Tuesday, 28 December 2021

east of eden

Venerated in the Coptic Church on this day—likely as a pious correspondence between the first murder-victim and the massacre of ChildermassAbel of Genesis, the second son of Adam and Eve, was murdered by his older brother Cain after God engendered jealously in the latter by preferring Abel’s sacrifice. Respectively a farmer and a shepherd, etymologically Cain means smith as in someone who would craft a ploughshare to work the land and Abel is the English rendering of ibil, herdsman, their story is thought to be an allegory recalling the ancient clashes between traditional hunter-gatherer societies and agricultural civilisations and concepts of the commons versus private property. God punished Cain by condemning him, ironically, to wander the Earth—with no fixed abode (this Land of Nod is an abstraction, like utopia) and no possibility of release through provoking another to kill him—ostensibly encouraging him to trespass with impunity. According to some traditions, Abel was appointed the judge of the dead.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

prove to me that you’re divine, change my water into wine—that’s all you need do, then i’ll know it’s all true

Formerly only previewed as a cast recording in limited release over a year prior, the rock opera by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber Jesus Christ Superstar was for the first time staged and performed before a live audience in the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway—the famous venue for My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Man of La Mancha which would eventually be consecrated in 1989 as the interdenominational Times Square Church—on this day in 1971. The anachronistic version of the Holy Week narrative, loosely following the books of the gospel and giving an accounting of Jesus and his disciples leading up to his arrest and crucifixion was the longest-running West End musical before being displaced by Cats in 1989. Below is “Superstar,” the penultimate number, with Judas, Soul Sisters and Angels from the 1973 adaptation, filmed on location.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

cyrus charter

Though in possession of the British Museum, the ancient clay cylinder bearing the declaration of king Cyrus the Great, outlining his genealogy and conquest of Babylonia as favourite of the god Marduk and documentation of the end of exile of the Jewish people and allowing them to resettle within the empire was loaned to Tehran on this day in 1971 for a period of sixteen days for the gala celebration of the two-thousand-five-hundredth anniversary of the founding of Persia—see previously, beginning mid-month ten days later. The artefact recovered in 1829 (in Mesopotamia, in modern day Iraq) is considered by many historians as the pioneering attempt to administer and multicultural state with universal human rights and was made the official symbol of Iran in absentia.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021


On this day in 1964, the alternatively titled musical Fiddler on the Roof—a collaboration of Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein—premiered on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre. The original cast included Zero Mostel as the leading milkman Tevye, Bea Arthur as the matchmaker Yente, Pia Zadora as the youngest daughter, Bette Midler and Leonard Nimoy who all attempt to maintain religious and cultural traditions after being displaced and resettled in Russia counter to a more liberal second generation and threatened with further eviction.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

your daily demon: asmodeus

Governing from today through 1 September, this thirty-second spirit on the demonological calendar is an infernal prince who presents as a three-headed apparition and rules over seventy-two legions of subordinates. Appearing in the Book of Tobit and many Talmudic legends, primarily associated with the construction of the temple of Solomon, Asmodeus was later classified in the Malleus Maleficarum as a demon of lust, lascivity and revenge, countered by Saint John—or the guardian angel called Veshariah.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

the woman with seven sons

The martyred family known as the Holy Maccabees after the epigraphical account in that book who are venerated in some traditions on this day is included in a the poetically entitled list of ‘Names for the Biblically Nameless,’ many apocryphally sourced to the Golden Legend, such as the sisters of Cain and Abel—Aclima (also Luluwa) and Delbora, Nimrod’s Wife—“a mighty hunter in the face of the Lord,” possibly the Amazon Semiramis, and Pharaoh’s (and whole human being in their own right) Daughter, who drew infant Moses from the reeds, possibly Merris according to Eusebius of Cรฆsarea. The Wife of Job who advises him to finally curse God and die, is perhaps called Sitis or Dinah, the Queen of Sheba either Makeda, Nicaule or Bilqis according to different traditions. Proper names are also assigned to the Magi who are also called the Three Wise Men as well as the seven archangels, the thieves crucified with Jesus and the Roman soldier who prodded him on the cross. The woman known variously as Solomonia, Hannah or Miriam is reserved special honour for courageously enduring the torment and dismemberment of her sons and then herself (see also) for refusing to submit to a cruel and capricious king and remaining steadfast in her faith as did the band of brothers.

