Hear 20 Minutes of Mark Frost’s New Secret History of Twin Peaks, the Book Fans Have Waited 25 Years to Read

We live in a good time to be a Twin Peaks fan. Amid the buzz of a third season of David Lynch and Mark Frost's innovatively surreal primetime drama premiering on Showtime next year, we've enjoyed the emergence of contemporary Twin Peaks-related materials (David Lynch's hand-drawn map of the titular small-town setting, the Japanese coffee commercials he set there) as well as newer Twin Peaks-themed projects from other creators (an Atari game, an elementary school play). And now we can read Frost's novel The Secret History of Twin Peaks, billed by its publisher as "the story millions of fans have been waiting to get their hands on for 25 long years."

The novel's "362 pages cover what happened to some of the people of that iconic fictional town since we last saw them 25 years ago, but the timeline starts as early as the 1800s with the journals of Lewis and Clark," says fan site Welcome to Twin Peaks. It also "also offers a deeper glimpse into the central mystery that was only touched on by the original series, and will include over 100 four-color illustrations and photographs." The nearly ten-hour audiobook version features the voices of original cast members like Michael Horse as Deputy Hawk, Russ Tamblyn as Dr. Lawrence Jacoby, and most Twin Peaks of all, Kyle MacLachlan as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper.

In the video and audio clips at the top of the post, you can sample The Secret History of Twin Peaks' audiobook experience and get a sense of how it differs from that of a normal audiobook — and how the text itself differs from that of a standard novel. It takes the form not of a straight-ahead narrative but a thorough FBI dossier, the print version of which Meredith Borders of Birth.Movies.Death. describes as "an attractive multi-media hodgepodge, with Xeroxed manila folders and sticky notes, arrest reports, book covers, photos and sketches and maps and newspaper clippings." The longer excerpt here delves into the story of Josie Packard, the widowed owner of Packard Sawmill and a particularly mysterious character in a cast of mysterious characters. Not to give too much away, but her past involves a fashion empire, a Hong Kong drug triad, and a "legendarily beautiful prostitute."

As always in Twin Peaks, the more you learn, the stranger things get. But a true fan wants just that, and they can have it and then some by picking up their own copy of the book or audiobook, the latter of which they can get for free if they take audiobook provider Audible up on their 30-day trial offer.

via Welcome to Twin Peaks

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Hear Vincent Price, Horror Film Legend, Read 8+ Hours of Scary Stories

vincent_price_in_laura_trailer

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Here's a good way to inject a little fright into your Halloween celebration. Below, we've pulled together a playlist featuring Vincent Price, the icon of so many classic horror films, reading 8+ hours of scary stories. The readings, available for free on Spotify, come from albums recorded decades ago. The collection includes:

  • Tales of Witches, Ghosts and Goblins (1972)
  • Witchcraft - Magic: An Adventure In Demonology (1969)
  • A Hornbook For Witches, Stories And Poems For Halloween (1976)
  • Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone Read Edgar Allan Poe Stories & Poems (1954)

 

If you don't have Spotify's software, download it here. This Vincent Price playlist will be added to our collection, 900 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free.

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What Makes a Good Horror Movie? The Answer Revealed with a Journey Through Classic Horror Films Clips

A few minutes with Lewis Bond’s first video essay, "Let's Discuss Horror," above, was all it took to scupper my careful avoidance of certain film franchises---Saw, Hostel, The Human Centipede

Bond’s cinematic preoccupations usually come with far fewer exploding heads. Later entries on his Channel Criswell Youtube channel explore such Criterion Collection-worthy topics as "Colour in Storytelling," "The French New Wave," and "Stanley Kubrick."




Clearly, he cares about the horror genre, as well as the more rarified stuff. He opines that horror movies have lost their capacity to scare. The industry’s quest for ever more transgressive shocks and gore (many of which are on display above) has left viewers desensitized. Bond likens the phenomenon to hitting a brick wall and “trying to break it down by adding more bricks.”

