Webcurios 26/04/24

Reading Time: 39 minutes

Look, I probably ought to warn you upfront that I appear to have suffered a particularly violent attack of logorrhoea this morning and have somehow managed to break the 11k word barrier – this is your chance to just quietly delete this email/close this tab and get on with doing something better and more productive with your life.

Go on, fcuk off, I won’t mind (well, I will, but I won’t know, because I don’t track traffic or clicks or numbers and so YOU CANNOT HURT ME).

The rest of you, though, you SCURRILOUS LINK PERVERTS, settle in for a bumper Curios, packed with promise and thrills and WEIRD STUFF, and, at a rough guess, about 16-odd hours worth of INTERESTING THINGS FROM THE WEB, all held together with this sort of dreadful writing, in much the same way that the glory of the testicle is contained by the frankly-hideous mess that is the nutsack.

Hm, wasn’t quite expecting that to end up there, but, well, here we are.

I am still Matt, this is still Web Curios, and you are almost certainly hovering over the ‘unsubscribe’ button at this point and I can’t honestly say I blame you.

By Marty Schnapf (via TIH, where 75% of this week’s pics also hail from)



  • Latent Scape: Our first link this week is vaguely-redolent of the Weird Days of Lockdown (but don’t let that put you off) – remember when loads of people, myself included, got briefly excited at the prospect of websites that created some sort of digital shared space in which multiple users could wander round, thereby granting the illusion of community while we were all in fact in our pants at home, alone? YES YOU DO, IT WAS TERRIBLE! Anyway, this is one of those, but LOADS more interesting – click the link and you’ll find yourself (or more accurately a small faceless hominid avatar of yourself) standing on an INFINITE CANVAS – on that canvas are arranged various images taken from Are.na, which themselves are arranged (as far as I can tell) in a manner that effectively maps their position in some sort of latent space based on perceived visual similarities, making this a sort of odd art gallery of the mundane where you can wander through the Forest of Athletic Footwear (for example) and watch as the images begin to shift and change until you realise you have crossed over into the Suburb of Odd Jewellery (for the sake of argument) – effectively it creates a sort of visual taxonomy, which I presume is meant to act as a sort of analogue for the idea of latent space in the ‘mind’ of the generative AI machine. You can also type in anything you like and hit return to get a small AI-generated image spun up and left on the ‘ground’ as you pass, which I sort-of guess is meant to offer space for people to create their own images, based on whatever connections or thematic associations are suggested by whatever part of the image landscape they are ‘wandering’ through – oh, and you can also use the same functionality to communicate with other people you find exploring the image landscape, lending the whole thing a pleasingly-rudimentary community feel. Has this writeup adequately communicated the fact that I think this is fun and interesting and sort-of-lovely, but that, equally, I don’t really have the first clue as to what’s really going on here or why it exists or what it’s trying to achieve? It has? GOD I’M GOOD. Be warned, though, this rather made me (crappy, ageing) laptop chug on a couple of occasions, so watch the tab burden when you open this one.
  • Monodrift: This is quite, quite dizzying, and I have only scratched what feels like the very surface of it, and it, from what I can tell, goes VERY DEEP – Monodrift is…what is Monodrift (once again, the sort of elliptical enquiry that I know you come here for – you’re WELCOME!)? It’s a sort of…interactive fiction? Short story? Mystery puzzle? Narrative artwork? Maybe all of the above, who the fcuk knows. Anyway, your experience effectively consists of digging through a bunch of what are presented as ‘records’ – seven different ‘transmissions’, each of which present a variety of different sources (conversation logs, news fragments, records of chess matches (!), recipe books, odd future analogues of Spotify or Netflix…all of which, as far as I can tell, combine to tell an epic story of space exploration and moral dilemmas and People Undergoing Strange Side-Effects of Interstellar Travel…this is SUCH an interesting way of telling a story, and there is a vast amount of material here to piece together and investigate as you try and fathom what the everliving fcuk this is trying to tell you…look, I was only able to devote 20 or so minutes to this this week, and I think you probably need a bit more to get the measure of it, but there’s an interesting narrative about The Hubris of Science and MESSING WITH THINGS BEYOND OUR KEN, and I got vague Event Horizon vibes about the whole thing, and I am intrigued enough by the fact that there is obviously a HIDDEN CHAPTER or two that you can identify through piecing together clues and which lends the whole experience a pleasing pseudo-escape-room-puzzle vibe. I think this is potentially very clever, and think it’s worth having a bit of an explore around.
  • The Dead Internet: This, via Shardcore, is one for those of you comfortable futzing around with downloading your own LLM and messing with it a bit (so, er, about six of you) – per the blurb, “This is a little project I threw together in a couple hours that lets you surf a completely fake web! You run a search query in the only non-generated page / and it generates a search results page with fake links that lead to fake websites that lead to more fake websites!” The whole idea is a play on the ‘dead internet’ theory – you know, the one that posits that the web is basically already/imminently about to become (delete per your own degree of paranoia) a bunch of machine-written content being consumed entirely by other machines, in service of yet another set of machines, and frankly we humans can do one because we’re pretty much redundant here – and, while it’s obviously just a gag, it feels uncomfortably close to home. Between this and last week’s ‘spin up an entirely machine-made website prototype using just a prompt’ it does rather feel like we’re about to cross some sort of Rubicon (a filthy, bemerded one, probably maintained by Thames Water – yes, that’s right, that was (parochial, anglocentric) SATIRE!).
  • Music By Machines, For Machines: A short Twitter thread here, featuring an idea that I genuinely love and think there is HUGE potential in (even if only from a hyperw4nky conceptual point of view). Kevin McCoy writes: “Asking Llama3 to produce a prompt for an AI music generation app to make a song designed specifically for other AI to enjoy, rather than humans to enjoy. The prompt: 1: Generate a 4-minute composition that embodies the essence of computational complexity. Use fractal-based harmonies to create a self-similar structure, with each repeating pattern becoming slightly distorted and evolving over time. First extension: Incorporate a main theme that is introduced in the first minute, which then undergoes a series of transformations through recursive permutations. These permutations should be reflected in the rhythm and melody, creating an intricate web of interconnected patterns; 2nd extension: The second and third minutes should feature a series of ‘echoes’ or repeated variations of the original theme, each with its own unique twist or deviation. These echoes should fade into the background as they repeat.” McCoy then fed said prompt to Udio to create a song, which you can hear in the final Tweet of the thread and it’s…it’s horrible and weird an unsettling and creepy, and sort-of mesmerising – I don’t know, admittedly, whether I would find anything interesting about the audio were I not aware of the concept or process behind it, but I am really taken with this idea of letting The Machine talk to itself and ‘create’ like this.
