Blogs

Comedy Bands: How Far Can they Go?

| Fri May 9, 2008 5:57 PM EDT

mojo-photo-fotc.jpgThe New York Times thought they were pretty funny: New Zealand's "fourth most popular folk-parody duo" Flight of the Conchords are taking their HBO show about being, well, wildly unsuccessful, on a wildly successful tour, and they just played in New York to an appreciative crowd. The TV show, while not exactly a breakout hit, ratings-wise, was pretty much the second-best thing on HBO last year, both for the hilarity of their song parodies ("Bowie's In Space," anyone?) and for the low-key quirkiness of their heavily-accented banter. So, it's a good show on TV, but isn't there something a bit awkward about parody songs plopping down into the real-life rock context of an actual concert hall?

After the jump: What happens when the highest-charting death metal band of all time is, um, a joke?

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Group Demands Marriott Turn Off the Porn

| Fri May 9, 2008 4:02 PM EDT

mojo-photo-marriott.jpgFrom citizenlink.com:

Focus on the Family Action is calling on families to co-sign a letter urging Marriott hotels to stop offering in-room pornography. The letter, signed by 47 family groups, will be presented at a meeting May 14 between pro-family leaders and Marriott International officials. It's the first time a major hotel chain has agreed to meet to discuss the issue. Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy of Focus on the Family Action, said Marriott can't continue to present itself as a family-friendly hotel chain while peddling pornography. "Pornography is highly addictive and extremely destructive," he said. "In the 'secrecy' of a hotel room, pornography can be especially dangerous because it creates a sexualized climate that puts men, women and children at risk."

Focus on the Family Action then demanded Marriott remove all beds, comfy cushions and plush carpets from rooms, since those soft, inviting spaces just make addictive, dangerous fornication all the more likely. And don't get us started on those oh-so-sexy coffeemakers, heating things up! Hub-ba!

After the jump: I didn't mean to press "buy," really!

John McCain, No Environmentalist

| Fri May 9, 2008 3:50 PM EDT

In New Jersey today, John McCain called himself a "Teddy Roosevelt Republican" and said, "I'm proud of my environmental record." This is a line — a myth, really — that McCain is sure to push in the general election.

True, John McCain does talk about the environment more than other Republicans. But that doesn't make him an environmentalist, and his environmental record is nowhere close to the Democrats in the race. Take it from those who know best.

In 2007, the League of Conservation Voters rated McCain a zero on the environment because he skipped every vote the organization graded. (Vote-skipping is a serious problem for Johnny Mac.) At the time, Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said:

"We were appalled two weeks ago when John McCain was the only Senator who chose to skip a crucial vote on the future of clean energy in America-dooming the measure to fail by just a single vote. As it turns out, this was merely the most recent example of a clear pattern of missing the most important votes on energy and the environment--as his abysmal LCV score clearly demonstrates....
"[John McCain has] a lifetime pattern of voting with polluters and special interests instead of consumers and the planet when it comes time to stand up and be counted. Or perhaps worse yet: a consistent refusal to stand up and be counted at all."

The President of the League of the Conservation Voters, Gene Karpinski, adds, "To his credit, McCain has made global warming a priority... [but] throughout his time in Congress, McCain's voted pro-environment only one out of four times.''

Clinton and Obama also suffered due to vote-skipping in 2007, with LCV scores of 73 and 67 respectively. But the lifetime scores of the three candidates tell the true story. Hillary Clinton's lifetime score is 87 percent. Obama's is 86 percent. John McCain's is 24 percent.

As Obama Takes Lead in Superdels, Clinton Makes Unlikely Bid for Popular Vote

| Fri May 9, 2008 12:19 PM EDT

ABC News reports that Barack Obama has passed Hillary Clinton among superdelegates, with a current count of 276-275. A couple caveats: (1) Every major news outlet has a different count when it comes to Obama and Clinton's superdelegate totals, and ABC News is the first to say Obama has passed Clinton. Nevertheless, the other networks will likely follow close behind — most others have Obama trailing Clinton by five to 10, and Obama has been closing steadily since Super Tuesday. (2) These numbers are constantly in flux, with new superdelegate endorsements coming every day.

Nevertheless, ABC's announcement is a sign of things to come. We will soon reach a point where there aren't enough outstanding pledged delegates and undecided superdelegates for Clinton to win the nomination. At that point, she either has to drop out or try to convince Obama superdelegates that they need to switch to her.

One way the campaign might convince superdelegates to do that? Winning the popular vote. Clinton is campaigning in Kentucky, where her campaign chairman addressed the issue with reporters:

The Paulites Aren't Done Yet

| Fri May 9, 2008 11:18 AM EDT

ron_paul_supporters.jpg Ron Paul deserves representation at the Republican national convention in proportion to the support he received in the primaries. And his supporters are prepared to fight like hell to make sure he gets it.

Across the country, at state and county GOP conventions, diehard supporters of maverick Ron Paul are staging uprisings in an effort to secure a role for Paul at the national convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul....
In Minnesota, Paul loyalists captured seven delegate slots at congressional district meetings, and in Nevada, the convention abruptly recessed on April 26 after balloting showed Paul supporters winning at least half of the initial contests for delegate slots to the national convention....

People are catching on.

Last weekend in Maine, McCain's forces were well organized, but Paul's activists nevertheless managed to pick up one of the 18 delegates at stake.
"They attempted fraud," [Julie O'Brien, executive director of the Maine Republican Party] asserted. "We knew what had happened in Nevada, so we really prepared in advance . . . to make sure everything was done by the book."

