Watch Nina Simone Sing the Black Pride Anthem, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” on Sesame Street (1972)

In her brief 34 years, Lor­raine Hans­ber­ry left a for­mi­da­ble lega­cy as the first African-Amer­i­can and the youngest play­wright to win the cov­et­ed New York Crit­ics’ Cir­cle Award for A Raisin in the Sun. (It was also the first play by a black writer to be pro­duced on Broad­way.) What’s more, Hans­ber­ry was a com­mit­ted civ­il rights cam­paign­er, from a fam­i­ly who had fought hous­ing seg­re­ga­tion in the Supreme Court. She her­self orga­nized with Mar­tin Luther King, Jr., Har­ry Bela­fonte, Lena Horne, James Bald­win, and many oth­ers; wrote for Paul Robeson’s Free­dom; and joined the first les­bian civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion, the Daugh­ters of Bili­tis, con­tribut­ing to their mag­a­zine, The Lad­der.

Hans­ber­ry was indeed “Young, Gift­ed, and Black,” which also hap­pens to be the title of an auto­bi­og­ra­phy pub­lished after her death from pan­cre­at­ic can­cer in 1965, and of a posthu­mous­ly pro­duced play. But the title has maybe most famous­ly lived on in a trib­ute to Hans­ber­ry by her friend, the prodi­gious­ly gift­ed Nina Simone. Among Simone’s many men­tors, Hans­ber­ry “offered her a spe­cial bond,” writes Clau­dia Roth Pier­pont at The New York­er, and pushed her into activism. “We nev­er talked about men or clothes,” Simone wrote in her mem­oir, I Put a Spell on You, “It was always Marx, Lenin and revolution—real girls’ talk.” After the 1963 Bap­tist Church bomb­ing in Birm­ing­ham, Simone ded­i­cat­ed her­self to the move­ment with a pas­sion for jus­tice and lib­er­a­tion.

And yet, “for every lyric about lynch­ings and the strug­gle for equal­i­ty,” notes the Blan­ton Muse­um, “Simone would write anoth­er about free­dom and black pride, rein­forc­ing her belief that African Amer­i­can men and women should know the beau­ty of their black­ness.” As she put it in an inter­view, “My job is to some­how make [black peo­ple] curi­ous enough, or per­suade them, by hook or crook, to get them more aware of them­selves and where they came from and what is already there.” What was already there includ­ed the work of friends like James Bald­win and Lor­raine Hans­ber­ry, from whom Simone drew “To Be Young, Gift­ed and Black,” one of the “most tri­umphant anthems of the black pride move­ment of the 1970s.”

At the top of the post, you can see Simone sing the song to four young kids on a 1972 episode of Sesame Street, bring­ing them the news: “There’s a world wait­ing for you.” As she announces in the song itself, “We must begin to tell our young” the impor­tance of their cul­ture and his­to­ry. The young respond­ed with grat­i­tude for Simone’s advo­ca­cy. In the short Sesame Street clip, the four adorable kids look on admir­ing­ly, and one girl sings along. The inspi­ra­tion for the song came not only from Hansberry’s influ­ence on Simone’s polit­i­cal con­scious­ness, but also from a pho­to­graph of Hans­ber­ry she saw in the New York Times.

The pic­ture, “caught hold of me,” Simone says in the brief inter­view clip above, “I remem­ber get­ting a feel­ing in my body.… I knew what I want­ed it to say in essence.… I real­ly think that she gave it to me.” After the short inter­view, you can see Simone per­form the song in a 1969 ses­sion at More­house Col­lege, to rap­tur­ous applause from the audi­ence. “To Be Young, Gift­ed and Black” has been cov­ered by duo Bob & Mar­cia, Don­ny Hath­away, Aretha Franklin, and—most recent­ly, Solange Knowles. Though none of these artists have had the inti­mate, per­son­al con­nec­tion to the lyrics and their inspi­ra­tion that Nina Simone did, all of them have helped trans­mit her mes­sage. Even in the face of gross injus­tice and seem­ing­ly implaca­ble oppo­si­tion to equal­i­ty and civ­il rights, “There’s a world wait­ing for you / This is a quest that’s just begun.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Nina Simone Sings Her Break­through Song, ‘I Loves You Por­gy,’ in 1962

Watch a New Nina Simone Ani­ma­tion Based on an Inter­view Nev­er Aired in the U.S. Before

