We spent Easter in and out of garden centres, planting up our purchases, digging and tidying and clearing. Under clean blue skies dotted with swooping red kites, serenaded by the occasional sparrow, it felt good to be out in the sunshine. Of course, exercise has a cost, and we paid for it on Easter Monday, muscles groaning and bones twanging, our bodies singing a song with the refrain ‘you overdid it, you silly old sods.’
And the busy time in the garden is only just starting. Oh well. It’s more fun than going to the gym.
Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.
Rob is reading…
Avengers 1959 by Howard Chaykin. A very different take on the superhero team-up, with the hard-boiled punch and swing of James Ellroy matched to the gloss and glamour of a Rat Pack movie. Nick Fury leads a team including Sabretooth and Kraven The Hunter against Nazis. This is not the MCU. Cold-hearted, hot blooded stuff.
Rob is watching…
This. As if my cool quotient wasn’t deep enough in the dumpster as it was. Don’t care. I love a musical. It’s how I was raised.
Rob is listening…
I’m sure I’ve posted this before, but it bears repeating. Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street rolling out an extended, super-funky version of Superstition. Vibes, as Big Bird would say.
Rob is eating…
Street food, baby. Get yourself to The Ding for the best scran in town.
This chapter of The Swipe is dedicated to Dolcie Wickings, who swam into the world on Thursday morning. Mum and Dad are both doing well. I am now a great uncle. Who-da thunk it?
Let’s start off with a great bit of short fiction from Darcie Little Badger on The Sunday Morning Transport. Part ghost story, part time travel tale, part environmental elegy, all good. I’m conscious that I need to get back on board with posting short stories on The Swipe, especially when they’re this impressive.
Keeping it SFnal for a sec, Charlie Jane Anders has skewered a common annoying trope about trans narratives for Teen Vogue. There’s no need for unhappy endings. It’s good to talk about the reasons why people need to change and grow, and celebrate the hard work they put into becoming their true selves.
When I was a young Cub, I would come home from weekly meetings via the local chippy. My pocket money would just stretch to a cone of chips, which I would heavily douse in salt and vinegar. The best bits were always the soggy scraps at the bottom, sharp and saline and squishy. There is a trend for triple-cooked chips and super-crisp frites which bypass the fact that sometimes all a boy wants is a bag full of potatoey, oily sog. I think this country does the best chips in the world, and they are better when they’re bendy and lukewarm.
Nemesis is a crazy, propulsive SF adventure film from 1992. It’s sort of like The Terminator, with the same gleeful absurdity, visual inventiveness and low budget. It’s well worth seeking out. Max Read celebrates a particular quirk of the film. I mean, if it’s cyberpunk everyone should be wearing Mirrorshades…
The Nemesis Sunglasses Lookbook
The audiobook and podcast revolution has largely passed me by. I’m a reader, not a listener. If I’m doing things around the house, I’d rather have music playing. I prefer to write in silence, all the better to focus in the voices in my head. However, Paul Bassett Davies makes a convincing point about the power of audio fiction. He’s right about Hitchhikers’ Guide as well. The radio version was definitely the best.
A long rant from Ed Zitron following Elno Muskrat’s BBC interview this week. I am a long-time user of Twitter, and am saddened by the service’s collapse under the stewardship of this gurning buffoon. All of a sudden, Substack is starting to look like a much more viable option. I’m certainly reading a lot of newsletters nowadays…
As one of the few people in the country to handle moving picture film on a daily basis as part of my working life and an East London boy, I was both charmed and delighted to read about Ümit Mesut and his one-man mission to keep the old magic alive in Clapton. There is something about projected film which makes it look nothing like digital. The dance of the grain, the flicker of the lamp. Real cinema.
Away from all the talk about AI and Web3, there are people out there crafting and coding websites the way the Victorians would have—knitted and hand-stitched. It’s fascinating to see what good-old fashioned HTML is capable of, as the list below makes clear. Go have a poke around and enjoy the ride.
Finally, sadly, we wish happy trails to Al Jaffee who passed on this week. He was an incredibly influential and prolific cartoonist whose work for Mad Magazine gave him a reach and audience inside the mainstream. His invention of The Fold-in would inevitably bring the value of second-hand copies of Mad down from mint to foxed. Somehow, there was always a couple of creases in the back cover…
I was reading a piece on how The Situation has changed us as a species. We seem quicker to anger, less able to cope with problems which normally we could just shrug off. Above it all, there’s an overarching feeling that we haven’t really recovered. A sense of existential unease can infect everything we do and say. But I feel there is a path to healing, as long as we can be a little more gentle and understanding with each other. The Situation is a shared experience which we can deal with together. We can be better. The Outro is brought to you this week by The Finn Brothers who know There’s Nothing Wrong With You.
See you in seven, true believers.