Wednesday 15 May 2024

mittwoch mantinee (11. 559)

Released on this day in 1968, the surrealist drama adapted from the 1964 eponymous John Cheever short story by the Oscar-nominated writer-director duo of Eleanor and Frank Perry (see previously) features the acting talents of Burt Lancaster in the title role of Ned Merrill, Janice Rule, Joan Rivers and Janet Landgard. Set in an New England suburb, Merrill drops by a neighbour’s pool party and chatting over cocktails realising that the series of backyard pools in this community form a river that would make it possible for him to swim back to his home. Slightly put off by this plan though tolerant of such behaviour, Merrill departs and crashes a succession of pool parties, revisiting past dramas and incidents and gradually revealing his downfall, mental breakdown and social ostracism which Merrill had managed to temporarily put out of his mind.

Saturday 17 February 2024

8x8 (11. 358)

compound interest: Trump’s accumulated lawsuits amount to over half a billion dollars  

vivi o preferibilmente morti: Poseidon’s Underworld reviews a 1969 Spaghetti Western  

epistolary doll: Kafka, a little girl and her beloved, lost toy—via the New Shelton wet/dry 

the wonderful night of hercules brown: a 1968 short film guiding a young boy through his dreams with the help of muppets and puppets 

millions of cats: Wanda Hazel Gรกg’s 1928 children’s book—the oldest American title still in print  

leaning toward more grasshopper, less ant: raising children on the eve of the AI revolution—via tmn  

hero’s journey: a video poking fun at the tropes and archetypes of found in every epic quest—see previously  

never surrender high-tops: Trump launches gold trainers line, goes public with his social network in order to earn cash to pay for his legal judgments—see previously

Wednesday 8 November 2023

but things are not what they teach us—for the world is hollow, and i have touched the sky (11. 103)

First airing on this day in 1968, season three, episode eight of Star Trek: TOS, the Enterprise intercepts an asteroid on a collision course with the planet Daran V, only to discover it is a generation ship (see also) populated by descendants of the original crew unaware that their former homeworld of Yanda is no more, engulfed by a supernova ten thousand years ago, and within the confines of malfunctioning space craft, reliant on automation whose technology they no longer grasp and refer to as the Oracle. The principle officers on their away-mission are subdued by this life-support system, and as they recover from this introduction, they encounter an old man who confesses that he has climbed the mountains (see previously) of this world and things are not what they seem. Immediately his temples glow red and is terminated for his heretical thoughts, revealing that the Oracle dictates obedience devices be implanted in all members of the ship’s manifest to maintain the illusion. Ostensibly skirting the Prime Directive, Spock and Kirk (with a B-story of an ailing McCoy cured by the civilisation’s ancient records and an infatuation with the High Priestess) steer the vessel back on court to a rendezvous with its destination for a new home.

Friday 21 July 2023

7x7 (10. 897)

equity: UK’s actors’ union in solidarity with American counterparts in protest

spatula city—where your thirteenth spatula is free: the Weird Al Yankovic (previously) tribute to public-access television premiered this day in 1989—via our faithful chronicler 

litli-hrรบtur: Icelandic volcano watch  

magical mystery tour: revisiting the ‘lost’ Ashram of the Beatles in the Himalayan foothills

american songbook: Tony Bennett, crooner, Nazi hunter, civil rights champion, RIP—via Super Punch

barbie once commanded the stage with the rockers—now, the last thing she wanted to do was talk: channelling Ernest Hemingway on his birthday to narrate modern happenings  

watership down: disturbing film adaptation given a PG rating after forty-five years of indelible nightmares


one year ago: a concert to commemorate the Fall of the Berlin Wall plus more adventures in Scotland

two years ago: the experimental nuclear cruise ship NS Savanna, the Scopes Monkey Trial plus Sweden’s Bohus Fortress

three years ago: more on The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World plus some scream therapy in Iceland

four years ago: Japan’s broadcast daily constitutional

Tuesday 20 June 2023

hojo’s (10. 822)

Having previously written about the marketing tie-ins for the 1968 film, we enjoyed learning more about this promotional menu from the once ubiquitous hotel-restaurant chain Johnson’s for 2001: A Space Odyssey, featured as the hospitality brand for the Earthlight (named for another novel by Arthur C Clarke) orbital suite. While the children’s bill of fare does include iconic scenes from the movie, the narrative and activity pages are focused more on a family that goes to its gala theatrical premiere. More at the links above.

Tuesday 22 November 2022

everybody's got something to hide except me and my monkey (10. 326)

The plain white sleeve in contrast to the band’s previous record with its layered artwork, the eponymous double album with its wide and fragmented range of genres, The Beatles, was released on this day in 1968. Composed chiefly during a transcendental mediation retreat in India, many of the tracks were drafted with an acoustic guitar—the only Western-style instrument available to the group then—and retained this origin in the final recording. Typical of those session, “Dear Prudence” was written about Prudence Anne Villiers Farrow Bruns (Mia’s sister) whom was committed to the TM practise and rarely left her room.

