Friday 12 January 2024

so i tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time (11. 260)

A talented tattoo artist in Birmingham called Jon Arton shared some of their handiwork in rather epic form with Grampa Abe Simpson surrounded by a scroll that relates the long and rambling story that goes nowhere from the 1993 episode “Last Exit to Springfield” in order, conscripted as a strike buster, that distracts Mr Burns and helps convince him that Homer, as union leader for the power plant workers, is a master strategist and should concede to their demands. See the the tattoo and the original clip from season four, episode seventeen at the link above. My story begins in nineteen-dickey-two…


one year ago: the manual on uniform traffic control devices, assorted links worth revisiting plus pioneers in cryogenics

two years ago: suits for hostile architecture plus a convocation from Toni Morrison

three years ago: more wonder turners plus Ezekiel 25:17

four years ago: The House that Screamed (1970), St Aelred, an urban forest, a disclaimer, a consortium of Parisian museums plus Sir Ian McKellen’s LOTR blog

five years ago: flower supersenseBaby Shark plus a trip to Ohrdruf

Monday 11 December 2023

a harry alan towers production (11. 179)

Premiering on this day on Comedy Central in 1993, the 1988 sequel, The Outlaw of Gor, is given the MST3K treatment (previously) and showcases the return of the hero Tarl Cabot to the far-off science-fiction, fantasy realm to suppress the designs of the ambitious and wicked queen and her priest-sorcerer in a role reprised by Jack Palance in a series of ridiculous headgear. Loosely based on the series by writer John Norman, the professor and his colleague are transported back to the realm by the Elders using the Home Stone, this episode was screened at several college campuses before its air-date and featured the last invention exchange with Deep-13, ostensibly to recognise the new host’s technical short-comings. 

one year ago: the Kyoto Protocol plus a plan to drain the Mediterranean to flood the desert
two years ago: Apollo 17 (1972), assorted links to revisit, a modern gargoyle plus Lily the Pink (1968)

three years ago: we’ve been zucked, science explainers in crochet form plus more links to enjoy

four years ago: 52 more lessons gleaned plus articles of impeachment drawn up for Trump

five years ago: a decisive Brexit vote, subterranean ecosystems, the art of Geoffroy de Crecy, COP 24 plus the inventor of the View-Master

Saturday 15 July 2023

netscape navigator (10. 885)

Declared defunct on this day in 1993 by its owners AOL TimeWarner after losing market dominance to Internet Explorer early on as a casualty of the first browser war, Netscape Communications Corporation (previously), which introduced the JavaScript programming language that transformed webpages and the HTTP cookie, proceeded on the same day to establish the Mozilla Foundation, having released the source code of its signature suite of products to allow continued and independent development of its internet tools. Pioneering features to enhance user experience included tabbed browsing, private mode, bookmarks, autocomplete (incremental search) bundled with email (equipped with a spam-filter) and newsgroups as well as interoperability for Mac and Windows-based systems—many of which are preserved in later iterations of the Firefox browser, considered the spiritual successor of Netscape and overtaking Explorer as the most popular search engine in 2009.

Sunday 30 April 2023

www (10. 709)

On this day in 1993, the decision was made to release the hypertext markup language that underpins the world-wide web into the public domain, making it freely available for anyone to use for any purpose, and facilitating navigation on the developing internet—rejecting the option that inventor Tim Berners-Lee (see above) along with the research laboratory at CERN had to license the browser-based infrastructure, believing that keeping the platform as open and decentralised as possible was the only want to encourage growth and maximise participation. It’s a challenge to try to imagine how the world might look had this pivotal decision gone the other way, turning a public utility, a public good into a commodity. Much more at the links above.

Thursday 2 February 2023

sometimes today is tomorrow (10. 516)

Guest blogger Tim Carmody takes the helm for the tenth anniversary of the twentieth anniversary of Kottke’s Groundhog Day live-blog, in a very recursive tradition of celebrating the 1993 fantasy, romantic comedy for a decade. Directed by Harold Ramis and written by Danny Rubin, it portrays a cynical TV weatherman assigned to cover the annual event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and gets caught in a time loop, him alone aware that the day is repeating and has the potential for perfecting.

