Open Culture Blog

Syndicate content
The best free cultural & educational media on the web
Updated: 47 min 29 sec ago

1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: Stream a Huge Playlist of Songs Based on the Bestselling Book

3 hours 37 min ago

Image by HayeurJF, via Flickr Commons

Though the burials of ancient Egyptian rulers offer at least one notable exception, nearly all the world’s religions have agreed on one thing—if one thing only: you can’t take your stuff with you. You can leave it to the local church, mosque, or synagogue, your heirs, a charity of your choice, your dog; but your material possessions will not go wherever you might when it’s over.

However, should consciousness somehow survive the body, or get uploaded to a new one in some sci-fi future, perhaps you can take with you the experiences, memories, sensations, and ideas you’ve accumulated over a lifetime. And if that’s the case, we should all be greedy for knowledge and experience rather than property and consumer goods. And the “1,000… Before You Die” series of books, might be considered guides to curating your afterlife.

The series has recommended 1,000 places to see, 1,000 foods to eat, and, in 2012, 1,000 recordings to hear before you dent the bucket. Musician and critic Tom Moon, author of 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, has created a list that ranges far and wide, leaving seemingly no genre, region, or period out: from gangster rap, to opera, to krautrock, to country, to metal, to blues, to Zimbabwean folk, to… well, you name it, it’s probably in there somewhere.

For all the songs, artists, and albums I might have added to my own version of such a list, I was pleasantly surprised to find on Moon’s such indie classics as Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s haunting I See a Darkness, hardcore masterpieces as Bad Brains’ i against i, and seminal electronica as Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works. These less well-known recordings sit next to those of John Coltrane (see A Love Supreme featured above), Marian Anderson, Son House, Patsy Cline, The Beatles, Bach, Brahms, and virtually anyone else you might think of, and dozens more you wouldn’t.

One would have a very hard time making a case that Moon has any particular bias against one form of music or another. (See the complete list here, and browse by genre, title, or artist at the 1,000 Recordings website, where you can read Moon’s commentary on each selection.) When it came to selecting songs or albums from artists with embarrassingly rich catalogs, Moon told NPR that he went with his gut. “I didn’t want to have a standard criteria,” he said, “Within any given artist, you could go 10 different directions.” Agree or disagree with his choices, but marvel at his breadth and inclusiveness.

In the past, it would have taken you a lifetime just to track down all of these recordings, much less find time to listen to all of them. Now, you can hear 793 tracks from Moon’s 1,000 picks in the Spotify playlist above. (Brought to us by Ulysses Classical; download Spotify here if you need it). Spend the rest of your life not only mulling them over, but discovering 1,000s more. Despite the title’s reference to mortality, and my somewhat facetious introduction, Moon really means his “Listener’s Life List,” as he calls it, to be a guide for living—and for becoming immersed in music in a profoundly expansive way. (For this same purpose, I also thoroughly endorse The Guardian‘s series “1,000 Albums to Hear Before You Die,” and its reader-sourced addenda. If anyone cares to turn the Guardian list into a Spotify playlist, we’ll feature it here too.)

As Moon summarizes his intent, “the more you love music, the more music you love.”

Related Content:

Download Free Music from 150+ Classical Composers, Courtesy of Musopen.org

1200 Years of Women Composers: A Free 78-Hour Music Playlist That Takes You From Medieval Times to Now

Music from Star Wars, Kubrick, Scorsese & Tim Burton Films Played by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra: Stream Full Albums

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

1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: Stream a Huge Playlist of Songs Based on the Bestselling Book 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.

New App Lets You Explore Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” in Virtual Reality

Tue, 9 Feb 2016 - 5:18 pm

Yesterday, Colin Marshall told you how you could take a Virtual Interactive Tour Through Hieronymus Bosch’s Masterpiece “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” thanks to this website.

Today, we discovered that there’s also an app (designed for iPhoneiPad and Android) that lets you take a virtual reality trip through the very same painting. Created as part of the 500th anniversary celebration of Bosch’s life, the app–previewed in the trailer above–lets you “ride on a flying fish into a Garden of Eden, be tempted by strange fruit and even stranger rituals in the Garden of Earthly Delights. And visit hell and hear the devil’s music.”

The app is free. And you can explore parts of Bosch’s famous triptych at no cost. It will cost you a small fee–$3.99–to unlock the remaining part.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. And if you want to make sure that our posts definitely appear in your Facebook newsfeed, just follow these simple steps.

via The Creator’s Project

Related Content:

Take a Virtual Tour of Hieronymus Bosch’s Bewildering Masterpiece The Garden of Earthly Delights

 Walk Inside a Surrealist Salvador Dalí Painting with This 360º Virtual Reality Video

Free Course: An Introduction to the Art of the Italian Renaissance

New App Lets You Explore Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” in Virtual Reality 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.

The Animated Bayeux Tapestry: A Novel Way of Recounting The Battle of Hastings (1066)

Tue, 9 Feb 2016 - 10:57 am

In previous centuries, unless you were a member of the nobility, a wealthy religious order, or a merchant guild, your chances of spending any significant amount of time with a Medieval tapestry were slim. Though “much production was relatively coarse, intended for decorative purposes,” writes the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the tapestry still commanded high prices, just as it commanded respect for its owner. And as other decorative arts of the time preserved historical memory—or certain political versions of it, at least—tapestry designs might embody “celebratory or propagandistic themes” in their weft and warp.

“Enriched with silk and gilt metallic thread,” writes the Met, “such tapestries were a central component of the ostentatious magnificence used by powerful secular and religious rulers to broadcast their wealth and might.” Such is one of the most famous of these works, the Bayeux Tapestry, which commemorates the 1066 victory of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. The famous wall hanging, housed at the Bayeux Museum in Normandy, was “probably commissioned in the 1070s” by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, William’s half-brother, making it a very early example of the form. So the site of a Victorian-era replica writes, and yet “nothing known is certain about the tapestry’s origins.” (The first written record of it dates from 1476.)

While the Bayeux Tapestry may have been inaccessible to most people for however many centuries it has existed, you can now stand before it in its home of Bayeux, or see the very convincing replica at Britain’s Reading Museum. (You’ll note in both cases that the Bayeux tapestry is not, in fact, a tapestry, woven on a loom, but a painstaking, hand-stitched embroidery.) Or, rather than traveling, you can watch the video above, an animated rendition of the tapestry’s story by filmmaker David Newton and sound designer Marc Sylvan.

During the years 1064 to the fateful 1066,  a fierce rivalry took shape as the ailing King Edward the Confessor’s advisor Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror vied for the crown. Once Edward died in 1066, Harold seized the throne, prompting William to invade and defeat him at the Battle of Hastings. The Tapestry gives us a graphic history of this bloody contest, “a story,” writes the Bayeux Museum, “broadly in keeping with the accounts of authors of the 11th century.” “The Tapestry’s depiction of the Battle of Hastings,” historian Robert Bartlett tells us, “is the fullest pictorial record of a medieval battle in existence”—and the animation above makes it come alive with sound and movement.

