THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:
FRIDAY TIMEWASTER: Keep Katie Quiet by catching the crazy pills, or she will fall into the clutches of Xenu!
CATFISH HAVEN: It may be some comment on the Internet Age that it took Frank, a Canadian blogger, to alert me to this Chicago band, which is kinda like Son Volt, if Farrar had been a little influenced by Stax/Volt. You can stream a few tracks via MySpace and download them from the band's website.
THE VILLAGE VOICE: The axe is swinging at the venerable alt-weekly, with new owners firing music editor and writer Chuck Eddy and stripping Robert Christgau of his editing position, though perhaps not his writing position.
THE NIGHTS ARE GETTING LONGER: It won't be long 'till Summer comes, now that the Boys are here again.
SMOOSH: The tween duo has signed with indie label Barsuk -- current home to Nada Surf, Starlight Mints, and Mates Of State and original home to Death Cab For Cutie -- and already has album and tour details.
MORRISSEY: As Jon Pratt is fond of saying, it's hard to be a prophet in your hometown. So it's no surprise that London's Telegraph writes of his Manchester gig: "To anyone who wasn't a foaming-mouthed fan, it might feel odd to watch a man of Morrissey's age and bulk - he now looks somewhere between a stouter Ted Hughes and a wardrobe disguised as Herman Munster - prancing and preening like he did as a sapling-thin youth..." But the review does improve from there. That review does not mention Moz's own on-stage snark against Radio 1 and Bono.
MARK MOTHERSBAUGH talks about his first major art exhibition in England, TV and movie scoring and Devo 2.0. I think he'd like you to know him for Pee Wee's Playhouse and The Royal Tenenbaums than for Herbie: Fully Loaded or The Ringer (starring Johnny Knoxville).
GUILLEMOTS played the World Cafe, which is apt, as the members hail from all over the globe. Their mini-set is streaming from NPR, with a bonus track. The first song is a new song that sounds like a trippy version of U2.
SEEN YOUR VIDEO: Early on, Pate would cover a few vintage U2 tunes, though they weren't really vintage then. Here's U2 playing "Street Mission," a song from the band's second demo, which was played live only a handful of times (probably rightly so). It's from 1978, but the lads are sporting some proto-80's bad fashion and hair. BONUS: The Beat Farmers used to do an a cappella Led Zeppelin medley, but I didn't know U2 would stoop that low (though "Bullet the Blue Sky" should have been a hint).
BEN FOLDS liked his cab driver's harmonica playing so much that he invited the cabbie to sit in on his band's gig at the Wharton Center in Lansing, MI.
DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS: The newly-released A Blessing and a Curse is garnering generally favorable reviews via Metacritic. I'm inclined to agree with the Pitchfork review: "(F)or the first time in the group's decade of existence, they've made an album that doesn't entirely live up to their reputation." The Flagpole review is much the same, though it's a bit early to start comparing DBT to post-Exile on Main Street Rolling Stones. The material is stronger than that overall and there are several really good tracks. Fortunately, you can hear the whole album through the weekend at AOL Music and form your own opinion.
SHE WANTS REVENGE is mocked by the ghost of Ian Curtis, who even takes a jab at the band's MySpace page.
THE WRENS impressed me at last year's Intonation Festival, but their stuff is hard to find. Good Hodgkins is killing music with alternate versions of tracks from the highly-acclaimed Meadowlands. The more law-abiding can stream the tracks via the Hype Machine.
PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The BBC interviews the troubled singer's fans as he escapes jail time again, but the photo taken outside the courthouse reveals a deathly pallor. He was put on a two-year supervision order, given 18 months in drug rehabilitation, and banned from driving for six months. Doherty was then arrested in east London a few hours later on suspicion of drugs possession with intent to supply.
TOM-KAT UPDATE: London's Sun reports details on the silent birth in accordance with Scientology guidelines and says Cruise is self-deprecatingly claiming to have been "jumping on couches" since Holmes gave birth. E! channel gossip Ted Casablanca, otoh, says Cruise's reppers clammed up on the subject. Meanwhile, people continue to ponder the baby's name, Suri. It turns out that Suri's name can be traced to "Sarah," which in Hebrew once meant "princess" or "noblewoman," but by such a circuitous route that the connection is lost on most Israelis. FilmStew notes that "Suri Cruise" is pretty homophonic with "Syracuse," which is where Cruise himself was born. The Gallery of the Absurd has posted the Tom-Rat Family Portrait. World of Wonder has a rather dubious photo of mother and daughter and even more dubious video of Cruise eating the placenta. Cruise's Mission Impossible 3 co-stars duck all talk of the Tom-kitten. And E! News Live had someone from Us Weekly noting that no one has seen Katie's parents since the birth...
NICOLE KIDMAN congratulated Katie Holmes after she gave birth to daughter Suri on Tuesday -- but made no mention of her ex-husband. Me-OW!
