I hate being late. And last week I was a good 24 hours late in delivering a poorly-written, thin on content, abbreviated issue, and it fills me with… well, not shame. But disappointment. This week, I’m starting early, I’m gathering my troops, I’m forming my thoughts. I’m making lists, I’m checking them thrice.
I feel sorry for any subscribers who might have not read many past editions and who, having arranged to meet me in the outside, alcohol-serving, world suddenly are gripped by The Fear. They might at this moment be, if you’ll excuse the term, boning up. I mean, even without this Majestic Ninth, that’s a worst case scenario of 9700 words to catch up on. And that’s a lot of me to process all in one sitting, even before they do so face to face. Pity them dear reader.
I really wanted the focus of this week’s Music segment to be about Pow, the new track by The Go! Team; but while I love it, and them, it’s not really doing anything new. What they do is great, if you’re into it, but it’s not set my music world alight this week.
That position is reserved for I Do This All The Time, a brand new track by Self Esteem, the nom de pop of Rebecca Taylor formerly one half of indie folk duo Slow Club. You can check out both tracks, with seven of their eclectic cousins, in Sounds From The Engine Room 5.
And if you ever wanted a playlist of every single featured track, from every single Engine Room playlist, and so have a 3 1/2 hour collection of oddities, that’s available too. All Sounds From The Engine Room is where I store every single track that isn’t in my Future Backlog.
The cinemas are open again! My time to go to the silver screen is precious and rare, so I am quite careful with what I choose to watch. To that end, here’s what I’m looking forward to in 2021:
|May 28th||Cruella||Based on the last trailer, this has already been unfairly maligned as a "rip-off" of The Joker, completely aside from the usual "this franchise expansion has ruined my childhood" complaints. But Emma Stone looks like she's having an immense amount of fun with the role. Craig Gillespie previously directed the amazing I, Tonya, and Tony McNamara previously wrote both The Favourite and The Great, so I think this'll be a blast.|
|June 4th||A Quiet Place Part II||I enjoyed the first movie, despite many writer friends tearing it apart for inconsistencies and structural frustrations. But I never saw it in the cinema, and I think watching the sequel (ideally in a double-bill) in a dark cinematic room sounds great to me!|
|July 30th||The Green Knight||My excitement for this movie is well documented.|
|September 17th||Dune||Most of my fellow geek-lets started their journey into fantastical literature with Lord of The Rings, or maybe even Narnia. I started with Dune, so my Doomed Messiah complex got a good head start. I'm sure that Denis Villeneuve's version of a film adaptation won't be as arthouse as he'd like to do considering how little money Bladerunner 2049 made, and it'll never be as whacky as Alejandro Jodorowsky's vision for it. But I'm cautiously excited for this one. Even if it doesn't have Sting in it.|
|October 22nd||Last Night in Soho||Edgar Wright has created a time-hopping psychological horror set in 1960s Soho and if I could, I'd already have tickets for this one based on that description alone.|
|November 12th||Ghostbusters: Afterlife||I am cautious about this one, because it feels a lot like the wrong kind of fan service in a lot of ways. The trailer looks good, but I feel it might only be great if the nods to the past are kept to a minimum. It depends on the target audience: Gen Z and Alpha kids, with some nods to the past for their parents to acknowledge? Or a nostalgic circle-jerk for Gen X retromantics who can't move on from the past?|
|December 22nd||The King's Man||This franchise that's been quite hit or miss, but a period prequel could be exactly what's needed, as long as it finds the right balance between puerile and… whatever the opposite of puerile is.|
With first Mandalorian, and now The Bad Batch, Disney really seems to be leaning into the whole ‘surrogate dad’ thing. It’s no bad thing, I’ve long said there aren’t enough good role models of fatherhood in genre narrative. It’s all absent fathers, dead fathers, deadbeat fathers, abusive fathers. Orphans, half-orphans, broken man-children, and unloved creatures abound, so it’s nice to see what is essentially Four Brothers and a Little Lady, hot on the heals of Cowboy Knight Protects Bullied Son Before Sending Him to School.
And finally, Attack The Block 2 has been confirmed, with John Boyega locked in to return to Joe Cornish‘s South London sci-fi classic.
Apparently the pandemic has robbed us of small talk and Joel Golby wants us to go big; conversationally speaking. Extra points for the random reference to WitchTok.
Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around.
And while the Guardian’s on the subject, scientists show how LSD opens doors of perception. They quote Aldous Huxley on the subject, but don’t take the next step in looking at how the scientific study might affect this brave new world.
Deconstructing Le Corbusier‘s architectural mistakes, the Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative declared war on every urban obstacle in their way. And their impact is still being felt today. Not a perspective I’d considered before, and certainly piqued my interest in the exhibition at the Barbican.
This last week I’ve been giving Hello Fresh a go, a menu delivery service. Basically I got hold of a massive discount so it became cheaper than buying groceries for the week. The recipes and ingredient quality is good, the instructions are clear (even if the cooking times are a work of total fiction) and the results are tasty.
But I’m still not sure who their target market is, as with all the prep and cooking you need to do, you essentially still need to know how to prepare and cook food. There’s the convenience of having all the raw ingredients coming in one go when one might not have, say, red lentils to hand. But essentially it’s no different to choosing a week’s worth of recipes and buying the ingredients in.
When discounted, it’s a fun alternative to break up your cooking routine. Without the discount it’s an expensive way to commit yourself to doing a fair bit of cooking work every evening. So, if you’re interested, I have a discount code for you!
I wanted to write this week about the fake Culture War that this government and enablers are engaging in, primarily to distract us from wider problems, but also to increase the divide between people. I’d have talked about cuts to arts education (again, sign the petition), the absurdity of gendered bathroom legislation, the straw man of statue protection, the statements that we have apparently solved institutional racism, the nonsensical (and linguistic horror-show) that is the “War on Woke”.
But honestly, the whole thing just makes me very tired. Not (just) because of its ridiculousness, but because it’s working. The message is being lapped up: Pseudo-libertarian semi-intellectuals professing to being baffled by pronouns, pub bores talking about non-binary people they way some used to talk about gays and lesbians, self-professed critical thinkers decrying the pursuit of original or expert thought, an anecdotal increase in othering.
It’s a playbook that was heavily used by Gamergaters and later the Alt Right, and it’s now been adopted here into mainstream politics. Because it works. And it makes me feel very tired.
Well, I did say this was going to be a bumper edition! It’s been a wild ride, with some cats, some pigeons, a box of food, hallucinogenics and four surrogate fathers. And it arrives in your inbox in a timely fashion, before the last meeting of my day has even started.
When next we speak, I’ll have been ‘out out’, beverages of a tasty nature will have been consumed by me; indoors, in company and in unwise quantities.
So, until next week. Take care, and be safe.