The Cut ✂️ Issue 14

Here we are and here we are and here we go. As we write this the sun is blaring down like the solar equivalent of an elephant strangling a tuba. As you read this, the heavens have cracked asunder and the great deluge is upon us. What a difference a few days can make. Anyhow, in spite of whatever apocalyptic scenario is currently bellowing into your face, we trust you can find a way through. Also, hey, nearly the weekend, right? So let’s do the thing where we raise up the (sodden or sun-scorched) banner and you raise your faces to the sky and roar…

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.


A by-product of the clusterfukc of this year’s Hugo ceremony in which some of the old guard did not, shall we say, cover themselves in glory, has been the interrogation of what it takes to be a science-fiction fan. More specifically, what books you need to have read to pass by the gatekeepers—the so-called canon. Typically, this list is full of books that are easily 40-50 years old with an authorial profile that skews massively towards white, male, middle-class writers. This, as John Scalzi points out, does not cater to the tastes and experiences of many committed and enthusiastic fans of the genre. With his typical wit and self-deprecation, (he is, after all, of the demographic he rails against) enjoy the ride as Scalzi sets a fuse to the canon…

https://whatever.scalzi.com/2020/08/07/oh-christ-not-the-science-fiction-canon-again/

The detective steps into her bullpen. Her team are gathered. It’s time to connect the random patterns that link a set of heinous and imaginatively staged murders. In a prominent place stands the board on which victims, their relationships and the suspects to their murders are posted. It could be a simple whiteboard, or a whizzy graphic interface that the detective can prod and swipe at à la Tom Cruise in Minority Report. The serial killer could have their own version, a mess of photos and post-its and coloured string. It’s a vital part of the story. It’s known in the trade as The Crazy Wall. Esquire has more on this essential prop…

https://www.esquire.com/uk/culture/film/news/a7703/detective-show-crazy-walls/


We make no apologies for the following promotional message. Clay’s Hyderabadi is a true gem of the burgeoning food scene in our home town, Reading. This small restaurant produces food punching well above its weight class in flavour. Nandana and Sharat, the couple behind Clay’s, have struggled through The Situation, being unable to reopen due to limited space. This has not stopped them from dispensing hundreds of meals for charity and developing a range of their favourites in cook-chill packaging. The big news is now their amazing curries, biryanis and sundries are available nationwide. We urge you to give them a try if you want to try genuinely great home-cooked Hyderabadi cuisine at home. Check the review from The Plate Licked Clean then order up!

https://www.theplatelickedclean.co.uk/clays-hyderabadi-kitchen-reading-national-delivery-service

In a different spin on food and drink service during The Situation, Insider looks at the phenomenon of wine windows, a Tuscan plague-era architectural rarity enabling gelaterias to serve coffee and frozen treats in a safely distanced way. We’re reminded of The Greyfriar in Chawton, a sixeenth century pub we visited recently whose staff found a serving hatch that had been out of action for centuries. It’s now back in service and helping the staff get the beers to thirsty punters in a very Covid-friendly manner!

https://www.insider.com/photos-wine-windows-florence-italy-covid-friendly-gelato-coffee-2020-8

https://www.greyfriar-chawton.co.uk

We love this Eater piece on how comics and graphic techniques can be used to make cookbooks a much less intimidating prospect to use. We’re not surprised, though. The comics form works brilliantly as an educational resource in whatever discipline you put it through. Let’s be frank—if you’ve read a safety card on an aircraft, you’ve read a comic. We would especially flag Wendy McNaughton, who’s lovely pen-and-ink line illustrations make Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat such a treat to read and cook from.

https://www.eater.com/cookbooks/2016/11/16/13645020/cookbook-comic-book

ANOTHER Judge Dredd post? Well, it looks like the disease ridden hellscape of The Situation and the political fustercluck therein was foretold in a worryingly on-the-nose fashion by the British SF comic. This Wired piece is well worth a read, and we can very strongly recommend America, a powerful story that lays bare the lies and terrible choices behind authoritarian rule.

Not just biff bang pow…

https://wired.trib.al/zr42lMH

While we’re on the prescient tip, this 2013 piece on John Le Carre is a neatly drawn portrait of a man who has not just defined our view of espionage but how the spooks view themselves and take care of business. His influence runs deep, and his insight is disturbingly on the nose.

