12th of March: I don’t even like comics

They’re kind of silly. Still, my spell of take-abstinence continues. I’ve not read any bad opinions on Syria, I don’t know what ludicrous hijinks are going on within the Democrats, I don’t care whether Emma Watson is a feminist, I continue to not be interested in Owen Jones. It’s good.* I just read some embarrassingly juvenile tat on my commute and arrive at work with a spring in my step. All this does mean that the list is… bitesize. So let’s get to it.

  • This review of a biography of Theresa May will do funny things to you. On the one hand, the sexism of the Tory party might make you feel some sympathy for her (vile). On the other, the revelation that a lot of the worst ideas and policies of the last five-odd years were conceived of by Theresa May before being usurped by some other slime will make her seem even more awful. Very nuanced, imo!
  • A reminder that even the rumours and prospects of a crackdown on immigration are enough to cause material harm and suffering, with immigrants in the States almost going into hiding.
  • Charming profile of Patrick Stewart.
  • Two lists running with an article about classical knobs! I’m sorry! But this was interesting on why Greek statues aren’t always that impressively endowed.
  • Some good lads have started a new website for games writing, and it’s exciting news. Currently got a couple of good pieces on it about games I haven’t played but like – one to watch!
  • The article accompanying this incredible long-exposure photo gif thing of the Shard is kind of thin and empty? But my god I could watch the animation all day.

And that’s that, off you go. Get a subscription to Marvel Unlimited. Leave me be.

*obviously, as you can see from this summary, I remain deeply in tune with the ebb and flow of the takes, I just don’t read them anymore

26th of February: Marvel Unlimited Takes Its Toll

I think the genesis of this list thing was that I was on my own in Madrid, sitting in lots of bars reading – sometimes books, but lots and lots of articles, and I needed somewhere to put them all. That and I wanted to become a Blogger, and thought this would be a good little way in. Anyway, fast forward three years and the news is all bad, and I wouldn’t have the time to read all the content even if I wanted to. I recently took out a Marvel Unlimited subscription, and now instead of reading the latest lukewarm take in the Guardian, I just read thoroughly mediocre comics about characters I don’t recognise in the slightest. Its doing wonders for my health tbh. Not great for accumulating content for you all though. Soz. Let’s go through my paltry offerings.

Bonus high-quality bit of comic art:

2017-02-23-09-21-55

I mean, ffs.

  • Good, non-sensationalist analysis* of the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam.
  • A call for bold, radical, utopian demands on immigration and borders, instead of technocratic pandering.
  • This story about an initiative in Monterrey (in Mexico, in case, like me, you were convinced it was in the States) led by former gang members to create truces between gangs, is lovely.
  • Bit spooky that TfL has been tracking all our phones on the underground, but all their findings are really quite interesting so fair play.
  • Found this piece from an Irish emigré in London quite moving.
  • Will Self just roams London, apparently. Must be nice being a writer. Got a lot of respect for the idea of just walking to Heathrow
  • A peek behind the curtain at all the witchcraft that goes on with those terrifying-looking dresses on the red carpet.
  • This is quite sad, fair warning. Eva Wiseman’s cat died, and she had to explain it to her toddler. Maybe give it a miss if you’re feeling fragile, idk!
  • OK so this is rude! NSFW and that, but a proper classicist did an analysis of dick pics and masculinity using the myth of Priapus as the hook. Ancient Romans were so rude! (all the rude bits are like 2000-year old paintings and sculptures tbf)
  • Found this interview with the actor who plays Mace Tyrell weirdly charming.
  • It’s your boy, the biggest mark in the galaxy, getting excited for the Morrowind expansion again. Don’t even know I included this in the list tbh. Sick of it.

And that’s it. lol. Have a good fortnight, and I’ll be back with some more dregs soon! xx

*which I guess isn’t easy, as it’s a pretty sensational kind of event

12th February: You might read this one

Good to get feedback from the fans, keeps me levelled. “too miserable”, they say. “too many long grim articles about how we’re all going to die”, they wail. Sick of it. So this week is mostly just bubblegum and computer games. Because I’m nothing if not a people-pleaser.

