Sunday 14 July 2024

8x8 (11. 693)

priscila, queen of the rideshare mafia: the tale of a gig-economy pyramid scheme  

fรชte nationale: a comprehensive list of what Americans and the French know about each other 

80s lifestyle icons: health and fitness guru Richard Simmons and sex therapist Dr Ruth Westheimer pass away  

stillsuits: researchers develop Fremen inspired garments for astronauts that improve comfort, hydration and hygiene  

my israel home: US real estate companies profiting off expanded, illegal settlements in the West Bank—see also 

paranormal phenomenon: Japanese terms for dรฉjร  vu, telepathy and incredulous serendipity 

๐Ÿ›’: the trend of grocery store tourism really resonates with us and a cultural experience we always are sure to have—via Nag on the Lake 

kein brot und keine ehre: Georg Christoph Lichtenberg’s correspondent’s categories of human endeavour

Monday 27 May 2024

9x9 (11. 585)

super easy, barely an inconvenience: if cats had podcasts  

minor arcana: a metaphysically intelligent™️ tarot reading—via Web Curios  

fleeting moments: a concept camera that only delivers ephemeral poetry based on the subject in the view-finder—via Clive Thompson’s Linkfest  

the ghana must go: as ubiquitous as the IKEA bag but more practical, this tartan sack from Japan by way of Hong Kong contains multitudes  

god’s influencer: following a second miracle attributed to his intercession, the first Millennial saint is canonised  

atlas shrugged: AI-apocalypse Jennifer Lopez vehicle from James Cameron garners negative reviews but we found it enjoyable—going in blindly and wondering if it wasn’t part of the Duneiverse and setting up the Butlerian Jihad 

long averages: advances in the understanding of probability fuelling casino gambling—via Damn Interesting  

planchettes and re-enchantment: LLMs are haunted things toc-cat-a in b-major: Noam Oxman personalised musical pet portraits—via Waxy


one year ago:  a portrait of a dog, Berlin’s Mouse Bunker, a study of incomplete cubes plus men and women duelling in the Middle Ages

two years ago: a pact between NATO and Russia (1997), a dragon in Essex plus assorted links worth revisiting

three years ago: mojibake, font sizes, the Golden Gate Bridge (1937), relocating geese plus Dune manga

four years ago: more links to enjoy, a rock-climbing inspection, weasel iconography plus Trump 2.0 would be far more fraught

five years ago: getting around in Swiss Saxony

Wednesday 10 April 2024

is this the leto boy i worked for? (11. 481)

Though advertised as a clip-show of highlights from the past hundred minisodes, an unexpected, rather absurd visitor, America’s newscaster emeritus, Dune-loving Tom Brokaw, steals the spotlight of the Flop House to pitch his musical version of the Frank Herbert epic—incorporating elements of Fiddler on the Roof—far superior to the HP Lovecraft Historical Society’s 1979 and 2001 revival parody A Shoggoth on the Roof by He Who (for legal reasons) Must Not Be Named, like the above lyric from the lament of mentat Thufir Hawat for his protรฉgรฉ Paul Atreides. In the tradition of the best musical homages from The Simpsons, there are some really clever numbers explored to a lesser or greater extant on the expense of the exasperation of the co-hosts. As the sequel premieres, Brokaw also teases a part two with the template of Sweeney Todd. We also very much enjoyed the leitmotif from A Baliset Player on the Sietch of the Bene Gesserit Gaius Helen Mohiam with the lines “How can I hope to make you understand don’t you move your right hand. Keep it that small box or I will land on your neck with my gom jabbar,” inspired by “Far from the Home I Love.” Listen and subscribe at the link above. Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dune. 


one year ago: 12 Angry Men (1957) 

two years ago: the first 3D studio release (1953), assorted links to revisit plus random ID cards

three years ago: the Thelema Book of Law, the Statue of Anne (1710) plus a glossary of television terms

four years ago: German and Finnish COVID-19 terminology, a memorial service for the Notre Dame fire, William of Ockham plus more links to enjoy

five years ago: vintage volvelles, a reversal on dollar coins, the Moka Pot reissued, shopping per horoscope, imaging a black hole plus punitive tariffs on the EU

