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Richard Hell, Steve Earle, Billy Jack, A 6-legged Pup and a 2-faced Kitty   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

RETURN OF THE SMASHING PUMPKINS? On the same day Billy Corgan puts out his first solo album, he places a a full-page ad (Adobe Acrobat pdf) in today's Chicago Tribune, stating in part: "I found that my heart is in Chicago, and that my heart is in The Smashing Pumpkins... For a year now I have walked around with a secret, a secret I chose to keep. But now I want you to be among the first to know that I have made plans to renew and revive the Smashing Pumpkins. I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams." Stereogum has two punchlines I won't beat.

RICHARD HELL: Rhino Records will release Spurts: The Richard Hell Story o­n August 2nd, a twenty-one-track overview of Hell's career in pioneering New York bands Television, the Heartbreakers and the Voidoids. You can stream or download a few classics from Hell's website.

LES PAUL is losing his hearing, but in true Les Paul style has collaborated o­n the hearing aid that helps him distinguish musical notes better.

NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL: The band's webs ite claims that Jeff has been working o­n a collection of short stories, joined the circus and wants to make a movie about snails. And NMH is the sort of band where it might just be true.

IAN McCULLOGH really wants to get in front of Coldplay's fans again, imho.

STEVE EARLE is headlining the Southeast Alaska State Fair; some locals are upset. And the seemingly ubiquitous Nazi and Soviet references rear their ugly heads. Some of these people -- and Earle, for that matter -- might want to study what the Soviet Union was about. Nevertheless, I'm amused that Earle wasn't keen o­n the gig himself, until they told him how good the fishing was.

WILCO pops up in USA Today's postcard from the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Also, CNN reports that Jeff Tweedy is uneasy about his nine year-old son's ambitions to become a rock star.

ALL YOU NEED IS CASH: John Lennon's handwritten lyrics for "All You Need is Love" and other memorabilia goes up for auction next month in London.

ON THE PITCHFORK: A review of Gold, a new Velvet Underground compilation, rates a 9.3: "while aspiring music fanatics will want and need all of the band's individual full-lengths, this should suit the rest of the world just fine."

THE PERNICE BROTHERS' Discover A Lovelier You didn't get a great write-up o­n the Pitchfork, but other reviewers seem to like it more.

THE BEST OF 2005 (SO FAR) is a topic of discussion at donewaiting.

THE FULL SPIN LIST mentioned yesterday is online. Although I'm away from my collection, I'm pretty sure I'm somewhere in the forties.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: The Independent asks, Why do we all hate Tom Cruise?" I don't hate Tom Cruise; I just find his current antics as entertaining as Plan 9 From Outer Space. The article suggests that the publicity, even if manufactured, is beginning to pay off with the box office performance of Batman Begins. Warner Bros. seems to disagree, as Holmes is reportedly dropped from the sequel. Also the couple is sticking DreamWorks and Paramount with a hotel bill upwards of 30 grand.

SCIENTOLOGY: Having concluded a series o­n Kabbalah, Radar magazine lists 20 questions from a Scientology audit.

WAR OF THE WORLDS: The non-Cruise version is appearing a few pages at a time at the Dark Horse Comics site. National Geographic takes a look behind the 1938 panic caused by Orson Welles' radio adaptation.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Two producers of the Oscar-winning Ray Charles biopic are turning their attention to... Otis Redding? No. Aretha Franklin? No, she's still alive. Try Rodney Dangerfield.

JACK NICHOLSON is rewriting sex scenes in Martin Scorsese's The Departed.

LET'S PLAY JEOPARDY: Who is Owen Wilson?

BATMAN BEGINS comes in for serious analysis at PopMatters. In contrast, Forbes totes up the cost of being Batman. Priceless.

APPLIED MINDS: Former Disney Imagineers have created not o­nly the Cone of Babble, but also plenty of other accessories for your Batcave.

NANOTECH: The Foresight Nanotechnology Institute, a futurist organization, and the Battelle Memorial Institute, which manages commercial scientific laboratories, have launched an effort to create a road map for nanotechnology, and it has received early support from some notable scientific organizations and companies. At NanoBot, there's a discussion of irresponsible nanohype.

A COMMON VIRUS that is harmless to people can destroy cancerous cells in the body and might be developed into a new cancer therapy.

ARE POLITICS GENETIC? A new study argues that people's gut-level reaction to issues like the death penalty, taxes and abortion is strongly influenced by genetic inheritance, though environmental influences like upbringing, the study suggests, play a more central role in party affiliation as a Democrat or Republican.

ROBOTS: Repliee Q1 appeared yesterday at the 2005 World Expo in Japan, where she gestured, blinked, spoke, fluttered eyelids and even appeared to breathe, along with the occasional spasm. You can see movies of Repliee Q1 at Osaka University's Intelligent Robotics Lab.

LEBANON: George Hawi, a former Communist Party leader and a recent opponent of Syria, died when his car blew up as he drove through the Wata Musaitbi district. Another senior opponent of Syria, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, said the people would have to pay a heavy price for taking the country into their own hands. "The life of anybody who wants a democratic Lebanon is in danger," he told BBC World TV.

IRAN: Not o­nly was the election rigged, it appears that few voted at all; Publius has pictures. And there are more links at Power and Control.

IRAQ: Nearly six in 10 Americans oppose the war in Iraq, with a similar number against closing Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and most approving of how the U.S. has treated prisoners there, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday. Bill Roggio reviews friction and outright warfare between the nationalist Iraqi insurgents and the Jihadists. Iraqi bloggers write that the chairman of the constitution drafting committee claims that the branch teams of the committee have succeeded so far in completing 80% of the constitution's draft. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants to "reassure the Iraqi people that the international community stands with them in their brave efforts to rebuild their country, and that we recognize how much progress has been made in the face of daunting challenges." Austin Bay looks at progress since he left Baghdad in September 2004. Vietnam vets in-country see Iraq as an entirely different war. Compared to Vietnam, "this is probably more difficult. In the big picture, this is probably more important," o­ne says.

DEMOCRATIC DIAGNOSIS: In Mother Jones, Steven Hill argues that Democrats lose due to structural barriers, such as the Electoral College and "winner-take-all" electoral systems. Which explains why the Democratic Party controlled the House of Representatives for four decades prior to 1994, and the Senate for most of that period. The factors Hill mentions favor the majority party and make it more difficult for an emerging majority party to win a majority of seats, but imho, they do not favor a particular party. The Florida Democratic Party has a more urgent problem: It's flat broke and has been slapped with a lien by the IRS for failing to pay payroll and Social Security taxes in 2003.

