Every Appearance James Brown Ever Made On Soul Train. So Nice, So Nice!

Are you ready for some Super Brother Music for the Soul?

Yes? How fortuitous! We just happen to have 45 minutes worth of James Brown Soul Train appearances from the early-to-mid-’70s to share. Get down!

It's worth noting that Brown's band, the JBs, were the only ones in the history of the show who host Don Cornelius trusted to play live. The Godfather of Soul ran a tight ship, fining band members for sour notes and untidy costumes, and it shows. The dance show's stage was tight, but the performances here are even tighter, as lean and mean as those funkadelic Curtis Gibson ensembles!

If your New Year's Eve plans pale in comparison with the playlist below, cancel them and stay in. Feel good. So good. We got you.

Hot Pants

Get Up (I Feel Like A) Sex Machine 2:36

Get On The Good Foot 4:06

Soul Power 6:51

Make It Funky 9:53

Cold Sweat 11:07

Try Me 14:22

Please Please, Please 17:21

Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud 17:57

Super Bad 23:53  (featuring Soul Train Gang dancer Damita Jo Freeman's insane Robot)

Papa Don’t Take No Mess 26:18

My Thang 29:57

Hell 33:33 (the little girl sharing the stage is Brown's daughter, Deanna)

The Payback 35:57

Damn Right, I Am Somebody 40:25 (with Fred Wesley & the JB’s)

via That Eric Alper

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Ayun Halliday is the author of seven books, including No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late  and the Zinester's Guide to NYC. Follow her @AyunHalliday

The International Children’s Digital Library Offers Free eBooks for Kids in Over 40 Languages

For all of the free literature and essays available online, a surprisingly small amount is geared toward children. Even less is aimed at children who speak foreign languages.

The International Children’s Digital Library offers children ages 3-13 free access to the best available children’s literature in more than 40 languages. Librarians find and digitize books published around the world and present them in their original languages.

The site acts as a meta learning tool. It is designed to be easy for children to use by themselves—by simply clicking “Read Books,” a list of favorite titles pops up—but kids can learn how to search too, by their own age, types of characters, genre, book length, language and geographical region.

The homepage features recommended and popular titles, like Tyrone the Horrible, written in Spanish. Where translation rights exist, the library works with volunteer translators to provide additional language versions.

The library is a project of the University of Maryland’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab and there is a research component to the project. Working with children in New Zealand, Honduras, Germany, and the United States, researchers are looking at how children perceive other cultures outside their own.

The library’s broader mission is to make it possible for children all over the world to learn to use a library system and read a range of quality literature. The interface aims as much at international children as it does immigrant children in American cities and rural areas.

Books are available for free and without an account. An account, however, allows a child to create their own bookshelf of favorites that can be shared with other users. A guide for teachers includes a training manual and tips for how to use the library to teach creative writing, library search skills and foreign languages.

You will find the International Children’s Digital Library in our collection 200 Free Kids Educational Resources: Video Lessons, Apps, Books, Websites & More.

More digitized children's books can be found at the Library of Congress.

Adults, don't miss our other collection, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.

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Read 9 Free Articles by Hunter S. Thompson That Span His Gonzo Journalist Career (1965-2005)

Image  via Wikimedia Commons

Most readers know Hunter S. Thompson for his 1971 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. But in over 45 years of writing, this prolific observer of the American scene wrote voluminously, often hilariously, and usually with deceptively clear-eyed vitriol on sports, politics, media, and other viciously addictive pursuits. ("I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone," he famously said, "but they've always worked for me.") His distinctive style, often imitated but never replicated, all but forced the coining of the term "gonzo" journalism. But what could define it? One clue comes in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas itself, when Thompson reflects on his experience in the city, ostensibly as a reporter: "What was the story? Nobody had bothered to say. So we would have to drum it up on our own. Free Enterprise. The American Dream. Horatio Alger gone mad on drugs in Las Vegas. Do it now: pure Gonzo journalism."

