Saturday 23 March 2024

the noodle bar scene (11. 445)

The always excellent Language Hat brings up the topic of the auxiliary, cosmopolitan argot, Cityspeak, used in at the beginning of the film (and peppered throughout) in the exchange between Decker (Harrison Ford), the snack counter’s proprietor (Bob Okazaki) and later the undercover arresting officer Gaff (Edward James Olmos, credited with its invention to a large extent). The Blade Runner pretends not to understand this polyglot creole of German, Korean, Spanish, Japanese, Hungarian, Chinese and French but of course knows exactly what the dialogue is about. Monsieur, azonnal kรถvessen engem bitte! Whilst this 1982 vision of our contemporary present has not exactly come to pass linguistically, it is an interesting study in diglossia and language as a cultural indicator rather than purely, functionally communicative and what else the movie and novel got right about the future.

Friday 5 January 2024

9x9 (11. 243)

sine cure: many jobs in the tech sector are busy work and inducements to stymie the competition—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

smooth operator: one-hundred eighty songs and other cultural touchstones turning forty this year 

shake your hips, puppet legs: a David Byrne dance tutorial—via Nag on the Lake  

crackberry: a physical keyboard attachment for one’s smart phone  

the rise and fall of ziggy stardust: the chance encounter with Vince Taylor, the inspiration for the David Bowie persona 

 long live friendship: the Cantonese version of Auld Lang Syne (see previously) performed at the handover ceremony of Hong Kong in 1997  

the (disco) sound of music: a Meco-like dance rendition of the classic tracks (see previously) from Sarah Brightman  

pole position: the Vectrex, the 1982 revolutionary but mostly forgotten video game console, gets a second look 

mobile aloha: an off-the-shelf, DIY robot that can perform complex tasks and chores—via Waxy


one year ago: US mid-term elections

two years ago: two Star Wars adjacent films set in 2022Twelfth Night plus building the Golden Gate Bridge

three years ago: Waiting for Godot, Moonstone plus an unusual patent-filing

four years ago: puffy planets, the asteroid Eris, mobile car-chargers plus Nazi name mandates

five years ago: notes on Dante plus animal sounds in other languages

Monday 4 September 2023

did my time, took my chances (10. 981)

Released as a single a day after the premier of Rocky III, the American rock band Survivor’s theme track hit number one on this day in 1982 on the UK charts. Written at the request of director and star Sylvester Stallone after Queen him permission for “Another Bites the Dust,” the demo version appears (though without tiger growls) in the film and the irregular time signature is meant to evoke throwing and landing punches. A success worldwide thanks in part due to extensive air-play on MTV, “Eye of the Tiger” won a grammy for vocalist Dave Bickler guitarist Frankie Sullivan and keyboard artist Jim Peterik. Used without authorisation as walk-on music for a number of Republican presidential campaigns, the band successfully sued to have the candidates—Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee—desist, although most lawsuits launched by artists are toothless as it is the host venue—sports stadiums, auditoriums—that have the licensing agreements with record companies to play music and both artists and hopefuls get to be obdurate about their politics.


one year ago: dams and reservoirs in Thรผringen

two years ago: an AI generates movie postersTales of the Old Web, Space 1999 (1975), A Sein of Blue, the double statue of Goethe and Schiller (1857) plus another MST3K classic

three years ago: Trump’s undermining public confidence in the voting system 

four years ago: megaliths in Bretagne, cultivating mindfulness plus a fast food franchise given consular powers for Americans abroad

five years ago: the comic book art of Jeffrey Veregge, Google incorporated (1998), monopolies and monopsonies, self-driving cars with emotive eyes plus the Curators of Sweden


Friday 16 June 2023

omrlp (10. 810)

