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David Bowie on Why It’s Crazy to Make Art–and We Do It Anyway (1998)

Art is useless, Oscar Wilde declared. Yet faced with, say, a painting by Kandinsky, film by Malick, or great work by David Bowie, we may feel it “impossible to escape the impression,” as Sigmund Freud wrote, “that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and...

AI & X-Rays Recover Lost Artworks Underneath Paintings by Picasso & Modigliani

You see above a painting by Amedeo Modigliani, a portrait of the artist’s lover Beatrice Hastings, unseen by the public until its rediscovery just this year. Or at any rate, some see that: in another sense, the image is a new or almost-new artistic creation, based on X-rays of Modigliani’s Portrait of a Girl. Underneath the paint that makes up that...

Google’s UX Design Professional Certificate: 7 Courses Will Help Prepare Students for an Entry-Level Job in 6 Months

During the pandemic, Google launched a series of Career Certificates that will “prepare learners for an entry-level role in under six months.” One such certificate focuses on User Experience Design, or what’s called UX Design, the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful experiences to users. Offered on the Coursera platform,...

Discover Ikaria, the Greek Island With the Oldest Life Expectancy in the World

Boilerplate human interest stories about the habits of particularly spry centenarians just don’t cut it anymore. Living a long, healthy, and happy life, we know, involves more than making the right individual choices. It means living in societies that make good choices readily available and support the individuals making them. Nutrition research has...

Buddhist Monk Sings The Ramones: “Rock ’n’ Roll High School,” “Teenage Lobotomy” & “Beat on the Brat”

The Ramones restored speed and simplicity to 70s rock. It’s rare to find a Ramones tune clocking in over three minutes. The sweet spot’s closer to 2 1/2. “We play short songs and short sets for people who don’t have a lot of spare time,” original drummer Tommy Ramone remarked. It took them all of 2 minutes and 20 seconds to bomb through their single...

Igor Stravinsky Appears on American Network TV & Tells Stories About His Unconventional Musical Life (1957)

One evening in 1957, viewers all across America tuned in to see Stravinsky. The broadcast wasn’t a performance of Stravinsky’s music, although those would continue to draw television audiences well into the following decade. It was a conversation with the man himself, Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky, who even when he was still alive had become an institution...

Modernizing Table-Top Role-Playing Games — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #96

https://podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/secure/partiallyexaminedlife/PMP_96_5-15-21.mp3 What’s the current status of table-top role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons in pop culture? Thanks to D&D’s recent depiction in Stranger Things and the enormous popularity of fantasy properties like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings,...

Umberto Eco’s 36 Rules for Writing Well (in English or Italian)

Creative Commons image by Rob Bogaerts, via the National Archives in Holland Umberto Eco knew a great many things. Indeed too many things, at least according to his critics: “Eco knows everything there is to know and spews it in your face in the most blasé manner,” declared Pier Paolo Pasolini, “as if you were listening to a robot.” That line appears...

The Horrors of Bull Island, “the Worst Music Festival of All Time” (1972)

It’s maybe a little unfair to compare 1972’s “Bull Island” Festival to Fyre Fest, the music festival scam so egregious it warranted dueling documentaries on Hulu and Netflix. But “Bull Island” — or what was originally called the Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival — was an epic catastrophe, maybe the worst in music festival history, and well deserving of its...

What Makes Leonardo’s Mona Lisa a Great Painting?: An Explanation in 15 Minutes

The Mona Lisa may be on display at the Louvre, but best of luck appreciating it there. The first obstacle, quite literally, is the crowd that’s always massed around it (or, in the time before social-distancing policies, was always massed around it). Even if you maneuver your way to the front of the camera-phoned throng, the painting itself hangs within...

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