Sunday 5 May 2024

the santilli film (11. 541)

First screened to invited members of the press and UFO researchers on this day in 1995, packaged and

produced by various media outlets within months and broadcast world wide with several encores and iterations, the pseudo-documentary by British entrepreneur Ray Santilli, despite its poor quality, grainy black-and-white footage and overall incredulity, became a cultural phenomenon and garnering high-ratings, an amateur video likely subjected to as much public scrutiny and debate since the release of the Zapruder film, according to some monitoring the sensation. Purported to show the postmortem conducted on an extraterrestrial crew member found in the wreckage of the Roswell Incident, a military cameraman leaked the footage from 1947 to the producer and promoter. Ahead of a 2006 feature comedy (of the same name) lampooning the infamous hoax, Santilli recanted, admitting it was a fabrication though maintaining it was a “re-creation” inspired by true events and a lost tape. The home video itself was sold as an NFT in May 2021 with the physical master-copy apparently destroyed.


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting plus a classic from The Stranglers

two years ago: more on defining the metre plus the 1984 EuroVision winner

three years ago: your daily demon: Buer, malingering on the metric system plus a modest proposal for solving resource scarcity from 1983

four years ago: Lusophone Culture Day, a view of the village, artist Howard Arkley, more on the unwritten rules of English plus a green office block in Dรผsseldorf

six years ago: the material properties of silk plus self-destructing emails

Wednesday 1 May 2024

7x7 (11. 527)

the function of colour: more scans from a beautiful 1930 volume on design in schools and workshops

sporulate: scientist create a plastic first strengthened then digested by bacteria  

wck: resuming their mission of feeding people in Palestine, Josรฉ Andrรฉs’ cookbook is nominated for a prestigious gastronomical award  

aim high in creation: a survey of North Korea’s popular culture  

barnard 33: JWST captures a sharp image of the iconic Horsehead Nebula of Orion  

dead reckoning: the history of the Etak Navigator and other cartographical innovations  

architectural renderings: the Art Deco illustrations of Charles Perry Weimer—via Messy Nessy Chic

Monday 29 April 2024

kenshล seikatsu (11. 523)

Listening to a re-run of This American Life on human spectacle introduced with widespread delusion of being an unwitting main character in a simulation, articulated by The Truman Show, the first segment “I am the Eggplant,” about an individual conscripted into a very public psychiatric experiment—that because of its vintage, really went from one extreme of the panopticon to the a much darker, tortured place with several addenda. The Nippon Network’s reality game show Susunu! Denpa Shลnen (้€ฒใฌ!้›ปๆณขๅฐ‘ๅนด—Do Not Proceed, Crazy Youth!) that aired from 1998 to 2002 was wildly popular and known for putting participants in rather extreme and absurd situations, and among the best known long-running contests (unbeknownst to the player) was called Prize Life, that recruited, abducted a young, aspiring comic called Tomoaki Hamatsu, nicknamed Nasubi (ใชใ™ใณ, eggplant) owing to his long face, after winning a drawing for a “show business related job” who as his reward was challenged to live in an apartment with no possessions (including clothing, which was censored for the audience with a strategically placed digital ๐Ÿ†, hardly compelled to be modest since he did not know he was being live-streamed the entire time—wondering if that’s the origin of the emoji’s double-meaning) or food and no contact with the outside world (see also) for fifteen and could subsist only from his “winnings” by from mail-in sweepstakes from magazines. These prizes turned out to be rather useless but after fifteen months in isolation (moved from an apartment in Japan to an identical one in Korea by the producers to keep the location hidden from the paparazzi) his winnings finally amounted to enough a million ¥ , to be declared victorious. Reality television has been a mainstay of entertainment for the past twenty years but the disorientation, disappointment and the glib cruelty made me draw comparisons to Squid Game. A feature documentary is about to be released on Nasubi and his ordeal but you should listen to the interview and thematically related acts first.

