Wednesday 6 September 2023

all mod cons (10. 985)

Lead single from the band’s fifth studio album, The Jam enjoyed yet another number one on UK charts beginning on this day in 1980 (one of eighteen consecutive songs to rise to this distinction for the mod revival group) with “Start!” Though opening with a riff very similar to the Beatles’ Tax Man and echo Revolver-era psychedelia, the arrangement and tone of the song takes an immediate departure, combining influences of the 60s and a 70s lament and protest. Never released as singles domestically, Sound Affects also includes the tracks “That’s Entertainment” and “Who is the Five o'clock Hero?,” which are regarded as two of the most popular and defining of the decade.


one year ago:  Boris Johnson says ta-ta for now plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more links to enjoy, Jimi Hendrix’ last performance (1970), St Petersburg gets its original name back (1991) plus some special Roman dice

three years ago: Trump finally makes the cover of Time magazine plus a visit to Germany’s Little Switzerland

four years ago: links worth the revisit plus day-old bread in Iceland

five years ago: assorted links, lodestars plus more Supermarination

Sunday 18 June 2023

human computer (10. 817)

Despite a posthumous and four-decade late official acknowledgement by the world records authority, Shakuntala Devi (เฒถเฒ•ುಂเฒคเฒฒಾ เฒฆೇเฒตಿ), nonetheless a celebrated author, mental calculator, political opponent to Indira Ganhdi in parliamentary elections after her prime-ministership and astrologer—without any formal education (though born into the Brahmin caste her father was a circus performer, a trapeze artist and lion tamer before taking his prodigious daughter on tour), achieved her record setting calculation on this day in 1980 at Imperial College, London, multiplying two randomly-generated thirteen digit numbers in under half-a-minute, rivalling the processing times of contemporary computers. In addition to authoring several books on arithmetic to teach people some of her methods for simplifying and intuiting solutions, including Figuring: The Joy of Numbers, Devi also wrote several cookbooks, crime novels and a rather controversial though suppressed and not widely and first study on homosexuality in India (which possibly delayed recognition by Guinness), written in order to understand her gay husband and to better understand the community.

Wednesday 19 April 2023

come up off your colour chart (10. 684)

Topping US charts for six consecutive weeks beginning on this day in 1980, the collaboration by Debbie Harry and Giorgio Moroder (originally pitching the number to Stevie Nicks, see previously) was the theme for the neo-noir crime drama starring Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton American Gigolo about an elite male escourt who gets entangled in a high-profile murder.  Presented with an instrumental arrangement provisionally titled “Man Machine,” the lyrics where written from the perspective of Gere’s character as a prostitute and bookended the movie.

Sunday 30 October 2022

8x8 (10. 258)

♄iii: a 1980 Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett sci-fi vehicle about colonising Triton by Star Wars set designer John Barry  

le forme variabili: a comprehensive guide to pasta selection  

christ stopped at eboli: an abandoned village in Basilicata—via Things Magazine  

the consent of the governed: as a platform, Twitter is a train wreck despite itself 

sessile by nature: Charles Darwin documents movement in plants—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Linkssee previously  

here an anteater that also appears to be some sort of quail in a sweater: an AI virtually, humanely dresses up cats in costumes for Halloween—see previously  

dead man’s body buffet: spaghetti is the creepiest food  

earth minus zero: a 1996 “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” with Sam Jones, Pat Morita and Joey Travolta

Sunday 16 October 2022

the market square! the market fair! salted meat i’m selling there! (10. 230)

Beginning its second Broadway revival on this day in 1980, the 1947 Lerner and Loewe collaboration about two American tourist travelling the Scottish Highlands on a game-hunting vacation and stumble upon an enchanted village that does not appear on their map. Named after the Lowlands bridge, Brig o’ Doon, in Robert Burns’ “Tam o’Shanter,” the companions, eligible bachelors variously portrayed by Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse and in a 1966 television adaptation Robert Goulet and Peter Falk, learn that the local minister had asked God to intercede to protect the village from the modern world (not sure that the congregation was consulted on this), and now Brigadoon only appears on appears for one day every century and should any citizens every leave, the miracle will be broken and the village will disappear forever. The musical comedy Schmigadoon! is a modern parody and homage with lost backpackers finding themselves trapped in a Golden Age stage production.

