We Need To Talk About Loki Laufeyson.

TV The new entry in the television anti-chamber of the MARVEL cinematic universe began yesterday and at least in the first episode it's everything I hoped it would be, essentially a Gallifrey episode of Doctor Who in which the titular trickster is caught up in the bloody minded, rigid philosophy of a God-like species keeping watch on the timeline.  What is Owen Wilson's Mobius but in charge of a kind of Celestial Intervention Agency?   What are the security people if not a Prydonian guard?

But I'm not here to discuss the similarities between the series, and here we're heading into spoiler filled waters so if you're in any way squeamish, turn your ferry around and head back to port.  Or go and watch Loki then come back.  Seriously, this is one of those occasions when Lucy Mangan doesn't know what she's talking about and that headline (which she presumably didn't write but nevertheless) is a disgrace!

Isn't it good?  Isn't the Butterscotch Stallion just the perfect foil to Hiddleston's wall bouncing and basically having this post-Incident Loki copying most of us during one of the various lockdowns and rewatch the MARVEL films in chronological order in order to get up to speed character-wise just wonderful as well as heart-breaking?  As every nerd with a NordVPN sponsorship has pointed out, that key moment from the trailer was just a flashback to a prank shows we do not know what's coming next.

Except, do we?  The title Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness exists and there's plenty of evidence from other corners of the MCU that by the end of this series that there will be more than this one "sacred" timeline and that what we're watching here is the creation of that realm so rich with possibility.  But how will this happen when this all powerful agency exists, protecting the timeline from intervention since the beginning of time it seems.

Here's my theory.  Loki's going to herald the multiverse.  More than that, the figure glimpsed at the end of the episode isn't just a Loki, it's the Loki who we've been following in this episode.  At a certain point he realises that these super-beings have no right at all to dictate how time and reality work just to save their own skin and so he hatches a plan, or more's to the point follows the plan he's already watching evolve.

So it's this Loki who's travelling through time, toppling soldiers in order to steal the glowy boxes on the assumption that with enough of them he'll be able to destroy the Time Variance Authority and set the multiverse back on track, including realities were he lived, Frida lived, he's king of Midgard and all manner of other outcomes.  From a certain point of view the Time-Keepers could be viewed as incredibly fascistic, destroying variants because they don't fit their plan.

One point of confusion I've seen is how there can be one sacred timeline when we've already seen other realities already in the MCU, notably in the obviously canonical Agents of SHIELD but also during Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 as Stan Lee describes some of his adventures to multiple Watchers, each presumably keeping track of their own reality or timeline.  How can these realms exist if there's a sacred timeline?

Well, because there was a single sacred timeline until there wasn't.  Even taking into account that the TVA themselves can time travel, or at least manifest themselves in any time period which I don't suppose is the same thing, Loki is pulled from the timeline in 2012, which means that Loki is set before the alternate reality episodes of SHIELD and Guardians of the Galaxy, not to mention whatever the results of the time travel in Runaways was (and yes that's canonical too).  

Once Loki's topples the TVA, they're replaced by the Watchers, presumably an infinite number of them, observing the timelines and only intervening in the most dire of cosmic circumstances.  Which means the What If? series isn't going to be just some fun anthology show, but a key part of the overall narrative going forward, demonstrating that there isn't one correct timeline but numerous possibilities.  Perhaps Jordan Peele's voice will cameo as a "live action" Watcher in Loki.

I appreciate to some extent all of this is me trying to make fetch happen again, after it turned out the Evan Peters Quicksilver was just some guy and so there isn't yet some grand plan to co-opt MARVEL movie and TV content past and present into the MCU and explain the mechanics of the Sonyverse.  But it'll be fun to look back at this blog post in five episodes time and see how wrong I was again anyway.

Sorry, but I just don't the same way some of you do.

Life Every couple of weeks, or at least it feels that way, someone has the revelation on social media that not everyone in the world has an internal monologue which speaks in whole sentences. Here's a page on The Poke from last July which pretty much covers all the basis, from the shock and awe to the "well how other people think" to deep dives into the biological mechanics.

My reaction was the opposite. I've always thought internal monologues, in fiction, in books, comics and on screen, were a narrative affectation, a way of communicating information without having to produce tortured expositions scenes between characters who're already aware of the what's being talked about. Those thoughts which Spider-man could never communicate, even to Mary Jane.

