Wednesday 10 April 2024

is this the leto boy i worked for? (11. 481)

Though advertised as a clip-show of highlights from the past hundred minisodes, an unexpected, rather absurd visitor, America’s newscaster emeritus, Dune-loving Tom Brokaw, steals the spotlight of the Flop House to pitch his musical version of the Frank Herbert epic—incorporating elements of Fiddler on the Roof—far superior to the HP Lovecraft Historical Society’s 1979 and 2001 revival parody A Shoggoth on the Roof by He Who (for legal reasons) Must Not Be Named, like the above lyric from the lament of mentat Thufir Hawat for his protรฉgรฉ Paul Atreides. In the tradition of the best musical homages from The Simpsons, there are some really clever numbers explored to a lesser or greater extant on the expense of the exasperation of the co-hosts. As the sequel premieres, Brokaw also teases a part two with the template of Sweeney Todd. We also very much enjoyed the leitmotif from A Baliset Player on the Sietch of the Bene Gesserit Gaius Helen Mohiam with the lines “How can I hope to make you understand don’t you move your right hand. Keep it that small box or I will land on your neck with my gom jabbar,” inspired by “Far from the Home I Love.” Listen and subscribe at the link above. Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dune. 


one year ago: 12 Angry Men (1957) 

two years ago: the first 3D studio release (1953), assorted links to revisit plus random ID cards

three years ago: the Thelema Book of Law, the Statue of Anne (1710) plus a glossary of television terms

four years ago: German and Finnish COVID-19 terminology, a memorial service for the Notre Dame fire, William of Ockham plus more links to enjoy

five years ago: vintage volvelles, a reversal on dollar coins, the Moka Pot reissued, shopping per horoscope, imaging a black hole plus punitive tariffs on the EU

Wednesday 3 April 2024

9x9 (11. 464)

avis de rรฉception: Gertrude Stein first draft of her manuscript for The Making of Americans returned by a publisher  

greener pastures: ranchers embrace the benefits of virtual fencing  

แผ€ฮบฯฮฑฯƒฮฏฮฑ: philosophers weigh in on why we do things against our better judgment—via Kottke  

classroom setting: The Function of Colour in Schools and Hospitals (1930)  

haute couture: McDonald’s fashion in France  

heliopause: a NASA-endorsed app designed to photograph the North American total eclipse 

rhapsody in green: warm earth music for plants… and the people who love them 

could’ve been a contender: for what would be his hundredth birthday, some screen highlights of Marlon Brando

peer review: the Journal of Universal Rejection


one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Planet of the Apes (1968)

three years ago: musical hypercards, more links to enjoy, missionary cats plus Blue Moon (1961)

four years ago: vintage railway memorabilia plus drawing elephants sight unseen

five years ago: the Marshall Plan (1948), more links worth revisiting plus conserving Soviet Almaty

Friday 29 March 2024

give us barabbas (11. 457)

Via Miss Cellania, we are directed to the rather compelling 1961 biblical epic (overshadowed by others in the genre) directed by Richard Fleischer for Dino De Laurentiis’ studio, originally cast for Yul Brynner in the title role, portrayal of the thief chosen by the crowd over Jesus to the be pardoned and released by provincial governor Pontius Pilate, as a Passover custom, went to Anthony Quinn with supporting roles by Arthur Kennedy, Ernest Borgnine and Jack Palance and expands on the life of the reformed recidivist after the Crucifixion (filming timed to take advantage of an actual solar eclipse that took place on 15 February in the year of the debut) who is only mentioned in passing in the gospels. Upon release and returning to his compatriots, still a sceptic, Barabbas is disappointed and frustrated to discover that his girlfriend has become a convert—stoned to death later in Jerusalem for evangelising. Feckless and devastated by the loss following his reprieve, Barabbas returns to his life of crime and when a botched attempt on a caravan goes awry, Barabbas throws himself at the mercy of the authorities and is condemned to toil in the hellish sulphur mines of Sicily for the rest of his existence. Chained to a Christian slave that at first resents Barabbas was spared over Christ but over the years of their sentence—eventually curtailed by an earthquake that causes the tunnels to collapse killing all the slaves except the two companions—became friends and return to Rome, via the gladiatorial route to freedom. With suspected sympathies and guilt by association, Barabbas is imprisoned with other Christians, including Peter the Apostle, rounded-up and incarcerated en masse, accused of having set fire to the city under the rule of Nero and charged with arson, were summarily executed by crucifixion.


