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June 30, 2006


Built to Spill's Doug Martsch talks to the Los Angeles Times about his songwriting.

"My writing doesn't really go anywhere," Martsch allows. "It doesn't get worse, and it doesn't really improve. It doesn't have to. I'm going after some genuine feeling, either in the tune or the lyrics and I usually just stumble right into them."

Beth Ditto of Gossip talks tolerance with the Times Online.

“All my life I was told that you should just put up with s*** because God would take care of it later. I’d never questioned the idea of God, then when I got to 18 I was so angry. People say, don’t you think it’s really idealistic and unrealistic to think you can actually change something? Well, you know what, you can accept it and grow up hating yourself and everybody else, or you can reach out.

“If everybody else is uncomfortable with you talking about being a dyke, or saying that you don’t want a bikini wax, then it’s their pain. I’m sorry but I’m not gonna live with those pains.”

The Globe and Mail reviews Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel, a game for the Sony PSP.

So this may be a game, too, but I would never call it a good one. Maybe Konami thought Metal Gear fans needed something to do beyond simply reading, or watching, or whatever one does when presented with a $30 digital graphic novel. Personally, the art and its unique presentation would have been enough to interest me if the story had been new, but the whole thing is a direct reproduction of the game. I played it eight long years ago and the dialogue is the same -- you don't forget lines like: "Drop the sword and back away from the nerd, slowly."

Stylus lists the top ten Texas recordings.

Popmatters offers reviews brief reviews of three new and overlooked books, including one on my nightstand (or technically, in my messenger bag), The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel.

Status Ain't Hood weighs in on Sleater-Kinney's announced "indefinite hiatus."

So it's tough to find a bright side to this breakup. Of course, an "indefinite hiatus" isn't necessarily the same thing as a breakup, and I suppose there's still some slim possibility of another Sleater-Kinney album somewhere down the line. And it's not like any of them has died or anything; they'll all probably move on to new projects, and maybe we'll even get another Spells EP out of it. But I don't much like the idea that the best drummer in the world is only in one band now and that that band is Quasi. And I don't know whether any of them will ever recapture the perfect chemistry they had in Sleater-Kinney.

MSNBC lists its favorite cover songs.

The Nashville City Paper lists four "stellar" recently published graphic novels.

Guardian readers recommend songs about America.

The Independent offers non-fiction summer reading suggestions.

USA Today examines the recent increase in war protest songs.

An uptick in lefty tunes doesn't mean the country is on the brink of peace. Political songs preach to the converted, says rocker-turned-talker Johnny Wendell, a former punk musician and now a weekend host on progressive talk station KTLK-AM 1150 in Los Angeles.

"They're a barometer of how people feel," he says.

And when Bush ordered the Iraq invasion, the prevailing feeling among rockers was futility, he says. Artists held back "not just because it was a bad career move, but because it wouldn't get any attention to buck the tide. The tide turned when it was obvious the mission wasn't accomplished, reasons proffered for war were proven false and casualties started mounting. It isn't that it became safe (to speak out), but the general mood in the country changed."

New York's The Villager interviews author Adrienne Miller, former literary editor of Esquire.

You grew up in a suburb of Akron, Ohio. Did you know from the beginning that you wanted to write about Akron?

No, and that’s one of the reasons why this book took me so long to write because I had the characters and I had a setting, and I knew a lot of the setting took place in this flamboyant, ridiculous, over-the-top mansion. But for the first several years of writing this book, it took place in Portugal. I’ve never been [there], but I had all these foggy romantic notions about the place. But I moved all [the characters], put them on a plane, and they went on a field trip to Akron. And that’s when they kind of cohered to me as characters, and I understood them as striving Midwesterners attempting to be something that none of them actually were.

Author Gideon Defoe (who submitted one of my favorite "book notes" essays) is holding a "Finish the Pirates Story Contest." The winner will have their story published in the back of the fourth installment in the "The Pirates! In and Adventure With..." series.

NPR excerpts from the first book in the series, The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists (the paperback includes the first two Pirates! novels). Defoe is seriously funny, read the books.

Bid on all-time Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings' huge head, all proceeds go to charity.

Use Giant Ken to celebrate holidays on your front lawn, make your living room into a Jeopardy! shrine, scare bratty neighbor kids, or add just the right finishing touch to a mini-golf hole. Fill Ken with fireworks, blow him up. Launch him from a catapult. Scream obscenities at Giant Ken. Clean his giant ears with a giant Q-tip. Hours of fun. Don't miss this one.

David Gilmour discusses "music that changed my life" with Harp.

My influences are A composite, really; it’s a whole range of things that moved me. I was very into Pete Seeger and folk music, and at the same time I was into the Shadows, Cliff Richards’ backing band. The Shadows’ guitar player, Hank Marvin, played sort of melodic guitar stuff and had a great tone that was unmistakably him. I was also into Leadbelly, the 12-string blues-folk music of his variety. So it was a composite of all these strangely different influences that put together what I became.


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