  • 1k Suns: This is a hugely-impressive project – as far as I can tell, it’s literally a few filmmakers with a passion for scifi who have clubbed together to make shorts, presumably as a kind of showreel with a view to attracting Proper Funding to make a Big Movie. There are six films on the site at the time of writing, all vaguely based in the same thematic universe which is described as follows: “So what’s become of us? Humanity, I mean. Did we fall into ruin, destroying ourselves via disaster either environmental, nuclear or otherwise? Nope. We’re still here. Turns out humanity is resilient against even the worst of odds. Did capitalism collapse and give way to intergalactic utopia? Also no. Rapacious systems of human hierarchy continue, now with an infinite number of worlds on which to grow. Turns out humanity will always hunger, will always push, will always exploit. Did old systems of belief and faith shatter in the new light of a scientific renaissance? No again. Instead, our many beliefs underwent metamorphosis after metamorphosis, re-emerging in forms both familiar and strange. Turns out humanity will always need its myths, may in fact be defined by them. In A Thousand Suns humanity is out there, exploring new worlds, forging new & daring paths, still dragging along the remnants of the past, still undeniably human, with all that implies.” The shorts are between 3-6 mins in length, and while I have only watched two they are both impeccably shot and produced, and were, just about, interesting enough for me to recommend this to anyone with a passing interest in either scifi or the fact that you can make genuinely-studio-quality material in your own house here in the year of our lord 2024.
  • Intrusion Project: I think this is wonderful. Radio Alice, per the Wiki entry (sorry, but), “was an Italian free radio broadcasting from Bologna at the end of the 1970s. It started transmitting on 9 February 1976 using an ex-military transmitter on a frequency of 100.6 MHz. The station founders were associated with the Italian counter-culture movement of 1977 and drew inspiration from the Situationists and Dada. Franco “Bifo” Berardi, one of the founders, described Radio Alice as a “mix between a classical medium of militant information and a sort of art experiment in media sabotage. The station was closed by the carabinieri on 12 March 1977.” Intrusion Project takes the moment of the station’s closer as its starting point, inviting a collection of artists to take the recording of the moment the station was taken off the air – preserved for perpetuity as Alice was broadcasting as the station was stormed – and allowing them to take the recording and, basically, fcuk with it in a variety of interesting ways, creating a collection of six pieces of audio art with accompanying animations which, honestly, are spiky and uncomfortable and sort-of great, and which I am listening to as I type this and which are giving me goosebumps something chronic. I concede that you might need to speak Italian to get the full effect of the tracks – there’s a lot of found audio in the mix – but there’s also something just sort of beautifully evocative of the whole pirate ethos in the sounds here (I think, at least).
  • How Product Recommendations On Reddit Are Going To Be Fcuked: Ok, fine, not technically the name of the website to which I am linking here, but I thought this was a better and clearer title. This takes you to a site called ‘Reply Guy’, which sells itself as an AI-enabled tool to help anyone astroturf their product all over Reddit by effectively using AI agents to go into the comments of relevant threads and promote whatever crap you’re shilling to the unsuspecting rubes looking for sincere recommendations. Given the recent rise of Reddit as the de facto ‘alternative to Google that actually sort of still works rather than having been entirely fcuked by advertising’, you can see how this is a potentially attractive offer to anyone trying to shift their tat online – equally, you can see how the inevitable avalanche of these sorts of tools in the coming 6-12 months is going to absolutely fcuking destroy what remains of the ‘wisdom of crowds’ wonder of much of the web. Is this good? Will this make anything better? Does anyone apart from dead-eyed hustlecnuts want this to exist? No, no and again no! Will it happen anyway? YES! God I love that we get to have that conversation with ourselves EVERY SINGLE FCUKING DAY here in 2024! THANKS, THE MARKET!!!!
  • Newsroom AI: When I first saw this this week, I got momentarily excited at the thought that it was basically an AI-powered BBC News 24, taking REAL WORLD news and running it through an LLM to create an infinite script which is delivered round the clock by two AI avatars – it’s not that, though. Instead it’s something that looks like that, but which rather than being powered by, say, scraping real headlines and running them through a GPT, is instead powered by people suggesting stories for The Machine to riff on. Which means that if you bother to listen to what the newsreaders are actually saying, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s largely surreal nonsense – but which also means that a casual viewer will probably need a minute or so to clock what’s happening here. Which leads to lovely situations where you can feed a prompt to the system, which usually takes about a minute or so to get to the front of the queue, and then send the link to a friend of colleague JUST IN TIME for them to click it and hear a story that…sounds like it’s about them doing something TERRIBLE and obsecenely biological, emanating from the mouths of the virtual Moira Stewart on screen. Which, yes, is childish, but also quite funny, and what the fcuk else are you going to do this afternoon?
  • The Syllabus Project: I actually linked to something from this a couple of weeks ago, but totally failed to clock the scope of the overall project – BAD MATT – and so return to it this week, because, well, it’s a really cool idea. The Syllabus Project is basically a place that collects…er…syllabi, each of which is curated by an actual person (it feels very weird typing things like that, you know, and even weirder knowing that I sort of have to now, and that that is probably always going to be the case from hereon in) and offers a sort of primer or reading list or ‘general 101 introduction’ to a topic or theme of their choosing, packed with links to useful resources and reading to help you deepen your understanding of whatever the author is trying to communicate. “Syllabus was born from a conversation about discovery and learning. In discussing the ways that cultural artifacts travel through a society, we imagined how a syllabus could function as a creative tool that allows you to do things like: i. present what you feel is important for others to experience or consume; ii. group items together in ways that shade and refine their meaning; iii. apply a conceptual or idiosyncratic approach to the syllabus form;iv. develop rogue pedagogies…To say hello, ask a question, or pitch a syllabus, email us at dearsyllabus@gmail.com. For pitches, please provide a description of the overall concept, structure, and layout (if relevant) of your syllabus, along with a short bio and examples of past work (if available). We’re excited by pieces that broach highly specific topics using conceptual approaches that take advantage of the form’s elasticity (though more classic syllabus forms are also welcome). We offer contributors a $50 honorarium per syllabus.” Topics covered so far include ‘girldom’ (the one I linked to a few weeks back), the physical infrastructure of the internet and the philosophy thereof, the relationship between pleasure and effort…honestly, I can’t stress how much I think this is wonderful and what a great initiative it is, and if you are even halfway interested in ANYTHING it is worth bookmarking this or signing up to the associated newsletter for updates.
