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. 

synchronoptica

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

synchronoptica 

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.

synchronoptica

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.”

Monday 15 January 2024

goodbye grey sky, hello blue (11. 269)

With the basic premise for the series appearing first two years earlier in an unsold pilot that aired in a segment on the anthology show Love, American Style (titled “Love and the Television Set,” and reworked for broadcast as “Love and the Happy Days”), the network’s interest in the project, a sitcom portraying an idealised vision of coming-of-age in the mid-1950s US Midwest that was a nostalgic appeal to the that generation some two decades removed when director George Lucas cast the actor playing teenager Richie Cunningham, Ron Howard, in American Graffiti, and Happy Days debuted on this night in 1974. Whilst moderately well received by audiences during its first two years, waning viewership prompted producers to retool the format and brought the ancillary character of one of Cunningham’s friends, a high school drop-out and greaser Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli (played by Henry Winkler), into one of the main roles. Running for eleven seasons and spawning several spin-offs including Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy and Joannie Love Chachi, the household institution was criticised for its interventions (now regarded as tropes) to revitalise the show, as with the insertion of new characters (lampooned with Poochie on The Simpsons) and franchise attempts above, and for, into its fifth season, idiomatically and literally “jumping the shark” when the Fonz is launched over a live shark on water-skis as an indicator that a story arc has exhausted its core-content and passed its peak by repairing to exaggeration and sensationalism. The series was nonetheless popular for several more years.

Saturday 13 January 2024

7x7 (11. 263)

photographie de rue: the images of Eugรจne Atget capture scenes of Paris unchanged since the turn of the last century  

ma che sera: more musical stylings from Raffaella Carrร  with this 1974 TV appearance 

ray fay: the mostly-unreleased 1976 comedic spoof Queen Kong with traditional gender roles reversed  

from-to: reputational-based urban maps that can help you find the analogue East Village of London and other neighbourhoods in different cities 

tv mirror: leafing through the February 1977 includes an interview with Henry Winkler and more on the Dino De Laurentiis remake that condemned the above treatment of the colossus to obscurity 

isdn: a look at the once future-proof telecommunication standard quickly vanishing 

oppidum du mont beauvray: the successive rediscoveries of the ancient capital of the Gallic Aedui tribe, Bibracte

synchronoptica

one year ago: St Mungo plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: snow-plough names plus a very special episode of Bewitched

three years ago: more on sea-shanties, the art of Roger Brown plus COVID ex-votos

four years ago: Knut’s Day plus outcry over plant-based labels

five years ago: criticism over NordStream2interpretive GIFs plus more links to enjoy

Wednesday 10 January 2024

nothingburger (11. 256)

First airing on this day in 1984, featuring manicurist recently discovered for her irascible mannerisms and unique voice (owing to advanced emphysema which prevented her from delivering the slogan as scripted, “Where is all the beef?”) Clara Peller, already in her eighties, the Wendy’s advertising campaign against its bigger competitors was a resonant indictment against the “Home of the Big Bun” with the catchphrase propagated seemingly everywhere. Later that same year Peller and popular Nashville-area radio host DJ Coyote McCloud had a hit-song based on the television commercial and was referenced again during the presidential primaries of the spring in the debates for the Democratic party nomination between Walter Mondale and rival Gary Hart, calling out the poverty and lack of substance of the latter’s “new ideas.” Despite the seemingly contemporary origin of the title phrase was popularised by a Hollywood gossip columnist in the early 1950s that saw a spotty ascent to political commentary.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus the language of plagues

two years ago: more links to enjoy 

three years ago: Moon radar, Metropolis (1927), striking oil (1901) plus illustrator Walter Molino

four years ago: Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon 

five years ago: the centenary of Bauhaus, a meditation from space, more useful German words, wireless charging for drones plus grifter nostalgia cannibalising the old internet

Wednesday 3 January 2024

kermit the golf (11. 240)

Via two of our enduring favourites bloggers, Nag on the Lake and Things Magazine we are treated to a deep-dive into automotive-aficionado and Muppets’ creator Jim Henson’s custom Lotus ร‰clat which was painted in a froggy (though not quite matching) green and featured distinctive amphibian pupils on its pop-up headlights as a vehicle for Henson’s son Brian to recall his father’s career and early struggles. As pointed out above, even more important than the car, it signalled for the child of a workaholic parent, that dad was home. Much more at the links up top.

