check it out

Check it out: Old, Weird America

I hope that you’ve at least heard of Harry Smith’s wonderful Anthology of American Folk Music. For the uninitiated, Harry Smith was a kooky old guy who collected American recordings of the 1920s and 1930s. It was released as a six album set in 1952. Loads of folkies in the 1950s and 1960s got their grubby hands on it, and shaped the way of popular music.

The blog The Old, Weird America is one of those places on the Internet that makes the rest of trash worthwhile. The site’s host is going through each song of the Anthology, finding covers and live performances and research (and mp3s!). From the introduction:

With this blog, i want to use the Folkways Anthology as a roadmap to explore american folk music and maybe other countries traditions along the way. I’ ll use texts, images, music and videos gathered from my personal collection and from the net to make this work-in-progress enjoyable and educational the best i can.

It’s a trove of historical music Americana and a labor of love.

Check it out:

Dig in here at The Old, Weird America.

Check it out: Scandals of Classic Hollywood (via the Hairpin)

Quelle scandalle!!

Like many other (heck, it’s a multimillion dollar industry), I can easily get sucked in by the celebrity gossip industry. In fact, it used to be my decompression internet timewaster of choice. (Now I do t.v. recaps…. maybe one day I’ll read Paris Review interviews).

I did stop. But the sordid appeal is still there, and that’s why I can’t get enough of the Hairpin’s Scandals of Classic Hollywood. It’s  a monthly feature (as far as I can tell) laying out the details of famed Hollywood characters: Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Lana Turner.

Written by Anne Helen Petersen, who is getting her Phd in Media Studies, the series is funny, engaging and insightful. The perfect way to while away an afternoon.

Want more?

Read on!  

History of the English language (in 10 minutes!)

Another 10 minute delight – Open University has 10 videos, each about 1 minute, that are clever takes on the evolution of the English language. From the description:

Where did the phrase ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ come from? And when did scientists finally get round to naming sexual body parts? Voiced by Clive Anderson, this entertaining romp through ‘The History of English’ squeezes 1600 years of history into 10 one-minute bites, uncovering the sources of English words and phrases from Shakespeare and the King James Bible to America and the Internet. Bursting with fascinating facts, the series looks at how English grew from a small tongue into a major global language before reflecting on the future of English in the 21st century.

(If this is your thing, I totally recommend Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue, which has afforded me many useful facts about the grand English language, some of which I actually remember).

Check it out: 

The Dot And The Line

Have 10 minutes? You should definitely check out “The Dot and the Line,” an Oscar-winning animation short by Chuck Jones (Looney Tunes!) written by Norton Juster (The Phantom Tollbooth). The A.V. Club interviewed Juster recently and he said this about the film:

Norton Juster: The Dot And The Line was something that popped into my head one day, doing a little thinking about myself, not so much architecturally as socially. I was very much that rigid straight line. And I had a friend who was absolutely disreputable, would say anything, do anything, ran around like mad, had enormous success in both his life and with women. And he was the squiggle. So I view that story, a little bit, as my revenge.

Check it out:

Weekly digest (4/1/11)

April Fool’s! Didja fall for anything? Be honest!

  • Read it. I had to read it for my book club but Rebecca Traister’s book Big Girls Don’t Cry, about feminism in the 2008 election, was fascinating and so well-written. It’s amazing how even a few years perspective can make you see the media-saturated events in a new light.
  • Saw it. Sunday night I ate Girl Scout Cookies and watched Despicable Me, which was despicably cute. They keep making such high-quality CGI animated films and I’m going to have a tough argument for keeping the traditional animation banner flying.
  • Heard it. The rooomates and I headed to Pickathon this year! That’s right, Oregon’s best indie roots festival. It’s in August, but I’ve been listening to the festival playlist.

Coffee & cigarettes

Sometimes I get a craving for both.

Watching this video won’t satisfy that craving (in fact,  it might intensify it) but it’s one of my favorite things in the whole world.


If that doesn’t satiate your yearning, maybe this list from Mojo Magazine of the best Tom Waits videos will.

Happy freaking Friday.