"We can go to science fiction for its sense of wonder, its power to take us to far-off places and future times. We can go to political fiction to understand injustice in our own time, to see what should change. We may go to poetry — epic or lyric, old or new — for what cannot change, for a sense of human limits, as well as for the music in its words. And if we want all those things at once — a sense of escape, a sense of injustice, a sense of mortality and an ear for language — we can read the stories of James Tiptree, Jr.
," the reclusive, award-winning author whose vague biography started out in the Congo, routed through a period as a painter, then service as a photo intelligence officer in WWII, and finally a researcher and teacher of "soft" sciences before getting to writing science fiction
. There was another facet that was only guessed at by some, dismissed by others: the fact that "Uncle Tip," and his reclusive friend, the former school teacher Racoona Sheldon, were the same person. And they were Alice Bradley Sheldon
. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Dec 20, 2013 -
: despite their show-stopping if unattributed revelation
of a publication schedule and descriptions for the author's posthumous works, Shane Salerno's tabloid-style documentary film (now recut
), and the accompanying biography co-written by David Shields, have been very poorly received. [more inside]
posted by RogerB
on Oct 21, 2013 -
"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son
loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf
, which would later be called The Harvard Classics
." (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jul 11, 2013 -
“With a $100,000-plus salary from newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, beginning in 1929, followed by endorsement deals, speaking engagements, and earnings from his best-selling books, radio shows, movies, and museums, he was earning well over half a million dollars a year during the height of the Depression. By 1936, a newspaper poll found, Ripley was more popular than James Cagney, President Roosevelt, Jack Dempsey, and even Lindbergh.” – Vanity Fair
features an excerpt adapted from Neal Thompson’s new book, A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI
on Jun 11, 2013 -
"Outcasts are my kind, they try harder. From strip joints to Burlesque theaters, I went on a quest and met the 'Legends', these dominating characters of the quintessential American art of strip tease. Hours of confidence on tapes, intimate photo sessions, they peel off and reveal the hidden layers of their life with throaty emotion. Their memories reflecting the memories of the land. Vietnam vets and bikers are their loyal patrons..." The Living Art Of Risqué
, a photo essay from Marie Baronnet, features portraits of former strippers aged 60 to 95, accompanied by short bio-vignettes in their own words. [NSFW; nudity] [more inside]
posted by taz
on Jan 10, 2013 -
Journalism and Revolution
is a review from Dissent Magazine about the biography of Ryszard Kapuściński.
This was Neal Ascherson in LRB
Both of which are very different from Jack Shafer´s take down obituary piece in Slate
posted by adamvasco
on Jan 9, 2013 -
has some interesting stories and characters. Here's two to get you started:
Robert de Montesquiou - "Tall, black-haired, rouged, Kaiser-moustached, he cackled and screamed in weird attitudes, giggling in high soprano, hiding his little black teeth behind an exquisitely gloved hand – the poseur absolute. He was said to have slept with Sarah Bernhardt and vomited for a week afterwards."
posted by unliteral
on Dec 13, 2012 -
Lord Berners - "As a child, having heard that if you throw a dog into water it will learn how to swim, he threw his mother's canine companion out of the window on the grounds that if one applies the same logic it should learn how to fly. (The dog was unharmed, and he was "thrashed" by his mother.)"
Perhaps to compensate for his not-so imposing physique, lack of good looks, and plebeian background, Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863-1938) embraced excess in everything he did. And he did many things: novelist, playwright, poet, aviator and sailor, a genuine war hero, a narcissist, a drug addict, a gifted rabble-rouser, debt-evader, and a noted womanizer.
posted by Chrysostom
on Oct 4, 2012 -
Johnny Cash once called 1968 the happiest year of his life. It was the year his masterpiece At Folsom Prison came out, the year he was named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year, and the year he married the love of his life, June Carter. So it was a fortunate time for a young filmmaker named Robert Elfstrom to meet up with Cash for the making of a documentary. Elfstrom traveled with Cash for several months in late 1968 and early 1969. The resulting film, Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music
, is a revealing look at Cash, his creative process and his ties to family. [via
posted by netbros
on Sep 28, 2012 -
A perceptive audio interview with biographer David Maraniss
on the life of Barack Obama, including detailed research on his friends and relatives.
Pulitzer-prize winning biographer and associate editor of the Washington Post David Maraniss ...collected so much detailed information about the life of Barack Obama and his forbears that when he submitted his introduction and chapter titles to the White House to request an interview, the President himself was intrigued and surprised.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium
on Jun 29, 2012 -
Not every fund manager has a comic book made about them. Mark Mobius, the legendary emerging markets investor, has.
posted by infini
on Apr 30, 2012 -
Former Black Panther patches together purpose in Africa exile.