one year ago: the flags of Antarctica plus a special air raid all clear message

two years ago: a NATO expansion (2004) plus omissions in the presidential daily diary

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, Casa Sperimentale plus California cults

four years ago: a record high for the Dow Jones index (1999), Bulgarian postal cancellation stamps,  a GI*Joe reboot plus fashion-enforced social distancing

five years ago: more links to enjoy, satirical job titles that are probably real ones now plus Brexit is going swimmingly

Wednesday 27 March 2024

9x9 (11. 453)

 you are old, father william, the young man said: Better Living Through Beowulf has been applying Lewis Carroll characters to the trials and tribulations of Biden and Trump  

gรผneลŸ enerjili santrali: power plant in Turkeyi’s Konya region is straight out of science fiction  

rotoscopio: artist Antoni Sendra celebrates his daring daughter’s favourite things with more than two thousand hand painted frames of animation ahead of her sixth birthday 

toto, i don’t think we’re in kansas anymore: the Ruby Slippers theft saga continues 

read/write drive: Infinite Macs and making computing history accessible, including an emulation of the original World Wide Web browser—via Waxy  

licensed broker: the rise and fall of the professional appellation electragist  

fleischer studios: the history and evolution of animation from the phenakistiscope to Pixar  

low-vacuum pipeline magnetic levitation technology: a hyperloop test track in the Netherlands 

come to jesus moment: Trump attempts to capitalise on Biden’s split with Israeli leadership

Sunday 24 March 2024

11x11 (11. 448)

inauspicious beginnings: a rift opens up in a group of official astrologers employed by the Sri Lankan government to pick ideal dates for new years rituals  

disco arabesquo: record label Habibi Funk aims to introduce Middle Eastern vintage music to wider audiences 

typecraft: a transformative font foundry in India 

the allegory of the cave: on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film’s premiere, we may be still trapped in the Matrix 

banjaxed and bockety: two curious Irish terms 

der buch der hasengeschichten: Tom Seidmann-Freud’s 1924 collection of hare fables 

working for tips: bizarrely robot baristas will accept gratuities, in a service sector landscape already fraught with insecurity and precarity—via tmn  

the juice is on the loose: a sequel thirty-six years in the making, reuniting the original cast—via Miss Cellania  

international system of typographic picture education: an archive of the pictograms of Gerd Arntz—see previously  

pocket full of kryptonite: the preponderance of alternative rock songs about Superman in the 1990s, 2000s 

prosopometamorphopsia: a new study on generalised social anxiety disorder tries to see from the perspective of those with a rare condition that causes faces to appear distorted, demonic—via the New Shelton wet/dry

a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse (11. 447)

Taking place according to the teen coming-of-age movie on this day, a Saturday, in 1984, The Breakfast Club by John Hughes, featuring the acting talents of Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Paul Gleason, Emilio Estevez and Judd Nelson. Relating the encounters of five individuals from different high school social cliques being punished with a weekend detention overseen by an authoritarian vice-principal with the assignment to write a thousand word essay on who they think they are as punishment, with instructions not to talk or interact with their fellow classmates, all strangers to one another from different social groups. Hiding from their minder, they break the rules and pass the time gradually opening up and sharing their circumstances with one another. Considered the quintessential 1980s movie (in general release about a year after the events in the movie timeline occurred) and with a stellar soundtrack, film poster, a “family shot” ensemble of the cast was photographed by Annie Leibovitz.


one year ago: the Lassie finale (1973) plus an ominous sign in the heavens (1345)

two years ago: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1952)

three years ago: the Potato Decree (1756), Donkeyskin, Moscow on the Hudson plus an alternative keyboard format

four years ago: International Tuberculosis Day plus a long fight ahead

five years ago: Meshes of the Afternoon plus marijuana etiquette

Saturday 23 March 2024

the noodle bar scene (11. 445)

The always excellent Language Hat brings up the topic of the auxiliary, cosmopolitan argot, Cityspeak, used in at the beginning of the film (and peppered throughout) in the exchange between Decker (Harrison Ford), the snack counter’s proprietor (Bob Okazaki) and later the undercover arresting officer Gaff (Edward James Olmos, credited with its invention to a large extent). The Blade Runner pretends not to understand this polyglot creole of German, Korean, Spanish, Japanese, Hungarian, Chinese and French but of course knows exactly what the dialogue is about. Monsieur, azonnal kรถvessen engem bitte! Whilst this 1982 vision of our contemporary present has not exactly come to pass linguistically, it is an interesting study in diglossia and language as a cultural indicator rather than purely, functionally communicative and what else the movie and novel got right about the future.

