Meta Letta 

Ceasing work on my dayjob, hobby and side-hustle, to go and write a newsletter that few people really care about is absurd, adding to my mental load, utterly on brand, and unavoidable.

Yes yes, I know you love it, but by its very nature, by its very intent, writing these missives can feel like shouting into the wind as it whips around our heads, roaring in our ears with the noise of our daily lives. The words I write here are personal, but as the late great Sir Terry Pratchett wrote: “personal isn’t the same as important”. 

To be a worthwhile endeavour, it has to be more than personal, which is very hard to define in a vacuum. Columnists deliver very little tangible value in this world. Like the rightly maligned Process Improvement Managers, they argue they make the world a better place, but nobody would miss them if they were gone. The benefits are purposefully unquantifiable at the time – the true value is only with hindsight, when the tireless drip of thought and idea might have changed the world just a little bit. 

But that silence of that interim vacuum is deafening.


Mixed Media

Sandman

I came to a lot of media by unusual routes – my path into comics did not take the traditional path via Marvel or DC. After devouring my father’s Asterix comics, I then found a love for Morris‘ Lucky Luke. This lasted until I came to the UK, where the first English-language comic I found and loved was Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman. While clearly a more mature book than those aforementioned titles, it still felt more like a bande dessinée than the alternatives. This then spawned a love for all things Vertigo and the artists and writers of the British Invasion. It led me to Alan Moore, who led me to one of his greatest creations, the character John Constantine, who would also go on to feature in … Sandman. (See, I always get there in the end.)

On August 5th Netflix will air their highly anticipated adaptation of Sandman and I, for one, cannot wait. Gaiman himself is highly involved, for what that’s worth. But there’s a been an element of casting that’s proven controversial: Warner Brothers still have the rights to the John Constantine character, and don’t intend to relinquish them any time soon. Now, their last casting of the character is the well-liked Matt Ryan, and he was absolutely fine. But he was still an adaptation, no less than Keanu‘s version. Neither were my Constantine, but that’s largely because that version only exists in my head. 

So therefore I have no problem whatsoever with Jenna Coleman playing both his ancestor, and the modern day amalgamated Johanna Constantine. I think it’ll bring a great new perspective, even if they were forced into it for rights issues. And on top of that, I love the coat she’s wearing in the modern day, and her poster strapline: Even demons don’t trust Johanna Constantine. 

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Stranger Things

Now, I must confess I’ve still not watched season four of Stranger Things. For that matter, I’ve not yet watched season three, because the second one felt like a bit of a slog. I will catch up, I want to, but I don’t think I’ll be able to squeeze in everything ahead of 1st July when the final two episodes of season four drop. I’ve sen the episodes for this season are on the long side, but I was amazed to see that the finale alone is over two hours long! It seems even the stubborn Netflix isn’t entirely wedded to their one-drop binge model. It’s heard to say what this means long-term for Netflix’s strategies though, as Stranger Things will end with season five.

But why is this listed among Mixed Media? Because it’s single-handedly responsible for Kate Bush climbing to number 1 in the UK charts with … Running Up The Hill. I love to see it. In the absence of curators who recommend music from across decades and genres, I love that it’s introducing a new audience to Placebo‘s version of Bush’s iconic song. 


In My Ears

I’m quite pleased with this week’s playlist, but I was sad that Bloodywood‘s Machi Bhasad (Expect a Riot) just wasn’t a good fit for it. But if you think there could be space for a bit of Bhangra or Punjabi Metal in your life, then you should absolutely click those links. 

The Eurovision Song Contest has been toppled by the Platinum Party At The Palace as the most-watched music show of 2022 so far. According to official overnight TV ratings, the concert peaked at 12.5m viewers just after 10pm. That was a huge 75% total share of all TV viewing at that time. Queen with Adam Lambert and Hans Zimmer with Celeste were highlights for me, but there were some less-known performers should shower gratitude on their label’s marketing departments and brand managers for managing to crowbar them onto the line-up. Clearly everyone was working very hard, but please. Stop trying to make Mabel happen.


Engine Room Diaries

Photo of the Fortnight

I love this picture. I took it of my yoga instructor, on Harpenden Common. I had to lie on the ground to make the ankle-height meadow flowers appear as tall as they are, and to properly contrast her against that stunning sky. The floral illusion is only a small part of what I refer to when I differentiate between making and taking a photo: That stunning sky is entirely false. Not just edited, re-coloured or tweaked, that is a different sky from a different time, a different place. This photo sits on a throne of lies! But for me, photography has never been about realism, it’s not about the depiction of some objective reality. “Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.” Who said that? Why, it was Alan Moore


Food of the Fortnight

Nothing in cooking infuriates and delights me more than finding a better way of cooking something simple that you’ve been doing for years, even decades. This week it was the humble bacon rasher. If you like crispy bacon, but don’t like the flesh burnt, the trick is to put water in the frying pan, not fat. This causes the fat to render, and if you keep turning it towards the end, by the time the water has evaporated you’ll have perfectly crispy and unburnt bacon rashers. I was furious! But obviously delighted. 


Denouement

You know, this fortnight’s edition has felt more like my own voice than anything I’ve written in months. Months!!

So, you know, if this one’s not to your taste then I don’t know what to tell you. 

But I do hope you love it as much as I do.

But almost more than that, I hope that this is another drip of thought and idea that has the potential to change the world just a little bit.

Look after yourselves.