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News from the world of music, entertainment, communications, and technology.

NEWS ARCHIVE 2007 JULY TO DECEMBER

LEDs for Christmas Trees

The colored lights on Christmas trees are changing to LED technology. This is the year when solid-state LED lights replaced the older, more energy-intensive incandescent lights, at least for the most prominent Christmas trees.

Lights on the National Christmas tree at the White House, the tree at New York’s Rockefeller Plaza, the one at Union Square in San Francisco, and many other public and large commercial Christmas trees were lit with LED lights for the first time.

On a Christmas tree, colored LED lights use an eighth of the electric power of other types of lights and offer more vivid colors. This year, the cost of strings of LED lights was similar to that of other Christmas tree lights, so many ordinary shoppers may have bought them without realizing it.

Besides the energy savings, LED lighting for trees is thought to be safer, as the LEDs generate only insignificant amounts of heat.

2007-12-25

TV Stations Can Buy Newspapers

A longstanding rule that prevented U.S. television stations from owning newspapers in the same city has been struck down by the Federal Communications Commission.

Now there is nothing to prevent a television station from buying and operating — or shuttering — the newspaper in its city.

In comments connected to the vote, commission members suggested that they thought of the rule change as a minor adjustment that might save a few newspapers but probably would not significantly slow the collapse of the newspaper industry.

2007-12-19

Concert Attendance Down in 2007

The calendar year might not be over quite yet, but Billboard is ready to sum up the year in concerts, and says North American concert attendance this year is down 19.2 percent from last year.

The records set in 2006, with the Rolling Stones, Madonna, and U2 on the road, proved to be a hard act to follow.

Higher ticket prices are one of the reasons for the declining attendance. While attendance fell 19.2 percent, coming in at 51 million, ticket sales fell only 10.2 percent, to $2.6 billion.

The top two tours this year belonged to reunions of two English rock bands, The Police and Genesis.

Prince had the biggest box office, taking in more than $22 million in 21 shows at O2 in London.

2007-12-15

Awards Shows

CNN Heroes was a different kind of awards show, with the news channel honoring people who make a difference in the world at large.

The event included the unlikely sight of Christiane Amanpour, who is known for covering the world’s trouble spots, interviewing panelist Deepak Chopra on how to pick out an award-winning hero. Sheryl Crow, Wyclef Jean, and Norah Jones were on hand to provide music.

The Recording Academy today announced nominations for the 50th Grammy Awards. Awards are presented in 110 categories. The Grammys will be presented February 10 on CBS television.

CNN Heroes: http://www.cnn.com/heroes; Grammy Nominations: http://www.grammy.com/GRAMMY_Awards/50th_Show/list.aspx.

2007-12-07

Notes

A volunteer team of engineers has put together a Mac-compatible computer from available off-the-shelf components, but Apple doesn’t need to worry, at least not yet. The “Hackintosh” was meant to have specs similar to the $799 Mac Mini, but is made from components that cost nearly $1,000 at retail, and has other disadvantages and compromises that rule it out for ordinary computer users. Eventually, though, the team hopes to design a Mac-compatible computer that costs less than a Mac.

Last year, Heart turned their award-winning debut album Dreamboat Annie into a concert. The resulting Dreamboat Annie Live album is now available.

Director Ed Burns is releasing his latest movie, Purple Violets, exclusively on iTunes. It’s time for this kind of experiment in film distribution, Burns says — it’s harder than ever to distribute serious dramatic movies through traditional cinema distribution.

Heart: http://www.heart-music.com.

2007-12-01

Bah & the Humbugs CD Has Sack Full of Songs

The new album by Christmas comedy rock band Bah & the Humbugs includes more songs than their usual — 12 songs, representing the “12 symptoms of Christmas.”

That phrase is also the title of the album, which is out today.

Most of the songs are also available for download at Download.com Music. There, the two hottest tracks so far are “All Twelve Days,” an anthem for 12 days off work, and “The Man with the Sack of Toys,” a song based on the folk song “House of the Rising Sun” in which a 9-year-old boy discovers that Santa does not have an inexhaustible supply of toys.

