Gore Vidal (1925–2012) Feuds with Norman Mailer & William F. Buckley

Gore Vidal wrote 25 nov­els and var­i­ous mem­oirs, essays, plays, tele­vi­sion dra­mas and screen­plays. He invest­ed him­self in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and ran for office twice, los­ing both times. He tend­ed open­ly toward homo­sex­u­al­i­ty long before the coun­try warmed up to the idea. And he nev­er backed down from a good argu­ment. Gore Vidal died Tues­day from com­pli­ca­tions of pneu­mo­nia at his home in Los Ange­les.

Dur­ing the 1960s and 70s, Vidal feud­ed pub­licly with lit­er­ary and polit­i­cal foes alike. Some­times it made for good TV. Oth­er times it made for bad TV. It did­n’t real­ly mat­ter. He was ready to go. Above, we have Gore Vidal’s ver­bal brawl with the mer­cu­r­ial (and seem­ing­ly sauced) nov­el­ist Nor­man Mail­er. It hap­pened on The Dick Cavett Show in Decem­ber, 1971, and only the show’s host (and the bewil­dered Janet Flan­ner) emerge from the dust­up look­ing okay. Slate has more on this mem­o­rable episode here.

The next clip brings us back to an ABC tele­vi­sion pro­gram aired dur­ing the 1968 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­ven­tion in Chica­go. Suf­fice it to say, emo­tions were run­ning high. In the months lead­ing up to the Con­ven­tion, Mar­tin Luther King Jr. and RFK were both assas­si­nat­ed. Riots fol­lowed. Mean­while, the Viet­nam War splin­tered the nation in two. The Chica­go police tried to shut down demon­stra­tions by anti-war pro­tes­tors, and even­tu­al­ly the two sides clashed in the parks and streets. Amidst all of this, Buck­ley and Vidal, both polit­i­cal ana­lysts for ABC News, start­ed dis­cussing the pro­tes­tors and their rights to free speech, when things came to a head. Vidal called Buck­ley a “pro-cryp­to-Nazi.” Buck­ley called Vidal a “queer” and threat­ened to “sock [him] in the god­damn face.” The threat was not eas­i­ly for­got­ten. It became the fod­der for jokes when Buck­ley inter­viewed Noam Chom­sky the next year.

Paris in (Stop) Motion

Thanks to Mayeul Akpovi, we’ll always have Paris.…

via Devour

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Le Fla­neur: Time Lapse Video of Paris With­out the Peo­ple

It’s 5:46 A.M. and Paris Is Under Water

Tui­leries: A Short, Slight­ly Twist­ed Film by Joel and Ethan Coen

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Radio Show Podcast Tackles the History of Video Games

Neil deGrasse Tyson has a pod­cast. I repeat, Neil deGrasse Tyson has a pod­cast. If you’re unfa­mil­iar (and you shouldn’t be), Tyson is Astro­physi­cist-in-res­i­dence at New York’s Nat­ur­al His­to­ry Muse­um and Direc­tor of its Hay­den Plan­e­tar­i­um. He’s also the most promi­nent advo­cate for a revi­tal­ized U.S. space pro­gram. Okay, back to the pod­cast. As an avid con­sumer of every sci­ence-based pod­cast out there, I can tell you that the StarTalk Radio Show (iTunesFeedWeb Site) has quick­ly risen to the top of my list. The very per­son­able Tyson is the big draw, but he has also made the wise deci­sion to include “come­di­an co-hosts, celebri­ties, and oth­er spe­cial guests.” In the episode right below, Tyson and come­di­an Eugene Mir­man (whom you might rec­og­nize as the voice of Gene from Bob’s Burg­ers) mix it up with video game design­er Will Wright and author Jeff Ryan.

Ryan’s Super Mario: How Nin­ten­do Con­quered Amer­i­ca—and the his­to­ry of video games more generally—is the top­ic of the show. Despite the less-than-stel­lar audio qual­i­ty, this is not to be missed. The con­ver­sa­tion is rapid-fire: Mir­man inter­jects hilar­i­ous inani­ties while Wright and Ryan speed through the fas­ci­nat­ing his­to­ry and Tyson throws knuck­le­ball ques­tions and enthus­es (at 4:30) that the “first real video game,” Space Wars, was about, what else, space. We also get the his­to­ry of the unfor­get­table Pong (at 5:59), the orig­i­nal Star Wars game (at 8:17), and, nat­u­ral­ly, Don­key Kong (at 3:19), designed by the now wild­ly famous (in Japan, at least) Shigeru Miyamo­to–who also invent­ed Mario, and who had nev­er designed a game in his life before Don­key Kong. All this and some clas­sic 8‑bit video game music to boot.

