LILEKS notes that it's decoration season and solicits your input on Christmas songs for his Sunday newspaper column.
STACY'S MOM (Rachel Hunter) and Baywatch bunny Nicole Eggert are Gingers on The Real Gilligan's Island, which premieres tonight.
FILM STEW reports that people are upset that Natalie Portman will not be topless in Closer when it opens this Friday.
ON THE PITCHFORK: Warner Bros. to squeeze REM fans.
WILLIAM A. MITCHELL, inventor of Cool Whip, quick-set Jell-O, Tang, Pop Rocks and more, dead at 92.
HARVARD UNIVERSITY backed the Nazis. Who knew?
THANKSGIVING AFTERMATH: Dispute over turkey blamed for stabbings. Also, a car collided with a tractor-trailer carrying 11,000 pounds of frozen turkeys, killing three people.
BOFFO PR FOR OCEAN'S TWELVE: Julia Roberts delivers her twins. They are named Hazel and Phinnaeus, thereby ensuring that at least one of them will resent her in later life.
THE UKRAINE is still not a sitting duck. Daniel Drezner is blogging the story at length, with plenty of links to outside media.
MARTHA STEWART is a hit at her prison mess hall. But guess where Martha stashes her ingredients.
RECORD CDs on your own homemade gramophone!
ALEXANDER THE HORRIBLE: Oliver Stone's latest debuts at number six, beaten out by Spongebob; The Incredibles digs in at number two.
MINI-REVIEWS: Skipping Alexander, I caught Finding Neverland and Sideways. The former was probably greenlighted by Miramax after the success of Shakespeare In Love as Neverland uses the same parallel structure to show how the life of a famous author -- J.M. Barrie, in this case -- influenced the creation of a work of art. And with the darker aspects of Barrie's life dismissed as rumor, this movie bears as much relationship to reality as Shakespeare In Love. Nevertheless, there's plenty to like in this movie. Depp is fine as Barrie, though not a revelation, as the role calls for some of the same Keaton-and-Chaplin whimsy Depp served up in Benny and Joon, albeit with more subtlety and an accent. Better are Kate Winslet and Radha Mitchell as the women in Barrie's life. It would be cruelly ironic if Winslet is nominated for an Oscar for this role and for Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as she would split her own vote. Mitchell is good enough as Barrie's restrained, social-climbing wife that it took me a few minutes to place her as the spaceship captain in Pitch Black.
Sideways is also about an author... sort of. The main character, Miles Raymond, is also a middle school English teacher and oenophile -- a wine-tasting fanatic. Though both Miles and his friend Jack have plenty of bad traits, the audience comes to like Miles for what we see when he speaks of the passions that move him. Jack seems to be the more normal at the outset, but is ultimately seen as a man without passion. Sideways is a tour de force for Paul Giamatti; though my description of Miles may sound like Giamatti's take on Harvey Pekar in American Splendor, the actual performance is far different, but equally good, if not better. Thomas Hayden Church is good as Jack, though the backstory may not be much of a stretch for him. Virginia Madsen, who started her acreer in more intense roles, is charming as Maya; I even liked Sandra Oh as Stephanie (and I generally do not like Sandra Oh in anything). It's a romantic comedy or dramedy, I suppose, but there is nothing saccharine about it. Sideways continues a winning streak for director Alexander Payne, who previously directed Citizen Ruth, Election, and About Schmidt. I do not know whether critics will rate Sideways above About Schmidt, but I found it much easier to watch.
WE DON'T NEED NO EDUCATION, just a royalty check, please.
NO CHEERS: Shelley Long hospitalized for an overdose? UPDATE: Long's manager denies it was a suicide attempt.
THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA is bedeviled by blogs.
THE UNITED NATIONS OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL, in which Saddam Hussein's regime reaped over 21 billion dollars through oil surcharges, kickbacks on civilian goods and smuggling directly to willing governments, continues to fester and gets nearer to the top.