Sunday, 25 July 2021

i feel the earth move

On this day in 1976 at the Avignon Festival—title taken from the post-apocalyptic novel about the aftermath of global thermonuclear war—the Philip Glass Ensemble premiered the four act opera Einstein on the Beach—see previously here and here—a trilogy of portraits of personal vision and transformational thinking that spurred revelation through ideas rather than brute force and might. This two-hour excerpt from 1979 faithful recreates the staging from the five-hour debut.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

the state of tennessee v. john thomas scopes

Ending on this day with a guilty verdict for the defendant for being found in violation of state statute, the Butler Act, making it unlawful to teach or promulgate the concept of human evolution in a public school, the show trial, test case had been deliberately staged as a publicity stunt for the plaintiff town with Scopes himself unsure whether his syllabus had ever actually risen to that threshold. The media event was engineered to pit progressive Modernism against biblical literalist and Fundamentalism that held that the word of God was primary to mundane research and exegesis with celebrity lawyers and was broadcast on the radio nationwide. The ensuing manufactured crisis and attendant entrenchment on both sides of the inchoate conflict and helped codify an anti-evolution movement that had heretofore been active in only a few jurisdictions but was now regarded as a countrywide moral panic despite the initial characterisation of Inherit the Wind as a win for science and reason over fable and superstition and only serves to illustrate how one ought to adhere to the status quo and create an ostensibly fake flashpoint for a false dichotomy.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

lรคckรถ slott out the southern aide of Lake Vรคnern, we ventured up the peninsula of the municipality of Lidkรถping and onto the picturesque island of Kรฅllandsรถ, the second largest of the enormous lake and visited the medieval castle at land’s end. Originally a fortification of the local diocese, with the sweeping reforms of our Gustav I. Vasa, the nearly deposed, who made the monarchy heritable rather than elective of the landed gentry, converted the country to protestantism and appropriated church property and made Sweden a European power, it fell to various favourites of the court and caretakers who oversaw its expansion as an impressive receiving stage for visiting dignitaries. Today it is a national monument and hosts a series of outdoor operas in the courtyard during the summer.

Thursday, 8 July 2021


After a string of in-house awards and honours represented by recording studios to promote publicise their own sales achievements, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified its first gold album on this day in 1958, the soundtrack from Oklahoma! (previously) for surpassing one million copies sold. Four months earlier, the first gold single was certified with Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star.” Internationally, most other certifying organisations follow this original set of standards.

Monday, 28 June 2021

spokes model

A source for pageantry of the bizarre variety, we were loving how Weird Universe is following up on these niche industrial and sometimes agricultural beauty contests (see also here and here) and limning the winners as more than a promising pretty face with as full of a biography as possible. The champion for the state of Illinois, Miss Trudy Germi only managed to come in third overall in the national competition for Miss Continuous Towel held in Atlantic City in 1949—however she did realise her aspirations for musical comedy in a production of South Pacific. These rolling washroom installations—for hygienic reasons—are not very popular these days but can still be occasionally found. Germi went on to marry a naval captain who was given the task of retrieving the crew of Apollo 11 after splash-down and was present aboard the rescue vessel to greet the astronauts. Much more to explore with Weird Universe at the link up top.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

mostly ghostley

Despite this first failed attempt to adapt this James Hilton novel (previously) about a veteran member of the British diplomatic corps accidentally discovery a utopian community hidden high in the Himalayas who must then choose between remaining or returning to the flawed civilisation he knows not being able to thwart future tries or reprises, the musical version from Albert Marre and Donald Saddler with ensemble cast including Jack Cassidy, Alice Ghostley and Shirley Yamaguchi opened on Broadway on this day in 1956. Running for only twenty-one performances (later produced as a Hallmark Hall of Fame television spectacular and somewhat derivative of The King and I), numbers included “Om Mani Padme Hum,” “The World Outside,” “What Every Old Girl Should Know” and the titular “Shangri-La.”

