Friday 12 July 2024

7x7 (11. 684)

fernwood 2 night: Martin Mull (RIP) interviews Tom Waits on first talk show satire  

dead heat: polls indicate that the US presidential race is virtually tied, unchanged after the debate performance 

alberta bound: the Great Canadian Song Map—via Web Curios  

tropic of cancer: some of the US falls outside of NATO’s geographic scope—see also  

moved permanently: North American telephone area codes that are also HTTP response headers—see previously—via Kottke  

shelley’s heart: Charles McCarry’s eerily prescient 1995 political thriller  

now benson, i’m going to have to turn you into a dog for a while: Taika Waititi is serialising Terry Gilliams’s 1981 Time Bandits for television

Tuesday 9 July 2024

your good and your evil use the same methods, achieve the same results (11. 674)

Bob Canada presents a highlight reel of some of the more bizarre images that the crew of the Enterprise saw on the ship’s viewscreen during the course of the original run of Star Trek: TOS, with their encounter with Space Lincoln in “The Savage Curtain” (S3:E22) with the super-intelligent rock-like Exclaiban having created the presidential look-alike (along with a facsimile of the renowned Vulcan philosopher Surak) to better explore the concepts of good and evil, pitting these two upstanding figures against a cast of villains, including Genghis Khan and Klingon warlord Kahless with Kirk and Spock as seconds in the duel. Despite knowing that the great statesman is an artifice of matter-energy conversion, the Captain accords his personal hero with full honours upon boarding the ship.


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting (with synchronoptica)

seven years ago: neutral facial posture plus the fall of Constantinople

eight years ago: Stephen Hawking’s stalker plus a short hiatus

nine years ago: absquatulate, cartoon tropes plus Freedomland, USA

ten years ago: peace vigils in Germany

Saturday 6 July 2024

9x9 (11. 665)

won’t back down: Biden committed to remain his party’s candidate for the US presidential election

wall∙e: facing a labour shortage, Japan railways deploys a colossal humanoid robot to maintain train tracks  

conspiracy theory rock: the 1998 Saturday Night Live TV Funhouse cartoon that may or may have not been banned by the network  

if it’s so smart, why does it live like this: next version of ChatGPT has post-doctorate level intelligence and the poor life choices to back it up  

shadow secretary: the political upbringing of Sir Keir Starmer  

wish you were here: beforehand postcards to prepare prior to departing for vacation—see previously  

oberheim ob-1: a short documentary on the revolutionary analogue synthesiser that allowed musicians to record and save patches for playback  

a face to a name: researchers create life-like robotic skin to express emotion and self-healing from harvested juvenile foreskin cells  

dark brandon: Democrats backing Biden’s decision to run 


one year ago: advice for urban day-trippers in the countryside (with synchronoptica)

eight years ago: gameifying one’s wellbeing

nine years ago: pushing Greece out of the EU plus assorted links to revisit

ten years ago: more dragnet surveillance 

eleven years ago: a history of fireworks 

Friday 21 June 2024

happiness hotel (11. 645)

Founded in 1919 as Charlie Chaplin Studios (with a fitting homage to the Little Tramp of Kermit with top hat and cane), the Henson Estate is selling off the storied and iconic lot it has occupied since 2000 as part of a strategy (yet to be disclosed) to consolidate production and Creature Workshop operations. During the central Hollywood’s incarnations over the decades it was not only home to Chaplin’s classics but also the television series The Adventure of Superman and Perry Mason with the in-house recording studio used by Lady Gaga and Daft Punk following “We are the World” before its distinction as Muppet headquarters. Let’s hope the new buyer continues this chain of creativity.

Tuesday 18 June 2024

9x9 (11. 636)

who is this imposter: AI ruins classic, static reaction memes with animation  

๐Ÿฅ–: the bygone baguette boxes of French Polynesia—via Messy Nessy Chic  

quantum compass: London Underground hosts trials for a subatomic sensor that could supplement satellite navigation  

crystal lake: the preponderance of 1980s horror movies set at summer camp  

ball & chain: Nag on the Lake shares a special memory from Festival Express, the touring show of Monterey Pop, when the musicians came to Toronto

message in a bottle: the dozen times humans have tried to communicate with extra-terrestrial intelligences—see previously here, here and here  

encarta: the short, happy reign of the multimedia CD-ROM as part of Fast Company’s 1994 Week—via Slashdot  

casa bonita: a 1974 amusement park restaurant reopens under new management and with a monumental wait-list 

 surgeon general’s warning: US top doctor urges health notices for social media


one year ago: an AI’s take on emoji (plus synchronoptica), assorted links worth revisiting, a human computer plus Adsense (2003)

five years ago: Sweden’s alcohol monopoly, the UK Carbon Brief plus more links to enjoy

six years ago: a Banksy gallery opens, first issue magazine covers, the War of 1812, a space slingshot, more links worth the revisit plus Trump and Merkel

seven years ago: the US withdrawal from the Paris Treaty plus even more links

nine years ago: tobacco introduced to the Old World, more links, Hocus Pocus plus the nobiliary particle