Friday 26 April 2024

8x8 (11. 514)

flightline: stunning visualisations of air traffic  

splinternet: ByteDance does not plan to divest itself of TikTok following US ultimatum  

megadeath: modelling the destruction caused by a nuclear bomb on a major city  

mtv buzz: a surreal montage of audio and video clips arranged by Mark Pellington (1990)  

celebrity endorsement: musicians, artists and novelist pose with the Sears’ appliances in this 1969 ad campaign for Kenmore—see also  

undiscovery: the Map Men chart phantom islands—including some that have made it into the era of Google Maps—see previously  

22,5 light hours: engineers debug a forty-seven year old computer remotely from twenty-four billion kilometres away to revive the data stream from Voyager I—see previously  

embarking: a luxury airline that caters to canines above their human companions


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: dismantling Soviet-era monuments

three years ago: more links to enjoy plus a special issue of LIFE magazine

four years ago: fantasy urban map generators, more links worth the revisit plus geopolitical optics

five years ago: an elegant and modern personal seal, even more links plus a Victoria houseplant

Sunday 21 April 2024

cartoon all-stars to the rescue (11. 506)

Airing the Saturday following the observance of 420 during the height of America’s War on Drugs and not too many years removed from Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign and other relentless public service announcements—via learn via our faithful chronicler—that the McDonald’s charity arm financed the production of a crossover simulcast featuring the Muppet Babies, Alf, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Looney Tunes and DuckTales, the Smurfs, Garfield, Alvin and the Chipmunks and others was broadcast on this day in 1990—probably giving rise to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Space Jam, despite unpopular reception. In the style of A Christmas Carol (this sort of nostalgia is a toxic impulse and this is what it gives you) the popular cartoon characters stage an intervention for an adolescent marijuana-user to forewarn him of the consequences of his actions if he does not amend his wayward ways (compare to this 1974 rather psychedelic remediation targeted to an earlier generation that grew up with a lot of this content and franchises). The special was also screened in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.

the waiting room (11. 504)

After learning that director David Lynch (previously) designs furniture as a hobby, Milan Design Week curator Antonio Monda invited him to create an installation for Salone del Mobile—delivering A Thinking Room whose patterned floor evokes the Red Room, an extra-dimensional antechamber accessible through Twin Peaks’ Glastonbury Grove. Whilst meant to be meditative, following Lynch’s practise, the space is also a refuge for relaxation and reflection. Anticipating the demand, two identical rooms were built, according to designer’s specifications, in the historic Piccolo Teatro. The branching metal rods radiating from the oversized wooden are not connected to anything, though perhaps metaphysically, and most of the choices in elements are left unexplained.  Read more from Dezeen at the link above.

Saturday 6 April 2024

concours eurovision de la chason (11. 470)

With the finale held on this day fifty years ago, held in the arts venue the Dome of Brighton with veteran television personality and presenter Katie Boyle—winner of the 1973 contest Luxembourg having declined the honour of hosting the event consecutive years in a row due to cost constraints for their public broadcaster, Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Tรฉlรฉdiffusion, some of the more memorable acts of the Eurovision Song Contest (previously) with an iconic and transporting recognition owing to the winners’ costuming and performance include an interlude by the Wombles, Olivia Newton-John, Mouth and MacNeal and entrant Pooky from newly admitted Israel, whose prog and jazz fusion would prove enduring. France did not participate that year out of respect for the national mourning period for the death of president Georges Pompidou, withdrawing a few days before, and contest was not aired until several months afterwards for fear that the country’s own submission, “Sรฌ” finishing in second place, might have influenced votes on a confusingly worded nation referendum on whether to keep or rescind newly introduced legislation (see above) that allowed for divorce in country—“yes” being the ballot initiative to outlaw the recently enacted liberty.


one year ago: the UK tax year plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: artist Raphael, fungal communication plus playing around with a text-to-image generator

three years ago: Ping-Pong Diplomacy, the first Tony Awards, the Debatable Lands, plans to build the World Trade Center, duelling songs plus the modern Olympic Games (1896)

four years ago: more true facts from Ze Frank plus a cute typing tutor

five years ago: the Bavarian Socialist Republic (1919) plus a community Spring Cleaning