Chris Rock Reads James Baldwin’s Still Time­ly Let­ter on Race in Amer­i­ca: “We Can Make What Amer­i­ca Must Become”

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

Stephen King Explains the Key to His Creativity: Not Losing the Dream-State Thinking All Children Are Born With

While noth­ing could make me per­son­al­ly want to return to child­hood, chil­dren do, for bet­ter or for worse, per­ceive the world more vivid­ly than adults. The best writ­ing for kids makes rich nar­ra­tive use of that fact, as do sto­ries about but not for kids by writ­ers who haven’t for­got­ten their pre-grown-up selves’ expe­ri­ence of real­i­ty. Stephen King, for instance, hard­ly writes chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture, but his nov­els about the fear that seeps into every cor­ner of work­ing-class Amer­i­ca often include very young char­ac­ters. Not only does King write plau­si­bly from their psy­cho­log­i­cal point of view, he uses that point of view as an engine of his entire project.

King, in a 1989 inter­view on WAM­C’s Pub­lic Radio Book Show, elab­o­rat­ed on “the two things that inter­est me about child­hood,” the first being that “it’s a secret world that exists by its own rules and lives in its own cul­ture, and the sec­ond that “we for­get what it is to be a child and we for­get that life, which is kind of exot­ic and strange.” Though read­ers often ask him what ago­nies his child­hood must have vis­it­ed upon him that spurred him to write such vivid­ly hor­rif­ic fic­tion, King does­n’t remem­ber any­thing wrong with his for­ma­tive years. But he does remem­ber “that we think in a dif­fer­ent way as chil­dren. We tend to think around cor­ners instead of in straight lines.”

We see these dif­fer­ences ani­mat­ed in the Blank on Blank video at the top of the post, which envi­sions the adult King in the world of imag­i­na­tion that kids instinc­tive­ly inhab­it and out of which they even­tu­al­ly grow, but to which he reg­u­lar­ly returns to write his sto­ries. “Some­times for a kid, the short­est dis­tance between two points is not a straight line and that’s the way that we think and dream,” he says. “As chil­dren we tend to live in this kind of dream state [ … ] and because I equate that sort of dream state with a height­ened sort of men­tal state, I make this easy cross-con­nec­tion between child­hood and strange pow­ers, para­nor­mal pow­ers or what­ev­er, and it has been suc­cess­ful as a fic­tion­al device.”

As the source of such best­sellers as Car­rieThe StandChris­tineIt, the Dark Tow­er series, and count­less oth­er works, it’s been suc­cess­ful to say the least. If con­nect­ing one thing to anoth­er in new ways — be those things peo­ple, places, events, ideas, feel­ings, or what­ev­er else — con­sti­tutes the cen­tral act of cre­ation, then it makes sense that the nat­u­ral­ly asso­cia­tive nature of a child’s imag­i­na­tion, har­nessed to an adult’s expe­ri­ence and dis­ci­pline, can pro­duce such abun­dant and wide­ly res­o­nant results. No coin­ci­dence, sure­ly, that young­sters unable to pay atten­tion to the lin­ear pro­gres­sion of the class­room get labeled “dream­ers,” a ten­den­cy that King has used to his advan­tage — though he seems to have got most of his tex­tu­al mileage out of the night­mares.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writ­ers

Stephen King Writes A Let­ter to His 16-Year-Old Self: “Stay Away from Recre­ation­al Drugs”

Stephen King on the Mag­ic Moment When a Young Writer Reads a Pub­lished Book and Says: “This Sucks. I Can Do Bet­ter.”

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.

Edward Hopper’s Iconic Painting Nighthawks Explained in a 7‑Minute Video Introduction

If any one paint­ing stands for mid-twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry Amer­i­ca, Nighthawks does. In fact, Edward Hop­per’s 1942 can­vas of four fig­ures in a late-night New York City din­er may qual­i­fy as the most vivid evo­ca­tion of that coun­try and time in any form. For Evan Puschak, bet­ter known as the video essay­ist Nerd­writer, the expe­ri­ence of Nighthawks goes well beyond the visu­al realm. “I’ve always thought of him in a sort of aro­mat­ic way,” says Puschak of the artist, “because his paint­ings evoke the same kinds of feel­ings and mem­o­ries that I get from the sense of smell, as if he was chan­nel­ing direct­ly into my lim­bic sys­tem, exca­vat­ing moments that were stored deeply away.”

