Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
Former drug store clerk Elliott Yamin scored high on the American Idol charts. His first album, Elliott Yamin (Hickory, March 2007) went gold in the US and Japan, and was the highest independent debut for a new artist on the Billboard charts. His sophomore album, Fight for Love, released this month.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Tuesdays With Morrie.  It’s a great story about finding yourself and what really matters in life.


2. The fictional character most like you?
Don’t really know any fictional characters, or at least followed any. So I don’t really know what each one does or stands for.  Never really got into any animated shows or cartoons.


3. The greatest album, ever?
Donny Hathaway’s i>These Song For You Live!’. Stevie Wonders’ Signed, Sealed and Delivered and Marvin Gayes’ I Want You album are tied for a close second place!


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Thursday, May 14, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
The Royal College of Music trained Jon Hopkins released his latest album Insides on Domino on May 5th and he tells us about his inspiration.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster. And when I saw Mulholland Drive for the second time.


2. The fictional character most like you?
Popeye.


3. The greatest album, ever?
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. Ridiculously beautiful psychadelic monster.


4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Neither actually. I quite liked Quantum Leap though.


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Wednesday, May 6, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
Ken Stringfellow is a well-known figure in the world of smart pop music, having worked with the likes of the Posies, R.E.M., the Minus 5, and Big Star. These days he's playing with the Disciplines and their new album Smoking Kills released just last week.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
ALL Movies make me cry. I am that kind of guy. From The Terminator to soft porn to, of course, It’s a Wonderful Life, I start crying during the damn previews, for fuck sake.


2. The fictional character most like you?
Pretty much was feeling like Randy the Ram in The Wrestler when I saw that film… old, fucked up never-has-been, “he’s a loser but he still keeps on trying” as the Little River Band would say.


3. The greatest album, ever?
Hard to call. The Shaggs album? It’s really a tough call. The Shaggs is perhaps the most extraordinary. Greatest, maybe Farewell to Kings by Rush.


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Friday, May 1, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
Donny Blum, drummer for the Von Bondies, tells us why Star Wars rules, you ought to try yoga and how inspirational Hieronymus Bosch is.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
That would be Math Without Tears, by Roy Hartkopf. I was boning up on math, because I think it’s so important to be able to add and subtract when I’m on tour. Math is so painful to me; it’s like pulling teeth. But math is also so important to all of our lives. I also saw a commercial on TV several years ago for the Humane Society. It was about what a dog dreams of at night. It dreams of its owner, a very old man. Then you find out that the old man is dead and the dog is now in a cage at a dog shelter. It is very sad.


2. The fictional character most like you?
I would have to say Taras Bulba from that famous story by Gogol. I feel like the members of my band are like Taras Bulba’s sons. And he would do anything for them, just as I would do anything for my sons. If I had any.


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Thursday, Apr 16, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
Georgia indie pop group Venice Is Sinking has released a few records that PopMatters rated pretty highly, Sorry About the Flowers in 2006 and AZAR earlier this year. Lucas Jensen, the band's drummer, sits down with 20 Questions to explain his theories about Star Wars and more.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
There were parts in Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories that really got to me, particularly dealing with plight of the overweight, asthmatic lawyer Theo, who could have easily become a caricature. The empathy and humanity that Atkinson shows Theo (imagine that, an ugly major character!) is well beyond the norm for most fiction, particularly mystery fiction. WALL-E also made me tear up at various points. The beginning is so cute and yet so sad. WALL-E‘s loneliness is palpable. Sure, it’s billed as a kid’s movie, but have you ever seen anything so desolate and bleak in your life?!


2. The fictional character most like you?
Hmmm…probably some buffoonish but lovable motormouth idiot out there. Falstaff? That Scottish guy from Four Weddings and a Funeral who died? Did I just give something away? Spoiler alert!


3. The greatest album, ever?
Oh man, this question is a tough one. I vacillate between any number of albums, including some usual suspects like Pet Sounds and Revolver and stuff, so I’m going to go oddball today and say that it’s Tindersticks’ second self-titled album, which, in its long running time, manages to incorporate spoken word, Serge Gainsbourg-style duets, distorted surf guitars, full orchestras, piano ballads, and a one-mic-recorded dirges without every getting boring once. It’s so overstuffed with dramatic gestures and ambition and well-executed bad ideas that it’s almost gaudy in its grandeur.


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