Related Content:

Wonderfully Weird & Ingenious Medieval Books

What’s It Like to Fight in 15th Century Armor?: A Surprising Demonstration

Dante’s Divine Comedy Illustrated in a Remarkable Illuminated Medieval Manuscript (c. 1450)

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

The Animated Bayeux Tapestry: A Novel Way of Recounting The Battle of Hastings (1066) 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.

Iggy Pop Reads Walt Whitman in Collaborations With Electronic Artists Alva Noto and Tarwater

Tue, 9 Feb 2016 - 8:30 am

Image of Iggy Pop by Patrick McAlpine, via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t know why no one thought of this ages ago: an album of Walt Whitman’s poetry, set to moody, atmospheric electronic music and read by former Stooge and current American badass Iggy Pop. It makes perfect sense. Though Pop may lack Whitman’s verbal excesses, preferring more Spartan punk rock statements, he perfectly embodies—in a very literal way—Whitman’s fearless, sexually-charged “barbaric yawp.” And both artists are very much American originals: largely self-taught Whitman cast aside 19th-century decorum and formal constraints to write wildly expressive verse that celebrated the body, the individual, and American industrial noise; self-taught Pop cast aside 20th century rock formalism to create dangerously expressive music that celebrated… well, you get the idea.

I don’t know if he would have written “Now I wanna be your dog,” but in contrast to “the popular, well-educated poets of the time, those sensitive noblemen,” Whitman wrote—says Pop in his own distinctive paraphrase—“Fuc% as$.” 

You know, I think he had something like Elvis. Like Elvis ahead of his time, one of the first manic American populists. You know you’re looking at pictures of him, and he was obviously someone who was very much involved with his own physical appearance. His poetry is always about motion and rushing ahead, and crazy love and blood pushing through the body. He would have been the perfect gangster rapper. Whitman says, even the most beautiful face is not as beautiful as the body. And to say that in the middle of the 19th century is outrageous. It’s a slap in the face. 

Of the many rock and roll interpreters of literary greats we’ve featured on this site, I’d say Iggy Pop’s reading of, and commentary on, Whitman may be my favorite.

Unfortunately, we can only bring you a short excerpt, above, from Pop’s collaboration with instrumental duo Tarwater and German electronic artist Alva Noto (who recently scored Alejandro Iñárritu’s The Revenant with Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Ryuichi Sakamoto). This two-minute sample comes from a 2014 album these artists made together called Kinder Adams—Children of Adam, which features several abridged renditions in German of Whitman’s most famous book, Leaves of Grass by various voice actors, then a complete reading by Pop, set to a throbbing, haunting score.

Now, Pop, Alva Noto, and Tarwater have come together again to revisit Whitman with a seven-track EP simply titled Leaves of Grass. Like the early, self-published first edition of Whitman’s book, this work will only reach a few hands. “Released on Morr Music with no digital version planned,” reports Fact Mag, “Leaves of Grass is only available in a limited vinyl edition of just 500 copies, complete with embossed artwork.” You can purchase a copy of this artifact here (act fast), or—if you prefer your more traditional Iggy Pop without the literature, moody, post-rock soundscapes, and rarefied formats—wait for his new album in March with Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, sure to hit digital outlets near you. Whether or not he’s reading Whitman, he’s always channeling the poet’s energy.

Related Content:

Iggy Pop Reads Edgar Allan Poe’s Classic Horror Story, “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Tom Waits Reads Two Charles Bukowski Poems, “The Laughing Heart” and “Nirvana”

Walt Whitman’s Poem “A Noiseless Patient Spider” Brought to Life in Three Animations

Orson Welles Reads From America’s Greatest Poem, Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” (1953)

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

Iggy Pop Reads Walt Whitman in Collaborations With Electronic Artists Alva Noto and Tarwater 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.

Claymation Film Recreates Historic Chess Match Immortalized in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

Tue, 9 Feb 2016 - 4:53 am

Fans of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey will remember the scene: On a long journey through space, astronaut Frank Poole plays a casual game of chess with the HAL 9000 supercomputer … and loses decisively. No doubt about it. Watch it down below.

Passionate about chess and notoriously obsessed with detail, Kubrick based the scene on a chess match that took place in 1910, pitting the German chessmaster Willi Schlage against a fellow named A. Roesch. Whether Kubrick was personally familiar with the match, or simply found it by perusing Irving Chernev’s book The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess (p. 148), it’s not entirely clear. But what we do know is that Kubrick’s scene immortalized the Schlage – Roesch match played all of those years ago. And it inspired animator Riccardo Crocetta to recreate that 1910 match in the fine claymation above. The notes accompanying Crocetta’s film on YouTube record all of the original moves. Apparently the ones featured in 2001 come after black’s 13th move.

Game: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Qe2 b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. c3 O-O 8. O-O d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nf4 11. Qe4 Nxe5 12. Qxa8 Qd3 13. Bd1 Bh3 14. Qxa6 Bxg2 15. Re1 Qf3 16. Bxf3 Nxf3#

Related Content:

The Wisdom & Advice of Maurice Ashley, the First African-American Chess Grandmaster

Vladimir Nabokov’s Hand-Drawn Sketches of Mind-Bending Chess Problems

Watch Bill Gates Lose a Chess Match in 79 Seconds to the New World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

Marcel Duchamp, Chess Enthusiast, Created an Art Deco Chess Set That’s Now Available via 3D Printer

Claymation Film Recreates Historic Chess Match Immortalized in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey 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.

Priceless 145-Year-Old Martin Guitar Accidentally Gets Smashed to Smithereens in Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight

Tue, 9 Feb 2016 - 1:00 am

Quentin Tarantino has always had a way of getting on the wrong side of various groups. Most recently he angered the guitar-heads of the world when, to their shock and dismay, it came out that, under the auteur’s watch on the set of his latest picture, the post-Civil War intensified Western The Hateful Eight, a priceless 145-year-old six-string met its brutal end. “In the scene in question,” writes Vanity Fair‘s Rachel Handler, Kurt Russell, “as bounty hunter John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth, snatches the guitar from the hands of Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Daisy Domergue and hurls it against the wall, as one does.” That guitar — “an invaluable historical artifact,” Handler explains — came on loan from Pennsylvania’s Martin Guitar Museum (and its likely irked director Dick Boak).

Even if you don’t play the guitar yourself, you’ve probably heard of the Martin brand name. Established in 1833 in New York as the cabinet-making C.F. Martin & Company, they went on to introduce some of the innovations that have come to define the acoustic guitar as we know it today, from X-bracing in the 1850s to metal strings, replacing traditional catgut, in the early 1900s. (Our own Dan Colman wrote about his experience buying a Martin D-28 here a few years ago.) The ill-fated specimen lost to the hands of Kurt Russell — who, according to the production’s official story, never got the memo about cutting and swapping out a replica before the smash — which the Martin Guitar Museum originally acquired (and insured) for about $40,000, came out of the Martin workshop in the 1870s.

Naturally, the farther back you go in guitar-making history, the fewer guitars made at the time still exist. You can still go out and buy a serviceable guitar from the end of the 19th century without completely wiping out your savings, but you’d be hard pressed to find a Martin made a few decades earlier — such as the one smashed in The Hateful Eight — at any price at all; less than ten may exist anywhere. But Martin’s solid standard of craftsmanship ensured that their instrument would hold up over the 140 or so years until a filmmaker wanted to use it as a prop in his period piece, where it still, aesthetically as well as sonically, fit right in. Still, no guitar could hold up against the viciousness of a character like The Hangman as envisioned by Tarantino — nor against the dedication of a director like Tarantino who, always in search of a perfectly visceral moment, simply can’t bear to cut.

