Wes Anderson’s Breakthrough Film, Rushmore, Revisited in Five Video Essays: It Came Out 20 Years Ago Today

"I genuinely don't know what to make of this movie." So said eminent New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael about Rushmore, Wes Anderson's second film. But having spent the better part of a decade in retirement by that point, she didn't publish that judgment; rather, she spoke it straight to Anderson himself, who had rented out a theater to give her a personal screening. "I was a little disappointed by Ms. Kael's reaction to the movie," Anderson writes in his recollection of the event. Upon its release on December 11, 1999 — twenty years ago today — a fair few of its viewers would echo Kael's bewilderment. But just as many would feel they'd seen the early work of a master, and time would soon vindicate that feeling: whether you love his movies or can't stand them, Wes Anderson became Wes Anderson because of Rushmore.

"There are few perfect movies," says critic and Wes Anderson specialist Matt Zoller-Seitz. "This is one of them." His video essay on Rushmore, part of a series adapted from his book The Wes Anderson Collection, breaks down just a few of the elements that have made the film so beloved. "At once arch and earnest, knowing and innocent," Anderson's story of a flakily ambitious teenage prep-school boy Max Fischer's friendship with a middle-aged steel magnate Herman Blume — and the affections for a widowed first-grade teacher that turn that friendship into a rivalry — "feels unique and furiously alive."

Drawing deeply from the personality and experience of Anderson himself (and those of his co-writer and frequent collaborator Owen Wilson) as well as The 400 BlowsThe Graduate, and other classic pictures, it never does so in an obvious or predictable manner.

Of all the strokes of luck required for the then-twentysomething Anderson even to get the chance to make a movie like Rushmore (especially after his debut feature Bottle Rocket seemed to have vanished without a trace), no coup was greater than the casting of Bill Murray as Blume. It "resonates backward through film history," says Zoller-Seitz, "because Max is a geeky teenage version of a certain kind of 80s and 90s hero. Rushmore's masterstroke is how it takes the piss out of those characters: it implies that maybe the bravado that those 80s and 90s characters had was just a cover for fear and depression." Quite a depth of insight for a young filmmaker to possess — but then, many once underestimated the young Anderson, whose sensibilities get further examined in the ScreenPrism video essay "Rushmore: Portrait of Wes Anderson as a Young Man," and they did so at their peril.

"The charms of this movie are abundant," says the New York Times' A.O. Scott in his Critic's Pick video on Rushmore. "It has whimsical production design; clever and sharp writing; tender, comical performances; a brilliant use of pop music to underscore and slightly ironize the emotions being expressed on the screen." Scott singles out the strength of its visual compositions, which Anderson uses to, for example, "arrange people in the frame in such a way as to show everything about their relationship — a kind of psychological dimension to the space that almost makes the dialogue secondary." It all comes in service of telling two stories in counterpoint, one "about an adolescent coming to terms with his limitations" and another about "an artist coming into possession of his powers."

Over the past twenty years, the critical consensus on Rushmore has shifted almost universally away from assessments like Kael's and toward those like Scott's. In the video above, a more mature Anderson reflects on making the movie — and making it, in fact, at the very same high school he went to himself. "The strongest association for me is being back in class," he says. "In the end, the thing that strikes me most forcefully when I think back on it is just that I went home." He also adds that "I don't even know how we managed to get Rushmore made, or why," given the apparent failure of Bottle Rocket, a picture on which he and Wilson had labored for years. "Rushmore was more expensive, maybe even a bit stranger, and yet it seemed just to happen. I think it was just lucky." Especially lucky for us viewers over the past two decades, as well as the generations of Rushmore fans still to come.

Related Content:

A Complete Collection of Wes Anderson Video Essays

What’s the Big Deal About Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel? Matt Zoller Seitz’s Video Essay Explains

A Glimpse Into How Wes Anderson Creatively Remixes/Recycles Scenes in His Different Films

Wes Anderson’s Cinematic Debt to Stanley Kubrick Revealed in a Side-By-Side Comparison

Wes Anderson Names 12 of His Favorite Art Films

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Historic Console Used to Record “Stairway to Heaven” and Other Rock Classics Goes Up for Auction Today

The amount of money one is willing to spend—should one have amounts of money—for a vintage recording console will vary greatly depending on who one is. The average person will see an enormous, heavy, wonky, wood and metal space hog with no apparent purpose. The musician, engineer, producer, or studio owner, on the other hand, will see a finely-tuned instrument, whose preamps, EQs, compressors, meters, and circuitry promise worlds of sonic warmth and depth.

