Friday, 14 April 2023

9x9 (10. 673)

photo booth: a self-meme generator that uses AI—via Web Curios  

1up: the Super Mario Brothers’ theme inscribed in the US National Recording Registry—via Miss Cellania 

martin chuzzlewit: Dickens’ illustrators  

acta et vita: today is the feast of Lidwina, patron saint of chronic illness and ice- and roller-skaters 

spring break: a look at the highdays and holidays of Old London—via Strange Company 

jubilee: US Supreme Court ruled against blocking cancellation of student loan debt—see previously  

the real macguffin: the Holy Grail of grail stories—with plenty of references to pop-culture  

double-feature: raw footage from a video rental store on a Friday night in 1987—what titles would you have picked?  

robo boys: an untethered large language model builds on a college years group chat with insights on the process of AI fine-tuning—via Waxy

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

tonight on amerika (10. 549)

As our faithful chronicler informs, the miniseries starring Mariel Hemingway, Sam Neill and Kris Kristofferson about the US after a bloodless coup engineered by the Soviet Union (set a decade on) was first broadcast on this day in 1987 over the course of a week—see also here and here. Implicated that America and other client states succumbed to Soviet control following an electromagnetic pulse weapon that destroyed the power grid and economic independence by targeting emerging reliance on computers, the show that inspired an even more patriotic novelisation was characterised both as hawkish hysteria and alternately as an indictment of the UN as an instrument of a one world government and damaging to relations recently improved under Glasnost. Highly divisive, Moscow threatened to close network ABC’s Russia news bureau over its airing and in response (and I remember watching this) The Discovery Channel ran sixty-six hours of counter-programming of Soviet television, including live shows.

Monday, 13 February 2023

supporting role (10. 546)

An internal memo at Paramount studios from 1987, just months before the second instalment of the franchise premiered, has recently been making the rounds on the rounds on the internet regarding casting for Star Trek: The Next Generation, which Bob Canada explores in detail. A few of these alternatives and understudies we had heard about—like Yaphet Kotto for Captain Picard or Bunty Bailey for Tasha Yar, but the majority were surprising to us and would have made for a very different reboot and could have possibly been the end of the continuing voyages.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

bull market

The iconic Charging Bull bronze—which has become a universally recognised and enduring symbol of capitalism and Wall Street was not a commission of the city of New York or the Parks Service but rather a gift from sculptor Arturo di Modica, inspired to create this work just after the stock market crash of 1987 at significant personal expense, for the city and its residents. Late in the evening on this day in 1989, the statue was illegally trucked in and installed in front of the Stock Exchange. Authorities removed the creature, only to be set up again in Bowling Green a few blocks away and allowed temporary permission to remain due to public outcry over its threatened demolition. Though the status of the grant remains unchanged, it seems to have become a permanent fixture. This tolerance is of course in stark contrast to the reception of the guerrilla public artist Kristen Visbal who created Fearless Girl (previously, ahead of International Women’s Day in 2017), originally facing down the Charging Bull. She was moved next to the Stock Exchange after complaints the she was upstaging, provoking the bull in 2018, though a plaque with her footprints is still in the original spot.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

(i’ve had) the time of my life

On this day in 1987, the closing duet from Dirty Dancing with Jennifer Warnes ([Love Lift Us] Up Where we Belong with Joe Cocker and various collaborations with Leonard Cohen) and Bill Medley—former Righteous Brother—reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, and peaking twice in UK charts, once in November after the theatrical release of the soundtrack album and then again in 1991 when the film was first Broadcast on television. Written and composed for the movie by Frank Previte, Donald Markowitz and John DeNicola, the song won a Golden Globe, Grammy and an Oscar. The team were also responsible for Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes,” which also went on to become a hit.

Monday, 2 August 2021


roll for perception: the official video for the 1987 Rick Astley hit (previously) surpasses one billion views   

until proven safe: EURIDICE, the eponym from the mythological Eurydice who Orpheus failed to retrieve from the Underworld, is the acronym for European Underground Research Infrastructure for the Disposal of Nuclear Waste in a Clay Environment  

a clokey production: a bot scours Gumbasia for random screen-grabs

pelagic waters: exploring the oceans’ midnight zone beyond the reach of the sun’s rays

portrait of a teenage alcoholic: a 1975 after school special starring The Exorcist’s Linda Blair and Star Wars’ Mark Hamill  

an eternal golden braid: some crib-notes and a course on the 1987 classic Gรถdel, Escher, Bach

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

le pont de trinquetaille

Seeing that on this day in 1987, a Van Gogh (previously here and here) of a bridge scene in Arles fetched a then record twenty million dollars at auction made me reflect on a recent podcast episode about the individual responsible for the artist’s posthumous and compelling fame promoted out of necessity and circumstance, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger (*1862 - †1925), widow of theretofore Van Gogh’s greatest champion, his brother Theo, and sister-in-law who had acquired a great deal of the then worthless works and against the advice of friends and family brought them back to their native Holland from Paris after losing her husband. In order to provide for herself and her child, Van Gogh-Bonger collected and edited an epistolary exchange and between the brothers and family biography, helping to establish her brother-in-law’s fame and reputation, as well as arranging exhibitions, helping to define not only Vincent as a celebrity but the attendant marketplace of the art world as well.

