Listen to the New Tom Waits Album, ‘Bad As Me,’ Free for a Limited Time

This week Tom Waits released his first studio album in seven years, and it doesn't disappoint. Bad As Me, writes Will Hermes in a four-star Rolling Stone review, may be Waits' most broadly emotional album to date: "Certainly it's his most sharply focused record since the game-changing tag team Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs decades ago." You can judge for yourself: For a limited time, National Public Radio is offering a sneak preview of the complete album.

Bad As Me is more accessible than many of Waits' albums. As his long-time session guitarist Marc Ribot told The New York Times, "On this record it was less, 'O.K. let's be super rigorous and create music completely without precedent,' and more just 'Let's rock the house.'" The title track is a good example. It's a rollicking blues stomp, with Waits channeling the ghost of Screamin' Jay Hawkins as he shouts:

You're the head on the spear
You're the nail on the cross
You're the fly in my beer
You're the key that got lost
You're the letter from Jesus on the bathroom wall
You're mother superior in only a bra
You're the same kind of bad as me

On a more serious note, Waits sings of America's infantile politics, its military and economic quagmires, and the general breakdown of discourse in the melancholy "Talking At The Same Time":

A tiny boy sat and he played in the sand
He made a sword from a stick
And a gun from his hand
Well we bailed out the millionaires
They've got the fruit
We've got the rind
And everybody's talking at the same time

Waits is joined by a stellar group of backing musicians, including Keith Richards on guitar and vocals, David Hidalgo on guitar, and Flea on bass. Bad As Me comes in two versions: the standard edition, with 13 songs, and the deluxe edition, with 16. You can hear all 13 tracks from the standard edition on the NPR website, and follow along with the lyrics on

Alfred Hitchcock Presents Ghost Stories for Young People (1962)

hitchcock photo

Image by Fred Palumbo, via Wikimedia Commons

Close the doors. Shut the blinds. Turn out the lights. Make that room dark. Get ready for Alfred Hitchcock Presents Ghost Stories for Young People. Originally recorded in 1962, the album features 11 ghost stories introduced by Hitchcock himself and then read by actor John Allen. If you were a kid during the early 60s, this may bring back some very good memories. The recording is available on YouTube and Spotify, embedded below. (Download Spotify's software for free here.)

Here's a playlist of the tracks:

  • The Haunted And The Haunters (The Pirate's Curse)
  • The Magician ('til Death Do Us Part)
  • Johnny Takes A Dare (The More The Merrier)
  • The Open Window (Special Adaptation)
  • The Helpful Hitchhiker
  • Jimmy Takes Vanishing Lessons


h/t @BrainPicker

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Pete Seeger: To Hear Your Banjo Play (1946)

This past weekend, Pete Seeger marched through the streets of Manhattan with the Occupy Wall Street movement. He was a spritely 92. It was the latest in a lifetime of political engagement by Seeger, dating all the way back to his youthful support of the Spanish Civil War. Today we bring you a film of Seeger when he was only 27 years old: To Hear Your Banjo Play. Released in 1946, To Hear Your Banjo Play is an engaging 16-minute introduction to American folk music, written and narrated by Alan Lomax and featuring rare performances by Woody Guthrie, Baldwin Hawes, Sonny Terry, Brownee McGhee, Texas Gladden and Margot Mayo's American Square Dance Group. To Hear Your Banjo Play is included in our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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Free: Download Copy of New Steve Jobs Biography

Just a few short weeks after the death of Steve Jobs comes a 627 page biography by Walter Isaacson, the former Managing Editor of TIME and CEO of CNN. Isaacson first discussed writing the book with Jobs seven years ago and has since interviewed the Apple CEO more than 40 times. Now, appearing on 60 Minutes, he talks publicly about the new book simply called Steve Jobs. It hit bookshelves yesterday and already stands atop the Amazon Bestseller list.

The 29 minute interview (Part 1 here, Part 2 here) gives you a feel for the book that's willing to tell the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly of Jobs' life. If you’re looking to get your hands on the biography, give this some thought: If you sign up for a 14-day free trial with, you can download pretty much any audio book in Audible’s catalogue for free. And that catalogue now includes Isaacson's unabridged biography. Once the trial is over, you can continue your Audible subscription (as I did), or cancel it, and still keep the free book. The choice is yours.

Note: CBS didn't allow the 60 Minutes interview to appear on external sites like ours. Hence you will need to watch the interview on YouTube itself. We provide the links above.

The Decline of Civilization’s Right Brain: Animated

The mind, they say, is a house divided: The right hemisphere of the brain is predominantly intuitive; the left, predominantly rational.

In his recent book, The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, the British psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist looks at the evolution of Western Civilization through a neuropsychological prism. In McGilchrist's view our left hemisphere has, over the past four centuries, progressively pushed aside our right hemisphere. "My belief," McGilchrist told The Morning News last year, "is that it has now taken over our self-understanding, for a variety of reasons, and is leading us all down the road to ruin."

