Sunday, 26 June 2022

a part of your world

Starting their own local chapter—one of thousands across the globe—a “pod” after finding the experience of donning the tail suit and monofin positively transformative, a self-described middle aged Filipina transgender woman left called Queen Pangke Taboraher career as an insurance agent to sponsor other merfolk and teach mermaiding and free-diving full time. Honing in on something meditative, peaceful and liberating about being submerged, millions of “mers” as they prefer participate in pageantry, Mercons, and competitive sporting events—to say nothing of a supportive community that recognises the feeling of being liminal and embraces change and fluidity.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

pfarrdorf, kirchdorf

H and I took a quick tour of Nordheim von der Rhรถn (previously) and snapped a few images and got an aerial perspective of the picturesque village on the Streu. Parking outside of the former Zehnthaus (tax, tithing authority), we took a moment to admire its decorative half-timbering and reliefs and inscriptions on the balustrade of the second storey dated to 1681. Several of the historic buildings feature figurative columns and corner posts. We climbed up through the fortified Kirchberg to the parish (pfarr-) seat (the outlying community of Neustรคdtles with the auxiliary place of worship is the Kirchdorf) dedicated to John the Baptist (Sankt Johannes der Tรคufer) from the fourteenth century. The exterior and forecourt were renovated in the mid 1970s but the overall structure and interior elements are true to the original with the high altar and pulpit crafted in the 1700 by artist and sculptor Benedikt Lux from Bad Neustadt an der Saale in Rococo style.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

6x6

not to put words in your mouth: Google’s collaborative incubator discreetly withdraws from deepfake research—via Slashdot  

mermay: a month-long (didn’t get the memo but for next year) sketching challenge to draw merfolk with daily prompts    

bubasteion: necropolis sacred to Ancient Egyptian feline goddess yielded a trove of two-hundred and fifty perfectly preserved sarcophagi  

now listen to my heart—it says ukrainia: the Scorpions update their lyrics to Winds of Change to stop romancising Russia 

joueur-animateur en direct: French ministry of culture reforms guidelines on gaming jargon to combat anglicisation—see previously  

monk tone scale: Google adopts a better classification system for skin pigment to combat baked-in biases (see previously) for its algorithms and artificial intelligence

Monday, 2 May 2022

fan mail from a flounder?

Given the MST3K treatment for the first time on this day in 1999 in their tenth season, the surpassing bad 1971 sci-fi horror film also released under the titles ZaAt (the name of the chemical compound), Hydra and Attack of the Swamp Creatures relates the plot of a mad scientist first to transform himself into a catfish-like monster (sort of like the hybrid God-Emperor primate-sandworm) then drug an entire town’s water supply with the same serum to create a community of merpeople. The mad scientist then turns his focus to revenge on his fellow researchers who ridiculed his work.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

6x6

un robot quadrupede al servizio dell’archeologia: SPOT to patrol ruins of Pompeii and protect the site from looters—also raising a quandary for future archaeologists 

satanic panic: the full 1993 (!) cult awareness pamphlet (see previously)—via Weird Universe  

dans l’ombre du star wars kid: the National Film Board of Canada’s documentary on the internet phenomenon  

entrรฉe: a family-run Tbilisi-based artisanal bakery expands into East London 

the atlantean: after Dallas (debuting on this day in 1978), Patrick Duffy appeared as a merfolk-hybrid hero

intonarumori: Luigi Russolo’s experimental sound machines

Sunday, 14 November 2021

inner oort cloud

Co-discovered on this day in 2003 by astronomical teams in Caltech, Yale and the Gemini Observatory, the planetoid, trans-Neptunian object (previously) provisionally nicknamed the Flying Dutchman because of its slow (eleven-thousand plus years) and solitary journey around the Sun that made researchers almost miss it for a fixed star, it was welcomely given the official designation 90377 Sedna in honour of the Inuit sea goddess who dwells at the bottom of the frigid Arctic Ocean, and establishing that future objects found in the same orbital region should be named after polar mythologies.
The astronomical monogram, which matches the ones of ancient astrology quite well, is a combination of the Eastern Canadian Inuktitut characters แ“ดแ“แ“‡, Sanna—the modern version of the name and suggests a leaping seal. Because of the extreme eccentricity of its perihelion—too great to have been caused by the gravitational influence of the known worlds, Sedna’s existence lends credence to either interstellar interlopers or a so called Planet Nine, ten-times the size of Earth but hidden as a cosmic counter-balance.