Reviewing the album in today’s Philadelphia Daily News, Jonathan Takiff called it “a batch of droll new lunatic fringe Christmas originals that would do Dr. Demento proud.”

Bah & the Humbugs: http://www.bahandthehumbugs.com; Bah & the Humbugs at Download.com Music: http://music.download.com/bahandthehumbugs.

2007-11-23

Huckabee, Norris in YouTube Bid

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee got the help of actor Chuck Norris to make an entertaining one-minute commercial that is sure to be a hit on YouTube.

The “Chuck Norris Approved” clip, shot in an exercise studio, starts with Gov. Huckabee saying “My plan to secure the border? Two words: Chuck Norris.” It continues by alternating between Norris giving reasons for endorsing Huckabee and Huckabee reciting folk aphorisms about Norris, such as, “When Chuck Norris does a push-up, he isn’t lifting himself up — he’s pushing the Earth down.”

In two days, the clip has had over half a million views on YouTube.

Political observers give Huckabee an outside chance of winning the Republican Iowa caucuses, or more likely coming in a close second. Elsewhere in the polls, he has advanced this month from sixth to fourth place among Republican candidates.

“Chuck Norris Approved”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjYv2YW6azE; Mike Huckabee for President: http://www.mikehuckabee.com.

2007-11-20

Stagehand Strike Bumps Duran Duran Off Broadway

Days after the writers’ union went on strike, a stagehand strike shut down productions on Broadway.

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The strike cut short Duran Duran’s Broadway run. The band had put together Broadway-scale staging for a two-week run at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, playing all the songs from their new album Red Carpet Massacre.

But the strike hit with three shows remaining. The Saturday night show was canceled, and the last two shows, last night and tonight, were moved to Roseland, a theater a few blocks away.

The staging for these relocated shows is scaled back, both to fit the smaller dimensions of the new stage and because Duran Duran will not be able to retrieve all of their staging from Broadway until the strike is over.

Red Carpet Massacre is out today in the United States. An extended tour is expected to follow, though so far only a dozen shows have been announced.

2007-11-13

Flash Advertisements Lead to Spyware

A new kind of online ad is rerouting web visitors from legitimate news sites to spyware web sites.

The Flash-based advertisements have been appearing for at least three weeks on news sites throughout the United States. The news sites put them online thinking they are legitimate advertisements. Then visitors to the news pages may be abruptly redirected to web pages that appear to be alert boxes on web sites that attempt to load malicious software onto users’ computers.

It has typically taken the news site hosts days to identify the malicious ads and remove them. In at least one case, the ads were found only after a newspaper site discovered that they had been paid for with a bad credit card.

Web users who find an alert box where there should be a web page can protect themselves by closing the window containing the alert. It is important not to click any buttons in a web page that could be malicious.

It is easy for Flash files to be coded with web redirects, which can be malicious in nature. Web sites and ad servers are supposed to check the Flash ads they display to make sure they are legitimate, but the current round of malicious ads have been slipping through these checks.

2007-11-09

Eagles’ Exclusive at No. 1

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Billboard has rescinded a longstanding rule that kept albums available from only one retailer off its record charts.

The rule change came just in time for the first Eagles studio album in 30 years to debut at number 1 on The Billboard 200 and the Top Country Albums chart.

Long Road Out of Eden sold 711,000 copies in its first week, exclusively at Wal-Mart (along with Sam’s Club and walmart.com).

The Wal-Mart exclusive is part of a larger strategy at the faltering retailer to bring customers back to the stores. Wal-Mart, still suffering from its attempts in 2006 to boost revenue by raising prices and displaying more high-end merchandise, is also cutting prices on more than 50,000 items this fall.

The change in chart rules was needed “to reflect changes that are unfolding in music distribution,” according to Billboard director of charts Geoff Mayfield.

The Billboard charts at one time were meant to reflect the activity in record stores, but with most record stores closing as record sales have declined, Billboard needs to broaden its charts so that they reflect the experience of the record-buying public.

The Eagles included a few new studio tracks on their 1994 album Hell Freezes Over, and now have put together a full album of new studio tracks.

