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kottke.org posts about best of

The 2024 Drone Photos Awards

The nominees for the 2024 Drone Photos Awards have been announced; here are a few that caught my eye:

drone photo of a highway crossing a frozen lake

drone photo of a crowded bull ring in Mexico

drone photo of a flock of white birds flying across a green expanse

drone photo of a small town in the snow

Photos by (from top to bottom) Sheng Jiang, Roberto Hernandez, Silke Hullmann, and Hüseyin Karahan.

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“The 25 Photos That Defined the Modern Age”

photos of Earthrise taken from Apollo 8, a woman and a child underneath a sign reading 'colored entrance', and Tank Man in Tiananmen Square

A group of photographers, editors, and curators recently convened to choose a list of “the 25 most significant photographs since 1955”. Choosing just 25 photos to represent 70 years of the richest visual era in human history is just an impossible task, so there’s bound to be some grousing about individual choices. (I love Beyoncé but really?) But the selection is fascinating, includes a few images I’d never seen before, and the accompanying discussion is worth reading.

I would love to see a process that asks for nominations across a
larger & broader range of folks and then whittle it down through ranked choice voting or pairwise ranking. Paging The Pudding

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Apple Music’s 100 Best Albums

Chosen by members of the Apple Music teams and a panel of experts (including Pharrell & Charli XCX), this is their list of the 100 Best Albums of all time (see also a text listing on Wikipedia). It’s an interesting list, worthy of argument and comparison to Rolling Stone’s list. Here’s the top 10:

1. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill
2. Thriller by Michael Jackson
3. Abbey Road by The Beatles
4. Purple Rain by Prince & The Revolution
5. Blonde by Frank Ocean
6. Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder
7. Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by Kendrick Lamar
8. Back to Black by Amy Winehouse
9. Nevermind by Nirvana
10. Lemonade by Beyoncé

You can stream all 100 albums on Apple Music and (unofficially, cheekily) on Spotify.

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The 15 Greatest Documentaries

A thoughtful video essay from The Cinema Cartography about 15 of film’s greatest documentaries, including The Thin Blue Line, Grizzly Man, The Act of Killing, Shoah, Hoop Dreams, and OJ: Made in America (my personal favorite).

I am not sure I agree with their #1 pick? But it’s been a loooong time since I saw it (in the theater when it came out, if you can believe it), so maybe it’s time for another viewing. (via open culture)

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Time Travel Movies, Ranked

For Ars Technica, science writer Jennifer Ouellette and theoretical physicist Sean Carroll review time travel used in 20 popular movies, ranging from The Terminator to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to Interstellar. Each movie is rated on scientific accuracy and how entertaining the use of time travel is. Here’s part of their review of Superman (1978).

Our standards are admittedly lax when it comes to the physical mechanism by which cinematic heroes journey through time, but “flying really fast around the Earth so that it reverses the direction of its rotation and sends it back to a previous moment” is such thoroughgoing lunacy that one must almost pause in admiration. Then we return to our senses and ask, “Why does Superman’s flight have any effect on the rotation of the Earth? And what does that rotation have to do with the direction of time? Do I get younger if I start twirling counterclockwise?” No, dear reader, you do not. Indeed, by the rules handed down by Einstein, Superman’s near-speed-of-light journey would actually send him into the future, not into the past.

To its dubious credit, Superman pioneers two different flaws that will frequently recur in movies to come. First, time travel is portrayed as a miraculous cure-all, which is then never used again. Superman essentially goes back in time to save his girlfriend. This is admirable, but aren’t there other, more historically significant global disasters that could be averted by the same strategy? This is a narrative problem, not a scientific or logical one, but it rankles.

Then, of course, there is the flaw that almost always accompanies stories in which the past gets changed by time-travelers: Where did those time-travelers come from? We, the viewers, see a sequence of events that seems to make sense if we don’t think too hard. Lois Lane dies, Superman gets upset, he travels back in time, stops the events that led to Lois dying, and we live happily ever after. But at the end of this sequence, Superman still has the memory of Lois dying the first time around. Yet because he changed history, that event he remembers never happened. Lois certainly doesn’t remember it. How does he?

See also The Various Approaches to Time Travel in Movies & Books.

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The Most Beautiful Shots in Movie History

From a YouTube channel called The Solomon Society, a pair of videos that some of the most beautiful shots in the history of film. When Denis Villeneuve emphasizes the important of image in film, these are the kinds of shots that he’s talking about.