Thursday 7 March 2024

9x9 (11. 406)

harmonisation: Albanian government using AI to try to speed accession to European Union by rewriting local legislation to fit the block’s regulatory framework—via Marginal Revolution  

the once and future sex: enduring medieval views on female anatomy 

gรฉodรฉsie: more on the Paris Meridian and how Greenwich ultimately won out 

walk without rhythm and you won’t attract the worm: Christopher Walken, portraying Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, unaware of his epic choreography in “Weapon of Choice” references Dune  

mcmxxiv: a curation of photos from Alan Taylor—via Kottke  

here there be tygers: animated adaptations of Ray Bradbury’s science fiction by Sergei Bondarchuk  

the world is a cat—i can’t unsee that now: a geopolitical map drawing challenge  

the school of venus; or the ladies delight: self-pleasure in the seventh century  

circling the wagons: Sweden accedes to NATO as its thirty-second member state after a wait of two years—while holdout Hungary visits Trump

Saturday 2 March 2024

shai-hulud (11. 395)

The always excellent Language Log, ruminating over the cycle of linguist extinction and the propagation of artificial or constructed languages after being directed toward a lengthy piece on making fictional dialogue for cinematic features and how Arabic influences and signifiers from Frank Herbert’s original novel were in large part removed from the latest adaptation, afforded us the chance for the same reflection and to revisit linguist David J Peterson, one of the foremost talents in the field of alien speech. Off-world and removed from outside influence for generations, the Fremen are not extraterrestrials but descendants of the original diaspora of Earth settlers and adherents of the fusion Zensunni faith—which is in itself a controversial suggestion of a hybrid faith—and apparently the production crew wanted to blunt some of the Islamic undertones, despite some of the main concepts of the native society of Arrakis being directly derived from Arabic words, creating a diglossia of Chakobsa and their unique, secret language. Set twenty thousand years in the future, Peterson’s challenge was to imagine how grammar and vocabulary might shift over the countless generations within isolated colonies and considering the depth and fullness of time and space, decided when authoring the exchanges, no directly corresponding or recognisable words would remain, causing some to criticise the change as further whitewashing and continuing the colonial narrative. It is a delicate balancing act.  What do you think? Should the Fremen language have stayed truer to Herbert’s vision? There are plenty of other anachronisms and contemporary artefacts that require suspension of belief.

Friday 1 March 2024

8x8 (11. 392)

unauthorised avatar: Ukrainian individual discovers her likeness from her self-help videos have been cloned to sell Russian goods, friendship with China  

criterion collection: a curated series of great moments from the film company’s archive of Closet Picks  

il galateo, overo de’ costumi: the age of impoliteness—an influential sixteenth century Venetian treatise of delicacy and manners  

the weeknd stroke psa: a song parody about signs and symptoms of a cerebrovascular incident  

@smalin: graphic artist Stephen Manlinowski creates beautifully animated classical and jazz score—via Web Curios 

the hero’s journey: “the chosen one,” coming of age narratives of Dune, Star Wars, Harry Potter are mostly about adolescent boys coming to grips with their sexuality—via tmn  

dark currents: a 1992 public access occult soap opera from Marrawamkeag, Maine inspired by Dark Shadows, Twin Peaks  

thimblerig: internet retailer’s financial shell game and predatory pricing enabled it to create an untenable monopoly not thought sustainable

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 25 October 2023

8x8 (11. 074)

hilma af: a planned towering gallery for the Swedish artist realised as a virtual reality experience  

papercraft: gorgeous moderne four palette architectural models to make 

the book of hallowe’en: a 1919 illustrated, syncretic study of the appropriated holiday in the spirit of the Golden Bough  

swarm charms: a go-to guide of medieval bee spells 

trainspotting: an omnibus post on avoiding rail collisions including a nineteen century timetable still in use 

reconstruction: the sounds of ancient languages—see also 

the logo is formed from minifig hands: the new LEGO Dune playset  

flow-chart: a study on the abandoned shopping-carts of America  

you may touch the artefacts: a gallery of early internet relics from Neal Agarwal—see previously


one year ago:  further adventures in Crete

two years ago: the US Invasion of Granada (1971)

three years ago: a hexadecagonal country retreat, SS Crispin and Crispinian plus pandemic gods and heroes

four years ago: a lyrical headline (1924), a video game atlas plus the world’s first erotic boutique proprietress 

five years ago: The Master Key of Futurity, virtual restaurants and ghost kitchens plus programming a more ethical Pac Man

