Sean Connery (RIP) Reads C.P. Cavafy’s Epic Poem “Ithaca,” Set to the Music of Vangelis

This video com­bines three things that make me hap­py: the voice of Sean Con­nery (who passed away today), the music of Van­ge­lis (Blade Run­ner, Char­i­ots of Fire), and the poet­ry of C.P. Cavafy. Put them all togeth­er and you get a bliss­ful sound­scape of rolling synth lines, rolling Scot­tish R’s, and a suc­ces­sion of Home­r­ic images and anaphor­ic lines. And the video’s quite nice as well.

Cavafy, whose work, I’m told, is real­ly untrans­lat­able from the orig­i­nal Greek, always seems to come out pret­ty well to me in Eng­lish. “Itha­ca,” one of his most pop­u­lar poems, express­es what in less­er hands might be a banal sen­ti­ment akin to “it’s the jour­ney, not the des­ti­na­tion.” But in Cavafy’s poem, the jour­ney is both Odysseus’s and ours; it’s epic where our lives seem small, and it trans­lates our minor wan­der­ings to the realm of myth­ic his­to­ry.

Any­way, it seems rude to say much more and drown the poem in com­men­tary. So, fol­low along with Sean Con­nery.

Find the text of the poem after the jump. (more…)

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The Official Trailer for the New Frank Zappa Documentary Is Now Online

Mark it on your cal­en­dars. Alex Win­ter’s new Zap­pa doc­u­men­tary will be released on Novem­ber 23. To whet your appetite, here’s the offi­cial trail­er for the film: “With unfet­tered access to the Zap­pa fam­i­ly trust and all archival footage, ZAPPA explores the pri­vate life behind the mam­moth musi­cal career that nev­er shied away from the polit­i­cal tur­bu­lence of its time. Alex Winter’s assem­bly fea­tures appear­ances by Frank’s wid­ow Gail Zap­pa and sev­er­al of Frank’s musi­cal col­lab­o­ra­tors includ­ing Mike Keneal­ly, Ian Under­wood, Steve Vai, Pamela Des Bar­res, Bunk Gard­ner, David Har­ring­ton, Scott Thunes, Ruth Under­wood, Ray White and oth­ers.”

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:

The Night Frank Zap­pa Jammed With Pink Floyd … and Cap­tain Beef­heart Too (Bel­gium, 1969)

Andy Warhol Hosts Frank Zap­pa on His Cable TV Show, and Lat­er Recalls, “I Hat­ed Him More Than Ever” After the Show

Frank Zappa’s Amaz­ing Final Con­certs: Prague and Budapest, 1991

Frank Zap­pa Explains the Decline of the Music Busi­ness (1987)

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The Legend of How Bluesman Robert Johnson Sold His Soul to the Devil at the Crossroads

We remem­ber the blues­man Robert John­son as the Jimi Hen­drix of the 1930s, a gui­tarist of stag­ger­ing skill who died before age thir­ty. Both found main­stream suc­cess, but John­son’s came posthu­mous­ly: in fact, his music and Hen­drix’s first music hit it big in the same decade, the 1960s. King of the Delta Blues Singers, an album of John­son’s songs released by Colum­bia Records in 1961, had a great influ­ence on the likes of Bob Dylan, Kei­th Richards, Robert Plant, and Eric Clap­ton, who calls John­son “the most impor­tant blues singer that ever lived.” How did this poor young Mis­sis­sip­pi­an come by his for­mi­da­ble abil­i­ties? Why, he sold his soul to the dev­il at the cross­roads, of course.

Or at least that’s what we all seem to have heard. And indeed, does­n’t the leg­end make the open­ing line of “Cross Road Blues,” King of the Delta Blues’ open­ing num­ber, that much more evoca­tive? “I went down to the cross­roads,” he sings. “Fell down on my knees. Asked the Lord above for mer­cy, ‘Take me, if you please.’ ” Well, it could’ve been the Lord, or it could have been the oth­er one. But in fact we have pre­cious lit­tle record of John­son’s life, and no direct ref­er­ences at all to his bar­gain with Beelze­bub (ani­ma­tions of which we pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture). Why has the leg­end stuck? Music Youtube series Poly­phon­ic address­es that ques­tion in the video essay above.

