Friday 24 May 2024

airfoil (11. 579)

Via Super Punch, we get this chance to revisit renowned industrial and commercial designer Lutz “Luigi” Colani with his Polymorph Space Shuttle concept model showcased at the 1984 Expo held in Otaru, Hokkaido (awarded with top honours however during the show for his designs for Canon cameras, including the prototype for the T90). The aerodynamic proposal failed to take off at the time but is perennially revisited by companies in the orbital freight business and included a new stylised logo for the US Space Agency.

Sunday 21 April 2024

kick off the sunday shoes (11. 505)

Unseating Michael Jackson’s Thriller as top album on this day in 1984 after thirty-seven weeks at number-one on the US charts, the soundtrack of Herbert Ross (a Broadway choreographer who went on direct musicals and comedies) film starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow featuring tracks by Kenny Loggins and Deniece Williams held its spot through the end of June. The movie tells the narrative of a Chicagoan teen moving to a small, conservative town that has banned dancing and rock music, which the newcomer and his group of friends contest so that the high school can host a proper senior prom, ultimately held just outside and within earshot of the prohibition’s jurisdiction. Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe had been previously cast to play the lead but were unavailable—Bacon turning down an offer for the main role in Steven King’s Christine to take the part of Ren McCormack. The title song has been covered by VeggieTales, Good Charlotte and in Swedish by the Herreys.

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

Sunday 24 March 2024

a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse (11. 447)

Taking place according to the teen coming-of-age movie on this day, a Saturday, in 1984, The Breakfast Club by John Hughes, featuring the acting talents of Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Paul Gleason, Emilio Estevez and Judd Nelson. Relating the encounters of five individuals from different high school social cliques being punished with a weekend detention overseen by an authoritarian vice-principal with the assignment to write a thousand word essay on who they think they are as punishment, with instructions not to talk or interact with their fellow classmates, all strangers to one another from different social groups. Hiding from their minder, they break the rules and pass the time gradually opening up and sharing their circumstances with one another. Considered the quintessential 1980s movie (in general release about a year after the events in the movie timeline occurred) and with a stellar soundtrack, film poster, a “family shot” ensemble of the cast was photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

synchronoptica

one year ago: the Lassie finale (1973) plus an ominous sign in the heavens (1345)

two years ago: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1952)

three years ago: the Potato Decree (1756), Donkeyskin, Moscow on the Hudson plus an alternative keyboard format

four years ago: International Tuberculosis Day plus a long fight ahead

five years ago: Meshes of the Afternoon plus marijuana etiquette


Friday 23 February 2024

welcome to my ted talk (11. 371)

Founded on this day in 1984, the first Technology, Entertainment, Design conference of the US-Canadian non-profit media organisation—freely distributing “ideas worth spreading—featured futurist Mickey Schulhof demonstrating the compact disc, invented some eighteen months prior, and the Apple Macintosh with presentations by mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, Nicholas Negroponte (with some rather prescient predictions, see also) and Whole Earth Catalogue’s Steward Brand. Broadening to scientific, cultural, humanitarian and academic topics, the main symposium has been held annually in Vancouver with other events interspersed throughout the year hosted globally and has been available universally under a Creative Commons license online since 2006.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, Civilisation plus number names

two years ago: more on the Royal Order of Adjectives plus London’s courting of oligarchs

three years ago: Quo Vadis (1951), the names of chess pieces plus Unworter of the Year

four years ago: more links to enjoy, ending NDAs, a superspreader event plus leap days

five years ago: a visit to the Neroberg

Wednesday 21 February 2024

til she finds another (11. 367)

Released as a single on this day in 1984 in UK markets, the duet by Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire and Phil Collins, originally a solo for Bailey and his most successfully performance outside of the group, was a chart-topper in the US, Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands besides. The accompanying video that won an MTV Award and was nominated for a Grammy poked fun at the process of producing a music video, en route to Etward Studios in London and was directed by Jim Yukich, whose other credits include Debbie Gibson, Steve Guttenberg, Kenny Loggins, REO Speedwagon, Iron Maiden and Richard Marx.

