Thursday 2 November 2023

6x6 (11. 091)

in front of the children: a Betamax find from 1983 on the BBC’s six decades of television for younger audiences 

ofrenda: a shrine on All Souls Day to the recently departed Paul Rubens, (clap! clap! clap!) deep in the heart of Texas 

terraces: an obscure 1977 made-for-television movie about tenants of a high-rise featuring Miss Julie Newmar, Jane Dulo and some gay neighbours  

forest friends: a profile of ecologist Simona Kossack’s three-decade residence in a secluded primeval wood  

now and then: The Beatles release their final song  

goldar: the late 60’s Japanese tokusatsu series, Ambassador Magma—the original Transformers, that achieved cult status in foreign markets as The Space Giants

Sunday 24 September 2023

your captain, merrill stubing (11. 021)

Premiering on this day in 1977 after three pilots airing as made for television movies and broadcast for nine seasons—including five specials—the Aaron Spelling venture of the port-of-calls of the MS Pacific Princess, featured in a Saturday night weekly lineup including Fantasy Island. Though not the first to do so, it solidified the cross-over, guest-star anthology format, bringing in celebrities from film and pioneered parallel plots, with an A-, B- and C-stories in each episode. Aside from the roles of captain, ship’s doctor, and your bartender (promoted to yeoman pursuer, portrayed by Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, and Ted Lange, the cast rotated. Fred Grady as your yeoman pursuer—Burl “Gopher” Smith was in all the televised episodes but opted out of the specials to campaign for the US congress.

Saturday 23 September 2023

like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim (11. 015)

Released on this day in 1977 as the lead single from the twelfth studio album of the same name, this future signature ballad in the artist’s repertoire was co-written by Brian Eno, and recorded in Hansa Tonstudio 2 in the Kreuzberg district of West Berlin sings the narrative of two star-crossed lovers in the divided city, who live in constant fear of being caught but are free in their dreams. Inspired by witnessing his then-married record producer Tony Visconti kissing a singer “by the Wall,” David Bowie put the song’s title in quotation marks to invoke a light sense of irony to the triumphant and defiant tone. Bowie also put out German (Helden) and French (Hรฉros) versions of the song. The album cover art is an homage to Expressionist painter Erich Heckel’s 1917 self-portrait Roquairol, like (though with the pose a bit closer) Iggy Pop’s nearly contemporary album, The Idiot.


one year ago: Trump family facing legal peril over exaggerating the value of their crime syndicate plus an infinite scroll of the updating internet

two years ago: the unification of Saudi Arabia (1932) plus your daily demon: Phenex

three years ago: the US Subversives Control Act (1950), the Halo Effect and hindsight bias plus an anthology of Korean folktales

four years ago: the Fatberg commemorated plus variations on the Dr Who theme

five years ago: the first day of Autumn, numbers stations, a family’s political rebuttal plus a space probe arrives at its target asteroid

Friday 9 June 2023

doesn’t take much to make me happy (10. 795)

Composed by Maurice White and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Al McKay, the song was released on this day in 1977 as the lead single from The Emotions (originally founded as a gospel ensemble known as the Hutchinson Sunbeams after their manager and principal performer) studio album Rejoice, eventually breaking through to the top of charts in the US as well as Canada and the UK and garnering a Grammy the following year. The R&B classic, certified platinum many times over, is ranked among the best love songs as well as among the best in Girl Groups. Covered and sampled many times over the decades, one corollary to this affirming song using the same beat structure was the equally catchy 1997 composition by B-Rock and the Bizz, “My Baby Daddy.”

Saturday 6 May 2023

home box office (10. 723)

Via Kottke, we are directed to a collegial tradition that began in 1977 when Star Wars overtook Jaws and Steven Spielberg penned an illustrated congratulatory letter to George Lucas when the former director’s blockbuster overtook the latter’s and published it in the trade paper Variety. The exchange—some gaps—to this day when records are broken for best opening weekend, overall ticket sales and rentals, like this 1998 homage to James Cameron’s Titanic surpassing the franchise. Much more epistolary discoveries above from Letters of Note.

Saturday 25 February 2023

gumby dharma (10. 573)

The always excellent Fancy Notions directs our attention to a 1977 psychedelic stop-motion short from Art Clokey (previously) meant as a visual metaphor for “evolving human consciousness.” Produced over the course of three years, it was a family collaboration, the sequences shot in their basement in Topanga, California. Tragically Clokey’s daughter took her own life aged 19 after witnessing a friend killed by a lighting strike and Mandala is informed by and dedicated to Ann’s memory.

Monday 5 December 2022

i am altering the deal—pray i don’t alter it any further (10. 361)

The November 1977 edition of Vogue featured an eight page spread of super models Jerry Hall, former partner of both Mick Jagger and Rupert Murdoch, and Maria Hanson posing in ridiculously cruel, outmoded and expensive furs with a cast of characters from Star Wars, including storm troopers, jawas and Snagglepus. This crossover cultural artefact shows just how pervasive the franchise’s influence and reception was back then.