An ear­li­er episode cov­ered deals with the dev­il through­out the his­to­ry of music. This time, the sub­ject is the cross­roads itself, the set­ting of John­son­ian lore no one ever fails to men­tion. “Of all the marks that humans make on the earth, cross­roads are among the sim­plest and most endur­ing,” says nar­ra­tor Noah Lefevre. “As long as humans orga­nize our­selves in towns and cities, cross­roads will remain, and so will the leg­ends of their dark pow­ers and of the strange spir­its who occu­py them.” The mythol­o­gy of the cross­roads goes back at least to the Greek god­dess Hecate, who rules over “lim­i­nal space, the tran­si­tion from the known to the great unknown beyond.” In the Mis­sis­sip­pi Delta, the mythol­o­gy of the cross­roads inter­sects, as it were, with the realm of Hait­ian voodoo.

“A reli­gion that mix­es Roman Catholic influ­ences with West African spir­i­tu­al tra­di­tions” — and the one that gave us zom­bies — voodoo has “one all-pow­er­ful god, but you can only speak to him through spir­its known as loa.” And to talk to loa, you’ve got to go through Papa Leg­ba, the loa of the cross­roads. From the late 18th cen­tu­ry, voodoo began mak­ing its way through the Amer­i­can South, the cra­dle of the blues. Out of this rich set­ting came John­son’s pre­de­ces­sor Tom­my John­son (no rela­tion), a singer and gui­tarist who based his per­sona on the claim of hav­ing sold his own soul to the dev­il. Even Robert John­son’s men­tor Ike Zim­mer­man was said to have prac­ticed gui­tar in grave­yards at mid­night.

“John­son is seen today as the grand­fa­ther of rock-and-roll,” says Lefevre. “That comes not just from his vir­tu­oso play­ing, but also from his mythol­o­gy.” (Con­sid­er this lega­cy in light of how often rock-and-roll was in decades past called “the dev­il’s music.”) Today, in songs like “Hell­hound on My Trail,” we can hear both ref­er­ences to voodoo-inspired rit­u­als and oth­er forms of the occult as well as con­di­tions of life in a South removed only a gen­er­a­tion or two from slav­ery. This Poly­phon­ic episode may con­vince you that “the myth of John­son and the cross­roads may have been birthed out of sheer acci­dent,” but that’s no rea­son not to give King of the Delta Blues Singers a spin this Hal­loween — or any oth­er day besides.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Sto­ry of Blues­man Robert Johnson’s Famous Deal With the Dev­il Retold in Three Ani­ma­tions

A Brief His­to­ry of Mak­ing Deals with the Dev­il: Nic­colò Pagani­ni, Robert John­son, Jim­my Page & More

Jimi Hen­drix Arrives in Lon­don in 1966, Asks to Get Onstage with Cream, and Blows Eric Clap­ton Away: “You Nev­er Told Me He Was That F‑ing Good”

Jimi Hen­drix Plays the Delta Blues on a 12-String Acoustic Gui­tar in 1968, and Jams with His Blues Idols, Bud­dy Guy & B.B. King

Cov­er­ing Robert Johnson’s Blues Became a Rite of Rock ‘n’ Roll Pas­sage: Hear Cov­ers by The Rolling Stones, Eric Clap­ton, Howl­in’ Wolf, Lucin­da Williams & More

Robert John­son Final­ly Gets an Obit­u­ary in the New York Times 81 Years After His Death

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

The Sublime Alice in Wonderland Illustrations of Tove Jansson, Creator of the Globally-Beloved Moomins (1966)

Some­times describ­ing a clas­sic work of lit­er­a­ture as “time­less” draws atten­tion, when we revis­it it, to how much it is bound up with the con­ven­tions of its time. Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land emerged from a very spe­cif­ic time and place, the bank of the Thames in 1862 where Charles Lutwidge Dodg­son first com­posed the tale for Alice Lid­dell and her sis­ter. The future Lewis Carroll’s future best­seller became one of the most wide­ly adapt­ed and adopt­ed works of lit­er­a­ture in his­to­ry. It nev­er needs to be revived—Alice is always con­tem­po­rary.

