Chris Ballew of the Presidents of the U.S.A.

"COSMOS" Carl Sagan (Random House) The TV series ruined and enriched my life when I was 14. It completely shattered the preconceptions I had about what was going on with the universe. So now I'm reading the book.

CHIXDIGGIT They're a band from Calgary [Alberta, Cananda]. The best live situation I've seen. They go on, play for about 20 minutes, just old-school, Stogees style. They have this great childlike quality. The singer is always talking about his mom - half the songs are about how much he likes her.

"JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH" Directed by Henry Selick Despite the fact that it's a musical, it's pretty good. When they busted into the first song, my heart just sank. I was like, "oh, fuck. What am I in for?" But there's only two or three songs, and the animation made up for it.

"COME FIND YOURSELF" Fun Lovin' Criminals (EMI) Gorgeous melodies, amazing electric guitar, harmonicas and really classy trumpet stuff. You can focus on the vocals or just get into it as a background-theme-music-from-Shaft situation. It's Blue Oyster Cult and Cypress Hill hanging out in some sort of fusion heaven.

"RAISE HELL AND SELL NEWSPAPERS: ALDEN J. BETHEN AND THE 'SEATTLE TIMES'" Sherry Boswell and Lorraine McConaghy (Washington State University Press) A biography of Alden J. Bethen, who started the Seattle Times. He went from rags to riches to rags. A great social history. I love anything to do with the turn of the century.

BLUE OYSTER CULT Their first records were incredibly psychedelic and weird, with songs like "she's as Beautiful as a Foot" and "I'm on the Lamb but I Ain't No Sheep." The classic "Godzilla" is what all alternative rock is based on. You can't go wrong with a BOC greatest-hits records, kids.

THE PRESIDENTS OF THE U.S.A. will begin a North American tour at the end of February.

Compiled by Anthony Bozza
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