Christmas Eve in the Trenches, 1914: When Warring Sides Laid Down Their Arms & Joined Each Other in Song

Right in time for Christmas Eve…

World War I was a relentlessly grinding and brutal war. Europe had never experienced anything like it. But there was one notable moment of respite, a brief moment when humanity showed back through. Christmas Eve, 1914. The moving story of what happened that night gets recounted in John McCutcheon’s touching song, Christmas in the Trenches. The video below includes the backstory and the song itself. You can also watch a live performance here, and get the lyrics here. Happy holidays to all. And thanks Sheryl for the tip.

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E-Books Finally Here to Stay?

The New York Times thinks that e-books may have finally turned the corner in 2008. The Kindle is sold out until February (which messes up my Christmas plans). Sales of Sony’s e-book reader have tripled over last season. And we’re now seeing e-books hit the bestseller list. The digital age for books may be upon us.

David Lynch on His Favorite Movies and Filmmakers

In a quick 59 seconds, David Lynch tells you the films and filmmakers that he likes best (see below). In equally succinct videos, though with a bit more salty language (read: language that’s not ideal for work), Lynch also gives you his thoughts on product placement and the whole concept of watching a movie on an iPhone


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The Nepotism Special

Here it goes:

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 – Karajan or Muppet Style

A couple of big blogs recently highlighted a clip of the Muppets doing Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth. It’s cute, and I was hardly surprised that the video logged 3.6 million views on YouTube.

Not far behind, at 3.2 million views, is a long video showing Herbert Von Karajan leading a live performance of Beethoven’s Ninth. The fact that Karajan, one of the world’s best-known conductors, lags behind a bunch of puppets is unfortunate, no doubt. But it’s also heartening in some ways. It tells me that high culture is still competing for an audience. So here it goes. Karajan in action:

(You can get Part 2 here, and we’ve added both clips to our YouTube Favorites. Also you can find more vintage Beethoven/Karajan footage in this guy’s video collection.)


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It’s a Wonderful (Scratch That, Miserable) Life

About the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a New York Times op-ed had this to say today:

It “is anything but a cheery holiday tale.” It “is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.”

And, with that, we present the 1947 film directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart:

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Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2008

According to Discover Magazine

U2 at Live Aid, 1985

Let me indulge in a brief bit of nostalgia for a sec.  Somehow my once wayward friends and I scored tickets to Live Aid back in 1985, which meant that we got to spend a scorching day at Philly’s JFK Stadium, watching live acts that included Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (leaving aside a campy Bowie and Jagger video). But somehow what still stands out for me are two acts piped in from London’s Wembley Stadium —  U2’s 12 minute version of  “Bad” (below), which launched the band into international stardom, and, yes, Queens’ set: Bohemian Rhapsody & Radio Gaga, Hammer To Fall & Crazy Little Thing Called Love (also below), and We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.