Let’s see if we’ve got this right. It is now unlawful to meet in groups of more than six people unless you’re working, travelling to work, in school or grouse shooting. There were people on our feeds this week wondering how problematic it would be to give their kids and their friends shotguns so planned birthday parties could go ahead. And that’s not even the weirdest thing to happen this week. Best crack on with it, then.
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
As far as we’re concerned, the big news this week was the announcement of possible life signs on Venus. For a second there the SF geeks on staff got very excited and started babbling about Edgar Rice Burroughs, rain-infested jungles and green-skinned alien princesses. Sadly, the situation isn’t quite as pulptastic as all that, but the discovery and implications are nevertheless extremely exciting. Science Focus has a decently straightforward breakdown on the news and what happens next.
We kick off our film section with a look at a parallel movie universe. No, not one where cowboy movies make a big comeback instead of superhero flicks. This is all the more fascinating… because it’s real! Race movies, the studios that made them and the stars they created were big business for forty years in the early part of the twentieth century. They were, however, almost invisible to the mainstream. Messy Nessy Chic gives us the skinny on this marginalised corner of cinema history.
More worryingly, it seems like a lot of our cinematic history is quietly slipping from view. Although there’s a very definite uptick in creators shooting on film, the skills required in its preservation are almost exclusively in the hands of artisans reaching retirement age. A lot of amazing work can be done with old film electronically, but the material still needs careful handling before it can be digitised. The men and women who know what to do with a film splicer are few and far between.
Our X&HTeammate Rob Kaiju pointed us at this short film which lays out the big problem ahead, and what it could mean for over a century of popular culture.
In some areas, though, the gentle art of restoration is going through a bit of a purple patch, as viewers realise watching skilled artisans at work is actually kind of relaxing. We are big fans of The Repair Shop, a BBC featuring some of the cleverest restorers in the UK bringing old and well-loved objects back to life. The big reveals of an old rocking horse or a writing desk returned to their owners in tip-top shape can be quite emotional. Open Culture looks into a phenomenon that has only become more popular in lockdown.
A couple of food links for you. First up, a look at a foodstuff that has been with us for a long time. Honey is well-known for having antibacterial and preservative properties. Some ancient cultures used it in the process of mummification. Alexander The Great’s body was borne across Europe for burial in a vat of the sweet stuff. What’s less known is just how long-lasting honey can be. Forget that jar of Rowse’s lurking at the back of the cupboard. Archaeologists recently unearthed some seriously well-aged honey.
Fast food treated seriously is, in our opinion, the most delicious of all. So when culinary mad scientist Kenji Lopez-Alt takes on the iconic McRib sandwich, you should pay attention. This is no half-hearted project. It’s a day’s work, involves two different kinds of pork and two different cooking methods. The final result looks none more epic, but would barely last for two minutes before we scarfed it.
In our random but useful advice section, here’s a nugget for you. Trust is important, but how do you quantify it? Is there a way to figure quickly and easily how trustworthy your friends, family and workmates really are? Well, yes there is. It’s simpler than you think. Thank us later.
A couple of guitary links. It’s gratifying to see the swell in interest in the old six-strings in the face of That Flippin’ Situation. Nothing says ‘screw you, intolerant and uncaring universe’ better than blasting an A minor chord through a cranked up Les Paul Junior or Fender Mustang and a cheap amp with your teeth bared. Best therapy going, in our humble experience.
This, in our opinion, is the feel-good story of the week. A tale of the raddest bass guitar on the planet, and how it finally found its way back to the man who caused it to be in the first place. Seriously, this gave our raddled ould hearts a bit of a glow.
And finally. We’re throwing in an interview with comic creator Nick Abadzis for several reasons. Firstly, the Ninth Art Desk fondly remembers Deadline Magazine and considers it a much more important publication than simply the launchpad for Tank Girl. Second of all, Nick is warm, witty and open about the nuts and bolts of comic-making, with insights that fascinated us. Third of all, Hugo Tate is an excellent strip that deserves a wider audience. Can’t say fairer than that, can we?
In celebration of the exciting news of possible life in the atmosphere of our celestial neighbour, there was only really one choice for this week’s Exit Music. We very, very nearly went with the Bananarama cover, but felt the original just shaded it for us. All together now… “goddess on a mountaintop, shining like a silver flame…”
See you in seven.