Friday 18 November 2022

the quest for self-winding (10. 312)

This was a bit of a haunted memory for me as I recalled this one scene with the Droste Effect but couldn’t name the animated film until this reminder from last month from Nag on the Lake and Memo of the Air asking “what lies behind the last visible dog?” It is the 1977 cinematic adaptation of the young adult novel by the same name from a decade earlier by Russell Hoban, which was released by Sanrio studios on this day that year. The Mouse and His Child tells the story of two conjoined clockwork toys holding hands who gain awareness after being unboxed in a shop, and although forming a close bond with an elephant and seal, are ridiculed for the suggestion that they remain in the shop and form their own family. The titular protagonists accidentally end up discarded and once at the dump and are forced into a pressgang by a rat who runs a casino at the rubbish yard on the labour of broken toys but escape aand are rescued by their friends from the shop, eventually realising their goal. The film version features the vocal talents of Cloris Leachman, Andy Devine and Peter Ustinov.

Monday 3 October 2022

7x7 (10. 191)

stanford torus: maybe if we solve Earth, we can have a little space donut as a treat—see previously

matriculation: Merriam-Webster’s Word Induction Ceremony for a class of 369 neologisms

industrial light and magic: a coming-of-age film set during the summer of Star Wars released after being shelved for twenty years—because of the prequels—via Miss Cellania  

elections matter: revisiting The Survey Graphic, February 1939 edition  

toyko build: exquisite scale models of structures and architectural elements from around the metropolis

gesprรคch einer hausschnecke mit sich selbst: a snail’s monologue in verse  

feline dynamics: the US Air Force tossed cats in zero-gravity to study its effects on human physiology—see also—via Everlasting Blรถrt

Saturday 1 October 2022

other galactic funk (10. 186)

On this day in 1977, Domenico Monardo—known professionally as Meco (see previously)—saw his the lead single from his album of space disco that included elements of the soundtrack arranged as instrumental dance music raise to the top of the US billboard charts and hold the number one place for a fortnight, the record and the single “Star Wars Theme / Cantina Band” both certified as platinum. John Williams’ originally version was in the top ten at the same concurrently but was never as popular as Meco’s—the two artist crossing again a few months later with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with the former coming out on top.

Sunday 18 September 2022

earth below us (10. 144)

Launched just two weeks prior—and two weeks after its twin probe Voyager 2—Voyager I was able to look back and capture a composite image of the Earth and the Moon in the same frame on this day in 1977—see also here and here. The craft, though carrying payloads for the ages for some far flung intelligence to discover, were expected to only have active missions for a period of five years yet are still transmitting and even dispatching the occasional tweet over four decades later. 


Monday 27 June 2022

better call saul

A distinctly foreign concept outside the United States and maybe we’ve been too indulgent of its hegemony on the internet and elsewhere of late but the 1977 decision of the US Supreme Court, issued on this day in 1977, upheld the right of attorneys to advertise their services, arguing that as commercial speech, it was entitled to protection under the first amendment to the US constitution—as promulgated through the fourteenth. In Bates v the State Bar of Arizona, the justices emphasised the benefits of information and disclosure to consumers through the vehicle of advertising and makes services more accessible to the general public and enhance the overall administration of justice. The American Bar Association had allowed for legal services to be listed in telephone directories but held that newspaper or hoarding advertisement—especially one with a price-list—goes too far. The court sided with the plaintiffs, as it had done the previous summer for the pharmaceutical industry, ruling that the consumer-interest in transparency in costs outweighed the desire to maintain collegial decorum among apothecaries.

Wednesday 18 May 2022


Signed on this day in 1977 in Geneva—the Environmental Modification Convention—formally known as the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques—entering into force in October the following year, the international treaty—party to some eighty nations and binding for all UN members after ratification, it originally bans weather warfare to induce damage or famine. Expanded later to include instances of destructive geoengineering and modification to the atmosphere, the subject of herbicides, like Agent Orange, is contentiously unaddressed as how the framework of this convention might now be interpreted and applied to those territories most vulnerable to the effects of global warming and sea rise.

Friday 14 January 2022


The first of three collaborations known as the Berlin Trilogy with Brian Eno and producer Tony Visconti, David Bowie’s eleventh studio album was released by RCA on this day in 1977 and is an exploration of ambient and electronica, influenced by experimental and progressive German bands, like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. A departure from the artist’s usual music-the project started when Bowie and Iggy Pop moved to the French countryside to get away from the temptation of drugs in Los Angeles and sober up and recorded the first tracks at Chรขteau d'Hรฉrouville before relocating to West Berlin-reception was initially divided but the album was a commercial and critical success and is credited with giving rise to the post-punk style with groups like Joy Division, Human League and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark in that musical genre. The lyric “Don't look at the carpet-I drew something awful on it” is in refenence of Bowie’s habit of drawing the Tree of Life diagram on the studio floor during breaks into between sessions, having cultivated an interest in Qabalah and Thelema during that period.

