The Cut 🔪 Issue 29

So the Cut Xmas deccoes are down from the loft and in a pile in a corner of the office, waiting for one of us to finally crack, declare ‘sod it,’ invoke the spirit of Noddy Holder and start spreading festive cheer around the joint like a dirty protest at all things Covid. It’s been a hard year and the early start to Christmas is a definite sign we’re ready for it all to be over. This week’s issue doesn’t have a whiff of holly but trust us, it’s coming, and soon. Instead, enjoy film longreads on Orson Welles and Jerry Lewis, considerations on time travel and AI and how the Wotsit came to be.

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

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The Cut 📌 Issue 28

The majority of The Cut staff are still embroiled in the annual writer’s assault course known as Nanowrimo (go here if you have no idea what we’re on about). For those of you joining us on this mad journey–we feel your pain, and we know you’ve got this. Enjoy the ride!

This does mean that today and probably next week’s issue will be shorter than usual. Look, we know you’re disappointed. Bear with us, please. The fact we’re able to do this as well as cope with all the other stuff in our bulging schedules shows how much we care about you.

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

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The Cut ⚔️ Issue 27

This week’s featured image comes from Times cartoonist Morten Morland.

Well, phew, glad that’s all over and done with, eh? A neat, clean and gracious transfer of power—oh yeah, silly us. We forgot for a moment we’re living in The Darkest Timeline. Hey ho. Let us (quite literally in one case) shine a little light on Things That Are Not The Election. Added proviso—Nanowrimo is keeping us busy and also thinking about our own invented worlds instead of whatever this batshit crazy simulation we find ourselves in is. Which on the whole is probably a good thing, but is also our explanation for a slightly shorter than usual newsletter. No apologies issued. This is our art.

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

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The Cut 🤺 Issue 26

Lockdown 2–Electric Boogaloo! Frankly at this point in proceedings hibernation feels like the best option. If you need us we’ll be in our cave.

However, The Cut continues, if in sliiiightly truncated form this week. Hey, look, some of us have lives too, yeah? We kid. Always lovely to see you. Enjoy the usual hunk of palaver.

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

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The Cut 🔪Issue 24

It is a week when Phil Collins’ ex-wife barricaded herself in his mansion with armed guards at the door, a woodworking show featured a face-tatted Nazi sympathiser, and one-time Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani was caught with his hands down his kecks in the presence of an actress in the new Borat movie. Frankly, we can’t compete with that. Come, hide under the covers with us and enjoy some writing that won’t make you feel like the abyss is staring into you.

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

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The Cut 🗡️Issue 23

We had a link from Wired as the opener this week, on how the work/life balance has become irretrievably skewed (https://www.wired.com/story/how-work-became-an-inescapable-hellhole/ if you’re interested) but we realised you all know this already. So let’s put that nonsense to one side and instead centre up the nonsense you have come to know and love over the last several months.

This week, scary sound effects, an iconic bus route and a really rather funky musical instrument you can all play.

Now is the time, here is the place. This is The Cut.

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The Cut 🪒 Issue 21

Michaelmas has come and gone. The nights are starting to draw in. We are heading into spooky season… like things weren’t freaky enough already. Oh well. Draw the curtains, pull up to a bottle and join us as we flag up the pings on our radar this week. We have a metal god, a robust response to some poorly-judged street art and a song that could well be the anthem of 2020.

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


Continue reading The Cut 🪒 Issue 21

The Cut 🔪 Issue 19

Let’s see if we’ve got this right. It is now unlawful to meet in groups of more than six people unless you’re working, travelling to work, in school or grouse shooting. There were people on our feeds this week wondering how problematic it would be to give their kids and their friends shotguns so planned birthday parties could go ahead. And that’s not even the weirdest thing to happen this week. Best crack on with it, then.

