This time I've got enough recent links filling my "hey this is cool I should link to that" folder that I'm dividing it all into two posts, along the political divide. Herewith, the not-political. (Part two is here.) (Update, 3/15: Links added.)
Today's menu: Hallelujah, Comics, Humor, and Things that From a Long Way Off Look Like Flies.
Special "Hallelujah" Section
• This essay is a wonderful exploration of the history of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" -- how it turned from a song not even mentioned in a 1996 biography of Cohen to one of his most recognizable works, changing meaning along the way, and finally turned into a standard TV trope meaning "sad montage". Don't miss the montage of montages the author put together. (via)
• ...But the one problem with that wonderful essay is that the author only provides the tiniest snippet of each of the versions he discusses. So you can go here to get mp3s of almost every damn version of Hallelujah in existence and rectify that. (Also here).
• ...Except the most famous version of Hallelujah ever, the Jeff Buckley version. For that, you'll need to go here.
• Also missing: the live version of K. D. Lang doing Hallelujah (the post linked above has the studio version, which is not as good methinks), which the Nielsen Haydens linked to some time ago; it's here on youtube. And also missing -- sadly -- is the version by the author of the blog history of Hallelujah; based on the snippet he gives, I'd like to hear more, but, alas, I have no link to offer for that one..
• Through Sunday night only: Comics Journal #288 is online for free.
• Some time ago, I linked to this Oubapian transformation of Garfield -- removing his speech balloons -- which turned it into a really good comic. Now -- via the Howling Curmudgeons -- someone has taken this a step farther, and produced another -- even better? -- Oubapian transformation: Garfield without Garfield. A quite brilliant strip; check it out.
• Grim-n'-gritty superhero comics started before Watchmen (and we're not just talking The Dark Knight Returns either). (via)
• Retailer Brian Hibbs reviews 31 classic graphic novels in 31 days. (in progress, but fun so far...)
• Artistic integrity defended.
• A three-year-old explains Star Wars.
• This may fall into "everyone but me has seen this" category, but I'll admit that this marvelous video of Weird Al Yankovic's "White and Nerdy" was new to me. Appropriately enough, it has an extensive Wikipedia entry, including a correction of the formula in the video...
• Famous paintings photoshopped to include superheroes.
• Via both the Nielsen Haydens and 3quarks daily, Paul Krugman has posted on his blog (direct pdf link) a paper he wrote back in 1979: "The Theory of Interstellar Trade". It is genuinely hysterical, although a lot of the jokes require some background knowledge and a certain minimum level of geekiness. One of the things that makes it so fun is that he keeps putting in new jokes all the way through; it's not a one-joke paper. 3QD has an excerpt of the opening if you're reluctant to download a pdf; I share that reluctance, but in this case it's worth it...
Things That From a Long Way Off Look Like Flies
• Nicholson Baker on Wikipedia. I like his emphasis on the damnable efforts by many to purge Wikipedia of its odder, charming, best articles.
• If you imagine the Solar System as My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas, then you're way out of date. This little article will give you a capsule view of the as-currently-understood solar system -- with a pointer towards others that are out there. It also points towards this great little discussion of Dwarf Planets.
• Why near-future SF is becoming impossible to write.
• The literary sources of D&D (leftover from my recent Gygax surfing). Rather underplays Tolkien, I think, but still worth a look.
• A psychologists vs. the mathematicians in the Netflix recommendation contest (prize: one MILLION dollars!). A neat essay (by Jordan Ellenberg, who I knew back in college).
• Peter Watts reviews Francis Collins. If you like intellectual eviscerations, this is well worth a click-through...