a few days away from the lighthouse.
Friends' Entries 

Posted by Dan Colman

Right now, PBS is in the midst of airing The Vietnam War, a ten-part, 18-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. The "immersive 360-degree narrative" tells "the epic story of the Vietnam War," using never-before-seen footage and interviews. If you're not watching the series on the TV, you can also view it on the web and through PBS apps for smartphones, tablets, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Episode 1 appears above. Find all of them here.

Note: If these videos don't stream outside of the US, we apologize in advance. Sometimes PBS geo-restricts their videos. Also, these videos likely won't stay online forever. If you're interested in watching the series, I'd get going sooner than later.

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. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Related Content:

Mickey Mouse In Vietnam: The Underground Anti-War Animation from 1968, Co-Created by Milton Glaser

An Aging Louis Armstrong Sings “What a Wonderful World” in 1967, During the Vietnam War & The Civil Rights Struggle

What Is Apocalypse Now Really About? An Hour-Long Video Analysis of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam Masterpiece

Stream Online <i>The Vietnam War</i>, the New Documentary by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick 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.

Posted by Satisfied '75

On her fourth album under the Weather Station banner, Toronto-based songwriter and actor Tamara Lindeman steps into a new light. Though the self-titled LP is every bit as gorgeous and engrossing as previous triumphs like All Of It Was Mine and Loyalty, it’s looser, more enraged, and far more restless. “I had to get so ruthless, to cut […]


Posted by Ayun Halliday

Remember when bloody, bloody Andrew Jackson seemed like a shoe in for Best Sepulchral Historical Figure Brought Back to Life by an American Musical?

Alas for the 7th President, a little juggernaut called Hamilton came along, and just like that, it was the first Treasury Secretary and author of the Federalist Papers who had a fan base on the order of Beatlemania.

Teachers, historians, and librarians thrilled to reports of kids singing along with the Hamilton soundtrack. Playwright and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda’s clever rap lyrics ensured that young Hamilfans (and their parents, who reportedly were never allowed to listen to anything else in the car) would become well versed in their favorite founding father’s personal and professional history.

Out of town visitors who spend upwards of a month’s grocery budget for Broadway tickets voluntarily side trip way uptown to tour Hamilton Grange. The insatiable selfie imperative drives them to Central Park and Museum of the City of New York in search of larger than life sculptures. They take the PATH train to Weehawken to pay their respects in the spot where Hamilton was felled by Aaron Burr

Hamilton merchandise, needless to say, is selling briskly. Books, t-shirts, jewelry, bobble heads commemorative mugs…

The Library of Congress is not out to cash in on this cultural moment in the monetary sense. But "given the increased interest in Hamilton," says Julie Miller, a curator of early American manuscripts, it's no accident that the Library has taken pains to digitize 12,000 Hamilton documents and make them available on the web. The collection includes speeches, a draft of the Reynolds Pamphlet, financial accounts, school exercises and correspondence, both personal and public, encompassing such marquee names as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, and George Washington.

One need not be a musical theater fan to appreciate the emotion of the letter he wrote to his wife, Elizabeth Schuyler, on the eve of his fateful duel with Aaron Burr:

I need not tell you of the pangs I feel, from the idea of quitting you and exposing you to the anguish which I know you would feel. . . . Adieu best of wives and best of Women. Embrace all my darling Children for me.

Explore the Library of Congress’ Hamilton collection here.

And enter the online lottery for $10 Hamilton tickets because, hey, somebody’s got to win.

via Theater Mania

Related Content:

Discover Thomas Jefferson’s Cut-and-Paste Version of the Bible, and Read the Curious Edition Online

Watch a Witty, Gritty, Hardboiled Retelling of the Famous Aaron Burr-Alexander Hamilton Duel

“Alexander Hamilton” Performed with American Sign Language

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

Hamilton Mania Inspires the Library of Congress to Put 12,000 Alexander Hamilton Documents 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.

Posted by Colin Marshall

Devotees of print may object, but we readers of the 21st century enjoy a great privilege in our ability to store a practically infinite number of digitized books on our computers. What's more, those computers have themselves shrunk down to such compactness that we can carry them around day and night without discomfort. This would hardly have worked just forty years ago, when books came only in print and a serious computer could still fill a room. The paper book may remain reasonably competitive even today with the convenience refined over hundreds and hundreds of years, but its first handmade generations tended toward lavish, weighty decoration and formats that now look comically oversized.

These posed real problems of unwieldiness, one solution to which took the unlikely form of the bookwheel. In 1588's The Various and Ingenious Machines of Captain Agostino Ramelli, the Italian engineer of that name "outlined his vision for a wheel-o-books that would employ the logic of other types of wheel (water, Ferris, 'Price is Right', etc.) to rotate books clockwork-style before a stationary user," writes the Atlantic's Megan Garber.