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

As far as we’re concerned, the big news this week was the announcement of possible life signs on Venus. For a second there the SF geeks on staff got very excited and started babbling about Edgar Rice Burroughs, rain-infested jungles and green-skinned alien princesses. Sadly, the situation isn’t quite as pulptastic as all that, but the discovery and implications are nevertheless extremely exciting. Science Focus has a decently straightforward breakdown on the news and what happens next.

https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/did-we-find-signs-of-alien-life-in-the-clouds-of-venus-heres-what-the-experts-say/

We kick off our film section with a look at a parallel movie universe. No, not one where cowboy movies make a big comeback instead of superhero flicks. This is all the more fascinating… because it’s real! Race movies, the studios that made them and the stars they created were big business for forty years in the early part of the twentieth century. They were, however, almost invisible to the mainstream. Messy Nessy Chic gives us the skinny on this marginalised corner of cinema history.

https://www.messynessychic.com/2020/02/06/race-movies-and-the-black-owned-studios-that-ran-parallel-to-mainstream-hollywood/

More worryingly, it seems like a lot of our cinematic history is quietly slipping from view. Although there’s a very definite uptick in creators shooting on film, the skills required in its preservation are almost exclusively in the hands of artisans reaching retirement age. A lot of amazing work can be done with old film electronically, but the material still needs careful handling before it can be digitised. The men and women who know what to do with a film splicer are few and far between.

Our X&HTeammate Rob Kaiju pointed us at this short film which lays out the big problem ahead, and what it could mean for over a century of popular culture.

In some areas, though, the gentle art of restoration is going through a bit of a purple patch, as viewers realise watching skilled artisans at work is actually kind of relaxing. We are big fans of The Repair Shop, a BBC featuring some of the cleverest restorers in the UK bringing old and well-loved objects back to life. The big reveals of an old rocking horse or a writing desk returned to their owners in tip-top shape can be quite emotional. Open Culture looks into a phenomenon that has only become more popular in lockdown.

http://www.openculture.com/2020/09/the-joy-of-watching-old-damaged-things-get-restored.html

A couple of food links for you. First up, a look at a foodstuff that has been with us for a long time. Honey is well-known for having antibacterial and preservative properties. Some ancient cultures used it in the process of mummification. Alexander The Great’s body was borne across Europe for burial in a vat of the sweet stuff. What’s less known is just how long-lasting honey can be. Forget that jar of Rowse’s lurking at the back of the cupboard. Archaeologists recently unearthed some seriously well-aged honey.

https://link.medium.com/Vz4jwDW5E9

Fast food treated seriously is, in our opinion, the most delicious of all. So when culinary mad scientist Kenji Lopez-Alt takes on the iconic McRib sandwich, you should pay attention. This is no half-hearted project. It’s a day’s work, involves two different kinds of pork and two different cooking methods. The final result looks none more epic, but would barely last for two minutes before we scarfed it.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/09/how-to-make-homemade-mcdonalds-diy-mcrib-sandwich.html

In our random but useful advice section, here’s a nugget for you. Trust is important, but how do you quantify it? Is there a way to figure quickly and easily how trustworthy your friends, family and workmates really are? Well, yes there is. It’s simpler than you think. Thank us later.

http://read.medium.com/WEW3EKV

A couple of guitary links. It’s gratifying to see the swell in interest in the old six-strings in the face of That Flippin’ Situation. Nothing says ‘screw you, intolerant and uncaring universe’ better than blasting an A minor chord through a cranked up Les Paul Junior or Fender Mustang and a cheap amp with your teeth bared. Best therapy going, in our humble experience.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/08/style/guitar-sales-fender-gibson.html

This, in our opinion, is the feel-good story of the week. A tale of the raddest bass guitar on the planet, and how it finally found its way back to the man who caused it to be in the first place. Seriously, this gave our raddled ould hearts a bit of a glow.

http://www.washingtonian.com/2020/09/11/his-prized-bass-vanished-27-years-ago-dc-musicians-raised-money-to-buy-it-back/

And finally. We’re throwing in an interview with comic creator Nick Abadzis for several reasons. Firstly, the Ninth Art Desk fondly remembers Deadline Magazine and considers it a much more important publication than simply the launchpad for Tank Girl. Second of all, Nick is warm, witty and open about the nuts and bolts of comic-making, with insights that fascinated us. Third of all, Hugo Tate is an excellent strip that deserves a wider audience. Can’t say fairer than that, can we?

https://neotextcorp.com/culture/nick-abadzis-revisits-his-beginnings-with-hugo-tate-with-hugo-tate/


In celebration of the exciting news of possible life in the atmosphere of our celestial neighbour, there was only really one choice for this week’s Exit Music. We very, very nearly went with the Bananarama cover, but felt the original just shaded it for us. All together now… “goddess on a mountaintop, shining like a silver flame…”

See you in seven.