BILLY JACK IS BACK: The man who created and personified Billy Jack, Tom Laughlin - the writer, director, producer and actor - is determined to take o­n the establishment again at age 73. Jeff Goldstein solicits suggestions for the movie's title and the Plimsouls get mentioned.

DAVID SPADE is stretching his SNL "Hollywood Minute" to a half-hour for Comedy Central.

THE SUPERFICIAL posts "I have no idea what to call this o­ne." How about calling it Not Safe For Work photo of Tobey Maguire and David Blaine? And though it may or may not be Photoshopped, if it is, Maguire has much less cause for complaint than Blaine.

THE ACLU of New Mexico suspends its Las Cruces chapter after leaders learned that board member Clifford Alford is the leader of the New Mexico Minutemen.

SEN. DICK DURBIN apologized Tuesday for comparing American interrogators at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviets and the Khmer Rouge: "I made reference to Nazis, to Soviets, and other repressive regimes. Mr. President, I've come to understand that's a very poor choice of words." His voice quaking and tears welling in his eyes, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate also apologized to any soldiers who felt insulted by his remarks: "They're the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them."

RACHEL HUNTER is back o­n the market and may be looking for someone older than Stacy's friend.

RUNAWAY BRIDE: As the big Jennifer Wilbanks interview by Katie Couric ran last night, it's worth revisiting what an imagination she has. Maybe that's why the guy still wants to marry her.

LEGAL MUSIC DOWNLOADS may surpass pirated copies by next year.

COLLEGE NEWSPAPERS can be censored by college administrators, according to a new ruling from the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in a seven-to-four vote.

CHIMP'S PAINTINGS outsell Renoir and Andy Warhol at auction. Congo the chimp has been hailed as the Cezanne of the simians. Reached in the afterlife, Warhol remarked that in the future, even chimps will be famous for 15 minutes.

A SIX-LEGGED PUPPY is drawing curious stares at a temple in Malaysia. It might be more than the legs, though.

CHILD CAMEL JOCKEYS return home from the United Arab Emirates following a U.N.-sponsored agreement.

WOMBAT launches a truck into a tree.

THE DEVIL MADE HIM DO IT: A cobbler suspected of sorcery was attacked and nearly lynched by outraged villagers in central Kenya o­n Tuesday after being caught having sex with a female sheep.

A BULL AND A COW hook up in a stationer's store in Russia.

A TWO-FACED KITTEN is born in Lake City, FL.

WHITE TIGER CUB SMUGGLING ring busted by U.S. customs agents in Mexico City.

THREE LIONS rescued a 12 year-old girl kidnapped by men who wanted to force her into marriage, chasing off her abductors and guarding her until police and relatives tracked her down in a remote corner of Ethiopia. The girl had previously removed a thorn from the palm of o­ne of the lions. Not really, but it would make for a good story.

A KING COBRA bites the hand that fed him, leaving a snake handler in Cyprus fighting for his life Tuesday. Lesson: A snake is a snake.

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I feel just fine when I sit down, but when I stand, things spin around   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

FOO FIGHTERS performed an exclusive album-release concert in Roswell, NM for 500 winners of an o­nline trivia contest. Foo frontman Dave Grohl said he is a huge fan of UFOs, as the band's name suggests.

ON THE PITCHFORK: The Right Spectacle: The Very Best of Elvis Costello - The Videos, coming in September, is filled to bursting with videos culled mostly from Costello's untouchable "early" period. Billy Corgan's first true solo album, The Future Embrace, gets a 6.5 from an obvious fan: "forgive Corgan his infinite lyrical badness, but know that infinity's a lot to forgive." There's also a hunk o­n his cover of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody."

LO-FI INDIE FOLK: A new fan of the Mountain Goats (as some of you may be) asks MetaFilter for more recommendations and gets them, natch.

IRON & WINE, o­ne of the "bands" mentioned at the prior link, is profiled in The State of Columbia, SC.

SMOG: Bill Callahan, a lo-fi forerunner to many of the aforementioned bands and artists, seems much happier in Austin than in Chicago and more comfortable talking about his music.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: Elton John wants to help the troubled singer with his drug addictions and perform a duet with him at Live 8. You don't think EJ has heard about Pete's early days turning tricks with men, do you?

MUSIC BLOGS: Dawn Eden, a blogger who now also writes for the the New York Daily News, suggests a few music blogs and musicians' blogs. Kudos to her for avoiding most of the obvious choices and listing blogs like: "Home of the Groove"(homeofthegroove.blogspot.com) is described by proprietor Dan Philips as "hard-to-find New Orleans-related R&B and funk tracks with some semi-pithy commentary ... for the delectation of hard-core jaded groove junkies, the virginal uninitiated, and everybody in between." Also: Victor Lams (victorlams.com), who sounds like XTC crossed with They Might Be Giants, has earned a cult following among Catholics for his blog featuring his answer to "Schoolhouse Rock": "Catechism Rock!" (catechismrock.com). Its ultra-catchy tunes include "Purgatory" and "Flying House of Loreto." There's more, including a Love reference.

SPIN MAGAZINE lists its "Top 100 Albums, 1985-2005" in its upcoming 20th anniversary issue. You can see the bottom 15 for free at Spin's site. SoulShine has the Top Ten.

THE STROKES tell Rolling Stone a bit about their next album, due in January.

SECRET COPY-PROTECTION: Tiny Mix Tapes reports that Sony BMG has quietly slipped about a million discs by 10 different artists (unnamed, natch) with "sterile burning" technology that supposedly "stops you from making more than a few copies of a disc, and it also stops your friend from making a copy of his copy." EMI is rolling out a similar scheme in the next few weeks. TMT predicts a backlash when people find out this technology also prevents transferring music to the iPod. Indeed, Stereophile reports that incompatible digital rights management schemes are hindering the development of the next generation of media devices.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: The pranksters who squirted water at Cruise at the British premiere of War of The Worlds were arrested, but later released o­n police bail. Personally, I like that when these guys did the same thing to Sharon Osbourne, she got a bucket of water and doused them. Oddly, while Cruise seems angry when you read about the incident, the video of his first reaction showed him seemingly unfazed about having some stange liquid squirted in his face. Radar magazine has a Tom-Kat animation inspired by an earlier Bradgelina clip that floated around the 'net. The New York Times claims that "Celebrities who for years watched as their hook-ups, both real and imagined, fueled dozens of magazines and televisions shows are figuring out that the right two hearts beating in unison can sound an awful lot like a cash register," but Tom-Kat is not mentioned.

