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August 1, 2008


USA Today's Pop Candy's Whitney Matheson is Twittering updates all weekend from Lollapalooza. lists five things you didn't know about Johnny Cash.

The Raleigh News & Observer interviews author Martin Clark.

Q: You've enjoyed tremendous success these last eight years, but it didn't come easily?

A: I started writing my first novel while I was still in college at Davidson. For 18 years I had the title, characters and idea for ["Mobile Home Living"]. But I didn't have the discipline to get it done. Not knowing any better, I'd send out the few chapters I'd written blind and get back a rejection. The first rejection I got was in December 1982. I found out [mystery writer] Rita Mae Brown was living in Charlottesville. I left my manuscript with a bottle of bourbon in her mailbox. Amazingly she read it and wrote me a letter that said: "As to mixing law and literature you'll either be a half-ass writer or a half-ass lawyer. Literature is a full-time passion."

The New York Daily News profiles Portugal, the Man and the band's new album, Censored Colors (out September 16th).

Gourley, who sings in a voice even higher than that imp in Supertramp, says the first half of the album stresses songs that draw on '60s pop ("the music we grew up with"). This includes references to everything from Beatles- and Zombies-like psychedelic cascades to the kinds of choirs you'd expect from a '70s rock musical. The second half of the CD, says Gourley, represents "my musical life after everything my parents had given me."

NPR's Morning Edition examines the self-publishing success of Brunonia Barry's novel, The Lace Reader.

The Observer excerpts from What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.

The New York Times reviews Dash Shaw's graphic novel, Bottomless Belly Button.

Most of Mr. Shaw’s creative decisions, however, simply leave the reader marveling at his work. One recurring motif, introduced by the words “There are many types of ...,” illustrates different kinds of sand (hard, spotty, cracked), tears (basal, reflex, physic) and water (dew, rain, runoff). It’s an elegant metaphor for the Loony family members, and a 10-page sequence detailing their types (fighting, insular, needy) does a beautiful job of revealing the opposing impulses inherent in their relationships. There are moments of support and happiness, of course, but the dysfunctions are more interesting.

see also: Shaw's Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for the graphic novel

J.K. Rowling's book of fairy tales, illustrated by the author herself, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, is available for pre-order at Amazon. Also available is a deluxe edition.

At NPR's All Things Considered, Joe Piscatella recommends three books that rock: The Wishbones, by Tom Perrotta, Mom, Have You Seen My Leather Pants? The Tale of a Teen Rock Wannabe Who Almost Was, by Craig A. Williams, and Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota, by Chuck Klosterman.

Backseat Sandbar features reviews of day 1, day 2, and day 3 of Louisville's recent Forecastle Festival.

The free and legal mp3 blog Fingertips has started a series featuring five questions on the future of music posed to a workig musician. First up is singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke.

Aimee Mann discusses the state of the music industry with the Washington Times.

The Pitch's Wayward Blog interviews former Television guitarist Richard Lloyd.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin interviews former Jayhawk Gary Louris.

Have you been able to look back and get a perspective on the legacy of the Jayhawks?

I'm very proud of what we did. I think we were an important band. On the other hand, sometimes I wonder. Our records are mostly out of print and there's no best-of of the Jayhawks. If we were that important, why is there no best-of or a Jayhawks retrospective?

Esquire examines the secrets of shortwave "numbers stations."

Number stations were introduced most widely to pop culture on Wilco’s 2002 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album, at the end of the song "Poor Places." The monotone girl whose creepy voice was recorded from a number station is enough to make even the Goth-iest music aficionado hit "forward." (To hear more, check out British label Irdial Discs’ four-CD set of number-station clips, The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations). More recently, the pilot of the television show "Lost" featured a number station (the mysterious transmission that drew Rousseau to the island) with a message that is central to the series’ mythology.

Download or stream The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations (free and legal mp3 download)

amNewYork interviews Rhett Miller of the Old 97s.

Would you still classify Old 97's as an alt-country band?

I don't know. That's something more for journalists or fans to work out. The alt-country tag used to really bother me because it was reductive. It ignored big chunks of our influences. But at the same time, that alt-country crowd was a real scene and it was fun being a part of it for all those years.

The Times Online lists the ten best Bond theme songs.

The Independent has eleven athletes and writers choose their favorite sports books.

The Times Online reports that Castle House, where Dylan Thomas met hist first wife, is for sale.

Happy eighth birthday (yesterday) to one of my favorite blogs, I Will Dare.

John Kelly's Voxford tries out Myrtle Beach's Hard Rock Park amusement park.

All the roller coasters at Hard Rock Park feature floor-mounted speakers that ensure your screams will be nearly masked by high-fidelity music. On Led Zeppelin, they played "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band. Just kidding. They played "Whole Lotta Love," a song which, "Clockwork Orange"-fashion, I now associate with having to clench my teeth to keep my spleen from landing in the lap of the person behind me. In other words, the ride rawks! I bought both the photograph of our ride and the DVD, which the helpful park attendant told me I owned the rights to, allowing me to stick it on YouTube. Somewhere, Tim Berners-Lee is weeping.

The Comics Reporter examines how the comics industry responded economically to recessions.

NPR excerpts from the first chapter of Jess Winfield's novel, My Name Is Will:A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare.

The A.V. Club interviews legendary cartoonist Jules Feiffer.

AVC: People tend to think of you as a political cartoonist, but the political strips in the book tend to be more in the vein of cultural criticism than attacks on specific figures.

JF: I was never interested in the two-party system per se. I was interested in how authority was abused by government, and how lies were told, and rewritten, to seem to be true. I came up out of a tradition of radical journalism. The people I read were I.F. Stone, Murray Kempton. They basically taught me how to think and perceive politically. And I follow it to this day.

also at Largehearted Boy:

daily mp3 downloads
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
this week's CD releases