The Cut ⚔️ Issue 18

We’re told to go out. We’re told to stay in. We’re told we can gather in groups. No, not that many people. The Situation changes with every passing day. Is there nothing on which you can depend?

Just us, o Readership. The Cut’s record of dependability, of delivering what we say when we say, speaks for itself. That’ll probably fall over next week. Until it does we are the only publication you can trust.

This week, free jazz against fascism, the joy of rice and a profile of the actor everyone hated. Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.


A wide-ranging music section this week. We begin in Tupelo, the town with a righteous claim to fame–it’s produced more Elvis tribute artists than anywhere else. What, you think they just come out of thin air? There’s training involved here, folks! There’s hairstyle instruction! It’s a competitive field, and the rewards are manifold…

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/elvis-tribute-artists-tupelo

It would be easy to diss Mariah Carey. She is a figure ripe for parody and ridicule. But that hasn’t stopped her from becoming an iconic singer and recording artist with a trunkful of hits. She’s also done it her way, writing her own tunes and living her life as it suits her best. You may not be a fan of her music, but after reading this Vulture profile you may be more appreciative of the woman.

https://www.vulture.com/article/mariah-carey-rarities-profile.html

Marc Bolan was the very definition of the star that shone brightly for far too short a time. A prime architect of glam rock, an early and enthusiastic supporter of punk rock and the guy who could rock a feather boa like no-one else. With the release of a covers album of his music, Alexis Petrides looks at the man and the glitter bomb he exploded over the seventies. There’s even a helpful Spotify playlist of deep cuts to get you in the mood.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/sep/04/marc-bolan-perfect-pop-star-t-rex-singer-tribute-album-elton-john-u2

To close out the music section, a quick look at a loose but ferocious collection of musicians using free jazz as a form of anti-fascist protest in Denmark. We can’t help but think bringing the noise is an excellent way of turning the tables on a very nasty resurgence in far-right agitation.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/k7q54a/jazz-far-right-denmark-rasmus-paludan

Right, we’ve got the tunes, let’s head to the kitchen. Who here likes fried rice? Mmhmm, thought so. How about pancakes? Yes, as expected. In that case, my hungries, have we got a treat for you!

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/fried-rice-pancakes

For such a simple food, rice is surprisingly contetious. We linked in Issue 12 to the irascible Uncle Roger and his horrified reaction to Western takes on egg fried rice. Best not to get involved in any discussion on jollof–as Jamie Oliver discovered, the one point on which Ghanaian and Nigerian opinion meshes on the subject is how badly he messed up the iconic African rice dish when he tried to make it. The Guardian looks more closely at one of the world’s staple foods, and how different cultures treat the grain.

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/sep/03/grain-of-truth-i-once-saw-a-chef-cook-80-kilos-of-rice-in-a-combi-oven

Yes, yes, we know, a lot of Guardian links in this week’s Cut. We will not apologise for including this brilliant piece on rewilding farmer Derek Gow. Pressure on the land has never been higher as an increasing population demands cheap food. Returning rural landscapes to a better natural balance instead of trying and failing to bend it to our will has real and quick-to-see benefits for everyone and everything. Bring back the beavers!

