Here is your weekly reminder that it is Friday, just in case you’re losing track of time. Gods know, I am. But hey, good news! Friday means it’s time for another issue of your favourite* interwub digest—The Cut!Continue reading The Cut – Issue 3
I’m in the process of figuring out a few things about this site and what I do with it. There are a lot of clever people out there who see the humble blog making something of a comeback. I guess that’s something of a kickback against social media platforms and their restrictions. On a blog you can say what you want, how you want.
I’ve been going back through the archives of the site (and there are a lot of them—I’ve been on WordPress since 2005, and Blogger for a few years before that). It’s interesting to see how X&HT started as a ‘web log’ in the truest sense of the word. That is, a way of sharing what you’d been up to on the web. To a point, early X&HT looked a lot like my Twitter stream—links, snarks and short-form thoughts.
I think there’s some benefit to that format. Once a week, therefore, I’m going to try and post out some of the things I’ve found of interest in my travels through the aetherscape. I hope you find it of benefit. Call it a kind of cuttings collection.
In fact, let’s just call it The Cut.Continue reading The Cut — Issue 1
The tap on the door is a regular occurance now. It always brings a little something that lightens the day. A veg box delivery from Vegivores or Geo Cafe. Beer from Loddon, cheese and beer from The Grumpy Goat. Maybe something for TLC’s craft room (she’s playing around with the Cricut she had for her birthday and coming up with wonderful results).
Yesterday, a delivery of herb plants put a smile on my face. Barbeque rosemary, French tarragon, parsley, oregano, sorrel. Planting them in the herb tower I bought last year will be a gentle treat for the weekend. Little sparks of flavour for the summer round the corner.
I have to keep thinking in terms of week versus weekend. Tracking the days, building new routines now I’m furloughed. TLC is working from home, so I’m led by her example. I make tea while she showers, maybe sneaking an extra ten minutes under the covers whle she dresses. An Aeropress coffee each before she hits the desk. Man, I’d forgotten about the simple joys of grinding beans, stirring and watching mindfully as the crema blooms in the brewing chamber. The rush of the good stuff into a favourite mug, hot and rich and fragrant. Another little spark to start the motor of the day.
I’m trying to watch less TV right now. It’s hard enough to steer clear of bad news. The Situation (as TLC and I have taken to stentorially pronounce it) gets into everything as it is. I make one exception–my 10am date with Matt Tebbutt and Jack Monroe for Daily Kitchen Live. As cooking shows go, this is a delight. Even seperated by video link, Jack and Matt have a bright and easy chemistry and are clearly learning loads from each other. It’s educational, entertaining, speaking to the everyday lives of the nation at the moment more truly and precisely than any other show on the air. And you get to learn about the joys of bottled lemon juice or how to make quick and easy pizza. A spark of foodie pleasure. I’m making this tonight.
With time on my hands, there’s room to get back to the projects that went on the shelf earlier in the year. The writing that faded away after Nanowrimo. The half-done short stories. And ever more, my happy place, WROB. It’s an indulgence, sure, and I’m very aware that I am a middle-aged male with time on his hands honking on about his Spotify recommendations. No-one needs to hear that, and frankly I’m not that bothered if they do or not. It feels good and right to me. It’s a spark that shines more brightly with every moment I put into it.
As far as music goes, I’ve been powered by Spotify for as long as I can remember now. Paired with a trio (that’s not mathematically or grammatically possible but I think we’re all beyond that now) of Sonos speakers, we have tunes on tap all through the house. Playlisting is easy and keeps songs rolling all through the day. I do, however, find myself relying on old favourites more often–musical comfort blankets, if you will. Bruce Springsteen, for example, is a constant cue-up these days. We even streamed his 2009 Hyde Park gig through Youtube last week. Three and a bit hours of sheer entertainment.
A new/old find is an album of covers by another old favourite, Matthew Sweet, whose power-pop stylings have long resonated in this household, and his wife.
Yeah, okay, CLANG. Sounds reductive if not downright sexist of me, but I’m holding back for dramatic effect. Come on, give me this one.
The spawny so-and-so is married to Susanna Hoffs. Yes, The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs. Yes, the Susanna Hoffs who did that side-eye in the video for walk Like An Egyptian and wore that mini-dress in the Eternal Flame video and rocks a black Rickenbacker like no-one else and hey well LOOK–
Proper badass. Power-pop royalty in her own right is what I’m saying, which makes the Sweet/Hoffs pairing all the more special.
Aaanyway, Susanna and Matthew have released a long series of cover versions, and the best of them are complied onto Under The Covers, a cracking set of tunery. Their harmonies are gorgeous throughout. There’s nothing particularly challenging here, but it’s a spark for the soul as far as I’m concerned.
While I’m on Recommendation Road, it would be remiss of me not to mention the podcast run by an X&HTeam-mate and fellow Trekkie, Keith Eyles. Let’s See What’s Out There follows the recently-finished Star Trek: Picard, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. You may too, if you’re that way inclined.
Keith and co-host Pete are knowledgable and enthusiastic without indulging in the aggressive geekery that can leak into these sort of exercises. It’s going to some interesting places now season 1 is complete. There is a danger that I may crop up on an episode at some point. Fair warning will be given so you can retreat to a safe distance. Check out an ep featuring another Team-mate, Graham Williams, below. You may find it sparks an interest.
It’s the end of my first week in furlough. There is dark talk of decorating and shelf-building in my near future. For now, I’m enjoying this quiet time, feeling my mind slowly returning to a place where the sparks can fly freely. I hope you’re all finding bright points in the day too, however and wherever you can.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have important things to do. Take it away, boys…
Over on our companion site WROB, old friend and fellow traveler DJ Unknown has dropped us a gift. Mixed from original vinyl at one of his many secret bases, DJU takes a deep dive into the world of Bob Dylan. Expect rareties, surprises and an all-round mellow vibe that’s just the ticket for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Check it out over at WROB!
In which yr hmbl etc goes all rocky and metallic. Black Sabbath to Red Fang, Monster Magnet to Mastodon. Tis the season. Turn it UP.
Well, of course it had to be Eurovision that brought me back to the blog after so long. Continue reading Douze Points: Eurovision 2016
The boys celebrate their rescue from CycloMedia’s clutches with an exploration of a truly joyful piece of cinema. You could argue that Streets Of Fire isn’t SF or fantasy. Rob and Clive would argue otherwise.
We’re back. let the revels begin. Let the fires be started.
All good things must come to an end. After 18 months and a ton of fun, Rob and Clive have decided to shutter the Speakeasy. And what better way to finish than in the same way that we started: two blokes in a room, talking about music?
We’re talking about the art and joy of the single, using the examples that mean an awful lot to us. Expect revelations of a personal nature, and insights into who we are and how we got to be that way.
Settle in. This one’s gonna be emotional.
Disney's vision of the classic Sondhiem musical adds a hint of Hollywood but not much else. Continue reading Into The Woods And Over The Hills And Far Away
Who does a best of the year show before the year’s up? Not us, hombre! We’ve made sure 2014 is good and dead before we drop our verdict.
Join Rob and Clive. with Speakeasy playmates Graham Williams, Keith Eyles, Chris Rogers, Simon Aitken, Neil Myers, Dominic Wade and Stuart Wright in our epic exploration of the art and events that made 2014 the fourteenth year of the 21st century.
Settle in. This is gonna be a long trip.