Monday 16 January 2023

lemminkรคinen, very pretty (10. 421)

First subjected to the MST3K treatment on this day in 1993 (broadcast edition below, preceded by the short “Here Comes the Circus”), the 1959 cinematic anthology of Finnish folk tales and loosely based of the national epic sage Kalevala, the co-Suomi-Soviet production by Aleksandr Ptushko and Risto Orko was also marketed under the title of the main MacGuffin, the mystical Sampo (see also)—a magical mill that will grant limitless prosperity to whomever possesses it. The only person in the realm able to craft a Sampo is the smith Ilmarien, who cannot make it until his sister Annikki falls in love, which she eventually does, enamoured with our pure-of-heart and hard-working protagonist. A evil witch called Louhi, ruler of the dark and dismal Pohjola is also desirous of a Sampo and ransoms Annikki to her land, kidnapping her by means of an enchanted cloak. Lemminkรคinen must perform a series of seemingly impossible tasks to win her back, with the last challenge going to her brother, Ilmarien, to fashion a Sampo. ”Look, it‘s Thomas Edison and his Electric Child!“

Friday 16 December 2022

verse chorus verse (10. 388)

Released as a live double-album the following November after the death of singer Kurt Cobain, Nirvana’s Unplugged session—not wholly acoustic and unlike previous performances featured cover songs and lesser-known material and accomplished in a single take—MTV first aired the studio concert on this day in 1993. Acclaimed as transcend and retrospectively as a requiem, the album was certified multiplatinum and consistently ranks among the greatest records of all time.

Tuesday 6 September 2022

7x7 (10. 112)

all the news that’s fit to print: a curated collection of kiosks from around the world from Trevor Traynor—via Present /&/ Correct  

tomato cain: an anthology of the short fiction of Nigel Kneale—perhaps better known for his screenplays, like The Stone Tape Theory  

national defensive design strategy revisited: another look at the style book (see also) of the US government  

finding out that you accidentally wrote five pages in cursive: our AI wrangler Janelle Shane (previously) charges a neural network to explain human behaviour quirks  

flareup: a 1969 Raquel Welch vehicle  

wild palms: a 1993 cyberpunk soap opera that aired on US network television  

movable-type: the Ruckwanderer innovation and how the Chinese incorporated the keyboard—see previously

Sunday 28 August 2022

call him mister raider, call him mister wrong (10. 092)

On this day in 1993 the Frankfurt-based Eurodance group Culture Beat saw its lead single from their second studio album Serenity climb to number one on the UK charts—the first song to do so without including a vinyl (7”) component in its released package, only using the cassette and airplay as media formats—holding the top position for four weeks and achieved significant success worldwide. The engaging song performed chiefly by Tania Evans and Jay Supreme is considered by many, along with the repertoire of fellow-Frankfurters Snap!, to be the archetypal house tune.

Sunday 1 May 2022

sama merdo

The group hailing from Kherson and active from 1993 to 2007, Piฤ‰ismo is a hard core punk band notable for performing in Esperanto (see below). In July of 1995, they organised and participated in a music festival in Hola Prystan’ called a “Concert of Loud Music in Incomprehensible Languages” and invited other Esperanto- and Volapรผk-speaking bands. In 2002, the again headlined a fest in Saint Petersburg called “Bored of the Conlangs” (see above). The title of their demo track translates to “Suddenly Crap.”

Saturday 23 April 2022

project kansas

Lingering until the summer of 2002 (see next) and suspected by some as a marketing ploy to boost sagging sales of its flagship beverage—reintroduced and rebranded as Coca-Cola Classic, the reformulated version, New Coke, was introduced on this day in 1985 to much derision—with production of the original production halted later the same week. Under the titular code name (having polled the demographic considered Middle America but failing to take into account nostalgia and the attachment to tradition), the secret project to launch a new flavour of soft-drink was in response to test marketing that suggested that palettes preferred sweeter tastes and Pepsi (see also) faring better in new markets. Despite the sustained backlash, the corporation continued with aggressive commercial campaigns, including bringing on spokesman Max Headroom (previously—caution, flashing images) in 1986.

