I had an invite this week to a potential college reunion, which has led to all sorts of conflicted ruminations. There are some friends from the course I’d like to see again, and others who I’ve unwittingly collaborated with professionally. The strangest thing is, folks are popping up on the inevitable WhatsApp group whose names and faces I honestly don’t recognise. That’s what 35 years will do for you, I guess. Images of Gross Pointe Blank are swimming around my head. Can you—should you—ever go back?
Food for thought while we consider the business of the day. In this chapter: Bond! Miyazaki! Buzz Aldrin! And an Outro which may (at the time of writing) not feature a major musical figure who’s died!
Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.
Rob is reading…
The Galaxy And The Ground Within by Becky Chambers. She has a way of normalising the alien, bringing a sense of comfort and empathy to worlds and races at the very brink of the imagination. You don’t really get villains in Becky’s books. Just characters with different sets of values and motivations which bring them to sadly inevitable conflict. She’s great on how natural disasters can, through tragedy, have unexpected societal results. Brilliant, smart, grown-up space opera which I can’t recommend highly enough.
Rob is watching…
Great British Menu, which is the closest I get to a reality-TV hate watch. The food is over-complex and hooked to under-thought out themes. It’s especially annoying because the overarching idea of this year’s banquet—celebrating British animation and illustration—is right up my backyard. But the chefs seem to have little interest in the field, which leads to a tranche of dishes inspired by just a few authors and film-makers. It’s all Wallace And Gromit and Ronald Dahl illustrated by Quentin Blake. Where’s The Beano? Where’s 2000AD? That and the worrying return of foams, smoke and goo to the menu sets my teeth to grind. But somehow I can’t stop watching.
Rob is listening…
To this brilliant Spotify playlist, which was my V-Day soundtrack. Full of proper pop bangers and screw-you anthems, it’s deliciously cruel and cold. I’d never listened to Beyoncé’s Irreplaceable properly before. Wow. Brutal.
Rob is eating…
Morrison’s do a pack of red onion bhajis in the fresh cabinet which are the size and shape of a decent quarter-pound burger. Griddled, with a quick sauce of yogurt mixed with grated garlic, ginger, mango chutney and sauce, and stuffed into a warm paratha, it’s a fine thing to eat with a pile of fries. I wouldn’t dare call it a Bombay Burger, cos Nadiya got there first.
The ever-contentious movie sex scene is, through the introduction of intimacy co-ordinators, becoming a safer space for performers. But how about the equally vulnerable moments when you’re expected to open up and cry for the camera? Not every actor can turn on the waterworks when the clapperboard drops. So how do they do it?
Obviously, you won’t be able to read the next bit and be able to create the astonishing and instantly recognisable work of Hazao Miyazaki. But a little insight into the tools and processes used from the man himself has to be of interest. Of course, he can’t help but make a beautiful artifact out of what is a very basic artist’s shopping list…
John Higgs’ latest, on the remarkable cultural cross point which birthed the sixties—the release on the same day of The Beatles ‘Love Me Do’ and the first Bond movie Dr. No—is a seriously eye-opening read. In this extract, Higgs looks at the year it took Ian Fleming to come up with one of the most influential fictional characters of all time.
Content warning for corporal punishment and sexual cruelty.
I have never read a word written by Colleen Hoover. I’m in the minority, by the looks of it. She is, to a jobbing wannabe like myself, an incredible inspiration, going from self-publication to world-wide domination in an eye-blink. I’m obviously writing for the wrong audience.
John Cleese’s announcement of a Fawlty Towers reboot was met with a giant wave of eye-rolling and indifference. Why go back and try to catch that lightning in a bottle again? Without co-creator Connie Booth, the whole thing seems as pointless as Blackadder without Rowan Atkinson. However, there is one interesting direction in which you could take Fawlty Towers, as John Bull imagines…
If you ever needed an example of someone not getting the note about dress code, well, take it away, Buzz.
It’s Buzz Aldrin’s World, We’re Just Living In It
In the face of the endless attacks on a tiny, vulnerable percentage of the world population by the usual horrible gobshites, honking out scare tactics and dog whistles, it’s somehow cheering to see a robust defence offered by, of all places, The New York Times. This is the article I urge you to read this week, wherever you stand on the issue which has become the hottest of political hot potatoes.
The discourse on AI, particularly with the sky-rocketing popularity of ChatGPT and its inclusion into search engines, has become, frankly, deranged. It’s either Skynet or the birth of a golden age of interaction and communication. Thankfully, author Ted Chiang is here to cut through the foolishness and pull back the curtain. As ever, it’s not the technology that’s the problem, but how we choose to use it…
A recommend from one of The Readership is very welcome. Our pal Kelly has flagged up a doozy from Patricia Lockwood, which is both hilarious and horrible. I’ll let you go in cold, because you’re not going to see which way this piece is going until it takes a sudden swerve down an unexpected off-ramp.
Paul Ford gets The Last Word with this incisive piece on the future of social networks, as Elno seems intent on ripping the lungs out of his latest toy. It includes the best description of the fediverse I’ve read so far. The whole article is strangely positive on the state of social. People move on. Kinda makes sense. Whither MySpace?
Until recently, the majority of links posted here and on The Cut would have been picked up via Twitter. That’s no longer the case, and I’m visiting less and less often. Newsletters, Mastodon and places like Reddit and Tumblr are richer, happier sources and much more fun to hang out. I don’t have the Elno-sized cojones to claim my undocking from the platform is the tipping point of its collapse, but if my experience and reaction are replicated by a big enough percentage of users… well, we’ll see. Twitter has lost 9% of its revenue since Elno took over. Let that sink in.
The Outro comes, in a delightful change from the last few weeks, from a living artist. Jonathon Bree’s chamber-pop instincts and flair for the surreal and theatrical make him number one in a field of one. He’s playing a single date in the UK this spring, which I plan to attend. His latest album features contributions from The Hit-Maker himself, Nile’s Rodger’s. I present Jonathon’s greatest hit, the opening to which was my ringtone for more time than I care to admit.
See you in seven, true believers.