Aspiring guitar heroes
Vanderbilly.com is an awesome resource for anyone who plays guitar, from rank beginner to slick axman. The site contains more than 5,000 videos of guitar instruction, including 3,500 songs, from folk to surf instrumentals, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The White Stripes. No other guitar site boasts as many songs or step-by-step video demonstrations. So log on, plug in, and rock out!
Faces of war
Media commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States have been crackling like musket fire for months. Want more? The Civil War: A Visual History (Parragon) is a coffee-table tome of rare photographic images (Generals Grant and Meade examining a map, for example) paired with excerpts from haunting, perfect-diction soldier dispatches that you might end up reading aloud in your best Shelby Foote voice.
Popeye hawking newspapers? Donald Duck selling gasoline? You'll find them and a whole cavalcade of comic strip characters in Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising (Fantagraphics Books), edited by Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard. In a hundred-plus pages you are treated to a sampling of cartoon print ads from the 1890s to 1940s. There are short informative blurbs about the cartoonists (some of whom were featured in ads themselves) and the history behind the ads. A great treat for fans of comic strips, Americana, and ephemera.
Straddling two Americas
Growing Stone is the latest album from Nation Beat, an American/Brazilian collective that plays a 21st-century-style mélange inspired by maracatu drumming, New Orleans second-line rhythms, Appalachian tunes, funk, and country blues. From forro to swamp rock, the rhythms are a reflection of the musicians' history and years of collaboration.
Behind the doors of a radical movement
If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, on PBS Sept. 13, investigates the making and unraveling of the radical environmental group. The group had been responsible for targeting what it considered offenders – everything from timber companies to SUV dealerships to wild horse slaughterhouses. The FBI considered the group the No. 1 domestic terrorist threat in the US.
Through children's eyes
Children of the World, by Anthony Asael and Stéphanie Rabemiafara, is an endearing new book that features a drawing and poem by a child from each of the United Nations' 192 member states, as well as a photo of the children and fun facts about their country. The differences across the world are entertaining, but not as striking as the similarities. It's a book that will make you smile.