Tuesday 13 February 2024

9x9 (11.348)

unwanted legacy: Russia puts Estonian prime minister on wanted list for dismantling monuments to Soviet soldiers 

banned book rainbow: LeVar Burton hosts a very special episode on books banned by adults who don’t want kids to learn, grow or change—via Kottke  

clothesline, skyline: a look at Shanghai’s ubiquitous outdoors drying racks  

blinkerwall: ten-thousand year old megastructure in the Baltic could be Europe’s oldest  

everynoise: layoffs and downsizing at Spotify spell the end of the serendipitous musical encyclopaedia—see previously  

essentially cenobitical: one year in the life of a part time hermit—via the new Shelton wet/dry 

running amoc: the trajectory of the climate catastrophe blows past a calamitous tipping-point  

clearing the docket: upcoming inflection points in the criminal cases against Trump  

portal kombat: French authorities uncover a vast Russian disinformation network designed to overwhelm fact checkers

comet and cupid (11. 347)

Via fellow internet peripatetic Messy Nessy (much more to dsicover there), we are introduced to the eighteenth century artist Michelangelo Maestri and his school through his series of water-colours of putti, cherubs driving chariots pulled by various creatures as an allegory to depict different types and stages of love—agape, eros, xenia, philia. Inspired by the frescos of Ancient Rome, especially the then recent excavation of well-preserved examples in Herculaneum and Pompeii, his studio’s works were extremely popular and produced en masse and were often purchased as souvenirs by those on their Grand Tour.

synchronoptica

one year ago: spec scripts for Star Trek: TNG plus a webring to check out

two years ago: more Excel art, West African musical artists plus separated by a common language

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, a dinosaur park plus animation techniques

four years ago: more links to enjoy

five years ago: out-of-place archaeology, Sony World Photography winners, Mandombe script plus more links worth revisiting

Sunday 24 December 2023

aรฏda (11. 211)

When originally approached by the Ottoman Pasha Isma’il of the Khedive of Egypt to produce an opera celebrating the opening of the Suez Canal—see also, Giuseppe Verdi declined. Later, however, presented a libretto set sometime in the Old Kingdom, a stretch of three millennia, by famed French Egyptologist and archeological authority Auguste Mariette, the composer ultimately conceded. Delayed by the ongoing Franco-Prussian War (see above) that prevented the elaborate scenery and costumes from being shipped from Paris, the opera eventually debuted in Cairo on this day in 1871. Egyptians forces have captured the titular Ethiopian princess and her captor, military commander Radamรจs, is caught in a love triangle with the pharaoh’s daughter, whose affections go unrequited, his desire for his prisoner and loyalty to his king and country. One of the most famously choreographed scenes is the Grand March from act II, below, when Radamรจs enters triumphantly, the chorus chanting “Gloria all’Egitto, ad Iside (Glory to Egypt and to Isis),” through the Gates of Thebes and is granted anything he wishes as a reward for his services.

Tuesday 7 November 2023

9x9 (11. 101)

dark universe: Euclid space mission to map the Cosmos and glean insights into the mysterious majority of matter and energy composing it  

the earth dies screaming: an effective but bare-bones 1964 British apocalyptic horror flick from 1964  

go fish: the (possibly apocryphal) origin of the name of the city of Slow Low, Arizona  

qr-monster: the artistry of AI prompters—see previously  

๐Ÿš‰: a teaser for a Backrooms-like game taking place in the Tokyo metro Shinjuku station 

lignum vitae: looted leaves of the Golden Tree of Lucignano recovered 

purity pals: new US Speaker of the House of Representative announces that he and his seventeen year old son monitor each other’s web consumption  

future imperfect: a strangely engaging 1974 series of filmstrips warning against the utopian novel and utopian-thinking orbital plane: an exoplanet’s singular path around a binary star system—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

synchronoptica

one year ago: Operation Able Archer (1983), Ukraine to change the date on which Christmas is observed plus a gallery of bad Jane Austen book covers

two years ago: a documentary on picking the wrong venue, a bombing in the US capitol plus the Riace bronzes

three years ago: your daily demon: Bifrons,  awaiting US election results, the collection point for cataloguing art looted by the Nazis plus the first female US vice-presidential candidate announced

four years ago: an unused deck of tarot cards by Salvatore Dalรญ

five years ago: assorted links to revisit, Nixon’s concession speech (1962) plus more from the Center for American Politics and Design

