Thursday 17 November 2022

луноход-1 (10. 311)

 Russian for “Moonwalker I,” the robotic, remote-controlled lunar rover Lunokhod-1 landed in the MareImbrium (Sea of Rains) on this day in 1970 for a mission which far surpassed its designed lifetime of approximately ninety Earth days, three lunar days, to travel over ten kilometres in the course of nearly an Earth year’s time, eleven lunar days. The mission officially concluded after communications ceased and attempts to re-establish contact discontinued on the anniversary of the launch of Sputnik in 1971 after beaming back thousands of images and high-resolution panoramic shots as well as soil sampling and analyses.

Thursday 13 October 2022

§§ (10. 219)

The oldest formal data protection law in the world, the State of Hessen promulgated its Data Protection Act (das Datenschutzgesetz) on this day in 1970. A model for privacy legislation to follow, it was authored chiefly by Spiros Simitis, inspired by a visionary article in the Frankfurter Allegemeinen Zeitung (FAZ) warning of the potential pitfalls of widespread computer use and when the law was adopted by the Landtag to great zeal, it was declared that omniscient, panopticon of survellience would not be able to gain purchase here, setting up an independent institution to monitor against Orwellian practises. Though lacking a robust regulatory framework by today’s standards, evolution and articulation of the law enshrined for us in iterations the concepts of retention and disposition schedules, data earmarking and anonymization as well as informed consent and the right of information self-determination.

Sunday 6 March 2022

helter skelter

Recorded and released on this day in 1970 in extremely poor taste by Manson himself and members of the Family in support of the cult leader’s legal defence fund by the infamous record producer Phil Kaufman (notorious for stealing the body of singer Gram Parsons and—ostensibly in accordance with Parsons’ wishes, burned his moral remains in Joshua Tree nature reserve), the cover was designed to parody the LIFE magazine cover of December 1969 with an expose of the series of murders cult members perpetrated. Though thankfully not a commercial success, several tracks were covered or sampled by several groups including The Beach Boys, Guns ‘N Roses and The Lemonheads. A second album was produced a quarter of a century later in the 1997 Family Jams. One theory proposed by the prosecution offered that along with the Book of Revelations, Manson believed he was attuned to messages revealed in the tracks and lyrics of the Beatles’ White Album. Subsequent re-releases of the recordings have raised funds to benefit crime victims.

Thursday 16 December 2021


To celebrate the fifty-plus-one anniversary of the release of George Harrison’s triple album in November 1970 (see also), marking his first solo endeavour after the Beatles disbanded, Lance Bangs created an official music video for the song “My Sweet Lord” from the All Things Must Pass recording that features a cavalcade of celebrity cameos, including family members, former bandmates, Mark Hamill, Jeff Lynne, Weird Al Yankovic, Patton Oswald, Rosanna Arquette and others. It’s a treat to watch a song this chill.

Saturday 13 November 2021

savage intruder

Later re-released as Hollywood Horror House, we were delighted by this thoroughgoing, scene-by-scene review of the 1970 Donald Wolfe horror flick starring Miriam Hopkins, John David Garfield, Gale Sondergaard, Virginia Wing and Florence Lake from Poseidon’s Underworld (previously) that relates the story of an ageing actress living in a Tinsel Town mansion (in the spirit of Sunset Boulevard and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? with a bit of Rosemary’s Baby thrown in for good measure) attended by a retinue of domestics, who engages a new personal assistant—in the midst of a mysterious killing spree terrorising the area—who quickly comes to dominate the estate and household management. Here’s the feature in full below but honestly I got a bigger kick out of the screen-captures, trivia and commentary at the link above.

Sunday 24 October 2021


Premiering in theatres on this day in 1970, this Freddie Francis (cinematographer for such films as The Elephant Man, Sons and Lovers, Son of Dracula, The Deadly Bees, Glory, The Executioner’s Song, Dune, Cape Fear), low-budget science fiction horror vehicle stars Joan Crawford (in her last role) as a renowned anthropologist who learns that a solitary troglodyte—Ice Age caveman—is dwelling in some remote caverns of the English countryside, whom to the distress of the locals tries to lure him out in order to study and perhaps civilise this missing link. For all its camp and status as a transgressive cult movie, it is surprisingly raw and touching.

Monday 6 September 2021

festival der liebe

Appearing on stage for the final day of the Love-and-Peace-Festival on the Baltic island of Fehmarn this day in 1970, artist Jimi Hendrix gave his last concert performance on the seashore outside of the village of Flügge, the West German event one of the first attempts to recreate the atmosphere of Woodstock and the Isle of Wight and was sponsored in large part by Beate Uhse. Hendrix’ performance began around noon on a blustery day with organisers, fans and volunteers weary and irritable from three days of chaos but felt it was worth the wait. From 1995 to 2010, a local tribute band held a revival concert on the first Saturday in September. Other acts included Ten Years After, Canned Heat, Procol Harum, Mungo Jerry, Sly & the Family Stone and Danish progressive rock band the Burnin Red Ivanhoes.

