Saturday 11 November 2023

clip show (11. 111)

The 1976 musical documentary by Susan Wilson that juxtaposed Beatles covers with newsreel combat footage and propaganda vignettes that was roundly rejected by critics and audiences was released on this day in 1976 and pulled from cinemas after less than two weeks of screenings. Shrewdly realising that money was to be made from the soundtrack with new renditions by popular artists, the accompanying film score debuted three weeks earlier and generated far more revenue than the movie, remanded mostly to obscurity outside of a few airings that attracted a cult-like fascination with several charting singles like Rod Stewart’s “Get Back,” Elton John’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” the Bee Gees’ “Carry That Weight,” Helen Reddy doing a version of “Fool on the Hill,” Tina Turner on “Come Together” and introducing Peter Gabriel with “Strawberry Fields Forever.” It was rumoured that Monty Python cartoonist Terry Gilliam was approached to contributed animated interstitials but that was apparently untrue. As singular as this enterprise seems, All This and World War II was inspired by a documentary by Philippe Mora from the previous year called Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? made up of newsreel footage and interspersed with clips from contemporary films and songs as a scrapbook of the Depression Era through the Attack on Pearl Harbour, with musical selections from Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Woody Guthrie, Busby Berkley and the Andrews Sisters. More from Open Culture at the link above.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, MacArthur Park, the Feast of St Menas plus Kurt Vonnegut Jr at 100

two years ago: more links to enjoy, 3 quarks daily, superannuated image formats, Bliss symbols, an autumnal walk plus more out of the way wanderings

three years ago: the Trizone anthem, more links worth the revisit plus an observatory receives a new name

four years ago: the Feast of St Martin plus early generative text

five years ago: the Armistice of 1918, more assorted links plus a Bosch-bot

Wednesday 24 May 2023

the judgment of paris (10. 763)

Aptly alluding to the myth of a scorned guest and chaos agent, Eris, the goddess of Discord—who was not invited to the marriage ceremony of Greek hero Peleus and sea nymph Thetis and tossed a golden apple into the wedding party to be awarded to the fairest, a bone of contention that sparked the Trojan War, an international jury of wine experts convened in the French capital on this day in 1976 to carry out a blind-tasting—ultimately rating varieties of Napa Valley wines as superior to the historically more esteemed French vineyards. The results of course sparked controversy—top honours going to a 1973 chardonnay from Chรขteau Montelena and a cabernet Sauvignon from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars whereas the opposite outcome was rather a foregone conclusion, and marked a pivotal moment in the California industry (see previously) with a follow up match in 2006 on the event’s thirtieth anniversary that re-certified the standings.

Monday 23 January 2023

the thin white duke (10. 491)

Released on this day in 1976, David Bowie’s tenth studio album was the major vehicle for the above stage persona and enjoys a legacy, building on the commercial success of his previous record Young Americans to allow more creative liberties in the direction he took this next transitional collection of songs, reflecting an interest in the occult and Aleister Crowley and Nietzsche’s รœbermensch, as a departure but still among his most significant works—with exploration of new styles fully articulated in his Berlin Trilogy of the following year. Recorded in Los Angeles after completing shooting for The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bowie adapted the arc of narrative in the album from a partly autobiographical collection of short stories called The Return of the Thin White Duke he had written while off camera.

Thursday 8 December 2022

we are programmed to receive (10. 371)

Released by the label Asylum on this day in 1976, the Eagles’ fifth studio album would go on over the years to become one of the highest ranked records of all time, certified twenty-six times Platinum in the US alone and selling over thirty-two million copies worldwide and within the year alone winning several Grammy awards and bested only by Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, the title track as well as “New Kid in Town” and “Life in the Fast Lane” receiving many accolades. The concept album features a throughline of songs, lyrics chiefly written by Don Henley with contributions from Glenn Frey, that explore ideals realised and thwarted and the loss of that sense of naivetรฉ that things balance out in the end. Despite remarkable commercial success, the band’s best selling album remains Their Greatest Hits (1971 – 1975).

Thursday 23 June 2022

enter sandman

Featuring the talents of Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov, the dystopian sci-fi film set in a future where population and resource consumption is managed by rapturing (the Carrousel) people at the age of thirty, the cinematic adaption of the 1967 novel by George Clayton Johnson and William F Nolan had its debut in theatres on this day in 1976. Escaping the subterranean mega city, fugitives Logan 5 (whose job it was formerly to enforce this maximum age mandate but turned Runner himself) and Jessica 6 find themselves in an ice cave and encounter Box, a robot designed to capture fleeing individuals and freeze them for food. Expertly voiced by Shakespearian actor and director Roscoe Lee Brown, this commanding role influenced George Lucas to cast James Earl Jones the following year as the voice of Darth Vader. Below is an extended version of that performance, shortened in the release.

