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How to Listen to the Radio: The BBC’s 1930 Manual for Using a New Technology

2 hours 2 min ago

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A comparison between the invention of radio and that of the Internet need not be a strained or superfical exercise. Parallels abound. The communication tool that first drew the world together with news, drama, and music took shape in a small but crowded field of amateur enthusiasts, engineers and physicists, military strategists, and competing corporate interests. In 1920, the technology emerged fully into the consumer sector with the first commercial broadcast by Westinghouse’s KDKA station in Pittsburgh on November 2, Election Day. By 1924, the U.S. had 600 commercial stations around the country, and in 1927, the model spread across the Atlantic when the British Broadcasting Corporation (the BBC) succeeded the British Broadcasting Company, formerly an extension of the Post Office.

Unlike the Wild West frontier of U.S. radio, since its 1922 inception the BBC operated under a centralized command structure that, paradoxically, fostered some very egalitarian attitudes to broadcasting—in certain respects. In others, however, the BBC, led by “conscientious founder” Lord John Reith, took on the task of providing its listeners with “elevating and educative” material, particularly avant garde music like the work of Arnold Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School. The BBC, writes David Stubbs in Fear of Music, “were prepared to be quite bold in their broadcasting policy, making a point of including ‘futurist’ or ‘art music,’ as they termed it.” As you might imagine, “listeners proved a little recalcitrant in the face of this highbrow policy.”

In response to the volume of listener complaints, the BBC began a PR campaign in 1927 that sought to train audiences in how to listen to challenging and unfamiliar broadcasts. One statement released by the BBC stresses responsible, “correct,” listening practices: “If there be an art of broadcasting there is equally an art of listening… there can be no excuse for the listener who tunes in to a programme, willy nilly, and complains that he does not care for it.” The next year, the BBC Handbook 1928 included the following castigation of listener antipathy and restlessness.

Every new invention that brings desirable things more easily within our reach thereby to some extent cheapens them… We seem to be entering upon a kind of arm-chair period of civilisation, when everything that goes to make up adventure is dealt with wholesale, and delivered, as it were, to the individual at his own door.

It’s as if Amazon were right around the corner, and, in a certain sense, it was. Like personal computing technology, the wireless revolutionized communications and offered instant access to information, if not yet goods, and not yet on an “on-demand” basis. Unlike Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, however, British commercial radio strove mightily to control the ethics and aesthetics of its content. The handbook goes on to elaborate its proposed remedy for the potential cheapening of culture it identifies above:

The listener, in other words, should be an epicure and not a glutton; he should choose his broadcast fare with discrimination, and when the time comes give himself deliberately to the enjoyment of it… To sum up, I would urge upon those who use wireless to cultivate the art of listening; to discriminate in what they listen to, and to listen with their mind as well as their ears. In that way they will not only increase their pleasure, but actually contribute their part to the improvement and perfection of an art which is yet in its childhood.

It seems that these lengthy prose prescriptions did not convey the message as efficiently as they might. In 1930, BBC administrators published a handbook that took a much more direct approach, which you can see above. Titled “Good Listening,” the list of instructions, transcribed below, proceeds under the assumption that any dissatisfaction with BBC programming should be blamed solely on impatient, slothful listeners. As BBC program advisor Filson Young wrote that year in a Radio Times article, “Good listeners will produce good programmes more surely and more certainly than anything else… Many of you have not even begun to master the art of listening. The arch-fault of the average listener is that he does not select.”

GOOD LISTENING

Make sure that your set is working properly before you settle down to listen.

Choose your programmes as carefully as you choose which theatre to go to. It is just as important to you to enjoy yourself at home as at the theatre.

Listen as carefully at home as you do in a theatre or concert hall. You can’t get the best out of a programme if your mind is wandering, or if you are playing bridge or reading. Give it your full attention. Try turning out the lights so that your eye is not caught by familiar objects in the room. Your imagination will be twice as vivid.

If you only listen with half an ear you haven’t a quarter of a right to criticise.

Think of your favourite occupation. Don’t you like a change sometimes? Give the wireless a rest now and then.

All maybe more than a little condescending, perhaps, but that last bit of advice now seems eternal.

via WFMU

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

How to Listen to the Radio: The BBC’s 1930 Manual for Using a New Technology 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 Five Best North Korean Movies: Watch Them Free Online

5 hours 31 min ago
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey2fvPtBsiA

According to official propaganda, Kim Jong-Il was a remarkably impressive individual. He learned to walk when he was just three weeks old; he wrote 1,500 books while at university; and, during his first and only game of golf, he scored 11 holes in one. Yet for some reason becoming the world’s first North Korean professional golf player didn’t seem to interest Kim. He wanted to make movies. So, in 1978, while his father Kim Il-Sung was still the country’s supreme leader, Kim set out to modernize the film industry of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The North’s filmmakers are just doing perfunctory work,” Kim said to South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok. “They don’t have any new ideas…their works have the same expressions, redundancies, the same old plots. All our movies are filled with crying and sobbing. I didn’t order them to portray that kind of thing.”

Of course, Kim’s bold plan to jumpstart the industry was to kidnap Shin and his wife, both celebrities in South Korea. He was abducted in Hong Kong and, when he had the temerity to try to escape, he ended up spending four years toiling in prison, subsisting on little more than grass and a little rice. Eventually, Shin was approached by Kim and given an offer he dare not refuse: make movies in North Korea.

Like the films cranked out in China during the height of the Cultural Revolution, North Korean movies are largely propaganda delivery systems designed exclusively for a domestic audience. After Shin’s kidnapping, DPRK movies started to get just a bit less didactic. Simon Fowler, who writes probably the only English-language blog on North Korean cinema, just wrote an article for The Guardian where he selected the best films to come out of the Hermit kingdom. You can watch a few of these movies here and find the others at The Guardian. They might be goofy, maudlin and ham-fisted, but for movie mavens and aficionados of Communist kitsch, they are fascinating.

Perhaps the most important North Korean movie ever is The Flower Girl (1972). Watch it above. Set during Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea, the film follows a young woman who endures one injustice after another at the hands of the Japanese before Kim Il-Sung’s army marches into her village and saves the day. The movie set the template for many of the movies to come afterwards. As Fowler writes, “the importance of The Flower Girl within the DPRK cannot be overestimated. The star, Hong Yong-hee, adorns the one won bank note in North Korea, and is revered as a national hero. Although not always an easy watch, those wanting to learn more about the average North Koreans’ sensibilities could do far worse than to watch this picturesque but tragic film.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2dG5BQOVhI

Hong Kil Dong (1986) is clearly one of the movies Shin Sang-ok influenced; it foregrounded entertainment over ideology, a rarity at that point in the country’s film history. The movie is about a character from Korean literature who, like Robin Hood, not only robs from the rich and gives to the poor but knows how to deliver a beatdown. Hong plays out like a particularly low-budget Shaw Brothers kung fu spectacle with plenty of flying kicks, sword play and wire work.

