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.

Continue reading The Cut 🗡️Issue 23

The Cut ✂️ Issue 16

Four months. Four! Four whole months! We’ve been pushing out this nonsense for a third of a year now! Are we going to stop? Well, as you read this, prep has already begun on next week’s Cut so we guess the answer to that impertinent little question is NO WAY, JOSIE HAY!

This week we we join in with a bunch of aging ravers, see what an Earth without people would look like, check out film careers that finished before they really got started or ended too soon and offer up yet more stuff in that typical Cut vibrational headspace. If you’ve been here before you know what to expect.

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


Lockdown livestreams are part of our world now. We connect with our friends through Zoom, check out concerts and plays through YouTube and even do virtual festivals, which have distinct advantages to those of us who are mud-averse. The Guardian looks at another vector in our ongoing virtual communion—livestream raving. The participants are people who remember the first wave, and are really not that bothered about spending time somewhere in a field in Hampshire…

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/aug/23/rave-middle-aged-clubbing-culture-lockdown-livestream-parties

The Simpsons is a series that’s well past its best, but in the golden age little could beat it for the sheer quality of writing and performance. Mel Magazine takes a deep dive into a two minute segment that is still quoted and memed today—the “Steamed hams’ sketch. Aurora borialis indeed…

https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/simpsons-steamed-hams-oral-history

We are living, according to the science, in a new kind of geological era—the Anthropocene, a time when the principal agent for change in the environment is humanity. But if for whatever reason we were to vanish, what would happen to the planet? What lasting legacy would there be? Livescience has some surprising answers…

https://www.livescience.com/earth-without-people.html

We have a big film section for you this week, which seems appropriate as cinemas start to properly reopen with the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. To start, a look at the sadly truncated career and unfinished projects of an animation giant—the director of Paprika and Perfect Blue, Satoshi Kon.

https://lwlies.com/articles/satoshi-kon-dreaming-machine-unfinished-meta-nightmares/

As a side-conversation to Kon’s incomplete oeuvre, AV Club has a fascinating list of directors who, whatever their promise, only managed to complete one feature. There are some very surprising names in here…

https://film.avclub.com/one-and-sadly-done-12-excellent-features-from-director-1798275039

Rob writes:

Any list of the best ever film trailer can never come up with a definitive answer. But it does make for a heck of an interesting discussion. My personal favourite? Well, when I was working at a post-production house in Soho in 1999, I was in charge of transferring film trailers to tape for TV ads. In May of that year, one passed into my hands that I watched, then stopped, rewound and called in as many of my colleagues as I could find to show them. It was, I knew, going to be a film that defined popular cinema from then on. That film was The Matrix. Even now, I remember my jaw dropping open in response to what I was seeing. Bullet time was a special effect that no-one had seen before, and I was one of the first people in the country to witness it. Even now, The Matrix remains a favourite, partially because of the buzz I got from that first taster.

So how about it, Readership? Do you have a favourite trailer? Let us know!

https://io9.gizmodo.com/whats-the-best-movie-trailer-of-all-time-1844786778

Don Corscarelli’s The Beastmaster is admittedly a cheesy heap of 80s exploitation—all swordplay and boobs (male and female) and gore. But it has a loyal following amongst the kids who came of age in that heady time (some of The Cut personnel included). We were delighted to hear that Corscarelli has regained the rights to his movie after years of legal wrangling. But there is a crushing twist to the tale, one which means we should be on the lookout for a particular seven cans of film negative…

https://www.whereisthebeastmaster.com/

To finish this section, a cool little listicle from Bored Panda which does exactly what the title describes. Some pleasingly dark takes in here…

https://www.boredpanda.com/unrelated-movies-described-same-sentence/

Moving on to the world of tabletop gaming—sadly a field in which we have no expertise. One of those ‘not for the lack of interest’ situations that never happened for us. However, we are interested in gaming as a character and plot creation vector. The new Dungeons and Dragons rulebook has new methods that address some worrying racial stereotyping baked into the old rules. This could lead the way to some much freer and open forms of creative gameplay. We strongly approve.

https://io9.gizmodo.com/with-d-ds-next-rulebook-character-creation-will-never-1844807934

Oh look, this is just a bit of silliness, but we couldn’t help but be charmed. Do you have a theme tune? Do you walk into the pub with the Indiana Jones music playing in your head? Maybe Cigarettes and Alcohol is more appropriate. Anyway. If you have a soundtrack for your day, then you are going to enjoy this clip as much as we did.

https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/idap5k/following_people_in_public_while_playing_popular/

We wrote last week about how graphic and comic techniques can make cookery books a much more straightforward proposition, particularly for the newcomer. It seems that this has been the case for a very long time, as Atlas Obscura notes. For a pre-literate society (or to clarify, one which communicates primarily in pictograms) this approach makes all kinds of sense…

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/ancient-egyptian-recipes

And finally, your Exit Music. It cannot have escaped the attention of an observant Readership that we are all about The Boss here at Cut Central. It would be downright negligent of us, then, were we to let the 45th anniversary of the release of his landmark album Born To Run go unmarked. It’s an iconic work of popular culture, endlessly quoted and covered.

We choose not to go down the obvious route when it comes to sharing a tune with y’all, though. Born To Run is more than its title track. Instead, please to enjoy She’s The One, the closest the album comes to a deep cut. Criminally marginalised, it’s a blast from the urgent piano-led beginning to the full on Bo Diddly-fuelled bangarang of the crescendo.

To put the icing on the cherry, we have a version for you from Bruce and the E Street Band’s killer 1975 Hammersmith Odeon gig, pimp-wear, woolly hats and all. If this don’t put a grin on your face then you already dead, pally. Crank this. It’s the future of rock ‘n’ roll, after all.

