Friday, 21 January 2022

6x6

wheelie bins: a collection of municipal-issue recycling bins from across the UK—via Pasa Bon! 

filmovรฝ plakรกt: a gallery of vintage Czech movie posters  

1 000 trees: drone footage showcases Heatherwick studios’ Shanghai shopping centre  

northwoods baseball sleep radio: a fake game with no jarring sounds designed for podcast slumber  

holkham bible picture book: a 1330 curiosity that illustrates select passages from the Old and New Testaments  

the great british spring clean: projects and programmes (see also) sponsored by Keep Britain Tidy

Saturday, 15 January 2022

video et taceo

Never destined for the monarchy and declared illegitimate by her father Henry VIII who had her mother Anne Boleyn executed on the charge of treason, succeeded after Henry’s death by half-brother Edward VI, who against Salic law bypassed his sectarian siblings and bequeathed the throne to Lady Jane Grey only to be deposed by her older sister, Mary—known as Bloody Mary for her violent suppression of Protestants—and imprisoned for her Protestant sympathies, Elizabeth (*1533 - †1603) inherited the crown upon Mary’s death in November of the previous year, holding her coronation on this day in 1559, adopting her above motto—I observe and stay quiet, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. Though at times bellicose and indecisive—never naming a successor and possibly paranoid like her father, especially after the Pope released her subjects from their obligation of allegiance to her but perhaps strategically since even a queen in her own right would have been in her time below her husband’s station, her forty-four year reign was a time of economic and cultural prosperity that helped forge a national identity and built the Church of England and the organisational structure of Great Britain.

9. being crafty occasionally (3)

Vis-a-vis the recent popularity of the game Wordle, we quite appreciated this retrospective from Public Domain Review on the development (see previously) of the modern crossword puzzle, the appeal of diversions and challenges in times of turmoil, cryptic clues and the connection of the contemporary poetry of TS Elliot. Much more to explore at the links above plus with new puzzles daily, give Wordle a try.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

rms queen elizabeth

Whilst undergoing renovations to be re-christened as the “Seawise University,” the gargantuan ocean liner launched in 1938 and named in honour of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, caught on fire and was capsized in Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong on this day in 1972. Tycoon and shipping magnate Tung Chao-yung had bought the decommissioned cruise ship with the intention of making her into a float international campus for a semester at sea programme two years earlier and there was some speculation that either insurance fraud or sabotage by Chinese ship-builders played a part in the destruction. The wreck was salvaged to prevent risk to other boats passing through the bay but about half of it remains at the bottom of the harbour and was the setting of a secret annex of MI6 in the 1974 Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

true love and apple pie

Originally the titular jingle, the lyrics were rewritten by Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway for a 1971 television commercial campaign performed by the Hillside Singers as “Buy the World a Coke,” with a message of hope, inclusivity and love—the closing tagline being “On a hilltop in Italy [Trident studios in London], we assembled young people from all over the world…” The British pop group the New Seekers (“Circles”with Harry Chapin, “Pinball Wizard” from Tommy, “Sing Hallelujah!”) recorded a full-length version of the song, dropping references to the soft-drink, which climbed to the top of UK singles charts on this day in 1972, ultimately going Gold and selling over a million copies. The Coca-Cola Company and advertising agency waived the rights to the song and instead made a substantial donation to UNICEF.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

oรญche na gaoithe mรณire

Otherwise remembered as the Night of the Big Wind, a major windstorm swept across the British Isles on this day in 1839, causing extensive property in Dublin and wrecking ships in Liverpool with gusts reaching over a hundred knots per hour before dissipating. Some one hundred and twenty individuals died and feedstocks dispersed and destroyed resulting in a famine for farm animals, and the storm—which some regarded as a harbinger of Judgement Day as Irish folklore held that the End of Times would happen on the Feast of the Epiphany—and reportedly inspired the invention of the cup-anemometer to clock wind-speeds.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

