Thursday, 2 February 2023

sometimes today is tomorrow (10. 516)

Guest blogger Tim Carmody takes the helm for the tenth anniversary of the twentieth anniversary of Kottke’s Groundhog Day live-blog, in a very recursive tradition of celebrating the 1993 fantasy, romantic comedy for a decade. Directed by Harold Ramis and written by Danny Rubin, it portrays a cynical TV weatherman assigned to cover the annual event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and gets caught in a time loop, him alone aware that the day is repeating and has the potential for perfecting.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

9x9 (10. 515)

wickies: Fisheries and Oceans Canada is hiring assistant lighthouse keepers 

the montessori method: a look at the world’s mist influential school system  

little moving splat: Ze Frank (previously) covers the strange and wonderfully intelligent behaviour of plasmodial slime moulds  

unitar: a selection of one-string music—via Pasa Bon! 

blue harvest: a history of the spoiler alert—see also  

what is a map: an awful educational short from 1949 given the MST3K treatment 

dead as a dodo: a de-extinction company gets a one-hundred fifty million dollar investment  

the free-market tree: non-felonious children’s literature editions for the state of Florida  

coast guard: a collection of lighthouses of North America

Sunday, 29 January 2023

gentlemen—there’s no fighting in the war room (10. 508)

Starring George C Scott, Sterling Hayden, Slim Pickens and Peter Sellers in multiple roles, Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War bleak satire—previouslyStrangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. An air command’s executive officer tries to countermand a first strike being ordered by General Ripper on the pretext that Soviets have been fluoridating US water supplies in order to dilute the “precious bodily fluids” of Americans but fails, setting off a course of events that led to the USSR deploying its heretofore undisclosed doomsday machine, which as the president’s science advisor, ex-German Nazi Dr Strangelove would only be an effective deterrent if everyone knew about it.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

8x8 (10. 495)

super 8: Kodak background orchestral ensemble for home movies (1961) would make a good soundtrack for any clip  

memory hole: unearthing—with surprising difficulty—an iconic, defining moment of 90s US political pop culture  

the fourth plinth: what becomes of statuary exhibited temporarily in Trafalgar Square—via Things Magazine  

whw: an interview with the ousted Kunsthalle collective who wanted to showcase all sides of Vienna  

poissons de diverses couleurs et figures extraordinaires: exquisite disco fish (1719)  

geyser relays: a rather pie-in-the-sky proposal for irrigation using a series of water canons  

parade route: revisiting the would-be arrival and presentation of Ganda the Rhinoceros  

sympawny № 4: a short arrangement to pay tribute to a beloved cat

Monday, 16 January 2023

9x9 (10. 424)

j.t. iv: the compilation “Cosmic Lightning” of a tragically forgotten outsider rock artist  

tees valley: a dialect map of England from the University of Leeds  

bundesministerin der verteidigung: German defence secretary steps down  

courtlife: Queen Victoria’s illustrated journals—see also—via Messy Nessy Chic  

mlk: Stevie Wonder’s campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a national holiday  

wef: global leaders gather in Davos buona sera: actor, photojournalist and sex symbol Gina Lollobrigida passes away, aged 95 

scare-fox: accidentally Art Brรปt predator-deterrent  

atomic rooster: a classic from the spin-off band of Crazy World of Arthur Brown

lemminkรคinen, very pretty (10. 421)

First subjected to the MST3K treatment on this day in 1993 (broadcast edition below, preceded by the short “Here Comes the Circus”), the 1959 cinematic anthology of Finnish folk tales and loosely based of the national epic sage Kalevala, the co-Suomi-Soviet production by Aleksandr Ptushko and Risto Orko was also marketed under the title of the main MacGuffin, the mystical Sampo (see also)—a magical mill that will grant limitless prosperity to whomever possesses it. The only person in the realm able to craft a Sampo is the smith Ilmarien, who cannot make it until his sister Annikki falls in love, which she eventually does, enamoured with our pure-of-heart and hard-working protagonist. A evil witch called Louhi, ruler of the dark and dismal Pohjola is also desirous of a Sampo and ransoms Annikki to her land, kidnapping her by means of an enchanted cloak. Lemminkรคinen must perform a series of seemingly impossible tasks to win her back, with the last challenge going to her brother, Ilmarien, to fashion a Sampo. ”Look, it‘s Thomas Edison and his Electric Child!“

Sunday, 15 January 2023

shaken, not stirred (10. 417)

Here’s a selection of signature martinis to fit every mood and every palette of this spirit animal constructed on the template of gin—or vodka—and vermouth plus a bit of garnish. Namesake of the special drink of patrons of the Occidental Hotel of San Francisco would be offered before embarking on the ferry to Martinez in Contra Costa, the cocktail has undertaken, with the famous variant occurring in a dialogue the spy has with a barman in Casino Royale, changing his order from a dry martini to a special recipe of his own invention. “Just a moment: three measures of Gordon’s [gin], one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet; shake it very well until its ice cold, then add a large, thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” Bond adds, “I’m going to patent it when I think of a good name.” Later, he names it in honour of MI6 coworker and double-agent Vesper Lynd. Though perhaps with a bit less of provenance and backstory, we did nonetheless like the inverted variations of the Astoria and Lifetime Ban and elegant Martini Sauvage—gin with chinato liqueur and orange bitters, mixed and chilled overnight.