Well, at least he wasn’t using the last playable Stradivarius guitar in the world. The Martin Museum retained the presence of mind to ask for their guitar’s pieces back, and though they couldn’t put the historical instrument back together again, maybe they’ll find a place to display the fragments themselves. That way, both guitar-heads and cinephiles could pay their respects.

via Geek.com

Related Content:

Musician Plays the Last Stradivarius Guitar in the World, the “Sabionari” Made in 1679

Dave Grohl Shows How He Plays the Guitar As If It Were a Drum Kit

How Fender Guitars Are Made, Then (1959) and Nowadays (2012)

The Story of the Guitar: The Complete Three-Part Documentary

The Real Value of a Guitar

Eric Clapton Tries Out Guitars at Home and Talks About the Beatles, Cream, and His Musical Roots

Guitar Stories: Mark Knopfler on the Six Guitars That Shaped His Career

Brian May’s Homemade Guitar, Made From Old Tables, Bike and Motorcycle Parts & More

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Priceless 145-Year-Old Martin Guitar Accidentally Gets Smashed to Smithereens in Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight 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.

Take a Virtual Tour of Hieronymus Bosch’s Bewildering Masterpiece The Garden of Earthly Delights

Mon, 8 Feb 2016 - 1:30 pm

Art historians have argued about the meaning of The Garden of Earthly DelightsHieronymus Bosch’s enormously sized, lavishly detailed, and compellingly grotesque late 14th- or early 15th-century triptych—more or less since the painter’s death. What does it really say about the appearance and fall of man on Earth that it seems to depict? How seriously or ironically does it say it? Does it offer us a warning against temptation, or a celebration of temptation? Does it take a religious or anti-religious stance? And what’s with all those creepy animals and bizarre pseudo-sex acts? “In spite of all the ingenious, erudite and in part extremely useful research devoted to the task,” said scholar Erwin Panofsky, “I cannot help feeling that the real secret of his magnificent nightmares and daydreams has still to be disclosed.”

Panofsky said that in the 1950s, by which era he summed up the accumulated efforts to decode Bosch as having “bored a few holes through the door of the locked room; but somehow we do not seem to have discovered the key.” Now you can at least try your own hand at knocking on the door with this “interactive documentary” of The Garden of Early Delights, which allows you to explore the painting in depth, reading and hearing what stories we know of the many images nightmarishly and often hilariously presented within, while you zoom far closer than you could while even standing before the real thing at the Prado. (Assuming you could successfully elbow your way past all the tour groups.)  “The visitor of the interactive documentary will get a better understanding of what it was like to live in the Late Middle Ages,” says the official description, which also assures us we can “come back after a visit and pick up the book again from the shelf to further explore.”

The project comes as part of a larger “transmedia tryptich,” which also consists of the traditional documentary film Hieronymus Bosch, Touched by the Devil (whose trailer you can see below) and a “virtual reality documentary” called Hieronymus Bosch, the Eyes of the Owl. I find that last title especially appropriate, since I’ve long enjoyed Bosch’s recurring owls and appreciate the ability this highly zoomable Garden of Earthly Delights offers me to count them one by one. Spend some time roaming Bosch’s vision’s paradise, bacchanal, and damnation and, whether you take the guided tour through them or not, you’ll find much to stare at in sheer fascination — and, as often as not, disbelief.

via Metafilter

Related Content:

Dutch Book From 1692 Documents Every Color Under the Sun: A Pre-Pantone Guide to Colors

300+ Etchings by Rembrandt Now Free Online, Thanks to the Morgan Library & Museum

Rijksmuseum Digitizes & Makes Free Online 210,000 Works of Art, Masterpieces Included!

16th-Century Amsterdam Stunningly Visualized with 3D Animation

Master of Light: A Close Look at the Paintings of Johannes Vermeer Narrated by Meryl Streep

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Take a Virtual Tour of Hieronymus Bosch’s Bewildering Masterpiece The Garden of Earthly Delights 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.

Musician Plays the Last Stradivarius Guitar in the World, the “Sabionari” Made in 1679

Mon, 8 Feb 2016 - 1:00 pm

Last night, while the home team lost the big game on TVs at a local dive bar, my noisy rock band opened for a chamber pop ensemble. Electric guitars and feedback gave way to classical acoustics, violin, piano, accordion, and even a saw. It was an interesting cultural juxtaposition in an evening of cultural juxtapositions. The sports and music didn’t gel, but an odd symmetry emerged from the two bands’ contrasting styles, to a degree. The instrument above, on the other hand, would have fit right in with the second act, whose old world charm would surely find a place for a 1679 guitar—one crafted by the legendary master luthier Antonio Stradivari, no less.

If you know nothing at all about music or musical instruments, you know the name Stradivari and the violins that bear his name. They are such coveted, valuable objects they sometimes appear as the target of crime capers in the movies and on television. This Stradivarius guitar, called the “Sabionari,” is even rarer than the violins. The Stradivari family, writes Forgotten Guitar, “produced over 1000 instruments, of which 960 were violins.” Yet, “a small number of guitars were also crafted, and as of today only one remains playable.” Highly playable, you’ll observe in these videos, thanks to the restoration by luthiers Daniel Sinier, Francoise de Ridder, and Lorenzo Frignani.

In the clip just above, Baroque concert guitarist Rolf Lislevand plays Santiago de Murcia’s “Tarantela” on the restored guitar, whose sonorous ringing timbre recalls another Baroque instrument, the harpsichord.

So unique and unusual is the ten-string Stradivarius Sabionari that it has its own website, where you’ll find many detailed, close-up photos of the elegant design as well as more music, like the piece above, Angelo Michele Bartolotti’s Suite in G Minor as performed by classical guitarist Krishnasol Jiménez, who, along with Lislevand, has been entrusted with the instrument for many live performances. Owned by a private collector, the Sabionari went on display last year in Basel and very often appears at lectures on restoration and conservation of classical instruments, as well as in performances around Europe. The Sabionari.com webmaster has not kept the “Events” page up to date, unfortunately, but you should scroll through it regardless. You’ll find there many more videos of the guitar in action (like that below of guitarist Ugo Nastrucci improvising), links to exhibits, descriptions of the challengingly long neck and Baroque tuning, and a sense of just how much the Sabionari gets around for such a rare, antique instrument.

via Forgotten Guitar

Related Content:

Musicians Play Bach on the Octobass, the Gargantuan String Instrument Invented in 1850

Why Violins Have F-Holes: The Science & History of a Remarkable Renaissance Design

What Does a $45 Million Viola Sound Like? Violist David Aaron Carpenter Gives You a Preview

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

Musician Plays the Last Stradivarius Guitar in the World, the “Sabionari” Made in 1679 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.