Thursday 4 April 2024

dishy-washy, dishy-washy (11. 468)

Better known to American audiences after rebroadcasts by PBS in the early 1980s as Good Neighbors, the British sitcom starring Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal (Tom and Barbara) and Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith (Jerry and Margot) premiered on this day in 1975 and relates the triumphs and trials that they, the first couple, the titular Goods, experience following a mid-life crisis and abandoning a career as a plastics engineer (designing toy prizes for breakfast cereal packets) to life a self-sufficient existence in suburb south west London, conflicting with the lifestyle of their conventional neighbours, the Leadbetters.

Sunday 24 March 2024

rush week (11. 449)

We thoroughly enjoyed this detailed review of the 1978 ABC made-for-television movie The Initiation of Sarah by Robert Day and starring Kay Lenz, a retreating wallflower (see also) over shadowed by her popular sister (Morgan Brittany) who discovers her latent paranormal powers after being admitted to the sonority on campus with less prestige, ฮฆฮ•ฮ”—referred to by the members of ฮ‘ฮฮฃ (Alpha-Nus) as “pigs, elephants and dogs”—with the encouragement of house matron, Shelly Winters. Discovering that the hazing ceremony will involve a human sacrifice, Lenz uses her telekinetic abilities to disrupt the initiations for the rival sonority as well as her own. Much more from Poseidon’s Underworld at the link up top.

Monday 11 March 2024

free to be… you and me (11. 414)

Courtesy of our faithful chronicler, we are reminded on this day in 1974, ABC first broadcast the award winning children’s television special conceived and produced by Marlo Thomas and friends, adapted from a record album with activity book published sixteen months earlier. The songs and stories sung or acted out by contemporary celebrities including Carol Channing, Dustin Hoffman, Roberta Flack, Diana Ross, Alan Alda, Harry Belafonte, Cicely Tyson, Rosey Grier, Shirley Jones, Michael Jackson and Mel Brooks champion values of inclusion, individuality and comfort with one’s identity and reject gendered stereotypes, hailing that anyone can achieve anything, despite or because of the circumstances of their birth and was inspired by an uncomfortable incident in a bookstore where Thomas wanted to show her niece that it was acceptable and encouraged to flaunt traditional roles but only found materials reinforcing then—namely in a picture book that suggested boy grown up to be pilots and girls stewardesses, doctors, nurses, etc. Though predictably it drew criticism from certain circles at the time for indoctrination and emasculation, but the special and recording have endured, garnering both an Emmy and Peabody award, going Platinum within two years of release. A sequel, co-produced in the both the Soviet Union and the US—the first such primetime variety show collaboration, Free to Be… a Family, aired in 1988—featuring a new cast including Robin Williams, the Muppets, Lily Tomlin, Russian children’s television host Tatyana Vedeneyeva, JonBon Jovi and the magicians Penn and Teller.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, Queen Anne’s army plus the Lend-Lease Act of 1941

two years ago: The Kick Inside (1978) plus a pioneering photographer

three years ago: your daily demon: Dantalion, more links to enjoy,  a Van Gogh up for auction, Oprah interviews other princesses plus a gallery of bad and misleading book covers

four years ago: more phonetic spelling alphabets plus more links worth revisiting

five years ago: a flag supercut, even more links plus scripturiency

Sunday 10 March 2024

don’t make me angry, mcgee—you wouldn’t like me when i’m angry (11. 412)

With a two-hour made-for-television pilot airing the previous November to establish the antihero’s origin story, the CBS network series The Incredible Hulk, staring Bill Bixby as Dr David Banner and professional bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno as his alter ego, debuted on this day in 1978. Based off of the Marvel comic book character by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, a widowed and presumed dead physicist hitchhikes across the country, taking odd jobs and helping others in need whist trying to hide his condition, exposure to gamma radiation causes him to transform in stressful situations into a creature with superhuman strength, usually managing to do good by those he encounters despite his violent rampages. All the while, the Hulk is pursued by tabloid journalist Jack McGee, determined to expose Banner as a dangerous menace to society. The series ran until 1982, continuing in syndication and with several specials following the run that reprised the principals’ roles and spinning off the franchise with other super hero prodcutions.