Friday, 23 April 2021

din 5009

The Institute for German Standardisation (Deutsches Institut fรผr Normung) has been urging for the reform of the Sprachraum’s radio spelling alphabet (with the DIN assignment above, see previously) for some time. Though lobbying efforts yielded a major overhaul in the mid 1960s to make the official version less gendered and jingoistic, there are choice relics in it such as S wie (as in) Siegfried instead of Samuel as it originally was, Nordpol rather than Nathan, Otto for Oscar or Dora over David to eliminate names that could be construed as Jewish. Though the protocols are still being debated and the civil German use is a bit more improvised than its counterparts (p wie pseudonym), the consensus now to not let the Nazis have the last word is to use city names—W wie Wiesbaden statt Wilhelm, A wie Augsburg statt Anton.

Saturday, 9 January 2021


zip-tie guy: as bad as this act of terrorism was, the Ku Klux Coup (see previously) could have turned out much worse  

election, objection, ambition, sedition: another pitch-perfect Randy Rainbow political parody 

regrets only: Trump’s final missive confirming he would not be attending Joe Biden’s inauguration—cornerstone to a peaceful transition of power—is interpreted as another way of casting aspersions on a legitimate election and gets his account suspended from Twitter—permanently  

privilege check: race and the cos-play veneer of the invasion combined with remorse over more heavy-handed tactics over the summer allowed them to organise and launch their raid unchecked—see previously  

us capitol police: encomnia for officer killed protecting senators and congress members from the Blue Lives Matter crowd  

jericho march: more Cos-Play with Evangelical Christians (previously) rallying in D.C. blowing shofars

no pension, no secret security detail, no travel allowance, no chance to hold high office again: a second impeachment has consequences even a few days out and Congress is moving swiftly to make it happen, nearly as fast as Mr Rainbow above or Lego

Monday, 28 December 2020


Venerated on this day in the Calendar of Saints by the Catholic Church in celebration of the first, unwitting and anonymous, martyrs to the faith, making the event that according to tradition took place on the fourth day of Christmastide when King Herod ordered the mass execution of all male infants in and around Bethlehem.  Numbers of victims range from a couple of dozen to tens of thousands, depending on the sources.

Terrible as humans are capable of being towards one another, most scholars of all stripes agree that the murderous rampage, set off accidentally by the visiting Magi when they are warned off reporting back to Herod by a dream, is an invention by author of the gospel of Matthew to solidify correspondence between the ascension of Jesus and that of Moses—or ล’dipus—whom also had to go into hiding and flee over a prophesy that would disrupt and challenge the status quo. The narrative only appears in the one book of the Bible and is recalled in the Coventry Carol. Authors Albert Camus and Josรฉ Saramago separately suggest, controversially, that survivor’s guilt is why Jesus allowed himself to be ultimately crucified, him knowing along with his step-father Joseph what Herod had planned but only choosing to save themselves. The Massacre of the Innocents is commemorated in some places with role-reversals such as children officiating church services, like with Saturnalia’s master waiting on the enslaved, pranks akin to April Fools—begging off innocence—and the blessing of Christmas toys.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

nittel nacht

Observed in some Jewish communities dating back as far as the late seventeen-hundreds with scholastic reinforcement in the following century, the Yiddish term (ื ื™ื˜ืœ ื ืַื›ื˜) for Christmas Eve likely comes from natalis but may also refer to the hanged one, nitleh, an epithet for Jesus during the Middle Ages. In medieval Europe, non-observers were often forbidden from being seen in public—with Yuletide often signalling the beginning of attacks on Jewish neighbours by Christians—so this was a good excuse to staying in and specifically not studying the Torah and abstaining from enjoyment so as not to give any glory to the day, though for some, reading the Sefer Toledot Yeshu (an alternate hagiography that portrays Jesus as a womanising charlatan though possibly accounts themselves are exaggerated as another excuse to label people as blasphemers—that is, megadef) as an acceptable activity to engage in. Chess and card games became a tradition, in lieu of other pastimes, and children were apprehensive about being snatched away on this night by demon Jesus.