election by bean and pea

For those traditions that began counting on Christmas Day, it is Twelfth Night or Epiphany Eve, concluding Christmas season and marked by customs including caroling, blessing one’s threshold and eating King Cake, whose recipe and form varies but always contains a fรจve (for trinket, literally a fava bean), with the recipient being named king for the evening. English kitchens adopted the convention of baking a bean in one side and a pea in the other, with the lucky woman finding the pea crowned queen—the pair also known as the Lord and Lady of Misrule. The riotous celebration pictured is from novelist and dramatist William Harrison Ainsworth’s Mervyn Clitheroe and merry-making in Farmer Shakeshaft’s Barn as illustrated by the sketch artist professionally known as Phiz, Hablot Knight Brown, who embellished many books by Ainsworth, whom we have to thank for documenting (and in some cases reviving) quaint and old-fashioned customs in detail to include King Cake and the practise of awarding a flitch of bacon to married couples who’ve made it to their first anniversary without regrets, and Charles Dickens, choosing that particular pen-name to better harmonise with the latter’s pseudonym of Boz.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

6x6

media archive for central england: browse tens of thousands of amateur films—via Things Magazine  

el vaquita: a small town in Chile staged a fake protest to persuade a dog to visit the veterinarian—via Super Punch 

fluid dynamics: cloud waves in the skies of Tenerife 

watery fowls: an unaired pilot (see also) for the 1978 US adaptation of Fawlty Towers, starring Betty White and Harvey Korman  

different realities: American democracy in crisis—via Miss Cellania 

public domain revue: hundreds of thousands of audio recordings made prior to 1923 are free to use as one sees fit

Monday, 3 January 2022

das bayerisches restaurant-stรผck

The first of two forty-five minute specials (episode number one filmed the year before) by the Python troupe were first broadcast by ARD on this day in 1972 to audiences in West Germany and the behest of visiting television producer Alfred Biolek, who felt their absurdist brand of humour would translate well, though notably absent from the domestic comedy scene. Present in Munich first for the five hundredth anniversary celebrations of the birth of artist Albrecht Dรผrer and next for the Summer Olympics, this cultural backdrop informed their sketches. Beset with timing, pacing and interpretive problems (the first episode was performed in German and a challenge for the crew—the second instalment airing in mid-December was dubbed) and a lack-lustre initial audience reception, the this pair of German episodes has an enduring charm.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

eddie calvert & orchestra

The first chart topping hit to come out of the storied Abbey Road recording studio (previously) was the trumpeting-rendition of the nostalgic Swiss-German number “Oh, Mein Papa,” which began a nine-week run on this day in 1954. Known throughout his career as The Man with the Golden Trumpet, Calvert’s other number one hit came the following year with “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” with versions “Miserlou” and “Stranger in Paradise” also later charting.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

the same procedure as every year

Having not watched Dinner for One (Der 90. Geburtstag) sketch for the past couple of years, we appreciated the reminder from Nag on the Lake and can confirm it’s been recently on in the background, this 1962 recording broadcast every year in Germany on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day for reasons no one can quite recall. This year in the midst of restrictions on gatherings, virtual parties and celebrations scaled back, with bands playing to empty venues—it seems especially poignant. “But my friends—they’re waiting in the lobby.” There, there, of course they are, Miss Sophie. Do check it out if you’re not familiar—it is timelessly funny.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

mmxxi

As this calendar draws to a close and we look forward to 2022, we again take time to reflect on a selection of some of the things and events that took place in 2021. Thanks as always for visiting. We’ve made it through another wild year together and we’ll see this next one through together as well.

 january: In the US state of Georgia’s run-off election, Democrat candidates prevail and thus switch the Senate’s controlling majority. The joint session of Congress to certify the votes of the Electoral College in favour of the Biden-Harris ticket is interrupted by a violent insurrection on the Capitol incited by Donald

