Packing for a cottage getaway is an exercise in logistics above and beyond your average holiday prep. It’s an opportunity to clear the fridge and take the food which would otherwise collapse to mush—the likelihood of that happening in somebody else’s kitchen is one we don’t talk about. You need to pack clothes for every eventuality rain to shine, you often need to take your own bedding and towels, and maybe bring board games or a stack of books in case the weather closes in. In short, the Cut Carrier is so full of stuff we’re starting to worry whether we’ll fit the staff in. Going on holiday is haaard.
And yet we’ve still pulled together an episode of our usual foolishness while tucked in a corner by the suitcases. This week—all of the marvels! Pre-MTV music videos! And the honky-tonk nun of Ethiopia!
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
You know the directions in which our interests lie. We love food and writing and fantasy. Intersects between these will always twang our strings. Atlas Obscura trap us in the loops of a very specific Venn diagram with this bit on food in fantasy novels. It ain’t just Lembas bread…
Staying with the Food Desk, Vittles (you’re subscribed to Vittles, right? Why are you not subscribed to Vittles? Go subscribe to Vittles!) takes on Dorian Lynsky’schallenge to put more negativity back into the review-sphere with an epic tear-down of the worst-value food on offer in London. With contributions from a ton of cooks and writers on the front lines of the post-pandemic dining scene, it’s a splenetic joy. Cut Crush Jay Rayner nobly offers up his glorious evisceration of the Polo Lounge at The Dorchester which is worth the price of admission all by itself.
One last despatch from the Food Desk. We’re delighted to again flag the return of Reading’s favourite misanthrope and shit-muddler, STiR, to the violent world of pub reviews. The latest drop is a celebration of Reading’s wildest booze dispensary. Forget your boring chain bars. Shun your Wetherspoon’s. You need to drink in a joint that channels off-season Ibiza with the sort of don’t-give-a-shit flair that can’t help but win you over.
(Also a lot of fun—StiR’s new range of charity T-shirts, including a couple we’re extremely tempted by. Nice and fresh.)
Ninth Art time. Sorry. First up, an extraordinary piece by G.I. Joe writer Buzz Dixon who fears he may be in part to blame for the gung-ho nature of American imperialism post 9-11. This is thoughtful stuff which tells us just how powerful comics can be, and how we should take care in how we present to the intended audience.
In a slightly happier place, writer Douglas Wolk has recently completed a seriously intimidating challenge—reading every Marvel comic published since the brand’s inception in 1963. That’s over 22 thousand comics over a 58 year period—the longest continuously linked fictional narrative ever created. It’s a big deal just reading them, but Wolk’s new book, All The Marvels, goes further. He teases out themes and extended storylines across the whole pantheon of the Merry Marvel Masses. Dense, meaty and very much our flavour.
Speaking of epic achievements, Asif A. Saddiqi’s Beyond Earth chronicles every vehicle involved in deep space exploration from 1958 to now. We’ve thrown a lot of hardware up there, folks, and the Voyagers aside, we’ve still barely scratched trans-solar space…
The trouble is, of course, that space is no place for humanity. It’s beauty is matched only by its hostility. Space has all sorts of nasty ways to part the brave and foolhardy explorer from their pulse. Take, for example, Alexei Leonov—artist, visionary and first man to spacewalk. What he saw in his time outside Voskhod-2 would spark a lifetime of remarkable paintings. But he very nearly never made it back to Earth—or even back into the ship.
Common knowledge states that the age of the music video began with the launch of MTV and Buggles’ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’. This is, of course, bunkum. Films illustrating songs were a thing long before the big M. More importantly, they didn’t have to comply with broadcasting standards, which made for some very juicy clips indeed…
We’re always open to new musical experiences. Allow us, via the auspices of Ted Gioia, to introduce you to Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, the honky-tonk nun of Ethiopia. New is a bit of a strange thing to say as she’s about to celebrate her 98th birthday. Let’s just say new to us. Emahoy’s music is a lyrical and nimble piano style which blurs across jazz, blues and African styles. We haven’t heard anything quite like it.
And finally. Norm McDonald died. The most unreliable of unreliable narrators kept us guessing until the end, keeping a nine-year battle with leukaemia a secret until the inevitable draw. Another artist who you couldn’t really pigeonhole, his skill lay in constantly wrong-footing his audience, even if it bombed a gig. His memoir was mostly bald-faced lies. He was ferociously intelligent, elegantly playful and never, never boring. There are plenty of clips up on the tubes of his best moments—do yourself a solid and at least check out the moment where he doesn’t come out to Larry King.
Our Exit Music features one of Norm’s favourite artists, Outlaw mainstay Billy Joe Shaver. His song Live Forever (get the Oasis tune out of your head, this is nothing like that) has the same sense of observation and dry humour which he and Norm shared. Billy Joe drew with Covid this year, which makes this song a real kick in the feels.
See you next Saturday, music-lovers.