Founded on this day in 1982 as an alternative, satirisation of British politics and the party system to offer an outlet for protest voters, the recognised and sanctioned candidacy founded by horror-rock performer David Sutch—known better as Screaming Lord Sutch—the Official Monster Raving Loony grew out of a trialled political movement (also established by Sutch two decades earlier) called the National Teenage Party, at a time when the age of majority was twenty-one and younger adults were denied the franchise against a backdrop of scandal that questioned the maturity level and seriously strained the credulity of leaders, having decided to return to the UK after living in the States, being held-up at gunpoint and shot during a mugging and inspired to re-enter domestic politics, standing in the following by-election in the constituency of Bermondsey of South London. Fielded serially until 1999, the party leadership was shared between co-founder, publican and first candidate Howling Laud Hope and his feline companion Catmando and campaigned on platforms including abolishing income-tax as a holdover from the Napoleonic Wars, passports for pets (adopted), expanded opening hours for pubs (adopted), votes for sixteen-year-olds (adopted in Scotland and Wales for certain ballots), minting a ninety-nine pence coin, and a roving Parliament to bring it outside its bubble. Though having not yet passed the threshold of five-percent in a general election, the party has won in contests in Devon, becoming councillors and mayors, out performing others such as UKIP, taking an ostensibly neutral stand on Brexit and advising voters “to vote as they see fit.” Unaffiliated originally yet subsequently allied, Lord Buckethead famously ran against Margaret Thatcher in 1987, returning in 2017 to compete with Theresa May as MP for Maidenhead and in 2019’s General Election, against Boris Johnson as OMLRP’s candidate.

Wednesday 10 May 2023

just like that river twists across a dusty land (10. 729)

Released on this day in 1982, the second studio album by new wave group Duran Duran, a significant experimental departure from their first featuring arrangement for marimbas and vibraphones and a range of sound-effects, with cover-art by Patrick Nagel (previously) is considered to have one of the best sleeve designs of all time. Also featuring the track “Hungry Like the Wolf,” the record is considered to having helped launch and sustain the burgeoning second-wave British invasion and producing accompanying music videos at the same time helped solidify the phenomenon of MTV.

Friday 5 May 2023

on her ship, tied to the mast (10. 721)

Named the most played song of 1982 and garnering the band a Ivor Novello prize (awards are also presented annually for Best Album, Score, Soundtrack, Songwriter) on this day in 1983, the post-punk, pub rock track from their sixth studio album has been covered many times (including this rather brilliant jazzed up version of the unique triple-waltz time-signature remixed with Dave Brubeck’s Take Five) and features arrangement for harpsichord). Considered just a few years before as notorious as the Sex Pistols, the surprise inclusion of the song, an obvious allegory about heroin but could be understood on different levels underpinned by rich lyrics, as “single of the week” by rather mainstream, middle of the road BBC Radio 2 helped propel their success. “Never a frown with Golden Brown.”

Saturday 31 December 2022

implants—those aren’t your memories, they’re someone else’s—they’re tyrell’s niece’s (10. 377)

Courtesy of Super Punch, we learn that the publisher of the 1985 video game for Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum home computing systems loosely based on the 1982 film was unable to obtain a tie-in licensing deal and so declared that it was inspired by the Vangelis soundtrack instead—obliging players to listen to an unskippable opening sequence of two minutes of tinny, MIDI music. Gaming reviews were mostly unfavourable, calling it derivative of the hit adaption of Ghostbusters! from the year before.

Sunday 6 November 2022

where the eagles cry, on a mountain high (10. 277)

Written by Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Sainte-Marie and recorded by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes (previously) for the film An Officer and a Gentleman—the romantic drama starring Richard Gere, Debra Winger and Louis Gossett Junior (original roles cast with John Denver, Sigourney Weaver, then Anjelica Huston before securing Winger and R Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket), “Up Where We Belong” began on this day in 1982 a three-week long streak at number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and would go on to garner Grammys for the writers and performing duo. This video for whatever reason also incorporates footage from Top Gun.

Friday 14 October 2022

save it for later (10. 224)

Released as the lead single from the ska, jangle pop group’s third and final studio album (premiering this month in 1982) Special Beat Service, the song is one of the Beat’s (known in Canada and the US as the English Beat) most popular and enduring tracks, thanks to a catchy and unique chord progression by guitarist Dave Wakeling. The music video is really quite something as well. Run away, run away and let me down.

Monday 26 September 2022

knight industries two thousand (10. 169)

Premiering on the NBC television network on this day in 1982 and running for four seasons, Knight Rider, created by Glen A Larson (Alias Smith & Jones, Battlestar Galactica, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo), covers protagonist Michael Knight, a lieutenant detective with the LAPD who was cosmetically robocopped after being betrayed by an informant and industrial espionage expert. Disfigured and officially declared dead, Knight is given reconstructive surgery (appearing as David Hasselhoff—see also) and teamed up with a nearly indestructible, sentient car, KITT (previously) to fight crime in the name of public justice, under the pilot organization of philanthropist billionaire Wilton Knight (no relation) called FLAG (Foundation for Law and Government).