Oh and in case you want to waste the rest of your day watching beautiful scenes from movies (no judgment here if you did): The Most Beautiful Shots in Film of the 21st Century, The Best Movie Shots of All Time, Some Amazing Shots from the Last Decade of Movies, The Most Beautiful Shots in Animation History, and The Most Beautiful Black and White Shots in Movie History. (via open culture)

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Visual Effects Oscar Nominees Go In-Depth On Their Work

I haven’t watched this yet, but it’s definitely in my queue: a recording of a livestreamed panel of all the visual effects nominees from this year’s Oscars, talking about their work on those films. I got this from Todd Vaziri, a visual effects artist at ILM, who says:

If you’re at all interested in visual effects, you gotta watch this Academy presentation that took place last weekend. It goes in-depth with all five nominees, and shows before/after material that hasn’t been seen publicly.

The meat of the program begins at around 24 minutes when they start showing visual effects reels from the nominated films (The Creator, Godzilla Minus One, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Napoleon), followed by a discussion with the members of the effects teams.

The Academy has several other nominee programs available on YouTube (including animated feature films & documentary feature films) and more to come in the next few days (including best picture and international feature films). What a trove of material for film lovers.

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Winners of the 59th Annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest

two ibex clash on top of a hill

fireflies light up a jungle at night

a dragonfly perches on a turtle's open mouth

What a treat: the winning entries in the 59th annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, organized by London’s Natural History Museum. I’ve selected a few of my favorites above.

Amit Eshel took the photo of the ibex:

After hiking to a clifftop vantage point, Amit slowly crept closer. Using a wide-angle lens, he set the action of two clashing Nubian ibex against the dramatic backdrop. The battle lasted for about 15 minutes before one male surrendered and the pair parted without serious injury.

Sriram Murali captured the jungle lit up by fireflies:

Sriram combined 50 individual 19-second exposures to show the firefly flashes produced over 16 minutes in the forests of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve near his hometown. He watched as pinpoint flashes appeared in the treetops increasing in number as they spread down along the branches until something remarkable happened. Synchronising, they pulsated through the canopy like a wave — the pattern punctuated with sequences of abrupt on-off bursts in unison.

The happy turtle photo is by Tzahi Finkelstein:

This dragonfly unexpectedly landed on the turtle’s nose but instead of the turtle snapping up the insect, it appeared to be experiencing pleasure from the interaction as they shared a moment of peaceful coexistence amid a swamp’s murky waters.

(via colossal & in focus)

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Winners of the 12th Annual Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest

a school of yellow fish look right into the camera

an orange octopus with white spots poses

a snail floats in darkness with delicate tendrils

a red and purple pygmy seahorse

The winners of the 2023 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest have been announced and what a reminder of how cartoonishly colorful and weird it is under the sea. The alien creatures we’ve been looking for in outer space? They’re already right here, just take a swim.

Photos above by Giancarlo Mazarese, Alessandro Raho, Steven Kovacs, and Byron Conroy. (via in focus)

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The Winners of the Nature Photography Contest

I really like the winning image (by Glenn Ostle) in the 2023 edition of The Nature Photography Contest, the results of which were just recently announced.

a sea lion glances back at the camera before chasing after a huge school of fish

That sea lion has the same energy as Aragorn at the Black Gate of Mordor, just before he whispers “for Frodo” and charges into the horde of orcs assembled before him. “For lunch.”

Anyway! You can check out the rest of the winners and finalists on the website.

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The Stunning Winners of the 2024 Close-Up Photographer of the Year Contest

a photo of some aquatic plants reaching for the sunlight, taken from the bottom of a pond

black and white photo of a bird silhouetted against the sky

dozens of ant shooting acid into the air

spikes of an orange slime mold covered in water droplets

You all know I love a good photography contest and it’s hard to pick favorites, but the Close-up Photographer of the Year competition is always up there for me. The results of this year’s contest are fantastic and it was difficult to pick out just a few of my faves above. From top to bottom: Chris Gug, Csaba Daróczi, René Krekels, Barry Webb. (via colossal)

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The 25 Best Films of 2023: A Video Countdown

I always look forward to David Ehrlich’s annual love letter to cinema and his favorite films of the year. So put this thing on the biggest screen you can find, slap on some headphones, and get ready to put a bunch of excellent films on your must-watch list. This year in conjunction with the video, Ehrlich is raising money for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

You can also watch this video on YouTube and past countdowns on his website.

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Some Wonderful Things from 2023

view of the green rolling hills of Vermont under a mostly sunny sky

As the bulk of 2023 recedes from memory, I wanted to share some of the things from my media diet posts that stood out for me last year. Enjoy.