 

Tuesday 31 October 2023

thrifty business (11. 086)

First observed on this day in 1925 as the result of an initiative of the First International Savings Bank Congress (see also)—a summit of some three hundred fifty delegates from twenty-seven countries held in Milan—held the year prior, World Savings Day was promoted as not just an occasion to encourage home economics but to promote financial literacy. While the original motivation came in response to the end of World War I and has always emphasised education, the perceived over-commercialisation of the holiday has been subject to criticism for inculcating young people as early and loyal clients (traditionally accounts opened at this time, shifted according when and where the date fell on a bank holiday, included calendars as giveaways and other enticements) and bundling the cause with other premiums, like insurance and investment instruments. 

 

 synchronoptica

one year ago: St Quintinus

two years ago: suffrage in Switzerland, a Brazilian monopod, dancing security dogs, assorted links to revisit plus Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses

three years ago: a collection of strange classical music compositions, Frestonia, police propaganda plus more links to enjoy

four years ago: Halloween greetings, a collection of metro logos, a Cornish holiday, the Speaker of the House steps down plus the Trump impeachment

five years ago: more of the season’s salutations, an October Surprise plus the March of Folly

Monday 16 October 2023

a venezia…undicembre rosso shocking (11. 062)

Adapted from the short story by Daphne du Maurier and starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, the classic occult thriller Don’t Look Now premiered on this day in the UK and Italy. Grieving over the accidental and tragic drowning death of their daughter, the couple accept a commission from a bishop to restore an ancient church in Venice. The wife Laura encounters two elder sisters, one of who claims psychic sight and persuades the mother to hold a sรฉance to contact the deceased daughter, behind the back of her husband, John. The latter begins to experience premonitions as he continues to work on his project and the former begins to interpret everything as an omen. Atmospheric and disorienting, this enduring horror film explores the psychology of loss and the fragility of the mind. A quite explicit sex scene between Sutherland and Christie prompted her then-boyfriend Warren Beaty to travel to the set and demand it be cut but the director successfully championed it to Beaty and to the censors as non-gratuitous and as integral to the movie as the Venetian setting. In general release a few weeks later, it was often screened as a part of a double feature with the equally iconic The Wicker Man.

Monday 9 October 2023

7x7 (11. 047)

haus zum walfisch: explore horror film shooting locations of 1970s and 1980s classics, including Suspiria filmed in a townhouse in Freiburg im Breisgau  

concrete feats: a tour of Italy’s Brutalist architecture  

rapid electric vehicle retrofits: an Australian student wins James Dyson Award for an inexpensive conversion kit to make gas-powered vehicles hybrid 

earthshapes: fantastic geography from pilot Joseph N Portney 

larva convivialis: the miniature dancing skeletons of Roman banquets—via Strange Company 

jungian individuation: the Swiss psychoanalyst on the predictive power of Tarot cards 

tune-on: veteran television producer and director on the revival of his Laugh-In spin-off five decades afterwards  

31 days: a month long celebration of the Spooky Season from Laura E Hall—via Waxy

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, World Postal Day plus to slander one’s good reputation

two years ago: more links to enjoy, happy birthday John Lennon, Karl-Marx-Stadt, drag queen tarot plus a visit to the Osterburg

three years ago: The Watcher in the Woods, more Phantom plus more links worth revisiting

four years ago: major military exercise in Germany planned by US forces plus other European trade colonies in China

five years ago: Trump’s legacy of failed businesses, more on the fight to save an ancient woodland plus moving Tokyo’s historic fish market

Monday 2 October 2023

via xx settembre (11. 035)

