If there's one thing I've learnt about myself, it's that just because I give myself more time to do something doesn't mean that I won't try and cram it all in last minute. Now, I will give myself a small piece of credit: You might be reading this on Thursday the 27th of January, but I'm writing this the day before. The 27th is my birthday, and while writing this newsletter is a treat, I didn't relish a deadline on what will be a busy day off.
But while it might not be my birthday at time of writing, I'm still getting into the spirit of it. With cavalier abandon I am day-drinking, and cards and gifts have been arriving throughout the day, much to the fury of my small, anxious dog.
Tomorrow will start with a yoga class, before heading into town for dinner at Balthazar's followed by seeing Eddie Redmayne playing The MC in Cabaret in the Playhouse Theatre. Dinner and a show; let me tell you, it's been a while.
It's been a while since I enjoyed a TV show as much as I've enjoyed Yellowjackets. I burned through the entire first season in ten days so that I could watch the finale on the same day as the rest of the UK. This folk-horror gorefest, this 90s coming-of-age tale, this present day deep-dive into trauma, this mystery story has had me utterly compelled.
Yellowjackets is Lost by way of The Craft, it's a suburban Big Little Lies. Furthermore, Karyn Kusama directed the pilot episode and executive produces, and she is responsible for the perpetually re-evaluated and underrated film Jennifer’s Body, and this shares a lot of its knowing tone.
It has already been renewed for a second season, and rightly so. Right now, the showrunners are discussing five seasons of Yellowjackets, so I wouldn't expect everything to be answered anytime fast. While there aren't as many open questions as in Lost, but there's still a lot to get through. I can think of worse things to do than strapping in for the ride. Season 2 is due in September, and the first season is available to watch on Sky Atlantic and NowTV. And yes, it's worth paying for.
So, we have a title and release date for Amazon's new epic fantasy series that isn't Wheel of Time. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will premiere September 2, 2022, to no small amount of scepticism. Maybe this will be the show that Amazon finally gets right?
In British TV, writer Glen Laker who previously wrote Prime Suspect: Tennison, has a new show out next month. It stars Adrian Scarborough as The Chelsea Detective and it looks good.
Next watch: Either The Great or Midnight Mass.
I've been keeping an eye on the new indie films being showcased at Sundance this last week, and the one that particularly caught my eye is Emily the Criminal, a heist thriller that gives Aubrey Plaza a decent role to get her teeth into. By all accounts she shines as the anti-hero, and the movie has a Drive-like aesthetic. It currently doesn't have a distribution deal, but I can't imagine it's long before it's snapped up.
The last playlist was a bit of an aberration: Can I really call it a curated playlist if I merely thrust someone else's curations into your tender earholes? I would argue not. So, this year's second playlist is back to its regular form. The Rolling Playlist of favourites has been updated. And I've created an archive playlist of every featured track from 2021.
Last year I featured the catchy ABCDEFU by Gayle in a playlist, a track made famous for originating on TikTok based on a comment request. Some sleuthing has now unearthed that the request came from an employee of Gayle's record company, laying her open to accusations of being a record industry plant. The song still slaps, but nobody likes astroturfing when it's exposed.
I wanted to write about Neil Young boycotting Spotify until they remove Joe Rogan's podcast. It's a great little story, but I realised that I'd have to delve deep into the guts of who/what a Joe Rogan is, why I agree with Neil, or the fact that Rogan depressingly has more fans than Young these days.
Nor am I going to do a deep dive on the differences between songwriting and song co-writing, fans of both Damon Albarnand Taylor Swift have already drawn their battle lines. But Damon should be careful to never be so clever you forget to be kind. There's no reason to be so casually cruel in the name of being honest.
So, having moved to a fortnightly schedule, what exactly am I doing with all this glorious "spare time"? Perhaps some sleepy relaxation? Re-dedicating myself to my career or home life? Investing in creative projects? Yes! To all of those things! Except, you know, the sleep and the relaxation. I've changed my schedule, not my entire identity.
You know the one thing that always restores my confidence in my own capabilities when I'm emerging from a bout of Imposter Syndrome? Someone gently, but patronisingly trying to educate me in something and being stunningly wrong. No Karen, I don't need you to explain colour theory or Pantone colours to me, and I'd prefer you didn't try to explain them to anyone else either...
This has nothing to do with this fortnight's photo whatsoever.
One of the main activities of this last fortnight has been to finally finish processing the wedding photos of the above gentleman and his good lady wife. This involved culling 1400 photos down to around 90. A job of careful curation as well as colour grading, cropping, straightening and general editing. A labour, but a labour of love.
It's not been a spectacular week of cooking, largely standard home-cooked meals and batch cooking. Steak and ale stew, three-hour ragu and fancy mac 'n' cheese. I have however inherited a batch of new cookbooks and I wonder if I should try one new recipe every... fortnight? Just to avoid getting into a rut?
The best food writing I've found this fortnight was called Layers of Deceit - "Why do recipe writers lie and lie and lie about how long it takes to caramelize onions?" Anyone who has ever cooked from a recipe has seen something along the lines of "Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes until golden" and it is a lie. There's no way those onions are going to be ready for at least 20 minutes, and some cooks would even say double that. In truth, the best time to caramelise onions is yesterday.
I did have a few thoughts on the political attack on the BBC, but I ended up wittering endlessly about it and decided to post it up as a blogpost, just to save your delicate attention span. Aren't I kind?
So, this has been the first fortnightly instalment of the newsletter, the new regime for 2022. It's certainly saved me a little time, as I put the same amount of work in, just half as often.
When writing this, I kept wanting to refer to things as being weekly, and I feel disappointed that I can't say that anymore. But then endlessly longing to be able to do more is just going to be my ongoing leitmotif.
Happy birthday to me, and see you in two weeks!