Vladimir Nabokov’s Hand-Drawn Sketches of Mind-Bending Chess Problems


Most of us strive to achieve some kind of distinction—or competence—in one, often quite nar­row, field. And for some of us, the path to suc­cess involves leav­ing behind many a path not tak­en. Child­hood pur­suits like bal­let, for exam­ple, the high jump, the trum­pet, act­ing, etc. become hazy mem­o­ries of for­mer selves as we grow old­er and busier. But if you have the for­mi­da­ble will and intel­lect of émi­gré Russ­ian nov­el­ist Vladimir Nabokov, you see no need to aban­don your beloved avo­ca­tions sim­ply because you are one of the 20th cen­tu­ry’s most cel­e­brat­ed writers—in both Russ­ian and Eng­lish. No indeed. You also go on to become a cel­e­brat­ed ama­teur lep­i­dopter­ist (see his but­ter­fly draw­ings here), earn­ing dis­tinc­tion as cura­tor of lep­i­doptera at Har­vard’s Muse­um of Com­par­a­tive Zool­o­gy and orig­i­na­tor of an evo­lu­tion­ary the­o­ry of but­ter­fly migra­tion. And as if that were not enough, you spend your spare time for­mu­lat­ing com­pli­cat­ed chess prob­lems, earn­ing such a rep­u­ta­tion that you are invit­ed in 1970 to join the Amer­i­can chess team to cre­ate prob­lems for inter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tions.

Nabokov Chess Problem

Nabokov was not eas­i­ly impressed by oth­er writ­ers or sci­en­tists, but he held chess play­ers in espe­cial­ly high regard. His “heroes include a chess grand­mas­ter,” writes Nabokov schol­ar Janet Gezari, “and a chess prob­lem com­pos­er…; chess games occur in sev­er­al of the nov­els; and chess and chess prob­lem lan­guage and imagery reg­u­lar­ly put his read­ers’ chess knowl­edge to the test.” His third nov­el, 1930’s The Defense, cen­ters on a chess mas­ter dri­ven to despair by his genius, a char­ac­ter based on real grand­mas­ter Curt von Bardeleben. For Nabokov, the skill and inge­nu­ity required for com­pos­ing chess prob­lems par­al­leled that required for great writ­ing: “The strain on the mind is for­mi­da­ble,” he wrote in his mem­oir Speak, Mem­o­ry, “the ele­ment of time drops out of one’s con­scious­ness.” Puz­zling out chess prob­lems and solu­tions, he wrote, “demand from the com­pos­er the same virtues that char­ac­ter­ize all worth­while art: orig­i­nal­i­ty, inven­tion, con­cise­ness, har­mo­ny, com­plex­i­ty and splen­did insincerity”—all qual­i­ties, we’d have to agree, of Nabokov’s fine­ly wrought fic­tions.

Nabokov Chess Game

In 1970, Nabokov pub­lished Poems and Prob­lems, a col­lec­tion of thir­ty-nine Russ­ian poems, with Eng­lish trans­la­tions, four­teen Eng­lish poems, and eigh­teen chess prob­lems, with solu­tions. He had pur­sued this pas­sion since his teens, and pub­lished near­ly three dozen chess prob­lems in his life­time. At the top of the post, see one of them, “Mate in 2,” sketched out in Nabokov’s hand (try to solve it your­self here). Below it, see anoth­er of the author’s chess prob­lem sketch­es, and in the pho­to above, see Nabokov absorbed in a chess game with his wife.

