Okay, I've been talking a lot about how Computers Are Bad and a little bit about How To Fix It Maybe.
I work in tech support. I'm pretty qualified to talk about these things.
But that gets boring! And so many mastonauts aren't software people!
And I don't want you to be alienated. And I don't want to talk about software anymore for a long while (Possibly many days?)
So I'm going to talk about the other thing I care a lot about:
Media and culture (and specifically Public Domain Media)
So, for the next few hours, I'll be posted the occasional Open Culture recs.
If you see something that interests you, please let me know!
Let's kick things off with Cops!
This is an early silent short film (~20 minutes) from Buster Keaton.
It's slapstick comedy from the man who, in my opinion, was the master.
Keaton wrote and directed. He also does all his own stunt work.
The film is in the public domain, and is available for free from The Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/CopsbusterKeaton
"Cops is a 1922 comedy short silent film about a young man (Buster Keaton) who accidentally gets on the bad side of the entire Los Angeles Police Department during a parade, and is chased all over town."
"One of Keaton's most iconic and brilliantly-constructed short films, Cops was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in their National Film Registry in 1997."
Space 1999 Season One https://archive.org/details/Space1999.Series1
One of my absolute favorite TV shows.
I have no idea how they are getting away with having this one on the archive, because I do not believe it is in the public domain in the US, but I am glad it is in the archive, because it's a Killer show.
IT's Star Trek meets the first space section of 2001 A Space Oddesey. A serious scifi show, but very 70s.
It's beautiful, and it takes itself just a touch too seriously so it comes off a little campy.
After I love Lucy, Lucy did some other stuff including The Lucy Show.
The early episodes of the Lucy Show are boring and derivative, and they are under copyright, so we don't care about them right now.
The Later episodes, though, are in color. Lucy lives on her own, without kids or a husband, in a move clearly influenced by Marry Tyler Moore.
Lots of the later episodes are in the public domain.
(There are dozens)
And now! Space Patrol!
Another Public Domain Space Show.
This one debuted in 1950, and aired 1100 episodes over the next 5 years.
Of those 1100 episodes, ~100 are still around, and those are mostly in low quality.
It was a Live! Daily! broadcast, often done with little rehearsal.
Here is one of several episodes in the archive (dozens more are on youtube, and available via various bootleg DVDs, which I'll upload to the archive eventually.)
Space Patrol was one of several shows that followed the same basic theme.
If you enjoy that, also take a look at Tom Corbett, Space Cadet
Or Rocky Jones, Space Ranger
https://archive.org/details/rockyJonesSpaceRangerBeyondTheCurtainOfSpace1954 (be sure to start with part one.)
There was also Captain Video, of which five or six episodes survive. Captain video originally ran for nearly 1500 episodes, but We Suck (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_surviving_DuMont_Television_Network_broadcasts)
Rod Brown of the Rocket Ranger is another lost show along the same lines
(Here it's theme song: https://archive.org/details/RodBrownOfTheRocketRangers)
There are a few more surviving episodes of Captain Z-Ro.
(Unfortunately, episodes of these largely lost shows tend to be pretty mediocre.)
There was also a 1950s Flash Gordon TV show: https://archive.org/details/TheSpaceAdventuresOfFlashGordon_981
(Of course, there was another in the 70s. It's not in the public domain that I'm aware of, but this one is.)
Following from there, if you like old scifi, I have a few dozen older shows that I want to share with you.
Well, 'shows' is a strong word.
See, these are ~half hour episodes of various scifi series, but they pre-date TV by about ten years.
That's right, we're talking about Film Serials.
Here is the first Buck Rogers film Serial from 1939!
https://archive.org/details/Chapter11_201708 (Pay attention to the episode order.)
The first Flash Gordon serial (circa 1936)
Radar Men from the Moon: https://archive.org/details/Radar_Men__from_the_Moon
The Adventures of Captain Marvel:
Film serials are neat, because they were cheap and experimental and largely made for kids.
So there's a lot of experimentation, and a weird amount of variety, and a ton of cliches.
Many of them are just okay, but they are also frequently beautiful.
The Rocket Man in Radar Men from the Moon specifically is Beautiful, and iconic.
Alright, on to more media!
Here's a real doozy: Moonwalk One, ca. 1970
It has that great blend of science and culture and shades of mysticism that you only really find in a certain subset of super pretentious documentaries.
It's not a perfect movie, but it does a great job of placing the moon landing in to the context of the cultural and social landscape of 1969. It gives you a great idea of the scale, and scope of the space program to boot.
From the description on Archive.org
This film details the comprehensive coverage surrounding the July 1969 launch of Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon. The film details activities of both the astronauts and mission control during pre-launch and launch sequences, daily activities aboard the spacecraft and the moonwalk, and provides a view of the historical and cultural events of the time.