Succession. I did not think I would enjoy a show about extremely wealthy people acting poorly, but the writing and acting were so fantastic that I could not resist.

25 years of kottke.org. Very proud of what I’ve accomplished here and also genuinely humbled by how many people have made this little site a part of their lives.

Fleishman Is in Trouble. Uncomfortably true to life at times.

Antidepressants + therapy. I was in a bad way last spring and it is not too strong to say that finding the right antidepressant and arriving at some personal truths in therapy changed my life.

The Bear (season two). I don’t always love it (especially when the intensity ramps up) but there’s definitely something special about this show.

Barr Hill Gin & Tonic. The best canned cocktail I’ve had, by a mile.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. Brutal and inspiring.

Crossword puzzles. A few times a week, a friend and I do the NY Times crossword puzzle together over FaceTime. It’s become one of my favorite things.

AirPods Pro (2nd generation). Am I ever going to shut up about these? Possibly not. The sound quality is better than the first-gen ones and the sound cancelling is just fantastic. I used these on several long flights recently and you basically can’t hear much of anything but your music.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Visually stunning.

The Kottke Hypertext Tee. Might be bad form to put your own merch on a list like this, but I’m just tickled that these exist. Putting an actual physical good out into the world that people connect with is somehow satisfying in a way that digital media is not.

ChatGPT. This very quickly became an indispensable part of my work process.

Downhill mountain biking. I did this a couple years ago and it didn’t click for me. But my son and I went last summer and I loved it…it’s one my favorite things I did all year. Gonna try and get out more in 2024!

Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland. Probably the best TV thing I watched last year. Listening to survivors of The Troubles talking about their experiences was unbelievably compelling.

Au Kouign-Amann. One of my all-time favorite pastries. Looks like a boring cake, tastes like magic.

Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America by Heather Cox Richardson. An extremely clear-eyed explanation of how Trumpism fits in with the Republicans’ decades-long project of weakening American democracy.

The Creator. I liked this original sci-fi a lot — more stuff that’s not Star Wars and Marvel pls.

Northern Thailand Walk and Talk. I will write this up soon, but this was one of the best things I’ve done in my life.

BLTs. I could not get enough of this simple sandwich at the end of last summer — I was eating like 4-5 a week. When the tomatoes are good, there’s nothing like a BLT.

The little hearts my daughter put on the backs of the envelopes containing her letters from camp. Self explanatory, no notes.

The smoked beef sandwich at Snowdon Deli. The best smoked sandwich I’ve had in Montreal.

The Last of Us. A bit too video game-y in parts but overall great. A couple of the episodes were incredible.

Photo of a Vermont vista taken by me this summer while mountain biking.

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The Best Movie Posters of 2023

movie poster for Barbenheimer

movie poster for John Wick 4

movie poster for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

movie poster for Asteroid City

movie poster for They Cloned Tyrone

movie poster for Poor Things

movie poster for John Wick 4

I am not in the habit of buying movie posters, but I bought one this year — for a movie that doesn’t even exist. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to snag one of Sean Longmore’s Barbenheimer posters. It’s still in the shipping canister, but I’m gonna get it framed and find a spot for it on my wall soon.

As for the rest of my favorite movie posters of 2023, I’ve included a few above that caught my eye. For more excellent picks, check out Daniel Benneworth-Gray’s Movie posters of the year 2023, Mubi’s The Best Movie Posters of 2023, First Showing’s 10 Favorite Movie Posters from 2023, The Playlist’s The 20 Best Film Posters Of 2023, and IndieWire’s The Best Film and TV Posters of 2023.

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The Best Book Cover Designs of 2023

Book cover for Fire Rush

Book cover for The Nursery

Book cover for Yellowface

Book cover for Big Swiss

Book cover for Kairos

Book cover for The Employees

Book cover for Good Men

I love a good book cover design. As I wrote last year:

The book cover is one of my all-time favorite design objects and a big part of the reason I love going to bookstores is to visually feast on new covers. I don’t keep an explicit list of my favorites from those trips, but there are definitely those that stick in my mind, covers that I’ll instantly recognize from across the room on subsequent trips.

I used those bookshop trips and several year-end lists to compile my list of favorites, pictured above and listed here, along with their designers:

Fire Rush (French edition) by Jacqueline Crooks, designed by Jodi Hunt.
The Nursery by Szilvia Molnar, designed by Linda Huang.
Yellowface by R. F Kuang (couldn’t find the designer’s name).
Big Swiss by Jen Beagin, designed by Jaya Miceli.
Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, designed by John Gall.
The Employees by Olga Ravn, designed by Paul Sahre.
Good Men by Arnon Grunberg, designed by Anna Jordan.

