Thursday, 31 March 2022

dรญa de cรฉsar chรกvez

Commemorated as a holiday in several food producing regions of the United States, the life and legacy of the civil rights reformer and labour activist of Cรฉsar Chรกvez, born this day in 1927 (†1993), whom along wit fellow farm worker Dolores Huerta unionised and rallied for better conditions for all.

Monday, 14 March 2022


be kind, rewind: the miniature dioramas of Marina Totino—via Waxy  

doobly doo: recreating a Hallstatt period hair-style  

wck: more on Josรฉ Andrรฉs’ World Central Kitchen (previously) and its work in Ukraine  

it is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it: solace from the Stoics and other timeless words of wisdom—via Messy Nessy Chic  

blogoversary: Kottke turns twenty-four  

the wife of ฯ€: a Pi Day (previously) round-up—plus this one  

family pictures: artist Martha Naranjo Sandoval reanimates antique stereoscopic photos

Saturday, 29 January 2022


In a development as outrageous and unhinged as the so called Pizzagate conspiracy theory—which (take a deep breath) in case you had forgotten that madness posited that the hacked cache of emails of Hilary Clinton and other prominent Democratic Party officers contained coded messages that implicated them in a human trafficking ring run out of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, DC—the National Butterfly Sanctuary on the US-Mexico border is forced to temporarily shut down due to “credible threats” logged in connection with an upcoming Trump-adjacent political rally. Accusing the centre of facilitating illegal border crossings over the Rio Grande/Rรญo Bravo, money-laundering and using butterfly swarms to dispose of bodies, the rumours are being propagated by a fund-raising committee hoping to privately finance the Wall.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

intentos separatistas

Under the leadership of Empresario (the Spanish word for entrepreneur and referring to those granted right of settlement in exchange for pledging to develop an area) Haden Edwards, a group of Texians declared the breakaway Republic of Fredonia on this day in 1826.Arriving the year before with some eight hundred colonists families (mostly plantation-owners from the American south like himself)—overstepping his commission by claiming the authority to adjudicate the validity of the land claim of those already in residence, demanding deed and title to property else land would become forfeit and the property of fellow filibusters. The Mexican government repudiated Edwards' actions and ordered him out but he refused to leave his colony. By the last day of January, the occupiers were defeated by the Mexican army, though the cumulative effect of this rebellion and others instigated like it led to the eventual secession of the territory, both sides alternatively currying favour with and laying blame on indigenous tribes and forcibly relocated peoples.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

7x7: happy halloween edition

robert the doll: Key West’s most cursed object—see also—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see here)  

zombie jamboree: Harry Belafonte’s actual ghoulish calypso number—notwithstanding the associations with the Banana Boat Song 

la calavera catrina: a sugar skull puppet presents a primer on Dรญa de los Muertos  

westsonality: enjoy Paul Lynde’s 1976 Halloween Special with a cavalcade of guest stars  

respect the sabbath: periodic movements in the US to hold no Halloween on Sundays  

main title theme: the score for John Carpenter’s classic horror film Halloween 

lovecraft country: welcome to my metaverse—see previously

Friday, 17 September 2021

the persuaders!

Last in the line of a spy, crime adventure syndicate that began in 1960 with Danger Man, The Prisoner, The Avengers and The Saint, the charismatic action-comedy vehicle of Tony Curtis and Roger Moore was first simulcast on ITV and ABC to UK and US audiences on this day in 1971. Though considered a crowning, ambitious and concluding series and played well in foreign franchises, dubbed as Dos Tipos Audaces (Two Bold Characters in South American markets), Minden Lรฉben Kรฉt Kanรกl (Two Spoons in Every Soup in Hungary), Snobbar som Jobbar (Snobs on the Job in Sweden), Amicalement Vรดtre in French-speaking areas (Amicably Yours) and Die Zwei in the Deutschsprachrรคume (one of the best titled cinematic adaptations The Sum of All Fears is plaintively called simply Der Anschlag, The Attack in German) the production of Baron Lew Grade (also behind the series of Supermarionation shows) about two individuals from starkly different backgrounds that have been reluctantly teamed together to solve international cases that the authorities cannot disappointed domestic viewers and was cancelled after one albeit complete season. The opening title sequence (see also) features music by John Berry.

