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Updated: 3 hours 51 min ago

Jimi Hendrix Unplugged: Two Rare Recordings of Hendrix Playing Acoustic Guitar

10 hours 19 min ago

As a young guitar player, perhaps no one inspired me as much as Jimi Hendrix, though I never dreamed I’d attain even a fraction of his skill. But what attracted me to him was his near-total lack of formality—he didn’t read music, wasn’t trained in any classical sense, played an upside-down right-handed guitar as a lefty, and fully engaged his head and heart in every note, never pausing for an instant (so it seemed) to second-guess whether it was the right one. I knew his raw emotive playing was firmly rooted in the Delta blues, but it wasn’t until later in my musical journey that I discovered his return to more traditional form after he disbanded The Experience and formed Band of Gypsys with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles. While most of the recordings he made with them didn’t see official release, they’ve appeared since his death in compilation after boxset after compilation, including one of the most beloved of Hendrix’s blues songs, “Hear My Train A Comin’.”

Originally titled “Get My Heart Back Together” when he played it at Woodstock in 1969, the song is pure roots, with lyrics that bespeak of both Hendrix’s loneliness and his playful dreams of greatness. (“I’m gonna buy this town / And put it all in my shoe.”) Several versions of the song float around on various posthumous releases—both live and as studio outtakes (including two different takes on the excellent 1994 Blues). But we have the rare treat, above, of seeing Hendrix play the song on a twelve-string acoustic guitar, Lead Belly’s instrument of choice. The footage comes from the 1973 documentary film Jimi Hendrix (which you can watch on Youtube for $1.99). Hendrix first plays the intro, seated alone in an all-white studio, playing folk-style with the fingers of his left hand. It is, of course, flawless, yet still he stops and asks the filmmakers for a redo. “I was scared to death,” he says, betraying the shyness and self-doubt that lurked beneath his mind-blowing ability and flamboyant persona. His playing is no less perfect when he picks up the tune again and plays it through.

Solo acoustic recordings of Hendrix—film and audio—are incredibly rare. In fact, the only other footage may be the short clip above of Hendrix at a party playing a partial blues rendition of “Hound Dog.” If like me you’re a fan of Hendrix, acoustic blues, or both, these videos will make you hunger for more Jimi unplugged. While Hendrix did more than anyone before him to turn guitar amps into instruments with his squalls of electric feedback and distorted wah-wah squeals, when you strip his playing down to basics, he’s still pretty much as good as it gets.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

Jimi Hendrix Unplugged: Two Rare Recordings of Hendrix Playing Acoustic Guitar is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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H.G. Wells Interviews Joseph Stalin in 1934; Declares “I Am More to The Left Than You, Mr. Stalin”

13 hours 21 min ago

From the 20/20 point of view of the present, Joseph Stalin was one of the 20th century’s great monsters. He terrified the Soviet Union with campaign after campaign of political purges, he moved whole populations into Siberia and he arguably killed more people than Hitler. But it took decades for the scope of his crimes to get out, mostly because, unlike Hitler, Stalin stuck to killing his own people.

In early 1930s, however, Stalin was considered by many to be the leader of the future. That period was, of course, the nadir of the Great Depression. Capitalism seemed to be coming apart at the seams. The USSR promised a new society ruled not by the oligarchs of Wall Street but by the people – a society where everyone was equal.

H.G. Wells interviewed Stalin in Moscow in 1934 for the magazine The New Statesman. Wells was an avowed socialist and one of the left’s most influential authors. His first novel, The Time Machine, is essentially an allegory for class struggle after all. The interview between the two is fascinating.

Wells opens the piece by stating that he speaks for the common people. While that point is debatable — Stalin calls him out on that assertion – Wells does speak in a manner that is readily understandable. Stalin, in contrast, speaks in fluent Politburo. The blandness of his speech, choked with Communist boilerplate, seems designed to make the listener tune out. But then he drops little bon mots into his monologues that hint at the violence he has unleashed on his country. Take this line for instance:

Revolution, the substitution of one social system for another, has always been a struggle, a painful and a cruel struggle, a life-and-death struggle.

It’s a chilling line. Especially when you consider that at the time of this interview, Stalin was just starting to launch his first wave of political purges and he was plotting to assassinate his main political rival Sergei Kirov.

As the interview unfolds, you can imagine Wells growing increasingly frustrated by Stalin’s narrow, dogmatic view of the world. The Soviet leader, as Wells later wrote in his autobiography, “has little of the quick uptake of President Roosevelt and none of the subtlety and tenacity of Lenin. … His was not a free impulsive brain nor a scientifically organized brain; it was a trained Leninist-Marxist brain.”

At several points in the interview Wells challenges Stalin: “I object to this simplified classification of mankind into poor and rich,” the author fumes.

And when Stalin doesn’t agree with Wells that the Capitalist system was on its last legs, the author actually chides him for not being revolutionary enough. “It seems to me that I am more to the Left than you, Mr. Stalin; I think the old system is nearer to its end than you think.” Now that’s chutzpah.