Those who have read the book to chil­dren know that Carroll’s non­sense sto­ry, though filled with archa­ic terms and out­dat­ed ideas about edu­ca­tion, requires lit­tle addi­tion­al expla­na­tion: indeed, it can­not be explained except by ref­er­ence to the strange leaps of log­ic, rapid changes in scale and direc­tion, and anthro­po­mor­phism famil­iar to every­one who has had a dream. Dodg­son was a pret­ty weird char­ac­ter, and prim Vic­to­ri­an Alice is not exact­ly an every­girl, but every read­er imag­ines them­selves tum­bling right down the rab­bit hole after her.

As far as illus­tra­tors of Carroll’s time­less clas­sic go, it’s hard to find one who is more uni­ver­sal­ly beloved, and more Alice-like, than Tove Jans­son, inven­tor of the Moomins, the Finnish series of children’s books and TV shows that is, in parts of the world, like a reli­gion. How are her Alice illus­tra­tions not bet­ter known? It’s hard to say. Jansson’s Bohemi­an biog­ra­phy is as endear­ing as her char­ac­ters, and she would make a won­der­ful sub­ject for a children’s sto­ry her­self. As James Williams tells it at Apol­lo Mag­a­zine:

The artist, Tove Jans­son (1914–2001), was a great colourist who lived a rich­ly plur­al life. Born into Finland’s Swedish-speak­ing minor­i­ty to a Swedish moth­er and a Finnish father, both artists, she grew up on both sides of the Baltic. Jans­son trained as a painter and illus­tra­tor in Stock­holm and Paris, and made an ear­ly liv­ing through com­mis­sions and piece­work. She was an acer­bic and wit­ty anti-fas­cist car­toon­ist dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, send­ing up Hitler and Stal­in in cov­ers for the Swedish-lan­guage peri­od­i­cal Garm. Descend­ed on the one hand from a famous preach­er, and on the oth­er from a pio­neer of the Girl Guide move­ment, she was raised on the Bible and on tales of adven­ture (Tarzan, Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe). In her thir­ties she built a log cab­in on an island and was a capa­ble sailor. She lived vis­i­bly and coura­geous­ly with her part­ner, the Finnish artist Tuu­lik­ki Pietilä, at a time when les­bian rela­tion­ships did not enjoy pub­lic accep­tance. She con­sid­ered emi­grat­ing at var­i­ous times to Ton­ga and Moroc­co but, despite trav­el­ling wide­ly, remained root­ed in Fin­land where she became (dread acco­lade) a ‘nation­al trea­sure.’ She wrote a pic­ture book for chil­dren about the immi­nent end of the world and spare, ten­der fic­tion for adults about love and fam­i­ly. She nev­er stopped draw­ing and paint­ing. She was Big in Japan.

We’ll find dream log­ic woven into all of Jansson’s work, from her ear­ly Moomin-like crea­ture paint­ings from the 1930s to her illus­tra­tions for The Hob­bit and Alice decades lat­er. Her Alice, in Swedish, was first pub­lished in 1966, then released in an Amer­i­can edi­tion in 1977. Sad­ly, her illus­tra­tions “did not receive such a great recep­tion,” notes “Read­ers already had their own imag­i­na­tions in their minds about these clas­sics.”

Blame Dis­ney, I sup­pose, but there is nev­er a bad time to re-imag­ine Alice’s jour­ney, and the artist has left us with an excel­lent way to do so, “craft­ing a sub­lime fan­ta­sy expe­ri­ence,” Maria Popo­va writes, “that fus­es Carroll’s Won­der­land with Jansson’s Moomin Val­ley.” See more of Jansson’s time­less­ly weird draw­ings at Brain Pick­ings.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

The First Film Adap­ta­tion of Alice in Won­der­land (1903)

Behold Lewis Carroll’s Orig­i­nal Hand­writ­ten & Illus­trat­ed Man­u­script for Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land (1864)

Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land, Illus­trat­ed by Sal­vador Dalí in 1969, Final­ly Gets Reis­sued

Ralph Steadman’s Warped Illus­tra­tions of Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land on the Story’s 150th Anniver­sary

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

The Gruesome Dollhouse Death Scenes That Reinvented Murder Investigations

Who can resist minia­tures?