But Puschak would­n’t have expe­ri­enced the ear­ly 1940s first-hand, much less the turn-of-the-cen­tu­ry peri­od in which Hop­per grew up. Nor would have most of the peo­ple cap­ti­vat­ed by Nighthawks today, much less those count­less appre­ci­a­tors as yet unborn. How does Hop­per, in his most famous paint­ing and many oth­ers, at once cap­ture a time and a place while also res­onat­ing on a deep­er, more uni­ver­sal­ly human lev­el?

Puschak takes up that ques­tion in “Look through the Win­dow,” a video essay that exam­ines the pow­er of Hop­per’s art, “clean, smooth, and almost too real,” through a break­down of Nighthawks, an expres­sion of all of the artist’s themes: “lone­li­ness, alien­ation, voyeurism, qui­et con­tem­pla­tion, and more.”

The effec­tive­ness of the paint­ing’s com­po­si­tion, in Puschak’s analy­sis, comes from such ele­ments as the ambi­gu­i­ty of the rela­tion­ships between its char­ac­ters, the strong diag­o­nal lines of the din­er’s archi­tec­ture, the use of light in the dark­ness, and the win­dows so clear as to look “as if they’re not even there,” all so mem­o­rably real­ized by Hop­per’s painstak­ing ded­i­ca­tion to his work. (His long and involved process, which we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here, even includ­ed a kind of sto­ry­board­ing.) “As slow­ly and delib­er­ate­ly as he paint­ed,” Puschak says, “he want­ed us to look — real­ly look, and to be made vul­ner­a­ble, as a view­er always is.”

Many Amer­i­cans must have felt such vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty with a spe­cial acute­ness at the time Hop­per fin­ished paint­ing Nighthawks, “the weeks and days fol­low­ing the bomb­ing of Pearl Har­bor, when every­one in New York City was para­noid about anoth­er attack.” Every­one, that is, except Edward Hop­per, who kept his stu­dio light on and kept on paint­ing beneath it. “The future was very uncer­tain at this moment in time, as uncer­tain as the dark­ness that frames the patrons of this din­er, a dark­ness they’re launched into by Hop­per’s com­po­si­tion and our gaze.” Some might say that times, in Amer­i­ca and else­where, haven’t become much more cer­tain since. We, like Hop­per, could do much worse than con­tin­u­ing to cre­ate ever more delib­er­ate­ly, and to see ever more clear­ly.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Edward Hop­per “Sto­ry­board­ed” His Icon­ic Paint­ing Nighthawks

Painters Paint­ing: The Defin­i­tive Doc­u­men­tary Por­trait of the New York Art World (1940–1970)

Whit­ney Muse­um Puts Online 21,000 Works of Amer­i­can Art, By 3,000 Artists

The Muse­um of Mod­ern Art (MoMA) Puts Online 65,000 Works of Mod­ern Art

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.

Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner: A Free Yale Course

This course taught by Yale pro­fes­sor Wai Chee Dimock exam­ines major works by three icon­ic Amer­i­can authors–Ernest Hem­ing­way, F. Scott Fitzger­ald, and William Faulkn­er. Along the way, Dimock explores these authors’ “inter­con­nec­tions on three ana­lyt­ic scales: the macro his­to­ry of the Unit­ed States and the world; the for­mal and styl­is­tic inno­va­tions of mod­ernism; and the small details of sen­so­ry input and psy­chic life.” You can access the 24 lec­tures in Hem­ing­way, Fitzger­ald, Faulkn­er on YouTube, or on iTunes in video and audio. Texts dis­cussed in the course include:

Faulkn­er, William. As I Lay Dying.

Faulkn­er, William. Light in August.

Faulkn­er, William. The Sound and the Fury.

Fitzger­ald, F. Scott. The Great Gats­by.

Fitzger­ald, F. Scott. The Short Sto­ries of F. Scott Fitzger­ald: A New Col­lec­tion.

Fitzger­ald, F. Scott. Ten­der is the Night.

Hem­ing­way, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Hem­ing­way, Ernest. In Our Time.

Hem­ing­way, Ernest. To Have and Have Not.

Find more infor­ma­tion about this course, includ­ing the syl­labus, over at this Yale site.

