Meta Letta 

I think one thing that keeps me writing these newsletters is that it’s pretty much the only remaining thing that I still write these days. Gone are the days of multiple writing projects across screenwriting and prose, as well as writing for multiple blogs, with different focuses and voices. All I have left in my roster are these thousand odd words every two weeks, give or take. 

They say the definition of a writer is simply someone who writes, in whatever capacity. But it means that if I stop writing the newsletter, I can no longer call myself a writer. I’d instead be ‘someone who wrote, and might one day write again’. Once you stop calling yourself something, if it’s no longer part of your identity, has a part of yourself just… ceased to be? 

Now, all creative impulses have clearly not left me: As well as the words you’re currently reading, my photography has seen a resurgence. Part of the reason for that, as well as the general need for it, is that it’s pretty immediate in its gratification. Take the photo, tweak it a bit, put it up for people to see. It doesn’t need plotting, planning, outlining, endless edits, and rewrites, only then to vanish into the obscurity of a world saturated with better and better-platformed works. 

A small investment of time and focus can give me that personal hit of satisfaction that soothes my urges for creativity, as well as the dopamine hit of instant public reaction. When time and focus are so very sparse, and the need for dopamine so very high, it’s not hard to see the thought process.

But I do still need to write. 

Not just as a creative urge. Certainly not as a path to fame and fortune. But just to get the words out; out of my head and out into the world. 

And because ‘writer’ is just a part of my identity. 


On My Screen

So, I enjoyed the Obi-Wan Kenobi show. Ewan MacGregor did solid work, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the return of Hayden Christensen, and Vivien Lyra Blair as Little Leia was amazing. I think overall they did well within the limitations they had. Kenobi was originally meant to be a new movie trilogy, but the poor reaction to Solo killed that idea dead. The script for the first movie (the only one written) was then expanded out to fill the six hours of episodic content. This is never an easy move, and they managed to not make it feel like it was filled with padding. That’s one limitation. The other one is one suffered by all these interstitial shows: They are slaves to the dreaded spectre of ‘canon’.

Canon – noun – /ˈkæn.ən/ : a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine.

Somehow in recent years, this strong adherence to canon in popular media has taken hold: Everything has to perfectly fit together, any new piece of the narrative jigsaw must fit seamlessly with everything that has gone before. There are can be no narrative interpretations or different perspectives, there’s no room for an unreliable narrator in this dogma unless it’s made explicitly clear what the “objective” truth is. 

This can be satisfying I suppose, it’s reassuring to know how things fit together in a world filled with uncertainty. But it can also rob the narrative of mystery, of speculation, of tension. In Kenobi, we knew the fates of the main protagonists – the journey had to become the subject of interest because there was zero threat to the characters themselves. I enjoyed the speculation of how Han and Chewie met more than the explanation of it. So much screen time has been spent on trying to explain force ghosts and who can or cannot get one. 

This dogmatic adherence to the holy writs ends up giving rise to the darkest pool of media criticism: The pedantic nitpickers obsessed with plotholes. Every mystery needs to be answered immediately. No speculation is enjoyed unless it’s resolved, ideally in the same episode. Star Wars seems particularly prone to it, but no work of popular cinematic arts is spared this obsession with consistency and “truth”, instead of mystery. And Truth.

Anyway, I enjoyed the Obi-Wan Kenobi show. I hope there’s more to come. 


Movies

I loved Knives Out, so I’m excited that the sequel Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is coming soon and returning Benoit Blanc to our screens! Glass Onion will premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and then will come to Netflix. Netflix bought the rights for two sequels in a deal worth an estimated $450 million, making it the biggest film purchase in Netflix history.

I finally got to see the Multiverse movie that everyone’s been talking about! No, not Dr Strange! Last night I watched the excellent, and excellently titled, Everything Everywhere All At Once. This film truly was a delight, but you do need to have your wits about you for this one. Michelle YeohKe Huy Quan (who you may remember as Short Roundfrom Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), and Jamie Lee Curtiswere all excellent. There’s very little I can say about this absurdist kung fu comedy family drama that won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. But I wish everyone could get to see it so I could speculate along with them about the themes and meanings. And the values of kindness and positivity. And sausage fingers. 


In My Ears

I started last time around, but I’m thinking of adding a Kate Bush cover or sample into every playlist until I get bored of it. I briefly considered adding the considerably shorter radio edit of Something Good to the playlist, but it felt wrong. You’re welcome. 


Engine Room Diaries

Food of the Fortnight

Since I had time and opportunity this weekend, I spent some time researching jerk chicken recipes. As you do. A lot of the recipes I found seemed fiddly or a bit suspect (Orange juice? Really?), but I found a great candidate with an old favourite. Felicity Cloake‘s jerk chicken recipe was easy to make and tasted amazing. Easily one of the best I’ve had outside of an oil drum grill at a carnival. There is a separate link for those who just want the bare-bones recipe, but for me the joy of her articles is the journey. It’s the rejected alternatives, the variations considered, the paths not taken. With recipes, at least, there is no canon, no dogma. It’s all subjective. 


Denouement

A little rambling, a little late, but we got there in the end. Better late than never, right?

Right?!?

Until next time!