You know what I do when I send out a newsletter? After I’ve checked for bad links and misspellings that are now too late to correct? I start a brand new draft. The last one was sent out a full five minutes ago, but here I am, typing anew. The rest, though? That’ll get pieced together, like a series of mismatched jigsaw pieces.
Having sent out a couple of these so far, I’m starting to get a bit of feedback, which is great. I’ll be honest, it’s been so contradictory that I may as well just continue doing whatever I feel like. It’s when there’s a trend that I really need to start paying attention.
And here we are with the third update to this introduction alone, as I lie upon my bed of recuperation. I don’t know if I’ll finish this newsletter today, or if I should even try when my head is naught but mush. But here I am, and here I’ll stay.
You know what’s frustrating? Hearing a track that you think is so fresh, so new, so vibrant… only to find that it came out 7 years ago and only made a splash in Belgium of all places. Be that as it may, Throw It Down by Dominique Young Unique is what I’ve been playing on repeat this week.
Coming down from aural frenzy is an older track, very different in style and message. I’ve loved Ghostpoet for a long time, but his 2011 Survive It is still his most successful and my favourite.
Although I’m still watching it, I can’t bring myself to talk about a Marvel TV show that will likely dwell in the long and twisted shadow of Loki, even just going by the trailer. The hints and allusions at a wider Marvel Cinematic Multiverse that have been drip-fed and red-herringed our way finally look like they’re about to pay off. And if we have the chance at alternate Lokis (Lokii?), even Lady Loki, could this even open the door to Young Loki?
Coming this Friday, Netflix have acquired the Oscar-nominated short film Two Distant Strangers, which strikes me as a time-loop version of Fruitvale Station, so I’ll be watching that.
Between the changed routines of lockdowns, and the diminished concentration capacity that is left to me after my work and a tiny inquisitive goblin are done, I’ve not been doing a lot of reading. Obviously this is a failing on my part, and young Stephan would be appalled at me.
So, time to work on my backlog. On my Kindle, I’d like to read Circe by Madeline Miller, which I own and have wanted to read in forever. And tempting me from my bookshelf is Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente.
In comics, I might try Kieron Gillen‘s introduction to the Warhammer 40k Universe, Marneus Calgar. The only downside is the threat of the preponderance and emphasis on lore. “Knowing your lore” used to mean that you’d read the Silmarillion, or if you were super fancy, maybe the Edda. Now it gets brought up in endless conversations about anything from Star Wars to video games, with endless debates about what is, or isn’t, canon. Every little little unexplained facet or under-explained nugget is mined and examined and turned in on itself. Forever is the shadowy world of narrative mystery flood-lit by the demand for lore.
It’s not been a big week of cooking for me, between work and convalescence. But I did want to highlight the Instagram account of Poppy O’Toole. Poppy is a Michelin-trained chef who lost her job at the start of the first lockdown. Where many chefs in her position opened new food trucks or meal delivery companies, she turned to Instagram and TikTok. There she shared, and continues to share, tips and techniques for the kitchen. As I’ve alluded to elsewhere, I’ve prepared about 600 meals in the last year alone. I consider myself competent in the kitchen. But I’ve learnt quite a lot from her simple tutorials.
My main activity this week has been doing some post-production work on the footage of 15 or so pre-schoolers individually saying goodbye to their favourite teacher. Each video clip has been wrung from recalcitrant children with heroic doses of parental patience. But what struck me was that, having been given no instructions, I shot my video in landscape… and every single other person shot theirs in portrait. Which absolutely makes sense: each video was of a (tiny) person, where they were the key focus. Nobody’s concerning themselves with the mise-en-scène in this instance, and the end result was inevitably going to be viewed on a mobile phone. Held upright.
There are endless diatribes to be heard about the correct way to record video, for many it’s an item of faith. But these pedants of cinematography forget that the vast majority of videos these days are watched on phones. Between Instagram Stories and TikToks, millions of portrait videos are being shot, disseminated and enjoyed. It’s been a good reminder for me to a) communicate requirements ahead of time, and b) keep the end medium in mind when choosing formats.
And there we have it, another newsletter complete, another deadline hit. I think the biggest risk to their continuation is when I can regularly meet up with people to share the inside of my head with. But for now, these notes force me to look at the world afresh, and put things into words. Outside of my own head.