Have you noticed I’ve binned the song of the week? I got bored of it. Also, no picture of a cat this week. I did accidentally let a kitten into my flat the other day when I had just made an unnecessary round trip to St Albans, but it feels dishonest to use Kev to get clicks. Let’s go.

  • Good thing about sitting on articles for months at a time is you get to stash up articles which were about a thing that was freshly tragic at the time and then unleash them on your unsuspecting readers out of the blue. So I’ve got a couple of lovely articles about Carrie Fisher. This one is an excerpt from her memoir/diaries, about Harrison Ford, and it’s even more poignant now. This one was from the editor of her advice column in the Guardian, and it’s lovely. IDK, made you all sad again haven’t I?
  • So while we’re feeling low, this is v. powerful by Megan Nolan on Marie Stopes having to cut back on support for Irish women travelling for abortions and her own experience.
  • OK the party starts now! Literally! A tribute to the jagerbomb! When I worked at Spoons, there was a fella who came in everyday from work at the posh cocktail bar across the road and ordered a pint of guest cider and a jagerbomb and just drank them on his own. Sometimes I’d convince him to do the 2 for £6 deal even though it was a bit of a con. Little pointless vignette for you there.
  • Reckon success has gone to his head a bit, the videos are getting indulgent, but the Chicken Connoisseur was such a great little thing to discover. Like this profile from back when he burst into the mainstream.
  • On the other end of the posh scale, I really liked this day in the life of a grand old restaurant.
  • The trick to avoiding the gym cons outlined here is just to be astonishingly hungover for most of January and only make it back in six weeks after Christmas when you’re fat and weak and can’t even lift your water bottle let alone a dumbbell. #lifehack
  • Literally just an article about some soft porn mags, I think, but because they’re from 1970s Lebanon, it’s cool and interesting.
  • I had no idea Obama kept the same barber while he was President but he even flew the guy out!
  • When Slate started their week-long tribute series to Stevie Wonder it read like they were trying to jinx the man to death. He seems to have survived it, and this is great on just how incredible the run of albums around Innervisions
  • A feminist analysis of the best film ever made.
  • This is some great nerd stuff – instead of obituarying Carrie Fisher, they obituaried Leia Organa as a political figure.
  • Two little analyses of data formats and literacy standards in the Star Wars universe because I am a vile nerd and clearly didn’t get bullied enough as a lad.
  • Board games are pretty cool aren’t they? Me and the other three readers of this blog are trying to get a little monthly game going (text me, lads), and they’re surprisingly fun – not quite Company of Heroes
  • BOOM TRANSITION this is an old piece about the making of Company of Heroes but it’s good and I miss it.
  • Great in-depth analysis of a level in Dishonored 2, a game that sounds great but just like its predecessor I am too terrible at stealth games to engage with.
  • Mini Metro is a pretty cool little £1 phone game. It’s also apparently an excellent model of real-life transit systems. Cool!
  • Absolutely livid, between this piece about how the developers overhauled it and the expansion bringing Morrowind into the game, I’m now desperate to acquire the Elder Scrolls MMO despite it being thoroughly mediocre by all accounts. Such a mug.
  • The lads at Shortlist got scouted by Football Manager and incorporated into the game and this is just very funny.
  • This is a weird article about a film that never existed and a bunch of people who are convinced it does.
  • Strange thing about being from a place but not for long enough to really feel ownership of it is that this kind of content feels extremely familiar but also utterly alien. Anyway, it’s a fucking Tab (I know) article about Sutton, or “the ends” as I call them generally.
  • Would absolutely read a long-form version of this analysis of how TV’s famous couples ended up. Honestly please click.
  • This is high-level nerd but kinda quite sweet on Batman helping someone with mental illness? IDK I’m embarrassed reading that sentence back almost but.
  • Brilliant profile of Buzz Aldrin.
  • If you’re still fussed about every owning some bricks and windows and that, this Golby might depress you but it’s mostly quite funny.
  • I liked this a lot on therapy.
  • Cool feature about the fella what invented the Raspberry Pi, which sounds really cool and I want one now even though I know I’d get sick of it immediately and put it in a drawer.
  • Look at this fat fucking pig my god.