The design used "epicyclic gearing — a system that had at that point been used only in astronomical clocks — to ensure that the shelves bearing the wheel's books (more than a dozen of them) would remain at the same angle no matter the wheel's position. The seated reader could then employ either hand or foot controls to move the desired book pretty much into her (or, much more likely, his) lap." This rotating bookcase gave 16th century readers the ability to read heavy books in place, with far greater ease.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kuc40J6iQH4&start=190Video can't be loaded: Roue à livres dans le Métavers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kuc40J6iQH4&start=190)

In his 1588  book, Ramelli added:

This is a beautiful and ingenious machine, very useful and convenient for anyone who takes pleasure in study, especially those who are indisposed and tormented by gout. For with this machine a man can see and turn through a large number of books without moving from one spot. Moveover, it has another fine convenience in that it occupies very little space in the place where it is set, as anyone of intelligence can clearly see from the drawing.

Inventors all over Europe created their own versions of the bookwheel during the 17th and 18th centuries, fourteen examples of which still exist. (The one pictured in the middle of the post, built around 1650, now resides in Leiden.) Just above you can seen a bookwheel reconstructed and operational in a virtual reality MMORPG, a technology beyond the wildest dreams of Ramelli and his colleagues in imaginative engineering. Even architect Daniel Libeskind has built one, based on Ramelli's design and exhibited in his homeland at the 1986 Venice Biennale. Alas, after it went to Geneva for an exhibition at the Palais Wilson, it fell victim to a terrorist fire bombing. Innovation, it seems, will always have its enemies.

Related Content:

Discover the Jacobean Traveling Library: The 17th Century Precursor to the Kindle

The Art of Making Old-Fashioned, Hand-Printed Books

Wonderfully Weird & Ingenious Medieval Books

Wearable Books: In Medieval Times, They Took Old Manuscripts & Turned Them into Clothes

800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, 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.

Behold the “Book Wheel”: The Renaissance Invention Created to Make Books Portable & Help Scholars Study (1588) 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.

Posted by Josh Jones

Imagine you could talk to Hieronymus Bosch, the authors of the Book of Revelation, or of the Voynich Manuscript—a bizarre 15th century text written in an uncrackable code; that you could solve centuries-old mysteries by asking them, “what were you thinking?” You might be disappointed to hear them say, as does Luigi Serafini, author and illustrator of the Codex Seraphinianus, “At the end of the day [it’s] similar to the Rorschach inkblot test. You see what you want to see. You might think it’s speaking to you, but it’s just your imagination.”

If you were a longtime devotee of an intensely symbolic, mythic text, you might refuse to believe this. It must mean something, fans of the Codex have insisted since the book’s appearance in 1981. It shares many similarities with the Voynich Manuscript (highlighted on our site last week), save its relatively recent vintage and living author: both the Seraphinianus and the Voynich seem to be compendiums of an otherworldly natural science and art, and both are written in a wholly invented language.

Serafini tells Wired he thinks Voynich is a fake. “The Holy Roman Emperor Rudulf II loved ancient manuscripts; somebody swindled him and spread the rumor that it was original. The idea of made-up languages is not new at all.” As for his own made-up language in the Codex, he avers, “I always said that there is no meaning behind the script; it’s just a game.” But it is not a hoax. Though he hasn’t minded the money from the book’s cult popularity, he created the book, he says, “trying to reach out to my fellow people, just like bloggers do.” It is, he says, "the product of a generation that chose to connect and create a network, rather than kill each other in wars like their fathers did."

The Codex, writes Abe books, who made the short video review above, is “essentially an encyclopedia about an alien world that clearly reflects our own, each chapter appears to deal with key facets of this surreal place, including flora, fauna, science, machines, games and architecture.” That’s only a guess given the unintelligible language.

The illustrations seem to draw from Bosch, Leonardo da Vinci, and the medieval travelogue as much as from the surrealism of contemporary European artists like Fantastic Planet animator René Laloux. (Justin Taylor at The Believer points to a number of similar 20th century texts, like Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings.)

Serafini has been delighted to see an extensive internet community coalesce around the book, and has had his fun with it. He “now states,” writes Dangerous Minds, “that a stray white cat that joined him while he created the Codex in Rome in the 1970s was actually the real author, telepathically guiding Serafini as he drew and ‘wrote.’” You can now, thanks to a recent, relatively affordable edition published by Rizzoli, purchase your copy of the Codex. Buy now, I’d say. First editions of the book now fetch upwards of $5000, and the its popularity shows no sign of slowing. Also check out the more recent Codex Seraphinianus wall calendar.

Related Content:  

Behold the Mysterious Voynich Manuscript: The 15th-Century Text That Linguists & Code-Breakers Can’t Understand

Wonderfully Weird & Ingenious Medieval Books

Carl Jung’s Hand-Drawn, Rarely-Seen Manuscript The Red Book: A Whispered Introduction

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

An Introduction to the <I>Codex Seraphinianus</I>, the Strangest Book Ever Published 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.

Posted by ephemeralnewyork

The only thing better than a vintage postcard of the Flatiron Building is a postcard that decorates the Flatiron in glitter—which isn’t as easy to see in this image but makes the actual postcard pop.

The building is 115 years old this year, an icon at the nexus of Fifth Avenue and Broadway is the subject of early photographs and Impressionist paintings.

It’s hard not to look at it and agree with photographer Alfred Stieglitz when he said it “appeared to be moving toward me like the bow of a monster steamer.”


