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w/e 25 March 2018

I wrote this yesterday then didn’t get round to posting it. So, hello Monday.

On Saturday evening I went to MOTH Club to see Martha play which was good fun. Lots of catchy tunes, all four members of the band taking turns with the singing, and a room full of variously geeky fans singing along. While I like looking for music that sounds new and interesting and that could only happen in 2018, I am happiest listening to guitars and drums and tuneful indiepop. Here’s a track for you from their most recent album:

Given the impending end of my Amazon Prime free trial, this week I was forced to devote some time to watching the third and fourth seasons of Transparent.

It does that thing long-running shows sometimes do, to try and keep things changing — exploring all possible variations of relationship among the cast. With something like Friends, for example, we had different characters pairing off as the seasons go by until almost all (heterosexual) possibilities were exhausted.

In Transparent we have the extra variations shifting sexualities provide — it feels like every character must, at some point, try out every possiblity. Sleep with a man! Sleep with a woman! Sleep with a trans woman! Decide you’re gay! Decide you’re trans! Have a threesome! Obviously, experimentation and working this stuff out for yourself is fine, but after a while here, it starts to feel overly calculated. I imagine a spreadsheet in which all the various possibilities are crossed off one by one.

The people also continued to be mostly unbearable. Although, by the end, two of the three siblings were less squawky and more interesting as they reached states of mental exhaustion in which they seemed to be, finally, questioning everything about their lives. Seeing them not talking was such a welcome novelty.

Despite all that I enjoyed it. I think. I don’t even know why.

When Call Me By Your Name came out, the trailer didn’t grab me, but given its popularity I thought I’d give it a whirl. It didn’t do much for me, and I wonder what I missed. Maybe this is because I’m a straight man, but I didn’t believe in the relationship at all and found both characters annoying. Chalamet’s character was, at least, justified in this, as a well-portrayed precocious and confused teen. But Hammer’s seemed thoughtless and unbearably cocky and I didn’t care what happened to him. I felt nothing.

This week I finished reading Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin, the first book of hers I’ve read, and one that’s been recommended by at least a couple of friends over the years. It wasn’t my cup of tea and I’ve been struggling to put my finger on exactly what it is that I didn’t like. It’s not that I think it’s a bad book — it seems like a really well done piece of work — but I didn’t like, or maybe didn’t believe in, the world.

This feels very much like the feeling I had playing Horizon Zero Dawn, another impressive work that has plenty of acclaim but which I didn’t want to spend time in. It looked great, was apparently a decent game but, as with Always Coming Home, I found its post-technologicial “primitive” “tribal” world silly.

The two settings are superficially similar and both grate with me. I don’t know why, when I don’t have a problem with science fiction in general. Maybe part of me finds it unlikely humans will revert to this at-one-with-nature state? Maybe it feels too much like a luddite wish-fulfillment fantasy rather than a believable extrapolation? I’m not sure, and that’s frustrating — I can acknowledge that both are good, and don’t think anyone else is wrong for liking them, but I can’t quite articulate why I don’t.

There we go, a few things I didn’t like all that much. Still, there was a good hour at that gig, so well done Martha.

Have a good week.

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