Thursday 22 September 2022

king under the mountain (10. 159)

Courtesy of Things Magazine, we are invited to reminisce about the pioneering illustrated text adventure computer game (see previously here and here) The Hobbit—released forty years ago this month for the ZX Spectrum developed by Veronika Megler and Philip Mitchell. It was quite noteworthy and much intimated for its advanced and intuitive syntactic analysis that allowed players to enter complex commands—the language parser called Inglish, a parred down but serviceable vocabulary—and engage with the game in ways that were previously restricted to the imagination. True to the source material (see also) and like the later snowclone ‘All your base are belong to us,’ the refrain from play about dwarf-king ‘Thorin sits downs and starts singing about gold’ carries some pop culture weight as well as the narrative, ‘You wait—time passes’ as one hides in a wine barrel until the opportune moment for escape. Here is an emulator where one can again experience the adventure.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

i let the music speak (10. 067)

Released as a record album at the end of November 1981 and the groups last studio album for four decades until their 2021 reunion, ABBA’s The Visitors was among the first to be digitally mixed and recorded and on this day in 1982 became among the first to be pressed and issued in CD format (Polygram Records also put out a disk of Chopin waltzes and Phillips would be releasing a tranche of some fifty artists including Billy Joel available in stores in the autumn). Despite personal conflicts that strained their professional relationship and musical partnership, this final collaboration was a success, cathartic and critically well received. Still getting accustomed to the new technology, the sound engineers thought the recording to be too clean and missed notes and beats would be harder to overlook.

Sunday 7 August 2022

sounded sad upon the radio, moved a million hearts in mono (10. 044)

Released as the lead single from the group’s second studio album—Too-Rye-Ay (which includes the eponymous refrain)—Dexys Midnight Runners’ (with credit to Emerald Express) “Come on Eileen” climbed to the top of UK charts on this day in 1982, holding number one for weeks, best-seller of the year and later ranked as one of the defining songs of the decade. The character “Eileen” on the single cover as well as in the music video is played by Mรกrie Fahey, sister of Siobhan Fahey of the group Bananarama. The introductory fiddle solo is a riff on the melodic setting of Irish poet Thomas Moore’s “Believe Me, I All Those Endearing Young Charms”—already quite well established in popular culture as the so called “xylophone gag,” wherein a cartoon villain rigs up an instrument to detonate when the C bar is struck and presents the would-be victim sheet music (usually of the above title) who inevitably plays a discordant note at the crucial time, prompting the bad guy to show the other who it is supposed to be played, thus dispatching himself.

Saturday 9 July 2022

codified likeness utility

Having premiered in US theatres on this day in 1982, we enjoyed this appreciation of the energy and insight surrounding the making of TRON (see previously here and here) in this interview with creator Steven Lisberger conducted just ahead of the fortieth anniversary on the 80 nightclub cyber aesthetic that the much vaunted Metaverse ought to aspire to, a mainframe saving democracy rather than destroying it. Praised for its pioneering visual effects but criticised for its incoherent plotline. Before our hero Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is able to gather evidence that the company vice-president’s success owes to him plagiarising Flynn’s own video games, the Master Control Programme digitises him and hopes to “derez” the nuisance in a gladiatorial match along with other ill-appropriated coding.

Wednesday 29 June 2022

dear mister andropov

For what would have been her fiftieth birthday had not her life been tragically cut short by a plane crash at the age of thirteen, Deutsche Welle has a retrospective appreciation on the ten-year old Cold War peace ambassador and avid letter-writer Samantha Reed Smith of Holton, Maine who at a very tense point in Soviet-US relations—the nuclear superpowers having abandoned their recent policy of dรฉtente, a race on to militarise space, widespread peace protests, the Afghan conflict and The Day After all had people whipped into a frenzy—reached out to the new Russian leader late in 1982, the successor to the post of Leonid Brezhnev characterised in the press as the architect of the suppression of the Prague Spring and for suppression of dissidents, congratulating him and expressing her fears about nuclear escalation and asked him to write in return. Failing to get a timely reply (despite its publication in Pravda), Smith also reached out to the embassy in Washington, DC before in April of 1983 the General Secretary responded himself, with a personal invitation to visit the Soviet Union. More on Smith’s tour and brief but impactful legacy at the link up top.