McGilchrist is quick to point out that the old left-brain, right-brain clichés of the 1960s and 1970s were greatly oversimplified. Recent research has shown that both sides of the brain are deeply involved in functions such as reason and emotion. But the dichotomy is still useful, McGilchrist says, and should not be abandoned.

"The right hemisphere gives sustained, broad, open, vigilant alertness, whereas the left hemisphere gives narrow, sharply focused attention to detail," McGilchrist says in a new RSA Animate feature (see above). "People who lose their right hemispheres have a pathological narrowing of the window of attention."  McGilchrist sees this narrowing process occurring at the societal level. The left brain, he argues, conceives of the world as a set of decontextualized, static, material, abstract things, whereas the right brain holistically embraces a world of evolving, spiritual, empathic, concrete beings.

Both hemispheres are necessary, McGilchrist says in the Morning News interview, "but one is more fundamentally important than the other, and sees more than the other, even though there are some things that it must not get involved with, if it is to maintain its broader, more complete--in essence more truthful--vision. This is the right hemisphere, which, as I demonstrate from the neuropsychological literature, literally sees more, and grounds the understanding of the left hemisphere--an understanding which must ultimately be re-integreted with the right hemisphere, if it is not to lead to error. The left hemisphere is extraordinarily valuable as an intermediate, but not as a final authority."

McGilchrist is not without his critics. The British philosopher A.C. Grayling writes in the Literary Review, "Unfortunately, if one accepts the logic of his argument that our Western civilisation has declined from a right-hemisphere to a left-hemisphere dispensation, we do not have to imagine what the former would be like, because history itself tells us: in it most of us would be superstitious and ignorant peasants working a strip farm that we would never leave from cradle to grave, under the thumb of slightly more left-hemispheric bullies in the form of the local baron and priest."

After The Master and His Emissary was published, McGilchrist discovered a quotation attributed to Albert Einstein that he felt neatly supported his thesis. He uses this quote at the end of his RSA talk: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." But did Einstein actually say that? The Internet is awash with dubious Einstein quotations, and we were unable to locate the original source of this one. If any reader can verify its authenticity (by citing the original text, speech or conversation) please leave a note in our comments section. Meanwhile, you can watch McGilchrist's entire half-hour RSA lecture here.

via Brain Pickings

Tim Burton: A Look Inside His Visual Imagination

Tim Burton is a household name with his creepy creations and vivid symbolic imagery in film and art. Born in Burbank, California in 1958, Burton studied at the California Institute of the Arts and worked as an animator for Disney. After a time, he left to pursue an independent career, becoming famous for a wide variety of films such as The Nightmare Before ChristmasBatmanBig Fish, and most recently, Alice in Wonderland.

The video above features Burton discussing the cultivation of his signature style and the source of his unique images. The clip was shot in connection with an exhibit of Burton's work at the Museum of Modern Art, held in New York City in 2009-2010. The exhibit has since moved to LACMA in Los Angeles, and it traces the development of Burton's work from childhood sketches to his mature work as a filmmaker, bringing together hundreds of drawings, paintings, photographs, moving image works, concept art, storyboards, puppets, maquettes, costumes, and cinematic ephemera from his films. The show continues outside the museum with a topiary inspired by Edward Scissorhands and a rendition of Balloon Boy, a figure combining characters from Burton's 1997 book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories. You can catch the exhibit at LACMA until October 31st -- a fitting end date, to be sure.

Harking back to an earlier post, here is a sample of Burton's early filmmaking, created not long before he set out on his own. Narrated by Vincent Price, the short film, Vincent, effectively brings together two great talents of the horror genre ... and will put anyone in the spirit of Halloween if you're not already there.

Anémic Cinéma: Marcel Duchamp’s Whirling Avant-Garde Film (1926)

Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) made some heady art. His whole goal was to “put art back in the service of the mind," or to create what Jasper Johns once called the “field where language, thought and vision act on one another." And that's precisely what Duchamp's 1926 avant-garde film Anémic Cinéma delivers.

Drawing on his inheritance, Duchamp shot Anémic Cinéma (almost a palindrome) in Man Ray's studio with the help of cinematographer Marc Allégret. The Dada-inspired film features nine whirling optical illusions, known as Rotoreliefs, alternating with spiraling puns and complex word play. (Vision acts on language and thought, indeed.) The text of the puns appears below the jump. We didn't attempt to translate them, in part because there's a convincing case that translations can't do them justice in any way.

Anémic Cinéma appears in our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc.. Find it listed in the Animation and Silent Film sections. If you want to dive deeper into the concepts underlying the film, this piece is worth a read. SmartHistory also offers a nice audio introduction to Duchamp's body of work.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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