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.

Friday, 2 December 2022

al taglio (10. 356)

Via Web Curios, we appreciated the referral to Planet Pizza, a Pioneer or Voyager space probe style project to impart to extraterrestrials not only the the basic concepts of maths, space-time coordinates of our Solar System, chemistry and the nature of the sender (and recipient) but also—as an express end in itself—wonderfully detailed and over-thought set of instructions on how to make said sender’s universally enjoyed dish, which is a bit defining and representative of all humanity in its variety and variation as well.

the helen of troy (10. 353)

Closing this day in 1972 after just seven performances to relentlessly panned reviews and confused audiences, the futuristic rock musical by George W George and Peter Hall—featuring a cast that included Raul Julia and Irene Cara—this flop tells the story of outcasts living on an asteroid (Ithaca) set a millennium from the present time. The protagonist (Julia) pilots a clam-shell shaped garbage scow christened with the title name collecting space junk but that was the only clear aspect of the convoluted narrative, the synopsis contained in the programme not helping to clarify what was going on. Listen to an original cast demo tape here of one of the fourteen musical numbers of the two act play.

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

lingua cosma (10. 215)

Though somewhat unclear whether mathematician Hans Freudenthal intended his constructed language to be practically applicable or just a thought-experiment and heuristic for thinking about how we might hurdle a potential language-barrier, his Lincos (a portmanteau of the above, see previously) was designed to be decipherable by any extraterrestrial life form—free of terrestrial syntax or context—and conducive to radio transmissions as part of the SETI program, it was meant to primarily convey propositional logic and universal constants. This narrow-band of communication—a bridge, however did not dissuade senior lecturer in Digital Media Studies at the University of Roehampton Richard Carter from anthologizing this alien-icebreaker in a collection of poems called Signals, which of course limn our limits of expression amongst ourselves as much as to other galactic denizens. Much more to explore at the links above.

Tuesday, 11 October 2022

barbarella psychedella (10. 211)

Directed by Roger Valim and based on the comic series (fumetti) of Jean-Claude Forest with filming beginning just after the release of producer Dino De Laurentiis’ adaptation of Diabolik, which features many of the same acting talents, opened in New York on this day in 1968, followed by debuts in France and Italy later in the month. After several casting revisions over first choices Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot, our titular protagonist portrayed by Jane Fonda is dispatched by the Earth’s president to intercept mad scientist Durand Durand who has created a weapon of mass destruction.  Although a highly-sexualised character, Barbarella comes from a society that has moved beyond physical contact.

Saturday, 1 October 2022

other galactic funk (10. 186)

On this day in 1977, Domenico Monardo—known professionally as Meco (see previously)—saw his the lead single from his album of space disco that included elements of the soundtrack arranged as instrumental dance music raise to the top of the US billboard charts and hold the number one place for a fortnight, the record and the single “Star Wars Theme / Cantina Band” both certified as platinum. John Williams’ originally version was in the top ten at the same concurrently but was never as popular as Meco’s—the two artist crossing again a few months later with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with the former coming out on top.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

fiftyshapes ltd (10. 130)

Incorporated on this day in 1967, the Beatles’ Apple Electronics venture was headed by a television repair technician named Yannis Alexis Madras, whom had been discovered by John Lennon two years prior after seeing a selection of his Nothing Boxes (plastic housing with blinking lights) at a London Gallery. Given the moniker “Magic Alex,” he reputedly pitched a series of increasingly fantastical (but ones we’d like to see) inventions including a seventy-two track tape machine, an air-buffer to prevent car accidents, replacing Ringo’s drums with a sonic force field, a wallpaper sound-system, invisibility paint and an artificial sun—none of which unfortunately materialised. 

Later that same year, Madras tried to help broker a deal for the band to purchase a Greek island but that deal fell through as well. Though the majority of Madras’ inventions were dismissed as impossible (perhaps rather inexplicably, he was nonetheless entrusted him with the design of their new recording studio once they left Abbey Road), one of his proposals for a scrambling device that would prevent fans from recording their songs from the radio was better received. Parting ways in 1969—ostensibly jealous over the influence that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had over Lennon after they were all in India together, Madras took up a career in security and anti-terrorism, offering custom bullet-proof vehicles, bug-detectors, etc—his clients primarily exiled heads-of-state living in London, Crown Prince Juan Carlos, the Shah of Iran and fellow countryman Constantine II.

