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Kanye West just can't win.

The thought-filter challenged Chicago rapper/producer/gadfly/awards show menace is finishing work on his fifth studio album in six years - "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy". Normally a cause for celebration. But hold on, controversy has a habit of following West around.

Late Sunday afternoon he tweeted that his album art had been nixed by the nefarious "they":

Yoooo they banned my album cover!!!!! Ima tweet it in a few...

Side note: If you aren't following Kanye on Twitter, get on it now. He might be the best thing going in the microblogisphere.

But the days of keeping things under wraps are long behind us and, as promised, Kanye delivered the album art seen to the right via his Twitter stream. You may not be able to buy it anywhere, but there it is for free via TwitPic.

Banned in the USA!!! They tried to play me fam! They don't want me chilling on the couch with my phoenix!

Now, this being Kanye, who knows if it's the real album cover he had planned. But, as always, it does make for a fun moment in the spotlight.

He went on on Twitter to criticize the "they" - he's yet to elaborate - and the history of nudity on album covers.

In the 70s album covers had actual nudity... It's so funny that people forget that... Everything has been so commercialized now.

And there's this thought as his stream of consciousness continued:

I know that cover just blew yall minds ... I wish yall could see how hard I'm smiling right now!!!

More likely to come.

UPDATE: West continued to rap up on Twitter, defending the art direction and his artistic vision in regard perceived appropriateness:

In all honesty ... I really don't be thinking about Wal-Mart when I make my music or album covers #Kanyeshrug!

I wanna sell albums but not at the expense of my true creativity.

villagevoice.jpgRonnie, The Situation and Vinny break out their pecs on the latest cover of New York City's alt-weekly Village Voice. The boys are up in arms, though, because that's not the only thing "out" in this issue.

Turns out the cover story is on Guidos on the down-low. Translation: Italian-Americans of the "Jersey Shore" ilk that lead secretly illicit homosexual lifestyles.

There is a situation, indeed.

The New York Post reports MTVs gymed, tanned and laundered studs are saying they were duped into posing, but not told it was for the publication's annual gay pride issue, headlined "The Guido Ideal" -- a story about "gay Jersey guidos on the down-low."

There's been no official reaction, but Ronnie's probably ready to knock some kid out with one shot over this one.

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Pyramid_Lake_at_Night_2004.jpgThe beautiful, but not obtrusive photo that serves as the backdrop for Apple's iPad is a bit like all the images Apple uses as stock elements on its devices. It's a standout moment that doesn't take too much attention away from the device itself. And, it's anonymously produced - when's the last time you saw a photo credit on an image Apple plucks from relative obscurity?

Well, almost anonymous. Until the good folks at ArtInfo.com tracked down Richard Misrach, a Bay Area photographer responsible for "Pyramid Lake (at Night)," a 2004 photo from a series he has worked on over the years.

"It's a long night exposure where the moon is lighting up the mountains in the distance," he told ArtInfo. "I shot it on an 8x10 camera, so the quality is really beautiful and you can see star trails going through the sky."

Ironic that the original image produced in large format is actually larger than the iPad, which clocks in at just 9.56 by 7.47 inches, it was destined to decorate.

It also seems the secretive Cupertino-based tech company is no less secretive with its content sources. To hear Misrach tell it, he found out they were using his photo when the rest of the world did, even if most of the rest of the world would have no idea of Misrach's identity:

"I was in bed watching Inglorious Bastards when I got a call from Jeffrey FraenkeL, my dealer in San Francisco, and he said, 'Do you know what's going on live here?'" Misrach told ArtInfo, speaking of the iPad unveiling by Steve Jobs in January. "I was totally shocked. Naturally my other galleries started calling and my family was all atwitter, because it's a whole different world."

Misrach, who calls himself an Apple fan, says he had submitted 10 photos to the company for consideration as screensavers and whatnot over the years, but had never had any success. Until now.

'What's funny is that for years I actually used the photo as my own screensaver," Misrach says. "So I guess they know what they're doing."

Richard Misrach at the High Museum from Atlanta Celebrates Photography on Vimeo.

