Mixed Media

Blast From the Past: Billy Ward and His Dominoes

| Mon May 18, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

Billy Ward and His Dominoes
The Complete King/Federal Singles
Real Gone Music

Superstars on the 1950s R&B scene, Billy Ward's Dominoes launched the careers of two amazing singers: Clyde McPhatter, who later fronted the earliest incarnation of the Drifters on such hits as "Money Honey" and "Such a Night," and Jackie Wilson, whose high-energy solo smashes included "Lonely Teardrops" and "Baby Workout." While this two-disc, 58-track collection is a mixed bag thanks to the corny likes of "Three Coins in the Fountain" and "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano," the high points are undeniably thrilling. Among them: the outrageously sleazy "Sixty Minute Man," showcasing single-entendre bass vocalist Bill Brown; the funereal lament 'The Bells," wherein McPhatter mixes hysterical sobbing and piercing shrieks in truly bizarre fashion; and Wilson's rip-snorting "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down." Crank up the time machine, pop a top, and let the fun begin.
 

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The Thrill Is Gone. RIP B.B. King.

| Fri May 15, 2015 6:26 AM EDT

Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King died late Thursday in Las Vegas. He was 89.

Hailed as the "King of the Blues," King was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 on a Mississippi cotton plantation. Introduced to music through gospel, King ascended through the ranks as one of the greatest blues artists of all time. The 15-time Grammy winner seemingly never retired, continuing to perform for over seven decades. King had been suffering from diabetes and was recently in hospice care.

RIP.

 

This Is What Classic Pieces of Art Would Look Like if the Prudes at Fox 5 News Had Their Way

| Thu May 14, 2015 3:04 PM EDT

On Monday, a Picasso painting titled Women of Algiers (Version O) fetched a record-setting $179.4 million at a Christie's auction, beating out Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which just two years prior had sold for $142 million, as the most expensive piece of artwork ever sold.

The sale price for the Women of Algiers (Version O) marked the latest entry into a world so mind-numbingly wealthy and closed off to the general public. It's the perfect illustration of privilege consolidating into the hands of so few, for no one else to appreciate.

New York's senior art critic Jerry Saltz has tackled this issue at large on numerous occasions. But this time around, Saltz identified something perhaps even more outrageous than the $179.4 million price tag:

This is pathetic. In anticipation of a piece inevitably shattering another sale record and this Fox affiliate being right there to cover it—both journalistically and visually—here are a few examples of how that coverage might look like:

Henri Matisse, Dance (1)
 
Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses), Paul Cézanne
Katsushika Hokusai's The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife
Michelangelo's David

An abominable peek into the dark arts.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said it was Fox News that had blurred the Picasso painting. This has since been corrected to say it was a Fox affiliate in New York. 

Your Weak Handshakes Are Slowly Killing You

| Thu May 14, 2015 12:17 PM EDT

The life of someone with a weak handshake, already burdened with the stereotypes of being passive and awkward, just got much worse. According to a new study published in The Lancet, a weak hand grip may be strongly correlated to an increased chance of being diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease and even a premature death.

"We think it fits the measure of someone's frailty, and frailty can be thought of as your ability to withstand having a disease," the study's lead author Dr. Darryl Leong explained, according to CTV News.

The study, which focused on roughly 140,000 adults across 17 countries, asked participants to squeeze objects as hard as they could. After measuring their grip strengths, those who demonstrated a lack of muscular strength were shown to be at a far greater risk of having a heart attack.

While previous studies have shown similar links, the new findings are the first to show that handshakes can be a reliable indicator of premature mortality. But the study did not establish whether illnesses were the consequences of reduced muscular strength or if the diseases were already present. From the Economist:

If the former is true, then building up strength through exercise might avert early death. If it is the latter, a person’s cards are probably marked irreversibly. Most likely, it is a bit of both, with muscle strength being a good marker of "real" ageing—in other words, of generalised biochemical decrepitude—which correlates only imperfectly with someone’s calendar age.

You can read the study in its entirety here.

Bad News for Simpsons Fans

| Thu May 14, 2015 8:20 AM EDT

Harry Shearer, the iconic voice of countless "Simpsons" characters including Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders, sent out a pair of ominous tweets last night signaling he may be exiting the show due to what appears to be a contract dispute with executive producer James L. Brooks:

Fox recently renewed the show for another two seasons to last till 2017, but Shearer was reportedly still trying to work out his contract. Judging by the tweets sent out last night, it looks an agreement couldn't be reached. We're still hoping for the best, but for now, we leave you with this clip:

 

Pope Francis Will Officially Recognize Palestinian Statehood

| Wed May 13, 2015 11:59 AM EDT

The Vatican is set to sign a new treaty to formally recognize the state of Palestine. The statement was released by a joint commission of Vatican and Palestinian officials on Wednesday, and indicated an agreement had been "concluded," with an official signing to take place soon.

Though the Vatican has long hinted at supporting an official recognition, Wednesday's news signals the Vatican's first legal shift from recognizing the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine, according to the AP. In 2012, the Vatican applauded the United Nations' decision to formally observe a Palestinian state.

