Friday, 18 December 2020

ั‰ะตะปะบัƒะฝั‡ะธะบ

Debuting in Saint Petersburg on this day in 1892 (Old Style, 6 December), the stage, fairy ballet (ะฑะฐะปะตั‚-ั„ะตะตั€ะธั) adaptation of the short story by E. T. A. HoffmannThe Nutcracker and the Mouse King—opened as a double-feature with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ultimate opera Iolanta, a one-act performance about the Duchess of Lorraine, Yolande de Bar—a romanticised biography of figure who was more retiring and reserved in real life. Though initially not well-received and critics using rather harsh language, the overture and suite that the composer score was an enduring success, with countless Christmas season performances accounting for an incredible forty percent of attendance for ballet companies in North America in normal times.

Monday, 14 December 2020

location scout oder deckname topas

Hearing that someone might be making a weekend of visiting nearby sites where films had been shot sounded like a fun activity and piqued my curiosity as to whether any might be in reach for me. I was surprised to come across this image from 1968 in the Stars and Stripes photographic archive of the filming of the 1969 release of the Cold War spy-thriller Topaz, the cinematic adaptation of Leon Uris’ novelisation of a real defection, the Sapphire Affair, that took place in 1962 directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  Here is the same building from last summer from a slightly different angle and perspective.
The story follows a French intelligence agent who becomes entangled in a spy ring and the geopolitical situation on the eve of the Cuba Missile Crisis. A high-ranking Soviet officer reveals that nuclear warheads will be placed in Cuba (mirroring the US installation in Turkey) and he and his family are evacuated to Wiesbaden. Filming also takes place in Copenhagen, Washington, DC, Paris, New York with Havana scenes filmed on a studio lot.

Saturday, 12 December 2020

ััƒั…ะพะน ัะฝะฒะฐั€ัŒ

Whilst likely true and sound medical advice for taking any vaccine to optimise immune response and ensure your body has as few distractions and detractors as possible, officials’ arguably belated warnings of not mixing Russia’s Sputnik V with alcohol, we learn via The Morning News, recommending an absention period of eighty-days—two weeks prior and forty days subsequent to getting the shot, has caused some to recoil and question whether they can swear-off or at least cut back (particularly during this festive season), of course taking the debate to social-media with anecdotal evidence for and against.

Monday, 7 December 2020

8x8

ัะฐั€ะฐ́ั‚ะพะฒ-2:some urban spelunking leads to a Soviet computer graveyard (previously) with some early machines thought lost to the ages 

indented writing: this case of an invisible will recalls some more recent forensic intervention to retrieve the words of a blind novelist 

parallel dimensions: one-hundred twenty-five artists render different computer-generated environments on one basic template of a character walking towards a mountain  

starfleet bold extended: the typography created for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (see previously, premiering on this day in 1979)

 : the real-life Queen’s Gambit in Georgian chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili  

the panoply of digital phrenology: the coming subprime attention crisis and the bursting of the ad-serving bubble  

petroglyphs: more on the amazing expanse of pre-Columbian art discovered in the Amazon 

ฮบฮฟฯ…ฮผฯ€ฯ‰ฮผฮญฮฝฮฟ ฮผฮต ฮบฮฟฯ…ฮผฯ€ฮนฮฌ: exploring an abandoned factory in Patisia Greece

Sunday, 29 November 2020

ะทรกัƒะผัŒ

Invented in 1913 by radical futurist Aleksei Yeliseyevick Kruchyonykh (*1886 – †1968) with literati contemporaries including David Burliuk and Vladimir Mayakovsky (see previously), the non-referential linguistic experiment zaum was to be a demonstration that language is indefinite and indeterminate, spontaneous and non-codified—something that the listener or interlocutor would give form to and thus revealing something about the universal undercurrents of communication. Though transrational in nature, the Russian prefix and noun are meant to convey “beyondsense” and adherents are referred to as zaumiks. Listen to examples recited at Weird Universe at the link above, including Kruchyonykh’s poem here pictured—ะ”ั‹ั€ ะฑัƒะป ั‰ั‹ะป, transliterated as Dyr bul shchyl, which the author claimed was more patriotic and nationally insightful than the entire canon of Alexander Pushkin.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