And finally, there’s Pulgasari (1985), North Korea’s attempt at making a kaiju movie. Set in feudal times, the film is about a statue that comes to life, grows to monstrous proportions and, unable to sate its unquenchable thirst for metal, starts to smash things. Shin managed to get technical help for the movie from Toho, the same Japanese studio that cranked all those Godzilla movies. In fact, they even got veteran kaiju actor, Kenpachiro Satsuma, to don a rubber suit for this movie. Years later, Pulgasari was released in Japan about the same time as Roland Emmerich’s god awful Hollywood remake of Godzilla (not to be confused with Gareth Edward’s god awful Hollywood remake from earlier this year). Satsuma publically stated what a lot of Japanese privately thought – Pulgasari is better than Emmerich’s big-budget dud.

Not long after Shin completed Pulgasari, he and his wife managed to escape in Vienna thanks to the help of the CIA and a host of other unlikely parties.  Kim Jong-Il might have had super human abilities, but talent retention did not seem to be one of them.

You can watch the three films listed above, plus Marathon Runner and Centre Forward over at  The Guardian.

More free films can be found in our collection, 700 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

via Coudal

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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 @jonccrowAnd check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring one new drawing of a vice president with an octopus on his head daily. 

The Five Best North Korean Movies: Watch Them Free Online 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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Brian May’s Homemade Guitar, Made From Old Tables, Bike and Motorcycle Parts & More

9 hours 13 min ago
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPD7_hQk7hk

It’s called “The Red Special.” Or sometimes “The Fireplace.” That’s the guitar that Brian May (guitarist of Queen and physics researcher) began building with his father circa 1963, when Brian was about 16 years old. Lacking money but not ingenuity, the father-son team built the guitar using materials found around the home. The neck of the guitar was fashioned from an 18th-century fireplace mantel, the inlays on the neck from a mother-of-pearl button. For the body, they used wood from an old oak table. Then the bricoleurs combined a bike saddlebag holder, a plastic knitting needle tip, and motorbike valve springs to create a tremolo arm. It’s a kind of magic! But here’s perhaps the most amazing part of the story. The resulting guitar wasn’t a rickety novelty. May used The Red Special during Queen’s recording sessions and live performances, and he still apparently plays a restored version today. If you find yourself inspired by this DIY story, you can head over to BrianMayGuitars and buy your own Red Special replica.

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Brian May’s Homemade Guitar, Made From Old Tables, Bike and Motorcycle Parts & 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 post Brian May’s Homemade Guitar, Made From Old Tables, Bike and Motorcycle Parts & More appeared first on Open Culture.

Paris Through Pentax: Short Film Lets You See a Great City Through a Different Lens

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 - 4:50 pm

Maison Carnot, an ad studio in France, has produced a delightful short film that lets you see Paris through the viewfinder of the classic Pentax 67 camera. Antoine Pai, one of the filmmakers, told Petapixel, “As Parisians, we are so used to the charm of our city that we forget sometimes to take a minute and observe.” “Marcel Proust once said, ‘Mystery is not about traveling to new places but it’s about looking with new eyes.’ That is totally what we felt while shooting this film.” To see Paris through a differnent lens, watch Paris Through Pentax above. To get the backstory on the contraption Maison Carnot jerry-rigged to shoot the film, head over to Petapixel.

Paris Through Pentax: Short Film Lets You See a Great City Through a Different Lens 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 post Paris Through Pentax: Short Film Lets You See a Great City Through a Different Lens appeared first on Open Culture.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics, The Most Popular Physics Book Ever Written, Now Completely Online

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 - 2:00 pm

Last fall, we let you know that Caltech and The Feynman Lectures Website joined forces to create an online edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. They started with Volume 1. And now they’ve followed up with Volume 2 and Volume 3, making the collection complete.

First presented in the early 1960s at Caltech by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, the lectures were eventually turned into a book by Feynman, Robert B. Leighton, and Matthew Sands. The text went on to become arguably the most popular physics book ever written, selling more than 1.5 million copies in English, and getting translated into a dozen languages.

The new online edition makes The Feynman Lectures on Physics available in HTML5. The text “has been designed for ease of reading on devices of any size or shape,” and you can zoom into text, figures and equations without degradation. Dive right into the lectures here. And if you’d prefer to see Feynman (as opposed to read Feynman), we would encourage you to watch ‘The Character of Physical Law,’ Feynman’s  seven-part lecture series recorded at Cornell in 1964.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics is now listed in our collections of Free eBooks and Free Textbooks.

Photograph by Tom Harvey. Copyright © California Institute of Technology.

via Metafilter

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The Feynman Lectures on Physics, The Most Popular Physics Book Ever Written, Now Completely Online 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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Philosopher Alain Badiou Performs a Scene From His Play, Ahmed The Philosopher (2011)

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 - 11:15 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8MlNpa5-XU

Alain Badiou occupies an odd place in contemporary philosophy. Showered with superlatives like “France’s greatest living philosopher” and “one of the greatest thinkers of our time,” he somehow doesn’t merit even a cursory entry in that definitive academic reference site, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Whether this is simply an editorial oversight or an intentional slight, I am not qualified to say.

Perhaps one of the difficulties of writing concisely on Badiou is that Badiou himself roams far and wide—from Hegel to Lacan, Kant, Marx, Descartes, and even St. Paul. Not easily identifiable as belonging to one school or another, Badiou’s work, though staunchly politically left, resists anti-humanist postmodernism and seeks to ground truth in universals. It’s an unsurprising tack given that he first trained in mathematics.

As if his philosophical work weren’t enough, Badiou also writes novels and plays. Of the latter, his Ahmed the Philosopher: 34 Short Plays for Children & Everyone Else has recently appeared in an English translation by Joseph Litvak. Just above, you can see Litvak as Ahmed and Badiou himself as “a curmudgeonly French demon,” writes Critical Theory, “who takes joy in informing for the police.” Filmed in Germany in 2011,

This scene, entitled “Terror,” serves as a commentary on French xenophobia towards Arab immigrants. Badiou at one point also draws reference to Nazi-occupied France, a sort of “good old days” for Badiou’s callous character.

Badiou as the “demon of the cities” spotlights the brute limitations imposed by violent, unjust police, who summarily execute innocent people in the streets. Taking perverse pleasure in describing such an occurrence, the demon leers, “I like to imagine that I’m hidden behind a curtain. I salivate!” before going on to describe with relish the even uglier scenario of a “bungled” shooting. The audience giggles uneasily, unsure quite how to respond to the exaggerated evil Badiou performs. It seems unthinkable, absurd, their nervous laughter suggests, that anyone but a cartoon devil could take such sadistic delight in this kind of cruelty, much less, as the demon does, initiate it with anonymous libel. It’s an unnerving performance of an even more unnerving piece of writing. Below, you can see more scenes from Ahmed the Philosopher, performed in English sans Badiou at UC Irvine in 2010.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhjbLviBGEg

If you like Badiou as an actor, this may be your only chance to see him perform. However, the extroverted philosopher hopes to break into Hollywood in another capacity—bringing his translation of Plato’s Republic to the screen, with, in his grand design, Brad Pitt in the leading role, Sean Connery as Socrates, and Meryl Streep as “Mrs. Plato.” I wish him all the luck in the world. With the blockbuster success of religous epics like Noah, perhaps we’re primed for a Hollywood version of ancient Greek thought, though like the former film, purists would no doubt find ample reason to fly up in arms over a guaranteed multitude of philosophical blasphemies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nJm8en-uGU

via Critical Theory

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

Philosopher Alain Badiou Performs a Scene From His Play, Ahmed The Philosopher (2011) 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 post Philosopher Alain Badiou Performs a Scene From His Play, Ahmed The Philosopher (2011) appeared first on Open Culture.