A BLIND ITEM by Ben Widdicombe in the NYDN describes a five-year, five million dollar contract signed June 7th regarding a relationship with no sex. OTOH, Ben recently ran a quote from disco diva Vicki Sue Robinson, who has been dead for years.

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN and Laurence Fishburne sign o­n for Mission Impossible 3.

KATE BOSWORTH may not be engaged to Orlando Bloom, after all.

CELEBRITY KABBALAH: Radar magazine's three-part series concludes with a focus o­n Madonna, the "aging pop icon who has funded the Centre to the tune of $18 million… and counting."

SHARON STONE left her four year-old son in the car being looked after by her chauffeur for more than two hours while she had a late meal at o­ne of London's most fashionable restaurants with a mystery male companion. So says the ever-reliable Daily Mail.

MORNINGSTAR founder and chairman Joe Mansueto is the front-runner in the bidding for Gruner + Jahr's business titles, Inc. and Fast Company, and is in late-stage negotiations to purchase the titles.

THE WAR o­n TERROR: Forbes magazine excerpts analysis by ndependent strategic consulting firm Oxford Analytica suggesting that the Bush Administration is developing strategies for the next phase of the war, which will encompass many fronts, but in which "regime change" is not high o­n the agenda.

CONDOLEEZA RICE: The Secretary of State used the bully pulpit to criticize the governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia o­n visits to those countries and urged them to move further o­n the path to democracy. For example, in Egypt, she stated: "We are all concerned for the future of Egypt's reforms when peaceful supporters of democracy -- men and women -- are not free from violence. The day must come when the rule of law replaces emergency decrees, and when the independent judiciary replaces arbitrary justice." Egypt's judges have been similarly critical of president Mubarak's reform proposals. Egypt's foreign minister responded at a joint news conference that the world was angry with America due to scandals involving prisoner treatment, without mentioning that Amnesty International -- the group that first compared Camp X-Ray to the Soviet gulag -- reports that torture is common and systematic in Egypt.

LEBANON: Opponents of Syrian domination claimed a stunning majority victory in the final round of Lebanon's parliamentary elections o­n Sunday night, winning at least 21 of 28 contested seats in northern Lebanon, which gives the alliance a majority in the next parliament. The New York Times reports that "It was a startling change in the way politics have usually been carried out here - along strict clan and religious lines and long under the control of Syria - and perhaps an example of a greater yearning for democracy in the Arab world."

BATMAN BEGINS: Feminist icon Gloria Steinem is begging her stepson Christian Bale not to take o­n any more roles where he has to gain or lose large amounts of weight. Bale put o­n 100 lbs. in four months to paly Batman, which has raised some eyebrows around the internet. Meanwhile, the Seattle Times asks, Why do we love Batman?

VICTORIA BECKHAM (a/k/a Posh Spice) lands a role in a movie about a fictional British radio DJ. Doesn't sound like Tom Cruise got her this role (and here he claimed he was going to make her a star)!

CELEBRITY LANDLORDS: The Los Angeles Times reports that in Malibu, some of the most private movie and pop stars turn landlord in July and August, when rates are at their highest. Der stingle may charge 100K monthly, but that looks like a bargain per square foot compared to other celeb landlords.

MR. SPEARS: K-Fed was included in a Child magazine o­nline poll asking, "Which celeb dad-to-be — or celeb who is rumored-to-be a dad-to-be — do you think will make the best father?" He got zero votes. Ouch.

THE da VINCI CODE, PART II: Researchers now believe the cryptic words "Cerca, trova" - seek and you shall find - painted o­n a fresco in the council hall of Florence's Palazzo Vecchio could be a clue to the location of a long-lost Leonardo da Vinci painting and are pressing local authorities to allow them to search for the masterpiece of Renaissance art.

UNDERDOG IS NEAR: Disney and Spyglass Entertainment are putting the final touches o­n a deal to bring the classic TV cartoon to the big screen as a live-action feature. "Anything where you have a dog in that superhero context, that's appealing o­n a global basis," producer Gary Barber said. "We want to keep many elements from the classic cartoon," said co-producer Roger Birnbaum, including mad scientist Simon Bar Sinister and Underdog's love interest, Sweet Polly Purebred. Unlike Scooby-Doo, another toon favorite that was made as a live-action feature, this pic will use a real dog for the title role, though with CGI enhancements. Just promise Freddie Prinze, Jr. won't be in it.

NANOTECH: NanoBot has posted a couple of photos of nano-art.

PHISH TALES: Sadly, not about the jam band, but a look at the world of internet scammers. o­ne bizzare note: "phishers have a reputation-monitoring system much like eBay's."

SALLY MIGHT FOOL HARRY, but not a brain scanner.

GONZO PORN: In NYC, pornographers are breaking the law by making "gonzo" porn videos in public places, under the noses of the authorities.

LIFE IMITATES THE SIMPSONS: Scientists have genetically engineered tomato and tobacco plants to produce a vaccine against the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, the disease that killed nearly 800 people in 2003. Shades of the tomacco!

WHAT WOULD DR. LECHTER SAY? A South African man choked to death minutes after killing his wife and eating a part of her face following a domestic argument. That would not have happened with a nice chianti.

MUSKRAT LOVE: Muskrat Susie and Muskrat Sam would serve about eight people, according to some wacky Danish zookeepers.

COUCH POTATO PROTEST: The British Potato Council is protesting the Oxford English Dictionary's inclusion of "couch potato" because they believe the expression is damaging the vegetable's image.

IRAQ: Saddam Hussein loves Doritos, hates Froot Loops, admires President Reagan, thinks Clinton was "OK" and considers both Presidents Bush "no good." He also likes collecting records and exploring the cave of the unknown.

THE UNITED NATIONS may have another conflict-of-interest scandal o­n its hands.

THE SWARM: Africanized "killer bees" have been spotted in Arkansas and Florida.

DOGS AND GIRLS! A South Carolina teen is accused of raping o­ne neighbor's dog and another neighbor's two little girls. Now the dog has died and charges against the teen have been upgraded.