In the case of one particular recording console, the so-called “Heliocentric Helios Console,” everyone will see a piece of music history, one that rightly belongs in a museum on public view. Such a fate is unlikely for this artifact, which goes on sale today at auction house Bonhams in London. It will end up in some well-heeled private hands, fetching a hefty sum for reasons far beyond its classic engineering.

“Songs and albums recorded on this bespoke console and its original parts rank among some of the most recognizable and best-loved pieces of music in existence, and have resulted in Grammys, Brit Awards and multiple number one spots,” says Bonham’s Claire Tole-Mole. “This console is a piece of Britain’s modern cultural history.” Actually an amalgam of two different historic consoles, combined in 1996, the Island Record section of the mixing desk was used by Led Zeppelin to record IV, the album featuring their most famous song, “Stairway to Heaven.”

This tantalizing bit is only a taste of the HeliosCentric console’s extensive provenance. Bob Marley recorded Catch a Fire and Burnin’ on the machine, Jimmy Cliff recorded “Many Rivers to Cross”; Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight” emerged from the console, as did songs and albums made by George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Mick Fleetwood, Steven Stills, Jimi Hendrix, Ronnie Wood, David Bowie, Free, The Rolling Stones, Sly Stone, Harry Nilsson, Cat Stevens, Jeff Beck, Mott the Hoople, Humble Pie, Paul Weller, Supergrass, Sia, KT Tunstall, Squeeze, the Pet Shop Boys, Keane, and Dido… among many more.

The number of top-notch artists who have used one or both parts of the console is astonishing, and its combining also provides devotees of rock history with a great story: the founder of Helios Electronics himself, Dick Swettenham, who formerly worked at Abbey Road, personally consulted on the construction of the new console, which was put together by Elvis Costello and Squeeze's Chris Difford. You can read the machine’s full history at Bonhams, as great a story as you’re ever likely to hear about a piece of specialized studio equipment the size of a small car. The HelioCentric Console is expected to fetch six figures, but as Rolling Stone points out, the auction house recently sold the console used to record Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon for $1.8 million. What’s another few dozen classic albums and singles worth?

via Dangerous Minds

Related Content:

Jimmy Page Tells the Story of “Stairway to Heaven”: How the Most Played Rock Song Came To Be

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

How Music Can Awaken Patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

In the late 1950’s, pioneering free jazz bandleader Sun Ra played a gig at a Chicago mental hospital, booked there by his manager Alton Abraham, who had an interest in alternative medicine. The experiment in musical therapy worked wonders. One patient who had not moved or spoken in years reportedly got up, walked over to the piano, and yelled out, “you call that music!”

The anecdote illustrates just one experience among untold millions in which a person suffering from a debilitating neurological condition responds positively, even miraculously, it seems, to music.

As famed neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks puts it in his book Musicophilia, “musical perception, musical sensibility, musical emotion and musical memory can survive long after other forms of memory have disappeared.”

This medical fact makes musical therapy an ideal intervention for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In the short video above, Sacks describes his visits to patients in various old age homes. “Some of them are confused, some are agitated, some are lethargic, some have almost lost language,” he says, “but all of them, without exception, respond to music.”

We can see just such a response in the clip at the top, in which the barely responsive Henry Dryer, a 92-year-old nursing home resident with dementia, transforms when he hears music. “The philosopher Kant called music ‘the quickening art,’ and Henry’s being quickened,” says Sacks says of the dramatic change, “he’s being brought to life.” Suddenly lucid and happy, Henry looks up and says, “I’m crazy about music. Beautiful sounds.”

