getting almost unanimous good reviews, scoring a 92 o­n the Tomatometer, though it should be noted that even some of the good reviews say things like, "War of the Worlds is a terrific film for the first 100 or so minutes. Unfortunately the movie’s 117 minutes long and those last 17 minutes are just plain horrible." The AP review seems negative, as does the San Jose Mercury News. There's no review from Roger Ebert yet, though there probably will be o­ne at the link by the time you read this (unless you'e more of a night owl than I). Will I be going? The Magic 8-Ball says, "You May Rely o­n It."

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Fresh off the Hollywood premiere for War of the Worlds, the ubiquitous duo showed up at the BET Awards. Allan Mayer of the Hollywood "crisis P.R. firm" Sitrick & Co., says reactions to Cruise invite comparisons to Jane Fonda, who sparked a backlash with her anti-war activism during the Vietnam era. The same article links to the viral video "Tom Cruise Kills Oprah," which turns his now infamous TV appearance into a demonstration of Sith powers. Banterist diagrams Tom Cruise for the X-Box. Another blogger lists "Other Things that Tom Cruise Knows More About Than You." Salon finds Dianetics to be "a fantastically dull, terribly written, crackpot rant." The Citizens Commission o­n Human Rights issued a statement saying that Cruise was right o­n with his criticism of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. Did I mention that the CCHR was formed by the Church of Scientology? Colby Cosh has no love for Scientology, but argues that, "Of the two cults to which Cruise belongs, Hollywood is easily the more powerful, and quite possibly the more menacing and ruinous." Rosie O'Donnell expresses her concern for Cruise through the art of collage. Columnist Dave Barry gets in o­n the act, too. Even Statler and Waldorf get in a Scientology joke. And if The Superficial still has this post up by the time you read this, Cruise's lawyers are losing a step.

RUSSELL CROWE threw not just a cellphone, but also a vase at a hotel employee, then acted smarmy about it, according to people claiming to have seen a video of the incident.

PAULA ABDUL lobbied California lawmakers o­n Monday to crack down o­n nail salon hygiene. If you read the whole thing, you might conclude that the reporter does not take this topic seriously. Also, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest claims that when he was a wee lad, "I remember thinking Paula was hot. That's when I realized I liked girls." An interesting choice of words.

BATMAN BEGINS: The real Batmobile is capable of going from zero to sixty miles an hour in 5.3 seconds, but lacks air conditioning.

MILLION DOLLAR BABY: A boxer who suffered brain damage during her first professional fight has come out of her coma, and is now able to recognize family members, according to her doctor.

EVA LONGORIA: The desperate housewife fears that the photographers hiding in bushes around her home will o­ne day be replaced by a rapist.

LI-LO UPDATE: Perez Hilton seems quite proud that a Yahoo! search ranks the site number o­ne o­n the Hohan lowdown. Not so o­n Google, where even Sterogum beats Perez's appearance o­n page three.

P. DIDDY seems to have no limit to his delusions of grandeur.

HUGH GRANT CAUGHT having his digit sucked by Liz Hurley, much to the anger of his current galpal.

BOX OFFICE BLAHS: A new Gallup poll confirms that nearly half (48%) said they were going out to the theater less. Asked why they are reducing their habit, o­ne in three said they "prefer to watch movies at home," but 1 in 4 said "it costs too much to go to the movies," and 1 in 5 alluded to the "poor quality" of movies today. People don't want to pay a lot of money to see bad movies; who'da thunkit?

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Page Six and Star magazine are fanning baby rumors.

WEB NOLSTALGIA: Keep Going has a nice article ten years from the launch of Suck.com (wonder if our site software will censor that), which is dubbed "the first great website" with some justification. Site alumni have gone o­n to write for Salon.com, Wonkette.com and The Daily Show o­n Comedy Central.

BLOGGERS AS JOURNOS? Law Prof. Ann Althouse blogs an article in The New York Times bemoaning that federal courts are figuring out that the institutional press is not entitled to First Amendment protections over and above those of ordinary citizens.

UNVERIFIED SOURCES: An internal investigation of a former columnist for The Sacramento Bee could not verify 43 sources she used in a sampling of 12 years of her work.

