Mixed Media

Bo Diddley Dies at 79

| Mon Jun. 2, 2008 3:38 PM EDT

mojo-photo-diddley.jpgLegendary guitarist Bo Diddley has died at age 79. The AP calls him "a founding father of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive 'shave and a haircut, two bits' rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions of other musicians," while Billboard notes his contribution to the essential ingredients of contemporary music, saying his fuzzy, distorted guitar sound "perfectly complimented his frenetic songs, which he played on a homemade square guitar while decked out in dark sunglasses and a black hat. Similarly, his rhythmic, boastful vocal style predated rap by several decades." Across the pond, the UK Guardian also acknowledges Diddley's influence, saying his "signature "hambone" beat provided one of the original and most enduring rhythms in rock… [and provided] the foundations from which many musicians - including the British invasion bands of the 1960s - have built."

After the jump, some videos.

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MoJo Staff Picks: May 30

| Fri May 30, 2008 9:40 PM EDT

MojoStaffPicks.gifMusically, we seem to be fixated on indie-pop, classic jazz motifs, and electric music at Mother Jones this week. Here's what's on our headphones:

YouTube: Naked Icelanders, Robot Bears, Los Simpsons, John Hughes Retro

| Fri May 30, 2008 7:08 PM EDT

mojo-photo-viddies0530.jpgSince it's Friday, I figure it's okay to sully the (normally staid?) Riff with some YouTube vids that fall more on the side of "amusing diversions" than "cultural revolutions." But who's to say: maybe the re-emergence of that super-synthy, overdramatic, dreamy '80s John Hughes movie soundtrack style (read more about that, in French, of course, here) will turn out to be the major cultural development of mid-2008. Or maybe a live action Spanish Simpsons will cause Lou Dobbs to realize we're all just the same under our yellow makeup and giant blue beehives. We're nothing but fair and balanced here on The Riff, so decide for yourselves: are these videos just dainty trifles, distracting you from your Friday afternoon drudgery for a few moments, and if so, is that so wrong?

TV: "Lost" Finale Way Better on Prescription Drugs

| Fri May 30, 2008 3:50 AM EDT

mojo-photo-lostfinale.jpgPerhaps it's only appropriate that my first post after a blindingly painful slipped disk injury laid me flat for a few days (hopped up on Vicodin and muscle relaxants) would be about Lost. I wouldn't recommend messing up your back, but it turns out that a good dose of Lorazepam isn't such a bad idea for watching this often-infuriating show, as its dangling plotlines and red herrings blur out into an easily-ignorable fog, while its queasy rhythms and quasi-spiritual sci-fi don't make you quite as nauseous. Do take it with food, though.

In advance of tonight's season finale, today's New York Times gave a whirl at a serious critical appraisal of the show, or should I say, gave a whirl at pointing out how you can't give a serious critical appraisal of the show:

"Lost," which concludes its fourth season on ABC on Thursday night, refuses our passive interest while it denies us the satisfaction of ever feeling that we might confidently explain, to the person sitting next to us at dinner, that we have a true grasp of what is going on — of who among the characters is merely bad and who is verifiably satanic. To watch "Lost" is to feel like a high school grind, studying and analyzing and never making it to Yale. Good dramas confound our expectations, but "Lost," about a factionalized group of plane crash survivors on a cartographically indeterminate island not anything like Aruba, pushes further, destabilizing the ground on which those expectations might be built. It is an opiate, and like all opiates, it produces its own masochistic delirium.

Mmm, opiates. Do you think those might help with a slipped disk?

After the jump: what sprawling, frustrating novel is Lost like? Hint: Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.

Pork: The Other Clear Nail Polish

| Wed May 28, 2008 5:00 PM EDT

Pork-pic-155x200.jpg

This is, of course, an ad for pork. I can't believe it took the industry this long to help us females make the important connection between clear nail polish and pork tenderloin.

Then again, maybe we should have figured this out on our own. I mean, after all, clear nail polish is the "estrogen equivalent of duct tape." As for a pork tenderloin, one "can fix just about anything with it lickity-split too—Asian Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Hawaiian Cobb Salad..." I mean, let's not mince words: you can basically forget about snaring a husband sans pork and polish.

Not sure which makes me gag more, the kicker ("The Other White Meat and clear nail polish. Two handy-dandy things I can't live without") or the very pink color of the raw pork in the ad, which if I am not mistaken looks unnaturally pink...

