Featured image by Joel Meyerowitz, Times Square, New York City, 1963. Via Flashbak.
We begin with a little housekeeping. Some of you will have noticed there was no drop yesterday. The inevitability of a skip day has been looming ever more since responsibilities other than The Cut (yes, we do have lives and engagements more pressing than the newsletter, distressing as that might sound) have jumped on our backs and starting nibbling at our earlobes.
So, thus and therefore, the executive decision has been made to shift The Cut’s drop point to Saturday morning. This gives our beleaguered staff a little more wiggle room to deliver on schedule and means you, our beloved Readership, can now read our compilation of curiosities in bed with a nice cup of tea. Everyone wins! Do join us in this brave new world of possibilities.
This week—Muppets! Creepy skunks! And yes, something about reading in bed.
Saturday is the time. Bed is the place. This is The Cut.
The Muppet Show is one of the great examples of sheer craft and talent combining to create a work of wonder. A built environment designed with such love and care that it transcends the boundary of believability. To us, Kermit, Fozzie and the rest are not just constructs of wood and fabric with a puppeteer’s hand up where the sun don’t shine. They are real living, breathing creatures. Part of that comes down to the costuming. A particular example is the couture worn by Miss Piggy, who you know would never lower herself to shrug on any old tat. Muppet Show seamstress Polly Smith lets us in on all the details.
If, like us, you’ve been captivated by WandaVision on Disney+, it’s likely you’ve been captivated by the breakout star of the show—the amazing Kathryn Hahn. This interview in the New York Times gives us the skinny on her life and acting, and what’s coming next for an actor who isn’t scared to go big on her performances. Be warned—huge spoilers for the closing few eps of WandaVision if you’re one of the few who hasn’t watched it.
In a week full of serious discussions about toxic male behaviour and how we go about improving it, this discussion on the role of a cartoon skunk with boundary issues struck a chord. Pepe le Pew has always been a dodgy character, even in the pantheon of Loony Toons, who, let’s be clear, are clearly narcissistic sociopaths of the highest order. A scene featuring the skunk getting schooled on the right way to behave has been cut from the upcoming Space Jam sequel (not sure why we need one, but the world is a strange and unpredictable place nowadays). An example of cancel culture, or a missed opportunity to teach an important lesson to a young audience?
We are big advocates of reading in bed. It’s comfy, a fine way to end the day, and a better way to start it. The best bit? There’s no judgement. It’s your bed and your book. Read what you like for as long as you like. We agree with Romesh Ranganathan—comics are best when you’re reading them propped up in a nest of pillows.
We’re fans of the historical fictioneer Angus Donald. He writes propulsive, brawny books with boldly drawn characters and sharply detailed settings. His newest series deals with Vikings and in particular the peculiar phenomenon of the Berserker. In this blog post he talks about the genesis of the book and, refreshingly for the histfic scene, just how much fiction is wrapped up in the history.
A glaring omission to our editorial coverage is the lack of a Sports Desk. The Cut Crew are, to a person, the sort who always got picked last for any team events during P.E. And rightly so, being the speccy unco-ordinated sorts whose signature move was (and sadly remains) tripping over their own feet and face planting into mud. We’ve learned to accept our shortcomings and lean into our strengths instead. We were, however, fascinated by this piece in Six Colors about fake sports and how they reveal just how geeky we all are under the skin…
To our shame, we’d never heard of John R. Erickson, the Texas author beloved by millions. His tales of Hank The Cowdog are favourites to generations who grew up enjoying his adventures. This in-depth interview with Texas Monthly tells us more about the man, his writing, and of course his dogs.
We’ve realised that in our never-ending quest for material, we have neglected a resource right on our doorstep. Our host blog, Excuses And Half Truths, has a fifteen-year archive of writing tucked away, ripe for rediscovery. We’d like to start bringing the highlights out for you, starting with this defence of a problematic pop classic. Intended to be the start of an ongoing series, we believe Rob peaked at the start line. There’s nowhere really to go after The Thong Song…
We love a good cookbook. The best ones are beautiful objects in their own right, providing inspiration with every recipe and exquisitely photographed meal. The Food Desk is a literal pileup of cooky booky goodness. That bunch have almost barricaded themselves up against the rest of the office. Is there room in the food writing world for audiobooks? How does that work if you don’t have the recipe in front of you? Stuart Heritage, with a little help from his three-year-old son, tries out Ruby Tandoh’s latest endeavour…
And finally. We’re pretty certain you’ve all seen the amazing film of a drone whizzing around a bowling alley that appeared this week. It’s a marvel of artistry and technical wizardry. But did you notice some of the nods to The Big Lebowski dotted through the film, from dialogue to the Jesus ball-polish? There’s an excuse to watch it again, if you needed one.
More on the making of the movie from the New York Times. As a sidebar—what an amazingly cool place! If there was an alley like this in Reading, you’d never get us out of it!
Our Exit Music is a clip from the remarkable, more than a little bonkers 1941 variety mash-up Hellzapoppin’. The Lindy Hop sequence is rightly praised for its energy and groove, but the music is a jam all by itself. The clip is back in the news following a colourisation pass using AI, which works pretty well—although we think the skin tones are a bit off in places and there’s a whip pan halfway which reverts to black-and-white. Discussion as to whether film material originating as monochrome should be colourised can wait for another time. Right now, let’s just rock this joint!
A bit more context from Open Culture…
The Iconic Dance Scene from Hellzapoppin’ Presented in Living Color with Artificial Intelligence (1941)
And that’s it! We may be a day late, but hopefully not a dollar short. See you next Saturday, hep cats.