Sunday 31 October 2021

7x7: happy halloween edition

robert the doll: Key West’s most cursed object—see also—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see here)  

zombie jamboree: Harry Belafonte’s actual ghoulish calypso number—notwithstanding the associations with the Banana Boat Song 

la calavera catrina: a sugar skull puppet presents a primer on Dรญa de los Muertos  

westsonality: enjoy Paul Lynde’s 1976 Halloween Special with a cavalcade of guest stars  

respect the sabbath: periodic movements in the US to hold no Halloween on Sundays  

main title theme: the score for John Carpenter’s classic horror film Halloween 

lovecraft country: welcome to my metaverse—see previously

Sunday 5 September 2021

most sensational, inspirational, celebrational

Originally airing on the British ITV network before being picked up in syndication for American audiences, Jim Henson’s Muppet Show was first broadcast on this day in 1976—the characters and premise previewed with two pilots the previous two years, the first subtitled the Valentine Show with guest star Mia Farrow and Sex and Violence with an all Muppet cast.  

The first episode featured Joel Grey, the Master of Ceremonies from Cabaret, with the guest act being “Wilkommen” and father of Jennifer of Dirty Dancing fame. Musical numbers, guest interviews are interspersed with Fozzie Bear’s comedy routines, Gonzo’s random act of destruction and Muppet News flashes. The Swedish Chef’s cooking segments appeared in episode two.  Coincidentally on the same date five years earlier, the BBC was offered Sesame Street but rejected to add it to their programming schedule, framing the show as “indoctrination and a dangerous extension of the use of television” and having “authoritarian aims.” Independent broadcasters eventually brought the educational programme to the UK.

Wednesday 1 September 2021


With precedent disputes just after WWII and reignited after a fashion with Brexit fishing negotiations, the Cod Wars began in earnest on this day in 1958 when Iceland expanded its territorial waters to the edge of maritime claims by the UK and West Germany, with all sides sustaining losses over the next two decades as this protracted conflict continued with boats ramming into one other and the fishing nets of trawlers cut. Although in the aftermath of each skirmish, the International Court of Justice sided with Iceland’s claim, no resolution was reached until 1976 when Iceland threatened to withdraw from NATO if the matter wasn’t settled once and for all, an action that would denied the alliance’s submarines access to a strategic part of the North Sea (see also) at the height of the Cold War, brokering an agreement amenable to all parties. Following on from the truce, the United Nations codified the Law of the Sea and standardised exclusive nautical economic zones.

Saturday 14 August 2021

there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb

Beginning a three-week streak at the top of the US charts on this in 1965, the ballad by Sonny Bono written for and performed with his then-wife Cher (previously) was inspired by Bob Dylan’s folk rock hit for the Turtles “It Ain’t Me Babe” with Bono expressing the opposite sentiment. In 1993, Cher recorded a cover-version with the animated characters Beavis and Butt-Head as a single from their comedy album The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience. That song also rated highly on international music rankings. In 2016, Cher performed a parody of it called “I Got you Bae” with commentary on relationships in the era of social media. Personally, we thought the best version—other than the performance on their variety hour in 1976—was Dorothy and Sophia as the duo on The Golden Girls.

Saturday 24 July 2021


Via Card House, our attention is directed to a record format called Sopic Cap Player and their portable party-in-a-box from 1976, impeccably sleek and modern looking for that vintage, that prefigured karaoke (a clipped compound meaning “empty orchestra,” ใ‚ซใƒฉใ‚ช) machines. The playlist includes “Champs Elysee” and “Waterloo Road” from Jason Crest with quite a few other cosmopolitan classics, demos and comparable technology linked in the comments section on this video shared by Techmoan’s Youtube channel.

Saturday 10 July 2021

sky rockets in flight

Charting both in the UK and the US, the Starland Vocal Band’s only hit “Afternoon Delight” began its run on this day in 1976, one of the biggest songs of the year. The group which began as a wife and husband duo—Taffy Nivert and Bill Danoff—wrote together with John Denver “Take Me Home, Country Roads” in 1971, eventually expanding into a full musical ensemble with keyboards and guitars and additional singers, and hosted an eponymous variety show on CBS—with David Letterman as a regularly featured writer—the following summer.

Tuesday 3 November 2020

if i concentrate hard enough, i can move things

Released in theatres in the US on this day in 1976, horror writer Stephen King only received twenty-five hundred dollars for the rights to his novel (in epistolary form)—which seems rather nominal compared to the thirty-four-million-dollar box office performance for North America and the continued franchise—but at age twenty-six was happy to receive that sort of recognition for his first published book, first in print just two years prior. Directed by Brian De Palma, the award-winning film stars Sissy Spacek as a shy high school student with a religiously fanatical mother who is relentlessly tormented by her peers—unaware of her telekinetic abilities.

Thursday 17 September 2020


Rise and shine, Turophiles, to the musical stylings of organist Ady Zehnpfennig from his 1976 record album Early Bird. Graduating from the accordion to an electronic Hammond organ (see also here and here) and formed a trio with his brothers, performing first at night clubs in Kรถln. The fun accompanying image is from the reverse jacket cover.