Monday 1 January 2024

rest in power (11. 234)

Continuing a long-standing tradition, Chris the Barker (previously) has made another Sgt Pepper’s style collage as a tribute and remembrance to those who have passed in 2023, updated until the last minute and reaching back all the way to the beginning of the year lest we forget any legends lost. It’s a crowded assembly to reflect on and features a key—also in the style of the album’s liner notes. Pee-wee Herman, Dame Edna, Sinรฉad O’Connor, Tina Turner, and Jane Birkin feature prominently but also includes political figures and cross-over moguls like Silvio Berlusconi, Jerry Springer and Gina Lollobrigida as well as Bobi, the oldest dog ever, and the Sycamore Gap tree who get their visual obituaries.  Shared on X, we can’t locate a reference to the death of Twitter on the cover however.

synchronoptica

one year ago: a new addition to the family plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: St Telemachus, the umbrella patented, Hearts of Space, rogue waves plus Dinner for One

three years ago: making it through 2020, your daily demon: Ose, a Scooby Doo clone, the Julian calendar plus the launch of VH1 (1985)

four years ago: welcoming 2020, Unix time plus Star Wars on a synthesiser 

five years ago: ringing in 2019, banning single-use plastics, generated automobiles plus more on Ultima Thule

six years ago: more welcoming the New Year, the corrugated sculptures of Warren King plus artful thinking

Saturday 23 December 2023

from the depths of wikipedia (11. 207)

Via Super Punch, not only do we learn that Colonel Sanders guest starred on the soap opera General Hospital (on National Fried Chicken Day in 2018, which also exists), there is also a chaotic, esoteric—but serviceable programming language called Malbolge (see also), named after the eighth circle of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy, Malebolge, for fraudsters. The level of the inferno itself is divided into ten concentric trenches, bolgias, to segregate the panderers, mediums, grafters, grifters from the thieves and hypocrites and is guarded by a horde of torturing demons called the Malebranche. Someone is trying to kill Sanders to obtain the secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices and has placed a detonation device in the hospital. Because the Colonel knows Malbolge, he is able to disarm the bomb and stop the destruct sequence. Though not such a deep rabbit-hole, earlier in the week we also learned that aptly none of the original text from a 2003 entry on the philosophical quandary “The Ship of Theseus” remains.

synchronoptica

one year ago: Chinese internet slang, how to draw Christmas plus more data-visualisations from Daniel Huffman

two years ago: Latinisation of Chinese, Tibb’s Eve, coal-mining operations in Essen cease (1986), the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), graphic designs of Uruguay plus the coat of arms of Paul McCartney

three years ago: assorted links worth revisiting 

four years ago: hortatory Antiphons

five years ago: St Thorlak, investigating glitter plus the Extinction Rebellion

Thursday 21 December 2023

strange paradise (11. 201)

Via the Abecedarian, we are introduced to the occult-supernatural soap opera that was Canada’s answer to Dark Shadows, capitalising on the unexpectedly phenomenal success of the American day-time gothic drama series. Originally syndicated in the US, it aired in three thirteen-week story arcs from October 1969 to July 1970 and was shot in Ottawa with the acting talents of Colin Fox and Tudi Wiggins. The show narrates the tragic account of a billionaire left inconsolable after the death of his wife on a remote Caribbean island, whom with the help of a local mystic, enters into a cursed contract with the spirit of a mysterious ancestor. The entire run is available below.

