On the Road: The Original Scroll

Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" is turning 50 this month, something we recently noted. And to commemorate the event, Viking has just published the original draft of the novel (check it out here) that Kerouac banged out in three quick weeks, in a New York apartment, on eight long sheets of tracing paper, which he later taped together to create a 120-foot scroll (see photo). This new publication offers a reproduction of Kerouac's first draft and lets you see how the beat classic changed from initial draft to publication. In the scroll, Kerouac uses the real names of friends instead of pseudonyms, and some of the details are a little more graphic. If you want to see footage of Kerouac reading from "On the Road," feel free to refer back to our post on August 15.

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What New Yorkers Heard on the Radio the Night John Lennon was Shot

We're taking you back to 1980, to the evening when John Lennon was shot in New York City. This sound file lets you listen in on what New Yorkers heard that evening December 8 as they switched from one radio station to another. The event was covered across the radio dial, and you hear the news media starting to piece together exactly what happened at the Dakota. This recording was put online by Beware of the Blog, which we indexed in our list of MP3 Music Blogs.

As an aside, Beware of the Blog has also posted some mp3 files that feature jazz singer Keely Smith singing covers of various Beatles' songs. Here is her version of "Do You Want to Know a Secret." Lastly, if you haven't already, you should check out the 3-hour Rolling Stone interview with John Lennon that we mentioned in our recent piece, The Beatles: Podcasts From Yesterday. It gives you a lot of insight into the man, his good traits and bad.

100 Great American Speeches

mlk.jpgAmerican Rhetoric has compiled its list of the top 100 American speeches, all of which can be conveniently accessed as mp3 files. Most of the speeches listed here are known for their eloquence, and many for the pivotal role they played in effecting major political and social change. The compilation lets you listen to F.D.R. leading the US through the Depression ( "There is nothing to fear but fear itself" ) as well as through World War II with his Fireside Chats. Then, there is Truman and Kennedy ( "Ich bin ein Berliner" ) fighting the Cold War, Nixon bolstering support for the Vietnam War with his "Great Silent Majority" speech, and Martin Luther King ( "I Have a Dream" ) and Malcolm X ( "The Ballot or the Bullet" ) pressing for civil rights in their different ways.

The speeches can be heard largely in full, and, while most are political in content, some gems are not. Take for example William Faulkner's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Lou Gehrig's Farewell Address, Ursula Le Guin's "A Left-Handed Commencement Address," and Elie Wiesel's "The Perils of Indifference." Give these speeches some time, and it might be a while before you come back up for air.

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Wine Tasting for Beginners

Geared toward beginners, this series of videos created by Wine Library TV offers an introduction to the basics of wine tasting. In these nine videos, you’ll learn how to taste wine and train your palate, why the temperature of wine matters, how wine glasses can affect the taste of wine, and how to decant it. Plus, you will learn something about the difference between "new world" and "old world" wines and a little about wine ratings too. The host has his own unique style. It's a little Jim Cramer-esque, to my mind. But if it works for you, the videos can help you move from simply drinking wine to tasting it with a little insight and perspective.

While on this subject, we should refer you back to an item mentioned in one of our more popular pieces, 10 Unexpected Uses of the iPod. Here, we mentioned that you can use your MP3 player to take a series of wine tasting courses ("Enjoying Wine," "Selecting Wine," and "Wine Regions"). Each costs $35. You can download a free demo from the vendor's homepage and see if it works for you.

But if you prefer some good free resources, head over to Vinography. This big wine blog features on the left-hand navigation bar (scroll down a little) a long list of free wine podcasts and specialized blogs. While you're there, you may particularly want to check out their wine aroma card, which is handily published in English, Spanish and Italian. An impressive site, to be sure.

Learn the Art of Photography: The Nikon Way

The advent of digital cameras has changed photography as we know it. It has dramatically lowered the cost of photography, and we're now snapping more photos than ever before. But we're not necessarily taking better pictures.

This is where Nikon steps in. Their cameras make casual photographers immensely better than they actually are. (Trust me, I know.) And Nikon has now set up a free Digital Learning Center that offers tutorials and tips for taking a range of different pictures portraits, travel photos, nature photography, etc. Questions that get tackled here include, but are not limited, to: "How can I take better portraits?" "How can I take photos at dusk without having them look completely dark?" "How do I get true-to-life skin tones?" "How can I get the moving figures in my photos to look like they're in motion and not frozen?" "My portraits have red eyes. How can I prevent this?" Give a tour of the Learning Center here. And thanks to Lifehacker for putting this on our radar screen.

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  • If you'd like to learn about digital photography using podcasts, check out Digital Photography Tips from the Top Floor (iTunes - Feed - Web Site). And, for that matter, if you need to learn how to use a podcast, spend some time with our Podcast Primer here.
  • Finally, NPR's Fresh Air just aired an interview with photojournalist Paul Watson on Witnessing War (iTunes Feed Web Site). It's an intriguing but also quite haunting conversation.

15 Ways to Avert a Climate Crisis

gore2.JPGAnd now we bring you a public service announcement....

Below, you can watch Al Gore talk about tangible ways that you can be a good environmental citizen. The first 5 minutes start with some wit and banter that would have served him well in 2000; the next 10 minutes get down to some business.

A few, quick related items: Google offers a free online copy of Gore's major book on the environment, Earth in the Balance. Published first in 1992, the book demonstrates, among other things, Gore's sustained commitment to this issue. Next, if you've never seen An Inconvenient Truth, then you may want to give a listen to Gore's speech at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (listen on iTunes here). It covers much of the same ground. Finally, this all reminds me of a television exposé that Bill Moyers aired a few months back. It's called "Is God Green?," and it takes a lengthy look at how conservative evangelical movements in the US are increasingly taking global warming seriously as an issue. (You can watch it here.) And if you know America, you know that's essential for changing the nation's environmental policies.

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Weekly Wrap – August 25

Another week, another wrap:

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