Saturday Open Thread: Random and Interesting

After all the heavy stuff we debated on the site this week, I figure it’s time for a change of pace. And since it’s the weekend, let’s celebrate with something to lighten the heart and lift the spirit.

This is an open thread for you to tell us about something cool and interesting you’ve come across lately – music, books, art, movies, food, whatever – something that makes you happy and that you think more people should know about. It doesn’t have to be new, just new to you!

I’ll start out by sharing a band I discovered: the English folk rock group Mumford & Sons. I heard one of their singles on the radio and liked it enough to download their debut album, Sigh No More, and I’m very happy I did. I love this album; I can sit and listen to the whole thing in one sitting, and I very rarely find a band I like enough to do that. If you like any of these tracks (or if you’re a fan of electric banjo), I guarantee you’ll love the rest of the album. (One or two songs, I have to admit, are slightly goddy, but I can easily overlook that with something this good.)

Now it’s your turn. What do you want to share with the world?

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  • David Hart

    Welcome to the world of Mumford. It’s very rare that I get heavily into a band this mainstream (or at least, this in-the-charts-at-the-time-I-discover-them), but hey, I do love a bit of banjo too.

    If we’re having a music-sharey time, I absolutely must share with you the equally compelling folk band Woven Hand – although, be warned, if you find Mumford a bit goddy, these guys are full-blown fire-and-brimstone, but terribly compelling nonetheless:

  • stalinownsYOU

    This is song is called People, and it’s by the the folk punk band Andrew Jackson Jihad. A lot of their stuff is rather depressing, but this song is practically a humanist anthem. I love it.

  • BJ Marshall

    Breakthrough Rapid Reading by Peter Kump makes me happy.

    I like to read, but I never thought I’d find the time (especially with a toddler) to learn how to read more quickly. Peter leads you through a series of week-long drills to help you read more quickly with comparable or better comprehension to what you have now. I actually think I comprehend material better than I did before because I can now finish a 300 page non-fiction book in about three hours; since I don’t have huge week-long gaps between when I started and finished a book, I can recall earlier material more easily when near the end of the book.

    It also helps that he wants you to use books you want to read anyway for your practice material – so not only are you meta-reading (reading about reading), but you’re knocking out some books on your list at the same time!

  • Jim Baerg

    Just in case there is someone who hasn’t heard this:

  • Nes

    I heard of these guys probably 8 months ago or so on MN Public Radio. They had a show near me back in October that I really wanted to go to, but apparently they sold out on the first day you could buy tickets (which was before I had heard of the show). My favorite is Little Lion Man, though it’s probably NSFW. I just love the energy after the bridge and the a cappella.

    Another band I heard of around the same time that I really like is The xx. They’re probably better known for Crystallized and Basic Space, but my favorite is VCR.

  • unintentionalhypocrite

    I would have preferred “People” had it not gone the man-route at the end. Seriously, STOP REFERRING TO THE HUMAN RACE AS “MAN” OR “MEN”. When I hear lines like “I hope he has faith in me”, I feel, as a proud she, that I have been excluded.
    Now I’ve got that off my chest, here’s my favourite song by an artist I discovered last summer (inadvertent courtesy of Todd in The Shadows from – she came up in one of his reviews, though not in a terribly positive light; I was intrigued nonetheless). Chances are you’ve heard of her but anyway, I love this song. Love love love it, especially a) the lyrics and b) the ending instrumental bit:
    Pt.2: (it’s a loooong song…)

    It’s right up there with Cornflake Girl as one of my favourite songs (and if you don’t know Cornflake Girl – shame on you! ;) )

  • Gail

    I discovered the British show THAT MITCHELL AND WEBB LOOK. A BIT OF FRY AND LAURIE is probably my favorite show ever because it makes me laugh out loud incredibly hard, but I’ve seen them all so many times recently, so I was glad to find this new show that has a similar type of humor. Apparently British sketch comedies starring a two-male team are the best. Anyway, the episodes are available on hulu, netflix, and some on youtube, so if you like British humor, I highly recommend them. These two shows make me laugh so hard I get muscle cramps, which is nice after a few tragedy-heavy weeks.

  • Nick

    You may be interested to know this:

    Every year, Australian radio station Triple-J counts down the 100 most popular songs of the year on Australia Day. Last year, the number one song was a surprise to a lot of people, but was hardly a shock to the legions who voted for it. Little Lion Man – a strangely apropos title for what was essentially an underdog candidate – came in first.

  • Ritchie

    Heehee, glad you’re a convert, Gail!
    And if I might recommend my favourite sketches if anyone only has a couple to minutes to spare:

  • Just Al

    I try to introduce something new and interesting to people as often as I can, but it’s almost always nature related, since I’m kinda biased ;-). My latest examples are found here and here, but checking under the tags “Nature” or “Too cool” will turn up others.

    I’ve also become more aware of philosopher A.C. Grayling, who’s pretty damn sharp. And as a rule, I don’t like philosophy.

    @Gail, #7 – Also look for “QI”, a British trivia quiz show (more or less). Beats the hell out of anything in the states…

  • jack

    I wish I could say I shot this video, but I didn’t, and I don’t know the folks who did, but it really captures the feeling of one of my favorite hikes: Angels Landing in Zion National Park. If you enjoy thrills and breathtaking scenery, you must do this hike someday. My wife and I have done it three times, and we have many fond memories of this place. This may be the most thrilling hike you can do without being a technical rock climber.

  • KP

    I’ve been hearing about M&S for a while and didn’t get around to listening until now. I looked them up and it seems that a lot of their “goddy” references come from ripping off literature. Like “Roll Away Your Stone” is supposed to be based on something out of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

  • FuzzyDuck

    I recently discovered the excellent Ultraviolet (British TV serial), a six-episode psychological horror series about modern-day vampires, well acted & cleverly thought out, wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of the big influences on the film Daybreakers which had a similar theme to it.

  • Katie M

    I discovered Doctor Who in December. Friends had been telling me that I would love it, but I was afraid it was too much like Star Trek (which I’ve never cared for). One day in December, I got bored so I figured “Why not? I’ll give it a try.” I watched an episode online.

    And now I’m anxiously awaiting the season premiere on Saturday :D

  • Steve Bowen


    And now I’m anxiously awaiting the season premiere on Saturday :D

    Me too, however I have a feeling this series may be the last, especially since Russell T Davies is now in California and the story arc seems to be heading for a finale.

  • Maynard

    Also a big fan of Mumford & Sons (we have tickets to next weeks show in Austin!!).

    Another I almost never miss when he tours through the area: Todd Snider.

  • Joel Wheeler

    OH! A chance to plug my favorite queerish power-folk art freakout from Toronto, The Hidden Cameras! Their first two full-length releases are listenable in that multiple-earworm kind of way that Mumford pulls off.

    A typical corker:

    Their take on marriage:

    Lovely canal-side outdoor impromptu (“A Take-Away show”):

    More recent/ high-production-value releases:

    They also have a double-entendre B-side called “High Upon the Church Ground” (as in, “I get high upon the church ground”) that must be heard to be believed.

  • Maynard

    Just wanted to comment that Mumford & Sons played here in Austin last night as part of their Railroad Revival Tour and it was fantastic! They even went to a local high school (Austin High actually) and recruited the entire marching band to join them on stage and perform with them on “The Cave” (first video in OP). Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros are also part of this tour. If anyone in the New Orleans area (their next and last stop) has the opportunity to catch this show, I highly recommend it. All three bands are extremely entertaining.

    (Even if you don’t have tickets, you might go check it out. Some of the people outside the venue last night had just as good a spot as us and were directly called on for audience participation by each band.)