Watch Star Trek Continues: The Critically-Acclaimed, Fan-Made Sequel to the Original TV Series

Mon, 8 Feb 2016 - 10:54 am

Despite its legacy and influence, the original Star Trek ran three seasons (or 79 episodes in total) before NBC canceled the show in June, 1969. Only in syndication did Star Trek achieve cult status, and did its growing number of fans start to wonder: What if Star Trek had continued? How would the story have played out? Enter Star Trek Continues, a critically-acclaimed, fan-produced webseries created by director and actor Vic Mignogna.

If you ask the son of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the original TV series, Star Trek Continues has managed to create a bona fide sequel. “I do have to say … I’m pretty damn sure my dad would consider this canon. The fact that you do stories that mean something, that have depth, that make us all think a little bit… I really think he would applaud you guys.”

The Wall Street Journal adds to this:

[Star Trek Continues] comes frighteningly close to replicating the original series, in the sets, make-up and hairstyles, costumes and music… The art direction precisely captures the Day-Glo visuals of early color TV. Most remarkable is Mr. Mignogna; no actor playing, for instance, James Bond has imitated Sean Connery outright, but Mr. Mignogna comes so scarily close to the dynamic, staccato energy of William Shatner that we keep forgetting we’re looking at another actor.

Thanks to funding raised by two Kickstarter campaigns, you can now watch 5 episodes. Click play and watch the episodes on a Youtube playlist above, from start to finish. Or watch them on the official Star Trek Continues website, where, among other things, you can take a 360 virtual tour of the set. You can also make a donation, which will help support the 6th episode due out in May, and another 7 episodes beyond that.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. And if you want to make sure that our posts definitely appear in your Facebook newsfeed, just follow these simple steps.

Related Content:

How Isaac Asimov Went from Star Trek Critic to Star TrekFan & Advisor

Nichelle Nichols Explains How Martin Luther King Convinced Her to Stay on Star Trek

The Complete Star Wars “Filmumentary”: A 6-Hour, Fan-Made Star Wars Documentary, with Behind-the-Scenes Footage & Commentary

Hardware Wars: The Mother of All Star Wars Fan Films (and the Most Profitable Short Film Ever Made)

Star Wars Uncut: The Epic Fan Film

Watch Star Trek Continues: The Critically-Acclaimed, Fan-Made Sequel to the Original TV Series 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.

Hear Strung Out in Heaven, a Gorgeous Tribute to David Bowie by Amanda Palmer & Jherek Bischoff’s, Made with Help from Neil Gaiman

Mon, 8 Feb 2016 - 1:00 am

The last four weeks have seen thousands of tributes to rocker David Bowie.

Strung Out In Heaven: A Bowie String Quartet Tribute by Amanda Palmer and her Theatre is Evil collaborator, pop polymath Jherek Bischoff, is both gorgeous and ambitious.

It came together quickly. Bischoff arranged the album’s five tracks and spent three and a half hours recording the strings (Serena McKinney and Alyssa Park​ on violin, Ben Ullery​ on viola, and Jacob Braun on cello).

Meanwhile new mother Palmer lined up three days worth of babysitting in order to dive back into the studio. She also tapped some famous friends, who contributed in smaller ways.

The recording, coordination, guest appearances… and babysitting were financed by a stockpile from Palmer’s 7000-some supporters on the crowdfunding site Patreon.

It doesn’t sound like a whip out.

Here’s Palmer’s husband, author Neil Gaiman, counting down to lift-off on “Space Oddity:

And writer/director John Cameron Mitchell, who recorded the “Heroes” call and response on an iPhone in his apartment…

…and channeled Hedwig for the German version:

Gaiman questioned Palmer’s choice to lead with the title track of Bowie’s final album, but as she told New Musical Express, a lot of freshly minted millennial Bowie fans among her Patreon supporters listed “Blackstar” as a favorite. Singer Anna Calvi duets and plays guitar on this stripped down version:

Each tune is matched to a Bowie-centric image by a visual artist. On Palmer’s Patreon blog,”Blackstar” artist, elementary school teacher, and cancer survivor Cassandra Long writes about discussing Bowie’s death with a roomful of kindergarteners. Palmer plans to provide a similar platform to the other participating artists in the days to come.

The finished product is both professional and a labor of love.

Music is the binding agent of our mundane lives. It cements the moments in which we wash the dishes, type the resumes, go to the funerals, have the babies. The stronger the agent, the tougher the memory, and Bowie was NASA-grade epoxy to a sprawling span of freaked-out kids over three generations. He bonded us to our weird selves…Bowie worked on music up to the end to give us a parting gift. So this is how we, as musicians, mourn: keeping Bowie constantly in our ears and brains. 

 – Amanda Palmer

The complete tracklist is below. You can listen for free, but an ante-up will help Palmer cover 9¢ in licensing fees every time one of the songs is streamed. Any leftover proceeds from sales through March 5th will be donated to Tufts Medical Center’s cancer research wing in memory of David Bowie.

Strung Out in Heaven:

01 “Blackstar”  featuring Anna Calvi

02 “Space Oddity” featuring Neil Gaiman

03 “Ashes to Ashes”

04 “Heroes” featuring John Cameron Mitchell

05 Helden” featuring  John Cameron Mitchell

06 “Life on Mars?”

Related Content:

David Bowie Gives Graduation Speech At Berklee College of Music: “Music Has Been My Doorway of Perception” (1999)

David Bowie (RIP) Sings “Changes” in His Last Live Performance, 2006

Amanda Palmer Animates & Narrates Husband Neil Gaiman’s Unconscious Musings

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

Hear Strung Out in Heaven, a Gorgeous Tribute to David Bowie by Amanda Palmer & Jherek Bischoff’s, Made with Help from Neil Gaiman 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.

Walk Inside a Surrealist Salvador Dalí Painting with This 360º Virtual Reality Video

Fri, 5 Feb 2016 - 1:50 pm


Click on the arrows to get the full 360 degree experience.

I felt as impressed as everyone else did when I saw my first 360-degree video, the technology that allows viewers to “look” in any direction they wish. But most of the 360-degree videos that became popular early simply demonstrated the concept, and as much astonishment as the experience of the concept alone can generate, even more excitement came from thinking about the technology’s potential. It hasn’t taken long for 360-degree videos to look beyond virtual reality — indeed, to look all the way to virtual surreality, as envisioned by perhaps the best-known surrealist of them all, Salvador Dalí.

“Dreams of Dalí,” the 36o-degree video above, drops you into the world of Dalí’s 1935 canvas Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s ‘Angelus,’  an homage to an earlier work (Jean-François Millet’s painting, “The Angelus”) which enjoyed enormous popularity during Dalí’s youth. This earlier work, notes the Dalí’ Museum, was “reproduced on everything from prints and postcards to everyday objects like teacups and inkwells. The late 19th century painting depicts a peasant couple standing in a field with their heads bowed in prayer. For many it was a sentimental work, but for Dalí’ it was troubling, with layers of hidden meaning, which he explored through daydreams and fantasies.”