The core of the band is key songwriters Don Henley and Glenn Frey, joined by original members Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh. The album was recorded over a two-year period, with band members avoiding some of the stress of recording an Eagles record by taking more of a hands-off approach to the production, often allowing just one band member to supervise sessions for supporting tracks such as percussion and horns.

The core of the album, Frey says, is the vocals: “We were making a record for our fans and our fans first and foremost love to hear us sing together.”

Country music radio, desperate for something fresh, has embraced the new Eagles songs despite the band’s obvious British rock influences. Country music radio has increasingly been looking beyond Nashville and its current all-American sound to try to find music that will hold listeners’ interest.

Wal-Mart’s recent environmental initiatives were part of the reason the Eagles chose them for the album exclusive. The band also selected sustainable paper for the album. The Domtar EarthChoice paper uses fibers from certified well-managed forests and 30% post-consumer recycled fiber.

The Eagles: http://www.eaglesband.com.

2007-11-07

Hollywood Slows as Writers Strike

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) called a strike at midnight last night after negotiations on digital sales and Internet broadcasts of movies showed no signs of coming to a resolution.

Hollywood writers complain that they are paid poorly and get virtually nothing from Internet and DVD uses of the shows they write.

Producers say that the writers’ proposals would be an unmanageable accounting burden in an era when no one knows what formats a movie might turn up in.

Writers say they are prepared for a long strike. A strike 20 years ago lasted for months.

The most topical television shows will be the hardest hit. The Daily Show and many other weeknight shows will air reruns for at least the next two weeks if the strike continues. Weekly television series usually select scripts for an entire season before production begins for the season, but production for the next season could be delayed if the strike lasts that long.

If the strike continues into next year, television stations are expected to show more content that does not depend on writers, such as reality shows, game shows, interviews, and amateur video.

WGA: http://www.wga.org and http://www.wgaeast.org.

2007-11-05

Notes

The battle of Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD is drawing a yawn from consumers, at least so far. Less than 5 percent of movie sales at this point are in either of the new high definition formats pegged to replace DVD, and most consumers do not yet seem to know what Blu-Ray or HD DVD is. More trouble for the new formats: while 24 percent of consumers said higher resolution would be a reason to upgrade their movie equipment, most consumers say they cannot see the improved resolution when they view the HD movies and standard DVD movies side by side in a store. Display quality may have to improve before consumers can be sold on HD.

The Microsoft Windows upgrade cycle gave Microsoft its strongest quarter of sales since 2001 — at the peak of the last Microsoft Windows upgrade cycle.

Pennsylvania’s ban on city wi-fi networks could be overridden by a bill approved today by a U.S. Senate committee — but the measure could stall at this point as a similar measure did last year.

A Netherlands team won this year’s Panasonic World Solar Challenge, crossing Australia in a solar-powered car at an average speed of nearly 91 kilometers per hour. The top Australian car came in two hours later at a speed of 85.

A new Joe Jackson album, Rain, is completed and scheduled for a January release. The album features Joe Jackson’s original bassist, Graham Maby, and drummer, Dave Houghton. A tour will follow.

The B-52’s live show now includes six songs from their forthcoming album Funplex. The album is due in February, probably to be followed by an extended summer tour.

The Who are preparing to tour again next year, hitting spots like Japan that they missed on their recent 17-month tour.

Apple reports that Mac OS X Leopard sales have surpassed the iPhone, with more than 2 million copies sold in the first 4 days. Still no word on a cross-promotion with Def Leppard. Meanwhile, Apple has started promoting the iPhone as a productivity tool for business travelers. New television commercials show travelers staying on top of rapidly changing circumstances using their iPhones.

Live Earth set the standard for carbon neutrality in big concert events. A new report detailing their carbon results — itself a first — is available on the Live Earth web site.

Joe Jackson: http://www.joejackson.com; The Who: http://www.thewho.com; B-52’s: http://www.theb52s.com; Live Earth: http://www.liveearth.org.

2007-11-01

Mac OS X Leopard Launch Draws Crowds

The long-delayed launch of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard drew crowds nearly as large as the iPhone launch four months ago — and many of the shoppers were buying computers.