SMELLING LESS LIKE A PIG: Sure, pigs are filthy animals. But Purdue University scientists are making progress taming hogs' smell by attacking the source of the problem, namely the feed gobbled up by swine.

CHUCK E. CHEESE MELEE: An aspiring cop stepped in to end a bloody melee at a Chuck E. Cheese in Brooklyn after hotheaded parents unleashed punches - and knives - during a weekend party at the crowded restaurant, police and witnesses said yesterday. Anyone who has been to C.E.C. must wonder why this doesn't happen more often.

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Karl Mueller, Diamond Nights, Giant Catfish, Gay Penguins and the Geep   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, June 20, 2005 - 08:30 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

KARL MUELLER, bass player and founding member of Soul Asylum, died Friday morning in his Minneapolis home, apparently of complications from esophageal cancer. He was 41.

RAY DAVIES will release his long-in-the-works, as-yet-untitled solo debut in September.

DIAMOND NIGHTS: In the L.A. Weekly, Alec Hanley Bemis writes, "Diamond Nights combine cheesy keys, *****-rock guitar and 'emotional' falsetto vox — and the results don’t suck!" You can download "Destination Diamonds" from from the band's site.

JERRY LEE LEWIS gets divorced for the sixth time. The Killer was married to Kerrie Lynn McCarver Lewis for just over 20 years. Outside the courthouse, Lewis said: "It's been a long day and it's been an expensive day."

SIOUXSIE SIOUX IS AN ICON: In a readers' vote, Susan Dallion beat T. Rex's Mark Bolan, John Lydon, David Bowie and The Ramones to take Mojo magazine's Icon award. Paul Weller took the songwriter award, beating Brian Wilson, Van Morrison, Kate Bush and Damien Rice. Madness took the Hall of Fame award, The Magic Numbers were named best new act and rock band Gang of Four took the inspiration prize, beating the Pixies, Tom Waits, Morrissey and Neil Young. The Mojo awards are a big deal in the UK: Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, The Edge and Sinead O'Connor were among the presenters at the ceremonies. And if Pate fans want to feel old, consider that the Pogues' Rum, Sodomy and The Lash was named the classic album of the year.

LIVE 8: Bob Geldof is fuming after discovering mobile phone con artists are scamming money out of fans desperate for tickets to the London charity concert. The Scotsman notes that Ozzy Osbourne, Meat Loaf, Mötley Crüe, the Spice Girls and Status Quo were among 65 bands rejected by organizers. Britain's biggest rail union, while supporting the Make Poverty History campaign, has called a strike day to coincide with the Hyde Park Live 8 concert, Wimbledon ladies' tennis final, Gay Pride and the NatWest cricket final at Lords. FWIW, Matt Drudge claims that Geldof has ordered show organizers and producers to redouble all efforts to keep Live 8 performers focused o­n the plight of Africa's poor -- and not fall into cliched Bush bashing and global warming rhetoric.

BULLETTE, who I've mentioned before, gets favorable blogage for her freely downloadable album from Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Daniel Rubin.

OASIS: Noel Gallagher explains how to write a classic song.

RUSH GUITARIST ALEX LIFESON claims he was tortured by Collier County Sheriff’s Deputies in Florida.

LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS: The girl with kaleidoscope eyes has passed away at age 47 after a two-year battle with breast cancer.

ALBERT EINSTEIN is set to rock the Glastonbury music festival?

BATMAN BEGINS tops the weekend box office and has made about 71 million since it opened last Wednesday.

ANN ALTHOUSE blogs three sentences about Borders and cracks me up. I must have been in just the right mood.

HARRY SHEARER answers the question, "What Is A Journalist?"

OPRAH WINFREY makes the questionable claim that she is a member of South Africa's Zulu nation, adding, "I'm crazy about the South African accent. I wish I had been born here." Sure, growing up under Apartheid would have virtually guaranteed that Oprah would not have become a billionaire media mogul, but that accent just can't be learned.

CELEBRITY KABBALAH: Here's part two of Radar magazine's series examining "Kabbalah Centre founder Philip Berg, insurance salesman-turned- guru, and his second wife, who conceived the idea of dumbing down Jewish mysticism and selling it to the masses."

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Gallery of the Absurd delivers "The Devil and Miss Holmes." Katie may have fallen for it, but Tom Cruise’s sci-fi seduction technique scared the bejeezus out of Scarlett Johansson, a source close to the actress says. After striking out with Johansson, Cruise reportedly turned his attentions to 24-year-old Jessica Alba, 22-year-old Kate Bosworth, and 18-year-old Lindsay Lohan, before settling o­n the 26-year-old Holmes. Bookies are offering even money that Cruise and Holmes will have a baby in 2006, 5:1 odds of a divorce. CourtTV reminds us that "both of the above" is also a possibility. And Cruise got squirted by a prankster on the red carpet.

KATE BOSWORTH is reportedly engaged to Orlando Bloom, which would be another good reason to turn down Cruise.

WELCOME TO THE O.C: The 21st century version of Beverly Hills, 90210 can make an unknown hugely popular overnight, which is why I noticed this Suicide Girls interview with O.C. music producer Alexandra Patsavas.

VOTER FRAUD TRIAL in East St. Louis, IL heats up as defense lawyers prepare for new prosecution witnesses who say they were actually paid by city Democratic Party Chairman Charles Powell Jr. to vote in the November 2nd election.

NICARAGUA: Tens of thousands of supporters of Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolaños marched through the streets of Managua o­n Thursday, protesting the constitutional crisis fomented by the unholy alliance of two former Presidents: Daniel Ortega, the chief of the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and Arnoldo Aleman, who still heads the rightist Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) even though he has been serving a sentence under house arrest for corruption.

LI-LO UPDATE: La Lohan is wanted by 50 Cent and P. Diddy, among others. And even in the midst of her own personal problems, she mocks Tom Cruise o­n The Tonight Show!

RALPH NADER is dropping the N-bomb; the Rev. Al Sharpton is not happy. Nader was complaining that Democratic Party powerbrokers had kept him off the ballot in such Southern states as Georgia and Virginia - which reminded him of the oppressive Jim Crow laws that denied African-Americans equal rights.

POLAND MAY ELECT IDENTICAL TWINS as the country's new president and prime minister. The BBC asks, "If they are elected, will voters be able to tell them apart?" That's easy. Lech adores a minuet, the Ballet Russes, and crepe suzette; Jaroslaw loves to rock and roll, a hot dog makes him lose control... what a wild duet!

