Friday, 19 May 2023

oh my, my—this here anakin guy, maybe vader some day later but now he’s just a small fry (10. 751)

For this anniversary of the general release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace on this day in the United States in 1999, we feature this synopsis of events regarding the beginning of the saga as performed by Weird Al Yankovic to the underlying tune and structure of “The Day the Music Died.”

And the Jedi I admire most
Met up with Darth Maul and now he’s toast
Well, I’m still here—and he’s a ghost
I guess I’ll train this boy.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

potus (10. 157)

Premiering on this day in 1999 on NBC and running for seven seasons with two specials, the serial political drama created by Aaron Sorkin with ensemble cast including Stockard Channing, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, Moira Kelly, Martin Sheen, Dulรฉ Hill, Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney The West Wing covered the fictitious administration of US President Josiah Bartlet. Showered with accolades including two Peabodys, three Golden Globes and twenty-six Emmys, the series ranks among the best television shows ever produced. The short segment from the pilot episode shows the first occurrence of Sorkin’s signature ”walk and talk” expository technique.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

cosmic call

The latter of two sets of interstellar radio missives were beamed out to the Cosmos on this day in 2003 from the RT-70 (Radio Telescope with an aerial antenna with a seventy metre diameter and former Soviet Centre for Deep Space Communications) located in Yevpatoria, Crimea. This iteration and the first message sent in 1999 follow the same bitmap structure and include the Dutil-Dumas primer about mathematics, universal constants, chemical elements and physics plus the Arecibo Messages, the Braastad Message (to illustrate concepts of family and procreation, similar to the plaque on Pioneer) and contributions from the staff and public. Transmitted at four hundred bits per second, the message was beamed out over the span of eleven hours and targeted five diverse stars with known exoplanets, with the first arrival date of April 2036 at Gliese 49 ฮฒ, a superearth orbiting a red dwarf star.

Friday, 1 July 2022

riaghaltas na h-alba

Coming into effect on this day in 1999 following a 1997 referendum, devolution meant that legislative powers for the constituent nation within the United Kingdom were transferred from the old Scottish Office in London (where the Lord Advocate had been responsible for many of the executive decisions of Scotland) officially to St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh where a cabinet of ministers accountable to the Scottish Parliament (previously here, here, here and here) are responsible for domestic policy and administration. While legislatively foreign and economic policy, consumer rights, pensions and trade are reserved matters for the UK parliament, major aspects regarding healthcare, education, justice, environment, policing and housing are devolved. That inaugural session of Parliament opened by Queen Elizabeth II also falls on the anniversary of the 1543 that united the kingdoms—though not before the terms were ultimately rejected by Scotland, leading to eight years of conflict known as the Rough Wooing.

Monday, 2 May 2022

fan mail from a flounder?

Given the MST3K treatment for the first time on this day in 1999 in their tenth season, the surpassing bad 1971 sci-fi horror film also released under the titles ZaAt (the name of the chemical compound), Hydra and Attack of the Swamp Creatures relates the plot of a mad scientist first to transform himself into a catfish-like monster (sort of like the hybrid God-Emperor primate-sandworm) then drug an entire town’s water supply with the same serum to create a community of merpeople. The mad scientist then turns his focus to revenge on his fellow researchers who ridiculed his work.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

now i work at the pizza pizza

A brief discussion of the tabletop shuffleboard-like, disk-flicking game that the interlocutors mostly knew from the lyric from the song “King of Spain,” “playing crokinole with the Princess of Monaco” transported me back aeons ago when I was volunteer “security detail” (i.e., checking wrist-bands and stamps of people coming and going between different venues) at a music festival in Vermont with headliner Ani DiFranco and also featuring acts like Moxy Frรผvous (1989 - 2001) with their ballad retelling the Prince and Pauper story. Now I eat humble pie.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

why is there even a blue pill?

Via Super Punch, we are treated to this sincerely, unintentionally unfortunate juxtaposition with this teaser landing spot for the upcoming Matrix sequel, in which actors from the original reprise their roles. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

space: 1999

Though only running for two seasons, the titular BBC programme (renewed the second year by ITC Entertainment) that premiered on this day in 1975 was quite ahead of its time and established among many other tropes the “cold open” scene that preceded the credit sequence, itself boldly a spin-off of a narrative in the Supermarionation production Thunderbirds by the same creative duo Sylvia and Gerry Anderson in non-puppet form. A radioactive waste dump on the far side of the Moon, detected by the research staff at Lunar Base Alpha, experiences a magnetic anomaly, which causes the material to reach critical mass and triggers a thermonuclear explosion 13 September 1999 and propels the Earth’s satellite into deep space. This spaceship Moon wanders into a black hole and several “space warps” to continue its exploration of the Cosmos.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

