The Brief Wondrous Career of Arthur Rimbaud (1870-1874)

Arthur Rimbaud, once described by Victor Hugo as 'an infant Shakespeare,' burst onto the Parisan literary scene in 1870, shortly before he was 16. By the time 1874 rolled around, Rimbaud had broken the conventions of poetry and fashioned a new, modern poetic language. He had published all of his major works -- Illuminations, Une saison en enfer, etc. -- and had his absinthe/hashish-fueled affair with Paul Verlaine. Then, committing an act that still haunts his fans today, the 20 year old renounced poetry utterly and completely and started traveling the world.

The mystery of Rimbaud's renunciation and his short-lived literary career gets revisited in this week's edition of The New Yorker.

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Richard Feynman: The New Graphic Novel

Last week, we highlighted The Last Journey Of A Genius, a documentary that recorded the final days of the great physicist Richard Feynman and his obsession with traveling to Tannu Tuva, a state outside of outer Mongolia.

Now here is what next week will bring -- a new "substantial graphic novel biography" that "presents the larger-than-life exploits of the Nobel-winning quantum physicist, adventurer, musician and world-class raconteur." The book written by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by Leland Myrick runs a fairly hefty 272 pages. The clip above will give you a good feel for the artwork that tells Feynman's personal tale. H/T BoingBoing

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Forensic Linguistics: Finding a Murderer Through Text Messages

Malcolm Coulthard teaches Forensic Linguistics at Aston University, Birmingham. And, in case you're wondering what this means, forensic linguistics is all about "taking linguistic knowledge, methods and insight, and applying these to the forensic context of law, investigation, trial, punishment and rehabilitation." Or solving crimes, in short.  This may sound rather dry, but when Professor Coulthard talks about his work we get a fascinating glimpse into what forensic linguistics looks like in practice. In the video above, an excerpt from his inaugural lecture at Aston University (watch the full version here), Coulthard explains how the analysis of text messages helped solve a recent murder case. This puts him on the new frontier of police work.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the BBC, Tim Grant, Deputy Director at the Centre for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University, explains how his team's analysis of documents and writings can help police with their investigations. The video does not work in all regions, but there is a transcript below the video.

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Jackson Pollock 51: Short Film Captures the Painter Creating Abstract Expressionist Art

In the summer of 1950, Hans Namuth approached Jackson Pollock and asked the abstract expressionist painter if he could photograph him in his studio, working with his "drip" technique of painting. When Namuth arrived, he found:

A dripping wet canvas covered the entire floor. Blinding shafts of sunlight hit the wet canvas, making its surface hard to see. There was complete silence.... Pollock looked at the painting. Then unexpectedly, he picked up can and paintbrush and started to move around the canvas. It was as if he suddenly realized the painting was not finished. His movements, slow at first, gradually became faster and more dancelike as he flung black, white and rust-colored paint onto the canvas.

The images from this shoot "helped transform Pollock from a talented, cranky loner into the first media-driven superstar of American contemporary art, the jeans-clad, chain-smoking poster boy of abstract expressionism," one critic later wrote in The Washington Post.

But Namuth wasn't satisfied that he had really captured the essence of Pollock's work. He wanted to capture Pollock in motion and color, to focus on the painter and painting alike.

Above, you can watch the result of Namuth's second effort. The ten-minute film, simply called Jackson Pollock 51 (the 51 being short for 1951), lets you see Pollock painting from a unique angle -- through glass. The film achieved Namuth's aesthetic goals, but it came at a price. Apparently the filming taxed Pollock emotionally, and by the evening, the painter decided to pour himself some bourbon, his first drink in two years. A blowout argument followed; Pollock never stopped drinking again; and it was downhill from there...

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James Taylor Gives Free Acoustic Guitar Lessons Online

James Taylor has started to offer free guitar lessons online. He is, after all, your Handy Man.

Now let's get this out of the way: The jury is still out on whether these video lessons will offer serious guidance or not. The first video offers a somewhat detailed primer on ... caring for your fingernails. And it comes coupled with a short lesson, "Little Wheel" in e minor, that is decidedly short on pedagogy. More lessons will be coming soon though. Sign up for JT's email list, and they'll ping you when new videos are posted online.

What to do in the meantime? Well, you can always turn to YouTube, which features a surprising number of free video tutorials. If you sift around, you can learn how to buy an acoustic guitar, tune it by ear, play stum patternsfinger pick, play various chord progressions and so on. For more lessons, you can start rummaging around three helpful YouTube channels: RockonGoodPeopleWatch & Learn Music Lessons;  and MartyZsongs. They provide lots of free tutorials (while also trying to promote paid products on the side).

via metafilter

OK Go Covers The Muppet Show Theme Song (Stream New Album Online)

Today marks the official release of The Green Album, a new compilation featuring contemporary rock and indie artists covering classic Muppets songs. OK Go, Weezer, Andrew Bird, and My Morning Jacket, they all contribute to the album. And, thanks to the good people at NPR, you can stream the complete album online for the remainder of the week.

Meanwhile, if you want to indulge in some more Muppet nostalgia, don't miss the Muppet rendition of Beethoven's Ode to Joy, or Jim Henson’s 15 Minute Primer on Puppet Making from 1969.

Jerry Leiber, Writer of Enduring Rock Classics, on What’s My Line? (1958)

Jerry Leiber died yesterday at the age of 78. Leiber wasn't a household name during most of his career. But his compositions are known worldwide. Along with his partner Mike Stoller, Leiber wrote "Hound Dog," “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Treat Me Nice,” among others songs made famous by Elvis Presley during the 1950s. They also composed "Stand by Me," a tune sung by Ben E. King in 1960, then covered countless times. (We particularly like this version.)

The clip above takes you back to 1958, when Leiber and Stoller appeared on the long-running television show What's My Line?. If you've watched some of these vintage episodes, you'll know that the panel usually wore blindfolds lest the identity of the guest be immediately revealed. But there was no risk of that in the case of Leiber & Stoller. And, by the way, it's worth mentioning that Vincent Price made a special guest appearance on the panel that night.

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