Hem­ing­way, Fitzger­ald, Faulkn­er has been added to our list of Free Online Lit­er­a­ture cours­es, a sub­set of our meta col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

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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How Leo Tolstoy Became a Vegetarian and Jumpstarted the Vegetarian & Humanitarian Movements in the 19th Century

tolstoy rules 2

Leo Tol­stoy is remem­bered as both a tow­er­ing pin­na­cle of Russ­ian lit­er­a­ture and a fas­ci­nat­ing exam­ple of Chris­t­ian anar­chism, a mys­ti­cal ver­sion of which the aris­to­crat­ic author pio­neered in the last quar­ter cen­tu­ry of his life. After a dra­mat­ic con­ver­sion, Tol­stoy reject­ed his social posi­tion, the favored vices of his youth, and the dietary habits of his cul­ture, becom­ing a vocal pro­po­nent of veg­e­tar­i­an­ism in his ascetic quest for the good life. Thou­sands of his con­tem­po­raries found Tolstoy’s exam­ple deeply com­pelling, and sev­er­al com­munes formed around his prin­ci­ples, to his dis­may. “To speak of ‘Tol­stoy­ism,’” he wrote, “to seek guid­ance, to inquire about my solu­tion of ques­tions, is a great and gross error.”

“Still,” writes Kelsey Osgood at The New York­er, “peo­ple insist­ed on seek­ing guid­ance from him,” includ­ing a young Mahat­ma Gand­hi, who struck up a live­ly cor­re­spon­dence with the writer and in 1910 found­ed a com­mu­ni­ty called “Tol­stoy Farm” near Johan­nes­burg.

Though uneasy in the role of move­ment leader, the author of Anna Karen­i­na invit­ed such treat­ment by pub­lish­ing dozens of philo­soph­i­cal and the­o­log­i­cal works, many of them in oppo­si­tion to a con­trary strain of reli­gious and moral ideas devel­op­ing in the late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry. Often called “mus­cu­lar Chris­tian­i­ty,” this trend respond­ed to what many Vic­to­ri­ans thought of as a cri­sis of mas­culin­i­ty by empha­siz­ing sports and war­rior ideals and rail­ing against the “fem­i­niza­tion” of the cul­ture.

Tol­stoy might be said to rep­re­sent a “veg­etable Christianity”—seeking har­mo­ny with nature and turn­ing away from all forms of vio­lence, includ­ing the eat­ing of meat. In “The First Step,” an 1891 essay on diet and eth­i­cal com­mit­ment, he char­ac­ter­ized the pre­vail­ing reli­gious atti­tude toward food:

I remem­ber how, with pride at his orig­i­nal­i­ty, an Evan­gel­i­cal preach­er, who was attack­ing monas­tic asceti­cism, once said to me “Ours is not a Chris­tian­i­ty of fast­ing and pri­va­tions, but of beef­steaks.” Chris­tian­i­ty, or virtue in general—and beef­steaks!

While he con­fessed him­self “not hor­ri­fied by this asso­ci­a­tion,” it is only because “there is no bad odor, no sound, no mon­stros­i­ty, to which man can­not become so accus­tomed that he ceas­es to remark what would strike a man unac­cus­tomed to it.” The killing and eat­ing of ani­mals, Tol­stoy came to believe, is a hor­ror to which—like war and serfdom—his cul­ture had grown far too accus­tomed. Like many an ani­mal rights activist today, Tol­stoy con­veyed his hor­ror of meat-eat­ing by describ­ing a slaugh­ter­house in detail, con­clud­ing:

[I]f he be real­ly and seri­ous­ly seek­ing to live a good life, the first thing from which he will abstain will always be the use of ani­mal food, because, to say noth­ing of the exci­ta­tion of the pas­sions caused by such food, its use is sim­ply immoral, as it involves the per­for­mance of an act which is con­trary to the moral feeling—killing.

[W]e can­not pre­tend that we do not know this. We are not ostrich­es, and can­not believe that if we refuse to look at what we do not wish to see, it will not exist.… [Y]oung, kind, unde­praved people—especially women and girls—without know­ing how it log­i­cal­ly fol­lows, feel that virtue is incom­pat­i­ble with beef­steaks, and, as soon as they wish to be good, give up eat­ing flesh.