Trump, yet the proceedings are resumed undeterred. For his gross incompetence and treasonous actions, the US House of Representatives impeaches Trump for a second time. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are inaugurated president and vice-president of the United States of America in a socially-distanced ceremony held on the same portico where the violent coup attempt occured two weeks prior. Across Russia, thousands protest the arrest and detention of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.  English filmmaker Michael Apted (*1941), entertainer Siegfried Fischbacher (*1939, see also last May) and baseball players Tommy Lasorda (*1927) and Hank Aaron (*1941), actress Cloris Leachman (*1926) as well as accomplished star of stage and screen Cicely Tyson (*1924) pass away.  

february: A military uprising in Myanmar wrests power from the government of Aung San Suu Kyi.  Actor Hal Holbrook (*1925) and veteran become fund-raiser who raised millions for the National Health

Service Sir Captain Thomas Moore (*1920) himself succumbed to COVID-19.   French screen-writer and director Jean-Claude Carriรจre (*1931) passed away, and so veteran actor Christopher Plummer (*1929). The US Senate again convenes as jury to vote on whether to acquit or prosecute Donald Trump’s impeachment.  Larry Flynt (*1942), publisher, pornographer and self-styled anti-censorship champion, passed away, as did jazz virtuoso and twenty-three-time Grammy Award winner Chick Corea (*1941).  The US Senate votes not to acquit Donald Trump a second time after his second impeachment.  A polar vortex brings severe winter storms to Texas and Mexico, leaving millions without heat and electricity has the power grid is overwhelmed.  Talk radio provocateur Rush Limbaugh (*1951)  dies after a year-long struggle with lung cancer.  Poet and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti passes away, aged 101. Martian probe Perseverance touched down on the Red Planet to begin a search for signs of past life. The US rejoins the Paris Climate Agreement.  

march: Oprah Winfrey interviews the estranged, self-exiled Sussexes about Meghan Markle’s treatment

by the Royal Family, causing consternation and many to question the institution of the monarchyPhantom Tollbooth author Norton Juster (*1929) passed away aged ninety-one.  A container ship gets lodged in the Suez Canal, hindering global trade and could potentially be stuck for weeks.  Legislators in the American state of Georgia pass selectively restrictive laws to disenfranchise Black voters.   Children’s book author Beverly Cleary (*1916) writer of the Ramona Quimby series passed away, aged 104.  The usurping military forces in Myanmar gun down dozens of pro-democracy protesters.  Islamic rebels besiege the city of Palma in Mozambique.  Undercover operative whose missteps brought the Watergate scandal to the press and public, G. Gordon Liddy (*1930) died, aged 90, as did author Larry McMurtry (*1936) who penned Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment.

april: Prince Phillip passes away, aged 99.  As tensions escalate between Russia and NATO with a troop

build-up along the border with Ukraine, US President Joe Biden proposes to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to normalise relations and restore diplomatic ties.  The police officer who murdered George Floyd is found guilty on all charges.  Walter Mondale (*1928), former vice president under Jimmy Carter, and presidential candidate with running-mate Geraldine Ferraro passed away, aged ninety-three.  Astronaut Michael Collins (*1930) who orbited the Moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the lunar surface passed away, aged ninety.

may: Accomplished actor Olympia Dukakis (*1931) passed away, aged eighty-nine.  Architect Helmut Jahn (*1940) behind the Messeturm in Frankfurt and the Post tower in Bonn died in a bicycle accident.  Dozens of rebel priests across German defy the Catholic church and offer benedictions to same-sex couple.  Israel airstrikes in Gaza escalate.  Actor, author, televangelist and TV’s Captain Merrill Stubing Gavin MacLeod (*1931) after suffering a long bout of ill-health.  

june: G7 leaders meet in Cornwall, in person.  A coalition government in Israel unseats Netanyahu after a

dozen years as prime minister.  The US government establishes Juneteenth as a new federal holiday though new laws to disenfranchise Black voters continues apace in many Republican controlled polities.  The space station Tiangong receives its first crew.  Software and computer security pioneer John McAfee (*1945) found dead in a Spanish jail cell awaiting extradition to the US over charges of tax evasion.  Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was disbarred for peddling the lie that that the election was stolen from his former client.  The US government issues a declassified report to congress regarding unidentified aerial phenomenon.  A twelve storey condominium complex near Miami, Florida collapses with dozens injured and unaccounted for.  