Video from Atlanta Celebrates Photography
for ACP Now!
http://www.acpinfo.org/blog/

Richard Misrach gives a tour of his "On the Beach" exhibition, on view at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA through Aug. 23rd, 2009.

Are trees growing on Mars?

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What seem to be pockets of spruce-like trees emerging from the dunes of Mars have had people abuzz.

011410mars.jpg On Wednesday, a NASA probe returned unbelievable photographs of the Red Plant's surface with trees popping up. Unfortunately, researchers now believe the "trees" are actually the result of landslides. The dark streaks are likely dark basaltic sand debris and erupting dust clouds, according to Candy Hansen, a member of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team. "The streaks are sand, dislodged as ice evaporates, which slide down the dune," Hansen tells The Sun. "At this time of the Martian year the whole scene is covered by CO2 frost." The detailed photo was taken from orbit around Mars by one of the world's most powerful cameras known as HiRISE.

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Has gossip web site TMZ uncovered a photo that could have changed history? The site posted a photo this morning showing a young John F. Kennedy lounging on a yacht filled with naked women.

TMZ claims that forensic photo experts agree the photo is of Kennedy and was taken in the mid-1950s.

The site also says that a Mediterranean boating trip that JFK took while still a Senator is mentioned in multiple articles and books written about Kennedy. Jackie Kennedy was supposedly pregnant at the time and gave birth to a stillborn baby while JFK was reportedly on the boat.

Had this photo surfaced before the 1960 election, do you think Kennedy would have still been elected President?

Check out the full image here >>

***UPDATE: A Playboy rep has confirmed to TMZ that the photo was taken from one of their 1967 issues.

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The first shot released at a very NSFW Playgirl.com of Levi Johnston and his armpit hair.

Levi Johnston, or is that Ricky Hollywood, is a classy guy. Yeah, he's doing a Playgirl pictorial, but it's arty, not filled with gratuitous junk.

The Bristol Palin knocker-upper decided to keep little Ricky Hollywood under wraps, electing no to go full frontal, so he can keep things from devolving into some sort of a circus with people thumbing his page for a glimpse at his naughty bits rather than to get to know him as a person.

See? Classy.

Us Magazine had some additional details of the classic moments of Americana preserved on film:

"'The shoot was fantastic!' Johnston's manager said, adding that the nude model wasn't nervous in the slightest. 'We're having a lot of fun with it,' Jones teases. And, ahem, how much did Bristol Palin's hockey-playing ex reveal? 'People are going to see more of Levi than they thought,' Tank Jones tells Us. 'There was a hockey stick involved.' The fun's not over, either: a second photo session takes place Friday. 'Part two is going to be fantastic. That's all I can say.' "

Now, of course we all know this guy is a puckhead of the highest order. So much so that, according to Playgirl consultant Daniel Nardicio's Twitter feed, he whipped out his hockey stick for a couple pictures.

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And it must be just that attention to detail that keeps his famous not-mother-in-law, Sarah Palin, willing to leave a seat at the family Thanksgiving table for him. Talking to Oprah on Monday, Palin said she's worried he may not be making the right decisions with his life.

Palin went on to say she finds it "a bit heartbreaking to see the road that he is on right now" and that "it's not a healthy place to be." Palin also said Johnston remains a member of the family and that they can work out any troubles. She said she prays for him and that he has an "open invitation" to Thanksgiving dinner.

One can only wonder with breathless anticipation what will happen next.

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An elephant that escaped from the Family Fun Circus at the Garfield County Fairgrounds after being spooked caused a vehicle accident Wednesday night (AP)

It's fitting that this auto accident happend on the way home from church. Odds are the at some point a phrase starting with "HOLY" was uttered as it happened.

An Oklahoma couple driving home from church hit an elephant on their way home from church near rural Enid, Okla. Tuesday night. Yes. An elephant.

The betrunked speedbump was an escapee from a nearby circus and collided with the couple's SUV Wednesday night when it ran across a rural highway about 100 miles north of Oklahoma City.

Police say the 29-year-old elephant had escaped earlier that night from the Family Fun Circus at the Garfield County Fairgrounds. The couple weren't injured in the crash, but police say the elephant had a broken tusk and an injured leg. The tusk probably was injured as it tore a hole in the SUV's sheet metal.

