Tuesday, 6 April 2021

the antoinette perry award for excellence in broadway theatre

Founded by theatrical producer Brock Pemberton and namesake of the above director, actor and guild administrator who had recently died, the first Tony Awards ceremony occurred on this day in 1947 and are the fourth achievement of a EGOT—someone who has won all four industry honours, with the Emmy for a television role, the Grammy for musical accomplishment and the Academy Award (Oscar) for film.

They are the national equivalent of the UK’s Laurence Olivier awards (originally the Society of the West End) or France’s Nuit des Moliรจres. Held in the Waldorf Astoria, the prizes included a scroll of achievement, a cigarette lighter and an article of jewellery, with the Tony medallions not introduced until two years later. This first class of winners included Ingrid Bergman, Patricia Neal, Elia Kazan, Kurt Weill and the proprietor of Sardi’s restaurant for decades of unstinting hospitality for theatre people.

ping-pong diplomacy

Marking a significant improvement in Sino-American relations and enabling a visit by Richard Nixon the following year, the US Table Tennis team competing for the world championship in Nagoya, Japan received an official invitation on this day in 1971 to come to Beijing. Aside from delegations of eleven members aligned with the Black Panther political party (W. E. B. DuBois, Huey P. Newton) that followed Maoist principles who visited from 1959 through the early 1970s, these players and entourage of journalists—arriving on the tenth—were the first US citizens to enter the PRC since 1949, due to an embargo imposed by America that cut all diplomatic and economic ties over its involvement in the Korean War. Using this friendly competition as a segue to thaw relations, China opened and America was receptive, hoping to win over China as an arbitrator for the war in North Vietnam, and China was hoping to find a counterbalance for increasingly strained dealings with the Soviet Union.

Monday, 5 April 2021

first contact

According to the fictional timeline of the Star Trek continuity, on this day in 2063 (the same day as, according to some calculations, Noah’s Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat in 348 BC), Zefram Cochrane conducted his first successful test flight jumping to warp speed. This energy signature caught the attention of a passing Vulcan survey ship, whom generously helped humanity to integrate into a suddenly much larger and varied Cosmos. The character himself is first encountered by the crew of the Enterprise (Metamorphosis, S2, E9) while ferrying a peace-negotiator, Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford, to medical facilities for emergency intervention on board a shuttle craft. Their ship is drawn to an asteroid with an M-Class artificial atmosphere that also dampens their sensors and communication systems and discover that a human calling himself by the name of the revered inventor “of Alpha Centauri,” who disappeared a century and a half earlier under mysterious conditions but presumed dead and to have gone out in a last blaze of glory on a rocket mission at an advanced age, and an entity of pure energy that Cochrane refers to as the Companion, who intercepted Cochrane and restored his youth. In front of company and apparently not having brought it up previously in the past decades of living together, the Companion makes his overtures to the human known, expressing an unrequited love that Cochrane rebuffs rather forcefully. The Companion merges with the dying Commissioner Hedford, restoring her health, and presenting to Cochrane in a more lovable albeit mortal form. The shuttle is allowed to leave with assurances from Kirk and crew that they will keep the asteroid’s secret.


snuggling cygnets: avian photography of the year, also known as b-poty for short—via Colossal  

untitled pizza movie: documenting change in New York City slice-by-slice  

aqen the ferryman: Cairo hosts a parade for a score of royal mummies moving to a new museum—via Super Punch  

salvator metaversi: art historian turns supposed last Leonardo into an NFT to help out the family who sold it to unscrupulous art dealers 

theatre of machines: intricate gear illustrations from Agostino Ramelli (see also here and here)  

scenes from a mall: footage from the Southdale Centre’s grand opening in 1956  

knock knock: a swan terrorising a neighbourhood in Northampton—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links

Sunday, 4 April 2021

they are not long—the days of wine and roses

Though separated by a considerable distance in the north and the southern part of modern Germany, it’s interesting to note, via the always engrossing Futility Closet, the kindred relationship between the oldest known rosebush and the oldest known uncorked bottle of wine. The Millennium Rose (der Tausendjรคhriger Rosenstock) grows in the apse of the Hildesheimer Dom—dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, and is a non-domesticated variety known as the wild dog, Rosa cainina. Hardier by degrees that cultivated garden varieties that usually only thrive for decades, this especially long-lived specimen is legendary, with Louis the Pious (Ludwig der Fromme), heir to the Holy Roman Empire after the death of his father Charlemagne, happened upon this rosebush after becoming separated from his hunting party. Sacred to the Saxon goddess Hulda, the lost emperor sought shelter there but offering a prayer to the Virgin Mary through a reliquary he carried with him. Ludwig rested and upon waking, he found his icon irretrievably stuck among the branches—taking this as a sign from the pagan goddess that she was to be replaced in veneration. The emperor’s entourage found him and Ludwig pledged that his city should be founded in this spot and constructed the cathedral around the rosebush. In March of 1945, Hildesheim was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid which razed the cathedral as well. The rose’s extensive root system was intact and began to flourish again the next season as the city was rebuilt. The Speyer wine bottle (Rรถmerwein) was recovered from a Roman tomb outside of the city (see also) in the mid 1800s and since dated to the fourth century of the common era. This grave good is contained in a glass vessel and is one-and-a-half litres in volume, two modern standard bottles and is shaped like an amphora with dolphins ornamenting the handles. There is no intention of opening it.

the consequences of every act are included in the act itself

On this bright and cold day in April 1984, and the clocks were striking thirteen, Winston Smith returned home from the ministry and retreated to the comfort of his living room and took out this slim old diary with coral ornamentation that he bought from Mr Charrington that runs the frowzy junk shop and makes his first entry:


Horrified at his transgression and panicking, Smith was tempted to rip out those first spoiled pages and give up on this silly and pointless act of rebellion altogether but refrained, realising that it did not matter. The Thought Police would be coming for him just the same. He had committed—would still have committed, even without committing it to paper in his small, clumsy letters, the essential crime that contained all others, thoughtcrime.

your daily demon: samigina

Presenting as a pony until compelled into human form by an exorcist and ruling thirty legions, this fourth spirit also known as Gamigin is an infernal marquis whose office is teaching the liberal arts and can speak for those souls who died in sin. Governing from today through 8 April, Samigina is opposed by the angel Ieuiah.

Saturday, 3 April 2021


Topping the US singles’ charts on this day in 1961 and also holding at number one in the UK, the doo-wop group The Marcels’ cover of the Rodgers and Heart 1934 ballad Blue Moon is counted as one of the most influential songs in the development of rock and personally considered a close second only to Duke of Earl. Although quite original, the introduction and bridge were presented to the performers as parts of Jean Harlowe’s establishing lament.