On we jolly well go, clinging to the merry-go-round as it spins ever faster and the music of the calliope ramps up to lunatic levels of volume and speed. The last couple of weeks feel like the craziness has really taken a turn for the bonkers. What can you depend on? Well, at least on a Friday at 9am there’s a new ish of The Cut to help you into the weekend. Buckle up, buttercups!
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
Jess Nevin is science and pulp fiction’s librarian. His focus on the early years of the genres gives him a unique perspective on the so-called science fiction canon (yes, that nonsense is still rumbling on). I’ve enjoyed his work ever since he provided annotations for Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen books—a very useful resource for unpicking the dense and sometimes unforgiving story references. In this piece, available for free on his Patreon (if you like it, do consider contributing) Jess provides a more inclusive history of SF than the gatekeepers would have you believe had happened…
We loved this overview of the movies High Fidelity and Almost Famous, largely because we love the films. Their celebration of music as a redemptive force despite the people that make or curate the tunes rings very true to us. We also love making mixtapes, of course. Certain members of staff here at The Cut own Championship Vinyl t-shirts. Yes, we are that uncool.
In our Grand Designs slot, we take a look at an amazing space built out of the back end of an old Navy cruiser. Remarkably, it’s been a house since the fifties! We admire the imagination of someone that looks at the stern of a decommisioned boat and thinks ‘I could live in this’.
As fans of Bon Appetit’s Test Kitchen vids, we have been both horrified and fascinated at the slow-mo explosion of the franchise, in the wake of accusations of appropriation, discrimination and outright racism. Like many viewers we were charmed by the good vibes in that big sunny space, without realising what was going on behind the scenes. Gizmodo casts an eye over the whole situation and provides some interesting context. It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same…
The immune system is complicated. If you take one thing away from this excellent Atlantic article, it is that the human body is one seriously complex mechanism, and an awful lot of science and medicine comes down to informed guesswork. This can often lead to moments where a potential cure just doesn’t do what it should, or when a drug to help one condition has unexpected results on the other. If you’re wondering why it takes so long to come up with a vaccine for a particular medical condition, read on, my friends. But like we say, it’s complicated.
As lovers of pulpy, trashy science fiction (you’ve read that Jess Nevin thing by now, right?) we are delighted to see the world is finally catching up with us with regards to the classic status of Mike Hodge’s delightfully bonkers Flash Gordon. A lovely new 4K restoration for the 40th anniversary is up for grabs now. This Guardian interview with the director and Prince Vultan hisself Brian Blessed offers new insight into the making of this wonderfully pungent chunk of cheese.
If you want to know whether to invest in the new discs, who better to guide you than our X&HTeam-mate Keith Eyles, who’s opened the box for his excellent YouTube channel Home Media Minefield. DIIIIIVVVEEEEE!
Rob writes: I was chatting to Keith earlier this week for a thing I cannot yet discuss publicly (such a tease, I know) and we somehow got onto the subject of genre. Particularly romance, which is a field with a huge following of voracious and loyal readers yet one that is almost exclusively female. I have no idea why that should be or why I find it so hard to work in that sandbox. I’m not the only one, and was fascinated by this Article in Men’s Health magazine on a book tackling just that subject. I knew a few romance writers, who are exceptional craftspeople and outstanding writers. My failure to get with the romance is exactly that, and something to work on.
Cinemas are gently reopening around the globe, and the big question is—will the punters return? We have to admit to a slight nervousness, but at the same time the idea of seeing Christopher Nolan’s Tenet on the big screen is a temptation we don’t think we can resist. Chaz Egbert, widow of film critic Roger Egbert and keeper of his legacy writes movingly on her first trip back to the flicks. Once again, it was Nolan who lured her back to the cheap seats…
And finally. We have always held a place in our heart for Bobbie Gentry, the singer/songwriter who had massive hits in the late sixties, carved out a career for herself in the face of huge industry opposition, then just decided to walk away. Tara Murtha, author of the definitive bio of Gentry Ode To Billie Jo, looks at the history of Fancy, a track that sums up Bobbie’s fearless and determined approach, and the reaction to it which may have been part of her decision to turn her back on music.
So there really is no choice as to this week’s Exit Music. Here’s Bobbie singing Fancy on Johnny Cash’s TV show in 1970. A hell of a performance of one hell of a song.
See y’all in seven.