Mixed Media

President Obama: "I Loved Spock"

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 5:45 PM EST

President Obama released a statement Friday on the death of Leonard Nimoy. The actor, best known for his role as Spock on Star Trek died at the age of 83 earlier today.

Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy. Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the center of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future.

I loved Spock.

In 2007, I had the chance to meet Leonard in person. It was only logical to greet him with the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for “Live long and prosper.” And after 83 years on this planet––and on his visits to many others––it’s clear Leonard Nimoy did just that. Michelle and I join his family, friends, and countless fans who miss him so dearly today.

Upon meeting for the first time, Nimoy said the president greeted him with the iconic Vulcan salute.

In the past, Obama has been criticized for being too "Spock-like" or methodical in his proceedings, to which the president once playfully responded, "Is that a crack on my ears?"

Nimoy's death has sparked an outpouring of eulogies from fans, fellow actors, and politicans alike. Earlier, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted:

 

RIP.

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RIP Leonard Nimoy

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 1:37 PM EST

Leonard Nimoy, best known for his role as the iconic Mr. Spock of "Star Trek" died on Friday at the age of 83.

His wife confirmed the news to the New York Times, saying the actor died from "end-stage" pulmonary disease. Nimoy announced he had been battling the disease earlier this year and attributed his many years of smoking for the cause.

Below is his last tweet:

Some Llamas Escaped and Went on a High-Speed Chase and It Was Amazing

| Thu Feb. 26, 2015 5:29 PM EST

Llamas! Arizona! Internet!

This is a recipe for delight!

Anyway, I don't know any details about this story other than llamas escaped (presumably from some sort of pen?) in Arizona and then they ran free and a chase began and the world was caught up in it, man, and it was like the '60s in Europe and people were riding Vespas and falling in love and hair was blowing in the wind and hot people were wearing leather jackets and berets and some were smoking to signify their rebellious nature and everyone was singing rock and roll and saying "Viva la llama!"

Okay, a lot of that didn't happen but the llamas did escape and there was a chase and it was amazing. Then they were caught.

Watch the entire wonderful epic below:


Bye bye Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee

but the levee was dry

and good ol' boys were drinking

whiskey and rye, singing

"they caught the llamas."

This Is the Best Reason Why a Newspaper Has Ever Withheld a Source's Identity

| Wed Feb. 25, 2015 12:19 PM EST

When a New York Times reporter approached a random woman about the improved conditions inside the bathrooms at the usually disgusting Port Authority Bus Terminal, the reporter probably did not anticipate the question would lead to fulfilling a profound lifelong goal. Alas, dreams delivered:

The brand new Port Authority, where it's always best to stay anonymous.

Rachel Maddow Slams "Ballistic" Bill O'Reilly Over Threats to Reporter

| Wed Feb. 25, 2015 10:13 AM EST

Bill O'Reilly has a history of hurling insults and threats at his detractors. With the controversy over the reports from Mother Jones, CNN, and others that he embellished his reporting experience in the Falklands War, the Fox News host has added to this reputation by suggesting Mother Jones editor David Corn be placed in "the kill zone" and by telling a New York Times reporter she would face consequences if a story on the controversy did not please him.

"I am coming after you with everything I have. You can take that as a threat," O'Reilly told Times reporter Emily Steel.

During the "Debunktion Junction" segment on her show Tuesday night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow slammed O'Reilly over his latest personal attacks and threats.

"Fox News has a bunch of folks like Mr. O'Reilly on their shows—part of why I call them 'Republican TV,'" Maddow said. "But they also have a lot of real reporters on staff who do real reporting all day long on real news...I'm sure they don't take kindly when their own reporters get threatened for trying to do their jobs. But it is hard to imagine what this is going to do to the work environment at Fox News channel for the Fox News channel's real reporters, and they do have them."