SEN. DICK DURBIN issued a non-apology for comparing Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Nazi death camps, the Soviet gulag and the reign of the Khmer Rouge. If you want to read my take, you can click the "Read more" link at the conclusion of today's links.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D-WV) is having his memoirs published today. The Washington Post reports that "Byrd's book offers a truncated description of his days with the (Ku Klux) Klan that does not completely square with contemporaneous newspaper accounts and letters that show he was involved with the Klan throughout much of the 1940s, and not merely for two or three years." Byrd's Klan past became an issue again when he joined with other southern Democrats to oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Byrd filibustered the bill for more than 14 hours as he argued that it abrogated principles of federalism. He criticized most anti-poverty programs except for food stamps. And in 1967, he voted against the nomination of Thurgood Marshall, the first black appointed to the Supreme Court.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Angelina Jolie has denied having an affair with Brad Pitt while filming Mr. & Mrs. Smith, but the ever-reliable Sun quotes her as saying, "I have always developed deep ties with actors who have played alongside me. I always fall in love." Pitt and Jolie's ex, Billy Bob Thornton, hooking up.

KANYE WEST uses a new remix of Late Registration's first single, "Diamonds From Sierra Leone," to rap about the horrific civil war in the small, diamond-rich African country, which has been raging since 1991. There's blood o­n that bling!

WHOSE HOUSE? Reverend Run of RUN-DMC is doing a reality show for MTV to replace The Osbournes called Run's House.

WAYANS' WORLD: Comedic brothers Keenan Ivory, Damon, Shawn and Marlon Wayans want to open a theme park and movie studio o­n the site of California's old Oakland Army Base.

BOBBY BROWN was told there would be a 45-minute wait for a seat upstairs... at The Olive Garden. Ouch.

MENA SUVARI: A month after filing for divorce from her husband of five years, the American Beauty, whose last role was as a lesbian art student o­n HBO's Six Feet Under, appears to have developed a preference for female company. Here's a bigger photograph of Mena leaving a bar in Venice Beach, L.A. mainly known as a gay hangout with her arms around a short-haired woman with whom she seems to have struck a close friendship. And she's now wearing bangs to cover her enormous alien forehead.

NANO-MEDICINE: University of Michigan scientists have created the nanotechnology equivalent of a Trojan horse to smuggle a powerful chemotherapeutic drug inside tumor cells – increasing the drug's cancer-killing activity and reducing its toxic side effects. Scientists at Calfornia research centers have received funding to develop nanomachines to clear arterial plaque.

GIANT LASER COMPLEX being built to simulate the explosion of a hydrogen bomb is threatened by budget cuts. The National Ignition Facility is located at the Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons lab in Northern California. Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), complains that ballooning costs o­n the project, are a drain o­n other programs; New Mexico is home to the nation's two other nuclear weapons labs, Sandia and Los Alamos.

THE LANCET, Britain's premier medical journal, is accused of scaremongering o­n a number of issues by 30 of the country’s leading scientists, two of whom are Nobel laureates.

IOWA: Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa announced Friday that he would restore voting rights for all felons who have completed their sentences.

EDU-BLOGGING: The nineteenth edition of The Carnival Of Education is o­nline.

CULT OF THE iPod: Queen Elizabeth II joins the cult, snapping up a silver 6 GB model; kinda hip for 79 years old. Prince Andrew was reported to be behind the move. DataWhat shows us some obsessive playlisting techniques.

PODCASTING: o­n Sunday, Brian Ibbott posted his 100th "Coverville" show; he talks to C|Net about dealing with the Recording Industry Association of America and individual copyright holders to try to make music podcasting easier and unambiguously legal.

IRAQ: The U.S. military launched Operation Spear o­n Friday, as 1,000 Marines and Iraqi soldiers fanned out to track down insurgents and foreign fighters in the part of the Anbar province bordering Syria. The Iraqi government announced Sunday it had arrested Abu Younis, a man it claimed was responsible for building car bombs and carrying out more than 60 bombings around the capital. Michael Yon, blogging from Baghdad, wants the real story from enlisted soldiers, and may get it from Jeffrey Mellinger, the Command Sergeant Major for Coalition Forces. In The New York Times, John F. Burns looks at competing views within the U.S. military over the proper troop levels in-country.

IRAN: How rigged was the Iranian election? Even Mehdi Karroubi -- who The New York Times calls "moderate" but who is chairman and a founding member of the Militant Clerics Society party -- is complaining. Christopher Hitchens, formerly of The Nation, reports from the holy city of Qom that the grandson of the Ayatollah Khomeni is a strong supporter of the United States intervention in Iran, and takes a political line not dissimilar to that of Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani in Iraq. But there's plenty more in the full article.

ETHIOPIA: Gateway Pundit rounds up disturbing stories as the election results (probably fraudulent) are due to be announced o­n July 8th.

KYRGYZSTAN: Following to ouster of Askar Akayev, tensions flare among various factions. Really no surprise, as this has happened in other countries after a united opposition loses its common foe.

BRITNEY SPEARS denies actress Sally Kirkland's claim that Spears has breast implants that could harm Brit's baby should she breast-feed.

LEO DiCAPRIO was hit with a bottle while attending a Hollywood party given by Rick Salomon, the dude who videotaped himself in the French Hotel.

THE MICHAELANGELO CODE: Two Brazilian doctors and amateur art lovers believe they have uncovered a secret lesson o­n human anatomy hidden by Renaissance artist Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

HOME THEATER: A poll for the Associated Press and AOL News reveals that only 22 percent of people preferred to see movies in a movie theater. In other findings, 47 percent think movies are getting or worse; 69 percent of respondents see movie stars as negative role models for children. RELATED: Guesting at GlennReynolds.com, Prof. Ann Althouse wonders whether movies are in decline because Hollywood underestimates us.

FOUR YEAR-OLD SCALDED AND BEHEADED for a ritual sacrifice in India.

THE UNITED NATIONS: A task force headed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell --politically strange bedfellows indeed -- have issued a report o­n proposed reforms for the United States Institute of Peace.

CANADA: A government opinion poll obtained by the National Post shows that Canadians believe President Bush is almost as great a threat to their national security as Osama bin Laden.

GIANT CATFISH were released into the Mekong River last week after seven years of captivity in hopes of boosting the population of the endangered species, which has fallen sharply in the last two decades.

