Friday, 2 December 2022

jeremy’s hammer? (10. 355)

Britney Spears, the Princess of Pop, is the only perfect anagram of Presbyterians, a mainline American Protestant denomination. Although Ms Spears never to my knowledge took the occasion to employ this anagrammatisation as a pseudonym like Jim Morrison did in the Doors song “LA Woman” as Mr Mojo Risin, born this day—coincidentally—in Mississippi in 1981, she was born into a milieu of socially conservative evangelicalism and quickly retreated from those influences.

Monday, 12 September 2022

ccc (10. 126)

Founded on this day in the offices of the West Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeigtung (TAZ) by journalist and information security advocate Wau Holland in 1981, Chaos Computer Club is Europe’s largest association of white-hat hackers was established with the mandate to champion freedom of information worldwide, transparency in government and business practices and universal access to digital information. Through its hacktivism and penetration-testing, it has exposed several weaknesses and structural shortcomings that undermine privacy and user rights and it often deferred to as an expert witness for German and EU legislation and court filings, informing policy and openly criticizing decisions that fail to redress concerns for public-welfare. Their activities rose to prominence first in 1984 when exposing the security flaws of teletext (Bildschirmtext, see also here and here), arranging a large transfer of funds from a bank to the club’s account. More recently, they demonstrated that inherent insecurity of biometrics by obtaining and publishing the fingerprints of the Interior Minister (lifted off of a water glass) in 2008. The group hosts the annual Chaos Communication Congress, originally hosted in Hamburg but since 2017 at the Leipzig Trade Fair Grounds (Leipzigermesse) in addition to retreats, camps and workshops to supplement its media outreach. The pictured flag (Pesthรถrnchen, Datenpirat—a variant on the federal postal service logo, indicting their careless custody of customer data) is from a local chapter.

Monday, 5 September 2022

once i ran to you (i ran) (10. 109)

Propelling to the top of the charts in part due to this memorable performance on TOTP (see previously), Soft Cell’s reworking of the Ed Cobb and the Four Preps’ Tainted Love (1964) reached number one on this day in 1981 and was ranked as best-selling single of the year in the UK—until after re-tabulating the numbers in 2021 and the title was awarded to The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me?”

Sunday, 10 July 2022

in 22 hours, the hartford summit meeting will be over—china and the soviet union will go back home

Premiering in US theatres on this day in 1981 and featuring the acting talents of Kurt Russell, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton and Adrienne Barbe au , the John Carpenter film is set in the then near future of 1997 (a quarter of a century ago) wherein Manhattan is converted into America’s singular maximum security prison. When the presidential airplane is highjacked by insurgent elements and crashed-landed in New York City, military veteran and federal inmate Snake Plissken (Russell) is commissioned to rescue president John Harker (Pleasence).

Friday, 18 February 2022


pigeon fancy: Emil Schachtzabel illustrates unnatural selection in prize breeds  

act local, think global: a twenty-question quiz about one’s bioregion, immediate surroundings and a challenge for low-scorers 

onomastic terminology: petrichor, overmorrow, interrobangs and other proper orthonyms  

wysiwyg: Jane Austen used straight pins to edit the rough drafts of her manuscripts before word processors and correction-liquid  

device orchestra: various peripherals, gadgets and appliances perform “Seven Nation Army”  

pandemic cartograms: our unvaccinated world  

hodowla goล‚ฤ™bi: profiling Poland’s pigeon keepers, moving up in the pecking-order

Sunday, 6 February 2022

dass modell / computerliebe

The first West German act to chart in the UK in the latter half of the twentieth century, the double single (A-side and B-side) from Kraftwerk (see previously here, here, here and here) first rose to number one on this day in 1982 and held its place for twenty-one weeks.  This success led to the group’s first concert tour.  From their eighth, bi-lingual studio album Computerwelt, the thematic tracks dealt with the effects of technology and computers on society, the songs debuted in May of the previous year with the likes of “Pocket Calculator,” “It’s More Fun to Compute” and “Heimcomputer.”