Watch below:

Christian Singer Who Sold His Song to "Fifty Shades of Grey": "I Thought It Was a Rom-Com"

| Wed Feb. 25, 2015 7:00 AM EST

Remember your high school prom? Now imagine, for the slow dance, the class nerd—pale, big glasses, a little chubby—walked on stage and belted out the most exquisite Otis Redding cover you'd ever heard. That's what came to mind when I saw Paul Janeway, the lead singer of St. Paul & the Broken Bones, perform at the Fillmore in San Francisco over Valentine's Day weekend. Featuring Janeway's wrenching vocals plus sizzling guitar, horns, and rhythm, the tight and explosive seven-piece Broken Bones banded together in Birmingham, Alabama, and released their first EP in 2012. They've since appeared on Letterman and at Bonnaroo, and released a full album, Half the City, produced by the keyboardist from the Alabama Shakes.

Though his passionate tunes will surely inspire steamy encounters, Janeway's roots are pure: He learned to sing at his Pentecostal-leaning church. So it might come as a surprise that the band's song "Call Me" was included in Fifty Shades of Grey, the film based on E.L. James' erotic BDSM novel.

Decked out in a crisp navy suit, a red satin pocket square, and flashy gold shoes, Janeway charged through Redding numbers during his Fillmore set, as well as a dance-worthy cover of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees" and a killer version of Paul McCartney and Wings' "Let Me Roll It." The Broken Bones' gospel-infused originals kept the audience swaying through the show, and delivered proof that classic soul lives on through more than just covers.

"I had no idea what it was. Then I saw a preview for it, and I was like, 'Oh shit. Oh no. What have I done?'"

I spoke with Janeway the morning after his latest San Francisco show.

Mother Jones: You've said: "My goal in life until I was about 18 years old was to be a preacher." What was your first reaction to learning that your song would be in Fifty Shades of Grey?

Paul Janeway: [Laughs.] All right, my first Fifty Shades of Grey question! When they presented the licensing opportunity, they presented it as: It's going to be a huge movie, they want to put a decent amount of the song in the movie in a nonsexual scene.

I knew it was a book, but I had no idea what it was. So I was like, sure, big movie, good exposure. I'll be in this romantic comedy. Which is what I thought it was: a romantic comedy. It's a good way to make money in the music business, you know. Then I saw a preview for it, and I was like, "Oh, shit. Oh, no. What have I done?"

To me it's kind of funny. I'm glad it's in a nonsexual scene to be honest with you, not for my sake but for my family's sake. I don't have any moral things about it. It's not like we're in the movie—it's just a song for a minute.

MJ: My friend had heard some of your songs but didn't know much about you. When we first walked in show, his first words were: "Wow, it's just a bunch of white dudes." Do you get that a lot?

PJ: Yeah, a little bit. It is interesting that people get kind of shocked by that, I guess. I don't ever really think about that because it's just music that we love. We're from Alabama, and if you look at the Muscle Shoals Swampers, that was just a bunch of white dudes. They wrote some of the best soul music ever written. I think if people don't know the musical history, I think they're like, "Oh?!"

MJ: I didn't realize you were so theatrical: You were humping the speakers at one point, throwing down the mic. Did that dramatic side start before you became a singer, or has music brought it out of you?

PJ: That's always been something I've been attracted to. I love Broadway musicals. Really for me, as St. Paul, it's an exaggeration of my personality put on to the max. It's just ridiculous. I don't typically climb on speakers in real life. It's an adventure within the show—like, okay, here's something to climb on. The first night [in San Francisco] I got on the really tall speaker and got really scared. I'm like, I'm not doin' that the second night!

In Dallas one time, it wasn't well-lit on the stage. I jumped in front of the horn mics and I couldn't see the stage or the monitor. So I tripped over the monitor and took out both horn mics, the trombone player broke his slide out. I thought I broke my ankle, but it was just really badly bruised.

MJ: You sing so much about love and affection: How do you get in the mood if your personal life is making you feel down or cynical?

PJ: I got married seven weeks ago. It's weird because I'm very happy, and some of the songs are about heartbreak. I'm not really heartbroken. When it's show time, when you have a song that's danceable, it's easy to sing about love and sex.

"'Try a Little Tenderness' is a monster of a song. I don't know why we have the guts to do it. It's sacred territory."