Download Footage from Orson Welles’ Long Lost Early Film, Too Much Johnson (1938)

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 - 8:30 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mkdg4MC95B0

We still think of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane as the most impressive debut in film history. In an alternate cinematic reality, however, Welles might have debuted not with a revolutionarily fragmented portrait of a tormented newspaper magnate, but a slapstick farce. This real 1938 production, titled — spare us your jokes — Too Much Johnson, ran aground on not just financial problems, but logistical ones. Welles conceived the film as part of a stage show for his Mercury Theatre company, they of the infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast. An adaptation of  William Gillette’s 1894 play of the same name about a philandering playboy on the run in Cuba, this then-state-of-the-art Too Much Johnson would have given its audiences a filmed as well as a live experience in one. Alas, when Welles had the money to complete post production, he found that the Connecticut theater in which he’d planned a pre-Broadway run didn’t have the ceiling height to accommodate projection.

Long presumed lost after a 1970 fire took Welles’ only print, Too Much Johnson resurfaced in 2008. After a restoration by the George Eastman House museum of film and photography (along with collaborators like Cinemazero and the National Film Preservation Foundation), the film made its debut at last year’s Pordenone Silent Film Festival. Though without its intended context — and for that reason never screened by Welles himself — the film nonetheless won no modest critical acclaim. The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw calls it “breathlessly enjoyable viewing,” praising not just Welles but star Joseph Cotten’s “tremendous movie debut,” an ” affectionate romp through Keystone two-reelers, Harold Lloyd’s stunt slapstick, European serials, Soviet montage and, notably, Welles’s favoured steep expressionist-influenced camera angles.” Bright Lights Film Journal‘s Joseph McBride frames it as “a youthful tribute not only to the spirited tradition of exuberant low comedy but also to the past of the medium [Welles] was about to enter.”

You can download the restored Too Much Johnson footage, and read more about the film and the project of bringing it back to light, at the National Film Preservation Foundation’s site. Or simply click here. (Don’t forget to spend a little time at their donation page as well, given the expense of a restoration like this.) Have a look at the 23-year-old Welles’ handiwork, laugh at its comedy, appreciate its ambition, and ask yourself: does this kid have what it takes to make it in show business?

Find many more silent classic films in our collection, 700 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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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.

Download Footage from Orson Welles’ Long Lost Early Film, Too Much Johnson (1938) 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 post Download Footage from Orson Welles’ Long Lost Early Film, Too Much Johnson (1938) appeared first on Open Culture.

William S. Burroughs Sends Anti-Fan Letter to In Cold Blood Author Truman Capote: “You Have Sold Out Your Talent”

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 - 1:00 am

On July 23, 1970, William S. Burroughs wrote Truman Capote a letter. “This is not a fan letter in the usual sense — unless you refer to ceiling fans in Panama.” Instead, Burroughs’s missive is a poison pen letter, blistering even by the high standards of New York literary circles. Of course, Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, was no stranger to feuds. He often traded witty, venomous barbs with the likes of Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer. Yet Burroughs’s letter comes off as much darker and, with the benefit of hindsight, much more unnerving.

As Thom Robinson thoroughly details in his article for RealityStudio, the two had a long and complicated past filled with professional jealousy and personal disdain. They first met when Burroughs was a struggling writer and Capote was working as a copy boy at The New Yorker in the early 1940s. Burroughs was no doubt rankled by Capote’s meteoric rise to literary stardom just after the war, thanks to some highly-praised short stories that appeared in Harper’s Bazaar and other publications. Burroughs and his fellow Beat writers ridiculed Capote in their private letters. In a letter to Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac described Capote’s work as “full of bull on every page.” When Kerouac’s On the Road was published, Capote dismissed the book by saying, “[it] isn’t writing at all — it’s typing.”

When Naked Lunch was finally released in America in 1962, three years after its publication in France, William S. Burroughs became a literary icon. (Hear Burroughs read Naked Lunch here.) At the same time, Capote was starting to develop a genre he called creative non-fiction, which would eventually culminate with In Cold Blood. When talking about his book in a 1968 interview with Playboy, Capote compared Burroughs’s writing with his own. In Cold Blood “is really the most avant-garde form of writing existent today [...] creative fiction writing has gone as far as it can experimentally. [...] Of course we have writers like William Burroughs, whose brand of verbal surface trivia is amusing and occasionally fascinating, but there’s no base for moving forward in that area.” At another point, Capote quipped, “Norman Mailer thinks [he] is a genius, which I think is ludicrous beyond words. I don’t think William Burroughs has an ounce of talent.”

So when Burroughs put pen to paper in 1970, he already had plenty of reasons to dislike Capote. In the letter, though, Burroughs’s ire was specifically directed at Capote’s dubious ethics in writing In Cold Blood, a book that Burroughs described as “a dull unreadable book which could have been written by any staff writer on The New Yorker.” (Note: You can read an early version of In Cold Blood in The New Yorker itself.)

The spine of In Cold Blood is the first-hand account of convicted killers Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. Capote spent hours interviewing them and in the process grew close to them, especially Smith. In spite of this, Capote did little to help their defense. (This is the subject of not one but two movies, by the way, Capote and Infamous.) Critic Kenneth Tynan, in a scathing review for The Observer, cried foul. “For the first time an influential writer of the front rank has been placed in a position of privileged intimacy with criminals about to die, and–in my view–done less than he might have to save them,” he wrote. “An attempt to help (by supplying new psychiatric testimony) might easily have failed: what one misses is any sign that it was ever contemplated.” The fact of the matter was that the book worked better if they died. Though Capote’s biographer Gerald Clarke argued that there was little that the writer could have done to save the two, he conceded that “Tynan was right when he suggested that Truman did not want to save them.”

Seemingly repulsed by Capote’s entire project, Burroughs took the Tynan’s critique one step further. He argued that Capote not only sold out his subjects but served as a mouthpiece for those in power.

