Mixed Media

Music Review: La Sera's "Summer of Love"

| Mon May 12, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

TRACK 2

"Summer of Love"

From La Sera's Hour of the Dawn

HARDLY ART

Liner notes: Take a gorgeous melody, add soaring multilayered voices, and top with shimmering guitars for two minutes of shiny pop perfection on the third album from La Sera, a.k.a. Katy Goodman.

Behind the music: Goodman was billed as Kickball Katy in the pioneering noise-pop trio Vivian Girls, recently defunct.

Check it out if you like: Blondie and the Bangles then, Dum Dum Girls and Best Coast now.

This review originally appeared in the May/June issue of Mother Jones.

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Quote of the Day: Happy Mother's Day!

| Sun May 11, 2014 4:32 PM EDT
Jeramie, Richard, & Emily Dreyfuss. November 19, 1983.

I had always wanted to be a mother. It’s the first thing I said to your dad. We met at a party in LA in February, 1983. I was a producer at CBS. "What do you want to do with your career at CBS?" he asked me. And I said, "Nothing, I want to get married and have children." And he said, "Me too. Let’s get married." And we got married like one month later and now we have you three kids. If we hadn’t been this crazy, you guys wouldn’t exist! So be nice to the baby boomer generation.

Jeramie Dreyfuss, my mom and the best actress ever to play a psycho killer in a deeply disturbing early-70s horror film. (Happy Mother's Day, mom! I love you.)

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms! You guys are the best.

This Video of Michael Sam and His Boyfriend Finding Out He Has Been Drafted Is Amazing

| Sat May 10, 2014 9:11 PM EDT

Earlier today, Michael Sam received a really great phone call. He had become the first openly-gay player to be drafted in NFL history. Cameras were present as he and his boyfriend found out the news together. Watch them share a kiss and beautiful embrace as they learn of the historic decision by the St. Louis Rams:

 

WATCH: What Can Oklahoma's Botched Execution Teach Us About the Death Penalty? [Fiore Cartoon]

| Fri May 9, 2014 9:03 PM EDT

Mark Fiore is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and animator whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Examiner, and dozens of other publications. He is an active member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, and has a website featuring his work.

How to Open a Wine Bottle With Your Shoe

| Fri May 9, 2014 7:07 PM EDT

Once upon a time a father sat his son on his lap and said, "Son, one day you will have a bottle of wine, but you will not have a corkscrew to open it with. You will look around for some sort of apparatus with which to free the wine from the bottle."

"Daddy, should I use a knife to push the cork into the bottle?"

"Ha. No. That's a horrible idea. Use your shoe!"

And so began the legend of the wine-bottle-shoe-trick. But many were dubious. Was this just a story? An old wives' tale told by frat boys with an urge?

It turns out: No! You can really open a wine bottle with your shoe*.

How do we know? Smart, fearless Mother Jones reporter Tim McDonnell made it happen (watch the video above).

Here's how:

  1. You need a solid-soled shoe. No work-out soft-soled BS.
  2. Find a really sturdy wall. We're talking brick.
  3. Have courage and strength.
  4. The shoe must be perpendicular to the wall.
  5. Have faith, and take several determined, precise swings.
  6. The cork should slowly emerge over the course of several swings.
  7. Keep your face and other vulnerable bits away from the impact zone (SCIENCE).
  8. The force of the liquid inside the bottle will force the cork out.
  9. Drink!!!

*Mother Jones does not endorse that you try this at home in any way. Please drink in moderation. And don't drive.

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Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in "Neighbors" Are the Best On-Screen Couple in Years

| Fri May 9, 2014 4:03 PM EDT

When you think of the greatest on-screen couples in TV and cinema history, a handful of pairs jump to mind: Bergman and Bogart in Casablanca. Cusack and Skye in Say Anything... Chandler and Britton on Friday Night Lights.

You can add Rogen and Byrne to the list.

In the new comedy Neighbors (directed by Nicholas Stoller), Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play Mac and Kelly Radner, a married couple struggling to adjust to a new era of parenthood. When a rowdy fraternity—led by Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and Pete Regazolli (Dave Franco)—moves in next door, the two houses go to war in hilarious fashion.

Although the film's advertisements don't make it look bad, necessarily, Neighbors is much smarter and emotionally deeper than its TV spots and trailers would have you believe. But what sets the movie over the top is the pairing of Rogen and Byrne. As the two plot and execute their campaign of revenge against the frat boys next door, their moments of scheming are infused equally with a delightful chemistry and a sense of strained, fumbled maturity.

And the reason this works so well is because the filmmakers didn't treat the female lead as a comic prop or as some stereotypical wet blanket, as is the case with so many male-centric comedies: She's as devious and committed as the boys. "From the start, they wanted to make my character very much a part of the story," Byrne told the New York Times. "From Day 1, Nick [Stoller, the film's director] and Seth were both like, 'She's as in on this as everybody else—and as irresponsible as everybody else.' That was really exciting."