Tuesday 27 July 2021

we go undercover, wait out the sun

Rare and unseen, we are enjoying this preview of a retrospective exhibit of the portrait photographer Masayoshi Sukita going on display at Tokyo’s Blitz Gallery that includes a collection of previously uncirculated pictures of David Bowie, whom the artist first encountered in 1972 to see what all the fuss was about and remaining friends until the singer’s death in 2016. An iconic image (see also) with significantly more exposure, Sukita took the image that became the cover art for Bowie’s 1977 Heroes album. More at Wallpaper at the link up top.

Saturday 27 March 2021

tenerife airport disaster

Prompting strict enforcement of standardised instructions, safety protocols and English as a common-working language for air traffic controllers and flight crews, the deadliest accident in aviation history occurred on this day in 1977 when two Boeing 747 passenger jets collided on the runway in foggy conditions on the Spanish island. Five hundred eighty-three people were killed. Members of the Canary Islands Independence Movement had planted a bomb at the larger Gran Canaria airport and called in the threat, this terrorist incident causing planes to be diverted to the smaller regional Los Rodeos airport in the northern part of Tenerife, causing the taxiway to become congested and arriving and departing planes sharing the single runway had to wait their turn in deteriorating weather conditions. A mutual misunderstanding tragically caused the KLM and Pan Am flights to start at the same time.

Tuesday 30 June 2020

out on the wiley, windy moors

Initially inspired to create her rhapsodic tone poem at age eighteen after viewing a decade old made-for-television adaptation of the author Emily Brontรซ’s sole novel and then compelled to refine her vision for the song and choreography after reading Wuthering Heights and learning that she, Kate Bush (see previously), and Brontรซ shared the same birthday (today 1818/1958), the eponymous song about the requited but unconsummated love affair between Catherine Earnshaw and the tortured Heathcliff, whom Earnshaw returns to haunt in the second part of the novel was recorded in the summer of 1977 but it release was delayed until the end of January 1978. Despite this postponement and calculated competition, however, it rose quickly in the charts (Bush was the first female performer in the UK to reach this ranking with a self-written piece) and became an instant—though sometimes divisive—cult classic. A subsequent music video has inspired fans to hold annually “The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever” events (usually held in mid-July) across the globe with crowds cos-playing as Bush the artist in a gauzy red dress and perform the dance moves from the video in unison. 

Thursday 7 May 2020


Having disappeared seven days prior whilst presumably over Soviet airspace and the US government issuing a detailed cover story to the press about a missing NASA research aircraft lost in northern Turkey with the possibility that the auto-pilot had kicked in and led the plane further afield, Nikita Khrushchev made the surprise announcement (previously) on this day in 1960 that CIA espionage operative Francis Gary Powers (*1929 – †1977) had been intercepted and was in Soviet custody, embarrassing the Eisenhower administration who faced a dilemma in either owning up to the act or denying responsibility and blaming inscrutable bureaucracy in the intelligence agencies—both alibis potentially endangering a settlement at the upcoming Paris Peace Summit.
In the summer of 1958, the US government negotiated with Pakistan to establish a base of operations to run secret intelligence-gathering sorties over the USSR, using U-2 spyplanes to photograph missile silos and other infrastructure—aloft in the upper stratosphere and out of range of Soviet countermeasures, or so it was believed. The captured agent and photographic evidence was impossible to deny and Powers acceded his actions. Caught in a lie, the US disclosed the full nature of the U-2 missions and the involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency—which was in itself another surprising revelation. Powers, though sentenced to three years in prison with seven additional years of hard labour, was treated very well by his captors and spent most of the time with handicrafts, was freed after two years in a prisoner exchange on the Glienicker Brรผcke (the Bridge of Spies that connected West Berlin with East German Potsdam) for KGB officer and Soviet spy Rudolf Ivanovich Abel (*1903 - †1971). After being repatriated, Powers retiring from the CIA and took a job as a helicopter pilot for a television station in Los Angeles, dying in a crash whilst filming footage of wildfires, reportedly wilfully diverting his descent to avoid children playing near his intended landing spot.

Saturday 11 April 2020


H and I shared a cross-cultural moment the other day, him remarking that my hair, already in need of a cut before the lockdown, was getting pretty shaggy and I would look like Tiffy soon. I didn’t get the reference and he explained, “Tiffy, you know the Muppet from Sesame Street?”
I wasn’t familiar and vaguely knew that there were different nationally syndicated versions of the show with different characters and looking up an image, I thought she presents as a Mokey Fraggle and possibly a later addition to the cast. More research, however, showed me what a different and parallel world there was between the Children’s Television Workshop and the studios of Norddeutscher Runkfrunk. They that you call Big Bird and Mister Snuffleupagus we call Tiffy und Samson, a friendly bear with a security blanket called Schnuffeltuch.  Same energy.
Tiffy and her friend were portraying the psychological ages of six- and five-year olds respectively and were with the show since it’s debut in 1977. In late December of 1993, there was a sort of Muppet Monster New Year’s Eve special called Sesame Street Stays Up Late, anchored by Elmo as sort of a CNN style reporter showcasing celebrations by time-zones and featured introductions and interviews with international cast and crew, including Tiffy, Samson and company. I am rocking that Tiffy hairdo.