Mixed Media

Whoops: Party Ben Gets Fooled by Fake Death Cab Leak

| Mon Apr. 14, 2008 10:06 PM EDT

The supposed leak of the new Death Cab for Cutie album I downloaded unwittingly last week and just opened up to check out today turns out to be a fake: an April Fool's joke by a blogger called Charlatantric. He put the new Death Cab song in the middle of a bunch of songs by German band Velveteen, whose singer sure sounds a lot like Ben Gibbard, in my (admittedly rather weak) defense. Guess I gotta check them out, I liked it so much. Anyway, goes to show: don't believe everything you read on this here series of tubes, something Nick Baumann just pointed out on this very blog. I'll review the real Death Cab CD as soon as we get it.

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Blogs: Gawker Media Sells Off Sites

| Mon Apr. 14, 2008 5:04 PM EDT

mojo-photo-gawker.jpgGawker Media, the blog "collective" that includes sites like Defamer and Gizmodo, has sold three of its 15 sites as part of an attempt to "hunker down" as they "wait for the internet bubble to burst." Didn't that already happen? Music site Idolator, travel site Gridskipper and politics blog Wonkette have all been sold to companies who can supposedly better sell advertising on them, with Idolator heading to Stereogum-owning Buzznet and Gridskipper migrating to Curbed. Wonkette, a near-legendary site that had been closely identified with Gawker, will now be part of the Blogads network that includes Daily Kos.

Since music is more my thing, I can attest that Idolator has always done a pretty good job, with an anything-goes pop culture policy and ample evidence of the quirky tastes of its writers. But when they post "Top Stories" and it turns out just a couple-hundred page views is all it takes to land there, one wonders how it all makes economic sense. (Not to gloat, as I'm sure Riff page views aren't anywhere close). Besides, Stereogum and Pitchfork also cover a lot of the same ground. Connect the dots to the recent stories about overwhelmed bloggers dropping dead from exhaustion, and this blog downturn ("downblog"? "blogturn"?) could be all too real. Jeez, Mother Jones, don't spin off the Riff to Playboy, you're a non-profit, remember? Guess I gotta up those click-throughs…

TV: "Greatest Comedy Sketches" Inspire Deadly Serious Writing

| Fri Apr. 11, 2008 4:00 PM EDT

mojo-photo-50greatest.jpgOkay, I'll bite: Nerve.com (the sexy website) and IFC.com (the, er, indie film channel's website) have combined forces for some reason to bring us a list of the Top 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time. Sure, we've all got three hours to watch a bunch of YouTube videos of sketches we've all seen 100 times already. And I can ignore the fact that this joint venture requires one to jump back and forth between the two websites (opening a new browser window each time), and the fact that The State scored more entries than the Kids in the Hall. But it's the writing that does my head in: leaden descriptions of each sketch that are so brutally unfunny, they seem to siphon off the comedic energy of the sketches themselves. Check out this neutered portrait of Monty Python's "Spanish Inquisition" sketch (#33):

Music: Prince Added to Coachella Lineup

| Thu Apr. 10, 2008 4:35 PM EDT

mojo-photo-princecoach.jpgI was just telling people that I bet Goldenvoice would add another high-profile artist, and look at me, I'm so smart! All those commenters are so wrong! Although I had no idea the new addition would be Prince, the Great Horny Devil of the Super Bowl himself. Apparently the randy Minnesotan will be the headliner on Saturday, the second of the festival's three nights; this puts the kibosh on my whole "leave early before Jack Johnson and hang around in the hot tub" plans, since if Prince's performance is anything like that blazing Super Bowl appearance, I don't want to miss it.

Now if they could just sneak Radiohead in on Friday night…

Tibet: The Populist Playlist

| Wed Apr. 9, 2008 8:35 PM EDT

Rick-Springfield-250x200.jpgAt the "finish line" for the Olympic torch runners at the Embarcadero area of San Francisco today was a live band made up of five white dudes wearing leisure suits and wigs, and performing mostly 80s songs.

As hordes of folks carrying Tibetan national flags, Chinese national flags, "Free Tibet" signs, bullhorns, video cameras, and cellphones surged through the massively barricaded area, the band performed as if it were a homecoming party at a frat house. Here's a sampling of their set list, what my colleague calls the Populist Playlist for the day:

Botox Takes a Hit from Flailing Economy

| Tue Apr. 8, 2008 7:28 PM EDT
The effects of the struggling economy are finally trickling up. The Los Angeles Times reports that local LA resident Goldy Anthony has had to give up her regular botox-cum-ladies-who-lunch appointments in Beverly Hills because, well, at $1,800 a session (not including lunch), she no longer has the pocket change to spare. With the announcement last week that 80,000 American jobs were cut in just this past month, and foreclosures sweeping the nation, it's hard to bemoan the casualty of Goldy's botox procedures, and that she will no longer be able to inject toxins into her face to achieve that eerily placid perma-expression.

But the whole thing is making cosmetic surgeons pretty nervous. One doctor claims his number of surgeries decreased by "5% in January and February," while other doctors are reportedly "off by 30% to 40%." Although we may easily shrug off cosmetic surgery, the fact that the economic downturn has reached this sector indicates that even the wealthy are being forced to cut back—which is not a good sign for consumer spending. Over at Slate.com, though, William Saletan is rejoicing that elective cosmetic surgery has taken a small hit. Cosmetic procedures have increased 457 percent since 1997. Now, maybe doctors will get back to the true meat and potatoes work of practicing medicine.