As the artist himself put it, “I surrendered myself to a brief fantasy during which I imagined sculptures of the two figures in Millet’s ‘Angelus’ carved out of the highest rocks.” His formidable imagination converted that mid-19th-century image of rural hardship and piety into the moonlit desert landscape through which “Dreams of Dalí” flies you. Created for “Disney and Dalí: Architects of the Imagination,” an exhibit at St. Petersburg, Florida’s Dalí Museum on the friendship and collaboration between those two visionary 20th-century world-creators (see Destino, the short film Dalí and Disney collaborated on), the video not only gives the painting a third spatial dimension, but a detailed sonic one featuring the godlike voice of Dalí himself.

If you make use of the arrows that appear in the video’s upper-left corner or click and drag (or, on smartphones, press and drag with your finger) within the frame, you can turn the “camera” in any direction. Pay close enough attention, and you’ll spot more than a few touches not included in the original painting that will nonetheless delight fans of the Dalí sensibility, not all of which you can catch on your first flight through. But as much as the experience may feel like a dream — and it counts as one of the few works to really merit the term “dreamlike” — it won’t vanish as soon as you emerge from it; you can have at it again and again, seeing something new and surprising each time.

via The Creator’s Project

Related Content:

Salvador Dalí & Walt Disney’s Destino: See the Collaborative Film, Original Storyboards & Ink Drawings

Salvador Dalí Goes to Hollywood & Creates Wild Dream Sequences for Hitchcock & Vincente Minnelli

Two Vintage Films by Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel: Un Chien Andalou and L’Age d’Or

The Seashell and the Clergyman: The World’s First Surrealist Film

Alfred Hitchcock Recalls Working with Salvador Dali on Spellbound

A Soft Self-Portrait of Salvador Dali, Narrated by the Great Orson Welles

A Tour Inside Salvador Dalí’s Labyrinthine Spanish Home

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Don Quixote: Two Spaniards with Unique World Views

Salvador Dalí’s Haunting 1975 Illustrations for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Walk Inside a Surrealist Salvador Dalí Painting with This 360º Virtual Reality Video 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.

Stephen Hawking’s Lectures on Black Holes Now Fully Animated with Chalkboard Illustrations

Fri, 5 Feb 2016 - 10:42 am

A quick note: This week, the BBC posted the second of Stephen Hawking’s Reith Lectures focusing on Black Holes. And, once again, they’ve animated the presentation with some fun chalkboard illustrations. You can watch Part 1, “Do Black Holes Have No Hair?” here. And now Part 2, “Black Holes Ain’t as Black as They Are Painted,” above. Hawking is getting a little playful with his grammar, isn’t he? Enjoy.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. And if you want to make sure that our posts definitely appear in your Facebook newsfeed, just follow these simple steps.

Related Content:

Free Online Physics Courses

Psychedelic Animation Takes You Inside the Mind of Stephen Hawking

The Big Ideas of Stephen Hawking Explained with Simple Animation

Watch A Brief History of Time, Errol Morris’ Film About the Life & Work of Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking’s Lectures on Black Holes Now Fully Animated with Chalkboard Illustrations 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.

“20 Rules For Writing Detective Stories” By S.S. Van Dine, One of T.S. Eliot’s Favorite Genre Authors (1928)

Fri, 5 Feb 2016 - 12:55 am

Every generation, it seems, has its preferred bestselling genre fiction. We’ve had fantasy and, at least in very recent history, vampire romance keeping us reading. The fifties and sixties had their westerns and sci-fi. And in the forties, it won’t surprise you to hear, detective fiction was all the rage. So much so that—like many an irritable contrarian critic today—esteemed literary tastemaker Edmund Wilson penned a cranky New Yorker piece in 1944 declaiming its popularity, writing “at the age of twelve… I was outgrowing that form of literature”; the form, that is, perfected by Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Wilkie Collins, and imitated by a host of pulp writers in Wilson’s day. Detective stories, in fact, were in vogue for the first few decades of the 20th century—since the appearance of Sherlock Holmes and a derivative 1907 character called “the Thinking Machine,” responsible, it seems, for Wilson’s loss of interest.

Thus, when Wilson learned that “of all people,”Paul Grimstad writes, T.S. Eliot “was a devoted fan of the genre,” he must have been particularly dismayed, as he considered Eliot “an unimpeachable authority in matters of literary judgment.” Eliot’s tastes were much more ecumenical than most critics supposed, his “attitude toward popular art forms… more capacious and ambivalent than he’s often given credit for.” The rhythms of ragtime pervade his early poetry, and “in his later years he wanted nothing more than to have a hit on Broadway.” (He succeeded, sixteen years after his death.) Eliot peppered his conversation and poetry with quotations from Arthur Conan Doyle and wrote several glowing reviews of detective novels by writers like Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie during the genre’s “Golden Age,” publishing them anonymously in his literary journal The Criterion in 1927.

One novel that impressed him above all others is titled The Benson Murder Case by an American writer named S.S. Van Dine, pen name of an art critic and editor named Willard Huntington Wright. Referring to an eminent art historian—whose tastes guided those of the wealthy industrial class—Eliot wrote that Van Dine used “methods similar to those which Bernard Berenson applies to paintings.” He had good reason to ascribe to Van Dine a curatorial sensibility. After a nervous breakdown, the writer “spent two years in bed reading more than two thousand detective stories, during with time he methodically distilled the genre’s formulas and began writing novels.” The year after Eliot’s appreciative review, Van Dine published his own set of criteria for detective fiction in a 1928 issue of The American Magazine. You can read his “Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories” below. They include such proscriptions as “There must be no love interest” and “The detective himself, or one of the official investigators, should never turn out to be the culprit.”

Rules, of course, are made to be broken (just ask G.K. Chesterton), provided one is clever and experienced enough to circumvent or disregard them. But the novice detective or mystery writer could certainly do worse than take the advice below from one of T.S. Eliot’s favorite detective writers. We’d also urge you to see Raymond Chandler’s 10 Commandments for Writing Detective Fiction.

THE DETECTIVE story is a kind of intellectual game. It is more — it is a sporting event. And for the writing of detective stories there are very definite laws — unwritten, perhaps, but none the less binding; and every respectable and self-respecting concocter of literary mysteries lives up to them. Herewith, then, is a sort Credo, based partly on the practice of all the great writers of detective stories, and partly on the promptings of the honest author’s inner conscience. To wit:

1. The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly stated and described.

2. No willful tricks or deceptions may be placed on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself.

3. There must be no love interest. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal altar.

4. The detective himself, or one of the official investigators, should never turn out to be the culprit. This is bald trickery, on a par with offering some one a bright penny for a five-dollar gold piece. It’s false pretenses.

5. The culprit must be determined by logical deductions — not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated confession. To solve a criminal problem in this latter fashion is like sending the reader on a deliberate wild-goose chase, and then telling him, after he has failed, that you had the object of his search up your sleeve all the time. Such an author is no better than a practical joker.

6. The detective novel must have a detective in it; and a detective is not a detective unless he detects. His function is to gather clues that will eventually lead to the person who did the dirty work in the first chapter; and if the detective does not reach his conclusions through an analysis of those clues, he has no more solved his problem than the schoolboy who gets his answer out of the back of the arithmetic.

7. There simply must be a corpse in a detective novel, and the deader the corpse the better. No lesser crime than murder will suffice. Three hundred pages is far too much pother for a crime other than murder. After all, the reader’s trouble and expenditure of energy must be rewarded.

