A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
SNAIL! A snail-based parody of the ubiquitous AWOLNATION song "Sail".
Chill to the re-created chirrups of Jurassic crickets.
Bill Drummond, best known as co-founder of the KLF, writes about his slow infatuation with damsons.
Five years ago this week, the BBC started broadcasting one of the most extraordinary documentaries ever to grace television: Planet Earth. The culmination of five years of field work, it employed the most cutting-edge of techniques in order to capture life in all its forms, from sweeping spaceborne vistas to shockingly intimate close-ups -- including many sights rarely glimpsed by human eyes. Visually spectacular, it showcased footage shot in 204 locations in 62 countries, thoroughly documenting every biome from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the lifegiving waters of the Okavango Delta, a rich narrative tapestry backed by a stirring orchestral score from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Unfortunately, the series underwent some editorial changes for rebroadcast overseas. But now fans outside the UK can rejoice -- all eleven chapters of this epic story are available on YouTube in their original form: uncut, in glorious 1080p HD, and with the original narration by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Click inside for the full listing (and kiss the rest of your week goodbye). [more inside]
Nathalie Miebach translates scientific data related to meteorology and ecology into woven sculptures and musical scores. She discusses her work in an interview with the Peabody Essex Museum. (via Mira y Calla)
Vanessa Mae Nicholson is one of Britain’s most successful young musicians. A classical violinist and former child prodigy who self-describes her crossover style as "violin techno-acoustic fusion," her fans praise her modern creativity and frenetic, lightning-fast riffs. But is her talent learned or genetic? Documentary from BBC1 in 2008: Vanessa Mae - The Making of Me: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. [more inside]
This is a list of frogs. Look at pictures the frogs. Most importantly, listen (sounds like a fart) to (sounds like a baseball card in your bike tire) the (sounds like a sheep) frogs (classic frog sound). [more inside]
Songs of Brazilian Birds A fantastically diverse collection of .au files, including the beautifully evocative Organ Wren or Uirapuru, the mooing of the Capuchinbird, the sci-fi minimalism of the Short-tailed Antthrush and a duet of Laughing Falcons (they'll make you laugh at the end).
The Niagara Fortissimo. “Mahler was to conduct in Buffalo, New York, and we took advantage of the trip to visit Niagara Falls. We spent hours near and even under the roaring falls... and then with that roar still in his ears Mahler went to conduct Beethoven’s ‘Pastorale’. I was waiting for him as he stepped off the podium. ‘Endlich ein fortissimo!,’ he said, ‘At last a fortissimo!’” The fortissimo in question is Beethoven's, not Niagara's. The point, as Alma elaborates it in her memoirs, is that music can offer experiences more overpowering than Nature itself — a kind of extreme aestheticism that Oscar Wilde also propounded in "The Decay of Lying" when he said that most sunsets are attempts at second-rate Turners. More inside.
The Nature Anthem Quicktime video.
(linked page needs Java, sorry) Victor Wooten's Bass and Nature Camp sounds interesting. Bass guitar and music master class in the woods, with animal tracking, meditation, health, and basic wilderness survival lessons.