Hear a Playlist of the 336 Songs Mentioned in Bruce Springsteen’s New Memoir, Born to Run


Image by Michele Lucon, via Wikimedia Commons

FYI: Earlier this week, Bruce Springsteen released his highly-anticipated memoir, Born to Run. It comes accompanied by a companion album, Chapter and Verse. And now a Spotify playlist that features every single song referenced in the pages of the book–his own or others’. There’s lots of Springsteen–most of his discography, in fact–but also great tracks from Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Cream, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan and more. If you need Spotify’s free software, download it here. Then settle in and enjoy 22 hours of music. You can start streaming the music below:

For anyone interested, the novelist Richard Ford has a review of Born to Run (the autobiography) in The New York Times. Ford’s Bascombe trilogy appears on Springsteen’s List of His 20 Favorite Books.

Looking for free, professionally-read audio books from Audible.com? Here’s a great, no-strings-attached deal. If you start a 30 day free trial with Audible.com, you can download two free audio books of your choice. Get more details on the offer here.

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A Complete List of the 533 Movies & TV Shows Watched on the International Space Station


Image courtesy of NASA

To keep some measure of sanity, the astronauts living aboard the International Space Station (ISS), some 220 miles above our planet Earth, make a point of unwinding. According to NASA, the astronauts get weekends off. And, “on any given day, crew members can watch movies, play music, read books, play cards and talk to their families.” Earlier this year, PaleoFuture gave us a further glimpse into what astronaut downtime looks like, when its editor, Matt Novak, printed a Complete List of Movies and TV Shows On Board the International Space Station. Acquired through a Freedom of Information request, the list is a catalogue of every film and TV show in the ISS media library. As Matt notes, there are many classics (e.g. Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest), “plenty of space-themed and dystopian sci-fi movies” (2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien and Blade Runner), and a helpful serving of comedy (Airplane). Below, you can find the first 100 items on the list. Get the complete list–all 533 movies and TV shows–at Paleofuture.

  1. 1941
  2. 12 Monkeys
  3. 12 Years a Slave
  4. 2 Fast 2 Furious
  5. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  7. 21 Jump Street
  8. 24 (Seasons 1-8)
  9. 48 Hours
  10. 8 Mile
  11. A Christmas Carol
  12. A Christmas Story
  13. A Knights Tale
  14. A Man and a Woman
  15. A Night at the Opera
  16. A Night at the Roxbury
  17. A Perfect Murder
  18. A Prairie Home Companion
  19. A Room with a View
  20. Absolutely Fabulous (Series 1-3)
  21. Air Force One
  22. Airplane
  23. Alias Season 1
  24. Alien
  25. Alien 3
  26. Alien Resurrection
  27. Aliens
  28. All Good Things
  29. Along Came Polly
  30. Always
  31. American Gangster
  32. American Sniper
  33. American Wedding
  34. An American in Paris
  35. An Article of Hope
  36. Analyze This
  37. Anchorman
  38. Anchorman 2
  39. Animal House (1978)
  40. Argo
  41. Armageddon
  42. Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
  43. Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
  44. Arrow Season 1
  45. Arsenic and Old Lace
  46. As Good as it Gets
  47. Austin Powers International Man of Mystery
  48. Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me
  49. Australia
  50. Avatar
  51. Baby Mama
  52. Back to Bataan
  53. Back to the Future
  54. Back to the Future Part II
  55. Back to the Future Part III
  56. Backdraft
  57. Band of Brothers Season 1
  58. Bataan
  59. Batman Forever
  60. Batman Returns
  61. Battle for the Planet of the Apes
  62. Battle of Britain
  63. Battleship
  64. Beneath the Planet of the Apes
  65. Ben-Hur
  66. Better Call Saul Season 1
  67. Beverly Hills Cop II
  68. Beverly Hills Cop III
  69. Big Bang Theory (Seasons 1-8)
  70. Big Eyes
  71. Big Jake
  72. Billy Jack
  73. Birdman, or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
  74. Black Hawk Down
  75. Black Mask
  76. Black Swan
  77. Blade Runner
  78. Blazing Saddles Blended
  79. Blue Planet Frozen Seas
  80. Blue Planet Ocean World
  81. Blues Brothers
  82. Bob Newhart Button-Down Concert
  83. Body of Lies
  84. Braveheart
  85. Breaking Bad Seasons 1-6
  86. Bridesmaids
  87. Bull Durham
  88. Caddyshack
  89. Cahill United States Marshal
  90. Captain America: The First Avenger
  91. Captain America: The Winter Soldier Captain Phillips
  92. Casablanca
  93. Cast Away
  94. Catch-22
  95. Celtic Woman Songs from the Heart
  96. Chance Are
  97. Chariots of Fire
  98. Charlie St Cloud
  99. Children of Men
  100. Chisum

Find the complete list of 533 films and TV shows here.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.

