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Etcetera #12: Redemption, Mermaids, Pleasurable Sadness

Matthew Culnane
Matthew Culnane
Here are this week’s recommendations.
A few new readers signed up this week so I will repeat my boring-by-now exhortation to reply with any thoughts—what you liked, what you didn’t, what you want to see more of—and to tell someone else if you think they’ll enjoy the newsletter. It is generalist by design so it helps if we’re covering at least a few things of mutual interest.
Anyway. Good day and god speed. See you next week. Did you know that the Scottish Highlands and the Appalachians are the same mountain range?

Between God & Man Lies A Smoking Gun: Reflections On Meaning, Violence & Redemption In GROSSE POINTE BLANK
Aside: I really like this film! A lot of films released during this narrow time period—say 1997-2001—aren’t terrible visible these days, casualties as they are of the various format and streaming wars. These films slightly preceded the Great DVD Era, when people in their millions would buy up copies of anything that reviewed fairly well—see, I dunno, Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine, Garden State or any of the many others that instantly remind you of seeing dozens of copies in HMV’s ‘3 for a Tenner’ racks during the mid-aughts. And they aren’t usually the sort of thing that works well on Netflix given that their library is ever-shrinking in terms of number of titles and window of production—nostalgia is a big business, but my nostalgia is not the same as that of the median Netflix subscriber. (Give us The Ice Storm, the ultimate ‘lost’ 1997 film, you cowards.)
My style guide hill to die on: Film titles should be set in italics not all caps.
The Rap Quotes
See also: An example of the former, non-galaxy brain approach is this world map with music references as place names.
David Mitchell and Robert Webb: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn
On “Easy” Books…Again
See also: Alan Jacobs’ The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction discusses this sort of thing, as well as the desire by some people to read as many books as they can:
So this is what I say to my petitioners: for heaven’s sake, don’t turn reading into the intellectual equivalent of eating organic greens, or (shifting the metaphor slightly) some fearfully disciplined appointment with an elliptical trainer of the mind in which you count words or pages the way some people fix their attention on the “calories burned” readout—some assiduous and taxing exercise that allows you to look back on your conquest of Middlemarch with grim satisfaction. How depressing. This kind of thing is not reading at all, but what C. S. Lewis once called “social and ethical hygiene”.
How ‘Things’ In Fiction Shape the Way We Read
The star Japanese crime novelist almost too good to translate
See also: the localisation of Final Fantasy VII Remake was an incredible effort, taking 84 people more than five years to translate around 2 million Japanese characters into 7 languages.
Why Do We Listen to Sad Music?
See also: regarding music and memory we have this lovely piece on mourning Adam Yauch and, on a very different note, how the Now! albums are put together.
The music industry used to be split into two worlds. Then 1991 happened
See also: vote for the best album of 1991 on Twitter. Spoiler: Nevermind will beat Loveless in the final and Matthew Sweet’s glorious Girlfriend will fail to get the love it so richly deserves.
Funny Voice Videos
See also: one of the better exponents of this format is Alastair Green, who for the most part I think is terrific. I found the whole John Roderick thing a few months ago absolutely exhausting, but one thing that came out of it which gave me pause was this piece on Gen X’s love of irony in comedy.
When Did Following Recipes Become a Personal Failure?
See also: I am a fan of this type of recipe (I think ‘method’ is probably the better term). There are a few dishes in our regular rotation which have few canonical ingredients and are adapted to suit whatever’s in the fridge: a Thai stir-fry based loosely on pad krapow into which we put any protein; a lasagne of assorted roasted vegetables; a cake that combines any stone fruit and berries we happen to have to hand. In terms of books, I will always recommend Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal.
How Facebook’s Ad System Lets Companies Talk Out of Both Sides of Their Mouths
Bastion - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch
Bastion - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch
The game I am playing this week is Bastion, a 2011 action RPG from the makers of Hades, many people’s game of 2020. It’s got an lovely hand-drawn art style and fascinating sound design—the person who narrates the video above also narrates the actions of your character in real-time. I’m playing it on Switch where it’s currently on sale for £2.19 or your regional equivalent; it’s also available on practically any platform you can think of.
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Matthew Culnane
Matthew Culnane @coldbrain

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