Saturday, 13 August 2022

na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na-na-na now (10. 056)

Probably better known for “(That’s the Way) I Like It” and “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty”—but this is a fun one too—the band hailing from Hialeah, Florida—the Sunshine State registered at the top of UK singles charts, the band’s first and only number one in Britain (where it became a popular sporting chant) a decade after the group formed, with “Give It Up” this day in 1983, the lead track from their ninth studio album All in a Night’s Work. Released internationally just earlier in the month and facing quite a cultural backlash against disco at the beginning of the decade, the song was regarded as a comeback hit for KC and the Sunshine Band and one of the last first-wave reverberations of the genre.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

7x7 (10. 050)

smokin’: Bill McClintock remixes Clarence Carter’s “Strokin’” (That’s What I Be Doing) with Boston’s “More Than A Feeling”  

s morgenstern’s classic tale of true love and high adventure, the ‘good parts’ version: wildly divergent book covers for The Princess Bride, via Super Punch  

we’re walking in the air: author and illustrator Raymond Briggs (previously) has passed away, aged 88  

development purgatory: more titles and properties never released by movie studios—see also—via Things Magazine   

scarborough faire: housing developer agrees to rebury unique Roman villa for future conservation a year after it was discovered  

the seventh seal: AI designs movie posters  

seona dancing: Ricky Gervais’ synth-pop group from 1983

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, 18 June 2022

you gotta to say yes to another success

On this day in 1983 the Zรผrich electronic music duo Yello, a collaboration between Boris Blank and Dieter Meier with contributions from Carlos Perรณn—probably most recognised for their 1985 single “Oh Yeah” whose whump-whump has featured in several film and television soundtracks, notably Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or their 1988 “The Race,” released singles from their titular third studio album as three-dimensional picture discs complete with 3D glasses (see also), leading with the opening track below.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

episode vi

Released in cinemas in the US on this day in 1983, the date coinciding with the 1977 premiere of the original Star Wars, the epic space opera, which was thought to be the conclusion of the franchise, the saga continues a year after the abduction of Han Solo at the conclusion of The Empire Strikes Back and the Rebel Alliance discover that the Emperor has ordered the construction of a new Death Star, intend on finally exterminating any nonaligned elements. Thirteen days before it was screened in theatres, the novelisation by James Kahn was published—I’m sure with a lot of spoilers. I remember not being very good about keeping the plot twists to myself at the time. Watching the reactions (see also) of first time viewers to revelations about the Skywalker family from the previous instalment is pretty delightful. “So what I told you was true—from a certain point of view.”

Saturday, 7 May 2022

why do i find it hard to write the next line?

Reaching the top spot of the UK charts on this day in 1983, the song by English New Wave, New Romantic group Spandau Ballet by member Gary Kemp attempting to write a tribute to his inspirations, Marvin Gaye and Al Green, narrating his difficulty with the creative process—called blue-eyed soul at the time before we had the more accurate conflict of cultural appropriation, reclaimed to a degree when sampled by PM Dawn for “Set A-Drift on Memory Bliss” in 1991, from setting out for such a standard to hit all the same notes. Nonetheless the number, despite and because of its intentions, was hugely popular and enduring.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

space music

Begun a decade earlier as a three-hour-long radio programme featuring contemplative, ambient music with a selection of classical, Celtic, electronic and experimental genres airing late nights in the Berkley-area hosted by “Timotheo” (Stephen Hill) and “Annamystic” (Anna Turner), Hearts of Space entered syndication of National Public Radio on this day in 1983 and is still going strong, with over thirteen hundred transmissions (episodes) in their archives. The longest-running show of its type, each instalment signs-off with “Safe journeys, space fans—wherever you are.”

Friday, 10 December 2021

say, say, say

On this day in 1983, the duet between Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, first released in October of that year, rose to top the US singles charts, holding the number one spot for six weeks—enjoying comparable success in Canada, Norway, Australia, Switzerland and the UK. The narrative of the music video profiles a team of con-artists, patent medicine sellers called Mac and Jack.

Sunday, 7 November 2021

prairie fire organizing committee

Making a forceful statement against armed US overtures in Lebanon and Grenada, a bomb-blast tore through the virtually empty senate-side of the Capitol building on this day in 1983. The day’s session had adjourned nearly two hours prior to the explosion and an anonymous caller representing the “Armed Resistance Unit” of the Resistance Conspiracy—the American-based branch of the broader organisation called the Nineteenth of May Communist Order (also known as M19 and a splinter-group of the above committed to fighting imperialism, racism and sexism)—called the switchboard and issued a warning minutes before detonation. No one was present to be injured—though the suspected targets included Senator Robert C. Byrd, an ardent proponent for both incursions, with a portrait of statesman and Massachusetts senator Daniel Webster (*1782 - †1852) hung near the chamber’s cloakroom damaged nearly beyond repair as the evening’s only casualty. Five years later, the accused parties were brought before a federal judicial trial for the Capitol bombing plus two related terror attacks on Washington area military installations.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

your experiment today is called pod people. it has nothing to do with pods, it has nothing to do with people. it has everything to do with hurting.

