Sunday 3 December 2023

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

Sunday 26 November 2023

brothers grimmaverse (11. 141)

Apparently there’s a not so subtle effort on the part of Disney to retroactively canonise their range of intellectual property to make every character a part of the same cinematic, fairy tale paracosm. In the new musical fantasy film Wish (made to celebrate the company’s centenary), the protagonist Princess Asha and her rival King Magnifico (with plenty of other references to Snow White) have a final encounter (spoiler alert, I guess) to stop the corrupt sorcerer ruler in this wish-granting based economy concluding as an origin story with the former becoming the Fairy Godmother to Cinderella and the latter trapped in a mirror dimension for eternity and the servant, council of the wicked and cold-hearted stepmother of Schneewittchen. We wonder what other connections might be forced (to get in on the Pixar Theory where events do seem to occur in a shared univere) down the road and mucking about with the timeline. Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.


one year ago: Aldi’s aisle of shame, Casablanca (1942), the first Christmas film (1898) plus a century (+ 1) of Charles Schultz

two years ago: an undeciphered message hiding in plain sight, assorted links to revisit, a flag-pole maker plus When Harry Met Santa

three years ago: another MST3K classic, more links to enjoy, a sketch a day plus an Austrian village with an explicit name

four years ago: calling a contested presidential election (2000), Anarchy in the UK (1976), criticism directed towards the partition of the Ottoman Empire, the aesthetics of vapourwave plus IKEA designs homeware for Martians

five years ago: merit-based immigration, a map of Britain’s fictional places, the Scandinavian “snowflake” pattern, clever Christmas decorations plus more links worth the revisit

Monday 13 November 2023

predatoroonops (11. 117)

Via Kottke, we learn that a genus of goblin spiders native to the forests of Brazil and described in 2012 has the above taxonomical designation in honour of the 1987 movie Predator, owing to their facial resemblance to the unmasked extraterrestrial hunting party, with individual species like Predatoroonops schwarzeneggeri named for the creatures, quarry and guerilla fighters.

Saturday 11 November 2023

clip show (11. 111)

The 1976 musical documentary by Susan Wilson that juxtaposed Beatles covers with newsreel combat footage and propaganda vignettes that was roundly rejected by critics and audiences was released on this day in 1976 and pulled from cinemas after less than two weeks of screenings. Shrewdly realising that money was to be made from the soundtrack with new renditions by popular artists, the accompanying film score debuted three weeks earlier and generated far more revenue than the movie, remanded mostly to obscurity outside of a few airings that attracted a cult-like fascination with several charting singles like Rod Stewart’s “Get Back,” Elton John’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” the Bee Gees’ “Carry That Weight,” Helen Reddy doing a version of “Fool on the Hill,” Tina Turner on “Come Together” and introducing Peter Gabriel with “Strawberry Fields Forever.” It was rumoured that Monty Python cartoonist Terry Gilliam was approached to contributed animated interstitials but that was apparently untrue. As singular as this enterprise seems, All This and World War II was inspired by a documentary by Philippe Mora from the previous year called Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? made up of newsreel footage and interspersed with clips from contemporary films and songs as a scrapbook of the Depression Era through the Attack on Pearl Harbour, with musical selections from Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Woody Guthrie, Busby Berkley and the Andrews Sisters. More from Open Culture at the link above.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, MacArthur Park, the Feast of St Menas plus Kurt Vonnegut Jr at 100

two years ago: more links to enjoy, 3 quarks daily, superannuated image formats, Bliss symbols, an autumnal walk plus more out of the way wanderings

three years ago: the Trizone anthem, more links worth the revisit plus an observatory receives a new name

four years ago: the Feast of St Martin plus early generative text

five years ago: the Armistice of 1918, more assorted links plus a Bosch-bot

Friday 10 November 2023

9x9 (11. 110)

tragedy of the commons: Tokelau’s country-code top level domain (see also) turned the tiny Pacific island into a virtual den of thievery—via Web Curios  

hanna-barbera educational division: a bizarre 1979 film-strip about getting home safe for latch-key kids featuring some ranger danger 