Do you have a particular favorite cover? Let me know in the comments!

The lists I consulted are Literary Hub’s The 139 Best Book Covers of 2023 (don’t be dissuaded by that big number…this is the best list bc they consult actual cover designers), The Casual Optimist’s Notable Book Covers of 2023 (always a great list from an indie site), the NY Times’ The Best Book Covers of 2023, The Book Designer’s 2023 Coolest Book Covers (that bucked the year’s trends), Print’s 50 of the Best Book Covers of 2023, Book covers designs of the year 2023 from Creative Review, and Spine’s 2023 Book Covers We Loved.

It’s fun to see how cover design changes throughout the years — here are my lists from 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

Note: When you buy through links on kottke.org, I may earn an affiliate commission. Thanks for supporting the site!

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The 100 Greatest BBC Musical Performances

I linked to this in the recent David Bowie post, but it’s worth pulling out separately: the 100 greatest BBC musical performances. This is an incredible trove of late 20th and early 21st century musical greatness. Some selections just off the top of my head:

Blondie – Atomic/Heart of Glass (The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1979):

Talking Heads – Psycho Killer (OGWT, 1978):

Daft Punk – Essential Mix (Radio 1, 1997):

Hole – Doll Parts/He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)/Violet (Later, 1995):

Joy Division – Transmission (Something Else, 1979):

Radiohead - Paranoid Android (Later Archive 1997):

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Sunshine of Your Love (Happening for Lulu, 1969):

Patti Smith Group – Because the Night (OGWT, 1978):

Arlo Parks and Phoebe Bridgers – Fake Plastic Trees (Radio 1 Piano session, 2020):

Bob Dylan – live at BBC studios (BBC One, 1965), apparently Dylan’s last acoustic concert:

Dizzy Gillespie – Chega de Saudade (Jazz 625, 1965). Don’t miss the musician intro at the ~13:15 mark:

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (TOTP, 1991):

And Rihanna (Umbrella, 2008) and Prince (1993) and Lorde (Royals, 2013) and and and… If you’re anything like me, this list will keep you busy for a few hours.

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Winners of the 2023 Natural Landscape Photography Awards

overhead view of a volcanic eruption with lava pouring out

a pair of birds fly over a craggy mountain peak

a hilly winter scene

some cracked dry ground

The winners have been announced in the Natural Landscape Photography Awards for 2023. The competition rules are worth a look — they are pretty hardcore on the types of editing and retouching allowed. I posted some favorites above; from top to bottom by Jeroen Van Nieuwenhove, Xavier Lequarre, Blake Randall, and Jay Tayag. (via in focus)


The Finalists in the 2023 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

a bird that looks like it's telling two other birds which way to go

a giraffe that looks like it's got its head up another giraffe's butt

a fox that looks like it's smoking a cigar

an optical illusion that looks like a tropical fish has the legs of a human scuba diver

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are always a good time…and here are the finalists for the 2023 competition.


The Nature Conservancy’s Photo Contest Winners for 2023

a spider generating its egg sac with its own web

Nature Conv 2023 02

The holes dug by fish for spawning can be seen after the pond has dried up

The Nature Conservancy has announced this year’s winners of their annual photo contest. Collectively, the winning photographs “gave voice to nature and showed us the power and peril of the natural world”. As usual, I selected a few of my favorites and included them above. From top to bottom:

  • Jaime Daniel Fajardo Torres: “This is a species of spider known as ogre spiders, of the genus Deinopis. The photograph was taken at night in the middle of a mature forest in northern Ecuador in the tropical rainforest of the Ecuadorian Chocó, a place considered a hotspot. The spider photographed was generating its egg sac with its own web.”
  • HJ Yang: An orca attacks two seals in the morning on the beach.
  • Jeanny Tang: “The holes dug by fish for spawning can be seen after the pond has dried up.”

(via in focus)


The Winners of the 2023 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition

The optic nerves of a rodent

A heart shape is visible amongst breast cancer cells

Sunflower pollen on an acupuncture needle

Nikon has announced the winners of the Small World Photomicrography Competition for 2023. I’ve included a few of my favorites above. From the top:

  • The optic nerves of a rodent by Hassanain Qambari & Jayden Dickson.
  • A heart shape is visible amongst breast cancer cells shot by Malgorzata Lisowska.
  • Sunflower pollen on an acupuncture needle by John-Oliver Dum.

