Sunday 3 December 2023

you stood and you watched as my baby left town (11. 162)

To the surprise of songwriter and music producer Geoff Stephens, the band formed of sessions players to record his novelty composition “Winchester Cathedral” climbed to number one on the US, Canadian and Australian charts of this day in 1966 for a run of several weeks. The New Vaudeville Band channeled the music hall style and megaphone vocals of Rudy Vallรฉe of the 1920s and the 1930s. The eleventh-century monumental titular building is the mother church of the ancient Diocese of Winchester and is the largest medieval cathedral in the world, only now surpassed by the later St Peter’s, Our Lady of Peace, Liverpool’s and St John the Divine in New York, and is a major tourist draw and pilgrimage destination as the resting place of Jane Austen.

i just don’t see why blance should shove a broken bottle in stanley’s face—couldn’t she just take his abuse with gentle good humour? (11. 161)

Premiering at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway on this day in 1947, Tennessee Williams’ Southern Gothic play (previously) narrates the experiences and trajectory of a former southern belle who loses her teaching job and the family home to creditors and with no other prospects, moves in with her younger married sister and husband in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Deceptive and critical of her new hosts, Blanche Dubois is acting out of self-defence and deflection to not own her series of bad choices, including an early marriage to a gay man and an affair with a student that led to her dismissal from the school. The original cast showcased the talents of Kim Hunter with Jessica Tandy and Marlon Brando and the name comes from a streetcar line (discontinued by the time of the cinematic adaptation in 1951 and replaced by a bus service) that ran not far from the playwright’s own apartment when living on Toulouse Street.

9x9 (11. 160)

caput apri defero, reddens laudes domino: an annual procession dating back to the fourteenth century that marks the beginning of Christmas season in London 

pingxiety: an update on the aerospace engineer’s anti-smart phone—see previously  

settled law: a carol to reaffirm that Die Hard is in fact a Christmas movie  

pocket universe: scientists in Germany re-create the Cosmos in a test tube to tweak the laws of physics for this primordial simulation  

pilea peperomiodes: the Chinese money plant goes by another common name for good reasons  

such fun: noun and adjectival usage of the intensifier on either side of the Atlantic  

anthrobots: researchers have created tiny, living robots from human cells that could one day patrol for diseases and repair damaged tissue  

there used to be a house at 6114 california street: a interview at home with Anton LaVey in 1967—see previously—via r/Obscure Media  

coquito ho ho: a guide to festive variations on classic cocktails

woty 2023: people’s choice (11. 159)

Oxford English Dictionary has a shortlist of nominees that were pitted against one another for several brackets including: Swiftie (a Taylor Swift enthusiast) vs De-Influencing, Heat Dome (a high-pressure weather system that traps hot air below it with deadly consequences) vs prompt—as in an improvisational cue for a Language Model), rizz vs Beige Flag (a warning sign that a partner is rather too tame and unoriginal, vis-a-vis the above) and parasocial (characterising a one-sided relationship that a fan has for a celebrity) vs situationship (an undeclared relationship) Check back soon to see if your favourite has won.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus The Book of Leaves

two years ago: Drake’s Equation, SMS (1992) plus a collection of airline safety cards

three years ago: your daily demon: Balam, a Roman holiday plus fifty-two gleanings from the year

four years ago: Camelot (1960) plus a Chicken Little opera

five years ago: a deck of Mayan playing cards, healthy brain flora, the cries and criers of Old London plus a deployment to the US-Mexico border

Saturday 2 December 2023

le sacre (11. 158)

With an coronation ceremony of his own design marking a significant departure from the tradition of the Ancien Rรฉgime and to establish his legitimacy not grounded the pomp and precedent reserved for kings Napoleon and Josรฉphine were crowned Emperor and Empress of the French on this day in 1804 (11 Frimaire, XIII, according to the Revolutionary Republican Calendar) in Notre-Dame de Paris. Approved overwhelmingly by the people during a constitutional referendum in May of the same year, the investiture ceremony was a masterwork of propaganda to appease both royalists and reformers and whereas the old monarchs of France had been anointed by the archbishop in Reims, Pope Pius VII agreed to officiate and was an amalgam of Roman and French rites, with symbolism that elided over the ousted Bourbon dynasty and sought to link the new ruling house with the Merovingians, replacing the traditional fleur-de-lis motif with bees in reference to the golden decorations discovered in the tomb of Childeric I. After the sacred ritual and coronation mass concluded, Napoleon took a civil oath before the presidents of the senate, legislature and Council of State: “I swear to maintain the integrity of the territory of the Republic, to respect and enforce the Concordat (the settlement between Catholic church and revolutionaries that saw most of the church’s status restored) and freedom of religion, equality of rights, political and civil liberties, the irrevocability of the sale of national lands, not to raise any tax except in virtue of the law, to maintain the institution of the Legion of Honour and to govern in the sole interest, happiness and glory of the French people.”

duck or rabbit (11. 157)

Though this gallery of visual anagrams enhanced by AI and part of a school thesis—via the always engaging Web Curios—relies on many of the familiar tropes of optical illusions, like Einstein-Monroe transformations, reversals, skewed perspective and textual ambigrams, the collection of dynamic paintings and sketches built with diffusion models that one can tweak and re-code to create works of one’s own is pretty spectacular. We agree, moreover with the editorial that one should spend a moment pouring over these examples—as considering the pace of change, the magic is only guaranteed for a limited amount of time.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, an unsuccessful space opera, the US Taiwan-Relations Act, celebrity anagrams plus Planet Pizza

two years ago: Angela Merkel steps down 

three years ago: Wonder Woman first appears in animated form, Emil and the Detectives (1931), CBC’s Larry Logo plus Trump’s daughter ostracised 

four years ago: the University of Leipzig (1409) plus outrage and polling

five years ago: more links to enjoy,  Bohemian Hanukkah plus UPA animation studios

Friday 1 December 2023

9x9 (11. 156)

the saw lady: the virtuosity of Natalia Paruz  

tribalism: the worsening internet is an uncomfortable fun-house reflection of our inchoate proclivities  

holiday train show: a miniature NYC constructed from twigs and leaves at the city’s Botanical Garden  

bouzingos: the overlooked precursor to the Bohemian subculture  

microsleep: penguins take ten thousand seconds’ long naps per day to be rested but alert in noisy, hunted colonies

state-sanctioned socialist realism: the artistic duo of Komar and Melamid who turned subversive 

fairytale of new york: celebrating the life and talent of legendary Pogues’ singer Shane MacGowan—see previously, see also  

all about winning: Japan’s buzzword of the year continues a baseball-related streak 

busking: mapping live music public venues

⌘ (11. 155)

Via Things Magazine, we are only introduced to the enthralling blog of Gingerbearman but also can put a name to the early computer artwork and illustrations of Barbara Nessim as featured in Byte magazine and elsewhere. Not just pixelated renditions, these graphics, produced thanks to a residency with Time-Life in 1984 that gave her access to state-of-the-art technologies, were vector drawings formatted and encoded to display on televisions and terminals. See more of Nessim’s extension portfolio and learn about her contributions at the link up top.