The clip comes from a documentary called Alive Inside, winner of a 2014 Sundance Audience Award (see the trailer above), a film that shows us several musical “quickenings” like Henry’s. “Before Dryer started using his iPod,” notes The Week, “he could only answer yes-or-no questions—and sometimes he sat silently and still for hours at a time.” Now, he sings, carries on conversations and can “even recall things from years ago.”

Sacks comments that “music imprints itself on the brain deeper than any other human experience,” evoking emotions in ways that nothing else can. A 2010 Boston University study showed that Alzheimer’s patients “learned more lyrics when they were set to music rather than just spoken.” Likewise, researchers at the University of Utah found music to be “an alternative route for communicating with patients.”

As senior author of the Utah study, Dr. Norman Foster, says, “language and visual memory pathways are damaged early as the disease progresses, but personalized music programs can activate the brain, especially for patients who are losing contact with their environment.” See the effects for yourself in this extraordinary film, and learn more about Sacks' adventures with music and the brain in the 2007 discussion of Musicophilia, just above.

Related Content:

Sun Ra Plays a Music Therapy Gig at a Mental Hospital; Inspires Patient to Talk for the First Time in Years

Discover the Retirement Home for Elderly Musicians Created by Giuseppe Verdi: Created in 1899, It Still Lives On Today

The French Village Designed to Promote the Well-Being of Alzheimer’s Patients: A Visual Introduction to the Pioneering Experiment

In Touching Video, People with Alzheimer’s Tell Us Which Memories They Never Want to Forget

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

John Lennon’s Report Card at Age 15: “He Has Too Many Wrong Ambitions and His Energy Is Too Often Misplaced”

In September 1956, a young John Lennon took home a dismal report card--the kind that many smart, wayward kids can probably relate to.

French teacher: "An intelligent boy who could be very much better with a little concentration in class."

Math teacher: "He is certainly on the road to failure if this goes on."

Physics teacher: "His work always lacks effort. He is content to 'drift' instead of using his abilities."

Religion teacher: "Attitude in class most unsatisfactory."

Head master: “He has too many wrong ambitions and his energy is too often misplaced."

Guess they had him all figured out...

via @Michael Beschloss

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Celebrate Emily Dickinson’s 188th Birthday with Her Own Cake Recipes: Coconut Cake, Gingerbread, Doughnuts & More

Happy Emily Dickinson Day!

What are you doing to celebrate the poet’s 188th birthday?

The Emily Dickinson Museum took advantage of the weekend to celebrate the occasion a couple of days early with Victorian crafts, readings, festive piano music, a display exploring the Dickinson family's gift-giving tradition, and slices of coconut cake, baked from the birthday girl’s own recipe.

Given the Belle’s penchant for home-baked goodies, we’re dispensing with the more high-minded endeavors to concentrate on the sweet side of this literary holiday.

LitHub reports that

...whenever Dickinson saw children playing in her family gardens, “she headed for the pantry, filled a basket with cookies or slices of cake—often gingerbread—carried it upstairs to a window in the rear of the house (so their mothers wouldn’t see), and attached the basket to a rope to slowly lower it to the “storm-tossed, starving pirates” or the “lost, roaming circus performers” eagerly waiting below.

Truly, we owe it to her to return the favor.

Shall we start with some Emily Dickinson doughnuts?

Like many experienced home cooks of the period, Dickinson’s instructions are a bit vague. She seems to have gotten the recipe from an acquaintance named Kate, jotting down measurements and ingredients, after which, she knew what to do.

If you’ve never worked with yeast before, you might want to proceed straight to her Black Cake recipe…

Or not. You may have 5 pounds of raisins on hand, but this is no spur-of-the-moment recipe.

As librarians Heather Cole, Emilie Hardman, and Emily Walhout demonstrate below, this whopper needs to spend 3 weeks wrapped in a brandy-soaked cheesecloth after it comes out of the oven.

Onward then to Miss Dickinson’s gingerbread.

As if those with December birthdays aren’t overshadowed enough by the tyranny of Christmas! Must their special day’s cake flavor be dictated by that big gorilla too? (For those who say yes, Rosa Lillo of Pemberley Cup and Cakes breaks the recipe down 21st-century style, adding a simple icing sugar glaze and an embossed floral pattern.)