Thursday 1 July 2021

tell me that you love me, junie moon

Having its theatrical release on this day in 1970 after premiering at Cannes Film Festival earlier in May, expertly introduced and summarised here by Poseidon’s Underworld, the Otto Preminger film, story and screenplay by author Marjorie Kellogg, starring Liza Minnelli as the titular protagonist who was seriously disfigured on one side of her face by a vicious battery acid attack by her jealous boyfriend and is afterwards institutionalised. There Minelli’s character meets Warren, a gay paraplegic confined to a wheelchair and an epileptic named Arthur, who decide to leave the half-way house and rent a cottage from an eccentric landlady (played by Kay Thompson) together to help each other heal and live their best lives.  Desultory and tepidly received though not universally panned, this movie seemed to me to have its heart in the right place.  Find nearly a scene-by-scene synopsis and storyboard at the link above. 

Sunday 27 June 2021

sleeping very soundly on a saturday morning i was dreaming i was al capone

Billed as Smile, the previous band of drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May under which the booking had originally been made, those two were joined by bass-player Mike Grose and Freddie Bulsara on lead vocals to perform publicly together for a charity fund-raising event at the City Hall of Truro in Cornwall on this day in 1970. Welcoming the singer, the group was convinced to change its name to Queen by a persuasive Mercury who also took that moment to redefine himself, inspired by the lyric, “Mother Mercury—look what they’ve done to me” for the draft that would become song “My Fairy King,” which would feature on their first eponymous record album. The ballad itself inspired by Robert Browning’s poem The Pied Piper, it quotes directly “and horses were born with eagles’ wings” and immediately preceding the lament, “Someone, someone has drained the colour from my wings / Broken my fairy circle ring / And shamed the king in all his pride / Changed the winds and wronged the tides.” The titular opening lines are from an early version of “Stone Cold Crazy” was among original material performed at the first gig, with a small show, under their new name, following in London on 18 July.

Monday 3 May 2021

this is npr

With this day marking the first on-air original programming from Nation Public Radio a half-century ago after the previous year’s passage of the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act, NPR and its member stations reflect on and renew their unique mandate to serve and amplify a listening audience that mirrors the fullness and diversity of the United States. The network’s original mission statement charged and championed its affiliates as being the source for “information of consequence” that helps the celebrants of human experience be “enlightened participants” in society. All Things Considered was the first segment broadcasted.

Saturday 1 May 2021


Whilst in the age of digital media, a geographical, orientating relic of print newspapers may not be an important marker for a readership increasing removed from the news page and pagination, it was nonetheless more than a little jarring to read that the New York Times is retiring its Op-Ed section, five decades on it originally referred to the page opposite the editorials, in favour editorial pieces supplemented with guest essays. Learn more about this decision and indulge in some truly outstanding vintage, newsprint layouts at the links above.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

peau d’âne

With the folktale classification of Aarne-Thompson 510B—unnatural love—the 1695 poetic adaptation of the French fairy tale Donkeyskin by fabulist Charles Perrault already promises to be unhinged but this 1970 cinematic version (see also) by Jacques Demy starring Catherine Deneuve seems to be a veritable masterpiece. With fantastical filming locations as the Château Chambord made even more surreal by the talented production team, the recently widowed king of the realm is being pressured by his advisors to take a new wife and produce an heir.  The king promised the dying queen, however, he would only remarry if he found another as virtuous as herself. Royal counsel convincing the king that the only course of action is to marry his daughter. Duly horrified, the princess tries to put the king off his plan, at the advice of her fairy godmother, by requesting increasingly impossible wedding (see previously) gifts.  The king manages, nevertheless, to fulfil the bridal registry with dresses the colour of the Moon and Sun and weather and finally the enchanted pelt of a donkey that sweats jewels, the kingdom’s Golden Fleece and source of its wealth. The princess flees disguised with the donkey skin. In a faraway land, the princess earns her keep as a managing a pig sty but captures the attention of that kingdom’s prince, whom marry—the party crashed by Donkey Skin’s father the king and fairy godmother arriving to announce their engagement. Much more at Messy Nessy Chic at the link above.

Friday 12 March 2021

selective-service or solider of christ

Venerated on this day on the occasion of his martyrdom under order of African Proconsul Cassius Dio in 295 (*274), Saint Maximilian of Tebessa (Numidia, Roman Algeria) was obliged to enlist in the Roman army as the son of a solider, Fabius Victor, on his twenty-first birthday. Refusing on religious grounds, Maximilian was beheaded immediately and posthumously made patron of conscientious objectors—giving rise over the millennia to several pacifist organisations, including the Order of Maximilian, a group of aligned clergy members opposed to the continuing war in Vietnam (see also) that fought against conscription and the draft.