In the end, the interview presents a dueling version of the future of the left. Wells believed, in essence, that the Capitalist world only needed to be reformed, albeit drastically, to achieve economic justice. And Stalin argued that Capitalism had to be torn down completely before any other reform could take place.

In spite of their differences, Wells left the interview with a positive impression of the Soviet leader. “I have never met a man more fair, candid, and honest,” he wrote.

Wells died in 1946 before the worst of Stalin’s crimes became known to the outside world. Stalin died in 1953.  Following a stroke, his body remained on the floor in a pool of urine for hours before a doctor was called. His minions were terrified that he might wake up and order their execution.

You can read the entire interview between H.G. Wells and Stalin on The New Statesmen‘s website here.

via Kottke

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.

H.G. Wells Interviews Joseph Stalin in 1934; Declares “I Am More to The Left Than You, Mr. Stalin” is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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The Getty Adds Another 77,000 Images to its Open Content Archive

16 hours 41 min ago

Last summer we told you that the J. Paul Getty Museum launched its Open Content Program by taking 4600 high-resolution images from the Getty collections, putting them into the public domain, and making them freely available in digital format. We also made it clear — there would be more to come.

Yesterday, the Getty made good on that promise, adding another 77,000 images to the Open Content archive. Of those images, 72,000 come from the Foto Arte Minore collection, a rich gallery of photographs of Italian art and architecture, taken by the photographer and scholar Max Hutzel (1911-1988).

The Getty also dropped into the archive another 4,930 images of European and American tapestries dating from the late 15th through the late 18th centuries.

All images in the Getty Open Content program — now 87,000 in total — can be downloaded and used without charge or permission, regardless of whether you’re a scholar, artist, art lover or entrepreneur. The Getty only asks that you give them attribution.

You can start exploring the complete collection by visiting the Getty Search Gateway. Images can also be accessed via the Museum’s Collection webpages. Be sure to look for the “download” link near the images.

For more information on the Open Content program, please visit this page. For more open content from museums, see the links below.

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The Getty Adds Another 77,000 Images to its Open Content Archive is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Sylvia Plath Annotates Her Copy of The Great Gatsby

20 hours 41 min ago

The true fan of a writer desires not just that writer’s complete works, even if they all come signed and in first editions. No — the enthusiast most dedicated to their literary luminary of choice must have, in addition, the books written by that author, those owned by that author, preferably anointed with liberal quantities of revealing marginalia. In the case of such relatively recently deceased writers as David Markson, the whole of whose well-annotated personal library got donated to The Strand shortly after his passing, you can sometimes actually come to possess such treasures. In the case of poet Sylvia Plath, part of a page of whose copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby you see above, you might have a trickier time getting your hands on them. Justin Ray’s post at Complex, which quotes Plath as calling Fitzgerald “a word painter with a vivid palette” who chooses words with “jewel-cut precision,” has more on the book and its markings.

“Plath studied a crap-ton of literature in school,” Ray writes. “It isn’t immediately clear whether she was in high school or college when she annotated Gatsby,” but whenever she did it, she underlined “Daisy’s prediction of what her daughter will be like” with the word “L’Ennui,” a word she would use to name an early poem that reflects “a post romanticism and the death of idealism, two ideas also in Gatsby, according to an essay by Anna Journey.” Elsewhere, you can also read “Princess Daisy,” Park Bucker’s piece on Plath’s annotated Gatsby. “The volume represents a fascinating piece of evidence of Fitzgerald’s rising reputation and influence in the early 1950s, as well as the academic background and tastes of a major American poet,” writes Bucker. “Although Sylvia Plath and F. Scott Fitzgerald rarely inhabit the same sentence, their association should not appear strained. A young, intense poet would naturally be drawn to the lyric quality of Fitzgerald’s prose.” And just imagine its value to die-hard fans of both of those tragic pillars of American letters — a group in which, if you’ve read this post and everything to which it links, you should perhaps consider counting yourself.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Sylvia Plath Annotates Her Copy of The Great Gatsby is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Stream Indie Cindy, the Pixies’ First Album in 23 Years

Tue, 22 Apr 2014 - 10:27 pm

A quick fyi: Indie Cindy, the Pixies’ first album since 1991, will be released on April 29th. But thanks to NPR’s First Listen site, you can stream the entire LP online for free, for a limited time. Though the band might not sound the same without Kim Deal, Pixies fans will instantly recognize the “disarming beauty nestled against dissonant snarls.” Above, you can listen to the album’s title track. Here you can stream the entire album or the individual tracks – or pre-order it on iTunes or over at Amazon.