But no, it turns out there are people in the world who's brains are constantly chattering, having a conversation with themselves about everything which is happening to them during the day. It's how they think things through, from what to have for breakfast in the morning, to solving maths problems to considering what's happening in a film while they're watching it. Often it manifests itself in the form of a conversation, especially if there's a choice to be made.

Which I honestly don't understand and can't imagine because I'm in the other crowd, the ones who don't have these internal conversations, don't have a voice in their head reading a book to them and even as I type these words, the first time I know what's going to be said is as I tap the keys. Since we seem to be in the minority, the key question we're asked it always, how do you think about, well, stuff.

To which I can only answer, we just do. After writing that mini-sentence, I paused before writing something else and then the right word just occurred to me and I began typing again. I can't explain how. It's a bit like having a talking to someone, knowing that the words are there and what I want to say and then my language skills make it happen. There's no real pattern to it, and I honestly can't describe how it works. It just does.

If I'm deciding what to eat, I just look through the freezer until I see something and then get it out to defrost, and this only becomes a conversation if its going to be a meal for more than myself in which case I'll talk to others. When I'm doing crosswords or sudoku, the answers are either there or not. When I'm watching a film, even if it's a mystery, I don't think about what's happening internally.

The closest I come to experiencing the internal monologue is when I talk to myself. Then I'll sometimes consider my way through something, like how the plot mechanics of a film are constructed, but out loud, commenting to the no one else who's in the room. Most often this is an explanation, "Dear God!" or something linguistically stronger. Or at the start of a film, I say what I think the ending will be out loud.

Honestly, I don't know how I'd cope if I had to listen myself chuntering from a sedentary intellectual position all the time, like a demented back bench MP. There are occasions after work, when I'm tired of hearing the sound of my own voice and I'm happy to just sit with my mouth closed letting the world, and more important my senses, do without the noise of my generic northern vowels and consonants.

Liverpool Biennial 2021:
Day One.

Art This morning, I visited an art gallery. The last time such a thing occurred was a good eighteen months ago, before the slow apocalypse, so the very fact of being able to stand outside Tate Liverpool in anticipation of actually going inside to look at an artwork felt like a milestone.  Just to be clear, the rest of the morning was a shambles.  After completing at the Tate, I'd planned to see the rest of what the Biennial describe as the Stomach/Waterfront Trail but both the Open Eye Gallery and the Martin Luthor King Jnr Building are closed on a Tuesday, a fact I'd completely failed to notice when checking the festival website just before booking my ticket to Tate.  The Open Eye closes on the 6th so I'm not sure if I'll see that now.  Perhaps they'll produce one of their excellent virtual reality thingys.

What was not a shambles was the re-opening of Tate Liverpool.  To keep numbers down, visitors have to pre-book a timeslot even for a free exhibition and as you enter, that's checked and an invigilator gives you some information about how to navigate the one way system in the gallery space and what to do in case of evacuation.  The whole process is incredibly reassuring; even though I'm fully vaccinated now, visits to non-usual indoor spaces are still rare and being able to go anywhere and feel safe is extra important.  A year or so of doing nothing of the sort does lead you to some behaviours and it's going to take a while to ease myself out of them.  It is getting easier, especially in shops.  I've even been to Marks and Spencers a few times.

The Tate's portion of the Biennial is ok.  Mainly drawn from the collection, the key theme is feminism and the specifically the fight against the dominant white, male, hetrosexual narratives which still hold sway in the art world and society in general.  A prime example would be Martine Syms' video installation Borrowed Lady (2016) consists of four large flat screen opposite each other on posts, each containing repeated shots of the artist making sounds and gestures, creating audio rhythms as a comment on how black and especially black, female culture has been appropriated by advertising and culture without acknowledging whilst also fetishizing the source.  Standing inside the circle, the result is confusing and difficult to experience.  Outside you're able to see how at least two screens interact with one another.

But the visually simplest piece ironically has the most to say.  Anu Poder's Tongues (1998) consists of a line of oversized but realistically crafted representations of, yes, tongues, cast in soap (accompanied by a metal dish containing another sat in resin).  The artist lived under a communist regime in a former Soviet Union which limited her freedom of speech, which has incredibly contemporary connections given recent events in Belarus.  Another unintended resonance is that tongues are one part of the anatomy strangers haven't been able to see of one another due to the need for masks, although in some cases that's no bad thing.  With a white stripe right down the middle, Lichen Planus has made my tongue look like a giant pink airport runway.  Onward.