(From the description cont.)
The footage includes clips from science fiction television shows such as "Flash Gordon" and "Buck Rogers," as well as a lengthy segment on American rocket pioneer Robert Goddard. The film also explores some of the critical preliminary stages of the Apollo program, including medical testing of the human body in space conditions, as well as the assembly and testing of space suits as worn by the astronauts.
Here's a short documentary about Jack Johnson's 1910 fight against Jim Jeffries. It focuses on Jeffries, because people suck.
You can see the fight here: https://archive.org/details/JackJohnsonVsJamesJJeffries
What they don't talk about here is the aftermath of the fight, when Jack London said that Jeffries had been the "last hope at saving the white race." Or when Teddy Roosevelt was so disgusted that the white guy lost that he called for a ban on boxing in general.
Here's Johnson v. Burns from a few years earlier, to give you a better example of just how ferocious Johnson could be.
(This is the last boxing video I'll share, probably. I haven't seen many others.)
Also, I feel compelled to point out that the cops shut off the cameras specifically because Johnson was winning.
You can bet your ass that if he was losing, they would have let the match run, and let the cameras roll.
Back to media!
The Computer Chronicles: Modems and Bulletin Boards
From wiki: "Computer Chronicles was an American half-hour television series, broadcast from 1983 to 2002 on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) public television, which documented the rise of the personal computer from its infancy to the immense market at the turn of the 21st century."
Pretty much every episode is up on the archive, but this one is particularly neat.
The Chris Gethard Show (Public Access Years)
TCGS is as DIY as it gets. This was a live weekly show that ran for 155 hour long episodes, and 14 specials on MNN public access.
Since then, the show has enjoyed two seasons on Fusion, and just wrapped a season on TruTV.
The Public Access Years, though, have a weird kind of magic to them.
substance abuse and metal health mention Show more
See, Chris is very public about a few things:
- He's a recovering alcoholic
- He suffers from depression, anxiety, and self doubt
- He wants to make the kind of TV show that would have changed/saved his life as a kid
- He loves pro-wrestling (seriously, season 3 of the Public Access years (not in this archive, but free on youtube) is basically just Talkin' about Pro Wrestling for six episodes.
So you've got this weird, neurotic person who has been running a successful stage show for several years.
He had a sitcom. It failed.
He decided to bring his stage show to life on a public access TV station in New York. And it ... doesn't work at all.
It's a mess. It falls apart horribly. They barely know what they are doing. The first episode is a trainwreck. (It's a beautiful train wreck, don't get me wrong. I love it, but it was not what it was meant to be.) (cont.)
Minutes before the second episode was scheduled to start (keep in mind that this is a live show) the crew was told that they had been kicked out of the large studio, and must use the small studio.
So they walk in to the small studio with literally no plan, and way too many people sitting in a bunch of chairs.
And someone calls them and asks "what is this show?"
And they invite her to join the show, and she does. She shows up before the end of the episode, and keeps coming back.
So by the third of fourth episode they'd figured out that they were going to do a live call-in show, with lots of really Wild musical guests, and an absolutely unhinged set of topics.
The show is usually magical. Occasionally, it falls flat. Every once in a while, it manages to get too close to a line or two, but it's mostly just a really caring and thoughtful group of people trying Really Hard to make good TV, and almost succeeding.
TCGS is punk rock made television.
It's frighteningly personal. It's frustratingly flawed. It has a lot of rough edges. It's clearly made by a bunch of amateurs, and it's remarkably beautiful.
If you get the opportunity, especially if you're feeling down, I can't reccomend this show enough.
I've seen every episode at least once, and most of them twice or more.
When I say I want DIY media, This is what I mean.
Go make your art.
Back to Media!
This time, we're talking about some music. Specifically, Django Reinhardt.
Here's a thread about why I care about him: https://retro.social/@ajroach42/99402470504683209
Here are his entries in the Niven Jazz Archive: https://archive.org/details/Django_Reinhardt_Tape_1_1935-1937
All 22 recordings he made in 1936:
Gamera! The Rocket Turtle kaiju!
Here is the original, in Japanese with English subtitles -
And the american dub: https://archive.org/details/GammeraTheInvincible
Another copy of the American dub: https://archive.org/details/gammerahttps://archive.org/details/gammera
Other films in the series:
Guardian of the Universe: https://archive.org/details/GameraTheGuardianOfTheUniverse
Gamera vs. Guiron
Gamera Vs. Gyaos
Gamera: Super Monster
Other Kaiju films!