july: Outrage as more mass-graves of indigenous pupils found at historic Canadian residential schools.  Hundreds perish from record heatwaves and wildfires along the Pacific coast of North America.  Angela Merkel makes her last official visit to the United Kingdom, addressing the Houses of Parliament, the last

foreign leader to do so since Bill Clinton in 1997.   Richard Donner (*1930), film director behind The Goonies, Superman and the Lethal Weapon franchise passed away.  England plans to fully reopen with no COVID-19 restrictions late in the month despite a resurgence in cases and the rapidly spreading Delta variant.  Jovenel Moรฏse, the Haitian president, was assassinated.  Continual and torrential rains exacerbated by the climate emergency caused severe flooding in western Germany and the Henan region in China.  The Special Committee on the January 6th Capitol Insurrection heard opening testimony from law enforcement on the scene of the terror attack.  Inventor and infomercial pitchman Ron Popeil (*1935) passed away.

august: The UN Panel on Climate Change issues a stark, bleak forecast for the planet’s future as a suitable place for life as we know it.  Wildfires rage throughout the Mediterranean, Siberia and the North American west coast.  As coalition forces depart, the resurgent Taliban takes several regional capitals in weeks with Kabul poised to soon collapse as authorities flee and embassies are evacuated.  A massive earthquake strikes Haiti.  Tragically, most Afghani government officials flee the country and the capital falls as the Taliban retakes power and restores the emirate after nearly two decades of warfare.  US army installations in Germany assist with Operation Allied Refuge (OAR) as thousands of Afghans are airlifted from the country.  Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (*1941) passes away. 
Just days ahead of the deadline imposed to complete evacuation missions out of the Hamid Karzai international airport, an Islamic State affiliate and sworn enemy of the Taliban for being too Westernised, lax, undisciplined detonated twin suicide bombs outside the gates, killing dozens.  Veteran actor and advocate Ed Asner (*1929) passed away as did Jamaican musical giant Lee “Scratch” Perry (*1936).  On the sixteenth anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, a destructive storm called Ida makes landfall.  The Taliban celebrates with fireworks and firing rifles in the air the departure of the last US flight from the Kabul airport, declaring victory.

september: The legislature of the state of Texas passes a tranche of new laws curtailing voting access, restricting teaching of America’s racist past and present, mandating the national anthem at sporting events, permitting universal carry laws for firearms and doing away with licensure or training requirements and

essentially banning abortion by placing a bounty on abettors and deputising neighbours to litigate the ban against neighbours.  New Wave actor Jean-Paul Belmondo (*1933), whose roles defined the genre and called the French counterpart of Marlon Brando, James Dean and Humphrey Bogart, passed away.  El Salvador becomes first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender.  “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” singer Marรญa Mendiola (*1952) of Baccara passed away in Madrid.  An effort to recall and replace Democrat governor of California fails and Gavin Newsome retains his place, though the balloting and counter-campaigns cost taxpayers of the state in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars.  The first commercial, all-amateur space tourism mission safely splashes down after three days in orbit.  Entrepreneur, inventor and computing pioneer behind the ZX Spectrum, Clive Sinclair passed away, aged 81 (*1940).  Justin Trudeau’s party retains power following national elections.  After three years under house arrest in Canada and fighting extradition to America on charges of espionage and circumventing sanctions against Iran, business executive Meng Wangzhou, daughter of the head of Chinese communications giant Huawei, is released. 