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/04/its-going-to-be-our-way-now-the-guerrilla-rewilder-shaking-up-british-farming-aoe


We start our entertainment section with a review of a movie featuring an absolute cracker of a cast. Who wouldn’t want to see an action thriller starring John Rhys-Davies, Laura Dern and George Clooney? Grab your popcorn and settle back, Readership. Let’s enjoy Grizzly 2!

https://www.theringer.com/movies/2020/8/31/21406226/grizzly-ii-george-clooney-laura-dern-john-rhys-davies

Hannah Berry is Britain’s current Comics Laureate. Her work is funny, sharply-crafted and thoughtful. In this article for the British Council, she’s clear-eyed but sombre on the state of the comics nation and the challenges anyone who wants to make a living in the Realm of The Ninth Art will face. Now more than ever, it’s tough to be a star of the gutters. As Jack Kirby said, ‘comics will break your heart.’

https://literature.britishcouncil.org/blog/2020/comics-in-crisis/

Rex Harrison made a living portraying a particular kind of Englishman–the stiff upper lip personified. A little cold, emotionally distant but with a warm core. Away from the stage and cinema screen, Harrison was all that and less, with hardly any sense of redeeming features. The warmth he brought to his roles was replaced by a block of ice. In short, he was a monster and universally disliked. Graham McCann profiles him for the British Comedy Guide. We remain astonished that he got as far as he did with the attitude he presented to the world.

https://www.comedy.co.uk/features/comedy_chronicles/rex-harrison-his-greatest-hits/

One for the writers among us. Punctuation is a vital part of clear communication–the difference between ‘let’s eat, Grandma’ and ‘let’s eat Grandma.’ For many, though, proper punctuation is just not that big a deal. Why sweat a misplaced apostrophe? We at The Cut understand both stances, realising that language is an ever-changing situation. It’s still important to understand the rules in order to break them, we feel. And a little historical perspective never hurt. Therefore, although we appreciate this is not for everyone, we urge you to check this look at the history and evolution of punctuation.

https://aeon.co/essays/beside-the-point-punctuation-is-dead-long-live-punctuation

This week’s Exit Music is brought to you by the NPR Tiny Desk Concert series. Or rather, the new iteration now that musical artists can’t cram into Bob Boilen’s office to play and sing. The acclaimed series of short, intimate shows is now being recorded by musicians at home, but it was clear viewers missed the iconic backdrop of shelves crammed with memorabilia.

How then, do Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas look as if they’re in Seattle as they present two recent songs? The answer is refreshingly low-tech, and worth sticking around to the end to see. Also, we like Billie’s way with a tune.

See you in seven.

The Cut 🪓 Issue 17

Good gravy, it’s Friday! It’s September! We’re coming up on six months since lockdown loomed up on us and the streets emptied. It seems like all the time in the world and a blink of the eye all at once. Join us as we look at religion in SF, the stories we can’t write any more and the most delicious food you can’t eat.

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


As writers, we can be said to spend our lives dreaming on paper. The life of the mind can be as real, and certainly more attractive than the one we live in every day. For certain people, the pull of a daydream world becomes so seductive that they begin to retreat into it…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/the_daydream_that_never_stops

Cheers is one of those shows fondly remembered by everyone, mostly because of the great writing and vibrant, many-layered characters. There were some early casualties to the clientele, most notably one who didn’t make it past the pilot. Whatever happened to Mrs. Littlefield?

http://www.dirtyfeed.org/2020/04/heres-to-you-mrs-littlefield/

We kick off our food portion of The Cut with a new feature we like to call Recipe Of The Week (there will probably be a change in that title, but we’re running up against deadline, here). This week, check out Food52’s guide to a proper deep-crust Detroit-style pizza that’s a seriously cheesy, crunchy, saucy treat!

https://food52.com/recipes/82857-crispy-cheese-pan-pizza-recipe

We are binging the latest series of Chef’s Table on Netflix on the art of barbecue. The show focuses on the best of the best, but we feel they missed a name. Let us, via, Eater, introduce you to Tom Ellis who runs live-fire grills for big corporate events and celebrations. There’s some clever and refined techniques on display here, and as Tom himself admits, no small element of theatre…

https://www.eater.com/2020/8/26/21401422/how-swell-party-grill-master-tom-ellis-uses-open-fire-cooking-to-make-a-feast

You don’t often see Serious Eats taking about anime. But when they focus on the central part food plays in Studio Ghibli’s films, and the loving way the animation giant portrays it, then it’s worth paying attention. Spirited Away takes point, of course, but Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo and Kiki’s Delivery Service all have classic moments to savour.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/08/studio-ghibli-anime-best-food-scenes.html

