"Although it has been said that every person is the hero of their own life story, it is more accurate to say that every person is the underdog of their own life story." Why southern gothic rules the world [SLGuardian], MO Walsh
The man who sleeps in Hitler’s bed Wheatcroft is now 55, and according to the Sunday Times Rich List, worth £120m... The ruling passion of his life, though, is what he calls the Wheatcroft Collection – widely regarded as the world’s largest accumulation of German military vehicles and Nazi memorabilia.
What Happened, Miss Simone? [YouTube] [Trailer] Helmed by Oscar-nominated director Liz Garbus (Bobby Fischer Against the World, Killing in the Name), the fully authorized doc incorporates concert footage, archival material, and interviews taking place over three decades. The movie will be available on Netflix June 26. [more inside]
Scan of mummified body of Swedish bishop reveals baby hidden in coffin. [The Guardian]
For almost 350 years Bishop Peder Winstrup lay quietly in his coffin in the crypt of the magnificent cathedral at Lund in Sweden, concealing a secret: the body of a tiny baby, tucked in under his feet. The little corpse, believed to be of a baby born several months prematurely, was revealed for the first time when scientists scanned the coffin and the mummified body of Peder Winstrup, believed to be one of the best preserved 17th-century bodies in Europe.
Can any mortal control this foul, pulsating orifice? Stewart Lee on Top Gear by way of HP Lovecraft. Stewart Lee previously on Top Gear
Terry Pratchett's daughter declares The Shepherd's Crown will be the last Discworld novel. [The Guardian] [Books]
Terry Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna has brought down the curtain on her father’s Discworld novels, declaring that she will not write any more herself, nor give anyone else permission to do so. The comic novels set in a world balanced on the backs of four elephants standing on a giant turtle are “sacred to dad”, she said. The author, videogame and comics writer told a fan last week that her late father’s forthcoming novel, The Shepherd’s Crown, featuring teenage witch Tiffany Aching, would be the final Discworld book. And asked by a fan if she would be continuing the series herself, she ruled out the possibility. “No. I’ll work on adaptations, spin-offs, maybe tie-ins, but the books are sacred to dad,” she wrote on Twitter. “That’s it. Discworld is his legacy. I shall make my own.” She added: “To reiterate – no I don’t intend on writing more Discworld novels, or giving anyone else permission to do so.”[more inside]
"Let’s have a year of publishing only women." ~ Kamila Shamsie [The Guardian] [Books]
It is clear that there is a gender bias in publishing houses and the world of books. Well, enough. Why not try something radical? Make 2018 the Year of Publishing Women, in which no new titles should be by men.[more inside]
From plitter to drabbletail: a few writers choose the words they love. [The Guardian] [Books]
Dialect terms such as yokeymajig or whiffle-whaffle; all-time favourites like cochineal, clot or eschew; antiquated phrases such as ‘playing the giddy ox’ … leading writers on the words they cherish.[more inside]
"That’s when I realised we were looking for something that only exists in the movies." (slTheGrauniad)
Eve Online: how a virtual world went to the edge of apocalypse and back The video game Eve Online is one of Iceland’s biggest exports and has become the world’s largest living work of science fiction. While rival games have come and gone, it has survived – thanks to a unique experiment in democracy
"D’Eon exploited this remarkable situation to transition to womanhood, getting both the English and French governments to declare that 'Monsieur d’Eon is a woman.' The press closely followed these announcements and, starting in 1777, d’Eon lived her life legally recognized as a woman. In Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman, d’Eon is held up as one of the most remarkable women of her century." Transgender celebrities are not new. Just read London newspapers from 1770, The Guardian
"The Whitney museum says, 'Isn't it wonderful – we have 30% women in the new collection!'" says the activist known as Frida Kahlo. "And we're saying, why is that something to be happy about – 30%? Where is the other 20?" The Guerrilla Girls: 30 years of punking art world sexism (Emma Brockes, The Guardian); previously on MetaFilter.
What are the most disturbing novels? [The Guardian] [Books] Guardian Books discusses disturbing reads:
"Bret Easton Ellis has haunted some of our readers for days, and on the books desk we’re still getting over certain depictions of dangerous obsessions and hellish orgies. Which fiction has most unnerved you?"
California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth [New York Times]
A punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been the state’s engine has run against the limits of nature.California Water Use [New York Times] Are you affected? [New York Times] The Drought, explained. [New York Times Video] [more inside]
"There are many ways we can envision women's liberation if we try. Since we total more than half of the world's population, our experiences as women intersect with almost every other struggle against systemic oppression. The lessons learned are personal and political. Tapping into this well can sometimes seem like an infinite journey: where does one start? Well, with comics, of course!" 19 Comic Characters Who Embody Women's Liberation, Ad Astra Comix [more inside]
On stage that day, Iglesias declared that Podemos would take back power from self-serving elites and hand it over to the people. To do that, the new party needs votes. If that means arousing emotions and being accused of populism, so be it. And, as the party’s founders have already shown, if they have to renounce some of their ideas in order to broaden their appeal, or risk upsetting some in their grassroots movement by tightening central control, they are ready to do that, too. The aim, after all, is to win. [more inside]
"In the hands of another actor, she could have just been one more detail in Scott’s design scheme, a clothes horse in a coil of cigarette smoke. But Young makes Rachael breathe. It’s a tricky role: she must seem slickly artificial, while hinting all the time at warm humanity. As Harrison Ford’s jaded ex-cop Deckard falls for her, the whole film hinges on us understanding why. That she pulls it off owes a lot to her raw presence – but presence is the lifeblood of movies."
"In short, it seems that when a white male thinks about the meaning of things, any things, it is philosophy..." (SLTheGuardian)
Sufjan Stevens's new album Carrie and Lowell can be streamed in its entirety at NPR and The Guardian. Four (very) early reviews. Previously
Why I didn't call the police when I saw two black boys with guns next door. [The Guardian]
"My husband’s instinct was to call law enforcement, but that didn't seem like the solution. Especially after Tamir Rice."
"No Land's Song" is a documentary about Iranian singer and composer Sara Najafi's fight to host a concert of solo women singers in Tehran. Nothing like it had been attempted in Iran for 35 years: after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, women were banned from singing solo in public.
“After every meeting at the ministry, I said, ‘OK, it won’t happen.’" But then she’d have a meeting with her Iranian singers – some old enough to have performed before the revolution, others too young to remember a time when women were allowed to sing at all – and decide to fight on.It is being shown at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Excerpt - Vimeo link.
Japanese woman comes to America to search for buried treasure- but it's the fictional buried treasure in the movie "Fargo". She's come to North Dakota's "Siberia" to end her own life and the language barrier and our perceptions of Japanese 'normal' get in the way. [more inside]
2 Deadly Shootings Within Hours in Copenhagen; 5 Wounded [New York Times]
A shooting at a free speech event featuring an artist who had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad and a second shooting hours later outside a synagogue left two dead and five police officers wounded in Copenhagen, stirring fears that another terror spree was underway in a European capital a month after 17 people were killed in Paris attacks.[more inside]
Don't Judge A Book By Its Author by Aminatta Forna [The Guardian]
‘I have never met a writer who wishes to be described as a female writer, gay writer, black writer, Asian writer or African writer’ … Aminatta Forna on her frustration at the book world’s obsession with labels and identity.
It wasn’t easy to buy a car in the Soviet Union. Usually, the first thing to do was to sign up on a decade-long waiting list to register your interest in owning a vehicle. Secondly, you needed to save what was then a huge sum of money; a new Zaphorozhets cost the equivalent of about 30 times the average monthly salary. A few people found a different way, however – assembling cars with their own hands. [more inside]
Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris’s 2005 TV series was a comedy about a ludicrous ‘self-facilitating media node’ in east London. But 10 years on, it looks more like a documentary about the future How the Nathan Barley nightmare came true
UK should consider ban on Mein Kampf, says Scottish Labour MP [The Guardian]
Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, Scottish Labour MP Thomas Docherty has written to culture secretary urging a ‘sensitive debate’ on allowing its sale.
Ten o’clock on a grey, wintry morning and Mr David Niven marched up a deserted Champs-Elysées, some of the insolence of his erect Sandhurst carriage slightly curbed by a blinding hangover. 23 January 1965: David Niven on the golden days of Hollywood
Being held up as “beating the odds”, “done good”, or “escaped” does not make me happy. (slTheGrauniad)
“Murakami-san no tokoro” or “Mr. Murakami’s place”: [Japanese] an agony uncle column by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. [more inside]
"There was an interesting video installation that featured part of an old BBC documentary on Bowie. The commentary on the then-burgeoning star was fairly contemptuous, including a haughty sniff about how most of his fans were '14-to-20-year-old girls.' This is something that feminist and womanist cultural critics still observe — how a largely young female fan base is used to discredit the integrity and value of artists. This, despite the fact that, over and over, young women have 'discovered' and launched the careers of dozens of influential men and women. Like David Bowie, who is now considered so culturally important that he has a globally renowned exhibit dedicated to his career, which tens of thousands of people have clamored to get into." [more inside]
"From a seven-year-old who took on a supermarket to the girls who stood up to authority against violence, racism and inequality, these girls make the future look bright." Laura Bates looks back at a year of young feminist action in the Guardian piece, "2014: a year of brave, inspiring, young feminists". More feminism year-in-reviews below the fold. [more inside]
I AM INTO THIS. Who are the Cambridge Satchel Company and why should we care? The company started in 2008, and they sell old-style 1950s/60s era British school satchels. Originally meant for kids (the founder states, "I honestly thought that it would be schoolchildren and parents buying my bags!"), the satchels have become a more modest and budget-friendly alternative to designer bags. As a small startup company, they relied on enthusiastic word-of-mouth from the internet to bolster their profits; Deane states,"I think online was the only way that we could really engage and get traction really quickly" (warning: autoplaying video). This is the perfect storm of internet obsession: you click the link, and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. [more inside]
"Eventually I got my phone up and called 999. “Ambulance, fire brigade or police?” they asked. “I’m stuck in a chimney,” I replied, and they repeated the question with more urgency. “I don’t know, I’ve never been here before,” I said, then decided on fire brigade."