You'll find out more in the Paris Review's interview with Thompson, in which he recounts once feeling that "journalism was just a ticket to ride out, that I was basically meant for higher things. Novels." Sitting down to begin his proper literary career, Thompson took a quick job writing up the Hell's Angels, which let him get over "the idea that journalism was a lower calling. Journalism is fun because it offers immediate work. You get hired and at least you can cover the f&cking City Hall. It's exciting." And then came the real epiphany, after he went to cover the Kentucky Derby for Scanlan's: "Most depressing days of my life. I'd lie in my tub at the Royalton. I thought I had failed completely as a journalist. Finally, in desperation and embarrassment, I began to rip the pages out of my notebook and give them to a copyboy to take to a fax machine down the street. When I left I was a broken man, failed totally, and convinced I'd be exposed when the stuff came out."

Indeed, the exposure came, but not in the way he expected. Below, we've collected ten of Thompson's articles freely available online, from those early pieces on the Hell's Angels and the Kentucky Derby to others on the 1972 Presidential race, the Honolulu Marathon, Richard Nixon, and wee-hour conversations with Bill Murray. But don't take these subjects too literally; Thompson always had a way of finding something even more interesting in exactly the opposite direction from whatever he'd initially meant to write about. And that, perhaps, reveals more about the gonzo method than anything else.

"The Motorcycle Gangs: Losers and Outsiders" (The Nation, 1965) The article that would become the basis for Thompson's first book, Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. "When you get in an argument with a group of outlaw motorcyclists, you can generally count your chances of emerging unmaimed by the number of heavy-handed allies you can muster in the time it takes to smash a beer bottle. In this league, sportsmanship is for old liberals and young fools."

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Rolling Stone, 1971) The Gonzo journalism classic first appeared as a two-part series in Rolling Stone magazine in November 1971, complete with illustrations from Ralph Steadman, before being published as a book in 1972.  Rolling Stone has posted the original version on its web site.

"Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in '72" (Rolling Stone, 1973) Excerpts from Thompson's book of nearly the same name, an examination of Democratic Party candidate George McGovern's unsuccessful bid for the Presidency that McGovern's campaign manager Frank Mankiewicz called "the least factual, most accurate account" in print. "My own theory, which sounds like madness, is that McGovern would have been better off running against Nixon with the same kind of neo-'radical' campaign he ran in the primaries. Not radical in the left/right sense, but radical in a sense that he was coming on with a new... a different type of politician... a person who actually would grab the system by the ears and shake it."

"The Curse of Lono" (Playboy, 1983) Thompson and Steadman's assignment from Running magazine to cover the Honololu marathon turns into a characteristically "terrible misadventure," this one even involving the old Hawaiian gods. "It was not easy for me, either, to accept the fact that I was born 1700 years ago in an ocean-going canoe somewhere off the Kona Coast of Hawaii, a prince of royal Polynesian blood, and lived my first life as King Lono, ruler of all the islands, god of excess, undefeated boxer. How's that for roots?"

"He Was a Crook" (Rolling Stone, 1994) Thompson's obituary of, and personal history of his hatred for, President Richard M. Nixon. "Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place.

"Doomed Love at the Taco Stand" (Time, 2001) Thompson's adventures in California, to which he has returned for the production of Terry Gilliam's film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starring Johnny Depp. "I had to settle for half of Depp's trailer, along with his C4 Porsche and his wig, so I could look more like myself when I drove around Beverly Hills and stared at people when we rolled to a halt at stoplights on Rodeo Drive."

"Fear & Loathing in America" (ESPN.com, 2001) In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Thompson looks out onto the grim and paranoid future he sees ahead. "This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed -- for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush."

"Prisoner of Denver" (Vanity Fair, 2004) A chronicle of Thompson's (posthumously successful) involvement in the case of Lisl Auman, a young woman he believed wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of a police officer. "'We' is the most powerful word in politics. Today it’s Lisl Auman, but tomorrow it could be you, me, us."

"Shotgun Golf with Bill Murray" (ESPN.com, 2005) Thompson's final piece of writing, in which he runs an idea for a new sport —combining golf, Japanese multistory driving ranges, and the discharging of shotguns — by the comedy legend at 3:30 in the morning. "It was Bill Murray who taught me how to mortify your opponents in any sporting contest, honest or otherwise. He taught me my humiliating PGA fadeaway shot, which has earned me a lot of money... after that, I taught him how to swim, and then I introduced him to the shooting arts, and now he wins everything he touches."