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Stream Indie Cindy, the Pixies’ First Album in 23 Years is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Slavoj Žižek: What Fullfils You Creatively Isn’t What Makes You Happy

Tue, 22 Apr 2014 - 4:45 pm

While theorist and provocateur Slavoj Žižek tends to get characterized—especially in a recent, testy exchange with Noam Chomsky—as obscurantist and muddle-headed, I’ve always found him quite readable, especially when compared to his mentor, psychoanalytic philosopher Jacques Lacan. As an interpreter of Lacan’s theories, Žižek always does his reader the courtesy of providing specific, concrete examples to anchor the theoretical jargon (where Lacan gives us pseudo-mathematical symbols). In the short Big Think clip above, Žižek’s examples range from the history of physics to the Declaration of Independence to the familiar “male chauvinist” scenario of a man, his wife, and his mistress. Žižek’s point, the point of psychoanalysis, he alleges, is that “people do not really want or desire happiness.”

This seems counterintuitive. Happiness—our own and others—is after all the goal of our loftiest endeavors, no? This seems to be the pop-psych rendition of, say, Maslow’s theory of self-actualization. But no, says Zizek, happiness is an integral part of fantasy. Like the philanderer’s mistress, the object of desire must be kept at a distance, he says. Once it is achieved, we no longer want it: “We don’t really want what we think we desire.” And in keeping with Žižek’s example of infidelity—which may or may not involve the chauvinist killing his wife—he tells us that for him, “happiness is an unethical category.” I find this statement intriguing, and persuasive, though Žižek doesn’t elaborate on it above.

He does in much of his writing however—explaining in Lacanian terms in his essay collection Interrogating the Real that our desire for something we think will bring us happiness can be construed as a kind of envy: “I desire an object only insofar as it is desired by the Other.” Furthermore, he writes, “what I desire is determined by the symbolic network within which I articulate my subjective position.” In other words, what we think we want is determined by ideology—by the cultural products we consume, the soup of mass media and advertising in which we are permanently immersed, and the political ideals we are taught to revere. What does authentic “self-actualization” look like for Slavoj Žižek? He tells us above—it means being “ready to suffer” for the creative realization of a goal: “Happiness doesn’t enter into it.”

Žižek cites the example of nuclear scientists who willingly exposed themselves to radiation poisoning in pursuit of discovery, but he could just as well have pointed to artists and writers who sacrifice comfort and pleasure for lives of profound uncertainty, religious figures who practice all kinds of austerities, or athletes who push their bodies past all ordinary limits. While there are several degrees of pleasure involved in these endeavors, it seems shallow at best to describe the goals of such people as happiness. It seems that many, if not most, of the people we admire and strive to emulate lead lives characterized by great risk—by the willingness to suffer; lives often containing little in the way of actual happiness.

Whatever stock one puts in psychoanalytic theory, it seems to me that Žižek raises some vital questions: Do we really want what we think we want, or is the “pursuit of happiness” an unethical ideological fantasy? What do you think, readers?

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

 

Slavoj Žižek: What Fullfils You Creatively Isn’t What Makes You Happy is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Close Personal Friend: Watch a 1996 Portrait of Gen-X Definer Douglas Coupland

Tue, 22 Apr 2014 - 2:30 pm

Whether we lived through them as kids or as grown-ups, few of us feel sure about whether we miss the 1990s. No generation did more to define the decade before last, at least in the West, than the unmoored, irony-loving, at once deeply cynical and deeply earnest “Generation X” that succeeded the wealthier, more influential Baby Boomers. No writer did more to define that generation than Douglas Coupland, the Canadian novelist, visual artist, and seer of the immediate future whose 1991 literary debut Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture gave the cohort its name. There he wrote of the twentysomethings who lived through the 1990s definitely not as kids, yet, frustratingly, not quite as grown-ups, coming haplessly to grips in the margins of a human experience that an advanced civilization had already begun detaching from supposed expectations — jobs, houses, stability, tight connection between mind and body, unquestionably “real” lived experience — of generations before.

Coupland, also a prolific sculptor (next time you get to his hometown of Vancouver, do visit the somehow always striking Digital Orca), writer of the film Everything’s Gone Green, star of the documentary Souvenir of Canada, and now the developer of a snoring-assistance smartphone app, knows a thing or two about switching media. Five years after breaking out with Generation X, he also made Close Personal Friend, the not-quite-categorizable short about technology, memory, and identity at the top of the post. In what plays as a cross between a Chris Marker-style essay film and a middle-period MTV music video, Coupland continues his career-long rumination about our “accelerated culture” and the fascinatingly empowered yet compromised human beings to which it gives rise. What does it mean in this modern, hypermediated context, he wonders, that we now wonder whether we actually have lives? “Not having a life is so common,” he says. “It’s almost become the norm. [...] People just aren’t getting their year’s worth of year anymore.”