Friday 22 March 2024

off his meds (11. 443)

Via TYWKIWBI (indeed), we learn that Dr Lecter’s famously creepy quip from Silence of the Lambs, the psychiatrist turned cannibalistic serial killer consulted for insight to help catch another, “A census taker once tried to test me—I ate his liver with some fava beans and nice Chianti” is more than a memorable quote but also a subtle joking admission that he’s not presently adhering to his prescribed pharmacological regimen. The fictional doctor’s most aberrant tendencies could be managed with a class of drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (a rather blunt instrument from the 1950s used to treat a whole range of disorders with various levels of success), which Lecter would of course know as well as the contraindication of this particular repast, all noted for having high levels of tyramine (as well as blue cheese) and could cause dangerous side-effects—the kind of adverse chemical reactions that the poor grapefruit usually gets blame for. In the novel by Thomas Harris that the 1991 film is adapted from, mostly faithfully, the better-paired wine is Amarone is mentioned but was presumably substituted for cadence in delivery by Anthony Hopkins and as something audiences would be more familiar with.

Thursday 21 March 2024

adventureland (11. 440)

This was a fascinating time capsule and reminded me of the trip we took to the Orlando attraction and kept a travelogue of the vacation aged eleven. Sponsored by Scotch brand cellophane tape, the Barstow family of Wethersfield, Connecticut were one of twenty-five lucky families to win an all expenses paid vacation to the recently opened Disneyland in July of 1956 and documented their adventure, which included excursions to Hollywood, the Universal Studios lot, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, with home movie, 16mm camera footage, narrated and shared as a thirty-minute video on the occasion of fortieth anniversary of the park’s 1955 opening. It makes me want to revisit those snapshots that underpin the memories of vacations past sometimes locked away by time and format. Disneyland Dream by mother and father Meg and Robbins Barstow was inscribed by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2008 not only for its perspective on Southern California in the mid-1950s but also for its contemporary depiction of the American middle class.

Tuesday 12 March 2024

8x8 (11. 416)

studio nue: the meticulous and immersive sci-fi illustrations of Naoyuki Kato  

landsat lens: virtual rewinding maps created with historic satellite imagery

drawing for nothing: a growing e-book of storyboards and character studies from unfinished, shelved animation projects—via Waxy 

hag horror: Poseidon’s Underworld explores the genre with 1971’s Blood and Lace 

แน—s (t → ♾️) = 0: researchers find algorithms that only quantum computers can solve—via Damn Interesting—see previously  

all these worlds are yours, except europa: NASA reveals the plaque its probe will carry to Jupiter’s icy moon later this year  

rednaxela: unusual toponyms, including the named terrace in Hong Kong believed to be Alexander transcribed right-to-left, as was the practise in the past  

fantomah: outsider comic book artist Fletcher Hanks


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, domino theory (1947) plus more words with no English equivalent

two years ago: more links to enjoy,  World Day Against Cyber Censorship plus Mamma Mia (1975)

three years ago: the cosmography of William Fairfield Warren (1915), artist Caterina van Hemessen, St Maximilian of Tebessa, occultist Austin Osman Spare, listening to maps, more isogloss maps plus a celebration of veteran memes

four years ago: St Serafina plus COVID travel bans take effect

five years ago: resurrection plants

Saturday 9 March 2024

8x8 (11. 411)

๐Ÿšซ: the origins of the circle-and-slash prohibition symbol, its adoption as an ISO standard coinciding with 1984’s Ghost Busters  

return to sender: as part of the Prize Papers Project, a pristine Faroese hand-knitted sweater was discovered in an impounded parcel from 1807 

electronic labyrinth: the 1967 student film from George Lucas that would be later reworked into the feature  

snowdrops: Robert Marsham’s Indications of Spring (1789)  

clairaudient: more on Rosemary Brown with other classical compositions from beyond the grave  

if it doesn’t exist on the internet, it doesn’t exist: as of the beginning of the year, the venerable repository, the Ubuweb whose founder Kenneth Goldsmith is famous for the axiom, of the avant-garde has gone into archive-mode—via Web Curios 

sella rotalis: Paul de Livron crafts beautiful wooden wheelchairs, including one for the Pope

belinda new: exploring the typography of Oscar nominated films

Friday 1 March 2024

8x8 (11. 392)

unauthorised avatar: Ukrainian individual discovers her likeness from her self-help videos have been cloned to sell Russian goods, friendship with China  

criterion collection: a curated series of great moments from the film company’s archive of Closet Picks  

il galateo, overo de’ costumi: the age of impoliteness—an influential sixteenth century Venetian treatise of delicacy and manners  

the weeknd stroke psa: a song parody about signs and symptoms of a cerebrovascular incident  

