As Covid rates spike, the inevitable hit to the workplace is cracking knuckles across the UK. Sadly, The Cut is not immune to the events of the outside world, and The Situation has finally made itself apparent in the office. Most of the Cut Crew are off, isolating and dealing with the brain-fog and exhaustion which seem to be the signature moves of this iteration of the virus. However, we carry on. Our plans for the weekend may be in tatters, but our obligation to The Readership is the fuel which will keep us going.
Despite everything, now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
(Featured pic created by IA image-generator WomboDream, using the keyword Covid).
It’s important to fact-check most of the stuff you come across on the interwub. Don’t ever take things at face value. There may be malice afoot. Or the sheer joy of playful invention leading us down a delightful but obviously absurd path. Take the work of prankster Chis Shapan, whose editing and Photoshop skills along with a solid background in comedy have come together to birth a wonderful set of faux-retro clips and ads.
The years of cinema before the Hays Code were an era of unbridled creativity. Films dealt boldly and brilliantly with adult subjects in an adult way, treating their audiences with respect. After Hays, cinema became a bowdlerised shadow—movies would take decades to recover from the regressive infantilisation. The so-called Pre-Code films are starting to reappear, giving us the chance to revel in a storytelling era which is close to lost. Take this review of forgotten drama Three On A Match, which sounds like an absolute stonker…
Brain Worms—like ear worms but for ideas. As we have come to realise over the past couple of decades, information is viral. As The Situation rages and we have retreated to a data-rich, fact-poor environment, it’s easier than ever to catch ideas which have the nutritional value of cardboard. How do we steer clear of brain worms? Not easy, and you won’t like the conclusions.
Film critic and all-round cool cat Anne Billson understands good content. Stay away from the conspiracy theories and silly memes and focus on something good, pure and honest—her rundown of toilets in the movies. You know it makes sense.
Short fiction time. Kij Johnson’s Raratoskr manages to include both squirrel ghosts and a squirrel god into a tale of growing up and letting go. It’s warm and sweet, but unflinching in the understanding that all things must pass.
Another great bit from writer Adam Roberts, who we admire with increasing fervour. His piece on the Thames and Kennet, and the place where they meet, (our beloved home town of Reading), has a brilliant final argument. We’re fully behind his proposal to rename, or at least acknowledge, the roots of the river’s name…
Beer. Lovely, lovely beer. Source of and solution to so many problems, to paraphrase that great thinker and drunk Homer Simpson. It’s ever more apparent that beer, rather than bread, is possibly the first processed foodstuff and as such is a major keystone in the construction of our civilisation. Archeologists are discovering more evidence of brewing activity at the earliest explored junctures of human history, which would be amazing enough. But they are also using the yeast cultures they find there to brew their own. We’ll take a pint!
Vampires are cool and all, but we’ve always been bigger fans of the werewolf. Somehow, the stories of the folk who are hairy on the inside seem to be more thematically rich, dealing with the effects of the seasons and the moon on our spirits, the duality of human nature, and ultimately discussions on good and evil. Here’s a great piece in the London Review Of Books on a particular court case dealing with an unrepentant werewolf in fifteenth-century Latvia who believed he was on the side of the angels…
Spiritualised have a new record out this week. We are very fond of their psych-blues-gospel stylings and The Music Desk recommends you give Everything Was Beautiful a listen on its release. However, we are more concerned at the moment with an earlier iteration of the band who, alongside other British psychonauts, sought to bring a different splash of colour to the Second Summer Of Love in the mid-eighties. If acid house hadn’t happened, we could have had strange days indeed…
And finally. Here’s a big find. One of the greatest SF films of all time, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, has just arrived on YouTube in full in a sparkling HD transfer. It’s been posted by rights-owner Mosfilm, who have clearly seen the benefits in sharing a classic of modern fantastic cinema with the masses. We seriously recommend you spend time with this film. It’s a slow burn but gets right under your skin and into your soul. Take the trip.
A huge treat for this week’s Exit Music. Celebrate with us the return of Elizabeth Fraser, working with percussionist Damon Reece as Sun’s Signature. An EP under that name will be out for Record Store Day on June 18th with a digital release following on in July. Here’s the first track, “Golden Air”, a gorgeous pastoral-psych balm to our fuddled brains, a cool palm on our fuming brows. We needed this, and it’s sweet that Liz chose to broke her 13-year silence to help us out. She’s one of the good ones.
See you next Saturday, survivors.