october:  US president Biden’s agenda is derailed, diminished by moderate voices in his party.  A vaccine for malaria is trialled in Africa.  Amid a growing corruption scandal, Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz

tenders his resignation, though choosing to remain leader of his political party and will retain his seat in parliament.  William Shatner, aged ninety, as a space tourist becomes the oldest human to enter the Earth’s orbit.  Attending an open-advice surgery for his constituents from Leigh-on-Sea, long-time MP David Amess was murdered by an attacker with a knife.  Former US Joint-Chief-of-Staff and Secretary of State, Colin Powell (*1937) dies from complications arising from COVID-19.  President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, under pressure from elements of his own party, is rather austerely pared back, dropping proposed benefits like universal college tuition and paid family-leave.  Garbage social media network rebrands its parent company as Meta as it prepares to build and embrace its concept of the metaverse.  A military coup in Somali plunges the country into chaos with no signs of peaceful resolution.

november: A powerful storm-flood in western Canada cuts off Vancouver from the rest of British Columbia.  Weaponised refugees massed at the EU frontier by a provoking Belarus at enormous personal

cost are slowly being repatriated to the lands they fled.  After exonerated in a gross miscarriage of justice, Republicans acclaim a teenage, white supremacist murderer as their new hero.  Award winning Broadway songwriter Stephen Sondheim passes away, aged ninety-one in the same week as Schoolhouse Rock! lyricist Dave Frishberg (*1933).  The COVID-19 Omicron-variant, first detected in South Africa, is causing major concerns as convention cases rage resurgent in Europe, poised to be more widespread and deadly than the same time a year ago.  Inflation and supply-chain issues threaten global economic recovery.  On the anniversary of its independence from the UK in 1966, Barbados becomes the world's newest republic, with Sandra Mason as the island’s president. 

december: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows releases Power Point slide-deck that outlined options for Trump to hold on to the presidency in the chaos of the 6. January insurrection to the commission investigating the attempted coup.  Monkees singer Mike Nesmith (*1942) passes away.  An unseasonal tornado rips through western Kentucky, leaving over a hundred dead.   Gothic novelist Anne Rice (*1941 as Howard Allen Francis O’Brien) passed away.  Tensions continue to mount at the Russo-Ukraine border with Russia putting forward a litany of demands for NATO to avoid invasion.   Journalist and author Joan Didion (*1934) passed away due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.   Borders close and travel-restrictions re-imposed over truly exponential spread of the the Omicron variant; preliminary findings suggest although less lethal, hospitals and other essential services could be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and vulnerable populations still need protection.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu (*1931), anti-apartheid hero and moral-centre, passes away aged ninety.  Sadly veteran blogger Jonco, behind Bits & Pieces, passed away quite suddenly, leaving the blogosverse a dimmer place.  On the last day of the year and just weeks short of planned celebrations for her one-hundredth birthday, beloved talent and treasure with a career spanning over eight decades, Betty White (*1922) passed away.

 



Sunday, 26 December 2021

fyc

Recorded earlier in the studios of Prince’s Paisley Park outside of Minneapolis and released on this day in 1988 as a single featured on their later anthology The Raw & the Cooked, the Fine Young Cannibals’ hit (Birmingham musicians David Steele and Andy Cox) peaked only at number five in the charts at the time but would gain much more stature in later years and has since become instantly identifiable with those last years of the decade.

Saturday, 25 December 2021

a ‘savage stenographic mystery’

Reminiscent of another challenge recently recalled involving shorthand and its devotees, we learn courtesy of Strange Company that not only did author Charles Dickens make an early living as a court-recorder using the brachygraphic system of Thomas Gurney (trained as a clockmaker and developed his shorthand out of a fascination with astrological symbols, realised that there was little financially to be gained from scribbling and sensibly returned to the horological industry) and continued to use it for personal correspondents and manuscript (supplementing the character-set with glyphs of his own invention), there are moreover writings of the studied and celebrated novelist yet to be deciphered. There’s an appeal with an honorarium attached for decoding a passage in a text known as the Tavistock Letter and call for help in general in completing the canon.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

