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For Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, a Strong Round 2

| Mon May 18, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
The Traveling Kind
Nonesuch

If only Hollywood sequels were this good. Following Old Yellow Moon, their captivating 2013 collaboration, rootsy stalwarts Emmylou and Rodney have recombined for another go-round, which may be even more entertaining than its predecessor. The two first crossed paths professionally 40 (!) years ago, when Crowell joined Harris’ band. Their recent work together has underscored the virtues of experience and, yes, age. No longer needing to prove anything, both seem as loose and confident as they've ever been, delivering heartrending tunes like "You Can't Say We Didn't Try" with the simple, sure-handed eloquence that marked the Everly Brothers' best, and rockin' out in fine style on the rollicking "Bring It on Home to Memphis." Harris' still-beautiful voice has acquired a darker, slightly rougher texture that adds authority, while the weathered grace of Crowell's singing makes him a perfect match. A fine job by all concerned, including the stellar players.

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Blast From the Past: Billy Ward and His Dominoes

| Mon May 18, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

Billy Ward and His Dominoes
The Complete King/Federal Singles
Real Gone Music

Superstars on the 1950s R&B scene, Billy Ward's Dominoes launched the careers of two amazing singers: Clyde McPhatter, who later fronted the earliest incarnation of the Drifters on such hits as "Money Honey" and "Such a Night," and Jackie Wilson, whose high-energy solo smashes included "Lonely Teardrops" and "Baby Workout." While this two-disc, 58-track collection is a mixed bag thanks to the corny likes of "Three Coins in the Fountain" and "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano," the high points are undeniably thrilling. Among them: the outrageously sleazy "Sixty Minute Man," showcasing single-entendre bass vocalist Bill Brown; the funereal lament 'The Bells," wherein McPhatter mixes hysterical sobbing and piercing shrieks in truly bizarre fashion; and Wilson's rip-snorting "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down." Crank up the time machine, pop a top, and let the fun begin.
 

SPOILER ALERT: This Is How the "Mad Men" Finale Ended

| Sun May 17, 2015 11:50 PM EDT

Don creates the most famous commercial in the world:

Vox and Uproxx both predicted this ending!

Here is an interview with Bill Backer, the guy who really created it.

Kayaktavists Take Over Seattle's Port to Protest Shell Oil's Arctic Drilling Rig

| Sun May 17, 2015 1:41 PM EDT
Kayaktavists gather to protest the Polar Pioneer, Shell's artic oil drilling rig stationed in the Port of Seattle.

This article is being updated as news breaks. See below for the latest.

Seattleites took a dramatic stand, er paddle, against Arctic oil drilling on Saturday afternoon. Against the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest city's skyline, around 200 activists, local Native Americans, and concerned citizens took to kayak and canoe and surrounded a giant, Arctic-bound Royal Dutch Shell oil drilling rig currently making a layover in the Port of Seattle.

Despite the oil giant's rocky history in the Arctic region, last Monday the Obama administration conditionally approved Shell's summer plans to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea, north of Alaska. Environmentalists are not happy, and neither are many in Seattle, whose port has become a home base for the two Shell oil rigs' operations. The Port of Seattle's commissioners took heat for their controversial decision to lease one of its piers to Shell, tying the progressive city to fossil fuel extraction and the potential for environmental catastrophe in the Arctic.

As the first of the towering oil rigs arrived in Elliott Bay late last week, a group of "activists, artists, and noisemakers" calling themselves ShellNo organized a series of protests to welcome the oil company. The "Paddle in Seattle" yesterday drew an impressive flotilla of kayaks, canoes, and boats into the Duwamish River, which feeds into the Elliott Bay, to surround the Coast-Guard-protected rig. Below is a roundup of Tweeted pictures taken by people on the scene:

UPDATE, Monday, May 18, 2:00 p.m. PST:

Today, "ShellNo" continued its protest of Shell's plans to drill for oil in the arctic by blocking the entrances to the Port of Seattle's Pier 5 where one of the oil company's rigs is docked. Hundreds gathered earlier this morning at the pier's main entrance to slow operations on the rig, although some rig workers were apparently able to get in through other entrances. Police did not interfere with the demonstration, and at about 1:30PM the group began to leave the pier and march back the way they came. Those present included Native American activists and Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant. Some pictures of the event:

Grinning, Sparring, Losing: Mitt Romney's Surreal Night Inside a Salt Lake City Boxing Ring.

| Sat May 16, 2015 12:06 PM EDT
So, this happened.

Muhammad Ali's winning formula for boxing was to "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." There was plenty of floating, but not much stinging, for former presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday night, during a two-round charity bout in Salt Lake City, against former five-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

Revealing some prime #grandpabod in bright red satin shorts (remember, he only ate organic on the campaign trail?), and sporting an "I can't believe I'm doing this but WTF" grin, the former governor's sparring skills just couldn't cut it.

The Associated Press captured what's been dubbed the "Quake on the Lake":

Romney, 68, and Holyfield, 52, sparred, if you could call it that, for just two short rounds before Romney ran away from the boxer and threw in the towel, giving up a round early in the lighthearted fight that came amid several other fights by professional boxers and an auction.

The two barely threw any punches and largely just danced around, occasionally lightly jabbing each other in the midsection in what was much more of a comedic event than an actual bout.