@smalin: graphic artist Stephen Manlinowski creates beautifully animated classical and jazz score—via Web Curios 

the hero’s journey: “the chosen one,” coming of age narratives of Dune, Star Wars, Harry Potter are mostly about adolescent boys coming to grips with their sexuality—via tmn  

dark currents: a 1992 public access occult soap opera from Marrawamkeag, Maine inspired by Dark Shadows, Twin Peaks  

thimblerig: internet retailer’s financial shell game and predatory pricing enabled it to create an untenable monopoly not thought sustainable

Friday 23 February 2024

and the oscar goes to (11. 373)

Ahead of the Academy Awards to be held on 11 March, the always excellent Kottke, who just turned nineteen, directs our attention to film critic Wesley Morris’ appreciation of outstanding performances in categories that don’t exist but should. We especially appreciated ‘Best Acting in a Mirror’ and ‘Best Acting over a Landline,’ which both seem like an especially displaced skill by the same technology, like period suspension belief over mysteries that would be easily dispatched with and resolved by modern standards though some of the scenes are transcendent of place and time. And yes, the ceremonies are worth it for the GIFs, example not pictured, alone.

Saturday 17 February 2024

8x8 (11. 358)

compound interest: Trump’s accumulated lawsuits amount to over half a billion dollars  

vivi o preferibilmente morti: Poseidon’s Underworld reviews a 1969 Spaghetti Western  

epistolary doll: Kafka, a little girl and her beloved, lost toy—via the New Shelton wet/dry 

the wonderful night of hercules brown: a 1968 short film guiding a young boy through his dreams with the help of muppets and puppets 

millions of cats: Wanda Hazel Gรกg’s 1928 children’s book—the oldest American title still in print  

leaning toward more grasshopper, less ant: raising children on the eve of the AI revolution—via tmn  

hero’s journey: a video poking fun at the tropes and archetypes of found in every epic quest—see previously  

never surrender high-tops: Trump launches gold trainers line, goes public with his social network in order to earn cash to pay for his legal judgments—see previously

Friday 16 February 2024

world simulators (11. 353)

Although trialled previously by other platforms to varying success, via Waxy, the new text-to-video generation models from OpenAI’s Sora does seem like prising open another Pandora’s Box. Producing rather crisp and wholly convincing clips up to a minute in length from prompts and instructions, a gallery of samples have been released and for safety and further testing, the vignettes were made by user’s within the company with the participation of a select few artists and cinematographers to assess its strengths and weaknesses. Currently there are no plans to release it to the public and given the pace of change, will probably be impressive for a very short amount of time, though checking out the videos I cannot believe what I’m seeing. Building from adversarial static that transforms over successive steps, the neural network, named after the Japanese word for sky to express its limitless potential, can also extend existing footage forward and backward in time and replace missing frames. The project however has shown difficulty with continuity, the physics of causality and knowing right from left.


one year ago: the tomb of Tutankhamun (1923) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: BBS (1978), the moon of Uranus, traditional Japanese chess plus The Simpsons Sing the Blues (1991)

three years ago: more links to enjoy, another North Korean holiday plus Ladybug Ladybug (1963)

four years ago: jamming with barcodes

five years ago: imperial America, more links worth the revisit plus night-mode

Wednesday 14 February 2024

siegfried: teil eins (11. 349)

Premiering on this day in 1924 at the UFA-Palast am Zoo in Berlin, the first part of the epic silent adaptation of the Nibelungen saga by Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou (prevously) is considered a milestone in film history. Having surpassed his master, the apprentice Siegfried leaves the forge and as he readies to depart as a journeyman sword-smith, he hears of the magnificent and eligible princess Kriemhild of Worms and resolves on the spot to seek her hand in marriage. Deliberately misdirected towards the lair of the dreaded dragon (Lindwurm) instead of the city on the upper Rhein, Siegfried survives this fool’s errand, slaying the menacing beast, and soaked in dragon’s blood attains a degree of invulnerability and his heroic reputation preceding him, catches the attention of the royal court. After an encounter with the king of the dwarves which he outwits, Siegfried arrives at the hall of the Burgundians, with the dragons hoard and styling himself a powerful ruler of twelve kingdoms, and courting Kriemhild agrees to aid her brother Gunther in winning over the fierce warrior queen Brunhild of Iceland in matrimony, she only willing to submit to one who can beat her in combat and feats of strength. Under the guise of Gunther, Siegfried uses trickery to defeat Brunhild before allowing the Gunther the coup de grace. Defeated but still harbouring suspicion, a double-wedding takes place in Worms—afterward Brunhild uncovering the suspected deceit. The sequel is entitled Kriemhilds Rache—the Revenge of Kriemhild. Building off the success of Dr Mabuse two years earlier, the filming was impacted by the period of hyperinflation in Germany following World War I, making it the most expensive yet made, producer Erich Pommer continued to finance the project, confident in Lang’s directing abilities with a score commissioned from Gottfired Huppertz to distinguish this version from Wagner’s Ring Cycle. The colourised (tinted) restoration below, with English subtitles, is an attempt to recreate the original theatre-going experience.