Given our culture’s further acceleration since he spoke those words in 1996 — the world wide web as we know it having got its start just three years before — Coupland’s thoughts on the subject, whether expressed in fiction, through sculpture, or onscreen, still sound plenty relevant. Close Personal Friend, with its voidlike backdrops, video-blender editing, and scattered clips of wholesome midcentury Americana, bears the aesthetic mark of its era. Coupland’s faintly ominous talk of “FedEx, Prozac, microwave ovens, and fax machines” also time-stamps it technologically and culturally. But the observations have carried through, only growing sharper, to his latest work. Asked to imagine the “two dominant activities” of life twenty years hence, the Coupland of 1996 names “going shopping and going to jail,” pursuits he sees as now merged in his essay collection published last year, Shopping in Jail. Just above, we have a half-hour conversation between Coupland and host Jian Ghomeshi about his even newer book, a study of misanthropy in novel form called Worst. Person. Ever. In the talk, he cites “I miss my pre-internet brain,” a slogan he made up that has gained much traction in recent years. But does he really? “No,” he admits. “It was boring back then!” Close Personal Friend will be added to our collection of 675 Free Movies Online.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Close Personal Friend: Watch a 1996 Portrait of Gen-X Definer Douglas Coupland is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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The Lonely Photo of Michel Foucault with a Full Head of Hair

Tue, 22 Apr 2014 - 12:05 pm

When you think of Michel Foucault, it’s hard not to think of the bald head that’s so part of his persona. Do a Google image search for Foucault, and you’ll find a “profusion of pictures of Foucault’s gleaming bald head” (as Jeffrey Weinstock calls it in an article entitled “This is Not Foucault’s Head”). But, among those many images, you will find one lonely photo of Foucault with a full(ish) head of hair. It’s hard to put a date on the picture. Very likely, it was taken during the mid 1950s, right around when Foucault was 30 years old. The look he’s sporting there is very different than what we see in 1965, when he sits down to talk with Alain Badiou. Or 1971, when he debates Noam Chomsky on Dutch TV. By those later dates, Foucault had the look that became so enduring.

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The Lonely Photo of Michel Foucault with a Full Head of Hair is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Soviet Animations of Ray Bradbury Stories: ‘Here There Be Tygers’ & ‘There Will Comes Soft Rain’

Tue, 22 Apr 2014 - 8:13 am

Sergei Bondarchuk directed an 8-hour film adaptation of War and Peace (1966-67), which ended up winning an Oscar for Best Foreign Picture. When he was in Los Angeles as a guest of honor at a party, Hollywood royalty like John Wayne, John Ford, Billy Wilder lined up to meet the Russian filmmaker. But the only person that Bondarchuk was truly excited to meet was Ray Bradbury. Bondarchuk introduced the author to the crowd of bemused A-listers as “your greatest genius, your greatest writer!”

Ray Bradbury spent a lifetime crafting stories about robots, Martians, space travel and nuclear doom and, in the process, turned the formerly disreputable genre of Sci-Fi/Fantasy into something respectable. He influenced legions of writers and filmmakers on both sides of the Atlantic from Stephen King to Neil Gaiman to Francois Truffaut, who adapted his most famous novel, Fahrenheit 451, into a movie.

That film wasn’t the only adaptation of Bradbury’s work, of course. His writings have been turned into feature films, TV movies, radio shows and even a video game for the Commodore 64. During the waning days of the Cold War, a handful of Soviet animators demonstrated their esteem for the author by adapting his short stories.

Vladimir Samsonov directed Bradbury’s Here There Be Tygers, which you can see above. A spaceship lands on an Eden-like planet. The humans inside are on a mission to extract all the natural resources possible from the planet, but they quickly realize that this isn’t your ordinary rock. “This planet is alive,” declares one of the characters. Indeed, not only is it alive but it also has the ability to grant wishes. Want to fly? Fine. Want to make streams flow with wine? Sure. Want to summon a nubile maiden from the earth? No problem. Everyone seems enchanted by the planet except one dark-hearted jerk who seems hell-bent on completing the mission.

Samsonov’s movie is stylized, spooky and rather beautiful – a bit like as if Andrei Tarkovsky had directed Avatar.

Another one of Bradbury’s shorts, There Will Comes Soft Rain, has been adapted by Uzbek director Nazim Tyuhladziev (also spelled Nozim To’laho’jayev). The story is about an automated house that continues to cook and clean for a family of four unaware that they all perished in a nuclear explosion. While Bradbury’s version works as a comment on both American consumerism and general Cold War dread, Tyuhladziev’s version goes for a more religious tact. The robot that runs the house looks like a mechanical snake (Garden of Eden, anyone?). The robot and the house become undone by an errant white dove. The animation might not have the polish of a Disney movie, but it is surprisingly creepy and poignant.

And if you want to see more Russian animation, click here.

Both films mentioned above will be added to the Animation section of our collection of 675 Free Movies Online.

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.

