Mixed Media

Susan Boyle's 20 Media Euphemisms

| Mon Apr. 20, 2009 6:29 PM EDT

A Lexis-Nexis search turns up 952 articles concerning Britain's Got Talent Superstar, Susan Boyle. Why? She's got a smoking singing voice, but she's not-hot, and that's touched a cultural nerve. We are shallow. We don't want to be shallow. Or at least, we don't want people to know how very shallow we are. But we can't talk about how shallow we are without mentioning how not-hot Susan Boyle is and how we wrote her off because of her not-hottitude. Right?

So. How many colorful euphemisms can the media come up with? Lots—see 20 below.

1. "The plain Jane superstar," in a Daily News article about an offer from a porn company to put Boyle in an adult film. (It plans to fly her to L.A. on Virgin Airlines.)

2. "Like Shrek come to life," Rosie O'Donnell to People magazine.

3. "Frizzy-haired" from Mother Jones's own Party Ben.

4. "Plain, dowdy, unemployed," in New York Magazine's round up.

5. The Age of Melbourne let an imaginary Jane Austen do the dissing and refers to her as "ill-favoured."

 

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The Vlogger MoJo and Maddow Love

| Mon Apr. 20, 2009 2:03 PM EDT

If you watched The Rachel Maddow Show last Friday, you may have caught vlogger Jonathan Mann performing his cheeky tune "Hey Paul Krugman." Mann's Rock Cookie Bottom website, where he posts an original music video every day, has more than just Maddow buzzing. Want to know more? Check out MoJo's podcast interview with Mann (excerpt after the jump).

Coachella 2009 Wrapup - Sunday

| Mon Apr. 20, 2009 4:59 AM EDT

Hello again from La Quinta, where we've just returned from what may have been the most action-packed day of the 2009 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. In tonight's exciting edition: Giant creepy eyeballs! Rock star friends have a moment in the sun! And unsuspecting festivalgoers have their ears melted from their heads! Most importantly, we kind of snuck out a little early tonight after our traumatic parking lot experience last night, so hopefully this wrapup will be a little less muddled. Click "more" to jump in.

Coachella 2009 Wrapup - Saturday

| Sun Apr. 19, 2009 5:56 AM EDT

Welcome to night two of Mother Jones' blanket coverage of the Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival! In tonight's exciting edition: Oodles of star sightings! Endless traffic jams! A major cancellation! And apparently M.I.A. reads the Riff! It's 2:00 a.m. and we've just made it back to our lovely rental crib, so my apologies for poorly grammar, nonsensical metaphors like palm trees on fire, or sentences that don't. Click "more" only if those things don't matter to you.

Coachella 2009 Wrapup - Friday

| Sat Apr. 18, 2009 4:51 AM EDT

Greetings from our lovely La Quinta rental house where we have just returned from Day 1 of the 2009 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Our exciting coverage of the first day includes: extra-long lines! Exclusive interviews! Tolerable heat! Old guys! Very old guys! Really quite astoundingly old guys! And, okay, a couple young whippersnappers and their kooky haircuts and bleepy music machines. Click "more" for all the details.

Get Up Stand Up: Gay-Rights Groups Dump Jamaican Booze

| Fri Apr. 17, 2009 7:05 PM EDT

There'll be no pina coladas tonight, mon. The Jamaica observer reports gay-rights advocates poured the libations down sewage drains at Stonewall Inn in New York this week protesting Jamacia, "the most homophobic place on earth." Human right groups and the US State Department cite beatings and arbitrary detainment, along with gay-attacking mobs and complicit police among the Jamacian government's crimes against homosexuals.

The "rum dump" kicked off a national boycott organized by the website Boycott Jamaica, which is asking consumers to avoid Jamacian booze, beer, coffee, and vacations. So how's a gay-rights supporter supposed to get her party on this weekend? Well, there's always Templeton Rye, whiskey made in gay-marriage-friendly Iowa.

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Vajayjay Meets Registered Trademark

| Fri Apr. 17, 2009 12:18 PM EDT

You know a term has made it when there are patents pending. In the Urban Dictionary under the most popular spelling "vajayjay," the term benefited from the Oprah effect a couple years ago after Lady O gave it a bump. Firmly in pop culture verbiage, the vaginal euphemism has now seen its first official product (though not its first trademark application, apparently) as the Vaj-j Visor. The visor, which is meant to cover the goods during waxing, depillatories, and other landscaping efforts, is the brainchild of, yes, VJJ Enterprises, Inc. (three ladies, two dudes), though it doesn't seem to license any other vagina products at the moment.