After the crash, the elephant was taken to a veterinary school for an exam. Dr. Dwight Olson says the elephant doesn't appear to have serious injuries.

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If the highlight of the last seven days for you is watching drunken Ewoks hump Al Roker's leg on live TV, well, err ... OK, there's nothing wrong with that. But beyond the obvious fun with bestiality angles involved, it's been a busy week in the Star Wars universe.

Then the continuing saga of Londoner Andrew Ainsworth, an original costumer for the Star Wars films accused of going to the Dark Side for making Storm Trooper uniform reproductions (what, those things produced under a no-bid, exclusive contract or something?) as the case returned to court Tuesday.

Now this, an unearthed photo of Carrie Fisher in full Princess Leia slavegirl garb catching some rays on the set of "Return of the Jedi" - seemingly on Jabba's barge - next to her stunt double, Tracy Eddon. The photo has been around fleetingly, but reappeared in wider circulation for some reason today. And across the world an entire generation of men who were 13 in 1983 suddenly stopped as if there were a great disturbance in the Force.

Perhaps not as great a disturbance as there was when Fisher finally got her wish to have an interesting costume:

"I remember that iron bikini I wore in Episode VI: what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell."

Just how big a deal was this brass masterpiece? There's an entire Wookipedia page on her barb and at least one Web site dedicate entirely to Fisher's metal bikini, which contains this disclaimer: This website is dedicated to the costume worn by Princess Leia following her capture by the crimelord, Jabba the Hutt, in Star Wars, Episode VI : Return of the Jedi.

Riiight.

There doesn't seem to be a backstory - yet - as to who took it or why it's showing up now. But sometimes it's best to just let the Force work in its own way. And just thank your stars that there was no corresponding Luke-in-a-Speedo moment to match.

Oh, and how 'bout those ewoks one more time ...

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In this Oct. 23, 2009, police mug photo provided by the Carroll, Iowa, Police Department, Joey Lee Miller, 20, and Matthew Allan McNelly sport their ingenious disguises used in an alleged apartment burglary attempt. (AP Photo/Carroll Police Department)

If you're searching desperately for a last-second Halloween costume idea, Iowans Joey Miller and Matthew McNelly have come to the rescue. Here's a list of what you'll need to pull together the look:

A Sharpie.

A look of complete befuddlement (confusion or a generic dazed expression with do in a pinch).

Miller and McNelly were busted last week in Iowa for allegedly trying to break into an apartment - throw a DUI charge in for good measure - prompting local cops to dub the pair "dumb and dumber."

Local police chief Jeff Cayler had some choice comments about the permanent marker criminal minds in an interview with CNN:

"We're very skilled investigators and the black faces gave them right away,"Cayler said. "[They were] being dumb and combine that with alcohol and it was the perfect storm.

"I've been chief here almost 25 years, been with the department 28½ years and I've seen a lot of things that make me laugh and weird things but this was probably the best combination of the two - strangely weird and hilariously funny all at the same time."

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Spectators watch piglets at the feeding trough, after a traditional pig race at the Swiss agriculture fair OLMA, in St. Gallen, Switzerland on Thursday. (AP)

Sometimes, a little sizzle and squeak makes the day go by quicker. With that in mind, here's a pig's, umm, eye view of the traditional pig race at what amounts to a 4H fair in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Because while gambling is fine and betting on races is fun, everything is better with bacon.

And if you hurry, you can still make it to visit - the fair, which promises many barnyard and dairy-related delights, runs through October 18.

Or, you can just head to Wisconsin for the weekend.

Vimeo member Eric Spiegelman put together this slightly eerie montage of President Obama doing the grip-and-grin line from a recent meeting at the United Nations with foreign dignitaries. Spiegelman grabbed the images from the State Department's Flickr site and 20 seconds later you have this impressive proof that Obama has a very consistent smile.

On Wednesday, the Obamas hosted a reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, during which they stood for 130 photographs with visiting foreign dignitaries in town for the UN meeting. The President has exactly the same smile in every single shot.

So there you go. Who needs a cutout when the real thing works this well?