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

1337 (10. 408)

A cache of behind-the-scenes Polaroid photographs from the 1995 crime thriller starring Angelina Jolie, Lorraine Bracco and Matthew Lillard film Hackers has been making the internet rounds again recently and is responsible for a whole range of nostalgia, like its debut that corresponded with the rise of the medium itself in the public consciousness and the manifesto of this new frontier authored a decade prior quoted at length: “This is our world now—the world of the electron and the switch… We exist without skin colour, without nationality, without religious bias and yet you call us criminals,” with the admission of guilt for the transgression of curiosity. These snapshots really capture a moment.  Much more at the link above.

Tuesday, 10 January 2023


A recent observation and question posted to Language Log brings us back to the cinematic experience of Vincent Price in his title role as The Abominable Dr Phibes who fiendish dispatches his victims and exacts revenge inspired by the biblical plagues visited upon Egypt to persuade the Pharaoh to let Moses and his people go. Phibes refers to the series of calamities by the term G’Tach, whose meaning appears illusive but is shown to be an abbreviation (indicated by the " sign), a mnemonic device to recall the order of water turning to blood, frogs, lice, hail, locusts, etc. formed by its initial and broken into three groups. More at the links above.

Sunday, 8 January 2023

ะปัŽะดะธะฝะฐ ะท ะบั–ะฝะพะฐะฟะฐั€ะฐั‚ะพะผ (10. 396)

Released on this day in 1929, the experimental Soviet documentary by Dziga Vertov—with camera work by his brother, the eponymous Mikhail Kaufman and edited by Vertov’s wife Yelizaveta Svilova—and produced by the studio All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Administration (ะ’ะฃะคะšะฃ/VUFKU), Man with a Movie Camera (Kinoapparartom) portrays contemporary urban life in six parts from dawn to dusk in Kyiv, Odesa and Moscow. With no actors or intertitles (in the silent film), its innovative cinematography and editing, reverse footage, close-ups, tracking shots, jump cuts and split screens were to radical for most critics, it has been since re-evaluated and recognised as one of the most significant works in movie history.

Saturday, 7 January 2023

8x8 (10. 395)

notional counting: amateur archaeologist proffers the theory that markings on ancient cave paintings may communicate information about quarry animals’ life cycles—pushing back the origins of writing ten-thousand years  

social recession: declining trust, friendship and adult activities by the numbers—via tmn  

brick and mortem: the surprising, seemingly non-sequir resurgence of a chain of bookshops  

arrakhis: the European Space Agency launches a tiny satellite to search for dark matter  

metroid as directed by paul verhoeven: imaging 90s video games as feature films—see previously  

little d: a Defender-style camper conversion kit unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon  

upward falling payloads: proposals for an orbiting warehouse and fulfilment centre  

mirabile scriptu: phony but possibly plausibly kanji generated by AI for abstract concepts—particularly appealing is one for the Chief Twit, ็Ž‹ (pronounced wang, meaning king)

Friday, 30 December 2022

everything everywhere all at once (10. 374)

Via Miss Cellania, who refrained from posting their year-end list on cinema in hopes of including this annual movie mash-up, we are treated to this three part expertly edited remix of 2022 trailers and teasers set to a driving soundtrack all arranged rather beautifully by Sleepy Skunk which can best the theatre-going experience in some regards, particularly given how few we have ventured out to see this year.

Monday, 26 December 2022

the duchess and the dirt water fox are calling (10. 362)

Originally telecast on this day in 1992 with the MST3K treatment—having previously attained somewhat of a cult following by its inclusion in Elvira’s Movie Macabre in 1984, the 1965 scif-fi movie from the Woolner Brothers (also with the credits Hercules Unchained, Hercules and the Captive Women, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and Hillbillies in a Haunted House) follows the plot of a mysterious agent, Dr Kolos, of the Intergalactic Council tasked with replacing prominent human scientists with android doppelgรคngers in order to take over the Earth. The alien plan is foiled by intervention from the US National Intelligence Service.