Tuesday 1 August 2023

princess irulan (10. 918)

Serialised previously in Analog magazine, Frank Herbert’s science fiction epic (see tag below for more on the Duniverse franchise) was first published in its complete form on this day in 1965 by Chilton press. Set in a far distant feudal future bereft of technological extensions (thinking machines abolished after they nearly destroy humanity) with the population spread amongst the stars, aristocratic houses vie for control of planetary fiefdoms including the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis—the only source of the psychedelic spice melange which extends life and vitality and opens up the mind to precognition—necessary for piloting heighliners through interstellar space—and is terminally addictive. The story is narrated through chapter epigraphs by historian and the eldest daughter of the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV.


one year ago: a taxonomical exploration plus an MST3K classic

two years ago: the debut of MTV (1981), hyperinflation, names for the Biblically nameless, more Universal Everything plus a “perfect” pollinator-friendly plant

three years ago: Lammas Day, a new song from deadmau5 plus facial coverings inspired by public transport upholstery

four years ago: a little museum on the Moon, the Swiss federation (1291), an interesting optical illusion plus book-lover tattoos

five years ago: another chatbot meltdown, first directly elected female president (1980), the paradox of good governance, land-use in the USA plus more backyard pollinators

Monday 30 January 2023

distrans (10. 511)

Though aware of the differences in international editions it had never occurred to me that illustrated covers were set in a specific type over its first printings, like these UK volumes with titles in Giorgio, fittingly a sort of space-age spaghetti Western font, we were unfamiliar with the mystery surrounding—via Boing Boing—the visual identity of Frank Herbert’s original trilogy from 1975 on, eventually encompassing all of the author’s work. and work about the author and franchise. An uncredited typographer lettered a modified version of Davison Art Nouveau, a font never digitised and can only be licensed from a single catalogue of a particular Manhattan foundry. Many more examples at Fonts in Use at the link above.

Saturday 7 January 2023

8x8 (10. 395)

notional counting: amateur archaeologist proffers the theory that markings on ancient cave paintings may communicate information about quarry animals’ life cycles—pushing back the origins of writing ten-thousand years  

social recession: declining trust, friendship and adult activities by the numbers—via tmn  

brick and mortem: the surprising, seemingly non-sequir resurgence of a chain of bookshops  

arrakhis: the European Space Agency launches a tiny satellite to search for dark matter  

metroid as directed by paul verhoeven: imaging 90s video games as feature films—see previously  

little d: a Defender-style camper conversion kit unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon  

upward falling payloads: proposals for an orbiting warehouse and fulfilment centre  

mirabile scriptu: phony but possibly plausibly kanji generated by AI for abstract concepts—particularly appealing is one for the Chief Twit, ็Ž‹ (pronounced wang, meaning king)

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.

Monday 12 December 2022

brion sanctuary (10. 379)

Via Messy Nessy Chic, final resting place for the commissioning widow, her late husband, founder of an Italian consumer electronics company called Brionvega noted for their futuristic design and the designer himself, Carlo Scarpa—never officially credentialed as an architect as he refused to sit before the state board of examiners—the monumental extension to an adjacent municipal cemetery is considered to be a masterpiece of Modernism. Completed in 1978 after a decade of construction, the chapel and sacrophagi outside of Treviso is a mediation in concrete that evokes the cross-cultural influence of nearby Venice, incorporating Byzantine tiles and mosaics and the signature motif of vesica piscis or mandorla—the lens formed by the intersection of two circles, suggesting in Latin, the bladder of a fish or in the Italian, an almond. Restored last year, it was a filming location of the second part of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune shot over the summer.  More at the links above, including many pre-conservation photos and more projects by Scarpa.

