Hi, I'm Rob, a digital content strategist based in London. This is where I log stuff that interests me and keep track of personal projects.

Consumed the week of 11 June (and the week before that), 2018


Had a couple of weeks off updating this blog. It was my birthday, so we took a trip to New York (Manhattan and upstate, up the Hudson river).

In that time I read Some Hope and Mother’s Milk, the third and fourth Patrick Melrose novels (and watched the first three episodes of the TV adaptation, which are really good), Stephen King’s new one The Outsider, and The Bumblebee Flies Anyway: Gardening and Surviving Against the Odds by Kate Bradbury, which actually made me cry! It’s fantastic.

As for films, I watched two great documentaries: The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography, and Faces Places; plus Split (why did I not watch this sooner?), and the pretty abysmal Nobody Walks.

And, this weekend, we went to see Laura Linney in My Name is Lucy Barton at The Bridge Theatre (that’s her in the photo above). It’s a 90 minute, uniterrupted monologue and she’s outstanding in it.

Long reads consisted of this New York Magazine article about the rise and… plateauing(?) of Vice and this fantastic article about a guy in his 20s in Australia who realised he could withdraw as much money from his bank account as he wanted, with no penalties.

I usually go to Resident Advisor for record reviews, but their recent article about Tokyo’s audiophile venues is fascinating and not nearly as nerdy as it could have been.

Two articles in praise of things… First up: In praise of an afternoon at the movies (I can relate to this a lot, solo outings to the cinema in the daytime is basically my equivalent of a spa day). And, second: in praise of extreme moderation (the title is ironic, its actually a call for the pursuit of balance).

And finally, the AV Club has a short video essay on the sweeping scene from the latest series of Twin Peaks (if you’ve seen it you’ll know immediately which scene I’m talking about).

Consumed the week of 21 May, 2018

Above, the genius that is Stephen King (and yeah, ‘genius’ is the right word, if you disagree then we can’t be friends) talking to Stephen Colbert about Trump and his new book (which I have lined up, right after the May installment of A Dance to the Music of Time). The The Dead Zone reference is spot on, and so is the James Paterson dig.

And, if that’s not enough King for you, how about this from… The Poetry Foundation (you didn’t see that coming did you?) about the great man’s verse.

The history of 21st century authenticity is the history of hipsters and their disappearance….by 2012 it was finally possible to call just about everyone a hipster. The development of the authenticity aesthetic made it possible for the mainstream to participate in the most outwardly visible ritual of hipster behavior: authentic consumption.

Those quotes come from Toby Shorin’s essay on the death of authenticity, probably the trickiest but most valuable thing I’ve read all week.

This short essay on the dialogue in 2001: A Space Odyssey is very good (I saw it just last week, but I can still hardly believe “There are no words spoken for the first 25 minutes of the film nor the last 23.”)

My subscription to the NY Times keeps paying dividends. This week alone I’ve loved: an essay about why drinking at lunchtime is a good thing (which it is), the relationship between US Presidents and mystery writers, this brilliant essay on austerity’s effect on Britian (sad that I have to go to a US newspaper to get a clear-eyed appraisal of the country I live in), and this interview with the stars and writers of the ace Killing Eve.

And finally, I subscribed to ultrabrilliant’s “Little things I ❤ about… “ YouTube series based on this first video on Whiplash.

Consumed the week of 14 May, 2018

Above, a beautiful short film featuring Milton ‘I ♥ NY’ Glaser talking about that city now and then (so much of this could easily be applied to London).

The best thing I’ve read this week I think: The Cosmonaut’s Glove by Matte Locke, an article about class, fathers, sons, work and space. It’s great.

A couple of more laments about the state of the modern internet: Ged Carroll (a fellow Yahoo alumni) wrote This wasn’t the internet we envisaged (also on Medium). Dan Nosowitz wrote I Don’t Know How to Waste Time on the Internet Anymore for NY Magazine, and Jason Kottke wrote about how Nosowitz’s article struck a chord with him.

“…wasting time is now more work. You can certainly do it — the web is as full of nonsense as it ever was — but you have to look a little bit harder. You have to learn some new things. You have to find your own corners charting unmonetizable enthusiasms. It’s not just going to happen to you. You have to dig your own rabbit holes.”

Grub Street is a food magazine I only started reading recently, but like it quite a lot already. Their profile of Flynn McGarry (‘the Justin Bieber of Food’) is great.

My subscription to the NY Times also keeps paying dividends. This editorial on the prosecution of Kevin Cooper (a young black man) for a multiple murder in 1983 (when all the evidence pointed to three white men committing the crime), is fantastically written and presented.

As I’m currently training to take on the Three Peaks challenge later this year, Meditation & Blisters from Craig Mod rang a few bells, while The Wisdom of Running a 2,189-Mile Marathon in The Atlantic just made me feel like a wuss.

So… back to food 🙂 Who knew there was a website called New Food Economy? I certainly didn’t until I got pointed to this in-depth article about A.I. and a new era of hyper-personalized food.

Watched this week: Totally engrossed in Killing Eve on BBC America (great, snackable fun and compelling drama – trailer below). And I indulged in a weekday afternoon viewing of the ‘unrestored’ 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey which was predictably mind-blowing.

Read this week: Finally finished The Angel of Darkness (the second Dr. Laszlo Kreizler book). Enjoyable, but seriously flawed in terms of its pacing, it’s representation of marginalised characters, and the ‘clangy’ dialogue.

Consumed the week of 7 May, 2018

No matter what your thoughts are about the so-called Intellectual Dark Web, you should read the NY Times article that has inflamed the debate.

Then you should read Alice Dreger’s article about why she asked to be left out of the article. She nails the major problem at the heart of the whole IDW thing, namely, “How is this really about intellectualism, darkness, or a special web? If these people are having conversations that are so rare ”in the culture,“ how is it that they have millions of followers and pack auditoriums?”

I value pretty much everything Frank Chimero commits to paper, and his Modest Guide to Productivity is no exception.

The Cumberbatch-starring adaptation of the brilliant Patrick Melrose novels began this week (that’s the trailer, above). There’s a great feature on it’s author, Edward St Aubyn from 2014 that is required reading for Melrose fans. And the NY Times has a whole list of links you might want to check out if you want to get really nerds about it.

Staying with TV, the New Yorker has a long feature on Ryan ‘Glee’ Murphy that’s really interesting.

The other, divisive cultural event this week was the release the new Arctic Monkeys album. Pitchfork sat Alex Turner down to direct every track.

And, finally, this is a fascinating little article (again, from th NY Times) about the ‘pirate radio stations’ of YouTube.

**Consumed the week of 30 April, 2018

Above, the incredibly dense video for Donald ‘Childish Gambino’ Glover’s new single This is America.

I mentioned a few weeks back I was reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara’s brilliant tale of the hunt for the Golden State Killer. Well, they found him! Jordan Gorostiza lived down the road from Joseph James DeAngelo and wrote something on Medium about what that feels like. While Wired wrote something really interesting about the ‘creepy genetics behind the Golden State killer case’.

Best long read of the week by a furlong (that’s a joke): The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code over at Bloomberg. See it as a companion piece to this article from a few weeks ago.

I got a digital subscription to the New York Times this week (it’s along story, but basically I can’t get a physical newspaper delivered on a weekend anymore, so I’m trying out digital subscriptions and the NY Times is great so far). This article about crying at the movies could have been written by me.

And I really enjoyed this interview with Benedict Cumberbatch about his upcoming outing as the titular Patrick Melrose in the adaptation of Edward St. Aubyn’s novels. I read Bad News (the second in the series) last week in a very short space of time – it is extraordinary.

I’m currently reading The Angel of Darkness (the second in the Dr. Laszlo Kreizler series, i.e. the follow up to The Alienist).

The L.A. Times has a nice little interview with Christopher Nolan about his 70mm ‘unrestored version’ of 2001: A Space Odyssey which is being shown in some cinemas this year. It better bloody come to the UK!

Consumed the week of 23 April, 2018

This article from the BBC reports on studies which seem to show that the ‘online echo chamber’ doesn’t exist to the extent that we thought it did. And, even more interestingly, when people are exposed to viewpoints that differ from their own they become more, not less, entrenched in their positions.

A long and exhaustive examination of the Lance Armstrong saga from Deadspin (timely as Armstrong just settled his federal case with US government for $5 million).

“…what made Armstrong’s doping extreme was neither its scope nor its efficacy. What set him apart was the way he exercised his power to abuse teammates and those around him to create the perfect winning machine.”

The New York Times has published unseen pictures from the Summer of 1978, and they’re fantastic.

A loving and thoughtful look at Field Notes and Coudal, both of which I’m longterm fans of (I have the Morning News Tournament of Books edition Field Notes in my bag right now).

The New Yorker profiles Jon Hopkins ahead of his new album, which is due out next month (cannot wait).

Finished reading At Lady Molly’s. Moved on to Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart which was dreadful. I was completely missold this book as ‘a neurosurgeon’s thoughtful take on mindfulness’, but it’s actually a badly written The Secret-esque, new agey collection of dangerous nonsense peddled by a narcissistic and (I suspect) lying tosspot. I hated it. To get rid of that taste I gobbled up Never Mind the first of the Patrick Melrose novels (ahead of them being on the TV with Cumberbatch playing Patrick),

I just finished watching the absolutely brilliant The Alienist on Netflix (another book adaptation). Nothing to do with aliens, everything to do with doing Sherlock ten times better than the Beeb has done in recent years (and I know Netflix have many more $$$ to spend on this stuff, but it also helps to have the trust in your story, characters and actors instead of resorting to gimmicks and fan service.) Haven’t enjoyed TV as much for a long time. Next up: The Terror!

Consumed the week of 16 April, 2018

After seeing and loving A Quiet Place last week, it was great to watch this Notes on a Scene video featuring John Krasinski breaking down the Monopoly scene from the film.

This is a very useful breakdown of all the fibs, spins and slights Zuckerberg used during his 10 hours in front of the Senate.

A few weeks ago I linked to the Worst Roommate Ever article in New York magazine. Now it seems the story is being made into a movie (dramatisation) and TV series (documentary).

That Spike Jonze Apple ad just keeps on giving. Now it seems FKA Twigs is stuck in a strange, alternative dimension.

I love reading about the experiences of London by people visiting from another country. So this post from Dinner, A Love Story by novelist Sonya Terjanian really charmed me: “Uber is everywhere in London, and for the insanely brave, there are lots of bike-sharing options. You should also take at least one ride in a ridiculously charming black cab, aka a Hackney.”

And who wouldn’t be charmed by Ruth ‘River Cafe’ Roger’s Grub Street Diet, which contains sentences like: “Another strong espresso, and then I was off to the airport to meet Sian Wyn Owen, my co-author and our head chef at the River Cafe, and her 10-year-old daughter Pearl. Before boarding, we stopped at the Fortnum & Mason counter at the airport for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs; I didn’t eat on the plane.”

Jason Kottke did a bang up job of collating some of the best articles and videos celebrating the 50th anniversary of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

And I started reading At Lady Molly’s, the fourth instalment of A Dance to the Music of Time.

Consumed the week of 9 April, 2018

I read two very convincing and optimistic article about the potential second coming of RSS this week. This one from Wired, and this one from TechCrunch.

Design Observer is not the place you’d expect to find a moving article about OCD and anxiety. But it’s great and makes you think about the disease in a different way.

Of Stephen King’s list of his ten favourite novels, there’s five I haven’t read. So they’re going on my ‘to read’ list.

Another great article about Donald Glover and Atlanta and ‘the invisibility of black genius’. Loved this quote:

There is another noticeable element that Glover subtly infuses into the show that might make it immune to white applause:

Atlanta doesn’t give a fuck.

When Sartre and Beauvoir Started a Magazine is a great long read (from longreads.com) that is catnip to anyone interested in publishing and the existentialists (i.e. me).

Also this week:

Saw the brilliant Maxine Peake interviewed as part of the Working Class Heroes weekend at the BFI.

Read the short but very memorable So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell.

And also devoured one of those ‘thrillers everyone is talking about’: The Dry by Jane Harper.

And went to the cinema to see the inrcedibly entertaining (and almost unbearably tense) A Quiet Place.

Consumed the week of 26 March, 2018

Above: This look behind the scenes of Spike Jonze’s Apple ad is almost good as the ad itself. From the Skype audition to the levers that move the apartment walls and tables. Genius.

How London’s Oldest Family-Run Café Beat Gentrification is a great read from Esquire about E Pellicci over in Bethnal Green.

The Guardian interviews Fran Lebowitz about Trump, Australia and gun ownership. Love that woman.

Why Aren’t You Laughing? is David Sedaris’ latest for The New Yorker.

Also from the Guardian is a long read by someone who interned for Monocle, about why they’re suing the magazine for unpaid wages.

Finished reading this week: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – brilliant (and terrifying) true crime by Michelle McNamara.

Also: You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life (You Are Raoul Moat). One of the most extraordinary books I’ve read in a long time.

Watched this week: The Disaster Artist. A lot of fun.

Consumed the week of 19 March, 2018

Above: this weird but beautiful Bafta-nominated animation by Will Anderson, tells the struggle of a looping, animated GIF.

Talking of weird and beautiful, this is a rather nice appreciation of David Lynch by Michael Chabon, in the Paris Review.

Suede’s eponymous debut album holds a massive place in my heart. It’s definitely one of my personal desert island discs and it’s 25 years old this year (!). Over at The Quietus, Jeremy Allen does great job of explaining why it’s such a great record.

Putting users first is not the answer to everything is a Medium article which could have been provocative for provocation’s sake, but is actually a succinct and smart querying of some accepted digital design wisdom.

You’re doing your weekend wrong over at Quartz, breaks down why binging on booze and boxsets is not necessarily the best way to relax. Instead, it’s all about socialising, hobbies, altruism, and play.

The NY Times has a fierce (and well-deserved) evisceration of Jordan Peterson and his odious brand of ‘fascist mysticism’.

And talking of odious: Lionel Shriver on the housing crisis and immigration in The Spectator, should be read but only in a ‘know thy enemy’ way.

On a lighter note: Yes, I am definitely the kind of person who will read an entire article about the history of blue cheese-stuffed olives as a Martini garnish… and enjoy every word.

Finished reading this week: The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time #3) – still on track to read all twelve by the end of the year.

Watched this week: The Death of Stalin. Not as great as I’d been hoping, but still good.

Last up: the trailer for Under The Silver Lake, the new one from David Robert ‘It Follows’ Mitchell. Looks bonkers, in a good way.