Sunday, 5 December 2021

hawkmen diiive!

With a spectacular soundtrack by Queen and with a cast that includes Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin, a Robin Hood like character who rules the woodland region called Arboria and subjects our titular hero to the “wood beast” ritual that’s a lot like the pain box in Dune, Brian Blessed as the above Prince Vultan of Sky City, Topol as Dr. Hans Zarkov, Mariangela Melato as General Kala, Max von Sydow as (problematically) the ruler of planet Mongo, Ming the Mercliless, the cinematic adaptation of the King Features Syndicate comic-strip, Flash Gordon (previously), premiered on this day in 1980 in US markets (a week later in the UK). The Earth beset with natural disasters, Gordon—a star quarterback for the football team the New York Jets is sidelined during a short airplane journey where he and travel agent Dale Arden encounter a scientist (Zarkov) who believes that the climatic catastrophes are being caused by a malevolent and extraterrestrial source and lures Arden and Gordon to help him on a mission to determine the source, ultimately confirming Emperor Ming’s involvement. The trio are soon captured and Ming orders Arden prepared for his harem, Zarkov’s useful knowledge extracted and reprogrammed and Gordon executed.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

disco ball ceiling, i whisper quietly to myself.

As fellow internet caretaker Things Magazine informs, delightfully McMansion Hell’s yearbook project (previously) has reached 1980 with a piece of real estate on Staten Island whose relatively tame and unified exterior (at least when viewed from the street) conceals a real nightmare going on inside that gets progressively more terrifying as one descends into the house’s depths. More at the links above and be sure to follow Kate Wagner so as to never miss an update.

Monday, 23 August 2021

i never did anything out of the blue

Coming in at number one of the UK charts on this day in 1980, David Bowie’s following-up on the narrative for Major Tom, a darker bookmarking of the intervening decade, is described as a nuanced retelling of a nursery rhyme with its attendant cautionary tale. Co-directed by Bowie and David Mallet (also collaborating on “Boys Keep Swinging,” “DJ,” and “Look Back in Anger” and Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays”), the music video, costing a quarter million pounds to produce, was the most expensive at the time and features the performer dressed as pantomime, commedia dell’arte stock character Pierrot, the sad, introspective clown.

Sunday, 15 August 2021


Founded in 1980 by Mother Angelica (Rita Antoinette Rizzo, *1923 - †2016) of the Poor Clares (appropriately) of Perpetual Adoration and first beginning broadcasting on this day, the Feast of the Assumption, in 1981 from a studio in a converted garage of a monastery in Irondale, Alabama, the Eternal Word Television Network grew to become a global media empire, providing round the clock devotional and catechetical programming, daily mass and papal news.

Monday, 31 May 2021

lipps inc

The lead single off of their debut album Mouth to Mouth, released earlier in the year in March, first began to top the charts on this day in 1980, reaching number one in the USA, Canada, West Germany, the Netherlands and numerous other places following. The monumental One-Hit Wonder was inspired by the band’s ambitions to expand from Minneapolis and stake their claim in New York City. The band was originally to be called Lip Sync but that name was already taken. Here they are performing the song in 1982 on the show TopPop.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

it’s a party marge. it doesn’t have to make sense.

Though other sources date the song’s release to next month, just for the chance to indulge listening to one of the best rock power ballads ever, we are going with this day in 1980 for the debut of the lead single from Journey’s sixth studio album Departure. Influenced by the music of Irish band Thin Lizzy, the collaboration between singer and librettist Steve Perry and guitarist Neal Schon did fared modestly but respectably in contemporary charts but enjoys an enduring legacy.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

brass in pocket

On this day in 1980, The Pretenders’ 1979 single from their eponymous debut album reached number one on the UK charts and held that position for a month.

Originally to meant to be set to more of a Motown sound, Chrissie Hynde worked with guitarist James Honeyman-Scott to articulate and give form to her lyric narrative about a superbly confident individual with all sorts of clout venturing out on a first date. The title comes from an overheard exchange during an after-show party, “Picked up dry cleaning? Any brass in pocket?” The British and America band members were quite taken with the quirks of their common language.  The next lines “I got bottle—I’m gonna use it” is Cockney rhyming slang—that is, bottle, glass, I got a nice—So special! “Got new skank—it’s so reet,” is a reference to satirist and underground comic artist Robert Crumb.