Thursday 11 January 2024

dune messiah (11. 258)

Via Super Punch, we learn that a journalist writing for Wired! has uncovered the half-finished script treatment for David Lynch’s sequel to Dune, a follow up to the albeit flawed and disowned but beloved by many—considered canon and cult—to the director’s 1984 adaptation of the epic novel by Frank Herbert. Originally planned as a back-to-back shooting of both the second part and the third in the trilogy, Children of Dune, for 1986 with the same cast and starting pre-production work on models for special effects before the box-office failure to bring this saga ambitiously to the big screen, Max Evry had heard rumours of the lost screenplay while researching his book on Lynch’s version and was bowled over to actually track down and read the artefact. Although aspects of Dune II would appear even more unfilmable with the palace intrigues and most of the narrative focusing on the introspection of Paul Atreides as a “benevolent” but reluctant ruler, Lynch unfinished work suggests he could have pulled it off cinematically, with all the shape-shifting, reanimating and spell-binding arts in lieu of technical craft of the book. Much more at the links above. 

synchronoptica

one year ago: the first state lottery, voice-sampling, social media and mental health plus candid shots from the set of Hackers

two years ago: assorted links to revisit, The Night Stalker (1972) plus the Metric Marvels

three years ago: your daily demon: Orias, more links to enjoy plus a mechanical computer toy to teach logic

four years ago: Koyaansiqatsi in GIF form, more Roman holidays plus pet moss

five years ago: planned reforms for the US Patent Office

Wednesday 10 January 2024

nothingburger (11. 256)

First airing on this day in 1984, featuring manicurist recently discovered for her irascible mannerisms and unique voice (owing to advanced emphysema which prevented her from delivering the slogan as scripted, “Where is all the beef?”) Clara Peller, already in her eighties, the Wendy’s advertising campaign against its bigger competitors was a resonant indictment against the “Home of the Big Bun” with the catchphrase propagated seemingly everywhere. Later that same year Peller and popular Nashville-area radio host DJ Coyote McCloud had a hit-song based on the television commercial and was referenced again during the presidential primaries of the spring in the debates for the Democratic party nomination between Walter Mondale and rival Gary Hart, calling out the poverty and lack of substance of the latter’s “new ideas.” Despite the seemingly contemporary origin of the title phrase was popularised by a Hollywood gossip columnist in the early 1950s that saw a spotty ascent to political commentary.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus the language of plagues

two years ago: more links to enjoy 

three years ago: Moon radar, Metropolis (1927), striking oil (1901) plus illustrator Walter Molino

four years ago: Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon 

five years ago: the centenary of Bauhaus, a meditation from space, more useful German words, wireless charging for drones plus grifter nostalgia cannibalising the old internet

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

synchronoptica

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

Friday 1 December 2023

⌘ (11. 155)

Via Things Magazine, we are only introduced to the enthralling blog of Gingerbearman but also can put a name to the early computer artwork and illustrations of Barbara Nessim as featured in Byte magazine and elsewhere. Not just pixelated renditions, these graphics, produced thanks to a residency with Time-Life in 1984 that gave her access to state-of-the-art technologies, were vector drawings formatted and encoded to display on televisions and terminals. See more of Nessim’s extension portfolio and learn about her contributions at the link up top.

Saturday 25 November 2023

you ain’t got to feel guilt just selfless—give a little help to the helpless (11. 139)

Recorded on this day in 1984 at a studio in Notting Hill, the charity album written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia, the title single by the Band Aid supergroup, comprised of artists including Phil Collins, George Michael, Boy George and members of Spandau Ballet, U2, Kool & the Gang, Bananarama, Duran Duran and the Police (with messages from David Bowie and Paul McCartney on the B-side), released on 3 December became the fasting-selling single in chart history—until surpassed by Elton John’s tribute song “Candle in the Wind 1997.” Far outstripping expectations, it raised over eight million pounds within the first year and the model led to a series of reprisals and other fund-raising ventures, like the Live Aid concerts and the “We Are the World” recordings. Whilst consistently ranked among most favoured Christmas songs, the song contains tropes of colonialism, evangelising and a simplistic view of Africa (Bono had to be begged to sing the line “Well—tonight thank God it’s them instead of you”), Geldof later laments being responsible “for the two worst songs in history”—the other being the above US-based “We Are the World,” but it wasn’t about the music but rather the spirit of the season.

Friday 10 November 2023

welcome to the pleasuredome (11. 109)

Released at the end of October and assured a chart entry due to advanced sales of over a million records, the debut studio album of Liverpudlian synth-pop group Frankie Goes to Hollywood climbed to the top spot in the domestic market on this day in 1984, coinciding with their first US television appearance on Saturday Night Live, performing the tracks “Two Tribes” and “Born to Run.” Though incredibly commercially successful, the record drew some criticism for being heavy with remixes and cover versions (“Relax”) of their repertoire that had already received a lot of airplay, songs like the below ballad have given the album enduring, iconic status.