  • 1001 Days In London: I am slightly amazed that I haven’t apparently featured this project in here before, but I was reminded of it last week when I happened to pop into the Oxo Gallery on the South Bank here in London and see the exhibition of the photos on display there (should you be able to pop in, it’s on til Sunday 28th and I recommend it unreservedly) – 1001 days in London is photographer Steve Hollingshead’s ”attempt to celebrate London and its people in an ambitiously grand scale presentation manifesting itself in two distinctly differing formats whilst using the same visual material. 1001 photographs have been selected from an archive of over 120,000 b/w negatives covering 15 years since the start of the Millennium, each image representing one specific day…The exhibition of 1001 photographs, which, from its official launch in March 2016, will appear on various occasions at various places and in various forms during the subsequent two & three quarter years, will be presented with no information about any of the images apart from the date the photo was taken.” Only a selection of the shots are on the site, but it’s worth having a dig, and checking out the associated Insta profile – if you live in London (but even if you don’t tbh) these are a delight.
  • Flipbook Redux: Do you remember The Pudding’s recent experiment where they were inviting people from all over the web to contribute to the ‘largest collaborative flipbook animation project ever’? No, you don’t, do you? FFS! Anyway, the experiment’s now finished and they have done a small writeup alongside the finished animation, which is obviously a mess but which, weirdly, sort of works as a piece of abstract art, particularly with the slightly-plinky soundtrack they have given it (or, perhaps, all this demonstrates is that a plinky soundtrack elevates any old tripe to the status of ‘potential artwork’). There’s also some slightly-surprising data contradicting what I might have expected about people’s propensity to draw a crudely-rendered penis on any available blank canvas, should you want an ulterior reason to click this one.
  • Erdos Problems: Ur-mathematician Paul Erdos is one of my favourite maths people ever (it is, admittedly, a list which basically only includes him) – you will of course know that one of the reasons for his peculiar notoriety was his extraordinary prolificness when it came to writing papers, meaning that every mathematician has an ‘Erdos Number’ qualifying the degrees of separation they are from the great man based on people he co-authored academic texts with. This website collects all the maths problems that Erods came up with, along with a running tally of how many of them have been solved by the global community of number savants – currently that stands at a slightly-daunting 170/615. Look, I’ll be honest, this is all about seventeen levels about my mathematical ability, and I look on this stuff much as an ocelot might gaze on the marblework of Bernini, but I trust that there might be at least one of you for whom this sort of thing is just a light post-prandial mental workout rather than a baffling collection of potentially-eldritch symobology.
  • Make Certificates: Make any sort of official-looking certificate you like! Print them! This is utterly pointless in every way, but it reminded me a lot of that episode of Peep Show when Mark prints out a fake certificate for Jeremy asserting that he is in fact a ‘qualified life coach’ (“only four stars; noone would ever believe you got five stars, Jeremy”) and made me momentarily think it would be VERY FUNNY to do this for colleagues for increasingly-preposterous non-achievements (can you tell I haven’t really worked in an office for a while and can’t quite remember how the whole thing works?).
  • The Database of Religious History: Billing itself (and, honesly, who am I to argue? NO FCUKER, etc) as “The world’s first comprehensive online quantitative and qualitative encyclopedia of religious cultural history” which lets academics and other interested parties “to quickly and efficiently check their intuitions concerning the temporal or spatial distribution of particular beliefs or practices against the historical record, objectively assess the validity of scholarly constructs such as “shamanism” or “Confucianism,” and produce thought-provoking visualizations of the spread or interactions of religious variables for both teaching and research purposes.” A bit dry for my personal tastes, but if you’ve any interest at all in the history of theology then this is potentially HUGELY useful.
  • This Email Finds You: Is this the first Mastodon account I’ve featured in here (a whole, I think, SEVEN YEARS after I first mentioned the platform)? Quite possibly! Anyway, this is the sort of gently-amusing project that would have existed on Twitter before That Fcuking Man bought it and turned it into a bongonazish1thole (which, er, I still can’t bring myself to leave) – all this account does is post lines which start “I hope this email finds you…”, all of which take variously-poetic or surreal or odd turns. “I hope this email finds you desirable and will most likely want to give you pleasure but may not always know quite how to do so.”, say, or, beautifully, “I hope this email finds you under a balcony and kisses you in the shadows until there’s nothing left of you but sparkling fairy dust, and in your weakened state, you ask if she wants to hang out next weekend, and her face clouds and she goes, “Ohhh.”” I really like this (but not enough to bother to create another Mastodon profile, turns out).
  • Chicken Town: A website featuring paintings of chickens by Erika (whoever Erika may be), who writes “At the end of last year, I started preparing chicken from scratch to feed my silly old doggie. I don’t typically eat chicken myself, so this was a new activity. The little guy gets a lot of attention and he goes through a LOT of chicken. So, I started feeling it was a bit unfair for chickens to go so unnoticed as living creatures. They just get tossed thoughtlessly into the nugget hopper. (Not by everyone, I know. I have friends who raise and name and love their chickens). So I decided, in exchange for boiling one or two up every week for Rupert, I would really try to see chickens, so that chickens can be seen by other people, too. As soon as I decided to paint chickens, all on the same 7×7 paper, I started knocking out chickens very quickly.” THESE ARE THOSE CHICKENS. These are handsome fellows one and all, and I get the impression that Erika could quite easily sell all of these were she so minded.
  • Paywall Reader: Another paywall bypassing tool, which basically collects a bunch of different ways to bypass the payment gates in one place – as previously mentioned, I generally tend to think that good writing online is worth paying for, but, equally, not everyone can afford all the fcuking subscriptions needed to keep up with Good Writing Online, and as such this feels like an entirely-reasonable toolbox to deploy on occasion.
  • A Whole Load Of Terrifying Climate Data: Notwithstanding the fact that it is April and it is FCUKING FREEZING here in London, the general trend in terms of global temperatures continues to be towards ‘oh fcuk everything is going to get really fcuking bleak in about 10-15 years and it increasingly looks like we have missed our chance to do anything about it’ (sorry, but) – this is a dashboard that neatly presents a selection of graphs and maps that provide a data-led counterpoint to my colourful commentary. If you can look at the graph of average global temperatures over the year which contrasts ‘all of recorded history’ with ‘last year’ and ‘this year so far’ without getting some Very Bad Feelings then, well, you’re probably even worse at parsing data than I am, or you’re a fcuking moron.
  • Moon River: Distract yourself from that miserable ‘we’re all going to die!’ chat with this simple website which vaguely replicates the feeling (often read about, never experienced) of ‘hanging your arm into a limpid pool of water which reflects a perfect crescent moon, and watching the ripples distort the reflection of the night sky above you’. Bookmark this for when it’s no longer possible to go outside because of the air quality/temperature/killer robot gangs/fash/woke mind virus’ (delete per your personal biggest futurefears).
  • All The Sex Sounds: I can’t quite recall where I found this – no, really! – but it’s something to do with a study about ‘what sort of sounds do people make when having sex, and why?’ and, look, all you need to know is that on this site is a fcuking ENORMOUS set of sex sounds available for you to download and do with what you wish – all I’m saying is that we’re yet to have a remix of Divinyls ‘I Touch Myself’ for the TikTok generation, and that’s a crying shame.

