Blogs

New Radiohead Video Made Without Cameras

| Mon Jul. 14, 2008 4:35 PM EDT

Unless you count super-geeky spinning laser detection systems as cameras. On the haunting "House of Cards" from last year's In Rainbows, Thom Yorke seemed to exhort a lover to let her old life dissolve and "get swept under" with him; exploring this theme of dissolution by pointing lasers at a suburban party and using computers to reconstruct the reflected data into a surreal, pointillist 3-D image of the scene may seem a bit on the elaborate side, but remember, this is Radiohead we're talking about. The end result is pretty interesting, although in the end it's the flickering image of Yorke himself that seems most compelling -- that shot of electrical towers collapsing is a little too reminiscent of the terrible Stephen King movie The Langoliers.

[Update: Aspiring video directors, take note. The band will partner with Google to allow fans to make "remixes" of the video footage; there is a specific YouTube page dedicated to the new versions as well as an iGoogle gadget that lets you stream the videos on your web site. Fun.]

Via the UK Guardian comes a "making-of" video that's actually slightly more interesting than the video iteslf. Watch that after the jump.

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Hey Buffy Fans: Joss Whedon Back with Online Special

| Mon Jul. 14, 2008 3:55 PM EDT

mojo-photo-horrible.jpgIt turns out some people put their down time during the recent writers' strike to good use: Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon got around the TV- or film-writing prohibition by penning a musical for the intertubes. Because that's what you do, right? The result is "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," a 75-minute superhero spoof starring Neil Patrick Harris (!) as a maniacal supervillain, or at least someone who wishes he was a maniacal supervillain. The miniseries was produced on the cheap, using affordable (and sometimes real) locations, and Whedon fans will be pleased to know it features some old Buffy, Angel, Serenity and Firefly cast and crew. You'll be able to watch it for free at the Dr. Horrible web site, but the schedule is a little tricky: Act One debuts tomorrow (Tuesday, 7/15), Act Two starts Thursday, July 17th, and Act Three will be posted Saturday, July 19th. The videos will stay up on the site for free viewing through Sunday, July 20th, at which time Whedon promises they will "vanish into the night like a phantom." Or, maybe they'll be available on DVD or something.

[Update: Well, it turns out "Dr. Horrible" is pretty terrible at javascript too, or something, since there have been a ton of problems since the first episode went live at midnight. International viewers can't seem to use the site's Hulu player, the promised iTunes download apparently doesn't work, and overwhelming traffic crashed the main website, drhorrible.com, this morning. As of 3:30pm Pacific time, the site is still down. Boy, remember when you'd turn on this box across from your couch and shows would just be there? Those were the days...]

Joe Biden, Conference Call Performance Artist

| Mon Jul. 14, 2008 1:58 PM EDT

biden.jpg The Obama campaign just held a conference call on Iraq as part of its current effort to reassure leery Democrats that Obama is not going soft on his commitment to withdrawal. The call built on an op-ed that Obama published in the New York Times this morning and featured Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware and Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under Bill Clinton and a senior Obama adviser on foreign policy. Both surrogates have a very serious chance at top appointments in an Obama Administration, including Secretary of State.

The content of the call, like most of these calls, was completely predictable. John McCain is wrong on Iraq, has been wrong on Iraq, and will continue to be wrong on Iraq. Barack Obama is right on Iraq, has been right on Iraq, and will continue to be right on Iraq. Any suggestion that Barack Obama is changing his position on Iraq is wrong.

But you know what isn't wrong? Joe Biden's performances as a campaign surrogate. The man is famously gabby and pugilistic, and he proved it today. Here are his thoughts on John McCain.

Envisioning a President Obama After September 11

| Mon Jul. 14, 2008 12:46 PM EDT

obama-flag.jpg From Ryan Lizza's new piece in the New Yorker, we get Obama's public reaction to the World Trade Center attacks, published in the Hyde Park Herald on Sept. 19:

Even as I hope for some measure of peace and comfort to the bereaved families, I must also hope that we as a nation draw some measure of wisdom from this tragedy. Certain immediate lessons are clear, and we must act upon those lessons decisively. We need to step up security at our airports. We must reexamine the effectiveness of our intelligence networks. And we must be resolute in identifying the perpetrators of these heinous acts and dismantling their organizations of destruction.
We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.
We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad. We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent. Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe—children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and within our own shores.

I'll let you decide for yourself it that's the attitude you'd want a Commander-in-Chief to take in the face of national tragedy.