The idea of veg­e­tar­i­an­ism of course pre­ced­ed Tol­stoy by hun­dreds of years of Hin­du and Bud­dhist prac­tice. And its grow­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty in Europe and Amer­i­ca pre­ced­ed him as well. “Tol­stoy became an out­spo­ken veg­e­tar­i­an at the age of 50,” writes Sam Pavlenko, “after meet­ing the pos­i­tivist and veg­e­tar­i­an William Frey, who, accord­ing to Tolstoy’s son Sergei Lvovich, vis­it­ed the great writer in the autumn of 1885.” Tolstoy’s dietary stance fit in with what Char­lotte Alston describes as an “increas­ing­ly orga­nized” inter­na­tion­al veg­e­tar­i­an move­ment tak­ing shape in the late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry.

Like Tol­stoy in “The First Step,” pro­po­nents of veg­e­tar­i­an­ism argued not only against cru­el­ty to ani­mals, but also against “the bru­tal­iza­tion of those who worked in the meat indus­try, as butch­ers, slaugh­ter­men, and even shep­herds and drovers.” But veg­e­tar­i­an­ism was only one part of Tolstoy’s reli­gious phi­los­o­phy, which also includ­ed chasti­ty, tem­per­ance, the rejec­tion of pri­vate prop­er­ty, and “a com­plete refusal to par­tic­i­pate in vio­lence or coer­cion of any kind.” This marked his dietary prac­tice as dis­tinct from many con­tem­po­raries. Tol­stoy and his fol­low­ers “made the link between veg­e­tar­i­an­ism and a wider human­i­tar­i­an­ism explic­it.”

“How was it pos­si­ble,” Alston sum­ma­rizes, “to regard the killing of ani­mals for food as evil, but not to con­demn the killing of men through war and cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment? Not all mem­bers of the veg­e­tar­i­an move­ment agreed.” Some saw “no con­nec­tion between the ques­tions of war and diet.” Tolstoy’s philo­soph­i­cal argu­ment against all forms of vio­lence was not orig­i­nal to him, but it res­onat­ed all over the world with those who saw him as a shin­ing exam­ple, includ­ing his two daugh­ters and even­tu­al­ly his wife Sophia, who all adopt­ed the prac­tice of veg­e­tar­i­an­ism. A book of their recipes was pub­lished in 1874, and adapt­ed by Pavlenko for his Leo Tol­stoy: A Vegetarian’s Tale(See one exam­ple here—a fam­i­ly recipe for mac­a­roni and cheese.)

In her study Tol­stoy and His Dis­ci­ples, Alston details the Russ­ian great’s wide influ­ence through not only his diet but the total­i­ty of his spir­i­tu­al prac­tices and unique polit­i­cal and reli­gious views. Inter­est­ing­ly, unlike many ani­mal rights activists of his day and ours, Tol­stoy refused to endorse leg­is­la­tion to pun­ish ani­mal cru­el­ty, believ­ing that pun­ish­ment would only result in the per­pet­u­a­tion of vio­lence. “Non-vio­lence, non-resis­tance and broth­er­hood were the prin­ci­ples that lay at the basis of Tol­stoy­an veg­e­tar­i­an­ism,” she observes, “and while these prin­ci­ples meant that Tol­stoy­ans coop­er­at­ed close­ly with veg­e­tar­i­ans, they also kept them in many ways apart.”

via His­to­ry Buff

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Leo Tolstoy’s Fam­i­ly Recipe for Mac­a­roni and Cheese

Watch Glass Walls, Paul McCartney’s Case for Going Veg­e­tar­i­an

Tol­stoy and Gand­hi Exchange Let­ters: Two Thinkers’ Quest for Gen­tle­ness, Humil­i­ty & Love (1909)

Leo Tolstoy’s Masochis­tic Diary: I Am Guilty of “Sloth,” “Cow­ardice” & “Sissi­ness” (1851)

Leo Tol­stoy Cre­ates a List of the 50+ Books That Influ­enced Him Most (1891)

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

How to Make a Replica of 1900-Year-Old Glass Fish: A Brilliant Video from the British Museum

All due respect to the British Muse­um, but the title of its “How to Make a Glass Fish Repli­ca” video, above is a tad mis­lead­ing.

I’m sure no mal­ice was intend­ed, but “mak­ing” a DIY fish-shaped ves­sel rem­i­nis­cent of some 22 found in the ancient Kushan store­rooms at Begram, Afghanistan is no one’s def­i­n­i­tion of an easy craft project. (Unless you’re will­ing to fudge with some Elmer’s, some blue felt, and an emp­ty peanut but­ter jar…)

Glass Spe­cial­ist Bill Guden­rath of the Corn­ing Muse­um of Glass is an his­to­ri­an of glass­work­ing tech­niques from ancient Egypt through the Renais­sance and clear­ly expert at his craft, but he doesn’t appear to be too keen on sup­ply­ing explana­to­ry blow-by-blows. Nor would I be, bustling around a red hot glass oven, with­out so much as a John­ny Tremain-style leather apron to pro­tect me. I’m not even sure I’d want the dis­trac­tion of a video cam­era in my face.