Saturday 11 June 2022

e.t. phone home

Premiering in US theatres on this day in 1982—following its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May—the Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison collaboration featuring the acting talents of Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace and Drew Barrymore is a retelling of Peter Pan framed by the director and producer’s own suburban childhood and experiences of his parents’ divorce. An extra terrestrial botanist accidentally left behind on Earth befriends a human boy and his siblings and tries to find a way to reconnect with his scouting mission whilst thwarting attempts of government scientists trying to capture and study him. The iconic, arresting scene of E.T. and Elliot’s flight to the forest is an homage to the magical realism of the 1951 Miacolo a Milano by Vittorio De Sica of a poverty-stricken community in post-war Milan who are cheated out of a potential windfall, reprimanded by angels for harnessing supernatural powers but nonetheless are free and eventually escape on broomsticks.

Wednesday 8 June 2022

ash heap of history

In town for the Queen’s thirtieth jubilee celebrations (plus on a grand tour of the continent) and having already expressed his characterisation of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire,” Ronald Reagan delivered his Westminster Speech before the House of Commons on this day in 1982, declaiming that, “I believe we are now at a turning point…the march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism and Leninism on the ash heap of history.” Though coined at the end of the nineteenth century by essayist and politician Augustine Birell, the last notable evocation of the phrase before Reagan’s was by Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky, referring to the Menshevik faction that staged a walk-out in protest of the All-Russian Congress of the Soviets in 1917. A full transcript of the speech can be found at the link.

Saturday 4 June 2022

they’re here

Released on this day in 1982 from an adaptation of a story by Steven Spielberg and featuring the talents of JoBeth Williams, Zelda Rubinstein, Heather O’Rouke, Craig T Nelson and Dominique Dunne, the parapsychological thriller follows a suburban California family whose home is haunted by malevolent ghosts who abduct their younger daughter, Carol Anne, having inexplicably carrying on with a television set airing post-broadcast static. While the rest of the family is sent away for safety and having determined that the nature of the intrusion is a poltergeist, the ghost-hunting team summon spiritual medium Tangina Barrons who locates Carol Anne on the other side and guides her mother through the gateway to retrieve her, Barrons triumphantly proclaiming, “This house is clean!”

Monday 2 May 2022

the sinking of the general belgrano

Originally built as a Brooklyn-class cruiser for the US Navy and surviving Pearl Habour and sold to the regime of Juan Perรณn in 1951 and named after Argentine naval instructor and founding figure and with a loss of life totalling almost a third of the casualties of the entire campaign, a UK submarine torpedoed and sunk the warship, with a three-hundred and twenty-three members of its full compliment of eleven hundred perishing at sea, on this day in 1982. Following the April invasion of the Falkland Islands in response to occupation by the Junta, the UK declared a Maritime Exclusion Zone around the Malvinas and any armed vessel entering those waters would be subject to attack. Though outside the zone of exclusion, signals interception and a change in bearing suggested that the Belgrano was a threat and a legitimate target, though the fateful decision in this senseless war is still debated and whether the act was a war crime or the target was a lawful one is a matter of controversy, although most in the Argentinian navy concede the ship had taken an offensive tack. Whilst most media outlets maintained a neutral stance, the British tabloid The Sun reported on the story with the incredibly tasteless headline “Gotcha!” in early editions, arguably toning it down a bit with the front-page re-titled to “Did 1 200 Argies drown?” Tensions escalated and two days afterwards, the HMS Sheffield was sunk by a missile strike with a truce called after seventy-four days of fighting.

Wednesday 9 February 2022

da da da ich lieb dich nicht du liebst mich nicht aha aha aha

Released as a single on this day in 1982 from the band’s eponymous debut studio album, Trio’s hit song (I Don’t Love You—You Don’t Love Me) was a worldwide sensation, topping the charts in over thirty countries. With repetitive lyrics by Stephan Remmler and set to minimalist music by Gert Krawinkel, it is categorised as a product of the Neue Deutsche Well—New Wave—though the group would rather it be classified, despite the subject, as Neue Deutche Frรถhlichkeit—that is cheerfulness.