CATS AND DOGS: Two Amur tiger cubs rejected by their mother have been adopted by a dog whose owner answered a Russian zoo's appeal for a foster parent. Denise Flaim of Newsday writes about polydactyl cats. And the latest Carnival of the Cats is o­nline.

SQUIRRELS MENACE the Lower East Side of NYC.

GAY PENGUINS: The mayor and city council clerk of Bremerhaven, Germany, were petitioned to stop homosexual Humboldt penguins at the Bremerhaven Zoo from being seduced by Swedish lady-penguins: "Although the gay penguins in your city’s zoo are not entitled to vote, please protect them from this organized and coercive harassment by means of feminine seductive arts..."

BAMBI MENACES Southern Illinois University's main campus, sending several to the hospital.

GEEP: The first recorded surviving cross of a sheep and a goat in the U.K. has been born o­n the Isle of Islay.

Read full article: 'Karl Mueller, Diamond Nights, Giant Catfish, Gay Penguins and the Geep'
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Mpls. in the 80s, Son Volt, Oreo Barbie, Gator Rasslin', Orphan Sea Otter, etc.   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, June 17, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:

FRIDAY TIME-WASTER: A version of Super Breakout that even allows you the option of making your own custom levels.

THE NEXT MAGNET magazine will feature some bands near and dear to many Pate fans.

FREE DOWNLOADING OF BOOTLEGS IS KILLING MUSIC: For example, The Rolling Stones, Live in Sidney, 1973. Or some Russian offering loads of Tom Waits, both live and unreleased studio stuff. That is just so wrong.

JAY FARRAR talks to Pitch about his new album and new-model Son Volt.

SUFJAN STEVENS expands his Illinois tour to include, among other places, Illinois.

LESLIE FEIST talks to SF Weekly about how Patsy Cline and Peggy Lee encouraged her eclecticism.

BONO was horrified during a visit to Ethiopia, when he saw local Muslim women pelting a breast-feeding aid worker with stones.

FOO FIGHTERS' In Your Honor gets a 6.8 o­n the Pitchfork, with the reviewer preferring the acoustic disc to the electric o­ne.

THE ART OF THE MIXTAPE: As you know, the making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. In the Village Voice, Brandon Stosuy (who normally writes for Pitchfork) waxes nolstalgic as he makes his girlfriend a 100-song mix for her iPod. Along the way, he mentions Thurston Moore's new book Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture; NPR recently interviewed Moore about it. The New York Times notes the efforts of record labels to crack down o­n commercial mix discs.

TOM VERLAINE has signed with Thrill Jockey and expects to have an album out early in 2006. Meanwhile, Television is touring Europe.

PITCHFORK PERFECT TENS: The inimitable Uncle Grambo complies a list of 30 albums that sit at the very tip of the Pitchfork.

THE WILLIE AND ANNIE NELSON Professorship in Stem Cell Research is being established at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Defamer reports "rumors spreading around the War of the Worlds publicity tour... that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes... (got) engaged in Rome last night. The rumor holds that an announcement may come in Paris as early as tomorrow."

BRITNEY SPEARS wants to to make hubby K-Fed a movie star, so naturally she's asking Madonna's hubby Guy Ritchie to cast Federline in his next film. She ought to tell Guy what a great impression K-Fed made when she brought those Disney execs to her hotel room, only to find him watching porn... which he did not even rush to switch off. A classy guy, the stuff from which stars are born.

FORBES magazine's Celebrity 100 list is out and can be viewed by categories, too. The musicians' list is depressing.

IRAQ: A deal was reached for Sunni Arabs to participate in a panel to draft the new constitution, ending weeks of political wrangling and raising hopes that the insurgency might be undermined as a result. Also, in a a major defeat for Al-Qaeda's terrorist organisation, U.S. and Iraqi forces have captured Mohammed Khalaf Shakar, Zarqawi's most trusted operations agent in all of Iraq, in Mosul. He is accused of masterminding some of the deadliest attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city and a major front for the insurgency since November. Austin Bay blogs from trips to the Al Anbar province, Tal Afar and Kirkuk, reporting a mixed performance of Iraqi troops in Tal Afar. And the members of the MP squad under callsign Raven 42, which includes two women, are awarded for their heroism in combat on March 20th, 2005.

TORNADO WATCH: A new study of Oklahoma's legendary May 3, 1999 tornado stirs controversy in suggesting that running like a sissy was as safe or safer than hunkering down in homes. The study reconfirmed that people caught in mobile homes face the worst odds.

YOUR MOMENT OF SITH: Princess Leia was born in Episode III, but Princess Leah was just born in Norway. Defective Yeti provides a guide to fast-forwarding through The Phantom Menace. Dan Weaver blogs conversations with his wife about the series. And to promote the Revenge of the Sith videogame, LucasArts has released a series of limited-edition airsickness bags available o­n Virgin Atlantic flights. The punchlines generally write themselves, so I'll just say, "Barf Vader?"

CATS AND DOGS are being replaced by PlayStations and iPods in the UK. However, Brits who do own pets are spending more money than ever o­n their care.

PETA EMPLOYEES ARRESTED o­n ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGES: Andrew Benjamin Cook and Adria Joy Hinkle, were busted for allegedly dumping dead dogs and cats in a dumpster at a shopping center in Ahoskie, N.C. Both suspects were charged with 31 counts of animal cruelty and eight counts of illegal disposal of animals. Officials say the animals were alive when they left the shelters, but have not said how they died. North Carolina officials say they have been investigating reports of dead animals at the shopping center for over a month. A PETA spokesperson told WAVY News 10 that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has a long-standing relationship with shelters to euthanize pets that the shelters feel are no longer adoptable. That's an understatement; PETA put to death over 85 percent of the animals it took in during 2003 alone.

IRAN: There have been 12 bombings in the five days before Iran's presidential election today, leaving more than 10 people dead and dozens wounded. The mullahs blame U.S. mercenaries; reformers blame religious extremists. Polls show that the mullahs' candidates are not expected to do well and may not make it into a runoff election, if o­ne is required. Supporters of the main reform candidate say the violence escalated as he surged into second place.

CELEBRITY KABBALAH: Radar magazine begins a series describing "how a renegade rabbi and his striver wife ended up atop a multi-million-dollar empire built o­n bracelets, bottled water, and Madonna." But even Kabbalah wants nothing to do with Jacko...

JACKO JUSTICE: The verdict may be in, but you can still enjoy Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's visit with some of Jacko's supporters. He may have hardcore fans, but record companies aren't lining up to do business with the sad freak, as he hasn't sold albums in years.

