"Cover All Sides"

From Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin's Fly by Wire


Liner notes: In a modest yet striking feat, this Missouri combo blends late Beatles and prime Beach Boys to create a fresh and moving gem.

Behind the music: The trio visited Russia in January by invitation, meeting Yeltsin associates and performing at a K-12 school and the Old New Rock festival—the first American group to appear at the big winter rock event.

Check it out if you like: Classic pop from Big Star and Badfinger to the Shins and Death Cab for Cutie.


"Nearly Midnight, Honolulu"

From Neko Case's The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You


Liner notes: Mixing bitter and sweet, a cappella voices evoke a mother's tirade—"'Get the fuck away from me/Why don't you ever shut up?'"—and solace for her abused little boy.

Behind the music: Fans of Case's solo work have had little to chew on since 2009's Middle Cyclone, apart from a cut on the Hunger Games soundtrack and one for the Stephen King/John Mellencamp musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. For a radical change of pace, Google her cover of Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast."

Check it out if you like: Traditional-music boundary pushers like M. Ward and Jenny Lewis.


The Rational Animal

By Douglas T. Kenrick and Vladas Griskevicius


The science of irrationality is getting pretty sophisticated. Not only have researchers identified human foibles from loss aversion to hindsight bias, now they're poised to explain why we're so weird. We "are born to be biased," write coauthors Douglas T. Kenrick and Vladas Griskevicius, "and for good reason." The Rational Animal is a fun romp through the comedy of human errors. Again and again, the authors find, evolutionary urges and hardwired brains explain behaviors rational economists cannot. Humans just don't make sense, it seems, unless you expect them not to.

Getaway Rotten Tomatoes
Via Rotten Tomatoes


Quite possibly, yes.



One Direction: This Is Us
TriStar Pictures
92 minutes

It's upon us.

One Direction, the English/Irish boy band sensation that is worth roughly a billion dollars, has a new documentary in theaters. The 3D film examines the five members' lives on and off the arena stage, portraying them as normal, down-to-earth people who love their families and are bemused by bowls of Japanese food. It's produced by Simon Cowell and directed by Morgan Spurlock, the same guy who did Super Size Me, made a documentary on The Simpsons and failed to track down Osama bin Laden in this critically tarred mess of a movie.

One Direction has sold 30 million records and the boys have been invited to the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama (they couldn't make it, though). But the really important thing about One Direction is that they are venerated by a violent, ravenous international cult of adolescents.

Mark Fiore is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and animator whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Examiner, and dozens of other publications. He is an active member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, and has a website featuring his work.

Track 6

"When You Get to the Bottom"

From Robbie Fulks' Gone Away Backward


Gone Away Backward

Liner notes: "Live it up while you can/But when you get to the bottom/Don't reach for my hand," Robbie Fulks wails, as keening hillbilly harmonies and acoustic guitars underscore his high-lonesome misery.

‚ÄčBehind the music: The versatile Chicagoan, who once "saluted" Nashville with the song "Fuck This Town," never stays in one rootsy groove for long; his last album was a Michael Jackson tribute.

Check out if you like: Country tunesmiths with a gift for blending sentiment and dark humor, like Roger Miller and Tom T. Hall.

Paula Deen kills Trayvon Martin. That's the premise of an upcoming episode of the long-running NBC drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The series doesn't return for its 15th season until September 25, but news of its third episode has already generated some buzz—and whipped right wingers into a frenzy.

According to Warren Leight, the show's executive producer, the upcoming episode is about "a very high-profile celebrity woman chef who thought she was being pursued by a rapist and [when she] turned around it was a teenager." The chef is a fictionalized version of Paula Deen, the Savannah, Georgia-based cooking personality and author who was recently embroiled in a racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit. The minor she fatally shoots is clearly inspired by Trayvon Martin.

On Fox News' The Five, co-host (and sworn enemy of Muppets) Eric Bolling described the episode's plot as "yanking America's race scab right off," with the rest of the panel then tearing into SVU and NBC. (NBC is a popular target of conservative pundits on Fox; they seem to be perpetually mad at NBC, NBC News, and MSNBC, and are beside themselves over the impending Hillary Clinton miniseries starring Diane Lane.)

On Monday, Salon's Laura Miller reported on an almost mythical creature—an actual F-bomb in the pages of the New York Times. According to Miller, the use of the word "fuck," in an excerpt from Jonathan Lethem's new novel Dissident Gardens, constituted the paper of record's "first ever use of the word." As she put it, "With the discretion of a well-bred debutante, the Times has just lost its F-bomb virginity, so to speak." Lethem, reached for comment, told Miller he was "delighted."

But it's not the first time the paper has used "fuck" or one of its variants. The Times' anti-profanity editorial policy is, as Salon has chronicled before, often absurd, leading to the awkward censorship of band names, book titles, and, at least once, the vice president of the United States. But it only applies to nonfiction. A quick search through the paper's archives reveals dozens of instances of F-bombs casually inserted in fiction excerpts. Most of the time those are online-only features that supplement print reviews, but occasionally the word makes its way into the paper itself. And in some extenuating circumstances, such as the publication of the 1998 Starr Report, the paper's news desk has consented to publish the F-word as it appears in quotes.

And there's this, which was excerpted in the September 21, 2003, edition of the Times: "He might even be truly sick, fucked up, in pain, who knew? Your only option was to say dang, white boy, what's your problem? I didn't even touch you. And move on." A few paragraphs later: "Play that fucking music, white boy! Stretching the last two words to a groaning, derisive, Bugs-Bunnyesque whyyyyyyyboy!"

The author? Jonathan Lethem.

Venom P. Stinger
Drag City

Like a furious blast of hot, rancid air, the Australian quartet Venom P. Stinger spewed startling punk-rock noise on the Melbourne scene during its prime. With all the subtlety of a steamroller, the band subjected what could have been, in gentler hands, catchy rock 'n' roll to a barrage of abuse, pushing its vibrant tunes to the edge of chaos without going over the brink.

For all the brutality, though, these guys could really play: Guitarist Mick Turner and drummer Jim White brought fresh twists to the genre's conventions, rarely lapsing into familiar tropes. Together, they would later form the more refined Dirty Three, an instrumental band with violinist Warren Ellis (not the novelist), as well as work with Cat Power.

At the center of the storm, singer Dugald McKenzie, formerly of Sick Things, brandished a voice so raw and relentless that the Clash's Joe Strummer sounded like Frank Sinatra by comparison. Howling, barking and snarling with scabrous charisma, McKenzie suggested a wounded beast on the loose, which might not have been too far from the truth, since self-destructive habits allegedly sparked his departure from the band. In any case, this essential two-disc set collects Venom P. Stinger's widow-rattling output, consisting of two albums, plus an EP and a single. Annoy the neighbors and blast it today.

For more great '80s punk from Down Under, also check out last year's four-disc set The Aberrant Years (Sub Pop), compiling recordings of the Sydney group Feedtime, who were more focused and just as exciting.