Friday, 27 January 2023

and the girl in the corner is everyone’s mourner—she could kill you with a wink of the eye (10. 502)

Inspired by a unruly audience driving the band off the stage on this day in 1973 whilst performing in Kilmarnoc at the Grand Hall of the Palace Theatre—the booing and bottling ensuing perhaps the British glam rock group didn’t fit in with the rest of the line up—The Sweet would go on to release in September one of their biggest hits narrating the tense moments before their exuent. The Ballroom Blitz has been covered numerous times and featured in the soundtrack of several films including Wayne’s World.

Sunday, 15 January 2023

spider web castle (10. 420)

Considered among the finest adaptations of the Scottish play with production and development deferred for six years after learning that Orson Welles directed his own Macbeth in 1948, Akira Kurosawa’s (previously) transposition of the plot of Shakespeare’s masterwork to feudal Japan (่œ˜่››ๅทฃๅŸŽ, Kumononsu-jล—literally the above title but released in English-speaking markets as Throne of Blood) premiered in Tokyo on this day in 1957. Under contract to produce three samurai movies (jidaigeki—period, costume dramas) for Toho studios, Spider Web Castle was originally slated to go to director Ishirล Honda, best known for his 1954 kaiju classic Godzilla but Kurosawa ended up making the trio of films. His 1960 The Bad Sleep Well was informed by Hamlet—though not a direct correspondence—and Kurosawa’s final work Ran, which is based off of King Lear. Throne of Blood in turn influenced Roman Polanski’s adaptation of Macbeth and the death of Taketoki Wasizu (the Lady Macbeth analogue) inspired the death of the mother of the titular Carrie in the 1976 horror classic.

Friday, 13 January 2023

saint mungo (10. 412)

Also known as Kentigern or the Welsh name Cyndeyrn Garthwys, the missionary to the the Kingdom of Strathclyde, fรชted on this day, the anniversary of his death in 614 (*518), Mungo is the patron-protector of the City of Glasgow, salmon, champion of those accused of infidelity and invoked against bullies. In his Vita, four miracles are recorded, remembered in the verse:
 

Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam 

As reflected in his iconography, Mungo restored life to a robin that had been killed by some cruel students, feel asleep and let a fire go out—but kindled it with a hazel branch, the bell brought from Rome to mourn the dead, with the fish referring to a story about Queen Languoreth who was accused of cheating by her husband King Riderch, claiming the philandering consort had given away her wedding ring to a lover, when in reality the king had purloined it and tossed it into the River Clyde—faced with execution, the queen appealed the the saint for help, who in turn had an orderly fetch a fish, miraculously containing the missing ring in question.

Sunday, 8 January 2023

if only they could talk (10. 397)

Based on the title novel by Glasgow veterinary surgeon Alf Wight (writing under the pseudonym James Herriot), Bill Sellars’ comedic drama series All Creatures Great and Small premiered on the BBC on this day in 1978. Running for a total of seven seasons and then rebooted in 2020, the show is set in 1930 Yorkshire uplands, it portrays the triumphs and challenges of a rural veterinary practise of Siegfried Farnon and the pseudonymous author.

 

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

Saturday, 12 November 2022

kelpie (10. 295)

Whilst not as iconic or famous as the so called “surgeon’s photograph” of the 1934 since exposed as an elaborate hoax, the first captured image allegedly showing the cryptid of Loch Ness (previously here and here) was snapped on this day by local Hugh Gray in 1933. Recounting himself he was walking his dog along the shore that morning, many interpret the blurry image as Gray’s Labrador fetching a stick from the water, or otherwise a swan or an otter rolling in a characteristic fashion at the water’s surface.

Sunday, 16 October 2022

the market square! the market fair! salted meat i’m selling there! (10. 230)

Beginning its second Broadway revival on this day in 1980, the 1947 Lerner and Loewe collaboration about two American tourist travelling the Scottish Highlands on a game-hunting vacation and stumble upon an enchanted village that does not appear on their map. Named after the Lowlands bridge, Brig o’ Doon, in Robert Burns’ “Tam o’Shanter,” the companions, eligible bachelors variously portrayed by Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse and in a 1966 television adaptation Robert Goulet and Peter Falk, learn that the local minister had asked God to intercede to protect the village from the modern world (not sure that the congregation was consulted on this), and now Brigadoon only appears on appears for one day every century and should any citizens every leave, the miracle will be broken and the village will disappear forever. The musical comedy Schmigadoon! is a modern parody and homage with lost backpackers finding themselves trapped in a Golden Age stage production.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

i have conjured a lily to light these hours, a token of thanks (10. 129)

In his second poem dedicated to the Queen this year, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage (previously) has penned two verses to mark her passing, Floral Tributesee also—whose lines are a double acrostic that spell out her name. 

Evening will come, however determined the late afternoon,
Limes and oaks in their last green flush, pearled in September mist.
I have conjured a lily to light these hours, a token of thanks,

Zones and auras of soft glare framing the brilliant globes.
A promise made and kept for life – that was your gift –
Because of which, here is a gift in return, glovewort to some,
Each shining bonnet guarded by stern lance-like leaves.
The country loaded its whole self into your slender hands,
Hands that can rest, now, relieved of a century’s weight. 