one year ago: a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition of Dutch paintings plus child-birth in Early Modern Europe

two years ago: assorted links to revisit 

three years ago: Silent Running (1972), happy Mario Day, filibustering, the touchdown of Perseverance plus jamming with Nintendo Wii

four years ago: direct-dial telephones (1891),  global stock markets respond to COVID, the origins and iconography of quarantine plus just wash your hands

five years ago: RIP Keith Flint

Monday 4 March 2024

product placement (11. 400)

Though a bit averse to reposting content from Twitter, this cultural artefact was too good to resist, learning—via Super Punch—that circa 2003 when Chilean television first broadcast the original Star Wars trilogy, sponsors were keen on not taking the audience out of the experience and commercials breaks were subtly (or not so subtly) stitched into the film. This is rather ingenious and wish more networks did the same. Here is an example dubbed in English.  Much more at the link above.


one year ago: Don’t Stop the Beat (2002), Anti-Flirt Week (1923), cult cinema classics, more puzzling emoji plus Trump’s January Sixth charity recording

two years ago: the high cost of mineral extraction, customised browsing plus Jesus Christ Price

three years ago: Nosferatu (1922), more on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, a visual search engine, American state birds plus Icelandic names

four years ago: stream-climbers plus Robert Mugabe elected (1980)

five years ago: outsider artist Adolf Wรถlfli, closed Italian shops, music from a Bosch triptych plus a Brexit phone booth to call Europe

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

Sunday 11 February 2024

sarah t—portrait of a teenage alcoholic (11. 341)

Also featuring the acting talents of Dallas’ Larry Hagman and Star Wars’ Mark Hamill, the made for television movie starring Linda Blair of The Exorcist (previously) in the title role was first aired on the NBC network on this day in 1975. Dealing with isolation and loneliness, a fifteen-year-old takes after her estranged father, drinking to cope with feelings of inadequacy and begins to surreptitiously raid her mother’s liquor cabinet, having associated inebriation with greater social stability. Having passed out whilst babysitting and numerous interventions, Sarah can’t admit she has a problem until a near-fatal horse-riding accident (mortally wounding the horse, who is euthanised) and joins Alcoholics Anonymous. 


one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus Planet Money Valentines

two years ago: an AI reimagines sci-fi comics panels, the Internet Sacred Text Archive plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: more links worth the revisit, bar sounds plus a unique file naming convention

four years ago: political engagement, Merkel’s would be successor steps down, gravity wells plus European emergency numbers

five years ago: the American Petrol-State, anosmia, medals for the Tokyo games to be made out of recovered specie from electronic waste plus the art of Andy Dixon

Saturday 10 February 2024

7x7 (11. 338)

caught between the moon and new york city: taking a harrowing subway ride in 1981  

homing: Nikola Tesla’s love for pigeons and telepathy—via Strange Company 

 : more on the interrobang—see previously  

stringe-watching: the opposite of binging a series to indulge in the experience  

hash mark: the works of artist Ding Yi coinage: TikTok has seen an (irritating) explosion in linguistic novelties to promote niche microtrends—via Miss Cellania  

in the aeroplane over the seas: Neutral Milk Hotel covers for the album’s anniversary 

castro street: Bruce Baillie films Riverside, California in 1966


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, Tapestry (1971) plus a pioneering hypertext novel

two years ago: the Dread Pirate Roberts plus a geographical challenge

three years ago: the Simpsons’ intro, the feast of St Scholastica, vernacular ceramics, no fly free zones plus profiting from conspiracy

four years ago: more Orange Menace

five years ago: more links to enjoy

Monday 5 February 2024

turned off (11. 326)