If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, and Venmo (@openculture). Thanks!

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Chris Rock Creates a List of His 13 Favorite Standup Comedy Specials

We know Ellen DeGeneres as the superstar host of her own talk show and the voice of cuddly, forgetful fish Dory. No doubt many of her younger fans have no idea she was a standup comic, before The Ellen DeGeneres Show, before even the 90s sitcom Ellen, which mostly gets mentioned for the “coming out” episode that supposedly ended her career almost two decades ago. But even if all the TV and movie stardom had never come her way, comedians like Chris Rock might still remember Ellen as one of their favorite standup comics.

Rock adds DeGeneres to his list of “Favorite Standup Specials” for her 2003 HBO performance Here and Now, which you can see in part above. “Most comics just talk about what they see,” he writes, “This is the first time I heard somebody talk about what they felt.” Ellen works clean, and in that respect she’s in a minority on Rock’s list (she’s also the only woman). Even the comedian Rock compares to Andy Griffith— “Blue Collar” comic Ron White—gets a raunchy asterisk next to that reference. And indeed, he’s both down home and dirty. So what connects the comedians on Rock’s list?

Aside from the fact that they’re all big names, not much, it seems. In choosing these 13 specials, Rock seems drawn not to a particular genre or brand of humor, but to the skillful, moving performance of comedy: dirty, clean, political, topical, observational—it’s all good as long as it’s funny. A good comic can make ‘em laugh by riffing on the mundane annoyances of daily life, or by telling uncomfortable truths with a smile like Dave Chappelle, above, whose special Killin’ Them Softly also appears on Rock’s list of favorites.

Like Rock, Chappelle knows his comedy history, and fans of The Chappelle Show know too—at least when it comes to the legendary Paul Mooney, a comedian’s comedian and onetime writer for Richard Pryor. Mooney’s special Jesus is Black. So Was Cleopatra. Know Your History makes the list for “more edge than anything you are ever going to see.” And his onetime boss Pryor gets top billing for the “perfect” Live in Concert 1979—“what every comic is striving for,” says Rock, “and we all fall very short.”

Speaking of truth-tellers, the great George Carlin makes the list for his special Jammin’ in New York. Carlin spared no one, and comedians love him for it, even if few people have the courage or the wit to do what he did. Rock has come close, with routines that make people laugh as they squirm in their seats. His delivery is all his own, but we can see Carlin’s bristling social critique in his act as much as Richard Pryor’s riffs on race and sex.

Other big names on the list include Steve Harvey, Eddie Murphy, the-once-beloved Bill Cosby, George Lopez (“the Mexican Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby at the same time”), and even Andrew Dice Clay for his The Day the Laughter Died, “a comedy album only a comedian could love.”

But it isn’t solely about laughter or candor for Rock; as he noted in his Ellen pick, it’s also about feeling, and in the case of one special, Billy Crystal’s one-man-show 700 Sundays, the comedy sits side-by-side with pathos. Drawn from a bittersweet autobiography of the same title, Crystal’s show premiered in 2004 and was revived in 2013 and filmed by HBO (trailer above). “Brilliant, touching and f*cking funny,” says Rock, “First time in my life I cried at a comedy show.”

Rounding out the list is Sam Kinison, whose unforgettably unhinged role in Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School brought thousands of curious new fans to his classic album Louder than Hell. “The last original comic,” says Rock. “Most comics are derivatives of Pryor, Cosby, or Seinfeld. Sam reminded you of Billy Graham.” I’d say he was more Jimmy Swaggart, if Jimmy Swaggart screamed obscenities at starving children. See Rock’s full list below.

  1. Richard Pryor Live In Concert 1979
  2. Paul Mooney: Jesus Is Black. So Was Cleopatra
  3. Dave Chappelle: Killin’ Them Softly
  4. Eddie Murphy: Delirious
  5. Bill Cosby: Himself
  6. George Carlin: Jammin’ in New York
  7. George Lopez: America’s Mexican
  8. Steve Harvey: One Man
  9. Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays
  10. Andrew Dice Clay: The Day the Laughter Died
  11. Ron White: They Call Me Tater Salad
  12. Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now
  13. Sam Kinison: Louder Than Hell

via Austin Kleon

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

How the Coen Brothers Storyboarded Blood Simple Down to a Tee (1984)

Seldom, in the films of the Joel and Ethan Coen, do characters’ schemes go according to plan. You can watch it happen all across their filmography: the baby theft in Raising Arizona, the own-wife kidnapping and ransom in Fargo, the casino-vault tunnel heist in The Ladykillers, the Communist conversion of a screen idol in Hail, Caesar! But they’ve earned their enormous cinematic reputation not just for their themes, but for the precision with which they construct movies around them; it sometimes seems that the more dissolute the characters and ultimately disastrous the plot they fall into, the more carefully-made the picture.