By Elspeth Vince



  • The World Press Photo Awards 2024: This doesn’t really need an explanation, does it? Beautiful as ever, distressing (in parts) as ever, these are all gorgeous but, weirdly, my favourite this year is a shot of some genuinely enormous industrial machinery (but, as ever, pick your own!).
  • The Claude Prompt Library: We all know that ‘prompt engineering’ isn’t really a thing when dealing with LLMs, and that ‘having a dialogue with The Machine’ generally tends to be the best way of getting it to spit out stuff that is halfway useful, right? Good! With that caveat, any of you regularly using GPT or Gemini or Claude for personal or professional gain might find this collection of starter prompts for various purposes, compiled by Claude creators Anthropic, useful – there are about 30-ish, designed for a variety of purposes, some frivolous and some more directional, and even if you don’t find them hugely useful in their starting form they might be helpful should you want to explore query/instruction construction a bit.
  • Some Sort Of Map Of The Web: I honestly have no idea whatsoever where the fcuk I found this or what it is or how it is shaped or compiled, but, well, I searched for Curios and I AM ON THERE so basically it gets included for reasons of sheer, arrogant hubris – I FEEL SO SEEN! Anyway, this is…well, yes, it’s a sort of ‘map of the internet’, which I *think* seeks to create some sort of thematic link between various ‘clusters’ of sites based on inlinks and outlinks to them (but, honestly, no real clue). This is actually not-unuseful (elegant construction, well DONE Matt you fcuking hack!) in terms of finding vaguely-thematically-linked clusters of sites around a particular area of interest, although the interface isn’t hugely conducive.
  • Ketchup: This is a new platform for mentoring which I can’t quite see taking off but which I found intriguing and sort-of horrifying in equal measure – effectively it’s a matchmaking site for mentors and mentees, where anyone can sign up to offer themselves as a ‘mentor’ (whatever the fcuk that means, I’ve never really been sure to be honest), with a fixed fee for a set amount of their time; eager ‘mentees’ can then pay said fee for access to a videocall with their mentor of choice, where they can presumably ask them all the questions about, I don’t know, accountancy that their heart desires. Mentors are vetted based on their LinkedIn profiles, which doesn’t feel…entirely watertight if I’m honest with you, and part of me is convinced that this is going to devolve into sex work because, well, much like we all tend to crabs eventually, all web platforms will tend towards the exchange of coin for access to mucous membrane, and there’s generally something a bit…icky about the whole thing – equally, though, I can see the appeal to a certain subset of hustlegrind kids and MLM-style guru figures, which could me a match made in (miserable, horrible, dead-eyed) heaven!
  • Click The Red Button: “In the vast realm of the internet, where information, entertainment, and communication reign supreme, there exists a peculiar corner that defies conventional purpose. We’re talking about useless websites. A collection of digital oddities and bizarre experiments that serve no practical function. While the internet is a treasure trove of valuable resources, sometimes it’s refreshing to explore the absurd, the nonsensical, and the downright pointless. Here on Click the Red Button, we have it all carefully curated for you.” Basically this is one of those ‘here’s a portal to a bunch of vaguely-pointless, frivolous websites you might half remember from the past’ sites, but it has the pleasing addition of all the sites it throws up being rendered in a frame, meaning you don’t have to open up loads of new tabs and can move from one ephemeral distraction to another with ease. If nothing else there seem to be reasonable number of distracting browser games with which to help kill all those tedious, timesheetable hours.
  • The Data Driven DJ: The website of Brian Foo, whose work I’ve actually featured in here before but whose personal site I only discovered this week – Foo is an artist working around the intersection of data and sound, and who has created a host of interesting ways of exploring information through audiovisual presentation. His site features ten different projects, ranging from one which creates songs based on air pollution data from Beijing, to another which takes information on the race and gender representation of Hollywood films to create shifting soundscapes. These are SO interesting, and many of them have their own, rather beautifully made, standalone websites through which you can play with the sonifications and explore the data they represent. I have a real soft spot for this sort of work, and I think sound/data crossover stuff is super-interesting – if you share this small fascination you will love Foo’s work, and you might also be interested in this other site belonging to the Loud Numbers project, which also works on data sonification and has a podcast all about this stuff which you might enjoy.
  • The Music Museum of New England: What famous music comes from YOUR hometown/region? Despite being born in London, due to some Poor Personal Choices on the part of my parents (and my dad then subsequently fcuking off when I was 4) I ended up growing up in a town called Swindon, whose musical heritage consists of Gilbert O’Sullivan (look him up), XTC (look them up) and, er, Billie Piper (oh go on, have her ONE BANGER linked here as a treat) and doesn’t really merit a music museum. You’d sort-of expect New England as a region of the US to have a…slightly richer musical heritage, so I was somewhat surprised to come across this website (via blort) which celebrates the musicians hailing from the Northeastern US and which takes a pleasingly even-handed approach to the artists it chooses to feature on the homepage, and the order in which it does so. You might think, for example, that The Breeders or Tracy Chapman might get top billing in the rundown of ‘people from the area who make music’ but instead it’s the slightly-less-famous Lennie Petz who stares out at me from the head of the page (actually I think it’s a randomised selection each time you load the page, but I still love the even-handedness of this that sees no real distinction between, say, Morphine (a band a reasonable number of people have heard of) and, say, Sleepy Labeef (who objectively has a better name, I concede). Anyway, I was slightly charmed by this, not least as a way of discovering a bunch of completely disparate new musicians and bands I would otherwise never have heard of.
  • Fun Websites: Via Kris, this is literally a Google Sheet that…someone, no idea who, has compiled featuring a load of ‘Fun Websites’ – there are 204 links here, and while about 75% of them were familiar to me (too online? TOO ONLINE??? Yes, almost certainly) there were a good 40-50 that were totally unknown – these are all broadly ‘interesting, silly, frivolous or timesinky’, and this is a pretty much perfect way for you to wind down the working week by spelunking around some obscure corners of the web (also it links to Time Cube and I can never not love anyone who links to Time Cube).’
  • Discontinued Microsoft Creative Software: This is, literally, a blogpost featuring a dizzyingly-exhaustive list of ‘creative’ products that Microsoft has shipped and then shuttered over the course of the past three decades – interesting partly as a general ‘wander down memory lane’ type of thing, but also as a nice reminder that SO MUCH STUFF gets build and deployed by big companies that just…doesn’t work, doesn’t stick, doesn’t build an audience, and that’s ok! Or, er, it is if you’re Microsoft – possibly not if you’re smaller, or a single creator. Hm, that’s possibly not the reassuring pat on the back I was hoping it to be, is it? Fcuk.
