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Etcetera #45: Vegetables, Flowers In The Dirt, Axolotls

Matthew Culnane
Matthew Culnane
Hello. Today’s newsletter comes to you on my official last day as a consultant/freelancer: I start a new permanent full-time job on Monday. I’m sad to lose some of the flexibility but I can’t wait to leave behind the stresses of varying workloads and the unpredictability of payment amounts and dates. Plus, the agency I’m going to work at seems like a genuinely lovely bunch of people.
Here’s where I’m up to with my reading of late. It’s been a while since I’ve plugged The Sample, which is a great source of new things to read—indeed, it has brought a decent chunk of you here—so if you’re unfamiliar with the service, go check it out.
See you next time.

It’s Time to Put Actual Veggies Back Into Veggie Burgers
The Lovers That Never Were: The Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello Demos
The animal that’s everywhere and nowhere
Hocus focus: how magicians made a fortune on Facebook
  • What is the time? This handy clock will tell you via the medium of literature.
  • Shock news: Marvel treats its visual fx people like shit.
  • “Between 1900 and 1990, the amount of time the average American spent reading and writing remained broadly consistent: somewhere between one and two hours a day. According to a 2012 McKinsey report, the addition of text messaging and the Internet raised that amount to something closer to four or five hours a day. Most people were illiterate four hundred years ago; today Americans spend up to a third of their waking hours encoding and decoding text.”
  • The story of a famous album and its cover: Slint’s Spiderland. They look so young in some of the other pictures!
Slint, aged 4 or 5, I dunno
Slint, aged 4 or 5, I dunno
  • The women who built grunge: “When not ignored, women were objectified by the media and marginalized by an industry that treated them like a fad, promoting only a handful of female musicians and only for a brief period. As we revisit the decade that gave us grunge, rather than be all apologies, it’s the perfect time to reexamine, reevaluate, and rewrite history — especially for the women who made up the scene.”
  • The story of being a Dinosaur Jr. guy. I love the band more than is healthy, but my god, J. Mascis was such a horrible person to Lou Barlow. If you like this article, watch Freakscene.
  • An article that positions Half Man Half Biscuit as a true working British folk band.
  • Of all the desperately sad, avoidable Covid-related deaths, the one that I think about the most is Adam Schlesinger’s. What a loss. This is a good overview of his work in Fountains of Wayne and beyond. Shout out to my fellow Oneders/Wonders fans.
“Stacy’s Mom,” Fountains of Wayne and the Many Imaginary Hits of Adam Schlesinger
“Stacy’s Mom,” Fountains of Wayne and the Many Imaginary Hits of Adam Schlesinger
The dreaded Tweets
So it turns out the chihuahua called Death Row my girlfriend met on the dog walk yesterday is actually called Jethro.
please, untitled document was my father, call me untitled document (1)
Rose Schmits, Trans Kiln Witch™
Causing the ultimate british meltdown by casting a trans woman as princess Diana
In rotation
🎮 I’m nearing the end of Super Mario Galaxy, which I hadn’t played until 2020’s 3D All Stars collection, and hadn’t really delved into properly until last week. I think Odyssey is perhaps more charming overall but the bitesize chunks of weirdo-grav platforming in Galaxy are terrific. Feels like it will continue to age the best out of the all 3D Mario games to date.
🎵 Buds by Ovlov: RIYL the aforementioned Dinosaur Jr., My Bloody Valentine, The Strokes et al. Explicit references to several of these in the lyrics and song titles.
🎵 Live a Little by Sam Gendel & Antonia Cytrynowicz. I keep meaning to share this with you, as it’s a brilliant and strange and lovely story. Gendel is a noted jazz player and producer and Cytrynowicz is his partner’s pre-teen sister. She spontaneously makes up the lyrics and melodies while he improvises an accompaniment. The whole thing was recorded in a few hours. It ought not to work at all, but it’s great.
📚 It was my birthday recently so I was given a few books and book vouchers. Of the pile, David Leaf’s newly-back-in-print God Only Knows: The Story of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys and the California Myth appeals the most right now.
📚 Before that I have to finish Robin Sloan’s Sourdough, which is another that’s remained on the shelf for several years. It feels like Sloan’s relationship with technology (and more specifically the tech/media megacorps) has changed a lot over the years, from initial wide-eyed wonderment to a now more distant suspicion. His books have each been written at various stages during this shift, and so they always feel a bit more apologetic than they perhaps ought to. That said, it’s a decent yarn.
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Matthew Culnane
Matthew Culnane @coldbrain

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