Saturday, 11 September 2021


Whilst everything has taken on a sense of urgency and imbalance, admittedly our avian neighbours usually seem to escape these awful Earthly bonds and bother even though our actions and omissions are pulling them in peril too. The overall winner for this year’s Bird Photography of the Year, “Blocked,” by Alejandro Prieto and featuring a Roadrunner (Correcaminos, Geococcyx californianus) and the US-Mรฉxico border indeed highlighted how the subject can limn the greater environmental and humanitarian crises we are failing to address. More outstanding feathered friends at the links above.

Saturday, 6 February 2021


high dive: Casa Zicatela in the Oaxaca coastal region references Le Corbusier and the retro look of municipal swimming pools 

rip: legendary actor Christopher Plummer (*1929) has passed away 

polar flare: visualising the true size of terrestrial landmasses through cartographic distortion plus mapping countries as offworld colonies  

gulf stream: lack of circulation during ice ages past may have meant the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans had fresh water 

dataviz: sleek, informative infographics by the Great Grundini  

rรฉseau pneumatique: an exploration of the pneumatic postal system of Paris—see also  

hq2: a preview of the new Amazon headquarters (previously) building in Arlington, Virginia

Thursday, 21 January 2021

domestic agenda

Signalling a radical shift in policy priorities, Joe Biden for his first day and a half in office signed a tranche of executive orders reversing the direction that his predecessor (lest we forget the catalogue of horrors) had taken the country and the first steps to positioning America as a leader and innovative force. Redressing the pandemic crisis, Biden’s spending proposal for economic aid and relief and accelerating vaccination comes in at just under two trillion dollars, imposing a mask mandate on federal property and interstate transportation, extend student loan deferments and a moratorium on evictions and re-join the World Health Organisation. Moreover, Biden moved to bring the US back into the Paris Climate Agreement plus reimpose pollution restrictions recently relaxed and cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project that would shuttle a particularly pernicious type of petroleum from Canadian fields to American refineries. On immigration, Biden has directed the travel ban on some Muslim-majority countries to be repealed, reversed the inhumanly cruel practise of separating immigrant families at the border and ended the declared National Emergency that funded the Wall. In the Oval Office, the bust of Winston Churchill (previously) is replaced—in the background—by one of Cรฉsar Chรกvez.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

¡no lupita!

Released on this date in 1959 in Mexico (in October of the following year internationally, in America markets  under the same title though sometimes distinguished as Santa Claus versus the Devil), this Renรฉ Cardona and Adolfo Torres Portillo collaboration premises that Santa has a workshop in outer space and defeats a demon called Pitch who was dispatched to Earth by Lucifer to spoil Christmas by killing its spirit and cause all of humanity to do Satan’s despondent and joyless, and by defacto  evil, bidding. The movie received the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (see previously) on Christmas Eve 1993 and one can watch the lampoon in its entirety below.

Sunday, 20 September 2020


Not since the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season (see alternatively) has the World Meteorological Organisation run short of names for storms for the year, having issued a list of twenty-one names with forecasters now predicting up to twenty-five significant events. 2005 called for the first six letters of the Greek alphabet—through Zeta (ฮ– / ฮถ).

It being 2020 or that last best year with things only downhill from here on out, depending on how one frames we can halt and reverse climate change, we’ll see if that’s the Alpha and Omega. As history is yet good council even in these unprecedented times, today also marks the anniversary in 1971 when Hurricane Irene, having made landfall in Nicaragua weakened and dissipated, reconstituted herself (the first known instance since we had tracking capabilities) and remerged as cyclone Olivia, crossing from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts (see up top), raining out over Baja California. More recently, on the same day in 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020


a jay ward production: rediscover the classic cartoon Hoppity Hooper

distance learning is the art of applying the bride to the child: Dorothy Parker’s (previously) take on remote kindergarten

long in the tooth: a Greenland shark is recognised as world’s oldest veterbrate type specimen: explore the extensive Letter Form Archive—via Pasa Bon!