Posted by ephemeralnewyork

Is there anything quite as enchanting as coming across a quiet hidden courtyard in the middle of a dense Manhattan neighborhood?

It’s especially magical when the courtyard is just a quick walk from the hustle and bustle of Times Square. That was my reaction when I took a walk through tiny Clinton Court in Hell’s Kitchen.

This secret space is about halfway down the busy tenement block between 9th and 10th Avenues. It’s accessible through a long slender walkway behind a heavy iron door, which you can find to the right of the residence at 422 West 46th Street.

The door is locked, of course. But it’s worth the trip if you can catch a glimpse of the courtyard from the street through the door.

And if you can convince a resident to let you in and see Clinton Court up close, you’ll want to grab your camera.

Clinton Court is an oasis of tall trees and lush gardens. The courtyard is steps from the back entrances for 420 and 422 West 46th Street (with their ivy-covered walls).

And right in the center is an entirely separate carriage house, with a facade right out of New Orleans or Paris, or a fairy tale.

The carriage house has an unclear history. It was probably built in 1871 by the builder who put up the tenement at number 422.

This was approximately 20 years after 420 West 46th Street went up in the 1850s—before Hell’s Kitchen filled up and became a poor Irish neighborhood of factories, warehouses, and small businesses in the decades after the Civil War. (And long before the neighborhood got its colorful nickname.)

The carriage house “had horse stalls on the ground floor, but occupancy of the upper floors at this time is unclear—in the 1880’s a milkman, Jacob Michels, occupied the entire structure,” wrote Christopher Gray in a 1992 New York Times piece.

Yet some sources have it that the carriage house dates back to the 1820s and was owned by George Clinton, governor of New York at the turn of the 19th century and a descendant of DeWitt Clinton, who has a park named after him in the neighborhood.

With Halloween coming up, it might be worth mentioning that a couple of sources claims the place is haunted either by Governor Clinton himself, one of his kids, or by an executed British Revolutionary War sailor named Old Moor, as the site of Clinton Court occupies an former potter’s field cemetery.

The carriage house’s history becomes clearer in the 20th century. “In 1919, Raffaello and Frank Menconi, prominent architectural sculptors, purchased both 420 and 422 and merged the lots,” wrote Gray.

The Menconis are the designers behind the flagpole bases outside the New York Public Library, among other city sculpture icons.

“They added a one-story studio with a skylight on the rear lot of 420 and occupied the entire rear building for their business.”

In 1958, the tenements at 420 and 422 West 46th Street, the carriage house, and the studio became one single apartment complex entity, says Gray—serene seclusion steeped in New York history and mere steps from Midtown.


Posted by ephemeralnewyork

Ephemeral reader Steven O. recently sent me a photo of ghostly signage above a storefront at 180 Ninth Avenue.

Fika, the Swedish coffee chain, had occupied the spot and then moved—leaving behind the faded lettering of what appears to be a 19th century store advertising oils, glass, varnish, and other supplies possibly sold by a ship chandler.

The lettering reminded me of the faded outline of the old sign for Utah House, a hotel from the 1850s at Eighth Avenue and 25th Street—which came back into view briefly in 2013 during a building renovation.

Intrigued that the Ninth Avenue sign could also be from the 1850s, I visited the storefront, which is in a red-brick tenement building . . . only to see the lettering covered by black boards.

A little research looking into this address during the 19th century didn’t turn up any store that sounded like they would be selling these items. A poultry dealer, a fruit stand, and possibly a merchant selling corn salve all occupied the site.

But whatever business this was, what a shame that a remnant of New York history is once again out of view.

The Facebook group Ghost Signs has more on this and other old signage in New York and other locations.

[Photo credit: Simone Weissman]


24th-Sep-2017 08:00 pm - Anthony Hernandez Interview: Forever

Posted by Peter Baker

“I went down there and saw all these little paintings of landscapes, houses, little beautiful scenes. The light on that picture is from reflections of cars going underneath the freeway. The...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Posted by Dan Colman

If you need to make movies, if you feel like you can't rest until you've told this particular story that you're burning to tell, then Martin Scorsese has a course for you. Through MasterClass, the director of Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, and Mean Streets is now set to teach his first online course. According to the video trailer above, Scorsese will explore in 20+ lessons everything from cinematography and editing, to working with actors, on-set directing, and developing a personal filmmaking style. The $90 course won't be released until early 2018, but anyone who pre-enrolls now will get early access to the class.

While you wait, you can also take Werner Herzog's own course on filmmaking (also offered through MasterClass). Or explore Scorsese's lists of recommended films that we've previously featured here on Open Culture. Find them in the Relateds right below.

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. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Note: MasterClass is one of our partners. So if you sign up for a course, it benefits not just you and MasterClass. It benefits Open Culture too. So consider it win-win-win.

Other MasterClass courses worth exploring include:

Related Content:

Martin Scorsese Creates a List of 39 Essential Foreign Films for a Young Filmmaker

Martin Scorsese Makes a List of 85 Films Every Aspiring Filmmaker Needs to See

Martin Scorsese Names His Top 10 Films in the Criterion Collection

Great Filmmakers Offer Advice to Young Directors: Tarantino, Herzog, Coppola, Scorsese, Anderson, Fellini & More

Werner Herzog Teaches His First Online Course on Filmmaking

 

Martin Scorsese to Teach His First Online Course on Filmmaking 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.