The decisive battle marking the concession of Pope Pius IX and the unification of the Italian peninsula with the capture of Rome and the dissolution of the Papal States, in existence since 756, donations of various Frankish rulers to the Church over the centuries occurring a couple of weeks prior, the Italian prime minister organised a plebiscite to legitimise the annexation of Rome as the newly formed kingdom’s capital on this day in 1870. An overwhelming majority of eligible voters assented to being incorporated, with the pontiff left jurisdiction to the area surrounded by the ninth century enclosures built on the orders of Pope Leo IV to protect St Peter’s Basilica, but Pius protested, calling himself captivus vaticani. His predecessors took on the mantle until the matter—whether the pope was a subject of the Kingdom of Italy or whether the Holy See was an independent body without territory—was resolved by the Lateran Treaty of 1929, with no diplomatic relations existing between Italy and the Vatican prior and Italian royals and supporters of the Risorgimento summarily excommunicated. 

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, more on snail compasses plus Gulf War II (2001)

two years ago: Peanuts remixed, more on US exceptionalism plus a classic from Musical Youth

three years ago: Colonialism and Abstract Art (1936), more musical mashup annuals from Hood Internet,  Trump contracts the COVID-19 virus plus the caretaker presidency of Edith Wilson

four years ago: more links worth revisiting 

five years ago: the fight to save a remnant of ancient forest in Germany plus thumbnails of terrain

Monday 14 August 2023

balum balum (10. 942)

Via Fancy Notions, we enjoyed this short of the La Linea (previously) created by cartoonist Osvaldo Cavadoli accompanied by the background tune composed by Franco Godi. Because the characters of this interstitial talk in grammelot (see above), responsive gibberish used to convey teasing and frustration, it’s hard to say if rabbits habitually mock humans that they encounter but the exchange brings to mind the murderous bunnies of medieval manuscript marginalia.

synchronoptica

one year ago: Some Enchanted Wavelength (1978), assorted links to revisit plus Tears for Fears with the brass section

two years ago: the historical Macbeth, kaleidoscopic mandalas plus “I Got You, Babe” (1965)

three years ago: assorted links worth revisiting, Saint Arnold, the second major book printed in the West plus a bookshelf that can be transformed into a casket

four years ago: TopPop

five years ago: the Blackout of 1968, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), more links to check out plus the history of the Turner Broadcasting System

Tuesday 1 August 2023

7x7 (10. 919)

istj: while gladly gone the way of Harry Potter House in many circles, Chinese placement agencies are obsessing with Myers-Briggs personality types  

hapsburg ai: generative chat programmes trained on derivative synthetic output becomes recursive and untenable—via Kottke  

pittura infamante: the Florentine legal tradition of the rogues’ gallery—via Miss Cellania 

 ๐•: flashing sign with new logo dismantled in San Francisco’s Twitter headquarters after neighbours complain 

:a font family inspired by an Ancient Roman typeface continues a centuries’ long dialogue of the printed word  

watermark: to distinguish generative writing from human, we could possible assign it its own Unicode alphabets—via Language Log  

the belt and road initiative: Italy is vocal with its regrets over signing on to China’s foreign policy push and infrastructure development programme

Thursday 22 June 2023

sparizione di emaneula orlandi (10. 827)

Disappearing seemingly without a trace, the Vatican teen (her father was a lay employee of the papal household and the family had free run of the grounds) who mysteriously vanished on this day in 1983 whilst returning home from music lessons, a choral member and flutist of the Pontificium Institutum musicae sacrae, is currently under investigation by the Holy See, which after nearly four-decades of near silence on the matter has directed a re-examination of testimony and reports into the case of Emaneula Orlandi—thanks to relentless petitioning by her older sibling Pietro to find out the truth, at the behest of Pope Francis. Rumours arose, mostly sourced from unverifiable accounts, that Orlandi was a runaway, lured into a trafficking racket with exorbitant commissions for selling Avon products and adopting the persona of Barbarella, transmuting into conspiracy theories including that she was being held in ransom as leverage for the release of would-be assassin of John Paul II, as an East German Stasi operation under orders of the KBG, kidnapped in the wake of the Vatican Bank collapse and money laundering scandal in order to force the payments of restitutions, and is hidden in London mental hospital, kept as collateral for nearly forty years. The probe is currently under investigation by the public prosecutor’s office in Rome and has been the subject of a recent Nexflix documentary.

