Friday, 15 October 2021

development hell

The Maximum Fun podcasting network (previously) has been hosting a block party this week to introduce the neighbours—that is, new programming adjacent to the shows that one already listens to discover new content and expand one’s listenership, helpfully recommending crossing-over points and places with easy egress for those unfamiliar with the programme’s content and approach. Already feeling over-subscribed, I am reluctant to add more shows but was always about Dead Pilots’ Society—see also here and here—whose premise is to unearth spec scripts for sit-coms and procedurals that were never produced and give them a proper table-read with a cast of professional actors and stand-ups. One stellar point of entry is episode twenty from 2017 that covers the bizarre pitch from writer Rob Schrab for Jetpackula performed with the talents of Patton Oswalt, Sujatat Day and Constance Wu about a has-been graphic novel illustrator whom befriends a vampire from the future, which was ultimately deemed too expensive to create. Check it out at the link above.


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

Thursday, 7 October 2021

shock theatre

With the debut of the syndicated package of made-for-television monster movies after a few minor roles in a Western series—one being an undertaker—on this day in 1957 in the Philadelphia market, John Zacherle (*1918 - †2016) began a decades’ long career as a horror host, editing a pair of anthologies of ghost stories plus penning a few monster novelty songs. Often filling in for his colleague and fellow Philadelphian broadcaster Dick Clark when touring, Zacherle was the substitute MC for American Bandstand. As a promotional stunt to mark his move to New York, Zacherley staged a presidential campaign in 1960, running as a “cool ghoul” but failing to meet the threshold to get on the ballot in any state. Continuing the same format as Shock Theatre, the interstitial breaks became more and more elaborate with a cast of monstrous characters and branched out into a few motion picture parts as well as hosting a cartoon variety hour and adolescent dance show in New Jersey called Disc-O-Teen. Through the seventies and eighties, Zacherle was a Prog Rock disk-jockey and in an array of b-movies. His success and notoriety helped his niece Bonnie Zacherle develop and successfully pitch her 1982 toy line, My Little Pony—the horror.

Friday, 1 October 2021

this ain’t no sunday school picnic

Having garnered quite a bit of experience and reputation in the Pittsburg market making television commercials, industrials and educational shorts with their production company The Latent Image, George A. Romero (previously) and John Russo resolved to make a full-length feature responding to audience interest in the genre of horror, realising their ambitions on this day in 1968—as our faithful chronicler informs, with the premier of the classic featuring a growing horde of the cannibalistic undead surrounding a group barricaded in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania. Though establishing the rules and conventions for future films of this type, zombies are never mentioned, and like all good monster movies allegorically tracks and critiques contemporary social mores including Cold War paranoia, Western hegemony and domestic apartheid.


For this latest instalment of the annual tradition of using machine learning to generate Halloween and autumnal themed sketching—or decorating prompts—we really enjoyed some of the curated favourites from Janelle Shane (previously) and gamely humans take to these suggestions. In order of model dataset size—Moustaches creep creepily; the unseen graveyard stretches for miles; mist-sheep chew on tombstones. A slightly less experienced, exposed artificial intelligence recommends: the question mark from a box; half a cup of milk; a flappy spider; a flappy tea; Ghost traitors and A zombl. Much more, including submissions and unrelated prompts for animals (Bearllionaire) and landscapes (Library of Lava) at AI Weirdness at the link above.

Friday, 24 September 2021


social distancing: a racier version of Bernie Sanders inauguration getup (previously)—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

directory assistance: file folders are a foreign concept to younger pupils—via Waxy  

street view: a stroll around New York City in 1914 

the matter of britain: early fragment of the Arthurian legend discovered and translated 

we are on the worst timeline: the future used to be cool 

apocalypse no: as a global community, we have overcome some high-hurdles

Saturday, 31 July 2021

you tacky thing, you put them on

Though perhaps too early to be think about one’s Halloween attire or even how Halloween will be observed in the coming three months (or perhaps not), one needs the lead time to get one’s order in for these quite stunning and custom-tailored, highly-specific one-off David Bowie cosplay outfits, via Dangerous Minds, which are of course acceptable for weddings and other special occasions and everyday wear as well. Wanda Cobar’s shop selling celebrity inspired costumes and dancewear also includes various iconic glam get-ups of Elton John and Freddie Mercury.