  • Yone’s Lists: A page on the personal website of one Yone, who self-describes as ‘an artist and researcher based in philadelphia. most of my work is about thinking through open-access digital archives, their overlap with cultural work and anticolonialism, and personal memory work and archival practice. i also do digital accessibility work in academic publishing, and am a student of the disability justice movement” – this is a collection of lists, thoughts, notes, recipes, pictures, jottings…honestly, I love this, like reading someone else’s notebook (but not creepy or voyeuristic) or seeing inside their brain for a bit. I really, really like the idea of exploring a platform that lets anyone do this sort of thing and make it open and accessible should they desire – which, I suppose, is sort-of what Are.na does, but I personally would like something a bit more textual. Anyone?
  • Puppet Playhouse: Use your hands to manoeuver a pair of puppets on-screen, with your laptop’s camera tracking the movements to allow you to physically puppeteer the marionettes – simple, and very much ‘one for kids’, but I do like the interface and the simplicity, which makes me feel that there might be something a bit more sophisticated and fun that you could do with this if you were so minded (or, alternatively, you could just have some fun playing ‘puppet dragon’ with your child, your call really).
  • TrekTerest: As previously discussed here, I have no interest whatsoever in Star Trek, but I appreciate that that is not true of everyone and as such some of you might enjoy this frankly-ridiculous collection of trekky pictures and ephemera and stuff – personally, though, I am including this almost entirely because it features one of my all-time favourite scroll animations I have ever seen on a website. Seriously, just scroll down and you will know what I mean when it happens – BEAUTIFUL WEBWORK, and the sort of thing I really hope you’re all going to be including in every single web build you oversee from hereon in.
  • Angry Girlfriend: It’s fair to say that it’s not 100% certain that the web has been entirely great for male-female relations, and that young men in particular have been exposed to some at-best-questionable advice on ‘how to relate to women and girls’ – still, thank God that that’s all going to be ameliorated by the magic of artificial intelligence! Proof of this glorious future can be seen in Angry Girlfriend, a genuinely-appalling-sounding app which is apparently designed to ‘help men deal with angry partners’ by, er, ‘simulating an angry partner’ via LLM and tasking you with de-escalating the situation with your HONEYED WORDS. You get to choose the degree of p1ssed-offness that your theoretically-fictional interlocutor starts out feeling, and your goal is to reduce this below some sort of arbitrary threshold within a set number of conversational exchanges…BECAUSE THAT’S HOW CONFLUCT RESOLUTION IN RELATIONSHIPS WORKS, RIGHT KIDS? This is, obviously, a terrible stupid product aimed at idiot children who have never actually spoken to a woman before, but it’s indicative of a miserable sort of attitude which feels unfortunately prevalent at the moment, built around tediously-reductive gender stereotypes and a weird idea of a semi-intractable ‘battle of the sexes’ and, dear God, if you have teenage sons just fcuking talk to them for God’s sake and don’t let them anywhere near sh1t like this (says the know-nothing bozo with no kids who knows the square root of fcuk-all about parenting and should probably shut up with the opining).
  • Backdrop: A game that presents you with a series of artworks and asks you to identify where in the world what they depict is located by dropping a pin on a map. Which is, on occasion, rendered incredibly easy by the name of the place being IN THE ACTUAL FCUKING NAME OF THE WORK ITSELF, which does rather spoil the fun, but the rest of the time this is a really nice spin on Geoguessr.
  • Blumgi Soccer: Kick the ball into the goal. That is literally it. Simple, and weirdly soothing, this is a ‘puzzle’ game in only the very loosest sense but it is intensely satisfying despite the lack of any real passion.
  • Neltris: This starts out being Tetris, and then at a certain point it does something that will slightly unhinge your brain. And then it will do it again, and again, until the whole thing is a gloriously-unplayable mess that makes your cerebellum literally throb and glow white hot. Quite remarkable – I don’t want to spoil this by explaining how this works, but if you can get beyond about the third iteration of the gag then you are some sort of terrifying savant and I am legitimately frightened of what you might be capable of.
  • Crow Flies: Matt Round has made one of the component games from his GLORIOUS nuclear bunker internet simulation Arcc available to play as a standalone – this is Flappy Bird, reimagined as a wireframe first person game as might have been played on a forgotten 70s home console system, and, as with the rest of Arcc, it is picture perfect in tone and detail as well as being fun to play. If you get above a certain score you also get a discount code to the full Arcc experience, which, as previously discussed in here, is worth every penny as it’s one of the most fully-realised bits of theoretical retrocomputing and parallel world building I’ve seen in years, and made with so much love and care.
  • Sudden Death: This is basically a short story/novella, about 40-50 mins long, but it is VERY good. Sudden Death tells the story of an Aussie Rules football team trying to break into the bigtime, of queer love, and success and sacrifice and and and and and it’s all presented in a hyperstylised multiwindow, multiformat fashion with vaguely-CGA graphics and a cracking soundtrack (the vaguely-techno soundtrack to the football games in particular is excellent), and generally this is a really good example of how to do a relatively ‘straight’ (if you’ll pardon the pun) linear narrative in a way that makes the most of the browser window as a delivery mechanism. Really very good indeed, and worth your time over the weekend – I am both boringly straight and understand NOTHING about Aussie Rules, but I still though this was fcuking great.
  • Equinox: Occupying the coveted ‘final link of the week, usually reserved for a really good game’ slot in Curios this week is one of those occasional things that make me think ‘fcuk me, it is genuinely incredible what can be accomplished in-browser these days, this would have been an actual proper videogame when I was a kid that you paid actual cashmoney for’ – Equinox is, as far as I can tell, basically a sort of ‘hey, look what WE can do!’ calling card by a French digital studio called Little Workshop, and is an ASTONISHING accomplishment. All played in first person with a beautiful art style vaguely reminiscent of the sort of hand-drawn work of a particular style of gallic comic book artist, this sees you playing as someone who awakes on a spaceship that is, inevitably, IN TROUBLE. Can you solve the puzzles and save yourself? The graphics, the sound, the voicework…this is all SO SO SO GOOD, and it’s genuinely fun to play too – I promise you this is more fun than whatever you’re currently doing in your other tabs, so click and ENJOY.

