I saw an old advert for The Man in the Iron Mask and noticed it came out in 1998 which I never realised despite watching it last year. During a Google search to confirm that fact, the auto-suggestion brought up terms such as The Man in the High Castle and it got me thinking: how many movies start with the phrase ‘The Man in the’?
Deep in the Karakum desert in Turkmenistan lies something extraordinary: a 230ft-wide hole with fire in it. Known to locals as “The Gates of Hell”, the crater (officially known as the Darvaza gas crater) was the result of a disputed accident:
[…] a Soviet drilling rig accidentally punched into a massive underground natural gas cavern, causing the ground to collapse and the entire drilling rig to fall in. Having punctured a pocket of gas, poisonous fumes began leaking at an alarming rate.
To head off a potential environmental catastrophe, the Soviets set the hole alight, figuring it would stop burning within a few weeks. Decades later, and the fiery pit is still going strong. The Soviet drilling rig is believed to still be down there somewhere, on the other side of the “Gates of Hell.”
Back story – while listening to Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s Bombo Fabrika yesterday and one of the lines reminded me of something:
Oh my God, prophecy upon the bones
It was the “oh my god” part. But I couldn’t remember exactly what it reminded me of. The problem was the last time I heard it, I knew what it was. All I could muster from the depths of my memory was that it came from a song and it was something funny. Then it hit me 5 minutes ago:
“Oh my God, I was wrong!”
So I Googled that line and… I found it—Troy McClure’s rendition of Monkey Out of Me from his role in Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off! in S07E19 of The Simpsons. This won’t mean anything to anyone else but I wanted to put it on the site for posterity and in case I forgot again.
I always wondered how they made the old glass shield thing on BBC News and, while browsing YouTube, I found this virtual studio tour from 1997. As someone in the comments said, this virtual set looks more futuristic than the red one BBC uses now.
While many people imagine that De Stijl was cold and humourless, as if its art was made with a ruler on a drawing board, the exhibits in the special wing show that the opposite is true. Using vivid primary colours (red, yellow and blue), members of the movement produced vibrant works of art that are unconstrained and joyful, reflecting a vision of the future that was optimistic in the extreme.
North West Decks tried his hand at making a Hey Arnold! skateboard using some cool-looking decals. Before watching, I assume the decals were complete with the outlines and the colour but they were separate, meaning you need a steady hand and an eye for detail. The result is the coolest thing this side of 1998.
As I write this, there are only 34 minutes left of the site’s birthday left but better late than never.
The site has changed a fair bit since my last birthday post back in 2019 and so has my output. This site has been my most enjoyable to update and research for and I’m happy with the direction it’s going in. Thanks to everyone who has read my posts, linked to them, and shared them, it means a lot.
Acclaimed composer Danny Elfman was a guest on the Premier Guitar podcast where he opened up about the Batman (1989) score and his displeasure at how it turned out.
“I was terribly unhappy with the dub in Batman,” Elfman said. “They did it in the old-school way where you do the score and turn it into the ‘professionals’ who turn the nobs and dub it in. And dubbing had gotten really wonky in those years. We recorded [multi-channel recording on] three channels — right, center, left, — and basically, they took the center channel out of the music completely.”
Nothing worse than people fiddling with your work when you had it just so. Now I’d love to hear Elfman’s original.
In the meantime, check out this suite of the Batman soundtrack, conducted by Shirley Walker and performed by the Sinfonia Of London.
I wasn’t aware of the costs of pesto ingredients but apparently they’re more expensive than the jarred foodstuff suggests. The Food Unwrapped team travelled to Italy to investigate why supermarket pesto is so cheap considering the price of the ingredients.
Spoiler alert: it’s not as shady as it might seem. They use cheaper ingredients so supermarket pesto doesn’t always have fresh basil, fresh pine nuts, etc. This won’t surprise many but it’s nice to see how it’s made I guess. And that bit where they were picking the basil by hand made my body hurt just watching them.
Social isolation. Work-from-home burnout. Public health-related stress. Political upheaval. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that mental health matters and has become a central issue for many. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily become easier to talk about.
Mental health awareness is one thing but we need more active behaviour to quash the stigmas and myths that surround mental health so those who need help can feel safe to talk about it (or not).
Climate change sucks but nature has an uncanny knack for adapting to new environments. After all, it’s been doing it for billions of years. An example that piqued my interest was the breeding of grizzly and polar bears to produce hybrids known as pizzly bears (or grolar bears if you prefer that portmanteau).
Pizzly bears were first discovered in the wild in 2006 and the reason for the pairing relates to both species moving to better climates: grizzlies are looking for warmth and polar bears are looking for cold. They meet halfway, come into contact when hunting, and engage in “opportunistic mating,” according to Larisa DeSantis, an associate professor of biological sciences at Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University.
DeSantis also says they’re “more resilient to climate change and better suited for warmer temperatures”:
“We’ve known about pizzlies for quite some time, but their occurrence may be more common with ongoing Arctic warming […] Usually hybrids aren’t better suited to their environments than their parents, but there is a possibility that these hybrids might be able to forage for a broader range of food sources.”
I watched Concrete Cowboy a few weeks ago and while I liked it and found it interesting, I felt like it was missing something. It’s by no means the first movie about Black cowboys (see: The Black Cowboy, Harlem Rides the Range, and Black Rodeo) it’s the most high-profile, mixing Hollywood actors with IRL cowboys.
But next week, there’ll be a new film putting its hat into the ring so to speak and it’s called Room Rodeo.
The film is about Jamil, a Chicago boy trying to prove he is a descendant of Bill Pickett, a Black cowboy, rodeo, actor, and ProRodeo Hall of Famer. It stars D’Andre Davis as Jamil, and mixes drama with documentary interviews and footage of Black cowboys and historians.
His dad stands him up. He acts out. Now Jamil is on punishment in his room. He’s also finally reached the fifth grade and has a history project due.
If only his dad would tell him about his great grandpa, rodeo star Billie P – like he promised. But just when Jamil’s dad calls and things begin to look up, the cool kid from class calls with a humiliating declaration: Black cowboys aren’t real. Now, Jamil must drum up the courage to embark on a quest to discover the truth on his own – all from the comfort of his room. With some help from a dubious heirloom, Jamil puts aside whispers of doubt to venture into a fantasy dreamscape where he claims authorship of his own story.