And I love a good slime mold photo too. (via ars technica)


The 50 Greatest Music Videos of All Time, Ranked

A.V. Club has taken on the task of ranking the best 50 music videos, from the first video ever played on MTV (Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles, featuring none other than soundtrack composer Hans Zimmer on keys) to Thriller, Sabotage, Addicted to Love, and Sledgehammer. You can watch the whole list via this playlist on YouTube.

I loved the video for Sledgehammer. I was 12 years old the summer it came out. We didn’t have cable TV then, but I’d turn on MTV anywhere I could, hoping for a glimpse of it. My dad used to take my sister and me on roadtrips all over the country and I vividly remember the rare times we got to stay in a motel (they had to have a swimming pool with a diving board), turning on MTV, and catching that Sledgehammer video a few times every hour. It was only years later, after becoming a Wallace and Gromit fan, that I learned that — of course! — Aardman had done the animation for Sledgehammer.

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Winners of the 2023 Bird Photographer of the Year Competition

a vivid green bird sitting in the midst of a large green leaf

a diving bird returning to the surface with a fish in its mouth

a pair of parrots fighting on a tree branch

From over 23,000 entered images, the judges in the Bird Photographer of the Year competition for 2023 have selected their winners and runners-up. I selected a few of my favorite images above; the photographers from top to bottom: Nicolas Reusens, Henley Spiers, and Gianni Maitan.


Some Stunning Shots From the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023 Competition

a colorful shot of The Running Chicken Nebula

what looks like a question mark on the surface of the sun

purple sprites in the upper reaches of the atmosphere

a photo of the whole sun

the Andromeda galaxy next to a giant blue plasma arc

The Royal Observatory Greenwich in London has announced the winners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023 competition and as you can see from the selection above, there were some amazing shots. From top to bottom:

  1. Runwei Xu and Binyu Wang for their photo of The Running Chicken Nebula.
  2. Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau for capturing a question mark on the Sun. I will never tire of looking at the detail of the Sun’s surface.
  3. Angel An. “This is not, as it might first appear, an enormous extraterrestrial, but the lower tendrils of a sprite (red lightning)! This rarely seen electrical discharge occurs much higher in the atmosphere than normal lightning (and indeed, despite the name, is created by a different mechanism), giving the image an intriguingly misleading sense of scale.”
  4. Mehmet Ergün. More Sun!
  5. Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner and Yann Sainty for their shot of the Andromeda galaxy.

The last shot was the overall winner. While not as dramatic as some of the others, it documented the discovery of a previously unknown feature of a nearby cosmic neighbor:

The Andromeda galaxy is the closest spiral galaxy to our own Milky Way, and one of the most photographed deep-sky objects. Yet this particular photo, captured by an international trio of amateur astronomers, revealed a feature that had never been seen before: a huge plasma arc, stretching out across space right next to the Andromeda galaxy.

“Scientists are now investigating the newly discovered giant in a transnational collaboration,” explain the photographers. “It could be the largest such structure nearest to us in the Universe.”

You can see the rest of the winning images on the Royal Observatory site as well as coverage from the BBC, the Guardian, Colossal, and Universe Today.


Always Worth a Look: the AIGA’s Best Book Covers of the Year

You know me; I love a good book cover. The AIGA’s annual roundup of the best designed books and covers is usually aces and the results of the 2022 competition (announced at the beginning of July 2023) is no exception. Here are a few I picked out that I didn’t feature in The Best Book Covers of 2022 back in December.

book cover for Butts: A Backstory

book cover for Sound Within Sound: Radical Composers of the Twentieth Century

book cover for Sabit Fikir

book cover for No hay nadie en casa

Uh, I guess I’m really into orange today? Anyway, these covers are from:

Butts: A Backstory by Heather Radke.
Sound Within Sound: Radical Composers of the Twentieth Century by Kate Molleson.
Sabit Fikir by Paul Valéry.
No hay nadie en casa by Isabel Díaz Alanís.


The Winners of the 2023 Drone Photo Awards

aerial photo of a very tidy Polish playground

aerial photo of a surfer and crashing waves

aerial photo of a colorful abstract landscape

aerial photo of a border crossing between Haiti and the Dominican Republic

I am a sucker for aerial photography, so I had a lot of fun looking through all the winners and runners-up of the 2023 Drone Photo Awards. As usual, I picked out a few favorites and included them above. From top to bottom, photos by: Sebastian Piórek (a very tidy Polish playground), Brad Weiner (surfer), Gheorghe Popa (amazing abstract shot), and Matias Delacroix (a border crossing between Haiti and the Dominican Republic).


