The Late Movies: First Person

Errol Morris, Oscar-winning director of The Fog of War, The Thin Blue Line, and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control is one of our best documentary filmmakers. A few years ago he had a television program called First Person. Each episode consisted mainly of a length interview with one fascinating person, conducted via something Morris calls the "Interrotron," a system of screens and mirrors which makes the interviewee feel as if they're talking directly to Morris when they're actually looking right into the camera. As strange as that sounds, Morris tends to elicit more intimate and unguarded moments with his subjects than you find in most documentaries; the proof, I think, is in the pudding. Or in this case, in some of these episodes of First Person. Since this is mental_floss, after all, let's start off with Morris' interview with a genius named Rick Rosner.

Here's part 2 and part 3.

A fascinating interview with noted writer and serial killer groupie Sondra London. Here's part 2, and part 3.

In "The Stalker," we meet a man who was a victim of a postal worker rampage. Chilling stuff.
Part two.

As long as we're talking about maniacs, here's a long talk with someone who knew the Unabomber rather well. Here's part two.

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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