First airing on this day in 1991, the third episode of the third season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (see previously) lampoons the 1983 Franco-Spanish sci-fi movie with the original title Los nuevos extraterrestres, which was originally meant to be a horror film with a murderous alien rampage in the tradition of Beowulf but changed course during shooting to capitalise on the success of E.T. (changed to avoid confusion) with a bond forming between one of the aliens and a human kid. The MST3K cast especially enjoy mishearing the performance of “Burning Rubber Tyres”—singing “hear the engines roar now” as “idiot control now.” 

Sunday, 18 April 2021

general entertainment content division

Though first proposed as early as 1977 as a cable television conduit for studio-sourced content, the idea was sidelined in favour of developing the Epcot (see previously) and the brand’s other theme parks, the Disney Channel—as an independent venture—began its first programming day on this day in 1983 in US markets, garnering some six-hundred thousand subscribers within the first six months. The first shows included “Contraption” in which adolescents competed across a giant board game obstacle course, “Dreamfinders” meant to spur critical thinking skills in young people, “Mousterepiece Theatre” a cartoon show hosted by George Plimpton and “Mousercise,” a daily exercise routine hosted by Kellyn Plasschaert.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

show dna

Informed earlier by our faithful chronicler and now reprised for the cinematic adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s 1975 novel of the same name going into general release in US cinemas on this day in 1983, James L. Brooks directorial debut film (also writer and producer) has a throughline to the Simpsons. As a thank you gift for securing her and her production team an Academy Award (Terms of Endearment starring Shirley MacClaine, Danny DeVito, Debra Winger, Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow and Jack Nicholson did quite well at the Oscars) assistant Polly Platt had procured for her collaborator an original panel of the comic Life in Hell—a bleak strip about a depressed, neurotic rabbit called Bongo, specifically one from 1982 entitled “The Los Angeles Way of Death”—as imagined and illustrated by Matt Groening. A year later, with a new television project, a variety show with a series of sketches, Brooks reached out to Groening about developing a series of animated interstitial bumpers between segments. Fearing loss of creative control over his original characters, Groening created a wholly new cast based on his own family, giving the world the Simpsons as a regular part of The Tracey Ullmann Show.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

possibly in michigan

Vacillating between the cute and the grotesque and nicely framing the spirit of the contradictory and the absurd that America leans strongly into, we appreciate the referral to the filmmaker and educator Cecelia Condit through her 1983 eponymous and most viral piece.
Recently rediscovered and championed by a video clip platform that’s usually the reserve of brief lessons or lip-syncing, this musical short about a deranged cannibal who pursues a pair of women through an otherwise empty shopping mall has enjoyed cult-following for the past four decades and no stranger to the experience of memetic infection, having previously been drawn in as a poster child in the moral and Satanic Panic of mid-1980s America and the on-going culture wars—by dent mostly of the closing credits that prominently features the support and patronage of the National Endowment for the Arts. New audiences are sometimes the best audiences.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

how about a nice game of chess?

Undisclosed until well after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and at a time of severely deteriorated relations seeded with deep distrust and suspicion that a first-strike on the part of the United States was eminent, on this day in 1983 duty officer Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov (*1939 - †2017) correctly assessed that reports from the early warning satellite network were a false alarm and thus averted an accidental counter-attack.
Despite heightened tensions and hair-trigger attitudes, Petrov appreciated the gravity of his decision and questioned the reliability of the new system and judged that the five missile signatures detected not to be of the calibre of an offensive, which likely would have been comprised of hundreds of warheads launched simultaneously, in accordance with the policy of mutually assured destruction. Subsequent investigations showed that the system was detecting glints of sunlight reflected on high-altitude clouds.

Friday, 27 July 2018

liner notes

On this day thirty five years ago, Madonna released her eponymous debut album, including the songs “Borderline, “Lucky Star” and “Holiday.” Dismissed by some critics at the time as a one hit-wonder, the artist thanked them during her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a quarter of a century after the album’s release offering that “they pushed me to be better and I am grateful for their resistance.” In that spirit, we should take a moment to appreciate the influence and the legacy of this opening opus.

Monday, 20 November 2017

arc of narrative

Our faithful chronicler, Doctor Caligari, informs that among many other notable events, on this day in 1983 an audience of over one hundred million Americans tuned in to watch the made-for-television movie, “The Day After.”
Suppressing a potential military coup in East Germany, Soviet forces blockade West Berlin—an act that NATO forces interpret as an act of war and responds in kind. Things escalate rather quickly with Russia pushing towards the Rhein and nuclear bombs used on the US Army bastions of Wiesbaden and Frankfurt. As the war expands beyond the German frontier, a nuclear exchange takes place, culminating with a high-altitude burst that results in an electro-magnetic pulse that disables the remaining technologies that the survivors of the first strike can avail themselves of. The director, Nicolas Meyer (also known for his cinematic Star Trek adaptations), reported suffered influenza-like symptoms during production, and when doctors could find no somatic cause, they determined Meyer was suffering under a bout of severe depression due to having to contemplate the horrors of war.