Though it may seem that Nabokov had lim­it­less ener­gy and time to devote to his extra-lit­er­ary pur­suits, he also wrote with regret about the price he paid for his obses­sion: “the pos­ses­sive haunt­ing of my mind,” as he called it, “with carved pieces or their intel­lec­tu­al coun­ter­parts swal­lowed up so much time dur­ing my most pro­duc­tive and fruit­ful years, time which I could have bet­ter spent on lin­guis­tic adven­tures.” Like the lep­i­dopter­ists still mar­veling over Nabokov’s con­tri­bu­tions to that field, the chess lovers who encounter his prob­lems, and his inge­nious use of the game in fic­tion, would hard­ly agree that his pur­suit of chess was fruit­less or unpro­duc­tive.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mar­cel Duchamp, Chess Enthu­si­ast, Cre­at­ed an Art Deco Chess Set That’s Now Avail­able via 3D Print­er

Vladimir Nabokov’s Delight­ful But­ter­fly Draw­ings

Vladimir Nabokov Cre­ates a Hand-Drawn Map of James Joyce’s Ulysses

Vladimir Nabokov Names the Great­est (and Most Over­rat­ed) Nov­els of the 20th Cen­tu­ry

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

An Animated Intro to G.W.F. Hegel, and Everything Else You Wanted to Know About the Daunting German Philosopher

There’s no way around it, Ger­man philoso­pher George Wil­helm Friedrich Hegel is incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to under­stand. And yet, his work, like few oth­ers since Pla­to, has been reduced over and over again to one idea—the “Hegelian dialec­tic” of “the­sis, antithe­sis, syn­the­sis.” As a 1996 beginner’s guide to Hegel phras­es it, this “tri­adic struc­ture” is the “organ­ic, frac­tal form” of the effu­sive thinker’s log­ic. The for­mu­la is what most lay peo­ple learn of Hegel, and often no more. So it may come as a sur­prise to learn that Hegel him­self nev­er used these terms in this way. As Gus­tav E. Mueller has writ­ten of this “most vex­ing and dev­as­tat­ing leg­end,” Hegel “does not use this ‘tri­ad’ once” in all twen­ty vol­umes of his com­plete works, nor “does it occur in the eight vol­umes of Hegel texts, pub­lished for the first time in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry.” So where does the idea come from?

From Hegel’s inter­preters, who—baffled by his “obscu­ri­ty” and “pecu­liar ter­mi­nol­o­gy and style”—have imposed all sorts of clar­i­fy­ing (or dis­tort­ing) con­cepts on his work. In his ani­mat­ed School of Life video intro­duc­tion above, Alain de Bot­ton begins with the prob­lem of Hegel’s famous dif­fi­cul­ty. Hegel’s writ­ing has gen­er­al­ly been thought of as “horrible”—obscure, over­stuffed, tan­gled, “con­fus­ing and com­pli­cat­ed when it should be clear and direct.” I can’t speak to his Ger­man, but this cer­tain­ly seems to be the case in Eng­lish. Yet, whether any­one can say what a philosopher’s work “should be” seems like a mat­ter of inter­pre­tive bias. How can we, after all, sep­a­rate a thinker’s ideas from his or her prose, as though these things can exist inde­pen­dent­ly of each oth­er? De Bot­ton con­tin­ues with anoth­er should:

He tapped into a weak­ness of human nature: to be trust­ful of grave-sound­ing, incom­pre­hen­si­ble prose. This has made phi­los­o­phy much weak­er in the world than it should be, and it’s made it much hard­er to hear the valu­able things that Hegel has to say to us.

The video goes on to make a short list of “a small num­ber of lessons” we can take from Hegel. I’ll leave it to you to find out what de Bot­ton thinks those are. Some may find in his tidy sum­ma­tions a use­ful guide to Hegel’s thought, oth­ers a fur­ther over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of a phi­los­o­phy that delib­er­ate­ly resists easy read­ing. No doubt, what­ev­er we make of Hegel, we need to dis­abuse our­selves of the notion that his think­ing eas­i­ly boils down to a “Hegelian dialec­tic.”