Here's a GREAT copy of King Kong Vs Godzilla: https://archive.org/details/KingKongVsGodzilla_201702
This is the American release of the third Godzilla film. It's really pretty. It's also super weird.
The Essential Tampa Red - https://archive.org/details/TampaRed-TheEssential
Tampa Red is best known as an accomplished and influential blues guitarist who had a distinctive single-string slide style. His songwriting and his silky, polished bottleneck technique influenced other leading Chicago blues guitarists, such as Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Nighthawk and Muddy Waters, and many others, including Elmore James and Mose Allison.
The first track here features "Georgia Tom" (that is Tommy Dorsey) on piano.
Elmore James - King of the Slide Guitar - Vols 1 -4
Elmore James (January 27, 1918 – May 24, 1963) was an American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, and band leader. He was known as King of the Slide Guitar but he was also noted for his use of loud amplification and his stirring voice.
Basically, Elmore James popularized the electric guitar as an instrument for blues music.
He normally played clean, without the distortion that would come to herald the sound of Rock and Roll, but on tracks like Country Boogie (among many others) Elmore demonstrated that he could rock with the best of them (and years before many of the rest of them started rocking.)
He's one of those often overlooked faces in the history of blues and rock and roll, and that's a damn shame.
Blind Willie Johnson
There's a lot to say here, and I might have to spread this out in to a couple of posts, but we'll start here.
Here are the 30 songs Blind Willie Johnson recorded:
Yep, Just 30. Over 5 recording sessions from 1927 - 1930.
Between his recording of "Jesus Gonna Make up My Dying Bed" (recorded by Dylan and Zepplin as "In My Time of Dying") and "Dark was the night, cold was the ground" a wordless blues hymn included on the voyager Golden Record, and his other pioneering track, John left a mark on popular music and pop culture with his 30 tracks that has rarely been equaled by bodies of work of any size.
The man was a preacher and a street performer. He was blind. We don't know much else about him or his life, because he was a poor black man born in the 1800s and even record keeping is racist and classist.
But, with his distinctive voice and unparalleled slide guitar, Johnson is a Force that can be heard all through the music that followed him.
If you get the chance, spend some time with these 30 tracks. There's some real good stuff there.
This is a series by the BBC called The Electronic Office.
It opens with a guy on an airplane using a Tandy 100. He then connects that laptop to an acoustic coupler, and then sends an email.
Somehow they manage to make that seem magical.
Around the 4:30 mark, they specifically talk about how computers began to be used for tracking length of calls and speed of keystrokes, "Bringing the rigor of the assembly line in to the office."
Unfortunately, after mentioning this potentially sinister use of the computerized office, they brush past to some footage of surfers.
That idea at the front of my mind right now.
"Having a microcomputer is fairly pointless unless it makes you more effective at the job you're actually doing.
Working in an office is really about communicating."
I've never thought about what work looked like between the start of the industrial age and the dawn of the information age.
This is pretty fascinating.
"Mercifully the computer isn't used to sift applicants by their qualifications, though it could do this."
Shit. I wish that was remotely true today.
If it was a person reviewing my resume, instead of an algorithm, I'd get more callbacks.
(Engineers, think about how your code will be used to hurt people. Consider the implications of the things you build.)
This is a 12 part film serial. These were originally released in 1916, and there are 12 episodes total.
Judex is a pulp hero, and the inspiration for The Shadow.
Episode one, The Mysterious Shadow, is available here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Judex_-_Episode_01_-_L%27Ombre_myst%C3%A9rieuse_(1916).webm
All 12 episodes are available via Wikimedia commons (and they'll be on archive.org as soon as I get done putting them there.)
Judex was directed by the same dude that did Fantomas and Les Vampires.
It stars René Cresté and Musidora.
Unlike earlier films from director Louis Feuillade, Judex stars a heroic figure. He's still a vigilante, but he's not an outright criminal (unlike Fantomas and Les Vampires, which presented criminals as the protagonists.)
Seriously, cool stuff.
Before he directed Judex, Feuilade directed and co-wrote Fantomas, about a criminal mastermind exploiting police.
The fantomas serials are available through various sources, but that's not what I want to talk about right now.
I want to talk about pulps.
There are five Fantomas pulp novels available via Archive.org, You can read them here:
This time, in the form of some ancient damn software.
Way back when I was a kid, I stumbled across some people trying to make their own Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
They called it Project Galactic Guide. From what I've gathered, they got started on IRC and usenet.
You can view their website through the wayback machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20071102161655/http://galactic-guide.com:80/
The fact that we can now access this page, and these files, only through archive.org is amusing.
The authors claimed that it was digital archaeology as early as 2005, and yet here we are only able to access it via archives.
It is a weird window in to a community that I was never a part of, one that I was to young to participate in.