Sunday, 4 December 2022

mary celeste (10. 360)

The American-registered brigatine, sailing from New York to Genoa was found (see also) by fellow Nova Scotian vessel Dei Gratia on this day in 1872 in the waters of the Azores, mysterious abandoned and remaining an enduring conundrum. One lifeboat missing but still well-provisioned and sea-worthy—with her cargo of rum untouched—the salvage proceedings held in Gibraltar following recovery entertained a range of possible explanations from mutiny, piracy to giant squid attacks and paranormal interventions but no theory was ever confirmed nor were the missing nine crew members ever found. Following the hearings and under new ownership, the ship was wrecked deliberately in Haiti in an attempt to collect on insurance fraud. Legendary fodder for myths, her fate was sealed with a treatment by Arthur Conan Doyle with a fictitious accounting from reportedly the ship’s surgeon—one statement by J Habakuk Jephson—among many other alleged survivors of this ghost ship.

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

Saturday, 12 June 2021

so many women. he invents so many disguises to seduce them. sometimes a swan or a bull, sometimes a shower of gold. why, he once tried to ravish me as a cuttlefish.

In general release in US theatres (2 July for the UK) on this day in 1981, Desmond Davis’ Clash of the Titans is loosely based on the myth of Perseus (see previously) and features creature effects from Ray Harryhausen with an all-star ensemble cast including Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Siรขn Phillips, Neil McCarthy and Pat Roach. To punish the Argon king after banishing Danaรซ and her infant son (see above), Zeus orders Poseidon to release the last of the Titans, the Kraken, to destroy Argos. On a quest to rescue Princess Andromeda, betrothed to the monstrous Calibos, Perseus is given a series of divine-crafted gifts to gain standing as a legitimate suitor to break the bond. 

Unable to exact revenge directly on Perseus as a demigod and favourite of Zeus, the maritime contingent of the Olympians plan to send the Kraken after Andromeda’s land, Joppa—to which the princess offers herself as sacrifice to save the city. Perseus embarks on a journey to save his fiancรฉe, aided by more gifts from the gods including the mechanical owl Bubo that Athena commissioned from Hephaestus rather than give up her own favoured owl (which some considered a knock-off of R2D2 though the creators insist that the concept predated Star Wars), by deducing how to defeat the sea monster with the severed head of the gorgon Medusa.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

release the kraken

Though popular culture dictates that the head of Medusa was retrieved for one specific purpose, another variant myth has Perseus going through the ordeal as a sort of fool’s errand, with King Polydectes of the island of Seriphos wanting to rid himself of an over-protective son after he became enamoured with Danaรซ after she and Perseus were salvaged by the king’s brother the fisherman Dictys (this aprotonym means Mister Net), the king of Argos Acrisius having cast his daughter and the infant Perseus to sea in a wooden chest to avoid the prophesy that he would be killed by his grandson. Polydectes announced his betrothal to a certain Hippodamia and ordered everyone in his kingdom to supply him with suitable wedding gifts, mostly on the registry were horses but Perseus came late and was assigned by his presumptive step-dad the head of the gorgon after bragging he was fit for a task so demanding. Perseus departed on his quest and Polydectes proceded to woo Danaรซ who tried her best to reject his advances. Using his shield as a mirror to avoid the gorgon’s gaze, Perseus slew Medusa and returned to Seriphos. Disbelieving that Perseus accomplished this trial, Polydectes demanded to be shown the head, which Perseus produced at court, turning the king and his nobles into stone and rescuing his mother. As for Acrisius who banished mother and son and exiling them to the elements, the old king did eventually die at Perseus hand albeit an accident when he was hit in the head by a stray discus that Perseus threw during a tournament.