At least a million customers had postponed Mac purchases so they could get a system with the new operating system, Leopard, preinstalled, saving them from having to purchase and install it separately. Other customers were buying new computers because Leopard would not work on their pre-2002 Mac systems.

At first glance, Leopard appears to have the wow factors that will prompt users to upgrade, or to switch to Mac from other operating systems. The thumb-through view of files, with significantly enhanced preview of the file contents, is a feature borrowed from the iPhone and turns the Finder into a must-have feature that other operating systems will not easily duplicate. The new Spaces feature multiplies a user’s desktop space and will be eagerly adopted by power users such as magazine designers and online investors who may use dozens of windows at once.

Leopard requires at least an 877 MHz processor. The earliest G4 systems, computers from three hardware generations ago, will have to stick with Tiger.

Early adopters have reported one mysterious glitch when installing Leopard that may affect about 1 in 1,000 users. There are work-arounds, including a clean system installation, and Apple says it is working to figure out what the problem is.

Leopard launch Leopard launch Leopard launch Leopard launch

The line for the Mac OS X Leopard launch at the Apple Store in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, stretched around the corner and out of sight. It was nearly as long as the line for the iPhone launch in June.

2007-10-26

The Daily Show Archive Online

You no longer need a cable subscription to watch The Daily Show. Viacom has put the complete history of the show from 1999 to last night, a total of 7,128 clips, online on a new web site.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: http://www.thedailyshow.com.

2007-10-18

Nobel Peace Prize for Climate Awareness

Environmental activist Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change share in the latest Nobel Peace Prize.

The IPCC was noted for its series of scientific reports over the past 19 years that helped bring the state of the world’s climate into focus.

R.K. Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, issued a statement crediting “the scientific community” as the real winners of the award.

Al Gore was selected for his campaign to bring the climate change issue to the personal level, which included the Live Earth concerts and the film An Inconvenient Truth.

Al Gore: http://www.climatecrisis.org; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: http://www.ipcc.ch; Nobel Peace Prize: http://nobelpeaceprize.org.

2007-10-12

Radiohead Turns Up the Volume

Radiohead finished their seventh album two weeks ago, and they want to make it as easy as they can for fans to get it. In Rainbows was made available for download October 10 on name-your-own-price terms, and the web servers have for most of the first two days struggled to keep up with the demand. How will a band make money if they let buyers name their own price? There is a good chance they’ll make it up in volume, as millions of fans who never paid $17.98 for a Radiohead album may be encouraged to download the new album at a lower price.

We gave up after a few attempts on release day, but tried again today and succeeding in buying and downloading the new release. Musically, it is about what you would expect from Radiohead. The 50 MB download could take a few minutes on the average Internet connection, but it’s still better than waiting about six months for the CD to appear in stores.

In Rainbows gets the conventional record-label CD-in-stores release with art work, shrink wrap, and everything in early spring.

Radiohead: http://www.radiohead.com

2007-10-11

BBC in Northwest Passage

With the Northwest Passage expected to become a major trade route in as little as two years, the BBC sent a crew along on a scientific expedition currently traversing the route. The diary of the journey is online at:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7033831.stm

2007-10-09

Notes

Starbucks is giving away 50 millions iTunes songs this month. It’s a way to promote the launch their new music distribution deal with iTunes, and at the same time, tell people about the hot new releases on their Hear Music record label.

The last Asia album didn’t die after all. Singer John Payne is planning to finish the tracks for the Architect of Time and release it under the name Asia featuring John Payne. In the meantime, Sony is releasing a 2005 concert from the band as part of their Extended Versions series.

A charity CD to benefit Serenity House, a new hospice in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, features cover art by Annie Haslam and music by Ian Anderson, Asia, Robert Hazard, Kathy Sledge, Annie Haslam, and others.

Circa:, the band formed by current and former Yes members, quietly released their debut album Circa: 2007 at the end of July. They then went on to play a concert (yes, just one) and record it for an upcoming DVD release.

Being a fantastically skilled piano player has its advantages for pop singer Vanessa Carlton, especially when it comes time to pay those touring musicians. When she goes on tour in November to support her comeback album Heroes & Thieves, she’ll be traveling with a guitarist and a violinist — a little less, and a little less expensive, than the usual touring rock band.