mst3k s10e13

Airing first on this day in 1999, lampooning the 1968 cinematic adaptation of the long-running Italian comic Diabolik, this episode marked the series finale marked the end of a decade-long experiment subjecting the crew of the Satellite of Love to bad movies. The super villain of the film wreaks havoc along with his girlfriend Eva and sidekick Ginko across Europe for his own amusement and financial gain but also fights wrong-doing with wrong-doing, sadistically punishing criminal activity not aligned with his own. Generally panned outside of Italy as the creators assume familiarity with the characters, the direction of Mario Bava with score by Ennio Morricone later was recognised for its cinematography and became regarded as a cult classic, re-evaluated after the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, a year prior scenes featuring in the Beastie Boys music video for Body Movin’.
Over the course of the episode, the satellite is inadvertently deorbited and returned to Earth with the mad scientist and her henchmen in the lair Castle Forrester liquidating assets and lining up new employment.  There is a touching final farewell.  The show was happily rebooted in 2017 though never fully out of production in the interim.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

listen to me coppertop—we don’t have time for twenty questions

Going into general release in US theatres on this day in 1999, though the tropes and themes have been to an extent ironically co-opted by more right leaning and extremist elements, The Matrix (previously) written and directed by the siblings Wachowski, whom years after their movie debuted came out as transgender women, acknowledged some subtle allegory in the plot and dialogue:“an error in the Matrix,” that sense that something is fundamental wrong—“like a splinter in your mind” suggests body dysphoria and the red pill that for some in the above-mentioned circles has become representative for throwing down the gauntlet for seeking truth inside conspiracy did for others draw comparisons to red oestrogen pills that transitioning individuals might take. In the original script, the character of Switch (quoted above) was to be portrayed as male in the real world and as female in the Matrix but that idea was dropped during filming.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

web of deception

On this day in 1999, Bruce Miller was found murdered in his scrapyard in Flint, Michigan, victim of a conspiracy between his wife Sharee Paulette Kitley Miller (*1971) and her online liaison Jerry Cassaday—who was convinced to carry out the shooting by Sharee for Miller’s money, arguing a divorce could not generate enough alimony since the couple had only been married for a few months. Mortified by his actions, Cassaday, a former police officer who knew forensics and thus how to commit a perfect crime, took his own life afterwards and Sharee was apprehended the following February after finding their chat logs, printed out and left in a briefcase along with Cassaday’s suicide note.

Individuals should know that their actions (even in that then new media) have consequences and have been sentenced accordingly but I wonder in what ways does hindsight temper judgment. What do you think? Sometimes time vilifies and exculpates but never universally and one has to wonder about our own naivety. With headlines like “Murder by Instant Message,” the investigation and trial were recorded as the first internet based homicide.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

in der rรถmerischer weinstraรŸe

Our penultimate overnight stop brought us to the Central Moselle (Mittelmosel) community of Trittenheim—this like most other steep vineyards advertising their local vintners and varietals in big white letters like the Hollywood sign, championed by a village Wine Queen (Weinkรถnigin) selected by a jury of past title holders and restauranteurs.
In 1999, however no suitable candidate could be found and the judges instead elected the first (and quite possibly sole exception but we’d like to think that such pageants are a bit more enlightened—a few years ago the Moselle named their first royal industry representative who was a Syrian refugee) Wine King in master mechanic, philanthropist, entertainer and developmental chieftain (Ngoryifia) Cรฉphas Kosi Bansah of the Ewe people of the Hohoe region of Ghana.
Having come to Germany as part of a student exchange programme, Bansah stayed on and was invested with this honourific political office, realising that he was able to govern remotely and could achieve more education and outreach for his people in Germany, improving infrastructure and schools dramatically through his celebrityand his talent for networking. 

Sunday, 28 June 2020

nakhlite type

The classification of Martian meteorite (see also) that was the first of its kind to suggest the presence of water and then for a tantalisingly brief time nearly a century later as technology and analysis methods improved microbial life, named for the Egyptian village of El Nakhla El Bahariya were it fell, broken up by the heat of entry into about forty samples raining down, on this day in 1911.
They are ejecta of volcanic rock from the plains Elysium Mons that was able to escape the planet’s gravity through a violent asteroid impact, wandering through space for ten million years before being captured by Earth, occasionally impacting over the past ten thousand years.  Though likely apocryphal since there were no remains recovered and no other corroborating witnesses, astronomers still repeat the legend and it’s become a mascot in the field of meteor studies, a local farmer recounts how a fragment landed directly on his canine helper, vaporising the animal without a trace, the so-called Nakhla dog.  In 1999, a sample previously unexposed to earthly elements was cleaved off and studied using a powerful scanning electron microscope revealing a matrix of pores very similar—though not conclusively so—to the traces that bacteria would leave in rocky substrate on Earth, leading many researchers to conclude that the Red Planet at least at one point harboured the niche environment that could support life.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

mambo № 5

Though propelled back into renewed popularity with Munich artist Lou Bega’s sampling and remixed version released on this day in 1999 in German markets on his debut album A Little Bit of Mambo, the history of the jazzy dance number goes back half a century before (see also) that with the composition and recording of Mambo King Cuban musician Dรกmaso Pรฉrez Prado. Here are both songs for your listening pleasure.
Bega’s reintroduction of the tune (there is a lot of original material and is by no means just a remake and only takes inspiration from a few albeit central riffs) was incredible popular and quickly garnered accolades. It was a candidate campaign song for the Democratic Party’s 2000 election push though sponsors had second thoughts over the line “A little bit of Monica in my life…” and a BBC children’s television programme, still basking in the success from its first recording venture Can We Fix It? Yes We Can!, in 2001 released a cover-version featuring the construction engineer’s voice actor singing, replacing the litany of girlfriends with construction materials and tasks: “There’s a house with a roof that leaks / It’s an urgent job and could take us weeks… A little bit of tiling on the roof / A little bit of making waterproof / A little bit of concrete mixed with sand / A little bit of Bob, the Builder Man.”

