Friday Links: 6th Oct 2017

Video

Hey, have you heard about this cool new service called Netflix? My mum used Netflix before I did. But now I’m — temporarily — on board, finally using the month’s free trial. Will I continue to use it when I — gasp! — have to pay for it? Probably not, but it’s a good service with a reasonable selection and a nice, simple interface (though a questionable recommendation algorithm).

(The following links are to trailers on Youtube).

So far I’ve watched Pumping Iron, starring Arnie and Lou Ferrigno.

I’ve also decided that, while I’m at work, I’ll listen to documentaries that aren’t visually appealing:

Books

Reading:

Interested in:

 

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Friday Links: 29th Sept 2017

Twitter accounts I’m enjoying

Books I’m recently interested in:

Online

  • Why Do We Teach Girls That It’s Cute to Be Scared?
  • Listening to: Gravediggaz
  • Today I’m fascinated by Space X’s idea of using rockets to travel across (not around) Earth. Imagine being able to get anywhere in the world in 60 minutes and most places in 30. My BS detector is ringing, but Elon Musk also claims that flight tickets will be priced similar to standard economy ones. How different would your holiday plans be if this came true? Imagine being a parent and being able to fly your family to Florida in one hour instead of eight. Imagine taking day trips or short city breaks anywhere in the world. Flight durations might weigh on my holiday ideas more than I thought

 

Friday Links: 22nd Sept 2017

Books

Reading:

Bought: Science and the City

Online

Old Man Hip-Hop: On Jay-Z and 4:44

Jay-Z occupies a unique place in hip-hop. A fan could claim that his lyrical skills, wordplay, and double-entendre-heavy lyrics place him among the all-time greatest rappers. If you don’t like his music, it’s still reasonable to look at the mainstream attention he’s received, and the length of his discography, and appreciate that he’s one of the biggest stars the genre has ever seen. I think there was a period when he was the King of Hip-Hop.

But what is he now? He’s a drug-dealer turned gangster rapper who ran his own label as well as the legendary Def Jam records, on the way to making the best part of a billion dollars. He arrived in the public consciousness 21 years ago with an album he claimed would be his only release. 16 studio albums later, he’s still here, a 47-year-old man with a platinum album in a genre associated with youngsters.

One fascinating thing about Jay-Z is how he somehow manages to be simultaneously cool and goofy. He can be the guy rapping about guns and his vast wealth while surrounded by bouncing asses. But he’s also the guy dad-grooving at a Coldplay gig, being adorably gentle with a pensioner, or charmingly awkward on the Jonathan Ross Show. Hip-hop is vain; coolness is vital. Through his career, Jay was aware of that, and tried to be slick, while his goofy side kept leaking out, somehow without affecting his reputation.

With 4:44, Jay has finally dropped the posturing. This album is remarkably honest. He opens up about his well-publicised cheating, his mum’s sexuality, his mistakes and self-loathing. He’s touched on regrets before, he even has a song with that as a title on his first album. But 4:44 is a full-length, more earnest version of that track. This is him breaking new ground.

If I was to speculate (I’m just about to), I’d say Jay has recognised his place as Old Man Hip-Hop. Youngsters listening to Future and Lil Uzi Vert probably aren’t clicking on his albums, regardless of subject matter. But Jay realises he’s dragged his followers into and past middle-age with him. He had a lot he wanted to get off his chest, and knew there was an audience ready to hear him do so. We hate ourselves, and are happy to hear him admit to that too. He’s secure enough personally and financially to put his thoughts and heart out there to millions of listeners who’ll analyse every transcribed lyric on Genius.com. In a genre full of bullshit and posturing, Jay-Z’s given us honesty, humility, and genuine emotion, in place of bitches and hoes. 4:44 is a great album, and his best.

 

Friday Links: 8th Sept 2017

Jay-Z

I got a four-month free trial of Google Play Music, which meant I finally got to listen to Jay-Z’s latest album, 4:44. It’s great. As much as I like Jay as an artist, I find him more fascinating as a businessman (a business, man). So, as I’ve done before, off down the rabbit hole I went:

True Detective

I liked the first season of True Detective but I didn’t love it. I don’t know prompted me to start it again. This time around I’m far more into it. Now I want to read some of the books that inspired it. Some are old. And, sometimes, old = free

Other online reading

 

Friday Links: 01/09/2017

Some books I’ve been planning on reading for years but never got around to and I don’t know why:

Online:

 

 

When the Snikt Goes Down: Brief Thoughts on Logan

1.
Logan’s most impressive aspect is how it handles Laura. Of the many films and shows that try to portray a child as an intimidating presence, few cast well enough to do so. Of that remaining small group, rarely do they successfully direct and edit so the child then looks vicious in action. Logan nails those elements so well, creating a character whose attacks are wonderfully feral and brutal. Kinetic movements and clever editing make Laura seem so quick; we feel the confusion her assailants-turned-victims do, as she vanishes from one point and reappears in another, spraying blood along the way.

2.
In the cultural black-hole I reside in, I’d heard just one thing about Logan — how gritty it was. But I didn’t expect it to go so fully into ageing and death. I knew it was about Logan as an old man. I didn’t know Prof. X would make an appearance, or that he’d be broken and somewhat demented. Ignoring canon, Xavier has quite the character arc across the X-Men films: the energetic McAvoy of First Class (or the drunken Lebowski-esque figure of Days of Future Past), to Patrick Stewart’s regal Professor, to…well, borderline Livia Soprano (“I wish the Lord would take me now”).

3.
I generally dislike meta-moments, so I wasn’t initially impressed when an X-Men comic appeared in the film. But it worked really well, the comic creating the debate: was Gabriela mental for thinking she’d found truth in a comic (the location of Eden)? Or was truth hidden within those pages all along? Can comics contain something more useful than entertainment?