Sunday 23 July 2023

drive (10. 902)

Released on this day as the lead single from The Cars’ fifth studio album Heartbeat City (b-side, “My Best Friend’s Girl, the record also including the tracks “Just What I Needed,” “Hello Again,” “Magic,” and “You Might Think”) on this day in 1984 and was an instant top-charting song in almost all markets, reaching the top-ten again a year later when the band performed at Live Aid, the ballad also used as background music for a photomontage of the famine in Ethiopia (“You can’t go on thinking nothing’s wrong”) introduced by David Bowie. The accompanying music video was directed by actor Timothy Hutton and introduces model and writer Paulina Porizkova, who would later become co-vocalist Ric Ocasek’s wife, her profile heightened thanks in part to an appearance on Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes, a talk show that aired on MTV for the network’s first couple of years. Warhol directed the music video for “Hello Again” for Ocasek and made a cameo appearance as a bartender.

Sunday 11 June 2023

nix v williams (10. 801)

On this day in 1984, the US Supreme Court issued a decision that created a carve-out to the exclusionary rule, a legal remedy and disincentive that bars police and prosecutors from entering evidence obtained from searches and seizures that contravene the right to due process under the law, protection against self-incrimination and the right to counsel (guarantees of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments, ruling that there is an exception to this inadmissible corroboration—called metaphorically the “fruit of the poisonous tree” by Justice Felix Frankfurter—in this case a coerced confession, if it could be reasonably determined that the same evidence would be inevitably by authorities in the normal course of investigations. The dissenting opinion argued that while such an exemption was common practice in many jurisdictions, the burden of proof should not be weakened from a “clear and convincing” to a “preponderance.”

Monday 29 May 2023

any old music will do (10. 775)

As our faithful chronicler informs, on this day in 1984 Tina Turner released her fifth solo studio album, which propelled her career and established her reputation as a global and ensuring star. This R&B analogy of pop and rock ballads (see previously) also covering songs from the Beatles, David Bowie and Al Green was the first record that H owned and was produced by several UK studios and introduced to the international stage her Turner’s virtuosity and broad appeal that crossed genre and circumstance and launched a landmark ten-month comeback tour that included energetic audience favourites from her earlier performances like “Proud Mary” and “Mountain High—River Deep.” 

Monday 6 March 2023

in witness whereof (10. 595)

As our faithful chronicler informs, on this day in 1984, US president Ronald Reagan issued Proclamation 5157 (they are numbered sequentially whether public or not so we know when the government is up to something) “in recognition of the significant contribution which the frozen food industry (see previously) made to the nutritional well-being of the American people, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 193 … has designated ‘Frozen Food Day,’” calling “upon the American people to observe such day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” Citing large-scale availability during war time rationing, convenience and the abundance of such meals aboard Skylab and other space missions, Reagan further extolled the estrangement from fresh, unprocessed groceries as a symmetrical response to rural-to-urban migration and due homage to the bounty of the land through surplus and subsidy.

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.”

Monday 9 January 2023

strange days indeed (10. 402)

Released posthumously as a single with video accompaniment from the album Milk and Honey by Yoko Ono and John Lennon on this day in 1984, the lyrics reference the poem The Green Eye of the Yellow God by J Milton Hayes, There’s a One-Eyed Yellow Idol to the north of Kathmandu, and are an inversion of the adage, “Mother said they’d be days like these.” Most peculiar Mama.

Thursday 15 December 2022

tell me baby, do you recognise me—well, it’s been a year, it doesn’t surprise me (10. 387)

Released on this day in 1984 as a Double A-side record under the label Epic in the UK and described as a the apogee and apex of synthpop songcraft, the modern carol written and produced by George Michael for his duo Wham! would go on to be one of the most popular and widely-played Christmas songs, until displaced by “Fairy Tale of New York” in 2015. Composed during the holidays the year before when he and fellow performer Andrew Ridgeley (with that magical chord) while staying with Michael’s parents in Hertfordshire, it was held back from reaching number one on the singles charts by Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (for which Michael also performed) for a couple of weeks, the group donated all royalties in a related cause to Ethiopian famine relief.

Wednesday 14 December 2022

remember: walk without rhythm and we won’t attract the worm (10. 385)

As our faith chronicler informs, on this day in 1984, David Lynch’s epic and cinematic interpretation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 classic of science fiction premiered in the US for general distribution. Introducing Kyle MacLachlan and starring Francesca Annis, Sting, Josรฉ Ferrer, Siรขn Phillips, Linda Hunt, Sean Young, Dean Stockwell, Max von Sydow snd Patrick Stewart, the film was critically panned and a box-office failure, disowned to an extent by the director, but since gained a sustaining cult following and has engendered an interest spanning decades. Following the model of other franchises, several tie-ins were introduced and the soundtrack by Brian Eno and Toto was nominated for an Academy Award. Set in a distant future wherein selective breeding and conditioning has replaced artificial intelligence, the film gives the account of noble houses vying for control of the desert planet of Arrakis—the only source of the Spice Melange, instrumental in unlocking prescience and facilitating interstellar travel and trade absent thinking machines.