Part of the problem, Bond suggests, is an industry onus to deliver wall-to-wall depravity, the grosser, the better. Torture porn may have cornered a sizable piece of the market, but lack of foreplay is killing the suspense. Slow builds such as Danny Torrence’s endless Big Wheel rides past Room 237 or Rosemary’s uneasy pregnancy are a thing of the past. Today’s filmmakers have the meat hooks out from the get go.

When audiences become inured to the non-stop buffet of bursting entrails and the rotting zombies  who feast on them, filmmakers grow even more reliant on jump scares. These pop-go-the-weasel moments invariably get a rise out of me, but Bond, like most horror purists, views them with disdain. Too easy.

"Let's Discuss Horror" contains a plethora of them, but they seem silly, divorced from the narrative and the requisite scary music.

(Speaking of which, "Tubular Bells" underscores a good portion of Bond's breezy narration.)

Whenever Bond makes a point with a longer scene from more celebrated fare such as JAWS, Don’t Look Now, or Audition, he includes a clickable link that will deposit viewers on the other side of spoilers. Depending on your saturation point, you may find yourself wishing those links would drop you off in Linus’ pumpkin patch.

Happy Halloween!

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her play Zamboni Godot is opening in New York City in March 2017. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Isaac Newton’s Recipe for the Mythical ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ Is Being Digitized & Put Online (Along with His Other Alchemy Manuscripts)

17th-century-manuscript

In his 1686 Principia Mathematica, Isaac Newton elaborated not only his famous Law of Gravity, but also his Three Laws of Motion, setting a centuries-long trend for scientific three-law sets. Newton’s third law has by far proven his most popular: “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” In Arthur C. Clarke’s 20th century Three Laws, the third has also attained wide cultural significance. No doubt you’ve heard it: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Clarke’s third law gets invoked in discussions of the so-called “demarcation problem,” that is, of the boundaries between science and pseudoscience. It also comes up, of course, in science fiction forums, where people refer to Ted Chiang’s succinct interpretation: “If you can mass-produce it, it’s science, and if you can’t, it’s magic.” This makes sense, given the central importance the sciences place on reproducibility. But in Newton’s pre-industrial age, the distinctions between science and magic were much blurrier than they are now.

Newton was an early fellow of the British Royal Society, which codified repeatable experiment and demonstration with their motto, “Nothing in words,” and published the Principia. He later served as the Society’s president for over twenty years. But even as the foremost representative of early modern physics---what Edward Dolnick called “the clockwork universe”---Newton held some very strange religious and magical beliefs that we would point to today as examples of superstition and pseudoscience.

In 1704, for example, the year after he became Royal Society president, Newton used certain esoteric formulae to calculate the end of the world, in keeping with his long-standing study of apocalyptic prophecy. What’s more, the revered mathematician and physicist practiced the medieval art of alchemy, the attempt to turn base metals into gold by means of an occult object called the “Philosopher’s stone.” By Newton’s time, many alchemists believed the stone to be a magical substance composed in part of “sophick mercury.” In the late 1600s, Newton copied out a recipe for such stuff from a text by American-born alchemist George Starkey, writing his own notes on the back of the document.

You can see the “sophick mercury” formula in Newton’s hand at the top. The recipe contains, in part, “Fiery Dragon, some Doves of Diana, and at least seven Eagles of mercury,” notes Michael Greshko at National Geographic. Newton's alchemical texts detail what has long been “dismissed as mystical pseudoscience full of fanciful, discredited processes.” This is why Cambridge University refused to archive Newton’s alchemical papers in 1888, and why his 1855 biographer wondered how he could be taken in by “the obvious production of a fool and a knave.” Newton's alchemy documents passed quietly through many private collectors’ hands until 1936, when “the world of Isaac Newton scholarship received a rude shock,” writes Indiana University’s online project, The Chymistry of Isaac Newton:

In that year the venerable auction house of Sotheby’s released a catalogue describing three hundred twenty-nine lots of Newton’s manuscripts, mostly in his own handwriting, of which over a third were filled with content that was undeniably alchemical.