For those seek­ing to under­stand why his work has been so influ­en­tial despite, or because of, its leg­endary dif­fi­cul­ty, there are numer­ous resources online. One might start with “Hegel by Hyper­text,” a huge com­pendi­um of intro­duc­to­ry and bio­graph­i­cal mate­r­i­al, analy­sis, dis­cus­sion, links, and Hegel’s own writ­ing. Hegel.net col­lects excerpts and full texts of the philosopher’s work in both Ger­man and Eng­lish, as well as “works of Hegel’s 19th cen­tu­ry fol­low­ers” on both the right and left. Hegel’s most famous inter­preter was of course Karl Marx, and you will find in every archive a num­ber of com­men­taries and cri­tiques from Marx him­self and sev­er­al Marx­ist thinkers.

The Hegel Soci­ety of Amer­i­ca also gives us arti­cles on Hegel from a range of thinkers across the polit­i­cal spec­trum. Final­ly, we should attempt, as best we can, to grap­ple with Hegel’s own words, and we can do so with all of his major work on line in trans­la­tion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Adelaide’s eBooks library. For two very dif­fer­ent ways of read­ing Hegel, see pro­fes­sor Rick Roderick’s lec­ture on “Hegel and Mod­ern Life” and Slavoj Žižek’s lec­ture on “The Lim­its of Hegel,” above. And should you feel that any or all of these inter­preters mis­rep­re­sent the for­mi­da­ble Ger­man philoso­pher, have a lis­ten to the lec­ture below by Dr. Justin Burke enti­tled, appro­pri­ate­ly, “Every­thing You Know About Hegel is Wrong.”

Find cours­es on Hegel in our col­lec­tion of 140 Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es, and texts by the philoso­pher on our list of 135 Free Phi­los­o­phy eBooks.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

6 Polit­i­cal The­o­rists Intro­duced in Ani­mat­ed “School of Life” Videos: Marx, Smith, Rawls & More

Niet­zsche, Wittgen­stein & Sartre Explained with Mon­ty Python-Style Ani­ma­tions by The School of Life

Down­load Wal­ter Kaufmann’s Lec­tures on Niet­zsche, Kierkegaard, Sartre & Mod­ern Thought (1960)

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

Hayao Miyazaki’s Universe Recreated in a Wonderful CGI Tribute

The expo­nen­tial democ­ra­ti­za­tion of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy every year has led to a wealth of video essays and fan films from bed­room auteurs, the likes of which would have been unimag­in­able even five years ago  To wit: this beau­ti­ful trib­ute to the works of Hayao Miyaza­ki, Japan’s ani­me god, and his Stu­dio Ghi­b­li. A typ­i­cal fan video would have edit­ed togeth­er a “best of” clip show, using a song to link the scenes. But a Paris-based ani­ma­tor named “Dono” has gone one step fur­ther and cre­at­ed a trib­ute where scenes and char­ac­ters from Miyaza­ki all frol­ic about a 3‑D mod­eled world, where the bath­house from Spir­it­ed Away is ren­dered in all of its glo­ry, and Totoro’s cat­bus is only a few blocks away from Kiki’s Deliv­ery Ser­vice, and next door to Por­co Rosso’s favorite hang­out. Even Lupin III, not Miyaza­k­i’s orig­i­nal cre­ation, but who starred in the direc­tor’s first fea­ture, gets a look in.

It’s very charm­ing, and judg­ing from Dono’s oth­er work on his Vimeo chan­nel, a huge step up and no doubt a labor of love. And here’s the oth­er thing about this seam­less work of fan art. In the past, the soft­ware and the com­put­ing pow­er need­ed to make such a film would have been both pro­hib­i­tive­ly expen­sive and the domain of a design com­pa­ny. For this trib­ute, three of the four soft­ware pro­grams named in its creation–Gimp, Blender, and Natron–are free and open-source, and run on a lap­top. (The fourth, Octane, costs a lit­tle bit of mon­ey.)

via Vice

Relat­ed Con­tent:

French Stu­dent Sets Inter­net on Fire with Ani­ma­tion Inspired by Moe­bius, Syd Mead & Hayao Miyaza­ki