This pattern began in 1984 with their first feature, the Texas neo-noir Blood Simple. Despite its relatively small-scale production (especially by the standards of their period piece-heavy recent work), it showcases every element their fans love: the sense of place, the sharp dialogue, the fascination with “low” life, the dark humor, the attention to detail.

No wonder, then, that it has now arrived in the Criterion Collection, in an edition which includes supplementary materials like the comparison between the storyboard and finished scene above, featuring commentary from the Coens Joel and Ethan both, as well as director of photography Barry Sonnenfeld and actor Frances McDormand.

“There are directors who are completely comfortable extemporizing on the set, and others who are not,” say Joel and Ethan, trading off observations. “Some directors want to throw everything up in the air and just see where it lands; that’s really how they work, fundamentally, and get great results. We’re kind of the… other end of the spectrum. We’re more comfortable if we have a plan, even if we stray quite a distance from that plan while we’re shooting.” They seem not to have strayed at all in the particular scene in this video, but their filmography boasts more than enough vitality to rule out the possibility of complete, control-freakish rigidity. All of it shows us how the best-laid plans of mice and men go awry — but only because the Coen Brothers lay even better plans first.

via No Film School

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

When an Octopus Caused the Great Staten Island Ferry Disaster (November 22, 1963)

Where were you on November 22, 1963?

I had yet to be born, but am given to understand that the events of that day helped shape a generation.

Documentarian Melanie Juliano knows this too, though she’s still a few months shy of the legal drinking age. The 2014 recipient of the New Jersey Filmmakers of Tomorrow Festival’s James Gandolfini Best of Fest Award uses primary sources and archival footage to bring an immediacy to this dark day in American history, the day a giant octopus—“a giant fuckin’ octopus” in the words of maritime expert Joey Fazzino—took down the Cornelius G. Kolff and all 400 hundred souls aboard.

What did you think I was talking about, the Kennedy assassination?


Image via the Facebook page of the Staten Island Ferry Octopus Disaster Memorial Museum

Those who would question this tragedy’s authenticity need look no further than a recently dedicated bronze memorial in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park. To require more proof than that is unseemly, nay, cruel. If an estimated 90% of tourists stumbling across the site are willing to believe that a giant octopus laid waste to a Manhattan-bound Staten Island ferry several hours before John F. Kennedy was shot, who are you to question?

The memorial’s artist, Joe Reginella, of the Staten Island-based Super Fun Company, is finding it hard to disengage from a disaster of this magnitude. Instead the craftsman, whose previous work includes a JAWS tribute infant crib, lingers nearby, noting visitors’ reactions and handing out literature for the (non-existent) Staten Island Ferry Disaster Memorial Museum.

(New York 1 reports that an actual museum across the street from the address listed on Reginella’s brochures is not amused, though attendance is up.)

A Staten Island Octopus Disaster website is there for the edification of those unable to visit in person. Spend time contemplating this horrific event and you may come away inspired to learn more about the General Slocum disaster of 1904, a real life New York City ferry boat tragedy, that time has virtually erased from the public consciousness.

(The memorial for that one is located in an out of the way section of Tompkins Square Park.)

H/T to reader Scott Hermes/via Colossal

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her play Zamboni Godot is opening in New York City in March 2017. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Watch Benedict Cumberbatch Sing Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” with David Gilmour Live on Stage

Around here, when we talk about Benedict Cumberbatch, we usually talk about his knack for reading classic texts–Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Melville’s Moby-Dick, a poignant letter by Alan Turing, even passages from a Guantánamo prisoner’s diary. But today we’re putting another one of his talents on display.

Above, watch Cumberbatch join David Gilmour live on stage to perform Pink Floyd’s 1979 song, “Comfortably Numb.” The performance took place last night at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Enjoy.

Note: You can download free audiobooks read by Benedict Cumberbatch if you sign up for a 30-Day Free Trial with Audible.com.  That includes readings of Sherlock Holmes, Jane Austen and Neil Gaiman. Find more information on Audible’s Free Trial program here.

via Rolling Stone

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Artificial Intelligence Program Tries to Write a Beatles Song: Listen to “Daddy’s Car”

Last May, we told you about Flow Machine, an artificial intelligence-driven music composer that analyses composer’s styles and then creates new works from that data. Developed by François Pachet at Sony CSL-Paris, the initial experiments demonstrated Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” as played in the style of bossa nova, the Beatles’ “Penny Lane,” and Ennio Morricone’s romantic work. Admittedly, it wasn’t the most stunning moment in A.I.—a computer was now doing what arrangers have been doing for years, applying genre rules to a melody created in another genre.