one year ago: the bombing of Dresden (1945)

two years ago: sweet notes

three years ago: your daily demon: Kimaris, assorted links to revisit plus the first ski-lift (1908)

four year ago: an unexpected celebrity souvenir photo album, pale blue dot (1970) plus more AI Valentines

five years ago: reforming the liturgical calendar plus Music for Airports

Thursday 8 February 2024

the tough get rough (11. 333)

Starting a four-week run on the top of the UK singles charts on this day in 1986, the Billy Ocean song was the theme of The Jewel of the Nile, the Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner vehicle and sequel to 1984’s Romancing the Stone. A global hit, it was eventually unseated by Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” the accompanying video was initially refused by Top of the Pops for the cast’s lip-syncing, not being members of the Musicians Union, with Danny DeVito’s miming as a saxophonist, like the August rendition of “You Can Call Me Al,” considered a violation of the guild’s rules for non-member performers.

Saturday 3 February 2024

transcendental aesthetic (11. 318)

A direct ancestor of the Laserium light show (collaborating with Henry Jacobs for his display at the Morrison Planetarium), we quite enjoyed this short 1961 abstract, experimental animation on 16mm film from Jordan Belson, a prolific artist, often with a nonobjective (his career was kicked off by a sustaining grant from the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, which later became known as the Guggenheim) but spiritual bent, who created an extensive portfolio of works over the course of six decades. Evoking a mediative, introspective experience like many of his works, in 2011, the US Library of Congress inscribed “Allures” in the National Film Registry.

Wednesday 31 January 2024

8x8 (11. 309)

that spells primbci: Neuralink begins trials on human volunteers—see previously  

infinite craft: drag and drop fundamental elements to make new materials, from Neal Agarwal—previously  

gboard caps: search engine Japan team designs a hat (ๅธฝใƒใƒผใ‚ธใƒงใƒณ) that types  

double feature: more command-line movies from ASCII Theatre—see previously  

once you pop, you can’t stop: the weird and secretive world of crisp flavours—via Present/&/Correct  

vier-tage woche: German companies experimenting with a four-day workweek to ameliorate labour shortages  

zetetic astronomy: a mid-nineteenth century experiment that spanned the Flat Earth movement  

beta-testing: a few well-reasoned counterpoints for the mechanical Turk hucksters and AI-evangelists

nichts der homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die situation, in der er lebt (11. 308)

Having premiered at the at the Berlin International Film Festival the prior year, Rosa von Praunheim’s It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse But Rather the Society in Which He Lives was broadcast for the first time on the television network Westdeutschen Runk on this day in 1972, the exposure to a wider audience considered emancipatory and resounding globally helped informed the Lesbian and gay rights movements in Germany and the rest of Europe and encouraged individuals, particularly following the liberalisation of Section 175 in 1969 of the German Criminal Code (see previously), to come out of hiding and be seen in a society becoming more tolerant and accepting. Despite criticisms that the film itself was not very good or revelatory (since reappraised for its historical and socio-political influence)—the narrative of a country boy meeting a city boy that in the capital is honest but perhaps not the most ingratiating with promiscuity thwarting attempts to copy the heteronormative lifestyle, though ultimately leading to community activism—it has had an enduring and impactful legacy. Watch the entire film with English subtitles here.


one year ago: the first McDonald’s in Moscow (1990) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more on the International Geophysical Year, St Geminianus plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: advocating a base-eight system, the Winter Soldier Investigations (1971) plus the first chimpanzee in space (1961)

four years ago: ancient aliens and the Gorn Hegemony, the UK leaves the EU, hidden thread plus Primal Scream (2000)

five years ago: a monument to Scrabble plus division bells