Meet Freddie Mercury and His Faithful Feline Friends

Ooh, you make me so very happy
You give me kisses and I go out of my mind, ooh

Meeow meeow meeow
You're irresistible - I love you, Delilah
Delilah, I love you.

—Freddie Mercury

Next time you meet a cat called Delilah, ask her if she was named for Freddie Mercury’s #1 Pussycat.

Like many childless adults’ pets, Mercury’s cats loomed large, enjoying nightly phone check-ins when he was on the road, Christmas stockings, and specially prepared food.

Unlike most childless adults’ pets, Mercury’s feline friends allegedly occupied their own bedrooms in his London mansion, and were the main beneficiaries of his will, along with Mary Austin, his close friend and one-time fiancée.

(Following the dissolution of their romance, she floated the idea of having a child together, a proposal he rejected, saying that he would rather have another cat.)

Mercury must’ve taken comfort in knowing that it wasn’t his celebrity the cats were cozying up to, even if they did take advantage of his generosity where fresh chicken and cat toys were concerned.

To them, he was just another human with a can opener, a lap, and a capacity for rock star-sized meltdowns should one of them go missing. (He chucked a hibachi through the window of a guest bedroom when Goliath, his black kitten, went on temporary walkabout.)

Shortly before Mercury's death, he paid tribute to his favorite, Delilah, in a song his Queen bandmates grudgingly agreed to record, guitarist Brian May even acquiescing to a talk box to achieve the necessary "meow" sounds.

Around the same time, a thoughtful friend arranged for the other members of Mercury’s beloved menagerie to be immortalized on a custom-painted vest, which the singer can be seen sporting in the official music video for Queen’s "These Are The Days Of Our Lives," as well as his final portrait.

(I’ll have a thought for Freddie next time I’m in my home state, where a trip to the mall reveals any number of similar sartorial displays, most noticeably on ladies resembling my grandmother and her sisters…)

According to Mercury’s personal assistant, Peter "Phoebe" Freestone, most of Mercury’s cat babies were eventually farmed out to other homes, though his “princess”, Delilah, remained in residence with a couple of others, cared for by Austin.

And because there are surely those among our readers burning to know if Freddie Mercury swung both ways, we took a deeper dive through some of Freestone’s memories, and discovered that:

Freddie didn’t particularly like or dislike dogs. He wouldn’t go out of his way to avoid them and he had many friends who had dogs at home. He would play with them and stroke them if they came to him when he was visiting. He just loved cats. He felt that cats were much more independent than dogs and he was very happy that his felines had chosen him to be their master.

Find more picture of Freddie and his cats over at Dangerous Minds, Bored Panda and Vintage Everyday--most of which were taken by Peter Freestone.

Related Content:

Freddie Mercury Reimagined as Comic Book Heroes

A Stunning Live Concert Film of Queen Performing in Montreal, Digitally Restored to Perfection (1981)

Watch Behind-the-Scenes Footage From Freddie Mercury’s Final Video Performance

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in New York City May 13 for the next installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Watch the Twin Peaks Visual Soundtrack Released Only in Japan: A New Way to Experience David Lynch’s Classic Show

Critics describe David Lynch's most memorable imagery as not just deeply troubling but deeply American. Despite that — or maybe because of it — his films have found enthusiastic audiences all over the world. But does Lynch command quite as fervent a fan base in any country as he does in Japan? Unlikely though the cultural match of creator and viewer may seem, Lynch's work tends to make big splashes in the Land of the Rising Sun, and Twin Peaks, the groundbreakingly strange television drama Lynch co-created with Mark Frost, made an especially big one. Standing as evidence is the Twin Peaks material made for the Japanese and no one else: the Lynch-directed Twin Peaks Georgia Coffee commercials, for instance, or the Twin Peaks Visual Soundtrack on Laserdisc.

"What must the thirty-five million people who tuned in to the pilot episode of Twin Peaks in April 1990 have thought when they first witnessed the show's opening credits?" writes musician Claire Nina Norelli in her book on Twin Peaks' soundtrack. "This haunting music, coupled with images of rural terrain and industrialization, must have belied audiences' expectations."

That holds as true for audiences outside America as inside it: Norelli, who first saw the show in her "small, isolated hometown" of Perth, Australia, writes that "what really captured my attention during what would be the first of many forays into the world of Twin Peaks was its soundtrack, composed by Angelo Badalamenti."

