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1 "I didn't know you could be so political with your crop art," observed a young woman walking in front of us at the State Fair's Crop Art Show. It's an election year, so Minnesotans shouldn't be surprised to see artful pieces devoted to the marriage amendment, voter ID, Occupy, Walter Mondale and Republican VP nominee Paul Ryan. There's also a bikini top, a "seed bass" and, our favorite, a leopard, done with 13 kinds of seeds (from cream of wheat to pine needles) by Linda Paulsen.

2 Turns out that Nick Hornby isn't just good at writing about music; he also knows a lot about books. "More Baths Less Talking" is a collection of his columns from Believer magazine, where he writes about the books he bought, ones he downloaded and the ones he actually read. As always, Hornby is very funny -- he says he finally has time to read Dickens because "I am in reasonable health, my next divorce is at least a year or so away, and I have given up having children" -- but this book is much more than funny. He understands writers and what they are trying to do. This book crackles with insight.

3 The psychedelic whir of their acclaimed 2009 album "Merriwether Post Pavilion" was intoxicating on headphones but proved surprisingly sleepy onstage, a shortcoming that Baltimore's Animal Collective seems to have addressed on the follow-up. "Centipede Hz" boasts all the discombobulated rhythms and quirky sonic outbursts of its predecessor, but it also offers a lot more hyper energy and oomph. Primary songwriter David Portner (aka Avey Tare) even steps out as a mighty rock howler occasionally to great effect. Out Tuesday.

4 "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" is one low-budget Web series that might make it to TV. Writer/director/actress Issa Rae plays a young woman dealing with conflicts at the office, juggling two guys, hanging with her best girl and fending off her hypercritical mother. Now in its second season, the series gets an average of 150,000 views per 10-minute episode, and it has attracted fans including Donald Glover of "Community," who makes a cameo. Earlier this year, the show won the Shorty Award for Best Web Series. Are you watching, networks? Awkwardblackgirl.com

5 You will either love "Killer Joe" or run away screaming. It's a high comedy of low taste, a work of blood-splattered skill and conviction made by people tired of timid studio pabulum. Matthew McConaughey plays a courtly, cocksure, offhandedly vicious Dallas police detective who sidelines as a hit man. Director William Friedkin crafts the film with ferocious tension and unexpected humor as he paints a gallery of derelict no-hope Americana.