NOW PLAYING: This week's wide releases in theaters are: Silent Hill, the based-on-a-videogame horror not screened for critics; Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland and Eva Longoria joining the Secret Service for The Sentinel(30 percent Rotten on the Tomatometer); and the please-don't-call-it-a-satire mix of pop and politics American Dreamz (36 percent Rotten). Oddly enough, Ebert likes the last two. I may be working on this month's book club selection.
SIENNA MILLER has been secretly dating a hunky DKNY model and hotel owner for three weeks, according to London's Mirror. I guess things didn't work out with Hayden Christensen.
JULIA ROBERTS debuts on Broadway and the critics who wanted to love her... didn't. Us Weekly and the BBC pick the raspberries.
BRADGELINA: With Princess Tomkitten delivered, Life & Style magazine purports to have details of a planned African Jolie-Pitt wedding, usually performed in the Banti dialect. The couple has denied reports that they are already married. The National Enquirer claims that Jolie plans to dump Pitt when the baby arrives. Jolie supposedly can't deal with Pitt's jealousy after Pitt allegedly found Jolie secretly e-maiing with Colin Farrell. Pitt, ever the architect wannabe, asked people to submit proposals for an environmentally friendly design competition he is sponsoring to rebuild parts of New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina. And Jolie has supposedly agreed to play Lara Croft in another Tomb Raider movie. That's right, Jolie makes movies, doesn't she?
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY gets a dismissal in a lawsuit filed by an obsessed fan claiming that he had raped, drugged and tried to kill her. Then he saved a cat from being set on fire by thugs in Sherman Oaks, CA. Alright, Alright, Alright.
JESSICA SIMPSON pulled out of a cover story for the September issue of Vanity Fair magazine because she refused to discuss her painful breakup with Nick Lachey. And she will probably end up playing Lucy Ewing in the Dallas movie once the producers get tired of being turned down by Scarlett Johansson.
TOM HANKS must really be a big fan of ABBA.
WHEN SCANDALS COLLIDE: The New York Times reports that Hollywood PI Anthony Pellicano, currently under federal investigation for wiretapping and other alleged wrongdoing, allegedly tried to shake down billionaire Ron Burkle -- who set up an FBI sting against Page Six staffer Jared Paul Stern on an attemped shakedown.
LINDSAY LOHAN was the subject of an intervention by cast members from Saturday Night Live when she hosted last week. I would think the SNL cast knows how to spot when an intervention is warranted.
IRAQ: Prime Minister al-Jaafari cleared the way Thursday for Shiite leaders to withdraw his nomination for a second term, which could break the standoff blocking the formation of a new government. Big Lizards has analysis of likely replacements. US military officials say attacks against Iraq's vital infrastructure have dropped by 60 percent over the last three months, reflecting the development and capabilities of Iraqi security forces. London's Telegraph had a piece on Sheikh Osama Jadaan's campaign against foreign jihadis. The Washington Post looks at the fog of war in Baghdad's Adhamiyah neighborhood, while Zayed blogs from the middle of it. The L.A. Times asked Marines in Anbar province about the retired generals' criticism of SecDef Rumsfeld and finds most unimpressed.
IRAQ IN THE MEDIA: Yesterday, I linked to a Reuters story claiming that two teachers were beheaded in Baghdad. NBC News producer Karl Bostic and others investigated the story and found that nothing happened. Bostic calls it a "classic case of misinformation and bad reporting." Reuters remains in denial.
IRAN plans to step up uranium enrichment work soon and has asked European countries to help in the effort. That sounds crazy, but with Russia continuing to cooperate in constructing the Bushehr nuclear power plant, what's the harm in asking? New satellite imagery indicate Iran has expanded its uranium conversion site at Isfahan and reinforced its Natanz underground uranium enrichment plant against possible military strikes, according to the Institute for Science and International Security. And Iranian scientists are secretly conducting crucial nuclear research and development, using university laboratories as cover to avoid international scrutiny, according to highly placed opposition supporters within the Islamic regime.
DOG gets her head stuck in a pipe, probably chasing a rabbit. The pooch, now named "Piper," was taken to animal control in Fort Worth TX, where vets greased her neck with baby oil and successfully removed the pipe. Let's go to the video.
A HEN, after eight months laying dozens of eggs, suddenly turned into a cockerel -- sprouting a scarlet comb, tufty tail feathers and crowing at dawn. And it happened in the UK, not Sweden!
WERE-RABBIT UPDATE: The Felton were-rabbit remains at large as plans to bring in sharpshooters draw worldwide protest.
RATS are ratting out bombs and landmines in Columbia. Unlike dogs, rats weighing less than half a pound each and "don't trigger any explosions when they walk on a mine," said Col. Javier Cifuentes, director of the Sibate police academy, where basic training is taking place.
THE ARSENAL SQUIRREL stunned fans at north London's Highbury stadium by bringing a Champions League soccer semi-final to a standstill, then disappeared into the crowd.