A Viewing order for the The X-Men franchise.

Film Welcome to the feelinglistless breakroom, I'm Stuart Ian Burns.  

About four years ago, after the release of Logan, I attempted to put the X-Men films into some kind of logical viewing order with only minor success. After seeing someone I follow on Twitter try to make sense of it, I had a brainwave. Rather than treat them as a single narrative, just assume they take place in different realities, ala the Sony Spider-Man films and watch them as such, like an anthology series about mutants. 

Logan's Run. 

X-Men Origins: Wolverine 
X-Men 2 
X-Men 3 (or whatever it's called in your end of the world) 
The Wolverine 
X-Men: Days of Future Past 

As I suggested last time, there's a version of these films in which the same Wolverine character is the protagonist who finally has his redemption at the close of Days of Future Past, having undone the mess of X-Men 3. If you watch just these films, they tell a complete story (assuming you're kind enough to accept there are two mutants both called Sabretooth for some reason).

Old Man Logan. 

The Gifted 

As I misinterpreted on first viewing, Logan is supposed to be set in a different continuity, perhaps one in which the events of Days of Future Past didn't end favourably. I'm also boldly suggesting that this is the same world TV's The Gifted happened, which also has an absent X-Men and mutants on the run from sinister forces.

The Do-Over.

First Class
Days of Future Past 
Dark Phoenix

Time works differently in this reality, people or at least mutants, don't age at the same rate as the others.  Essentially this is the reality which breaks off after Wolverine time travels.  Versions of at least the first two films in the 00s trilogy do happen after Dark Phoenix and the final result is much the same but perhaps even further into the future (to explain the different casting especially of your Mom).  This also helps explain the various casting changes from the "Prime" universe, notably Emma Frost.


Deadpool 2
The New Mutants

Ridiculously, Deadpool is referenced on screens and documents in the airplane scenes of Fant4stic which means they're in the same continuity.  Putting Deadpool in a different reality to the other films explains why Colossus is so different to them and it bolsters The New Mutants a little bit by making this other X-Men the one they're referring to with their fate leading in to Legion as the terminal point for mutants in this reality.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and don't forget to like and subscribe. For feelinglistless, I'm Stuart Ian Burns.

Liverpool Biennial 2021: Press Launch.


Art  Just seconds ago (at time of writing) the press launch for last year's Liverpool Biennial concluded.  Necessarily delayed until this year, what with one thing and another, and the event happened over Zoom for the same reason.  Which means that unlike previous years you won't find me describing my imposter syndrome or offering an existential recitation of dealing with crowds of strangers accompanied by a sad photo of a half eaten croissant.  On the upside, this did mean I was able to watch with a freshly brewed decaffeinated coffee in hand thanks to owning a silver bean machine that will do that sort of thing.

Thankfully the event was structured as a webinar, so the only faces on screen were the speakers so I didn't have to inflict my lockdown hair and weird storage boxes on the real press people in attendance.  Unfortunately that did also mean that it lacked the opportunity to lig on who else was in the crowd.  Hopefully it wasn't just me.  That would be disappointing for all involved.  Not that for a moment this didn't actually look like this might be the case when my written question was answered first, about the existence of a printed Biennial visitor guide (yes, there is and a pdf version too), but fortunately other contributions were made straight away.

As you can see from the above screen shot, this year's instalment is titled "The Stomach and the Port" paralleling Liverpool's key historic utility with how our body functions or as the festival portal explains:

"... challenges an understanding of the individual as a defined, self-sufficient entity. The body is instead seen as a fluid organism that is continuously shaped by and shaping its environment. A plethora of artistic practices inform this edition: many of the artworks include sound, shun direct representation, de-stabilise gender categories or look at intense forms of contact. Liverpool, and its maritime history as a point of global contact and circulation, provides the perfect ecosystem to situate these enquiries."

Like some of the classic entries, Liverpool Biennial 2021 has a theme that's both interesting and open enough that it'll be up to the visitor to decide exactly how a given artist has reacted to the brief and how the artworks interact with it.  There's a much longer explanation available here.  

From what I can see glancing through the booklet (enough to comment, not enough to have spoilers), there are far more new commissions than archival works than in recent years which means the artworks should directly reference these ideas and the times in which we live (rather a curatorial attempt to make old works fit the theme), which makes me far more optimistic about this edition than I have in a long time.  The quality has been variable in the past decade but this is a whole new team reconceiving what the Biennial can and should be.