Evening has come.
Rain on the black lochs and dark Munros.
Lily of the Valley, a namesake almost, a favourite flower
Interlaced with your famous bouquets, the restrained
Zeal and forceful grace of its lanterns, each inflorescence
A silent bell disguising a singular voice. A blurred new day
Breaks uncrowned on remote peaks and public parks, and
Everything turns on these luminous petals and deep roots,
This lily that thrives between spire and tree, whose brightness
Holds and glows beyond the life and border of its bloom.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

blร r drochaid shruighlea (10. 125)

As part of the First War of Scottish Independence, on this day in 1297, the forces of Andrew Moray and William Wallace took the strategically important crossing of the River Forth and defeated the English armies of the Earl of Surrey and Hugh de Cressingham, the much reviled treasurer of the English administration in Scotland and suggested the losing course of action—which cost him his life by flaying and reportedly ended up being turned into a belt and thongs. After Scottish king John Balliol submitted to Edward I, landholders, the clans were made to acknowledge the overlordship of England, soon afterwards precipitating a revolt. Wallace teamed up with Moray in Dundee and marched on to Stirling (see previously)—commanding a contingent of agile spearmen to advance on the English heavy cavalry. Taking control of the Stirling Bridge, it became impossible for the English to send reinforcements, thus retreating to the stronghold of the castle and effectively surrendering the Lowlands to rebel forces. In the aftermath, Wallace was proclaimed Guardian of Scotland, and the pictured tower is a nineteenth century monument to his exploits in view of Stirling Castle and the Forth crossing.

Saturday, 10 September 2022

c iii r (10. 120)

 

Already monarch at the moment of his successor’s passing (the Demise of the Crown being the legal term) as relayed in that coda that can seem crass and contradictory, “The Queen is dead, long live the King,” Charles III (cipher above) is formally proclaimed king during an ancient ceremony steeped in tradition (televised for the first time) in St James’ Palace. The Accession Council (consisting of chosen members of the privy council) who delivers the public proclamation, also delivered by appointed criers in the Royal Exchange, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition to delivering a personal declaration about Elizabeth II and supporting a grieving world and pledging to for continuance of government and makes an oath to preserve the Church of Scotland due to the division of powers of church and state for that nation.

Sunday, 21 August 2022

8x8 (10. 075)

west eigg: via property scout Messy Nessy Chic, this lighthouse and keeper’s quarters on Pladda island in the Firth of Clyde  

oled: a clever tinkerer makes dynamic LEGO computer consoles—see previously  

calling card: the true story of football pioneer, journalist, stock-broker and mermaid-hunter Arthur Pember—via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump  

cinetimes: a free film and documentary aggregator with a familiar streaming-service interface—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

sad beige werner herzog: a master of the bleak-harvest aesthetic  

รงiftetelli: more on “Misirlou”—see previously 

the dolmen of guadalperal: drought in Europe reveals the “Spanish Stonehenge”—a circle of one megaliths almost always submerged 

 fresnel lens: a LEGO ideas kit allows one to create one’s own well-appointed beacon

Saturday, 6 August 2022

6x6 (10. 043)

blue plaque special: a curation of the City of London’s Blue Plaque scheme—via Nag on the Lake (see also)  

harry potter and the chamber of narcissism: McMansion Hell (previously) show a yassified property in the Atlanta suburbs  

warwolf: a closer look at Edward I’s siege machine—via Strange Company 

i² = -1: the fundamental realness of imaginary numbers 

pferd is the word: some AI-generated horse-hybrids from Janelle Shane (previously)  

delft on a shelf: a house on Fournier Street with some animated tiles

Saturday, 30 July 2022

7x7 (10. 025)

spectacular vernacular: 99% Invisible celebrates milestone episodes with an exploration of vintage architectural styles, via Pasa Bon!  

conlang: fluency in Esperanto—see previously  

122 CE: a colourful gate house installed at Hadrian’s Wall 

the electric lucifer: the musical stylings of Bruce Haack 

civic duty: a resonant “I Voted” sticker for Ulster County, New York

isochrone: an interactive map illustrates how far one can travel from any European train station in under five hours 

la maison sculptรฉe: Jacques Lucas’ hand-sculpted home in Rennes

Friday, 29 July 2022

arbeia (10. 024)

Though we did not get the chance to survey Hadrian’s Wall this go around, on our way back to the port of Newcastle on Tyne we got to see among other things such as successive traffic roundabouts the ancient Roman garrison which guarded the main sea route to the fortified border near the South Shields docks in Tyne & Wear, so named because originally skilled boatmen from Mesopotamia were stationed there following the conquest of Persia by Septimus Severus (see previously).

Command-and-control for attempted incursions on Scotland, Fort Arbeia ultimately became a logistics base to supply activities along the frontier and preventing Pictish infiltration and once hosted over six hundred troops. The western gate is a modern reconstruction (see also) and contains a museum of artefacts found here and an education centre.



