2008 - %3, October

Madonna Says Her Anti-Palin Threats Are a "Metaphor"

| Tue Oct. 14, 2008 3:25 PM PDT

50-year-old singer Madonna kicked off her latest tour last week in New Jersey, and made headlines for mentioning everybody's second-favorite Vice Presidential candidate. I mean Palin. Madonna apparently shouted to the crowd that the Alaska governor "can't come to my party! Sarah Palin can't come to my show!" Later, Madge even performed what appeared to be an impromptu, albeit non-rhyming, rap of some sort (see video above) in which she threatened to "kick [Palin's] ass." Perhaps more troublingly, during the song "Get Stupid," a video screen features a montage of bad guys like Hitler and Robert Mugabe, and Senator McCain pops up as well; Obama is included in the "good guys" section along with John Lennon and Gandhi. I'm not sure that's the equivalent of a consistent pattern of whipping up xenophobic, racist hatred at your political rallies until the assembled wingnuts demand the beheading of your opponent, but it has ruffled a few feathers, and the singer was asked about the comments at the premier of, uh, a movie she directed. Madonna directed a movie? Wow. Anyway, she said the "trash talk" was just "a metaphor," since Palin's "in the Republican Party, I'm in the Democratic Party." See a video of those comments (and more!) after the jump.

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Dueling Definitions of "Palinize"

| Tue Oct. 14, 2008 12:13 PM PDT

Sarah Palin is quickly becoming a figure of speech as well as a figure of fun. Definitions of "Palin" words are still evolving, but here are two contenders from DailyKos and National Review:

1) Palinize, from DailyKos:

"Palinizing is above all the art of distraction, with the goal of diverting attention away from a fault (in Palin's case, ignorance) and towards the glittering veneer of hollow talking points which dazzle but do nothing in terms of answering the question presented."

and,

2) Palinize, from National Review:

"Palinize: to slander and caricature a working-class female public figure for the noble advancement of liberalism."

Could Palin, like Gerry (of "gerrymandering" fame), someday make it into dictionaries?
—Katie Flynn

A Friday Distraction From Finance Doom

| Fri Oct. 10, 2008 10:07 AM PDT

At The Atlantic:

Casanova's first orgasm, Hitler's famous mustache, Bob Hope's last jokes: for every thing, there is a season. Herewith a compilation of great moments in precocity, endurance, and procrastination, organized instructively by age.

You're welcome.

Are You Hot or Not?

| Thu Oct. 9, 2008 9:05 AM PDT

Researchers in Israel have come up with a mathematical formula to answer the question. Using a computer program called the "beautification engine," you can basically feed a picture of yourself into the machine, and it will pop out the new and improved you. (I, for one, would rather not know how much better I could look. I can't see that being any help to my self confidence. But I digress...) The formula is based on 68 responses from men and women in Germany and Israel who were asked to rate the beauty of a set of facial images. Now, this is not the kind of science that will win anyone a Nobel Prize, but at least one revelation seems to have come out of it: James Franco is apparently the most perfect male specimen on the planet. His agent must be busy this morning...

Top 5: New Music

| Wed Oct. 8, 2008 7:33 PM PDT

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In this edition, Kanye reacts to a broken heart by putting tarps on all his furniture, Pitbull steals an Italian techno track and makes it even better, Chad Vangaalen lets his freak-folk flag fly, The Streets returns with a delicate ballad, and Brightblack Morning Light whisper something about the spirit of the Buffalo, or something.

1. Kanye West – "Love Lockdown"

I'm not immediately loving this song like I (and everybody else) did with "Stronger" and "Good Life," for instance, but I'm definitely fascinated by it. Musically, this is about as minimal as possible, just three tuned bass drum noises, joined later by simple piano chords and what sounds like African percussion. It's nowhere near as leftfield as M.I.A.'s triple-time African drum tribute, "Boyz," but it's still pretty crazy, and the video's dreamlike imagery only adds to the strangeness.

2. Pitbull – "Krazy"

Didn't I write a while back about how dance beats are taking over hip-hop? Well, this is the most extreme example yet: a few years back, Italian producer Frederico Franchi put out a storming track called "Cream," whose simple, wobbling melody and thudding breakbeat made it totally infectious. (It was one of the first tracks featured in an epic Simian Mobile Disco DJ set I wrote about last year.) Along comes Miami rapper Pitbull to put some raise-the-roof lyrics over the top, and you've got one of the most fun (and unlikeliest) hits of 2008.