Friday 30 September 2022

<…> (10. 178)

Initial specifications first published on this day in 1980 by Xerox in association with Intel and the Digital Equipment Corporation (standardised by the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE, in 1983), Ethernet technologies are based on a shared medium of communications, similar to the common platform of radio systems and takes its name from the disproven proposal of a luminiferous aether as an omnipresent, subtle and rarefied propagator (see also) of electromagnetic waves and enabled the first collaborative networks of computers.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

xxii olympiad (10. 003)

Beginning on this day and running through 1980 Summer Games hosted by the Soviet capital was the first such event held in a communist country until 2008 Beijing Games, with quite low participation—the US leading a boycott by sixty-six countries over the Russo-Afghan War. A few countries took part but competed under the Olympic banner rather than as a national team, and Philadelphia hosted an alternate Liberty Bell Classic for those not participating in the other venue. The Soviet and Eastern Bloc athletes reciprocated by staying out of the 1984 games hosted in Los Angeles with the closing ceremony absent conspicuous elements of the handover.

Monday 13 June 2022

mccartney ii

Paired on the double single release with “Check My Machine” and first in record shops on this day in 1980, “Waterfalls” is a minimalist ballad from Paul McCartney’s eponymous second solo album. Failing to match the success of the lead single “Coming Up” and first song that failed to chart, McCartney was questioned in 2009 whether he regretted that it were not more memorable, responding that, “There are quite a few, actually—Watersfalls, and I think that’s nice,” referring to the 1995 TLC signature tune that was a resounding international hit which incorporates the opening lyric and stylistic elements. The following single put out in September, “Temporary Secretary,” was again a musical departure and an outlier, futuristic and complex, about a disposable, cyborg administrative assistant, sampled and re-sampled with sort of an experimental mania with cult appeal. Don’t go chasing polar bears into the great unknown. Some big friendly polar bear might want to take you home.

Thursday 2 June 2022

capricorn one

The 1978 conspiracy thriller by Peter Hyams starring Karen Black, Elliott Gould, James Brolin, Sam Waterston, OJ Simpson, Hal Holbrook and Telly Savalas, considered the most successful independent production of that year, premiered in cinemas on this day and tells the story of an aborted crewed mission to Mars whose members are kidnapped from the launchpad—the life-support systems deemed unfit for purpose—and transported to a film studio, under duress with their families under threat—to complete their journey of exploration in front of the cameras. Fearing another blow to public interest and confidence in the space programme and attendant loss of billions in contracts, NASA administrators force the astronauts to act out their Martian adventure. Unfortunately this plot strengthened and perpetuated the theory that the Moon landing was faked and directed by Stanley Kubrick with The Shining being a veiled confession for his involvement in the deception.

Sunday 5 December 2021

hawkmen diiive!

With a spectacular soundtrack by Queen and with a cast that includes Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin, a Robin Hood like character who rules the woodland region called Arboria and subjects our titular hero to the “wood beast” ritual that’s a lot like the pain box in Dune, Brian Blessed as the above Prince Vultan of Sky City, Topol as Dr. Hans Zarkov, Mariangela Melato as General Kala, Max von Sydow as (problematically) the ruler of planet Mongo, Ming the Mercliless, the cinematic adaptation of the King Features Syndicate comic-strip, Flash Gordon (previously), premiered on this day in 1980 in US markets (a week later in the UK). The Earth beset with natural disasters, Gordon—a star quarterback for the football team the New York Jets is sidelined during a short airplane journey where he and travel agent Dale Arden encounter a scientist (Zarkov) who believes that the climatic catastrophes are being caused by a malevolent and extraterrestrial source and lures Arden and Gordon to help him on a mission to determine the source, ultimately confirming Emperor Ming’s involvement. The trio are soon captured and Ming orders Arden prepared for his harem, Zarkov’s useful knowledge extracted and reprogrammed and Gordon executed.

Sunday 26 September 2021

disco ball ceiling, i whisper quietly to myself.

As fellow internet caretaker Things Magazine informs, delightfully McMansion Hell’s yearbook project (previously) has reached 1980 with a piece of real estate on Staten Island whose relatively tame and unified exterior (at least when viewed from the street) conceals a real nightmare going on inside that gets progressively more terrifying as one descends into the house’s depths. More at the links above and be sure to follow Kate Wagner so as to never miss an update.

Monday 23 August 2021

i never did anything out of the blue

Coming in at number one of the UK charts on this day in 1980, David Bowie’s following-up on the narrative for Major Tom, a darker bookmarking of the intervening decade, is described as a nuanced retelling of a nursery rhyme with its attendant cautionary tale. Co-directed by Bowie and David Mallet (also collaborating on “Boys Keep Swinging,” “DJ,” and “Look Back in Anger” and Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays”), the music video, costing a quarter million pounds to produce, was the most expensive at the time and features the performer dressed as pantomime, commedia dell’arte stock character Pierrot, the sad, introspective clown.

Sunday 15 August 2021


Founded in 1980 by Mother Angelica (Rita Antoinette Rizzo, *1923 - †2016) of the Poor Clares (appropriately) of Perpetual Adoration and first beginning broadcasting on this day, the Feast of the Assumption, in 1981 from a studio in a converted garage of a monastery in Irondale, Alabama, the Eternal Word Television Network grew to become a global media empire, providing round the clock devotional and catechetical programming, daily mass and papal news.