Saturday 19 November 2022

rose island (10. 316)

Via ibฤซdem, we are directed towards a companion website to complement a documentary which affords us a chance to revisit the Respubliko de la Insulo de la Rozoj, a short-lived micronation just outside of Italian territorial waters off the coast of Rimini, an artificial pylon engineered by the soi sont president Giorgio Rosa, a property developer with ties to the puppet government of the World War II Republic of Salรฒ with hopes of establishing a self-funding enterprise through an independent regime of taxation, philately and sovereign citizenship. Much more to explore at the links above.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

barbarella psychedella (10. 211)

Directed by Roger Valim and based on the comic series (fumetti) of Jean-Claude Forest with filming beginning just after the release of producer Dino De Laurentiis’ adaptation of Diabolik, which features many of the same acting talents, opened in New York on this day in 1968, followed by debuts in France and Italy later in the month. After several casting revisions over first choices Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot, our titular protagonist portrayed by Jane Fonda is dispatched by the Earth’s president to intercept mad scientist Durand Durand who has created a weapon of mass destruction.  Although a highly-sexualised character, Barbarella comes from a society that has moved beyond physical contact.

Saturday 10 September 2022

and anytime you feel the pain, hey jude, refrain (10. 121)

Originating as a song written by Paul McCartney as a way to lift the spirits of John Lennon’s young son Julian (“Hey Jules”) when his parents were going through a divorce and a time of general turmoil for the band, the non-album single (see previously) was The Beatles’ first release on their Apple record label and quickly climbed to number one on the UK charts on this day in 1968—having just been put out two weeks prior. At just over seven minutes (with the full choruses), the group’s fiftieth top hit domestically was up until that time the longest piece to hold this distinction. Here is McCartney at 1997’s Music for Monserrat charity concert joined by Sting, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Mark Knopfler and find the first version at the link above.

Wednesday 31 August 2022

what can a poor boy do but sing in a rock & roll band? (10. 100)

Released on this day as a single from their Beggars Banquet album that came out in December of 1968, “Street Fighting Man” is considered The Rolling Stones most contentious and political song. Originally recorded as “Did Everyone Pay Their Dues?” with the same powerful acoustic guitar riffs and drumset set to very different lyrics, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were inspired by an anti-war rally at the US Embassy in London where twenty-five thousand had gathered and parallel events in Paris that led to the unrest of May of that summer. Its premier in America was marred by the coincidence of violence and protests during the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago, with most radio stations refusing to play the song for fear it would incite a riot.

Tuesday 30 August 2022

sweetheart of the rodeo (10. 096)

The sixth studio album by The Byrds, released on this day in 1968, represented a significant departure from the band’s signature, psychedelic sound and featuring the additional talents Gram Parsons was not commercially well received, alienating some fans with this decidedly outlaw country bend—as well as the establishment in Nashville who felt they were being encroached upon by these subversive outsiders—but has had an oversized legacy in terms of establishing the genre and introducing it to audiences, reviving and sustaining the style at Country’s nadir for US and UK audiences. Originally conceived as an exploration, an anthology of the past century of popular American music, featuring Jazz, Gospel, Rock, Rhythm and Blues and several other genres, Parsons convinced the group to produce a strictly Country album.

Tuesday 23 August 2022

out there in the dark there’s a beckoning candle (10. 080)

Recorded in June of 1968 as the grand finale to his Comeback Special at the artist’s bidding (replacing a rather incongruous “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”–scheduled to air in November) and lyrically echoing Dr Rev Martin Luther King Jr’s 1963 address from the Lincoln Monument in the space of three months after the civil rights figure was murdered, “If I Can Dream” is an emotional number currently being rediscovered thanks to a recent biopic on Elvis Presley. Watch for reaction clips–it’s like Elvis fandom from the first go around. Prompted by Presley’s declaration he would never sing another song he didn’t believe in, and over Colonel Tom Parker’s objections, the song was a collaboration between lyricist Earl Brown and composer Billy Goldberg.

Thursday 4 August 2022

local group (10. 036)

The relatively nearby and sizable galaxy called Dwingeloo 1 evaded detection until this day in 1994 owing to its location in the so called Zone of Avoidance—Zone of Galactic Obscuration, that part of the sky covered up by the light and dust of the plane of the Milky Way—by an operation ran out of a radio observatory in the northeast Netherlands called the Dwingeloo Obscured Galaxy Survey (DOGS) which filled in more gaps in the map of the firmament by filtering by differing radio wavelengths (the foreground stars and dust clouds absorb visible light). Two other more massive and close by galaxies that occupy this same blindspot were discovered in 1968 by pioneering infrared astronomer Paolo Maffei—whom has two namesake galaxies in the constellation of Cassiopeia which if not blocked by our ZOA would be among the brightest and biggest objects in the night sky.

Sunday 3 April 2022

the forbidden zone was once a paradise—your breed made a desert of it ages ago

Opening to critical acclaim and considered an instant sci-fi classic, Planet of the Apes with screenplay by Rod Serling (previously) and starring Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans and Charlton Heston went into general release in cinemas in the United States on this day in 1968. The original franchise spanning four sequels before the reboots, the film was based on Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel La Planรจte des Singes about an Earth crew of astronauts who crash-land on a strange world where simians are the dominant species.

Sunday 23 January 2022

as is, as was / as was, as is

Together with contemporaries Jan Dibbets amd Marinus Boezem, Amsterdammer Ger van Elk (*1941 - †2014) produced an extensive body of multidisciplinary works falling within the range of conceptual art and arte povera. Exhibiting in his native city as well as New York and Los Angeles with the Tate among other prominent modern museums upholding Van Elk’s works as the chief representatives of this movement, many pieces include the themes of reflection on and reference to art history.

Monday 13 December 2021

dewey “pigmeat” markham

Passing away this day in 1981 (*1904) and having earned his stage name from a routine in which he declared himself to be “Sweet Papa Pigmeat,” the comedy and singer began his career with travelling musical revues and burlesque shows in the 1920s and 1930s and ultimately began a regular act at the Apollo Theatre.  Among Markham’s repertoire was a courtroom satire, with Marin presiding in a graduation cap and gown to look officious, with his catch-phrase “Here Comes the Judge” set to music and charting in 1968, the song considered to be one of the precursors to the performance style of rapping.  A second turn-of-speech from Markham passed through the then-highly segregated entertainment industry and also onto NBC’s Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (previously, Hee-Haw’s Justus O’Peace was a direct appropriation for that target audience) with the admonition  to “Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls.”

Saturday 11 December 2021

most efficacious in every case

Reaching number one on the UK single charts on this day in 1968 and made that year’s signature Christmas novelty song, the Liverpudlian folk ensemble The Scaffold, led by Mike McGear—the stage name of Peter McCartney, Paul’s younger brother—along with comedian John Gorman and poet Roger McGough, their rendition of “Lily the Pink” was based on a traditional ballad about American Lydia Estes Pinkham who marketed a patent medicine, a tonic which most dismissed as quackery (though this lending her name to a product should not detract from her contributions in the abolitionist and civil rights) for women to treat hysteria and other feminine maladies. Memorialised in a rather bawdy series of drinking songs (see also)—as Pinkham’s forty-proof elixir was still available with prescription during Prohibition—during Canadian soldiers in World War I with a version made the unsanctioned regiment tune of the Royal Tank Corps during World War II, the Scaffold’s version was sanitised, also on the top playlists in Austria, West Germany and Ireland. Later McGear would work with the McCartneys on Wings.

Wednesday 13 October 2021


Named after the tarot card, the psychedelic design collective based in Amsterdam, The Fool, and influenced by the hippie community of Ibiza (see previously), whose costuming for stage and album cover art include iconic outfits for Procol Harum, Cream and the Beatles, as seen in televised broadcasts of “All You Need is Love,” the Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper’s inside graphics plus the largest mural in the world for a performance of Hair at the Aquarius Theatre. Much more at Messy Messy Chic at the link above.

Monday 11 October 2021

respubliko de la insulo de la rozoj

Sadly short-lived and not tolerated by Italian authorities, regarding it as a ploy for tax avoidance (and perhaps to provide cover to marauding Soviet submarines), after the declaration of Rose Island (so named in Esperanto, its official language) on 1 May 1968, subsequent occupation at the end of June and eventual demolition the following February, engineer Giorgio Rosa, namesake and self-appointed president, we glean from Messy Messy Chic, designed and built the host platform in the Adriatic, off the coast of Rimini and in international waters.
The structure supported by nine pylons (see also) was not only the seat of government, issuing stamps and possibly a currency, the Mill—₥, now an abstraction for economic discussion, once also used in Cyprus, Mandatory Palestine, Hong Kong and Malta but also a bar and nightclub as well as a souvenir shop. A lightly fictionalised version of the story of the founding of the micronation was released in December of 2020 with the blessing of Rosa, whom aged ninety-two, passed away in 2017 during production.

Friday 1 October 2021

this ain’t no sunday school picnic

Having garnered quite a bit of experience and reputation in the Pittsburg market making television commercials, industrials and educational shorts with their production company The Latent Image, George A. Romero (previously) and John Russo resolved to make a full-length feature responding to audience interest in the genre of horror, realising their ambitions on this day in 1968—as our faithful chronicler informs, with the premier of the classic featuring a growing horde of the cannibalistic undead surrounding a group barricaded in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania. Though establishing the rules and conventions for future films of this type, zombies are never mentioned, and like all good monster movies allegorically tracks and critiques contemporary social mores including Cold War paranoia, Western hegemony and domestic apartheid.