Mixed Media

Is Lucy Liu the New All-American Girl?

| Mon Feb. 11, 2008 6:50 PM EST

LucyLiuresized.jpgLast month ABC premiered its new Sex and the City-ish show Cashmere Mafia, starring Lucy Liu as Mia Mason, a high-powered publishing executive in New York City. Not since Margaret Cho's All-American Girl (also ABC) has an Asian American been featured as a main character. But All-American Girl was criticized by some for exploiting stereotypes for laughs, and Cho and network executives argued over just the right formula of "Asian-ness." After the whole debacle, Cho spiraled into various forms of self-destructiveness, and the show was canceled after one season. That was 1994.

Over the past few decades Asian Americans have been slowly eking their way into casting rooms and onto sets in Hollywood. (Think Lost, ER, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, Entourage, Gilmore Girls, etc.). Exposure is a good thing, but Asian Americans for the most part are still relegated to ancillary roles.

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New Music: The Duke Spirit - Neptune

| Mon Feb. 11, 2008 6:47 PM EST

mojo-photo-neptune.jpgOkay, I have to clear my head of all that Grammys negativity by talking about something good. The Duke Spirit hail from Cheltenham, England, a "spa town" off in the west by Bristol; it's a little isolated, and their sound is too: a kind of throwback to '90s grunge with a liberal helping of Queens of the Stone Age-style riffs. Their first album, 2004's Cuts Across the Land, was an underappreciated gem of fuzzy, bluesy rock, made even more unique by lead singer Leila Moss' chiming voice. Critics compared them to PJ Harvey or Patti Smith, but more than anything they reminded me of Salt, another underappreciated female-fronted hard-rock band who had a minor hit in '95 with "Bluster." In any event, The Duke Spirit seemed mysteriously, intriguingly out-of-sync.

Grammys Ceremony Like a Terrible Curse That Ruins Even Good Ideas

| Mon Feb. 11, 2008 5:45 PM EST

There's been a lot of post-Grammys snark around the interblogs, and of course there were a million things to hate about last night's broadcast. So here I am, trying to think of a "Top 5 Good Things About the Grammys" post; you know, "accentuate the positive" and all that. But I can't do it. Every time I think of something halfway decent that happened on the seemingly endless broadcast last night, I remember something that disqualifies it. Take, for instance, Kanye and Daft Punk. A funky, jazzed-up combo performance by the eccentric rapper and the French techno duo, followed by a heartfelt ode to Kanye's mom: what could go wrong? But the imitation Daft Punk pyramid looked like it was made out of cardboard, and its goofy game-show-reminiscent opening-up to reveal the duo in their light-trimmed suits just looked cheap. Right afterwards, Kanye sang his heart out, but they had to accompany his performance with a laughably cheesy projection of a slo-mo angel; did they think the "MAMA" shaved into the back of Kanye's head wasn't going to be a big enough clue?

Striking Writers Reach Tentative Deal

| Sat Feb. 9, 2008 6:49 PM EST

mojo-photo-strike.jpgHey, TV might be coming back! Hooray, TV! Union leaders and production companies have reached a tentative deal that covers online streaming: writers get $1300 for the rights to stream a show, and then 2% of the revenue. That's something, right? Guess it depends on who's counting revenue. They also get residuals for downloads, and if certain thresholds are met, they get one of those fruit bouquets. Not really. The New York Times called negotiations "sometimes heated"—ya think?—and Drudge has linked to Nikki Finke's dramatic (and endless) minute-by-minute timeline of the events this weekend. Okay, fine, but all we need to know is that Conan and Colbert and everybody have already invited their writers back, to start on Monday. Not that their efforts to waste time haven't been amusing.

Photo: LA Times

Neato Viddy on the Intertubes: Dance Lessons With Khris Khaos

| Fri Feb. 8, 2008 6:49 PM EST

Okay, lately the Riff's been all super-serious, and commenters are starting to get mean. So in an effort to lighten the mood, and perhaps also help out those of you planning to hit the clubs this weekend, I present: Learn How to Dance for Women with King Khris Khaos, the King of Style!