Indeed my only fear this year is logistics.  Recent Biennials have spanned up to three months but this whole thing opens on the 19th May and closes the 27th June.  One the one hand this forces me to get my finger out and try and do multiple venues on the same day, but given that most of them require a booking I'm a bit flummoxed about co-ordinating those booking to give myself enough time in each space, especially if I'm following the suggested trails, not wanting to rush to make deadlines, not wanting to have to hang around too much in-between.

But strangely I'm less bothered about safety concerns.  Having timed bookings means they're limiting visitor numbers and if the quality of presentation in previous years is a guide, rules will be followed to the letter.  Plus being fully vaccinated changes the equation a lot.  Please god the next Biennial will happen in a brave new post-pandemic world in which the only barriers are between the artworks and our ability to interpret them.  With Cityscapes.  I still miss Cityscapes.

The Sugababes are actually releasing a new album even if it's an old one.

Music The NME reports that the Sugababes are rereleasing One Touch "featuring demos, rarities and re-workings from the likes of Blood Orange (aka Dev Hynes) and Metronomy."  Accompanying the news is an interview with Siobhan and Keisha, but troublingly not Mutya, last seen parroting Qanon theories about the Royal family amongst others on Twitter and her now private Instagram account.

There's an MNEK remix of Run For Cover on Spotify, the first new material to appear under that name since 2010's Wear My Kiss (Flatline has been expunged along with the MKS profile and only survives in various plastic cover versions.  The remix isn't really my sort of thing, of the kind which would be amongst the ten different versions on a CD single to bulk up the value of charging £3.99 for a copy of Underwater Love by Smoke City.

The interview covers similar ground to previous outings although it's pretty obvious Siobhan and Keisha have continued to go through some things since 2013 and been able to articulate exactly to each other what caused the split when they were kids.  Remember in 2009, Siobhan told the PonyStep website (just four years before the release of Flatline):
"... there was no doubt that I was pushed out. It was clear that there was someone in that band who never wanted me in it and that’s Keisha. She never wanted me in that band and made my life a living hell. It’s funny... all these years on, I’ve grown up and I’ve left it all behind me and I’m not bothered by it. I think a lot of the memories, I have just blocked out because I don’t really like to think of the nasty stuff. I like to think about the good things in life, always focus on the positive, and Zen and all that shit. But I’ll never forgive her. Though no-one forgives that first bully in their lives, do they? No-one does. Even when you’re fifty. Though, on the other hand, it doesn’t matter. You meet so many people in the world. Why would I need to reconcile with that person? I don’t even know if she would want to.
Contrast that with this exchange from the new interview when Keisha's answer a question about how racism contributed to a perception of her being a bully:
Siobhan: “Even as a teenager, it was obvious to me that the three of us were treated differently, especially in other countries. Some people would only direct questions to me. It was awkward and obvious to me then what was at the heart of what was going on, but I didn’t know how to address it then.”
Keisha: “To be honest with you Siobhan, I didn’t even notice.”
Siobhan: “I always did.”
Keisha: “I genuinely didn’t, and then I went into every situation on the defensive thinking: ‘They’re not going to like me anyway’. That was my defence-mechanism: show an attitude first to protect myself. In the past 15 years, I’ve done a lot of work to make sense of this all, but it’s had a very damaging effect and – not to get emotional – I feel really good that we can even have this conversation.”

Honestly, this is genuinely moving and shows how time really is a great dealer.  The absence of Mutya isn't addressed although apparently there's more of this interview to be published, so perhaps we'll find out then.

Anyway, the rerelease is out in October ready for the Christmas market and there might well be actual new material released soon too.

Let's end on Sugababes 3.0 mangling Overload in 2006, for old times sake:


In The City. Finally.

Life Hello, how are you? Keeping safe? I know it's been a while, but, you know, stuff and things.  We're all double or fully vaccinated now, which happened relatively smoothly, apart from Dad ending up in hospital overnight after his first jab, although it wasn't until much later we realised that it wasn't the side effects which caused him to repeatedly pass out as fluids were emerging from all over his body, it was the large bag of black liquorice he'd eaten that afternoon which is a no-no if you suffer from high blood pressure.  He had liquorice poisoning.  

