Mixed Media

Music Monday: Gavin Castleton Would Undie 4 U

| Mon Aug. 10, 2009 2:03 AM EDT

Gavin Castleton
Home
Five One Inc.

You’ve heard this story before: Boy meets Girl. Boy and Girl fall in love. They hit a rough patch, work it out, and love overcomes, happily ever after. Now, try out this twist: Boy meets Girl. They fall in love. Things get rough. And then zombies show up. That's the idea behind this epic 14-song album on micro-label Five One Inc. After parting ways with his longtime girlfriend, Providence, R.I.-based Castleton wanted to chronicle the breakup's effect on his life. Home is a lush, musically diverse endeavor, recorded on a shoestring but so rich in its production it's hard to believe it's not coming from major-label resources.

The songs cover a wide variety of styles and emotions, but together craft a twisted Joss Whedon-like musical storyline. It's an album that demands to be listened to as a whole, not merely as a collection of disjointed songs. I prefer the second half (the zombies show up six songs in as a metaphor for the buried baggage that is slowly tearing the couple's love affair to shreds.) That’s not to say the first half of the record doesn’t have its stellar moments; the groove that emerges four minutes and twenty seconds into “Stampete” is irresistible. Some lyrical moments were lost on me, relationship details that left me scratching my head. I let those slide in anticipation of the zombie ordeal. I caught myself holding my breath the first time I listened to “Unparallel Rabbits,” so caught up was I in the tale unfolding through my headphones.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Day Without A Right-Wing Wack Job

| Fri Aug. 7, 2009 1:00 PM EDT

When I used to complain to my mother about my older brother's verbal taunts, she usually told me to just ignore it; it was my strident reaction that made him want to mess with me. I now tell my son the same when his little sister deliberately pushes his buttons. But we (somewhat rational) journalists are pathologically unable to grasp that simple truism and ignore the taunts of the bullies that populate right-wing cable and radio.

Truth is, our whole culture is addicted to meaningless controversy, and by god, it drives Web traffic like nothing doing. So when Obama is attacked by crazies who insist he lacks a birth certificate, when Glenn Beck jokes about poisoning Nancy Pelosi, when Fox lights up with claims that the Democrats want to euthanize the elderly, when Rush and others equate the president to Hitler, the journobloggers are all over it. Anytime I'm drawn to comment on this stuff, though, I have to admit some level of ambivalence. I still remember being annoyed years ago when one of Bill O'Reilly's antigay tirades about San Francisco made A-1 in the San Francisco Chronicle. Didn't the editors get it? To steal from the first Terminator movie: That's what he does. It's all he does. O'Reilly baits people, and they respond, and then he sells more books. Even 2 Live Crew, a feeble act that made millions in the 1990s off an obscene-lyrics controversy, understood that game. (Of course, fanning the O'Reilly flame probably sells more newspapers, too. And god knows, they need all the sales they can get. Evidence here.)

John Hughes, RIP

| Thu Aug. 6, 2009 5:11 PM EDT

It is a sad day for lovers of 80's cinema (and really, who isn't?) John Hughes, the filmmmaker behind such classics as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink, died of a heart attack today, at age 59.

Of course, Hughes worked his magic well past the Brat Pack age, on hits such as Beethoven and Curly Sue. But as a child of the 80's, I and millions of others will always remember him as an icon of an era—as indelible as neon colors, New Kids on the Block, and scrunchies.

So RIP, John Hughes. Samantha Baker's parents may have forgotten her birthday, but we'll never forget you.

Creationist Museum Tax Fraud

| Thu Aug. 6, 2009 2:03 PM EDT

A Pensacola judge has green lighted the government seizure of Pensacola's Dinosaur Adventure Land, a creationist theme park whose owners, Kent and Jo Hovind, owe $430,400 in federal taxes. The Hovinds' excuse for not paying was that they were employed by God and thus could claim zero income and property.

According to the Pensacola News Journal, the government will sell off the Hovinds' property to pay the debt. Not sure exactly what those properties are, but the park's website offers a few clues:

Learn about dinosaurs, principles of science, and even how to make a paper airplane that can fly over 300 feet! Handle our real, live creatures and take the Leap of Faith swing. Enjoyable and educational for all ages, it is specifically targeted for kids under a million years of age!