Via our faithful chronicler, we learn that on this day in 1969, one of the shortest-lived television programmes (see also), cut during its first and only broadcast with the time slot by some network affiliates filled by organ music, an emergency protocol that hadn’t been used in decades, Turn-On was summarily rejected for its language, quick-cuts and general poor taste. Conceived by writer-director Digby Wolfe (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, That Was the Week That Was) and George Schlatter, the premise for the surreal sketch comedy series was, slotted as the replacement for Peyton Place, was as the first computerised television show with no sets except for a white backdrop and the troupe of actors to stage improv prompts generated by an artificial intelligence. Viewers were especially disturbed by the rapid-fire sensory assault consisting of experimental split-screens, puppets, computer graphics and stop-motion effects on the blank slate, as well as the Moog-synthesised laugh-track (the computer’s laughter) and the random appearance of production credits throughout the half-hour programme—rather than as an intro or outro. Not much different than than Laugh-In except in tone, Turn-On would probably sit well with today’s audiences.

Friday 2 February 2024

me and my arrow (11. 315)

Via our faithful chronicler, we learn that on this day in 1971, The Point! was first aired as the ABC Movie of the Week. Based on the eponymous sixth studio album by Harry Nilsson (previously), the animated adaptation from director Fred Wolf (also behind Free to Be… You and Me) features the voice talents of Dustin Hoffman, Paul Frees, Mike Lookinland (Bobby Brady) and June Foray and tells the fable of a boy named Oblio, born with a round head and made to wear a pointed cap to hide his “pointless” condition from his pointy-headed peers. After dishonouring the son of a wicked count, Oblio finds himself banished and encounters many strange characters in the Pointless Forest that show him that everything has a purpose, though it may not be obvious at first glance.

Thursday 1 February 2024

emotional support muppet (11. 312)

The dear child furry red muppet from Sesame Street Elmo did a social media check-in with his substantial number of followers with a seemingly innocent and innocuous question: How is everybody doing today? The responses immediately went viral with over ten thousand comments and a hundred million views, underscoring a deep sense of widespread despair and anxiety and enlisting Elmo as a therapist ready to take it all in, though the trauma dumping was a lot to lay on any single individual. A lot of us are going through a lot, and by Tuesday as replies were still coming in with Elmo and friends giving supportive answers, having read through the overwhelming amount of messages, shared, “Wow! Elmo is glad he asked! Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing. Elmo will check in again soon, friends! Elmo loves you ❤️”

Wednesday 31 January 2024

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

Saturday 27 January 2024

you take the high road and i’ll take the low road (11. 298)

Airing on this day for the first time in 1990, episode twelve of season three of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The High Ground,” was banned in some markets due to political sensitivities and only released later as an edited version to remove the reference from 2366. Dispatched on a humanitarian mission to deliver medical supplies to a non-aligned planet called Rutia IV, a valued trade-partner with the Federation, the Enterprise becomes entangled in a protracted internal conflict when Dr Crusher is taken hostage by separatist rebels while trying to render aid following a terrorist attack. Wanting to avoid further involvement but unable to extricate themselves from the escalating situations and demands from both the central government and the resistance for help, Captain Picard asks Lieutenant Commander Data for historical instances where terrorism prevailed over negotiated settlement to resolve conflicts, to which he cited the independence of Mรฉxico from Spain and the uniting of Ireland in 2024. In the 1990s the partitioned island was still very much in the midst of the violence of the Troubles and both syndicators the BBC and RTร‰ until 2007 (conceding to the demands of series completists), some fifteen years after its first run and eight years after the Good Friday Agreement, which mostly delivered peaceful resolution to the longstanding ethno-nationalist conflict.  No censorship as far as I can tell was ever imposed on the infamously stereotyped second season episode with the “Space Irish,” “Up the Long Ladder,” about encountering a group of cloned individuals aboard a freighter thought lost for hundreds of years, despite the show’s title being a reference to an anti-Protestant rhyme “...Down the short rope.  To Hell with King Billy and three cheers for the Pope.”