8. The problem of the crime must he solved by strictly naturalistic means. Such methods for learning the truth as slate-writing, ouija-boards, mind-reading, spiritualistic se’ances, crystal-gazing, and the like, are taboo. A reader has a chance when matching his wits with a rationalistic detective, but if he must compete with the world of spirits and go chasing about the fourth dimension of metaphysics, he is defeated ab initio.

9. There must be but one detective — that is, but one protagonist of deduction — one deus ex machina. To bring the minds of three or four, or sometimes a gang of detectives to bear on a problem, is not only to disperse the interest and break the direct thread of logic, but to take an unfair advantage of the reader. If there is more than one detective the reader doesn’t know who his codeductor is. It’s like making the reader run a race with a relay team.

10. The culprit must turn out to be a person who has played a more or less prominent part in the story — that is, a person with whom the reader is familiar and in whom he takes an interest.

11. A servant must not be chosen by the author as the culprit. This is begging a noble question. It is a too easy solution. The culprit must be a decidedly worth-while person — one that wouldn’t ordinarily come under suspicion.

12. There must be but one culprit, no matter how many murders are committed. The culprit may, of course, have a minor helper or co-plotter; but the entire onus must rest on one pair of shoulders: the entire indignation of the reader must be permitted to concentrate on a single black nature.

13. Secret societies, camorras, mafias, et al., have no place in a detective story. A fascinating and truly beautiful murder is irremediably spoiled by any such wholesale culpability. To be sure, the murderer in a detective novel should be given a sporting chance; but it is going too far to grant him a secret society to fall back on. No high-class, self-respecting murderer would want such odds.

14. The method of murder, and the means of detecting it, must be be rational and scientific. That is to say, pseudo-science and purely imaginative and speculative devices are not to be tolerated in the roman policier. Once an author soars into the realm of fantasy, in the Jules Verne manner, he is outside the bounds of detective fiction, cavorting in the uncharted reaches of adventure.

15. The truth of the problem must at all times be apparent — provided the reader is shrewd enough to see it. By this I mean that if the reader, after learning the explanation for the crime, should reread the book, he would see that the solution had, in a sense, been staring him in the face-that all the clues really pointed to the culprit — and that, if he had been as clever as the detective, he could have solved the mystery himself without going on to the final chapter. That the clever reader does often thus solve the problem goes without saying.

16. A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no “atmospheric” preoccupations. such matters have no vital place in a record of crime and deduction. They hold up the action and introduce issues irrelevant to the main purpose, which is to state a problem, analyze it, and bring it to a successful conclusion. To be sure, there must be a sufficient descriptiveness and character delineation to give the novel verisimilitude.

17. A professional criminal must never be shouldered with the guilt of a crime in a detective story. Crimes by housebreakers and bandits are the province of the police departments — not of authors and brilliant amateur detectives. A really fascinating crime is one committed by a pillar of a church, or a spinster noted for her charities.

18. A crime in a detective story must never turn out to be an accident or a suicide. To end an odyssey of sleuthing with such an anti-climax is to hoodwink the trusting and kind-hearted reader.

19. The motives for all crimes in detective stories should be personal. International plottings and war politics belong in a different category of fiction — in secret-service tales, for instance. But a murder story must be kept gemütlich, so to speak. It must reflect the reader’s everyday experiences, and give him a certain outlet for his own repressed desires and emotions.

20. And (to give my Credo an even score of items) I herewith list a few of the devices which no self-respecting detective story writer will now avail himself of. They have been employed too often, and are familiar to all true lovers of literary crime. To use them is a confession of the author’s ineptitude and lack of originality. (a) Determining the identity of the culprit by comparing the butt of a cigarette left at the scene of the crime with the brand smoked by a suspect. (b) The bogus spiritualistic se’ance to frighten the culprit into giving himself away. (c) Forged fingerprints. (d) The dummy-figure alibi. (e) The dog that does not bark and thereby reveals the fact that the intruder is familiar. (f)The final pinning of the crime on a twin, or a relative who looks exactly like the suspected, but innocent, person. (g) The hypodermic syringe and the knockout drops. (h) The commission of the murder in a locked room after the police have actually broken in. (i) The word association test for guilt. (j) The cipher, or code letter, which is eventually unraveled by the sleuth.

You can find S.S. Van Dine’s detective novels on Amazon.

Related Content:

Raymond Chandler’s Ten Commandments for Writing a Detective Novel

H.P. Lovecraft Gives Five Tips for Writing a Horror Story, or Any Piece of “Weird Fiction”

Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers

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

“20 Rules For Writing Detective Stories” By S.S. Van Dine, One of T.S. Eliot’s Favorite Genre Authors (1928) 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.

The Very First Coloring Book, The Little Folks’ Painting Book (Circa 1879)

Fri, 5 Feb 2016 - 12:30 am

Funny how not that long ago coloring books were considered the exclusive domain of children. How times have changed. If you are the sort of adult who unwinds with a big box of Crayolas and pages of mandalas or outlines of Ryan Gosling, you owe a debt of gratitude to the McLoughlin Brothers and illustrator Kate Greenaway.

Their Little Folks’ Painting Book burst onto the scene in around 1879 with such fun-to-color outline engravings as “The Owl’s Advice,” “A Flower Fairy,” and “Little Miss Pride,” each accompanied by nursery rhymes and stories. The abundance of mob caps, pinafores, and breeches are of a piece with Greenaway’s enduring takes on nursery rhymes, though grown up manual dexterity seems almost mandatory given the tiny patterns and other details.

Seeing as how there was no precedent, the publishers of the world’s first coloring book went ahead and filled in the frontispiece so that those tackling the other hundred drawings would know what to do. (Hint: Stay inside the lines and don’t get too creative with skin or hair color.)

Also note: the copy represented here has been carefully hand-colored by the previous owners, with one contributing some exuberant scribbles in pencil. See the full book, and download it in various formats, at Archive.org.

Related Content:

Download Free Coloring Books from World-Class Libraries & Museums: The New York Public Library, Bodleian, Smithsonian & More

The First Adult Coloring Book: See the Subversive Executive Coloring Book From 1961

Download 15,000+ Free Golden Age Comics from the Digital Comic Museum

The Very First Coloring Book, The Little Folks’ Painting Book (Circa 1879) 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.

Download Free Coloring Books from World-Class Libraries & Museums: The New York Public Library, Bodleian, Smithsonian & More

Thu, 4 Feb 2016 - 12:00 pm

This week, from February 1 – February 4, museums and libraries worldwide are taking part in #ColorOurCollections. As part of this campaign, these institutions have made available free coloring books, letting you color artwork from their collections and then share it on Twitter and other social media platforms, using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections. At no cost, you can download coloring books from:

You can find a list of other participants on Twitter. The image above comes from The Huntington. Happy coloring.

H/T goes to Heather for making us aware of this project.

Related Content:

The First Adult Coloring Book: See the SubversiveExecutive Coloring Book From 1961

Download 15,000+ Free Golden Age Comics from the Digital Comic Museum

Read Martin Luther King and The Montgomery Story: The Influential 1957 Civil Rights Comic Book

Dr. Seuss Draws Anti-Japanese Cartoons During WWII, Then Atones with Horton Hears a Who!

