Saturday, 4 September 2021


Setting off what was called the “cult of monuments” with dozens of replicas subsequently installed throughout Europe and the North America, the original double-bronze statue (Doppelstandbild) of friends and revered literary figures Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Friedrich Schiller by sculptor Ernst Rietschel (previously) and commissioned by popular demand under the patronage of Karl Alexander August Johann, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, was unveiled on this day in 1857 in the forecourt of the royal theatre where Goethe had served as director for nearly twenty-five years, the house hosting countless performances of Schiller’s plays over the years. Despite specious or wholly lacking affinities to these places, like monuments had been dedicated New York, San Francisco, Columbus Ohio, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis prior to the outbreak of World War I and even during fighting, more ensemble pieces were erected in Omaha, Detroit, St. Paul, Syracuse and Rochester.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

hey mister dj

Via Waxy, we are directed to this preternatural, surreal algorithm that rather expertly, uncannily will make a mashup of any number of songs from a group-watch streaming service, RaveDJ generating a set-list in the spirit of our friends at Hood Internet are presumably doing the old-fashioned way. It really shows its surprising competency with mixes like Gangnam Style crossed with MC Hammer’s Can’t Touch This or The Eurhythmics’ Sweet Dreams and Seven Nation Army from White Stripes. Browse the submissions or create your own and share. Always of the opinion that lamentful number from My Fair Lady and David Bowie’s song about getting to the church on time flowed into each other and had complementary energy so I gave it a whirl, our disc jockey creating “Why Modern a Love Be More Like a Man” but as the lengths seemed a little incompatible and needs a bit more refinement, please instead for now check out this preview of one of the mashups cited above to see its full virtuosity.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

non piรน andrai

Always appreciative of learning that that the villainized and vilified come down to a matter of apocryphal license, we enjoyed disabusing ourselves of this staple fact of pop-culture (see also) in that there’s no substantiating the feud between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri and their vying for the position of court composer. The narrative was first introduced in a two-act opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov with book by Alexander Pushkin in 1897 with the elder dedicated maestro scheming to poison his younger rival, inspiring the 1984 film Amadeus by Miloลก Forman.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

great birnam wood to high dunsinane hill

Historical basis for the Shakespearian tragedy, Scottish king Duncan I (*1001, Donnchad mac Crinain) is killed in action leading a punitive expedition against an uprising in Moray—in the north near Elgin, domains under the control of his cousin and usurper Macbeth (Mac Bethad mac Findlรกich)—on this day in 1040. The character of the play however is portrayed as an old man and is killed in bed by the protagonist, spurred on by ambitious Lady Macbeth (Gruoch ingen Boite), who get the king’s bodyguards inebriated to the extent that they are implicated in the murder. A principal source for the stage retelling was King James’ 1597 volume on Dรฆmonologie and the royal house’s obsession with witchcraft and prophesy.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021


united states of wildfire: as the climate emergency escalates, more North American residents are moving into the path of destruction unwittingly 

fitting in: Ze Frank (previously) reveals that even the coolest, calmest and most collected of us are all trying, coping  

d’oyly carte: an islet in the Thames with a derelict mansion built for an opera impresario will be restored to its former glory—via Things Magazine 

caped crusaders: Batman’s sidekick Robin finally comes out 

constrained systems: a tool-kit of alternative image editing effects—via Waxy  

matchi bล:a mesmerising stop-motion study of a magic match stick from Tomohiro Okazaki—via ibฤซdem

 bubblegum pop: the Osmonds 1968 song “Groove with what You Got”  

ฮฑฯ€ฮฟฮบฮฌฮปฯ…ฯˆฮท: Greek capital, archipelago beset by flames

Friday, 6 August 2021

the nomi song

Born Klaus Sperber in Swรคbish Immenstadt in 1944, aspiring counter tenor who adopted the stage persona Klaus Nomi, worked as an usher in the opera houses of West Berlin, entertaining the crew during set breakdowns with arias and studied music yet was unable to secure a steady position and so switched to the confectionary business which later became somewhat of a trademark. Moving to New York City in 1973, Nomi received more professional training and took various gigs performing and developing his presence. His breakthrough moment came in 1979 when David Bowie engaged Nomi as a background singer during performances on Saturday Night Live as musical guest. Being discovered afforded more venues for his unique shows whose robotic demeanour and elaborate costuming both anticipating and reflected the stage presence of acts like Bowie’s and Peter Gabriel and reinterpreted songs like Marlene Dietrich’s “Falling in Love Again” and Chubby Checker’s “Twist” as well as classical, operatic numbers in an abstract, highly synthesised fashion. The black and white palette complemented by cubist clothes and hair-styles that referenced both the Bauhaus theatre movement, kabuki and the retro-future vision of the 1920s—particularly the film Metropolis. A decade after coming to New York, Nomi was diagnosed with AIDS and though growing sick and weak already embarked on a European tour and the talk show circuit, anticipating it would be his last, Nomi dying of complications of the disease on this day in 1983. One of the first figures from the arts community to publically die from the relatively then unknown illness, Nomi became posthumously the subject of many tributes and homages, acknowledging his stylistic influence.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

wag the dog

From the always engaging Language Hat, which just turned nineteen years old, we learn that the above phrase has a specific origin (see previously here, here and here) and can in print be sourced to the rather infamous 1858 play by Tom Taylor Our American Cousin (a boorish American comes to England as claimant to an estate—think King Ralph) and a scene with the characters Lord Dundreary and Florence: “Now I’ve got another. Why does a dog waggle his tail?” “Upon my word, I’ve never inquired.” “Because the tail can’t waggle the dog. Ha!” Familiar with the performance and audience reaction, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin timed his gun shot to be muted by laughter when the eponymous cousin Asa Trenchard says to Missus Mountchessington: “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well—I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal, you sockdologizing old man-trap!” More philological investigations at the link up top.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021


imprint and intaglio: a treasury of antique book illustrations—via Swiss Miss  

antipodes: find the furthest populated place away from your home town—via ibฤซdem  

endless loop: a superb collection of vintage Japanese cassette tapes and related accessories  

dolce come il sale: an Italian town furnishes the Pope with an annual delivery of gourmet salt  

full-house: the Guardian profiles the outdoor venue in Cornwall, the Minack Theatre, as it welcomes back audiences  

down periscope: the Viewfinder installation affords visitors to Sydney’s coast a look at the roiling ocean below  

etidorhpa: John Uri Lloyd’s 1895 pharmacologically inspired science fantasy novel

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.