Saturday 4 May 2024

xavier roberts (11. 538)

Somewhat cognisant of the strange lore surrounding the adoption process surrounding the dolls introduced in 1983, though we were completely taken aback by this account—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links—of attending the “live birth” experience at Babyland General Hospital (a nursery and gift shop in rural northern Georgia, an area tragically underserved in terms of actual clinical care with the procedure at the maternity ward described unironically as “planned parenthood”) of a Cabbage Patch Kid. With truly unexpected ritualistic gravity, like something out of The Handmaid’s Tale, the visiting public is summoned to witness Mother Cabbage, truly the object of devotion for a mystery cult like some plaster-cast oracle of Delphi, presided over by a pretend nurse who also plays the role of high priestess urging the children in the room to help with the labour. More on this unbelievably strange ceremony at Thrillist at the link above.

Thursday 18 April 2024

yub-yub (11. 497)

Having a distinct and confused memory of the redacted Ewoks on the reverse of Kenner’s action figure packaging teased ahead of the release of The Revenge of the Jedi—though I think I had acquired Chief Chirpa and shaman Logray after seeing the the third instalment (and have a stack of these cards packed away somewhere)—I could really appreciate the depth of this cultural reference, courtesy of Super Punch (thanks for mining Xwitter on all our behalves), of artist Kyle Drayton’s homage with these custom creations. Despite vocal detractors claiming the denizens of the moon of Endor were included as a pandering appeal to children, director George Lucas in part based the guerrilla fighters, between the hapless Gamorrean guard Guard and Admiral Akbar, off of the Viet Cong and Taliban who resisted the US and Soviets respectively and has been employed as a derogatory designation for allies regarded as primitive.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

mnemonic movements (11. 492)

Via fellow internet peripatetic Messy Nessy Chic, we discover a 1983 self-defence manual authored by Australian Bob Jones—a martial arts instructor who invented (along with fellow consultant, fight choreographer and stunt artist Richard Norton) his own technique called Zen Do Kai a decade earlier and which is still in practice and chief security detail for the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, ABBA, David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac—inspired by protection and training he had provided for Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks during their world tours. Learning of her bodyguard’s side project with this book based on a series of reflexive, subconscious kicks and thrusts perfected as second nature under threat by repetition and recitation, Nicks immediately agreed to contribute and helped demonstrate, appearing in a spread of photographs throughout the volume as well as on the cover. It is unclear whether it was Nicks’ stage-routine that influenced some of these actions or the other way around. More at the links above. FEAR—that is, false estimate of the actual reality.

Thursday 28 March 2024

encore une fois (11. 456)

Compiled in recognition of the approaching fortieth anniversary of Neunundneuzig Luftballons in translation for international audiences, a full year after its original release as a single in March of 1984, we appreciated this playlist, surely courting controversy for what’s left out, of the best of Euro Pop by UK charts. The rankings include Falco (see above), Enigma (see also), Trio and Desireless plus some of those outside the golden age of the genre, like O-Zone and Iceland’s Sigur Rรณs. Which energy complements yours?

synchronoptitica

one year ago: an abecedarium of American foodways, AI images of the Pope plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: social murder plus Gilbert and Sullivan on the battlefield

three years ago: heritage pasta, pirate radio plus the year of the five emperors

four years ago: more links to enjoy, the asteroid Pallas plus a classic Oldsmobile

five years ago: a darker side of cherry blossoms, Istanbul not Constantinople (1930) plus a time lapse of the distant future

Saturday 23 March 2024

8x8 (11. 444)

going in style: fantastic custom sarcophagi from Ghanaian coffin-maker Paa Joe  

tiamat: the misremembered series finale of the Dungeons & Dragons Saturday morning cartoon—see previously  

spoofing: FlightRadar maps GPS jamming—see also

cincyflags: neighbourhood banners for all of Cincinnati’s fifty-two communities—via Pasa Bon! 

mergers and acquisitions: Trump expected to see a windfall from the sale of social media network 

coal holes: cast iron plate covers for the chutes of London—see also  

infantile amnesia: early childhood memories may not be lost and yield insights to brain development—via the New Shelton wet/dry 

regeneration: a look at the jurisdiction practising human composting

synchronoptica

one year ago: sampler silhouettes, punctuation in headlines plus scrimshaw from oceanic plastic trash

two years ago: assorted links worth revisiting

three years ago: AI-generated pick-up lines, a variation of the Medusa myth, the controlled-deorbit of the Mir (2001), lockdown on year on, vintage GIF buttons, pole tossing plus REM’s Out of Time (1991)

four years ago: dissolution of the African Economic Union (1985)

five years ago: the musical stylings of Carsie Blanton, a town’s strong connection to the number eleven, Nick of Time (1989), the tarot of Pamela Colman Smith, Robert Mueller concludes his investigation plus the UK votes

Monday 26 February 2024

wanna be starting something (11. 382)