I feel that [Tynan] was much too lenient. Your recent appearance before a senatorial committee on which occasion you spoke in favor of continuing the present police practice of extracting confessions by denying the accused the right of consulting consul prior to making a statement also came to my attention. In effect you were speaking in approval of standard police procedure: obtaining statements through brutality and duress, whereas an intelligent police force would rely on evidence rather than enforced confessions. [...] You have placed your services at the disposal of interests who are turning America into a police state by the simple device of deliberately fostering the conditions that give rise to criminality and then demanding increased police powers and the retention of capital punishment to deal with the situation they have created.

For someone who had frequently been on the wrong end of the law and for someone who spent his life giving voice to the marginalized, this was an anathema. Burroughs then delivered a chilling, voodoo-style curse:

You have betrayed and sold out the talent that was granted you by this department. That talent is now officially withdrawn. Enjoy your dirty money. You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished. Over and out.

Burroughs’ curse seemed to have worked. 1970 was the high-water mark of Capote’s career. He never wrote another novel after In Cold Blood, though he labored for years on a never completed book called Answered Prayers. He spent the rest of his life on a downward alcoholic spiral until his death in 1984.

You can read the entire letter, which is kept at the Burroughs Archive of the New York Public Library’s Berg Collection, below:

July 23, 1970
My Dear Mr. Truman Capote
This is not a fan letter in the usual sense — unless you refer to ceiling fans in Panama. Rather call this a letter from “the reader” — vital statistics are not in capital letters — a selection from marginal notes on material submitted as all “writing” is submitted to this department. I have followed your literary development from its inception, conducting on behalf of the department I represent a series of inquiries as exhaustive as your own recent investigations in the sun flower state. I have interviewed all your characters beginning with Miriam — in her case withholding sugar over a period of several days proved sufficient inducement to render her quite communicative — I prefer to have all the facts at my disposal before taking action. Needless to say, I have read the recent exchange of genialities between Mr. Kenneth Tynan and yourself. I feel that he was much too lenient. Your recent appearance before a senatorial committee on which occasion you spoke in favor of continuing the present police practice of extracting confessions by denying the accused the right of consulting consul prior to making a statement also came to my attention. In effect you were speaking in approval of standard police procedure: obtaining statements through brutality and duress, whereas an intelligent police force would rely on evidence rather than enforced confessions. You further cheapened yourself by reiterating the banal argument that echoes through letters to the editor whenever the issue of capital punishment is raised: “Why all this sympathy for the murderer and none for his innocent victims?” I have in line of duty read all your published work. The early work was in some respects promising — I refer particularly to the short stories. You were granted an area for psychic development. It seemed for a while as if you would make good use of this grant. You choose instead to sell out a talent that is not yours to sell. You have written a dull unreadable book which could have been written by any staff writer on the New Yorker — (an undercover reactionary periodical dedicated to the interests of vested American wealth). You have placed your services at the disposal of interests who are turning America into a police state by the simple device of deliberately fostering the conditions that give rise to criminality and then demanding increased police powers and the retention of capital punishment to deal with the situation they have created. You have betrayed and sold out the talent that was granted you by this department. That talent is now officially withdrawn. Enjoy your dirty money. You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished. Over and out. Are you tracking me? Know who I am? You know me, Truman. You have known me for a long time. This is my last visit.

The polaroids above were taken by Andy Warhol.

via: Flavorwire/Letters of Note/RealityStudio

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550 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free

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 @jonccrowAnd check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring one new drawing of a vice president with an octopus on his head daily. 

William S. Burroughs Sends Anti-Fan Letter to In Cold Blood Author Truman Capote: “You Have Sold Out Your Talent” 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 post William S. Burroughs Sends Anti-Fan Letter to In Cold Blood Author Truman Capote: “You Have Sold Out Your Talent” appeared first on Open Culture.

Fellini’s Three Bank of Rome Commercials, the Last Thing He Did Behind a Camera (1992)

Mon, 25 Aug 2014 - 2:30 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ6daVZsmYA

It happened before, and it still happens now and again today, but in the second half of the twentieth century, auteurs really got into making commercials: Ingmar BergmanJean-Luc GodardDavid Lynch. Not, perhaps, the first names in filmmaking you’d associate with commerciality, but there we have it. Where, though, to place Federico Fellini, director of La Dolce VitaSatyricon, and Amarcord, movies that, while hardly assembled by the numbers, could never resist the entertaining and even pleasurable (or the somehow pleasurably displeasurable) spectacle? On one hand, Fellini went so far as to campaign against commercials airing during the broadcast of motion pictures; on the other hand, he made a few of the things, and not minor ones, either. In a post here on Fellini’s own commercials, Mike Springer referenced a trio shot for the Bank of Rome, quoting on the subject Fellini biographer Peter Bondanella, who notes their inspiration by “various dreams Fellini had sketched out in his dream notebooks,” and other Fellini biographer Tullio Kezich, who describes them as “the golden autumn of a patriarch of cinema who, for a moment, holds again the reins of creation.” Today, we present all three.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JoXDe3zjNI

“Money is everywhere but so is poetry,” Fellini himself once said. “What we lack are the poets.” In these three spots, the creator synonymous with Italian auteurhood brings poetry and money together — even more so than most commercial-making “creative” filmmakers, given the overtly financial nature of the client’s business. You can read more about the project, “the last thing he did behind a camera,” at Sight & Sound: “In 1992, the year before his death, [Fellini] realised his best corporate work. [ … ] Here Fellini comprehended, skilfully conveyed and exposed the ultimate essence of advertising: the creation of needs and fears that the given product will magically solve.” The setup involves Paolo Villaggio as a nightmare-plagued man and Fernando Rey as his attentively listening analyst — and in addition to his professional interests, evidently quite a Bank of Rome enthusiast. The spot at the top of the post includes English subtitles, but as with Fellini’s features, even non-Italophones can expect rich, long-form (by commercial standards) audiovisual experiences watching the other two as well — and ones, unlike any experience you’d have actually stepping into a bank, not quite of this reality. Today, we present all three, the last films Fellini ever made.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7YGBdAsu54

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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.

Fellini’s Three Bank of Rome Commercials, the Last Thing He Did Behind a Camera (1992) 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 post Fellini’s Three Bank of Rome Commercials, the Last Thing He Did Behind a Camera (1992) appeared first on Open Culture.

Flannery O’Connor Explains the Limited Value of MFA Programs: “Competence By Itself Is Deadly”

Mon, 25 Aug 2014 - 2:00 pm

Flannery O’Connor once wrote, “because fine writing rarely pays, fine writers usually end up teaching, and the [MFA] degree, however worthless to the spirit, can be expected to add something to the flesh.” That phrase “worthless to the spirit” contains a great deal of the negative attitude O’Connor expressed toward the institutionalization of creative writing in MFA programs like the one she helped make famous at the University of Iowa. The verbiage comes from an essay she wrote for the alumni magazine of the Georgia College for Women after completing her degree in 1947, quoted in the Chad Harbach-edited collection of essays MFA vs. NYC. Although fresh from the program, O’Connor was already on her way to literary success, having published her first story, “The Geranium,” the year previous and begun work on her first novel, Wise Blood. Nevertheless, her insights on the MFA are not particularly sanguine.