Monday 5 June 2023

scrawny boy (10. 789)

Two dozen Roman and Etruscan bronzes and other votive offerings discovered at San Casciano dei Bagni last year will be exhibited at the Quirinale Palace later this month. The deliberately sealed-off sacred baths (see above) dating from the third century BC and in use for four hundred years in Tuscany was found (assisted by the village bin man) with a wealth of trinkets, coins, figurines of afflicted limbs as a petition for the healing water and from the wealthier visitors statues of the gods and goddesses for whom this spring was their domain and faithful likenesses of themselves in hopes of relieving their suffering. One showcase artefact was first taken as the image of a hero or athlete during excavation was discovered to be the effigy of an individual, a named donor called Marcius Grabillo (and given the above nickname, Scabra Puer, by archeologists once placing the find in context) , suffering from a debilitating skeletal disease, with the whole cache casting new insights on not only health and medicine of ancient times but also unique representation of disease and disability.

Monday 22 May 2023

fontana di trevi (10. 761)

Name derived from the Latin trivium—the intersection of three streets, Via De’Crocicchi, Via Poli and Via Delle Muratte—the Trevi Fountain was officially opened and inaugurated on this day in 1762 by Pope Clement XIII, his numerical predecessor having commissioned its construction some three decades earlier—awardee determined by competition and popular acclaim, as was the fashion during the Baroque era—to architect Niccolรฒ Salvi, finally finished by an ensemble of sculptors including Pietro Bracci and Giuseppe Pannini. The site of the well-spring predates this overpowering landmark by more than a millennium, sourced back to the sacking of Rome by the Ostrogoths (previously here and here) damaged the aqueducts that brought water to the city. According to traditional a maiden discovered a new source of fresh water and the theme of the iconography suggests the harnessing and taming of the waters with Tritons and horses guiding the shell chariot of Oceanus. An estimated three-thousand euro worth of coins is tossed into the fountain daily, with monies collected going to the poor of the city.

Sunday 21 May 2023

8x8 (10. 760)

the four republican “freedoms”: the US GOP manifesto is not geared for governance—see previously

little deuce coupe: modern automaker faithfully fashions the unrealised 1974 Pony by Giorgetto Giugiaro (see also)—unveiled in Lake Como 

action kids: a 1965 choreographed work-out to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ rendition of The Third Man theme  

the heart of the ocean: advanced scanning technique produce a digital twin of the wreck of the Titanic  

a corecore experiment: presenting the post-post-post-truth future of AI—see previously  

consider the jackalope: more—see also—on this real, taxidermic cryptid’s origins and implications 

little darlin: the demo-tape from 1992 from an unknown duo that changed their name after reviewer called them “daft punky trash”—see previously  

tax, title and license: the state of Texas to charge electric-vehicle drivers extorted fees to register their cars

Saturday 13 May 2023

8x8 (10. 737)

what is a strikebreaker: past gameshow champion Ken Jennings to host Jeopardy! during its final episodes for the season, crossing the picket line during the Writers’ Guild protest  

captain’s table: a tour of the Hamburg-America Line’s SS Prinzessin Vitoria Luise—the world’s first purpose built cruise ship, launched in 1900 

the big four: the dominant professional services networks providing auditing and assurance advise clients on how to cheat their way through compliance inspection 

bull-boards: more on the Osborne brandy mascot that’s become an icon of Spain 

get your kicks on route 66: ahead of its centenary, the historic American highway gets a much needed refurbishment—via Miss Cellania 

c’est le dernier qui a parlรฉ qui a raison: ahead of tonight grand prix in Liverpool, a look back on the geopolitics of Eurovision—see also, see previously 

lucky duck gets private equitied: the latest cartoon fro, Ruben Bolling—see previously, see also 

home port: despite the ban, cruise ships are still docking in Venice  

scabs: Starbucks announced closure of three franchises in Ithaca, New York has nothing to do with the workers’ decision to unionise