Monday 31 May 2021

lipps inc

The lead single off of their debut album Mouth to Mouth, released earlier in the year in March, first began to top the charts on this day in 1980, reaching number one in the USA, Canada, West Germany, the Netherlands and numerous other places following. The monumental One-Hit Wonder was inspired by the band’s ambitions to expand from Minneapolis and stake their claim in New York City. The band was originally to be called Lip Sync but that name was already taken. Here they are performing the song in 1982 on the show TopPop.

Saturday 30 January 2021

it’s a party marge. it doesn’t have to make sense.

Though other sources date the song’s release to next month, just for the chance to indulge listening to one of the best rock power ballads ever, we are going with this day in 1980 for the debut of the lead single from Journey’s sixth studio album Departure. Influenced by the music of Irish band Thin Lizzy, the collaboration between singer and librettist Steve Perry and guitarist Neal Schon did fared modestly but respectably in contemporary charts but enjoys an enduring legacy.

Tuesday 19 January 2021

brass in pocket

On this day in 1980, The Pretenders’ 1979 single from their eponymous debut album reached number one on the UK charts and held that position for a month.

Originally to meant to be set to more of a Motown sound, Chrissie Hynde worked with guitarist James Honeyman-Scott to articulate and give form to her lyric narrative about a superbly confident individual with all sorts of clout venturing out on a first date. The title comes from an overheard exchange during an after-show party, “Picked up dry cleaning? Any brass in pocket?” The British and America band members were quite taken with the quirks of their common language.  The next lines “I got bottle—I’m gonna use it” is Cockney rhyming slang—that is, bottle, glass, I got a nice—So special! “Got new skank—it’s so reet,” is a reference to satirist and underground comic artist Robert Crumb.

Monday 18 January 2021


Observed on the Monday nearest, US federal holiday in honour of the civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. recognises his birth on the fifteenth of the month in 1929 (murdered in 1968), we had never realised that Stevie Wonder’s song “Happy Birthday” (a far better tune to sing than the traditional birthday party chant even after copyright prohibition lapsed—with even the opening lyrics taking on new dimensions, see also, with this knowledge and embarrassment that this tribute escaped our attention) released as a single from his Hotter than July album in April of 1981 was composed as a campaign to make King’s birthday a nation holiday for America. The song’s popularity compelled Ronald Reagan by November of 1983 to sign the holiday into existence with the first holiday held in 1986 and universally observed (on the state level) by 1993.

Thursday 31 December 2020

the medium is the message

Though interest in his work and commentary waned in later years as alarmist or rallying against the inevitable, appreciation for the perspective and insight of philosopher and lecturer Herbert Marshall McLuhan (*1911, dying on this day in 1980 after a long convalescent period from a debilitating stroke) regained their purchase once his predictions started coming true some three decades after he introduced them. Coining his famous aphorism above in his doctoral dissertation expanded to his 1951 The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, McLuhan also championed the idea of a “global village” and defined cool and hot media—the former more demanding with less stimuli for engagement with the latter being more prescriptive and therefore tribal in nature.

Tuesday 8 December 2020

woke up, fell out of bed

Via Strange Company, we are given a rather insightful, connected glimpse into a day in the life of John Lennon (previously) on what turned out to be his last on this day in 1980. Through these intimate, everyday details, we see the consequence of small, disposable decisions in the gears of what we’d describe as the machinations of the great and the good.

Friday 9 October 2020

the watcher in the woods

After a significant delay following its debut showing in New York City (with some major revisions needed after a poor reception by audiences) until it was picked up by Walt Disney Studios for distribution and general release more than a year later, the supernatural thriller was shown in cinemas across the US first on this day in 1981.
Targeting a young adult demographic and starring Bette Davis and David McCallum, it tells the story of an American family that move into a Buckinghamshire estate, whom are received warmly by the owner of the manor whose has since downsized and resides in the guest cottage—only the proprietoress comments how much the teenage daughter Jan looks so much like her own Karen who disappeared without a trace in the surrounding woods thirty years before. Settling in with the occasion blindfolded apparition haunting the many mirrors and eerie blue lights coming from the forest, the mother adopts a puppy to keep her company—inexplicably naming it Nerak. Catching a glimpse of the dog’s name inverted, Jan realises that it’s Karen spelled backwards. Growing emboldened by curiosity, Jan ventures further into the woods, accompanied by Nerak and encounters a hermit, who relates the story of a coven and how Karen, decades ago, was convinced to take part in a sรฉance and was spirited away, entranced, when lighting struck the chapel tower during a lunar eclipse.   All tropes covered.  Here’s a preview below with the full movie here.