Mixed Media

The SXSW Slog Begins

| Thu Mar. 13, 2008 3:40 PM EDT

sxsw.jpgAfter listening to our flight attendant—a former auctioneer from Dallas—rattle off emergency escape instructions in double time and then tell jokes about her co-workers for the entire flight (one was a former Miss Dallas, the other Southwest's steward of the year), I arrived in Austin, Texas, in high spirits.

I'm here to cover SXSW, Austin's ginormous film-music-interactive festival that draws (last I heard) about 10,000 folks from around the country (and abroad) to the Texas capitol.

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Times Calls Out Spitzer's Boo on Use of "Boo"

| Thu Mar. 13, 2008 3:02 PM EDT

Buried in the New York Times' outing of "Kristen"—a.k.a Ashley Alexandra Dupré—a.k.a. Eliot Spitzer's boo—comes this strange line:

On [Dupré's MySpace] Web page was a recording of what she described as her latest track, "What We Want," an amateurish, hip-hop inflected rhythm and blues tune that asks, "Can you handle me, boy?" and used some dated slang, calling someone her "boo."

Now, to pick apart this less than charitable and, frankly, catty article would take quite a while. But for now, let's address the linguistic issue here. Opinion at MoJo tends toward "boo" being not only current, but timeless. Urban Dictionary traces the origins of "boo" all the way back to the adoption of the French "beau" at the time of Caribbean colonization. Fast forward a couple of centuries and Tupac deployed "boo" in "It Ain't Easy" off his 1995 Me Against the World album. A full decade later, the term was still in use, as Usher's "My Boo" (feat. Alicia Keys) won a Grammy for best R&B performance in 2005 (see below). The next year, Brooke Valentine sang "He can call me his boo / But he call me dope girl, cuz I got that oooh." So it's pretty clear "boo" is here to stay. But did anyone really trust the Times as an arbiter of slang?

—Justin Elliott

Spitzer Gets Pimped Out on Nation's T-Shirts

| Wed Mar. 12, 2008 7:36 PM EDT

mojo-photo-spitzershirt.jpgFeeling like the Eliot Spitzer scandal isn't getting enough attention around the office or your local watering hole? Well, why not remind everyone of the eternal hypocrisy of our nation's elected officials in that most American of ways: with an amusing, topical t-shirt. Besides, your "Larry Craig Wide Stance" shirt is getting a little tattered.

First up, Busted Tees' "Client 9" shirt (pictured at left) is already on sale, but won't ship until March 21st, by which point one assumes there will already be another government sex scandal taking this one's place and you'll have to get a whole new t-shirt. It's so hard to keep up!

After the jump, fun with puns!

Neato Viddies: McLaughlin Groove, Hulu, CSS, Justice

| Wed Mar. 12, 2008 5:07 PM EDT

First up, the still-baffling and still-awesome "McLaughlin Groove," Andrew W.K.'s ode to the rollicking political screamfest, gets a video from Salon's Scott Bateman. Funny, Andrew looks a lot like Mimi did in his Low video–is Bateman the Cathy Guisewite of money-hemorrhaging web sites?
Andrew W.K. - "McLaughlin Groove"

Next, NME is reporting that a homemade music video to Sao Paulo's iPod-shilling "Music is My Hot Hot Sex" has become the most-watched clip on YouTube, racking up over 100 million views. Really? Is that more than Obama Girl?
CSS - "Music is My Hot Hot Sex"

After the jump: get fierce, and play name that logo!

Lyrical Analysis Proves New Portishead Album a Tad Mopey

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 6:08 PM EDT

mojo-photo-portisheadthirdcover.jpgBristol, UK-based trip-hop combo Portishead are known for two of the bleakest albums of the late '90s, Dummy and Portishead, whose claustrophobic, atonal soundscapes drew from jazz, soundtracks and cabaret. The music's chill was matched by singer Beth Gibbons' angst-ridden lyrics—witness 1997's "Only You," that kicks off the fun with the line "We suffer every day." Well, good morning to you too Beth. So, the band have been "on hiatus" for nearly ten years, but their comeback album Third has just leaked onto the intertubes. One wonders: have the intervening years lightened them up at all?