itinerant filmmaker: travelling from town to town, The Kidnappers Foil was a four-decade vanity project for local talent, produced hundreds of times over  

suspense accents: add the sound of drama to your day—via Things Magazine  

mixtape 2023: Cardhouse’s annual audio/visual revue

bjรถrn of the dead: Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson to play a starring role in an apocalyptic ABBA-tribute band horror movie—via Good Internet  

so red the nose, or, breath in the afternoon: an Oakland, California speakeasy bringing back drinks from 1930s—including Ernest Hemingway’s favoured Champagne cocktail  

merrie melodies: a snippet of the score for the cancelled Coyote v Acme—see more about the shelved project 

legal autopilot: a neural network negotiated and finalised a contract—an NDA—without human intervention

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  


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


Sunday 5 November 2023

i look at this slush and i try to remember at one time i made good movies (11. 099)

Including a short before the feature presentation on good hygiene practices and organising one’s shoe-shine paraphernalia and host segments on showers and sabotaging the Satellite of Love, the 1960 Ed Wood (see previously) crime drama The Sinister Urge was subjected to the MST3K treatment on this day in 1994. Law enforcement attempts to stop a ring of pornographers (the “smut picture racket”) connected to a larger crime syndicate including the distribution of snuff films. After raiding an affiliate studio, the investigating officers are petitioned by a local businessman demanding to know why his tax dollars are being wasted in the prosecution of harmless deviancy, prompting the police to prove the more serious conspiracy. Patronising a nearby pizzeria, one of the investigators witnesses an altercation between two lower-level peddlers and gain entry into the overarching network and distribution channels. Interstitial scenes show how arousal can quickly transform into murderous rage. This was the last mainstream walk-on role for Wood, who despite his ostensibly critical take (though perhaps as invective on American puritanical attitudes) the porn industry, only directed, produced and acted in exploitation and adult films, though like in the above treatment only rose to the level of matronly lingerie modelling.

Friday 3 November 2023

wax; or, the discovery of television among the bees (11. 094)

Written and directed by David Blair and staring the talents of the filmmaker himself, William S Burroughs and Clyde Tombaugh, the psychedelic collage of found-footage, live-action and digital animation was the first to be available to stream (at two frames per second) over the internet as its hypermedia version, Waxweb, following its cinematic release in 1991. As a statement against Gulf War I and drone combat (see also), the structuralist work edited over a six year period is set in an flight stimulation and weapons research laboratory in Alamagordo in the desert of of the US state of New Mexico were the narrator (Blair) is a computer programmer and hobbyist apiarist, having inherited his hives of “Mesopotamian” bees from his grandfather. Whilst at work designing sighting displays, the protagonist realises that these bees have the ability to insert intrusive thoughts in his mind (a television), luring him into the bees subterranean home under the arid wasteland surrounding the test range and revealing through a series of hallucinations that he must become the become the weapon he is designing and destroy his target in Iraq before he can be released from this madness and reborn.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

drei haselnรผsse fรผr aschenbrรถdel (11. 087)

The Czechoslovakian-East German co-production of the Bohemian variation of the fairy tale (Tล™i oล™รญลกky pro Popelku, Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella) opened in theatres on this day in 1973. Enduring and shown around Christmas time and making the circuit through the channels much like It’s A Wonderful Life the primary filming location was Schloss Moritzburg between Meissen and Dresden. The village is in a frenzy as the royal entourage will be stopping en route to their nearby castle, with rumours that the eligible Prince (portrayed by Rolf Hoppe) will choose a bride during the local fรชte. Cinderella’s step mother keeps her busy with menial and seemingly impossible chores in order to keep the competition to a minimum and showcase her less attractive and wicked step-sister. Doves, however, come to Cinderella’s assistance and finishes the tasks, affording her the free time to wander in the woods and encounter the prince and his hunting party, who are impressed with her equestrian skills. Later gifted three wish-granting filberts, Cinderella is able to regale herself with various disguises to become the King-of-the-Hunt as well as the belle of the ball.