Marked “not to be printed” upon his death in 1727, the alchemical works “raised a host of interesting questions in 1936 as they do even today.” Those questions include whether or not Newton practiced alchemy as an early scientific pursuit or whether he believed in a “secret theological meaning in alchemical texts, which often describe the transmutational secret as a special gift revealed by God to his chosen sons.” The important distinction comes into play in Ted Chiang’s discussion of Clarke’s Third Law:

Suppose someone says she can transform lead into gold. If we can use her technique to build factories that turn lead into gold by the ton, then she’s made an incredible scientific discovery. If on the other hand it’s something that only she can do... then she’s a magician.

Did Newton think of himself as a magician? Or, more properly given his religiosity, as God’s chosen vessel for alchemical transformation? It’s not entirely clear what he believed about alchemy. But he did take the practice of what was then called “chymistry” as seriously as he did his mathematics. James Voelkel, curator of the Chemical Heritage Foundation—who recently purchased the Philosophers' stone recipe—tells Livescience that its author, Starkey, was “probably American’s first renowned, published scientist,” as well as an alchemist. While Newton may not have tried to make the mercury, he did correct Starkey’s text and write his own experiments for distilling lead ore on the back.

Indiana University science historian William Newman “and other historians,” notes National Geographic, “now view alchemists as thoughtful technicians who labored over their equipment and took copious notes, often encoding their recipes with mythological symbols to protect their hard-won knowledge.” The occult weirdness of alchemy, and the strange pseudonyms its practitioners adopted, often constituted a means to “hide their methods from the unlearned and ‘unworthy,’” writes Danny Lewis at Smithsonian. Like his fellow alchemists, Newton “diligently documented his lab techniques” and kept a careful record of his reading.

“Alchemists were the first to realize that compounds could be broken down into their constituent parts and then recombined,” says Newman, a principle that influenced Newton’s work on optics. It is now acknowledged that---while still considered a mystical pseudoscience---alchemy is an important “precursor to modern chemistry” and, indeed, as Indiana University notes, it contributed significantly to early modern pharmacology” and “iatrochemistry... one of the important new fields of early modern science.” The sufficiently advanced technology of chemistry has its origins in the magic of “chymistry,” and Newton was “involved in all three of chymistry’s major branches in varying degrees.”

Newton’s alchemical manuscript papers, such as “Artephius his secret Book” and “Hermes” sound nothing like what we would expect of the discoverer of a “clockwork universe.” You can read transcriptions of these manuscripts and several dozen more at The Chymistry of Isaac Newton, where you’ll also find an Alchemical Glossary, Symbol Guide, several educational resources, and more. The manuscripts not only show Newton’s alchemy pursuits, but also his correspondence with other early modern alchemical scientists like Robert Boyle and Starkey, whose recipe—titled “Preparation of the [Socphick] Mercury for the [Philosophers’] stone by the Antinomial Stellate Regulus of Mars and Luna from the Manuscripts of the American Philosopher”—will be added to the Indiana University online archive soon.

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

Pussy Riot Envisions America in Trump’s Dystopian Future (NSFW)

The Russian feminist punk protest group Pussy Riot went to jail for tweaking the Russian Orthodox church. Now they're going after another Putin puppet. It would be a missed opportunity (alliteratively-speaking at least) if Pussy Riot didn't take down the pu$$y-grabbing candidate (his words, not ours). And they don't disappoint. Above, watch their new Youtube video, which comes accompanied with this blurb:

#PussyGrabsBack #NastyWoman (!) Because YOU decide elections and if we get together, we could blow this shit up, take action and reverse this erosion of rights.

The video was directed by Jonas Akerlund, and the song written "passionately" by Ricky Reed, Nadya Tolokonnikova, and Tom Peyton. It appears on their brand new EP, XXX.

Be warned that the video contains NSFW scenes.

via Rolling Stone

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The 14-Hour Epic Film, Dune, That Alejandro Jodorowsky, Pink Floyd, Salvador Dalí, Moebius, Orson Welles & Mick Jagger Never Made

Frank Herbert, David Lynch, and Alejandro Jodorowsky surely all rank among the most imaginative creators of the second half of the twentieth century. It made sense to film producers to turn Herbert's Dune into a movie, but they had a devil of a time finding the right director to bring that epic novel of the feudal interstellar future to the screen. Lynch, as all his fans know and most regret, wound up with the job, and soon after the botched result hit theaters in 1984, it made history as one of the all-time classic mismatches between filmmaker and project, and at $40 million, one of the most expensive. Lesson learned: don't hire the director of Eraserhead to helm your big-budget sci-fi blockbuster.

