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My 24/1/20 Jam: "Don't Marry Her" by The Beautiful South

At various times of my life, I’ve had a system for getting new music into my ears. When I was a teenager, I read Kerrang!, NME (in the library) and occasionally Metal Hammer. I’d know vaguely what was coming out, and sometimes (always and two of them with MH!) they gave away a free CD to demonstrate the new music. I stopped buying magazines at some point, like everybody did.

In undergrad, I developed more of a general interest in pop, and fairly religiously listened to Zane Lowe’s new music show on Radio 1. In postgrad, I consciously started to try and train Spotify to serve me up new and interesting stuff, or at least keep me up to date with artists I already knew I liked.

However, in between these times, there have been fallow periods. I am in one such period at the moment. Occasionally I find something on YouTube, but I stopped training Spotify and its recommendations have turned to sludge.

The main problem is I haven’t really had any “music friends” since I was a teenager – I’ve mostly since bonded with people though social situations, be they work, theatre and classes, rather than fallen into groups where we’re regularly sharing music.

If anyone reading this wants to drop any suggestions in the comments, or invite me to a music-chat WhatsApp group, I would be grateful. Personal recommendation is always the best way forward. Hence this very series.

In short, I haven’t really listened to much new music at all this week. At any rate, none of those songs are today’s jam.

Today’s Jam is:

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Three things on Thursday

I’ve surprised myself by really sticking at Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair. I think we’re within hours of me being done with it, but I’ve seen every level, and if I was really determined to mop everthing up I’m sure I could do quite a bit of it. It’s rare that a game clicks with me, and I’m glad this one has.

Still really want to get Shadow of the Tomb Raider though. It’s at best a B-rated series, but it’s fun.

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Podcasts 1/20

It’s been a while since I wrote about what podcasts I’m listening to on this blog. If you go by my habits, then the amount of time I spend listening to podcasts (and sometimes audiobooks) even when I’ve been without a significant commute for some time now proves I hold them in high esteem. So, worthwhile to go over my current approach and subscriptions.

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Week three of four

The Well’s having their annual State of the World conversation right now. I read it for the first time last year, and I recommend following along. We’re bombarded by news and shallow political opinion all the time, so it’s good to calibrate by reading what some people with an opportunity to think more cohesively, and suggest overall trends and tendencies, away from the light and the heat, and get a different lens on it all.


We all know awards are nonsense, but I’m still getting sucked in to the Oscars to the extent that I’ve just pinned the list of nominations to the browser (and am now opening the Baftas out of a sense of national guilt). I have not and have never seen a majority of the films nominated, partially due to time in the day, but also due to the late UK release of nominated movies means that the film year actually lasts a year and six weeks.

Netflix has done well with nominations, but it turns out I barely ever watch Netflix films. Even stuff right up my alley like Annihilation and Mute are just hanging out on my watchlist. Their lack of a normal theatrical run means that’s the only real conversation about them, and if you don’t watch them when they drop, they just slip into the backlog of TV shows and stuff they’ve licensed from other studios until you sort of forget they’re there at all.

Just to get it in front of me, I hope to watch Jojo Rabbit, Marriage Story, 1917, The Lighthouse and Parasite before or around Sunday 9th. I also haven’t watched The Irishman, Pain and Glory, Harriet, Bombshell, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Richard Jewell, Ad Astra and Judy, but I might not get to them for years. They may well be the best films of last year, but when you’ve got just under three weeks and anything but unlimited funds and opportunity, they just sort of flake out. And once you’ve missed a movie from Oscar season, they rarely crop up again outside that conversation, which somewhat undermines the whole endeavour. Baftas, I will catch up with Booksmart, The Farewell, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Farmageddon and Bait, and may not bother with For Sama, Maiden, Only You, Retablo and Sorry We Missed You for years. I won’t be rushing these noms, though.

These nominations also reveal a lot about your habits. I have watched everything in Best Animated Feature, twelve of the thirteen highest grossing nominated films, and nothing in Documentary and International. Short films can be difficult to access, which is ironic in the YouTube age.

Why bother watching things just because they’re nominated? No reason, apart from they sound like films I want to see, and I want a better reason to be upset when Joker wins awards other than the fact I don’t like Joker.