Perhaps that famous coconut cake really is the best choice for observing Emily Dickinson Day.

See if you can detect a note of inspiration in that buttery flavor. As was her habit, Dickinson flipped the scrap of paper on which she’d listed the ingredients, and pencilled in the beginnings of a poem:

The Things that never can come back, are several —

Childhood — some forms of Hope — the Dead —

Though Joys — like Men — may sometimes make a Journey —

And still abide —

We do not mourn for Traveler, or Sailor,

Their Routes are fair —

But think enlarged of all that they will tell us

Returning here —

"Here!" There are typic "Heres" —

Foretold Locations —

The Spirit does not stand —

Himself — at whatsoever Fathom

His Native Land —

Those whose Emily Dickinson Day gift giving list includes a poetry lover / amateur cook may wish to stuff their stockings with a copy of the 1976 book Emily Dickinson: Profile of the Poet as Cook with Selected Recipes.

Related Content:

Emily Dickinson’s Handwritten Coconut Cake Recipe Hints at How Baking Figured Into Her Creative Process

The Online Emily Dickinson Archive Makes Thousands of the Poet’s Manuscripts Freely Available

An 8-Hour Marathon Reading of 500 Emily Dickinson Poems

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  See her onstage in New York City through December 20th in the 10th anniversary production of Greg Kotis’ apocalyptic holiday tale, The Truth About Santa, and tonight, as the host of the book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Hear the Very First Sounds Ever Recorded on Mars, Courtesy of NASA

Predicting the state of the world in 2014 after a visit to the 1964 World's Fair, Isaac Asimov wrote that "only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works and in the 2014 Futurama will show a model of an elaborate Martian colony." While we haven't seen a Futurama show in some time (other than the one created by Matt Groening), he was certainly right about those unmanned ships, the latest of which, four years after the one about which he prophesied, has just picked up the first sounds ever recorded on the Red Planet. You can hear it, preferably with the use of a subwoofer or a pair of capably bass-reproducing headphones, in the video above.

"That’s the sound of winds blowing across NASA’s InSight lander on Mars, the first sounds recorded from the red planet," writes the New York Times' Kenneth Chang. "It’s all the more remarkable because InSight — which landed last week — does not have a microphone."

Instead it picked up this rumble, which NASA describes as "caused by vibrations from the wind, estimated to be blowing between 10 to 15 mph (5 to 7 meters a second)," with its seismometer and air pressure sensor right there on Mars' Elysium Planitia where it landed. "The winds were consistent with the direction of dust devil streaks in the landing area, which were observed from orbit."

Science fiction enthusiasts will note that InSight's recording of Martian wind, especially in the more easily audible pitched-up versions included in the video, sounds not unlike the way certain films and television shows have long imagined the sonic ambience of Mars. NASA didn't launch InSight to test the theories implicitly presented by Hollywood sound designers — rather, to collect data on the formation of Mars and other rocky planets, as well as to check for the presence of liquid water — but they will equip the next Martian landers they send out in 2020 with proper microphones, and not just one but two of them. Among other scientific tasks, writes Big Think's Stephen Johnson, those microphones will be equipped to "listen to what happens when the craft fires a laser at rocks on the surface." Back here on Earth, one question looms above all others: which musician will be the first to sample all this?

via Big Think

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

How J.R.R. Tolkien Influenced Classic Rock & Metal: A Video Introduction

The influence of J.R.R. Tolkien on metal is so wide and deep it has become almost cliché. There are countless Tolkien-themed songs, albums, band names, and an entire subgenre of Tolkien metal in which the fantasy master's work has become “the foundation,” as Loudwire writes, that such bands “have built their persona upon.” After all, “the doomy hellscape of Mordor is a setting that rivals hell itself, making it the perfect fodder for lyrical brutality.”

Of course, there’s more to the fascination than doomy hellscape. Mysticism, magic, and mythology; “themes of friendship, adventure, betrayal, greed, and mortality.” The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy fold literary richness and depth into a fully realized alternate reality full of swords and sorcery, goblins, orcs, and walking trees. What metalhead can resist? Even those who might want to have a hard time getting away from Tolkien.