The Simp­sons Pay Won­der­ful Trib­ute to the Ani­me of Hayao Miyaza­ki

The Delight­ful TV Ads Direct­ed by Hayao Miyaza­ki & Oth­er Stu­dio Ghi­b­li Ani­ma­tors (1992–2015)

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Free: Hours of Jack Kerouac Reading Beat Poems & Verse

kerouac albums

Image by Tom Palum­bo, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

A high school friend who paid me a vis­it last week­end said she still does­n’t know whether read­ing Jack Ker­ouac saved or ruined her life. I, for one, could think of no high­er praise for a writer. I believe she entered that dis­solute Beat­’s lit­er­ary whirl­wind through the por­tal of a sec­ond-hand copy of his Amer­i­ca-criss­cross­ing nov­el On the Road, as many young peo­ple do, but since then the inter­net has made it much eas­i­er to get into Ker­ouac through a vari­ety of oth­er media as well.

Long-play­ing records, for instance: if you hap­pen to use Spo­ti­fy (and if you don’t yet, you can down­load the free soft­ware to get onboard here), you already have access to a good deal of mate­r­i­al deliv­ered in Ker­ouac’s own voice, some­times against music. On 1959’s Poet­ry for the Beat Gen­er­a­tion (above), an album he put togeth­er with Steve Allen (on whose talk show he famous­ly appeared), he reads his work while Allen accom­pa­nies him on the piano. That same year saw the release of Blues and Haikus, fea­tur­ing that same Ker­ouac voice and sen­si­bil­i­ty, but backed this time by jazz sax­o­phon­ists Al Cohn and Zoot Sims.

On 1960’s Read­ings by Jack Ker­ouac on the Beat Gen­er­a­tion (bot­tom), his final spo­ken-word album, Ker­ouac goes with­out jazzmen entire­ly. But then, some of his die-hard fans might argue that he does­n’t need them, that his use of the Eng­lish lan­guage con­sti­tutes more than enough wild, impro­vi­sa­tion­al, but some­how still dis­ci­plined music by itself. That may sound like a bit much, but Ker­ouac actu­al­ly had a lot in com­mon with his fel­low Amer­i­can icons in the realm of jazz, not least a lifestyle that led him into an ear­ly grave and a lega­cy as a fig­ure both trag­ic and inspir­ing in equal mea­sure. Maybe you hear it in his prose; maybe you’ll hear it in his voice.


As a final bonus, you can stream a fourth album, On the Beat Gen­er­a­tion.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load 55 Free Online Lit­er­a­ture Cours­es: From Dante and Mil­ton to Ker­ouac and Tolkien

An 18-Hour Playlist of Read­ings by the Beats: Ker­ouac, Gins­berg & Even Bukows­ki Too

Jack Ker­ouac Reads from On the Road (1959)

Jack Kerouac’s Hand-Drawn Map of the Hitch­hik­ing Trip Nar­rat­ed in On the Road

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski: What If The Bard Wrote The Big Lebowski?

We live in an age of mash ups. A few years ago some mal­con­tent came up with Pride and Prej­u­dice and Zom­bies. Our cities are teem­ing with food trucks hawk­ing Kore­an tacos and ramen burg­ers. And chess box­ing is appar­ent­ly a thing. So per­haps it isn’t sur­pris­ing that some evil genius would merge the most quotable movie of the past 20 years, The Big Lebows­ki, with William Shake­speare.

The result­ing book, writ­ten by Adam Bertoc­ci, is called Two Gen­tle­men of Lebows­ki, and it does a sur­pris­ing­ly good job of cap­tur­ing the lan­guage of the Bard while stay­ing true to the orig­i­nal movie. The author report­ed­ly wrote the first draft of the book in a sin­gle sleep­less week­end. An impres­sive feat that the author dis­miss­es in an inter­view with CNN that you can see above.