I say boooo to Julie O'Brien. I hope there are enough Paulestinians at the national Republican convention to rouse some rabble. To paraphrase one of our commenters, Ron Paul tried to save the Republican Party. Sometimes I wonder why he bothered.

Starbucks' Slutty Mermaid Making Waves

| Thu May 8, 2008 7:25 PM EDT

pikes-place-logo.jpgLately, I've seen some changes at the two Starbucks that live less than a block away from the Mother Jones office. Last month, they both started pushing a new blend called "Pike Place Roast" as their regular drip coffee, as part of a campaign to compete with brisk coffee sales at Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's. As part of the campaign, Starbucks re-introduced its 1971 brown-and-white logo featuring a two-tailed mermaid. Okay, technically it's a siren, but regardless, the image of a female figure brazenly spreading its tails has made a few Christians vow to boycott the company.

"The Starbucks logo has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute," explains alarmist Mark Dice, of a Christian group called The Resistance. "Need I say more? It's extremely poor taste, and the company might as well call themselves Slutbucks."

While I'm curious what the value of a Slutbuck is relative to a Schrutebuck, I'm worried that Dice doesn't seem to understand the Starbucks siren is half-fish. She doesn't have legs to spread, much less a vagina to go between them. The fact that Dice doesn't get the difference between a fin and a foot may be an example of what abstinence-only funding does to education, but it's certainly not the first time spunky Christians have boycotted the multinational company.

Just last summer, a group of Christian ladies boycotted Frappuccinos because there was a homosexual-agenda-pushing Armistead Maupin quote on some of the cups. Others have boycotted the company because of anti-God quotes.

All I can say is that if Starbucks goes down, it won't be because of a handful of Christian boycotters. And it won't be because a friend of a CATO Institute vice-president couldn't buy a customized "Laissez Faire" gift card, either. As the WSJ tells it, a Starbucks slump will be due to oversaturation and a faltering economy that makes $4 lattes seem like less of a necessity. Whether that's an act of God or not is for you to decide.

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Gag Order Lifted, Israel Obsesses Over Corruption Probe Targeting Prime Minister

| Thu May 8, 2008 6:49 PM EDT

As the sun set on Israel's 60th Independence Day celebrations tonight, Israeli media were partially liberated from a gag order that had restricted their reporting details of a fast moving and curiously timed corruption investigation of Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. The probe's quickening pace now is curious given that it is focusing on financial transactions between Olmert and an American financier and philanthropist that date back to the 1990s when Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and a cabinet minister in the government of Ariel Sharon.

"Olmert suspected of accepting illicit funds from U.S. businessman," a Ha'aretz headline proclaimed:

Oliver Stone's W: Will It Be Better than "Lil' Bush"?

| Thu May 8, 2008 6:26 PM EDT

mojo-photo-ewbush.jpgEntertainment Weekly has a "first look" at Oliver Stone's W, the upcoming feature on our most awesomest president ever, starting Josh Brolin as the smirking W himself. Of course, by "First Look," EW is stretching things a bit, since, as they say, "shooting begins in less than two weeks." However, it sounds like Stone is trying to get the movie turned around in record time, with a release possibly coming "as early as October." EW's article is six long pages; so I've collected some highlights after the jump:

Grand Theft Auto IV Makes More Money Than Anything Ever

| Thu May 8, 2008 5:48 PM EDT

mojo-photo-grandtheft.jpgWell, almost. Billboard magazine reports that first-week sales for the latest installment in the "Grand Theft Auto" videogame series has outperformed even the most optimistic of predictions, making more than $500 million in sales the first week. Billboard says that's 6 million copies, but it's $60 on Amazon, and that works out to $360 million, but who knows how they count these things. Either way, it's a new first-week record for a game, smashing the previous high mark set by "Halo 3" of $300 million.

For comparison's sake, let's just take a look at some other cultural products and institutions and their associated monetary figures, after the jump:

Guns Don't Kill People, Irresponsible Gun Dealers Do

| Thu May 8, 2008 5:39 PM EDT

Eric Thompson sells guns on the Internet. Of course, you may already know that. After all, his Green Bay, Wisc.-based firm, TGSCOM Inc. (www.thegunsource.com), has had some high-profile clients, including Seng-Hui Cho, who massacered 33 classmates at Virginia Tech last year, and Stephen Kazmierczak, who killed five students at Northern Illinois University last February. And surely for this, Thompson feels sorry. But don't ask him to apologize for his business, for he's committed to placing firearms in the warm, living hands of as many customers as possible... at the lowest possible price.

Since the initial shock of learning he had played a supporting role in at least two school shootings, Thompson has turned infamy into a marketing strategy. In the spirit of there being no such thing as bad publicity, he's taken full advantage of opportunities to appear on television, including his recent FOX News sparring match with Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. This followed Thompson's visit to Virginia Tech last month, where, almost a year to the day after the shootings, he spoke at an on-campus event sponsored by Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. A school spokesman called the visit "terribly offensive" and said "the organizers appear to be incredibly insensitive to the families of the victims who lost loved ones and to the injured students still recovering from this horrendous tragedy." But Thompson, who claims to have donated money to a Virginia Tech victims' fund, stands by his decision to appear at the university. It's all part of the "special responsibility" he's been given to "help change people's opinions."