Wee food, painstak­ing­ly ren­dered in felt­ed wool

Match­book-sized books you can actu­al­ly read…

Clas­sic record albums shrunk down for mice…

The late Frances Gless­ner Lee (1878–1962) def­i­nite­ly loved minia­tures, and excelled at their cre­ation, knit­ting socks on pins, hand rolling real tobac­co into tiny cig­a­rettes, and mak­ing sure the vic­tims in her real­is­tic mur­der scene dio­ra­mas exhib­it­ed the prop­er degree of rig­or mor­tis and livid­i­ty.

Lee began work on her Nut­shell Stud­ies of Unex­plained Death at the age of 65, as part of a life­long inter­est in homi­cide inves­ti­ga­tion.

Her pre­oc­cu­pa­tion began with the Sher­lock Holmes sto­ries she read as a girl.

In the 1930s, the wealthy divorcee used part of a siz­able inher­i­tance to endow Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty with enough mon­ey for the cre­ation of its Depart­ment of Legal Med­i­cine.

Its first chair­man was her friend, George Burgess Magrath, a med­ical exam­in­er who had shared his dis­tress that crim­i­nals were lit­er­al­ly get­ting away with mur­der because coro­ners and police inves­ti­ga­tors lacked appro­pri­ate train­ing for foren­sic analy­sis.

The library to which Lee donat­ed a thou­sand books on the top­ic was named in his hon­or.

The home­made dio­ra­mas offered a more vivid expe­ri­ence than could be found in any book.

Each Nut­shell Study required almost half a year’s work, and cost about the same as a house would have at the time. ($6000 in the 1940s.)

“Luck­i­ly, I was born with a sil­ver spoon in my mouth,” Lee remarked. “It gives me the time and mon­ey to fol­low my hob­by of sci­en­tif­ic crime detec­tion.”

Although Lee had been brought up in a lux­u­ri­ous 13 bed­room home (8 were for ser­vants’ use), the domes­tic set­tings of the Nut­shell Stud­ies are more mod­est, reflec­tive of the vic­tims’ cir­cum­stances.

She drew inspi­ra­tion from actu­al crimes, but had no inter­est in repli­cat­ing their actu­al scenes. The crimes she authored for her lit­tle rooms were com­pos­ites of the ones she had stud­ied, with invent­ed vic­tims and in rooms dec­o­rat­ed accord­ing to her imag­i­na­tion.

Her intent was to pro­vide inves­ti­ga­tors with vir­gin crime scenes to metic­u­lous­ly exam­ine, culling indi­rect evi­dence from the painstak­ing­ly detailed props she was a stick­ler for get­ting right.

Stu­dents were pro­vid­ed with a flash­light, a mag­ni­fy­ing glass, and wit­ness state­ments. Her atten­tion to detail ensured that they would use the full nine­ty min­utes they had been allot­ted ana­lyz­ing the scene. Their goal was not to crack the case but to care­ful­ly doc­u­ment obser­va­tions on which a case could be built.

The flaw­less­ness of her 1:12 scale ren­der­ings also speaks to her deter­mi­na­tion to be tak­en seri­ous­ly in what was then an exclu­sive­ly male world. (Women now dom­i­nate the field of foren­sic sci­ence.)

Noth­ing was over­looked.

As she wrote to Dr. Alan Moritz, the Depart­ment of Legal Medicine’s sec­ond chair, in a let­ter review­ing pro­posed changes to some ear­ly scenes:

I found myself con­stant­ly tempt­ed to add more clues and details and am afraid I may get them “gad­gety” in the process. I hope you will watch over this and stop me when I go too far. Since you and I have per­pe­trat­ed these crimes our­selves we are in the unique posi­tion of being able to give com­plete descrip­tions of them even if there were no witnesses—very much in the man­ner of the nov­el­ist who is able to tell the inmost thoughts of his char­ac­ters.

It’s no acci­dent that many of the Nut­shell Stud­ies’ lit­tle corpses are female.

Lee did not want offi­cers to treat vic­tims dis­mis­sive­ly because of gen­der-relat­ed assump­tions, whether the sce­nario involved a pros­ti­tute whose throat has been cut, or a house­wife dead on the floor of her kitchen, the burn­ers of her stove all switched to the on posi­tion.

Would you like to test your pow­ers of obser­va­tion?