Obama Musician Endorsement Update!

| Fri Feb. 8, 2008 6:04 PM EST

It's Obama-rocker-mania!Just when you thought it might end with the Grateful Dead, more musicians are coming out for Obama. First up, Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst spoke at an Obama rally in Omaha on Thursday (hmm: Obama, Omaha; Obama, Omaha), telling the crowd of 11,000 Nebraskans (and maybe Iowans) that he predicts Nebraska Democrats will caucus for the Illinois senator. He later apparently performed that annoying "When the President Talks to God" song at an event downtown.

Moving on to less whiny (and less youthful) musicians, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon tells Wonkette that she's supporting Obama, even though she admits that it's hard to distinguish him from Hillary, policy-wise. Wonkette points out that Obama is eight years younger than Sonic Youth's bassist.

And in "anti-endorsement" news, John Mellencamp has been asking the McCain campaign to stop using his songs, and they finally agreed, reports the AP. Mellencamp was an Edwards supporter, naturally; perhaps he can come along when Howard Dean tries to broker that deal. Ain't that America?

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Music News: Winehouse Sings Via Satellite, Neil Young Gives Up, Timbaland's On the Phone, Beck Admits to Nonsense

| Fri Feb. 8, 2008 4:39 PM EST

News - Feb 8


  • Amy Winehouse, denied a visa to come to the States for the Grammys on Sunday, will appear on the broadcast via satellite from London. Winehouse actually used the phrase "raring to go" in a statement.

  • Neil Young either got up on the wrong side of the bed, or has given up all hope for the future of mankind. Introducing a film in Berlin on Friday, he told the audience that "the time when music could change the world is past." Some of us are so cynical we'd make a joke about that time not existing ever, but we got up on the wrong side of the bed, so we don't really care.
  • Hello, Timbaland calling: the super-producer has announced a deal with Verizon Wireless to create a "mobile album," available only on the carrier's service. And you thought mp3s sounded bad! A Verizon spokesman managed to keep a straight face while calling the deal "a marriage of promotional opportunity and a large distribution platform," but I bet he was doing something funny with his fingers behind his back.
  • Beck has confirmed that some of the lyrics on his seminal 1995 album Odelay were "scratch" lyrics, i.e., nonsense meant as a placeholder during the recording process. "We just grew attached to them," said the singer. So you're telling me those years I spent on my dissertation trying to parse "mouthwash jukebox gasoline" were a waste?
  • Candidates Earn Their Hipster Cred

    | Thu Feb. 7, 2008 5:16 PM EST

    deadhead-obama-200.jpgWalking home from work earlier this week, I came across a ginormous crowd outside San Francisco's Warfield Theater waiting to attend a "Deadheads For Obama" show. Patchouli hung heavy in the air, and radios played jam-band music while eager fans waited to get inside and hear members of the Grateful Dead rock out.

    Maybe I live in a cave or something, but I had no idea that the deadhead scene had become politically engaged, let alone caught Obama fever. But they're not the only ones endorsing candidates:

    Pearl Jam Ensures Clinton Victory With Obama Song

    | Thu Feb. 7, 2008 4:53 PM EST

    mojo-photo-pearljambarack.jpgAlright, perhaps I'm biased: Pearl Jam have always bugged the crap out of me. Back in the grunge era (do I capitalize that?), I was a fan of almost all of the Seattle bands, and even 3rd-level grunge-rock like Alice in Chains and Screaming Trees landed in my vinyl collection. But I hated Pearl Jam: "Jeremy"'s warbling, maudlin self-righteousness and aimless melody grated on me like a Celine Dion ballad, and the highest I've ever rated any of their songs is "tolerable." However, the more I learned about Eddie Vedder and crew, the more I grew to have grudging respect for them; a radio show Vedder hosted in 1995 featured fantastic music, and the band's fight against Ticketmaster was admirable (if fruitless). I realized that I like what they like, just not what they make.

    New CDs Out Today and a Word From Critics

    | Tue Feb. 5, 2008 4:46 PM EST

    Hey, there's actually a couple interesting albums hitting stores and internet emporiums today. Perhaps I shall list them in order of how much I'm enjoying them (or anticipating I'll enjoy them), from "most" to "least"?