'Most of O'Neal's big dreams have faded over the years, or come to feel silly. Like beating the 42-year-old federal gun charges that caused him to flee the United States. Like the global socialist revolution that he was supposed to help lead. Like returning home to the streets of his Midwestern childhood. Like winning citizenship in his adopted African country, and the prize that's eluded him on two continents: the feeling of belonging somewhere.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword
on Jan 28, 2012 -
A Portrait in Postcards.
Twenty years after her death, Angela Carter's
literary executor and friend, Susannah Clapp
, remembers Carter through the cards she sent, "These cards make a paper trail, a zigzag path through the 80s. They are casually dispatched – some messages are barely more than a signature – but are often the more telling for that: they catch Angela on the wing, shooting her mouth off. She would have hated the idea of a soundbite, but she had a gift for a capsule phrase, for a story in a word. " The postcard gallery.
posted by gladly
on Jan 23, 2012 -
One of the more famous suppressed films of recent years is Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, an early work by writer/director Todd Haynes (Safe, Velvet Goldmine, Far from Heaven). Filmed in 1987, the short film -- which relates the rise and fall of Karen Carpenter with a cast of Barbie dolls -- barely got a year's worth of festival time in 1989 before the twin iron boots of A&M Records and Richard Carpenter came down on Haynes.* [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Dec 31, 2011 -
We've all seen variations on the personal time-lapse video -- a snapshot every day for six years
, or a look at a young girl's first decade
. But nobody's done it quite like Sam Klemke
. For thirty-five years the itinerant freelance cartoonist
has documented his life in short year-end reviews, a funny, weary, eccentric, and hopeful record dating all the way back to 1977. Recently optioned for documentary treatment
by the government of Australia
, you can skim Sam's opus in reverse in the striking video "35 Years Backwards Thru Time with Sam Klemke,"
an ever-evolving home movie montage that grows grainier and grainier as it tracks Sam "from a paunchy middle aged white bearded self deprecating schluby old fart, to a svelt, full haired, clean shaven, self-important but clueless 20 year old."
posted by Rhaomi
on Dec 31, 2011 -
Lewin was Parrish's constant companion for 55 years.
"He and Lewin must have had a magical life together out in the country. When Parrish was 90 years old and Lewin was 71, Parrish's wife finally died, leaving him free to marry Lewin. However, he declined so she packed her bags, left the estate and went back to her village where she married someone else."
Part one in an occasional series on artists and their love life. [some NSFW] [more inside]
posted by unliteral
on Aug 23, 2011 -
The Witness to War project is not about the set piece movements of armies, the military strategies of generals, nor the geopolitical nuances that led to war. Instead, it is about the 'foxhole' view of combat as seen by the soldiers who experienced it.
posted by Horselover Phattie
on May 31, 2011 -
Still Life with Animated Dogs
is a witty and candid cartoon by Paul Fierlinger, animator of Sesame Street's Teeny Little Super Guy
, recounting his life from being a dissident artist in 1960s Czechoslovakia to being a successful animator in the US. He tells his lifestory by talking about the dogs he's owned over the years, Roosevelt, Ike, Johnson and Spinnaker. Warning: Something may get stuck in your eye.
posted by Kattullus
on Dec 27, 2010 -
Snippets of poetry from the Imperium; a sample folk tale from the Oral History; brief biographies of over a dozen Duncan Idahos; two differing approaches to Paul Muad'Dib himself and to his son Leto II; Fremen recipes; Fremen history; secrets of the Bene Gesserit; the songs of Gurney Halleck -- these are just some of the treasures found when an earthmover fell into the God Emperor's no-room at Dar-es-Balat.
Out of print for more than two decades, disavowed by Frank Herbert's estate, and highly sought-after by fans, the legendary Dune Encyclopedia
is now available online as a fully illustrated and searchable PDF [direct link]
. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Sep 1, 2010 -
Bringing It All Back Home.
The relatively long-running (since 2006
) webcomic Bellen!
will come to a close in early September as its author goes on
to other things
(pdf). In preparation for the end of the series, the creator is taking "a longer eye-opening look into the origin of Bellen!" which dispenses with the strips regular old timey-yellowing paper
style "because there are no more veneers in Bellen! it’s the pure unadulterated truth from here on out." An interesting look at the creative process in the digital age.
posted by ND¢
on Aug 13, 2010 -
The Rehabilitation of Ernest Gellner
- It is easy to imagine why Ernest Gellner would be one of the universally known figures in Anglophone intellectual life. A polymath whose work ranged across anthropology, history, philosophy, and sociology, his mind wrestled with an encyclopedia's worth of nagging questions about nationalism, modernity, civil society, imperialism, Islam, psychoanalysis, ethics and epistemology ... All of this, to repeat, should explain Gellner's monumental prominence – except for the fact that he has no such prominence.
) [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Jul 25, 2010 -