On the one hand, she writes with characteristic dark humor, writing programs can serve as alternatives to “the poor house and the mad house.” In graduate school, “the writer is encouraged or at least tolerated in his odd ways.” An MFA program may offer some small respite from the loneliness and hardship of the writing life, and ultimately provide a credential to be “pronounced upon by his future employers should they chance to be of the academy.” But the time and effort (not to mention the expense, unless one is fully funded) may not be worth the cost, O’Connor suggests. Her own program at Iowa was “designed to cover the writer’s technical needs […], and to provide him with a literary atmosphere which he would not be able to find elsewhere. The writer can expect very little else.”

Later, in her collection of essays Mystery and Manners, O’Connor expressed similar sentiments. Concluding a lengthy discussion on the very limited role of the teacher of creative writing, she concludes that “the teacher’s work is largely negative […] a matter of saying ‘This doesn’t work because…’ or ‘This does work because….’” Remarking on the common observation that universities stifle writers, O’Connor writes, “My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.” Creative writing teachers may nod their heads in agreement, and shake them in frustration. But we should return to that phrase “worthless to the spirit,” for while MFA programs may turn out “competent” writers of fiction, O’Connor admits, they cannot produce “fine writing”:

In the last twenty years the colleges have been emphasizing creative writing to such an extent that you almost feel that any idiot with a nickel’s worth of talent can emerge from a writing class able to write a competent story. In fact, so many people can now write competent stories that the short story as a medium is in danger of dying of competence. We want competence, but competence by itself is deadly. What is needed is the vision to go with it, and you do not get this from a writing class.

O’Connor probably overestimates the degree to which “any idiot” can learn to write with competence, but her point is clear. She wrote these words in the mid-fifties, in an essay titled “The Nature and Aim of Fiction.” As Harbach’s new essay collection demonstrates, the debate about the value of MFA programs—which have expanded exponentially since O’Connor’s day—has not by any means been settled. And while there are certainly those writers, she notes wryly, who can “learn to write badly enough” and “make a great deal of money,” the true artist may be in the same position after the MFA as they were before it, compelled to “chop a path in the wilderness of his own soul; a disheartening process, lifelong and lonesome.”

via Everything That Rises

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Flannery O’Connor’s Satirical Cartoons: 1942-1945

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

Flannery O’Connor Explains the Limited Value of MFA Programs: “Competence By Itself Is Deadly” 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 post Flannery O’Connor Explains the Limited Value of MFA Programs: “Competence By Itself Is Deadly” appeared first on Open Culture.

Saul Bass’ Jazzy 1962 Animation Tackles the 1626 Sale of Manhattan

Mon, 25 Aug 2014 - 11:49 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_2biJELHhE

You know that story about Dutch settlers buying the whole of Manhattan for $24 (or 60 guilders) worth of junk jewelry? Not true. 

What really happened in 1626 is closer in spirit to those old yarns about hapless suckers tricked into buying the Brooklyn Bridge by cunning locals. 

Brooklyn’s Canarsee tribe sold the neighboring island out from under its proper owners, the Wappinger, a confederacy of Algonquin tribes, some of which had recently been at war with Dutch settlers. You think maybe Peter Minuit, New Amsterdam’s Dutch colonial governor, might have been wise to the ruse? 

God bless America! Shady political dealings from the get go!

Given the flimsiness of the historical record, animators Saul Bass and Art Goodman and director Fred Crippen can hardly be blamed for the inaccuracies of their 1962 retelling, above. 

It aired on the Chun King Chow Mein Hour, a television special starring satirist Stan Freberg, whose album “Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America” provided the big Broadway style number that seals the deal with the prospective buyer. Culturally sensitive it ain’t, but there’s no denying it’s a jazzy bit of American history, animated and otherwise.

You’ll find Sale of Manhattan added to our list of animations, part of our larger collection, 700 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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

Saul Bass’ Jazzy 1962 Animation Tackles the 1626 Sale of Manhattan 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 post Saul Bass’ Jazzy 1962 Animation Tackles the 1626 Sale of Manhattan appeared first on Open Culture.

Orson Welles Turns Heart of Darkness Into a Radio Drama, and Almost His First Great Film

Mon, 25 Aug 2014 - 1:00 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8sJdD73Jnk

There’s something about cinematic masterpieces that were never made that tantalize the imagination of film geeks everywhere. What would the world look like if Alejandro Jodorowsky actually managed to make his version of Dune, complete with Pink Floyd score and Moebius designed sets? How would have Stanley Kubrick’s career evolved if he got Napoleon to the screen? And would a collaboration between David Lynch and Dennis Potter, which almost happened with The White Hotel, be as completely amazing as I imagine?

Of all these ill-fated projects, the one that perhaps casts the biggest shadow over cinema is Orson Welles’s attempt to adapt Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. (Find Conrad’s original text in our collection of Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.) In 1939, Welles went to Hollywood, looking to conquer film in the same way that he conquered radio and the stage. By that time, he was already famous for his trailblazing Broadway production of Julius Caesar, his popular Mercury Theater radio program and for scaring the living crap out of the nation with his notorious version of The War of the Worlds. So he presented RKO studio with an audacious, grandiose 174-page script for Heart of Darkness but, after a couple months of wrangling, it proved to be just too audacious and grandiose for the execs. So then Welles pitched them Citizen Kane. That’s right, the film that would go down as the greatest film of all time was a plan B.

If you look at Welles’s script for Darkness, you can see why Hollywood might have thought twice about the project. Welles, who at that point hadn’t actually made a movie, was proposing to radically shake up the grammar of Hollywood storytelling. For instance, the movie was to be shot in the first person, where what the book’s protagonist/narrator Marlow sees is what the audience sees. Robert Montgomery tried the same gimmick a few years later in the adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s Lady in the Lake with mixed results.

Hollywood’s perennial nervousness about movies with overt political overtones is another reason why the movie got scotched. As with his modern reworking of Julius Caesar (find it here), Welles took a strong stance against the rise of fascism in Europe. “You feel that if this film had been made, Hollywood might have been a different place,” said artist Fiona Banner in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. In 2012, she staged the first ever public reading of the script starring actor Brian Cox. “When [Welles] started writing it, fascism wasn’t such a big story in Hollywood, but by the time he finished it, in 1939, it must have been something of a hot potato. That was probably the main reason it didn’t get made. The more I’ve looked into it, the more I’ve realised how close he is to the stuff in Europe, and not just in the obvious ways of giving all these company men that Marlow meets German names. It’s central to the tale.”

Conrad’s story clearly fascinated Welles. As you can see above, he adapted the novella for his radio show in 1938. His producing partner, and legendary actor in his own right, John Houseman speculated why the director was so taken with Darkness.

