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.

Sunday, 6 February 2022

dass modell / computerliebe

The first West German act to chart in the UK in the latter half of the twentieth century, the double single (A-side and B-side) from Kraftwerk (see previously here, here, here and here) first rose to number one on this day in 1982 and held its place for twenty-one weeks.  This success led to the group’s first concert tour.  From their eighth, bi-lingual studio album Computerwelt, the thematic tracks dealt with the effects of technology and computers on society, the songs debuted in May of the previous year with the likes of “Pocket Calculator,” “It’s More Fun to Compute” and “Heimcomputer.”

Saturday, 5 February 2022


Offering regular long-haul service from London-Gatwick to JFK International in New York, West Berlin’s Tegel, and Hong Kong with routes to the Caribbean, Gran Canaria, Polynesia and so on, Laker Airways—founded in 1966 as a private charter company by Sir Freddie Laker—was one of the world’s first low-cost carrier, a casualty of the economic recession of the early 1980s had its last flight and declared bankruptcy on this day in 1982 with debts in excess of £270 million making it the largest corporate failure in Britain at the time. Second only to the shorter-lived though equally pioneering Loftleiรฐir of Iceland, the story of this entrepeneurial venture is at one and the same time both inspirational and cautionary, ahead of its time and informing later no-frills airlines and last-minute bookings plus democratising exotic travel, while also helping to draw out the worse aspects of the industry with over-capacity, ghost-flights, territorial hubs and the attendant negative impacts on the environment.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

worldwide pants incorporated

On this day in 1982, shortly following the cancellation of his mid-morning variety talk show and keeping a similar format with the same supporting cast, NBC debuted Late Night with David Letterman. Prior to the host’s entrance on stage accompanied by dancing girls and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto № 1, Larry “Bud” Melman recited the prologue of Boris Karloff’s character in Frankenstein. The evening’s guests were Bill Murray (Letterman’s final guest thirty-three years later) and Don Herbert—TV’s Mister Wizard—and included man-on-the-street interviews and another reading from an obscure Bela Lugosi film, the 1949 Bowery at Midnight. Initial reception was mixed but the premiere critically drew a significant audience-share from Tom Snyder’s The Tomorrow Show.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

elk cloner

Among the first computer viruses released in the wild—that is, not restricted to a single laboratory or network, and contagious in the general population, fifteen year old student Rich Skrenta created on this day in 1982, developed the year prior, self-propagating code as a prank, doing no harm to the host computers, the Apple II models, nor their vector, shared floppy disks with computer games and other software passed around by members of a local computing club, eventually becoming an irksome bug revealing itself after a set number of iterations of running the programmes—having already taken up residence in the host and infecting subsequent disks inserted with the user witlessly spreading it. Cheeky and harmless as it was, this experiment boded of vulnerabilities ahead.

Friday, 28 January 2022

boss level

Airing for four seasons from 1982 to 1984 on the Turner Broadcasting System and then in syndication, the competitive arcade game show was moderated first by Mark Richards and Geoff Edwards, but for this unaired pilot screened for a test audience, it was hosted by the accomplished Alex Trebek.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

baby bells

Though not coming into force until the first of the year in 1984, the consent decree mandating the breakup and divestiture of the Bell System’s monopoly, vertical integration of telephone services in the US and Canada was finalised on this day in 1982. American Telephone & Telegraph could still provide long-distance services but was subject to competition and could no longer require subscribers—locally use telephonic equipment produced by its subsidiaries. The regional companies were independent and control of the Yellow Pages—the telephone directory—and the research and development branch, Bell Labs, were decentralised and given to the successor holding companies.

Monday, 27 December 2021

machine of the year

The franchise quite the subject of speculation and a holiday dinner topic of discussion not reserved just for those in business of superlative journalism, annuals or even necessarily consumer electronics, TIME magazine—breaking with a tradition stretching back to 1927, for the first time on this day announced that to a computer would go the distinction on this day in 1982, ahead of the publication of its 5 January 1983 edition. Introducing the special issue’s theme, the publishers wrote that “several human candidates might have represented the year,” with reportedly Steve Jobs quite upset he didn’t receive the honour, but the panel decided that the hardware would be best viewed by history as limning the times and marking the beginning of an era and way of life once the exclusive domain of hobbyist into something more accessible (see also) and mainstream. Though perhaps not as pervasive nor fully articulated, the kernel of most things we do with computers—the Cloud called mainframes back then and algorithms less opaque. Articles for the magazine that uniquely covered the only human-made object to be awarded the honour were composed on typewriters and layout done by hand, though in that coming year, the departments would begin to use word-processors.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

how does it feel when you got no food?

Released mid-September as a single from their debut studio album, The Youth of Today, the song from the British-Jamaican reggae band topped the UK charts this week in 1982 with their bowdlerised cover of The Mighty Diamonds’ 1981 tune “Pass the Kutchie,” a slang term for a cannabis pipe from the patois for Dutch oven, which excised and substituted all drug references for poverty, launching the song’s popularity outside of the Caribbean community. The original line “How does it feel when you got no herb?” became the above but with dutchie itself becoming synonymous with a marijuana joint. Give me the music—make me jump and prance.

