Mixed Media

Winter Holidays = God Awful Pop Music

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 9:01 PM EST
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Regrettably, I spent my morning listening to songs on the Monster Ballads Xmas CD and the LeeVees' How Do You Spell Channukkahh EP. Any holiday spirit I had when I woke up this morning has now been completely ripped out of my system.

I'm not sure why holiday rock almost always = terrible rock, but the monster ballad CD and the silly Jewish rock EP are living proof that rock songs about Santa and pop songs about potato latkes are not, and will never be, cool, funny, interesting, or enjoyable in any way. I want to personally thank them for giving me a full-fledged holiday headache.

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Baby Grace: Sleeping in the Bed Her Mother Made

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 12:52 PM EST

You have to be made of stone not to have been following the Baby Grace case. The one that had hardened cops weeping and fondling tiny pink sneakers after her little decomposed body was found floating in Galveston Bay. Even the forensic artist brought in to create her likeness so she could be identified came away moved. After 14 weeks of nature taking its toll on Baby Grace's tortured little body, one would imagine that job to be a horrible one, but the beautiful innocence of a child whose true face she'd only ever see in her mind's eye makes the artists' description of that task simply transcendent:

St. Louie Woman: Sickness in the Suburbs

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 11:42 AM EST

This is one of those stories that you just can't stop thinking about and wondering what the hell is so wrong with people. You read the news and suddenly the whole hermit/Walden Pond thing just makes so much sense. If only there was a way to legislate against stupidity and viciousness. There isn't, but that didn't stop suburban St. Louis politicians from doing it anyway. Wrong as the underlying act was, heinous as it was, making online harassment, without a clearly stated threat, a punishable offense only makes things worse. Ninety percent of the blogosphere is prima facie harassment; they better get a lot more jails built and be ready to face a whole lotta 1st Amendment cases.

It's been hard to miss the story about the 13 year old girl who committed suicide after a MySpace boyfriend wooed, then cruelly mocked and dump her. The 'boyfriend' turned out to be the mom of her former best friend and only four houses down the leafy suburban cul de sac. As horrible as was a grown woman intentionally setting out to spy on a child (how dare she de-best friend her daughter), the details are even worse. The New York Times has the goods:

Holiday Music Mercy Courtesy of The Killers

| Wed Nov. 28, 2007 9:17 PM EST

The holiday season offers no shortage of peril: themed turtleneck sweaters, Bûche de Noël, office party punch. And of course, the one holiday intrusion that none of us can avoid, from the dawn of Black Friday through 'til Christmas Day, is the ubiquitous playing and marketing of Christmas music. This year, if all the harking of angels on high and Beach Boys covers are getting you so down that even Neil Diamond's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" can't raise you up, The Killers have just the song for you. "Don't Shoot Me Santa" is the feel-good—in a super dark way—iTunes download of the season, with all its proceeds going to AIDS charities as part of Bono's RED campaign. For those of us who have always dreamed of tying up Brandon Flowers with tinsel and tormenting him in the desert, Christmas has come a little early this year.

Wonder Woman Gets Her First Female Scribe

| Wed Nov. 28, 2007 12:53 PM EST

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The Times just profiled Gail Simone, the first woman to write DC Comics' Wonder Woman series. MJ was on the story back in July, when Charlie Anders introduced readers to Simone as part of a generation of feisty female comic-book geeks who are breaking into the boys-in-tights club. Simone helped get the ball rolling with her Women in Refrigerators site, which listed the horrible demise of many a female superhero. So don't expect Wonder Woman to pull a Captain America any time soon. Meanwhile, it looks like Simone is keeping Princess Diana of Themyscira plenty busy fighting off a troop of groping blue gorillas.

Lars and the Real Girl

| Mon Nov. 26, 2007 10:35 PM EST
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The second the credits started rolling after a recent showing of the film Lars and the Real Girl, my friend turned to me and said, "That was the most boring film I've ever seen in my life. I fell asleep, like, five times."

Boring? I disagree. The film creeps along at a slow pace, but can you tell the story of an extremely sensitive, emotionally wrecked young man whose platonic relationship with a blow-up doll helps him get over the death of his mother and social anxieties at a fast pace? You could, but it probably would have to star Will Ferrell and be directed by Judd Apatow.

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Remixing Rudy Giuliani's Broken Record

| Mon Nov. 26, 2007 8:57 PM EST
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Nice. WFMU's Beware of the Blog is collecting remixes of Rudy Giuliani mentioning his favorite (only?) topic. As DJ Joe Biden might say, all Rudy needs is a noun, a verb, September 11... and a beat. My favorite so far is Miguelito Contraband's "Gold Plated 9-11 Diapers" [MP3].

Party Ben's European Tour Update #2: Warsaw, Prague, Belgium, Munich...

| Mon Nov. 26, 2007 12:53 PM EST

mojo-photo-pbposter3.JPG"...everybody talk about, pop music." Ahem. Anyway, holy moley, Riff, it's been an eventful week around central Europe and my sincerest apologies if you've been awaiting my latest update, wondering if I'm still alive or if I'd succumbed to a plague or a hostel that turned out to be a crazy movie torture prison or something. No, and no, everything's fine, but with barely enough time to sleep a few hours each night I'm afraid Riffing has slid a little on the priority list. Here's a quick recap.

The Intellectual Street Brawler: What if They Held a Street Fight But Nobody Watched?

| Mon Nov. 26, 2007 10:31 AM EST

Way to come back from T-day festivities and get all depressed over the state of our humanity.
What the hell, misery loves company. Check out Sucker Punch: The art, the poetry, the idiocy of YouTube street fights over at Slate. Yup, knuckle draggers staging, then taping, disgusting street fights all for your viewing pleasure.

The author is an English professor and fight fan who's using the education his parents denied themselves to give him making street brawls high brow. That's unfair, I know, but so is glamorizing hooliganism (these folks go around 'happy slapping' unsuspecting women) which writing like this certainly does. As does my linking to it.

Anybody Here Seen my Old Friend Ian Smith?: Where do Evil People Go When They Die?

| Tue Nov. 20, 2007 7:56 PM EST

When I saw the name, that name, Ian Smith, in the paper's today, I shrunk back from my own computer.

I'm 48 and was raised to be apolitical by fundamentalist Southern Baptists who thought having a news awareness, with all the ungodliness on display there, was, well, ungodly. We weren't allowed to play cards (tools of the devil) or games with dice in them (like Monopoly). Needless to say, we weren't allowed to watch the news, listen to news radio or read newspapers. Both the Civil Rights Movement and the Viet Nam War, which raged through my adolescence, were tumults I learned of during my 20's in the 1980's. Still, even I somehow knew how much that man hated me and how much his hatred was required to justify white privilege. His racism, and the larger reality of racism in general, was a poison I couldn't avoid inhaling. It's hard to describe what knowing how thoroughly you're despised does to you. And now, like Richard Nixon, Smith's gotten to die peacefully in his feather-bedded mansion. Where's the justice for those who brutalize the world, curse an entire race/continent, and go to their graves defiant?