We had done this Conrad story with only moderate success on the Mercury Theatre of the Air, and while it was a wonderful title, I never quite understood why Orson had chosen such a diffuse and difficult subject for his first film. I think, in part, he was attracted by the sense of corroding evil, the slow, pervasive deterioration through which the dark continent destroys its conqueror and exploiter—Western Man in the person of Kurtz. But, mainly, as we discussed it, I found that he was excited by the device—not an entirely original one—of the Camera Eye. Like many of Orson’s creative notions, it revolved around himself in the double role of director and actor. As Marlow, Conrad’s narrator and moral representative, invisible but ever-present, Orson would have a chance to convey the mysterious currents that run under the surface of the narrative; as Kurtz, he would be playing the character about whom, as narrator, he was weaving this web of conjecture and mystery.

Years later, Welles summed up why Heart of Darkness never got made in an interview with Barbara Leaming. “I wanted my kind of control. They didn’t understand that. There was no quarrelling. It was just two different points of view, absolutely opposite each other. Mine was taken to be ignorance, and I read their position as established dumbheadedness.”

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Orson Welles Explains Why Ignorance Was His Major “Gift” to Citizen Kane

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 @jonccrowAnd check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring one new drawing of a vice president with an octopus on his head daily. 

Orson Welles Turns Heart of Darkness Into a Radio Drama, and Almost His First Great Film 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 post Orson Welles Turns Heart of Darkness Into a Radio Drama, and Almost His First Great Film appeared first on Open Culture.

Jorge Luis Borges Poses with Bread Basket on His Head During a Light Moment

Sun, 24 Aug 2014 - 10:36 am

Let’s give three cheers and quickly celebrate the birthday of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, born on this day in 1899. Above, we have a photo of Borges taken during a seemingly festive moment. According to the blog Me and My Big Mouth, the photo comes from the collection of Norman Thomas di Giovanni, whose biography Georgie and Elsa — Jorge Luis Borges and His Wife: The Untold Story will hit bookstores on September 2 (though it can be pre-ordered now). Paul Theroux calls the bio “a long, satisfying and penetrating gaze into the private life of an acknowledged genius, his work, his evasions, and his peculiar heartaches.”

If you care to turn this celebration into a full-day affair, we’d recommend listening to Borges’ 1967-8 Norton Lectures on Poetry, recorded at Harvard. The 9 lectures provide hours of intellectual stimulation. Or watch the free documentary, Jorge Luis Borges: The Mirror Manwhich one reviewer called  a “bit of everything – part biography, part literary criticism, part hero-worship, part book reading, and part psychology.” 

 You can find a few more Borges favorites from our archive right below.

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Jorge Luis Borges, Film Critic, Reviews Citizen Kane — and Gets a Response from Orson Welles

Jorge Luis Borges Poses with Bread Basket on His Head During a Light Moment 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 post Jorge Luis Borges Poses with Bread Basket on His Head During a Light Moment appeared first on Open Culture.

Miles Davis’ “South Side Chicago Chili Mack” Recipe Revealed

Sat, 23 Aug 2014 - 10:04 am

No one cooked on the trumpet like Miles Davis. And, as it turns out, he was also quite good in the kitchen (see? I spared you a pun). Tired of going out to restaurants, the foodie Davis decided to learn to make his favorite dishes. “I taught myself how to cook by reading books and practicing, just like you do on an instrument,” he wrote in his autobiography, “I could cook most of the French dishes—because I really liked French cooking—and all the black American dishes.”

Davis, writes the Chicago Sun-Times, “knew how to simmer with soul […] He made chili, Italian veal chops and he fried fish in a secret batter.” Davis’ cookbook has disappeared, and he’s apparently taken his recipe secrets to the grave with him. All but one—his favorite, “a chili dish,” he writes, “I called Miles’s South Side Chicago Chili Mack. I served it with spaghetti, grated cheese, and oyster crackers.”

While Davis didn’t exactly spell out the ingredients or instructions for his beloved chili in his memoir, his first wife Frances, whom Davis trusted implicitly with the chili making, submitted the following to Best Life magazine in 2007. While you’re prepping, I recommend you put on 1956’s Cookin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet.

Miles’s South Side Chicago Chili Mack (Serves 6)

1/4 lb. suet (beef fat)
1 large onion
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground pork
salt and pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin seed
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 can beef consommé
1 drop red wine vinegar
3 lb. spaghetti
parmesan cheese
oyster crackers
Heineken beer

1. Melt suet in large heavy pot until liquid fat is about an inch high. Remove solid pieces of suet from pot and discard.
2. In same pot, sauté onion.
3. Combine meats in bowl; season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin.
4. In another bowl, season kidney beans with salt and pepper.
5. Add meat to onions; sauté until brown.
6. Add kidney beans, consommé, and vinegar; simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
7. Add more seasonings to taste, if desired.
8. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, and then divide among six plates.
9. Spoon meat mixture over each plate of spaghetti.
10. Top with Parmesan and serve oyster crackers on the side.
11. Open a Heineken.

Mental Floss, who bring us the above, also cites another recipe Davis learned from his father, quoted by John Szwed in So What: The Life of Miles Davis. This one comes with no instructions, so “like a jazz musician, you’ll have improvise.”

bacon grease
3 large cloves of garlic
1 green, 1 red pepper
2 pounds ground lean chuck
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 jar of mustard
1/2 shot glass of vinegar
2 teaspoons of chili powder
dashes of salt and pepper
pinto or kidney beans
1 can of tomatoes
1 can of beef broth

serve over linguine

Dig it, man.

image by Tom Palumbo

via Mental Floss

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

Miles Davis’ “South Side Chicago Chili Mack” Recipe Revealed 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 post Miles Davis’ “South Side Chicago Chili Mack” Recipe Revealed appeared first on Open Culture.

Watch a Hand-Painted Animation of Dostoevsky’s “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man”

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 - 1:30 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ot45HZNRyzM

Published in 1864, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground has a reputation as the first existentialist novel. It established a template for the genre with a portrait of an isolated man contemptuous of the sordid society around him, paralyzed by doubt, and obsessed with the pain and absurdity of his own existence. Also true to form, the narrative, though it has a plot of sorts, does not redeem its hero in any sense or offer any resolution to his gnawing inner conflict, concluding, literally, as an unfinished text. Thirteen years later, the great Russian writer, his health in decline but his literary reputation and financial prospects much improved, wrote a similar story, “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.”

In this tale, an unnamed narrator also meditates on his absurd state, to the point of suicide. But he observes this spiritual malaise at a distance, recalling the story as an older man from a vantage point of wisdom: “I am a ridiculous person,” the story begins, “Now they call me a madman. That would be a promotion if it were not that I remain as ridiculous in their eyes as before. But now I do not resent it, they are all dear to me now.” This character, unlike Dostoevsky’s bitter underground man, has had a transformative experience—a dream in which he experiences the full moral weight of his choices on a grand scale. In a moment of instant enlightenment, our protagonist becomes a kinder, more humane person concerned with the welfare of others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bn1wEt-JNEA

It is the difference between these two tales which makes the static, internal Underground a very difficult story to adapt to the screen—as far as I know it hasn’t been done—and “Ridiculous Man,” with its vivid dream imagery and dynamic characterization, almost ideal. The 1992 animation (in two parts above) uses painstakingly hand-painted cells to bring to life the alternate world the narrator finds himself navigating in his dream. From the flickering lamps against the dreary, darkened cityscape of the ridiculous man’s waking life to the shifting, sunlit sands of the dreamworld, each detail of the story is finely rendered with meticulous care. Drawn and directed by Russian animator Alexander Petrov—who won an Academy Award for his 1999 adaptation of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea—this is clearly a labor of love, and of tremendous skill and patience.