The Twin Peaks Visual Soundtrack, which you can watch on Youtube, takes Badalamenti's soundtrack (which Norelli credits with "strengthening the visual language" of the show, no mean feat given the innate strength of Lynch's visions) and accompanies it with footage of the small town of Twin Peaks and its environs — or rather, footage of the locations around Washington state that Lynch and company used to craft the small town of Twin Peaks and its environs. Matt Humphrey of the Twin Peaks Podcast highlights the track "Laura Palmer's Theme," whose video "explores the train graveyard where they filmed the exteriors of Laura's death location. Now, in the series, the interiors of the train were built on sets. In this video you can see the actual interior of the old trains. It's pretty cool/gross."

"From what I can tell," Humphrey writes, "these Visual Soundtrack videos were taken in maybe 1992 by a Japanese film crew." In some shots, he adds, "you can see the townsfolk staring." Other shots bear traces of Twin Peaks' popularity: "The Double R diner is already sporting the 'Twin Peaks Cherry Pie' sign, so I think it's after the series' run. However the town of North Bend is still in full Twin Peaks promotional mode as you can see some gift shops in the videos selling all sorts of memorabilia." But Twin Peaks fans will especially enjoy the opening of the Visual Soundtrack, a CGI fly-through of the eponymous town complete with the aforementioned diner (coffee and cherry pie not included in the rendering), the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department, and a logging truck. Seeing how it all compares to Lynch's hand-drawn map from when he first pitched the show to ABC will be left as an exercise for the true fan.

Related Content:

David Lynch’s Twin Peaks Title Sequence, Recreated in an Adorable Paper Animation

Angelo Badalamenti Reveals How He and David Lynch Composed the Twin Peaks‘ “Love Theme”

Experimental Post-Punk Band Xiu Xiu Plays the Music from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks

David Lynch Directs a Mini-Season of Twin Peaks in the Form of Japanese Coffee Commercials

Japanese Movie Posters of 10 David Lynch Films

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

How to Take 70+ MasterClass Courses For Less Than a Cup of Good Coffee

FYI: If you sign up for a MasterClass course by clicking on the affiliate links in this post, Open Culture will receive a small fee that helps support our operation.

Masterclass has developed a catalog of online courses taught by "the world’s greatest minds." As it stands, they have 70 courses covering filmmaking, creative writing, photography, songwriting and more, taught by figures like David LynchAnnie LeibovitzMalcolm Gladwell, Margaret Atwood, Neil GaimanDavid Mamet and others. You can sign up for an individual course for $90. (Each course is listed below.) Or if you purchase an All Access Pass, you can take every course in the catalog over a 12-month period. The All Access Pass runs $199--which translates to about $3.50 per course. Not bad, but if you want something completely free, see our collection: 1,500 Free Online Courses from Top Universities


Helen Mirren Teaches Acting

Samuel L. Jackson Teaches Acting

Natalie Portman Teaches Acting


David Lynch Teaches Creativity and Film

Spike Lee Teaches Filmmaking

Werner Herzog Teaches Filmmaking

Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking

Ken Burns Teaches Documentary Filmmaking

Jodie Foster Teaches Filmmaking

Ron Howard Teaches Directing

Mira Nair Teaches Independent Filmmaking

Hans Zimmer Teaches Film Scoring

Danny Elfman Teaches Music for Film


Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography

Jimmy Chin Teaches Adventure Photography


Neil deGrasse Tyson Teaches Scientific Thinking and Communication

Writing: Fiction, Poetry, TV, Plays & More

Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing

Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing

Neil Gaiman Teaches The Art of Storytelling

David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing

Billy Collins Teaches Reading and Writing Poetry

Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers

Dominique Ansel Teaches French Pastry Fundamentals

David Baldacci Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing

James Patterson Teaches Writing

Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing For Television

Aaron Sorkin's MasterClass

R.L. Stine Teaches Writing for Young Audiences

Joyce Carol Oates on  the Short Story

David Sedaris on Storytelling and Humor

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Carlos Santana Teaches The Art and Soul of Guitar

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Tom Morello Teaches Electric Guitar

Itzhak Perlman Teaches Violin

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deadmau5 Teaches Electronic Music Production

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Usher Teaches the Art of Performance

Hans Zimmer Teaches Film Scoring

Danny Elfman Teaches Music for Film


Steve Martin Teaches Comedy

Judd Apatow Teaches Comedy


Wolfgang Puck Teaches Cooking

Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking

Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking II: Restaurant Recipes at Home

Alice Waters Teaches Home Cooking

Gabriela Camara Teaches Mexican Cooking

Dominique Ansel Teaches French Pastry Fundamentals

Thomas Keller Teaches Cooking Techniques

James Suckling Teaches Wine Appreciation

Massimo Bottura Teaches Modern Italian Cooking

Aaron Franklin Teaches Texas-Style BBQ

Lynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana Teach Mixology


Marc Jacobs Teaches Fashion Design

Diane Von Furstenburg Teaches Fashion

Anna Wintour Teaches Creativity and Leadership

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Will Wright Teaches Game Design and Theory


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Bob Iger Teaches Business Strategy & Leadership

Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein Teach Advertising and Creativity

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This page will be updated as more courses get added to the MasterClass catalog.