Saturday 29 April 2023

in the room the women come and go, talking of michaelangelo (10. 706)

The BBC reports that the Florida principal pressured to resign after introducing pupils to the artist’s masterpiece, David, without prior parental approval of the curricula, has travelled to Florence with her family and saw the colossal marble statue in person at the Accademia Galleria, at the invitation of the museum’s director. The biblical figure whose nakedness and vulnerability represent the triumph of purity over the forces of evil was originally destined as an ensemble lining the roof buttresses of the cathedral but once finally realised, authorities instead decided, due to its size and grandeur, to place the statue in the public square of the seat of the Florentine government in 1504. A fig leaf (foglia di fico, a loin-garland) was added shortly after installation and though not a permanent addition, the practise was perpetuated by Victoria after expressing shock over the nudity of a full scale replica presented to the Victoria & Albert Museum. The original was removed from Palazzo della Signoria to the gallery in 1873, with a copy on public display, to protect it from the elements.

Sunday 23 April 2023

8x8 (10. 692)

caspar milquetoast: Public Domain Review presents Shy Guy (1947)—starring Dick York—via Nag on the Lake  

wicksy’s cocktails: a selection of non-alcoholic drinks from a 1986 Easter Enders’ cook book  

birdsite: the continuing rapid unscheduled disassembly of the platform  

here is a map to give you pleasure, a town reduced to your mantel’s measure: poetry on maps—via the Map Room  

ganja & hess: an under appreciated vampire film reexamined on its fiftieth anniversary  

smigadoon: virtual ghost villages in the clouds that have become the haunts of tourists  

rolling through the produce and said, now that’s a better buy: Toni Basil’s “Shopping from A to Z” 

schools of the air: a retrospective look at broadcast continuing education—see previously

Friday 21 April 2023

ubi et orbi (10. 688)

Mirroring efforts of the United States to disassociate Labor Day celebrations with socialism, on this day in 1923, fascist dictator Benito Mussolini directed the celebration of the founding of Rome, not observed since the times of the Empire, on the traditional anniversary of the city’s establishment in 753 BC—possibly in parallel attempts to suppress a far older fasti that also fell on this day, the Palilia dedicated to the cleansing of sheep and shepherds, to distance its newly attained cosmopolitan character from these rural and pastoral roots. With a military parade of fifty-thousand Black Shirts through the streets on a a route from the Forum to the Baths of Caracalla under the Triumphal Arch of Titus, Mussolini decreed that this holiday would replace International Workers’ Day.

Monday 27 March 2023

il gattopardo (10. 638)

Directed by Luchino Visconti as an adaptation of the 1958 novel of the same bame by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, “The Leopard,” premiering in Rome on this day in 1963, starring Serge Reggian, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale and Burt Lancaster as a dissolute prince of a fictionalised version Kingdom of the Two Sicilies unsettled by the turmoil and tumult of the Risorgimento, the push for Italian unification and the insurgency of Garibaldi’s Red Shirt armies, is considered one of the greatest pieces of filmmaking. Shifting allegiances leaves and the vanishing grandeur leaves our prince disenchanted and resigned to the to the future dealt his aristocratic heritage.

Thursday 2 March 2023

fuga dal bronx (10. 582)

First given the MST3K treatment on this day back in 1996, the 1985 apocalyptic film by Enzo Castellari (also creator of the 1978 film movie The Inglorious Bastards, Quel maledetto treno blindato—“That Damned Armoured Train,” a remake inspired from The Dirty Dozen but only an inspiration in for the title of the similarly named Quentin Tarantino film which is not a remake but does have a cameo of Castellari as a Nazi general) was also released under the title Escape 2000 and chronicles the resistance of the residents of the New York borough, a dystopian wasteland to sinister property developer, General Construction Corporation, and their plans to drive out the present population and build a futuristic city in its place.