But what about the director of the even stranger and more ambitious The Holy Mountain? In 1975, almost a decade before Lynch's Dune, Jodorowsky announced his own adaptation of Dune, funded by a French consortium and made in collaboration with artists like Chris Foss, H.R. Giger, and Moebius, writer and special effects designer Dan O'Bannon (who'd just made the low-budget space comedy Dark Star with John Carpenter), and actors like Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, and David Carradine.




He also cast such icons not known primarily for acting as Mick Jagger and Salvador Dalí. "Jodorowsky’s midnight audiences were notorious for being high," writes The Hollywood Reporter's Chris O'Falt, "but with Dune the director set out to make a film that fabricated the effects of LSD for a sober audience, complete with a soundtrack by Pink Floyd."

Or as Dalí once declared, "I don't do drugs. I am drugs." This cinematic experience of expanded consciousness would have run approximately fourteen hours, as Herbert discovered when he checked in on the pre-production to find $2 million of the film's $9.5 million budget already spent and a script "the size of a phone book." Unable to find a studio to bankroll the Dune he and his collaborators had envisioned, Jodorowsky ultimately dropped the project, but its materials — and the staggering breadth as well as depth of its vision — provided the basis for the 2014 documentary Jodorowsky's Dune, whose trailer you can watch above.

"Almost all the battles were won, but the war was lost,"Jodorowsky writes in an essay on his experience with the project. "The project was sabotaged in Hollywood. It was French and not American. Its message was not 'enough Hollywood.' There were intrigues, plundering. The story-board circulated among all the large studios. Later, the visual aspect of Star Wars resembled our style. To make Alien, they invited Moebius, Foss, Giger, O'Bannon, etc.," to say nothing of its traces visible in Blade Runner and The Matrix. While the 87-year-old Jodorowsky has made a return to filmmaking in recent years, his Dune will most likely remain on the lists of the greatest movies never made. But its influence, if not its scale, will no doubt continue to manifest in generations of sci-fi cinema to come.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Huge Archive of American Films–From Casablanca to Gigli–Are Protected & Preserved in a Nuclear Bunker

We’ve been given to understand how important it is that our top elected officials disappear into bunkers if the country is attacked. But in the event of a catastrophic nuclear bombing, what happens to the country’s culture, its shared literary and artistic artifacts? What happens to novels like Riddley Walker (a favorite of Anthony Burgess) or films like the Mad Max series, both of which describe post-apocalyptic landscapes nearly wiped clean of the traces of hundreds of years of human civilization? Maybe it’s a depressing question, but in the case of American cinema---as campy as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome or as classically smooth as Casablanca---learning the answer will not bum you out.

You’ll likely find yourself riveted by the video above from Great Big Story, a quick tour of the Library of Congress’ Packard Campus. The Culpeper, Virginia compound, originally designed to preserve gold and maybe the President, is now pressed into service as a bomb-proof film archive.




You may be relieved to learn from film archivist George Willeman that a post-catastrophe U.S. will not have to rebuild without classic Bogart performances to draw from. Perhaps that new society could do without copies of Gigli or the films of Adam Sandler, but that’s an opinion the future is free to disregard, should such terrible things ever come to pass.

But be not bummed, the Packard Campus does much more than prepare for the worst. Archivists and technicians there spend their days saving the best of film history, “preserving and restoring film reels,” reports Indiewire: “The bunker has a suite where technicians do nothing but repair films, it also has specialized rooms for printing, film processing DataCine transfers and cylinder recording. There are also video players that can play any sort of format that they need.” The compound will also hold particular appeal for fans of Brutalist architecture that appears to be abandoned to the elements. Having driven by the bunker many times—and only recently learning what it was—I can testify to the imposing bulk and seeming ruination of its above-ground floors, which we only get a glimpse of in the first few minutes of the video. Inside, it’s a film historian and archivist's dream.

For more films that would hopefully survive an apocalypse, see our collection: 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc.

via Indiewire

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

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