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March 9, 2008

Shorties

The Los Angeles Times has local authors reminisce about their favorite southern California independent bookstores.


The New York Daily News profiles the 2008 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


The Los Angeles Times lists memorable literary hoaxes.


The Hartford Courant reviews Jennifer 8. Lee's new book The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.

Flashes of insight punctuate the text. Searching for the origin of the fortune cookie served in seemingly every Chinese restaurant throughout the United States, Lee realizes, to her surprise, that in China nobody produces or consumes them. Then she realizes the cookie is a Japanese creation. While determining why those of Chinese descent appropriated the Japanese treat, Lee realizes, to her humanitarian horror, the answer lies in the U.S. government policy of rounding up Japanese-Americans and placing them in camps during World War II. Those imprisoned behind barbed wire could not continue their fortune cookie businesses, so a different group stepped in.

Look for Lee's Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for the book soon.


The Toronto Star eulogizes Gary Gygax, the inventor of Dungeons and Dragons.

Eulogizing E. Gary Gygax, "the Father of Dungeons & Dragons," is a lot different than coming up with postmortem praise for, say, a great playwright or a titan of literature – Gygax's accomplishment makes him more like the person who first conceived staged drama, or the guy who came up with the idea for books. Before D&D there was nothing like D&D; its advent created nerddom as we know it, and changed culture forever.


At the Boston Globe, Dean Wareham shares essential tracks from his bands Dean & Britta, Luna, and Galaxie 500.

Galaxie 500: My favorite Galaxie 500 album is the first one, "Today," recorded in three days at Noise New York and produced by Kramer. It contains my favorite Galaxie 500 songs: "Temperature's Rising," "Tugboat," and our interpretation of Jonathan Richman's "Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste." We had no idea how to make a record, but somehow this turned out special.


Toby Barlow, author of Sharp Teeth, talks about the novel with the Kansas City Star.

“When you’re writing your first novel and you’re writing it in free verse, you have to pause every 15 pages and reassure yourself you’re not crazy. You come up with a lot of different excuses for why you’re not crazy.

“You really aren’t expecting anyone to buy it,” Barlow said recently in a phone interview from San Francisco, where he was promoting the book. “It’s never going to get published, and if it does get published, it’ll get published by some crazy independent press guy who lives in a basement somewhere. But because I was doing it that way, I had to make the book something I liked. I wasn’t writing it to sell it; I was writing it to engage me.”

see also: Barlow's Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for the book


John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats discusses some of his favorite songs with Harp.

“I’m New Here,” Smog, A River Ain’t Too Much to Love
(Drag City, 2006)

He’s one of my favorites in the world. I don’t know this song. He’s a really good guitarist. Nobody ever talks about that. I think if you’re a singer-songwriter, people aren’t allowed to talk about your guitar technique other than to say that it’s primitive. His isn’t. See how long he waits for the payoff there? Very few singer-songwriters have the discipline to do that. If they have a payoff coming, they want to get to it right now before you wander away or start talking or something. When I say very few, that includes me. I think most of the songwriters I admire do stuff that I’m not capable of doing.


The San Francisco Chronicle interviews Chris Thile about his divorce.

Q: What's the one album that got you through the breakup?

A: The record I listened to while I was going through the whole thing was Beck's "Sea Change." It's as straightforward as Beck has ever been with us, and I really appreciate that. As specific as the lyrics can get sometimes, it's fairly easy to plug your own version of a breakup into it. That was a great record for that.


The New York Times examines the rise of Seattle's influence in the book publishing industry via three of its corporations: Amazon, Starbucks, and Costco.


INDUSTRY trends suggest Seattle’s influence will keep growing. More people are bypassing bookstores and buying at mass-market merchants, online retailers and specialty stores, says Albert N. Greco, a marketing professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business Administration.

In the last two years alone, sales of consumer books sold through such nontraditional outlets grew by more than $260 million, Professor Greco said. The presence of Costco, Amazon and Starbucks ensures that “Seattle will keep making an impact on what we read,” he said.


The Times Online reviews Amazon's e-book reader, the Kindle.

I found the actual reading experience to be largely positive. Where it scores over other e-readers is that it is surprisingly similar to reading a traditional book (or paperback, to be more precise: the Kindle weighs just over 10oz and is a mere 5in x 7½in). For all the talk about “revolutions” in reading, what is perhaps most notable about the finished product is how far its designers have gone to approximate the experience of the book, rather than fundamentally changing the way we read. In fact, physically, the Kindle is less a break with the book than an evolution in its development, just as the contemporary paperback is a progression from Roman wax codices.


Weekend America examines the operating room music of a surgeon.

"My OR playlists are called 'The safe mix 1, 2, 3,'and I just keep adding to them over time, meaning that they're safe enough for the OR," explains Dr. Gawande, chuckling again. "For it to be safe for the OR, I have to know that there aren't going to be any themes that will be incredibly embarrassing; not an excess of foul language. Something like this song, 'Crazy' is perfect. I try to have a mix of things, that have some quiet songs, and then some danceable songs, just enough to kind of keep the energy going."


The McGill Daily "demystifies the Montreal blogosphere," and profiles one of my favorite music blogs, Said the Gramophone.

Unlike many of their mp3-blogging contemporaries, Sean, Jordan, and Dan of Said the Gramophone don’t want to discover the next big thing; they want to uncover the next small thing. “The next awesome four seconds of your life,” Sean explains, with the mixture of glee and sincerity, or in his words, “verve and vim,” that characterizes much of this blog’s postings – and accounts for most of its charm. The sheer mass of new bands swirling around on the internet can be enough to overwhelm even the most dedicated music sleuth. That’s why Said the Gramophone’s attention to detail is so surprising, and so sublime. Faithfully updated with a new song, whimsical photo, and oft-fictional anecdote every day – and known as one of the first sites to break beloved bands such as Beirut, Miracle Fortress, and Arcade Fire – Said the Gramophone is ready to take you under its wings and introduce your next precious, small thing.


Harp goes record shopping with Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers.

“Anyone that grew up when I did that says they weren’t influenced by Elton John is just flat-out lying,” he decrees, hoisting Sir Elton’s glorious 1973 triple-fold, double-album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road into the air at Amoeba Music in Berkeley. “The guy was ubiquitous. He was huge, and he wrote some amazing songs with these melody lines that I’ll hear in my head ‘til I’m dead. Dark Side of the Moon and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road were two of my very first records I ever bought.”


The Observer lists the world's 50 most powerful blogs.



also at Largehearted Boy:

2007 online music lists
Daily Downloads
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
this week's CD releases


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