Why Do Sad People Like to Listen to Sad Music? Psychologists Answer the Question in Two Studies

I find it surprising that psychologists have only just begun to study the reasons that sad people love sad songs. There’s an entire genre named after sadness, and the blues inspired nearly all modern music in one way or another. Classical music is filled with dirges, elegies, laments, requiems, and “countless tear-jerkers.” Listen to the music of any ancient society and you will likely find the same. Humans, it seems, have some innate need to hear sad songs.

Maybe this isn’t too surprising. We aren't the only species to experience grief, but we are the only one to have devised language, and ways to make it sing to us. We tell stories of loss through music, just as through every other art. This explanation hardly satisfies scientific curiosity, however. Psychologists want to know, specifically, why we do this. Or—more specifically—why sad people do this.

Maybe not everyone enjoys the maudlin jangle of The Smiths during a breakup, or wants to listen to Leonard Cohen after a loss. But enough people do that scenes of sad characters listening to sad songs (or being sad while sad songs play) are some of the most memorable, and memorably parodied, in movie history. Researchers Annemieke Van den Tol and Jane Edwards at the University of Limerick wanted to understand the phenomenon in a 2013 study, so they sought out participants online.

The researchers opted for a limited qualitative approach to get the ball rolling. “This issue has hardly been investigated before,” writes Christian Jarrett at The British Psychological Society’s Research Digest. Their sample consisted of a self-selecting group of adults, age 18 to 66. Thirty-five of them were men and 30 women. Most of the respondents were Irish, though some were also from the Netherlands, the U.S., Germany, and Spain.

Each of the study participants was asked to describe a specific time in their lives when “they’d had a negative experience and then chose to listen to a sad piece of music.” Their descriptions were then analyzed for recurring themes. Among the most common were nostalgia, a desire for connection, and a sense of “common humanity.” The participants also cited aesthetic appreciation and a “re-experiencing of their affect” in which the sad song helped them express their feelings and find relief.

A more recent study published in Emotion concentrated its focus. Rather than surveying people who had had sad times in their lives—a category that includes pretty much everyone—researchers at the University of South Florida surveyed people with major depression. Their sample size is hardly any larger, and the participants are more homogenous: 76 female undergraduates, half of whom had a diagnosis of major depressive disorder and half of whom did not.

The study replicated methods used in a 2015 study to find out whether people with depression tended to choose sad music over “happy and neutral music,” writes Jarrett. That turned out to be the case, the researchers found. The reason surprised them. Against “the provocative idea” argued in other research “that depressed people are seeking to perpetuate their low mood,” the study instead found that those “who favored sad music said that they did so because it was relaxing, calming or soothing.”

In some ways, the answers aren’t significantly different from those of people who are not clinically depressed but still experience periods of deep sadness. Sad songs give meaning to our pain and let us know we aren't the only ones feeling it. But we know this. Everyone has at least one or two sad songs that soothe them, and some of us have whole playlists of them. The Paste magazine staff put together an excellent list of songs that helped them “hurt so good.” It’s got some of the finest writers and singers of sad songs on it: Tammy Wynette, Elliot Smith, Tom Waits, Patty Griffin, Prince, by way of Sinead O’Connor. If one of your sad songs isn’t on here, you'll probably find a few new ones to add.

I’d suggest for inclusion, to start, The Cure’s “The Same Deep Water as You,” Etta James’ “I Rather Go Blind,” Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billie’s “I See a Darkness,” Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely,” and The Smith's "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore." Tell us, what would you add—and why would you want to do a thing like listen to sad music when you're already miserable? Tell us your reasons, and your songs, below.

via Research Digest

Related Content:

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Bill Murray Explains How He Pulled Himself Out of a Deep, Lasting Funk: He Took Hunter S. Thompson’s Advice & Listened to the Music of John Prine

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

Steven Pinker & Rebecca Goldstein Debate the Value of Reason in an Animated Socratic Dialogue

Academic power couple Steven Pinker and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein probably need no introduction to Open Culture readers, but if so, their lengthy and impressive CVs are only a search and click away. The Harvard cognitive psychologist and novelist and philosopher, respectively, are secular humanist heroes of a sort—public intellectuals who have dedicated their lives to defending science and classical logic and reasoning. So, what do two such people talk about when they go out to dinner?