“Any­body could, giv­en the lack of a social life,” dead­pans Bertoc­ci, “take a week­end with a movie they admired and an author that they knew well and make a sim­i­lar­ly lengthy mash up of it.”

In Bertocci’s fevered rework­ing (read the first 3 scenes for free here), the Dude is recast as The Knave. His bel­liger­ent best friend is Sir Wal­ter of Poland. The hap­less Don­nie is Sir Don­ald of Greece. Knox Har­ring­ton, Mauve’s grat­ing­ly gig­gly con­cep­tu­al artist friend, is in this ver­sion a tapes­try artist. And of course, Da Fino, the PI, who shad­ows the Dude in the movie, is list­ed sim­ply as Broth­er Sea­mus.

But where Bertoc­ci real­ly shines is in his clever appro­pri­a­tion of Shake­speare­an lan­guage. The film’s copi­ous pro­fan­i­ty has been replaced with more Bard-wor­thy epi­thets like “rash egg” or “var­let.” The word “ver­i­ly” pep­pers the Knave’s dia­logue as the word “like” pep­pers the Dude’s. And when Wal­ter wax­es poet­ic about the rules of bowl­ing, he does so in iambic pen­tame­ter.

To get a sense of the dif­fer­ences, com­pare the clip above from the movie with the Bard-ofied text of the same scene below.

THE KNAVE’s house. Enter THE KNAVE, car­ry­ing parcels, and BLANCHE and WOO. They fight.

Whith­er the mon­ey, Lebows­ki? Faith, we are as ser­vants to Bon­nie;
promised by the lady good that thou in turn were good for’t.

Bound in hon­our, we must have our bond; cursed be our tribe
if we for­give thee.

Let us soak him in the cham­ber-pot, so as to turn his head.

Aye, and see what vapouris­es; then he will see what is foul.

They insert his head into the cham­ber-pot.

What dread­ful noise of waters in thine ears! Thou hast cool’d
thy head; think now upon dri­er mat­ters.

Speak now on ducats else again we’ll thee duck­est; whith­er the
mon­ey, Lebows­ki?

Faith, it awaits down there some­place; prithee let me glimpse

What, thou rash egg! Thus will we drown thine excla­ma­tions.

They again insert his head into the cham­ber-pot.

Tri­fle not with the fury of two des­per­ate men. Long has thy
wife sealed a bond with Jaques Tree­horn; as blood is to blood,
sure­ly thou owest to Jaques Tree­horn in rec­om­pense.

Rise, and speak wise­ly, man—but hark;
I see thy rug, as woven i’the Ori­ent,
A trea­sure from abroad. I like it not.
I’ll stain it thus; to dead­beats ever thus.

He stains the rug.

Sir, prithee nay!

Now thou seest what hap­pens, Lebows­ki, when the agree­ments
of hon­ourable busi­ness stand com­pro­mised. If thou wouldst
treat mon­ey as water, flow­ing as the gen­tle rain from heav­en,
why, then thou know­est water begets water; it will be a watery
grave your rug, drown’d in the weep­ing brook. Pray remem­ber,

Thou err’st; no man calls me Lebows­ki. Hear right­ly, man!—for
thou hast got the wrong man. I am the Knave, man; Knave in
nature as in name.

Thy name is Lebows­ki. Thy wife is Bon­nie.

Zounds, man. Look at these unwor­thi­est hands; no gaudy gold
pro­fanes my lit­tle hand. I have no hon­our to con­tain the ring. I
am a bach­e­lor in a wilder­ness. Behold this place; are these the
tow­ers where one may glimpse Geof­frey, the mar­ried man? Is
this a court where mis­tress­es of com­mon sense are hid? Not for
me to hang my bugle in an invis­i­ble baldric, sir; I am loath to
take a wife, or she to take me until men be made of some oth­er
met­tle than earth. Hark, the lid of my cham­ber-pot be lift­ed!