StarTalk in gen­er­al has much to rec­om­mend it. Tyson is the “nation’s fore­most expert on space,” and is prob­a­bly instant­ly rec­og­niz­able from his host­ing of NOVA sci­en­ceNow and his best­selling books. He is the pub­lic face of a sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty often in need of good press, and he has the rare abil­i­ty to trans­late abstruse con­cepts to the gen­er­al pub­lic in a humor­ous and approach­able way. Pre­vi­ous guest­s/­co-hosts have includ­ed Janeane Garo­fa­lo (in the “most argu­men­ta­tive Startalk pod­cast ever”) and John Hodg­man (of the Dai­ly Show and the “Mac vs. PC” ads). But above all, c’mon, it’s Neil deGrasse Tyson. The man deserved­ly has his own inter­net meme, inspired by his dra­mat­ic ges­tures in this video dis­cus­sion of Isaac New­ton from Big Think.

Enough said.

Watch the full Big Think inter­view with Tyson here. And don’t for­get to sub­scribe to the StarTalk Radio Show (iTunes — Feed — Web Site).

Josh Jones is a doc­tor­al can­di­date in Eng­lish at Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty and a co-founder and for­mer man­ag­ing edi­tor of Guer­ni­ca / A Mag­a­zine of Arts and Pol­i­tics.

The Benefits of Being Awestruck

In Decem­ber 1972, astro­nauts aboard the Apol­lo 17 space­craft snapped a pho­to­graph of our Earth from an alti­tude of 45,000 kilo­me­tres. The pho­to­graph, known as “The Big Blue Mar­ble,” let every­one see their plan­et ful­ly illu­mi­nat­ed for the first time. The pic­ture, show­ing the Earth look­ing iso­lat­ed and vul­ner­a­ble, left every­one awestruck. And “The Big Blue Mar­ble” became the most wide­ly-dis­trib­uted image of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Now, less than a half cen­tu­ry lat­er, pic­tures of our plan­et bare­ly move us. And we hard­ly bat an eye­lash at videos giv­ing us remark­able views from the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion.

We’re los­ing our sense of awe at our own per­il, how­ev­er. The title of a new Stan­ford study tells you all you need to know: Awe Expands People’s Per­cep­tion of Time, Alters Deci­sion Mak­ing, and Enhances Well-Being. Appar­ent­ly, watch­ing awe-inspir­ing vidoes makes you less impa­tient, more will­ing to vol­un­teer time to help oth­ers, more like­ly to pre­fer expe­ri­ences over mate­r­i­al prod­ucts, more present in the here and now, and hap­pi­er over­all. (More on that here.) All of this pro­vides film­mak­er Jason Sil­va the mate­r­i­al for yet anoth­er one of his “philo­soph­i­cal shots of espres­so,” The Bio­log­i­cal Advan­tage of Being Awestruck. It’s the first video above.

Find more awe in our col­lec­tion of Great Sci­ence Videos.


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Star Trek Celebrities, William Shatner and Wil Wheaton, Narrate Mars Landing Videos for NASA

NASA and Star Trek — they’ve been joined at the hip for decades. Back in 1972, when NASA launched its very first space shut­tle, they called it the Enter­prise, a clear nod to the star­ship made famous by the 1960s TV show. In 2011, NASA brought the space shut­tle pro­gram to a close, and they fit­ting­ly asked William Shat­ner to nar­rate an 80 minute film doc­u­ment­ing the his­to­ry of the auda­cious space pro­gram. (Watch it here.)

Now we’re one week away from anoth­er NASA mile­stone — the land­ing of the rover Curios­i­ty on Mars — which can mean only one thing. William Shat­ner’s back, and he’s pre­view­ing the action that lies ahead. First the Curios­i­ty’s dif­fi­cult land­ing, the so-called Sev­en Min­utes of Ter­ror. And then the rover’s mis­sion on the Red Plan­et. Shat­ner’s clip will give geeks north of 40 a lit­tle nerdgasm. For younger geeks (said affec­tion­ate­ly), NASA has Wil Wheaton, the star of Star Trek: The Next Gen­er­a­tion, read­ing the same script. You can watch it below.

Fol­low us on Face­bookTwit­ter and now Google Plus and share intel­li­gent media with your friends! They’ll thank you for it.


France in the Year 2000, Imagined by Illustrators in 1900

Back in 1899–1901, French artists imag­ined what their nation might look like in anoth­er cen­tu­ry. They tapped into their imag­i­na­tions, drew their futur­is­tic designs, then dis­trib­uted them as paper cards enclosed in cig­ar box­es right around the time of the World’s Fair in Paris. The draw­ing above imag­ines the French class­room in the Year 2000. You can see an exten­sive col­lec­tion of oth­er designs– 23 images in total — at The Pub­lic Domain Review. And, be sure to sup­port their impor­tant fundrais­ing dri­ve!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

1930s Fash­ion Design­ers Imag­ine How Peo­ple Would Dress in the Year 2000

Arthur C. Clarke Pre­dicts the Future in 1964 … And Kind of Nails It

The World’s First Mobile Phone (1922)