Saturday 26 December 2020


greatest hits: resonant echoes and forgotten curiosities from another internet caretaker of this past year 

every who down in whoville was sick of the rules—all the masks, sanitisers and closures of schools: how the Grinch stalled whovid  

connoisseur: the importance of sustaining good taste to nourish good work  

dj earworm: five decades of pop music 

the great conjunction: a keen-eyed photographer captures the International Space Station moving between Saturn and Jupiter (previously)

you’ll have to speak up—i’m wearing a towel: decoding the catalogue of Simpsons’ gags and one-liners that might have sailed over some viewers  

crimes of the art: casing the most stolen painting ensemble, the Ghent Altarpiece (see previously), through history  

2020: the musical: Miss Cellania’s annual assortment of lists recapping the year

Sunday 29 November 2020

taxi nach leipzig

This evening, fifty years ago marked the first broadcast of the long running German crime serial Tatort (“crime scene”—see previously), a ninety-minute stand-alone case investigated by a familiar case of characters, on Sundays following the evening news at eight on channel NDR, Norddeutsch Rundfunk.

The premier episode revolved around the unidentified body of an adolescent discovered at a rest stop near Leipzig, and the East German authorities call on their Western counterparts for help when it is determined that the victim is wearing Western articles of clothing. The request for assistance is abruptly called off, prompting on of the West German detectives to launch his own investigation when it is learned that the bringing this death to light may scandalise a prominent chemist. Even if there is a language barrier or you do not really care for police procedurals, the appreciation for this suspenseful, funky opening sequence by Klaus Doldinger still in use today by is universal.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

a journalistic backronym

Like the invented term for a supplement covering trifles and “The Talk of the Town” feuilleton—from the French diminutive little leaf and since in circulation for periodicals, it’s a little unmooring but expected in the parlance of jargon and general wonkiness to learn that Op-Ed did not refer to the Opinions and Editorial page as is the general convention but rather the pagination—that is, the verso, opposite of the editorials. The facing section landing typically opinions of authors not affiliated with the publication’s board of editors, distinct from their opinion pieces and letters to the editor submitted by readers. First formalised in the pages of The New York Evening World by journalist Herbert Bayard Swope Senior, member of the Algonquin Round Table and first recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for reporting, realising the page was sort of a catchall for society coverage and obituaries, specifically reserving the space for salacious solicitations, though confined to employees of the paper. The first Op-Ed page occurred in the 21 September 1970 edition of The New York Times.

Friday 16 October 2020

valerie and her week of wonders

Debuting in theatres on this day in 1970, the cinematic adaptation by director Jaromil Jireš of the eponymous 1935 novel Valerie a týden divů from Czechoslovakian surrealist writer Vítězslav Nezval, the disorientating horror film is considered a pioneering part of the scene’s New Wave movement (see also). This exploration sexual awakenings through a vampiric lens blends in elements of classic folklore structure, including a talisman in the form of heirloom earrings, stolen, bartered-over and ultimately swallowed for protection. Below is the movie in its entirety dubbed into Italian and with English subtitles.

Monday 5 October 2020

by the skin of our teeth

As successor to the National Educational Television (NET) network, PBS began broadcasting to American audiences on this day in 1970.

No longer burdened with the responsibility of promoting domestic programming only (suggested under the former station identification), it was able to supplement its heirloom line-up of Sesame Street and The French Chef with foreign produced pieces (see also) and premiered with the airing over the next several weeks of the thirteen part BBC documentary Civilisation, developed by David Attenborough and presented by Sir Kenneth Clark. The show-makers fully cognizant of their biases and limited perspective that recast history from the Dark Ages through to the early twentieth from an exclusively western European angle, the series’ subtitle was A Personal View by Kenneth Clark—perhaps a disclaimer too subtle for many. 


Wednesday 26 August 2020

best notify my next of kin—this wheel shall explode!

Begun on this day in 1970, the five-day Isle of Wight Festival staged at Afton Down was hailed afterwards as the largest musical spectaculars of its era, with an estimated audience approaching a quarter of a million. Performers included Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, Supertramp, the Doors, Melanie (who was the only original Woodstock act scheduled to appear at its fiftieth revival), the Moody Blue and many more. The organisers of this festival would go on to hold the first Glastonbury Fair the following year.

Friday 21 August 2020

congregation de cultu divino et disciplina sacramentorum

Giving affected religious orders, nations, provinces cities and villages six years to decide whom they would choose, the Roman Curia’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, whose responsibilities include regulating relics and the confirmation of heavenly patrons and researching cases of non-consummation as grounds for annulment, issued an edict on this day in 1970 that any of the above listed groups were to henceforth claim only one saint’s patronage. At the time the decree was announced, Italy, as was the case with many other polities, had both Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Catherine of Siena.