Saturday, 31 October 2020


no wait, that was the prince of tides: researchers identify neural cells responsible for episodic, cinematic memories 

there goes the neighbourhood: a five-storey historic building in Shanghai walks to its new location, avoiding demolition, via Slashdot 

utopia planitia: future Martian settlements will not be colonies beholden to terrestrial governments

anti-pop: Danny Elfman—previously of Oingo Boingo, releases his first surprise single in three-and-a-half decades  

stingy jack: the legend behind the Halloween lantern from Nag on the Lake  

brototype: the baked-goods based photography of Jill Burrow 

haute couture: Ken Tanabe’s annual DIY ideas for stylish Halloween costumes  

brain-in-a-vat: laboratory-cultured neural organoids could be conscious, via Miss Cellania’s Links


We enjoyed this neologism, this portmanteau from Boing Boing—specifically here calling out the media for their compliant rebroadcasting of perennial moral panics and seasonal hysteria involving poisoned, adulterated Halloween candy (even at a time we’d do better to discourage trick-or-treating in the first place)—and also like how the word speaks to the wider phenomenon of policing in America especially with the militarisation and mission-creep of law enforcement and how cops have become racism valets ready to serve and protect the status quo and justify their own positions of power.

Friday, 30 October 2020

necromantic tripos

Buried in a 1925 newsletter from Trinity College, Cambridge we are treated to a fanciful syllabus from analytic realist Charles Dunbar Broad, whom like his contemporary colleagues Bertrand Russell (previously here and here) and G. E. Moore, would have rejected as quickly and wholly as the Platonic forms, that was surely contributed to amuse his students and reads very much like a modern wizarding 101 with courses in magic, alchemy and astrology—with practica dedicated to scrying, rhabdomancy and the interpretation of entrails—to name a few.

A special disclaimer section follows of prohibitions that enrolees are to adhere to, for instance on the Evocation of Elementals: Owing to the terms of the fire-insurance on the College buildings it is necessary to prohibit absolutely the evocation of Salamanders in rooms in College. It is an immemorial rule of the College that the baths are “places for ablution and not for the evocation of Undines.” “No member of the college may make, have in his possession, melt, or transfix a mommet [poppet, a voodoo doll] of the Master or of any of the Fellows, Chaplains, Librarian, or Organist. Bedmakers have instructions to report immediately to the Dean of College the presence of any mommet that they find.” And on Levitation and Bilocation, they are “strictly forbidden in Hall, Chapel, the Library, and during lectures.” All in all, this seems like a pretty fun, charming curriculum and Broad’s pupils must have gotten a kick out of it.

Saturday, 24 October 2020


bongo cat: a joyous, simple noisemaker—via Boing Boing  

der orchideengarten: Austrian fantasy-horror revue that prefigured and informed Weird Tales and related properties  

backscatter: spooky, simple photography techniques and visual effects to haunt one’s Halloween picture portfolio 

porto-potty: Austrian postal service issues a special, rather expensive toilet-paper stamp whose proceeds go to charities benefiting those impacted most by COVID-19 

llama glama: a llama-based webfont—via Pasa Bon!  

smitten kitchen: for this US Food Day (made-up as a counterpart to Earth Day but never really took off) a look into the recipe library of Georgia O’Keeffe plus others  

clean up on aisle four: glass-floor of a supermarket in Dublin reveals a millennium old glimpse of Hiberno-Norse history (see also here and here

flags and drums: young brothers in Pakistan play BBC News theme on the table

Tuesday, 20 October 2020


Executed by means of a beheading that as capitial punishment goes was extraordinarily dramatic on this day in 1401 (*1360), Klaus Stรถrtebeker (see previously for more of the lore) was the leader of a band of privateers—the Victual Brothers—engaged to supply Stockholm with provisions during a siege with Denmark.

Once their services were no longer needed after peace was achieved, they continued their piracy, adopting the new name for their group “Likedeelers”—the equal-sharers, maintaining a stronghold in East Frisia. Threatened with disruption to trade, a fleet of ships from Hanseatic Hamburg finally took on Stรถrtebeker, double-crossed by a disgruntled mate who sabotaged his escape vessel, and brought the fugitive back to city to stand trial. Despite offers to exchange a gold band long enough to encircle Hamburg for the freedom of him and his crew, Stรถrtebeker and seventy-three of his companions were sentenced to death for their crimes. The Lord Mayor did agree to acquises to one last request: that Stรถrtebeker be beheaded first and that all men he could pass after decapitation would be spared. Stรถrtebeker’s body rose (minus the head) and managed to walk past eleven crewmates before being tripped up. The Lord Mayor, however, did not honour those wishes.


