There are times that you write and you are riding the muse hard (or the other way around, if you see yourself more as the vehicle in this tortured metaphor). Those are the days when your creativity just flows, when it’s not hard work to keep creating, but it’s hard work to stop; when any interruption or distraction must be eradicated with fury of a thousand suns.
Then there are workman-like days, when you’re just grinding it out, just to get it out. There’s no inspiration, just perspiration. It’s tempting in this instance to channel the mindset of Spider Jerusalem in Transmetropolitan:
“You’re miserable, edgy and tired. You’re in the perfect mood for journalism.”
But the truth is, it actually is possible to polish a turd.
Let’s face it, making a weekly playlist is quite extra. As I’ve alluded to before, I have a big list of unused songs, a hopper that I top up whenever I encounter or re-encounter a track I think would be a good fit. Then, on Thursdays, I skim this playlist and pick out nine tracks: A mix of the brand new, the sightly obscure, or tracks I just love or think would be a good fit.
That’s not what happened this week. Sometimes you just get in a certain frame of mind, and you don’t want new, you want… well, what I wanted this week ended up as Sounds From The Engine Room 8. I hope you like it, but in a way this one was for me.
But that’s not what’s extra. Well, not extra extra, just the normal amount. To be truly extra you’d need another playlist, perhaps one wrapped in an enigma, dressed as a puzzle. Mysterious Sounds FTER 1 is a little challenge for you. I have no prizes lined up (though ideas are starting to form), but see if you can find the common theme for the songs. It’s not too tricky, but who will be first?!
Why do I keep doing this, week in, week out? Because Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex.
In movie news, the success of Cruella has opened an unexpected door: there are already talks of a sequel. There’s nothing confirmed at this point, but the path is open for a full trilogy, with the final part being another re-telling of 101 Dalmations, with Emma Stone as the fully villainous puppy botherer.
A Quiet Place Part 2 is having a decent run in the cinemas right now, enjoying this brief window of not a lot of competition. On the whole, the consensus is that it’s pretty decent, and sometimes that’s exactly what you want. But Hollywood loves a franchise, and what’s being mooted is not an endless series of sequels or prequels, but a Quiet Place World, where other creators can tell stories. I’ve always liked that idea, but I’ve never seen it done well outside of Disney’s tightly controlled universes. Abrams tried it with Cloverfield, and Universal tried out their Dark Universe series of flops. Personally, and unrealistically, I wish there were more open source cinematic universes, where anybody could contribute without tight controls and copyright issues.
Speaking of Marvel, Disney+‘s Loki is out! But it’s still super fresh and not very many people have seen it yet, so instead I want to talk about Loki the character. Wait, that’s untrue. Loki the character, the villain in green, enemy of Thor, was of very little interest to me. What I want to talk about instead is Loki the metafictional construct; a metacharacter if you like. So, what I’m essentially saying is that I want to talk about Kieron Gillen.
In 2010, Gillen wrote the Marvel comic Journey Into Mystery, which was a cracking read and was written with all the craft, cleverness and deftness of touch that one has come to expect from him. Writing of his stint, he said:
“This is just one of my big themes, across all my work: can people change? Can bad people get better? Why are people bad? And if so, how much? And if not, why not? Loki was a great device for all that.”
Tom Hiddleston wrote to Gillen, thanking him for his writing, for the inspiration to his own portrayal of the character, who he described as
“An exiled outcast, a lost & lonely agent of chaos”
This is a rich, complex character that’s of interest, one who anguishes about their own existence, their own morality, their destiny, their very reality. This is a god of stories, a god aware of his presence within a story, and with the desire to re-write their own story. A desire to become, not good; not really. But to become better.
In Loki: Agent of Asgard, written by Al Ewing, Loki says:
“Maybe some stories are so good… so powerful… so wanted… that the universe believes them. So good they’re magic. So good they come alive.
And that’s an idea I can get behind. That’s what storytelling is for me. It’s that magic that I continually pursue.
My love of the movie Vertigo is well-established, and complete. So I was interested to read that Pendulo Studios are making a psychological thriller video game inspired by (not adapted from), the movie. There is a trailer.
The Brink Literacy Project, a nonprofit organisation “dedicated to changing the world through storytelling”, has launched a Kickstarter for their latest endeavour, The Literary Tarot. They asked authors and cartoonists to pair a tarot card with a seminal book that embodies the meaning of the arcana. Margaret Atwood is obviously a major name in their roster, but neither should one overlook one… Kieron Gillen.
There have, for me, been two great tragedies in British publishing. The first, when two publishing houses merged, was the missed opportunity to call it Random Penguin LLC. The second is the recent news that Oxford University Press will be closing their publishing arm due to falling sales.
So there we have it; more abuse of the prefix meta than usual, and zero references to TikTok.
Catch you on the flip side, Roomies.