Friday, 21 September 2018

no hypnosis like a mass hypnosis because a mass hypnosis isn’t happening

Part of their growing Dial-a-Song repertoire, “Lake Monsters” by They Might be Giants is set to a cute music video crafted by artist Hinรฉ Mizushima with stop-motion needlepoint and embroidery. The song reminded me of MST3K’s Kaiju Rap. Learn more about the band’s projects and the artist at Laughing Squid and at the links above

Monday, 8 May 2017

release the kraken

Revisiting the topic of persuasive maps, Hyperallergic has scoured the huge online archive of the PJ Mode Collection of Cornell University for examples of cartographic cephalopoid and explores the motif of the land octopus as a common trope of creeping geopolitical menace. Beginning with caricaturist Fred W Rose’s 1877 depiction of an expansionist Russia as a global threat, the tentacles, most maps reflect the fears of competing Great Gamers, but some also address social matters, like this 1909 map of London that extols how high property prices creates unemployment.

Friday, 11 April 2014

pelagic or teuthology

During the golden age of exploration—which continued charting well into the early twentieth century—most notable were expeditions to the ends of the earth, planting flags at the poles, however one adventurous researcher cast his ambitions towards an unknown middle-distance, under the waves.  Restricted to plumbing the depths from the surface, Carl Friedrich Chun launched an excursion on the steamship Valdivia from the port of Hamburg to explore the deep seas.  The zoologist and resident expert in marine biology (a teutholog is one who studies cephalopods, octipuses, cuttlefish, nautilus and squids) at the University of Leipzig contrived new ways to fish for specimens and bring his haul to the surface.
True to the mission and cutting the figue of a Jules Verne character, the voyage rounded the southern cape of Africa and made calls in the South Seas before heading into the subantarctic (below/above) region.  Collection efforts were difficult, as many of the strange and never before seen monstrosities harvested disintegrated due to having adapted to the great pressures of the deep, and most samples, like the anglerfish, with its lantern and gaping maw, defied study and classification for years, unobserved in their native environment.  Chun, however, does have several new creatures credited to his name, including the vampire squid (from Hell), so called for its black cloak that draped its tentacles, arrayed with spines—and outfitted with night-lights.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

kraken or there be dragons here

The Big Think, a surpassingly excellent curator for unusual examples of cartography, has a thoughtful piece on political satire, not such subtle ones, and portrayal of maps with anthropomorphism and zoomorphism. Going by national symbols alone, one would have a whole motley herd of eagles, lions, bears, dragons and griffons, but we also have these geo-political works of art that betray sentiment and fears. One of the more utilitarian propaganda monsters has been the land octopus, the kraken, an unappeasable force of nature that is a bigger threat than caricatures of kaisers and ministers. A lot of different countries, not just Russia and its successors, have assumed these writhing tentacles and it is interesting to reflect on these allegorical portrayals and meaning behind them--like in this map from the collections of Bibliodyssey. United, more or less under shifting regencies, Europe was often depicted as the Queen of the World, Europa Regina. I am sure that along with all available map-making precision at the time, a lot of thought, slights and glories, went into every feature. I cannot fathom the symbolism and deferring nature of this language but I hope we retain the ability to interpret the subtle and the dense and multi-layered.

Karte oft ungewรถhn-licher Kartographen und Satirikern finden in The Big Think blog, und in der jungsten Ausgabe befinden sich ein nach-denklich Artikel รผber vermenschlichter und zoomorphischen Figuren der Karten. Anstatt nur nationalen Symbolen--die Lรถwen, Adler, Bรคren, Drachen, Griffins--gibt auch die festlandlich Krake, auf Gefรผhl und Angst hindeuten. Die pur Naturgewalt--der Kraken--ist Propagandamittel und mehr bedrohlicher als politischen Karikaturen. Nicht nur Russland sondern auch vielen anderen Lรคndern dargestellt mit Auslรคufern war. In der Vergangenheit gezeigt Europa so wie eine Kรถnigin. Das ist sehr komplex und vielschichtig. Hoffentlich kรถnnen wir weiter solche Sinnbilder und Symbolismus schรคtzen und verstehen.