Per­son­al­ly, I’m hop­ing that the Globe The­atre stages a ver­sion of this.

While you are wait­ing for that to hap­pen, you can see anoth­er scene from Two Gen­tle­men from Lebows­ki above where The Knave and Sir Wal­ter com­mis­er­ate about a rug, which was besmirched by a “most mis­er­able tide.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Big Lebows­ki Reimag­ined as a Clas­sic 8‑Bit Video Game

Watch the Coen Broth­ers’ TV Com­mer­cials: Swiss Cig­a­rettes, Gap Jeans, Tax­es & Clean Coal

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

The 5 Best Noir Films in the Public Domain: From Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street to Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker

I try to catch the Noir City film fes­ti­val when­ev­er it comes through Los Ange­les, not just because it uses the Egypt­ian, one of my favorite the­aters in town, but because it comes curat­ed by the experts. You’d have a hard time find­ing any group more knowl­edge­able about film noir than the Film Noir Foun­da­tion, who put Noir City on, and any­one in par­tic­u­lar more knowl­edge­able than its founder and pres­i­dent, “noir­chae­ol­o­gist” Eddie Muller.

The talks he some­times gives before screen­ings give a sense of the depth and scope of his knowl­edge of the genre; you can sam­ple it in a video clip where he intro­duces Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hik­er (above) at last year’s Noir City Seat­tle.

You may remem­ber Muller’s name from our post fea­tur­ing his list of the 25 noir films that will stand the test of time. I do rec­om­mend Noir City as the finest con­text in which to watch any of them, but you don’t have to wait until the fes­ti­val comes to your town to see a few, such as Fritz Lang’s Scar­let Street and Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour. (2nd and 3rd on this page.) They and var­i­ous oth­er impor­tant pieces of the film noir canon have fall­en into the pub­lic domain, mak­ing them eas­i­ly and legal­ly view­able free online. Watch The Hitch-Hik­er that way after you’ve seen Muller’s intro­duc­tion, and you can repli­cate a lit­tle of the Noir City expe­ri­ence in the com­fort of your own home.

Oth­er pub­lic-domain noirs of note include Orson Welles’ The Stranger, a sub­ject of con­tro­ver­sy among Welles fans but one about which Noir of the Week says “you could­n’t make a bet­ter choice if you’re look­ing for a con­ven­tion­al, fan­tas­tic look­ing film noir thriller.”

And as the name of the fes­ti­val implies, when we talk about such a high­ly urban sto­ry­telling tra­di­tion as noir, we very often talk about the city as well. Rudolph Maté’s D.O.A. includes as a par­tic­u­lar­ly vivid depic­tion of 1940s Los Ange­les and one of the more dra­mat­ic uses of the beloved Brad­bury Build­ing in cin­e­ma his­to­ry. These five pic­tures should put you well on your way to a stronger grasp of film noir, and no doubt get you ready to explore our list of 60 free noir films online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

25 Noir Films That Will Stand the Test of Time: A List by “Noir­chael­o­gist” Eddie Muller

The 5 Essen­tial Rules of Film Noir

Roger Ebert Lists the 10 Essen­tial Char­ac­ter­is­tics of Noir Films

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Radiohead’s “Creep” Performed in a Vintage Jazz-Age Style

Smash­ing Pump­kins’ leader—and sole remain­ing orig­i­nal member—Billy Cor­gan is a man of many opin­ions, most of which I find easy to ignore. But in one of his recent made-for-head­lines quotes, he referred to fel­low nineties alt-rock super­stars Radio­head as “the last band that did any­thing new with the gui­tar.” It is, of course, impos­si­ble to quan­ti­fy this not-espe­cial­ly con­tro­ver­sial state­ment, but I haven’t found it easy to dis­miss either. After Radiohead’s first three albums, we had maybe a sol­id decade of musi­cians look­ing back to a time before elec­tric gui­tars to find an alter­nate path for­ward (as Radio­head them­selves large­ly trad­ed gui­tars for syn­the­siz­ers). That said, in the years since Pablo Hon­ey, The Bends, and OK Com­put­er, Thom Yorke and band’s break­out song, “Creep,” has suc­cess­ful­ly trans­lat­ed to so many unplugged arrange­ments that they deserve cred­it for writ­ing a uni­ver­sal­ly beloved new stan­dard as well as rein­vent­ing rock guitar—even if they’d pre­fer we all for­get their first, angst-rid­den hit.