The TED-Ed video above depicts a date night scenario, with dialogue recorded live at TED in 2012 and edited into an “animated Socratic dialogue." The first scene begins with a defensive Goldstein holding forth on the decline of reason in political discourse and popular culture. “People who think too well are often accused of elitism,” says Goldstein, while she and Pinker's animated avatars stroll under a Star Trek billboard featuring Spock giving the Vulcan salute, just one of many clever details inserted by animation studio Cognitive.

Pinker narrows the debate to a dilemma—a Spockean dilemma, if you will—between the head and heart. “Perhaps reason is overrated,” he ventures (articulating a position he may not actually hold): “Many pundits have argued that a good heart and steadfast moral clarity are superior to the triangulations of over-educated policy wonks.” The cowboy with a six-shooter and a heart of gold depicted in the animation bests the stereotypical eggheads in every Hollywood production.

The “best and brightest” of the eggheads, after all, says Pinker, “dragged us into the quagmire in Vietnam.” Other quagmires advocated by other policy wonks might come to mind (as might the unreasoning cowboys who made the big decisions.) Reason, says Pinker, gave us environmental despoliation and weapons of mass destruction. He sets up a dichotomy between “character & conscience” on the one side and “cold-hearted calculation” on the other. “My fellow psychologists have shown that we are led by our bodies and our emotions and use our puny powers of reason merely to rationalize our gut feelings after the fact.”

Goldstein counters, “how could a reasoned argument entail the ineffectiveness of reasoned arguments?” (Visual learners may remember the image of a person blithely sawing off the branch on which they sit.) “By the very act of trying to reason us into your position, you’re conceding reason’s potency.” One might object that stating a scientific theory—such as the theory that sensation and emotion come before reasoning—is not the same as making an Aristotelian argument.

But this is a 15-minute debate, not a philosophical treatise. There will, by nature of the forum and the editing process, be elisions and some slippery uses of terminology. Still, when Goldstein dismisses the critique of “logocentrism” as an allegation of “the crime of letting logic dominate our thinking,” some philosophers may grind their teeth. The problem of logocentrism is not “too much logic” but the underlying influence of Platonic idealism and the so-called “metaphysics of presence” on Western thinking.

Without the critique of logocentrism, argues philosopher Peter Gratton, “there is no 20th-century continental philosophy.” Handwaving away an entire body of thought seems rather hasty. Outside of specific contexts, idealized abstractions like “reason” and “progress” may mean little to nothing at all in the messy reality of human affairs. This is the problem Pinker alludes to in asking whether reason can have moral ends if it is mainly a tool we use to satisfy short-term biological and emotional needs and desires.

By the time the check arrives, Pinker has been persuaded by Goldstein’s argument that in the course of time, maybe a long time, reason is the key driver of moral progress, provided that certain conditions are met: that reasoners care about their well-being and that they belong to a community of other reasoners who hold each other accountable and produce better outcomes than individuals can alone. Drop your assumptions, watch their stimulating animated dinner and see if, by the final course, you are persuaded too.

Related Content:

Steven Pinker: “Dear Humanists, Science is Not Your Enemy”

What is the Good Life? Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, & Kant’s Ideas in 4 Animated Videos

How Can I Know Right From Wrong? Watch Philosophy Animations on Ethics Narrated by Harry Shearer

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

Steve Jobs Shares a Secret for Success: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

In 1994—the year Apple co-founder Steve Jobs filmed an interview with The Silicon Valley Historical Association in which he encouraged people to go for what they want by enlisting others’ assistance—there was no social media, no Kickstarter, no GoFundMe, no Patreon…  email was just becoming a thing.

Back then, asking for help meant engaging in a face-to-face or voice-to-voice real time interaction, something many people find intimidating.

Not so young Jobs, an electronics nut who related more easily to the adult engineers in his Silicon Valley neighborhood than to kids his own age.

As he recounts above, his desire to build a frequency counter spurred him to cold call Bill Hewlett (of Hewlett-Packard), to see if he’d give him some of the necessary parts.

