Robert Altman

Robert Alt­man has died at 81, leav­ing behind a lega­cy of ambi­tious films. After mak­ing his mark with MASH in 1970, Alt­man’s career moved along in fits and starts. He would give us The Long Good­bye in 1973, Nashville in 1975, unfor­tu­nate­ly Pop­eye in 1980 (and noth­ing else too remark­able dur­ing the 1980s), then two career-reviv­ing films, The Play­er and Short Cuts, in 1992 & 1993, and Gos­ford Park in 2001. Despite being a five-time Acad­e­my Award nom­i­nee for best direc­tor, Alt­man nev­er received an Oscar until this past year, when he received a life­time achieve­ment award, rec­og­niz­ing his dis­tinc­tive film-mak­ing style. Glimpses into dis­crete slices of Amer­i­can life (Hol­ly­wood, the coun­try music scene, the fash­ion world, etc.), large casts, long impro­vised scenes, com­plex mosaics of char­ac­ters — these were all trade­marks of Alt­man’s film­mak­ing, and what his lega­cy will call to mind.

Alt­man’s com­plete fil­mog­ra­phy

A.O. Scot­t’s Look Back

Vari­ety Obit

New York­er Review of Nashville (1975)

Here, Alt­man talks about the dif­fi­cul­ties of mak­ing MASH

Free University Podcasts, Videos, and Online Courses: The Central Collection

There’s a lot of free, high qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als float­ing around the ether. It’s just a ques­tion of know­ing where to find them, and what’s wheat and what’s chaff. On the left hand side of this page, you will find care­ful­ly-select­ed col­lec­tions of free uni­ver­si­ty pod­casts, free online cours­es and media, and free edu­ca­tion­al web resources. These pages will stay under active devel­op­ment. So book­mark them, watch them grow, and prof­it well from them.

The Pynchon Reviews Roll Out

And it’s not look­ing too pret­ty. The New York Times review begins:

Thomas Pynchon’s new nov­el, “Against the Day,” reads like the sort of imi­ta­tion of a Thomas Pyn­chon nov­el that a dogged but ungain­ly fan of this author’s might have writ­ten on quaaludes. It is a humon­gous, bloat­ed jig­saw puz­zle of a sto­ry, pre­ten­tious with­out being provoca­tive, ellip­ti­cal with­out being illu­mi­nat­ing, com­pli­cat­ed with­out being reward­ing­ly com­plex.

You can read the rest here.

Also see the New York­er review.

Milton Friedman Remembered

Mil­ton Fried­man, a Nobel Prize win­ner, archi­tect and lead­ing advo­cate of free mar­kets, and one of the most impor­tant econ­o­mists of the 20th cen­tu­ry, died this past week at 94.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, where Fried­man taught since 1946, has col­lect­ed a series of arti­cles review­ing his life and accom­plish­ments. Along sim­i­lar lines, Stan­ford’s Hoover Insti­tu­tion, with which Fried­man was affil­i­at­ed from 1977 until his death, has post­ed a page that includes links to videos fea­tur­ing the econ­o­mist. (Look for the videos under the area called “Pub­li­ca­tions.”)

Final­ly, from the Youtube archives, you can see a short clip from 1980, where we find a younger Mil­ton Fried­man and Don Rums­feld in con­ver­sa­tion.

Plato To Go (The Republic Now on iTunes)

If you have some time on your hands, you can down­load and lis­ten to a com­plete audio ver­sion of Pla­to’s Repub­lic on your iPod. Divid­ed into 12 install­ments, this mon­u­ment of polit­i­cal the­o­ry is writ­ten in dia­logue form. And it cer­tain­ly helps that these dia­logues are read by an actor. This nice touch helps hold your atten­tion, while also giv­ing you a good feel for the aes­thet­ics of Pla­ton­ic dia­logues. (They were meant to be spo­ken, rather than read, after all.) If you have iTunes, click here to enter. If you don’t, you can down­load it here from Apple for free. Enjoy.