You can catch glimpses of the Radners doing there thing here:

Their best scenes actually have nothing to do with plotting physical destruction against their neighbors. In one sequence, Kelly and Mac awake following a night of heavy drinking. A hungover Kelly goes to breastfeed their newborn, only to have Mac intervene, warning her that at this hour her breast milk would be like a "White Russian." In pain from the excess milk, she orders Mac to milk her. The sequence, including the aftermath of the deed, is a thing of comic beauty—chaotic, appropriately horrifying, and just cute enough.

Anyway, the whole movie is very good. TheWrap calls it, "an instant classic." Slate dubs it, "a surprisingly progressive take on bro privilege that still has lots of dick jokes." I'm inclined to agree.

"Community" Has Been Canceled

| Fri May 9, 2014 2:56 PM EDT

Community, a show that you and all your Twitter friends sure did like a lot, has been canceled.

RIP Community—may its legend live on in stories.

Meet the Bearded Drag Queen Who's Taking Europe by Storm

| Fri May 9, 2014 10:26 AM EDT

UPDATE, Saturday, May 10,2014, 6:40pm ET: Conchita won!

A bearded drag queen with a taste for sequins is among the favorites to win this year's Eurovision Song Contest, the annual music extravaganza that catapulted ABBA and Celine Dion to fame.

With her doe eyes and glittery floor-length gowns, Conchita Wurst (real name Thomas Neuwirth) stole the limelight in the run up to the event, and her performance has beguiled the judges, who selected her to compete in the finals in Copenhagen on Saturday. But Wurst's unabashed gender bending has also raised some ire. Citizens in Russia and Belarus petitioned their national broadcasters to block her performance. And St. Petersburg legislator Vitaly Milonov—who was instrumental in passing Russia's infamous "gay propaganda" ban—called on Russia's Eurovision selection committee not to send Russian singers to the event, which attracts roughly 170 million TV viewers. "Even just broadcasting the competition in Russia could insult millions of Russians," Milonov wrote in the letter, according to the Guardian. "The participation of the obvious transvestite and hermaphrodite Conchita Wurst on the same stage as Russian singers on live television is blatant propaganda of homosexuality and spiritual decay."

Wurst, who is representing Austria in the competition, wasn't fazed by these barbs. "I can only say 'Thank you for your attention!'' she told the Associated Press. Wurst added, "Hey, I'm just a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard."

You can see Wurst in all her bearded glory above.

"The Simpsons" Producer Responds To Insane Conspiracy Theory That His Show Helped Start the Arab Spring

| Thu May 8, 2014 4:19 PM EDT

There is a new theory that an episode of The Simpsons (one that aired on February 25, 2001) predicted the Syrian uprising and civil war, and also that the episode is proof of a massive international conspiracy that laid the groundwork for the Arab Spring.

You read that right.

The conspiracy theory was recently proposed by anchor Rania Badawy on the Egyptian TV channel Al Tahrir. Badawy insists that the Simpsons episode "New Kids on the Blecch"—in which Bart, Nelson, Ralph, and Milhouse are recruited into a boy band called the Party Posse—contains clues that suggest "what is happening in Syria today was premeditated."

Here's the segment, which was flagged by the Middle East Media Research Institute:

In the episode, the boys star in a music video for "Drop Da Bomb," a pop song that seems to encourage heroic bombing of hostile Arab countries. ("Your love's more deadly than Saddam / That's why I gotta drop da bomb!") The chorus of the tune is "Yvan eht Nioj," which is "Join the Navy" backwards; the Party Posse turns out to be a secret project by the US Navy to boost recruitment numbers through subliminal messages.

Badawy, the astute television anchor, noticed that the soldiers bombed in the music video (posted below) have a car emblazoned with a version of the Syrian flag that looks an awful lot like the ones Syrian rebels and protesters waved in 2011. "How it reached this animated video nobody knows, and this has aroused a debate on the social networks," she says. "This raises many question marks about what happened in the Arab Spring revolutions and about when this global conspiracy began."

Not that you need it at this point, but the New York Times has a thorough rundown of why—when you factor in "crucial aspects of both Syrian history and details of the Simpsons episode"—this is all so silly.

Still, I thought I'd ask Al Jean, a longtime Simpsons executive producer, what he thought about this interesting theory. Jean sent along the following brief statement:

Yes, we had the amazing foresight to predict conflict in the Middle East.

Somehow, I doubt the heavy sarcasm in Jean's admission will register with certain conspiracy theorists. There are also wacky theories out there that The Simpsons predicted the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Also, there's a fun post on the 11 times The Simpsons "predicted" the future of technology.

Now here's the "Drop Da Bomb" music video that is complicit in the bloodshed in Syria, I guess: