Looks like we’re into the rainy season. Which brings a sense of relief to the extensive parkland in which Cut Central lives, and a sense of panic as the greenery wakes up and evolves into almost instant jungle. We’ve got some gardening to do is what we’re saying. With machetes. It’s possible the flamethrower will have to come out.
While we gird our loins for the task ahead, there’s a newsletter here for you. No, no, you relax and indulge in some light reading while we plunge into the undergrowth, edged weapons held high. Send out a search party if you don’t hear from us next week.
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
The second season of Star Trek: Picard (tiresome last episode aside) was pleasing to our eyes. It was especially cheering to see Agnes Jurati, played by Alison Pill with an easy grace, blossom and embrace her essential queen-ness. Her transformation storyline, coupled with a narrative around realisation and acceptance of your true self, has resonated strongly with the LGBTi community, for whom Trek has always been an open and accepting space. You could throw in a counter-argument that Agnes was assimilated, of course. Nevertheless, Jaime Babb offers an interesting reading on Agnes’ path on Tor. Worth a look.
We live in a mediascape cluttered with conspiracy theories. When is news fake? Do we have to go to Snopes to check out everything our mad Auntie Eileen is posting on Facebook now (generally: yes)? How then should we view a growing online movement insisting that birds are in fact drones sent to spy on us? Are twitchers the new Watchmen? So many questions!
This New York Times interactive on the history and future of the guitar solo is brilliantly made and includes links to a lot of cracking plank-spankery. We recommend taking your time and cranking the volume. Actually, that’s advice we’d offer for most things in life.
You should subscribe to The Audacity on Substack. It’s full of really great, thoughtful and inspiring pieces. As an example, here’s a recipe for a good, simple loaf which turns into a treatise on the creative act. Baking and writing are closely twined activities. Only one of them ends with the essential ingredient for a sandwich or toast. Just sayin’.
I can guarantee any future Wonder Woman movies will not contain anything as bug-eyed, horny-toad wild as this 1943 strip, showing how the Amazons celebrate Christmas. A reminder that this was considered suitable for kids. Another reminder, which we will never tire of honking from the rooftops, that COMICS DO IT BEST.
We don’t deserve John Waters. One of the great transgressives, he remains brilliantly funny, sharp and very much his own creation. This interview for Buzzfeed is a love song, writer Scacchi Koul clearly delighted and infatuated with the guy. This is not a criticism. We are not interested in gotchas or scandals, especially as we feel John would simply delight in them. We need more people like John Waters in the world, and we are delighted to share this excellent piece. Viva trash!
The release of a new Downton Abbey film was met with groans and grumbles from the Film Desk this week. We lost interest when they killed off Dan Stevens in such a low-key fashion. However, Maggie Smith’s dowager duchess is more interesting, keying as she does into a great English literary tradition—the terrifying great aunt. Hey, if it’s good enough for Oscar Wilde and P.G. Wodehouse…
Band Waggon was possibly the first great British radio sketch comedy show. It delighted in the easy imaginative leaps you could take with the form, forming the first link in a chain which would run through ITMA to the Goons to Round The Horne and on and up. This is the wellspring from which a particular, giddily surreal brand of British comedy foamed. From here to Little Britain, The League Of Gentlemen and ever on. I thang yaw.
Alex Garland’s latest movie, Men, is just on release. As ever, reviews are mixed—he doesn’t do comfortable or consensus viewing. We’re looking forward to seeing it (particularly the last, allegedly bonkers, twenty minutes). But we’re pleased to see attention being paid to Dredd, his fantastic low (ish) budget take on our favourite leather-clad fascist. It’s a fantastic comic book movie—propulsive, gory and action-packed while also squeezing great performances out of a solid cast. Did Pete Travis deserve his director’s credit? No-one’s saying for sure. Whatever really happened, the movie which came out of the fraught post-production pipeline is a massively under-rated gem.
And finally. Food writer Jay Rayner is at his best when he shucks off his jacket and gives a bad restaurant a two-fisted rebuke. Although we sense an element of compliance in a comedy bit, his evisceration of Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan’s one-night only pop-up is a classic of the form. Brace for impact, this one is gonna leave a mark.
Vangelis moved on this week. A true innovator of synthesiser music, his soundtrack work is most fondly remembered in mediasphere tributes. But the guy was a prolific artist whose work on the prog scene (check out 666 by Aphrodite’s Child) nearly led to a keyboard gig with Yes. Which brings us to his collaborations with Jon Anderson, which the old lags on the Music Desk remember with a nostalgic tear bulging in their wrinkled ducts. We celebrate the man and his music with this cut, in which two progressive artists pool their talents to delightful effect.
See you next Saturday.