After over twelve months of thinking about it, I visited the city centre this morning for the first time in twelve months.  Having been vaccinated and with the proffered statistics on cases and deaths in the local area, I'm a bit more relaxed about going out into the world, albeit still with a mask on throughout and to the point its caused a rash on the back of my ears.  For all that, bus travel is still a psychological step too far, what with some people being incapable of keeping their mask on for the whole journey.

The city centre felt strange.  Even for a Monday morning it was relatively quiet   Much of the visit amounted to me noting what's closed (the Sainsburys at the top of Bold Street, the WH Smiths in Central Station), what's newly opened (B&M in the old Virgin Megastore space in Clayton Square) and what's miraculously still open (the cheap DVD and CD place in St Johns Precinct!).  But having become so delivery sufficient across those twelve months utilitarian reasons for visiting the city centre have diminished considerably.

Not least because we've also updated our broadband connection.  Twenty years ago when visiting the Millennium Dome, I watched the Wierd Al parody of The Phantom Menace on a T1 internet connection which seemed like magic to someone accustomed to dial-up.  Ten years ago, this blog was still being written across a phone line.  Today, it's via a 1.1Gbps fibre connection, which is ridiculous and faster than some universities.  It was a 700mps leap for just a pound extra a month, albeit added to an already relatively expensive charge.

Of course, at these margins, using the web hasn't become that much faster.  Download speeds are only as fast as the servers from which they're being delivered and while pointless saving tracks to offline mode in Spotify is now instantaneous on Windows, grabbing material from the Internet Archive still has some inertia.  But streaming apps are miraculously fast to open now and installing one of the Alien related games the other night, all 13GB of it, took just four minutes.

So despite having been vaccinated enough that it feels safer to go places and do things, at least for now, there aren't that many places I'd want to go and with this broadband connection no need to.  But museums and cinemas will be opening soon and I'll finally be able to look at a painting in the paint and canvas rather than on a computer screen.  Though geographically useful, virtual exhibitions simply aren't a substitute for a thrill of visiting a space and smelling the varnished floors.
Sugababes.com has updated. Up until a few years ago, the domain still hosted the final incarnation of the classic run of Sugababes with a background video of the chorus to Get Sexy blasting out on a loop. Which then gave way to various dummy pages for hosting companies with Go Daddy the most recent (according the archive.org). Now we find the original One Touch logo with letters spelling twenty sprinkled across, some social media and music links and a newsletter sign up box. The impression seems to be that something is happening related to the 20th anniversary of the album release although that was 27 November 2000 in the UK which we've well missed.   But it wouldn't be the Sugababes if there wasn't some lag between intention and result.  Flatline was released in 2013 and we're still waiting for the follow-up.
‘Sexual predator’: actor Noel Clarke accused of groping, harassment and bullying by 20 women.  Extremely uncomfortable and important reading. It's not for me to comment on anything in the article, the words of the victims speak for themselves.
Discussing Skateboarding with Filmmaker Werner Herzog. Skateboard magazine Jenkem decided to approach the director and ask him about their discipline and he's predictably extremely eloquent on a subject he has little or no connection to. But by the end, you'll want him to make a film on the subject even if it's just a collection of found footage and his voiceover, although that's sort of what we have here.
Third time lucky? Inside the RSC’s much-delayed Winter’s Tale. The Guardian visits the RSC during production on the re-imagining of this production which didn't make it to the stage last year.  There will be changes - not as much human contact for one thing.  We also have a transmission date and time.  It'll be on BBC Four at 7pm on Sunday 25 April, as part of the BBC’s Lights Up season.  The programme page is up.  Later that night, there'll also be a repeat of Scuffles, Swagger and Shakespeare: The Hidden Story of English unseen since its first and only broadcast in November 2019.

The Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Textual Studies.

Shakespeare   Not having met anyone with the same fannish zeal about Shakespeare as your blogger does, on a par with Doctor Who, films and whatever new album Taylor Swift has released that week, I've no idea if we share the same interests or what's in vogue.  Is it the production history or a connection with a particular playhouse?  Is it the language of the plays, the sheer level of poetry beaming out of every page?  A particular play which seems to contain all of life's answers for better or worse?  Or is it the textual history, the inquiry into how a play's been transmitted, from the hand of Shakespeare and his collaborators, through the first printshops, to successive editors to the Arden Shakespeare currently to hand.  How much what we're reading or watching is by the man himself or a corruption which has inevitably cropped up across the centuries?