Apple’s $200 surprising price cut on the iPhone was followed by a bigger cut in the price of its professional audio production software. Logic Studio is now priced at $499, a 50 percent price cut from the previous version, and it includes about a dozen add-ons that were previously sold separately.

Circa: http://www.circahq.com; Vanessa Carlton: http://www.vanessacarlton.com; Asia featuring John Payne: http://www.theasiaband.com; Serenity House charity CD: http:/www.myspace.com/serenityhousecd; Asia: http://www.originalasia.com.

2007-10-01

Myanmar Cuts Ties to Internet

Myanmar (better known as Burma) has pulled the plug on its Internet connection to try to stop citizen journalists from posting video of its ongoing crackdown that is primarily targeting monks. They are also apparently trying to shut down the telephone network.

The violent military junta that runs the country is apparently worried that a full-scale rebellion could break out if people realized how much fighting is going on already.

2007-09-28

Britney Charts

Britney Spears might have just lost another manager, and she might have taken criticism for her sleep-deprived performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, but her record deal with Jive is intact and the song she debuted, “Gimme More,” is just a few radio plays away from the top 10.

The new album is expected on November 13.

2007-09-18

Microsoft Loses Appeal, Owes $613 Million in Fines

Microsoft today lost its appeal of a European antitrust judgement. Convicted of abusing its monopoly power to push its server and media software, Microsoft will have to pay a $613 million fine, change the way it packages Microsoft Windows, and share some of the undocumented source code of the networking routines in its operating systems so that competitors can create server software that communicates with Microsoft software.

The ruling was expected, as the software giant had offered little justification for its appeal.

The fine, originally assessed at 1 million euros per day for the period of time Microsoft disregarded court orders, amounts to about two weeks of income for the company.

2007-09-17

Apple, Starbucks in Music Deal

iPod Touch

The new iPod Touch looks just like an iPhone, with the same touch-screen and nearly the same weight and thickness. And like the iPhone, it’s Starbucks-compatible.

In a deal that was announced today, but that may take a couple of years to roll out, iPhone and iPod Touch users will be able to buy Starbucks music (and apparently much of the iTunes Store catalog) over wi-fi in select Starbucks locations. In the first year, Starbucks may introduce its music-enabled locations at most of its stores in about 8 U.S. cities, with other cities to follow.

As expected, Apple introduced its iPod models for the coming year. The iPod Nano gets a slightly wider screen, while the iPod is renamed iPod Classic and now holds up to 40,000 songs. Only the iPod Shuffle, which got a new color scheme, remains relatively unchanged.

At the same event, Apple announced a price cut of 1/3 on its iPhone. While price cuts before Christmas were widely expected, a price cut so big and so early caught most observers off guard and fueled rumors that Apple could introduce a second iPhone model this year.

Customers who purchased an iPhone at the old higher price within the last 10 days should contact Apple within a few days about getting a credit for the change in price under Apple’s price protection policy.

A new version of iTunes (7.4) supports custom ringtones and closed captioning.

IPod: http://www.apple.com/itunes; Starbucks: http://www.starbucks.com.

2007-09-05

Notes

NFL Europa, the mostly German branch of the U.S.-based National Football League, quietly shut down at the conclusion of the recent season. Instead, the NFL plans to play 1–2 regular-season games per season in foreign countries, starting with a game at Wembley October 28. For several years, the NFL has played early pre-season games in countries such as Mexico and Japan. After the U.K. game, Mexico, Germany, and Canada are likely candidates to host NFL games in the next two seasons.

The NFL has signed up John Mellencamp, Kelly Clarkson, and Faith Hill to provide music for the season opener September 6 in Indianapolis.

The new Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band album Magic is ready for an October 2 release.

U2 have reportedly completed the writing for their next album.

The foul-mouthed animated series South Park finally has a web presence. Apparently it just took a long time to negotiate the deal for the web site.