To be blunt: oh, hell no. On the contrary, they seem to have spent their time off in an underground factory/torture chamber in Antarctica, returning to the surface only to be betrayed by objects of affection and promptly sent back down to their cold, echoey prison. Lyrics sheets aren't yet available, so I poured a stiff drink and listened to the whole album, taking notes, and checking in with a counselor every few minutes. After the jump, a chart of all significant words that make more than one appearance.

Do You Live in a Wal-Mart State or a Starbucks State?

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 4:50 PM EDT

starbucks.jpg

By way of Columbia University via the all-things-rural blog Daily Yonder come these interesting (albeit unsurprising) maps showing Wal-Mart and Starbuck density, state by state. (The darker the state, the higher the number of stores per capita.) Not too many surprises here. As you can see, the Southeast has the highest concentration of Wal-Marts, while Starbucks are dense on the West Coast. Also unsurprising is the red state/blue state correlation. As Daily Yonder points out:

Blue states don't have many Wal-Marts (except for New Hampshire). Red states don't have many Starbucks (except for Colorado).

But is it really a fair comparison? Sure, both are giant chains, but one sells coffee and the other sells, uh, everything. The Northeasterner in me thinks it'd be a whole lot more interesting to compare Starbucks to its regional arch-nemesis, Dunkin' Donuts.

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Bjork "Outburst" Inspires China to Crack Down on Foreign Artists

| Mon Mar. 10, 2008 5:58 PM EDT

mojo-photo-bjork2.jpgThere has been a severe reaction from Chinese authorities after Icelandic singer Björk delved into a bit of a touchy subject for China during a concert in Shanghai. The singer ended her performance with the song "Declare Independence," and chanted "Tibet! Tibet!" as the song wound to a close with the lyrics "raise your flag." Subtle. The Chinese Ministry of Culture issued a somewhat petulant statement, saying "Some artist deliberately turned a commercial show into a political performance, which not only broke Chinese law but hurt Chinese audiences' feelings." No word on whether they stuck out their lower lips and kicked the ground a little. Good thing she didn't mention that their rivers are looking a little red lately.

Now Reuters is reporting that the Ministry of Culture may crack down on foreign performers speaking their minds in China, issuing this statement:

Out: Disneyland Rainforests. In: Freedom Land!

| Fri Mar. 7, 2008 7:49 PM EST

It's not the first time Disney has unceremoniously cut the work of once-beloved 1940s feminist Mary Blair (Tomorrowland, ironically, is long gone), but making her Small World smaller will leave a lasting scar.

More after the jump...

LOST: To Gas or Not To Gas?

| Fri Mar. 7, 2008 6:38 PM EST

mojo-photo-lost0307.jpgWhile last week's episode was a surprisingly affecting reminder of how emotionally powerful this show can be, even when you have very little idea of what the hell is going on, last night's episode was more about giving us edge-of-our-seats suspense while, uh, having no idea what the hell is going on. Plus, you know, a quick blowing of all the semiotics majors' minds with the line "It's very stressful being an Other." Tell me about it!

Actually, we did get some interesting back story on Juliet, whose relationship with Ben turns out to be even creepier than we thought. Juliet's dalliance with Goodwin basically got him killed, as a madly jealous Ben sent him off to his demise. Turns out Juliet looked just like Ben's… 3rd grade teacher? Just a guess. So, that explains how Juliet went from angelic Lifetime-TV-special "I'm just trying to save the mothers" doctor lady into manipulative Other. It happens to the best of us.

Friday Top Five: Beach House, 3Face, McLaughlin Grooves?

| Fri Mar. 7, 2008 3:54 PM EST

mojo-photo-top5mar7.jpg

1. Beach House – "Gila" (mp3 at The Line of Best Fit)
Turns out Baltimore doesn't just make thuddy syncopated club tunes with SpongeBob samples, it also boasts Velvet Underground-y duo Beach House, and this tune from their excellent new album Devotion is both delicate and dark.

2. 3face – "Different World" (All Star Remix) (buy it at iTunes)
Amazingly, the sped-up Four Tops sample isn't even the best thing about this new grime number from the London MC: it's the propulsive, ringing chords that push the verses along, urgent and hypnotic.

3. Andrew WK – "McLaughlin Groove" (listen at the Fair Game site)
Wow: turns out Andrew WK's bloody, raucous throwdowns fit right in with the long-running political talk show's bloody, raucous throwdowns. My mind is blown.