Posted by Josh Jones

Science denialism may be a deeply entrenched and enormously damaging political phenomenon. But it is not a wholly practical one, or we would see many more people abandon medical science, air travel, computer technology, etc. Most of us tacitly agree that we know certain truths about the world—gravitational force, navigational technology, the germ theory of disease, for example. How do we acquire such knowledge, and how do we use the same method to test and evaluate the many new claims we're bombarded with daily?

The problem, many professional skeptics would say, is that we’re largely unaware of the epistemic criteria for our thinking. We believe some ideas and doubt others for a host of reasons, many of them having nothing to do with standards of reason and evidence scientists strive towards. Many professional skeptics even have the humility to admit that skeptics can be as prone to irrationality and cognitive biases as anyone else.

Carl Sagan had a good deal of patience with unreason, at least in his writing and television work, which exhibits so much rhetorical brilliance and depth of feeling that he might have been a poet in another life. His style and personality made him a very effective science communicator. But what he called his “Baloney Detection Kit,” a set of “tools for skeptical thinking,” is not at all unique to him. Sagan’s principles agree with those of all proponents of logic and the scientific method. You can read just a few of his prescriptions below, and a full unabridged list here.

Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”

Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.

Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.

Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives.

Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.

Another skeptic, founder and editor of Skeptic magazine Michael Shermer, surrounds his epistemology with a sympathetic neuroscience frame. We’re all prone to “believing weird things,” as he puts it in his book Why People Believe Weird Things and his short video above, where he introduces, following Sagan, his own “Baloney Detection Kit.” The human brain, he explains, evolved to see patterns everywhere as a matter of survival. All of our brains do it, and we all get a lot of false positives.

Many of those false positives become widespread cultural beliefs. Shermer himself has been accused of insensitive cultural bias (evident in the beginning of his video), intellectual arrogance, and worse. But he admits up front that scientific thinking should transcend individual personalities, including his own. “You shouldn’t believe anybody based on authority or whatever position they might have,” he says. “You should check it out yourself.”

Some of the ways to do so when we encounter new ideas involve asking “How reliable is the source of the claim?” and “Have the claims been verified by somebody else?” Returning to Sagan’s work, Shermer offers an example of contrasting scientific and pseudoscientific approaches—the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute and UFO believers. The latter, he says, uncritically seek out confirmation for their beliefs, where the scientists at SETI rigorously try to disprove hypotheses in order to rule out false claims.

Yet it remains the case that many people—and not all of them in good faith—think they’re using science when they aren’t. Another popular science communicator, physicist Richard Feynman, recommended one method for testing whether we really understand a concept or whether we’re just repeating something that sounds smart but makes no logical sense, what Feynman calls “a mystic formula for answering questions.” Can a concept be explained in plain English, without any technical jargon? Can we ask questions about it and make direct observations that confirm or disconfirm its claims?

Feynman was especially sensitive to what he called “intellectual tyranny in the name of science.” And he recognized that turning forms of knowing into empty rituals resulted in pseudoscientific thinking. In a wonderfully rambling, informal, and autobiographical speech he gave in 1966 to a meeting of the National Science Teachers Association, Feynman concluded that thinking scientifically as a practice requires skepticism of science as an institution.

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” says Feynman. “If they say to you, ‘Science has shown such and such,’ you might ask, ‘How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?’” Asking such questions does not mean we should reject scientific conclusions because they conflict with cherished beliefs, but rather that we shouldn't take even scientific claims on faith.

For elaboration on Shermer, Sagan and Feynman's approaches to telling good scientific thinking from bad, read these articles in our archive:

Carl Sagan Presents His “Baloney Detection Kit”: 8 Tools for Skeptical Thinking

Richard Feynman Creates a Simple Method for Telling Science From Pseudoscience (1966)

Richard Feynman’s “Notebook Technique” Will Help You Learn Any Subject–at School, at Work, or in Life

Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: What to Ask Before Believing

 

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

How Can We Know What is True? And What Is BS? Tips from Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman & Michael Shermer 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.

Posted by Satisfied '75

Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST. SIRIUS 495: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ The Fall – The Classical ++ Omni – Equestrian ++ Thee Oh Sees – Girls Who Smile ++ Omni – Afterlife […]


Posted by Dan Colman

It's worth taking note of this: In a newly-released audiobook, Lin-Manuel Miranda (the creator and star of Hamilton) narrates Junot Diaz's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Above and below, listen to excerpts of an unabridged reading that lasts nearly 10 hours. And also note that Miranda is joined at points by Tony Award-winning actress, Karen Olivo.

If you're tempted to hear the full production, you can purchase the audiobook online. Or you can download it for free by signing up for Audible's 30-day free trial. As I've mentioned before, if you register for Audible's free trial program, they let you download two free audiobooks. At the end of 30 days, you can decide whether you want to become an Audible subscriber (as I have) or not. No matter what you decide, you get to keep the two free audiobooks. Miranda's reading of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao can be one of them.