Cool, that’s your lot. And now I’m off for a Spoons breakfast, with, I think 75% of this blog’s readership. Pointless. x

5th of February: There’s a cat on my bed

Right look, I know, it’s been ages. There was Christmas, and then there was New Year’s (Sundays both, I think), and then I was moving house, and then as I was on holiday.* I’m sorry. I’m still keen on this list, I still like the idea of getting to share some great #content with you all, I’ve just been a bit slack. Sunday morning is, and remains, a bastard of an appointment, so I’ll consider rejigging it as we get into the year. Meanwhile, I’ve left this long enough, and it’s ballooning. I’ve been told my list of bookmarks is now obscenely long, so I’m splitting it up and giving you all a bonus instalment next week. It looks like I might be able to put together a whole list of just fun stuff which might be nice. This week: misery and death.

Bonus cat:

2017-02-05-10-30-46

 

  • The Daily Beast has maybe always been a bit weird, but it’s gone full weird in recent times, between outlandish claims on the Middle East and now its spearheading of hysteria over Russia. Still, for this piece, a journalist who survived an IED attack in Iraq in 2006 went back to interview an ISIS bombmaker in prison. It’s nuanced and heavy and thoughtful.
  • I think my main takeaway from the scandal over the IISS getting secret funding from Bahrain is that, had an interview gone the other way last year, I could have been on £16-9k a year of that sweet sweet blood money. This piece is very thoroughly reported, providing real heft to the deserved smacking the IISS has gotten over this.
  • Reckon I had an article about the Mosul dam collapsing, probably in The New Yorker, in the list two or three years ago, and here we are again! It’s still terrifying in an almost unbelievable way. If Iraq has dumb Hollywood films I assume this is their equivalent of the San Andreas fault.
  • And while we’re on the subject of flooding, don’t assume your warm little London cupboards and cells are safe** – the UK is woefully unprepared for major flooding.
  • Speaking of woefully unprepared, nuclear weapons are not only apocalyptic, they’re also a bit shoddy? This story was published, I think, before the Royal Navy almost levelled Miami, which only adds to how scary it is.
  • This is an interesting, humanising idea from Reuters, a sort of detailed, granular analysis of the journeys of the people on one of the worst shipwrecks in the Med in the past couple of years, with interviews and everything.
  • It is good to be made aware of good and valid reasons for concern around the death of cash and the rise of contactless cards and phone payment etc. However, I still say – bin coins and if your shop doesn’t have contactless, sort it out.***
  • This is a great profile of Diane Abbott, who gets so much stick for reasons I can’t quite? Put my finger on? Don’t know what it is about her that means there’s so much hostility to her in particular? Weird and mysterious IMO. Anyway, she’s brilliant and this is interesting.
  • Like most people, I suspect, the whole Corbyn thing has sort of faded in my eyes and it’s a bit bittersweet, etc. Still interesting reading this excerpt from a book on the initial leadership challenge that looks at how the Guardian slanted its reporting and analysis around the boy JC.
  • I think this piece on Camden becoming a parody of itself and then gentrifying and possibly dying out is interesting but ultimately, the answer to the headline must be kind of… no? Whenever I’d visit London in my teens, I’d make a point of visiting Camden market, and it seemed like the coolest place there was.**** Then I lived there for a bit and became immune to it, and then, when I got a job in the Spoons on the canalside, I realised I hated having to walk up that high street. So idc.
  • Speaking of places I’ve lived I have weird feelings about! Madrid’s new mayor is doing genuinely fascinating and bold stuff with pedestrianisation and binning cars off in order to combat air pollution, unlike our new mayor whose main policy was “try not to walk too much lads” as we all choked on toxic exhaust fumes.
  • Fair warning this one is a lot of gross body horror, and a bit US-centric probably, but if you want some gruesome facts about childbirth, go ahead!
  • Think the heyday of cultural appropriation as a controversy has sort of passed us by, but this is a really sensitive, lovely account of an author’s struggle with her own kimono.
  • I don’t know what conclusion to draw from this article about Silicon Valley in the context of the #deleteUber thing – guess it’s the eternal “there is no ethical consumption under late capitalism thing” but hey.
  • Torn on this one about Google’s machine learning experiments. On the one hand, the technology and progress is terrifying and awesome. On the other hand, the fawning tone of the whole thing is a bit nauseating. It frequently reads like one those gross articles where a bloke is sent to perv on a young female actress. At least the objectification is being turned on some male nerds for once?
  • Sobering look at people in the UK who are homeless despite being employed. Seventh largest economy in the world!
  • Good corrective to some of the reporting around strikes and trade unionism that tends to erase the agency of union members (or “workers” as they are commonly known.
  • This profile of Mexico’s post-murder-cleanup-specialist is grim and weird and poignant.
  • A lot of chat on the ol’ social media comparing the rise of the alt right and the morality of punching Nazis (extremely good, btw) with German denazification. This story about some neo-Nazi serial killers sort of tarnishes that narrative a bit, I think. There’s been rumblings about the trial elsewhere, some going into more depth into the allegations of complicity from the authorities.
  • This week in “that thing you thought was good is actually bad” news, some caution around the reopening of Fabric.