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Johnny Depp Reads Letters from Hunter S. Thompson (NSFW)

Hunter S. Thompson Remembers Jimmy Carter’s Captivating Bob Dylan Speech (1974)

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, Asia, film, literature, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on his brand new Facebook page.

Sherlock Holmes Is Now in the Public Domain, Declares US Judge

sherlock_holmes_in_public domain

Chief Judge Rubén Castillo of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois has ruled that the characters and story lines used in 50 Sherlock Holmes texts published by Arthur Conan Doyle before Jan. 1, 1923 "are no longer covered by United States copyright law and can be freely used by creators without paying any licensing fee to the Conan Doyle estate," reports The New York Times. This gives contemporary authors the ability to write their own Sherlock Holmes mystery stories and keep contributing to a rich tradition of detective fiction. It would also seemingly put pre-1923 texts firmly in the public domain. (You can find The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and other related stories in our Free eBooks and Free Audio Books collections. ) Leslie S. Klinger, the editor of The Complete Annotated Sherlock Holmes, who filed the civil suit, praised the judge's decision, saying “People want to celebrate Holmes and Watson, and now they can do that without fear.” Now it's time for them to write something that can hold a candle to what Conan Doyle created those many years ago.

Don’t miss anything from Open Culture. Sign up for our Daily Email or RSS Feed. And we’ll send cultural curiosities your way, every day.

via Arts Beat

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Arthur Conan Doyle Discusses Sherlock Holmes and Psychics in a Rare Filmed Interview (1927)

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William Blake’s Hallucinatory Illustrations of John Milton’s Paradise Lost


When I saw William Blake’s illustrations for the book of Job and for John Milton’s L’Allegro and Il Penseroso at the Morgan Library a few years ago, I was first struck by how small the intricate watercolors are. This should not have been surprising—these are book illustrations, after all. But William Blake (1757–1827) is such a tremendous force, his work so monumentally strange and beautiful, that one expects to be overpowered by it. In person, his drawings are indeed impressive, but they are equally so for their careful attention to design and composition as for their heavy, often quite terrifying subjects.

Look, for example, at the play of patterns behind the figures in the illustration above, from an edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost. The figure in the center depicts Milton’s grotesquely graphic allegorical construction of Sin. In Milton, this character “seemed woman to the waist, and fair,”

But ended foul in many a scaly fold
Voluminous and vast, a serpent armed
With mortal sting: about her middle round
A cry of hell hounds never ceasing barked
With wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
If ought disturbed their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there, yet there still barked and howled,
Within unseen.

Blake spares us the horror of the latter image—in fact he gets a little vague on the details of the creature’s netherparts, which were always difficult to imagine, and emphasizes the “fair” parts above (in the version below, the serpent/dog thing looks like a costume prop). Milton’s description always seemed to me one of the cruelest, most misogynistic renderings of the female body in literature. Blake’s portrait relieves Milton’s nastiness, making Sin sympathetic and, well, kinda hot, a Blakean feat for sure. The characters to her left and right are Satan and Death, respectively.


Blake loved Milton, and illustrated his work more than any other author. And he illustrated Paradise Lost more than any other Milton, in three separate commissions (peruse them all here).  The first set dates from 1807, commissioned by Joseph Thomas. (The Satan, Sin, and Death scene above comes from the Thomas set.) The second set, from which the image at the top comes, was commissioned in 1808 by Thomas Butts. Blake patron John Linnell commissioned the third set of illustrations in 1822. Only three of the Linnell paintings survive---none of the scene above. In one of the 1822 illustrations (below), Satan spies on Adam and Eve as they canoodle in the garden.


