(The Internet is full of oddities and ideas culled ultimately from the real world, and this post is to be the first of a weekly series that celebrates that fact.
Every Saturday, a smorgasbord of discoveries made both offline and online will be featured here, in the hopes that random passersby may either be sated in their wandering, or have cause to wonder further.)
1. Talking postage stamps
In a move to boost government revenue in 1972, the Kingdom of Bhutan issued postage stamps that came in the form of tiny vinyl records and could be played with a turntable. These “talking stamps,” as they were advertised, contained recordings of Bhutanese folk songs, their national anthem, and even nutshell national history.
Today, these stamps are no longer in circulation — but while they are already worth a considerable amount to philatelists and vinyl enthusiasts alike, they are also still legal for mailing use.
2. High School Musical: A Bad Lip Reading
Released in 2006, High School Musical was without a doubt one of the movies that defined a then-burgeoning 90s-kids generation. That this Disney Channel Original Movie has been lampooned by absurdist YouTube channel Bad Lip Reading, then, would seem nothing short of blasphemy. That cable channel Disney XD both approved of and aired the resultant video, however, will remain a mystery until the end of time.
Was this a strategy to inject fresh blood into the franchise? Was it even necessary to bring the video to television audiences? Either way, this ‘bad lip reading’ attempt already admits to its biggest flaw, one that could not hold a candle to the original even if it tried.
List-making is not for everyone, but for the not-so-few who enjoy it, it creates the soothing illusion of order and control. Things We Like is a project by Jessica Gross, who is fond of making lists of things she likes (making lists would probably be on that list) and once wondered what other people would put into their own.
In her website, submissions are accepted, as long as the lists have neither more nor less than ten items each. Each submission is an exercise in introspection — and a celebration of how an activity as mundane as list-making can be poetic and ubiquitous.
The title of a 1982 Filipino film is derived from an old Tagalog superstition on house-building. Oro, plata, and mata are Spanish words for gold, silver, and death respectively; and Tagalogs of old believed that staircases in a house should not have steps in multiples of three. If the steps were counted off in oro, plata, mata and the last count was mata (death), it would not bode well for the family in residence. To attract good luck, the top step should either be oro (gold) or plata (silver).
In yet another nationally divisive move, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte recently made good on his promise to allow the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the country’s heroes’ cemetery (Libingan ng Mga Bayani). Hundreds of citizens took to the streets while hundreds more united under the hashtag #MarcosNotAHero and other similar social media banners to protest the decision.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines has issued a 17-page primer on the matter, citing Marcos’s falsified WWII achievements as but one of the factors that invalidate his right to a hero’s burial. On the grounds of martial law atrocities alone, bestowing the appellation of ‘hero’ should not even be a question anymore. Nonetheless, some Filipinos approve of Duterte’s move, with the reasoning that it is time to move on.
All the talk of getting over the Marcos-induced martial law period begs the question: When are throwbacks appropriate, and when are they not anymore? In this case, until what point does a national historical tragedy merit continual scrutiny, and when can people begin moving on? Do throwbacks have an expiration date — and should they? The phenomenon of moving on from an event is not possible for virtually everyone, but it may take place when a great majority of the event’s victims have been compensated mentally and emotionally, if not also financially.
On that vein, postage stamps and old Disney Channel movies can still be harkened back to and passed over, because we would be hard-pressed to say that these seriously harmed anyone. Throwbacks to these kinds of things are safe to perpetuate, and conversely, we would probably fare just as well if they were relegated to oblivion. In other instances, however, wounds have been inflicted; and these wounds may take longer to heal and cannot be erased by a single order to move on.