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Pomplamoose: Donate Books to Kids, Get a Christmas Album

YouTube phenoms Pomplamoose have released a Christmas album -- but it's not for sale. The only way to get the album is to donate a book to the Richmond Book Drive. The deal is this: you buy a book for kids in Richmond, California public schools, and Pomplamoose gives you their Christmas album. (To be clear, it's a 5-song EP, but still.) They explain the details in the video below, after performing one of the songs.

If you're participating, may I recommend buying Looking For Alaska or Paper Towns by John Green, former mental_floss blogger? Both are on the list of books requested by the Richmond public schools. But the best part is, the book choice is very broad -- there are many, many pages of books on the list -- another favorite of mine is I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. (I recommend switching to the "compact" view on Amazon to see more books on one page.) Here are some more details on the program, from the Pomplamoose's mouth:

A little bit about the schools receiving books: -Lovonya DeJean Middle School -- averaged 26% proficient or advanced on English language arts state tests in 2009-2010 school year (State avg. for grades served = 55%) -Leadership Public Schools - Richmond - averaged 26% proficient or advanced on English language arts state tests in 2009-2010 school year (State avg. for grades served = 47%) -Kennedy High School -- averaged 21% proficient or advanced on English language arts state tests in 2009-2010 school year (State avg. for grades served = 47%) -Richmond High - averaged 20% proficient or advanced on English language arts state tests in 2009-2010 school year (State avg. for grades served = 47%)

There are Richmond Book Drive Ambassadors at each of the school sites who will work diligently to ensure that the books are cared for and used as effectively as possible to inculcate a love of reading among Richmond's terrific young people.

This isn't the first time Pomplamoose have organized a holiday giving drive. Last year, fans gave 138 goats, 166 ducks, and 107 chickens, plus various supplies to World Vision in order to get a single MP3. This year, on offer are 5 MP3s. Worth a book? I think so.

(Note: you can also donate used books, but you don't get a free album for that.)

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This Just In
Police Recover Nearly 100 Artifacts Stolen From John Lennon’s Estate
Keystone Features / Stringer / Getty Images
Keystone Features / Stringer / Getty Images

A collection of artifacts stolen from John Lennon’s estate, including diaries, glasses, and handwritten music, has been recovered by German police, the Associated Press reports. After arresting the first suspect, law enforcement is now working to apprehend a second person of interest in the case.

The nearly 100 items went missing from the New York home of the late Beatles star’s widow Yoko Ono in 2006. Years later, German police were tipped off to their whereabouts when a bankruptcy administrator came across the haul in the storage facility of a Berlin auction house. The three leather-bound diaries that were recovered are dated 1975, 1979, and 1980. One entry refers to Lennon’s famous nude photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz, and another was written the morning of December 8, 1980, hours before he was shot and killed. In addition to the journals, police retrieved two pairs of his iconic glasses, a 1965 recording of a Beatles concert, a 1952 school book, contract documents for the copyright of the song “I’m the Greatest”, handwritten scores for "Woman" and "Just Like Starting Over”, and a cigarette case.

German authorities flew to New York to have Ono verify the items' authenticity. "She was very emotional and we noticed clearly how much these things mean to her,” prosecutor Susann Wettley told AP. When the objects will be returned to Ono is still unclear.

The first suspect, a 58-year-old German businessman from Turkey, was arrested Monday, November 21, following a raid of his house and vehicles. The second suspect is one of Ono's former chauffeurs who has a past conviction related to the theft. Police officers are hoping to extradite him from his current home in Turkey before moving forward with the case.

[h/t AP]

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science
Scientists Analyze the Moods of 90,000 Songs Based on Music and Lyrics
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iStock

Based on the first few seconds of a song, the part before the vocalist starts singing, you can judge whether the lyrics are more likely to detail a night of partying or a devastating breakup. The fact that musical structures can evoke certain emotions just as strongly as words can isn't a secret. But scientists now have a better idea of which language gets paired with which chords, according to their paper published in Royal Society Open Science.

For their study, researchers from Indiana University downloaded 90,000 songs from Ultimate Guitar, a site that allows users to upload the lyrics and chords from popular songs for musicians to reference. Next, they pulled data from labMT, which crowd-sources the emotional valence (positive and negative connotations) of words. They referred to the music recognition site Gracenote to determine where and when each song was produced.

Their new method for analyzing the relationship between music and lyrics confirmed long-held knowledge: that minor chords are associated with sad feelings and major chords with happy ones. Words with a negative valence, like "pain," "die," and "lost," are all more likely to fall on the minor side of the spectrum.

But outside of major chords, the researchers found that high-valence words tend to show up in a surprising place: seventh chords. These chords contain four notes at a time and can be played in both the major and minor keys. The lyrics associated with these chords are positive all around, but their mood varies slightly depending on the type of seventh. Dominant seventh chords, for example, are often paired with terms of endearment, like "baby", or "sweet." With minor seventh chords, the words "life" and "god" are overrepresented.

Using their data, the researchers also looked at how lyric and chord valence differs between genres, regions, and eras. Sixties rock ranks highest in terms of positivity while punk and metal occupy the bottom slots. As for geography, Scandinavia (think Norwegian death metal) produces the dreariest music while songs from Asia (like K-Pop) are the happiest. So if you're looking for a song to boost your mood, we suggest digging up some Asian rock music from the 1960s, and make sure it's heavy on the seventh chords.

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