December has landed. Guess we’re getting into it. Here at Cut Central, we are gently breaking out the seasonal traditions. Daily readings from Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles (there’s no entry for December 4th—instead we are treated to his epic and essential treatise on the mince pie). Studious avoidance of Wham’s Last Christmas (no-one wants a #whamageddon). Even more determined swerving of the dull conversations as to whether certain action films are Christmas movies. And of course the supreme effort involved in holding off on the urge to dive into a hibernation-hole and not emerge until 2022. Christmas is a lot of work, yo! We try not to be grumpy but ultimately, we stand with Joni Mitchell when she sang:
It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
I wish I had a river I could skate away on
Classier than ‘Bah, humbug’, doncha think?
Anyhoo. This week, enjoy our figgy eggnog along with bits on the first turducken, David Bowie’s Christmas scarf and the best comic of 2021.
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
But first, a puzzling urban artefact. Is the Norfolk Keyboard really an imprint of a print plate from an 18th century monastery? Well, probably not, but it’s still an interesting story…
Robot Archie was a mainstay of the sixties and seventies Britcomic scene, barging around with no care for the people or buildings who got in his way. An iconic design matched to an increasingly irascible personality made his adventures in the pages of Lion a real treat. But things got really interesting when he was reinvented as a 90s raver. Mad mental crazy!
Our last episode went to press slightly too early to mourn the passing and celebrate the accomplishments of Stephen Sondheim. It would be impossible for us to sum up his achievements. Instead, we choose to dance, soundtracked by this brilliant disco reinvention of his greatest tunes. Play it loud, lovers.
Some people were confused at this post by director and delightful nerd Duncan Jones which recently resurfaced on Twitter.
That scarf is the one his dad wore for a very important bit of British TV history and was, for quite a few years, considered lost. It’s a great excuse to break out the story of Bowie and The Snowman again.
OK, we’re conflicted. Yes, Xmas can make us a little grumpy. But at the same time the time of the season has its own set of pleasures. And you know us, Readership. Any excuse to close up the airlock and snuggle down is welcome.
Strictly speaking the turducken existed before December 1996. But a very particular meeting between the excessive Christmas centrepiece’s creator and football star turned commentator John Madden around Thanksgiving would bring the three-meat joy to a much larger audience. We could feel our arteries clog just reading this. In a good way.
We’re going to get a little cosmic with you now. You may want to sit down with something mind-expanding or at least mood-altering to hand, as we join Ryan F. Mandelbaum in an exploration of the things we will never know. We find this strangely comforting. It’s a very, very big universe and yet there’s still a place in it for us and Christmas and turduckens.
There are members of The Cut Crew old enough and ugly enough to remember and gently participate in the wildest of early Internet forums, Something Awful. It was a place where much of the furniture, mood and tone of today’s social media was trialled and prototyped. The recent death of the forum’s creator and abusive landlord Lowtax gives us a chance to look back and understand how influential Something Awful was and remains.
Common discourse around the current movie scene is ‘it’s all superhero movies and IP grabs.’ Attempts to shift the arguments back towards the idea that Hollywood has always been about trend-chasing now settle on the idea of how in the 50s and 60s you couldn’t throw a rock at a big screen without hitting a western. It’s a reductive argument which Self-Styled Siren Farran Smith Nehme cheerfully and emphatically dismantles. Cinema really was more diverse back then…
And finally. Ninth Art types like us have collectively lost their shit over Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Jimenez’s extraordinary Wonder Woman-Historia. A vast, furious and psychedelic retelling of the origin of Diana, we haven’t seen another comic like it this year. It reframes the stories you think you know into forms which will be uncomfortable for some. It’s the loudest, proudest piece of art going and we cannot recommend it highly enough. If you like mythology and fantasy, if you like Queer Eye and Drag Race, if you like art which stretches the boundaries of the possible and writing that doesn’t give a fuck about your feelings… you’re gonna freaking love this. Don’t just listen to us, though. Here’s more from Kelly-Sue and Phil on the comics event of 2021.
Spotify’s 2021 Wrapped lists rolled out this week, putting our listening habits under a harsh spotlight and leaving many wondering if we’d really listened to ABBA quite that much over the past 12 months (answer—yes, probably). The algorithm-generated playlist popping up as part of the event is also a good way to rediscover those songs we loved for a bit then forgot about.
A prime example for The Cut Crew is Aldous Harding’s delightful and surreal 2019 track The Barrel which showed up on a Daily Mix and hogged the stereo for a good couple of weeks in the summer. We think it’s about arranged marriages and possibly predatory behaviour. We could be wrong. Instead we choose to enjoy the way Aldous pronounces ‘gentle’ and her boss moves and groovy hat in the slightly creepy video below. Not festive in the slightest, but oh so very joyful.
See you next Saturday, ferrets.