We will see you in seven.

The Cut ✂️ Issue 15

On we jolly well go, clinging to the merry-go-round as it spins ever faster and the music of the calliope ramps up to lunatic levels of volume and speed. The last couple of weeks feel like the craziness has really taken a turn for the bonkers. What can you depend on? Well, at least on a Friday at 9am there’s a new ish of The Cut to help you into the weekend. Buckle up, buttercups!

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

Continue reading The Cut ✂️ Issue 15

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 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 11

Well, slap our withers and call us rosy, there goes another week! Time she doth fly, up into the rafters like a deranged pigeon to root around in the loft and make an ungodly mess. Much, indeed, like this ish of The Cut, which it has, we’ll be honest, been a bit of a scramble to pull together for deadline what with work and lives and whatever this fresh hell that is supposed to be normal is doing to us. WE HOPE YOU’RE GRATEFUL. Anyhoo. Let’s have a look at what the time-pigeon has dislodged, shall we? Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.


Let us consider Judge Dredd. It’s long been recognised that Mega-City One’s most ferocious lawman serves as parody and satire in equal measure to the thrills, chases and gunfights which may have drawn us in as excitable, sci-fi obsessed nine-year-olds. We offer for your approval two articles looking into this side of the man in the hat and his screwy world, both of which offer some fascinating insight. Also, who knew there was a new animated Dredd web-series out there? You do now!

https://filmschoolrejects.com/judge-dredd-vs-dredd-on-the-satire-scale-d823322cbf7f/

https://neotextcorp.com/culture/the-devil-you-know/

Keeping it comics, we wanted to highlight a delightful set of short films that came out a few years back, giving us the closest look yet at what a Calvin And Hobbes live-action production might look like. As creator Bill Watterson has no interest in merchandising or expanding the reach of the strip beyond what already exists (and who can blame him, as how do you improve upon perfection?) it’s nice to see this glimpse at another viewpoint on the boy and his tiger. These are really, really good.

https://news.avclub.com/hobbes-me-brings-a-beloved-comic-strip-to-stylish-lif-1798246596

You may be unfamiliar with Arnold Lobel’s Frog And Toad books. They are a heady mix of the aesthetics of The Wind In The Willows, the mood and atmosphere of The Moomins and the melancholy romanticism of E. M. Forster. Slate takes a good hard look at the stories and Lobel’s life to reveal stories that are very much more than the sum of their parts.

https://slate.com/culture/2020/07/frog-and-toad-anniversary-arnold-lobel.html

We stay in a literary frame of mind by sharing this excellent Open Culture list of free short stories. It’s a really good primer for the precision and detail needed to pull off a great piece of short fiction, featuring some of the best writers around. Whatever your tastes, you will find something to love here. And should you feel the urge to have a dabble yourself, we offer some tips from Mister Sandman himself, Neil Gaiman, who provided some powerful knowledge-bombs in his recent Masterclass series. Solid gold awaits the brave traveller.

http://www.openculture.com/2020/07/29-free-short-stories-from-some-of-todays-most-acclaimed-writers.html

https://writingcooperative.com/neil-gaimans-top-13-writing-tips-d78848fd85f0

It has often been thought that the deranged visions of Heironymous Bosch were brought on by the artist eating bread made with wheat tainted with a hallucinogenic fungus. But there is another contender for his singular vision of hell. Darnel is a grain that looks almost exactly like wheat and grows alongside it. In large doses, it’s fatal. In small amounts it messes with human vision and speech, acting as an intoxicant. Darnel is mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays and it seems the effects were recorded in documents from the Ancient Greeks. The symbiotic relationship between the grain and our bread- and beer-making urges has existed for a very long time.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/wheats-evil-twin-has-been-intoxicating-humans-for-centuries

If you want a drink in New York, you have to have something to eat as well. That rule, imposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, has made the life of the poor schlubs running bars in The Big Apple that bit harder. To get round the new rules, dollar menu items are appearing that owe more than a nod to the infamous pre-Prohibition bar-snack , the Raines Sandwich. Vice has more to digest on this…

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/dyz44j/bars-are-serving-ridiculous-dollar1-menu-items-to-stay-open-during-covid-restrictions

Our long read this week is from writer Jonathon Maselik, and digs deeply into the drinking culture of Northern Pennsylvania. Bar culture across the pond has always felt odd and a little uncomfortable to us. The tipping etiquette and expectations is a potential minefield. We found this piece moving and worried that in some places it struck a little too closely to home, despite the cultural differences…

https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/drinking-alone

Talking about writing that speaks very clearly to us, this short missive from artist and zinester Austin Kleon says a lot about introversion and the quest for healing silence. It’s difficult to filter out the noise, even in lockdown. But for those of us who crave the quiet life, it’s desperately important to find that still point in the day.

https://austinkleon.com/2019/02/02/on-solitude-and-being-who-you-are/


And finally. We were saddened to hear of the passing this week of Tim Smith. His band, Cardiacs, were a singular mix of psychedelia, punk and prog who committed completely to his vision on how they presented themselves. As worker drones of the Alphabet Business Concern, Cardiacs had a dress code and musical direction that were strictly adhered to. Think a skewed English version of early Arcade Fire with more pancake makeup and gurning. That’s not right, but it’ll at least set you on the road. Tim was hit with a rare neurological illness that blighted the last ten years of his life—a tragic loss to English music. Who knows what twisted magnificence he could have wrought if he’d been at full strength in these strange times?

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jul/22/cardiacs-tim-smith-a-one-man-subculture-who-inspired-total-devotion

Our Exit Music, therefore, is in tribute to Tim and Cardiacs. Their anthem and a great starting point for anyone who wants to know more. Is This The Life? Well, there’s a question.

See you in seven.

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