Found on Salon's women's blog, Broadsheet. Originally spotted on Copyranter.

Oprah's Peace Corps Lite: O Really?

| Wed May 28, 2008 3:01 AM EDT

Hot on the heels of revamping the entire publishing industry, Oprah has apparently decided to reinvent the Peace Corps in her spare time. The new O Ambassadors are essentially younger, poorer, Oprah-backed versions of who I was in Africa after college, as far as I can tell. Good for Oprah, saving the world again and all that...right? Right?

Okay, I'll let her site explain the program's differences to you:

"I'm proud to unveil one of the best ideas we've ever had—it's called O Ambassadors," Oprah says...

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The White Rapper Show vs. Miss Rap Supreme

| Tue May 27, 2008 3:18 PM EDT

I'm so out of touch, I'm often reduced to wondering if I'm being punk'd by every third article I read. Seriously. I'm starting to expect to find myself on some YouTube footage while depraved young folk, fresh from MySpace'ing drunken, naked pix of themselves, guffaw whilst reading some earnest critique I've posted of their fabricated news. But no. So far, I haven't fallen for any hoaxes though I often which I had. God help us, it's all true.

I have no idea anymore who those bony babies on the red carpets are, nor most of the shows they're associated with. A good 95% of the bands on SNL are utter mysteries to me. (Full disclosure: I have long since been reduced to watching a TIVO'd SNL on Sunday afternoon; 11:30 finds me deep in REM sleep.) 2006 was my last year bothering to bone up on the Grammy or MTV award recipients (again, on the next day. I read the lists; can't stand the music). All their names sound like spoofs to me. I was quite sure I was being made fun of as Onion staffers somewhere snickered at the thought of nerds like me trying to fake discussing System of a Down or Dashboard Confessional over the water cooler. Since they didn't actually exist. I gave up somewhere around something, someone or some band called Nine Inch Nails. Surely picking your band's name at random from one of those refrigerator-magnet poem packs is a joke, right? But, sadly, no.

You Tube: Weezer's Genius Meme Mashup

| Sat May 24, 2008 12:27 PM EDT

I don't know how Weezer managed to get every single living 'Tube meme star under one video roof, so to speak, but they did. Even if you don't like Weezer, you've got to check this thing out—the video for "Pork and Beans" is practically an instructional aid.

Here are 10 memes I caught as they whizzed by:

1) Daft Hands
2) Daft Bodies
3) Tay Zonday
4) The Numa Numa kid
5) Miss South Carolina
6) K-Fed, (who pretty much is his own meme these days)
7) Chris Crocker
8) The Dramatic Chipmunk
9) The Diet Coke and Mentos experiments
10) "All Your Base Are Belong to Us."

I'm sure there are like 30 I'm missing. Anyone want to fill in the gaps?

Music: Great One-Note Guitar Solos

| Fri May 23, 2008 7:54 PM EDT

mojo-photo-note.jpgSure, everybody loves a guitar show-off, melting picks and blistering fingers as they break barriers of time and space to send billion-note hyperspeed solos out into the cosmos like a rock Big Bang. But for those of us who came of musical age under the fuzzy blanket of shoegaze, the anti-rockist banners of punk, or the tripped-out tie-dye of psychedelia, Yngwie Malmsteen-style pyrotechnics not only seem excessive, they also kind of hurt our ears. So, let's take time to celebrate guitarists at the other end of the spectrum, musicians who have found that a single note, played at just the right moment, can stand up to the most complicated finger gymnastics. Now, sure, you may ask, "if it's just one note, how can you tell if it's a solo and not just, well, a note?" There were two basic criteria: one, the position of the solo at a climactic moment in the song, generally just after the second chorus (disqualifying "You Keep Me Hangin' On"); and two, when the solo is finished, you feel like standing up and cheering, or at least you would if you weren't so cool.

Breaking News: Arts Coverage Still Hampered by Racism and Homophobia

| Wed May 21, 2008 9:14 PM EDT

mojo-photo-santorausch.jpgDidn't we have a seminar or something to take care of all that? In politics, things seem to be looking up: An African-American has all but wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination and the California Supreme Court just decided they wanted in on the gay marriage economic boom. But over on the arts and culture pages, where you'd think people would be a little ahead of the game, homophobia and racism are still rearing their ugly heads, in subtle but egregious ways. At issue: can black singers ever avoid being classified under "hip-hop," and when is it okay to posthumously refer to someone as "gay"?

After the jump: let's just agree, "no" and "never."