All posts by Matt Wilson

Matt was a reporter. Now he isn't. He used to write comedy stuff at http://www.the-iss.com and now does so at http://www.highmindedbs.com. Earlier this year, he self-published a book called HATE YOU FOREVER: HOW TO CHANNEL YOUR RAGE INTO EFFECTIVE SUPERVILLAINY.

Cheers and Regards for the Week of March 29, 2010

If you ever get an e-mail from a journalist, there’s one portion of it you should pay attention to more than any other. No, it’s not the part where they’re asking you about all that counterfeit money you’re printing off your Lexmark; it’s the sign-off.

If it’s “Cheers,” you’re cool. You did OK. If it’s “Regards,” you pissed somebody off, and you better figure out how to fix things, quick.

We apply those same tenets here, every week.

CHEERS to Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka for detailing exactly why the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, an issue lost in all the turmoil of healthcare reform. Burka finds that virtually no one–be they Republican, independent, or Democrat–agrees with the Supreme Court, and lays out how the tone of upcoming elections in Texas may be a bellwether for elections nationwide. (KL)
REGARDS to longtime Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, who, in an otherwise very good interview, lumps bloggers entirely into a category of people who are competing with him. (MW)
CHEERS to ESPN.com’s Roy Peter Clark for standing up to University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer, coach of one of the nation’s top programs, for bullying an Orlando Sentinel reporter with threats to throw him out of practice. (MW)
REGARDS to actress Chloe Sevigny for throwing the Onion AV Club under the bus after they quoted her as saying that the last season of her show Big Love was “awful.” (MW)
CHEERS to AV Club interviewer Sean O’Neal for posting the audio of his talk with Sevigny to prove that he simply wrote what she said. (MW)
CHEERS and REGARDS to the Cleveland Plain Dealer for its handling of a prickly situation involving a commenter on its website.  On the one hand, good on them for exposing potential judicial corruption and dealing with some outright bad behavior. On the other, way to have a tremendous chilling effect on online discourse, such as it is. (MW and KL)

Cheers and Regards for the Week of March 15

If you ever get an e-mail from a journalist, there’s one portion of it you should pay attention to more than any other. No, it’s not the part where they’re asking you about all those dogs you’ve got wrestling in your basement; it’s the sign-off.

If it’s “Cheers,” you’re cool. You did OK. If it’s “Regards,” you pissed somebody off, and you better figure out how to fix things, quick.

We apply those same tenets here, every week.

CHEERS to Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander, for standing by his paper’s decision to feature a photo of two men kissing for their story on gay marriage in Washington D.C. and insisting that the image is no different from that of any other freshly married couple. (DW)

REGARDS to Meredith Viera, who in an interview with “Hurt Locker” stars, indulges herself in a truly odd moment of gay-baiting and asks if she should be “worried” about the fact that they hug each other. (DW)

CHEERS to a copy editor at that Gray Lady, The New York Times, for coming up with a strong contender for the upcoming 2099 “Best Headline of the Century” competition- “Ex-Congressman Describes Tickle Fights With Aides.” (RJW)

REGARDS to the New York Observer, which in efforts to identify and define a hot new urban trend, manages to offer shock at the discovery that not all gay men wear big signs around their neck advertising their sexuality. (DW)

CHEERS to the (former) staff of the tiny Manning (SC) Times for leaving to start their own weekly paper. A little healthy competition never hurt anybody. (They could start with trying to get the police officer who so blatantly said she doesn’t read a paper as a subscriber.)

REGARDS to the Jackson (MS) Free Press, “The City’s Smart Alternative” for not only supplying us with yet another “oh I just can’t do this insane unfathomable computer whizbangery!” article, but one that somehow made it into print without an editor ever laying eyes on it. (DL)

CHEERS to Variety columnist Peter Bart for basically calling out Australian news murderer Rupert Murdoch in his column. When the shootout comes, expect Murdoch to play dirty, Bart. (MW)

REGARDS to Variety itself for letting go of chief film critic Todd McCarthy, who had been at the entertainment industry paper for 31 years. It doesn’t help that the movie reviews have been some of the widest-read and best-respected pieces in Variety‘s pages. In the paper’s own parlance: “SHEET SEEKS BUX, NOW MORE SUX.”

Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music: Broken Bells, “Broken Bells”

Since the release of The Grey Album in 2004, Danger Mouse, a.k.a. Brian Burton, has been one of the most prolific and intriguing musicians out there. He’s come a long way from mashing up Jay-Z and The Beatles, developing his own sound and going from lowly DJ to one of the most coveted producers around.