Soviet Animations of Ray Bradbury Stories: ‘Here There Be Tygers’ & ‘There Will Comes Soft Rain’ is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Watch 1955 Footage of a Scientist Interviewing a Painter on LSD

Tue, 22 Apr 2014 - 1:00 am

A few months ago, we featured the increasingly abstract portraits drawn by an artist after periodic doses of LSD. It happened in the late 1950s, a time when you might well imagine such an activity going down in, say, a bohemian quarter of New York, but also a time when hallucinogenic drugs rode a wave of popularity among legitimate scientists. Those ostensibly straight-laced researchers (sometimes funded by CIA money) had a fascination not with the taking of hallucinogenic drugs — not necessarily, anyway — but with what, exactly, these hallucinogenic drugs did to those who do take them. Particularly artists drawing portraits. Those portraits drawn on LSD came out under the close watch of University of California, Irvine psychiatrist Oscar Janiger. Above, you can watch the fruit of another, much more verbal 1950s experiment conducted just down the coast by the University of Southern California’s Nicholas A. Bercel, M.D.: “Schizophrenic Model Psychosis Induced by LSD 25.”

Here we also have an artist examined: this time, a Los Angeles painter named Bill. As Bill floats through his altered state, Bercel asks him to describe, in as rigorous detail as possible, his perceptions of objects in the room, of items of food and drink brought in, and of their interactions themselves. This 24-minute film of the four-hour process, punctuated by electroencephalographic scans, comes as a production of Sandoz, the Swiss pharmaceutical company who originally isolated LSD and who apparently had an interest in bringing a form of it to market. (One proposed pharmacological designation: “Phantastium.”) Though that didn’t happen, the Hungarian-born Bercel went on throughout his long career to conduct more research of the kind that ultimately earned him a legacy as a pioneer in neurophysiology. He also, when not in the lab, wrote over a dozen novels and film treatments. Clearly he had an impressive creative streak, whether or not he ever personally had his doors of perception opened by the substances his subjects like Bill so enjoyed.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch 1955 Footage of a Scientist Interviewing a Painter on LSD is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Bob Dylan Plays First Live Performance of “Hurricane,” His Song Defending Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (RIP) in 1975

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 - 3:08 pm

This weekend, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter passed away. He was 76. An American middleweight boxer, Carter was tried and convicted twice (once 1967, again in 1976) for homicides that took place in Paterson, New Jersey in 1966 — despite the fact that there were no finger prints or eyewitnesses connecting him to the crime. (Both convictions were later overturned when courts found that the trials were tainted by prosecutorial misconduct.) Before the second trial, Bob Dylan met with Carter in prison and then wrote “Hurricane,” a protest song that reached #33 on the Billboard chart. According to Jambase, Dylan brought a trio to Chicago’s WTTW Studios for a three-song performance where they played “Hurricane” on September 10, 1975. He’s backed by Scarlet Rivera on violin, Rob Stoner on bass, and Howie Wyeth on drums. It was apparently Dylan’s first live performance of the eight minute song.

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via Expecting Rain

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Orson Welles Tells Some Damn Good Stories in the Orson Welles’ Sketch Book (1955)

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 - 11:03 am

On the first episode of Orson Welles’ Sketch Book, the man who made Citizen Kane remembers an anxiety-inducing evening early in his career: having somehow already gained a reputation as an entertaining after-dinner speaker, he found himself standing before a roomful of what seemed like every movie star in the flesh that he’d ever seen on the screen. Desperate to impress all these celebrities who had so impressed him, he pulled out the only amusing story in his repertoire, only to realize halfway through the telling that he couldn’t remember how it ended. Luckily, one of California’s earthquakes struck just before he reached that forgotten ending, sending the whole Hollywood crowd out the door and letting him off the raconteur hook. By the time he tells the next tale, of his longer-ago, more stressful and much more formative debut onstage in front of a decidedly uncooperative Dublin audience, you’ll wonder why he couldn’t handle the after-dinner speaking; if anyone has a natural storyteller’s instinct, he does.

The BBC must have thought so, in any case, when they put together this series of television commentaries from Welles, none of which need more than his then slightly unfamiliar face (without, he underscores, the usual false nose he wears for roles), his unmistakable voice, and his illustrations — taken, literally, from his sketchbook. In these six fifteen-minute broadcasts, which originally aired in 1955, Welles talks about not just the inauspicious beginnings of his illustrious working life but his experiences with the critics, the police, John Barrymore and Harry Houdini, the infamous radio production of War of the Worlds (which you can hear in our post for its 75th anniversary), and bullfighting (see also our post on his friendship with Ernest Hemingway). Though interesting in and of themselves, he uses these subjects to tie together a variety of recollections and observations from his life and career: on the finer points of producing Shakespeare with voodoo witch-doctors, on media-induced gullibility, on the invasion of privacy, on the art of line prompting. Not settling for status as a creative genius in film, theater, and radio, it seems Welles also laid down the example for a form that wouldn’t actually arrive for another fifty years: vlogging.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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The Drawings of Jean-Paul Sartre

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 - 8:00 am

We’ve established something of a tradition here of featuring drawings by famous authors. It seems, unsurprisingly, that skill with the pen often goes hand-in-glove with a keen visual sense, though admittedly some writers are more talented draftsmen than others. William Faulkner, for example, created some very fine pen-and-ink illustrations for his college newspaper during his brief time at Ole Miss. Franz Kafka’s expressionistic sketches are quite striking, despite his anguished protestations to the contrary. And Jorge Luis Borges’ doodles are as quirky and playful as the author himself. Today we bring you the sketches of that great French existentialist philosopher, novelist, and playwright Jean-Paul Sartre—a collection of six rough, childlike caricatures that are, shall we say, rather less than accomplished. It’s certainly for the best—as the cliché goes—that Sartre never quit his day job for an art career.