He's in the source code of the genre, in its classic rock chromosomes. The most prominent precursor of Tolkien metal, Led Zeppelin, really loved Tolkien. As Robert Plant put it in a later interview, “when I read those books, they kind of dissolved into me.” In the short video above from Polyphonic, we get a survey of the number of Tolkien references not only in Zeppelin, but in Genesis, Rush, and other proto-metal prog-rock bands.

One key feature of Tolkien that makes his work such great material for epic songs is that the novels are already full of epic songs (and poems, in Elvish and other languages). “Music plays an integral role in the very founding of Middle Earth.” Tolkien references crop up in Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, and dozens of 70s progressive rock bands whose influence exceeds their fame.

One band the Polyphonic video doesn’t mention, The Beatles, aren’t often thought of as Tolkienesque, or as having much influence on heavy metal. But they were massive Tolkien fans and even approached the author in the 60s about making a Lord of the Rings film, with John as Gollum, Paul as Frodo, Ringo as Sam, and George as Gandalf. McCartney even approached Stanley Kubrick to direct.

Reportedly, when McCartney told Peter Jackson the story, the director replied, “It’s the songs I feel badly about. You guys could have banged out a few good tunes for this.” Tolkien himself didn’t think so and turned them down immediately. We don’t have any record of his thoughts on the 70s rock bands who enthusiastically adopted him, if he even knew of their existence. But we do know that he didn’t like The Beatles.

Does this mean he wouldn’t care for any of the classic rock and metal to whom he has inadvertently given so much? Probably. But one commenter in a discussion thread on this very question imagines another reaction Tolkien might have to hearing “Ramble On,” etc.: “I believe he raised a fist into the air and extended the index and little fingers in imitation of a horned creature, while vigorously, emphatically nodding his head back and forth, tossing his hair to and fro like a fishing boat caught in a raging storm.”

Related Content:

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

The Strange History of Smooth Jazz: The Music We All Know and Love … to Hate

It’s the most unloved and derided of music genres, but the history of Smooth Jazz is not as bad as you might think. In another chapter of Vox’s excellent Earworm series (see Chapter 1 here and Chapter 2 here), Estelle Caswell explores the rise and fall of this modern day elevator music and asks if it’s worth reconsidering.

The undisputed star of smooth jazz has to be the “Songbird” himself, the frizzy-hair be-coifed Kenny G. (The only part of the video I took issue with is when one fan is quoted saying “he was the cool white boy.” Ma’am, all due respect, but Kenny G was never cool.) The man played alongside Clinton’s inauguration and once broke a world record by holding a note for 45 minutes. The smoothest of smooth jazz issued forth from his soprano sax and like it or not, his was a readily identifiable sound in a genre where nothing is supposed to stand out.

Earworm first traces the history of the form back to Grover Washington Jr., CTI Records, and other artists like Wes Montgomery. While Miles Davis was exploring difficult sonic textures, jazz headed into free improv territory, splitting from tonality in much the same split as befell classical music. What emerged was something closer to r’n’b and soul with improvised melodies over the top, or covers of popular pop hits from the ‘60s. This also could be seen as an evolution of jazz’s raiding of the Great American Songbook along with Broadway hits. If Coltrane could break “My Favorite Things” into cubism, surely there was a place for Wes Montgomery to riff over the groove of “Goin’ Out of My Head” by Little Anthony and the Imperials.

And from Montgomery we get to George Benson, silky smooth and undeniably funky. He even scat sang his solos at the same time as he played them on the guitar. His records went platinum which meant something in the days of rock’s ascendancy and jazz’s fall.

But as Earworm points out, Smooth Jazz only became a thing when marketing stepped in. As freeform stations were bought out by corporations, market research firms targeted audiences with focus groups. It was in one of those groups that a woman described the music like Benson and Bob James as “smooth jazz,” and the name stuck. 
It’s fitting that the west coast was the birthplace in 1987 of the first “smooth jazz” station, KTWV in Los Angeles, 94.7 THE WAVE, home of all sorts of laid-back grooves since the very beginning of jazz and pop. Other stations would soon follow suit, reaching a height of popularity in 1994, when Kenny G won Best Adult Contemporary Artist at the American Music Awards. It was “smooth sounds for a rough world,” as one adman called it, but what it really was comfort music for office drones.