Be prepared to be challenged to think and to follow the Lord in the way God the Creator has planned for you. If you do not know your Creator, we will be overjoyed to introduce you to Him.

Our funny and experienced guides will lead your family or group on the tour, declaring the works of the Lord and the words of the Lord.

DAL is not an amusement park, for “amuse” means “to not think,” and we want people to think. Rather, it is an amazement park.

So I wonder what's to become of all the park's statues and critters? And what's the going rate for a Leap of Faith swing these days, anyway?

Jefferson vs. Jefferson

| Thu Aug. 6, 2009 12:14 PM EDT

Yesterday, former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson was convicted by a Virginia federal judge for 11 criminal counts including bribery, racketeering, money laundering, and wire fraud. (He was acquitted on five counts including obstruction of justice and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.)

In commemoration of the judge's decision, let's take a moment to note the top five similarities between William Jefferson and American founding father Thomas Jefferson.

 

Thomas Jefferson: Was the man behind the Louisiana Purchase.

William Jefferson: Was the man behind many Louisiana purchases.

 

Thomas Jefferson: Stored food in dumbwaiters.

William Jefferson: Stored food and cash in a freezer.

 

Thomas Jefferson: Supported the virtues of the yeoman farmer.

William Jefferson: Grew up on a yeoman farm

 

Thomas Jefferson: Developed strong relationships with France.

William Jefferson: Developed strong relationships in Africa which led to his personal ventures in Nigeria, Ghana and Equatorial Guinea.

 

Thomas Jefferson: Supported the will of the people after the French Revolution.

William Jefferson: Supported by the will of the people through his brilliant political machine.

10 Signs That the Recession IS Over

| Wed Aug. 5, 2009 1:49 PM EDT

Most people seem to think we've hit rock bottom, but signs of recovery are slamming me every day from all angles of media, pop culture, and word of mouth. Let's go David Letterman style with a list, starting at the bottom and working our way up.

Top 10 Signs That the Recession Really Is Over

10. Daniel Gross wrote a column titled "The Recession Is Over! (Technically.)" on Slate.

9. The housing market is making a comeback.

8. 'Cause Bloomberg said so.

7. There has only been one comment on the latest post at StuffUnemployedPeopleLike.

6. Goldman bankers have already returned to their lavish lifestyles.

5. I'm not getting friend requests on LinkedIn about 700 times a day from people I know who are hopelessly out of work. (I hate, hate, hate that useless site! No, I will not be your "LinkedIn" friend!)

4. This week's New York Times Magazine cover story had nothing to do with economics!

3. Being unemployed is no longer chic. And that "Now I have time to find myself" BS has become terribly cliche.

2. TIME overzealously ran a story 5 months ago called "Six Signs The Recession Is Ending," meaning they couldn't think of 10 signs. And now this list speaks for itself.

1. I was invited to a party celebrating the ultimate in douchebaggery: PocketChangeNYC's Fashion Meets Finance soirees are back on. The objective of these gatherings: To mate the men of finance with the women of fashion. Hand me my barfbag, now! Maybe I don't want the recession to end so soon after all...

Advertise on MotherJones.com

CAA and the Actress Over 35 Problem

| Tue Aug. 4, 2009 3:36 PM EDT

Ageism in Hollywood is, groan, an age old problem. It's gotten a bit of attention in the last couple of days after the co-creator of HBO's Hung, Colette Burson, was quoted in the New York Times Magazine as saying:

“We auditioned a lot of people,” says Colette Burson, the co-creator of “Hung.” “It is incredibly difficult to find beautiful, talented, funny women over 35.”

Whoa! That's no way to treat the ladies. I ripped her. Jezebel ripped her. There was a Twitter storm. Upshot: Burson sought out blogger Melissa Silverstein of WomenandHollywood.com, who had interviewed her before, and gave a long impassioned clarification (you can read it and my original blog post here).