But there is a certain wicked charm in Sartre’s visual satires of human moral failings, which he calls a “series de ‘douze vices sans allusion’”—roughly, “a series of twelve vices without reference.” Either Sartre only completed half the series, or—more likely—half have been lost, since the author assures the recipient of his handiwork, a Mademoiselle Suzanne Guille, that he presents to her a “série complete.” Who was Suzanne Guille? Your guess is as good as mine. Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which houses these sketches, gives us no indication. Perhaps she was a relative, perhaps the spouse, of Pierre Guille, Simon de Beauvoir’s last lover? Given the many complicated liaisons pursued by both Sartre and his partner, the possibilities are indeed intriguing. As for the drawings? Their subjects hold more interest than their execution, providing us with keys to Sartre’s moral universe.

The first caricature, at the top, is titled “Le Contentment de soi”—“Self-Satisfaction”—and the character’s pompous expression says as much. Below it, the curious little fellow with the curlicue nose is called “L’Esprit Critique”—“The Spirit of Criticism.” And above we have “Le respect de la consigne et de la jurée”—“Keeping a Sworn Oath.” You can see the remaining three drawings, and read Sartre’s letter (in French, of course) to Mademoiselle Guille in pdf form here.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Drawings of Jean-Paul Sartre is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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The Origins of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk: Vintage Footage of Cab Calloway, Sammy Davis Jr., Fred Astaire & More

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 - 4:36 am

Michael Jackson took one giant leap for pop history on March 25, 1983 when he gave an adoring public their first taste of his signature moonwalk in honor of Motown Records’ 25th birthday. (See below)

Novelty-wise, it wasn’t quite a Neil Armstrong moment. Like many artists, Jackson had many precedents from which he could and did draw. He can be credited with bringing a certain attitude to the proceedings. The expert practitioners in the video above are more ebullient, tapping, sliding and proto-moonwalking themselves into a state of rapture that feeds off the audience’s pleasure.

The line-up includes artists lucky enough to have left lasting footprints—Cab Calloway, Sammy Davis Jr., Fred Astaire, as well as those we’d do well to rediscover: Rubberneck Holmes, Earl “Snakehips” Tucker, Buck and Bubbles….

Lacking the Internet, however, it does seem unlikely that Jackson would’ve spent much time poring over the footwork of these masters. (He may have taken a sartorial cue from their socks.)

Instead, he invested a lot of time breaking down the street moves, what he referred to in his autobiography as “a ‘popping’ type of thing that black kids had created dancing on the street corners in the ghetto.”

Jackson’s sister, LaToya, identified former Soul Train and Solid Gold dancer Jeffrey Daniel, below, as her brother’s primary tutor in this endeavor. (He went on to co-choreograph Jackson’s videos for “Bad” and “Smooth Criminal“.) As to the story behind his moonwalk, or backslide as he called it before Jackson’s version obliterated the possibility of any other name, Daniel gave props to the same kids Jackson did.

For those of you who mentioned it on Twitter and in our comments, we’ve added Charlie Chaplin’s scene in Modern Times.

via Metafilter

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Ayun Halliday is the author of seven books, and creator of the award winning East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

The Origins of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk: Vintage Footage of Cab Calloway, Sammy Davis Jr., Fred Astaire & More is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Sir Patrick Stewart & Sir Ian McKellen Play The Newlywed Game

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 - 12:31 am

I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that this is the first time two knighted cultural figures have played The Newlywed Game – a version of that wince (and nostalgia) -inducing game show that ran from the 1960s through the 1990s. Although Stewart and McKellen aren’t married, they know each other plenty well. They’ve worked together on stage (in a production of Waiting for Godot) and in film (they’ll be appearing together in an upcoming X-Men movie.) And suffice it to say, they’ve formed a tight friendship. When Stewart married Sunny Ozell last year, McKellen officiated at the wedding ceremony.

This little bit took place at a BuzzFeed Brews event back in February. You can watch their full 48 minute appearance here. Also find the two in a deeper conversation recorded at the Screen Actors Guild Foundation just last month.