There’s another ten days of daily blogging ahead of me, which is a little intimidating, but it’s good to create some false jeopardy in your life. Next month I will be ideally writing every day, but I will only be posting a couple of times a week, which is hopefully a more sustainable pace.

It occurs to me that if you read these, have read this far, and there’s something you want me to write about, then you need only let me know. There’s comments on the blog, there’s a contact form, and various social links. I won’t promise I will, but I might.

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What Did Jack Do? (2020, dir. David Lynch)

There I was, wondering what I was going to write about today, and Netflix drops a new short film by David Lynch, on his birthday. Evidently made in 2016, it’s called What Did Jack Do? and it has to be seen to be believed. Go watch it, before the spoilers, before it’s memed out of existence, and then we’ll talk.

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States of Internets: 3

Look, we all know the problems with Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is the place where older relatives share fake news, millenials share memes, and nobody particularly like doing the basic “sharing news about themselves and their day” thing that we all went there for. Twitter is great for breaking news, sharp humour, Nazi propaganda, and for piling on people we suddenly decide need to go full Lord of the Flies on for whatever reason.

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Addiction/habit/commitment

So I’ve committed to posting *something* here every day in January. Well, that’s not quite true. I started posting every day on Jan 1 but didn’t necessarily put a time period on it. It became clear after a week or so that I could probably do January, but longer than that would be tedious.

Which brings us to today, where I’m itching to post something, but have nothing to say.

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My 17/1/20 Jam: "Party of One" by Brandi Carlisle

So Eminem Beyonced (surprise-released) a new album today, Music To Be Murdered By. After one spin, it seems like a synthesis of the approaches taken on Revival and Kamikaze – the production of the former and the confrontational lyrics of the latter – with an added flavour of mumblerap’s production style. I’ve been listening to Eminem on and off since I was seven, I realised today, so I struggle to form an opinion on any basically competent album by him beyond “yay, new Eminem!”. Plus, I’ve only listened to this once. I lost interest in Kamikaze after only a couple of listens, but perhaps the new one will grab me more. In any case, none of those songs are today’s jam.

Today’s Jam is:

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I absolutely could not resist buying this cushion.

View on Instagram https://ift.tt/2RpF2LD
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The Two Popes (2019, dir. Fernando Meirelles)

I’m not a religious man. I figure I would have ended up being in the church had I lived a couple of centuries ago, being of that sort of temperament, but not believing in any gods somewhat rules it out nowadays.

So I’m not necessarily the target audience for a film about Popes. It’s also smack-bang in the middle of Oscar bait territory. It’s a biopic about important white men on the cusp of an Important Event, starring two Great British Actors, filmed by a previous Oscar nominee from a script by someone with pedigree in this field.

I liked it. It was very well made. The two names were excellent, as was Juan Minjuin as Young Pope. I liked the way it mixed archive material with newly shot footage. It used black and white well, to represent the time before Pryce Pope took the hand of God. The photography and locations were sumptuous without. It had moments of levity, as well as barnstorming speeches on the state of the world. Considering the film was essentially a conversation, it was compelling throughout and the two hours flew by. I also liked the way it smuggled a Spanish language film into final third.

But it did fall foul of the usual issues plaguing prestige biopics. It artfully elides the portion of the film that would have contained a full discussion of child abuse in the Catholic Church. Hopkins Pope is called a Nazi, but his past is left unexplored. Ultimately, it’s a feel-good “people from different sides of the political spectrum can get along” story rather than anything truly challenging. You could argue that the film had a responsibility to properly address the facts, but I have no desire to pick that particular battle.

I’m fairly neutral on genres. Oscar bait is no better or worse than any of them. It’s whether the films themselves stand up. The Two Popes is one of the better examples of Oscar bait, and you’re likely to enjoy watching it. It’s just not going to stick with me, which is fine. Not every film is life changing, some are just a few pleasant hours of entertainment.

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Little Women (2019, dir. Greta Gerwig)

Little Women is only a brilliant film if you want to cry all the way through it. It’s a very undignified experience. (I’ve been reading bits of the script, put online to help with Oscars nominations, and I’ve been tearing up reading that. Complete and utter shambles.) Awards are nonsense, but it deserves all the awards.