Friday, 21 January 2022

aack one

Though I admit that I would be burying the lede if I didn’t confess that I would have turned to this excellent and highly recommended podcast mini-series on the Cathy comic strip (1976 - 2010) and its author Cathy Guisewite by Jamie Loftus for the mere fact the concluding episode is entitled Guisewite Shut, it is a subject worth revisiting—rather unfairly dismissed and reviled as a trope of “the four basic guilt groups,” it’s a much more subtle and nuanced ocial commentary on generational transitions and power dynamics.

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

Monday, 17 January 2022

thank you for being a friend

With a television career that spanned nearly all of the history of the medium, both in front of and behind the camera as the first woman to produce a sitcom, advocate and actor Betty Marion White, born this day in Oak Park, Illinois in 1922, left us just a few weeks shy of her one-hundredth birthday. Appearing first on radio programmes in the late 1930s, White’s work in the industry covered a remarkable ten decades.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

space music

Begun a decade earlier as a three-hour-long radio programme featuring contemplative, ambient music with a selection of classical, Celtic, electronic and experimental genres airing late nights in the Berkley-area hosted by “Timotheo” (Stephen Hill) and “Annamystic” (Anna Turner), Hearts of Space entered syndication of National Public Radio on this day in 1983 and is still going strong, with over thirteen hundred transmissions (episodes) in their archives. The longest-running show of its type, each instalment signs-off with “Safe journeys, space fans—wherever you are.”

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

Monday, 13 December 2021

pearls before swine

An investigation into sudden-onset meat allergies comes full-circle with the recognition of a particular sugar called Alpha GAL that can cause intolerance for some and results in in an expansion of organ-donor base for others raises some thorny philosophical questions for us, cheerleaders, the lonely survivor and commodifying dissenters alike airing our objections over the brashest of enthusiasm for progress.

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

7x7

dress rehearsal: for a quarter of a century, an individual attended his own funeral  

dominical letters: how the artificial unit of the week came to govern our lives—see also  

carceral publications: a collection of US prison newspapers  

yes or no questions: celebrate the conclusion of Futility Closet’s eight plus year run with a final episode of lateral thinking puzzles  

hvorugkynsnafnorรฐ: despite progress in the choices for human naming conventions, the Icelandic governing body for horses is still highly gendered  

regenerative medicine: researchers develop “xenobots” capable of biological self-replication—via Waxy  

amigone: aptly named mortuary services—via Super Punch

Saturday, 13 November 2021

8x8

uap: an interview with former US DoD head of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Programme says that “Tic-Tac” craft have been observed by the navy for decades  

dutch angle: dramatic tilt in cinematography  

comrade kiev: an exquisitely curated collection of posters from Soviet times  

p68/dulcimer: a prototype of the iPod—which celebrated its twentieth birthday last month—via Twisted Sifter  

subjective distance: more on the ordering of adjectives and the unwritten rules of language—see previously 

quesos y besos: a soft goat cheese from Spain beat out many contenders to be awarded the top prize for the annual World Cheese Awards  

shoulder-surfing: a patent to discourage lookie-loos with a screen blur for those without the proper headgear and glasses—via Slashdot 

discopter: Alexander Weygers patented the design for the first UFO flying vehicle decades before the craze in sightings and visitations

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

6x6

fought and sold: the evolution of military recruitment advertising campaigns 

modern classics: in the vein of abstract vintage paperback cover art, eighty-four works of literature as postage stamps 

sleight of hand: objects from the Ricky Jay collection—more here, via Things Magazine 

20/20/20: revisiting a retrospective of the work of Afrofuturist Bodys Isek Kingelez 

every time they hear der bingle croon: episode two of Radiolab’s Mixtape miniseries explains why early entertainment was live and not Memorex  

america’s moveable fighting man: new G.I. Joe action figures available for pre-order

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

play misty for me

Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut, the above titled collaboration with Dean Riesner and Jo Heims was released on this day in 1971 and follows the narrative of an over night disc jockey in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, portrayed by Eastwood, being stalked by an increasingly obsessive caller, Evelyn Draper played by Jessica Walter (*1941 - †2021), who always requests he play the signature Johnny Mathis jazz standard. After a bit of romantic entrapment that betrays the state of the fan’s mental health, the host fights to keep her at bay and unambiguously preclude the prospect of a future relationship .

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

7x7

anamorphosis: a sixteenth century optical illusion in a work by Hans Holbein the Younger 

๐Ÿ’ง: the first episode on the Weirdness of Water, presented by the Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry  

uncharted: the region in Greece that was historically so inaccessible it was named Agrafa, literally off the maps—via Messy Messy Chic  

a people’s archive of sinking and melting: artefacts documenting the climate crisis  

odonym: a suite of applications to explore the toponymical decisions behind street names—see also 

fiat geld: origins of the trillion dollar coin  

spice like us: the geopolitics of nutmeg informed by its reputed efficacy against the plague

Monday, 18 October 2021

lying awake intent at tuning in on you

Originally recorded by songwriter Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club—featuring Thomas Dolby on keyboard, the follow-on version performed by the synth-pop group the Buggles, released a month prior as the debut single from their first studio album The Age of Plastic, the foundational, nostalgic hit, influenced by the music of Kraftwerk and inspired by memories of covertly listening to Radio Luxembourg late at night, topped the UK charts this week in 1979. The accompanying music video, first aired on Top of the Pops, went on, just after midnight on the first day of August 1981, to mark the beginning of MTV’s broadcasting run.

