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September 18, 2008

Shorties (Okkervil River, Neal Stephenson, and more)

T-shirt of the day: "Obama (in words)" (a portrait of Barack Obama made from the text of his speeches)


Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff talks to the Georgia Straight about the band's new album, The Stand Ins.

Sometimes, when you start to look at things too closely, you can kind of ruin it,” Sheff explains. “It’s kind of like cooking a fish and flipping it so many times that it turns into a crumbled pile in the skillet. You’ve got to turn things only once or twice. The Stand Ins was fun that way because we worked very quickly on the songs. There wasn’t time to dissect them and rip things apart and constantly recombine in new ways to see how they would work. It was like, ‘Make your first intuitive decision and stick with it.’ ”

The Vancouver Sun and Montreal Gazette also profile the band.


The New Yorker features a new short story by Aleksandar Hemon.


Alina Simone talks to the Patriot Ledger about her album, Everyone Is Crying Out to Me, Beware.

"I love her music. There is no artifice about it,'' Simone said. "It’s a girl who grew up with nothing – no money, no connections, no special encouragement – who took her life in her hands and decided to do something no other woman in the Soviet era was doing. She wrote these beautiful songs and sang them with very little embellishment. Growing up in a Russian family with fairly traditional expectations, I have a sense of what a courageous break Yanka made in charting her own path. I made a whole album of covers because I wanted to be a full immersion experience, both for myself and the listener.''


At the New Yorker, Deborah Treisman remembers David Foster Wallace.

Wallace’s talent was a generous one—each book or story or piece of journalism seemed to overflow with words. He had much to say, many ways in which to say it, and many ways of commenting on what he had just said. He also had a determination and a confidence in his work that extended to every comma and conjunction.


Minnesota Public Radio's The Current features Abigail Washburn with an interview and in-studio performance.


The MFA Blog discusses writing and writing programs.


NPR's All Things Considered examines Charlotte's thriving Hispanic rock scene.


Neal Stephenson creates a music playlist at the New York Times Paper Cuts blog.

* Moving forward into Renaissance polyphony, I’m a heavy listener of Seattle-based Tudor Choir, in particular to a bootleg tape of their Music for Candlemas concert of a couple of years ago, which I realize doesn’t help the average reader very much. Easier to get is their album “Jacob Clemens non Papa: Requiem and Motets,” available through their website http://www.tudorchoir.org/.


Tucson Weekly profiles Silver Jews frontman David Berman.

When I tell Berman that I think he's got a lot in common with the aforementioned former poet laureate, Billy Collins (who supplies a glowing blurb for Berman's book, Actual Air), in that they both write poetry that even people who claim not to like poetry will like, he responds, "Billy Collins is a great mainstream artist like the Bee Gees or Stephen King. He is a punching bag for the 'post-avant' poetic intelligentsia, so I prefer to admire and praise him."

The Houston Chronicle also interviews Berman.


io9 lists the possible side effects of science fiction becoming more literary.


The Phoenix excerpts from Juliana Hatfield's memoir, When I Grow Up.


Cartoonist Chester Brown talks politics with Eye Weekly (he is running for Canada's parliament).


Former Los Angeles Times writer Kevin Bronson has started a music blog, Buzz Bands.


MTV offers an exclusive 6-page excerpt from Jonathan Ames' graphic novel, The Alcoholic.


WSJ: We've seen a melt-down on Wall Street this week. There was a time when financiers and investors were rich fare for cartoonists. Why doesn't that seem to be as true today?

Mr. Spiegelman: Remember the character in the board game "Monopoly" who had the walrus mustache? He got to own all the newspapers. And those people don't want to see themselves in their own publications.


The Wall Street Journal interviews legendary cartoonist Art Spiegelman.


Fact magazine lists the 20 best US hardcore bands.


Visit the Poets.org Listening Booth for poetry audio streams.


Jenny Lewis talks to the Chicago Tribune's Turn It Up blog about her solo career.

“I never set out to be a solo artist, I never thought I was capable of doing it,” Lewis says. “I can’t believe that I ever got a pass to play music in the first place. I was a child actor --- are you kidding me? I should be like Corey Haim or Corey Feldman or the chick from ‘Diff’rent Strokes.’ Only when Conor suggested I make a record for his label did I start to think about it. We made it quickly, and it felt so easy; doing the vocal harmonies with the Watson Twins, it was like I was singing at home again with my mom and sister. Getting to know each other on the road it became the most enjoyable musical experience I ever had.”


NPR excerpts from Moustafa Bayoumi's book, How Does It Feel To Be A Problem?, about being young and Arab in a post-9/11 America,


The Washingtonian interviews my favorite pop culture blogger, Whitney Matheson of Pop Candy.


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

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