Recap: Call For Projects is the part of my website where I call upon the generosity of the reader to develop and complete a project idea that I know in my heart of hearts I’m never actually going to get around to starting, let alone completing. Each CfP will probably be an idea way out of my field of expertise. In fact, I’m going to go so far as to guarantee here that each will definitely be out of my field of expertise. But who knows, it might be in yours. And one of us needs to make it happen. And, y’know, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be me…


A portable and collapsable MRI-type scanner, that you could assemble once a fortnight to give your body an entire scan, and associated software that could identify any potential physical problems. Continue reading

The first of this month’s recommendations is the wonderful The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, a graphic novel about how Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage collaborated to conceive of the world’s first true computer. Their real lives ended somewhat tragically, but the author Sydney Padua takes us to a parallel universe where they actually build the machine, and use it. To fight crime. Continue reading

British television in the 1990s was deluged with countdowns. The 100 greatest cartoons, the 20 best cheesy 80s hits, and so on. It was a very popular format that was clearly cheap to make (just interview ten talking heads about public nostalgia and splice it with archive footage). And I vividly remember critic A.A. Gill, somewhere in this very British nostalgia-fest (I forget exactly where), being asked when television’s ‘golden age’ was, and replying: “Television hasn’t been around long enough to have a ‘golden age’.” I thought it was a particularly good reply, although I was to find out later that Gill had a personal reason for being exasperated by the notion: his father, Michael Gill, producer of the BBC’s first landmark documentary series Civilisation is often credited with creating it. Continue reading

This film came along with a bunch of other amazing films, like Lady Bird and Black Panther (which I would also recommend but I think so many other people have done that better than I could).

It’s an expertly crafted story of unreliable narrators and shifting audience sympathy. And one of those true stories that’s so crazy that you couldn’t make it up.

Particularly the car crash in slow motion that is the ‘Incident’ she became infamous for, and how her career unravelled afterwards.


Current Favourite Thing:
What Margot Robbie does with her face in this film. She already has a great face for sheer joyful malice (e.g. Harley Quinn), but so much of the acting in this film is done with facial expression rather than dialogue, and there’s all kinds of rage and frustration and pain busting out of her Tonya Harding.


 

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: I have never used Tinder, or any online dating service, and have no desire to do so, having been married now for a couple of years. But a conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago reminded me how hard the process is. And every once in a while H and I will go and see a film or talk to friends or do something that will be all about the complexities of making relationships work, and we’ll both be reminded how lucky we are in just not needing to spend a huge part of our lives devoted to that. (H, on reading this, of course said “Well, now you’ve cursed us…”) That line from When Harry Met Sally: “Tell me I’ll never have to be out there again”.

When I was single I was constantly asking myself: is it always this difficult? And now I’m not, I feel like the answer is: for most of us, most of the time, yes. But yet… I really feel it shouldn’t be. Continue reading

I can’t remember when I first heard of Black & Water by Kris Drever. Probably about 10 years ago, and probably while he was still touring it on the folk scene.

It’s an album that I feel I often forget how good it is. (I.e. very very good.) It has some original songs on it, but much of it is trad. But he pulls off this delicate balance of reworking the trad with a very contemporary sound. He changes a fair bit of the harmony, whilst still keeping the trad elements intact. In other words, I think he prioritises sounding good over being ‘authentically’ trad. Which definitely works for me. There are bands that perform early music like The City Waites, who focus on creating a sense of what the songs and tunes would actually have sounded like, and that is also great. Black Water feels more to me like a Scottish or Orcadian version of American Country music. It’s modern and traditional at the same time, and very much routed in a sense of place.

And he is not only a truly stunning guitar player but has one of the best male voices in folk music.


Current Favourite Thing:
His reworking of Green Grows The Laurel, which is utterly different from the version that was well-known, but yet feels fresher and more focused. It sounds less like a Ye Olde Ballade and more like a person telling you about their life.