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Sir Patrick Stewart & Sir Ian McKellen Play The Newlywed Game is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Painter Paul Gauguin Plays the Harmonium with No Pants or Shoes (Circa 1895)

Sun, 20 Apr 2014 - 11:32 am

What do we have here? Painter Paul Gauguin playing a harmonium at the Paris studio of Alphonse Mucha, a Czech Art Nouveau painter, in or around 1895. How this came about — how Gauguin decided to strip off his pants and shoes and start playing that pump organ — we’ll probably never know. But we’re certainly glad that this light moment was saved for posterity.

via @SteveSilberman

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Painter Paul Gauguin Plays the Harmonium with No Pants or Shoes (Circa 1895) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Kurt Vonnegut Urges Young People to Make Art and “Make Your Soul Grow”

Sat, 19 Apr 2014 - 10:43 am

Art not only saves lives, it casts ripples, as Kurt Vonnegut surely knew when he replied—at length—to five New York City high school students who’d contacted him as part of a 2006 English assignment.  (The identities of the other authors selected for this honor are lost to time, but not one had the courtesy to respond except Vonnegut.)

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals [sic]. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut’s kind wishes and Yoko Ono-esque prompt have been widely disseminated on the Internet, which is no doubt where students at Hove Park School in Brighton, East Sussex caught the scent. Working with a professional production company that specializes in narrative-driven work, they literalized  the assignment in the video above, and while I might have preferred a sneak peek at the poems and drawings such a task might yield, pre-shredding, I loved how they acknowledged that not everyone heeds the call. (The casting of that one could have gone either way…wouldn’t be surprised if you told me that that boy has a punk band that would’ve ripped Vonnegut’s ears off.)

via Kate Rix

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Ayun Halliday is spending tonight’s Night of Vonnegut in Los Angeles rather than her hometown of Indianapolis. So it goes. Follow her @AyunHalliday

Kurt Vonnegut Urges Young People to Make Art and “Make Your Soul Grow” is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Read 10 Short Stories by Gabriel García Márquez Free Online (Plus More Essays & Interviews)

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 - 4:20 pm

“Our independence from Spanish domination did not put us beyond the reach of madness,” said Gabriel García Márquez in his 1982 Nobel Prize acceptance speech. García Márquez, who died yesterday at the age of 87, refers of course to all of Spain’s former colonies in Latin America and the Caribbean, from his own Colombia to Cuba, the island nation whose artistic struggle to come to terms with its history contributed so much to that art form generally known as “magical realism,” a syncretism of European modernism and indigenous art and folklore, Catholicism and the remnants of Amerindian and African religions.

While the term has perhaps been overused to the point of banality in critical and popular appraisals of Latin-American writers (some prefer Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier’s lo real maravilloso, “the marvelous real”), in Marquez’s case, it’s hard to think of a better way to describe the dense interweaving of fact and fiction in his life’s work as a writer of both fantastic stories and unflinching journalistic accounts, both of which grappled with the gross horrors of colonial plunder and exploitation and the subsequent rule of bloodthirsty dictators, incompetent patriarchs, venal oligarchs, and corporate gangsters in much of the Southern Hemisphere.

Nevertheless, it’s a description that sometimes seems to obscure García Marquez’s great purpose, marginalizing his literary vision as trendy exotica or a “postcolonial hangover.” Once asked in a Paris Review interview the year before his Nobel win about the difference between the novel and journalism, García Márquez replied, “Nothing. I don’t think there is any difference. The sources are the same, the material is the same, the resources and the language are the same.”

In journalism just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work. That’s the only difference, and it lies in the commitment of the writer. A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.

García Márquez made us believe. One would be hard-pressed to find a 20th century writer more committed to the truth, whether expressed in dense mythology and baroque metaphor or in the dry rationalist discourse of the Western episteme. For its multitude of incredible elements, the 1967 novel for which García Márquez is best known—One Hundred Years of Solitude—captures the almost unbelievable human history of the region with more emotional and moral fidelity than any strictly factual account: “However bizarre or grotesque some particulars may be,” wrote a New York Times reviewer in 1970, “Macondo is no never-never land.” In fact, García Márquez’s novel helped dismantle the very real and brutal South American empire of banana company United Fruit, a “great irony,” writes Rich Cohen, of one mythology laying bare another: “In college, they call it ‘magical realism,’ but, if you know history, you understand it’s less magical than just plain real, the stuff of newspapers returned as lived experience.”

Edith Grossman, translator of several of García Márquez’s works—including Love in the Time of Cholera and his 2004 autobiography Living to Tell the Tale (Vivir para Cotarla)—agrees. “He doesn’t use that term at all, as far as I know,” she said in a 2005 interview with Guernica‘s Joel Whitney: “It’s always struck me as an easy, empty kind of remark.” Instead, García Márquez’s style, says Grossman, “seemed like a way of writing about the exceptionalness of so much of Latin America.”

Today, in honor and with tremendous gratitude for that indefatigable chronicler of exceptional lived experience, we offer several online texts of Gabriel García Márquez’s short works at the links below.