Friday, 21 January 2022


With iconic gull-wing doors and a brushed steel exterior, the first DeLorean sports cars—designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro—came off the production line on this day in 1981 in Dunmurry, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Before the enterprise folded in December of 1982 with John DeLorean’s Motor Company filing for bankruptcy, allegedly turning to drug-smuggling to make up for shortfalls in financing, about nine thousand cars were made with around six thousand still roadworthy. Several custom models were produced including a gold-plated one as a promotional deal with a credit card company for its gold members and turbo-charged versions and most notably of course for featuring as the time-machine of the Back to the Future Franchise.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

l’affaire de trans-en-provence

Though the scientific riguour of testing and measurements taken was later subject to dispute, the encounter with an unidentified flying object was reputed to have left physical evidence and was heralded by the US periodical Popular Mechanics as “perhaps the most completely and carefully documented UFO sighting of all time took place on this day in 1981 on a farmstead just outside the titular town (previously) in the Var dรฉpartment. The account by witness Renato Nicalaรฏ related that after an eerie whistling a saucer-shaped object landed down field from him at a distance of fifty metres. It took off again almost immediately but left depression and scorch marks on the ground that were examined by the gendarmerie and the GEPAN (Groupe d’ร‰tude des Phรฉnomรจnes Aรฉrospatiaux Non-Indentifiรฉs). The findings were inconclusive.

Monday, 13 December 2021

dewey “pigmeat” markham

Passing away this day in 1981 (*1904) and having earned his stage name from a routine in which he declared himself to be “Sweet Papa Pigmeat,” the comedy and singer began his career with travelling musical revues and burlesque shows in the 1920s and 1930s and ultimately began a regular act at the Apollo Theatre.  Among Markham’s repertoire was a courtroom satire, with Marin presiding in a graduation cap and gown to look officious, with his catch-phrase “Here Comes the Judge” set to music and charting in 1968, the song considered to be one of the precursors to the performance style of rapping.  A second turn-of-speech from Markham passed through the then-highly segregated entertainment industry and also onto NBC’s Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (previously, Hee-Haw’s Justus O’Peace was a direct appropriation for that target audience) with the admonition  to “Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls.”

Sunday, 12 December 2021

i was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar—that much is true

On this day in 1981, the Human League single “Don’t You Want Me” from their third studio album Dare climbed to the top spot on UK charts and held the place for weeks, becoming the Christmas hit of the year. Hailed as a breakthrough number of the Second British Invasion by critics and widely acclaimed, the song was initially rejected by band member Paul Oakley as overrated and misconstrued as about love rather than a commentary on cynicism and sexual power politics with a catchy pop hook, lyrics taken from a photo-essay in a teen magazine.

Sunday, 14 November 2021

meanwhile back at the manse

Via two of our absolutely favourite fellow internet caretakers Nag on the Lake and Things Magazine, we are directed latest to the latest annual from McMansion Hell Yearbook (previously) with this 1981 fever-dream of a property in DuPage County, in the state of Illinois, US of A—aptly introduced as “dentist office meets cult compound meets late-stage Frank Lloyd Wright (Wedding-Cake era).” Much more to explore at the links above.

Sunday, 7 November 2021

facce di bronzo

Via the always superb Everlasting Blรถrt, we are not only introduced to the sensational discovery of the so-called Riace bronzes in the early 1970s but how the Italian mayor of the namesake town is planning a museum and further excavations on the fiftieth anniversary of their recovery from the waves off the Calabrian coast to see if there are more Greek warrior statues yet to be uncovered. Made in the fifth century BCE using the lost wax casting technique are among the few surviving examples of Greek artistry, most being melted down, and were found by accident by a snooping chemist called Stefano Mariottini in 1972 and are conjectured to be either anonymous Delphic soldiers as part of an ensemble monument to the Battle of Marathon or possibly as depictions of Erechtheus, foster son of Athena and legendary king of Athens, and Eumolpus, son of Poseidon and inventor of viticulture.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

spot me up

Made in collaboration with Boston Dynamics, we learn courtesy of Laughing Squid, 1981 Mick Jagger and the rest of the Rolling Stones perform a Tik-Tok style duet with a trio of robot modules for a performance (previously) of their classic—the video produced as part of the fortieth anniversary celebration of the release of their Tattoo You album. What do you think? It’s fun and the tribute choreography is scarily brilliant but perhaps another example of normalisation and propaganda for the police state.