 one year ago: another penny black, assorted links to revisit plus the Word of the Year

two years ago: another Word of the Year plus a starting point to restore our burning world

three years ago: The Mask (1961), the Sistine Chapel opened to the public plus indigenous characters in comics

four years ago: a space odyssey, World Vegan Day, more mushrooming plus Blade Runner

five years ago: Trump activates the army to guard the border, movie ratings, an Ansel Adams’ photograph plus a bio brick

Sunday 29 October 2023

the devil’s ball (11. 084)

With introductory remarks on how artists are rebelling against having their works and style scraped and assimilated often without attribution or respect and are fighting back, Fancy Notions directs us to a spooky Halloween treat, fever dream in the form of the uncut animated short from pioneering stop-motion storyteller Wล‚adysล‚aw Starewicz from 1933. The original was considerably edited for length prior to release and many of the film segments are lost but using AI to help fill in the gaps, the original story of this le Fรฉtiche (the Mascot) series has been restored. The surreal cast of creepy toys and re-animated bones (Starewicz’ earliest experiments used dead insects articulated with wires, which reviewers believed were expertly trained bugs) coming to life and vie for a prize orange. Later filmmakers, like Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mister Fox (Starewicz’ most acclaimed work was Le Roman de Renard) or Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas, pay homage to the artist’s influence.

Friday 20 October 2023

the patterson-gimlin film (11. 068)

Shot on this day in 1967 along the Bluff Creek tributary of the Klamath River on a logging-road in near the California-Oregon border, the short film, under a minute, captures a few frames of purportedly a Sasquatch and has subsequently been subject to numerous attempts to both authenticate and debunk it as a hoax. The iconic image of the cryptid was the result of a years’ long expedition through Bigfoot territory in the Pacific Northwest, a docudrama that failed to garner much interest, several creative fund-raising attempts and trademarking the term, when Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin reportedly encountered an unknown figure, hairy and apelike and approximately two meters tall, they nicknamed “Patty,” who they tracked for some distance before loosing her trail and made plaster casts of her footprints. Scientist and consulted special effects artists concluded the footage was of a man in a hair suit.


one year ago: jungle gyms of East Germany,  more spectacular images from the JWST plus Liz Truss resigns

two years ago: St Artemis of AntiochPlay Misty for Me (1971) plus the dedication of the Sydney Opera House (1973)

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, the execution of Klaus Stรถrtebeker plus a remembrance of artist Enzo Mari

four years ago: synthwave Star Wars,  documenting car crashes plus the end of grazing season

five years ago: the Saturday Night Massacre,  artist Giacomo Balla plus more links to enjoy

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.

Wednesday 27 September 2023

9x9 (11. 028)

space lab: a 1992 futuristic glass room with modular rooms that can be rearranged along its spine  

overburdened, overscheduled: the anti-homework movement is picking up momentum—found especially resounding the editorial comment: as a blogger I’m still doing homework  

star the glaze: an 1860 dictionary of contemporary English slang, cant and vulgarities—with a gloss of two secret argots  

memorandum of agreement: the contents of the Writer’s Guild of America’s draft deal with the studio seems like a decisive victory and a Hollywood ending

i am worth billions more than my very conservatively stated financial statements, and therefore could not have defrauded the banks, who all made money & were all: a New York judge rules that Trump exaggerated his worth in order to secure more financing  

felt a bit violated, really: a viral account using facial recognition is doxxing random individuals to the amusement of viewers—via the new shelton wet/dry  

drank the kool-aid: Big Tobacco’s legacy comfort foods 

 do you have information about permanent people: more questions pulled from the New York Public Library system reference desk—see previously 

vertical villages: unbuilt utopian hi-rise communities—via Messy Nessy Chic


one year ago: for the Queen to use, the Discovery of the True Cross, Marimekko Oyj plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: France’s TGV goes into service (1981) plus a change in UK license plates post Brexit

three years ago: Art Povera, pet diplomacy plus Trump’s latest nominee to the US Supreme Court

four years ago: the flag of China plus US-Germany relations

five years ago: more links to enjoy plus the economics principle of chartalism

Sunday 24 September 2023

kinora (11. 019)

