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.


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. 


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.


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


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.

Thursday 1 September 2022

a second-hand emotion (10. 102)

Originally written for Cliff Richard and offered to Phyllis Hyman and Donna Summer, Tina Turner’s rendition of the song, released as the lead single on the first of May from her solo album Private Dancer, climbed to the top of the charts in America on this day in 1984, holding the number one spot for three weeks, becoming the second biggest song of the year (number one was “When Doves Cry” by Prince) and garnering three awards at the 1985 Grammies. In addition to its inclusion on the soundtrack of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, it is the namesake of Turner’s 1993 biography. Not surpassed until 1999 with Cher’s scoring a number one hit with “Believe,” Turner, then forty-four-year-old, held the record for oldest female singer to make this accomplishment on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Tuesday 21 June 2022

texas v johnson

The landmark decision announced on this day in 1989, a split US Supreme Court invalidated prohibitions against the desecration of the American flag, which at the time of issuance were on the books of forty eight of fifty state jurisdictions, ruling first that the category of protected speech as defined by the US constitution as amended extends to symbolic acts and that counter arguments against the plaintiff’s right of expression of a compelling interest to protect a venerated symbol and to prevent a “breach of peace” that allowing the above might incite failed to reach the threshold for its continued abridgment. The defendant, activist Gregory “Joey” Johnson, then an associate of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, had engaged in a political demonstration during the 1984 Republican National Convention, held in Dallas, which re-nominated the Reagan administration, culminating in dousing a flag in kerosene and burning it, chanting “America, the red, white and blue—we spit on you! You stand for plunder, you will go under!” The protest was peaceful but some spectators were profoundly offended by the act, prompting one onlooker to collect the ashes and inter them in their backyard. Johnson’s conviction was initial not upheld by the state judges under the same logic and appeals elevated the matter to the high court, represented by civil rights attorney William Kunstler. There have been numerous attempts by congress to subvert the ruling by introducing an amendment to the constitution excluding the national flag from first amendment protections, which have been generally introduced around the anniversary of this ruling and have all failed to pass the senate. On 20 June 2016 while protesting the RNC in Cleveland, Johnson was arrested after burning a US flag on unclear charges, with the state of Ohio paying him nearly a quarter of a million dollars in restitution three years later, admitting his arrest was unwarranted and a violation of his free speech

Monday 23 May 2022

i keep telling you, you listen to me more, you live longer!

One of the first coinages of prequel and prompting the Motion Picture Association of American to mint a new intermediate rating between parental guidance suggested and restricted (PG-13), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom debuted in US cinemas on this day in 1984, with the highest opening weekend of the year, competing with other blockbusters Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, The Karate Kid, Footloose, Romancing the Stone, Splash and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and received Oscar nominations for musical scoring and visual effects.  Mola Ram, prepare to meet Kali, in Hell!

Thursday 5 May 2022

diggi-loo diggi-ley

Winning the twenty-ninth installment of the Eurovision Song Contest (previously) hosted by Luxembourg City on this day in 1984, the clean-cut Swedish trio of the brothers Herrey were referred to once by fellow contestant and performer Tommy Kรถrberg (Anatoly from Chess) as the “dancing deodorants” which stuck in the press and followed them their whole career. An English-language version was released as “Golden Shoes” at a later date, the more expository title affords non-Swedish speakers a glimpse into the lyrics about the lead singer discovering a magical pair of shoes that make him dance in the streets and wishes everyone in the world could have the same experience. In 1985, the group—the original boy band ahead of the later boom—won the Sopot International Song Festival with “Sommarparty,” and was the first Western band to be invited to tour behind the Iron Curtain.