For anyone who wants free readings of Diaz stories, see our post: 7 Short Stories by Junot Díaz Free Online, In Text and Audio.

NB: We have a partnership with Audible.com. So, if you give their program a try, it will help support Open Culture.

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. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Related Content:

Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda Creates a 19-Song Playlist to Help You Get Over Writer’s Block

A Sneak Peek at Junot Díaz’s Syllabi for His MIT Writing Classes, and the Novels on His Reading List

Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda Creates a Playlist of Protest Music for Our Troubled Times

“Alexander Hamilton” Performed with American Sign Language

Lin-Manuel Miranda Reads Junot Diaz’s <i>The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao</i> 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.

Posted by Colin Marshall

It surprised everyone, even die-hard fans, when Wes Anderson announced that he would not just adapt Roald Dahl's children's book Fantastic Mr. Fox for the screen, but do it with stop-motion animation. But after we'd all given it a bit of thought, it made sense: Anderson's films and Dahl's stories do share a certain sense of inventive humor, and stepping away from live action would finally allow the director of such detail-oriented pictures as RushmoreThe Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou fuller control over the visuals. Eight years later, we find Anderson overseeing another team of animators to tell another, even more fantastical-looking story, this one set not in an England of the past but a Japan of the future.

There, according to the project's newly released trailer, "canine saturation has reached epic proportions. An outbreak of dog flu rips through the city of Megasaki. Mayor Kobayashi issues emergency orders calling for a hasty quarantine. Trash Island becomes an exile colony: the Isle of Dogs." Equals in furriness, if not attire, to Fantastic Mr. Fox's woodland friends and voiced by the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Scarlet Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and of course Bill Murray (in a cast also including Japanese performers like Ken Watanabe, Mari Natsuki, and Yoko Ono — yes, that Yoko Ono), the canines of various colors and sizes forcibly relocated to the bleak titular setting must band together into a kind of ragtag family.

Anderson must find himself very much at home in this thematic territory by now. It would also have suited the towering figure in Japanese film to whom Isle of Dogs pays tribute. Although Anderson has cited the 1960s and 70s stop-animation holiday specials of Rankin/Bass like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Little Drummer Boy — all produced, incidentally, in Japan — as one inspiration, he also said on an ArteTV Q&A earlier this year that “the new film is really less influenced by stop-motion movies than it is by Akira Kurosawa.” Perhaps he envisioned Atari Kobayashi, the boy who journeys to Trash Island to retrieve his lost companion, as a twelve-year-old version of one of Kurosawa's lone heroes.

And perhaps it owes to Kurosawa that the setting — at least from what the trailer reveals — combines elements of an imagined future with the look and feel of Japan's rapidly developing mid-20th century, a period that has long fascinated Anderson in its European incarnations but one captured crisply in Kurosawa's homeland in crime movies like High and Low and The Bad Sleep Well. Anderson has made little to no reference to the Land of the Rising Sun before, but his interest makes sense: no land better understands what Anderson has expressed more vividly with every project, the richness of the aesthetic mixture of the past and future that always surrounds us. And from what I could tell on my last visit there, its dog situation remains blessedly under control — for now.

via Uncrate

Related Content:

A Complete Collection of Wes Anderson Video Essays

The Geometric Beauty of Akira Kurosawa and Wes Anderson’s Films

Wes Anderson & Yasujiro Ozu: New Video Essay Reveals the Unexpected Parallels Between Two Great Filmmakers

Accidental Wes Anderson: Every Place in the World with a Wes Anderson Aesthetic Gets Documented by Reddit

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, 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.

Watch the New Trailer for Wes Anderson’s Stop Motion Film, <i>Isle of Dogs</i>, Inspired by Akira Kurosawa 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.

Posted by Ayun Halliday

For every august personage who’s taken a crack Edgar Allan Poe’s evergreen poem, "The Raven," there are thousands more who haven’t.

Humorist Jordan Monsell is doing what he can to close that gap, providing a sampling of 100 mostly male, mostly white, mostly human celebrity voices. It’s a solo recitation, but vocally a collaborative one, with a fair number of animated characters making their way into the credits, too.

He certainly knows how to cast outside the box. Traditional Poe interpreters such as Vincent Price and John Astin bring some well established creep cred to the enterprise. Monsell picks Christopher Walken and Christopher Lee already have existing takes on this classic, and Anthony Hopkins and Willem Dafoe are welcome additions.

But what to make of Jerry Seinfeld, Pee-Wee Herman, Johnny Cash… and even poetry lover Bill Murray? Manic and much missed Robin Williams may offer a clue. What good is having an arsenal of impressions if you’re not willing to roll them out in rapid succession?

While some of Monsell's impersonations (cough, David Bowie) fall a bit short of the mark, others will have you regretting that no one had the forethought to record Don Knotts or JFK reciting the poem in its entirety.

The titles offer a bit of a misnomer. In many instances, it’s not really the performers but their best known characters being aped. While there may not be too great a vocal divide between playwright Wallace Shawn and Vizzini in The Princess Bride, The Dude is not Jeff Bridges, any more than Captain Jack Sparrow is Johnny Depp.