It's all of the above, of course it is, at least for me.  But it's the latter on which I'm particularly laser focused, the impossible search for the complete authorial voice, because there's a huge gap between what's generally known about the canon and how much of it was written by Shakespeare and the actually, that at least a dozen or so of the plays in the canon have been filtered through other hands and yet more anonymous plays for which he may have contributed.  Not to mention how mis-readings of manuscripts by weary "hands" in the print shops have led to some lines losing all sense, compounded by subsequent editors trying to rationalise what was originally meant creating yet more misunderstandings.

You can imagine the excitement (yes, excitement) with which I greeted the news of The Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Textual Studies, a guide to current research related to the plays on the page from the book trade within which they originally found publication, through a history of canonical studies to plays are edited and attributed in the modern age.  After seeing the press release from Arden, I put in a request, expecting perhaps a watermarked pdf but a couple of weeks later a hardback academic edition arrived by courier.  Even after all these years, it's still quite thrilling to have a book which would otherwise be on the shelf of an academic library all to myself, especially considering the price.

For the most part, this is a fully accessible read at least for this amateur with a pretty strong working knowledge of the subject.  As the preface explains, this new series of handbooks is designed to "provide researchers and graduate students with both cutting-edge perspectives on perennial questions and authoritative overviews on the history of research" or other words in this case, the state of play for textual studies in 2021.  It's to be used as a companion to material that appear in standard Shakespeare editions, some of which may be reprints of materials originally prepared twenty years ago, if not decades earlier and demonstrate that the discussion continues, that the publication of a play is a comma, not a full stop.

The book is split into four sections.  The introduction and first part set the scenes on textual studies, what they encompass and how they'll be investigated further as the book progresses.  Part Two offers the protein of this protean effort covering Shakespeare's manuscripts, the status of the earliest printed texts, how they fit within the early modern publishing industry, canonical studies and a history of editing from Rowe onwards.  Computerised processes are covered by part three, from algorithmic attribution studies to internet editions of the plays.  The final section offers a chronological publication history, a glossary of key terms, a full bibliography and list of resources.

As expected the key takeaway is that nothing is settled.  Everything I'd read to this point seemed to imply that Shakespeare's identity as hand D on the manuscript copy of Sir Thomas More held at the British Library was boiler-plated but the opening pages of the essay on manuscripts casts doubt on the methodology which has led to that attribution, suggesting that even if they're Shakespeare's words, there's no proof that it's his handwriting.  This logical, if emotionally dispiriting approach pervades the whole book, which lays bare the fallibility of academics and how even with decades of study behind them, that they're more than likely to bend the evidence around a misty-eyed fantasy of this genius and reflect that in their books.

There are two Shakespeares.  There's the working playwright who did well enough in his career to retire to Stratford and leave some money and property to his family on his death and a legendary being who's developed since,  Starting with the promotional material that preceded the collection of plays the publishers of the First Folio had the rights to, this transmogrification continued through Alexander Pope's edition which relegated to footnotes the sections he thought were unworthy of the writer to the proliferation of collected and individual editions in the twentieth century developed by editors with their own mission to find the platonic ideal of these plays either my conflating them together or publishing different versions as separate entities.

Except such things are impossible.  Everything is guesswork.  In his chapter on early printed texts, John Jowett demonstrates by printing them as a list how the single line from 1 Henry IV, "This matcht with other did, my gratious L." as originally printed in the first quarto in 1598 had by the seventh publication in 1632 become "This match with other like, my Gracious Lord," which is more readable to contemporary eyes but changes the underlying sense of what the line means (noting in the endnotes that Q1 itself is a reprint, Q0 only surviving as a few odd pages).  A modern editor has to somehow rationalise these differences and then make these value judgements a thousand times across the whole play.

But as the book demonstrates, as facsimiles of particular editions become much more widely accessible through digitisation, with online databases set up collecting such vagaries as contemporaneous margin notes, editors are no longer just at the mercy of the surviving printing of a play.  There's a much wider context of materials across the theatre and publishing industry of the time which can illuminate how inconsistencies within the text could be as a result of a barely legible original manuscript being worked from because we have the publications and the handwritten papers upon which they were based.  Editing a play may be guesswork, but the process is more educated than its ever been.

All of which leaves me in the condition of looking at an edition of any play with Shakespeare's name on it and thinking "well, yes, possibly".  My assumption is most schools work from a standard edition and certainly when I was at school we were given copies of the Arden 2 to work from.  But I also owned the Penguin editions of both, little appreciating that the texts in each were either subtly or significantly different.  How do university students writing about the plays from a critical perspective navigate this, especially a play like Hamlet and its three versions.  Do they find themselves having to constantly compare and contrast a given characters motives across all three?

