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October 6, 2006


Greg at Ideas for Dozens has set up Largehearted Goat?, a site that tracks mentions of the Mountain Goats in Largehearted Boy's daily Shorties.

After reading Shorties for a while, I began to notice that it contained a mild irritant which, over time, really got under my skin. LB couldn't seem to go for more than a day or two without mentioning long-standing indie rock stalwarts, The Mountain Goats. Now, I have nothing in particular against The Mountain Goats. Mostly, I couldn't care less about them one way or another. But something about the absolute consistency with which LB covers them -- as if they and their new record were the single most important thing happening in the world of music right now -- started to make me crazy.

And so, eventually, I came up with a plan that was also a little crazy. The result of that plan (and just a half-dozen or so hours of work), I now present to you: Largehearted Goat, a web app that tracks the obsession of indie rock mp3 blog Largehearted Boy with the band The Mountain Goats. With just a little hand holding, Largehearted Goat watches each day's new Shorties post and indicates whether or not it, in fact, mentions The Mountain Goats, by displaying the words "Goat" or "No Goat" (on a red or green background as appropriate) with links to the relevant LB posts. On Goat Days, hovering over the box will display the relevant excerpt (works best in Safari; Firefox, it turns out, truncates title tags after the first dozen or so characters). As the days accumulate over time, the app gives a quick-glance view of LB's Goat activity over time.

Austin Kleon attended Alison Bechdel's Cleveland reading for her book, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, and explained her process for creating the book.

Stylus lists the "top ten prog bands that secretly rule."

07. Van Der Graaf Generator
The band that saw the end of the proverbial line. Generic Alterna-logic dictates that the Velvet Underground were the band that demolished the hippie dream, but they struck from the outside. Van Der Graaf were the hippies that went too far—consumed so much acid and made music so gravity-defying they actually freaked themselves out. Then they discovered funk, which is really the only thing you can do once you've shot your brain out your arsehole. Huge in Italy. No, really. Huge.

In the Guardian, novelist Colum McCann lists his top ten novels featuring poets.

NPR is streaming M. Ward's World cafe performance.

Minnesota Public Radio interviews author Neil Gaiman about his new collection of short stories, Fragile Things.

CSIndy interviews Veruca Salt's Louise Post.

Indy: Admit you were pissed about hard rock's Seether naming themselves after your '90s hit single.

LP: I was really annoyed when I heard that — and then, at the same time, it's sort of flattering.

Badly Drawn Boy's Damon Gough talks to the Irish Times about his new album, Born in the UK (out October 17th in the US).

"Now that the record is done, I can see the themes that are there. I couldn't see them right away when I was doing the record and I didn't plan the record around the title or those themes. I didn't even know I had a song called Born in the UK until it arrived. When that line came, I thought it was cheesy and I thought Bruce Springsteen might be annoyed at me pulling on his shirt-tails yet again, but I decided to go with it."

The Guardian reviews Robert Pollard's Normal Happiness album.

Normal Happiness, his second "proper" solo album since folding Guided By Voices, offers a new, consistent Pollard. While it eschews the unlistenable doodles that litter most of his albums (and comprise all of some) in favour of upbeat 60s-styled guitar pop, Pollard never quite pulls out the killer hook or the great chorus that he could manage at will in his early/mid-90s golden period.

Fox Sports lists the best NHL nicknames. They left off my personal favorite, Pat "Little Ball of Hate" Verbeek.

Author Jonathan Franzen talks to the Guardian about his new memoir, The Discomfort Zone.

"I think one reason this book felt alive in the last few years is that I was extremely disoriented by my change in fortune, and it is a book about a feeling that I've lost the values of my youth. What I discovered in the process of writing it is that those values are not as clear-cut as I initially supposed. But still, it was elegiac in conception if not in final form."

Wired News lists three reasons why Zune won't kill the iPod.

Boston's Weekly Dig writes "the last iPod article you will ever read," complete with frequently asked questions for iPod users, journalists and bloggers.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune lists "other young acts helped by David Bowie."

Rush drummer Neil Peart talks to the Christian Science Monitor about his current media intake.

I like Death Cab for Cutie's latest, called "Plans." And the new Keane, "Under the Iron Sea," too. In both cases, they're so different from the previous releases, and I think that's brave.

TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe talks to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

"There are definitely cases where a song has been written and somebody dubs it as sounding 'too normal,' which of course is a completely subjective thing -- especially in the case of the five guys in this band. But 'normal,' whoever is defining it, usually isn't what we're going for."

CNN interviews Daniel Handler about the lemony Snicket series.

"It was actually pretty fascinating last year to tour with 'The Penultimate Peril' [the 12th book] and to meet a lot of adults who had no idea what 'penultimate' meant and wouldn't look it up -- unlike children, who have just been taught to look it up if they don't know what it means," he said.

Handler's fictional author, Lemony Snicket, also has an interview with CNN.

CNN: Mr. Snicket, how have you kept track of all these adventures of the Baudelaire orphans? They're packed with so much detail. How did you maintain memory of all these stories for so many years?

LEMONY SNICKET: Oh, I can't rely on my own memory. I have a large stack of notebooks and heaps and heaps of research that I try to do as carefully as I can. I wouldn't rely on anything as shaky as my own memory, given to the brandy I apply to it whenever I'm [recalling] the Baudelaires' position.

Harmonium interviews Menomena's Brent Knopf.

Harmonium: Alright, to get slightly more serious; a lot of your tracks are at times quite serious, while your website and general persona seems pretty lighthearted and fun. Which side of yourselves do you want people to identify as the “true” you?

Knopf: Well that’s a good question actually and I appreciate that type of question. I think my favorite people in life, and my favorite art in life, is somehow playful while taking things really seriously. And I think that since the only thing we take really seriously is music we started taking the rest less seriously. At the same time I mean if you look at something like our flipbook, it is something we put a lot of time and effort into but is kinda lighthearted. I think that life’s complicated, and any art that pretends it isn’t is…lying.

The Australian wonders why literary fiction sales are down, and argues why the genre is necessary.

The market's loss of faith speaks not to the literary novel's failure as a form, but to its absolute necessity. Not just because the work it asks we do when we engage with it brings benefits not easily measured by sales figures. Not just because it preserves one of the few spaces left where values we profess to aspire to, of sympathy, reflection and self-knowledge continue to be respected. Not even because it holds within itself the single largest body of collective understanding of our own nature we have amassed. But because if we give it away we will have lost one of the few places we have left where we may glimpse something of the strangeness and irreducibility of our inner lives, and where we may, if only momentarily, see past the vision of our lives and their meaning our society offers us, and be free.

Drowned in Sound lists #45-66 of their top 66 albums of the past six years.

GalleyCat points out four instances of book banning now that Banned Books Week is over.

Cracked lists the ten best Borat skits of all time.

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this week's CD & DVD releases


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