Wednesday 12 June 2024

11x11 (11. 625)

indemnity clause: a look at the exactingly detailed Sanborn maps created for US insurance firms in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries 

unseen persia: thousands of historic photographs of Iran during the Qajar dynasty leaked on-line from the archive of the Golestan Palace  

sweet thing: Chaka Khan’s debut Tiny Desk performance  

bahรญa de cochinos: Russian warships on drill visit Cuba  

doubly-disambiguated bishop non-capture statemale: a vlogger tries to categorise the rarest chess moves  

transponder: wood proves surprisingly durable material in space as agencies plan to launch experimental satellites, like ships on the high seas—via the Linkfest  

1337: a pretty exhaustive list of English words that can be spelled on a calculator turned upside down  

hollywood canteen: a fond farewell to Janis Page, recently departed at 101  

the brannock device: a better shoe-sizer based on the barley corn  

gallus gallus domesticus: photographer recreates exacting portraits of Edo-era Ito Jakuchu’s studies of chickens—via Nag on the Lake  

geochron: the incredible restoration of 1960s analog, electromechanical world clock and map

Thursday 6 June 2024

advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young (11. 611)

Via our faithful chronicler, we are reminded of the spoken-word composition by Australian auteur Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Strictly Ballroom, The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!), which topped the UK singles’ charts on this day in 1999. The essay is in the tone of a hypothetical commencement speech and was written two years prior by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich—though often misattributed due to a viral email circulated around graduation time to Kurt Vonnegut and address given at MIT (here’s the one they’re probably thinking of), and hits, mellows as pretty poignant, particularly as it’s the year I got my college diploma. Trust me on the sunscreen.

Thursday 23 May 2024

aerophone (11. 577)

Officially recognised and granted a patent for his invention on this day in 1829, Armenian extract working in Vienna the accordion (from the German Akkord for concord of sounds) of Cyrill Demian (ิฟีตีธึ‚ึ€ีฅีฒ ิดีฅีดีตีกีถ) and sons was only half of modern version with bellows and a single button board but was considered distinct enough for court authorities from the portable klezmers and harmonicas available for vocal accompaniment. Numerous variations followed and there is some debate amongst historians who credit Friedrichroda native Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschman with the innovation but the accordion of Demian’s was clearly based on a common prototype called the Handรคoline with a lot of competing models being introduced at the time (see also), and Garfield’s dad Jon, an attested aficionado, states in the comic strip that Demian is his hero, making it cannon.

Wednesday 15 May 2024

he will not go out in the fresh air or eat his vegetables (11. 561)

Via Futility Closet, we learn that the four-year-old son Junior—called Tony—of humorist, critic author (an

auxiliary member of the Algonquin Roundtable) and eventual editor of the New Yorker’s Talk of the Town section, Wolcott Gibbs, composed a defiant chant intoned one evening while taking a bath. With the opening and refrain, his father took down the words with the opening and refrain: 

He will just do nothing at all.
He will just sit there in the noonday sun.
And when they speak to him, he will not answer them,
Because he does not care to.

Folk singer and activist Pete Seeger (previously) adapted the lines into a song, finding the opposition highly relatable.

progrock (11. 558)

Established after the breakup of two of the founding bands of British progressive rock Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer in 1981—with John Wetton of Uriah Heap and Geoff Downes of the Buggles later joining Steve Howe and Carl Palmer—the supergroup’s eponymous debut album reached number one on the US charts on this day in 1982, holding top place for nine weeks, ranked as the best-selling record for that year in America and in several other countries. The signature lead single from lyricist Wetton and keyboardist Downes is described as an abject apology to the dreadful way he treated his first wife.

synchronoptica

one year ago: EuroVision, a papal encyclical plus a singing computer (1961)

two years ago: lavaforming, Kepler’s Laws, a rejects’ gallery plus an ancient, mysterious herb

three years ago: your daily demon: Sitru, St Olaf, recognising women in the sciences, duck icons, AI-splaining plus Subterranean Homesick Blues

four years ago: assorted links worth revisiting plus a musical rooster

five years ago: a new art gallery in China, celebrating waters, returning to the Moon, more links to enjoy plus a disruptive network hack

Sunday 12 May 2024

about some useless information supposed to drive my imagination (11. 554)

Recorded at the RCA Studios in Hollywood on this day in 1965 a week after Keith Richard’s wrote the song and played a rough version of the introductory and driving riff in his sleep captured on a cassette recorded, two-minutes of acoustic guitar strumming before hearing the pick drop and the rest of the tape was filled with Richards’ snoring and Mick Jagger’s lyrics contribution poolside in Clearwater, Florida, the single’s release on 4 June immediately solidified the success of The Rolling Stones with an iconic and recognisable musical hook, ranking on charts internationally and is consistently counted among the greatest rock songs of all time, whose themes critiquing commercialism, dithering between cynicism and a plaintive protest, were quite revolutionary and could be perceived as threatening to older audiences.