Courtesy of Nag on the Lake’s superb Sunday Links (lots more to explore there), we are directed towards a special exhibit on a nearly forgotten, early twentieth century home entertainment package in the form of an individual viewer based on the mechanism of a flipbook, with a Rolodex-type reel hand-cranked to produce the illusion of motion. Developed in parallel by the Lumiรจre Brothers (see previously here and here) they were working on their Cinematograph—both a projector for audiences in a theatre-setting and a camera for capturing filmed footage, up to six-hundred paper-printed photographs to a roll, the action could be watched through a pair of stereoscopic lenses, and the display includes a demonstration, variant models (including a camera version so one could make their own home movies) and a 3D replica to test the antique technology, exploring both its limits and potential. Public interest eventually focused on the big screen, but several examples and catalogues of shorts remain.

Tuesday 12 September 2023

it creeps and leaps, and glides and slides across the floor (10. 998)

Released in US theatres on this day in 1958 and billed as a double feature with the less memorable I Married a Monster from Outer Space, the science fiction horror film introducing Steve McQueen in his first leading role is premised on an amoeba like alien that arrives in a small Pennsylvania community via meteorite, growing larger as it incorporates living matter. Unable to kill the creature, they discover that chill paralyses it and rendering locomotion with pseudopodia impossible and the frozen Blob is airlifted to the North Pole—with the ominous pronouncement that they can stop the terror but not kill it, “as long as the Arctic stays cold.”


one year ago: the Chaos Computer Club (1981), medieval dog names plus the beach photos of Philip Barlow

two years ago: the Battle of Marathon, a sudden revelation plus more nearby abandoned places

three years ago: doom loops, traffic planning and civil engineering, Lascaux Cave rediscovered, flights to nowhere plus the invention of the written word

four years ago: Bonanza (1959) plus the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany (1990)

Monday 4 September 2023

hot labor summer (10. 983)

Amid ongoing strike actions by the Hollywood Writers’ Guild and pushes to unionise workers for increased leverage in bargaining with big manufacturers and retailers and the growing precarity of news outlets, this round-up and review on the US observance of Labor Day (see previously here and here) presents both hopeful and fraught factors for the movement’s reception and success. While a strong jobs market and with historically low unemployment has advantaged many workers in many industries and has momentum, changing paradigms, which companies can cite with varying levels of credulity, like generative content, cloning (the last time actors in 1960 joined the writers, a six-week stoppage awarded creators residuals from re-runs and syndication) as well as shifting to less labour-intensive manufacturing techniques—electric vehicles take few machinists to build and maintain, signalling major changes in productivity and the makeup of the workforce. While many in the US give vocal support to the ideal of unions, only ten percent of workers belong to one and the US Supreme Court has issued recent decisions that erode the right of workers to strike when negotiations, stalled and forced into a stalemate by business executives sold on technological utopias that have failed in many cases to materialise. The empires of off-license lodgings, gastronomy and taxi cabs haven’t translated to savings for consumers and are either petty kingdoms or indentured servitude for providers and streaming is just as expensive, exclusive, walled-off as cable or the studio-system. This changing posture of course has global implications and could further undermine workers’ rights.

fireworks (10. 982)

Filmed on a sixteen millimetre camera received as a birthday gift from his grandmother and a significant upgrade from his former hand-cranked camera at his home in Beverly Hills whilst his parents were away for a long weekend in 1947, the debut short from Kenneth Anger (previously) was one of the first works in this media to focus on a homosexuality as a subject. Inspired by witnessing a group of US sailors attacking men with Mexican heritage during the Zoot Suit Riots, which is manifest in dreamer of Fireworks—the filmmaker to later add that “this flick is all I have to say about being seventeen, the United States Navy, American Christmas and the Fourth of July”—and is scored with the tone poem Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi. American sexologist Alfred Kinsey bought the film’s original print, and although the first cinema owner who screened it was arrested on obscenity charges, the case was overturned on appeal by the Supreme Court of California, ruling that homosexuality—even overtly referenced—was a valid theme for artistic expression.

did my time, took my chances (10. 981)