Sony is giving up on using its proprietary ATRAC file formats for its online music store. Instead, it will be using proprietary file formats licensed from Microsoft. The new Sony Walkmans are essentially Sony-branded Microsoft music players.

Microsoft has finally decided to take on its leading rival in enterprise operating system software, Red Hat, head-on in a new advertising campaign. Yet strangely, Microsoft’s campaign emphasizes a comparison of total cost of ownership (TCO). It’s a metric Microsoft can’t compete in because of their premium prices and chronic security flaws, according to a recent study that tracked internal support calls in large enterprises. The study found that Microsoft-based systems needed technical support on average about once a month, while systems using Red Hat Linux or any other operating system almost never needed technical support.

NBC is attempting to reinvigorate The Tonight Show by replacing current host Jay Leno when his contract expires in two years with the edgier Conan O’Brien — and perhaps also building a new theater for the show in Hollywood. According to one plan, the theater would be built in the sound stage occupied until recently by Desperate Housewives.

Deutsche Telekom and other European phone companies are making rapid moves into the television market, providing cable-like service to homes over Internet connections. It’s a concept that phone companies in the rest of the world are still experimenting with.

ITunes Store in recent weeks has introduced the John Lennon and Ringo Starr catalogs. Apple has invited reporters to a music-related announcement September 5.

South Park Studios: http://www.southparkstudios.com.

2007-09-01

New Van Halen “Not a Reunion”

The new Van Halen was full of bravado as they announced their tour plans and made a request: don’t call it a reunion.

“This is a new band,” singer David Lee Roth explained. He emphasized that the core of the band’s repertoire would be 25 familiar Van Halen classics selected by bassist Wolfgang Van Halen, then added, “but the ambition has nothing to do with old history. . . . Meet us in the future, not the pasture.“

The band rehearsed for months to get ready. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen commented, “None of us want to give you less than our best, and we are at our best.”

A ten-week tour of North America begins September 27 in Charlotte, NC, with several shows already sold out.

Van Halen: http://www.van-halen.com.

2007-08-28

Sun Changes Symbol

Starting Monday, Sun Microsystems will be known on stock exchanges by a new ticker symbol, JAVA. The change highlights Sun’s increased emphasis on its ever-expanding Java software category, which started with portable applications, expanded a decade ago to include server applications, and now is featured on mobile devices.

2007-08-24

SCO Loses Unix Claims

The bold litigation campaign against Unix users by an otherwise little-known company called SCO may have ground to a halt, as a Federal judge has ruled that SCO never owned the Unix copyrights it had claimed it owned.

SCO had claimed that Novell sold it the copyrights for Unix in 1995, but as it turned out, Novell explicitly retained the Unix copyrights in the contract in question.

SCO had sent threatening letters to thousands of Unix users and had undertaken litigation against a few Linux and Unix users seeking royalty payments. It never prevailed in any cases but collected payments from apparently a dozen or so large companies.

Unix was the leading computer operating system in the 1980s, but by the end of the 1990s had been reduced to a set of APIs, interfaces used by applications programmers to access system resources, used primarily by Sun Microsystems for its Solaris operating system.

SCO’s biggest case, a $2 billion copyright infringement case against IBM, was already on the verge of being dismissed for lack of evidence, and legal experts say there is little left to that case without the copyrights.

SCO has been losing money rapidly in its software business and likely would have long since shut down except for the need to continue its litigation. With the key litigation question now seemingly resolved, SCO may finally close its doors.

2007-08-11

Apple’s new iLife Includes Google Integration

The new version of iLife, introduced yesterday, makes it easier than ever for web novices to get revenue from Google advertising. A person designing a web page can simply draw a rectangle in the page layout to contain Google ads.

ILife also contains a new plus for Google’s YouTube video service. Users can now upload movies directly from the new iMovie application to YouTube.

At a press conference, Apple introduced new thinner iMac desktop computers with aluminum cases and a faster Mac Mini and showed the new iLife and iWork software suites.

In iWork, Apple added a long-awaited spreadsheet program, called Numbers.

2007-08-08

Notes

The video backdrop for the current Genesis tour is made up of 9 million LEDs.