But the fact of me asking those questions is the point and why the book succeeds in its aims, to demonstrate that textual studies is much more than whatever end point an editor proposes their new edition to be.  There's no doubt that this will be of use to students who're interested in delving deeper into the texts they're studying but there's enough here to be of interest to a wider audience so I'd certainly recommend you put in a reservation or request at your library to get your eyes on a copy, assuming Arden don't release it in a cheaper paperback format somewhere along the line.  This is important work, at least in the sphere of literature and deserves the widest audience possible.

The Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Textual Studies edited by Lukas Erne is published by Bloomsbury. £117.00 hardback. ISBN: 9781350080645. Review copy supplied.

Inside the world’s first 3D printed house. Linking to this mainly for the images and shape which resemble something from Tatooine which look cool but would only be possible to live in by someone who doesn't own or read too many books, films or want to personalise any element of the structure. There aren't any corners. There's more here about the construction of the building and how the walls can be light, rigid and insulated.
‘Rocky Horror’ played to an empty theater for 54 weeks. Now, audiences return to Portland’s longest-running movie. A projectionist, sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend, visited the location every week and screened the film so as not to destroy the record, a level of commitment I haven't seen since the Small Cinema in Liverpool screened Groundhog Day non-stop for twenty-four hours.
Filming underway of RSC The Winter’s Tale for BBC debut. Short report from the Stratford-Upon-Avon Herald on filming of the postponed production which sounds like it's now being shot in theatre, albeit in a more intimate atmosphere, for broadcast on BBC Four around Shakespeare's birthday.  Kemi-Bo Jacobs from Doctor Who's Hide plays Hermione.
BBC iPlayer has uploaded a collection of Adam Curtis films almost everything he's produced for broadcast on the BBC since 1992 including the short films he created for the various Wipe series.  Every Day is Like Sunday, his documentary about press baron Cecil King is still available elsewhere on the website, along with all the other odds and sods he curated for his blogIt Felt Like A Kiss, the art piece he did in collaboration with Punchdrunk is there too.  The Wikipedia has a filmography should you want to binge it all in chronological order.
But why on earth is an elephant VETOED?  Detective work from @DoctorSimeon on Twitter explaining how a particularly surreal piece of set design from Doctor Who's Dalek Invasion of Earth exists.  Mother of God.
A Report from the After Times. Laurie Penny has moved to Melbourne to be with her partner and after being released from quarantine walked out into a land in which COVID-19 is all but extinct and found herself overwhelmed.  This is my fear. It's over a year since I even set foot in the city centre and at the moment, even ten minutes away by bus, it feels like a dangerous country with a no-visit warning. What will it be like to walk down Bold Street as I used to? Will I be ok when I return to Forbidden Planet or FACT?  When will I feel that it's OK?
Turner's Modern World, an essay by writer and publisher Jenny Uglow looks at the intersection between the painter's work and his interest in science and how the former was influenced by the latter in both subliminal and obvious ways, clouds in skies resembling Faraday's work on magnetism using iron filings, that sort of thing.  The exhibition has now been extended until 12 September at Tate Britain, which already has a mini-museum within a museum dedicated to his work.
Watergate was a 1994 prestige BBC series about the break-in and fall out and the TV Cream Creamguide highlights that it's having it first ever repeat on BBC Four next Wednesday 14th. Here is the programme page which will hopefully flourish with content after the broadcast. Or at least a nice picture. Incidentally, the research archive for the series is available for consultation at the University of London archive. In person.
How New Voting Procedures Created a BAFTAs Diversity Surge in One Year. After the embarassment of all-white shortlists in 2020, the Baftas took a good long look at themselves and implemented numerous changes in order to increase diversity across the board. One of these included "providing every member with a list of films — a mix from across the board — that they had to watch in order to take part in the first round of voting. And these could all be seen on BAFTA View, its new online screening platform." Such things have been compulsory in the likes of the Booker prize and Cannes and you would think it wouldn't have needed for it to be the case that voting members at the Baftas would have needed to have seen examples of the work created by their industry, but there we go.

The Unity Theatre Liverpool has announced its 2021 programme and as well as offering limited in venue seating they're also streaming their programme online on a pay as much as you can basis.  Full programme here.