The project seems likely to play best with nerdy adolescent boys… which could be good news for teachers looking to get reluctant readers onboard. Show it on the classroom Smart Board, and be prepared to have mini-teach-ins on Katharine Hepburn, Walter Matthau, the late great Robert Shaw, and other big names whose day has passed. Shrek, Gollum, and Harry Potter’s house elf, Dobby, are on hand to keep the references from feeling too moldy.

The specter of Poe gets the coveted final word, a balm to the ears after the triple assault of Christian Bale’s Batman, Mad Max’s Tom Hardy, and Heath Ledger’s Joker. (It may be a matter of taste. You’ll hear no complaint from these quarters with regard to Mickey Mouse, Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion, or The Simpson’s Krusty the Klown, wonderfully unctuous.)

The breakneck audio patchwork approach doesn’t do much for reading comprehension, but could lead to a lively middle school discussion on what constitutes a successful performance. Who served the text best? Readers?

Furthermore, who’s missing? What voice would you add to the Monsell’s roll call, below?

Morgan Freeman

Kermit the Frog

Johnny Cash

Ringo Starr

David Bowie

Rick Moranis

Gary Oldman

Peter Lorre

Adam Sandler

Don Knotts

William Shatner

George Takei

Michael Dorn

Daffy Duck

Ricky Gervais

Foghorn Leghorn

Liam Neeson

Nicholas Cage

John Travolta

Anthony Hopkins

Rod Serling

Cookie Monster

Jay Baruchel

Jeff Bridges

Johnny Depp

Archer

Dr. Phil

Gollum

Mandy Patinkin

Wallace Shawn

Billy Crystal

Owen Wilson

Dustin Hoffman

Krusty the Klown

Apu

Christian Bale

Michael Caine

Tom Hardy

Heath Ledger

Mickey Mouse

John Wayne

Jerry Seinfeld

Phil Hartman

Goofy

Al Pacino

Marlon Brando

Jack Lemmon

Walter Matthau

Christopher Walken

Rowlf the Dog

John Cleese

Robin Williams

Katharine Hepburn

Woody Allen

Matthew McConaughey

Cowardly Lion

Jimmy Stewart

John C. Reilly

James Mason

Sylvester Stallone

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Stewie

Daniel Day Lewis

Maggie Smith

Alan Rickman

Dobby

Jack Nicholson

Christoph Waltz

Bill Murray

Dan Aykroyd

Sean Connery

Bill Cosby

Christopher Lloyd

Droopy Dog

Kevin Spacey

Harrison Ford

Ronald Reagan

JFK

Bill Clinton

Keanu Reeves

Ian McKellen

Paul Giamatti

Sebastian

Stan Lee

Jeff Goldblum

Hugh Grant

Kenneth Branagh

Larry the Cable Guy

Pee-Wee Herman

Shrek

Donkey

Charlton Heston

Michael Keaton

Homer Simpson

Yoda

Willem Dafoe

Bruce Willis

Robert Shaw

Christopher Lee

Edgar Allan Poe

Related Content:

Hear Classic Readings of Poe’s “The Raven” by Vincent Price, James Earl Jones, Christopher Walken, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee & More

Edgar Allan Poe’s the Raven: Watch an Award-Winning Short Film That Modernizes Poe’s Classic Tale

The Grateful Dead Pays Tribute to Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in a 1982 Concert: Hear “Raven Space”

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

A Reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in 100 Celebrity Voices 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.

Posted by Satisfied '75

Histoire De Melody Vannier: Sixty slices of rare, vintage Parisian prog and pop-psych from the musical mind of Jean-Claude Vannier. A name likely familiar to the cognoscere surrounding his work with Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson, the French composer Jean-Claude Vannier was paid a loving tribute in 2008 via Andy Votel’s kaleidoscopic medley of […]


Posted by Dan Colman

Roxana Küwen is a German-born circus artist who "likes to take her audience into her world and make them be astonished, confused or amazed by playing with categories and presence." Witness the video above, where Küwen does something quite simple. She puts her feet next to her hands and moves her 20 digits in unison. Familiar body parts are put into strange motion, leaving you feeling charmed. But also a bit disconcerted.

Then Roxana starts her foot juggling routine. It's not the most high velocity, risk-filled juggling act. The balls move slowly and never get more than a few feet off of the ground. There's a strange simplicity to it, though captivating nonetheless. 

Related Content

Watch Alexander Calder Perform His “Circus,” a Toy Theatre Piece Filled With Amazing Kinetic Wire Sculptures

Watch Marcel Marceau Mime The Mask Maker, a Story Created for Him by Alejandro Jodorowsky (1959)

How Marcel Marceau Started Miming to Save Children from the Holocaust

Circus Artist Roxana Küwen Will Captivate You with Her Foot Juggling Routine 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.