(In light of the recent college admissions scandal, let us recognize the 12-year-old Jobs not only had the gumption to make that call, he also appears to have had no parental assistance looking up Hewlett’s number in the Palo Alto White Pages.)

Hewlett agreed to the young go-getter’s request for parts. Jobs’ chutzpah also earned him a summer job on a Hewlett Packard assembly line, putting screws into frequency counters. (“I was in heaven,” Jobs said of this entry level position.)

Perhaps the biggest lesson for those in need of help is to ask boldly.

Ask like it’s 1994.

No, ask like it’s 1968, and you’re a self-starter like Steve Jobs hellbent on procuring those specialty parts to build your frequency counter.

(Let’s further pretend that lying around waiting for Mom to order you a DIY frequency counter kit on Amazon is not an option…)

Need an extra push?

Psychologist Adam Grant’s bestselling Give and Take makes an effective case for human interaction as the pathway to success, whether you’re the kid placing the call, or the big wig with the power to grant the wish.

Social psychologist Heidi Grant’s book, Reinforcements: How to Get People to Help You, explains how to ask without sniveling, self-aggrandizing, or putting the person on the receiving end in an awkward position.

And that shy violet Amanda Fucking Palmer, author of The Art of Asking and no stranger to the punk rock barter economy, details how her “ninja master-level fan connection” has resulted in her every request being met—from housing and meals to practice pianos and a neti pot hand delivered by an Australian nurse.

Just don’t forget to say “please” and, eventually, “thank you.”

Related Content:

Steve Jobs on Life: “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”

A Young Steve Jobs Teaches a Class at MIT (1992)

Steve Jobs Narrates the First “Think Different” Ad (Never Aired)

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in New York City this May for the next installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Trivial Pursuit: The Shakespeare Edition Has Just Been Released: Answer 600 Questions Based on the Life & Works of William Shakespeare

"The standard thing to say is that each age makes a Shakespeare in its own image," wrote The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik on the the Bard's 440th birthday. But over the centuries, the biographical and critical portrayal of the playwright of HamletRomeo and JulietOthello, and King Lear has remained remarkably consistent: "He was a genius at comedy, a free-flowing natural who would do anything for a joke or a pun, and whom life and ability bent toward tragedy." He evolved "a matchless all-sidedness and negative capability, which could probe two ideas at once and never quite come down on the 'side' of either: he was a man in whom a temperamental timidity and caution blossomed artistically into the nearest thing we have to universality."

But today, on Shakespeare's 455th birthday, we might still wonder how universal his work really is. As luck would have it, the Shakespeare Birthday Trust has just come up with a kind of test of that proposition: an all-Shakespeare edition of the popular board game Trivial Pursuit.

"Devised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the independent and self-sustaining charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon, in partnership with games company, Winning Moves," Trivial Pursuit: The Shakespeare Edition (which you can buy on the Shakespeare Birthday Trust's online shop) offers "600 questions across six categories — Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, Characters, Biography and Legacy," all "carefully crafted by Shakespeare scholars Dr Nick Walton and Dr Anjna Chouhan."

One might assume that Shakespeare buffs and scholars will dominate this game. No doubt they will, but perhaps not as often as expected, since its questions give anyone with general cultural awareness a fighting chance: "As well as questions about Shakespeare’s life and works, there are others that link him to popular culture such as the Harry Potter film series, TV shows Dr. Who and Upstart Crow, as well as actors Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Laurence Olivier, and Keanu Reeves, and the Bard’s lesser known influence on the likes of Elvis Presley and even the classic cartoon Popeye." As Walton puts it, "there are all sorts of paths to Shakespeare," not least because of his work's still-unchallenged place as the most drawn-upon texts, deliberately or inadvertently, in the whole of the English language. As for Shakespeare himself, he remains "the reigning poet of the language," in Gopnik's words, as well as "the ordinary poet of our company" — and now we have a game to play to keep him in our company.

Pick up your copy of the game here.

via Mental Floss

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Hear 55 Hours of Shakespeare’s Plays: The Tragedies, Comedies & Histories Performed by Vanessa Redgrave, Sir John Gielgud, Ralph Fiennes & Many More

30 Days of Shakespeare: One Reading of the Bard Per Day, by The New York Public Library, on the 400th Anniversary of His Death

Free Online Shakespeare Courses: Primers on the Bard from Oxford, Harvard, Berkeley & More

Read All of Shakespeare’s Plays Free Online, Courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library

What Shakespeare Sounded Like to Shakespeare: Reconstructing the Bard’s Original Pronunciation

Take a Virtual Tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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