HarperCollins’ online preview of García Marquez’s Collected Stories includes the full text of “The Third Resignation,” “The Other Side of Death,” “Eva Is Inside Her Cat,” “Bitterness for Three Sleepwalkers,” and “Dialogue with the Mirror,” all from the author’s 1972 collection Eyes of a Blue Dog (Ojos de perro azul).

At The New Yorker, you can read García Marquez’s story “The Autumn of the Patriarch” (1976) and his 2003 autobiographical essay “The Challenge.”

Follow the links below for more of García Marquez’s short fiction from various university websites:

Death Constant Beyond Love” (1970)

The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” (1968)

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” (1955)

Visit The Modern Word for an excellent biographical sketch of the author.

See The New York Times for “A Talk with Gabriel Garcia Marquez” in the year of his Nobel win, an essay in which he recounts his 1957 meeting with Ernest Hemingway, and many more reviews and essays.

Finally, we should also mention that you can download Love in the Time of Cholera or Hundred Years of Solitude for free (as audio books) if you join Audible.com’s 30-day program. We have details on it here.

As we say farewell to one of the world’s greatest writers, we can remember him not only as a writer of “magical realism,” whatever that phrase may mean, but as a teller of complicated, wondrous, and sometimes painful truths, in whatever form he happened to find them.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Read 10 Short Stories by Gabriel García Márquez Free Online (Plus More Essays & Interviews) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Free: British Pathé Puts Over 85,000 Historical Films on YouTube

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 - 1:00 pm

British Pathé was one of the leading producers of newsreels and documentaries during the 20th Century. This week, the company, now an archive, is turning over its entire collection — over 85,000 historical films – to YouTube.

The archive — which spans from 1896 to 1976 – is a goldmine of footage, containing movies of some of the most important moments of the last 100 years. It’s a treasure trove for film buffs, culture nerds and history mavens everywhere. In Pathé’s playlist “A Day That Shook the World,” which traces an Anglo-centric history of the 20th Century, you will find clips of the Wright Brothers’ first flight, the bombing of Hiroshima and Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, alongside footage of Queen Victoria’s funeral and Roger Bannister’s 4-minute mile. There’s, of course, footage of the dramatic Hindenburg crash and Lindbergh’s daring cross-Atlantic flight. And then you can see King Edward VIII abdicating the throne in 1936Hitler becoming the German Chancellor in 1933 and the eventual Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941 (above).

But the really intriguing part of the archive is seeing all the ephemera from the 20th Century, the stuff that really makes the past feel like a foreign country – the weird hairstyles, the way a city street looked, the breathtakingly casual sexism and racism. There’s a rush in seeing history come alive. Case in point, this documentary from 1967 about the wonders to be found in a surprisingly monochrome Virginia.

Here’s a film about a technological innovation that curiously didn’t take off — an amphibious scooter. The look of regal dignity on the driver’s face as his vehicle moves down the Thames is priceless.

In an early example of a political blooper, there’s this footage from 1942 of Bess Truman trying valiantly to smash an unyielding bottle of champaign against the fuselage of a brand new bomber.

And then there’s this newsreel from 1938 on the wedding between Billy Curtis, a 3’7” nightclub bouncer and his 6’4” burlesque star bride. The jaunty, spectacularly un-PC voiceover should probably be filed under “things were different then.”

If you have several weeks to kill, you can watch all of the videos here.

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.

Free: British Pathé Puts Over 85,000 Historical Films on YouTube is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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“The Periodic Table of Storytelling” Reveals the Elements of Telling a Good Story

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 - 10:54 am

Dmitri Mendeleev might have designed the original periodic table – a graphic representation of all the basic building blocks of the universe – but artist James Harris has done something way cool with that template — the Periodic Table of Storytelling.

That’s right. Harris has taken all the tropes, archetypes and clichés found in movies (not to mention TV, comic books, literature, video and even professional wrestling) and synthesized them into an elegantly realized chart. Instead of grouping the elements by noble gases or metals, Harris has organized them by story elements — structure, plot devices, hero archetypes. Each element is linked to a vast wiki that gives definitions and examples. For instance, if you click on the element Chk, you’ll go to a page explaining the trope of Chekhov’s Gun. And if you click on Neo, you’ll go to the page for, of course, the Chosen One.

Below the chart, Harris has even created story molecules for a few specific movies. Ghostbusters, for example, is the combination of an atom consisting of 5ma (Five Man Band) and Mad (Mad Scientist) and one consisting of Iac (Sealed Evil in a Can) and Hil (Hilarity Ensues).

So if you’re in film school or if you have a copy of Robert McKee’s Story on your bookshelf or if you’re one of the roughly three dozen people in the Los Angeles coffee shop where I’m writing this article who are banging out screenplays, you need to check this table out. But be warned: it will suck away a good chunk of your day.

via No Film School

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.

“The Periodic Table of Storytelling” Reveals the Elements of Telling a Good Story is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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