Monday, 18 January 2021


Observed on the Monday nearest, US federal holiday in honour of the civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. recognises his birth on the fifteenth of the month in 1929 (murdered in 1968), we had never realised that Stevie Wonder’s song “Happy Birthday” (a far better tune to sing than the traditional birthday party chant even after copyright prohibition lapsed—with even the opening lyrics taking on new dimensions, see also, with this knowledge and embarrassment that this tribute escaped our attention) released as a single from his Hotter than July album in April of 1981 was composed as a campaign to make King’s birthday a nation holiday for America. The song’s popularity compelled Ronald Reagan by November of 1983 to sign the holiday into existence with the first holiday held in 1986 and universally observed (on the state level) by 1993.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

the medium is the message

Though interest in his work and commentary waned in later years as alarmist or rallying against the inevitable, appreciation for the perspective and insight of philosopher and lecturer Herbert Marshall McLuhan (*1911, dying on this day in 1980 after a long convalescent period from a debilitating stroke) regained their purchase once his predictions started coming true some three decades after he introduced them. Coining his famous aphorism above in his doctoral dissertation expanded to his 1951 The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, McLuhan also championed the idea of a “global village” and defined cool and hot media—the former more demanding with less stimuli for engagement with the latter being more prescriptive and therefore tribal in nature.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

woke up, fell out of bed

Via Strange Company, we are given a rather insightful, connected glimpse into a day in the life of John Lennon (previously) on what turned out to be his last on this day in 1980. Through these intimate, everyday details, we see the consequence of small, disposable decisions in the gears of what we’d describe as the machinations of the great and the good.

Friday, 9 October 2020

the watcher in the woods

After a significant delay following its debut showing in New York City (with some major revisions needed after a poor reception by audiences) until it was picked up by Walt Disney Studios for distribution and general release more than a year later, the supernatural thriller was shown in cinemas across the US first on this day in 1981.
Targeting a young adult demographic and starring Bette Davis and David McCallum, it tells the story of an American family that move into a Buckinghamshire estate, whom are received warmly by the owner of the manor whose has since downsized and resides in the guest cottage—only the proprietoress comments how much the teenage daughter Jan looks so much like her own Karen who disappeared without a trace in the surrounding woods thirty years before. Settling in with the occasion blindfolded apparition haunting the many mirrors and eerie blue lights coming from the forest, the mother adopts a puppy to keep her company—inexplicably naming it Nerak. Catching a glimpse of the dog’s name inverted, Jan realises that it’s Karen spelled backwards. Growing emboldened by curiosity, Jan ventures further into the woods, accompanied by Nerak and encounters a hermit, who relates the story of a coven and how Karen, decades ago, was convinced to take part in a sรฉance and was spirited away, entranced, when lighting struck the chapel tower during a lunar eclipse.   All tropes covered.  Here’s a preview below with the full movie here.

Friday, 18 September 2020

interkosmos group

Launched on a routine rotation and restocking mission to the Salyut 6 space laboratory on this day in 1980, the crew of Soyuz 38 included cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Mรฉndez (*1942)—the first (see also) Cuban and individual of Latin American and African heritage to enter into Earth orbit.

An aerial combat pilot from the Guantรกnamo province decorated for flying reconnaissance mission during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and after demonstrating leadership potential at the brigade level, Tamayo was selected for the pan-communist space programme in 1978 and moved to Star City (ะ—ะฒั‘ะทะดะฝั‹ะน ะณะพั€ะพะดะพ́ะบ) to commence training. Tamayo’s time in orbit aboard the station helped diagnose and treat the phenomenon known as space sickness for future ventures. Since retirement, Tamayo has served as a deputy in the National Assembly, representing his home constituency of Guantรกnamo.

Monday, 31 August 2020

porozumienia sierpniowe

Today celebrates the August Agreement—otherwise known as the Gdaล„sk Social Accords—reached on the last day of August in 1980 between striking dockworkers on the Baltic and the Polish government over untenable demands, poor working conditions and continual shortages of essentials. The labour strikes had the immediate effect of changing the country’s leadership and revealed endemic corruption and mismanagement that had culminated in the dysfunctional economy and legislature and further led to reforms in the market, freedom of expression, civil rights and launched the Solidarity Movement.

Monday, 17 August 2020

dingos ate my baby

Though more likely the mother cried to her husband, “A dingo took my baby,” the phrase attributed to Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton originated tragically on this night in 1980 whilst the couple were out camping at Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) with their two-month old daughter, Azaria.
Though the media and authorities found the claim incredulous initially and the grieving parents were prejudged and stigmatised, the coroner’s inquest later corroborated the mother’s account. In addition to the 1987 Coen Brothers’ Raising Arizona, there have been a whole host of cultural references—mostly with the implication that the assertion is unbelievable (myself included), like the excuse the dog ate my homework.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