Wednesday 5 January 2022

alien exile

Two Star Wars alumni appear in a pair of early 90s, particularly ill-received action, sci-fi films both set in the year 2022. First Billy Dee Williams appears with Tracy Scoggins in the 1993 convicts-in-space vehicle Alien Intruder, wherein several inmates are impressed on a excursion into uncharted deep space on a salvage mission with the promises that if they succeed then their sentences will be commuted. During the long voyage, the crew have free use of a holodeck of sorts to act out their sexual fantasies, however their programmes are invaded by a manipulative presence that dispatches with the virtual reality playmates presenting as an ideal companion then escapes into their fraught reality. Second Mark Hamil with Rae Dawn Chong star in the 1993 Michael Mazo directed Time Runner (also released under the title In Exile), who ducks into a worm hole to escape an alien invasion that sends Hamil thirty years into the past. Continuity and movie time travel rules break down within minutes, involving the saving and sacrificing of parents and ones future selves.

Saturday 11 September 2021

the dead internet theory

On this anniversary which has propounded two Forever Wars (one of which capitalised on the 9/11 terror attacks to as a pretext to invade Iraq with the media mostly obliging, a misdirection that prised open for some a credibility chasm), the panopticon of the surveillance state, xenophobia, sectarianism, intolerance, violence, bloodshed all at a very dear price with the most treacherous legacy perhaps being the exportable cult of conspiracy theorists that first emerged as Truthers, then morphed into Birthers, Pizzagate, QAnon and whatever atrocity is next in the line of succession, we are presented a new one positing that the world wide web, acknowledging that the majority of traffic is bot driven, did die the death approximately five years ago and what remains is not all an elaborate hoax but rather a platform almost entirely dominated by artificial intelligence. Weighted interaction, with human engagement or robotic attention-seeking seems to matter little ultimately in a world of detached rankings and recursive references, but what if since 2016, the web and its various walled-gardens was depopulated and replaced with neural network propagandists, influencers and marketers? It’s patently ridiculous and like most “independent research” lurches to the territory of unhinged and offensive but the veiled unreality of it all makes it intriguing and a challenge to disprove, and with no prevailing mainstream narrative to counter the arc of conservation, evidence, it is garnering traction. There’s more than a kernel of truth to the manipulative, unrestrained and inhumanly automated nature of social media and shadow profiles created to supplement the personalities of those who don’t participate sufficiently. Not that the metaverse was ever particularly welcoming, it certainly seems uninviting if made by and for people-pleasing machines.

Saturday 4 September 2021

i never had one myself, enough to remember. i was torn from the thigh of zeus.

Airing for the first time on this day in 1993, Sam Newfield’s 1944 juvenile delinquency exploitation flick was rediscovered through its MST3K lampoon (from the same director as Lost Continent and RADAR Secret Service) and elevated to the status of a cult classic, when defendant and mild-mannered teen Jimmy Wilson indicts his absent and alcoholic parents and lays the blame for his charge of manslaughter squarely on his substandard upbringing. Wilson is unwittingly recruited into a ring fencing stolen jewellery whose activity eventually results in the killing of a security guard and fearing reprisal and the consequences of associating with these criminal elements becomes a fugitive from justice for an indeterminate length of time. Jimmy is convinced to return to stand in court for his involvement.

Saturday 8 May 2021

a night at the roxbury

Released on this day in 1993 as a single from the artist’s debut The Album, the Eurodance number from Kรถlner musician and choreographer Haddaway (written and arranged by Dieter Lรผnstedt and Karin van Haaren whom were waiting for the right singer to take on their project) enjoyed respectable but in comparison with its legacy and iconic status decades later subdued success when it first came out. Though a one-hit wonder, it’s defining of a certain era and transports one there instantly.

Saturday 30 January 2021

every frame of this movie look like someone’s last known photograph

First airing on this day in 1993, “Manos” The Hands of Fate (previously) as lampooned by the crew of the Satellite of Love has been ranked by critics and fans as the number one episode of the franchise and the defining height of the genre of breaking the fourth wall, watching a movie and making fun of it. The show begins with the continuation of the short Hired! and an invention exchange prelude before launching into the 1966 Harold P. Warren horror vehicle with a young family taking a road trip near El Paso, Texas in search of “Valley Lodge.” They ultimately stop and ask for directions at what turns out to be a cult compound and are welcomed by a satyr called Torgo, who tends the ground while the Master is away. Despite objections from both his wife and Torgo, the father (portrayed by writer, director, producer Warren) asks if they might stay the night after a long day of driving. “The Master would not approve.”

