Doldrums. Holding pattern. Stuck in an unmoving queue. Days merge to weeks, weeks blur to months. Like a tanker on the Suez Canal, jammed in place, going nowhere. Sometimes, the closer you get to a sense of release, the more time slows. Zeno’s paradox, where you can never reach the finish line, however near it looms.
Anyway. Don’t mind us. We got all dreamy thinking about a quiet pint in a pub and the blues took hold. Once we get past Eggmas, things will look better. Hey, whaddya say we look at some links? This week, musical legends lost and found, a taxonomy of pasta shapes and the pub that came back from the dead.
Right here, right now, this is The Cut.
Back in the early days of The Cut, we tried out a newsletter port using Substack. It rapidly petered out, due mostly to the extra bit of work involved. Following reveals on the platform’s shady tactics on author payments, many well-known writers are leaving in droves. We’ll probably just quietly shutter the failed rollout and walk away. More details on the controversy below.
The furore does make us wonder about how we release The Cut, though. Are you happy with the way you get your weekly linkeration? Would you like to see us try more seriously with an email newsletter format? Let us know in the comments!
We have been thinking this week about Stephen Hawking’s party for time travelers, and have come to a couple of conclusions. Firstly, it doesn’t sound like a fun event to start with, which probably put a lot of temporal fun-seekers off—it’s not like Stephen was hosting a foam party in Ibiza, right? Secondly, we believe time travelers would also have access to mind-wipe technology. What if they showed up and simply erased all evidence of their presence afterwards? Regardless, it remains a fun thought experiment.
The Situation has also seen a huge rise in the dissemination of conspiracy theories. A lot of unhappy people have been stuck at home with easy access to the kind of wild-eyed nonsense which used to be tucked into adverts for mail-rider pamphlets at the back of Fortean Times. They don’t have the skills needed to judge this stuff at anything but face value. End result—the January breach of the Capitol building. The big problem is the theories change over time, mutating to fit new ‘facts’ and ‘proofs’ into a narrative that’s destroying lives and families.
OK, one more gloomy post and then we promise to lighten things up. Another mainstay and helpmeet for many of us has been the Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing – New Horizons. The focus and point of the game is community and collaboration. No fighting or death counts to be had here. People are making a life in Animal Crossing, which includes the memorialisation of those they have lost. This, from Order Of The Good Death, is both moving and strangely positive.
Over to the Music Desk for a change of pace. We love Willie Nelson. The Red-Headed Stranger is a regular on The Cut Boombox. He is a prime mover, an original and distinctive voice for decades who continues to ride the road in his own way. Did you know he’s also a smart and classy interpreter of the Great American Songbook? Willie ain’t just a country boy!
We’re staying in the States for the next link, exploring a college town which should be on any rock-lover’s road trip. If you love R.E.M or the B52s (and you get big points off us if you admit to a crush on Pylon or Love Tractor) point the nose of your Pontiac towards Athens, Georgia, y’all!
Our last music link shoots back across the Atlantic to another big music town—Liverpool. We don’t want to talk about The Beatles, Echo And The Bunnymen, or even Sonia. The purpose here is to review the short but very sweet career of Lee Mavers, head songwriter of The La’s. Their one album and the standout track from it cannot, in our opinion, be bettered. Maver’s refusal to release any more material speaks to his perfectionism. He chose to walk away rather than struggle on with diminishing returns.
The next link is a celebration of typewriters in the movies. Not computers. Not word processors. There are no blinking cursors to be had here. No auto-indents, no choice of fonts. It’s ink, metal and paper. Primal stuff. Enjoy the clatter.
John Higgs continues to amuse and delight the Book Desk. His work on counter-cultural icons such as William Blake and The KLF provide insight well beyond the initial scope of their remit. We live in a Discordian world, and Higgs is the man to show us how we ended up here. We recommend a subscribe to his newsletter, from which he resurrected this old but pertinent link. A Modest Proposal, indeed…
Pasta. A foodstuff so ubiquitous examples are found in cuisines worldwide. Most of us have some spaghetti or a pack of penne kicking around in the kitchen. So many shapes, though! Can it be each is only designed to be paired with one kind of sauce? As ever, with a product this simple, the story is a lot more complex than we think…
As a sidebar, check out the work which goes into the invention and manufacture of a brand new pasta shape!
Six years ago, unscrupulous developers ran a bulldozer through the walls of the Carlton Tavern, a historic pub they planned to redevelop into flats. A strong local campaign to keep it as a community hub was building momentum and listed status for the building was looming. The developer’s intention was clear, the tactics dirty as they get. Whoops, sorry, folks, it’s a done deal, no going back now. But things did not work out as the villains of the piece expected and this story has a very happy ending. We’re planning a road trip to Maida Vale once lockdown ends…
And finally. Authors, like other entertainers, have a public-facing persona which can be very different to their real personalities. All part of the branding, even if the image develops after the fact. Take Sylvia Plath, a poster girl for the doomed waif market. Writer Rebecca Brill gained access to Plath’s diaries to find a different person to the one she thought she knew. One who was very keen on her food…
Wolf Alice bring us this week’s Exit Music. The band announced new releases and a tour this week, but we’d like to take you back to 2016, and a Tiny Desk Concert which showed a gentler side to the often fiery alt-rockers. We’re delighted to see them back in circulation. We plan to make live dates part of our post-Situation strategy. Catch you down the front!
See you next Saturday, sweethearts.