There’s Mex­i­can actor Diego Luna’s pow­er­ful ren­di­tion, as the ani­mat­ed trou­ba­dour Manolo in Jorge Gutierrez’s Book of Life. There’s Tori Amos’ char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly intense, live voice and piano ver­sion; there’s Aman­da Palmer on ukulele, Damien Rice on acoustic gui­tar, and Korn—believe it or not—in a very taste­ful acoustic cov­er. Now we can add to these the bring-down-the-house swing arrange­ment at the top of the post, with jazz singer Haley Rein­hart, who slides from play­ful vamp to an almost gospel crescen­do, and all, we’re told, on a first take. This jazz-age cov­er comes to us from pianist Scott Bradlee’s Post­mod­ern Juke­box, a tour­ing col­lec­tion of ensem­ble musi­cians that Bradlee assem­bles to re-inter­pret famous pop songs. He pre­vi­ous­ly record­ed a sweet, clas­sic soul cov­er of “Creep” with Karen Marie, above. The list of oth­er Post­mod­ern Juke­box cov­ers ranges from a “Sad Clown with a Gold­en Voice” ver­sion of Lorde’s “Roy­als” to a klezmer take on Jason Derulo’s club anthem “Talk Dirty” (with the song’s 2 Chainz rap in Yid­dish). We pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured a New Orleans jazz ren­di­tion of “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” with stage actress and singer Miche Braden. As Ayun Hal­l­i­day wrote of the Guns n’ Ros­es’ reimag­in­ing, the Radio­head cov­ers above are “not with­out gim­mick, but it’s a win­ning one.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Guns N’ Ros­es “Sweet Child O’ Mine” Retooled as 1920s New Orleans Jazz

Pat­ti Smith’s Pas­sion­ate Cov­ers of Jimi Hen­drix, Nir­vana, Jef­fer­son Air­plane & Prince

Lis­ten to a New Album Fea­tur­ing Tom Waits Songs in Hebrew (2013)

Hear 38 Ver­sions of “Sep­tem­ber Song,” from James Brown, Lou Reed, Sarah Vaugh­an and Oth­ers

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

An Animated Hunter S. Thompson Talks with Studs Terkel About the Hell’s Angels & The Outlaw Life

Blank on Blank returns with an ani­ma­tion of anoth­er lost inter­view from the Studs Terkel Radio Archive. This time, they’re breath­ing new life into a con­ver­sa­tion Terkel had with Hunter S. Thomp­son in 1967 — soon after HST pub­lished his ground­break­ing piece of Gonzo jour­nal­ism: Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Ter­ri­ble Saga of the Out­law Motor­cy­cle Gangs. The book, built upon the foun­da­tions of a 1965 arti­cle Thomp­son wrote for The Nation (read it online here) gave us a glimpse inside “a world most of us would nev­er dare encounter,” wrote The New York Times in its orig­i­nal review. Thomp­son tells Terkel what he learned from that (some­times har­row­ing) expe­ri­ence above. You can hear the com­plete Terkel-Thomp­son inter­view here.

Relat­ed Con­tent

Hunter S. Thomp­son Gets Con­front­ed by The Hell’s Angels

Free Online: Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Read 18 Lost Sto­ries From Hunter S. Thompson’s For­got­ten Stint As a For­eign Cor­re­spon­dent


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