We are sliding into the strangest bit of the year. Post-Halloween (we believe all of November should be designated as Spooky Season), pre-Christmas. The time of Black Friday. It is, apparently, our duty as good citizens of the global capitalistery to buy and consume right damn NOW. Spend spend spend, even if you don’t have the wherewithal.
Or take the cost-effective option and snuggle up with us instead. We ask for nothing but your fleeting attention and a crumb of love.
This week: musical anniversaries, killing a lobster and scary comics for girls.
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
Here’s a transmission for those of us who remember when kid’s TV wasn’t afraid to be a bit odd, surreal and yes, spooky. The Adventure Game mixed puzzles, shonky CGI and a frankly bonkers narrative into a brew with celebrity guests and a host who would later become a mainstay of BBC News. All this and a talking aspidistra too. Think of it as The Crystal Maze for nerdy kids. Gronda gronda!
We have long been fans of writer and snark-monster Kelly Oxford. She’s started a Substack newsletter (like every other bugger on the planet, it feels like), bringing some choice content on modern life and the horrors of parenting to discerning subscribers such as what we are. This tale of a luxurious meal gone horribly wrong is worth the price of admission all by itself.
The pubs and breweries of Reading have faced the challenges of the pandemic with courage, fortitude and an eye to expansion. None more so than our local alehouse, Loddon Brewery in Dunstan Green on the Oxfordshire borders. They’ve gone full heart and open arms into making the best of a bad situation, starting with direct sales and delivery to the public (a bit of a lifesaver for us here at Cut Central during the darkest days of lockdown) before seriously rethinking the space they had available. The old car park became outdoor seating, a covered area was built and the bottle shop expanded. This summer, they invited food trucks in at the weekend and hosted their first music festival. The cold weather isn’t slowing them down. A new indoor tap room is coming together and a winter craft fair is happening next week. The DIY aesthetic is in full swing at Loddon: they are the true beer punks. All power to their collective elbows!
Back in the halcyon days of Britpop, the must-read comic magazine for the cool kids was Deadline. Launchpad for the Tank Girl phenomenon, it was home to a ton of great strips alongside band interviews and all sorts of pop-cultural shenaniga. We still have a near-complete run up in the archive which we must dig out. One of the best artists of the era, Philip Bond, has now teamed up with sometime-Deadline writer and bassist with Britpop B-listers Cud William Potter to create a new comic set in those golden days. It looks like a fun package. Get in on the ground floor!
Still on the Ninth Art tip, Rebellion Publishing continue to impress with their series of reissues covering the classic IPC era. We’re particularly pleased to see the love they’re giving to one of the most missed yet least appreciated of girl’s comics–Misty. Editor Claire Napier on one of Misty’s finest artists really helps provide the vibe to this spookiest (yes, that word again) of 70s thrills and chills…
One more from the gutters. We talked last week about the Gorbals Vampire hunt, when packs of Glasgow children roamed local cemeteries in search of errant blood-suckers. The reasons for their strange behaviour has never been discovered. Blame was, for a while though, placed on them pesky comics. Which reminds us of the big comics scare of the 1950s which effectively neutered the form in the same way as the Hays Code did for moves in the 30s. It’s a key moment in comics history which shows how dangerous and subversive the Ninth Art was once considered.
See, the trouble with children’s literature, particularly stories dating back to the late 19th century, is their relevance to modern audiences. We’re not just talking about problematic issues around race and gender. Language and imagery which references things for which we have no context any more is also surprisingly tricky. Surely, though, a tale of two dogs and their owners in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands shouldn’t be that troublesome to update… right?
As we mentioned in the lede, it’s the liminal period between Spooky Season and Christmas. What better way to celebrate this time of year than with a rundown of the scariest monsters in Christmas movies? It’s Krampus time!
We need to talk about Bake Off. A show that was once an absolute must has become less and less relevant. This year we feel as if we’re watching out of habit rather than interest. The change of venue to Channel Four and the shedding of key presenters was a shock to many which the programme weathered. But it’s become increasingly silly and frankly starting to look a little desperate. Many people have problems with Paul Hollywood’s alpha-male antics. But there’s another issue to discuss. Leave it to the Americans to set the problem out plainly…
And finally. This year marks many significant cultural anniversaries. For now, we choose to focus on the 20th birthday of Washington punk legends Fugazi, whose final album The Argument was released this week in 2001. Like all their work it’s a stinging rebuke of society’s ills delivered with laser-sharp wit and righteous fury. We recommend most highly. Fugazi were well known for fully embracing the can-do spirit of punk–booking their own shows, starting their own label to distribute their own records. Much like our pals at Loddon (and to an extent this here newsletter), they took what they could lay hands on and made something better. Punk ain’t dead, right?
One more anniversary to celebrate this week. The Cut Crew had a night out on Wednesday, joining many more of their tribe at Oxford’s lovely New Theatre. The occasion? A night with Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark, whose seminal album Architecture And Morality is 40 (!) this year. There are those of us in the team who remember seeing the band when they first toured the record’s release back in 1981. Yes, we’re that old. Anyway. Any excuse to play this classic of the 80s synth era. That opening riff makes for a fine ringtone, you know.
See you next Saturday, synthaholics.