Monday, 26 April 2021


and the oscar goes to: highlights and surprises from the 2021 Academy Awards  

zauberwald: Robert Mertl’s forest photographer captures the aesthetic I aim for during my woodland walks  

canzone russa italianizzata: the Russian Italo-Pop musical stylings of Alla Pugacheva  

cards against humanity: the brilliantly sullen poetry of John Giorno  

yahoo the destroyer: maligning the cannibalised early internet for contributing to the Digital Dark Ages via Waxy—plus a different approach to archiving going forward  

the trouble with tribbles: marketing Flatcat as one’s next robotic feline companion  

art of the title: film lettering over the decades

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

i like the cut of your jib, sailor

Via the always outstanding Miss Cellania, we are directed to a revue of four centuries—allowance for temporal anomalies—of Starfleet uniforms and Star Trek fashions that have been integral to the franchise and all its iterations since inception, eliciting strong opinions and favourites among the seasons’ wardrobe and livery. The pictured crew member wearing a skant is pretty forward looking for the 2350 of 1987.

Friday, 9 October 2020


like a version: a brilliant cover of the 1998 Massive Attack hit Teardrop 

the goldilocks paradox: a preliminary survey of superhabitable exoplanets understood to be far more stable and conduscive to life as we know it  

smudge, sharpen, blur: an exhibit that encourages visitors to adjust levels for masterpieces 

 travis touchdown: paparazzi in Croatia snapped a few pictures of Nicolas Cage in costume filming his upcoming The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent  

all mimsy were yแต‰ borogoves: an animated reading of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky—illustrating how the reader makes meaning for nonsense words  

sign o’ the times: a review of the Super Deluxe release of Prince’s (previously) 1987 masterpiece

Monday, 17 August 2020

dingos ate my baby

Though more likely the mother cried to her husband, “A dingo took my baby,” the phrase attributed to Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton originated tragically on this night in 1980 whilst the couple were out camping at Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) with their two-month old daughter, Azaria.
Though the media and authorities found the claim incredulous initially and the grieving parents were prejudged and stigmatised, the coroner’s inquest later corroborated the mother’s account. In addition to the 1987 Coen Brothers’ Raising Arizona, there have been a whole host of cultural references—mostly with the implication that the assertion is unbelievable (myself included), like the excuse the dog ate my homework.

Friday, 3 July 2020

operation cyclone or charlie wilson’s war

Though exponentially expanded under the Reagan administration, US president Jimmy Carter secretly authorised for the first time on this date in 1979 measures that would aid and underwrite the resistance efforts of the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the occupying Soviet troops and the USSR’s client state, the secular and liberalised Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.
The decade-long undertaking is the largest and most expensive known operation of the Central Intelligence Agency (the UK’s MI6 ran a parallel one), budgeted at seven hundred thousand dollars during its first year and upwards of six-hundred million by 1987—to incite insurgency and eventually bankrupting the Soviet Union and precipitating a violent civil war in Afghanistan. Carter reluctantly agreed to lend initially non-lethal support to the Mujahideen in part under pressure from nuclear neighbour Pakistan—believing the US should try to make amends with regional partners especially after its involvement in the unrest in Iran—though arguably, the secondary US motivation was to draw the Soviets into a quagmire, like the one the US had only recently extricated itself from with Vietnam. Ultimately financing jihadists and undoing the social and economic reforms that the country had aspired to effect and then abandoning it as a failed narco-state once it had served its purpose, resulted in consequential, inevitable blowback.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020


Via The Morning News that finally piqued my curiosity, I am regretting now not having before having checked out the Hood Internet’s on-going series of year-in-song reviews.
These audio-visual remixes and transitions are really quite fantastic and resoundingly nostalgic brief romps and am working through the back-catalogue (1986 is also particularly good) and looking forward to more instalments.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

sunday night line-up

On this evening in 1987, the fledgling Fox television network, we learn courtesy once again from Doctor Caligari’s Cabinet—our faithful chronicler, debuted its first two prime time offerings in Married… with Children followed by the sketch, variety programme The Tracey Ullman Show.
The later slotted with musical numbers conceived and choreographed by Paula Abdul, memorable comedic scenes and regular animated interstitials, the Simpsons premiered on episode three on 19 April, voiced by members of the troupe. The former show, airing for over a decade and exported to markets globally, launched the acting career Christina Applegate and Matt LeBlanc, ultimately developing the series Friends from one of the show’s spin-offs.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

