by by Marisa Calleja

A scary America
Roman Polanski's apprehension on Saturday at the Z├╝rich airport has French cultural and political spheres in a considerable uproar. As French Culture Minister François Mitterand told the AP, “To see him like that, thrown to the lions because of ancient history, really doesn’t make sense … In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America that has just shown its face.”

The philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy came out with a petition for Polanski’s release, signed by such notables as Salman Rushdie and Milan Kundera (himself no stranger to such brouhaha). Lévy also appeared on the radio Monday to defend the petition, arguing that the statute of limitations is a universal right; all civilized societies are built upon it. Informed that such isn’t the case in the US, he deemed the fact “a stain on the great democracy.” “Thirty-two years is a lifetime,” he said. “People change.” Changing tack a bit, he also referred to Polanski’s misdeed as a “youthful error” (the director was, at the time, 44). The prize for persuasive argument, however, should go to Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who thinks, “all this just isn’t nice.”

Ceci n'est pas un hold-up
At 10:10 AM last Thursday, two men entered the René Magritte Museum in Brussels. One spoke English, the other French. Amine Mentaoui, a street cleaner working nearby, told the Daily Telegraph that they were “young and of North African origin.” The museum director told Reuters that they were “Asian.” Everyone is in agreement, however, about what happened next: they held three curators and two Japanese tourists at gunpoint—and made off with Olympia, a 1948 nude valued at $1.3 million. We’ve been unable to determine whether they were wearing bowler hats.

1, 2, 3, not just you and me
Just when we got used to the idea of Britney Spears as a tame and mostly-functional single mom, she goes and releases a new song about threesomes. “3” is nothing revolutionary, mind you; the beat and highly auto-tuned vocals sound exactly like “Circus.” It’s the next logical product from of her brand of shock-you-but-not-really showmanship, full of clichés and absurd pop culture references. 

Pros: This isn’t the jam of the fall, but “3” has some seriously amusing rhymes: name and game, team and extreme. Her songwriters shouldn’t expect a poet laureate nomination anytime soon, but who doesn’t love a good rhyme?

Cons: We’ve essentially heard this song before. Except it wasn’t about threesomes: it was about her crazy life and how she rules. And then we sighed, and remembered that nothing will ever be as sweet as the arsenic-laced, sugary arpeggios of “Toxic.”

Party-anthem-creator showdown
These iPhone apps were all released on the same day, no joke:
What concert-goer has not despaired, wanting to show appreciation but dreading the finger-burn of lighters? The cellphone screen has become the fanlight of choice, but what if performers just think we’re trying to call them? Thank the lord for Lil’ Wayne—for so many reasons—but most recently for the Lil’ Wayne Virtual Concert Lighter, an app so advanced it’ll put a picture of a flame right on your screen. You also get 24 hi-res photos of Lil’ Wayne.

T-Pain stepped into the ring with an app that actually does something (that something being Auto-Tune.) The app, ambitiously titled I Am T-Pain, allows you to select a song—it comes with five hot jams, though eight more are available for purchase—and sing into the iPhone mic; the app Auto-Tunes your voice on the fly. If you’re sick of being tied down by someone else’s beats—we know we are—you can select the “Freestyle” mode for Auto-Tune stylings without companion tracks.

"This is great," you might be saying, "but I wish I were listening to Usher’s favorite songs right now!" You can be, with Usher’s Top 100: the iPhone app that includes hours of his favorite tunes, including hits from Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Michael Jackson, and…Lil’ Wayne. Circle of life, y’all! —ASV, MC, GRB