Christmas themed gifs by contemporary artists. Jake and Dinos Chapman, Judy Chicago, Jeremy Deller, Tony Oursler, Marc Quinn, Anri Sala (NSFW, strobe imagery)
"The signs on the doors are excessively polite, and use outmoded words such as 'kindly' and 'residing'. 'Kindly do not deliver items for Mr and Mrs [...] to this address as they are no longer residing here.' But it is the doorbell etiquette that is most enraging, and instructions that 'for all collections and deliveries please press the housekeeper's button only' incite a sudden surge of anarchic rage and a desire to ring all the other bells simultaneously – summoning the chef/kitchen, the residence and the caretaker." [SLTheGuardian]
"... I love the version of the Thanksgiving story in the movie Addams Family Values, because I get to see the Indians win." [SLGuardian]
Racing to Checkpoint Charlie – my memories of the Berlin Wall by Haruki Murakami [The Guardian] The Japanese novelist on why the fall of the Berlin wall has such resonance with his novels.
When a bad review of her first novel appeared online, Kathleen Hale was warned not to respond. But she soon found herself wading in (The Guardian)
The Last Saturday by Chris Ware [The Guardian]
" A brand new graphic novella by the award-winning cartoonist Chris Ware, tracing the lives of six individuals from Sandy Port, Michigan, published in weekly episodes on this page."The page always shows the latest instalment and a new part appears every Friday. Use the arrows beneath the strip to read previous episodes.
"This country, when it was ever known on the global stage under the union, was associated with tragedy, in terrible events like Lockerbie and Dunblane; it's now synonymous with real people power. Forget Bannockburn or the Scottish Enlightenment, the Scots have just reinvented and re-established the idea of true democracy. This—one more—glorious failure might also, paradoxically, be their finest hour." Novelist Irvine Welsh on Scottish independence (SLGuardian) [more inside]
"It irritates me because it seems such a self-conscious way to live. But, to be fair, it’s almost always completely unselfconsciously done. It’s people like me, carping at the camcordsters, who are overthinking how life should be experienced. We’re the ones who are trying to impose our opinion of how things should be enjoyed. 'Why can’t you just look at a view!?' we fume, but we never ask ourselves: 'Why can’t you just let people enjoy the view in the way they want!?' Exasperated by people staring at their phones instead of the world around them, we end up staring at people staring at their phones, miss the sunset, fireworks display or penguin feeding time, and don’t even walk away with a video to watch later." (SLGuardian)
Ian McEwan: the law versus religious belief. [The Guardian]
The conjoined twins who would die without medical intervention, a boy who refused blood transfusions on religious grounds…Ian McEwan on the stories from the family courts that inspired his latest novel.[more inside]
"There is nowhere to have a quiet chat – if a channel controller wants to discuss a commission, they must first book time in a glass-walled meeting room named after some long-gone BBC character – the Del Boy or Wilfred Pickles suite or something. The Mr Pastry Suite or the Basil Fawlty Snack Bar would have been no more likely to produce creative ideas, but at least it might have been fun getting the summons." (SLGuardian)
How to eat: burritos
"It may be categorised as 'street food', but eating a burrito while walking is hazardous. We've all been there: you take a bite from one side of the burrito, which leaves a quivering 'lip' of rice-loaded tortilla on the other, and, like a slow-motion shot in the world's most boring action film, it falls to the ground or down your shirt, before you can whip your head down and around to snaffle it to safety. Then there is the issue of leakage from the bottom of a too-loosely-twisted foil wrap, and also the delicate procedure of prising that, by now sopping wet, last mouthful from the final cup of foil – itself now overflowing with juices – and transferring it to your mouth without any spillage. It's a task that requires focus and concentration. You walk with a burrito once, twice maybe, before you either a) get knocked-down on a busy road or b) realise – standing outside the pub trying to wipe meat juices off your trainers with an old tissue – that eating and walking is a false economy, time-wise.[more inside]
The Fast Show summary from Wikipedia:
The Fast Show, known as Brilliant in the US, was a BBC comedy sketch show programme that ran from 1994 to 1997, with a special in 2000 and 2014. It was one of the most popular sketch shows of the 1990s in the UK. The show's central performers were Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Simon Day, Mark Williams, John Thomson, Arabella Weir and Caroline Aherne. Other significant cast members included Paul Shearer, Rhys Thomas, Jeff Harding, Maria McErlane, Eryl Maynard, Colin McFarlane and Donna Ewin.[more inside]
It was loosely structured and relied on character sketches, recurring running gags, and many catchphrases. Its fast-paced "blackout" style set it apart from traditional sketch series because of the number and relative brevity of its sketches; a typical half-hour TV sketch comedy of the period might have consisted of nine or ten major items, with contrived situations and extended setups, whereas the premiere episode of The Fast Show featured twenty-seven sketches in thirty minutes, with some items lasting less than ten seconds and none running longer than three minutes. Its innovative style and presentation influenced many later series such as Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show.