 

synchronoptica

one year ago: philosophy bros plus early computer art

two years ago: a celebration of locomotives

three years ago: the affection of felines, an NFT defined, assorted links to revisit plus putting one’s website to bed

four years ago: the united states of Voronoi, an AI entry for EuroVision, a socially-distanced press conference plus the soundtrack to Flash Gordon

five years ago: a list of silent letters plus a way to help out the unbanked

Wednesday 8 May 2024

pacific 231 (11. 547)

The most often performed of his orchestral arrangements and originally given the working title Mouvement Symphonique for the compositional exercise in building momentum whilst slowing tempo, the tone poem by Arthur Honegger, a member of Les Six—a group of composers working in Montparnasse who collaborated on projects and produced albums during the interbellum and WWII when audiences could not attend live performances—had its premiere on this day in 1924. A tribute to steam locomotives and named for a class of engines with two axles for pilot wheels, three for the driving wheels and two for the trailing, Honegger was a noted train enthusiast, declaiming that “I have always loved locomotives passionately. For me they are living creatures, and I love them as others love women or horses.” The below 1949 award-winning short by director Jean Mitry of the same name scores railyard operations to Honegger’s music.

Tuesday 7 May 2024

7x7 (11. 544)

group tape №1: a 1981 compilation from the International Electronic Music Association collective  

the light eaters: plant cognition and agency—see previously  

hardfork: the duality of Vernor Vinge’s Singularity 

to share something is to risk losing it: an update on the beloved Broccoli Tree (not pictured), which was loved to death—see also  

mai-1: Microsofts new AI model could potentially over take rivals 

pod squad: Project CETI gains more insights into whale communication  

haus 33: a ride on the Techno Train that loops from Nรผrnberg to Wรผrzburg

synchronoptica

one year ago: the Devil’s Bible

two years ago: a classic from Spandau Ballet

three years ago: cheugy plus Kraft Television Theatre

four years ago: cereal and straw craft, Kraftwerk plus Shelter-in-Place

five years ago: the long-delayed passage of a US constitutional amendment, designer Georg Elliot Olden, the unending attraction of nature plus haunted dolls 


 

Monday 6 May 2024

prophets, seers & sages: the angels of the ages/my people were fair and had sky in their hair… but now they’re content to wear stars on their brows (11. 543)

Originally released as separate records in 1968, the group’s debut and follow on collection of psychedelic folk, the double-album reissued by T. Rex (see previously) and reaching the top of the UK charts on this day in 1972 and retains the distinction of the longest title of any number one hit. Tracks from the combined project by Marc Bolan on guitar and vocals with Steve Peregrin Took on percussions, kazoo and pixiephone (a kind of toy glockenspiel) showcased experimentation (like the boustrophedonic and backmasking reprise of their hit “Debora” as “Deboraarobed” as an opener well before The Beatles dared lead with such radical departures) and linguistic invention, half word play and half speaking in tongues.

 synchronoptica

one year ago:  symbols of state for the coronation of Charles III, illustrated congratulatory letters to box office winners plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: more links to enjoy, architect John Outram plus a visiting peacock

three years ago: more marginal maps, the Flash Crash of 2010, a vigilant prosthetic eye, Lego lost ships, a holographic Star Trek dogfight plus a treasury of optical illusions

four years ago: a survey of timekeeping, vintage Polish computing plus more Brutalist architecture

five years ago: the opening of the Chunnel plus botanical misogyny

Saturday 4 May 2024

the recording academy (11. 540)

Originally presented as the Gramophone Award on this day in 1959, as our faithful chronicler informs, the first ceremony was hosted simultaneously in California’s Beverly Hilton and the Park Sheraton in New York City—though not televised live until 1971 (although the second confusingly took place later that same year, hosted by Frank Sinatra and was aired on NBC)—and had its roots in the Hollywood Walk of Fame project with industry executives realising that their top artists might not receive the same level of recognition as film stars. Following the tradition of the Oscars, Tonys and Emmys, the organisers first proposed calling the honours the Eddies after Thomas Edison (see also), inventor of the phonograph before eventually settling on the Grammys. Twenty eight trophies were awarded for the first ceremony including winners Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie with record of the year going to Nel Blu, Dipinto di Blu (“Volare”) by Domenico Modugno and The Champs’ Tequila taking Best Rhythm and Blues Performance.

