The Cut Season 2 Episode 36

We lost Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Texas turned into Gilead. The New York subway system turned into a sewer. Look at the world a certain way and you can feel it slipping out from under you. But then witness the triumphs of the Paralympics or the return of Abba and know there’s good news out there. You just have to see with the right eyes.

This week: how caffeine lit the spark to the fuse that blew up the future, the logical endpoint of the square meal and the Rainbow Connection between Miss Piggy and Yoda.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

Look, we all know our homes can look really strange to outsiders. However, there’s strange and then there’s outright surrealist dystopian nightmare. No, we’re not talking about Texas, although the Lone Star State has rapidly spun out into the the weird lane. We’ve bounced this Vanity Fair piece on Donald Trump’s corner of Florida around the schedule for a few weeks, waiting for the right time to post it. To quote our catchphrase, now is the time. This almost reads like bugged-out satire that’s trying a little too hard. It isn’t. This is real.

Sweet, sweet caffeine, fueling our world and amping our creativity. At least until the mid-morning crash, which is why you find editor Rob doing his best work immediately post-sunrise (for the interested observer, this issue is being finalized at 7:07 on a Saturday morning and your esteemed writer is doing this in his jimjams before he’s had a celebratory shower). Caffeine may be the world’s favourite drug. Here’s how it kick-started The Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and therefore the world we live in now…

How Caffeine Fueled the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution & the Modern World: An Introduction by Michael Pollan

Food fads are part of the landscape. There’s always some tech-bro claiming to have reinvented dinner. It’s not a new story, going back to canning and even freezing. Recent innovations have looked more SFnal, with nods to astronaut-style freeze-dried pouches and meal-replacement drinks (basically SlimFast in fancy new packaging). Then there’s SquarEat, which is… well, take a look and wonder what was going through the minds of the crew developing it. Apart from ‘square meal’, obviously…

Guardian writer Hadley Freeman freely admits she cried twice while putting together this profile on director and performer Frank Oz. We are not surprised and will also admit to feeling a bit misty as we read it. Frank has been a part of our lives since childhood. His wisdom and positivity shine through here. We also feel the need to rewatch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels…

This quick overview of the contents of prop houses needs to be much bigger and full of pictures. It’s piqued our interest, that’s for sure. Imagine spending a day wandering around one of these!

Jasper Fry captures the surreal world of London’s prop houses

John Cusack. Never a big star, but an actor and writer whose presence guarantees a certain level of quality. His masterpiece was of course Gross Pointe Blank (worth watching as part of an unofficial trilogy starting with Say Anything and closing out with War Inc as a potential ‘The Fast Life And Hard Times of Lloyd Dobler’ epic) but, as this cracking piece on NeoTextCorp makes plain, he brings his A Game to every film in which he makes an appearance. In our opinion, he’s the MBV of Con-Air.

He Had It Coming: The Subtle Versatility of John Cusack

We guarantee once you start messing around with Rave.DJ wou will find it hard to stop. It’s not just that it’s astonishingly good at what it does. It’s the unexpected ways in which it does the job which makes the whole process so engaging. Mashups just got interesting again…

Artificially-intelligent song mashups

Charlie Jane Anders is a Nebula-winning, Hugo-nominated writer whose work is part of the new wave of female, non-binary and trans writers bringing fresh perspectives to modern science fiction. Here, Anders talks about her role in the writers room of the TV adaptation of X: The Last Man and how she was part of the effort to make sure all voices were heard and amplified…

It’s forty years since another seismic shift in the SF scene was published—William Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic. The Walrus explains why this short story is so important and how it continues to inform and enliven the genre today. Some of the details may have aged oddly but boy howdy, the big picture is disturbingly prescient…

Why William Gibson Is a Literary Genius

And finally. The Marvel Cinematic Universe enters Phase Four with the release of Shang-Chi and The Legend Of The Ten Rings this weekend. We’re excited to see it but are choosing instead to focus on the subjects of the next film in the cycle—the Eternals. Chloe Zhao’s take on the most Technicolor-widescreen of Jack Kirby’s creations is eagerly anticipated by many. But great work on the characters is also being done in the pages of the funny papers. We’ve left it to last, but here’s our weekly dose of comics nerdery…

Solving the Eternals Problem

The socials went bonkers this week as Abba announced new music and a slightly bizarre virtual concert session in London’s Olympic Park, featuring the band as Abbatars (come on, that’s good) on a holographic stage. It’s endearingly odd but at this stage in proceedings, we’ll take any shard of positivity we can get. In celebration, we present a video of Dancing Queen played on a 1914 fairground organ. Open Culture brings us a little context and includes a clip of the original if you fancy a wee spin round the front room.

Listen to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” Played on a 1914 Fairground Organ

See you next Saturday, voyagers.


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Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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