The Weird World of Vin­tage Sports

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Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei: A Short Documentary

The work of dis­si­dent Chi­nese artist Ai Wei­wei is mon­u­men­tal, as is the man’s fear­less and out­spo­ken per­son­al­i­ty. Recent­ly, while stand­ing under the cir­cu­lar dis­play of mas­sive bronze ani­mal heads in Ai’s Cir­cle of Animals/Zodiac Heads at Wash­ing­ton, DC’s Hir­sh­horn Muse­um, I found myself wish­ing I could meet him. The next best thing, I guess, is to see can­did footage of his life and work, which is what you find in Who’s Afraid of Ai Wei­wei, the short doc­u­men­tary (above) from PBS’s Front­line.

Begun in 2008 by 24-year-old film­mak­er Ali­son Klay­man, Who’s Afraid of Ai Wei­wei cap­tures the artist imme­di­ate­ly before his prin­ci­pled and cost­ly stand against the Bei­jing Olympics (which he helped to design) and the oppres­sive police state he claimed it rep­re­sent­edKlay­man fol­lowed Ai for two years and shot 200 hours of footage, some of which became the short film above. The rest has been edit­ed and released as a fea­ture-length film called Ai Wei­wei: Nev­er Sor­ry, which has picked up prizes at Sun­dance, the Berlin Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val, and the Human Rights Watch Film Fes­ti­val.

Ai is unique among his con­tem­po­raries in the art world for his will­ing­ness to con­front social issues not only through visu­al media but also through media com­men­tary. As Klay­man puts it, “Wei­wei the artist had become as provoca­tive with his key­board, typ­ing out a dai­ly dia­tribe against local cor­rup­tion and gov­ern­ment abus­es” on his blog. Ai claims his polit­i­cal involve­ment is “very per­son­al.” “If you don’t speak out,” he says above, “if you don’t clear your mind, then who are you?” He has writ­ten edi­to­ri­als for Eng­lish-lan­guage pub­li­ca­tions on why he with­drew his sup­port from the Bei­jing Games and what he thought of last Friday’s open­ing cer­e­mo­ny in Lon­don (he liked it). And, of course, he’s become a bit of a star on Twit­ter, using it to relent­less­ly cri­tique China’s deep eco­nom­ic divides and sup­pres­sion of free speech.

But for all his noto­ri­ety as an activist and his well-known inter­net per­sona, Ai’s sculp­ture and pho­tog­ra­phy speaks for itself. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, due to his arrest and impris­on­ment by Chi­nese author­i­ties in 2011, he was unable to attend the open­ing of Cir­cle of Animals/Zodiac Heads in LA, and he is still under con­stant sur­veil­lance and not per­mit­ted to leave the coun­try. But, true to form, none of these set­backs have kept him from speak­ing out, about his pol­i­tics and his art. In the short video below, he dis­cuss­es the sig­nif­i­cance of Zodi­ac Heads, his most recent mon­u­men­tal vision.

Josh Jones is a doc­tor­al can­di­date in Eng­lish at Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty and a co-founder and for­mer man­ag­ing edi­tor of Guer­ni­ca / A Mag­a­zine of Arts and Pol­i­tics.

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Voyage in Time: A Portrait of the Filmmaker in Exile

By 1982 Andrei Tarkovsky’s bat­tles with Sovi­et cen­sors had reached the point where he could no longer work in his native coun­try. This rarely seen doc­u­men­tary shows the great Russ­ian film­mak­er tread­ing unfa­mil­iar ground as he trav­els across south­ern Italy in search of loca­tions for his first film in exile, Nos­tal­ghia.

Voy­age in Time (Tiem­po di Viag­gio) is less about the Ital­ian coun­try­side than Tarkovsky’s inner land­scape, as he strug­gles to express his views on film­mak­ing and art to Toni­no Guer­ra, his co-writer on Nos­tal­ghia. Guer­ra, who died ear­li­er this year, was a leg­endary Ital­ian screen­writer. He col­lab­o­rat­ed with Michelan­ge­lo Anto­nioni on many of his great­est films, includ­ing L’Avven­tu­ra, La Notte, and Blow-Up, and with Fed­eri­co Felli­ni on sev­er­al of his lat­er films, includ­ing Amar­cord. The 63-minute film was pro­duced for Ital­ian tele­vi­sion and com­plet­ed in 1983, the same year as Nos­tal­ghia, with Tarkovsky and Guer­ra shar­ing the direct­ing cred­it. Voy­age in Time has been added to our col­lec­tion of Free Tarkovsky Films Online.

Note: If you don’t auto­mat­i­cal­ly see sub­ti­tles, click CC at the bot­tom of the YouTube win­dow.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Tarkovsky’s Solaris Revis­it­ed

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Very First Films: Three Stu­dent Films, 1956–1960



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