The 150 Most Legendary Restaurants in the World & Their Most Iconic Dishes

a list of the top 50 most legendary restaurants in the world

From TasteAtlas, a listing of the 150 Most Legendary Restaurants in the World & Their Iconic Dishes. These aren’t necessarily the best restaurants on Earth, but places that have “withstood the test of time, eschewing trendy gimmicks in favor of traditional, high-quality cuisine”.

Here are a few of the entries from the list that I’ve either been to or would like to go to someday (ok, almost the whole list would have qualified for that):

2. Katz’s Delicatessen (pastrami on rye)
10. Gino e Toto Sorbillo (pizza margherita)
22. Schwartz’s Deli (Montreal-style smoked meat)
25. Peter Luger Steak House (dry-aged porterhouse)
34. El Rinconcillo (tapas)
42. O Thanasis (souvlaki)
47. Au Pied de Cochon (soupe à l’oignon)
95. Le Relais de l’Entrecote (steak frites)

Schwartz’s is iconic, but I think Snowdon Deli has better smoked meat. In the same vein, I’ve had good steak and not-so-good steak at Luger’s — as far as an iconic NYC steakhouse goes, I would have gone for Keen’s.

I’m sure any food fan worth their (don’t say it, don’t say it) salt (ugh) could come up with a few dozen restaurants that could/should be on this list, but 150 is certainly a good start! Soba, bratwurst, ćevapi, udon, churrasco, kofte, phở, ramen, ceviche, sushi, risotto, bouillabaisse, dim sum, BBQ, Peking duck, biryani, xiao long bao…man, I’m so hungry now!


The Winners of the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards

a bright yellow and brown bird collects material for its nest

a small white and gray bird jumps back from a wave

an egret catches a fish

The National Audubon Society has announced the winners of the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites above (from top to bottom, photos by Sandra Rothenberg, Kieran Barlow, and Nathan Arnold). Oh, and don’t miss the pair of videos from Steven Chu…


The 40 Greatest Tech Books of All Time

books covers for Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs and The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder

The Verge has published a list of the 40 best nonfiction books about “tech” (which relates to the industry centered around Silicon Valley & the internet and not technology in general). I was pleased to see Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire Evans and Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs on there, as well as Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents by Ellen Ullman and Neil Postman’s Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. I’m baffled that Tracy Kidder’s amazing The Soul of a New Machine didn’t make the top 5 or even 10.

But reading through the rest of the list, it occurred to me that I don’t really read tech books — and if I did, I didn’t get a whole lot from them. When I was younger and trying to understand the industry and momentous period I was participating in, I generally looked to books outside of tech as guides. I read things like How Buildings Learn by Steward Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs, Chaos by James Gleick, The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander, and Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.

Anyway, back to the list — it seems incomplete in a way that I can’t quite articulate. I would have liked to have seen Tom Standage’s The Victorian Internet on there. What else? I would like to hear about your favorite books about tech (or non-tech books that are sneakily about tech anyway) or what you think might be missing from the list. Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Update: Some great additional suggestions from the comments:

As many commenters noted, it’s hard to see how Hackers was left off this list. And My Tiny Life…it anticipated so much about how social media was going to function.


The 2023 Food Photographer of the Year Awards

a man in a white apron pulls taffy

overhead view of two farmers tending cabbages

a long table hosts a communal feast in war-torn Syria

an overhead view of three people packing fish

The Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year awards have been announced for 2023 and there is lots of good work in more than a dozen categories. As usual, I’ve included a few of my favorites above (photographers from top to bottom: Zhonghua Yang, Md. Asker Ibne Firoz, Mouneb Taim, Khanh Phan Thi) but you should click through to see the rest. (via curious about everything)


The Best Illusions of 2023 Contest

The mind-boggling winners of the Best Illusion of the Year Contest for 2023 have been announced. The entries for each the ten finalists include a video that demonstrates each illusion and then shows how it works. The top prize winner is this working model of Platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter books:

One of my favorites is The Poggendorff Triangles, which goes to show you that straight lines aren’t always straight:

Here’s an audio illusion that sounds as though the tempo is endlessly rising (similar to the Shepard tone):

And then there’s this hollow face illusion in which this woman’s face looks at you as you move around her:

You can check out the rest of the finalists here.