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/magazine/john-le-carre-has-not-mellowed-with-age.html

Cat photos. Very much a product of the InstaFace generation, right? Well, turns out we have been celebrating our feline chums photographically for almost as long as we have had the ability to do so. 120 years, to be more precise!

https://mymodernmet.com/cyanotype-time-capsule-cat-photos/

We would be failing in our duty as cataloguers of the interverse were we not to highlight the finest piece of writing published anywhere this week. Comedian and paragon of progressive masculinity Rob Delaney details the events surrounding his vasectomy. That’s all the background you need. Read on and enjoy.

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/aug/12/could-i-feel-what-they-were-doing-yes-rob-delaney-on-the-pain-and-pleasure-of-his-vasectomy


And finally, your Exit Music. Way, way back in the before times of 2004 (the year when the staff of The Cut relocated to our current eyrie, fact fans) musical artists of a liberal persuasion banded together to get their fans out and rock the vote. The resulting tour led to some amazing musical moments. Far Out magazine highlights two of our heroes, Michael Stipe and Bruce Springsteen, collaborating on a kickass version of ‘Because The Night’, a song written by Bruce and made famous by Patti Smith, one of Michael’s major influences. We love this.

https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/r-e-m-michael-stipe-bruce-springsteen-to-sing-because-the-night-and-man-on-the-moon/

See you in seven.

The Cut – Issue 13

Thirteen weeks of this foolishness! The smart move would be to bail while there’s a scrap of dignity left to wrap around our scrawny thews. But no, that is not how we operate, as well you know. Therefore, o our Readership, the luck is all good for you. Enjoy this week’s slumgullion of linky loveliness.

Come on, we’re all friends now. Say it with me.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.


Continue reading The Cut – Issue 13

The Cut – Issue 12

Here we are again, my lovelies. Three months of linky goodness from Cut Command, beaming out from our transmission tower high on a hill overlooking the biggest town in the UK. We are proud to provide you, therefore, with the finest in Reading material.

Look, come on, four months of lockdown will do a number on anyone’s head. Let’s crack on, shall we? Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

Continue reading The Cut – Issue 12

The Cut – Issue 7

We’ve had better weeks. Reading, our home town, was subject to an event now described as terrorist action. Three people died as a result. We are horrified, but not terrorised. We stand with all our friends and neighbours in this oddball place we call home, and look forward to seeing everyone in Forbury Gardens very, very soon.

Continue reading The Cut – Issue 7

The Cut – Issue 4

It’s Friday, and the world is changing faster than we can keep up. Thank goodness The Cut is here to help you through the confusion, right?

(There is a distinct possibility increased confusion may result from reading this despatch. We refer you to the terms and conditions in the sidebar.)


Let’s begin by addressing the obvious main story of the week. I could fill the whole issue with links and stories relating to the murder of George Floyd and the fury it sparked. The thing is, we here at The Cut are working from a position where lack of knowledge stands in the way of being able to comment constructively. Instead, we intend to quietly learn more, leaving space open for other more appropriate voices to be heard. There are many resources out there if you want to educate yourself. We found this freely-distributed Google Doc to be of use.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1S5uckFHCA_XZkxG0Zg5U4GQGbY_RklZARwu43fqJH0E/preview?pru=AAABcqNT32M*ty1FrOEag4XCdeshq8klsg#

That being said, we feel with our food remit we can at least bring more light onto the ongoing danger to a major BAME community resource in the UK. Nour Cash And Carry has served the people of Brixton for twenty years, occupying a prime spot that allows customers in from both Market Row and Electric Avenue. The market’s landlord, property developer and EDM artist (yes, really) Taylor McWilliams, claims the site is needed for a new electricity sub-station and intends to close it, despite input from the power company that other sites are available. To the community who depend on Nour, this seems like just another example of outside money muscling in where it’s not wanted. More on the story from Brixton Blog—

https://brixtonblog.com/2020/06/nour-pressure-mounts-on-landlord/

We’ll close out this opening section with a nod to artist and thinker Austin Klein, who provides a handy road map for us in the days ahead…

https://austinkleon.com/2020/05/27/work-and-learn-in-evil-days/


Moving on. Art crit site Exmilitary have dropped a set of four free-to-stream films on the theme of the Eastern European Apocalypse. If, like us, you have a penchant for slow, surreal Soviet-bloc SF, you’re in for a treat. The star of the group is obviously Tarkovsky’s Stalker, but we’d also tag Żuławski’s On The Silver Globe. Dense, chewy and very good for you.