The two singers who defined the Van Halen sound for many years, Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, will be playing Van Halen music on their upcoming tour. They’ll be billed as the Other Half.

ITunes Store has passed the 3 billion song mark.

Dow Jones has reportedly accepted an offer to be acquired by News Corp. The deal is widely seen as the beginning of the end for Dow Jones’ best-known product, The Wall Street Journal, at least in its original newspaper form.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is reported to be working on two new novels.

2007-08-01

Kiss, a Trio?

Kiss performed as a trio for the first time ever Friday night after singer Paul Stanley fell ill during the sound check before a show at Soboba Casino in southern California, the last scheduled show in Kiss’s one-week Hit & Run tour.

Stanley was treated by a paramedics for a rapid heartbeat. For reasons that have not been determined, his heart was beating at twice its normal pace, a dangerous condition that left him exhausted. Although his heart rhythm was returned to normal, he was taken to a hospital where doctors persuaded him it would be safest to sit out the show.

The show went on with bandmates Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, and Tommy Thayer, after Simmons spoke to the audience and they enthusiastically agreed to hear Kiss attempt a show as a trio. In a letter to fans, Stanley apologized for missing the show and suggested that fans could expect to see him back in action soon.

2007-07-29

Final Harry Potter Book Is Out

The final volume in the most popular book series in history was released overnight. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows went on sale at bookstores around the world at midnight local time. It is expected to be the biggest book release ever as fans wait to discover whether the boy wizard survives his final adventure.

It is a heavy volume, at 607 pages and nearly 200,000 words. If your friends seem to be ignoring your text messages this weekend, it is probably simply because they are reading Harry Potter.

2007-07-21

California Transit Authority

Chicago fans who thought Chicago could have been a great jazz-rock band may want to listen to the new band formed by Chicago’s original drummer Danny Seraphine. Dubbed California Transit Authority or CTA, the band offers creative reinterpretations of early Chicago songs, sans horns, that probably reflect what many fans wished Chicago could have done.

After leaving Chicago, Seraphine spent the 1990s in Colorado working in the technological side of the music business. He recently moved back to California and formed CTA with several of his friends.

California Transit Authority: http://www.ctatheband.com.

2007-07-15

Live Earth Underway

Live Earth is underway with a concert at Aussie Stadium in Sydney, Australia. Concerts will follow in the coming hours on every continent, and most can be seen live on the web. It is too big an event for broadcast television, but bits and pieces can be seen on various cable and satellite channels, and the entire series can be heard on satellite radio.

However you come upon the concerts, you may want to visit the Live Earth web site to make the Live Earth Pledge.

Featured performers include Bon Jovi, the Police, Melissa Etheridge, Alicia Keys, Keith Urban, Roger Waters, Smashing Pumpkins, and 11 others — and that’s just at the New York show. Equally big shows are taking place in London, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney, and Hamburg, with smaller shows in a handful of other cities.

Live Earth: http://www.liveearth.org.

2007-07-07

Notes

As the Live Earth concerts prepare to hit their respective stages on July 7, an impressive array of advertisers are preparing to steal their thunder with sales and promotions that focus on the same day.

Apple’s iPhone introduction went as planned June 29, with apparently all Apple stores and most AT&T stores still having the phone in stock for more sales the next day. Experts were predicting that Apple would run out of iPhones after about five days and would take the rest of the month of July to fill the initial rush of orders.

The iPhone could be a very profitable item for Apple. One engineering firm estimates the cost of parts at $200–220 — not especially high for a device that sells for $500–600. This may also help to explain why the largest group of consumers say they will buy an iPhone only after the price falls.

The B-52s plan to release a new album this summer, their first since Good Stuff in 1992.

Circa: pulled their two-song EP from iTunes after realizing that it was available only in the United States. They promise that their album will be available shortly worldwide.

The reunited Asia is working on tracks for a new album. The band’s original lineup recorded only two albums, and that was 25 years ago.

The New Cars are touring without Kasim Sulton for most of this summer, as he is busy touring with Meat Loaf. The heavy workload hasn’t prevented Kasim from telling everyone about his own new album, All Sides.

The B-52s: http://www.theb52s.com.

2007-07-01

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