 

And that’s that. Fun stuff next week I promise!

*conveniently elided here; the week I just couldn’t be arsed, frankly. I made a pie instead, and it was great.

**just clocked that this is the first list I’m putting together at my new kitchen table. We have daffodils it’s cool.

***have gotten to the point where I have to make an effort to remember my PIN when I’m rudely asked for it

****the underground stables bit exerted a particular fascination – the climax of one of my long-running Urban Dead stories took place there.

18th of December: One Week til Christmas

Need to rush out into central and do emergency Christmas shopping, lads, so let’s get cracking.

Song of the week is something off Childish Gambino’s new album, picked largely at random cos I don’t know what all the different songs are yet.*

  • Always feel kind of funny doing these narrative critiques and media sniping bits when there’s real horrors going on in the world, but I think it’s fairly necessary to puncture the establishment stories when they’re constantly being used to justify more horror and death.** This first one takes a general look at the Syrian war, and the misinformation and deceit surrounding it. This second, is more particularly on Aleppo. God knows, at this point, what truth is actually coming out of there, but guess there’s some value in having deeply partisan sources on both sides at least.***
  • Good analysis of Kalingrad as a place and society, not just a missile silo.
  • Strong response to the football child abuse scandal.
  • Think Kriss gets to something about “2016” here – it isn’t “the worst” in an anomalous way, it’s just that everything is always getting worse. I also don’t know how much you’ll enjoy this one, on the bizarre game theory thread, if you weren’t on Twitter as it unfolded and people obsessed over it. But it’s great.
  • On a similar note, think this is a very good point on the “fake news” thing – it’s creating a narrative that does nothing but help the far right.
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates writing a 10k+ word retrospective of the Obama years is a real “clear your morning, make a coffee and get comfortable” event. Luckily it came out just as work entered the beginning of the Christmas lull. It’s also well worth reading the responses – the two that were up when I read pointed out significant blind spots or errors in Coates’ narrative.
  • We all got really happy at the possibility of paying €1k a year to retain EU citizenship (because we inhabit the worst timeline), so of course the slugs in Brussels had to pour cold water over that slim hope.
  • This piece on beginning to recover from grief while staying in a Bangkok sex hotel with your mum is lovely but definitely could have gone on twice as long?
  • Important attack on the stupidity of Labour chasing anti-immigration votes down into the gutter.****
  • I liked this on battles for memoria historica in Spain.
  • Absolutely lovely feature on One Hundred Years of Solitude and Garcia Marquez.
  • Thought this was a kind of lovely, not uncritical, defence of Tolkien. It’s very very long but.*****
  • In the wake of the cool stunt where the author proved it was cheaper to get a coach to Paris for the morning-after pill than it was to buy one here, she made the arguments explicit.
  • I’m glad The Walking Dead is getting political flak because I just find it a bit dull and depressing (the worst thing always happens), so I’m quite glad to be able to dress that up in politics. This article is a bit odd – it seems to essentially just be based on one fella’s work. Still seems largely correct.
  • Only three or four days left, depending how late you’re working this week, to sample the full range of high-street Christmas offerings. I liked this New Statesman round-up. Think I might treat myself this week to one of the top-flight ones even though they’re like £9.
  • Always nice to see cities (here, Madrid) taking steps to curb car use. Especially considering Madrid is so small you can walk across the centre in less than an hour?
  • Turns out all the free games on old Windows machines were thinly disguised ruses to get people used to the new input methods required on the new computers.
  • This is compelling and beautiful, and it’s about Burnout Paradise. A+.
  • Another one of them “men can only find true connection with each other when it’s mediated via a playstation” ones. Good tho.

