Mixed Media

Ditching the Holiday Cheer With Mahjongg

| Fri Dec. 28, 2007 8:08 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 12:38 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 5:09 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 7:43 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 7:05 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)

Thank You, Jesus: Stewart and Colbert Returning to Our TVs

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 3:04 PM EST

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The NY Times is reporting that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will return to the airwaves on January 7th, the same week their late-night buddies at the major networks are also planning to return. None of the shows will have their writing staffs, since the strike that took the shows off the air is still ongoing, and one wonders how that will affect the content. Without my writers, for instance, I can't even answer the phone. Helloooo? Whaaaat? Darrrrr? Thank you very much. Anyway, the Times says both the hosts will have to improvise basically everything they say, which seems like it might be easier for Stewart, but again, who knows. The hosts said in a statement that they would, of course, prefer to bring their writers with them, and "if we cannot, we would like to express our ambivalence, but without our writers we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence." Cute. Since both hosts are members of the Writers Guild, will we see any protests, officially-sanctioned or otherwise (like what happened to the hapless Carson Daly) against the shows? Tune in in two weeks…

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Friday Don't Be a Wise Guy It's Music News Day

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 2:54 PM EST

Music News

  • 25th-anniversary edition of Michael Jackson's Thriller complete with remixes by Will.i.am and Kanye West universally panned. Whatever, this was just an excuse for me to post that creepy picture of Jackson shopping at Borders with what looks like tape holding his face together.
  • Amy Winehouse's Back to Black will likely be the biggest-selling album of the year in the UK, moving 1.5 million units so far, although reality-show star Leona Lewis may overtake her at the last minute. Yeah I have no idea who that is either.
  • Patti Smith has been hosting a podcast about the life of Bob Dylan, and everybody just noticed this, I guess. The latest edition features the Band's Garth Hudson and jazz great George Wein.
  • Moby's request for a fan to be sent to his room at a Ukranian hotel gets, erm, lost in translation, as the clerk responds that he's sorry but there are no women in the lobby. Ba-dump bam!
  • M.I.A., Spoon, Swizz Beats Among Shortlist Prize Nominees

    | Fri Dec. 21, 2007 2:05 PM EST

    mojo-photo-shortlist.jpgNominees for the Shortlist Prize (America's answer to the UK's Mercury Prize for best album of the year) were announced today, and there's 54 of them, so you might want to get a snack. Shortlist restricts nominees to albums that have sold less than 500,000 copies, which ain't so hard these days, but does eliminate Kanye. The nominating panel included Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol, the Killers' Ronnie Vannuccii, and KCRW DJ Chris Douridas, and after the jump, the nominees, every last one of them:

    Party Ben's Top Ten Albums of 2007

    | Thu Dec. 20, 2007 11:25 PM EST

    mojo-photo-rifftoptenweek.jpgI know: I have a problem. It's serious, and it's not getting better. I'm obsessed with "Best of" lists. I love them! I collect them, compare them, fold them up into little squares and rub them against my cheeks. Not that last one. But I do read a lot of them, and yes, now mine does look pretty familiar: my Top 3, at least, is a lot like everyone else's. But I swear it: these are the albums that I enjoyed the most, and felt were the most significant, of the year, and just because I kind of agree with Pitchfork, does that make me a bad person? ...Don't answer that.

    Red Velvet Goldmine, or, Christmas With Bowie

    | Thu Dec. 20, 2007 4:43 PM EST

    If you're still singing to yourself, "I hurt myself today pa rum pum pum pum," then you might want to change your interior Muzak track with this gem. Here's what happened when David Bowie dropped by Bing Crosby's place for some Christmas cheer:

    (Via The Poop)