alfabeti shqip

With the conclusion of the Congress of Manastir—now called Bitola, on this day in 1908 academicians from around the country met and achieved their goal of standardising the national language and script for the native population and the diaspora aboard and in neighbouring Kosovo and North Macedonia—who commemorate this Dita e Alfabetit—whereas prior to the democratic, deliberative and well-considered process the language was expressed in no fewer than six distinct scripts that drew from Greek, Cyrillic, Ottoman and Arabic. There was great potential for confusion between rho and pi, aitch and kha. The outcome was a variant of the Latin alphabet (see also) with thirty-six letters to best represent the phonology of Albanian with diagraphs including dh, gj and nj.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

8x8

langue and parole: a poly-lingual whistle-stop tour illustrating what foreign languages sound like to non-speakers   

a critical tourism map: whilst most visitors’ guides are irrepressibly positive about their attractions, this revealing map of the Norwegian capital hopes to make people think about the darker side of the past—via Big Think 

in this world: an hour of cool Soviet era jazz

test pilots: first human passengers take a ride in the experimental, levitating hyperloop (previously) in the desert of Nevada 

ohrwurm: you’re welcome—see previously    

mnemosyne: an iterative technique to vastly improve recall (see previously)—from the illustrious Mx van Hoorn’s curio cabinet

the ephemeralist: selecting random pages from archives of thousands of old publications, this bit of coding seems as good a substitute for social media as any—via Kicks Condor

the word rooster is an eighteenth century American invention to avoid saying the word ________:  an educational and invigorating swear quiz from Helen Zaltzman

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

heliostat

Originally intended to be an experimental solar sail, the Znamya (ะ—ะฝะฐะผั, “Banner”) programme shifted its focus towards artificial illumination and extending day-light hours and thus the potential for photovoltaic power, the second and unfortunately final mission in this series was launched on this day in 1992 aboard a cargo craft during a resupply mission to Mir.
In a very technically complicated and precision operation, once the re-supply ship undocked, the twenty-metre in in circumference mirror was deployed and mounted on the fore of the craft and slowly navigated into position over the course of the months. Its orbit finally aligned with the rising sun on the pre-dawn hours of 4 February 1993, it beamed down the reflected light of the sun—still well over the horizon for terrestrial observers, on patch of Earth with a five kilometre radius with the apparent glow equal to a full Moon (despite the cloudy weather that night) that passed from southwest France to Moscow, the spotlight zooming by at a speed of eight kilometres per second. A follow-on, more ambitious mission in 1999 had to be aborted when the mirror failed to unfurl. Learn more at Amusing Planet at the link above.

Friday, 23 October 2020

red scare, town square

Via Super Punch, we made witness to the spectacle and pageantry of the politics of fear and allure of bad actor cosplay in this vignette from 1950 about a small town called Mosinee in Wisconsin that staged a pretend Communist coup.

Given the state of America’s dictatorial and regressive aspiration, this episode is highly resonant and corresponds to a particular sort of reactionary tribalism and the paternalism of the well-intentioned and seems quite the antithesis of a similar demonstration undertaken in Canada less than a decade earlier to impress upon people the price of complacency. Albeit the latter was only a one-day affair and described by Life Magazine as the town’s most exciting since the business district burned down in 1910, and ‘according to the official Schedule of Events, the entire town would “cast aside their subversive roles and join in the raising of the American flag.” Boy Scouts would “burn all Communist banners, etc. in a huge bonfire” before the whole crowd would join in singing “God Bless America” and “start peacefully home, thankful to God that they live in AMERICA.”’

Monday, 12 October 2020

sing along with khrushchov

With a rather engrossing follow-up to an earlier mention of a rare 1962 volume by Ilona Fabian with illustrations by Victor Vashi, the prolific Hungarian artist who cartooned his way through Nazi and Soviet occupation, Weird Universe shares this coloring book that doesn’t bother mincing words or diplomatic happy talk in framing contemporary geopolitics.
A reader of the blog had reached out with a digitalised copy (find a complete PDF at the site) of this imagined correspondence between “Nyetochka”—Khrushchev’s granddaughter and Caroline Kennedy about the foibles of her extended family with “Uncle Fidel,” “Uncle Nehru” and “Uncle Tito” and those written out of the will, and saved it from oblivion. The Soviet leader is depicted shod with just one shoe throughout in reference to his shoe pounding spectacle at the United Nations. Vashi’s other work from this period, the 1967 retrospective published on the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution, Red Primer for Children and Diplomats, is more well-known.

