Happy Easter! We hope you’re finding the time and space to meet up with loved ones again in a responsible and socially distanced manner. It’s a strange time in which hope and dread become entangled—hope for a more normal future, dread of a sudden reversal. For now, we plan to enjoy the fresh air and company, feeling the kiss of the sun on our face as a substitute for the real thing.
This week—games you can fit on a business card, all manner of mayors and the importance of chairs in a well-loved science-fiction franchise.
Now is the here is the place is the time is The Cut.
Gods, we miss cinemas. Certainly the team at the Film Desk spent far more of their youth than was healthy in darkened rooms staring at big dreams on big screens. Sometimes the film wasn’t even the point. Cinemas are, for us, fascinating places in their own right. Places with a specific purpose and their own set of behavioural and decorative rules. Which brings us to the magnificent objects that were lobby carpets. The A24 blog has more…
Who here remembers Tina Bell and Bam Bam? No-one? Well, until this week we were the same. That’s borderline criminal, as she was a powerful and forgotten musician whose influence in the nascent grunge scene was deep and wide-ranging. Completely ignored in many supposedly complete histories of the time, Tina deserves to be up there as a formative voice of one of the major musical movements of the century. Read this, get angry, spread the word.
We were fascinated by this bit on New York Times editor Sam Sifton’s new book, which strips back the notion of a recipe to suggestions taking up a paragraph. There’s a lot to unpack here in terms of appropriation in food writing, particularly in terms of a supposed gender bias in the way men and women will approach a dish. Read the article and make your own mind up, but here’s a couple of thoughts from us. Firstly, Sifton’s approach is hardly radical, as fans of Nigel Slater and in particular his ground-breaking Real Fast Food (published in 1992) will know. Secondly, sneering at the idea of exact measurements and timings ignores the fact that baking requires exactly that sort of precision. Try eyeballing the wet and dry goods for a Victoria sponge and see what you end up with…
We’re not gamers, which is a failure on our part. Some amazing and creative work is done in the field, particularly in the realms of tabletop and RPGs. Stripping the mechanics of a playable system down to the bare bones takes skill, understanding and a deep love of the format. Let’s bounce over to Dicebreaker and look at a competition for games that fit neatly on both sides of a business card…
The writing of Charles Willeford ushers us into a cruel, amoral world where the only choices are hard and fate inevitably deals out a losing hand. Never a cheery read, his work is nonetheless vital, compelling and sadly still very relevant. The Book Desk hesitates to recommend Willeford unless you have a strong constitution.
Marianne Faithfull has one of the most distinctive voices in pop, all the more so for the way it changes over time. From sweetly pure to world-weary, her delivery of her signature tune As Tears Go By is a history of a life well lived, if unwisely managed. She’s an icon, a star and for we proud residents of England’s largest town, a local hero.
Hear Marianne Faithfull’s Three Versions of “As Tears Go By,” Each Recorded at a Different Stage of Life (1965, 1987 & 2018)
Meanwhile over in That London, a broad swathe of weirdoes, freaks and losers are battling for a top political prize—the chance to be Mayor Of London. It’s a power-broker’s role which gives the incumbent a punt at the big time—just look at the career trajectory of former holder of the office and wet bag of laundry Alexander Boris de Pfeffle Johnson. The Byline Times takes a look at the runners and riders…
In Monowi, Nebraska, Mayor Elsie Eiler forges a different path. She runs her town her way. There are no complaints and no-one stands against her, for one very good reason…
April Fool’s Day was earlier in the week, and the inevitable tedious corporate ‘pranks’ were back in full force after a hiatus last year in the face of the pandemic. Mostly obvious, mostly dull, although we did like the notion of Dave Grohl playing a villain in the ever-delayed Bond Movie No Time To Die. Grohlfinger, indeed. Our pal Janelle Shane has pointed her menagerie of AIs at the idea of the April Fool’s joke. The results are inevitably hilarious and disturbing…
One of the great joys we take from film and TV SF is the set design. From Ridley Scott’s techno-gothic excess to the clean lines of Gerry Anderson’s Moonbase Alpha, we love the aesthetic in all its various forms. Star Trek, of course, has a distinct visual language which takes surprising cues from mid-century European design. Come with us down the rabbit hole as we join Fast Company in an exploration of the chairs of Star Trek.
As a companion piece, we’d also like to offer up this bit from the X&HT archive which broadens the remit while keeping the focus tight…
And finally. Austin Kleon gives us a lot to think about in a clever little piece which collapses the auteur theory of creativity in favour of a more inclusive ecosystem. Read the whole thing, please, but we liked this quote from Ursula Franklin …
The dream of a peaceful society to me is still the dream of a potluck supper. The society in which all can contribute, and all can find friendship. Those who bring things, bring things that they do well. [We must] create conditions under which a potluck is possible.Ursula Franklin
Further notes on scenius
This week, we present a short documentary for Exit Music. Specifically, a film by Mike Peters of The Alarm on the song that changed his life—In A Big Country. He is a passionate and mesmerising performer who has been through a lot, only to come out the other side with an even stronger determination to make a difference through the power of community and music. We’ve seen him perform In A Big Country with the band of the same name in our favourite sweaty little Reading club. It was a transcendent moment. Let’s take the tune as an anthem to help us through the challenges ahead. Stay alive.
See you next Saturday, true believers.