Friday 3 May 2024

riptide (11. 536)

Released as the second single from the titular eighth studio album from Robert Palmer was originally intended to be a duet with Chaka Khan but her vocal contributions were removed due to contractual obligations with another label, the song made it to number one on the US charts on this day in 1986. Reminiscent of the concept music video for Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin’s vision for Benny and the Jets, the noted homage also references the work of Patrick Nagel and with several tributes to follow.

Monday 29 April 2024

7x7 (11. 522)

diddly doodly: a live action, 1950s version of The Simpsons in the works

trylon and perisphere: rides and attractions of the 1939 New York World’s Fair  

so your property has been banksyed—now what: conserving the artist’s murals and the difference between the studio and the street 

unfrosted: Netflix’s Pop-Tarts movie from Jerry Seinfeld  

the aethererius society: the London cab driver who became the voice of the Interplanetary Parliament in 1954  

the complete mashography: DJ Earworm takes on Taylor Swift  

anti-social network: Aaron Sorkin plans a sequel to the Facebook film, blaming the social media giant for the January Sixth Insurrection

synchronoptica

one year ago: the Roddenberry Archive, custom game cartridges plus the fired Florida principal gets to visit the David

two years ago: a Martian probe encounters the wreckage of an earlier mission plus viewing tectonic shifts

three years ago: International Dance Day with Colin’s Bear plus deepfake satellite imagery

four years ago: the evacuation of Saigon, the Golden Hat of Schifferstadt, daily constitutionals, zen toast plus assorted links to revisit

five years ago: the inspiration for Thanos’ power glove plus not taking God’s name in vain

Sunday 28 April 2024

cafรฉ rouge (11. 520)

Often performing in the title nightclub of the Hotel Pennsylvania in midtown Manhattan along with other Big Band ensembles that the spacious venue could host, Glenn Miller and his orchestra recorded his instrumental version of the tune (originally by Jerry Gray with lyrics by Carl Sigman—Numbers I’ve got by the dozen, everyone’s uncle and cousin but I can’t live without buzzing…) on this day in in 1940 at the RCA Victor Studios in New York. One of the oldest telephone exchanges still in use, the accommodations closed permanently in 2020 during the COVID pandemic and lost efforts to declare the building as a candidate for historical preservation (the club itself converted into a basket ball court in its final decade), currently being demolished to make way for new skyscrapers on Penn Plaza. Only Sigman’s refrain was retained after the telephone sound effect, shouted by band members. The foxtrot hit would go on to be recorded by many other artists, with homages and parodies, including Transylvania 6-5000 and Weird Al’s Plumbing Song with the number “Roto-Rooter 6-5000.”

synchronoptica

one year ago: a pocket phonograph plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Rome’s Cinecittร  plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: the impasses of Paris, antique furniture trade cards plus the animated Dutch version of Lord of the Rings

four years ago: wargaming the next US civil war

five years ago: Ukrainian Easter, the stained glass hall of fame of The Champion pub plus mutiny on the Bounty

Tuesday 23 April 2024

the lost mixtape (11. 508)

Via Kottke, we are directed to rediscovered audio sampler from the Hood Internet (previously) while producing year instalments of pop music mashups—described as a plane crash of nostalgia scattered across a desolate beach—talk about Desert Island Discs, given fidelity and released for their fans. I enjoy these revues quite a lot but always want to pause and hear the whole song before returning to the medley track. There are a lot of juxtaposed jewels to discover.

 synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting, the first Youtube video plus the coronation of Charles II

two years ago: more links to enjoy, finger mnemonics, more on the Chunnel plus New Coke (1985)

three years ago: Sticky Fingers (1971), reforming the radio-spelling alphabet, the art of Alex Hyner, The Third Man theme plus more concatenation

four years ago: more on the old Icelandic calendar, a break-away key in Florida plus stunt actors in quarantine

five years ago: more links worth the revisit

Sunday 21 April 2024

kick off the sunday shoes (11. 505)

