December! Holy macaroni, it’s December! We’ve been a bit turned around what with the Nanowrimo and the family bereavements and all the hey hey hey but even so! Who pulled down the big switch and turned winter on without us noticing? X minus 22 days, Readership. You better not pout…
This week: marmalade, food which may not be food and a momento mori just to stop things getting too jolly.
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
But first, as we’re into the festive countdown, there should be an advent calendar. Janelle Shane from AI Weirdness has us covered as she sets her pet monsters to the task. There are some delightful curiosities to be uncovered.
As Elno Murk continues to drive his latest purchase at speed down bad roads, a lot of people have rightly decided to pull the lever on their ejector seat. Many have plumped for the federated instances of Mastodon as their new choice of social. Which can be a bit strange for the good folks who were there first…
The Guardian Graphic Short Story Prize dropped a couple of weeks ago, with some excellent pages on display. Please enjoy Midnight Feast by Rebecca Jones, and we urge you to check out the runner-ups as well. Gentle, sharply observed stories all.
The culinary selfie may feel like an offshoot of the Instagram generation. But as ever the things we do now tie into much older traditions. The vanitas painting may look familiar, but these beautifully rendered pictures are loaded with significance and symbolism.
The Caversham Jam Lady shut up shop this year, but her legacy lives on. Her loathing of marmalade was well documented and doubly ironic in that when she did grind some jars out, her marms were incredibly delicious. Our pal Kim, posting as smugfacelazybones, offers her take on a classic. We can attest to the deliciousness.
Still with the Food Desk, as we approach the season of maximum consumption, let us consider the alternatives. Science fiction has often thought about how we can produce enough vittles for a growing population. There are some intriguing ideas in this listicle from James Davis Nichols. Surprisingly, no mention of Soylent Green…
In his professional capacity, Editor Rob has heard many stories on the explosive nature of nitrate film. Movie fans may recall Quentin Tarantino made it a plot point in Inglourius Basterds. This recent tale of cinematic conflagration is a good one to add to the legend.
We all seem a little late to the table, but it’s good to see the world finally waking to the talents of Octavia E. Butler. Kindred is getting a big-budget adaptation and her works in general have been glowingly reappraised. Octavia was a powerful figure and, as this portrait from Vulture showed, lived a remarkable life.
Back to AI for a sec, for a chat with musician Holly Herndon. She’s taken our concerns about deepfakes, in this case over digital cover versions of songs ostensibly by artists who never sung them in the first place, and flipped the whole argument on its head. Why just do the obvious boring thing when you can generate new music with a real sense of the unpredictable?
We recently passed the centenary of Charles M. Shultz’s birth. The creator of Peanuts, his strips contain a quiet universal appeal which continues to speak to us today. Most affectingly, he was not afraid to tell kids it was ok to feel sad or afraid or angry sometimes. He refused to talk down to his audience. They loved him and his characters all the more for it.
Little And Big At The Same Time
And finally. The cinematic matchup of the year. Nicholas Cage interviewed by John Carpenter. It gets no better than this.
The Music Desk insists new music by Neil Finn and Crowded House is an event worthy of celebration. A new tune, Oh Hi, is released in conjunction with an African educational charity, So They Can. It’s a lovely tune, of course, released to support a great cause. Give it a listen.
See you next Saturday, jingle baubles.