Monday 8 November 2021

l'arbe du ténéré

Sadly destroyed by a careless truck driver hitting the only landmark in a hundred mile radius sometime earlier in the year, the remains of the solitary acacia, considered among the most isolated in the world, the Tree of Ténéré, a guide for decades for caravans embarking on or returning from crossing the Sahara, were collected a put on display in the National Museum of Niger in Niamey on this day in 1973. Incredibly, the tree was included on maps of the desert, even at scales of millions-to-one. Memorialised in popular culture (see also), the tree’s story and metal sculpture that now stands in its place were featured prominently in the 2006 film La Gran Final on the 2002 FIFA World Cup final between Germany and Brazil and the challenges for a group of nomadic Tuareg to find the power and reception (using the monument as an antenna) to watch the match.

Thursday 12 August 2021

all night long (all night)

For the closing ceremony of the Los Angeles Summer Olympiad this evening in 1984, Lionel Richie gave a live performance of his signature calypso song to a global television audience of some three billion.

Though most of the lyrics are in English, there are some faux patois lines, namely—tam bo il de say de moi ya, hey jambo, jumbo—like Waka, Waka—This Time for Africa from the 2010 World Cup. The modified verses for Team USA leave out we’re going to party, karma, fiesta forever (see previously), the middle term being a Swahili borrowing for feast, banquet and also used in the context of Kwanzaa celebrations.

Friday 11 June 2021


lp: an over-sized mural of well-used record sleeves adorns a corner of a Reno brewery

it’s impolite to point
: helpfully finding one’s cursor with an array of candid photos—via Things Magazine

kokedama: an installation of a floating forest (根洗い, root wash—no pot) by Nomad Studio 

zeckenalarm: Ze Frank (previously) delivers true facts on the dangerous little tick 

the amusement park: a long-lost 1973 public service announcement from Dawn of the Dead creator George Romero about the nightmare of ageing in America  

bierdeckel: various graphic designers create coasters capturing historic moments from the UEFA European Football Championship

Sunday 7 March 2021

seven nation army

Released as a single from their album Elephant on this day in 2003, the song from musical duo the White Stripes with its simple yet catchy riff and drumbeat marked a moment of revival for the garage band and has been adopted by numerous sports clubs as a game anthem, chanting favourites, athletes, personalities and even Labour leader Jeremy Corbin. Originally the guitarist Jack White wanted to save his riff in chance the group was ever approached regarding composing a James Bond theme but ultimately decided to include it on their fourth studio record—thinking it unlikely that they’d ever get the chance to do so—although five years later, singly White did write and perform “Another Way to Die” for Quantum of Solace. Though most teams wail the chant with “oh,” as the unofficial theme song of the Italian national football league, the audience refers to it as the “po po po po po” tune.

Tuesday 1 December 2020

die wörters des jahres

Collegially, the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (GfdS, see previously) has selected a range of words for 2020. In first place is Corona-Pandemie and second is Lockdown, fourth is Black Lives Matter and seventh is Triage. The remaining six selectees, however, need a bit of unpacking and interpreting, we think. 

Verschwörungszählung refers to the conspiracy theory (Americans don’t have an absolute monopoly) that numbers of cases and casualties of COVID-19 are being inflated 

AHA—the three rules of keeping one’s distance (Abstand), practising good hygiene and wearing masks daily (Alltagsmaske) 

systemrelevant emphasises the importance of a regulated approach and clear and consistent messaging 

Geisterspiele are ghost games referring to the tournaments happening in empty stadiums 

Gendersternchen is acknowledging the new practise of using an asterisks to refer to male and female occupations, affiliations or offices instead of the generic masculine or to assign a job a sexual identity, Künstler/Kunstlerin (artist) to Künstler*in, with the ensuing debate about article and case agreement 

And rounding out the list is wish for continued good health in Bleiben Sie gesund!

Monday 3 August 2020


With a national hymn dedicated to the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm III (Fridericus Rex Borussiae) on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday, composer Gaspare Spontini brought the New Latin coinage (see also) into common-parlance on this day in 1820, first suggested as the name for an ancient tribe in the region in an early sixteenth century treatise by Erasmus Stella—now regarded as fictitious and bad scholarship.
From the anthem also came the sense of Borussia as the female personification of the old kingdom (previously) and is one aspect of the golden figure portrayed atop the Victory Column (Siegessäule) in Berlin, the Prussian capital, commemorating their win against Denmark in 1852—otherwise identified as Nike, the Greek goddess, and her Roman equivalent, the sculptor, Friedrich Drake, styling her features off of the-then crown-princess of Prussia, future Queen Victoria. Because of the kingdom’s unifying and modernising drives through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it became the namesake of many football clubs, preserved there more than its association with the old empire.

Tuesday 31 July 2018

canting arms

Our gratitude to Dangerous Minds for introducing us to the graphic design studio called Bands FC that creates sort of crests for music groups in the style of football clubs—and vice versâ—applying a system of vexillography and design rules that are rather clever though not entirely comprehensible to me at least, though they helpfully show their work.
It was hard to choose favourites among the musical homages, but there are many more examples are to be found at the links above plus the opportunity to support their operation by purchasing player/performer trading cards or a stylish team jersey with the group’s own logo.

Monday 18 June 2018


tune in, turn on, slack-off: employees cultivating mindfulness are less productive, having realised the futility of their jobs

football pitch: Alan Taylor considers some of the more creative placements of soccer fields around the world, via Kottke’s Quick Links

stolen flame: short documentary about about an indigenous racing team at the 1967 Pan-American Games who were not allowed to carry the torch into the stadium

artificial scarcity: an exclusive website with a waiting room, via Weird Universe

hildegard von bingen: an appreciation of the repertoire and canon (previously) of the West’s first named composer  

Saturday 20 February 2016

white-collar or unfortunate incarceration

The duo of guerrilla artists and activities that previously erected a bust of the fugitive intelligence agency whistle-blower contracted a slew of talented prison inmates to create portraits of the biggest international corporate chief executive officers who are above the law—despite their crimes against humanity and the environment, and are more deserving to be behind bars. The pictures of these scoff-laws will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the reformist US presidential candidate, whose platform might erode some of their immunity to prosecution.

Sunday 3 August 2014

arm-chair coaching or ARG:GER

I realise that this speculation is a little behind in coming, but we watched the final match at a Public-Viewing in Rovinj while on vacation, and I continued to be fascinated by the fact the tense stand-off, also being followed by two living Popes, who happened to hail from the countries of the opposing teams, and how such a coincidence of events will never occur again. The Argentine pope had earlier pledged neutrality, asking for no divine intervention, but I don't know what the thoughts of the Pope-Emeritus from Germany were on that subject. They may have watched the game together, though their minders suggested that play started well past their bedtimes.

Saturday 23 June 2012

endonymy or we call it maize

Watching the soccer (Football, Fußball) match between two countries known outwardly (exonym) by their monikers in the Lingua Franca in the Baltic city of Gdańsk (Danzig), I wondered how they take to being called something completely different and view the lingering imperialism of language. Of course, English is not the only steamroller and all peoples historically developed their own roots and reasons to talk about outsiders, but as the choice of a common tongue above the din and babbling, it’s interesting to consider how labels and aliases are just one persona and taking a deeper look is quite telling.

Thursday 24 June 2010

bric-a-brac-a firecracker

With all the talk of American soccer-moms, I wonder why the US does not hang on every play of the FIFA match.  What would it take to catch on there?  Why would the States outgrow this game, which is pretty watchable, and not all others, whose strategies and excitement are lamed by commercial breaks and reassessment of the rules?