Posted by Sunil Shah

"Luc Sante, an American writer and photographer, who was from Belgium originally, said my pictures look like unexploded bombs, there is so much energy in them. They look quiet, but inside, they are...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Posted by Ted Mills

“Break Free” is a new song by Taryn and Amper. The former, Taryn Southern, is a musician and singer popular on Youtube. The latter, however, is not human at all. Instead, Amper is an artificially intelligent music composer, producer and performer, developed by a combination of “music and technology experts” and now put to the test, being the engine behind Taryn’s single and eventually a full album, tentatively called I AM AI.

To understand what is Taryn and what is Amper in this project, the singer talks about it in this Verge interview:

The way it works is to give the platform certain input like BPM, instrumentation that I like, genre, key, etc. The platform will spit a song out at me, and then I can iterate from there, making adjustments to the instruments and the key. I can even change the genre or emotional feel or the song, until I get something that I’m relatively happy with. Once I have that, I download all the stems of the instrumentation to build actual song structure.

What Amper’s really good at is composing and producing instrumentation, but it doesn’t yet understand song structure. It might give you a verse or the chorus and it’s up to me to stitch these pieces together so that it sounds like something familiar you would hear on the radio. Once I’m happy with the song, then I write the vocal melody and lyrics.

The key sentence for cynics is the second to last one. Amper delivers the familiar, or rather, Taryn makes Amper work until she gets something familiar. AI is not at the stage yet where it might surprise us with a decision, except in the cases where it goes spectacularly wrong. Right now it’s very good at learning patterns, at imitating, at delivering a variation on a theme. (That’s why it’s really good at imitation Bach, for example.)

We could imagine, however, a future where AI would be able to take a number of musical elements, styles, and genres and come out with a hybrid that we’ve never heard before. And would that be any better than having a human do so?

By the way, you can try out Amper yourself here. Your mileage may vary.

via Electronic Beats

Related content:

Hear What Music Sounds Like When It’s Created by Synthesizers Made with Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence Program Tries to Write a Beatles Song: Listen to “Daddy’s Car”

Two Artificial Intelligence Chatbots Talk to Each Other & Get Into a Deep Philosophical Conversation

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.

Musician Taryn Southern Is Composing Her New Album with Artificial Intelligence: Hear the First Track 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.

Posted by Colin Marshall

John Lennon poster by Richard Avedon

When we think of design, each of us thinks of it in our own way, focusing on our own interests: illustration, fashion, architecture, interfaces, manufacturing, or any of a vast number of sub-disciplines besides. Those of us who have paid a visit to Cooper Hewitt, also known as the Smithsonian Design Museum, have a sense of just how much human innovation, and even human history, that term can encompass. Now, thanks to an ambitious digitization project that has so far put 200,000 items (or 92 percent of the museum's collection) online, you can experience that realization virtually.

Concept car designed by William McBride

The video below explains the system, an impressive feat of design in and of itself, with which Cooper Hewitt made this possible. "In collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office, the mass digitization project transformed a physical object (2-D or 3-D) from the shelf to a virtual object in one continuous process," says its about page. "At its peak, the project had four photographic set ups in simultaneous operation, allowing each to handle a certain size, range and type of object, from minute buttons to large posters and furniture. A key to the project’s success was having a completely barcoded collection, which dramatically increased efficiency and allowed all object information to be automatically linked to each image."

Given that the items in Cooper Hewitt's collection come from all across a 3000-year slice of history, you'll need an exploration strategy or two. Have a look at the collection highlights page and you'll find curated sections housing the items pictured here, including psychedelic posters, designs for automobiles, architect's eye, and designs for the Olympics — and that's just some of the relatively recent stuff. Hit the random button instead and you may find yourself beholding, in high resolution, anything from a dragonish fragment of a panel ornament from 18th-century France to a late 19th-century collar to a Swedish vase from the 1980s.

Mexico 68 designed by Lance Wyman

Cooper Hewitt has also begun integrating its online and offline experiences, having installed a version of its collection browser on tables in its physical galleries. There visitors can "select items from the 'object river' that flows down the center of each table" about which to learn more, as well as use a "new interactive Pen" that "further enhances the visitor experience with the ability to “collect” and “save” information, as well as create original designs on the tables." So no matter how much time you spend with Cooper Hewitt's online collection — and you could potentially spend a great deal — you might, should you find yourself on Manhattan's Museum Mile, consider stopping into the museum to see how physical and digital design can work together. Enter the Cooper Hewitt's online collection here.

Temple of Curiosity by Etienne-Louis Boullée

Related Content:

Free: A Crash Course in Design Thinking from Stanford’s Design School

Bauhaus, Modernism & Other Design Movements Explained by New Animated Video Series

Abstract: Netflix’s New Documentary Series About “the Art of Design” Premieres Today

The Smithsonian Picks “101 Objects That Made America”

Smithsonian Digitizes & Lets You Download 40,000 Works of Asian and American Art

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, 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 Smithsonian Design Museum Digitizes 200,000 Objects, Giving You Access to 3,000 Years of Design Innovation & History 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.