Monday, 18 October 2021

your daily demon: velar

Our forty-second spirit is an infernal grand duke that presents as a merman, who is able to both raise dread tempest and drown sailors or provide safe passage, according to the will of a skilled exorcist. Ruling from today through 22 October, Vepar controls twenty-nine legions of subordinates and is opposed by the guardian angel Mikael.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

7x7

kรกdรกr cube: a practical, mass-produced boxy house (Magyar ร‰pรญtล‘mลฑvรฉszet) from Communist-era Hungary is staging a comeback 

the new english canaan: revisiting the banned publication that mocked American’s puritanical ways—see also  

you’ve got a habit of leaving: the first single from the unreleased David Bowie album, coming in January

merfolk and melusine: tritons and mermaids entertained by enlightened minds 

facebookland: the social media giant ought to be treated like the autocratic rogue state it is—via Waxy 

roll over beethoven: a team of musicologists using artificial intelligence complete the composer’s unfinished tenth symphony—to premier in Bonn next month, via Kottke  

ะณะพัั‚ะธะฝั‹ะน ะดะฒะพั€: a rotating arch for a shopping arcade in St. Petersburg—via Pasa Bon!

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

wara art festival

The above named byproduct of the annual rice harvest (see also), the left-over straw (็จฒใ‚ใ‚‰) was traditionally used a feed for livestock, fertiliser and for weaving doormats and other household items, but the use of industrial materials over the years has led to a lot of surplus, and inspired the Niigata farming community to concoct a creative solution, first organised in 2007, with artisans sculpting monumental figures over a wooden framework. Subjects are wild animals and creatures from mythology, including the beaked sea-going yลkai called Amabie. Learn more from Hyperallergic at the link above.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

d’une figure de proue

Via Fancy Notions, we are introduced to Belgian animator and educator Raoul Servais (*1928) through the lens of his 1968 dystopian short on humanity’s siren song—the totems of exploitation, globalisation over-fishing. His 1979 horror-comedy piece featuring trying to live with another legendary creature, Harpya, which innovatively mixed live-action with cartoons took the Palme d’Or at Cannes that year in that category. The source title refers to a 1964 British horror film by Roger Corman that was part of a series of adaptations of works by Edgar Allen Poe about a widower whose Atheist wife’s soul was purloined by a demonic cat.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

hic sunt dracones

Via the always interesting Languagehat not only do we learn that there is a cooperative effect to document and propagate a lexical database of marine life, said lexicon also covers chimera and mythical beings, revealing that merfolk also include the merbishop (unclear whether that is due to appearance or ecclesiastical hierarchy), an anthropomorphic fish described by Cornelius Aurelius in 1517 and revisited by renowned Swiss naturalist and regarded as the father of zoology Conrad Gessner in 1604—exemplars along with mermonks (moine de mer, Seemรถnch, pesce monaco) captured in the Baltic Sea. Much more to explore at the links above—including an impressively comprehensive, non-sea-life glossary of boat-building terminology.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

6x6

scream real loud: The 1954 “Pinky Lee Show” that prefigures in a way Pee-Wee’s Playhouse 

7/10: promoting health for the high seas on World Oceans Day—previously  

avian aftershave: crows treat themselves to ant baths  

squirrels under the hood: an AI researchers illustrates how algorithms are dangerously regressive reflections of the worst of us (previously) and are far from artificial or intelligent  

###: a short from Optical Arts repeats a range of actions with different objects in the key of A  

that’s my name—don’t wear it out: do yourself a favour and check out the blog of Pee-Wee Herman

Saturday, 24 April 2021

situationist international

Though better-known by the later stages of the collective’s existence for developing the principles of dรฉrive and psycho-geography, the burgeoning group of avant-garde artists and social revolutionaries formed in the late 1950s garnered public attention and some herostratic fame on this day in 1964 by decapitating the landmark bronze located on a waterside promenade in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid, the first act in a long line of vandalism towards this poort statue motivated by various reasons. Radically left-leaning and convinced that the capitalism that Karl Marx had sought to redress, the Situationists—especially during this formative political period, was becoming more pervasive and all-encompassing and that the estranging forces of commodity fetishism were fast encroaching on every aspect of life and culture, helping limn and inform the summer of unrest and insurrection of Paris in May of 1968.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

your daily demon: zagan

This sixty-first infernal king and president is also known by the name Dagon, possibly inspired by the ancient Mesopotamian deity interpreted as a fish-god or merman, but presents as a bull with griffin wings. When invoked, Zagan’s virtue is in making men witty, the alchemy of any base metal into valuable specie and can turn wine into water, blood into wine, wine into blood and also water into wine. Governing from this cusp day through the twenty-fourth of January, Zagan’s position is in the first degrees of Aquarius. Ruling thirty-three legions, Zagan is opposed by the angel Umahel.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

high-times and misdemeanours

Though we want no more Joe Camels—or sugary coffee and preciously flavoured vapes for that matter—and I can understand the intent behind the regulations, we learn via Super Punch, that the state of Maine finds that the mermaid mascot (see also) of a Portland marijuana dispensary runs afoul of the law. Newly opened enterprises aimed for adults are not allowed to use labelling or programming that might appear to target or appeal to people underage with depictions of humans, animals and fruit are specifically restricted.