Unseating Michael Jackson’s Thriller as top album on this day in 1984 after thirty-seven weeks at number-one on the US charts, the soundtrack of Herbert Ross (a Broadway choreographer who went on direct musicals and comedies) film starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow featuring tracks by Kenny Loggins and Deniece Williams held its spot through the end of June. The movie tells the narrative of a Chicagoan teen moving to a small, conservative town that has banned dancing and rock music, which the newcomer and his group of friends contest so that the high school can host a proper senior prom, ultimately held just outside and within earshot of the prohibition’s jurisdiction. Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe had been previously cast to play the lead but were unavailable—Bacon turning down an offer for the main role in Steven King’s Christine to take the part of Ren McCormack. The title song has been covered by VeggieTales, Good Charlotte and in Swedish by the Herreys.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

mnemonic movements (11. 492)

Via fellow internet peripatetic Messy Nessy Chic, we discover a 1983 self-defence manual authored by Australian Bob Jones—a martial arts instructor who invented (along with fellow consultant, fight choreographer and stunt artist Richard Norton) his own technique called Zen Do Kai a decade earlier and which is still in practice and chief security detail for the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, ABBA, David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac—inspired by protection and training he had provided for Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks during their world tours. Learning of her bodyguard’s side project with this book based on a series of reflexive, subconscious kicks and thrusts perfected as second nature under threat by repetition and recitation, Nicks immediately agreed to contribute and helped demonstrate, appearing in a spread of photographs throughout the volume as well as on the cover. It is unclear whether it was Nicks’ stage-routine that influenced some of these actions or the other way around. More at the links above. FEAR—that is, false estimate of the actual reality.

Monday 15 April 2024

das rennsteiglied (11. 489)

First performed on this day in 1951 in community hall of the Hirschbach (presently the Hotel Zum goldenen Hirsch) of Suhl by local musicians Herbert Roth and Waltraut Schulz, the hymn extolling the joy of wandering in nature (see previously here and heresee also) has become an auxiliary state anthem and better known than the official, Thรผringen, holdes Land (Fair Country). 

The refrain goes: “I often walk this path to the Hรถhn (apparently a picturesque high hill with the ruins of Fischberg castle on top that we will make it a priority to see) , the little song birds singing / If I am far away, Thuringer Forest, I only long for you!”

synchronoptica

one year ago: Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (1755), General Dynamics’ playing cards plus assorted links to revisit 

two years ago: more links to enjoy, the Universal Day of Culture plus AI Easter eggs

three years ago: your daily demon: Valefor, more Star Fleet uniforms plus Canada’s Olympics closing ceremony costumes

four years ago: a North Korean holiday plus a prescient comic from 1990

five years ago: more on the cannibalisation of the Old Web plus the art collective messy modernism


Tuesday 9 April 2024

8x8 (11. 480)

chambre de bonne: disappearing top-floor tiny apartments of Paris  

semifreddo: the origin of Neapolitan ice cream  

the united states of division: a prescient 2004 release by Prince & The New Power Generation  

court dress: the pink sleeves of the supreme courts of Labrador and Newfoundland are in deference to the former summer robes for sittings in England and Wales—via Super Punch  

geoengineering: Tennessee legislature outlaws (see also) so called chemtrails 

bpm: Chechnya announces ban of music considered too fast or too slow  

backsplash: mosaic of the day  

warehouse-to-loft-conversion: a tribute to the last of New York’s artists’ dwellings—via Messy Nessy Chic

Sunday 7 April 2024

she’s the kind of girl you read about in newsweek magazine (11. 475)

Featuring the tracks “Give It to Me Baby” and Grammy-nominated “Super Freak,” the fifth studio album from punk-funk founder Rick James was released on this day in 1981 by Motown’s Gordy Records. Billboard’s Record of the Year, the album was certified Gold in sales in Canada, the UK and the US, all songs—including a duet with Teena Marie—have enjoyed a legacy of numerous homages and sampling (Pretty Fly for a White Guy, MC Hammer’s Can't Touch This), topping dance charts in all incarnations.

Saturday 6 April 2024

mamma, we reap what we sow (11. 471)

Via our faithful chronicler, among many other events of pith and circumstance, Annie Lennox (previously) released her debut solo Diva album on this day in UK markets in 1992, following a hiatus from performing after the dissolution of the Eurythmics two years prior and spawning five hit singles including “Little Bird” put out as a double A-Side with “Love Song for a Vampire” made for the soundtrack of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The accompanying music video, shot while Lennox was eight months pregnant with the MC outfit reminiscent of Cabaret tailored to conceal her baby-bump, features a cast of personae from previous songs portrayed by impersonators and drag-artists vying for the spotlight.