Monday, 18 October 2021

lying awake intent at tuning in on you

Originally recorded by songwriter Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club—featuring Thomas Dolby on keyboard, the follow-on version performed by the synth-pop group the Buggles, released a month prior as the debut single from their first studio album The Age of Plastic, the foundational, nostalgic hit, influenced by the music of Kraftwerk and inspired by memories of covertly listening to Radio Luxembourg late at night, topped the UK charts this week in 1979. The accompanying music video, first aired on Top of the Pops, went on, just after midnight on the first day of August 1981, to mark the beginning of MTV’s broadcasting run.

i stopped an old man along the way

Recorded in studio on this day in 1981 to be released a year later as their eponymous fourth studio album’s third single, the David Paich and Jeff Porcaro collaboration, Africa, was met with immediate critical acclaim, which in its latter day, reprised existence has been certified as platinum six-times. Naive and benighted, with some experimental placeholder lyrics (see also), like the line about the Serengeti, it was nonetheless an earnest attempt to raise attention about the plight and suffering on the continent as told through television documentaries, magazine articles and second-hand missionary accounts. After the session, Toto was split about letting its release compete with that of their own lead single from the album, “Rosanna,” some band members saying it wasn’t in line with their signature sound and considered debuting it as solo work for Porcaro alone.

Friday, 15 October 2021


day-walker: monster lore invented by Hollywood—via Miss Cellania’s links 

tastes like pencil-shavings and heartbreak: niche Chicago liquor Jeppson’s Malรถrt  

vermithrax pejorative: dress up as Galen (Peter McNicol) from Dragonslayer plus other obscure, vintage costumes—via Super Punch  

modelleisenbahn: real-time model railroading with Hamburg’s transit system—via Maps Mania 

hedge rider: an etymological celebration of wizards, witches, warlocks and more 

๐Ÿ•‰: chanting, harmonised breathing and parasyphonic sounds  

mundane outfits: revisiting a tradition of dressing as highly specific yet relatable, everyday, social faux pas—an unfancy dress ball held in Japan and Taiwan 

the calls are coming from inside the building: a lampoon of the haunted house film trope

Monday, 27 September 2021

l’train ร  grande vitesse

The first public, commercial run of France’s intercity high-speed rail service, TGV, transversing the some three-hundred and seventy kilometres between Paris and Lyon in just under three hours began on this day in 1981 with some seven hundred seventy passengers. To combat the conception that the train was meant to be a premium for business travellers, initially the tickets were offered at the same price as parallel conventional lines, which would have taken the better part of a day to make the crossing, and hailed with the promotional slogan that “Progress means nothing unless it is shared by all.”

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.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

hang the vj

Via Boing Boing, a prolific contributor to the Internet Archive has faithfully uploaded their complete VHS recordings from the golden years of MTV—from its debut on this day in 1981 through to 1989. Below are the network’s first four hours of programming as they were aired, commercials and all.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

edge of seventeen

Released on the studio album Bella Donna—the debut solo recording from Stevie Nicks—on this date in 1981, the song also known by its parenthetical refrain “Just Like the White Winged Dove” was prompted as a means to express the grief the artist felt with the death of an uncle and the murder of John Lennon happening at the same time in December 1980. The title came from mishearing an answer from Tom Petty’s first wife about when they met due to her strong accent with opening lyrics coming from a caption in the menu of a restaurant in Arizona: “The white wing dove sings a song that sounds like she’s singing ooh, ooh, ooh. She makes her home here in the Great Saguaro cactus that provides shelter and protection.”