Mixed Media

David Cross Explains Balance of Indie Cred and Chipmunk Cash

| Wed Jan. 2, 2008 9:55 PM EST

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Hey, did ya see that Chipmunks movie yet? The one that looks like a sub-Garfield brain-dissolving Hollywood CGI cash-in? No? Well, me neither, but it turns out comedian David Cross is in it, which if you're like me you didn't know until this bit of news hit Defamer: Cross has posted a lengthy defense of taking Chipmunk money on his website, apparently in response to a dis from Patton Oswalt, who had a part in the considerably-more-highbrow Ratatouille and turned down the part in Chipmunks. The screed is vintage Cross, brutally honest, kind of mixed up, and pretty damn funny:

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Top Ten Albums of 2008! Just Kidding

| Wed Jan. 2, 2008 7:43 PM EST

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From left: Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, Kim Deal of The Breeders, Chan Marshall aka Cat Power, and Dr. Dre

So 2007 was a pretty good year for music, but now our thoughts must turn to the future: what can we look forward to this year? Music blog Stereogum points out that 2008's schedule of album releases is light on the "blockbuster appeal" of 2007, which saw Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, the Shins and LCD Soundsystem put out highly-anticipated albums. However, there's still a bunch of good stuff on the docket for '08, and here's an admittedly arbitrary list of some of the biggies for the first half of the year, and why one might care:

Late Night Talkers Returning, Some With Writers, Some With Protests

| Wed Jan. 2, 2008 3:09 PM EST

Late Night

Those of us who have been missing our pre-bedtime comedy wind-down can get partially back on track tonight, as all the big network late-night shows will make their return to the wee screen for the first time since the beginning of the writers' strike. Only David Letterman and Craig Ferguson will have their writers, as Letterman's independent production company Worldwide Pants (which owns Ferguson's show too) made their own special deal with the scribes, something the other network-owned shows couldn't figure out, I guess. Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno, and Jimmy Kimmel will be on their own; well, I mean that figuratively, as Leno will be accompanied by Mike Huckabee tonight, who can hopefully continue to expand on his latest comedy gold-mine, a hilarious set piece about how homosexuality is a pretty bad sin but not as bad as necrophilia. Too much! If you prefer Letterman (if!), you'll have to suffer through his first guest, Robin Williams. The other network shows may not have writers (or big-name guests), but they may be accompanied by protests, as the WGA has announced it will picket all three shows, as well as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who return on Monday. Whether any of this is enough to draw back discouraged viewers from other activities remains to be seen.

Is Sound Quality Really "Worse Than Ever"?

| Wed Jan. 2, 2008 1:59 PM EST

I Can't Hear YouLast week, Rolling Stone posted an extensive (6 online pages!) diatribe against sound quality in the age of mp3s. The article seems to have two, somewhat related points: a) that music is being mastered really loud these days, and b) mp3s sound crappy. RS posits that these two factors have become a kind of self-reinforcing spiral of doom for audiophiles, a "global loudening," if you will:

A (Partial) History of the Blog

| Fri Dec. 28, 2007 9:18 PM EST

This week NPR posted Timeline: The Life of the Blog, a history of the blog as we know it today.

It's a fun trajectory to ponder, from the formation of the Internet's oldest online communities in 1979 to the launch of Cleveland's community network for residents, Freenet, in 1986, to the emergence of homepages and online diaries in 1994—and beyond.

The timeline includes the birth of podcasting, and it also chronicles blogs' effect on political campaigns, but it does not explain how the blogosphere has changed journalism.

Ditching the Holiday Cheer With Mahjongg

| Fri Dec. 28, 2007 9:08 PM EST
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I love holiday music (Kenny Rogers' Christmas album is a family favorite. Seriously.) as much as the next person, but now that vacation is over, I'm ready to ditch the holiday cheer and get back to music that is rougher around the edges.

Mahjongg, a Chicago-based five-piece, is helping me do just that.

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Rembering Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest

| Fri Dec. 28, 2007 1:38 PM EST

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By now we are all familiar with YouTube's knack for elevating the obscure amateur to star status. But for all you TV addicts bemoaning the writers' strike out there, here's yet another reason to turn to online TV: its ability to resurrect the great, unheralded classic.

Caught in strike-induced withdrawal, I recently discovered via YouTube Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest—not an album or a song, but a short-lived, self-financed TV show Seeger put on for about 40 episodes in the mid-1960s. The show (whose title is a variation on the lyrics of the folksong "Oh, Had I A Golden Thread") had a casual format, with Seeger chatting up his musician guests, many of whom were his friends, in between songs. Rainbow Quest's setting and tone are quintessential Seeger: He and his guests sit around a rustic living room set, discuss their craft in earnest tones, and, when it's time for a song, Seeger, clad in his proletarian clothes, often joins in on the banjo.

Writers' Strike Could Drive a Quarter of TV Watchers Away for Good

| Thu Dec. 27, 2007 6:09 PM EST

youtube100.jpgAs the writers' strike slogs on, TV pundits look to the past for answers—specifically, the last writers' strike in 1988. A blogger over at YouLicense has talked to a Writers' Guild official who claimed that after the last strike, 10 percent of TV watchers gave up the tube for good. There aren't many hard numbers to back up that claim, but some are saying that the decline in TV devotees will be even steeper this time around—and this time, there's a much more compelling reason—Internet TV:

Whichever way this strike plays out in the near future the real winner is the internet. There are hundreds of well funded online TV platforms like Joost , Babelgum, RayV, Knocka TV and many more ready to make their big move. Millions of viewers are emigrating to these newly launched platforms. Millions of viewers prefer watching 3 minute videos on YouTube and Metacafe over the traditional TV shows. The longer the strike continues, the more accustomed these viewers are to getting their fix online.

Some predict as many as 28 percent of viewers will switch to an Internet-only diet. We can only hope this means online TV will get better.

—Kiera Butler

No More Sexy Time?

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 8:43 PM EST

Ali G, Borat, Bruno

It's being reported (thanks to a Drudge Report top-line link, natch) that British actor Sacha Baron Cohen is "offing" two of his most beloved characters, Ali G and Borat, but looking at the original quote in the Telegraph, I'm not sure there's a story here. Here's what Cohen actually said:

All I Want for Christmas, Part 4: New Balance Joy Division

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 8:05 PM EST

You Can Run But You Can't HideLately, when I've been jogging, I seem to keep forgetting about, you know, the horror. But if you too need a reminder during your exercise sessions that "a loaded gun won't set you free," why not pick up these special edition New Balance Joy Division tennies? They're snazzy white and gray sneakers with the artwork from the Div's first album Unknown Pleasures on the tongue and the sole. Actually, it's just a prototype, but perhaps if we all lose control we can cause enough disorder so that they'll make these shoes before the, um, new dawn fades... ugh, are they sure a loaded gun won't set me free?

(Via HypeBeast)