Jezebel, I think unfairly, chose to excerpt only the parts of the post which make Burson look like more of a jerk. And in so doing missed the juiciest part of what Burson had to say, namely how the all-powerful Creative Artists Agency (CAA) views actresses. Which is to say, useless unless young and famous (and in which order, unclear). In addition to repping the famous, agencies like CAA also represent work-a-day character actors. Unless they happen to be women over 40 who don't look like poster children for cosmetic surgery and extreme dieting. According to Burson:

Just to illustrate: Dmitry (Lipkin her husband and co-creator of Hung) and I went into CAA and we were talking about all the different roles and I said what we are really going to be looking for is an actress around age 40 who is talented and funny and yet can really act.  They seemed to not want to address my question so I brought it up again and they said what about x? (a well known 45 year old film actress)  I said no, we don’t want to cast celebrities.  We want to cast real women and this is a rare opportunity.  We don’t want you to send us your beautiful starlets.  Send us real women with real bodies who can act and who can be comedic.  And he looked sort of sheepish and said I’m really ashamed to tell you we don’t have anyone like that on our list. 

I said you mean to tell me that you this huge agency can’t send us a woman who is 40 and they said no. [emph. mine] And he said I know it’s horrible but it’s the state of the business that they really aren’t a lot of roles for them.

Surprising that Jezebel didn't make hay of this part of Burson's comments, since unrealistic portrayals of women by the entertainment biz are the bread and butter of that blog (which I happen to love). Maybe another Gawker enterprise, Defamer, will get on it (oops, that's just an aggregator now).

And I still want to think what CAA client Oprah says about this.

Update: Upon further reflection, perhaps the real story is how Burson, having pissed off actresses/women everywhere, clarified by alienating Hollywood's most powerful agency. Guessing HBO will assign flack to shadow her henceforth.

Clara Jeffery is Co-editor of Mother Jones and has fallen under the sway of Twitter's dark powers. You can read her tweets here.

Does Beer Pong Need Scare Quotes?

| Tue Aug. 4, 2009 3:20 PM EDT

Really, Associated Press? From a story about stickers that are attached to "nuisance" houses in Narraganset, Rhode Island:

The police, meanwhile, have continued to distribute the stickers while the court case continues, including one last month for an underage keg party involving a game of "beer pong."

Does beer pong really require scare quotes? I asked our esteemed copy editor, Nicole McClelland. "Absolutely not," she says. "Beer pong is totally legit, and therefore needs neither quotes nor introduction. It's not in the dictionary yet, but soon, my friend, soon."

There you have it. Come on now, AP.

 

Miss Landmine Pageant Banned

| Tue Aug. 4, 2009 1:44 PM EDT

Last year, women maimed by landmines around the world competed for the grand prize of an artificial limb in the Miss Landmine beauty pageant. But this year, the Cambodian government has ordered the organizers of the second annual Miss Landmine pageant "to stop activity immediately in order to keep the honour and dignity of handicapped Cambodians, especially women." 

The pageant's organizer is Norwegian artist/actor/director Morten Traavik. According to Traavik's website, the goals of the project include "female pride and empowerment," "disabled pride and empowerment," and "global and local landmine awareness and information."

Traavik told the Telegraph:
 
"Why this situation comes now and not before two years of good relations, I do not know," said Mr Traavik. "I have requested a meeting with [the social affairs minister Ith Sam Heng] as soon as possible to try to correct the misunderstanding."

Which, to be fair, seems a little disingenuous. I mean, yes, this appears to be a case of someone not understanding (or appreciating) the whole tongue-in-cheek nature of such an event. But presumably, part of the point of the loaded one-two punch of landmines and pageants was to make people a little uncomfortable, so Traavik had to have expected (and perhaps even wanted?) a reaction like this, no?

Obama Nude with Unicorns, Stalin

| Mon Aug. 3, 2009 12:30 PM EDT

Some web weirdness/wonderfulness to perk up your Monday. Check out these paintings of an unabashedly nude Obama riding a unicorn, getting a massage from said unicorn (left), and confronting a fetal-looking Rush Limbaugh. Along Obama's naked travels, he meets a glum-looking Dr. House, Stalin, and Sarah Palin.

Dusting off my art history major, I would say that some of artist Dan Lacey's artistic inspirations are Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and early 20th century Russian Art with a dash of Chagal. Though given the high unicorn density, I'm sure Lacey has many other, ahem, non-traditional influences. Enjoy!

h/t to former MoJo fellow Daniel Luzer