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A Brief History of Time: Rare 1991 Errol Morris Documentary About Stephen Hawking, Free Online

For the celebrated cosmologist’s birthday, revisiting a near-forgotten trifecta of genius.

Iconic theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, whose 1988 classic A Brief History of Time is not only one of these 7 favorite books about time but also among the most influential science books published in the past century, celebrates his seventy-first birthday today. While many films have been made about Hawking and his theories over the years, none compare to documentarian extraordinaire Errol Morris‘s 1991 masterpiece about Hawking’s life, titled after the seminal book and featuring original music by none other than Philip Glass.

Though Morris tweeted exactly a year go that he planned to re-release the film, it remains virtually unfindable on DVD, Bluray, or any digital format, and only exists on VHS, which might explain the dreadful quality of the video below. Still, what a treat to have the film available online in its entirety — the content itself is absolutely, mind-bendingly priceless, just like a Hawking/Morris cross-pollination might imply. Enjoy:

Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.


The Story of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust Character

The curious rise, rise, and retirement of one of pop culture’s greatest cults.

From the BBC comes the fascinating story of David Bowie’s flamboyant Ziggy Stardust character — the iconic musician’s androgynous glam-rock alter ego, which went on to become one of the twentieth century’s biggest pop culture cults. The documentary is based on D. A. Pennebaker’s 1983 concert film Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which captured Bowie’s original surprising announcement retiring the celebrated persona at London’s Hammersmith Odeon Theater ten years prior.

Complement with Bowie’s 75 must-read books, his answers to the famous Proust Questionnaire, his narration of the pioneering Soviet children’s symphony “Peter and the Wolf,” and his gorgeous isolated vocal track for “Ziggy Stardust.”


Charles Addams Illustrates Mother Goose, 1967

“Come with a hoop, Come with a call, Come with a good will, Or not at all.”

I have a documented soft spot for vintage children’s books, especially little-known gems by otherwise famous creators, coupled with a weakness for the macabre style of mid-century illustrator Edward Gorey. So imagine my delight upon finding out that in 1967, beloved Addams Family creator and New Yorker cartoonist Charles “Chas” Addams (January 7, 1912–September 29, 1988) put his twist on the classic Mother Goose tales. The Charles Addams Mother Goose (UK; public library) is exactly as darkly delightful as you’d expect it to be, bringing the time-honored characters to wicked new life. In the midst of the Vietnam War, Addams brought equal parts comfort and comic relief with this intersection of the deeply familiar and the refreshingly irreverent.

Why Addams chose to create an adaptation of Mother Goose is subject to speculation only. Tee Addams, the artist’s third and last wife, writes in the foreword to the 2002 deluxe reprint, weeks before her own death:

I think it was possibly due to his longtime desire sparked by famed bibliophile and Saturday Review of Literature cofounder Christopher Morley and his 1942 letter to Random House president Bennett Cerf suggesting he publish an Addams version of the nursery rhymes. Or it could have been due to fellow New Jersey denizen Carolyn Rush and her in-depth studies of Mother Goose, who, when interviewed in 1935 stated, ‘The rimes we grew to love in childhood have even more interest as we grow older and learn they have historic value.’ But more than likely, it was because of Charlie’s steadfast conviction to enjoy life’s lessons through the uncluttered eyes of a child; to ignore convention and have fun with it.

Three blind mice, see how they run!
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a sight in your life
As three blind mice?

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlor eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!

Girls and boys,
Come out to play,
The moon does shine
As bright as day.
Come with a hoop,
Come with a call,
Come with a good will,
Or not at all.

Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells
And pretty maids all in a row.

There was an old woman tossed in a basket,
Seventeen times as high as the moon;
But where she was going, no mortal could tell,
For under her arms she carried a broom.
‘Old woman, old woman, old woman,’ said I,
‘Whither, oh whither, oh whither so high?’
‘To sweep the cobwebs from the sky,
and I’ll be with you by-and-by.’

And perhaps it was Mother Goose Kurt Vonnegut channeled in writing about his moused apartment:

Pretty John Watts,
We are troubled with rats;
Will you drive them out of the house?
We have mice too in plenty
That feast in the pantry,
But let them stay
And nibble away.
What harm is a little brown mouse?

I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives.
Each wife had seven sacks,
Each sack had seven cats,
Each cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives.
How many are going to St. Ives?

Here am I,
Little Jumping Joan;
When nobody’s with me,
I’m all alone.

In addition to some of Addams’s never-before-published sketchbooks and photographs, the 2002 reprint includes this additional image, which Addams created for the original 1967 edition but it was dropped from the book at the last moment “for reasons unknown”:

A red sky at night is a shepherd’s delight,
A red sky in the morning is a shepherd’s warning.

The Charles Addams Mother Goose is an absolute treat — the most marvelous resurrection since Edward Gorey’s lost cryptic alphabet and Dr. Seuss’s obscure book of nudes.


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