The plastic insert claims to be "the first ever women's cup" and it comes in green and purple and pink. You have to discard it after a single use, which sounds a lot like other feminine hygiene products, spend and toss, buy some more. Protective men's gear, like the jockstrap and the cup, these are manly items (not in pink, green, and purple) that can hang for years (sometimes too long) in lockers. So let's see if the VJJ people can come up with a reuseable product. And one more wondering: Why wasn't vagina part of even one of the possible names batted around by the VJJ crew? Probably because they don't want to scare people off since the vagina is scary. Or maybe it's because vagina isn't even an adequate anatomical term (though neither is Hoo Ha or Beaver) leaving out the all-important clitoris, labia, and vulva.

I'm glad that the ladies who take so much care down there have options now, but it's too bad that the "women's cup" is all about cosmetic improvements. Where's the cup for horsebackriding, for hockey, for soccer? Because sometimes we need to protect our privates simply for the good of the goods, not just for tanning and waxing and making ourselves pretty.

George Will's Jihad on Jeans

| Thu Apr. 16, 2009 4:57 PM EDT

George Will is officially trying to be America's crotchetiest pundit. Fresh from his lame attempt to deny climate change, he has stepped into his time machine, set the dial to 1957, and unleashed a diatribe about the social scourge that is...blue jeans. Seriously. Playing off another denim demonizer in the Wall Street Journal, in yesterday's column Will tapped into his inner Mr. Blackwell and dissed jeans as "an obnoxious misuse of freedom," "the infantile uniform of a nation in which entertainment frequently features childlike adults...and cartoons for adults," "the clerical vestment for the priesthood of all believers in democracy's catechism of leveling—thou shalt not dress better than society's most slovenly," and "the calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances." Wow. I sure hope no one tells him about kids going steady. Or electric guitars.

It's hard to believe that it has just now occurred to Will that casual comfort is destroying our moral fabric. But a glance at his old columns finds that the preppy pundit has been portraying jeans as signifiers of social unraveling for more than 30 years. Examples after the jump.

Susan Boyle About to Blow Up Internet

| Wed Apr. 15, 2009 10:02 PM EDT

Monday afternoon: I see the video (which they won't let you embed, dang it, so watch it here) on Towleroad of frizzy-haired “spinster” Susan Boyle stunning the judges of "Britain’s Got Talent" with an emotional rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream." It’s, you know, a cute little internet video.

Monday evening: I hear the very same audio coming out of the laptop of German DJs who are staying at my house for the weekend. They were using my neighbor’s wi-fi to catch up on German news, and the video was the first thing they saw.

Tuesday evening: Charlie Gibson covers the story on the ABC Evening News.

Tuesday night: The Boston Globe reports the clip has been watched over 2.7 million times since it was uploaded on April 11.

Wednesday afternoon: It's the top story on npr.org. They report the clip has been watched 7 million times.

Wednesday evening: A quick YouTube search shows multiple copies of the same clip making the rounds, but an unscientific sum of all their view counts puts the number at approximately 13 million.

Thursday (prediction): Susan Boyle surpasses Barack Obama as the most popular human being on the planet.

Coachella Preview: Electronic

| Wed Apr. 15, 2009 5:47 PM EDT

While the three nightly headliners (McCartney, The Killers, and The Cure) have all dabbled in studio trickery and electronics to accompany their guitar-centered tunes, straight-ahead electronic music has really taken center stage this year at Coachella. The fact that organizers seem to understand electronic music and appreciate its potential for quality live performances has always made the festival a step up from your Bonnaroos and Bumbershoots, but the 2009 lineup is even more electro-riffic: fully 53 of the 133 artists could easily be considered “electronic” (that’s including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). After the jump, 10 of the highlights.

Plus, don’t forget, Mother Jones is, surprisingly enough, your home for complete Coachella coverage! We’ll have the traditional nightly updates right here on the Riff Friday through Sunday (reminisce about 2008’s festival here, here and here, and 2007’s here, here and here), as well as some chats with whatever artists we can corral, plus a selection of intrepid photographer Kristi’s best shots from the photo pits and lunch tents! Weather.com says 89-95-98 for highs, so if you’re heading to the desert, stay cool!