The technique Petrov uses, writes Galina Saubanova, is one of“Finger Painting”: “Forcing the paint on the glass, the artist draws with his fingers, using brushes only in exceptional cases. One figure is one film frame, which flashes within 1/24 of a second while watching. Petrov draws more than a thousand paintings for one minute of his film.” In Russian with English subtitles taken from Constance Garnett’s translation, the twenty-minute “animated painting” sublimely realizes Dostoevsky’s tale of personal transformation with a lightness and lyricism that a live-action film cannot duplicate, although a 1990 BBC production called “The Dream” certainly has much to recommend it. If you like Petrov’s work, be sure to watch his Old Man and the Sea here. Also online are his short films “The Mermaid” (1997) and “My Love” (2006).

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

 

Watch a Hand-Painted Animation of Dostoevsky’s “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man” 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 post Watch a Hand-Painted Animation of Dostoevsky’s “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man” appeared first on Open Culture.

Everyday Economics: A New Course by Marginal Revolution University Where Students Create the Syllabus

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 - 1:01 pm

In 2012, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, two econ professors at George Mason University, launched Marginal Revolution University (otherwise known as MRUniversity) which delivers free, interactive courses in the economics space. During its early days, MRUniversity created courses on The Great EconomistsDevelopment EconomicsInternational Trade, and The Economic History of the Soviet Union. And now it’s creating a somewhat unconventional new course called Everyday Economics. The course tries to show how economics impacts people’s day-to-day lives. And, rather suitably, MRUniversity is inviting its students — everyday people around the globe — to vote for topics the course should cover. It’s what’s called a “student-driven” course.

The course is being built in stages, and you can already watch lectures (above) from the first section, taught by Don Boudreaux. It covers Trade and Prosperity broadly speaking, and gets into topics like The Hockey Stick of Human Prosperity and How the Division of Knowledge Saved My Son’s Life.

The next section, to be taught by Tyler Cowen, will focus on Food. And right now MRUniversity wants your input on the topics this section might focus on. For example, you might recommend that they explain “Why is tipping so prevalent in restaurants but not in other parts of the economy?” You can make your suggestions here.

What other topics will the course cover as it unfolds? It’s all still TBD. But, again, you’re invited to help shape the syllabus. Bigger picture suggestions are being sought here.

For more courses on the Dismal Science, don’t forget to peruse our list of Free Online Economics Courses. It part of our meta collection called, 1000 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Everyday Economics: A New Course by Marginal Revolution University Where Students Create the Syllabus 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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Shakespeare’s Restless World: A Portrait of the Bard’s Era in 20 Podcasts

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 - 1:00 pm

The BBC’s acclaimed podcast A History of the World in 100 Objects brought us just that: the story of human civilization as told through artifacts from the Egyptian Mummy of Hornedjitef to a Cretan statue of a Minoan Bull-leaper to a Korean roof tile to a Chinese solar-powered lamp. All those 100 items came from the formidable collection held by the British Museum, and any dedicated listener to that podcast will know the name of Neil MacGregor, the institution’s director. Now, MacGregor has returned with another series of historical audio explorations, one much more focused both temporally and geographically but no less deep than its predecessor. The ten-part Shakespeare’s Restless World “looks at the world through the eyes of Shakespeare’s audience by exploring objects from that turbulent period” — i.e., William Shakespeare’s life, which spanned the 1560s to the 1610s: a time of Venetian glass goblets, African sunken gold, chiming clocks, and horrific relics of execution.

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/r4shakespeare/r4shakespeare_20120430-1400a.mp3

These treasures illuminate not only the English but the global affairs of Shakespeare’s day. The Bard lived during a time when murderers plotted against Elizabeth I and James I, England expelled its Moors, Great Britain struggled to unite itself, humanity gained an ever more precise grasp on the keeping of time, and even “civilized” nations got spooked and slaughtered their own. Just as the study of Shakespeare’s plays reveals a world balanced on the tipping point between the modern consciousness and the long, slow awakening that came before, the study of Shakespeare’s time reveals a world that both retains surprisingly vivid elements of its brutal past and has already begun incorporating surprisingly advanced elements of the future to come. Even if you don’t give a hoot about the literary merits of Richard III, Titus Andronicus, or The Merchant of Venice, these real-life stories of political intrigue, gruesome bloodshed, and, er, Venice will certainly hold your attention. You can start with the “tabloid history of Shakespeare’s England” in the first episode of Shakespeare’s Restless World above, then continue on either at the series’ site or on iTunes. And if you find yourself getting into the series, you can get MacGregor’s companion book, Shakespeare’s Restless World: Portrait of an Era.

via Metafilter

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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.

Shakespeare’s Restless World: A Portrait of the Bard’s Era in 20 Podcasts 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 post Shakespeare’s Restless World: A Portrait of the Bard’s Era in 20 Podcasts appeared first on Open Culture.

Charles Schulz Draws Charlie Brown in 45 Seconds and Exorcises His Demons

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 - 1:00 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dS0vUbWdNxg

Would that we had a dime for every cartoonist whose course was charted happily copying Charles Schulz’s seminal strip, Peanuts, while other, more athletic children played together in the fresh air and sunshine.

Such admissions proliferate in interviews and blog posts. They’re nearly as numerous as the online tutorials on drawing such beloved Peanuts characters as Woodstock, Linus Van Pelt, and Schulz’ sad sack stand-in Charlie Brown.

The short video above melds the educational ease of a YouTube how-to with the self-directed, perhaps more artistically pure aspects of the pre-digital experience, as Charles Schulz himself pencils Charlie Brown seated at Schroeder’s toy piano in well under a minute.

You’ll have to watch closely if you want to pick up Sparky’s step-by-step technique. There are no geometric pointers, only a spiritual disclosure that “poor old Charlie Brown” was a scapegoat whose suffering was commensurate with that of his creator.

His voiceover downgrades the psychic pain to the level of lost golf and bridge games, but as cartoonist and former Peanuts copyist Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, pointed out in a 2007 review of David Michaelis’ Schulz biography, Schulz’s unhappiness was deep seated:

Schulz always held his parents in high regard, but they were emotionally remote and strangely inattentive to their only child. Schulz was shy and alienated during his school years, retreating from nearly every opportunity to reveal himself or his gifts. Teachers and students consequently ignored him, and Schulz nursed a lifelong grudge that so few attempted to draw him out or recognized his talent…

Once he finally achieved his childhood dream of drawing a comic strip, however, he was able to expose and confront his inner torments through his creative work, making insecurity, failure and rejection the central themes of his humor. Knowing that his miseries fueled his work, he resisted help or change, apparently preferring professional success over personal happiness. Desperately lonely and sad throughout his life, he saw himself as “a nothing,” yet he was also convinced that his artistic ability made him special.

