The Riff - June 2008

Okay, Wall-E Was Pretty Great

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 8:48 PM EDT

mojo-photo-walle2.jpgPixar's latest animated romp Wall-E beat out Angelina Jolie as superhero assassin-recruiter-whatever flick Wanted to collect over 63 million bucks into its cute little trash-compactor belly this weekend, and after feeling a bit guilty for posting a skeptical review before even seeing it, I escaped the gay pride crowds by heading for a Saturday night showing. While I'm not really qualified to agree or disagree with the Chicago Tribune's claim that this is the "best American studio film this year," I will say it was really quite good, probably the best Pixar film yet, but not without its flaws.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

The Halfway Mark: The Best Albums of 2008 So Far

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 5:42 PM EDT

mojo-photo-2008.jpgHappy bottom of the year, everybody. It's hard to believe, but 2008 is already half done, with only six months remaining for us to get our year-end best-of lists together! How will we manage? Sure, we're waiting for new discs from Beck, Black Kids, The Faint, maybe U2, and, uh, New Kids on the Block, but in the meantime, here's an admittedly subjective list of the finest full-length releases of the year so far (complete with videos!), as well as a "next 10" list of CDs nipping at their heels. Will Party Ben like experimental hip-hop and droney noise-rock this year? Click the "continues" button and find out!

The Dust Off: Cheech and Chong

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 4:41 PM EDT

The pending release (August 12) of Tommy Chong's unauthorized biography of the infamous comedy duo Cheech & Chong shouldn't be the only reason to revisit the duo's raunchy, 70s- and 80s-era, marijuana-laden humor, such as:

Video: Jay-Z Covers Oasis at Glastonbury

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 4:06 PM EDT

mojo-photo-jayzglasto.jpgWhen it was announced that the legendary UK music festival had chosen rapper Jay-Z as a headliner, many fans were upset that a rock band wasn't chosen like usual, and even Noel Gallagher of Oasis complained, saying "Jay-Z, I'm not f***ing having him at Glastonbury." Well good old Jay-Z took lemons and made lemonade, opening his set Saturday night with a clip of Gallagher's comments, then emerging to warble a cheeky cover of Oasis' own "Wonderwall." Despite Hova's being a bit, as they say, "pitchy," seemingly all of Glastonbury sang along:

Everybody Going Wacky for Wall-E

| Fri Jun. 27, 2008 6:32 PM EDT

mojo-photo-walle.jpgI posted about the viral web site accompanying the new Pixar project Wall-E back in October; the site, a parody of corporate propaganda, was amusing, but even back then I said the movie looked like it would be "another cutesy romp with big-eyed creatures on some sort of quest." (Yes, I just quoted myself). By now we've seen actual clips and trailers, which have only confirmed my suspicions that this is Short Circuit 3: cute bleepy robots with big googly eyes! But shut my mouth: word around the intertubes is that Wall-E is the greatest thing to get projected onto a screen since Citizen Kane. A.O. Scott in the NY Times says the film is "a cinematic poem of such wit and beauty that its darker implications may take a while to sink in," and that's just the first sentence, while Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune calls it "the best American studio film so far this year." New York Magazine's Vulture blog has even started a campaign to get the film nominated for "Best Picture" (although they did also champion that Cavemen TV show). Sure, it turns out that Wall-E's cute little robots mask what is apparently a horrifying vision of humanity's future, with Earth abandoned to garbage and humans devolved into moronic blobs. Serious stuff. But we've seen dystopian visions before, even ones with mountains of garbage, and that doesn't necessarily a good movie make, Mike Judge. Little robot Wall-E even has a love interest called, um, EVE; this whole thing sure seems like a compendium of movie clichés.

Party Ben's Gay Pride Playlist

| Fri Jun. 27, 2008 5:46 PM EDT

mojo-photo-gaymusic.jpgAs we approach LGBT pride celebrations around the country this weekend, I'm reminded of the hardships we queers face. Sure, discrimination's bad; being used as a wedge issue in political campaigns kind of sucks; friends' well-intentioned attempts to set you up with their other gay friend can be a little awkward. But honestly, you know the worst part about being gay? The music. Seriously. Say you feel like gathering with your fellow queers for an adult beverage, or maybe celebrating the political accomplishments of the past year at a parade, or something. You'll be forced to endure 10,000 spins of "It's Raining Men," endless ABBA, and an insufferable genre of music I call "Self-Help House": big piano chords accompanied by a wailing diva assuring you that "You can do it/if you believe it," or whatever. It's enough to make you swear off identity politics.

But before you switch teams, rest assured that there's good queer music out there. Here's an alternate playlist for your Pride weekend parties, complete with videos.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Quiz: Are You A Beatnik? 1960 Questionnaire

| Fri Jun. 27, 2008 5:44 PM EDT

Before Gerard Malanga joined Andy Warhol's circle and staffed Interview magazine, he wrote an odd, charming questionnaire and sent it to his mentor, Daisy Aldan.

Five questions from his "Are You a Beatnik?" quiz:

Are you hep?

Do you consider me a Daddy-O?

Do you always wear those crazy quilts?

Are you the utmost? The utmost of what?

Take the rest of the 2-page quiz, and see the original, here.

Or, if you're in Austin, go see it in person at the University of Texas' Harry Ransom Center exhibition, On the Road with the Beats.

—Rose Miller

Spring Cleaning at the FBI

| Wed Jun. 25, 2008 10:20 PM EDT

The FBI maintains a total of 300,000 cubic feet of historical documents and records, in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts.

But apparently, freedom of information is also subject to spring-cleaning.

Among the guidelines for determining documents worth hanging on to is the "fat file theory," positing that heft is somehow correlated to importance.

Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme Denies He's a Homophobe

| Tue Jun. 24, 2008 5:20 PM EDT

mojo-photo-joshhomme.jpgJosh Homme has issued a statement denying he's homophobic after an expletive-laden rant he unleashed on a concertgoer which included anti-gay slurs hit the intertubes. During a performance last week at the Norwegian Wood festival, something got thrown at the stage which hit Homme, who was reportedly already grumpy after a three-day bout with the flu. He singled out the assailant in the audience and unleashed a blistering tirade of insults that's truly awe-inspiring in scope; unfortunately, the rant included multiple mentions of "faggot" as well as references to, er, forced homosexual activities. Close your office door and feel the power of this totally, totally not safe for work clip of Homme unleashed, after the jump:

What to Listen To Instead of Sigur Ros

| Tue Jun. 24, 2008 4:36 PM EDT

mojo-photo-sigurrosmeo.jpgYour terribly-named DJ correspondent has made no secret of his distaste for Sigur Ros, the Icelandic combo known for dreamy, epic balladry sung in a mystical made-up language called "Hopelandic." The band releases their fifth studio album today, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, ("With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly"), and while it earned a respectable 7.5 from Pitchfork for tempering the falsetto silliness with a "tangle of acoustic guitars," unfortunately, to my ears, they just end up sounding like Dave Matthews: lead single "Gobbldigook" has a hippie-dippy strum-strum dopiness that's only confirmed by its nudey video (possibly NSFW), which you can watch after the jump.