Above are the remains of Mag­gie Wil­son, dis­cov­ered in the Dark Bath­room’s tub by a fel­low board­er, Lizzie Miller, who gave the fol­low­ing state­ment:

I roomed in the same house as Mag­gie Wil­son, but knew her only from we met in the hall. I think she had ‘fits’ [seizures]. A cou­ple of male friends came to see her fair­ly reg­u­lar­ly. On Sun­day night, the men were there and there was a lot of drink­ing going on. Some time after the men left, I heard the water run­ning in the bath­room. I opened the door and found her as you see her.

Grim, eh?

Not near­ly as grim as what you’ll find in the Par­son­age or the Three-Room Dwelling belong­ing to shoe fac­to­ry fore­man Robert Jud­son, his wife, Kate, and their baby, Lin­da Mae.

The peri­od-accu­rate mini fur­nish­ings and fash­ions may cre­ate a false impres­sion that the Moth­er of Foren­sic Sci­ence’s Nut­shell Stud­ies should be rel­e­gat­ed to a muse­um.

In truth, their abun­dance of detail remains so effec­tive that the Office of the Chief Med­ical Exam­in­er in Bal­ti­more con­tin­ues to use 18 of them in train­ing sem­i­nars to help homi­cide inves­ti­ga­tors “con­vict the guilty, clear the inno­cent, and find the truth in a nut­shell.”

Explore 5 Nut­shell Studies—Woodman’s Shack, Attic, Liv­ing Room, Garage, and Par­son­age Parlor—in 360º com­pli­ments of The Smith­son­ian Amer­i­can Art Muse­um Ren­wick Gallery’s exhib­it Mur­der Is Her Hob­by: Frances Gless­ner Lee and The Nut­shell Stud­ies of Unex­plained Death.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

A Record Store Designed for Mice in Swe­den, Fea­tur­ing Albums by Mouse Davis, Destiny’s Cheese, Dol­ly Pars­ley & More

“20 Rules For Writ­ing Detec­tive Sto­ries” By S.S. Van Dine, One of T.S. Eliot’s Favorite Genre Authors (1928)

Lucy Law­less Joins Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast #5 on True Crime

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

What Scares Us, and How Does this Manifest in Film? A Halloween Pretty Much Pop Culture Podcast (#66)

Why do peo­ple enjoy being scared by films? How does what counts as fright­en­ing in a film actu­al­ly con­nect with what scares us in real life, and how does this in turn relate to child­hood fears? What’s the deal with “hor­ror” movies that are good but not scary or that are ter­ri­ble yet still scary in some way? Your hosts Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Eri­ca Spyres, and Bri­an Hirt are joined by actor/special effects-guy Nathan Shel­ton (who runs the Fright­mare The­atre Pod­cast) for a Hal­loween con­ver­sa­tion where no one gets a rock.

We present our picks for what scared us as kids: Tril­o­gy of Ter­ror, Inva­sion of the Body Snatch­ers (1978), Dark Night of the Scare­crow, and Copy­cat, and go on about Arachno­pho­bia, The Blair Witch Project, Hal­loween, Fri­day the 13th, The Thing, and Night­mare on Elm Street. We also dis­cus­sion hor­ror aimed at women, body hor­ror, tropopho­bia, hor­ror movie music, and Stephen King. Final­ly, we con­sid­er the revival in art hor­ror by the likes of Mike Flana­gan (Dr. Sleep, Haunt­ing of Bly Manor), Ari Aster (Mid­som­mar, Hered­i­tary), and Robert Eggers (The Witch).

We drew on a break-down on the var­i­ous ele­ments that make up the hor­ror genre from Matt Glas­by, in an arti­cle called “The Scari­est Films Ever Made and How They Fright­en Us.”

For a lengthy aca­d­e­m­ic look at the top­ic, try “(Why) Do You Like Scary Movies? A Review of the Empir­i­cal Research on Psy­cho­log­i­cal Respons­es to Hor­ror Films” (2019) by G. Neil Mar­tin.

If you don’t mind a key scene from The Thing (1982) being spoiled, check out this land­mark grody spe­cial effect scene.