CHILD SACRIFICES IN LONDON: They are brought into the capital to be offered up in rituals by fundamentalist Christian sects, according to a shocking report by Scotland Yard. The report, leaked ahead of its publication next month, also cites examples of African children being tortured and killed after being identified as "witches" by church pastors.

JOURNO TARGETED FOR MURDER... by a Chechen rebel leader. Funny how journo bigwigs like Linda Foley and Eason Jordan claim without evidence that the U.S. military does this, while ignoring those who actually do it.

TROTSKY'S ICEPICK -- the implement of his death -- appears to have been found, 65 years after it was apparently stolen from the Mexican police. It's also a good name for a band.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL) went to the Senate floor Thursday evening to repeat a controversial statement about the interrogation of detainees at Camp X-Ray in Cuba and insist he said nothing objectionable. Dick explained that he was not comparing U.S. soldiers at Camp X-Ray to Pol Pot, Nazis or Soviet guards, but was "attributing this form of interrogation to repressive regimes such as those that I note." Right; Dick accuses our troops of doing things war criminals did, but was not comparing our troops to those troops. Other Democrats, such as Sen. Jay Rockefeller, are not backing his statement. Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita invited more members of Congress "to go down to Guantanamo and see what's going on, because what's going on down there is not the way it's being described by certain members of Congress." Eleven Senators, 77 members of the House, and 99 or a hundred congressional staff members have visited Guantanamo; Dick is not one of them. Durbin's statement also came under sharp attack by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which has 2.4 million members, including tens of thousands in Illinois.

MICHAEL BAY, director of Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, and Pearl Harbor, is defended by Bryan Curtis at Slate.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Vanity Fair denies that Jennifer Aniston has told the mag that infidelity caused her split with Brad Pitt; Page Six stands by its story. So how is Billy Bob Thornton, Jolie's ex, taking things? "Sex doesn't have to be with a model to be good," Thornton says in July's Esquire. "Sometimes with the model, the actress or the 'sexiest person in the world,' it may literally be like f-ing the couch." Jolie was Esquire's "Sexiest Person in the World" last year, so I'm guessing he has issues. Jolie joined Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and others to promote World Refugee Day. Jolie then appeared o­n CNN to talk about World Refugee Day, but the interview ended up revealing more about CNN than Jolie. The National Enquirer claims Pitt and Jolie recently joined the mile-high club en route to the Mexican premiere of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN OREO BARBIE: Auction expires today o­n eBay.

ELIZABETHTOWN: Production stills from the forthcoming Cameron Crowe movie heve been posted at Coming Soon.

COLIN FARRELL dating secrets revealed!

THE URANUIM FOR "LITTLE BOY," the bomb dropped by the B-29 Enola Gay over Hiroshima o­n August 6, 1945, was enriched in part by a 19 year-old who had no clue what she was doing.

A BLUE CRAB with a feminine side. Literally. The confused crustacean may have mated with itself, but otherwise shows strange mating behavior.

STUNTPEOPLE planned to petition the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a bid to get a long-desired Oscar category for stunt coordinators. They planned to draw attention by staging a stunt display o­n AMPAS's doorstep. Cunning!

THE DISABLED can be integrated into society and accomplish what some might might never expect. For example, wrestling alligators. Okay, so maybe not gator rasslin', but the main point is still right.

TROUSER SNAKES: No, really.

THE COMMIE CATWALK: Chinese authorities will require that models be tested annually o­n their runway skills and have proof of a high school education.

AN ORPHAN SEA OTTER taken in by Chicago's Shedd Aquarium is receiving round-the-clock care and is being taught life survival skills. Sorry, no cute photos; the 8-pound pup won't be o­n public display for perhaps months. For now, Kiana lives alone, spending much of her time sleeping in a playpen lined with SpongeBob SquarePants sheets.

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Tom Waits, John Fogerty, Dogs, Seagulls, Tin Roof...Rusted!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

TOM WAITS is suing Warner Bros. over the royalty rates for downloads of his early recordings. Somewhat similar suits have been filed by voice artists from classic Disney films when those movies were released in a new format, e.g., videotape and DVD.

THE NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL (now sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts) has announced its schedule, which defines "folk" loosely enough to include Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Kasey Chambers and Buddy Miller. Of course, it still would be cool to see them along with Emmylou Harris, Richard Thompson and the rest.

THE HOLD STEADY get a rave review for their live show from the Hollywood Reporter.

JOHN FOGERTY: Guitar tech Tom Spaulding is blogging Fogerty's tour at Caught Up In The Fable. UPDATE: My co-clerk Debbie informs me that her boyfriend, Andon Davis, had to fix Willie Nelson's guitar on a recent tour. (And Andon's no slouch on the instrument himself)

ON THE PITCHFORK: Dinosaur, Jr. expands its reunion tour. The New Pornographers announce their tour dates also.

JUDGE WILLIAM H. PRYOR JR. was confirmed by the Senate for an appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, after fierce partisan debate o­n June 9th. His opponents objected to his comments and writings o­n abortion and homosexuality. Pryor has served o­n the court since early last year due to a recess appointment by President Bush.

ON THE DAY Judge Pryor was confirmed by the Senate, he authored an opinion is the case of Zibtluda, Inc. v. Gwinnet County (Adobe Acrobat pdf), a case in which Zibtluda ("adult biz" spelled backward) challenged county ordinances regulating -- you guessed it -- adult businesses. Zibtluda operates a business in metro Atlanta called "The Love Shack." The allegedly prudish Judge Pryor's opinion noted that the law in question "regulates commercial entertainment akin to the 'Huggin' and a kissin', dancin' and a lovin', wearin' next to nothing' that the B- 52s famously described as occurring in a 'funky old shack.' The B-52s, Love Shack, o­n Cosmic Thing (Reprise Records 1989)."

THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT may not always fit the stereotype, having helped force the State Department to place a higher priority o­n battling religious persecution, set the stage for a cease-fire in Sudan, enact legislation aimed at reducing prison rape in the USA, push for more funds to fight AIDS in Africa, more foreign debt relief and for action o­n global warming.

CELEBRITY E-MAIL VIRUSES: An anti-virus software company has ranked the celebs most often used to spread e-mail viruses o­n the internet. You might guess which o­ne is ranked most toxic.

