The Riff - May 2008

Group Demands Marriott Turn Off the Porn

| Fri May. 9, 2008 1:02 PM PDT

mojo-photo-marriott.jpgFrom citizenlink.com:

Focus on the Family Action is calling on families to co-sign a letter urging Marriott hotels to stop offering in-room pornography. The letter, signed by 47 family groups, will be presented at a meeting May 14 between pro-family leaders and Marriott International officials. It's the first time a major hotel chain has agreed to meet to discuss the issue. Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy of Focus on the Family Action, said Marriott can't continue to present itself as a family-friendly hotel chain while peddling pornography. "Pornography is highly addictive and extremely destructive," he said. "In the 'secrecy' of a hotel room, pornography can be especially dangerous because it creates a sexualized climate that puts men, women and children at risk."

Focus on the Family Action then demanded Marriott remove all beds, comfy cushions and plush carpets from rooms, since those soft, inviting spaces just make addictive, dangerous fornication all the more likely. And don't get us started on those oh-so-sexy coffeemakers, heating things up! Hub-ba!

After the jump: I didn't mean to press "buy," really!

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Oliver Stone's W: Will It Be Better than "Lil' Bush"?

| Thu May. 8, 2008 3:26 PM PDT

mojo-photo-ewbush.jpgEntertainment Weekly has a "first look" at Oliver Stone's W, the upcoming feature on our most awesomest president ever, starting Josh Brolin as the smirking W himself. Of course, by "First Look," EW is stretching things a bit, since, as they say, "shooting begins in less than two weeks." However, it sounds like Stone is trying to get the movie turned around in record time, with a release possibly coming "as early as October." EW's article is six long pages; so I've collected some highlights after the jump:

Grand Theft Auto IV Makes More Money Than Anything Ever

| Thu May. 8, 2008 2:48 PM PDT

mojo-photo-grandtheft.jpgWell, almost. Billboard magazine reports that first-week sales for the latest installment in the "Grand Theft Auto" videogame series has outperformed even the most optimistic of predictions, making more than $500 million in sales the first week. Billboard says that's 6 million copies, but it's $60 on Amazon, and that works out to $360 million, but who knows how they count these things. Either way, it's a new first-week record for a game, smashing the previous high mark set by "Halo 3" of $300 million.

For comparison's sake, let's just take a look at some other cultural products and institutions and their associated monetary figures, after the jump:

Music: Million DJ March to Unite Annoying, Headphone-Wearing Dorks

| Wed May. 7, 2008 6:47 PM PDT

mojo-photo-milliondj.gifThis can't be serious. Eminem associate DJ Green Lantern and mixtape empresario A. Shaw have just announced The Million DJ March, a series of activities and rallies in support of the good old disk jockey, to be held August 28-30 in Washington D.C. Wait a minute, I'm a DJ. Why do I need to rally? Well, in a press release, Shaw alleges that "DJs do not get fully recognized for the work they do… Label and major businesses who reap the rewards of default publicity need to pay attention and give more recognition and financial compensation to DJs for the promotion they provide, without which music sales would surely suffer." Well, okay, yes, we play music, people should be happy we do that. Hooray us. But why all this marching? The press release continues:

DJs… are often harassed and legally penalized for their promotional efforts even when those efforts have been solicited directly by the labels and artists themselves: an arrangement that is known about throughout the industry but kept "on the low."

Hmm, harassment and legal penalties. Are you talking about what happens when you sell thousands and thousands of unauthorized mixtape CDs out of the back of your car?

After the jump: hey, I pressed "play," that'll be $25,000.

Breaking News: Hipsters Live in Cheap, Crappy Buildings

| Wed May. 7, 2008 12:47 PM PDT

Yes, NYT trend piece fans, it's time for yet another trenchant observation: Art kids live in squalor in Brooklyn. And since everyone knows bedbug bites are like the purple heart of hipsterdom, they're totally jazzed about their tenement, known as the McKibbin:

"The community is a microcosm of artists, musicians and D.J.'s," said Kevin Farrell, who is 29 and works in video production. "You don't have to leave this building, with the exception of food. I don't really speak to the locals."