nimby, yimby: mapping applications that reveal percentage of golf course and parking lots in your town

casa azul: a virtual exploration of Frida Kahlo’s Blue House—via Messy Nessy Chic plus the edible sunflower and a tiny tug

owls to athens: a look at how our avian friends influenced language and limn thought (see also)

Thursday, 13 August 2020

saint cassian of imola, pray for us

Fourth century tutor and teacher, Cassian—whose martyrdom is venerated on this day (†303), refused to make sacrifices to the gods of the Romans—as was ordered by Emperor Julian the Apostate (the epithet a gift of the church he distrusted)—and so was turned over to his pupils, judging that their education and emendation should be an effective prescriptive. Cassian was bound to a stake and the students tortured him to death, stabbing him with their pointed styluses—eager to get revenge for the punishments and trials that their teacher had inflicted on them. This act is recounted in several contemporary cultural sources including the Annie Dillard novel The Living, John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces and the namesake of a teachers’ lounge at the Bethel College of Liberal Arts in Kansas and the parable open to interpretation. Cassian is the patron of the commune of Bologna, Mรฉxico City, Las Galletas in Tenerife as well as educators, stenographers and parish clerks.

Friday, 24 July 2020

el topo

Meaning The Mole in Spanish, with direction, scoring and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky in the titular role, the genre-defining acid Western is a cult classic—one of the first midnight screenings—enjoys many prominent devotees ranging from Yoko Ono to Kanye West and everyone in between. Bizarre as the film about a gunslinger’s quest for enlightenment who bests his philosophical betters through luck and treachery rather than skill is aiming to leave an indelible imprint on the audience from a creator that eschews psychedelics as superfluous, it is considered to be Jodorowsky’s most accessible and enduringly popular. Learn more from BBC Culture at the link above

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

zoot suit riots

On this day in 1943 in Los Angeles and continuing for the next five days, US sailors and Marines stationed there (either on rest and recuperative or transitioning for deployment to the Pacific theatre) and white residents, enervated by sensational coverage of the so-called Sleepy Lagoon murder trial of the summer prior, and ostensibly over the extravagance of their flamboyant clothes and accessorising that was seen as using up valuable fabric during wartime rationing, clashed with Mexican-American youth.
The attacks spread to other industrial cities across the US, expanding to other minority populations. The violence subsided by mid-June but tensions remained high and concern for the economy of southern California was brought to the forefront, given its reliance on the inflow of inexpensive labour in order to harvest produce, eventually leading to the papering-over of the underlying problems, with local authorities squarely assigning blame to delinquent and idle youths rather than systemic racism contrasted with the inquiry launched by the federal government into the riots which had the aims of determining whether Nazi or Axis agitators were not stoking unrest and sponsored the protestors. The defiance of the Zoot Suitors in the face of this unrelenting violence and antagonism is regarded as a pivotal moment for El Movimiento and related civil rights movements to combat institutional racism and disenfranchisement. As young men, civil rights leaders Cesar Chavez and Malcolm X were both Zoot Suiters.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