Friday, 15 October 2021

development hell

The Maximum Fun podcasting network (previously) has been hosting a block party this week to introduce the neighbours—that is, new programming adjacent to the shows that one already listens to discover new content and expand one’s listenership, helpfully recommending crossing-over points and places with easy egress for those unfamiliar with the programme’s content and approach. Already feeling over-subscribed, I am reluctant to add more shows but was always about Dead Pilots’ Society—see also here and here—whose premise is to unearth spec scripts for sit-coms and procedurals that were never produced and give them a proper table-read with a cast of professional actors and stand-ups. One stellar point of entry is episode twenty from 2017 that covers the bizarre pitch from writer Rob Schrab for Jetpackula performed with the talents of Patton Oswalt, Sujatat Day and Constance Wu about a has-been graphic novel illustrator whom befriends a vampire from the future, which was ultimately deemed too expensive to create. Check it out at the link above.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

shock theatre

With the debut of the syndicated package of made-for-television monster movies after a few minor roles in a Western series—one being an undertaker—on this day in 1957 in the Philadelphia market, John Zacherle (*1918 - †2016) began a decades’ long career as a horror host, editing a pair of anthologies of ghost stories plus penning a few monster novelty songs. Often filling in for his colleague and fellow Philadelphian broadcaster Dick Clark when touring, Zacherle was the substitute MC for American Bandstand. As a promotional stunt to mark his move to New York, Zacherley staged a presidential campaign in 1960, running as a “cool ghoul” but failing to meet the threshold to get on the ballot in any state. Continuing the same format as Shock Theatre, the interstitial breaks became more and more elaborate with a cast of monstrous characters and branched out into a few motion picture parts as well as hosting a cartoon variety hour and adolescent dance show in New Jersey called Disc-O-Teen. Through the seventies and eighties, Zacherle was a Prog Rock disk-jockey and in an array of b-movies. His success and notoriety helped his niece Bonnie Zacherle develop and successfully pitch her 1982 toy line, My Little Pony—the horror.

Friday, 1 October 2021

highly irregular

Via the always engrossing 99% Invisible, we are introduced to the poem “The Chaos” penned by Dutch teacher and travel writer Gerard Nolst Trenitรฉ under the the pseudonym Charivarius (see also) in 1920 as a part of a broader commiseration and discussion on the mongrel nature of the English language and the challenges that poses for new learners. An excerpt of the rather epic length work begins:

Dearest creature in Creation,
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

Ending thus with the emblematic, problematic words italicised:

Finally: which rhymes with “enough,”
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of “cup”…
My advice is—give it up!

7x7

cultured: beautiful Petri dish art (see also) from Dasha Plesen  

tax centinels: protesting college students conspired to create “penny famines” across the US in the late 1930s 

rediffusion: the Thames Television archives—via Things magazine  

fat bear bracket: follow the celebration of survival and success with Katmai’s nature preserve ursine residents—via Hyperalleric’s Required Reading 

the thing on the fourble board: a 1948 episode of the radio programme Quiet, Please! is considered to be one of the scariest broadcasts ever 

bisection: the spiralling figural sculpture of Isabel Miramontes  

frustule: the rich diversity of diatoms illustrated in an 1890 volume

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

conspicous calculation

Addressing the lexical weight of numeracy and the outsized weight we attribute to it as we do with all jargon from coding to spellbinding, we really enjoyed the panel discussion between host Helen Zaltzman and guest Professor Stephen Chrisomalis featured on the latest episode of the Allusionist on numbers and notation. 

We especially appreciated the disabusing reminders about bias, audience and the recent dominance of Indo-Arabic numerals (see also) and the vestigial systems, like Roman numerals, that accord prestige and the fact that I, V, X, L, C, D, Mwere not immutable from Antiquity until now with medieval abbreviations sometimes reflecting the Latin name or using Claudian letters and that the symbols were never meant to denote centum or mille but rather that half X is V and half C is L, and so on.

Monday, 30 August 2021

6x6

headgear: Languagehat is no longer neglecting the latter portion of its remit 

on seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful april morning: a pair of short stories from Rysuke Hamaguchi adapted for film  

aggregate accessory fruit: the curious, circuitous route of the misnamed garden variety strawberry  

like astrology for businessmen: a look at the Myers-Briggs personality test 

strokenteelt: see strip cultivation at work in the Netherlands 

erm: a discussion on intonation and a hummed “I don’t know”

Thursday, 5 August 2021

7x7

event horizon: unlike planets or stars, the size of black holes are not limited by physical constraints  

peg and pulley: a compelling argument to revive the cross-building washing line—via Pasa Bon!  

alien dreams: uncannily creative art from AIs—via Waxy 

bertilak de hautdesert: a highly recommended retelling of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight—see previously 

the greater fool theory: also called survivor investing, on the origins of value, margin calls and fiat currency—see previously  

thirteen things: a truly outstanding round-up from a fellow internet caretaker, including an indoor-outdoor bath tub on rails, pineapple cheese and a chameleon tape-measure 

intercluster medium: a galaxy-sized cloud of gas out floating in splendid isolation

Saturday, 31 July 2021

vintage obscura

Gleaning the rarities of world music from popular sources this radio station—with a simple protocol of a few criteria—rotates through taste-expanding repertoire of tracks of limited exposure and have been recorded or released at least a quarter century prior—which is presently pre-1996. Give them a listen live and review their entire growing playlist.