Sunday, 29 March 2020

djia = ฯƒp/d

Having muddled through the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 and the collapse of the Russian rouble the following year, the US stock market index the Dow Jones Industrial Average, that gauges the performance of a select thirty large, publicly listed companies, on this day in 1999 a celebration was held on the trading floor when for the first time the Dow closed above ten thousand points.
Bolstered by faith in a strong dollar—the world’s reserve currency—and mergers in the petroleum industry and what was decried presciently by some as an “irrational exuberance” in the seemingly unbridled technology sector, investors at the time would scarcely realise that they were partying at the apex (or nadir, depending on one’s point of view) of the Dot Com Bubble. The speculation fuelled growth peaked in March 2000, once borrowing became more expensive and credit tighter when national banks changed their lending practises once the industry had weathered y2k without significant disruption, before surrendering a gain of nearly four hundred percent by October 2002.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

lotr or there and back again

Via Kottke, we are invited to explore and rediscover the web presence of veteran actor Sir Ian McKellen, which includes among its deep linkages about his acting career and other projects the blog, journal he kept from 1999 through 2003 during the production of Lord of the Rings.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020


At the stroke of midnight universal coordinated time 1970, the Unix epoch began. Counting the seconds from that point on and treating everyday as if it had eighty-six thousand four-hundred of them (discounting leap seconds makes the logging events slightly asynchronous with time as measured by atomic clocks but this discrepancy is factored in later in dating), the calendar convention does not have the y2k problem built into the programming from the beginning.
However, under the current conventions for designating a timestamp, Unix will experience its own on 19 January 2038, when the thirty-two-bit integers that seconds are stored in exceed capacity and reset to 13 December 1901. The future implications of this bug weren't appreciated until around 2006 when programmers (a notoriously lazy group) began to realise that their kludge, a temporary solution—a quick and dirty work-around, for computer operations to never time out (substituting forever for after a billion seconds, about thirty-two years) started to cause an overflow error when the tumblers roll over.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

porf and potus

On this day in 1999 when the first President of the Russian Federation (ะŸั€ะตะทะธะดะต́ะฝั‚ ะ ะพััะธ́ะนัะบะพะน ะคะตะดะตั€ะฐ́ั†ะธะธ) the guarantor of the constitution, commander-in-chief and highest office chosen by popular election, Boris Yeltsin resigned his commission over domestic dissatisfaction with his reform efforts (see previously), and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin assumed the presidency.
A statutory hiatus between Putin’s second and third terms (the law establishing that none can serve more than two consecutive terms) ushered in the caretaker government of Putin's own Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev from 2008 to 2012, allowing Putin again to stand in elections that year. Yeltsin is seen here bestowing Putin with the livery collar or chain of office, a ceremonial insignia of the presidency, like the sash, worn on special occasions. Although there is no law prohibiting a partisan presidency, by convention all incumbents have dropped party affiliation while in office.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

intergalactic planetary

Sampling from sources as diverse as Les Baxter, Modest Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain through the filter of piano virtuoso Sergei Rachmaninoff, the Beastie Boys’ Grammy winning single showcased in a music video is celebrating turning twenty this year, inspiring a Toronto trio, Angela Young and children Lilah and Levi, to honour this anniversary with their holiday greeting. The three MCs dance their way through the city’s metro and Union Station to the song, outfitted like the band, wishing all a celestial season. You can watch the original at the link from Nag on the Lake above as well.

Thursday, 3 October 2019


Since the inception of the holiday, the date of formal reunification rather than events leading up to it chosen in 1990, the chief celebrations have cycled through several host cities, usually state capitals.
Wiesbaden was the setting of 1999’s festivities and created the Compass Confederation, settlements that represent the geographical extremes (see also) of Germany:
the cardinal points being List on the Island of Sylt in the North, Selfkant in the West, Gรถrlitz in the East and Oberstdorf in the South, the towns honoured annually as co-celebrants. Though it took decades longer for the German map to have these extremes and present borders, the most westerly municipality of Nordrhein-Westfalen, Selfkant, was annexed by the Netherlands as war reparations in 1949. The allocation of this single district was the much diminished outcome of an original demand for Aachen, Kรถln, Mรผnster and Osnabrรผck, pared down significantly when the Dutch failed to garner support from the US for it. After three years of negotiations at the Hague, the territory was returned to West Germany (see also the Kleine Wiedervereinigung) in August 1963—with the exception of a hill and surrounding glade called Duivelsberg/Teufelsberg which the Netherlands retains and maintains as a nature reserve.