However, Flow Machine has returned with an interesting development: two upcoming albums of A.I.-created songs, from which two tunes have been released to give you a taste of computer creativity. French composer and musician Benoît Carré helped out with the arrangements and production of the songs, and also wrote the lyrics, so it’s not completely an A.I. creation, we should note.

So what should we make of “Daddy’s Car,” above, an attempt to create an A.I song in the style of the Beatles? The opening seconds feature the three-part harmony of “Because,” but when the band kicks in, it’s closer to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds than the Fab Four. (If anything, it’s closer to the High Llamas.)

But does it sound like it was written by a human? Yes.

For something stranger, try the other song released so far: “Mr. Shadow,” written “in the style of American songwriters such as Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and Cole Porter.”

Now this is much odder, a mix of country twang, Daniel Lanois-style ambience, along with a vocal that sounds like a corrupted audio file. If you are looking for a true glimpse of the future, wrap your ears and sanity around this one. Musicians and music fans, let us know in the comments what you think about this brave new world that has such hit singles in it.

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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.

Sci-Fi Icon Robert Heinlein Lists 5 Essential Rules for Making a Living as a Writer


So you want to be a writer? Good, you’ll find plenty of advice from the best here at Open Culture. Oh, you want to be a science fiction writer? The great Ursula K. Le Guin has offered readers a wealth of writing advice, though she won’t tell us “how to sell a ship, but how to sail one.” But wait, you also want to know how to publish, and make a living? For that, you’d better see Robert Heinlein, one of the acknowledged masters of the Golden Age of science fiction and a hugely prolific author who pioneered both popular hard sci-fi and what he called “speculative fiction,” a more serious, literary form incorporating social and political themes.

In his 1947 essay “On the Writing of Speculative Fiction,” Heinlein refers to these “two types” of science fiction as “the gadget story and the human interest story.” The latter kind of story, writes Heinlein “stands a better chance with the slicks than a gadget story does” because it has wider appeal. This advice sounds rather utilitarian, doesn’t it? What about passion, inspiration, the muse? Eh, you don’t have time for those things. If you want to be successful like Robert Heinlein, you’ve got to write stories, lots of ‘em, stories people want to publish and pay for, stories people want to read.

Heinlein spends the bulk of his essay advising us on how to write such stories, with a proviso, in an epigram from Rudyard Kipling, that “there are nine-and-sixty ways / Of constructing tribal lays / And every single one of them is right.” After, however, describing in detail how he writes a “human interest” science fiction story, Heinlein then gets down to business. He assumes that we can type, know the right formats or can learn them, and can spell, punctuate, and use grammar as our “wood-carpenter’s sharp tools.” These prerequisites met, all we really need to write speculative fiction are the five rules below:

1. You must write.

2. You must finish what you start.

3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.

4. You must put it on the market.

5. You must keep it on the market until sold.

You might think Heinlein has lapsed into the language of the realtor, not the writer, but he is deadly serious about these rules, which “are amazingly hard to follow—which is why there are so few professional writers and so many aspirants.” Anyone who has tried to write and publish fiction knows this to be true. But what did Heinlein mean in giving us such an austere list? For one thing, as he notes many times, there are perhaps as many ways to write sci-fi stories as there are people to write them. What Heinlein aims to give us are the keys to becoming professional writers, not theorists of writing, lovers of writing, dabblers and dilettantes of writing.

Award-winning science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer has interpreted Heinlein’s rules with commentary of his own, and added a sixth: “Start Working on Something Else.” Good advice. Heinlein’s rule number three, however—“the one that got Heinlein in trouble with creative-writing teachers”—seems to contradict what most every other writer will tell us. Sawyer suggests we take it to mean, “Don’t tinker endlessly with your story.” Writer Patricia C. Wrede agrees, but also suggests that “Heinlein was of the school of thought that felt that ‘good enough’ was all that was necessary, ever.”

Like 19th century writers who churned out novels as serialized stories for the papers and magazines, Heinlein and his fellow Golden Age writers made their living selling story after story to the “pulps” and the “slicks” (preferably the slicks). One had to be prolific, and being “’prolific enough’ often involved not having time to polish and revise much (if at all).” So rule number three may or may not apply, depending on our constraints. The literary market has changed dramatically since 1947, but the rest of Heinlein’s rules still seem nonnegotiable if we intend not only to write—speculative fiction or otherwise—but also to make a career doing so.

via Ken St. Andre

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

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