Blake’s obsession with Paradise Lost inspired his own cracked theological fable, Milton: a Poem in Two Books, with its bizarre preamble in which Blake promises to “buil[d] Jerusalem / In England’s green and pleasant land.” One writer calls Blake’s Milton “a lengthy and difficult apocalyptic poem with a fascinating hallucinatory quality.” The poem caused many of Blake’s contemporaries to conclude that “he was quite mad.” But I think his work shows us a man with all of his faculties, and maybe a few extra besides, although his paintings, like his weirder poetry, can also seem like crazed hallucinations. He meant his various Paradise Lost illustrations to correct earlier renderings by other artists, including a political satire by cartoonist James Gillray in 1792 and a 1740 painting by William Hogarth that today resembles the cover of a bad fantasy novel. See both of those earlier versions here.

via Bibliokept

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Find Works by Milton in our Free Audio Books and Free eBooks Collections

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Every Time “Making Love” Was Uttered in a Woody Allen Film: A Four Minute Montage

Woody Allen once said that “sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go it's pretty damn good.” Most readers would be compelled to think that Allen's slight frame, trademark horn-rimmed glasses, and stuttering delivery would preclude his characters from achieving much of anything in the sexual realm. After all, how could the consummate nebbishes that Allen portrays in most of his films possibly impress a member of the fairer sex? Somehow, however, in spite of their whinging neuroticism, Allen's geek incarnates transform into gallants of prodigious proportions in almost every role. Those wanting concrete evidence may take a look at Take the Money and Run (1969), Annie Hall (1977), or Manhattan (1979), among myriad others, and note that Allen's characters repeatedly end up with women who seemed to make a gross error in sexual selection.

Last month, we brought you a supercut of Woody Allen’s stammers, comprising a 44-minute graduate course in Allen’s awkward mannerisms. Today, we continue this tradition and bring you another Allen supercut; this time, the montage consists of four-odd minutes of every occurrence of the term “making love” in Allen’s films, beginning with What’s New Pussycat (1965) and ending in To Rome With Love (2012). Merry Christmas!

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Akira Kurosawa to Ingmar Bergman: “A Human Is Not Really Capable of Creating Really Good Works Until He Reaches 80”


In July of 1988, Ingmar Bergman—retired from film—turned 70. He had every reason to believe that his best work lay behind him. After all, he had won three Academy Awards (and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award), two BAFTAs, seven Cannes prizes, six Golden Globes, and a host of other honors. His oeuvre included such seemingly unsurpassable achievements as Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Fanny and Alexander, and too many more to name, and that year he published his memoirs, The Magic Lantern, in which he confessed “I probably do mourn the fact that I no longer make films.”

But no!, writes the Swedish director’s Japanese counterpart, Akira Kurosawa, the “real work is just beginning.” At least that’s how Kurasawa, then 77, felt about his “second babyhood.” Kurosawa wrote the letter above to Bergman on his birthday, professing his deep admiration. The feeling went both ways. The typically self-deprecating Bergman once called his The Virgin Spring a “a lousy imitation of Kurosawa” and added, “at the time my admiration for the Japanese cinema was at its height. I was almost a samuri myself!” Read the full transcript of Kurosawa’s birthday wishes to Bergman below (originally published in Chaplin magazine).

Dear Mr. Bergman,

Please let me congratulate you upon your seventieth birthday.

Your work deeply touches my heart every time I see it and I have learned a lot from your works and have been encouraged by them. I would like you to stay in good health to create more wonderful movies for us.

In Japan, there was a great artist called Tessai Tomioka who lived in the Meiji Era (the late 19th century). This artist painted many excellent pictures while he was still young, and when he reached the age of eighty, he suddenly started painting pictures which were much superior to the previous ones, as if he were in magnificent bloom. Every time I see his paintings, I fully realize that a human is not really capable of creating really good works until he reaches eighty.

A human is born a baby, becomes a boy, goes through youth, the prime of life and finally returns to being a baby before he closes his life. This is, in my opinion, the most ideal way of life.

I believe you would agree that a human becomes capable of producing pure works, without any restrictions, in the days of his second babyhood.

I am now seventy-seven (77) years old and am convinced that my real work is just beginning.

Let us hold out together for the sake of movies.

With the warmest regards,

Akira Kurosawa

Via Cinephilia and Beyond

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Watch Kurosawa’s Rashomon Free Online, the Film That Introduced Japanese Cinema to the West

Dick Cavett’s Wide-Ranging TV Interview with Ingmar Bergman and Lead Actress Bibi Andersson (1971)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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