el gaucho goofy

As problematic and painful as past, back catalogue portrayals depicting racist and stereotyped can be and deserving of being called out, discussed and carrying warning labels, it is unsettling how versions offered as unadulterated can yet be revisionistic and casting a positive pall on iconic characters, Paleofuture’s take down of Disney’s cleaning up a scene of one of their old guard personalities smoking in its 1942 live-action and animated featurette Saludos Amigos mentions a foot-note behind the cartoon’s existence in the first place that bears investigation as well.
The US State Department commissioned Walt Disney and others to peddle the soft diplomacy of Mickey Mouse and company to counteract ties that Central and South America was forming with Nazi Germany—a job that Disney and much of Hollywood readily accepted since European markets were closed off to them due to the war. The propaganda film by most estimates was well received by audiences in both Latin America and domestically, instilling a sense of continental cohesion and giving US cinema-goers a taste of some the refinement of the culture and scenery that they’d been previously ignorant of—and was enough of a commercial success to inspire a sequel The Three Caballeros two years later. Curiously the version of the film currently on offer contains a warning about tobacco-use being depicted—despite the smoke rings being edited out—and we can only surmise that refers exclusively to parrot Josรฉ Carioca chomping on a cigar. Addicted to the habit and eventually succumbing to lung cancer, like Disney, himself, the voice actor Vance DeBar “Pinto” Colvig Sr (*1892 – †1967) whom played Goofy was a vocal anti-smoking campaigner whose efforts were instrumental in getting Surgeon General warnings on packs of cigarettes in the US. Past behavior, judged through the lens of the present, is less than model in a lot of ways but it cannot be discussed and condemned if it’s not visible and addressing the off-colour and antiquated can be productive in establishing an enduring change in attitudes.

Friday, 7 February 2020

isla fantasma

Reminiscent of the curious case of Hy-Braสƒil positioned in the Atlantic west of Ireland and perhaps perpetuated as a trap-street, a sort of water mark, we enjoyed learning about the phantom islet called Bermeja that appeared on sea charts from the sixteenth century up to the mid-nineteenth century off the coast of the Yucatรกn peninsula before abruptly disappearing from the map.
The origins and the fate of this would-be strategic land-mass, since its existence would accord Mรฉxico drilling rights to a massive undersea oil reserve, are disputed and range from a simple surveying error repeated in subsequent editions, the island sinking due to climate change or an earthquake—or more sinisterly, as one theory proffers, Bermeja was destroyed by US intelligence services to expand America’s economic zone and fishing-rights. More to explore from Boing Boing at the link above.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

el bosque

We are presented with the verdant, vertical urban forest concept of the architectural firm of Stefano Boeri to be built in the near future on a tract of land just outside of Cancรบn that was formerly zoned for development as a sprawling shopping centre.
Happily the area will instead be home to new model city (see previously), one hundred and thirty thousand human residents cohabitating with some seven million carbon-sequestering plants. Project leaders plan for the settlement, campus to become a showcase hub of research and education with facilities focused on redressing coral reef degradation, lessening the impact of agriculture as well as demonstrating the integration of mobility, robotics and renewables into civil engineering and urban planning, backwards planning to bring these reforms and innovations to communities and infrastructure already extant. Much more to explore at the link up top.

Monday, 6 January 2020

ultimate rendering

Via our peripatetic pal Everlasting Blรถrt, we are shown a gallery of artists’ final works, curated with a bit of context and perspective for their parting paintings. Quite a few seem a little too on the nose as to otherwise deny the creator their reflection and prescient swan song, like this still-life executed by Frida Kahlo (previously, 1907 – †1954) with watermelons (sรญndria) part of the iconography of El Dรญa de Muertos and completed eight days before the Mexican artist’s death. Watermelons were also the subject of the last painting of Diego Rivera (*1886 – †1957), whom took Kahlo as his third wife.

Monday, 30 December 2019


getrรคnkekiste: photographer Bernhard Lang features bottle crates from novel perspectives, via Nag on the Lake

ั€ะพัััƒะผัะบะธะต ัƒะฝะธะฒะตั€ัะฐะปัŒะฝั‹ะต ั€ะพะฑะพั‚ั‹: a 1979 children’s book series illustrated by Mikhail Romadin (*1940 – †2012) of Tarkovsky studios, whom went on to draw for Ray Bradbury and others

uranometria: stars captured on older stellar charts now seemingly vanished could point incognito alien civilisations, via Strange Company

accessory dwelling unit: architecture graduate creates prefabricated homes out of Hawaii’s problematic, invasive Albizia trees

fiat tender: giving cash as a gift but at the same time keeping the personal touch

i demand a recount: “Me and the Boys” voted community choice Meme of 2019, followed closely by “Woman Yelling at a Cat”

chinampa: a look at the fading, ancient practise of floating farming along the canals of Xochimilco

64x64: favourite photographs of the year by as many photographers