Posted by Satisfied '75

I recently wrapped up reading Mark Binelli’s 2016 tome Screamin’ Jay Hawkins All-Time Greatest Hits. Part novel, part historical account, the book offered Binelli a chance to explore the enigmatic singer, and the excellent author dug far deeper than his trademark 1956 hit “I Put a Spell on You.” Over his many decades, Hawkins excelled at […]


Posted by Josh Jones

A 600-year-old manuscript—written in a script no one has ever decoded, filled with cryptic illustrations, its origins remaining to this day a mystery…. It’s not as satisfying a plot, say, of a National Treasure or Dan Brown thriller, certainly not as action-packed as pick-your-Indiana Jones…. The Voynich Manuscript, named for the antiquarian who rediscovered it in 1912, has a much more hermetic nature, somewhat like the work of Henry Darger; it presents us with an inscrutably alien world, pieced together from hybridized motifs drawn from its contemporary surroundings.

Voynich is unique for having made up its own alphabet while also seeming to be in conversation with other familiar works of the period, such that it resembles an uncanny doppelganger of many a Medieval text. A comparatively long book at 234 pages, it roughly divides into seven sections, any of which might be found on the shelves of your average 1400s European reader—a fairly small and rarified group. “Over time, Voynich enthusiasts have given each section a conventional name" for its dominant imagery: "botanical, astronomical, cosmological, zodiac, biological, pharmaceutical, and recipes.”

Scholars can only speculate about these categories. The manuscript's origins and intent have baffled cryptologists since at least the 17th century, when, notes Vox, “an alchemist described it as ‘a certain riddle of the Sphinx.’” We can presume, “judging by its illustrations,” writes Reed Johnson at The New Yorker, that Voynich is “a compendium of knowledge related to the natural world." But its “illustrations range from the fanciful (legions of heavy-headed flowers that bear no relation to any earthly variety) to the bizarre (naked and possibly pregnant women, frolicking in what look like amusement-park waterslides from the fifteenth century).”

The manuscript’s “botanical drawings are no less strange: the plants appear to be chimerical, combining incompatible parts from different species, even different kingdoms.” These drawings led scholar Nicholas Gibbs, the latest to try and decipher the text, to compare it to the Trotula, a Medieval compilation that “specializes in the diseases and complaints of women,” as he wrote in a Times Literary Supplement article earlier this month. It turns out, according to several Medieval manuscript experts who have studied the Voynich, that Gibbs’ proposed decoding may not actually solve the puzzle.

The degree of doubt should be enough to keep us in suspense, and therein lies the Voynich Manuscript’s enduring appeal—it is a black box, about which we might always ask, as Sarah Zhang does, “What could be so scandalous, so dangerous, or so important to be written in such an uncrackable cipher?” Wilfred Voynich himself asked the same question in 1912, believing the manuscript to be “a work of exceptional importance… the text must be unraveled and the history of the manuscript must be traced.” Though “not an especially glamorous physical object,” Zhang observes, it has nonetheless taken on the aura of a powerful occult charm.

But maybe it’s complete gibberish, a high-concept practical joke concocted by 15th century scribes to troll us in the future, knowing we’d fill in the space of not-knowing with the most fantastically strange speculations. This is a proposition Stephen Bax, another contender for a Voynich solution, finds hardly credible. “Why on earth would anyone waste their time creating a hoax of this kind?,” he asks. Maybe it's a relic from an insular community of magicians who left no other trace of themselves. Surely in the last 300 years every possible import has been suggested, discarded, then picked up again.

Should you care to take a crack at sleuthing out the Voynich mystery—or just to browse through it for curiosity’s sake—you can find the manuscript scanned at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which houses the vellum original. Or flip through the Internet Archive’s digital version above. Another privately-run site contains a history and description of the manuscript and annotations on the illustrations and the script, along with several possible transcriptions of its symbols proposed by scholars. Good luck!

Related Content:

1,000-Year-Old Illustrated Guide to the Medicinal Use of Plants Now Digitized & Put Online

Wonderfully Weird & Ingenious Medieval Books

Wearable Books: In Medieval Times, They Took Old Manuscripts & Turned Them into Clothes

Carl Jung’s Hand-Drawn, Rarely-Seen Manuscript The Red Book: A Whispered Introduction

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

Behold the Mysterious Voynich Manuscript: The 15th-Century Text That Linguists & Code-Breakers Can’t Understand 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.

Posted by Dan Colman

Every now and again, we check in on what's happening in the musical world of Luna Lee--a musician who performs Western music on the Gayageum, a traditional Korean stringed instrument that dates back to the 6th century. Over the years, we've shown you her adaptations of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile;’ David Bowie's “The Man Who Sold The World;” Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah;” blues classics by John Lee Hooker, B.B. King & Muddy Waters; and Pink Floyd's “Comfortably Numb,” “Another Brick in the Wall” & “Great Gig in the Sky.” To keep the tradition going, we bring you today Luna's take on AC/DC's 1980 classic, "Back in Black." Enjoy these four minutes of metalized Gayageum.

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. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Related Content:

Pakistani Musicians Play an Enchanting Version of Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Classic, “Take Five”

Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” Performed on Traditional Chinese Instruments

Ultra Orthodox Rabbis Sing Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” on the Streets of Jerusalem

AC/DC’s “Back in Black” Played on the Gayageum, a Korean Instrument Dating Back to the 6th Century 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.

This page was loaded Sep 26th 2017, 1:44 am GMT.