After the jump: Canadians croon, Mikey Skinner hits the skids, and hippies hypnotize me.

I'd Just Like to Point Out that McCain's "Logo" is a Very Ironic Dingbat

| Wed Oct. 8, 2008 11:37 AM PDT

mojo-photo-campaignlogos.jpgLots of people have mentioned the loveliness of the Obama campaign logo, with its stripey field, rising sun, and handy reminder of the first letter of the candidate's name. While I've already spent some time analyzing and mocking the McCain campaign's terrible design work, something occurred to me watching another one of his angry mobs rallies on TV yesterday: his "logo," a shaded 5-pointed star, is nothing but a Zapf Dingbat. Zapf Dingbats, for the un-font-obsessed, was one of the original "symbol" fonts; instead of letters, typing on your keyboard gets you various shapes and doodads to spice up your PowerPoint presentation--snowflakes, squares, check-marks, and yes, stars. So, which letter do you think one must type while using the Zapf Dingbats font to create McCain's star, my friends? That's right: his crack team of designers came across this patriotic symbol by typing shift-O.

After the jump, the Zapf Dingbats character map, just as proof.

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MP3: Brett Dennen - "Make You Crazy"

| Tue Oct. 7, 2008 3:06 PM PDT

mojo-photo-dennen.jpgI've been doing pretty well this election season, emotional-stability-wise, but today, I'm starting to get really pissed. With the tacit encouragement of the candidates, McCain-Palin rallies are turning into lynch mobs, astonishing examples of the real consequences of pushing Rovian campaign tactics that far. Whether or not Obama is dominating in the polls, this kind of stuff makes me furious and terrified, and I'm not sure I'll be able to watch the debate tonight without being physically restrained, or my TV might end up out on the sidewalk.

Oakdale, California's Brett Dennen understands. His new album, Hope for the Hopeless (hey, that's me!) comes out October 21st; his label, Downtown, has a free mp3 of the first single, "Make You Crazy" (that's also me!), whose lyrics acknowledge that the "lies just to get you/spies just to get you" are "enough to make you go crazy." Thankfully, its sunny samba rhythms have the calming properties of a nice caipirinha—not too sweet, but tasty enough to help you forget why you were about to blow your top over some planted pseudo-redneck at a Palin rally. And is that Femi Kuti in the background? Why yes it is. Ahhh, that's better.

MP3: Brett Dennen – "Make You Crazy"

Can a Palin Art Trope Be Far Behind?

| Fri Oct. 3, 2008 3:03 PM PDT

mojo-photo-goldkatemoss.jpgIs this, finally, the last sign of the impending apocalypse? Or are things going to get even worse? Artist Mark Quinn has immortalized model Kate Moss in actual 18-carat gold in a sculpture on display at the British Museum in London. No, it's not solid gold, but weighs "about as much as the supermodel herself," which means it's worth around 2.5 million bucks, even melted down. Elevating the low and immortalizing the ephemeral are of course standard tropes in art (and even on the Riff!) but it sure seems like pushing the insanity envelope has really taken off in sculpture lately. Here are some of the more jaw-dropping recent three-dimensional examples of why our culture is in a hedonistic free-fall. Needless to say, many of these links will not be safe for work.

Obama Belt

| Fri Oct. 3, 2008 12:05 PM PDT

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If you're having second thoughts about that bold Sarah-Cuda hunting bow purchase following Palin's mediocrity in last night's veep debate, you may consider trying the Obama Belt on for size.

The belt is made by unionized laborers, and fashioned from recycled "pot metal"—my personal favorite. It's yours for just $100, 100% of which goes toward "swing state initiatives" in support of Barack Obama. For the über-Obama supporter, or as New York designer Elise Mogensen says, "For all those Jay-Zs out there who want theirs to be extra-special," belts in sterling silver ($800), 14k gold ($9,800), 18k ($14,500) or platinum (market price) are available upon request.

Ridiculous? Maybe. But with the economy in the tank and gold gaining favor, it might actually be a good investment, not to mention the "vintage" value it will have accrued 50 years down the road.