Ironically, the forces that put smooth jazz at the top were responsible for its fall, as new technology to measure radio ratings found it couldn’t pick out the music from the background sounds. By 2008 and the financial implosion, smooth jazz radios stations were on the decline and the great recession killed it off.

It’s fitting because smooth jazz was the soundtrack to a dream of capitalism, all the rough edges burnished away, blinkered aspirations made into melody. But when the dream melted for everybody, smooth jazz evaporated. At least with soft rock you got songs and tales of heartache.

However, it would not surprise me to see Smooth Jazz make a nostalgic, ironic-but-not comeback. If Japan’s City Pop, which trades in similar smooth textures, can speak to the disaffected youth about a deep, affluent wish that never came true, Chuck Mangione can’t be too far behind. And it just feels. so. good.

P.S. If you have a hankerin' to hear some smoothness right now, Vox has a Spotify playlist for what ails you.

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Movie Accent Expert Analyzes 31 Actors Playing Other Famous People: Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan, and More

Well-known figures' voices are often as distinctive as their thousand-watt smiles and influential hairdos.

While there is some evidence as to the accents and idiosyncratic speech patterns of such historical heavy hitters as Thomas Edison, Florence Nightingale, and Harry Houdini, technological improvements have really upped the ante for those charged with impersonating real life people from the mid 20th-century onward.

Natalie Portman had to sustain her Jackie Kennedy impersonation for an entire feature-length biopic, a performance dialect coach Erik Singer gives high marks, above. Portman, he explains, has truly internalized Jackie’s idiolect, the individual quirks that add yet another layer to such signifiers as class and region.

As evidence, he submits a side-by-side comparison of the First Lady’s famous 1962 televised tour of the White House renovations she had spearheaded, and Portman’s recreation thereof.

Portman has done her homework with regard to breath pattern, pitch, and the refinement that strikes most 21st century ears as a bit stilted and strange. Most impressive to Singer is the way Portman transfers Kennedy’s oddly musical elongation of certain syllables to other words in the script. Tis no mere parrot job.

Jamie Foxx’s Oscar-winning turn as Ray Charles succeeds on copious research and his ability to inhabit Charles’ habitual smile. Obviously, the posture in which an individual holds their mouth has a lot to do with the sound of their voice, and Foxx was blessed with plenty of source material.

The 1982 epic Gandhi provided the versatile Ben Kingsley with the opportunity to showcase not one, but two, idiolects. The adult Gandhi underwent a dramatic and well documented evolution from the British accent he adopted as a young law student in London to a proudly Indian voice better suited to inspiring a nation to unify against its British colonizers.

It’s likely that many of us have never considered the speech-related building blocks Singer scrutinizes while analyzing 29 other performances for the WIRED video, above—epenthesis, tongue positions, relative degrees of emphatic muscularity, and retroflex consonants—but it’s easy to see how they play a part.

Singer invites you to expand his research and teaching library by recording yourself speaking extemporaneously and reading from two sample texts here. Pray that whoever plays you in the biopic gets it right.

Related Content:

Peter Sellers Gives a Quick Demonstration of British Accents

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  See her onstage in New York City through December 20th in the 10th anniversary production of Greg Kotis’ apocalyptic holiday tale, The Truth About Santa, and the book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

2,000 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) Getting Started in December: Enroll Today

FYI. 2,000 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are getting underway this month, giving you the chance to take free courses from top flight universities. With the help of Class Central, we've pulled together a complete list of December MOOCS. And below we've highlighted several courses that caught our eye. The trailer above comes from The History of Rock: Part 1, offered by the University of Rochester.

Here's one tip to keep in mind: If you want to take a course for free, select the "Full Course, No Certificate" or "Audit" option when you enroll. If you would like an official certificate documenting that you have successfully completed the course, you will need to pay a fee.

You can browse through the complete list of December MOOCs here.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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