Learn more at This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion that you can only hear by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

When Edward Gorey Created Set Designs & Tony Award-Winning Costumes for a Broadway Production of Dracula (1977)

Edward Gorey and Hal­loween go togeth­er as well as Drac­u­la and Hal­loween. Bring the three togeth­er (well, it’s almost Hal­loween), and you’ve got a tri­umvi­rate of clas­sic, wicked, scary fun. The align­ment of these dark stars first occurred, Olivia Rutigliano writes at CrimeReads, when a Gorey-designed pro­duc­tion of Drac­u­lapre­miered on Broad­way at the Mar­tin Beck The­ater on Octo­ber 20th, 1977, just in time for Hal­loween.” Star­ring Frank Lan­gel­la in the title role, “the pro­duc­tion was a smash,” and Gorey, who designed the sets, cos­tumes, posters, play­bills, and mer­chan­dise, won a Tony the fol­low­ing year.

To hear Gorey tell it, in Episode 4 of “Goreytelling,” an ani­mat­ed series of pre­vi­ous­ly unheard record­ed inter­views with the reclu­sive writer/illustrator, he was “only too con­scious of not being a real set design­er or a real cos­tume design­er or a real any­thing…. I designed it the only way I could.” His seem­ing pain over the whole thing extends to the play itself. “I don’t know what any­body saw in it, exact­ly,” he says, “but it was a big hit.”

The play was first staged in 1973, and for years, Gorey says, each time a the­ater com­pa­ny decid­ed to put it on, he was called up to con­sult. He duti­ful­ly turned up each time, scowl­ing glum­ly and won­der­ing why. When it final­ly hit Broad­way, he saw two-thirds of a rehearsal and left “jaun­diced.” The final prod­uct left an even more sour taste. It was, he says, “absurd,” but very lucra­tive. As for the Tony, he says iron­i­cal­ly, the award turned out to be “the cross I had to bear,” an embar­rass­ing acco­lade for cos­tumes he deemed unwor­thy of the hon­or.

Rutigliano deems the set designs “gor­geous… three giant tableaux, in his famil­iar inky, metic­u­lous style” and fea­tures a few pho­tographs from a pro­duc­tion in Hous­ton. We would not expect oth­er­wise from Gorey, who was always him­self and always a pro­fes­sion­al. The sets have lived on in photos—some fea­tur­ing Lan­gel­la, some his suc­ces­sor, Raul Julia—in minia­ture mod­els, and in the brief but sort-of com­pelling pro­duc­tion of “Drac­u­la: Star­ring Edward Gorey’s Toy The­atre,” just below. Gorey also cre­at­ed an illus­trat­ed edi­tion of Drac­u­la in 1996.

“It should be not­ed,” Goreyana writes, “that all the sets for Drac­u­la were hand paint­ed by tal­ent­ed scene shop artists. Every cross hatched line on the walls, fur­ni­ture, and floor had to be recre­at­ed to size by hand.” This is indeed impres­sive, and Gorey is prob­a­bly right: the sets, which he also seemed to loathe, were prob­a­bly more deserv­ing of the Tony than the cos­tumes. “The over­all aes­thet­ic,” says Rutigliano, “match­es the peri­od of the orig­i­nal Broad­way run, the 1920s.” (The pro­duc­tion won anoth­er Tony for Most Inno­v­a­tive Revival.)

The orig­i­nal the­ater adap­ta­tion was com­mis­sioned by Bram Stoker’s wid­ow, Flo­rence, “as part of her copy­right cru­sade against F.W. Murnau’s Nos­fer­atu.” It debuted in Eng­land in 1924, then pre­miered on Broad­way in 1927 with a then-unknown Bela Lugosi. “This pro­duc­tion would be adapt­ed, in turn, by the direc­tor Tod Brown­ing into the famous 1931 Drac­u­la film.” Gorey him­self may have hat­ed it, but the play he so metic­u­lous­ly brought back to life in the 70s descend­ed, in a way, in a long, ven­er­a­ble, undead line, from the orig­i­nal Drac­u­la him­self.

via CrimeReads

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Edward Gorey Talks About His Love Cats & More in the Ani­mat­ed Series, “Goreytelling”

When Edward Gorey Designed Book Cov­ers for Clas­sic Nov­els: See His Iron­ic-Goth­ic Take on Dick­ens, Con­rad, Poe & More

Hor­ror Leg­end Christo­pher Lee Reads Bram Stoker’s Drac­u­la

Watch Nos­fer­atu, the Sem­i­nal Vam­pire Film, Free Online (1922)