MOBILE MUSIC: Napster and Ericsson are creating a music service that mobile phone operators can offer to their subscribers. Also, Sony Ericsson, has unveiled a Walkman-branded cell phone, while Motorola has said it will release a phone that works with Apple's iTunes service.

VHS R.I.P.? Wal-Mart will stop selling movies o­n VHS after the holdiay season, following Target, which is discontinuing them in September.

JACKO JUSTICE: Thriller is climbing the chart at Amazon. I wonder whether sales are up in brick-and-mortar stores, where you actually have to be seen buying it. A Jackson family friend and a top Hollywood talent agency are pitching a six-party reality-TV series focusing o­n how the Jacko family dealt with the months following Jackson's November 2003 arrest; the series was o­n the drawing board even before Jackson's acquittal. Jacko could still face a civil case, O.J.-style. But for now, Jackson's acquittal was welcome news to one group in particular...and it's not the BSA.

LUCAS AND SPIELBERG: Covert, passive-aggressive sibling rivalry. Imho, the basic thrust of this Slate piece is correct, though (imho) it's unfair to say that "Lucas' career rests precariously o­n a single film, directed back in 1977." That dismisses American Graffiti, which not o­nly was named to the Natonal Film Registry, but also made 140 million bucks o­n a total budget (production, prints and marketing) of under 3 million. It also ignores the immense impact he's had o­n movies outside of directing them.

CINDERELLA MAN A GREAT PUMPKIN: Executives and filmmakers behind the critically acclaimed boxing movie are trying to figure out why it's bombing. Some blame themselves for releasing it during the summer; others blame Russell Crowe's unheroic real-life antics.

DUDLEY DOES-RIGHT: The RCMP discovered al-Qaeda and Taliban "action reports," information about fugitive terrorists, downloaded clips of Osama bin Laden’s voice, songs (including "I Am a Terrorist"), a video clip of a 2003 attack o­n a compound used by Westerners in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and cassettes about insurgent attacks in Afghanistan in a laptop computer and materials seized at Toronto's airport in February. The laptop's owner, Zaynab Khadr, whose late father is officially identified as Canada’s highest-ranking member of Al Qaeda, claims the stuff o­n her computer is not hers: "This sort of thing ain't my bag, baby."

BIN LADEN is alive and probably living in the rugged mountains bordering Afghanistan, according to Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL) refused to apologize Wednesday for comments he made on the Senate floor comparing the actions of American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviet gulags and a "mad regime" like Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's in Cambodia. In refusing to apologize, Sen. Durbin tried to change the subject to the Bush Administration's alleged abandonment of the Geneva Conventions. That's highly debatable, but if Dick is right, the soldiers at Camp X-Ray are committing war crimes. "Just following orders" is not a defense to such crimes, so Dick is smearing our troops, whether he wants to admit it or not.

BRADGELINA UPDATE: Jennifer Aniston goes o­n the record in Vanity Fair, suggesting that Mr. & Mrs. Smith split Mr. & Mrs. Pitt.

LI-LO UPDATE: The TVGasm post I previously noted was filled with "allegedlys" is now M.I.A. I smell a lawyer... But every picture tells a story, don't it?

SPAIN: Police arrest 16 people suspected of having links to Islamic terror groups; five were held for alleged involvement in the Madrid train bombings of March 2004, 11 are thought to have links to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

WHY DID THE E.U. CONSTITUTION FAIL IN FRANCE? Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the architect of the proposed constitution, has the answer: "It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text."

THE END OF EUROPE: Economist Robert J. Samuelson writes that "unless Europe reverses two trends -- low birthrates and meager economic growth -- it faces a bleak future of rising domestic discontent and falling global power." He later adds: "Too many people benefit from the status quo to change it; but the status quo isn't sustainable. Even modest efforts in France and Germany to curb social benefits have triggered backlashes. Many Europeans -- maybe most -- live in a state of delusion."

A CASE IN POINT: In France, the unemployment rate has been stuck between 9 and 10 percent for a quarter of a century and not a single enterprise founded there in the past 40 years has managed to break into the ranks of the 25 biggest French companies. By comparison, 19 of today's 25 largest U.S. companies didn't exist 40 years ago. Thus, France looks to the U.S. for lessons, but wants to have more government as the solution. Good luck o­n that.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Defamer is o­n a roll with an item about Cruise interrupting a business meeting for Mission Impossible 3 to order that an aide deliver cupcakes to Katie Holmes at Barney’s. He also invents a fun photo game called Rapture, Acquittal or Cruise? The two-twenty blog imagines Holmes' Scientology audit, which even comes with an MP3. Cruise wants to make Victoria Beckham (a/k/a "Posh Spice") a star. Of course, Cruise has been trying to get the Beckhams into Scientology, too.

BILL MURRAY spanks a fan seeking a photo, but in that fun, playful way.

IRAQ: Following gloomy assessments of the state of Iraqi forces in The New York Times and Washington Post, Bill Roggio provides a wide-ranging review of the training and state of readiness of Iraqi Army units at Winds Of Change. Add to his coverage that Iraqi forces played a key role in freeing an Aussie hostage. Austin Bay blogs from Baghdad that "In at least nine out of ten security operations, the new Iraqi military is providing half of the forces," according to Lieutenant General John Vines, the Commander of the Multi-National Corps.

IRAQ II: Mackubin T. Owens, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College, analyzes the progress of the overall campaign from a strategic perspective. Also, buried at the end of the AP story o­n insurgent attacks, it's noted that Iraqi legislators seemed close to agreement o­n a demand by Sunnis for more participation in drafting the new constitution. Though this has been an obstacle, we should remember that a few months ago, Sunnis were boycotting the political process; now they demand to be included.

DAVID BLAINE is sued by God's messenger o­n Earth. What took so long?

WHEN SEAGULLS ATTACK in Sheboygan, it's less like The Birds and more like High Anxiety.

DOGS: A golden retriever named Murphy has received a summons to appear in court in Newton, MA, to answer a complaint that he was being walked without a leash and was not up to date o­n his license.

NAKED JOB INTERVIEWS are inappropriate. So are naked medical class demos.

KANSAS STUDENT BUSTED FOR VOMITING on his Spanish teacher.

BARTER SYSTEM: You cannot exchange chicken for sex. Similarly, you cannot exchange a pygmy goat for crack cocaine.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'm in love with my wife. You know when you're in love. It's like seeing pornography. You know it when you see it." -- Larry King, who has seen it five times.

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