Saturday, 31 October 2020

8x8

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

copaganda

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

8x8

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

vitalienbrรผder

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.

7x7

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

7x7

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!

Monday, 28 October 2019

jimi-jam

Our thanks again to Nag on the Lake for turning our attention towards party tradition that’s entering its fifth iteration, the mundane Halloween ball (Jimi Halloween, ๅœฐๅ‘ณใƒใƒญใ‚ฆใ‚ฃใƒณ)—organised and attended by adults wanting to celebrate the occasion (see also) but were not yet ready for the commitment to flamboyant and elaborate costumes. Instead, party-goers would dress for everyday situations and potentially awkward interactions, the outfits begging the question what-are-you-supposed-to-be and soliciting a satisfying answer of acknowledgment and understanding. If I were a judge at the event, I’d certainly award top honours to Man Face-Swapping with his Starbucks Cup. I did a thing. Many more relatable characters at the link up top.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

7x7

trick-or-treat: communities in race to best each other with increasing draconian ordinances regulating Halloween

huzzah: the utopian ideals behind Renaissance Fairs

dog whistle/bull horn: critiquing Facebook for the low quality propaganda platform it is, via Marginal Revolution

starchitecture: pairing Zodiac houses with their representative designers

your trial period has expired: how free storage drove every thing out if the archives and mandated everything be always available, via Duck Soup

world unique promotional product identity & emotion: the strange world of Vater Abraham, author of the Smurfs’ theme song among a few others

noir: Bruce McCorkindale’s Art House Muppets for Inktober

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

walpurisnacht

Our faithful chronicler reminds that on this night, the date shared with many other momentous occasions including the annexation of Hawaii (1900), the fall of Saigon (1975) and the coming out of the tv character of actor and comedian Ellen DeGeneres (1997), Beltane Eve is observed (previously here and here) in the northern hemisphere, coopted locally as the syncretion of the day before the feast day of Saint Walpurga, an abbess and Anglo-Saxon missionary from Devonshire to the Frankish Empire.
Converts were encouraged to pray to her for intercession and protection from witchcraft—though Walpurga’s patronage was restricted to hydrophobia, odd given the witch connection, and sailors in distress. Though there’s a lot of regional variation in the way the holiday is kept across northern Europe, common customs include bonfires—a ceremonial burning and/or celebration of the diabolical and a sort of sealing off the portal, marking the last opportunity that the supernatural can cross over from the nether world, until Halloween.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

happy halloween!

As always, thanks for visiting and spooky tidings to you and yours!

Saturday, 27 October 2018

fancy dress party

In case you are in need of a bit more inspiration to come up with a Halloween custom as the holiday creeps closer and close, why not consult your friendly neighbourhood AI.

Outdoing last year’s training session, Janelle Shane taught her neural network (previously) on a dataset of over seven thousand outfit ideas and had her efforts profiled in the New York Times, with illustrations of the learning process, trial and error illustrated by Jessia Ma—even the ones that seemed to defy sense and representation.
Check them all out at the links above and perhaps find a character that speaks to you for trick-or-treating or your office party—and yes, there’s even a whole sub-set of ill-advised sexy costumes.

What are your favourites?

Friday, 26 October 2018

bobby (boris) pickett and the crypt-kickers

We enjoyed this appreciation of the quintessential Halloween anthem, the 1962 novelty song “Monster Mash,” from Tedium—delving into the piece’s musical inspirations and long legacy of homages.
Aspiring actor and musician Pickett was performing a cover of the Diamonds’ “Little Darin’” one evening but substituted the middle monologue with a horror movie exposition of a bridge (in the voice of Boris Karloff)  and the audience cheered, and drawing from the earlier novelty hit, The Hollywood Argyles’ “Alley Oop,” and the dance sensation the Mashed Potato, captured by Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time” and “Gimme Gravy,” Pickett went on to collaborate and compose the graveyard smash. Among the original Crypt-Kickers was pianist Leon Russell. Listen to the song, covers and everything adjacent at the link above.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

decorative gourd season

Building off an earlier exercise in training a neural network to conjure up extremely plausible sounding names for craft beer and small batch breweries, Janelle Shane (previously here and here) brilliantly tweaked the naming conventions slightly to infuse the results with pumpkin spice and other seasonal trappings. Here are some of our favourites but they whole beer menu is definitely worth sampling:


Bog Porter
Winter Winter This Dead Ale
Warmer Hollow
Ale Gore
Spice Prophecy
Pumpkin Disaster
Faceless Ole Ale
Winter Zuul

Check out AI Weirdness (aka Lewis and Quark) at the link above for more and to study the methodology and learn how to develop an artificial intelligence of your own.