in xanadu did kubla khan a stately pleasure-dome decree

Although singles from soundtrack charted until supplanted by Olivia Newton-John’s next hit “Physical” and it has since gained a sizable cult-following, the Robert Greenwald movie starring Michael Beck and Gene Kelly in his last cinematic performance was so bad as to be the impetus for the Razzies—the Golden Raspberry awarded to the worst production of the year.  The Electric Light Orchestra was the house band with support from Cliff Richards and The Tubes, a San Francisco based rock group that would soon feature prominently on the early days of MTV.
The retelling of a 1940s-style tale of magical realism with contemporary late 1970s aesthetics and even animated sequences begins with a commission to paint a large mural in the eponymous nightclub of the Nine Muses of Ancient Greek mythology—which invokes the spirits of the Olympian patronesses, one of whom remains, Kira—or rather Terpsichore (Newton-John, ฮคฮตฯฯˆฮนฯ‡ฯŒฯฮท—delight in dancing), behind to help the new club become a success, with some help from her sisters.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

we have clearance, clarence

While—courtesy of our faithful chronicler—it’s worth noting the anniversary of the general release in North America on this day in 1980 of the supremely silly Jim Abrahams and Zucker Brothers comedy for its own sake, it does strike me as hard to reconcile the rapidity of contemporary riffs, among them the mostly overlooked meta-reference that the action-drama franchise Airport (1970 – 1979, based on the Arthur Hailey novel and became the epitome of the disaster genre of the decade) had just concluded and cycled out of theatres.
Enjoying three sequels—with the first two being big box office hits—the final flop Airport ’79…The Concorde (even called Airport ’80 in some markets due to the distribution schedule, whereas Airplane’s sequel didn’t fare so well), it reminds me how the Kennedy White House took the metonym Camelot not because it was particularly courtly or chivalrous in its own right but rather due to the concurrent popularity of the Broadway play.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020


Debuting in Saint-Malo on this day in 1980—ceremoniously decommissioned on the anniversary of its going on-line in 2012, the French videotext service called Mรฉdium interactif par numรฉrisation d’information tรฉlรฉphonique was the most successful (see also here, here and here) prior to the introduction of the World Wide Web that eventually displaced it. Nation-wide by 1982, users could search telephone directories, chat, send and receive email, consult maps, conduct stock research, check bank accounts and make train and airline reservations—and naturally access pornography. At its apex around 1999, there were over twenty-five million users out of a population of sixty million with over nine million terminals (note the AZERTY keyboard layout) in circulation.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

republik freies wendland

Though only in existence for a month before police cleared the protest camp and micronation (see also) on this day in 1980 and evicted the occupants outside of Gorleben to rally against the excavation of a nuclear waste dump there and accused of high-treason by the interior minister of Niedersachsen, the self-proclaimed community of some five thousand encamped on a barren patch of the Lรผneberger Heath that was cleared by the wildfires of 1975 had an impressive infrastructure designed for the long-term with permanent shelters, shared facilities, greenhouses, a health clinic, a hair salon, a radio station, sauna and solar- and wind-generated electricity.
Geologists had been conducting drilling tests to determine whether the salt domes beneath the nature reserve were suitable for storing nuclear waste. During the Republic’s final days, a sit-in was staged of at least two-thousand Wendlanders were carried away by police forces with the demonstration coming to a mostly peaceful conclusion, with authorities thanking them for their nonviolent approach. Though the controversial dump was ultimately built in October 1986, the anti-atomic movement progressed and did eventually achieve more and greater, transformative accomplishments, and also despite its brief existence Wendland has an enduring and outsized legacy, including as recently as 2015 the mayor of a nearby municipality extended to Edward Snowden asylum with a “Wendepass” from the days of the Republic.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

i'll just set my bourbon and advocaat down right here

Premiering in theatres in the US on this day in 1980, the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of the Steven King novel of three years prior presents a certain corollary to and correspondence with the present Zeitgeist of wintering, hibernation and generally being not taxed mentally or physically with its foil of an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic and domestic abuser hoping to take full advantage of this generous sabbatical for self-improvement but woefully unable to.
What do you think? That much of the milieu is quite resonant, even if the plot and search and insistence for meaning is receding—just like we are focusing on inconsistencies, ambiguities and attributed symbolism as curative guideposts to navigate ourselves through this time when for many of us, we just have one job to do. Isolation is not only prone to the compromised credibility of an unreliable narrator but also can cause us to doubt and question our credentials as dependable observers—and whether we’re haunted by real ghosts or the hypochondria cabin-fever.

Friday, 22 May 2020

power pellet

First appearing in limited release in Tokyo arcades on this day in 1980 and originally called Puck Man (see also) from the onomatopoetic gobbling om-nom paku paku taberu—though that was changed once developers realised that the potential and temptation for defacement would be high, especially in foreign markets, Pac-Man was an instant and transformative hit with players, helping to expand and legitimise the video game industry. Working for Namco, programmer and game designer Toru Iwatani was inspired to make the protagonist by a pizza with a slice taken out. Much more gaming history and lore at Kotaku at the link above.