Monday 11 December 2023

a harry alan towers production (11. 179)

Premiering on this day on Comedy Central in 1993, the 1988 sequel, The Outlaw of Gor, is given the MST3K treatment (previously) and showcases the return of the hero Tarl Cabot to the far-off science-fiction, fantasy realm to suppress the designs of the ambitious and wicked queen and her priest-sorcerer in a role reprised by Jack Palance in a series of ridiculous headgear. Loosely based on the series by writer John Norman, the professor and his colleague are transported back to the realm by the Elders using the Home Stone, this episode was screened at several college campuses before its air-date and featured the last invention exchange with Deep-13, ostensibly to recognise the new host’s technical short-comings. 

synchronoptica
 
one year ago: the Kyoto Protocol plus a plan to drain the Mediterranean to flood the desert
 
two years ago: Apollo 17 (1972), assorted links to revisit, a modern gargoyle plus Lily the Pink (1968)

three years ago: we’ve been zucked, science explainers in crochet form plus more links to enjoy

four years ago: 52 more lessons gleaned plus articles of impeachment drawn up for Trump

five years ago: a decisive Brexit vote, subterranean ecosystems, the art of Geoffroy de Crecy, COP 24 plus the inventor of the View-Master

Tuesday 5 December 2023

cloudland (11. 166)

Via Kottke guest-blogger Edith Zimmerman, we are treated a random cool old song with a performance of Pere Ubu 1989 song “Breathe” on Sunday Night, a Michelob Presents Music Hour sadly only running for two season and hosted by Jools Holland and David Sanborn showcasing jazz and eclectic artists, from their seventh studio album—the title record named after (see also) a resort village in northwestern Georgia that became a getaway destination for vacationing Florida residents to escape some of the summer heat. More recommendations worth checking out at the link above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: a Vogue issue featuring Darth Vader plus assorted links to revisit 

two years ago: Flash Gordon (1980) plus the art of Matt Semke

three years ago: Krampus Night, World Soil Day, a boatswain pipe plus more Yuletide customs

four years ago: Pantone’s colour for the coming year plus icy atmospheric phenomena

five years ago: the Bermuda Triangle plus some local Christmas Markets

Friday 1 December 2023

⌘ (11. 155)

Via Things Magazine, we are only introduced to the enthralling blog of Gingerbearman but also can put a name to the early computer artwork and illustrations of Barbara Nessim as featured in Byte magazine and elsewhere. Not just pixelated renditions, these graphics, produced thanks to a residency with Time-Life in 1984 that gave her access to state-of-the-art technologies, were vector drawings formatted and encoded to display on televisions and terminals. See more of Nessim’s extension portfolio and learn about her contributions at the link up top.

6502 (11. 153)

With news that it’s available as an emulator for almost any platform, we are reacquainted with the version of the Beginners’ All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code as the native programming language for the micro personal computer released in 1981 as part of a UK computer literacy initiative (see also) by the national broadcaster in 1981. Chiefly written by Sophie Mary Wilson, a transgender pioneer in design and informatics fields, the optimised dialect ran faster that than Microsoft versions and an inline feature for assembly language. BBC2 series launched the following year, The Computer Programme (see also), was an accompanying primer on its use and capabilities and stirs memories of experimenting with lines of code and tweaking until getting the desired outcome but wonder what the utility is with such a skill nowadays when debugging is automated.

synchronoptica

one year ago: a day without art, fifty-two lessons from fifty-two weeks plus TRON reimagined with the help of AI

two years ago: World AIDS Day, office parties plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: Wรถrter des Jahres, Japan’s buzzword of the year plus St Elsewhere

four years ago: a duet from Leon Redbone and Dr John, the Moravian star, Germany’s Word of the Year plus Gorbachev’s Pizza Hut ad spot

Thursday 30 November 2023

sportscasters’ curse (11. 152)

Via Super Punch, this was truly the most ominous ending for a weather presentation I’ve witnessed—maybe our presenter summoned something but do hope they’ve checked on our friend Liam Dutton (who also is the reader for the venerable favourite Shipping Forecast) to make sure he’s OK and it was not some terrifying prelude to a horror movie.

Friday 24 November 2023

oh no—my own dog, gone commercial (11. 137)

Via Waxy, we are directed to another soundtrack from Louie Zong (see previously) for a fictional albeit believable 1970s style Peanuts holiday special complete with Vince Guaraldi inspired jazz that captures the ethos not only for the shoppers but those working on Black Friday. Other musical segments include Cyber Monday Blues, Buyer’s Remorse, A New Week and Snoopy vs Capitalism. One could imagine the anti-consumerism messages of the limned out television special plus the harried cashiers and store workers just out the frame speaking with muffled trombone voices.