Download Free Coloring Books from World-Class Libraries & Museums: The New York Public Library, Bodleian, Smithsonian & 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.

The Wisdom & Advice of Maurice Ashley, the First African-American Chess Grandmaster

Thu, 4 Feb 2016 - 11:26 am

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve thought of chess grandmasters, I’ve often thought of Russians, northern Europeans, the occasional American, the guy on the Chessmaster box — purely by stereotype, in other words. I’ve never thought of anyone from, say, Jamaica, the country of birth of Maurice Ashley, not just a chess grandmaster but a chess commentator, writer, app and puzzle designer, speaker and Fellow at the Media Lab at MIT. Since we’ve only just entered February, known in the United States as Black History Month, why not highlight the Brooklyn-raised (and Brooklyn-park trained) Ashley’s status as, in the words of his official web site, “the first African-American International Grandmaster in the annals of the game”?

Given the impressiveness of his achievements, we might also ask what we can learn from him, whether or not we play chess ourselves. You can learn a bit more about Ashley, the work he does, and the work his students have gone on to do, in The World Is a Chess Board, the five-minute Mashable documentary at the top of the post. Even in that short runtime, he has much to say about how the game (which, he clarifies, “we consider an art form”) not only reflects life, and reflects the personalities of its players, but teaches those players — especially the young ones who may come from less-than-ideal beginnings — all about focus, determination, choice, and consequence. Perhaps the most important lesson? “You’ve got to be ready to lose.”

Ashley expounds upon the value of chess as a tool to hone the mind in “Working Backward to Solve Problems,” a clip from his TED Ed lesson just above. He begins by waving off the misperception, common among non-chess-players, that grandmasters “see ahead” ten, twenty, or thirty moves into the game, then goes on to explain that the sharpest players do it not by looking forward, but by looking backward. He provides a few examples of how using this sort of “retrograde analysis,” combined with pattern recognition, applies to problems in a range of situations from proofreading to biology to law enforcement to card tricks. If you ever have a chance to enter into a bet with this man, don’t.

That’s my advice, anyway. As far as Ashley’s advice goes, if we endorse any particular takeaway from what he says here, we endorse the first step of his chess-learning strategy for absolute beginners, which works equally well as the first step of a learning strategy for absolute beginners in anything: “The best advice I could give a young person today is, go online and watch some videos.” Stick with us, and we’ll keep you in all the videos you need.

Related Content:

Marcel Duchamp, Chess Enthusiast, Created an Art Deco Chess Set That’s Now Available via 3D Printer

Kasparov Talks Chess, Technology and a Little Life at Google

Free App Lets You Play Chess With 23-Year-Old Norwegian World Champion Magnus Carlsen

Watch Bill Gates Lose a Chess Match in 79 Seconds to the New World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

A Famous Chess Match from 1910 Reenacted with Claymation

Chess Rivals Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky Meet in the ‘Match of the Century’

Vladimir Nabokov’s Hand-Drawn Sketches of Mind-Bending Chess Problems

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Wisdom & Advice of Maurice Ashley, the First African-American Chess Grandmaster 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.

AC/DC Plays a Short Gig at CBGB in 1977: Hear Metal Being Played on Punk’s Hallowed Grounds

Thu, 4 Feb 2016 - 8:30 am

Punk rock and heavy metal were two genres that evolved over the ‘70s, but seemed to run parallel to each other, despite sharing common fashion, sounds, and attitudes. But then there are moments in history, where everybody plays together in the same sandbox. For example, the above audio, which captures the Australian band AC/DC on their first American tour, playing New York’s CBGB, synonymous now with punk and new wave music.

The date is August 24, 1977, and AC/DC were on a cross-country trip that had taken in both club dates and arenas, where they supported—yes, hard to believe, I know—REO Speedwagon. Their album Let There Be Rock had just dropped in June. The band would be in the States until the winter.

This CBGB gig finds them on the same bill as Talking Heads and the Dead Boys, according to a poster from the time. And while there’s no video for this show, there are plenty of tasty photos over at Dangerous Minds, showing lead singer Bon Scott working the crowd and Angus Young—at the spritely age of 22—being carried through the crowd on the shoulders of Scott himself. You can feel the muggy New York summer in these photos, but also the excitement of an unforgettable gig.

At 15 minutes, the set is short, but still three minutes longer than the Ramones’ first set at the same club three years earlier. That’s pretty metal, man.

via Dangerous Minds

Related Content:

1980s Metalhead Kids Are All Right: New Study Suggests They Became Well-Adjusted Adults

Punk & Heavy Metal Music Makes Listeners Happy and Calm, Not Aggressive, According to New Australian Study

Heavy Metal: BBC Film Explores the Music, Personalities & Great Clothing That Hit the Stage in the 1980s

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

AC/DC Plays a Short Gig at CBGB in 1977: Hear Metal Being Played on Punk’s Hallowed Grounds 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.

Hear the Experimental Music of the Dada Movement: Avant-Garde Sounds from a Century Ago

Thu, 4 Feb 2016 - 1:00 am

When we think of Dada, we think of an art movement—or anti-art movement—that embraced chance operations, futurism, and experimentation and rejected all of the previous doctrines of the formal art world as moribund and fraudulent. As Dada artist and theorist Tristan Tzara wrote in his 1918 manifesto, the aims of the establishment art world had been “to make money and cajole the nice nice bourgeois.” This new breed would have none of it. In their attack on bourgeois artistic and political values, artists like Tzara, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Hans Richter, Kurt Schwitters and others willfully trespassed formal boundaries, using any means or medium they happened to find of interest in the moment. We have Dada painting, sculpture, typography, and film; Dada poetry, theater, dance, and even Dadaist politics, so well represented by Tzara’s manifesto.

http://ubumexico.centro.org.mx/sound/dada_for_now/Dada_For_Now_01_Russolo.mp3

One medium we don’t often associate with Dada, however, is music. And yet, those same artists who waged war on the establishment with readymade urinals and rambling manifestos also did so with musical compositions that were as influential as the painting, film, and poetry. Dada, and its immediate successor, surrealism, “exerted a pervasive influence on 20th-century music,” writes Matthew Greenbaum at New Music Box, but “the presence of Dada and surrealism is generally unrecognized or forgotten” in discussions of “mid-century avant-garde composers” in New York, like Stefan Wolpe, Morton Feldman, and John Cage. And yet, the repetitive, machine-like qualities we associate with mid-century minimalism come more or less directly from the Dadaists, as does the high concept experimentation.

http://ubumexico.centro.org.mx/sound/dada_for_now/Dada_For_Now_02_Ball.mp3

Dada artists, adds Greenbaum, “paid close attention to advanced and developing technology, and the repetitive beauty of machines was a ubiquitous image.” Works like Marcel Duchamp’s conceptual musical “assemblages cunningly obscure the boundaries of text, music, representation, and notation a half-century before John Cage’s experiments in indeterminacy.” Greenbaum’s essay makes a strong case for this lineage, but the most direct way to trace the steps from Duchamp, et al., to Cage is to listen to the Dada artists’ experiments with music firsthand, and you can hear a selection of them here, excerpted from the 1985 compilation Dada For Now and brought to us courtesy of Ubuweb, who host the full album. Many of these compositions are experiments with language, theatrical performance, and text (the album is shelved in the “Spoken Word” category), though none of the composers would have drawn any lines between word and music.