Thursday 1 December 2022

jodorowsky’s tron (10. 351)

Returning to regular blogging after a restorative sabbatical, Kottke directs our attention towards surrealist, psychedelic version of Tron filtered through the lens of the style of filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky in an imaginative collaboration between an AI platform and creative prompter Johnny Darrell. These stills are pretty fantastic and makes one wonder how far away we are from realising Jodorowsky’s famously unmade adaptation of Dune. Much more at the links above.

Thursday 13 October 2022

8x8 (10. 220)

punto di ebollizione: pasta maker introduces ‘passive cooker’ meters 

capricorn one: a thoroughgoing review of a 1977 film about a faked Mars landing  

a shropshire lass: four decades of mushrooming in England and Wales  

friluftsliv: the term for the Danish tradition of unwinding in the wilds popularised by playwright Henrik Ibsen  

perfect for roquefort cheese: all about blue cheeses—see also  

yes sirah: origins and production of wine grape varietals around the globe—via tmn  

wormsign: building a functional Fremen thumper 

hasta la pasta: the Italian influence in Argentinian cuisine

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.

Wednesday 17 November 2021

i will kill you!

At the risk of over-explaining the gag, the seventh episode of the second season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, airing for the first time on this day in 1990, is one of the first incidents of the above often repeated threat or pledge throughout the show’s run which is itself a reference to Sting’s portrayal of Baron Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in Dune (1984) delivered to Paul Atrides and they both try to usurp power from the Padishah Emperor, during their treatment of the 1967 William Grefe film Wild Rebels in which a retired stock car racer is engage by the police to infiltrate a biker gang called Satan’s Angels, who are terrorising southern Florida with a crime spree, undertaken not for financial gain but rather “kicks.” Below is a short preview of the lampoon as the full episode wasn’t yet available for watching.

Monday 8 November 2021


poppy watch: juxtaposed recruitment campaign for lorry drivers looks like a cheesy Whovian villain (previously)—via Super Punch 

if past is precedent: a comic illustrating vaccine requirements in public schools—via Nag on the Lake  

voleur de grand chemin: literary correspondence for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road 

wurzelkindern: a delightfully illustrated 1909 children’s book about when the root children wake up—via Everlasting Blรถrt

greatest movie never made: storyboard, note for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune, to star Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson and Salvador Dalรญ, up for auction  

nitt witt ridge: an eccentric castle on a hill—via Messy Messy Chic (lots more to see here)  

could’ve been an email: a concise plan for shorted, more productive meetings from John Cleese in 1976  

high-fidelity: a patent for a playback stylus that moved the needle rather than the record in the form of a VW Bulli 

mop and smiff: the Saw-See annual, a nostalgic diversion from BBC1 uncovered

Saturday 30 October 2021


the motion picture that pits steel weapons against steel nerves: Joan Crawford in Herman Cohen’s 1967 Berserk! plus a medley of other horror films 

phenaskistiscopic vinyl: animated record albums—see previously  

cop26: designer installs a sinking Monopoly style house on Putney Weir ahead of this crucial climate conference 

ghostly footsteps (with chains): in 1977, BBC’s foley artists (previously) released a best-selling record of spooky sound-effects  

cloaca maxima: Rome’s revered sewer-system—see also  

auchan daily mascarpone cheese: a decade of Russian music videos  

the high-handed enemy: director Denis Villeneuve storybooks the gom jabbar scene 

 kitchen witchery: a tarot deck to divine one’s dinner

Sunday 24 October 2021


Premiering in theatres on this day in 1970, this Freddie Francis (cinematographer for such films as The Elephant Man, Sons and Lovers, Son of Dracula, The Deadly Bees, Glory, The Executioner’s Song, Dune, Cape Fear), low-budget science fiction horror vehicle stars Joan Crawford (in her last role) as a renowned anthropologist who learns that a solitary troglodyte—Ice Age caveman—is dwelling in some remote caverns of the English countryside, whom to the distress of the locals tries to lure him out in order to study and perhaps civilise this missing link. For all its camp and status as a transgressive cult movie, it is surprisingly raw and touching.