Tuesday 19 January 2021

don’t stop

This year there will be no traditional pre-inauguration presidential gala or balls unlike in years past, but there is a throughline of course for a special one-off (at the time) reunion on the eve of the transition of power for the forty-second and forty-sixth office holder. Held on this day at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland in 1993 a cast of celebrities came together in honour of Bill Clinton’s win, including Barbra Steisand, Jack Lemmon, Elton John, James Earl Jones joined by headliners that history judges differently now Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson. The band Fleetwood Mac re-formed (see also) and performed Clinton’s campaign song.

Thursday 26 November 2020

¡no lupita!

Released on this date in 1959 in Mexico (in October of the following year internationally, in America markets  under the same title though sometimes distinguished as Santa Claus versus the Devil), this Renรฉ Cardona and Adolfo Torres Portillo collaboration premises that Santa has a workshop in outer space and defeats a demon called Pitch who was dispatched to Earth by Lucifer to spoil Christmas by killing its spirit and cause all of humanity to do Satan’s despondent and joyless, and by defacto  evil, bidding. The movie received the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (see previously) on Christmas Eve 1993 and one can watch the lampoon in its entirety below.

Tuesday 21 May 2019

a carbonated “beverage”

I have no memory of this phenomenal marketing misreading and miscalculation and suppose our town or high school wasn’t in the test market, so am grateful and a little bit baffled that a soft drink giant, eager to appeal to the demographic of Generation X was willing to exploit what we’d now recognise arguably as potentially problematic tendencies and male toxicity. Leaning deeply into the ironic and blatantly pandering with an anti-commercial campaign, Ok Soda trialled in 1993 specially targeted at a “generation of male teens and young men tired of hype and pretension.” Cans were even printed with a rather lengthy ten-point manifesto.
Ultimately, consumers didn’t care for the drink and the whole advertising campaign proved too relentlessly bleak and nihilistic for consumers, even their target audience. The line was discontinued in 1995 and never went into broader distribution.  Be sure to visit Messy Nessy Chic at the link above to see more artefacts of this failed attempt at reverse-psychology and branding disaffection.

Saturday 2 February 2013

1993 or janet reno, meter-maid

There was recently an afternoon happy-hour poll on Mental Floss that invited readers to participate in a rather nebulous exercise, which really turned into some provocative and poignant searching for me.
 The question posed asked what people were doing twenty years ago on that particular day, and though that date registered nothing particularly memorable, like the days the Kennedys were shot, the moon-landing or 9/11, I do have a few resources, like diaries than reach back nearly that far and watching the daily addendum to the Tagesschau (the nightly national news report) that broadcasts (sometimes with extensive warning labels) the installment from two decades ago. In the early part of 1993, William Jefferson Clinton was inaugurated as president of the United States, poet and statesman Vรกclav Havel became the president of the young Czech Republic, it was the dread beginning of nostalgic adaptations first with the Beverly Hillbillies and The Fugitive, there was the first World Trade Center bombings occurred, the cable channel Comedy Central premiered (I really, really wish-a I’d never heard of Amy Fisher—Mohammed Salameh, Mohammed salaam, I was only the driver, I didn’t build that bomb) , and the now redundant bureau of the US ATF (alcohol, tobacco and firearms) began a fifty-one day stand-off at the Branch-Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, Iraqi authorities refuse NATO weapons-inspectors access, fractures began to appear in Yugoslavia, the Red Army Faction was still active in a united Germany, the trials of the Rodney King beatings began, and Stephen Hawking published A Brief History of Time.
Later in the year, there was a lot more.  I couldn’t say definitively how a certain day reverberated for me personally, but the notion of taking time to review one’s life from the perspective of two decades or just two years on (everyone probably has their modern history well-documented though all time is full) is something powerful and perhaps an archive that should be sought out.