alright, go away. Think I’m due to write another one on like the 29th? Which I might bin off, tbh. So I’ll probably see you in the New Year. Have a lovely Christmas xoxo

*think the critical consensus on this was one was very divided so I’ve had to form my own opinion, which I hate doing. It’s good imo.

**I’ve found it on Twitter, in particular. Confronted with such glib ghoulish idiocy from the “do something (mostly war)” crowd, I find it hard not to respond (“respond” I’m a locked account with about eight non-bot followers) in kind, which is probably deeply morally off.

***I mean I saw articles from The Daily Beast circulating far more widely than the “Cubans in Syria/Dismember Syria” outlet ever deserves.

****it’s going to happen though, because the worst thing always happens, and there’ll be a cross-party consensus that something must Be Done about immigration.

*****not that I even really need much defending to be done of Tolkien. Of course I’d probably be held in contempt by the author and all associated for my attachment to the films over anything else.

4th of December: Peek behind the curtain

Apparently this isn’t even that much effort for me. “you just write some stuff and bash it out” I’m told. Rude.

Regardless, here we are. Short one again. I don’t even read books on the train so I don’t know where the time is going. Fallout Shelter and tweets I guess. Also my increasingly sharp ability to bin articles about American politics three paragraphs in. Which means I think we’re Trump-free this week?

“Gabriel in last month’s blog you made your song of the week the song like, four tracks above this on Frank Ocean’s album why are you so musically limited”. go away Self Control has at least three separately beautiful bits.

 

Let’s go.