Having been ratified by the Guinness Book of World Records earlier in the month as the best-selling album of all time, Michael Jackson’s sixth studio album, produced by Quincy Jones, reached number one on the US charts on this day in 1983, holding that position for an unprecedented thirty-seven weeks. With conflicted and at times contradictory themes that foreshadow Jackson’s later career, Thriller has a motif of paranoia, addressing feeling preternaturally cursed, possessed and railing against obsessive fandom and the tabloid press and gang violence—and its perception—and features the first instance of moon-walking as well as establishing his signature vocal hiccup. The album’s success afforded Jackson iconic status and an entrรฉe into the mainstream of culture that caused its definition in many respects.

synchronoptica

one year ago: the invention of radar (1935) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more links to enjoy, The Fall of the Damned plus Russian threats against the International Space Station

three years ago: friendly computer demons, more links worth revisiting plus pixelated birds of Japan

four years ago: The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)

five years ago: more mass transit upholstery, an ambitious Moon Shot plus the establishment of US National Public Radio (1970)

Monday 20 November 2023

 ▄▄▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄ (11. 128)

Our faithful chronicler informs that on this day in 1983, ABC aired The Day After—portraying a skirmish at the East and West German border that quickly escalates in a full-scale nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States told through the lens of several farming communities seemingly far-removed from the front but near American missile silos. Starring Jason Robards, John Lithgow, Steve Guttenberg and JoBeth Williams, the made for TV-movie garnered an incredible audience-share of over sixty percent of households (no commercial interruptions) and showed the struggle and aftermath of nuclear fall-out for the survivors—see also—and was rather incredibly re-broadcast by Soviet state television (dubbed but true to the original dialogue) just four years later during the negotiations for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty between Reagan and Gorbachev. The film ends with a disclaimer right before the closing credits that the work is fictional and the actual outcome of a nuclear war would be far worse.

 synchronoptica

one year agoCabaret (1966), assorted links to revisit plus Incense and Peppermint (1967)

two years ago: Dasius of Durostorum plus more adventures in Poland

three years ago: more links to enjoy, Italy’s fateful day plus St Felicity

four years ago: emoji storms plus the Occupation of Alcatraz and Unthanksgiving

five years ago: a variation on Nyan Cat plus another lesson in Slang School

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 1 October 2023

claire rayner’s casebook (11. 033)

Accomplished nurse and prolific author, the broadcaster is probably best known for her public advocacy and outreach in the form of her advise column, frank and often controversial in dealing with taboo subjects in a non-judgmental fashion that encouraged dialogue. Graciously sharing a rare Betamax find after sifting through hours of old video tape, Curious British Telly introduces Rayner through an episode originally airing during the first week of October of 1983 on the subject of homosexuality, featuring her own son—which although dated and a product of its time, is still insightful and relevant. More Ben Ricketts at the link above.

Saturday 17 June 2023

sliver bullet (10. 814)

On this day in 1983, husband and wife team of paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren, performed the exorcism of a “werewolf demon”—Edward, a self-taught demonologist and Lorraine a professed medium and clairvoyant were involved in a number of high profile hauntings and founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, one of the most venerable institutions of its kind, and their cases were the inspiration for the Amityville Horror and Conjuring franchises.During a book-tour of England, they encountered the tragic predicament of Southend-on-Sea community bedevilled by the undiagnosed seizures of one William Ramsey, thought to be a case of lycanthropy for the blackouts and preternatural feats of strength and arranged to have him brought to Connecticut for treatment.

Sunday 21 May 2023

put on your red shoes and dance the blues (10. 758)

The artist’s first song to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, the lead single off the fifteenth studio album of the same name (also with the tracks “China Girl” and “Modern Love”) climbed to number one on this day in 1983 and features the instrumental talent of sessions blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan—David Bowie only contributing vocals for the first time in his recording career. The album was first released on 14 April followed a few days later by the music video by David Mallet (previously), filmed in New South Wales, premiering on the UK rock show The Tube with Jools Holland, is a metaphor for the hegemony of Western culture. This release kicked of Bowie’s “Serious Moonlight” world tour.

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 29 April 2023

famicase (10. 705)

In what’s become an anticipated yearly tradition, various artists, like the pictured from Zach Roy, conceive, develop and design cartridges for Famicom video games—what might be more familiar as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was first released in Japan in 1983 as the Family Computer. Exhibitions have been hosted annually since 2015. What 8-bit everyday adventure would you create?

Wednesday 8 March 2023

let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in totalitarian darkness (10. 598)

Once again as our faithful chronicler informs, on this day in 1983 Ronald Reagan in a speech during the height of the Cold War and the Soviet-Afghan conflict delivered before the conference of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida characterised the Soviet Union (see previously) as an “evil empire” and “focus of evil in the modern world,” roundly rejecting prevailing geopolitical opinion that both the West and the East were responsible for the escalating clash of ideologies and reframing the arms-race as a battle between the forces of righteousness and malevolence. Referencing ongoing talks of anti-nuclear proliferation treaties, Reagan urged the audience to “beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault”—that to call the escalating push for tactical readiness a misunderstanding that can be resolved through negotiations was to remove oneself “from the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.” Five years later during a visit with General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, Reagan recanted his words to a reporter, saying it was from “another time, another era” as a disarmament detente was building.

