Life in Moments/Moments in Life

Back in 2009, the folks at RadioLab tackled another big question: "What happens at the moment when we slip from life...to the other side? Is it a moment? If it is, when exactly does it happen? And what happens afterward?"

The show (listen here) inspired filmmaker Will Hoffman to shoot a video the meditates on the little moments that give life (and death) their meaning. Some moments stand in isolation. Others moments are connected, creating a link between birth and death, cause and effect, beginnings and ends. In this audio clip, Hoffman talks with RadioLab co-host Robert Krulwich about the vision informing the video simply called Moments. And, if it delights, don't miss two other Hoffman/RadioLab productions, one simply called Words, the other Symmetry.

Movie Tearjerkers: What’s the Saddest Scene in Cinema?

According this fascinating piece in The Smithsonian, Franco Zeffirelli's 1979 weepfest The Champ is the most consistently effective tearjerker in the history of film. It's also the tearjerker most often used in scientific studies of grief and sadness:

The Champ has been used in experiments to see if depressed people are more likely to cry than non-depressed people (they aren’t). It has helped determine whether people are more likely to spend money when they are sad (they are) and whether older people are more sensitive to grief than younger people (older people did report more sadness when they watched the scene). Dutch scientists used the scene when they studied the effect of sadness on people with binge eating disorders (sadness didn’t increase eating).

We would have gone with either the last scene of West Side Story or that devastating 1989 Negro College Fund commercial with the pennies. Feel free to post your own candidates in the comments.

via Neatorama

Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly.

Open Culture Beat No. 7: The Best Culture Links of the Week

What cultural goodies did we tweet (and re-tweet) on our Twitter stream during the past week? Here are some highlights. Follow us on Twitter at @openculture … or Like us on Facebook. We’ll keep you plugged in…

Sources: @coudal,  @kottke,  @philosophybites,  @maudnewton,  @eugenephoto,  @courosa@matthiasrascher,  @BrainPicker.

A Heartfelt, Animated Tribute to Jim Henson

Good luck staying dry-eyed through this moving tribute to Jim Henson, which features a group of puppets trying to cope with the death of their beloved creator. It's a long time since we've seen the so-called stages of grief dramatized so beautifully and with such economy. (The filmmakers recently followed up their 5-minute short with a trailer for what looks like a promising feature-length version.)

Henson fans may also want to check out his 1969 video primer on how to make puppets, as well as this new exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image, which hosts a wonderful tribute to the puppeteer's long time collaboration with Frank Oz.

Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly.

Improv with New Yorker Cartoonists

When you think of The New Yorker, you think about two things -- long-form articles and legendary cartoons. The two art forms have gone hand-in-hand since the magazine began publishing in 1925, and, decades later, a younger generation of cartoonists still delivers the laughs. Thanks to the Gel Conference 2011 (see all videos here), you can spend 25 minutes inside their artistic world. Matt Diffee, Drew Dernavich, and Zach Kanin talk about their sometimes controversial work at the magazine and draw improv cartoons based on audience suggestions. Fun guaranteed for all. H/T @opedr

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50 Famous Academics & Scientists Talk About God

Jonathan Pararajasingham has pulled together a montage of 50 renowned academics, mostly all scientists, talking about their thoughts on the existence of God. The list includes includes 16 Nobel prize winners, and a bundle of recognizable names, including Richard Feynman, Steven Pinker, Oliver Sacks, Bertrand Russell, Stephen Hawking, and Leonard Susskind. The full list appears below the jump. (Click "more.") Click here to find another 50 Academics Talking About God and 30 renowned writers doing the same.

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Bill Graham’s Concert Vault: From Miles Davis to Bob Marley

Wolfgang Grajonca had a hard childhood. Young and orphaned during World War II, Grajonca moved from Germany to Paris, Marseille and Lisbon, and eventually the United States by sea, each time staying one step ahead of the westward-moving Nazis. The 10 year old settled in New York, changed his name to Bill Graham, later fought in Korea, and headed to San Francisco, where he became a legendary concert promoter. Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Country Joe and The Fish, The Rolling Stones -- Graham put them all on the West coast stage.

The promoter of the Counterculture was killed in a helicopter crash in October 1991 and left behind a huge trove of recordings and memorabilia. Out of the ashes arose Wolfgang's Vault, a website that peddles many Bill Graham goods, but also features a good number of free concerts from the heyday: The Who and Miles Davis (Tanglewood, 1970), The Allman Brothers Band (New York, 1970), Muddy Waters (Los Angeles, 1971), Bob Marley and the Wailers and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1978).  They're all available online, along with other acts including Van Morrison, AC/DC, Santana, The Band, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Jump into the collection here.

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Free Grateful Dead Concert Archive

Freddie Mercury, Live Aid (1985)

David Bowie and Bing Crosby Sing Christmas Duet

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