Saturday 18 July 2020

the freedom to use, the choice to choose

Since our previous exposure to corporate singalong show tunes was more cast in the golden era of American industry, we appreciated revisiting the theme as big business begins counting on government support and subsidies over innovation typified in this Big Oil revue released in 1976 to extol and mildly indoctrinate associates with the virtues of laissez-faire economics and minimal government regulation with a judicious dose of lobbying. “America’s way—the free enterprise way / That’s what got us here today!” Find more tracks from the Exxon Singers and related choral arrangements at Boing Boing at the link above.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

i want to destroy the passerby

Later included on their eponymous first album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, the band’s debut single Anarchy in the UK was released on this day in 1976. Giving voice to a generation of disenfranchisement and poor prospects, this anthem launched the genres of punk- and anarcho-rock, reclaiming and reshaping pop music from its nadir of blandness and timidity, called out in the lyric—“I use the enemy” or NME, the New Musical Express, a rather tame hit digest that would later come to champion the Sex Pistols and similar groups.


Monday 17 September 2018

orbiter vehicle designation 101

On this day (Constitution Day in the United States of America to mark its ratification in 1787) in 1976 President Gerald Ford christened the Space Shuttle Enterprise, named in response to an overwhelming Trekkie (“one of the most dedicated constituencies in the country”) letter campaign and the event was attended by the creators and cast of Star Trek.
Like the NCC-1701, it was not originally designed for spaceflight with no heat-shield for atmospheric re-entry (absent the expository device of a teleporter), the test vehicle was an important stepping stone to improve next generation vehicle engineering, famously piggy-backing aloft on a Boeing 747 to bring it to attitude and speed and testing its gliding maneuvers. The Enterprise was later retrofitted and flew missions in support of Skylab.

Thursday 1 December 2016

articulating the popular rage

The 1976 black comedy that billed itself as “perfectly outrageous” now seems presciently quaint by today standards, BBC reports in its appreciation of the motion picture Network.
Not only does the protracted mental breakdown of veteran news anchor Howard Beale provide unexpected ratings gold with his uncensored rants that channel the collected offenses and fears of the audience and the counterpoint of globalists in recognising that true power was taken from the tribes of man by corporate entities, producer Diana Christiansen who cultivated Beale’s new character also ventured into what we would regard as reality television.

Saturday 19 November 2016

ford v carter

The other day I came across this logo for US election night 1976, and was surprised by how contemporary the design seemed. On closer investigation, however, this convention developed by television anchor-men at the time was not the standard adopted by broadcasters universally and was in fact the opposite to the colour-coding in use today.
Until the 1980s, following the European system with red being associated with Communism and the left-leaning politics, the relatively and presently liberal Democratic Party was symbolised with that colour—though not by all media, and the Grand Old Party was represented by blue—harking back, according to some sources, to the blue uniforms of Unionist soldiers during the American Civil War. The colour schemes remained relatively mixed—with some outlets assigning one colour to the incumbent party and the other to the challenger, without respect for affiliation—until the contested outcome of the 2000 that took weeks to resolve and to less than a majority’s satisfaction between Al Gore and George W Bush. When the interpretation of the prevailing votes mattered not only state by state but county by county and precinct by precinct, all networks had to get it right (too much was at stake) and so adopted the same protocols for reporting and calling. The convention of Red States and Blue States for the media has held since.

Monday 2 May 2016

ponceau 4r

As possibly one of the biggest hoaxes to come out of France since arguably the Priory of Sion (and notable for being a contemporary phenomenon with the bloodline conspiracy), the missive known as the Villejuif leaflet (anonymous but sourced to the oncological institute in the Paris suburbs) spread from 1976 onward with impressive virality contained a list of twenty or so—several different versions were in circulation for over a decade—of food additives, preservatives, and colouring agents alleged to be carcinogenic.
The original author of the pamphlet that was shared more than seven million times via chain-letters (chaรฎne de lettres, and more by word of mouth) across Europe was never identified and seemed to be spring-boarding his or her concerns off of the newly introduced codes called E Numbers that standardised food chemical labelling for the continent—as if the coding scheme was a veiled way to peddle poison like the notion that barcodes were the mark of the Devil, the classification system reserving E100-199 for dyes, E300-399 antioxidants, E900-E999 for sweeteners and so on. Obviously, processed food ought to be avoided when possible, and naturally the definition of fit for consumption is a fluid one, though I think that these specific panics are sometimes red-herrings, like so many red M&Ms, and regulatory bodies within the EU have rejected some of the substances deemed safe in the US—even if that use in America is strictly limited to colouring the skin of oranges to make them look riper or as cosmetics for other things that generally aren’t in the human food-chain, but that list also included a lot of naturally occurring compounds that are synthesised in industrial kitchens, like sodium sulphite, potassium nitrate, and citric acid. It was that last item that especially caused a panic, which is a pervasive food-additive, and propagated as the most toxic.  Perhaps the list (which we still encounter today as super foods and super villain foods, confronting us especially in the whitespaces of the internet) began innocently enough when a concerned but confused citoyen heard that citric acid was an essential catalyst for the Krebs cycle, mistaking the German word for cancer for the act of metabolising.  Incidentally, E124 or Ponceau 4R is a chemical pigment meaning poppy-red and one of the few not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration