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w/e 2020-05-17

Is this now?


§   This week I have mostly been listening to Safe And Also No Fear, the 2019 album by Slaughter Beach, Dog who are new to me, and I can’t recall which person or algorithm put them in front of me. They remind me of lots of different bands, from one track to the next. Guided by Voices, Pavement, The Mountain Goats, and probably others.


A panorama of bright green fields, with a few of light brown earth, and a small round hill in the distance
View to Cockyard Tump this week

§   Earlier in the week I went for a stroll down to the Abbey and as I walked back through the quiet village, with the sun bright in the blue sky, and the birds singing in the spring-green trees, our cheery local postman, Bob, was popping some letters into a house and singing, “Oh what a beautiful morning!” and I’ve obviously been watching too much TV drama because I immediately thought, “Uh oh, something terrible’s about to happen.”


§   This week we watched season two of Westworld which I didn’t enjoy as much as the first. It’s still good, and has lots of interesting bits, but I didn’t care enough about most of the many threads to match up to the high-stakes worlds-ending plot. I only cared about Maeve and Akecheta, the Native American. It felt like there was too much going on, with so many different groups of people to keep track of, so that the best episodes were the few that focused on only one or two.

Throughout both seasons I’ve had a nagging feeling that actually I really want a good, modern, epic Wild West drama, and Westworld’s moving ever further away from the West. Given those parts of the show take place in a large-but-still-constrained “park” it’s ironic that it does so well at suggesting the vast scale of the American landscape, in a way that a more compact (and presumably lower budget) show like Deadwood couldn’t, or didn’t need to.

Maybe I need to search out the 35-years-old Lonesome Dove miniseries, which I’ve never seen. There must be scope for a modern wide-ranging western show. Maybe giving Native Americans at least equal screen time and depth? I know, a crazy suggestion. One day I guess, hopefully, there’ll be “a Western” that is almost entirely focused on them, with the invading Europeans as “the other”.


Photo of rays of sunlight fanning down through clouds onto green fields, with a dark ridge on horizon
Sunlight over Hatterrall Ridge this week

§   §   On Chris’s recommendation we watched The Price of Everything about the international art market and it is, as he says, amazing.

Although all the people involved in the money side were varying degrees of terrible they were still, generally, more interesting and nuanced than how they’d be portrayed as a character in a drama. There were glimpses of self doubt, or fear, or just well-rehearsed self-justification. They were fascinating in a way that stereotyped, money-focused, super-rich Bad People usually aren’t in drama. Or, if they are — Succession can be good at that — they don’t have the room or a slow enough pace for this to be more than a momentary checkbox-ticking “indication of depth”.

As with every time I see clips of artists in their white studios I wish there was a programme that was nothing but an artist slowly working on a painting or sculpture, occasionally muttering about what they’re thinking or doing. Not real time, but with no haste. Even when there’s not much going on physically there’s so much consideration and/or experience going into every tiny movement.


§   For those of you following along (no one) I have switched back from MacVim to VS Code. This will last until the things that annoy me about VS Code grow to be greater than my dwindling memory of the things that annoy me about MacVim. One current bugbear: The only way to make the text size of VS Code’s file explorer smaller is to zoom the entire interface out, and then, in Settings, set the text size of the main code editing panels to a larger size. Who knows what fractional pixel size the main text is now. Plus all the other interface elements now have the teeny, tiny text I only want in the file explorer, and oh God, this is hopeless, how can text editors be so annoying?

Also, I’ve started the satisfying process of formatting my ongoing python-based projects with black and testing that formatting with flake8. I do this on new projects but my existing projects pre-date me discovering these. It’s very satisfying and I love no longer having to think about whether to use double or single quotes, when to add trailing commas, and all that. Obviously the code could still be awful, but at least it’s consistent and neat. A bit like saying, “Ugh, my co-worker’s useless: he’s so slow and every thing he does is a disaster! But, on the plus side, at least he always ties his shoelaces.”


§   How would I know if this is a flashback.