—Joyce Tang

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Music: The Prizes, They Are a-Changin'

| Tue Apr. 8, 2008 6:21 PM EDT

mojo-photo-dylanpulitzer.jpg

Thanks to Bob Dylan, rock 'n' roll has finally broken through the Pulitzer wall. Dylan, the most acclaimed and influential songwriter of the past half century, who more than anyone brought rock from the streets to the lecture hall, received an honorary Pulitzer Prize on Monday, cited for his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." It was the first time Pulitzer judges, who have long favored classical music, and, more recently, jazz, awarded an art form once dismissed as barbaric, even subversive.
- AP

Hip-hop has finally broken the boundaries of time and space, as the Nobel Foundation announced today that Snoop Dogg would be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Gunnar Öquist, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, presented Snoop with the prize in a ceremony in Stockholm, citing the rapper's "inquisitive lyrical themes concerning the behaviors of liquids ('Gin and Juice') and gases ('Chronic Break')," as well as his "hebetudinous delivery which has been proven to alter the listener's perception of time." Snoop pronounced the medal "fly."

Back in the States, in a move that has been anticipated for weeks, Miley Cyrus was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant for her work as Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana. The MacArthur foundation heaped praise on the singer for her contributions to "the advancement of syncretic metafiction," describing the singer, real name Destiny Hope Cyrus, as a "a web of multiple identities, the first true post-human creation of the digital age." Cyrus reacted to the news by hugging her dog and thanking her role model Hillary Duff, who won the Pritzker in 2007.

In related news, it was screaming mayhem at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice awards last week as host Jack Black presented Richard Dawkins with the award for "Favorite Male Evolutionary Biologist." "Up yours, Gouldy," he exclaimed, referring to the writer Steven Jay Gould, who had famously been nominated 14 times for the award, yet never won. Attendee Tiffany Wright, 11, clutching a tear-stained copy of The God Delusion, told reporters she had actually touched the writer's tweed jacket. "Religion is the opiate of the masses," she exclaimed, "Ricky is totally my idol!"

Music: Today's Top 5* CD Releases and a Word from Critics

| Tue Apr. 8, 2008 4:14 PM EDT

At this point, waiting for a release date, putting on your hat and coat, runing to the record store and plunking down cash bills for a plastic-wrapped compact disc is so retro, it's almost a novelty, like a horse-and-buggy ride through Central Park. Remember, kids, back in Grandpa's day, we couldn't just google the band's name and "Rapidshare" to find variable bit-rate mp3s in a password-protected RAR file three months before the release date, I tell you what. Awww, Grandpa!

*According to me.

mojo-cover-cave.jpg1. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Dig, Lazarus, Dig! (Anti-)

"Triumph" – UK Observer Music Monthly, 5/5
"Gold" – Entertainment Weekly, A-



mojo-cover-breederssm.jpg2. Breeders
Mountain Battles (4AD)

"Raw" – Rolling Stone, 3.5/5
"Lively" – Radar Online



mojo-cover-tapes.jpg3. Tapes 'n' Tapes
Walk It Off (XL)

"Swarming" – Rolling Stone, 3/5
"Messy" – BBC



After the jump: Old trees, and old Russian guys.

TV: The Weekend in Sci-Fi

| Mon Apr. 7, 2008 9:31 PM EDT

mojo-photo-battlelogo.gifmojo-photo-torchlogo.gifIf you were out and about this weekend and noticed a lower ratio of geeks hanging around than usual, there were two reasons why: the season premier of Battlestar Galactica on Sci-Fi Friday, and a hyped episode of Torchwood on BBC America Saturday, its third-to-the-last before the season finale. So, how were they, and was there any significant political/religious allegory or sexual identity boundary breaking, respectively?

After the jump: flying away from Earth makes my head hurt, and seeing it burned to a crisp makes me holler.

When Live Music Isn't So Live

| Mon Apr. 7, 2008 6:05 PM EDT

mojo-photo-tingtings.jpgThe organic, gritty sound of your favorite band, strumming out their rockin' jams on stage: nothing could be more purely live, more essentially human, right? Well, recently it seems like the line separating a live show from, say, a movie, or, um, a pre-programmed roboticized fantasia, has become more and more blurred. Just a few weeks ago, up-and-coming UK duo The Ting Tings opened for The Duke Spirit at Rickshaw Stop here in San Francisco, and I had mixed feelings about their performance. On the one hand, they make incredibly catchy, exciting, playful music, and both members are clearly accomplished musicians and singers. On the other hand, they made no effort to disguise the fact that they were playing along with a backing tape. For instance, during the chorus of their current single "Great DJ," the sound stepped up a notch, with a second guitar line and possibly extra percussion filling things out. However they did it, it was performed flawlessly—the "taped" material was never out of synch, and it definitely made the songs richer, more intense. Parts of the crowd responded, dancing and singing along. But others seems to hold back, more so than even a typically stand-offish SF audience; did people have a sense of being "had"?

After the jump: video, and a graph!