STEM CELLS: It may surprise no o­ne that James Thomson, the first scientist to isolate and culture human embryonic stem cells, supports federally funding embryonic stem cell research. It may be news that he believes supporters of stem cell research are overestimating the prospects for transplantation cures, that the current stem cell lines aren't well-suited for such applications anyway, and that there's no need to resort to therapeutic cloning right now — or perhaps ever.

ABE LINCOLN: During the slower news cycle of summer, mags often run canned stories like the Time cover story o­n Abe Lincoln (Jesus is a summer favorite also). Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has an essay o­n Honest Abe in the mag; there's a lively, but not too overheated debate o­n the essay at Indepundit. I think there's actually less distance between Obama and his critics than the critics believe o­n this point.

GITMO: Two Democratic senators just back from reviewing U.S. detention facilities and interrogations at Gitmo said they saw no signs of abuse and said it would actually be worse to close the facility and transfer the detainees elsewhere. Asked how they knew they were seeing real operations rather than a staged display, both Republican and Democratic senators said that they had access to everything and that they trusted the troops they talked with from their own states. The Democrats nevertheless called for better-defined rules about who should be detained there. BTW, I forgot to mention in noting the trip made by House members that o­ne interrogation involved a female interrogator reading a Harry Potter book aloud for hours, causing the detainee to turn his back and put his hands over his ears. Where is Amnesty International when it's really needed?

IRAQ: A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that most Americans do not believe the administration's claims that impressive gains are being made against the insurgency, but a clear majority is willing to keep U.S. forces there for an extended time to stabilize the country. A narrow majority -- 52 percent -- believes that the war has contributed to the long-term security of the United States, a five-point increase from earlier this month. Michael Yon watches a robot dispose of an IED o­n the highway back to Baghdad. MSNBC's military analyst assesses progress o­ne year from the transfer of sovereignty to the transitional government. Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, appeared to offer a major concession to the Sunni Arab minority o­n Monday when he indicated that he would support changes in the voting system that would probably give Sunnis more seats in the future parliament. Meanwhile, the Marines and Iraqi forces have launched Operation Sword, aimed at rooting out terrorists and foreign fighters living along the Euphrates River (which would be o­ne of the major routes between Baghdad and Syria).

IRAQ II: o­ne of the key issues is the training and progress of Iraqi forces. NBC News compares and contrasts two Iraqi units. Stars and Stripes, concluding a four-part series o­n the issue, notes that Iraqis are now involved in training Iraqi forces: "With all due respect to the Americans, I think it is better that Iraqis train Iraqis," a 26-year-old former high school gym teacher, now a member of the Hilla SWAT team, said through an interpreter. "They know the language and the culture and the way Iraqis think." I don't think that trainer has to worry about offending Americans.

CULT OF THE iPod: Diane Sawyer has Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen o­n hers. Apple has released the latest update for its iTunes software, which supports podcasting.

FLESH-EATING ALIENS CAUSED FATAL CAR CRASH, according to Scott Krause, the California man facing life in prison for crashing his car into a UPS truck.

CANADA TO BAN BULK DRUG SALES TO THE U.S. to block state-backed re-importation plans. Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh says Canada does not have the supplies to meet a vast increase in demand from south of the border. That whole supply-demand thing can be very tricky.

YOU'RE FIRED: A Taiwan stock trader mistakenly bought 251 million bucks' worth of shares with a mis-stroke of her computer. Her company is looking at a paper loss of more than $12 million; she is looking for a new job.

CHINA has declined to slaughter birds to contain the spread of the avian flu virus because many are from rare, protected species.

NORTH KOREA IS OPEN FOR SUMMER VACATION, right after they remove enormous stretches of barbed wire from its shores.

A FOUR-FOOT LONG CAIMAN, a relative of the alligator, was roaming the streets of a neighborhood in Eugene, Oregon. It's legal to own such reptiles in Oregon, though the neighbor who says her cat is missing might have a complaint or two...

A KANGAROO roams loose o­n the streets of... South Bend, Indiana?

AN IRISH BEEKEEPER failed to break the world's record for bees landing o­n a human body, but still looked really bizzare.

THE FEDS INVESTIGATED THE CAUSE OF THE TIGER ATTACK o­n Roy Horn. Some popular theories were ruled out, but the incident remains a mystery.

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