Sunday, 20 December 2020


before times: one narrative of 2020 as told through fifteen objects and artefacts—see previously

marsha, marsha, marsha: Trump acknowledges months’ long cyber-attack on US government networks for first time—oddly defensive about Russian involvement 

systemic bias: when bad decisions are blamed on algorithms, bad actors are exculpated and trust in science erodes  

breakthrough listen: musing on the nature of signal detected from Proxima Centauri by the Murriyang Radio Telescope 

tape/slide newsreel group and friends: brilliant early 80s photo archive showing Hackney to Hackney—via the splendiferous Things Magazine   

engineer, agitator, constructor: the visual vernacular of utopian graphic design  

creek and culvert: the movement to resurface and revive long buried urban waterways—see previously  

off-limits: virtually visit nine sites not accessible to the public in Washington, DC 

a modern hanukah miracle: there are extra doses of vaccine in each vial—stretching out supplies to inoculate twice as many individuals than expected

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

your daily demon: alloces

The fifty-second spirit in the infernal progression of the year, this lion-visaged soldier on a steed that seems to have hippocamp traits, according to various grimoires and other sources, summons familiars, advises on the liberal arts and can exact revenge in secret. Alloces rules the fifteenth to the nineteenth degree of Sagittarius, corresponding from today until 11 December. Canonical demons are paired with a member of the unfallen angelic host, and this President is twinned with the Prinicipality-ranked Imamiah—who sounds perfectly boring—and is invoked by reciting a verse from Psalms.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

your daily demon: balam

The fifty-first spirit is this infernal king that rules the tenth through fourteenth degree of Sagittarius—from this day through 7 December, and is depicted, according to the Ars Goetia and other sources, as a monstrous entity with three aspects—the faces of a bull, a man and a ram with the tail of a serpent, who sits astride a ferocious bear, with a goshawk born on his forearm.

Giver of good counsel and wit, this figure probably originates (in a less fantastical form) from the magician and diviner called Balaam from Numbers 22, whom the Israelites blame for their difficulties and adjustment issues, characterising him as a charismatic sophist, when they enter into the Promised Land, enticing them into transgressive behaviours, including encouraging sacrifice performed to Baal, and thus the source of a deadly plague visited on the delivered tribes as a result.

Friday, 23 October 2020

anno mundi

On this day, sharing its anniversary with many events great and good, as our faithful chronicler reminds, according to astute if not somewhat creative calculations and biblical scholarship (see also from the day before) by Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland James Ussher (*1581 – †1656) the creation occurred either nightfall on the twenty-second (and by reckoning with that initial rhythm until the next sundown was counted as that, the first day) or more specifically according to some at nine o’clock in the a.m., the twenty-third of October, 4004 BC.

Though hardly unique and there were competing chronologies being put forward all the time in the seventeenth century as a counterbalance to the Enlightenment and the slowly mounting and unimpeachable evidence that the Earth and the Cosmos were far more ancient and interesting than the Young Earth of Creationism but none the less represented rigorous scholarship and textual analysis and is in a class by itself among these many attempts to pin down a date and time—which is easily but perhaps not for nought dismissed as small-minded, and did not stop in any case.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

the great dictator

The same age and born into similar life circumstances and the only other who could pull off their signature facial hair, produced much to the consternation of his native UK as they feared the political satire ran counter to their policy of appeasement (though by the release date—on this day in 1940, that attitude had very much shifted) so changing venues to American cinemas—who maintained a stance of neutrality—the debut of the comedy-drama was a rousing condemnation of fascism and antisemitism. As skewering and honest in its assessment the film was—Chaplin playing both the protagonist and antagonist in the roles of the cut-throat dictator and the downtrodden Jewish barber (with cases of masquerade and mistaken identity), the creator later admitted that had he known the true scale of the horror of the concentration camps at the time, he would have never made the film. Below is a clip from the final address, with the Great Dictator recanting all he’s done.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