By Jess Allen



  • Dina Kelberman: I love this. I don’t really know what’s going on, but there is something wonderful about the images collected here and the…flow of them as you scroll (it will make sense, I think, when you click). I think this is really, really quite wonderful, although I don’t think I can quite explain why – it feels a bit like watching one of those videos in which an object infinitely shifts into other objects, a sort of constant metamorphosis where the shapes of things bleed into each other…anyway, CLICK THIS ONE PLEASE.


  • Un-Archive: Via Pietro Minto comes this excellent Insta feed which is pretty new (only 12 posts! So fresh! So unsullied!) and which as far as I can tell exists solely to share weird images pulled from the Internet Archive. Gems so far include a slightly-confusing Marlboro-branded map of the Lebanon (no idea) and a reminder that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles once did a rap song advising kids that Drugs Are Bad. Wonderful stuff.
  • Flowers In Cinema: Er, literally that – frames from cinema in which flowers appear. In vases, clasped to one’s bosom, or just general ambient flora – if there’s a flower on screen, it’s probably on here somewhere.
  • The Boy Room Show: This week’s BIG INTERNET CONTENT HIT, you will doubtless have seen clips of this floating around your social platform of choice over the past few days – the premise, should you somehow have failed to see this stuff, is that a winning young woman in NYC visits various men’s apartments to expose the frankly astonishing ways in which so many of them seem to live. WHO IS TELLING THESE PEOPLE THAT PILLOWCASES ARE OPTIONAL FFS??? The little segment at the end of each where she does a little ‘this is how I would make this space marginally less squalid’ CG makeover is a particularly nice touch. I await the inevitable English ripoff of this which will inevitably take the vaguely light-hearted vibes of this and instead manage to produce something deeply sinister and slightly-cursed.


