Oliver Sacks Talks Music with Jon Stewart


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This conversation, both funny and a little informative, is worth your time. This will hopefully whet your appetite, and give you good reason to watch Oliver Sack's new program on NOVA. It's called Musical Minds and you can watch it here starting on July 1.

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Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella

"In 2009 Ben Folds released a greatest hits record, of sorts, sung entirely in a cappella. The album, Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella! features two tracks performed by Ben himself, but the bulk of the material was performed by various university a cappella groups." You can catch a documentary version above.

Cosmology Online

Leonard Susskind, a Stanford physicist who helped conceptualize string theory and has waged a long-running “Black Hole War” with Stephen Hawking (see his newish book on that subject) offers a course on Cosmology, which studies the origin and development of the universe. It's actually the fifth course in a larger six-course introduction to Modern Physics (find them in our collection of Free University Courses). But the course stands on its own, and, along the way, it takes a close look at the Big Bang, the geometry of space-time, inflationary cosmology, dark matter, dark energy, the string theory landscape and more. You can access the full course on YouTube here, and also on iTunes here. Finally, the course comes out of Stanford's Continuing Studies program, which brings engaging classes to the broader public. If you happen to live in the San Francisco Bay Area (0r want to take top-notch writing courses online), give the program a look.

PS We've got a new custom url for our Facebook page. Check us out at facebook.com/openculture.

The 50 Greatest Trailers of All Time

IFC.com (the web site of the Independent Film Channel) has worked up a list of the all-time best movie trailers -- or, as they put it, the films that promote the actual films. The list cuts across different eras and features many older classics (PsychoCitizen Kane, Dr. Strangelove, etc.) as well as more recent films. Above, we've included their number one pick, Ridley Scott's Alien. And below, we've added IFC's description, which sets the stage for viewing the trailer:

Masterfully cut and artful to boot, the first glimpse of Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-horror classic features not a single word of dialogue and begins in abstract: a ride through a star field, a hover above some sort of moon rock, blocky shapes that slowly materialize into the letters of the title, craggy landscape traversed with a macro lens before pulling back to clarify what lies on that cratered surface -- the egg of an alien life form. It cracks open, releasing an ill-omened white light and the high-pitched alarm (an animalistic squeal?) that unnerves throughout the rest of the trailer.

Streaming Movies Online: The Future is Almost Now

According to Netflix's CEO, the DVD is done, and the future is all about streaming movies online. (Read the Wall Street Journal piece on that.) This segues nicely to a list that we have compiled that contains 1) over 100 high quality films that you can watch online for free, and 2) 35 web sites where you can watch free movies online. The collection is called Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Film Noir, Documentaries & More.

Keeping Jacko in Perspective

Yes, Jacko had undeniable talent. And, yes, Thriller drove more sales than any other album ever. But, Jacko released Thriller back in 1982 -- roughly 27 years ago. And, what has he accomplished since? Creatively very little, and the personal story is very mixed. Despite that, his death is the big news story everywhere, both in America and abroad. The King of Pop is Dead. For the major media outlets, this is a much bigger story than what's happening in Iran. Yesterday's pop star is getting far more ink than the potential liberalization of the Middle East. That's sad in concept, but even more so in practice. The success of Iran's protest movement depends on keeping the world's attention. Hence, the signs written in English. Today, that attention is somewhere else. We're already saying, Neda who? Stick a fork in this protest movement. It's feeling done. Sad how the trivial can change history.

PS A reader sent along an article that talks about the risk of the MJ story derailing the important media coverage of the Iran protests. It's something, the article notes, that policy experts are apparently concerned about. Worth a read.

Philip Roth on Aging

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