By comparison, campaign kids, who whined in the Sunday Times about having to couch surf, look pretty square:

"It's so nice to have your own space," said Erin Suhr, 32, the director of press advance for the Clinton campaign. "To come in and not have to talk to anyone, because you know they're going to want to talk about politics."
Since mid-February, Ms. Suhr has been living in Washington, in the basement apartment of Dick and Joanne Howes. Ms. Suhr has her own entrance and said she rarely sees the couple. But on a recent Monday night, Ms. Suhr appeared at their back door and the trio fell into an easy banter.

Fraternizing with the locals? She'd never make it at the McKibbin.

Books: Shelf Help for Mother's Day

| Tue May. 6, 2008 8:19 PM PDT

If their "Mother's Day Shopping Guide" is any indication, Barnes and Noble takes a rather dim view of maternal reading habits.

Categories that warrant 40 percent off before Sunday include: "Biographies and Memoirs," "Food and Wine," "Homes and Hobbies," "New Fiction," and "Self-Improvement, Inspiration, and Humor.'

But the pink ghetto in Borders may win this week's catfight. A quick stroll past the Mom-bait table in a Washington, D.C. store today revealed not just a cornucopia of hot pink, cherub-encrusted photo frames and a healthy portion of the "Chicken Soup for the __ Soul" (Grandma, Chocolate Lovers, etc.) empire, but such titles as:

"Don't Go To the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," (7th Edition),

"Busy Woman's Slow Cooker Recipes," (Tagline: "Make 'em happy. Come home to dinner."),

"You, Staying Young,"

and,

"God Thinks You're Wonderful, Mom!"


You know what I want for Mother's Day this year? A wireless mouse. Let me know when you catch up, big B bookstores.

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Music: New Coldplay Single Downloaded Two Million Times, Kind of Sucks

| Tue May. 6, 2008 2:29 PM PDT

mojo-photo-coldplayviva.jpgBritish band Coldplay posted a link to a new song, "Violet Hill," on their official website starting last Tuesday, and since then the free download has been accessed over two million times, reports the UK Telegraph. To put it in perspective, the Telegraph says that all the UK top 40 singles combined sold around 500,000 copies in the same period. Lesson: People like free stuff.

Coldplay released the single in advance of their somewhat-anticipated new album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (out June 17th), an appallingly-titled collection of songs which, as we reported here on the Riff last year, were supposed to have a "Hispanic theme." However, "Violet Hill" has about as much Latin flavor as an Eskimo pie, and lead singer Chris Martin is even singing about cold weather: "Was a long and dark December/From the rooftops I remember/There was snow/White snow." As opposed to the purple kind? The song opens with a whooshy, 40-second intro, then erupts into a turgid, stomping beat, reminiscent of nothing so much as "Bennie and the Jets." It should either be twice as fast or twice as slow. Okay, I guess I kind of like the refrain, "If you love me, won't you let me know," but let's compare and contrast: the other day I heard "Warning Sign" on the radio, a stunning ballad from 2002's Rush of Blood to the Head. An insistent, wobbling tone, alternating between two notes, gives the song a hypnotic sense of uncertainty, building in intensity until a sudden acoustic coda in a new key finds Martin hoping to "crawl back into your open arms." Structured similarly but lacking even a modicum of "Sign"'s emotional complexity, "Hill" is a pale, white-snow-colored imitation.

Download "Violet Hill" on Coldplay's web site here.

After the jump, check out a cute fan-made video for "Warning Sign."

Music: Just How Good is the New Portishead Album?

| Fri May. 2, 2008 1:14 PM PDT

mojo-photo-portisheadthirdcover.jpgOkay, I promise that my week-long series of Coachella afterglow posts will come to an end right after this one. In fact, while my appreciation of the long-dormant Bristol combo Portishead was confirmed by their spectacular performance in the desert Saturday night, I'd been enjoying their new album, Third, for a while. While I (lovingly) mocked it a while back here on the Riff for the, er, intensity of its lyrical misery, there's something exhilarating about Third. It's that rarest of comeback albums: less a return to form than a return to function, evidence of a band's determination to explore new musical territory (and new depths of despair), just as they always have.

After the jump: what's Rob Sheffield's damage?