  • Screening Out Consciousness: As the general debate about kids and phones (which is really a debate about kids and the web, which is really a debate about our relationship to the internet) continues to rumble on, I thought this article by Tom Scocca was interesting and profoundly true and even more profoundly depressing – Scocca’s basic line of argument here, one that I find it quite hard to disagree with on any level, is that what we are doing when we are scrolling (or opening 300 tabs and devouring information at every second of the waking day – I am not better just because I consume this stuff in 16:9, and trust me I know that) is effectively ‘blocking out existence’, somehow…avoiding being, in some way, and that if we look at it like that then the central question becomes ‘so what are we avoiding and why?’. I very much think this is something worth thinking about rather more deeply than we currently seem to be (an aside: this piece also reminded me of the existence of Sam Kriss, a man who was effectively wiped from the UK media landscape in the wake of MeToo but who seemingly still continues to publish elsewhere on the English language web – yet another reminder that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CANCEL CULTURE).
  • The Coddling of the Parent: Ok, the full title refers to the ‘American’ parent, but I think this is probably an argument that crosses international boundaries tbh. This is more on the Haidt debate – a piece in the Daily Beast by Mike Masnick which argues that by blaming phones for the fact that the kids are all apparently fcuked-up, parents are conveniently letting themselves off the hook a bit for their potential failure to adequately, you know, parent. Basically this is a reasonable set of arguments as to why the Haidt thesis isn’t perhaps as watertight as it’s been presented in certain sections of the media, which ends up making the point that simply saying ‘phones bad’ does rather gloss over some of the not-insignificant other things going on in the world which might well be contributing to the crisis apparently facing kids the world over.
  • Legal Fiction: A neat summary in the LRB of the UK Government’s Rwanda deportation programme, which was passed into British law this week and which is perhaps the single most embarrassing and pathetic bit of legislation I’ve seen in my lifetime (which, honestly, is no mean feat given some of the fcuking mad sh1t the various administrations of the past four decades have gotten up to). I quote these two paragraphs in full, because they neatly address the central question of why this whole thing is so fcuking disgusting: “In passing this legislation, the UK has become a rogue state. The government issued a three-line whip to its MPs, ordering them to stay late on Monday night to pass the bill should it return from the Lords. Before that, the prime minister and his cabinet spent the day casting the House of Lords as a threat to democracy if they voted the bill down. This was another deceptive fiction of the government’s. There was no mandate from the people for this legislation. Nothing in the Conservative’s most recent manifesto, published three prime ministers ago, promised to send refugees to Rwanda or to break international law. Nor did the bill touch on questions of finance or public spending, where the Lords also defers to the Commons. Instead, the norms and conventions of the British constitution would have justified the Lords putting amendments to the Commons indefinitely, or simply sitting on their hands and refusing to vote the bill through. No matter what Rishi Sunak might have pretended behind his sloganeering lectern, the Lords would have been protecting democracy, not subverting it. It isn’t as if these legal and constitutional deceptions are in aid of a higher cause. All Rishi Sunak has is his absurd desire to ‘stop the boats’. Even if this legislation were likely to be effective in ending migration across the Channel, the alleged ‘threat’ of a few thousand people arriving on England’s southern coastline is no justification for violating international law.”
  • Climate and Coercive Control: I thought this was an interesting piece of writing, and I found the central metaphor a lot more convincing by the end of it than I expected when I started it. See what you think – again, quoting at length because, well, it’s worth reading: “The fossil fuel companies and their enablers entice addiction to their products. They sell cars and oil as sex and freedom; plastics as modernity and convenience; methane, which increases the risk of asthma in children on par with passive smoking, as ‘natural’ gas. We could have had electric vehicles decades ago if the automobile and oil industries hadn’t conspired against them. Exxon employed first class climate scientists in the 1980s. They knew, they lied. Oil, gas and coal and their authoritarian regimes sports wash. They sponsor children’s teams, buy the game of golf for legitimacy, pretend to be human. Coercive controllers periodically do something surprisingly nice—a trip away, some small unexpected freedom, a kitchen renovation, a bunch of flowers—enough pretence of care to keep us holding two contrary views of their character. The vacillation between the repetitive cycle of abuse and intermittent gifts or temporary respites from rage messes with a victim’s brain. Interactions between dopamine (craving, seeking, wanting), oxytocin (the bonding hormone), endogenous opioids (drugs we produce internally promoting pleasure and pain, as well as withdrawal and dependence) and corticotropin releasing factor (produced in response to stress) become significantly dysregulated, resulting in an emotional attachment to the abuser or abusive organisation, such as in a cult. Research is ongoing into this complex neurochemical hijacking known as ‘traumatic bonding’. We appreciate the comforts we receive via fossil fuels. And they spend billions every year telling us how good they are for us, how essential they are to our lives.”
  • The Roots of Anti-Woke Rhetoric: This is very much an article about the US right wing, specifically about the peculiarly obnoxious fash Richard Hanania, who’s basically the socially acceptable face of Nazi-adjacent thinking in North America right now – I know, I know, TOO MUCH FCUKING AMERICAN POLITICS ALREADY, and the fcukers haven’t even gotten properly into it yet, but bear with me because, well, this stuff is bleeding everywhere. This is a really good overview of how the far right came to coalesce around the idea of ‘woke’ as a catch-all bogeyman for a range of issues, and how all of that effectively acts in support of an agenda that is quite clearly reactionary and racist. It’s quite astonishing to read this stuff and note quite how much of it is being spouted literally verbatim by Liz Truss, Nigel Farage, Kemi Badenoch and the rest of the UK’s rightwing moron horrorshow (and probably the ones in your neck of the woods too).
  • Misinformation: This is a hugely-interesting piece in the New Yorker about the science around ‘how misinformation works’ – it’s long, but it’s fascinating for anyone interested in How Communication and Persuasion Works, and this element in particular, which forms a central part of the essay, is super-interesting: “Sperber concluded that there are two kinds of beliefs. The first he has called “factual” beliefs. Factual beliefs—such as the belief that chairs exist and that leopards are dangerous—guide behavior and tolerate little inconsistency; you can’t believe that leopards do and do not eat livestock. The second category he has called “symbolic” beliefs. These beliefs might feel genuine, but they’re cordoned off from action and expectation. We are, in turn, much more accepting of inconsistency when it comes to symbolic beliefs; we can believe, say, that God is all-powerful and good while allowing for the existence of evil and suffering…Factual beliefs are for modelling reality and behaving optimally within it. Because of their function in guiding action, they exhibit features like “involuntariness” (you can’t decide to adopt them) and “evidential vulnerability” (they respond to evidence). Symbolic beliefs, meanwhile, largely serve social ends, not epistemic ones, so we can hold them even in the face of contradictory evidence.”
  • AI, Writing and Human Creativity: I enjoyed this article in large part because it basically agrees with what I’ve been saying for several years now – namely that what we might lose through LLMs and whatever the next, better iteration of AI ends up being is not so much the outputs but the journey to get to the outputs, and that we possibly aren’t thinking quite hard enough about what value ‘doing the work’ has in terms of training us to think and develop ideas and generally just give our brains a workout. I appreciate that this is the very definition of anecdata, but I personally find that writing this rubbish every week acts as the most astonishing mental fixative – I *remember* things, arguments, patterns of thought, that I’ve committed to digital ink in Curios past in a way I simply wouldn’t if I just found the links and gave them to the machine to write up (even though I know you’d prefer it that way you FCUKS).
  • The Men Who Killed Google: Ed Zitron continues his pivot from ‘PR Guy’ to ‘tech and society commenter’ with a very well-researched bit about the person who, according to this take at least, is responsible for making Google worse – basically (this, per all of Zitron’s stuff, is a bit on the long-winded side – once again, I KNOW I LACK SELF-AWARENESS FCUK OFF) a guy called Prabhakar Raghavan was effectively the person who enacted a series of changes to the way Google search worked which effectively made the product less good, but which had the more positive (for Google’s revenue, rather than the end user) side effect of meaning people had to do more searches to find what they wanted, meaning they were served more ads. This is, obviously, a prime example of ‘How The Pursuit of Profit and Shareholder Value is Often Inimical to a Good User Experience’, and another one to point to when people say naive things like ‘but…but…they won’t inject AI into everything just to save money on staffing costs when it’s nowhere near ready for full deployment…will they?’.
  • An Interview With The Discord CEO: I hate Discord – honestly, I don’t know anyone who likes it, although that may be because all my friends are old like me and have basically passed the point where we can become comfortable with new interfaces – but I found this interview with the platform’s CEO, Jason Citron, interesting, mainly because of what he says about how he sees Discord fitting into the wider digital communications landscape.