But if, as the title implies, the goal is to pro­duce a dupli­cate of this whim­si­cal 1900-year-old gup­py, the process must be bro­ken down.

From what this casu­al view­er was able to piece togeth­er, the steps would go some­thing like:

1. Twirl a red hot met­al pipe in the forge until you have a healthy glob of molten glass. Appar­ent­ly it’s not so dif­fer­ent from mak­ing cot­ton can­dy.

2. Roll the glass blob back and forth on a met­al tray.

3. Blow into the pipe’s non-glow­ing end to form a bub­ble.

4. Repeat steps 1–3

5. Roll the pipe back and forth on a met­al sawhorse while seat­ed, apply­ing pinch­ers to taper the blob into a rec­og­niz­ably fishy-shape.

(Don’t wor­ry about its prox­im­i­ty to your bare fore­arms and kha­ki-cov­ered thighs! What could pos­si­bly go wrong?)

6. Twirl it like a baton.

(Depend­ing on the length of your arms, your nascent glass fish may come dan­ger­ous­ly close to the cement floor. Try not to sweat it.)

7. Use scis­sors and pinch­ers to tease out a nip­ple-shaped appendage that will become the fish’s lips.

8. Use anoth­er pok­er to apply var­i­ous bloops of molten glass. (Novices may want to prac­tice with a hot glue gun to get the hang of this — it’s trick­i­er than it looks!)  Pinch, prod and drape these bloops into eye and fin shapes. A non-elec­tric crimp­ing iron will prove handy here.

9. Use blue glass, tweez­ers and crimp­ing iron to per­son­al­ize your fish-shaped vessel’s dis­tinc­tive dor­sal and anal fins.

10. Tap on the pipe to crack the fish loose. (Care­ful!)

11. Score the dis­tal end with a glass cut­ting tool.

 (This step should prove a cinch for any­one who ever used a craft kit to turn emp­ty beer and soda bot­tles into drink­ing glass­es!)

12. Smooth rough edges with anoth­er loop of molten glass and some sort of elec­tric under­wa­ter grind­ing wheel.

Option­al 13th step: Read this descrip­tion of a fur­nace ses­sion, to bet­ter acquaint your­self with both best glass­blow­ing prac­tices and the prop­er names for the equip­ment. Or get the jump on Christ­mas 2017 with this true how-to guide to pro­duc­ing hand blown glass orna­ments.

Not plan­ning on blow­ing any glass, fish-shaped or oth­er­wise, any time soon?

Explore the some­what mys­te­ri­ous his­to­ry of the 1900-year-old fish-shaped orig­i­nal here, com­pli­ments of the British Museum’s St John Simp­son, senior cura­tor for its pre-Islam­ic col­lec­tions from Iran and Ara­bia.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mod­ern Artists Show How the Ancient Greeks & Romans Made Coins, Vas­es & Arti­sanal Glass

Glass: The Oscar-Win­ning “Per­fect Short Doc­u­men­tary” on Dutch Glass­mak­ing (1958)

How to Bake Ancient Roman Bread Dat­ing Back to 79 AD: A Video Primer

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.

Fill Your New Kindle, iPad, iPhone, eReader with Free eBooks, Audio Books, Online Courses & More


San­ta left a new Kin­dleiPad, Kin­dle Fire or oth­er media play­er under your tree. He did his job. Now we’ll do ours. We’ll tell you how to fill those devices with free intel­li­gent media — great books, movies, cours­es, and all of the rest. And if you did­n’t get a new gad­get, fear not. You can access all of these mate­ri­als right on a com­put­er. Here we go:

Free eBooks: You have always want­ed to read the great works. And now is your chance. When you dive into our Free eBooks col­lec­tion you will find 800 great works by some clas­sic writ­ers (Dick­ens, Dos­to­evsky, Austen, Shake­speare and Tol­stoy) and con­tem­po­rary writ­ers (Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asi­mov, and Kurt Von­negut). The col­lec­tion also gives you access to the 51-vol­ume Har­vard Clas­sics.