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

The Secret to High Performance and Fulfilment: Psychologist Daniel Goleman Explains the Power of Focus

“Con­cen­tra­tion is one of the hap­pi­est things in my life,” says nov­el­ist Haru­ki Muraka­mi in a 2011 New York Times Mag­a­zine pro­file. “If you can­not con­cen­trate, you are not so hap­py.” In this, the author of A Wild Sheep Chase sure­ly has the agree­ment of the author of Emo­tion­al Intel­li­gence, the psy­chol­o­gist and writer Daniel Gole­man. But Gole­man express­es it a bit dif­fer­ent­ly, as you can hear — in detail and at length — in “Focus: The Secret to High Per­for­mance and Ful­fill­ment,” an Intel­li­gence Squared talk based on the book he pub­lished eigh­teen years after the best­selling Emo­tion­al Intel­li­genceFocus: The Hid­den Dri­ver of Excel­lence.

Atten­tion, Gole­man tells us, is under siege, not least by devices “devised to inter­rupt us, to seduce us, to draw our atten­tion from this to that.” He quotes the famed econ­o­mist, polit­i­cal sci­en­tist, and cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gist Her­bert Simon’s obser­va­tion that “infor­ma­tion con­sumes atten­tion. Hence a wealth of infor­ma­tion cre­ates a pover­ty of atten­tion” — but he does­n’t men­tion that Simon made it near­ly fifty years ago, long before the inven­tion of most of what besieges our atten­tion today. (Then again, even medieval monks com­plained of con­stant dis­trac­tion.) Most of us can feel, on some lev­el, that to the extent we have trou­ble focus­ing, we also have trou­ble per­form­ing at the lev­el we’d like to in our pro­fes­sion­al and social life.

What can we do about it? After offer­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal expla­na­tions of what’s going on with our abil­i­ty to focus (or lack there­of), Gole­man sug­gests strate­gies we can use to mas­ter our “emo­tion­al dis­trac­tors” and work out the “men­tal mus­cle” that is our atten­tion. (This anal­o­gy with phys­i­cal exer­cise would get no argu­ment from Muraka­mi, who runs as rig­or­ous­ly as he writes.) Though “mind-wan­der­ing is absolute­ly essen­tial for cre­ative insight,” as we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly dis­cussed here on Open Cul­ture, the crit­i­cal skill is to bring our mind back from its wan­der­ing at will. This we can prac­tice through Bud­dhist-style breath­ing med­i­ta­tion, a sub­ject to which Gole­man has since devot­ed a good deal of research, and just one of the prac­tices that can help us live our lives to the fullest by allow­ing us to see, hear, con­sid­er, and engage with what’s right in front of us.

As Gole­man lays out a suite of atten­tion-build­ing tech­niques and their ben­e­fits, he touch­es on the­o­ries and find­ings from cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gy that have by now been pop­u­lar­ized into famil­iar­i­ty: the Stan­ford “marsh­mal­low test,” for exam­ple, which appears to show that chil­dren who can delay grat­i­fi­ca­tion have bet­ter life out­comes than those who can­not. Such out­comes can be ours as well, he argues, if we make a habit of “length­en­ing the gap between impulse and action” in our own habits. “I’m not a fast thinker, but once I am inter­est­ed in some­thing, I am doing it for many years,” as Muraka­mi says. “I’m kind of a big ket­tle. It takes time to get boiled, but then I’m always hot.” As for the rest of us, could­n’t we all stand to become big­ger ket­tles than we are?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How to Focus: Five Talks Reveal the Secrets of Con­cen­tra­tion

How Infor­ma­tion Over­load Robs Us of Our Cre­ativ­i­ty: What the Sci­en­tif­ic Research Shows

The Case for Delet­ing Your Social Media Accounts & Doing Valu­able “Deep Work” Instead, Accord­ing to Prof. Cal New­port

How to Take Advan­tage of Bore­dom, the Secret Ingre­di­ent of Cre­ativ­i­ty

How Med­i­ta­tion Can Change Your Brain: The Neu­ro­science of Bud­dhist Prac­tice

Medieval Monks Com­plained About Con­stant Dis­trac­tions: Learn How They Worked to Over­come Them

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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