  • Some of the Ways in which Tesla is Fcuked: My latest ‘I really, really don’t understand how markets work at all’ moment came this week, in which Meta posted growing profits and a consistent vision of how those profits were going to continue and saw their stock fall, and Tesla had an earnings call which can best be described as ‘something of a mess’ and yet saw its shares bump because of some vague promises to make some cheaper cars in the future. SOMEONE MAKE THIS MAKE SENSE TO ME. Anyway, this is a good rundown of why the car company is perhaps not facing as rosy a future as might have been predicted as early as five years ago – as an aside, I do wonder why anyone would buy one in 2024, when there are a seeming plethora of better-than-adequate electric vehicles available and buying a Tesla gives money to a man who increasingly seems to be exactly what we all imagined all South Africans to be like throughout much of the latter half of the 20th Century.
  • Noone Buys Books: This has done the rounds of literary circles this week (to be clear, I am not a part of any literary circles (any circles tbqhwy) but I’ve seen it being shared by people who are) – it’s about the US book market, but I don’t imagine it’s any different…well, anywhere really. The headline takeaway is that most books sell fcuk all copies, publishers have no idea whatsoever what will sell and what won’t, and are constantly hoping for an unexpected blockbuster to support the rest of the list which likely won’t come close to earning back the advances paid out. Although, as I saw someone else argue, it could be said that this is in fact the system working perfectly, with the occasional whale subsidising the rest of the pack – still, either way, I struggle to see how the publishing industry can continue to exist in its current form for a whole lot longer.
  • Hands On With The Rabbit: Are ‘rabbits’ still vibrators? I ask only because there was a certain time in the 90s/00s when ‘hands on with the rabbit’ was a Cosmo cover feature rather than a Verge piece. Anyway, this isn’t about a latex-covered genital massage device; instead, it’s about the OTHER AI toy that everyone got all excited about at CES this year – the Rabbit, the orange one with the pleasingly-chunky design! It doesn’t get anywhere near the kicking that the Humane AI pin got the other week, but the overall assessment is similarly-lukewarm, basically summarisable as ‘literally noone needs one of these things for any conceivable reason’, largely because, as far as I can tell, it can’t actually do anything useful at all.
  • Too Rough: Via Caitlin Dewey’s consistently-excellent ‘Links I Would GChat You’ newsletter comes this piece from the NYT, about the rise in rough sex, specifically choking, among young people – it made me wonder whether there’s an issue with the fact that it’s all got a bit *too* kinky, that there’s an expectation that everyone should be having sex that involves some sort of transgression or INTERESTING DYNAMICS or power play, and that the fear of being seen as boring or ‘too vanilla’ is pushing people towards sexual practices that they don’t necessarily like or enjoy but which are now so much a part of the sexual lingua franca that they, equally, don’t feel comfortable indicating they’re not so much into. Might all be b0llocks, though.
  • Where Are The Backrooms?: Tangentially-related to that document I posted the other week about ‘getting really good at Geoguessr’, this is a frankly insane Gdoc collecting current best guesses from online sleuths across the world as to the exact physical location of the photograph which first birthed the ‘Backrooms’ copypasta phenomenon (if some of those words don’t mean anything to you, congratulations on having a life outside of the web – what’s…what’s it like?). Honestly, this is fcuking MAD, and testament to the quite incredible deductive power of nerds with time and internet access.
  • Where In The World Is Josemonkey?: This is SO CHARMING. Josemonkey is a YouTuber whose ‘thing’ is getting people to send him videos of themselves in which they challenge him to find out where in the world they are – he then posts videos documenting his searches and how he worked out the answer. This piece profiles him and, honestly, it’s just incredibly lovely and sweet and *nice*, which I appreciate aren’t adjectives one usually wants to apply to anything in Curios but which are entirely apposite in this instance.
  • The Festive Font: This is very much an article which will only be of interest to people who lived in the UK in the 70s, 80s or 90s (or, I suppose, people who are REALLY into fonts) – if you’re of that sort of vintage, though, you’ll remember a very specific style of lettering that was applied to all sorts of (often municipal) buildings at the time. This article is a charming investigation of where it came from and why it was designed, and is generally a great slice of investigative design writing (also, I promise you that you will PROPERLY flash back when you see the font in question; I personally was taken back to the staggeringly-ugly exterior of Paxton House in Swindon c.1986).
  • Wedding: I am never going to get married – I can honestly say, hand on heart, that the idea of ‘having a wedding’ is one of the most chilling and frightening things I can personally conceive of – but I do very much enjoy reading about people getting VERY into planning their own. This is one such account – Connell McCarthy is obviously quite a particular type of person, who is VERY INTO DETAILS, and this account of all the things he and his wife did to make their wedding just the way they wanted it is genuinely charming, in that particularly specific way of people who are quite geeky explaining their passions in *slightly* too much detail.
  • Radio Nowhere: Radio Nowhere is an ‘immersive game room experience thing’ (my words, not theirs) in Edinburgh, in which people play as radio DJs – this writeup by Adrian Hon is a great explanation of the game’s mechanics and exploration of how and why these things work (or don’t), and made me quite annoyed that I am unlikely to ever experience this given, well, it’s in Edinburgh and I am not. Should any of you be in the area, this sounds like genuinely excellent fun and I would be interested to hear what you think should you try it out.
  • Blackpool Vice: An Unherd link here – SORRY BUT SOMETIMES THEY PUBLISH INTERESTING THINGS – in which Jacob Furedi visits Blackpool and writes brilliantly about what he finds. I first visited Blackpool in the early-00s when I was writing up Fringe events for an online political monitoring platform, and until I went to Grimsby a few years ago it remained the most godawful place I had ever been (OK, that was possibly exacerbated by the fact that I was there for the Conservative Party Conference, but still) – based on Furedi’s account, it doesn’t sound like it’s improved much. There is, I accept, a touch of poverty/misery pr0n about this sort of writing, but equally I think it’s important to look at stuff like this and think ‘how the fcuk have we let that happen?’ and ‘what the fcuk can be done to reverse it?’ – unfortunately the answer to the first is, sadly, ‘apathy’, and the answer to the second is ‘money that noone is willing to spend’.
  • Life Without Eating: Andrew Chapman writes about his experience of living with severe Crohn’s disease, specifically those moments when it’s so severe that he isn’t able to eat solids and instead has to take his nutrition intravenously. This is partly about the condition and coping with it, but it’s also about our relationship with food and our bodies, and the psychology of eating – the physical act of it as much as the whole ‘consumption of calories via the mouth’ bit – and what taking ‘eating’ out of a life does to it. I felt this one quite hard – the moment when my mother stopped being able to swallow and had to have everything pumped directly into her stomach via medical-grade Huel was…intensely fcuking bleak, honestly – but it has a happy ending so you can read it without feeling too bad.
  • A Martini Tour of New York City: Another Gary Shteyngart piece – I make no apologies, I adore his writing – this time in which he has what seems to be a fcuking great time getting royally hammered on Martinis with a selection of his friends. This is wildly self-indulgent and VERY ‘oh New York is SO COOL’,  but, well, I don’t care because he is SO good and also FCUK ME does the piece make you want to get royally battered on some very cold, very strong booze from about the third paragraph in. I am 100% going to a fancy hotel bar later and having a preposterous drink and there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP ME. Also, as an aside, there is some truly heroic consumption being detailed here – I am…uncertain as to whether I could match some of the boozing here, and I’m a pretty decent drinker when I put my mind to it (every day, dear God).
  • Noise: Yet ANOTHER New Yorker piece (sorry, but they have had a good week) – this is genuinely brilliant, such a smart essay and a fascinating piece of writing about ‘noise’, both as a concept and as a genre of music. It does that brilliant thing which the very best essays manage of being simultaneously VERY BIG PICTURE and incredibly detailed, and its central questions about what constitutes ‘noise’ and how we make the distinction between that and ‘sound’ and ‘music’ are properly fascinating.
  • The Accursed Mountains: An short story about going to the dentist in Albania. Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those dental torture stories – the dentistry here is perfectly-executed (if described in detail – if you’re VERY squeamish about teeth you may not enjoy this) but isn’t really the point of the piece. This is really…elegant writing by Christian Lorentzen – which, I appreciate, sounds like I am damning it slightly with faint praise, but it’s the best adjective I can find (which is why I am not a writer).
  • How I Live: This is seven months old, but I missed it the first time around and am personally fascinated by the story of its author, and the way they narrate their life through social media. CC O’Hanlon and his wife are…effectively homeless and stateless. This is his account of how that happened – to an extent, at least – and how their life ‘works’ now. So much unsaid and unwritten here, but I really like the prose.
  • Don’t Bleed On The Artwork: Our final longread this week is this absolutely wonderful piece by Wendy Brenner about how she came to work in a picture framer’s. This really is superb, and I think will be on lots of people’s ‘best of’ lists come the end of the year, glorious writing in every way.

By Cloro