It's really the ones about heartbreak and sadness that are difficult to handle because I have to get to a place mentally during the song that's not really where I want to be. We have this song called "Broken Bones and Pocket Change": Sometimes I get really emotional, and I have to take a break, 20 seconds to be like, "Okay, we're done with that one." You want the song to have the same meaning it had when you sang it the first time. 

MJ: You really belt. How do you take care of your voice?

PJ: A lot of Coca-Cola. [Laughs]. That's not really good for you, but I do drink a lot of Coke. I don't drink alcohol; I don't smoke. I never have in my 31 years on the planet. I do vocal warm-ups. I use this spray called Entertainer's Secret. And sleep. The thing is, I can sleep 12 to 13 hours. It's pretty vital to the rejuvenation of the voice. You do it night in and night out, your voice has to recuperate, it's key. I think if I was a hard partier, I think it would be a lot tougher. But I'm not; I'm pretty lame.

MJ: I think I heard you say on stage that Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" was the best soul song of all times.

PJ: It's definitely one of the best. As a song live, you can't follow it. I think Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," and then a William Bell song, "I Forgot to Be Your Lover." Those three songs to me—it's kind of like picking your favorite kid though.

"Try a Little Tenderness" is an old song. But as far as Otis Redding's execution, it's one of the best executions ever. Live, it's a monster of a song. I don't know why we have the guts to do it. It's sacred territory. I think when we were starting out, we were too stupid to think about that. We just loved the song. We were like, we know this is a classic: If you can't measure yourself to that, you don't need to be doin' this. 

MJ: Let's talk about the art of the carefully selected pocket squares. Do you pick your own?

PJ: I do, I do. I've actually lost quite a few at this point. They end up in my book bag or somewhere else. There was a really great one, that was like lacy, almost like panties. It was pink. That was the best pocket square I've ever had, but I cannot find it. It was amazing.

I actually handle all that stuff myself. Those gold shoes are the only thing I like wearing—they are just flashy enough to make me feel good about doin' it.

MJ: What's the red pin you're always wearing?

PJ: It says Alabama. It's an Alabama football thing. It's my code way to stayin' real tied to the state of Alabama—a little piece of home.

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Sonny Smith's Low-Key Garage Pop is Deceptively Smart

| Mon Feb. 23, 2015 1:52 PM EST

Sonny and the Sunsets
Talent Night at the Ashram
Polyvinyl

Seemingly adrift in a drowsy haze, the always-engaging Sonny Smith would make a fine magician, so adept is he at the art of misdirection. Like its predecessors, Antenna to the Afterworld and Longtime Companion, the winning Talent Night at the Ashram projects a laid-back, even apathetic vibe, but Smith's low-key garage pop (brightened this time by thrift-shop synths) and aw-shucks singing are just the beginning of the story. This down-home philosopher is a thoughtful and compassionate observer of ordinary folks looking to make sense of life, as shown in such deceptively smart songs as "Alice Leaves for the Mountains"and "Icelene's Loss." While the seven-minute "Happy Carrot Health Food Store" will strain the patience of all but the most devoted fans, it's a rare lapse for this charming man.

"Selma Is Now": John Legend and Common Just Gave An Amazing Oscar Speech

| Mon Feb. 23, 2015 12:35 AM EST

John Legend and Common's "Glory" from Selma just won an Oscar for Best Original Song. Legend and Common gave a wonderful, heartfelt, important speech.

"Selma is now," Legend began. "The struggle for justice is now. The Voting Rights Act that they fought for fifty years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. Right now the struggle for justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people march with our song, we want to tell you: we see you, we are with you, we love you, and march on."

Earlier they delivered an amazing performance of the song. Everyone was in tears.

One Perfect Tweet Shows Just How Ridiculous Everything Is

| Sun Feb. 22, 2015 11:24 PM EST

This is perfect and true and sad and it made me sad.

 

Patricia Arquette Just Told Hollywood Exactly What It Needed To Hear

| Sun Feb. 22, 2015 11:08 PM EST

"To every woman who gave birth to every tax payer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America."