Week 9. Getting into a bit of a stride here and hoping to keep this up until Christmas when we can expect there will be an increase in yummy food consumption and a visible decrease in writing about books.
At any rate, having settled back home in London, life is a bit calmer and I have been, OMG!, able to actually start a new book. As an aside, I’ve left Ted Chiang’s Exhalation aside for Christmas. There’s a certain pace to his stories, and I can’t seem to be able to fit them into either my commute (which is mainly on foot) or my weekends when I prefer to read shorter, punchier stuff. I have, however, picked up a new book and am finding it a bit easier to incorporate in my week. It’s Michael Lewis’ latest — The Premonition, covering all things pandemic. I LOVE Michael Lewis, having discovered him post-The Big Short — which is probably one of my all time favorite movies. I love his style, very Malcolm Gladwell pre-Revisionist History and his straightforward writing and the fact that he tends to be on the side of understanding complexity rather than calling it voodoo or the establishment and moving on.
I think I’m in a bit of a pattern with my reading and listening these days, because on the listening front I am making my way through S7 of Revisionist History which, despite critiquing last week, I’ve started enjoying mainly because it’s all about how smart people solve problems. There is however, an overarching theme to both The Premonition and some of the RH episodes: it’s about experts who have solutions that people in power don’t listen to. I know the theme of post-expert reality has been discussed lots — what with major countries choosing to remove technocrats and elect entertainers (yeah, sorry, Ukraine is also one of them), but I do find that we don’t have enough awareness of just how important it is to listen to people who have done proper work in their respective fields.
On that line, another interesting reading this week comes courtesy of The New European, where I came across an article which explains how the defunct Liz Truss government may have been doomed precisely because of lack of competent people. But the twist is not that the former PM chose incompetent people, it’s just in the nature of a party that’s been in power for so long that the pool of competent people tends to dwindle down to almost zero, due to in-fighting, rivalries, people leaving for better paid corporate jobs etc. At the end, though, you’re left with the experts on the outside and the decision-makers crashing the economy.
On the listening front, it’s pretty slim this week because I’ve been listening to music on the walk to work, mainly to give me some much missed energy but also because Sam Fender has released a new track — Wild Grey Ocean, and I am, again, obsessed. In podcast news, I was disappointed to find that The Tennis Podcast was not really covering either the Basel Open or the Vienna one and even more gutted to realise that I missed that golden window of seeing Carlos Alcaraz play before he’s world famous :(. Other than the regular Bunkers, The Blindboy Podcast (whose latest is a celebratory rant, as the podcast is now 5 years old, HB!) and The Rest is Politics, I also listened to a random Guardian Long Read about the death of the department store. It’s a really interesting topic especially as, together with supermarkets, department stores tend to chart the migration of working populations from suburban to central areas and back. I recently was in Paris and paid a visit to Galleries LaFayette which I used to LOVE and found them a bit dusty and unimpressive which made me think that we’re probably moving to a different type of curation, maybe online. Maybe like this — The Collagerie, which has been my guilty pleasure for a few weeks now.
[ Side note, I also read all the pieces of news which quoted Gloria’s recipe for lemon meringue pie but TBH, I think I did even better by combining a Raymond Blanc base with just a regular lemon curd — don’t like gelatine in my curd, and a simple Italian meringue; bragging here, I know, but my neighbours can vouch it was delicious]
Finally, watching. Not a bad week for that, to be honest. And with a theme too: men and their emotional idiosyncrasies. I first watched The Stranger on Netflix, a Cannes nominated production starring Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris — a dark thriller about two men who are not who they say they are (I will spoil it if I give more away). It’s particularly bleak and somewhat scary in parts but very atmospheric and with great performances by both leads. I also watched The Banshees of Inisherin — premiered at the LFF and 5 starred in The Guardian (!!!) and now in cinemas. I thought it was going to be a replay of In Bruges — seeing that the leads are the same, Colin Firth and Brendan Gleason, but it was NOT. The trailer may be funny and the first 20 mins also may be quite funny but this is another one about men and their dark parts, and the pains and weirdness they hold inside and struggle to let go of. Both really worth watching.
We’re also continuing with The Peripheral, which is quite good and probably has a demo of what the Metaverse should be like if it’s really meant to succeed in any way. I started the latest season of Big Mouth which I LOVED in the past but, it’s either that I’m becoming a bit too squeamish or they are getting a bit over-graphical, I could not finish any of the first two episodes and then gave up…
Finally, I decided to do a fun Friday evening and watched Bullet Train. Now, this is a movie you want to take a smart date to. It’s absolutely hysterical — Brad Pitt is so funny, and despite it being a rather obvious mash up of Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, the Coen Brothers’ Fargo and a bit of Tarantino, it works and it’s nicely paced, funny, and well worth the watch. I liked it.
I guess that’s it? I think I’m forgetting something… oh yeah, lots of academic reading on the topic of self-identification and identity online because, well, we’re doing that part of the cyberpsychology course. Did you know that people who get to know each other online are more likely to have better relationships? I didn’t but it appears that’s the case and the explanation is that people who engage in a genuine exchange online are more likely to reflect their true self in that exchange rather than their actual self. I’ll tell you the difference next time :)
Take care of yourselves. It’s almost Christmas now :)