Well, this is a turn-up for the books!
As I begin to write this issue 35, issue 34 is scheduled to go out tomorrow! For the first time since inception I’m actually ahead of the game! I know this can’t possibly last, but let me enjoy it while I can.
(Note: It’ll be no surprise to anyone that this didn’t last. But for a little while I was ahead instead of feeling the icy breath of self-imposed deadline on my neck)
It was clearly a window of time when my brain semi-worked in a way that befits the Engine Room. And on the topic of that, some weeks ago I suggested a one-off physical magazine format for charity. The vicissitudes of life have meant I need to push this back, but it’s postponed not cancelled. I’m now looking at March 2023, assuming December and January go smoothly.
Life has been a tumble, and I’ll definitely have to plan in a break for the festive period. I need at last a few days to sit and gorge myself on mince pies and drown myself in Bailey’s. So, advance warning that there will be only two more newsletters this year!
In My Ears
My current favourite 90s throwback scrappy girl band remains Carpark, and last week they released new track Happy for A Day, and it features on this week’s playlist. There’s something joyous about embracing an aesthetic and unironically embracing it.
If there was one fundamental flaw in the hipster mindset, it was the concept of “enjoying” things ironically, a performative simultaneous sneer both at people who liked things and people who didn’t. Similarly, I’ve never understood the concept of a guilty pleasure when it comes to music you love, but are afraid that people will judge you for.
Which is just another way of saying I have no shame for including an older track by The Saturdays in the playlist. Looking at the numbers, it must have been hugely successful in 2011, but it completely passed me by for over a decade. YMMV.
Your Mileage May Vary may well have been the theme of this year’s Spotify Unwrapped, the annual release of the company’s release of individual stats of our listening habits. I’ve really enjoyed seeing what people have been listening to in the last year, which songs they’ve been playing on repeat, and finding out that apparently I’m a huge fan of “metropopolis“: “A sophisticated, indie-leaning, and undeniably catchy cousin of mainstream pop,” Spotify calls it, which sounds a bit like a snobby “pop, but you’re but not the pop that you like“.
Spotify Unwrapped shows that no matter your numbers, there’s someone else more into stuff than you are. Proud of your 1500 different artists, a decent spread of musical influences? Someone else has over a thousand more. Proud of being in the top 0.5% of listeners for a band? I know someone within the top 0.05% of a different artist. To me Unwrapped is a love letter to the love of music. It’s a shame it’s only limited to one source of data, but sadly Last.FM never attracted much traction beyond data nerds.
I’ve been waiting for a few weeks now for M.I.A.‘s track Babylon to emerge on streaming music services, or even a physical release. Sadly, it’s still only available in video form. Considering the artist’s recent foray into NFTs, maybe we’ll never see it emerge in any other format. Or at least until this particular fad fades.
On My Screen
I’ve not strayed into watching Hawkeye yet, but I have started The Wheel of Time, Amazon’s adaptation of the fantasy series that swallowed quite a lot of my years despite never finishing them. I gave up around book eight I think, as it just started to feel spun interminably. Sadly, while I’m assured that things pick up in episodes three and four, after two episodes WOT feels equally drawn out. Endless speeches and exposition, rather than letting audiences pick things up as they went. If there’s one thing Game of Thrones got right at the beginning, it was carrying across just the right amount of information from the books without bogging down the pace. I’ll continue with the show for now, but this adaptation doesn’t fill me with a lot of confidence for Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show.
Photo of The Week
I’m a sucker for Christmas lights, and the display at Pancras Square in London was lovely.In contrast to what I said recently about the best camera being the one you have in your hands, I really wish I’d taken this photo with a tripod and a camera with more of a dynamic range. A phone and some careful post-processing can do wonders, but there’s a crispness that just doesn’t come across as soon as the picture is viewed on anything bigger than a phone screen.
On My Mind
The reason I’ve not been detailing out the rambling, disjointed contents of my mind for a while is principally that there’s just too much. Too many thoughts, disjointed, like an avalanche of jigsaw pieces from different puzzles. There barely seems to be enough time to form a cogent, considered thought about anything. So, let me perhaps start by closing a few tabs:
- Eva Wiseman on the surprising overlap of the Wellness and Conspiracy communities
- Carmen Mola, a female novelist who won a €1m (£840,000) Spanish literary prize last week, has been revealed as a pseudonym for three men
- I was unsure how to approach the rambling saga of Joyce Carol Oates‘ speculation on gender neutral pronouns, but she brought it to a close herself with dialogue, finishing with:
“I think that words, however inadvertent, can harm, especially psychologically; so, what was meant as a linguistic speculation, had evidently real-life significance, not unlike taboo words which we should respect for their meta-linguistic power.”
Omicron variant notwithstanding, networking events and creative socials in person are starting up again. There’s obviously been pent up demand from many to associate with their tribe in person, but it’s been a long time since I’ve taken part. It’s partly been due to a creative lull, and a lack of energy to pull myself out of it, a decent sprinkling of imposter syndrome, a fear that everyone else has been stunningly productive in the last two years and, yes, a lethal pandemic.
It turns out my fears have been unfounded. While Zoom ‘networking’ events skew the perspective as only self-important and bold do any speaking, in-person events are thankfully not like that at all. Face to face encounters tend to diminish the bravado somewhat, and allow conversations with those less bold, and more interesting. My fears had no foundations. Now all that’s holding me back is the absence of my creative spark. Looks like I’m back to faking it until I make it!
Well what do you know, I’ve finished early again! Wonders will truly never cease!In the next week St Nicholas will be visiting you if you’ve been good, which seems unlikely. But fear not, I’ll be back next Thursday to cheer you up.