whose side is justice department hunk trant finglepoz on, anyway: a treasury of Hallmark Channel movies counting down to the American election  

moving pictures: TIME magazine showcases one hundred of the most influential photographs  

malochio: an appreciation of the iconic, inspired CBS eye-logo  

giant steps: exploring the overlapping sensory experience of synaesthesia (previously) to the musical stylings of John Coltrane  

nazcat lines: archaeologists uncover a feline geoglyph in the Peruvian desert  

stranger danger: Patch the Pony transformed into a Halloween soundtrack 

fiscal cliffication: continued delays and deferment on financial aid will make it harder for the US economy to recover

Sunday, 18 October 2020

the pharmacological merits of apotropaic magic

Just as drills for a zombie apocalypse is a useful heuristic for disaster-preparedness in general, so too are models of the inevitable vampiric saturation of run-away predation verses a more managed approach a tool for understanding contagion and immunity. Deferring to science, Dracula will always best our superstitions and folk-interventions.

this is what happens when streams are crossed

We previously enjoyed the musical mashups The Grey Album and the Beastles (full compilations at the link below) and so appreciated making the acquaintance with the broader repertoire of cross-over classics with Kraftwerk and here with Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters vs Intergalactic (see also).

Thursday, 15 October 2020

catch me when you can mishter lusk

Post-marked on this date in 1888 along with a parcel reportedly containing a preserved human kidney and addressed to chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee (return address “From Hell”), the letter ostensibly from the individual responsible for a series of gruesome mutilations that terrorised London identified only as Jack the Ripper is one of the few pieces of correspondence surrounding the unsolved killings that are considered authentic—with the same reservations that it might be an attention-seeking hoax like the thousands of communications received by newspapers and the police.

Though seemingly of the same provenance and style as two previous missives, the “Dear Boss” letter—which established the by-line—and the Saucy Jack postcard which a journalist later recanted, having confessed to a colleague as having made them up to solidify the narrative and place it all under one heading, directed towards The Star of London and Central News Agency, this penultimate letter was never fully repudiated and subject to on going study and public fascination. The writer notes, “I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nice.  I may send you the bloody knife that took it out if you only wate a while longer.”

Thursday, 8 October 2020


blood pudding: British public reject Magnus Pike’s (see previously) modest proposal as taboo  

urban jungle: artist employs banana fibre cocoons for the Milan of our over-heated future  

a fungus among us: Public Domain Review explores fungi, folklore and fairyland

object lesson: a 1937 experiment with remote learning to contain a polio outbreak 

those speedy clouds: Alvin and the Chipmunks cover Phil Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi—see previously  

maybe i’m immune: James Corden performs a soulful parody of the Paul McCartney ballad 

 the cask of amontillado: Spanish navy upholding tradition of ageing wine at sea, transporting a buttload of sherry around the world

Monday, 31 August 2020

roll for perception

Though we are a bit deflated to realise that holiday creep is one of the few things immune to COVID-19, we were delighted nonetheless to not only be reminded, via Super Punch, of the 1983-1985 run of the CBS animated series Dungeons & Dragons and pleased also to learn that there’s a Dungeon Master Halloween costume, which is appropriate for the home office and chairing, officiating remote role-playing adventures.
I can remember very much looking forward to this cartoon—almost to the exclusion of all others—on Saturday morning, identifying mainly with Presto the Magician, though in retrospect to find that he was a diligent but ineffectual try-hard, sort of like Schmendrick, was a bit of a blow, and only might be lured onto a roller coaster ride with the prospect that I might be transported to another realm. Bobby the Barbarian and his pet unicorn were dumb.  Victim of the moral panic that gripped the US at the time over the game and the dark arts (plus that Tom Hanks movie—Rona Jaffe’s Mazes & Monsters), only three seasons were produced with the concluding episodes scripted but animated.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

dy’ halan gwav

Celebrated in Cornwall and Bretagne as the eve and first day of winter, Allantide (for the Arlan, the sainted bishop of Quimper) is a feast of remembrance and to give comfort to the souls of the departed yet in that transitional state between this world and the hereafter. Local traditions vary greatly but it was customary to exchange big, polished apples that were achieving peak ripeness at the time, carve turnip jack-o’-lanterns and play divination games—some of which have been advanced to mark the change not in the season but rather the calendar year.

happy halloween!

Thanks as always for stopping by. Spooky tidings and ghoulish good fortunes to you and yours!