http://exmilitai.re/film

This article from Film School Rejects on the colour palette of director Michael Mann is full of fascinating detail on how he achieved his signature look. We have particular interest in the art of colour grading for film and this ticked a lot of our boxes very hard indeed.

https://filmschoolrejects.com/michael-mann-cool-colors/


We like to give you at least one story with the capacity to hinge your jaw wide open. This week, a tale of a commercial transaction gone ‘orribly wrong. Read to the end.

https://news.sky.com/story/pair-hired-for-mans-broom-sexual-fantasy-turn-up-in-bedroom-at-wrong-address-with-machetes-11996365

Small town America seems to be the place where surreal crime and dark secrets are hiding around every corner on Main Street. Seems to us the following list would be of use if you’re ever going to get the chance to do that iconic road trip—just so you know which places are really not safe to pull in for a refreshment break…

https://www.cracked.com/article_25953_5-dark-secrets-americas-small-towns-dont-want-you-to-know.html

We finish this section with a tale of experimentation in the furthest realms of the human experience, a particular kind of toad and an actor with a very niche side-hustle. The headline is a work of journalistic art all by itself.

https://news.avclub.com/spanish-penis-candle-mogul-accused-of-causing-death-by-1843896758


Time to raise the tone. Here’s the literary portion of our program. A genuinely fascinating look at how The Situation is affecting upcoming book releases, from plot ideas to the simple facts of a changed social landscape. Popular thinking currently believes dystopian fiction is on its way out, as we’re living a slow-motion collapse on a daily basis. We at The Cut are reading more SF than ever, reveling in the notion of characters not having to social distance or chatting in a space tavern over a foaming pint of Arcturus ale. Of course, as ever, we’re living in William Gibson’s world.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jun/01/no-pubs-no-kissing-no-flying-how-covid-19-is-forcing-authors-to-change-their-novels

We were talking last week about vertically-scrolling web comics. There are many good ones out there, but we particularly recommend My Giant Nerd Boyfriend. Written and drawn in a pleasingly loose Kate Beaton-esque style by a tiny Malaysian cartoonist who calls herself Fishball, it’s a slice-of-life journal finding humour in the life she shares with The Giant Nerd Boyfriend of the title. It’s funny, touching, occasional moving but eminently scrollable. We think once you start you won’t be able to stop.

https://www.webtoons.com/en/slice-of-life/my-giant-nerd-boyfriend/list?title_no=958


And finally. This fun cartoony overview of the economics and marketing of yer actual high-seas piracy gets the balance of humour to information smack on, and therefore makes you feel like you’re learning while laughing. Do check them both. You’ll feel smarter for it.

https://www.geeksaresexy.net/2020/06/02/how-to-be-a-pirate-quartermaster-and-captain-edition-video/


Oh, finally finally. A new WROB show went up yesterday, in which host Rob talks about his life as an introvert while providing a themed soundtrack. He put a lot of heart in on this one, Readership. Tilt the guy an ear.

https://wrobradio.org/2020/06/04/the-introvert-special/


The Exit Music this week comes courtesy of The Raconteurs. This hour doco of a day spent at the legendary Electric Lady studios has lots of fun moments, as the band work up a cover of Blank Generation before a short gig in the evening. Hosted by that most rock and roll of film directors Jim Jarmusch, it’s a fun insight into the process of covering an iconic record. If you’d rather cut straight to the live stuff, skip to 20 minutes in.


That’s all from us this week. Stay safe, keep your head straight and, to quote Jim J from the music link above, don’t let the fuckers get ya.

The Lockdown Library

I would love to be able to tell you how the extended time at home has led to an outpouring of creativity, a flood of new writing and art and music from my head meats through my skilful fingers and out, fluttering like glittering butterflies of the imagination, into the world.

Continue reading The Lockdown Library

The A To Z Of SFF: L Is For Logan’s Run


 

No, we’re not talking about the 70s Michael York/Jenny Agutter film. Rather, we’re taking a look at the source material–the William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson novel. An entirely different, much darker but much more cinematic prospect. Which is frankly a lot more fun!
We believe the time is right to reconsider this cracking, pulpy take on a society that has shrugged off its humanity in favour of youth. Who needs another movie?


 

logansrunbook
Pictured: the exceedingly battered 1970 Corgi edition of Logan’s Run that lives with Rob.