Good grief. I have a hunch none of this found its way into the lifelong workaholic’s own guide to drawing Peanuts characters. It’s not a secret, however, that a dark side often comes with the territory as a slew of recent autobiographical graphic novels from those drawn to the profession will attest.

Via Kottke

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

Charles Schulz Draws Charlie Brown in 45 Seconds and Exorcises His Demons 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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A Photographic Tour of Haruki Murakami’s Tokyo, Where Dream, Memory, and Reality Meet

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 - 2:40 pm

Last week saw me in line at one of Los Angeles’ most beloved bookstores, waiting for a signed copy of Haruki Murakami’s new novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage upon its midnight release. The considerable hubbub around the book’s entry into English — to say nothing of its original appearance last year in Japanese, when it sold a much-discussed million copies in a single month — demonstrates, 35 years into the author’s career, the world’s unflagging appetite for Murakamiana. Just recently, we featured the artifacts of Murakami’s passion for jazz and a collection of his free short stories online, just as many others have got into the spirit by seeking out various illuminating inspirations of, locations in, and quotations from his work. The author of the blog Randomwire, known only as David, has done all three, and taken photographs to boot, in his grand three-part project of documenting Murakami’s Tokyo: the Tokyo of his beginnings, the Tokyo where he ran the jazz bars in which he began writing, and the Tokyo which has given his stories their otherworldly touch.

Murakami’s “depictions of the loneliness and isolation of modern Japanese life ingratiated him with the country’s youth who often struggle to assert their individuality in the face of societal notions of conformity,” David writes, noting also that “such comparisons fail to do justice to his unique brand of surreal fantasy and urban realism which seamlessly blends together dream, memory and reality against the backdrop of everyday life in Japan.” Knowing the city of Tokyo as well as he knows the Murakami canon, David works his way from the Denny’s where “Mari, while minding her own business, is interrupted by an old acquaintance Takahashi in After Dark“; to Waseda University, alma mater of both Murakami himself and Norwegian Wood‘s protagonist Toru Watanabe; to both locations of Peter Cat, the jazz café and bar Murakami ran with his wife in the 1970s and early 80s; to Meiji Jingu stadium, where Murakami witnessed the home run that somehow convinced him he could write his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing; to DUG, another underground jazz bar visited by students like Toru Watanabe in the 1960s and still open today; to Metropolitan Expressway No. 3, from which 1Q84′s protagonist Aomame climbs down into a parallel reality.

David also drops into spots that, if they don’t count as fully Murakamian, at least count as Murakamiesque, such as an “antique shop-cum-café” opposite the first site of Peter Cat: “Like a surreal plot twist in one of Murakami’s books the scene of me sitting there amongst the mounds of antique junk drinking tea from a porcelain cup was verging on the absurd. More than once I glanced outside the window just to check that the real world hadn’t left me behind.” If you find he missed any patch of Murakami’s Tokyo along the way, let him know; he has, he notes at the end of part three, almost enough for a part four — just as much of Colorless Tsukuru‘s follow-up has no doubt already cohered in Murakami’s imagination, that fruitful meeting place of the real and the absurd. Here are the links to the existing sections: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

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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.

A Photographic Tour of Haruki Murakami’s Tokyo, Where Dream, Memory, and Reality Meet 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 post A Photographic Tour of Haruki Murakami’s Tokyo, Where Dream, Memory, and Reality Meet appeared first on Open Culture.

Moebius’ Storyboards & Concept Art for Jodorowsky’s Dune

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 - 2:00 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fv4F8HasKA

A decade before David Lynch’s flawed but visually brilliant adaptation of Dune hit the silver screen (see our post on that from Monday), another cinematic visionary tried to turn Frank Herbert’s cult book into a movie. And it would have been a mind-bogglingly grand epic.

By 1974, Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky had already directed two masterpieces of cult cinema – El Topo and The Holy Mountain. Both films are hallucinatory fever dreams filled with nudity, violence, Eastern mysticism and pungently surreal images. Jodorowsky himself is what they call in Los Angeles a spiritual wanderer. He threw himself into every variety of religious experience that he could – from shamanism to the Kabbalah to hallucinogens. In preparation for shooting Holy Mountain, the director and his wife reportedly went without sleep for a week while under the care of a Zen master. Not surprisingly, leading figures of the counterculture were big fans. John Lennon personally kicked in a million dollars to finance his movies. When French producers asked Jodorowsky to adapt Dune, he was at the peak of his prestige.

As the 2013 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune shows, the director managed to assemble a jaw-dropping group of talent for the film. This version of Dune was set to star David Carradine, Orson Welles, Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger. It was going to have Pink Floyd do the soundtrack. And it was going to have the then unknown artist H. R. Giger along with French comic book artist Jean Giraud, otherwise known as Moebius, design the sets. Sadly, Jodorowsky’s grand vision proved to be too grand for the film’s financiers and they pulled the plug. The movie clearly belongs in the pantheon – along with Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon and Welles’s Heart of Darkness – of the greatest movies never made. Compared to those other films, though, Jodorowsky’s movie sounds way groovier.

Of all the talent lined up for the project, Moebius proved to be central to helping Jodorowsky realize his grandiose vision during pre-production. Below Jodorowsky describes how the famed, and blindly fast, illustrator proved indispensable to him. Above is a clip from Jodorowsky’s Dune, where the director and Moebius describe more or less the same story.

I needed a precise script… I wanted to carry out film on paper before filming it… These days all films with special effects are done as that, but at the time this technique was not used. I wanted a draughtsman of comic strips who has the genius and the speed, who can be used as a camera and who gives at the same time a visual style… I was by chance with my second warrior: Jean Giraud alias Moebius. I say to him: “If you accept this work, you must all give up and leave tomorrow with me to Los Angeles to speak with Douglas Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey)”. Moebius asked for a few hours to think about it. The following day, we left for the United States. It would take too a long time to tell… Our collaboration, our meetings in America with the strange ones illuminated and our conversations at seven o’clock in the morning in the small coffee which was in bottom of our workshops and which by “chance” was called Café the Universe. Giraud made 3000 drawings, all marvelous… The script of Dune, thanks to his talent, is a masterpiece. One can see living the characters; one follows the movements of camera. One visualizes cutting, the decorations, the costumes…

In this post, you can see some of the storyboards and concept art that Moebius produced. (More can be found at Duneinfo.com.) Looking at them, you can’t help but wonder how cinema history would be different if this film ever hit the theaters.

Via Coudal

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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 @jonccrowAnd check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring one new drawing of a vice president with an octopus on his head daily. 

Moebius’ Storyboards & Concept Art for Jodorowsky’s Dune 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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