ะดัƒะผะฐะน ะธะฝะฐั‡ะต

Curated by the always interesting Things Magazine, we are finding ourselves quite capitvated with the visionary, revolutionary prototype computer system conceived and presented by Soviet computer scientist Dmitri Azrikan of the VNIITE (ะ’ะะ˜ะ˜ะขะญ, ะ’ัะตั€ะพััะธะนัะบะธะน ะฝะฐัƒั‡ะฝะพ-ะธััะปะตะดะพะฒะฐั‚ะตะปัŒัะบะธะน ะธะฝัั‚ะธั‚ัƒั‚ ั‚ะตั…ะฝะธั‡ะตัะบะพะน ััั‚ะตั‚ะธะบะธ, All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Industrial Design) campus in Leningrad in 1987.
Never commercially available, the device known as Project SPHINX would nonetheless prefigure the smart homes of three decades later and ought to be a recognised precursor and would have been a major industry disruptor had we been ready for the idea of mobility and collaborative computing, with the design to integrate automation into domestic life and the work place with tele-conferencing capabilities as well for use as home entertainment, expandable memory modules, the redundancy to support several terminals and a remote control that could be used as a handheld device, different wireless components connected via radio waves, but the whole system dialled up to the rest of the world via modem. More technical specifications and more to explore at the links above.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

deep state

The always brilliant Nag on the Lake directs our attention to a very interesting Cold War chronicle, an office artefact that I’m regretting not having taken up and created during my own tenure, something reminiscent of medieval manuscripts or the Bayeux tapestry. Click the images to enlarge.
An anonymous general schedule (GS) analyst and conscientious bureaucrat like myself working at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas back in the 1980s during the Reagan-era illuminated his government-issued desk calendar (something which I usually rejected for reasons of unnecessary clutter and not necessarily speaking to my organisational skills) noting momentous occasions, personal achievements and airing his grievances with higher headquarters. Find more months in detail documenting the decade at the link above.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

darmok and jalad at tenagra

Sourced without a doubt from The Greatest Generation, io9 (named for a theoretical input-output device that allows users to peer into the future at the price of their sanity) presents a collection of some of the strangest plotlines from Star Trek: TNG for the series’ thirtieth anniversary, which debuted on this day in 1987.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

superstation or dateline: land of the lost

Before it was home to the CNN Center, the anchoring attraction of the downtown extension of the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia was fleetingly the World of Sid & Marty Krofft—one of the first all-indoors amusement parks.
Despite some of the frenetic, psychedelic rides and attractions, including a multi-storied, variegated carnival atmosphere and a colossal pin-ball game and appearances by signature television characters like the Banana Splits, Witchiepoo and HR Pufnstuf (whose fungibility prompted possibly the intellectual-infringement lawsuit ever with the Krofft’s franchise taking RonaldMcDonaldland to court) plus musical interludes, the park tragically did not prove the drawn that the producers and backers had hoped for—the whole experience could be taken in in just a few hours and after initial positive reception, families questioned whether it made sense to make a trek to a less than reputable section of downtown for less than a full day’s commitment.
Besides, the city’s zoo and aquarium were close by and cheaper alternatives and other amusement parks were cast out into the suburbs—with ample parking. Only six months after its grand opening in May of 1976, the park closed and it wasn’t until a more than a decade later when Ted Turner occupied the complex in 1987. Not many traces remain of the original arcade—other than, that is, the monumental, free-standing escalator (still the largest one in the world) that formerly delivered park guests to the highest levels of the Krofftian universe and are still part of the cable news network headquarters tour.

Friday, 6 January 2017


I had seen a few references in circulation but couldn’t quite manage to replay the film in head until reading this excellent but cringe-inducing analysis from Frank Swain.
The essay underscores how life imitates art, and rather than living in that under-privileged but blissful unawares computer simulation, we are in fact relegated to a rather bleak vision of 2017 from three decades hence—The Running Man. Complete with the billing of actors turn politicians in Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Venture and a game-show host more powerful than the president (now even more ironic considering that Schwarzenegger has been appointed Trump’s under-study as reality television-show master of ceremonies), the film is an uncanny reflection of our gladiatorial appetites. Even the technological state of affairs with the infonet and the infonet of things held up pretty well.  What do you think? Perhaps we’ve not crossed the threshold to blood-lust and public execution of society’s maladroits but virtual sticks and stones and teapot tempests are certainly not that far behind and are effective ways to placate and manipulate the home-audience.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

choosy moms choose jif

On the fifth of November, 1999 an auto-de-fรฉ was proclaimed in order to rid the emerging on-line environment of an image file format (.gif) that most considered to be clunky and unsuited for facilitating the quick transfer of information.
First invented in 1987, this lossless (uncompromised, except for richness of colour) yet compressible image extension was the industry standard yet showed no potential that it would ever be the rendering for anything but static pictures and was being pressed aside by one lobby or another—even the idea of a “GIF tax” was being proposed to banish the Graphic Interchange Format, the bailiwick of Compuserve and Netscape. The cinemagraph, the parlour-trick that’s best suited for what we think of as GIFs nowadays in conjunction with browser protocols and later the looping video clip, was not perfected until 2011 but would have probably never materialised unless it had been allowed to incubate, maybe selfishly, during the intervening decades. Read all about the history and development of the GIF and get a primer on how image compression algorithms work in Popular Mechanics article at the link up top.