Our SF Correspondent interjects:

Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb books are in our top ten list of stories released over the past couple of years. Gothic, picaresque, wild and bracingly bonkers, there’s little else like them out there. The character of Gideon Nav is a creation of sheer snarky joy. Tor digs into the iconography twisted through Muir’s world-building and how it relates to a wider discussion of religious imagery in SF. From Star Wars to Dune, A Canticle For Leibovitz to The Parable Of The Sower, there’s a rich, dark seam to mine…

https://www.tor.com/2020/08/19/gideon-the-ninth-young-pope-and-the-new-pope-are-building-a-queer-catholic-speculative-fiction-canon/

So, the question of creativity during lockdown doesn’t go away. Should we feel guilty for not writing that novel or learning a new language with all the free time we were given? The answer is of course hecks no, but Steven Soderburgh isn’t helping matters. He used lockdown to re-edit a couple of his movies, reshaping them into new and shorter films. We pick up Indiewire for more on the annoyingly productive director.

https://www.indiewire.com/2020/08/steven-soderbergh-reedited-movies-quarantine-1234582502/

SF writer Charlie Stross has often struggled with the problem of plot redundancy. That is, a genius idea or gizmo that presents in real life before he gets the chance to finish the damn book. In The Year Of The Situation, Charlie looks at those story tropes and broad themes that are frankly no longer fit for purpose and are therefore dead to him.

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2020/08/dead-plots.html

Some notes from the Ninth Arts Desk…

We believe in comics. We think comics are an art form with a very specific set of strengths, and telling stories using The Ninth Art can unlock new aspects of narrative. That’s not all. As Lifehack notes, reading comics can actually make you smarter!

https://www.lifehack.org/468585/6-ways-reading-comics-makes-you-smarter

We’ve already mentioned how comics can make an excellent educational tool. Comics Beat recently interviewed art-chameleon R Sikoryak who has pointed his considerable skills into opening up one of the most misunderstood and misused documents of all time—The Constitution Of The United States!

https://www.comicsbeat.com/interview-r-sikoryak-constitution-illustrated/

Finally in this section, Michael Carty’s loving tribute to comics Mecca Forbidden Planet should have gone up last week as the old place celebrated its forty-second birthday. Oh well, better late than never. We remain especially fond of the original Denmark Street site. One of our number actually fainted while in a signing line for the first Judge Dredd annual in 1981. He picked hisself up, dusted hisself off and got that grud-damned Pat Mills autograph. Now that’s dedication to the cause!

http://mjcarty.com/forbidden-planetstin-pans-and-londons-eternal

This week’s Long Read takes in a charismatic con-man, a casino under threat and a very complicated bomb. How this story has not already been made into a film beggars belief. Perhaps it’s because some of the plot twists are just too mind-boggling for an audience to buy into. Settle back with a strong cocktail (trust us, you’ll need it) and enjoy the tale of The Zero-Armed Bandit…

www.damninteresting.com/the-zero-armed-bandit/

And finally, a quick plug for our Rob, who has somehow managed to weasel his way onto Keith Eyle’s Star Trek podcast, Let’s See What’s Out There! Join Rob, Keith and co-host Pete Mele as they discuss canon, deep cut episodes and how a post-scarcity Federation doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have bills to pay…

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cDovL2xzd290Y2FzdC5saWJzeW4uY29tL3Jzcw/episode/YTk0ZGI3ZGYtMTRjYi00M2UyLThjOWMtY2NkMmRkNzI0ZDJi

Our love for California psyche-skronkers The Oh Sees (the current iteration, as is their wont, is called Osees) is deep and long and true. King See John Dwyer conjures glorious clangs and whoops from his high-slung guitar while the two-drum attack rushes the sound along at express-train intensity. We were minded to present an hour of rehearsal footage for songs from the new album Protean Threat, out later this month, but choose instead for Exit Music to showcase a set they did for KEXP last year, featuring some classic bangers. If you want an overview of the band and their sound, start here. They’re touring the UK in October, and we are sorely tempted to break quarantine to see them.

Dig in. Here we go. See you in seven.