Monday 17 June 2024

r/tragedeigh (11. 635)

A conflicted, guilty pleasure has been lately scrolling through the above subreddit, thinking that oh boy—there are some doozies—and while the community is good about disabusing people of names outside of the Anglophone world, there being two sides to the discussion: traditional names with non-traditional spellings and separately trending baby names, there’s yet a sour taste in one’s mouth over the general content, leafing through elementary school students’ year books and calling out names that one disapproves of. Fresh and unranked boys’ names aside—Crockett, Rake, Wilkes, Dossett, Witten, Hallow and Bazley—these decisions, sins of the proud parents get one identified instantly and it behooves one to remember that these are children we are trolling. When I worked in healthcare I recall a particular patient named Atreu, after the alter-ego of the reader of The NeverEnding Story who was portrayed rather prosaically in the movie adaptation as Bastian, whose improving charts always made me happy and one newborn adorably named Voilร —non-conventional spelling if I remember but that’s a tough one. These tragedians should not be forced to be anonymised—nor should their names be underscored with a red squiggle as a misspelling for capitalising on the vagaries of English orthography but some of these attempts to buck convention by the parents have consequences visited on the next generation.

white ford bronco suv (11. 635)

Their murdered bodies discovered shortly after midnight on the thirteenth, OJ Simpson was identified immediately as a person of interest in the stabbings of Simpson’s girlfriend Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman in the courtyards of Brown’s condominium complex in the Brentwood neighbourhood of Los Angeles, in the same community as Simpson’s mansion. Arranged through his attorneys, Simpson had agreed to turn himself into the authorities on this day in 1994 for questioning, but failing to appear as scheduled, Simpson was spotted in the passenger seat of a vehicle traveling the 405 intercity freeway, drove and belonging to a friend and former team-mate. A low-speed police chase ensued, pursuers cautious as reportedly Simpson was threatening to shoot himself, with the spectacle shown live on virtually every television station and tens of thousands of spectators gathering on the shoulders to watch the action. Simpson surrendered from his driveway.

al di meola (11. 634)

From an era when instrumental arrangements not only got music videos, but those performance pieces also received air-play, we quite enjoyed this track from jazz fusion guitarist from New Jersey with Italian root’s 1983 album Scenario, with keyboardist Jan Hammer and drummers Bill Bruford and Phil Collins, which gets exponentially weirder and better as the music progresses. The reoccurring drum sample was later incorporated into Hammer’s theme for the television series Miami Vice.

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one year ago: NASCAR Pride (with synchronoptica) plus the exorcism of a werewolf demon (1983)

five years ago: the founding of independent Iceland (1944) plus proposals for a euro supplementary currency

six years ago: a day-trip to Frankfurt plus a pair of mythological prodigies

seven years ago: denizens of the deep, RIP Helmut Kohl plus Trump’s chief council

nine years ago: assorted links to revisit plus social networks in China

Monday 3 June 2024

while bill clinton plays the sax (11. 604)

On this day in 1992, Arkansas governor and presidential candidate William Jefferson Clinton appeared as a guest on The Arsenio Hall Show. Clinton’s future Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, Hilary Clinton and actor Terri Garr also guested on the programme. After a memorable rendition of Elvis Priestley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” on the saxophone, the host quipped that it was “nice to see Democrats blow something besides an election.” The appearance (more of the segment from C-SPAN) is now seen as pivotal in his campaign and curried popularity among young voters, whom prior to the airing trailed in third place behind George HW Bush and then-undeclared spoiler candidate H Ross Perot, jumping twenty-one points in the polls the next day.

Saturday 1 June 2024

he’s guilty (11. 599)

Via Miss Cellania—somehow we’ve missed this old clip too circulating perennially for about six years and surging in views following verdicts in high-profile cases—we are introduced to the number that Randy Newman composed for the pilot of Cop Rock in 1990, a musical police procedural conceived by Steven Bochco cancelled after eleven episodes were aired, and sung by Carl Anderson, Judas from Jesus Christ Superstar

Friday 24 May 2024

i haven’t had this many people in my garage since the vice squad raided fang’s going-out-of-marriage party (11. 578)

We enjoyed this fun 1987 VHS guide from legendary comedian Phyllis Diller (see previously) on how to have a successful yard sale—we’ve been thinking of the same but one generally finds centralised Flohmรคrkte over here rather than individual sales at homes and to participate takes some planning, organisation and an entire weekend of committent—and really presents some practical advice on decluttering and culling as well as the importance of presentation and merchandising. More tips from Boing Boing at the link above.

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one year ago: the Judgment of Paris (1976) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Mystery Park in Interlaken plus an earlier version of “don’t say gay” legislation overturned

three years ago: St Joanna, more links to enjoy, a classic film montage plus phonetic courtesy characters

four years ago: the Kola Superdeep Bore Hole, Diamond Dogs (1974), obituaries, more links worth the revisit, a walk in the woods, city fonts plus plutodemocracy

five years ago: even more links, Queen Victoria, a Prime Minister steps down, more bad flags plus a unique house in Oklahoma

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.