Yale Takes the Podcast Plunge

Yale announced yes­ter­day that it’s join­ing the pod­cast rev­o­lu­tion, and they’re doing it with a lit­tle bit of ooomph. (If you have iTunes, click here to enter Yale’s col­lec­tion. If you don’t, you can down­load it here from Apple for free.) What you’ll find on Yale iTunes are free lec­tures by Yale’s big hit­ters. You’ll find Vin­cent Scul­ly talk­ing about Philip John­son’s archi­tec­ture, John Gad­dis giv­ing us his spiel on the future of the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion, Made­line Albright prais­ing the virtues of pub­lic ser­vice, and Tian Xu giv­ing us the low­down on the state of the human genome. As a part­ing thought, I guess this means that Har­vard should be launch­ing some­thing some time soon. Days? weeks? months? It’s only a mat­ter of time. We’ll keep an eye on it. In the mean­time, load Yale’s finest on to your iPod and pros­per.

Google Presents the Classics (for Free)

There’s more to Google Book Search than a good law­suit.
These days, they’re serv­ing up the clas­sics — all in the pub­lic domain
— for free. Lit­er­ary folks can now read and search the com­plete
col­lec­tion of Shake­speare’s works. And, in some cas­es, you can even
down­load PDF ver­sions to your com­put­er. (Check out Explor­ing Shake­speare with Google.) Beyond the Bard, you can also get The Ili­ad and The Odyssey, from the orig­i­nal bard, Homer. A lit­tle Dan­te’s Infer­no in Ital­ian, plus Machi­avel­li’s The Prince in trans­la­tion. And Jane Austen’s Pride and Prej­u­dice. I think you get the pic­ture. If it’s old and clas­sic, you can nab it at Google Book Search.


  • Google’s Scary Sto­ries — For Hal­loween, Google put togeth­er a nice page where you can read or down­load some spooky clas­sics on the cheap. Here, you’ll find Bram Stok­er’s Drac­u­la, Hen­ry Jame’s Turn of the Screw, Robert Louis Steven­son’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide, and more. For more info, see Google’s Blog entry.

Stanford on Your iPod: The Literature of Crisis

Day after day, on cam­pus­es across the coun­try, pro­fes­sors impart invalu­able knowl­edge to stu­dents. And, some­what unfor­tu­nate­ly, this knowl­edge has been tra­di­tion­al­ly dis­sem­i­nat­ed only so far — which is to say not beyond the class­room walls.

We’re per­haps at the ear­ly stages of see­ing this change. Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty has recent­ly teamed up with Apple to pilot iTunes U — a vari­a­tion on the iTunes soft­ware pack­age that explod­ed into con­sumer con­scious­ness with the iPod rev­o­lu­tion.

Until recent­ly, Stan­ford has used iTunes U to make avail­able a series of one-off lec­tures, many of them extreme­ly worth­while. (If you have iTunes, click here to enter Stan­ford iTunes. If you don’t, you can down­load it from Apple for free.) But what’s new is the uni­ver­si­ty’s deci­sion to make full-fledged cours­es avail­able to the pub­lic. This quar­ter we’re start­ing to see that deci­sion bear some fruit. In iTunes, you’ll now find week­ly install­ments of a course called The Lit­er­a­ture of Cri­sis. Taught by Marsh McCall and Mar­tin Evans, two senior fac­ul­ty mem­bers, the course explores how cri­sis — dra­mat­ic per­son­al cri­sis and larg­er soci­etal cri­sis — have shaped the lives and writ­ings of major intel­lec­tu­als, from Pla­to, to Shake­speare, to Voltaire. Whether you live in Palo Alto, New York, or Ban­ga­lore, you can sub­scribe to this course as a pod­cast by click­ing here, and, each week your iPod should auto­mat­i­cal­ly down­load the lat­est install­ment. (If you don’t have an iPod, you can sim­ply lis­ten to the course on your com­put­er.)

Click to access:

Stan­ford on iTunes

Lit­er­a­ture and Cri­sis

The Quick Start Guide to Stan­ford on iTunes

If you want to sub­scribe to the indi­vid­ual RSS feeds rolling into Stan­ford on iTunes, just click here.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.