  • Thought this was quite interesting on how airstrikes in Mosul are co-ordinated and called in. Reminds me of off-map abilities in computer games TBH. Sort of interesting (*horrifying) watching Aleppo and Mosul happen at the same time and be reported on so differently. Partly because Iraq does seem to be going about things more carefully, but also partly because Buzzfeed aren’t embedding with the S.A.A. anyway. Lots of bad stuff imo.
  • I thought I shared this before? I haven’t apparently but that’s odd. I think I thought it was really good, but it’s long so I’m not going to re-read it to check if the reason I didn’t previously include it was like, nine paragraphs in it descends into Nazi apologia or something. if so, soz*. Anyway it’s about that photo of the falling man on 9/11.
  • Good to remember, as we descend into ever-worse politics based around pandering to the construct of the white working class, that most of the past five years’ (and more obviously) bad politics have had a particularly heavy impact on women of colour.
  • I enjoyed this tale of divorce court and offshore courts a lot, partly because *whisper* it’s a little bit of what I do for a living, but also because it’s written up like a bit of a thriller. It’s gripping enough to sort of forestall the realisation that it’s just some gross rich people battling over the ill-gotten gains, which ruins it a bit.
  • This is Trump-adjacent, I guess, but it’s mostly on how queer communities built institutions and networks and all that to survive.
  • This report on how London drug gangs extend into the provinces is so bleak and grim.
  • Just an article about shirtless men and masculinity I guess? some bums included so maybe don’t click at work.
  • All that bad reporting on that study that made some men sterile the other week at least provoked this actually good article on obstacles to male birth control.**
  • This is quite cute on old iTunes’ star system. Reading it gave me a sudden flash of my old “5*” playlist (and I think, 3 and 4 *s ones, which… what’s the point of that?)
  • Tbh not sure I can be bothered encrypting such thrilling conversations as Wednesday’s standout “do we have milk shall I get some” but this is a little guide to the encrypted messaging app Signal if you’re into that kind of life.
  • Sam Diss has been on a roll at Shortlist recently (not that I’ve ever managed to find the hard copies) – first, a sort of sensitive and funny article with interviews about balding***, and second, this excellent response to a survey about lunchtime pints; Sam (with the consent of his editor) went out for more and more pints at lunch every day of the week to see how he coped. The dream.
  • Unexpectedly short but still decent little Pearl Harbour story.
  • What is the day after thanksgiving? IDC. Still some nice little descriptions of good fridge leftover-raiding.

And that’s your lot. Shoo.

*wanted to link to the good stephen merchant bit about soz but YouTube is an eternal disappointment

**turns out pharmaceutical companies are slugs! Who knew!

***though I hate one of the interviewees a *lot*. See if you can guess which one! (little bit of audience engagement for you there)

20th November: At some remove

Timing’s a bit weird on this one, I guess. The last instalment was immediately before the election, and had I posted last week I guess we all still would have been in shock slightly but now this feels like the world we live in. It doesn’t matter too much. I’ve done alright at maintaining my position of minimising the amount of American politics I read about. I’ve still found myself reading more post-mortems than I’d like before realising that life is short. All this pre-amble to say that I’ve tried not to make this list all about Trump.

I settled on the song of the week about ten days ago. There’s a post-election piece later in the list about Marvin Gaye and it made me download What’s Goin On again and TBH as an album it’s kind of… a lot of filler and mumbling? IDK I know it’s a classic. but the title track is just so good. So ‘ave a bit of that.

  • Here’s that good Marvin Gaye thing actually.
  • OK. Two American election #takes and that’s your lot. One of which, odds are you’ll already have seen because most of my regular readers know each other and the author so why bother sharing it? cos it’s good, lads, and contains the line “evil always wins”. Also this from Dan O’Sullivan is good I thought.
  • Think it was Men’s Day yesterday. This one is old, and I might have shared it the first time round, but still think it’s worth reading – on the stiff upper lip killing us lads.
  • Wonderful defence of libraries.
  • This is kind of long and probably states the obvious at times but it’s a good unpicking of the notion of Western civilization.
  • It’s jumper season I guess (so cold) – this is cute.
  • God, remember Neopets? It’s still there, but just… a bit weird.
  • Always here for writing 6,000 words too many on a TV program. This extended critique of Ross from Friends is good.
  • Kinda lovely bit of stuff about bars.
  • This did the rounds after Leonard Cohen died, on the rise of Hallelujah. Bonus: the undercurrent of vicious contempt for Jeff Buckley.
  • This is just like an extended write-up of a PR stunt, but when the PR stunt happens in zero gravity I guess it’s OK.
  • Kind of quietly beautiful this – Golby went back to where he grew up and just wandered around I guess. Got that sort of slight sense of alienation I get when you English people talk about your childhoods like these are all standard experiences. What’s wrong with just playing Morrowind imo.
  • Oobah (not even a proper name) continues his reign of terror at Vice – this time, spending a night out in London without spending anything.

That’s your lot. Bye. x