Hi, Me Again. Afghanistan Is Going Poorly

| Mon Jul. 14, 2008 11:49 AM EDT

Just FYI, nine American soldiers were killed by Taliban insurgents in the worst attack against Americans in Afghanistan in three years. We're in danger of losing that country. Does anyone you know care?

Time for McCain to Ditch that Balanced Budget Pledge

| Mon Jul. 14, 2008 10:57 AM EDT

After the Tax Policy Center, the New York Times, and Marc Ambinder all methodically took apart John McCain's pledge to balance the budget by the end of his first term (while extending massive tax cuts for the wealthy, creating new tax cuts for corporations, continuing the war in Iraq, fully funding No Child Left Behind, and introducing a climate change action plan), I thought maybe the media pressure on the McCain campaign would be great enough that it would have to walk the pledge back. No dice. It hasn't budged. Maybe McCain's campaign staffers are betting that everyday folks in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida won't see any serious analysis of their numbers.

If that's the case, the fact that the usually conservative Washington Post editorial board is now breaking down the McCain budget pledge and exposing all of its fuzzy, fuzzy math probably won't help either. Nor will the fact that Bloomberg is going after him. But it's nice to know that the coverage of this has legs.

Update: I want to add that there is no secret McCain plan to balance the budget. The man doesn't understand economics, America's recent economic history, or simple economic policy. His campaign simply made a pledge for political reasons that it couldn't back up and now it's seeing if it can survive the media windstorm that has resulted.

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Holy Fist Bumps: New Yorker Obama Cover Features Turban, Afro, Flag Burning, bin Laden, Complete Lack of Concern for Humanity

| Sun Jul. 13, 2008 9:02 PM EDT

mojo-photo-nyerobama.jpgWeren't we just having a discussion here on the Riff about the thin line satire walks, between being the opposite of a thing and an endorsement of a thing? Well, brace yourselves, because the New Yorker has jumped right into the middle of that argument with a cover that made my jaw actually drop. The July 21st issue features a be-turbaned Barack and an afroed, gun-toting Michelle Obama, celebrating their arrival in the White House with a good old terrorist fist-bump. They've also apparently done a little redecorating, tacking up a portrait of Osama bin Laden and tossing an American flag into the fireplace for good measure. The illustration, called "The Politics of Fear," is described in a New Yorker press release as satirizing the "scare tactics and misinformation in the presidential election"; as the Huffington Post put it: "all that's missing is a token sprig of arugula."

After the jump: the full cover, the campaigns' responses, and when did the New Yorker become America's chaos-inducing art terrorist psycho?

Dep't of Surrogate Follies: Oops, McCain = Bush

| Sun Jul. 13, 2008 4:50 PM EDT

When one of your surrogates can't think of a single difference between you and the President on economic issues, you're in serious trouble.

Did Sanford have a momentary lapse? Sure. But if Blitzer had given Sanford 20 minutes, he wouldn't have found a substantive difference between McCain and Bush other than McCain's lower tolerance for pork, which, because earmark spending is a relatively small portion of the federal budget, is more a good government issue than an economic one. On taxes, trade, CEO salaries, and so on, McCain and Bush are nearly identical. Other McCain surrogates have admitted as much.

McCain's NYT Interview: Federalism, Live and In the Flesh

| Sat Jul. 12, 2008 9:01 PM EDT

John McCain is famous for chatting with reporters for hours on end, but everyday folks (and even reporters from small magazines, ahem) are rarely privy to those conversations. Two reporters from the New York Times sat down with McCain and put his answers to their questions up online. They are basically unedited, and it's actually rather nice to get an unvarnished look at a candidate's thoughts.

Now, the blogosphere will almost certainly focus on McCain's further admissions of technological incompetence. In the interview, McCain says, "I am learning to get online myself" and "I've never felt the particular need to e-mail."

But what I want to focus on is a moment of principle. McCain is asked about gay marriage and about teaching evolution in schools — he gets the first question "right" (that is, right from a progressive perspective) and gets the second question "wrong." The reason? He takes a federalist approach to both. Here's the transcript:

Comrade Obama? The Right's "Wealth Redistribution" Straw Man

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 9:44 PM EDT

2235654836_b6af984889.jpg In attempting to persuade voters that Obama is not American enough to be president, the right has renewed charges that he is a socialist in sheep's clothing. Their newest claim that an Obama presidency would usher in an era of "wealth redistribution" seems a thinly veiled attempt to associate Obama with history's socialist revolutionaries and communist dictators.

But before you start worrying that Obama will take your money and impose socialist redistribution mandates, it's worth taking a moment to scrutinize the basis for the right's hackneyed accusations.