Friday, 18 September 2020

interkosmos group

Launched on a routine rotation and restocking mission to the Salyut 6 space laboratory on this day in 1980, the crew of Soyuz 38 included cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Mรฉndez (*1942)—the first (see also) Cuban and individual of Latin American and African heritage to enter into Earth orbit.

An aerial combat pilot from the Guantรกnamo province decorated for flying reconnaissance mission during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and after demonstrating leadership potential at the brigade level, Tamayo was selected for the pan-communist space programme in 1978 and moved to Star City (ะ—ะฒั‘ะทะดะฝั‹ะน ะณะพั€ะพะดะพ́ะบ) to commence training. Tamayo’s time in orbit aboard the station helped diagnose and treat the phenomenon known as space sickness for future ventures. Since retirement, Tamayo has served as a deputy in the National Assembly, representing his home constituency of Guantรกnamo.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

plurale tantum

From the Latin for plural form only, we encounter a host of words whose singular form is inconceivable or as the terms as collective ones rarely invoked: scissors, news, trousers, spectacles, subs, outskirts, thanks and heroics.
As well as sharing at least some of the preceding English examples, in other languages, pluralia tantum point to a period of time: kalendae for the first day of the month, German Ferien for vacation, to go on holiday(s). Some cases don’t have an obvious semantic logic to them like the Swedish and Russia words respectively for currency—pengar and ะดะตะฝัŒะณะธ always as monies or the problematic case of the German word for parents only exists in the plural form Eltern—with the current possibilities of expressing a single parent awkward and normative. As one can do a scissor-kick or be possessed of a trouser-press there are exceptions and ways to compose the singular, unpaired form and bridge that morphological gap. The opposite, singular tantum, refer to mass or uncountable objects and conception, like information, milk and popcorn.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

marianne von werefkin

Born this day (Old Style 29 August) 1860 (†1938) in the then Govenorate of Tula, Mariรกnna Vladรญmirovna Verรซvkina would go on to become an important and influential painter (claimed by every place she lived and worked) in the Expressionist style. Protรฉgรฉ and eventual peer of artists in the movement like Alexj von Jawlensky, Paul Gauguin, Edvard Munch, Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc.
The latter two (whom are a prominent part of the permanent collection of artists of the Wiesbaden Museum) distanced themselves from the collective in Mรผnchen that they all as emigres had joined but with the outbreak of World War I formed Der Blaue Reiter group, prompting the seasoned Werekin and Jawlensky to repair to Geneva—forming their own splinter school Ursa Major—der GroรŸer Bรคr.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

red telephone

Despite its conception in the popular imagination the Washington-Moscow Direct Communications Link or hotline, which first went into operation on this day in 1963, was a text-only emergency channel as spoken communication was considered too prone to misunderstanding.
Engineers first recognised the need for an expedient exchange between the leaders of the polarised world in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis of the previous summer when it took US diplomatic and military staff nearly twelve hours to receive and decrypt the initial settlement message from Nikta Khrushchev and deliver it to John F. Kennedy, with a nod to the direct link as portrayed in Red Alert, the 1958 novel that Doctor Strangelove (1964) is based on. The superpowers could initially send teletypes to one another—the equipment tested hourly by exchanging passages from William Shakespeare and Mark Twain (with selective quotations from the former and A. A. Milne as they were considered Soviet cultural property) for excerpts from Anton Chekhov and other literary figures, with messages of greetings and congratulations sent instead on New Year’s and on 30 August, the anniversary of the hotline’s launch. In 1986, the system was upgraded to facsimile machines and finally in 2008 to an extra secure form of email.