Friday, 30 October 2020

necromantic tripos

Buried in a 1925 newsletter from Trinity College, Cambridge we are treated to a fanciful syllabus from analytic realist Charles Dunbar Broad, whom like his contemporary colleagues Bertrand Russell (previously here and here) and G. E. Moore, would have rejected as quickly and wholly as the Platonic forms, that was surely contributed to amuse his students and reads very much like a modern wizarding 101 with courses in magic, alchemy and astrology—with practica dedicated to scrying, rhabdomancy and the interpretation of entrails—to name a few.

A special disclaimer section follows of prohibitions that enrolees are to adhere to, for instance on the Evocation of Elementals: Owing to the terms of the fire-insurance on the College buildings it is necessary to prohibit absolutely the evocation of Salamanders in rooms in College. It is an immemorial rule of the College that the baths are “places for ablution and not for the evocation of Undines.” “No member of the college may make, have in his possession, melt, or transfix a mommet [poppet, a voodoo doll] of the Master or of any of the Fellows, Chaplains, Librarian, or Organist. Bedmakers have instructions to report immediately to the Dean of College the presence of any mommet that they find.” And on Levitation and Bilocation, they are “strictly forbidden in Hall, Chapel, the Library, and during lectures.” All in all, this seems like a pretty fun, charming curriculum and Broad’s pupils must have gotten a kick out of it.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Discovered by brewer by trade and amateur astronomer by passion William Lassell just weeks after the confirmation of the new planet Neptune at the advice of his friend polymath John Herschel to search for moons, the largest and what was considered until 1949 to be the lone satellite came to be named after Triton. 

The son of sea god Poseidon and Amphitrite—was half man and half fish his name was broadly used as term for merfolk generally in classical scholarship.  Triton’s relatively substantial size, as big as the Earth’s moon, and uniquely retrograde orbit suggest Triton was a dwarf planet, like Pluto, captured by the gas giant. Composed primarily of water ice and frozen nitrogen with a rocky core, it is one of the few known satellites to be geologically active and has cryovolcanic activity and ice geysers that give the moon uniform but ridged terrain described as akin to the surface of a cantaloupe.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

deaccession

Delightfully temporarily shuttered museums are holding a virtual curatorial showdown to reveal the world’s creepiest exhibit or object in their collection. Entrants, all hideous and artefacts to make one’s skin crawl began with a ancient Roman woman’s burial hair bun and include taxidermied mermaids, talismans and torture devices—like this one pictured from the Tower of London, touted as an executioner’s mask but subsequent research suggests it’s purpose is even darker: an iron muzzle called a Scold’s Bridle, meant for public humiliation. See more ghastly, cursed objects at The Guardian article at the link up top.

Monday, 16 March 2020

amabie

Via both our friends Spoon & Tamago and Everlasting Blรถrt we are introduced to a timely and portentous yลkai (see previously) that presents as a sort of merfolk with three trunk like legs emerging from the sea to forecast either abundant crops or epidemic.
Pictured above is a late Edo era wood block print depicting an encounter in 1846 off the coast of Kumamoto investigated by local authority, whom were told by the creature that identified itself by name that good harvests would continue unabated for the next six years and should disease spread, display an artistic likeness of it to those afflicted to ward off sickness.  I can’t sketch so well and there are many better examples at the links up top from popular illustrators, but I figured I could at least share my contribution, thinking maybe we could all draw and share our own amabie (ใ‚ขใƒžใƒ“ใ‚จ) as an art therapy project whilst we self-isolate.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

ys

In addition to its own version of the Arthurian saga, the western part of Bretagne on the peninsula of Crozon, once known as Cournouallie with the same etymology as Cornwall across the Channel, has its own legendary cast of characters including Gradlon the Great (Gradlon Meur). A soldier of fortune courted by a sorcerous consort of a dying king called Malgven—who talked Gradlon into giving the old king a coup de grรขce and ruling with her.
This cautionary tale continues with Malgven dying during childbirth with the couple’s daughter Dahut, a most unnatural and ungrateful child. Having established himself as an otherwise sage and just ruler—despite his earlier act of regicide, Gradlon commissioned the building of a fantastic city built on land reclaimed from the sea (Kรชr Ys, low city), lavishly ornamented and with no expense spared, the waters held back by a system of dykes for which only Gradlon had the key to open the floodgates.
Over the years, Dahut had grown frivolous and vain and was wiled by a suitor to grant him access to Ys. Rather punch-drunk with her success of secreting away the key from her father and thinking she was throwing open the city gate, a torrent of water rushed in. The king was roused by a very historical bishop called Gwenole, who keeping vespers in the night and saw the flood waters rise and was beatified as founding bishop of the abbey of Landรฉvennec (see also and when I first saw the ruin it reminded me of this amphitheatre on the Cornish coast that we visited and upon leaving the town, saw it was in fact twinned—jumelage—with The Lizard (An Lysardh), that peninsula in southern Cornwall.

The king took to his steed and rescued Dahut while the rest of the Ys’ people drowned. Dahut (I’d quite like to hear her version of the story) fell from the horse during the escape and was transformed into a mermaid, still haunting the Bay of Douarnenez to this day and luring sailors to violent ends against the cliffs with her siren song.