If you’re an iPad/iPhone user, the down­load process is super easy. Just click the “iPad/iPhone” links and you’re good to go. Kin­dle and Nook users will gen­er­al­ly want to click the “Kin­dle + Oth­er For­mats links” to down­load ebook files, but we’d sug­gest watch­ing these instruc­tion­al videos (Kin­dle – Nook) before­hand.

Free Audio Books: What bet­ter way to spend your free time than lis­ten­ing to some of the great­est books ever writ­ten? This page con­tains a vast num­ber of free audio books — 700 works in total — includ­ing texts by Arthur Conan Doyle, James Joyce, Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, George Orwell and more recent writ­ers — Ita­lo Calvi­no, Vladimir Nabokov, Ray­mond Carv­er, etc. You can down­load these clas­sic books straight to your gad­gets, then lis­ten as you go.

[Note: If you’re look­ing for a con­tem­po­rary book, you can down­load one free audio book from Find details on Audi­ble’s no-strings-attached deal here.]

Free Online Cours­es: This list brings togeth­er over 1150 free online cours­es from lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties, includ­ing Stan­ford, Yale, MIT, UC Berke­ley, Oxford and beyond.

These full-fledged cours­es range across all dis­ci­plines — his­to­ryphysicsphi­los­o­phypsy­chol­o­gy, busi­ness, and beyond. Most all of these cours­es are avail­able in audio, and rough­ly 75% are avail­able in video. You can’t receive cred­its or cer­tifi­cates for these cours­es (click here for cours­es that do offer cer­tifi­cates). But the amount of per­son­al enrich­ment you will derive is immea­sur­able.

Free Movies: With a click of a mouse, or a tap of your touch screen, you will have access to 725 great movies. The col­lec­tion hosts many clas­sics, west­erns, indies, doc­u­men­taries, silent films and film noir favorites. It fea­tures work by some of our great direc­tors (Alfred Hitch­cock, Orson Welles, Andrei Tarkovsky and more) and per­for­mances by cin­e­ma leg­ends: John Wayne, Jack Nichol­son, Audrey Hep­burn, Char­lie Chap­lin, and beyond. On this one page, you will find thou­sands of hours of cin­e­ma bliss.

Free Lan­guage Lessons: Per­haps learn­ing a new lan­guage is high on your list of New Year’s res­o­lu­tions. Well, here is a great way to do it. Take your pick of 46 lan­guages, includ­ing Span­ish, French, Ital­ian, Man­darin, Eng­lish, Russ­ian, Dutch, even Finnish, Yid­dish and Esperan­to. These lessons are all free and ready to down­load.

Free Text­books: And one last item for the life­long learn­ers among you. We have scoured the web and pulled togeth­er a list of 200 Free Text­books. It’s a great resource par­tic­u­lar­ly if you’re look­ing to learn math, com­put­er sci­ence or physics on your own. There might be a dia­mond in the rough here for you.

Thank San­ta, maybe thank us, and enjoy that new device.…


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The Employment: A Prize-Winning Animation About Why We’re So Disenchanted with Work Today

What did Argen­tine film­mak­er San­ti­a­go Gras­so have in mind when he cre­at­ed the prize-win­ning ani­ma­tion El Empleo (The Employ­ment) five years ago? Was it some­thing about the dehu­man­iz­ing qual­i­ty of many jobs in the mod­ern ser­vice econ­o­my? Or the grim shift towards menial labor after the great reces­sion of 2007-08?  Or, nowa­days in 2016, could you see a com­men­tary on the work that will be left once automa­tion fin­ish­es dis­plac­ing liv­ing, breath­ing employ­ees–every­one from burg­er flip­pers to hedge fund man­agers? Robots will do the work, peo­ple will be the door­mats, and maybe (as Elon Musk sug­gests) the gov­ern­ment can pay us all a bare min­i­mum wage?

The Employ­ment will be added to our col­lec­tion of Free Ani­ma­tions, a sub­set of our larg­er meta list, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

via The Cre­ators Project

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

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!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bertrand Rus­sell & Buck­min­ster Fuller on Why We Should Work Less, and Live & Learn More

Charles Bukows­ki Rails Against 9‑to‑5 Jobs in a Bru­tal­ly Hon­est Let­ter (1986)

William Faulkn­er Resigns From His Post Office Job With a Spec­tac­u­lar Let­ter (1924)

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.