strings palewise throughout counterchanged

The venerable College of Arms granted Sir Paul McCartney on his fifty-ninth birthday in June 2001 his heraldric achievement, presenting it for the first time on this day during the following year.The chequered flaunches of the escutcheon—the finish of a Gibson guitar—represent the four Beatles. For the crest, the avian creature perched on the knight’s helmet supporting a fretted instrument is the mythological liver bird that symbolises the city that our Liverpudlians are from. The motto below: ECCE COR MEUM—Behold my heart, is taken from the oratorio dedicated to his first wife, Linda. Incredibly, the college was able to deliver to McCartney an elegant design that references his life and career whilst adhering to the vocabulary and tradition of their trade and charge.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

8x8

schwibbogen: a look at Germany’s Erzgebirge’s Christmas decorative arts traditions—see also

lakshmi-narayan: a looted sculpture returned to Nepal becomes a god again  

wind in your sails: a giant kite will pull a ship across the ocean in a demonstration project to cut emissions

all songs considered: NPR’s Bob Boilen’s recommended listening from the past year  

farmscrapers: advances in hydroponics and robot-assisted harvesting are making vehicle crop-growing a reality  

wysiwyg: Anna Mills on her typography and creative outlook  

carry on regardless: the comic language pf Professor Stanley Unwin  

god rest you merry, gentlemen: the comma in this carol makes us wonder about punctuation

Saturday, 18 December 2021

legenda sanctorum

Born a prince into a sainted and royal family, issue of Richard the Saxon and Wunna of Wessex, Winibald (Winebald, Wunebald) is fรชted on this day on the occasion of his passing in 761 (*702), who along with his siblings Willibald and Walpurga were persuaded to first undertake a pilgrimage and commit to a course of study in Rome (his brother settling down from his travels and became a monk at Monte Cassino) then all to go on a mission to Germany by their uncle Boniface. Abbot at his home double-monastery in Heidenheim in Middle Franconia, Winibald is considered the patron of construction workers and established a network of cloisters across the region and is generally depicted with the iconography of a brick trowel and carrying a miniature church.

Friday, 17 December 2021

hunky dory

The titular fourth studio album released on this day in 1971 by a twenty-four year old David Bowie was a departure from the guitar-dominant The Man Who Sold the World from a year before with a softer piano composition, backed by Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey on drums—the group that would form the Spiders from Mars within the next year. The track listing from this monumental recording that defined the artist includes “Changes, “Oh—You Pretty Things,” “Life on Mars” and “Andy Warhol.”

Sunday, 12 December 2021

i was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar—that much is true

On this day in 1981, the Human League single “Don’t You Want Me” from their third studio album Dare climbed to the top spot on UK charts and held the place for weeks, becoming the Christmas hit of the year. Hailed as a breakthrough number of the Second British Invasion by critics and widely acclaimed, the song was initially rejected by band member Paul Oakley as overrated and misconstrued as about love rather than a commentary on cynicism and sexual power politics with a catchy pop hook, lyrics taken from a photo-essay in a teen magazine.

Saturday, 11 December 2021

most efficacious in every case

Reaching number one on the UK single charts on this day in 1968and made that year’s signature Christmas novelty song, the Liverpudlian folk ensemble The Scaffold, led by Mike McGear—the stage name of Peter McCartney, Paul’s younger brother—along with comedian John Gorman and poet Roger

McGough, their rendition of “Lily the Pink” was based on a traditional ballad about American Lydia Estes Pinkham who marketed a patent medicine, a tonic which most dismissed as quackery (though this lending her name to a product should not detract from her contributions in the abolitionist and civil rights) for women to treat hysteria and other feminine maladies. Memorialised in a rather bawdy series of drinking songs (see also)—as Pinkham’s forty-proof elixir was still available with prescription during Prohibition—during Canadian soldiers in World War I with a version made the unsanctioned regiment tune of the Royal Tank Corps during World War II, the Scaffold’s version was sanitised, also on the top playlists in Austria, West Germany and Ireland. Later McGear would work with the McCartneys on Wings.