Let's be honest: Holyfield, who once famously lost part of his ear in a fight with Mike Tyson, could have knocked out the former governor of Massachusetts with a single punch. But the joyous thing, the meaningful thing, was that he tried. Please proceed, governor:

Romney landed at least one solid jab, it seems:

Kapow! Rick Bowmer/AP

Holyfield then took a fall to make things interesting:

In the end, a ring-side Anne Romney—who always has her boyfriend's back—threw in the towel on Mitt's behalf, and Holyfield emerged victorious:

The black-tie affair raised at least $1 million for Charity Vision, a Utah-based nonprofit that helps doctors perform surgeries for the blind in developing countries. That amount of money is apparently equivalent to Holyfield's net worth, and 1/25 of Romney's, according to Buzzfeed's Tale of the Tape.

After the match, Holyfield apparently quipped to Romney: "You know what? You float like a bee and sting like a butterfly."

And so everyone had an enjoyable time, especially Ann Romney:

Friday Cat Blogging - May 15 2015

| Fri May 15, 2015 3:46 PM EDT

With Kevin continuing to concentrate on his (ever improving!) health, over the past week we've hosted guest blog posts from all-stars like Ruy Teixeira, Aaron Carroll, and Ana Marie Cox. But now that it's Friday, it's time for the humans to step aside for a real star.

It's time to welcome Phelps.

Phelps linked up with MoJo senior editor Michael Mechanic around the time of the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics. While he's not as much of a swimmer as his namesake, one of his favorite spots in his Oakland home is a perch near in the sink, where he can swat his paws through water. Mike reports that Phelps loves spending time nearby while he plays music ("maybe because my fiddling sounds like a cat") and outside, where this "neighborhood tough guy" can face down cats, birds, and dogs.

From his front porch, Mike was witness to one such interaction when a dog got the best of Phelps and chased him up a tree. The incident spurred Mike to compose a little ditty ("Dog Treed a Cat"). Another tabby-inspired tune is "Phelps's Favorite."

And today, Phelps, you're my favorite.

 

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BREAKING: Jury Sentences Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to Death

| Fri May 15, 2015 3:19 PM EDT

Update: They sentenced him to death.

They are reading the verdict right now. The jury only has two choices: sentence him to life in prison or death.

Here's a live stream from NECN:

 

 

Bonus Friday Cat Blogging - 15 May 2015

| Fri May 15, 2015 1:00 PM EDT

It's been a traumatic week for Hilbert. He and Hopper were upstairs chasing each other around when he made the fateful decision to climb onto the bathroom counter and then leap to the top of the shower door. Why? Who knows. But he did it, and immediately discovered that the shower door railing is only about an inch wide. So he tumbled into the bathtub, and was then faced with an even bigger problem: my sister keeps the shower doors closed when they're not in use.

A good deal of piteous meowing ensued until Karen investigated and found poor Hilbert trapped in the bathtub. She let him out—after taking a picture, of course—and reports that he spent the rest of the evening cuddled on her lap recovering from the indignity of it all.

Karen now leaves the door open and says that the bathtub has quickly become the final resting place for a succession of cat toys. This is probably Hopper's doing. Either that or Hilbert got over his trauma mighty fast.

Weird Tales and Trade Treaties

| Fri May 15, 2015 11:59 AM EDT

Watching the political fight over the TPP trade treaty has been kind of interesting. FWIW, two things strike me as a little odd:

  • Historically, it's been Republicans who bitch and moan about how treaties are invasions of American sovereignty. And of course they are. If you sign a treaty with another country, there has to be some kind of neutral mediator that can decide if the treaty has been breached, and this is ipso facto an infringement of sovereignty for both countries. Democrats usually laugh this off, since it's an obvious feature of any treaty (would you sign a treaty with Pakistan where Pakistan unilaterally gets to resolve all disputes?). This time, however, the worm has turned and it's Democrats who are loudly objecting to something called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, which sets up a special tribunal to adjudicate disputes brought by corporations against rules that they think violate the TPP. Republicans don't care much.

    I don't have any big point to make here. It's just kind of interesting to see the two sides switch.
     
  • I'm a little puzzled about why Republicans are so gung-ho to get TPP passed in the first place. Sure, they're generally in favor of trade treaties, but it's not exactly one of their hot button issues. And yet, they seem to be going out of their way to help President Obama get it passed. Given their recent track record, I'd expect them to yawn and tell Obama he's on his own to whip the votes he needs. Is there some deeper strategy here that I'm not getting? Do they truly think this is going to rip the Democratic Party to shreds with months of vicious infighting? Or what?

Anyway, it looks to me like TPP is going to pass. These things nearly always do after a bit of grandstanding followed by some face-saving compromises. It might be close, but it will pass.

The Thrill Is Gone. RIP B.B. King.

| Fri May 15, 2015 6:26 AM EDT

Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King died late Thursday in Las Vegas. He was 89.

Hailed as the "King of the Blues," King was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 on a Mississippi cotton plantation. Introduced to music through gospel, King ascended through the ranks as one of the greatest blues artists of all time. The 15-time Grammy winner seemingly never retired, continuing to perform for over seven decades. King had been suffering from diabetes and was recently in hospice care.

RIP.