blessed are the cheese-makers

Having previously used the term turophile (see also here, here and here) to describe our devoted fans, we were delighted for another encounter with the root word in an albeit different though possibly less fringe context and community with artotyrite (แผ€ฯฯ„ฯŒฯ„ฯ…ฯฮฟฯ‚, from the Greek for bread and cheese)—used to name the members of a second century Galatian gnostic Christian sect who celebrated the eucharist with this additional ingredient.
Considered heretical also for allowing women to perform baptisms and hold religious office and for preferring to observe Easter according to the Hebrew calendar in mid-Nisan regardless of the day of the week and hence their other epithet Quatrodeciman—the Fourteeners—but mostly for the cheese, these outcasts who based their practise on the idea of offering first fruits not only of the field but also their flocks to the Divine, presumably also included wine in the sacrament of communion.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

endliches und ewiges sein

Along with Bridget of Sweden, Benedict of Nursia, Sts Cyril and Methodius and Catherine of Siena, Edith Stein—taking the religious name of Teresia Benedicta a Cruce—who is venerated as a martyr for her murder in Auschwitz, along with her younger sister and nine hundred eighty-five others in the same deportation, on this day in 1942 (*1891) is considered one of the six co-patrons of Europe and is the only one from the modern era.
Philosopher, teacher, women’s rights advocate, Stein was of Jewish heritage but was not practicing and was later an avowed atheist until turning to the writings of church reformer Teresa of รvila (see above) to help her process the human toll the Great War had and was member of the community and on staff at religious schools in Speyer and Kรถln and tempered her theological beliefs with scholarship and introspection, authoring several metaphysical treatises, including On the Problem of Empathy, Finite and Eternal Being and The Science of the Cross. Stein’s protestations to the pope may have encouraged the Vatican’s censure of the Third Reich but the timidity of the papacy paled Stein’s deserved criticism. Stein is called on for intercession by the converted, called or coersed and is the patroness of orphans and the displaced.

Monday, 27 April 2020

im westen nichts neues

After serialisation in a Berlin newspaper, eighteen months in print as a best-seller and translated into twenty-two languages, World War I veteran Erich Maria Remarque’s (*1898 - †1970) anti-war novel All is Quiet on the Western Front, adapted to film by Universal Pictures Studios and premiered in New York City on this day in 1930.   It went on to win two academy awards for its producer and director—notably the first non-musical to be awarded Best Picture.
A censored version shown to a select, restricted audiences on 2 September 1931 (one of the first American films dubbed for the German market already back in December), the film was banned by the Nazis, citing the provocation of having a German soldier portrayed by an American actor and the Jewish heritage of the producer, Carl Laemmle Jr (*1908 - †1979, Imitation of Life, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, Show Boat), and director, Lewis Milestone (*1895 - †1980, The Front Page, Of Mice and Men, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Pork Chop Hill, Ocean’s Eleven and Mutiny on the Bounty), rather than its message of pacifism and honest and grim portrayals, and did not have a full and proper screening again in Germany until 1952.

Sunday, 5 January 2020


On this day in 1938, outside of the courts and with the signature authority of the Reichs-Chancellor, the Interior Minister and nominal participation from the Ministry of Justice, Nazi Germany ratified its Decree Concerning the Changing of Surnames and First Names (das Gesetz รผber die ร„nderung von Familiennamen und Vornamen, kurzform Namร„ndG) in order to facilitate external identification of those with Jewish backgrounds. Fully articulated and enforced by August of the same year, unless Germans and non-citizen residents identified as Jewish already had sufficiently typical Jewish first names—according to a list authorities drafted—the men were to be called Israel and the women Sara and their former identities stripped away in all official documents and registers.

Sunday, 2 December 2018


Via Miss Cellania for the Festival of Lights (which begins at sunset today, 25 Kislev) and runs through nightfall on 10 December), we are treated to the musical styles of a cappella group Six13’s rendition of “Bohemian Chanukah,” which includes some historic and cultural background of the holiday. The first verse begins:

Is this the eighth night
We light with the family?
Recall with great pride
Our escape from Greek tyranny?

Kindle the lights
Remember the Maccabees
How did those five boys
Lead us to victory?