http://ubumexico.centro.org.mx/sound/dada_for_now/Dada_For_Now_04_Tzara_Janco.mp3

At the top of the post, hear Antonio Russolo’s 1921 composition “Corale and Serenata,” which sounds like a rather traditional march, but for the ominous roaring that shadows the orchestration and occasionally breaks in to disrupt it entirely, sounding like the rush of tires on a highway or workings of a huge, industrial machine. Next is Hugo Ball’s 1916 composition “Karawane,” in which a trio of vocalists—Trio Exvoco—grows louder and more guttural as they chant in unison, their only accompaniment what sounds like a trolley bell. Further down, in Tristan Tzara and others’ “L’amiral cherche une maison a louer,” also from 1916, that same trio performs some sort of exuberant comedy, with accompanying whiz-bang sound effects that one would hear in radio plays of the succeeding decades. And just above, in Kurt Schwitters’ 1919 “Simultangedicht kaa gee dee,” Trio Exvoco begins a chant that soon devolves into staccato vocalizations and gibberish.

http://ubumexico.centro.org.mx/sound/dada_for_now/Dada_For_Now_05_Schwitters.mp3

A few of these pieces, like the Russolo at the top, are original recordings. The rest are reconstructions. All of them are strange, as is to be expected, but it’s impossible to hear just how strange—and how tasteless and absurd, perhaps—they would have sounded to audiences one hundred years ago. As Greenbaum argues, what was once revolutionary in Dada became normative as it was integrated into the American art establishment in the later 20th century. But to hear it with fresh ears is to recapture how Dadaist art sounded as radical as it looked.

Hear more Dadaist music over at Ubu.

Related Content:

The ABCs of Dada Explains the Anarchic, Irrational “Anti-Art” Movement of Dadaism

Three Essential Dadaist Films: Groundbreaking Works by Hans Richter, Man Ray & Marcel Duchamp

Extensive Archive of Avant-Garde & Modernist Magazines (1890-1939) Now Available Online

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

Hear the Experimental Music of the Dada Movement: Avant-Garde Sounds from a Century Ago 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.

Animated Interview: Sally Ride Tells Gloria Steinem About the Challenge of Being the First American Women in Space (1983)

Wed, 3 Feb 2016 - 12:18 pm

Blank on Blank returned this week with the latest episode in “The Experimenters,” a miniseries highlighting the icons of STEM. This new animation brings to life a 1983 interview featuring one trailblazer, Gloria Steinem, talking with another, Sally Ride, a physicist who became the first American woman in space, and endured a lot of gender stereotyping along the way. Other episodes in “The Experimenters” series have focused on Buckminster Fuller, Richard Feynman, and Jane Goodall.

Note: Gloria Steinem recently published a new memoir called My Life on the Road. You can download it as a free audiobook if you head over to Audible.com and register for a 30-day free trial. The trial lets you download two audiobooks for free. Then, when the trial is over, you can continue your subscription, or cancel it, and still keep the audio books. The choice is yours. Get more info here.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. And if you want to make sure that our posts definitely appear in your Facebook newsfeed, just follow these simple steps.

Related Content:

Watch an Animated Buckminster Fuller Tell Studs Terkel All About “the Geodesic Life”

What Ignited Richard Feynman’s Love of Science Revealed in an Animated Vide

Animated: The Inspirational Story of Jane Goodall, and Why She Believes in Bigfoot

Animated Interview: Sally Ride Tells Gloria Steinem About the Challenge of Being the First American Women in Space (1983) 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.

How Stanley Kubrick Became Stanley Kubrick: A Short Documentary Narrated by the Filmmaker

Wed, 3 Feb 2016 - 10:00 am

Stanley Kubrick, the director of such beloved films as Dr. Strangelove2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Shining, a man whose name remains, more than fifteen years after his death, almost a byword for the cinematic auteur, got into filmmaking because of a misunderstanding. While working as a photojournalist in his early twenties, he befriended an even younger fellow named Alex Singer, who would go on to become a well-known director of film and television himself, but back then he held a lowly position in the office of The March of Time newsreels. Singer happened to mention that each newsreel cost the company something like $40,000 to produce, which got Kubrick researching the price of film and camera rentals, then thinking: couldn’t I make a documentary of my own for less?

Indeed; he and Singer put together $1,500 and collaborated on the boxing short-subject Day of the Fight, which played in theaters in 1951. But it didn’t turn a profit, since no distribution company offered the $40,000 he expected — nor had they ever offered The March of Time, whose newsreel business went under before long, enough to cover their own exorbitant costs. So Kubrick didn’t make money on his first film, but he did make a career, going on to do two more documentaries, then the low-budget features Fear and DesireKiller’s Kiss, and The Killing. Then came the critically acclaimed Paths of Glory starring Kirk Douglas, which eventually brought about an offer to Kubrick from the iconic actor to take the directorial reins on Spartacus. Next came LolitaDr. Strangelove2001, and the rest is cinema history.

Of course, Kubrick didn’t know the full extent of the cinema history he would make back in 1966, on the set of 2001, when he sat down with physicist-writer Jeremy Bernstein, doing research for a New Yorker profile. The filmmaker brought out one of his tape recorders (devices he adopted early and used to write scripts) and recorded 77 minutes of his and Bernstein’s conversations, almost a half hour of which Jim Casey uses as the narration of the short documentary Stanley Kubrick: The Lost Tapes. Only recently rediscovered, these recordings feature Kubrick’s first-hand stories of growing up indifferent to all things academic and literary, honing his “general problem-solving method” as a photographer, getting into movies as a result of the aforementioned misconception, and building the career that film fans and scholars scrutinize to this day. It does make you wonder: what glorious work have we missed the chance to create because we ran the numbers a little too rigorously?

via Devour

Related Content:

Discover the Life & Work of Stanley Kubrick in a Sweeping Three-Hour Video Essay

1966 Film Explores the Making of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (and Our High-Tech Future)

What’s the Difference Between Stanley Kubrick’s & Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (A Side-by-Side Comparison)

The Letter Between Stanley Kubrick & Arthur C. Clarke That Sparked the Greatest Sci-Fi Film Ever Made (1964)

Inside Dr. Strangelove: Documentary Reveals How a Cold War Story Became a Kubrick Classic

Vladimir Nabokov’s Script for Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita: See Pages from His Original Draft

Fear and Desire: Stanley Kubrick’s First and Least-Seen Feature Film (1953)

Killer’s Kiss: Where Stanley Kubrick’s Filmmaking Career Really Begins

Lost Kubrick: A Short Documentary on Stanley Kubrick’s Unfinished Films

Stanley Kubrick’s Daughter Shares Photos of Herself Growing Up on Her Father’s Film Sets

Stanley Kubrick’s Jazz Photography and The Film He Almost Made About Jazz Under Nazi Rule

Stanley Kubrick’s Rare 1965 Interview with the New Yorker

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

How Stanley Kubrick Became Stanley Kubrick: A Short Documentary Narrated by the Filmmaker 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.