Thursday, 28 July 2022

west lothian (10. 023)

Though certainly the numerous landmarks we saw did not disappoint, quite a few places we visited were closed for access and undergoing repairs, including one of the final stops we made at the royal palace of Linlithgow. We had a nice time touring the grounds, the Peel, and learning about its residents of renown including the Steward line,




James V, his daughter Mary Queen of Scots—subject of royal intrigue and crisis of succession and the first target of the so called Rough Wooing, who found allies in France and the papacy coinciding with Henry VIII’s turning away from the Church in Rome and eventually forced to abdicate herself in favour of her infant son James VI & I, ruling a united England, Scotland and Ireland—but the inter court was closed pending repairs. From a safe distance, H tried launching his drone for a glimpse from above but the gulls tried to hunt it down and had to quickly abort the mission. Linlithgow was originally established as an English fort to disrupt the supply route between Edinburgh and Stirling castles (the baby Mary was spirited away to the more defencible latter), destroyed and rebuilt for the monarchy, embellished over generations until falling into disrepair from disuse as courtly life was now centred in The south. The palace lies on the banks of the eponymous loch in the city centre behind the church of Saint Michael with its modern steel steeple and has a gangway with the dates and reigns of all the Scottish kings and queens. Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, who kept Mary confined to various castles in England after she relinquished her title and claim and eventually had her beheaded—after eighteen years—for conspiring against her majesty, is not referred to by her ordinal designation and rather as Palatine Electoress as she never ruled over Scotland. To this end, after the coronation of the current monarch, some Royal Mail post boxes were vanalised, objecting to Elizabeth II because there never was a first.

eilean donan (10. 022)

In search of coffee and a light lunch and more intent to explore more of the northwest Highlands’ natural beauty, we happened on the small tidal island at the confluence of three sea lochs named for Irish missionary Donnรกn of Eigg—a saint martyred when trying to convert the Picts—with a very spectacular and picturesque castle that was once the stronghold of Clan Mackenzie, demolished for their involvement in the Jacobite rebellion, garrisoning a contingent of Spanish mercenaries and a magazine of gunpowder, prompting the English government to send in three heavily armed frigates to quell the uprising, in the early seventeen hundreds but restored over two decades in the early twentieth century according to its original thirteenth century design. 

Once the focus of clan feuds, the castle and its destruction—and subsequent rebuilding—is seen as a symbol of resistance and loyalty to the House of Stuart. The striking building has had several cameos in film and television, including The Highlander franchise, Braveheart and the 1999 Bond movie The World is Not Enough, as well as the short, once thought lost film Black Angel that features the castle and island prominently and was exclusively screened as a double-feature with The Empire Strikes Back in UK cinemas in 1980.

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

loch monster (10. 020)

(The rhythm from the B-52s Rock Lobster playing throughout) We all know Loch Ness (I conflated the history of the struggle of control for the strategic bulwark with that of the legendary monster—it’s a metaphor), majestic Loch Lomond, Loch Awe but we‘d like to acquaint you with the Loch of Garry which when viewed from Glengarry and from the right angle resembles a map of Scotland.

Or there’s Loch Lochy that’s haunted by a waterhorse, a kelpie who lures mares and stallions into the water and capsises boats. Or there’s Loch Pityoulish in the Cairngorms off the River Spey, whose name means “at the settlement of the bright place” and is popular for wild swimming. More to come. Motion in the ocean—hoorah!

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

inner hebrides ii (10. 019)

More impressions from the Isle of Skye, including some iconic Scottish cows.



inner hebrides i (10. 018)

Nearly completing a circuit of the second largest island of Scotland, we were absolutely enthralled with the Isle of Skye—probably from the Old Norse for the Islands of Mist (though considerably clearer and brighter in relative terms) and found this otherworldly landscape breathtaking.

The northern peninsula of Trotternish with its underlying strata of basalt offers some especially distinctive geographical features like the chromatic sea cliffs faceted with quartz called Kilt Rock whose columnar formations resemble pleats of a skirt, numerous rocky pinnacles and the striking landslip known as the Storr with its thirty meter high pillar known as the Old Man. Storr and its surroundings were stand-ins for the exomoon LV-223 in the 2012 Alien prequel Prometheus (previously)—not to mention a beach called An Corran near Staffin riddled with Jurassic footprints.  Though we did not manage to locate the traces of dinosaurs lumbering along the primordial strand, we have faith the evidence was right under our feet.

Monday, 25 July 2022

supply chain (10. 017)



Perched atop a formerly staffed look-out point above the Wester Ross village of Aultbea on the shores of sea Loch of Ewe, we gained some insight into the present NATO refueling depot, whose depths are accommodating to large maritime vessels coming inland through its history as the base of operations from 1941 until 1944 for the vital but treacherous resupply corridor through the Arctic that kept an otherwise cut-off co-combatant connected to the rest of the Allied powers and furnished fuel and other essentials.


 Aside from the modern station flanked with the platforms a of gunnery emplacements, Aultbea and neighbouring villages host a number of World War II relics as testament to their role in this support effort over the top of the world.