Shortly after the statement's release, Israel expressed disappointment in the Vatican's decision.

"This move does not promote the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct and bilateral negotiations," the Israeli foreign ministry said, according to the AP. "Israel will study the agreement and will consider its steps accordingly."

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This Is the Perfect Response to Fox's Racist Theory About Michelle Obama's Time at Princeton

| Wed May 13, 2015 11:07 AM EDT

Over the weekend, Michelle Obama delivered a passionate, candid commencement speech to the graduating class at Tuskegee University, Alabama, in which she addressed the daily slights of racism she has endured throughout her life. From Saturday's ceremony:

We've both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives. The folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety, the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores. The people at formal events who assumed we were the help. And those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country, and I know that these little indignities are obviously nothing compared to what folks across the country are dealing with every single day.

It was a powerful speech, and naturally, the folks at Fox News were not happy. Fox News contributor Angela McGlowan on Tuesday suggested the speech was yet another example of the White House dividing the country on issues of race, asking, "Why didn't the first lady share the reason why she got into Princeton was probably because of Affirmative Action?"

"The reason why she became an associate at a law firm was probably because of diversity, they needed a woman—not saying that she wasn’t qualified—but they needed a woman, and a woman of color," she said.

Comedy Central's Larry Wilmore was not having it. In a segment on the Nightly Show, he fired back: "When a coke-snorting, alcohol-guzzling son of a CIA director DUI's his way into Yale and ultimately into the Oval Office because his daddy's was in both places, that's affirmative action."

George W., we hope you're watching.

Watch the full segment below:

 

More Americans Ditching Organized Religion

| Tue May 12, 2015 3:36 PM EDT

According to a new study published by the Pew Research Center today, the largest shift in religious demographics over the past seven years is in the number of Americans who don't affiliate with any religion at all. The study, which started in 2007 and surveyed more than 35,000 people, saw this group jump from 16.1 to 22.8 percentage points—with young, college-educated Americans being the most religiously unaffiliated:

While many U.S. religious groups are aging, the unaffiliated are comparatively young – and getting younger, on average, over time. As a rising cohort of highly unaffiliated Millennials reaches adulthood, the median age of unaffiliated adults has dropped to 36, down from 38 in 2007 and far lower than the general (adult) population’s median age of 46.4 By contrast, the median age of mainline Protestant adults in the new survey is 52 (up from 50 in 2007), and the median age of Catholic adults is 49 (up from 45 seven years earlier).

The findings had some disappointing news for Christians. While the number of people who identify with the religion has been waning for decades, the drop in the Christian population has been the sharpest of all in recent years with fewer Americans than ever before identifying themselves as Christians.

Pew

Other interesting details include: Religious intermarriage is up. Christians are getting more diverse. And Muslims and Hindus are seeing significant increases in their numbers. For more, head over to the Pew Research Center here.

The Pentagon Gave How Much Taxpayer Cash to the NFL?

| Tue May 12, 2015 1:32 PM EDT

For the last three years, the Department of Defense has forked over $5.4 million to 14 NFL teams to pay respect to service members during games. And while that's a small line in the behemoth Pentagon budget, at least one GOP senator isn't thrilled about it.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) criticized the "egregious and unnecessary waste of taxpayer dollars" on Monday after a weekend report by NJ.com found the Defense Department and the New Jersey National Guard paid the New York Jets $377,000 for in-game salutes and promotional activities at professional football games. The Atlanta Falcons received more than $1 million during that time, while the Baltimore Ravens raked in $885,000.  

"While it may be appropriate for the National Guard or other service branches to spend taxpayer funds on activities directly related to recruiting," Flake said, "giving taxpayer funds to professional sports teams for activities that are portrayed to the public as paying homage to US military personnel would seem inappropriate."

What did the National Guard get in return? From NJ.com's Christopher Baxter and Jonathan Salant:

The agreement includes the Hometown Hero segment, in which the Jets feature a soldier or two on the big screen, announce their names and ask the crowd to thank them for their service. The soldiers and three friends also get seats in the Coaches Club for the game.

[…]

Aside from the Hometown Heroes segment, the agreements also included advertising and marketing services, including a kickoff video message from the Guard, digital advertising on stadium screens, online advertising and meeting space for a meeting or events.

Also, soldiers attended the annual kickoff lunch in New York City to meet and take pictures with the players for promotional use, and the Jets allowed soldiers to participate in a charity event in which coaches and players build or rebuild a playground or park.

The Jets also provided game access passes.

Flake, who first highlighted the National Guard's spending as part of his #PorkChops campaign on wasteful spending, said his office had found "a number of advertising and promotion contracts between the Pentagon and professional sports teams in the MLB, NBA, NASCAR, Major League Soccer and the NCAA," according to the Hill.

Here's the full list of NFL teams that received DOD money, via NJ.com:

Cheater Punished

| Mon May 11, 2015 5:53 PM EDT

Don't do the crime if you can't...well, maybe just don't do the crime?

The NFL has suspended New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady four games for his role in deflating football for the AFC Championship Game, the league said in a statement Monday.

The Patriots will also lose a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017 and have been fined $1 million.

(via ESPN)