Thursday, 8 September 2022

sternstaub (10. 116)

Having sold over two billion novellas (Heftroman) worldwide since the publication of its first edition (under the title Unternehmen Stardust) on this day in 1961 and issued weekly with new chapters ever since, the Perry Rhodan franchise is patently the most successful one in the arena of science fiction, originally conceived by authors K H Scheer and Walter Ernsting, expanded into radio dramas, video games and comic books—plus a failed cinematic adaptation considered so poorly done that fandom disavows it. Set a decade in the future (1971) during the first lunar mission, US Space Force Major Rhodan and his crew discover an abandoned extraterrestrial vessel and appropriating alien technology, artificial intelligence (positronic brains) and hyper drives, swiftly are able to unite the people of Earth and make humans a galactic presence. With increasingly complex arcs of narrative undertaken by a team of writers, action takes place in a multiverse of exotic aliens, cosmocrats and god-like beings. By coincidence, another beloved science-fiction franchise had its US premiere on the same day in 1966.

Saturday, 27 August 2022

hooba-dooba (10. 088)

Canonically, George Jetson is born on this day, future patriarch of the family with Jane his wife, daughter Judy and his boy Elroy, canine companion Astro and Rosie the Robot. Residents of Orbit City, Jetson will be a “digital index operator,” a button-presser for Spacely Sprockets, engaged in this activity for as much as three hours a day, three days a week. Jane—stop this crazy thing! 



Friday, 12 August 2022

sea org (10. 053)

Observed on the anniversary of its founding on this day in 1967, the Sea Organization is a fraternal paramilitary order, a sort of space navy based on L Ron Hubbard’s (see previously) own wartime experiences and his collected science fiction short stories concerning the Galactic Confederation and the ousting of the tyrannical Xenu by an inside group known as the “Loyal Officers” who ruled the Earth (otherwise known as Teegeeack) tens of millions of years in the past. Keeping with maritime traditions, there is a hierarchy and rank structure Sea Org’s fleet of cruise vessels serve as religious retreats and training centres, the organisation having assumed an ecclesiastical developmental role of the church of Scientology in 1971. In exchange for free room and board plus a modest stipend, members sign a billion year contract.

Friday, 8 July 2022

alien autopsy

Reporting on events from the previous day and quickly retracted by the Public Affairs Office to read “conventional weather balloon,” on this day in 1947, the Roswell Daily Record published a press release from the airbase that they had salvaged the wreckage of a “flying disc.” The incident promptly left the public imagination—as there were other UFOs to chase—and not revitalised and established as a bulwark of conspiracy theories and cover-ups until the late 1970s on the testimony of retired military officers who relayed that the recovered debris was in fact of extra-terrestrial origin. Despite such claims being thoroughly debunked, the events in New Mexico still loom large and inspires.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

cosmic call

The latter of two sets of interstellar radio missives were beamed out to the Cosmos on this day in 2003 from the RT-70 (Radio Telescope with an aerial antenna with a seventy metre diameter and former Soviet Centre for Deep Space Communications) located in Yevpatoria, Crimea. This iteration and the first message sent in 1999 follow the same bitmap structure and include the Dutil-Dumas primer about mathematics, universal constants, chemical elements and physics plus the Arecibo Messages, the Braastad Message (to illustrate concepts of family and procreation, similar to the plaque on Pioneer) and contributions from the staff and public. Transmitted at four hundred bits per second, the message was beamed out over the span of eleven hours and targeted five diverse stars with known exoplanets, with the first arrival date of April 2036 at Gliese 49 ฮฒ, a superearth orbiting a red dwarf star.