Released as a single a day after the premier of Rocky III, the American rock band Survivor’s theme track hit number one on this day in 1982 on the UK charts. Written at the request of director and star Sylvester Stallone after Queen him permission for “Another Bites the Dust,” the demo version appears (though without tiger growls) in the film and the irregular time signature is meant to evoke throwing and landing punches. A success worldwide thanks in part due to extensive air-play on MTV, “Eye of the Tiger” won a grammy for vocalist Dave Bickler guitarist Frankie Sullivan and keyboard artist Jim Peterik. Used without authorisation as walk-on music for a number of Republican presidential campaigns, the band successfully sued to have the candidates—Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee—desist, although most lawsuits launched by artists are toothless as it is the host venue—sports stadiums, auditoriums—that have the licensing agreements with record companies to play music and both artists and hopefuls get to be obdurate about their politics.


one year ago: dams and reservoirs in Thรผringen

two years ago: an AI generates movie postersTales of the Old Web, Space 1999 (1975), A Sein of Blue, the double statue of Goethe and Schiller (1857) plus another MST3K classic

three years ago: Trump’s undermining public confidence in the voting system 

four years ago: megaliths in Bretagne, cultivating mindfulness plus a fast food franchise given consular powers for Americans abroad

five years ago: the comic book art of Jeffrey Veregge, Google incorporated (1998), monopolies and monopsonies, self-driving cars with emotive eyes plus the Curators of Sweden


Saturday 26 August 2023

gaberboccus press (10. 965)

Named after a Latin translation of the Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky, the multimedia concern founded by the Polish refugee couple Stefan and Franciska Themerson in 1948, we learn courtesy of Languagehat, produced over sixty titles in its three decades of existence—ranging from the collected essays and lectures of philosopher Bertrand Russell, poetry by David Miller and Henru Chopin, the calligrams of Apollimaire to their work works and perhaps most famously a faithful English translation of the pataphysical play by Alfred Jarry Ubi Roi (previously here and here). Eventually sold to a publishing house in Amsterdam, Gaberboccus immediately following World War II was a rejection of the stateless author and political exile, bolstering the International character of their clients and exposing them to a wider audience with a experience and fervour that resists displacement.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus the tyranny and utility of time

two years ago: prayers to saints during plague times ranked plus Steven Spielberg’s a.i. promotions

three years ago: the Isle of Wight Festival (1970), Ten Million Photo Play Plots, Space Force hierarchy, IKEA in Animal-Crossing, guerilla video documentarians plus more unbuilt New York

four years ago: pirate treasure plus the introduction of the Austin-Mini (1959)

five years ago: RIP John McCain plus the Chinese script for women only

Wednesday 16 August 2023

spotlit (10. 947)

Stan Carey of Sentence First introduces us to a special, exclusive—exhaustive class of English language action words called variable verbs through entertainment industry term and derivatives greenlight, figuratively giving the authority or permission to go ahead with a project dating back at least to the late 1930s, which subjected to a meta-study of corpora seems to prefer the past tense of -lit despite the general decline in favour of -lighted since the 1950s. It makes me wonder about similar lingo like the above, limelight or gaslit—which seems wrong in the mouth except for describing a stove—and reminds me of the strange code-switching that occurs in phrase “googled” something in other languages. We especially liked the contradistinction as illustrated by one commenter who may have “moonlighted on a moonlit night” but never vice-versa.


one year ago: an ABBA classic plus the first trans-Atlantic telegram (1858)

two years ago: a 1979 classic from The Knack, the fall of Kabul, an audio sampler of metro announcements plus the majik art of Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel

three years ago: revisiting the Australian wildfires from the start of 2020, a very young Freddy Mercury, the art of Chase Middleton, St Roch, Flip the Frog and Mortimer Mouse (1930) plus more vagabond maps

four years ago: Trump tries to purchase Greenland, an online museum of various platforms’ first versions, the 1619 Project plus maps commissioned by colonisers of the New World made by native peoples

five years ago: the photography of Christy Lee Rogers, the Law of Jante, US Midterms plus RIP Aretha Franklin