Of course, his sizable output over the last five years or so – a collaboration with MF DOOM, a Beck album, a Gorillaz record, two Gnarls Barkley discs, a Sparklehorse album, a separate collaboration with David Lynch and Sparklehorse (which may actually see a release, would you believe it), a Black Keys record, and I think a lot of what the Wiggles have done, among other things – it’s easy for his fans, like me, to pick up on some of his tricks. For instance, he likes to smash together upbeat, ’60s style songcraft with melancholic lyrics. He loves the sound of choirs in the chorus. And driving drumbeats and keyboards are his lifeblood.

Broken Bells, Burton’s new collaboration with James Mercer, the singer from The Shins and the voice that changed Zach Braff’s life, continues to fit that bill. And just like pretty much everything else Burton has done up to this point, it’s eminently catchy and listenable. It’s also pretty short; 10 tracks at a little less than 40 minutes.

It never gets more listenable than it does in its first three tracks, and it kicks off with the best, “The High Road,” a bouncy song about how you can’t take back your decisions (that sort of cognitive dissonance is a theme throughout). The second track, “Vaporize,” is a mishmash of “Oh Inverted World”-era Shins with a Gnarls Barkley-style groove. That’s followed by “Your Head Is on Fire,” a song that sounds kind of like the Byrds if they were really depressed.

The album’s only real misstep is “The Ghost Inside,” an R&B dance jam that could have used Cee-Lo rather than the singer from some weepy indie band.

The next few tracks go into a more trancy state, and some of them are more soundscapes than songs, with lots of contemplative slow spots and minimal vocals. They work, though, and they fit the mood set up by what’s come before. The last three tracks pick the energy back up and even go into an unexpected, Duran Duran sort of territory.

This isn’t the best record Danger Mouse has been a part of, and the songs probably won’t catch on like some of Mercer’s best Shins work, but this is a solid album from a collaboration that, if Burton’s other projects are any indication, will keep bearing fruit.

You think: It’s pretty good.

Cheers and Regards for the Week of 3/1/10

If you ever get an e-mail from a journalist, there’s one portion of it you should pay attention to more than any other. No, it’s not the part where they’re asking you about the drugs you’re selling out of your day care business; it’s the sign-off.

If it’s “Cheers,” you’re cool. You did OK. If it’s “Regards,” you pissed somebody off, and you better figure out how to fix things, quick.

We apply those same tenets here, every week.

CHEERS to Mashable, for providing a timely reminder that there is actually a way to block that REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING Farmville spam on Facebook. (DW)

REGARDS to the New York Times and The Huffington Post, for finally realizing that what journalists really need in this economy is unpaid work. Says Huffington Post editor Adam Clark Estes, “We expect that the byline and exposure offered by our millions of readers will be the best way to give credit.” (DW)

CHEERS to new Bay Area News Project Editor Jonathan Weber for trying to resuscitate the metro newspaper with a more conversational writing style and cooperating with other news sources to create a more collegial rather than competitive environment, while still holding on to enterprise reporting. Maybe, one of these days, news sites will actually link to someone’s reporting other than their own, if you could imagine such a thing. (MW)

REGARDS to the Justice Department, for doing a good old-fashioned Hey-Let’s-Do-This-On-Friday-Afternoon-So-No-One-Will-Notice-It release of a report from their Office of Professional Responsibility, on the architects of the policies that gave the United States the legal backbone to torture terror suspects. John Yoo, now a professor at Berkeley and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer (!) and Jay Bybee, now a federal judge (!), were found to have used flawed judgment, but were not ruled guilty of professional misconduct. Kudos to Justice for showing everyone how this sort of thing should be done. (RJW)

CHEERS to Newsweek book critic Sharon Begley for doing some fact-checking on media critic Howard Friel’s The Lomborg Deception, which uncovers and exposes the many fraudulent and overblown claims made by climate change debunker Bjørn Lomborg. Begley is thorough, quizzing Lomborg on Friel’s research and taking Friel to task for frequently engaging in overkill. If only the non-book-critics at Newsweek and other publications had been half as thorough.” (KL)

REGARDS to Cheryl Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times, who in an article about a legitimate complaint with Walmart’s selection policy for Black History Month, takes great pains to remind us that gangsta rap and everything associated with it is still kneejerk-reprehensible. (KL)

CHEERS to the Columbia Journalism Review for holding Bloomberg’s feet to the fire on their so-called “exclusive” reporting on Toyota. Now if we could just get the word “alert” back. (MW)

REGARDS to the AP for what we figure will be overcharging. Last week, AP CEO Tom Curley announced the creation of a new “strategic business (i.e. money-grabbing) division.” The first thing to come out of it? An app for the Apple iPad. Their Stylebook app for the iPhone is nearly 30 bucks, so with the iPad being about three times bigger, we expect this to be like $1,000, having done some Journalist Math. (MW)