Monday, 27 June 2022

do a lot of coke and vote for ronald reagan


Subjected to the MST3K treatment and airing for the first time on this day in 1998, the low-budget Rick Sloan vehicle from a decade earlier, capitalising on the popularity of Gremlins, Hobgoblins, tells the story of malevolent creatures held in the vault of an abandoned production studio and the security detail meant to keep trespassers away, as the hobgoblins will use their hypnotic powers on anyone in the vicinity to help them escape by making the wildest fantasies of their hapless liberators seemingly come true only to use that a ruse to free them and kill their victim in the process.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

e.t. phone home

Premiering in US theatres on this day in 1982—following its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May—the Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison collaboration featuring the acting talents of Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace and Drew Barrymore is a retelling of Peter Pan framed by the director and producer’s own suburban childhood and experiences of his parents’ divorce. An extra terrestrial botanist accidentally left behind on Earth befriends a human boy and his siblings and tries to find a way to reconnect with his scouting mission whilst thwarting attempts of government scientists trying to capture and study him. The iconic, arresting scene of E.T. and Elliot’s flight to the forest is an homage to the magical realism of the 1951 Miacolo a Milano by Vittorio De Sica of a poverty-stricken community in post-war Milan who are cheated out of a potential windfall, reprimanded by angels for harnessing supernatural powers but nonetheless are free and eventually escape on broomsticks.

Monday, 16 May 2022

6x6

dandelion wine: slow drinks made with our favourite noxious weed—see also  

give that wolf a banana and before that wolf eats my grandma: Norway’s Eurovision entry—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

stablecoin: the collapse of NFT and crypto markets 

 for every bear that ever there was: 1984 reportage of Keanu Reeves covering a teddy bear convention for the CBC—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

homeostatic awakening: new developments in the Fermi paradox—see previously here and here  

quattro bianchi: Italy’s answer to the Long Island Iced Tea packs a wallop

Friday, 6 May 2022

7x7

⚠️: a pictogramatical survey of caution wet floor signs—via Pasa Bon!  

load-bearing bifurcation: engineers incorporate sturdy, often-discarded tree forks in construction  

thameside tv: clips from London’s first pirate station—see also  

no tofu: the Noto typeface (previously) a suite of emoji  

unit patch: the more inscrutable badges of the US Space Force—see previously  

pocket mac: the process of designing a fake vintage product 

: Unicode Consortium’s growing list of astronomical glyphs, magical charms

Friday, 1 April 2022

cosmic call

First spotted by Damn Interesting’s Curated Links, Scientific American reports that as the fiftieth anniversary of the Arecibo Message approaches researchers at the FAST radio telescope and affiliates at SETI and METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence because no one wants to answer their phone apparently) have devised a new bit-mapped series of missives to put out to the Cosmos. The sample image illustrates prime numbers and binary and decimal notation and is one of several (whilst debate continues if it is wise to advertise our presence and level of technologic competence) to be bundled along with the components of DNA, particle physics and human physiology, like this iconic message in a bottle.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

7x7

the hay-bailer, that chain-maker: an assortment of highly satisfying precision industrial machines at work

mars & beyond: a 1957 Disney film narrated by Paul Frees about extraterrestrial life

pelagic zone: the highly specialised eyes of the strawberry squid (see previously)  

nymphรฉas: often dismissed as victim of his own popularity and over-exposure, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series was far from a tame variation on a theme but rather a memorial to lives lost in the Great War  

aerial photo explorer: historic birds-eye-view images of England—see previously—via Things Magazine  

tired vs wired: a Twitter bot that generates aphoristic comparisons between Web 2.0 and the Web 3.0 to come, via Web Curios  

vertical parking: towering garages to remedy congestion

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

earthship ark

Our gratitude to the aptly recursive and veteran podcast Stop Podcasting Yourself (previously) for the viewing recommendation in the ambitious and acclaimed Canadian sci-fi series from author Harlan Ellison (as Cordwainer Bird) and featuring the adaptions of stories of Ursula K Le Guin, Arthur Heinemann and others which despite the trappings of low production-value is genuinely intriguing and compels one to watch more. Starring Keir Dullea from 2001: A Space Odyssey and only lasting for a single season in 1973, the sixteen episode arc of The Starlost is set in a multigenerational colonial ship of dozens of connected biospheres in the late twenty-fourth century of Earthling refugees seeking a new home after the destruction of their own.

Friday, 11 February 2022

cosmic comics

Via Waxy, we are treated to a spread of sci-fi comic panels of as reimagined by a generative adversarial network (see previously) trained by Frank Force. These brilliant runs of landscapes and backgrounds are fully customisable with switches and sliders to adjust for colour, shadow, star-type and more.