Personal watchlist

The Charm of Shanghai's Historic Neighborhoods

The city of Shanghai, China’s pride and joy, is a picturesque place—even with its permanent backdrop of thick haze. Tourists flock to the glitzy Bund with their cameras, and daredevil urban explorers come to scale some of the world’s tallest towers.

But the real charm of the city comes from the communities nestled within the cracks of Shanghai’s historic neighborhoods, says JT Singh, a media artist and urbanist. He’s the filmmaker behind “Shanghai Forever,” a new video that takes viewers on an intimate …

Improve your photos with these simple composition tips

In this new video, the Mango Street YouTube channel shares some quick tips and tricks for improving your photo compositions. Here are some other Mango Street tutorials for beginners:

Fixing the common mistakes most beginner cooks make

My daughter likes to joke that, in our house, if the smoke alarm is going off mom (me) is trying to cook. Guilty as charged! I'm a great baker but a terrible cook.

So, when I saw the title of this Brothers Green Eats video, "15 Mistakes Most Beginner Cooks Make," I stopped in my tracks and watched it. It was all news to me, so I'm sharing in case these tips are helpful to you too.

One commenter listed all 15 cooking fixes:

1. Dry meat off before cooking

2. Make meat even thickness

3. Let seasoned meat …

What are some good Python resources for a sysadmin experienced in Perl and Bash?

As the title indicates, I know Perl and Bash very well, but I would like to add Python to my repertoire. I have programmed in several other languages as well, so I'm not looking for something that exhaustively covers the basics of programming like so many of the books and online courses out there.

Instead, I'm looking for resources aimed specifically at linux system administrators that will help me get up to speed quickly using Python to write useful utilities. I would also appreciate tips on what your …

This travel videographer made an incredible short video of his month in Seoul

Brandon Li captures the dazzling excitement and beauty of Seoul and its environs in seven minutes. The transitions and camera work are stunning. He shot two terabytes of data and spent three months, off and on, editing it.

He also made a director's commentary version of the video, which you can see here:

Curtains Up, a short film on movies and meditation featuring David Lynch

Stella McCartney profiles David Lynch in this moody piece on the joys of cinema and transcendental meditation.

Via Nowness:

Having both reflected and refracted the modern world—from the provincial eeriness of Blue Velvet to the urban grime of Mulholland Drive—Lynch's work has consistently probed the magical and often dreamlike qualities of film. The LA-based director puts it simply: "Cinema is its own language." For Lynch, watching film—waiting for the curtains to rise, before descending into another …

Martin Hayes Quartet: Let The Blue Room calm your fractured soul

Martin Hayes is arguably one of the greatest fiddlers to come out of Ireland in the past 100 years. His soulful, moody interpretation of well-known Irish traditional music is unlike anything else out there. It's slow moving, slow to build, and beautiful in a way all its own.

I've mentioned his primary band, The Gloaming, here in the past. But he's also got another group going on the side: The Martin Hayes Quartet. At first listen, their music sounds like more of the same (which is a wonderful thing!). But …

Mesmerizing 1980s experimental Japanese film using video cut-ups to deconstruct architecture

In 1982, Japanese avant-garde filmmaker Toshio Matsumoto used video cut-up techniques to deconstruct a single residential building into a disorienting architectural puzzle. The short film is titled Shift (シフト 断層). Music by Yasuke Inagaki.

From a 1996 interview with Matsumoto:

We have to do more to irritate and disturb modes of perception, thinking, or feeling that have become automatized in this way. I did several kinds of experiments from the 1970s to the 1980s that …

How Art Arrived at Jackson Pollock

From Evan Puschak, this explanation of how art went from almost fully representational painting to abstract impressionism in about 100 years is a 6-minute whirlwind tour of modern art, from Édouard Manet to Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings. I always love when Puschak dips back into art…the first video of ever posted of his was about Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Socrates.

Tags: art   art history   Evan Puschak   Jackson Pollock   video

How to Be at Home

For the National Film Board of Canada, director Andrea Dorfman and poet Tanya Davis collaborated on this short film about how to stay connected with ourselves and feel a connection with others while spending time physically apart from other people. I liked this bit about hugging a tree:

Go outside if you’re able, breathe the air
there are trees for hugging
don’t be embarrassed
it’s your friend, it’s your mother, it’s your new crush
lay your cheek against the bark, it’s a living thing to touch

See also …

10 Underrated Modern Piano Concertos

You rarely see the words fun and classical music in the same sentence.

That must be intentional. Just take a look at those musicians squeezed into their uncomfortable formal attire, all with pinched, somber expressions on their faces. And then you look at the audience, and see the exact same thing.

I must have missed the memo. Aren’t we allowed to enjoy this stuff?

The audience waiting for the start of a modern classical work

But it gets worse when an unfamiliar modern work is on the program.

The fear in the …

10 New Albums I'm Recommending Right Now

Stan Getz once told me that he listened to new music the way a Wall Street broker studies the stock market.

That puzzled me at first. But over time, I’ve come to understand what he meant. Trends come and go, and it’s often hard to separate music of real value from the merely fashionable. As a result, it can take some digging to find new musicians to dig.

But if you’re persistent, you will find the winners, even in a down market.

Below are ten recent albums that make it into my private winner’s circle. As is …

The Origins of Modern Jazz Piano in 10 Tracks (1940-1950)

Even today, jazz pianists rely heavily on the innovations of the 1940s. That includes young keyboardists who haven’t actually listened to these old recordings—but still rely heavily on the musical vocabulary presented in the tracks below. They can’t avoid it because those licks and chords and rhythms are everywhere now.

Below is my quick guide to the changes that took place during that tumultuous decade—ten tracks you can hear in one sitting. I start with the roots of the new sound as played by the Kansas …

How Humanity Got Hooked on Coffee: An Animated History

Few of us grow up drinking coffee, but once we start drinking it, even fewer of us ever stop. According to legend, the earliest such case was a ninth-century Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi, who noticed how much energy his ruminant charges seemed to draw from eating particular red berries. After chewing a few of them himself, he experienced the first caffeine buzz in human history. Despite almost certainly never having existed, Kaldi now lends his name to a variety of coffee shops around the world, …

Architect Breaks Down 5 of the Most Common New York Apartments

OMG, I love YouTube! I stumbled upo this video by Michael Wyetzner, breaking down five of the most common apartment types found in New York City. So interesting!