Thursday, 10 June 2021

wagner-werk-verzeichnis neunzig

Premiering on this day at the Kรถnigliches Hoftheatre in Mรผnchen in 1885, the opera in three acts by Richard Wagner, later classified with the above designation, Tristan und Isolde was a retelling of the twelfth century chivalric romance the adulterous affair between and Cornish knight and princess, a narrative that predates and prefigures the story of Lancelot and Guinevere. Considered by many as the highest expression of the art form during opera’s late stage that opens up the classical to the modern interpretations, it marks a significant point of departure from traditional tonal progression and musical (sonata-allegro form) structure, especially illustrated in the range of harmony, polyphony and the so called Tristan chord ,which resolves to another dissonant chord and occurrences of resolve deferred throughout. Because of the anticipated demands of staging and the requirements for the sets, Wagner first approached Brazilian Emperor Pedro II about having Rio de Janeiro as its debut venue. When this did not pan out, the production company then turned to Strasbourg, Karlsruhe and Paris, though public memory was still fresh of a failed staging of Tannhรคuser there, before starting rehearsals in Vienna. The premiere performance was changed again after a considerable amount already invested, earning the production the reputation of being unperformable even before its first run.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

cantiones profanรฆ cantoribus et choris cantandรฆ comitantibus instrumentis atque imaginibus magicis

With the above full Latin title, the cantata Carmina Burana (Songs of Beuren—a Benedictine abbey near Bad Tรถlz) of twelfth century meditative texts and poems orchestrally arranged by Carl Orff (81895 - †1982) had its premier performance on this day in 1937 at the Oper Frankfurt. The opening and closing movements are named “Fortuna Impertrix Mundi” and contain the famous and stirring O Fortuna.

Monday, 7 June 2021


glass menagerie: a Murano bestiary on display in Venice  

glow up: beauty tips from Ancient Roman—via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump  

coconuรŸritter: a short about Foley artists and creating soundscapes  

happy little clouds: explore a relaxing gallery of Bob Ross paintings (previously), via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links   

culaccino: a database of words that do not readily translate succinctly, like this Italian term from the mark left on a table by a cold glass—via Swiss Miss 

electrobat vi: antique electric forerunners side-by-side with modern EVs  

the perils of everybody: a ‘mistake waltz’ that illustrates the pratfalls all ballet recitals are prone to  

where the buffalo roam: restoring the ecosystem of the North American Great Plains by reintroducing charismatic megafauna  

kitchenette: re-examining Liza Lou’s beaded exhibits

Thursday, 3 June 2021


such good: a dating app based on shared meme-affinity  

boulevard du crime: a lost Parisien theatre district that specialised in putting on felonious melodramas 

lion city rising: photographer Keith Loutit captures eight years of change in Sinagpore  

lunachicks: a flamboyant punk rock group who are a product of unvarnished New York  

broodclipjes: more fun with twist-ties and related species (see previously)—from Pasa Bon!  

horological constraints: the typography of watches—see also  

 profiles in pride: World of Wonder showcases some of the gay rights movement’s pioneers (see also), starting with Frank Kamey of the DC Mattachine Society  

masterpieces of streaming: a collection of the subtle genius of dumb viral videos—via Waxy

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

the lass that loved a sailor

Premiering at the Opera Comique of London in Westminster on this day in 1878, the two-act musical theatre piece with musical arrangement by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W.S. Gilbert, H.M.S. Pinafore was their fourth collaboration (see also here and here) but first to earn international acclaim, with an initial run of five hundred seventy performances. Retroactively referred to as the Savoy Operas, Gilbert and Sullivan’s works are considered foundational to musical theatre and are still staged and enjoyed to this day with numerous references and homages (too many to list) in popular culture.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

when cats are maddened by the midnight dance

Based on a poetry anthology by T.S. Eliot, the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber premiered at the New London Theatre on this day in 1981. The two act narrative portrays one night in the lives of the members of a tribe of semi-feral felines cast their “Jellicle choice” and decide which cat—sort of echoing the 1976 cinematic adaptation of Logan’s Run—would ascend to the Heavyside Layer and be reincarnated. As the first mega-musical blockbuster, Cats introduced the strategy and template for productions to follow and arguable raise the bar for entry for less well financed endeavours.

Friday, 7 May 2021

and now for a word from our sponsors

Promoting MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese which was advertised nowhere else in US markets, the Kraft Television Theatre had its premiere on NBC stations on this day in 1947, broadcast live weekly from Studio 8-H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza—currently hosting Saturday Night Live, the drama anthology series ran for over a decade and offered hour-long stage plays, both adaptations and unique pieces. Confusingly, ABC launched its own Kraft Television Theatre in October 1953 to promote the new product Cheez Whiz which sponsors later dropped and consolidated under the original time and channel slot. Considered prestige television, it launched the careers of writers and actors including Jack Lemmon, Paul Newman, Leslie Nielsen, Joanne Woodward, Grace Kelly, Cloris Leachman and George C. Scott. The debut episode was Double Door from a play by Elizabeth McFadden about a protective sister entombing another woman in the family crypt to prevent her from marrying her brother. Because of the live nature of the show, very few performances were preserved but here is a short clip from June of 1947.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

ะฟะต́ั‚ั ะธ ะฒะพะปะบ

The symphonic fairy tale by Sergei Prokofiev that introduces young people to the instrumental sections of the orchestra while extolling the virtues of Soviet bravery and boldness and daring to question the dictums of the past generation (embodied in the scolding character of Grandfather) had it premier on this day at the Moscow Philharmonic in 1936. Later in the month, a much better attended performance took place at the Pioneers’ Palace, Peter being a member of this youth scouting organisation. Peter protects his animal friends (except for the duck—that is) as well as tames a fierce wolf with their help and working as a team. A 2003 recording with narration from Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill Clinton and Sophia Loren won a Grammy for best spoken-word album.