Monday, 24 August 2020

maya hi

Re-sampling will always cast its nets far and wide but we had not beforehand appreciated what a tempting foraging grounds that Soviet pop proofed and proved for Western hip-hop. The juxtaposition is sometimes quite  jarring with the underground group Jedi Mind Tricks’ appropriation of People’s Artist of the USSR in 1988 of Edith Piekha’s catchy hit My Neighbour (ะะฐัˆ ะกะพัะตะด).

Thursday, 20 August 2020

avgustovskiy putch

Opposed to the decentralisation and reform efforts of the Soviet president and General Secretary of the Communist Party, Communist hardliner elements in the government attempted a coup d'รฉtat beginning on this day at noon in 1991 to remove Mikhail Gorbachev (see previously) with the Moscow military district commander declaring martial law in effect and signaling an imminent siege on the parliamentary compound (ะ‘ะตะปั‹ะน ะดะพะผ—that is, the White House). Allies of the Gorbachev government barricaded the building and rebuffed the attack, codenamed Operation Grom—that is, thunder. Whilst these events unfolded—a power vacuum that lasted sixty hours, Estonia declared its independence with the other Baltic states following soon after.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

korabl-sputnik 2

On this day in 1960, a veritable arch (ะšะพั€ะฐะฑะปัŒ-ะกะฟัƒั‚ะฝะธะบ 2, meaning ship-satellite) was launched into orbit in what was the second attempt to launch a Vostok capsule and safely return it carrying a living manifest of animals and plants—the first try on 28 July having tragically failed with an engine fire, the original canine crew named Chaika (Seagull, see also) and Lisichka (Foxie)—with the spacecraft accommodating a selection of plants, two rats, forty mice and two dogs, Belka and Strelka (previously). All survived the test flight, circling the globe four times. The following year, Strelka had a litter of puppies, one of which was presented to First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy by the Soviet government as a sign of goodwill. Though initially suspicious that the puppy was bugged, Pushinka was given a home at the White House.

Friday, 14 August 2020

8x8

really simple syndication: Tedium explores early electronic news and digital services (see previously here, here and here)

let’s go out to the lobby: a 1979 drive-in cinema sci-fi concession advertisement

heracleum sosnovsky: creative interventions to control the toxic, invasive import known as “Stalin’s Revenge”

a shiver of sharks: research is showing the marine predator to be social creatures despite their lone, marauding reputation

iss: a digital coffee table book documenting life aboard the International Space Station

dead pilots society: a treasury of unproduced television shows—via Miss Cellania’s Links (see also)   

eftertrรคda: IKEA reveals its branded line of apparel with a new collection

the audience is listening: the origins of Netflix’s ta-dum sound—via Things Magazine with a special edition on start-up noises

Thursday, 13 August 2020

barrister, broker, billiard-maker

The classic of ostensibly children’s literature that contained the imaginative, nonsensical poetic interlude The Hunting of the Snark was original penned by Lewis Carroll in 1876 but was not in print in Russia until 1991—authorities having perhaps detected a subversive undertone to the rich allegory—
and is presently receiving a new treatment by Berlin-based illustrator Igor Oleinikov to project the “Agony in Eight Fits” through the lens of despotism and disaster with uniformed and besuited men leading the expedition. The illustrator that Carroll commissioned himself, Henry Holiday (*1839 – †1927, back cover shown, the Boojum, being highly dangerous and another made-up word, is the Snark’s true nature and will make the hunter “softly and suddenly vanish away, and never be met again”), for his initial publication also considered the poem a tragedy and full of existential angst and has been the topic of much academic analysis, deconstruction and debate, inspiring a great deal of other homages despite the author’s warning not read too much into it.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

spacepower

Foregoing the space bar, the United States of America’s newest military branch has outlined its vision and mission couched in very jingoistic and war-like language how it will establish and maintain dominance in the firmament. Unlike the Space Race that ran parallel to the nuclear build-up that was marked by achievements and milestones of one-upmanship that the Soviets indisputably won—with the exception of the crowning technical success of landing a crew on the lunar surface and bringing them back safely repeated over several iterations—there’s not so much a spirit of competition and exploration, with shining moments of cooperation, but rather sabotage and denial of access for those aspiring to join.