Sunday, 29 August 2021


First synthesised on this day in 1982 at the Darmstadt Institute for Heavy Ion Research (GIS, Gesellschaft fรผr Schwerionforschung) the synthetic meitnerium (Mt) was given the above provisional designation following Grigory Mendeleev’s nomenclature for undiscovered atomic elements—the convention becoming a placeholder shortly before its discovery with the controversy over the honours and naming-system being overhauled.
The research-team wanted to recognise the previously overlooked contributions of physicist Lise Meitner for her pioneering work in nuclear fission and her co-discovery of the element protactinium with Otto Hahn. Curium being named for both Pierre and Marie Curie, meitnerium is the only element named for a non-mythological woman. Because of its half-life of mere seconds even in the most stable isotope, few of its chemical properties are known though study continues, and its periodic neighbours, hassium and darmstadtium, are both named for the above laboratory.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

looks like a jungle sometimes, makes me wonder how i keep from going under

Released as a single on this day in 1982, we learn from our faithful chronicler, and later featuring on the group’s first namesake studio album in October, The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five was among the first hip hop composition to deliver a message of social commentary and the stress of urban blight and poverty. Duke Bootee and Melle Mel were inspired to pen the song two years before during the New York City mass-transit strike.

Saturday, 31 October 2020

nos sumus una familia

Declaring its independence on this day in 1977, residents of a triangle of streets in Notting Dale, West London formed the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia, inspired by Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen and the comedy Passport to Pimlico—putting the matter to a referendum with an overwhelming majority in favour of secession and many of those further advocating joining the European Economic Community.
Learning that the city council had designs on redeveloping the neighbourhood, the community of artists and squatters originally tried as a whole adopting the same surname (we are all one family, like the motto above)—Bramley, one of the roads forming the border of the micronation (see previously), so the city would be compelled to re-house them collectively, though that ploy failed. Lasting until 1982, the fully-functional state dissolved once an acceptable deal was reached with the developers—though not to everyone’s satisfaction. Architecturally, the art gallery The People’s Hall is all that remains from the days of independence—which also served as recording, rehearsal studios for The Clash and Motรถrhead. More to explore from Weird Universe at the link above.

Saturday, 24 October 2020

when the wind blows

Premiering on this day in 1986, the animated adaptation of the eponymous Raymond Briggs’ comic book—previously introduced to the public as a BBC radio play—marked the artist’s follow-on collaboration with the studio and directorship of Jimmy Murakami and musical stylings of David Bowie (Roger Waters of The Who thanks Dad Pink Floyd, Genesis, Squeeze and Paul Hardcastle also contributed to the soundtrack) after their 1982 success with The Snowman—another tune I regularly hum to myself. Based on Briggs’ own parents, the narrative accounts the efforts of a rural couple to maintain normalcy and survive in a nearby nuclear bomb blast. The attack portrayed was meant to be collateral from the escalating conflict of the Soviets in Afghanistan, and despite the bleak subject, the presentation encouraged viewers to stick with it until the end. Here is the trailer below and full version of the graphic novel read through here and the full score at the link


Thursday, 25 June 2020

commerce is our goal here at tyrrel—more human than human is our motto

On this day, as our faithful chronicler reports, among many other events of great pith and moment, and sharing the box office with John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing, Ridley Scott’s film opened in 1982.
Starring Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer with music by Vangelis, the initially polarising and underperforming film defined the genre of neo-noir and is loosely based on the Philip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?—the name for the bounty-hunters coming from a William S. Burrough’s story about a dystopian future (set in 2009) reliant on an underground network of healthcare.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

satellite news channel

Launching on this day in 1982 and several months prematurely due to its inspiration’s and competition’s debut of its spin-off channel Headline News (originally called CNN2) with a similar format to their planned approach to programming, the short-lived collaboration between the American Broadcasting Company and Group Westinghouse Satellite Communications, SNC, has a logo that looks like an generic, expository news channel from a movie if not completely out of a different timeline altogether.
It packaged world and national news reports in eighteen minute blocks allotting the rest of the newscast, repeating on the half-hour with alternating segments dedicated to weather, sports, business and entertainment, to regional and local reporting. Despite the network’s willingness to pay cable companies a fee to carry SNC—contrary to business practises at the time when cable companies passed the costs per channel onto prescribers—it failed to breakthough in US television markets—eventually conceding their transponder space to HLN as their intellectual, having adopted more of their programming rotation into their broadcast day, if not business heirs, and the venture folded after eighteen months of operation. Their theme music was briefly used by the Entertainment and Sport Programming Network, ESPN.

Monday, 16 September 2019


In the early hours of this morning in 1979, eight members of two families, realising the fruition of a plot hatched over a year and a half beforehand with careful planning and patience so as not to arouse suspicion, one attempt that ended in resounding failure that almost led to their capture and detention and brought heavier surveillance plus three hand-stitched balloon membranes, crossed from PรถรŸneck in East Germany to Naila just over the border in Bavaria in a hand-engineered hot air balloon with navigation improvised. Read (or listen to) the full story about the harrowing heroics of the families Strelzyk and Wetzel and their determination to secure a future in the West at the link above.