Hat tip to Chicagoist for digging this up on a quiet Friday.

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A three-day-old baby boy, weighing 19.2-pounds, lays next to a standard size newborn baby at a hospital in Kisaran, North Sumatra, Indonesia on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009. (Andi Anshari~AP; EPA below)

baby_1487956c.jpgIt's officially baby day here at Shiny Objects. The question is, does this whopper of a newborn beat out the mom who got pregnant two separate times over a few weeks?

The answer is yes. Hell, yes. He'll outweigh them both.

At 19 pounds - and 24-inches long - this hulking mound of baby clocks in at the top in terms of baby sizes born in Indonesia.

Thankfully, the as-yet unnamed tyke was born by Cesarean, but good grief, the poor mom probably had to be carted around in a wheelbarrow for the final trimester. And how do you haul the epic bundle of joy now? Somehow a Baby Bjorn just doesn't measure up.

"This heavy baby made the surgery really tough, especially the process of taking him out of his mum's womb," Dr. Binsar Sitanggang said in an interview. "His legs were so big."

And don't even start on the feeding needs of an eating/sleeping/pooping machine that weighs more than three average newborns lumped together.

"He's got a strong appetite, it's almost nonstop feeding," Sitanggangsaid.

Now let's see this little? monster get his groove on to Beyonce. Then again, maybe not - Jakarta ia already earthquake-prone.

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Michelle Childers suffered a drive-by tree limb attack on the Montana/Idaho border. (AP)

An Idaho woman who was skewered in the neck by a tree limb while driving with her husband along the Lochsa River is recovering at home.

KHQ-TV reports 20-year-old Michelle Childers and her husband, Daniel, were taking a recreational drive on a rural road Sept. 5 when a spruce tree crashed through the passenger side window of the vehicle.

Childers says she then felt a "strange" pressure on her neck and shoulder. Her husband told her that the tree limb had impaled her.

"There was this explosion ... just this explosion." she said. "I said 'Where is it, and he was freaking out and said, "it's in your neck!" '"

Childers says the 13-inch tree limb was removed from her neck during a six-hour surgery, but only after a tense drive out of the

"Some days I'll look at the pictures and say, 'Aww, man, that's Awesome!' and sometimes I'll just cry."

Childers is still out on a limb over the accident, though, without health insurance to cover the medical expenses.

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Clair Perry's picture of space flushing - that's the flash at the top of the photo.

Over at Spaceweather.com, there's photographic proof that astronauts are human like the rest of us - they even have to make No. 1 way up in space.

No, it's not pictures of galactic urinal cakes. Better. How 'bout a urine shower in the stars, courtesy of the crew of the Shuttle Discovery as they prepared to land in California on Friday?

Hey, it's gotta go somewhere, right?

In Madison, Wisconsin, photographer Abe Megahed witnessed a similar display: "The shuttle was sporting a massive curved plume. What could it be? Something venting? Reaction Control System thrusters? A massive, record-breaking urine dump?"

So the lesson here is to keep your eyes to the skies, but keep your mouth shut.

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Benson the 60-pound carp, in happier, healthier times. (Photo from gofishing.co.uk)

Britain's fishing community is in mourning the death of Benson, the 64-pound (29 kilogram) carp.

Fans of the 25-year-old Benson would travel for miles to the Bluebell Lakes complex in Cambridgeshire for a chance to have their picture taken with weighty monster.

She was voted Britain's favorite carp in 2005 by the readers of Angler's Mail because of her sheer size and quirky looks.

Tony Bridgefoot, the owner of the Bluebell Lakes - you can find an explainer of what this area means to anglers in the most monotone video ever made here - was quoted in The Times of London as saying the fishing community has been rocked by Benson's death.

He said the carp, caught and released more than 60 times, had "celebrity status."

And while it was not immediately clear what caused Benson's death, the stench of dead fish is not all that's tainting the country air there. A mystery surrounds how the big fish went to the fry in the sky, with poisoning being a possibility.

Poisoning by nuts.

Apparently fish have problems digesting nuts and a bag of them was found near where Benson popped to the top, reports the Daily Mail.

So grief aside, the question is: Who wanted Benson dead?

Stay tuned.

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