Thursday, 22 April 2021


carbon footprint: mining is a dirty business

kiki.object: a feminist manifesta for block-chain  

bat stuck in hell: recently departed songwriter Jim Steinman’s unproduced Batman musical 

the gates of paradise: William Blake’s (previously) perpetual cycle of birth and re-birth   

the singing, ringing tree: not to be confused with this other etherial perennial, panoptica in the Pennine Hills of Lancashire

the hawking index: an unscientific survey of popular titles’ rate of abandonment by the clustering or spread of their highlighted text 

this is the type of errant pedantry up with which i will not put: a proposal that the past particle of choose should properly be corn  

project ceti: ground-breaking attempt to decode whale language—see also—via Slashdot  

fourth rock from the sun: Martian rover Perseverance extracts breathable oxygen from the planet’s surface soil

Thursday, 15 April 2021

monster maroon

In light of a recent revue of Starfleet and other in-universe uniforms and fashions (previouslysee also), we have the opportunity to eulogise a prolific producer of stage and screen and costume and set designer in the recently departed Robert Fletcher (*1922 - †2021) who created ensembles for major ballet troupes and opera companies in addition to television and film—including four of the original cast Star Trek movies that gave command and senior staff those signature dress uniforms, referred to by the title (c. 2280). Having won several Tony and Saturn awards, Fletcher’s design archives were donated to Harvard University and are conserved there.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021


Via Boing Boing, we are transported to the Clinton Street Theatre of Portland Oregon, which has been hosting weekly Rocky Horror Picture Show (previously) midnight watch parties for decades, and upheld this tradition through the pandemic and playing to an empty house with sights focused on gradual, safe resumption of the screenings and reviving the kindred community of misfits and happy mutants.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

you’ve got to be carefully taught

Based on a Pulitzer Prize winning book published two years before, the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical South Pacific debuted on Broadway on this day in 1949 and was an instant success with audiences for its standards and candid portrayal of prejudice—particularly with the lieutenant’s song in the title. Preambled by the spoken line that “racism is not born in you… it happens after you are born” before breaking into song, while the show was touring on a junket in the southern United States, law makers in Georgia introduced a bill banning subversive, Moscow influenced entertainment—adding a showtune justifying interracial marriage was a fundamental threat to American values and the American way of life. The number stayed in the show and is also referenced in Hamilton’s “My Shot”—“I’m with you but the situation is fraught, you’ve got to be carefully taught.” The musical won ten Tony awards and a medley of standards from the 1958 movie version can be found below.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

the antoinette perry award for excellence in broadway theatre

Founded by theatrical producer Brock Pemberton and namesake of the above director, actor and guild administrator who had recently died, the first Tony Awards ceremony occurred on this day in 1947 and are the fourth achievement of a EGOT—someone who has won all four industry honours, with the Emmy for a television role, the Grammy for musical accomplishment and the Academy Award (Oscar) for film.

They are the national equivalent of the UK’s Laurence Olivier awards (originally the Society of the West End) or France’s Nuit des Moliรจres. Held in the Waldorf Astoria, the prizes included a scroll of achievement, a cigarette lighter and an article of jewellery, with the Tony medallions not introduced until two years later. This first class of winners included Ingrid Bergman, Patricia Neal, Elia Kazan, Kurt Weill and the proprietor of Sardi’s restaurant for decades of unstinting hospitality for theatre people.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021


berggeschrei: Saxon princes collected, modelled miniature mountains and enjoyed miner cos-play 

#oddlysatisfying: the hypnotic and self-soothing qualities of visual ASMR  

it’s not a cult thing: an interview with the real estate agent selling this ‘sexy funeral Goth house’ in Baltimore—via Super Punch  

erard square action: a tool that measures a piano key’s up- and down-weight  

slamilton: a basketball musical of Space Jam meshed with Hamilton—see previously—that works better than it should, via Waxy  

den hรผgel hinauf: Amanda Gorman’s inspirational US presidential inaugural poem (see also) will be published in German