Saturday 4 February 2023

colour by numbers (10. 521)

Lead single off the group’s title album which began a three-week run on the top of the charts in the US on this day in 1984, Culture Club was initially resistant to record frontman’s Boy George’s composition—originally called “Cameo Chameleon,” about cosmic retribution and being true to oneself as it sounded a bit too country. Hitting number one in Australia, Canada, the UK, Norway and Belgium as well, the accompanying music video directed by Peter Sinclair, set in 1870s Mississippi, was filmed at Weybridge-on-Thames, aboard a riverboat. Enduringly popular and a perennial political campaign favourite, inveighing against one’s opponent as “a man without conviction,” Culture Club also performed this number on an episode of The A-Team, “Cowboy George.”

Sunday 15 January 2023

he just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich (10. 418)

Originally released three years prior as the B-side, local single “Keypunch Operator” before signing with a major record label, Men at Work’s hit song began topping the US charts on this day in 1983 for a run of four weeks. Relating the narrative of an Australian travelling the world only to meet people interested in hearing about his home country with slang, drug references (chunder means to vomit) and remorse about overdevelopment and American cultural hegemony peppering the lyrics. The opening musical flourish from the children’s song “Kookabura (Sits in the Old Gum Tree)”—already in the public domain—was inserted ironically but was still the subject of a copyright lawsuit after the sampling was pointed out in a quiz show in 2007.

Saturday 17 December 2022

01-811-8055 (10. 341)

Airing on BBC1 from for five seasons from 1982 to 1987—with a format matching its predecessor hosted by presenter Noel Edmonds, Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, the children’s call-in programme featuring talent shows (more clips here) had many memorable moments, including the appearance of Margaret Thatcher taking questions ahead of a re-election campaign and being berated by a small girl who demanded to know the prime minister’s whereabouts in the event of a nuclear war and numerous musical guests, like Wham!, The Pet Shop Boys and Kate Bush or as on this Saturday morning in 1983, when Culture Club, Duran Duran and The Police all performed and were jury members judging the entrants’ talents. The episode is split into several clips but should play sequentially.

Monday 7 November 2022

able archer (10. 279)

The third of the annual NATO command post exercise to train Western Europe units for escalating nuclear conflict and prompted by intelligence that suggested under code-name Operation RYaN (ะ ะฏะ, “Nuclear Missile Attack,” ะ ะฐะบะตั‚ะฝะพ ะฏะดะตั€ะฝะพะต ะะฐะฟะฐะดะตะฝะธะต) a coordinated campaign to monitor decision-makers in government and military hierarchies for the intent to launch a first strike against the Soviet Union and a string of infiltration maneuvers on both sides to see to what extent that spies could penetrate the opposing sides’ defences before detection, the war game, began on this day in 1983. The added sense of realism to the execution with coded communiques and radio black-outs in light of increased rhetoric from Ronald Reagan (sabre-rattling that was taken with dread earnestness) and the scheduled delivery of additional missiles for staging in the theatre, reportedly caused some in Soviet leadership to believe that Able Archer 83 was a ruse de guerre to distract from actual preparations and placed units in Poland and East Germany on high alert and began priming their fuses. Tensions as high as during the Cuban Missile Crisis two decades earlier, the Chief of Staff for the US Air Force in Europe convinced Washington not to respond in kind, de-escalating the situation by the end of the simulation.

Sunday 6 November 2022

7x7 (10. 276)

aeiou—red, green, yellow, purple, blue: the virtuosity of polymath Francis Galton and his 1883 work on synaesthesia—see previously  

toots, blorts and kerflunks: alternate social media network Mastodon grows a pace—via Language Log

wwjd: struggling corporations should look to the Jesuits as models of stability and longevity  

tragedy of the commons: a look ahead to COP27—more here  

momentum i: a 1983 synth compilation for runners by Matt Sullivan—see also  

kant generator: programmer Giacomo Miceli’s Infinite Conversation between interlocutors Werner Herzog and Slavoj ลฝiลพek   

sensory world: crossed-wires result in great art

Sunday 2 October 2022

turn around, bright eyes (10. 188)

The first and only thus far Welsh solo act to top the singles charts in the US, Bonnie Tyler with her signature song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (previously) from her fifth studio album Faster than the Speed of Night was at Number One beginning on this day in 1983 and remains an enduring, international hit. Written and produced by Jim Steinman, originally it was to be called “Vampires in Love” building off of an abandoned effort to make a musical version of Nosferatu. The below music video was directed by Russell Mulcahy (“Turning Japanese,” “Video Killed the Radio Star,” “Hungry Like the Wolf”) and was shot at the Holloway Sanatorium, a Gothic hospital in Surrey.