Wednesday, 21 December 2022

public domain revue (10. 352)

Under US copyright law, now more true to its lifecycle after years of belayed disposition, we can herald
the many works from 1927 that will become free to use and reuse as one sees fit on New Year’sDay. In the category of literature, we have works by Virginia Woolf and Arthur Conan Doyle as well as Hermann Hesse’s Der Steppenwolf and the final instalment of Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, and in film and stage Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Wings, and in music the original “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz” as well as “(We All Scream for) Ice Cream.” See the link from Duke Law Centre for more.

ะฟะพั€ัƒั‡ะธะบ ะบะธะถะต (10. 349)

Premiering on this day in Paris as the composer’s first commission for a film soundtrack, the suite to accompany the eponymous Lieutenant Kijรฉ (a Soviet comedy released in the US as The Czar Wants to Sleep about a non-existent officer under the eighteenth century Emperor Paul I, unpredictable and unpopular, the historical figure assassinated by his own elite guard) by Sergei Prokofiev quickly became his most popular work and became a standard of international concert repertoire. Elements and recognisable leitmotivs of the experimental five-movement have been incorporated into many film scores and popular songs of the Cold War era—particularly “Troika” as among the archetypal Christmassy songs.

Tuesday, 20 December 2022

and if you want to be free, be free (10. 347)

Premiering on this day in 1971, as our faithful chronicler informs, the romantic black comedy by Hal Ashby and Colin Higgins relates the narrative of Harold Chasen, an adolescent obsessed with the macabre, staging elaborate fake suicides, driving a hearse and attending the funerals of random strangers to the dismay of his wealthy, socialite mother, who goes to great lengths to try to make him more respectable, and Dame Marjorie Chardin, a seventy-nine year old he meets at a funeral mass, who counters his morbid demeanor and teaches him joie de vivre for the first time as their relationship develops into a more intimate one. The film’s soundtrack is provided by Yusuf Stevens. Producer and writer Higgins had expressed an interest later the decade after his work attained cult status after its initial mixed reviews in both a prequel, Grover and Maude wherein Maude learns how to break into cars and fence stolen property and a sequel, Harold’s Story about his life after meeting Maude though neither were pursued though was adapted into a Broadway stage play, a French made-for-tv-movie and a musical version.

Monday, 19 December 2022

7x7 (10. 345)

munro: better known for his violent Tom & Jerry shorts, Gene Deitch (previously—not the best counter-example) an acclaimed, award-winning animator 

thirty by thirty: environmentalists and delegates reach a landmark agreement to conserve nature and protect the rights of indigenous peoples 

incite a riot: January Sixth committee recommends a range of charges to be levied against Trump  

santaland: department store Christmas monorails—via the Everlasting Blรถrt 

scootch over: on the quarter-century anniversary of the premier of Titanic, director James Cameron wants to put to rest a roiling debate  

a slice of the cosmos: an interactive map of the observable Universe from Johns Hopkins University  

lichtspiel opus i: the Avant-Garde animation of Walter Ruttmann

Friday, 9 December 2022

fantasy films (10. 375)

Via Web Curios, we are directed to curated selection of more AI film stills—projects where cinema buffs working with Midjourney and Stable Diffusion labs ask their collaborators to especially conjure up The Little Mermaid but directed by Michael Mann. This montage takes us behind the scenes as well as imagining Star Wars, the Star Killer Dynasty through the filters of Fritz Lang and Stanley Kubrick. Much more, including the expanded concept treatments, at the links above.

Monday, 5 December 2022

8x8 (10. 362)

under attended: when only two individuals show up to a new author’s reading, much of the establishment commiserates and share words of encouragement—via Super Punch 

giving face
: Poseidon’s Underworld takes a moment to reflect after a month’s sabbatical  

postcards of dead birds: more on strange Victorian Christmas greetings—see previous here and here  

monochrome: an AI tool to colourise black-and-white images—see previously 

government attic: Things Magazine reminds of us this great aggregator of FOIA logs—see previously 

the christmassy chord: a deconstruction of iconic holiday standards 

the tartarian empire: an introduction to a bizarre architectural conspiracy theory—via ibฤซdem  

rsvp: journalist was one of six attendees who showed up for an expensive Metaverse party hosted by the European Union

Saturday, 3 December 2022

6x6 (10. 357)

yuletide: Spitalfield’s Life welcomes the Festive Season with George Cruikshank’s illustrations—see previously  

isle of vaila: a remote mansion in the Shetlands comes on the market—via Strange Company  

hoops and loopholes: NPR’s Planet Money surveys the US tax code and tax-exemptions  

curds and whey: the ecosystems that make up our cheeses—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

sight and sound: a once-a-decade poll of critics and filmmakers rates the top one hundred movies of all time  

the duchy of rutland: a Christmas at Belvoir Castle