Stuff I liked in March

Bad Moon Cafe

Well, Bad Moon was a bit of revelation. Gaming tables are top-notch, the vibe was pretty open and friendly, food and drinks were good. Looking forward to popping in and out of the place for more sessions as the year rolls on!

Being referenced by a candidate in a job interview

We’re hiring more folks at Juno, and I had the weirdest moment in one of the sessions where a candidate talked about some things I’d written at IF as an influence on her work. She had no idea who I was or that I’d written them – I was just introduced as ‘Matt’ on a Hangout call – so it felt natural and therefore EXTREMELY WEIRD. But in a good way.

The Tiffany Aching series

I’ve been re-reading the Discworld series, picking up the newish hardback editions and ploughing through them as I go. It’s been a background effort for a couple of years now (and I won’t have finished until the last two in that edition are released in Autumn). But I feel comfortable calling it: the characters that have come out best have been the Witches.

The stories are tight, the characters are distinct and the setting feels like the best blend of high-fantasy, parody and low-drama. He gets that mix wrong so often through the series, that the fact he nails it just about every time with this cast feels very special. The Tiffany Aching books (a young adult take on the witches cast) are probably his best sequence. The middle three in particular – A Hatful of Sky, Wintersmith and I Shall Wear Midnight – balance coming-of-age stories and adventure so well. The Shepherd’s Crown (the final Tiffany Aching novel, and the Discworld novel) stacks the landing somewhat. It needed another draft, maybe two, but Pratchett’s hourglass ran out. All that said, if there were any batch of Discworld books I’d recommend to a newcomer, it’d be these five.

I had no time for these when I first read his work. I figured it was ‘Kids stuff’. But all of Pratchett’s work is kids stuff. None of the stories are especially adult, and the world is at its most accessible when you’re in an unguarded mood and you go with it.

Russian Doll

Loved it. Plugged all the pieces together really nicely, and the final episode was outstanding.

Derry Girls

Series one was wonderful. Series two I’m less hot on, but it’s still great.

Trapped

So. I’m pretty sure Icelandic drama Trapped is rubbish. The plots are contrived, the translated dialogue feels full of brute-force, ‘tell, don’t show’ moments, and there’s no way any of the people in it should still be employed – given the catalogue of errors that accumulate each season.

But because I don’t understand Icelandic, I don’t have any opportunity to focus on the things that undermine English-speaking police procedurals. I also can’t guess whodunnit in the same way you can on British dramas (“Oh, I bet he cost a lot of money… he’ll probably turn out to be the killer”). So, yeah.

Queer Eye

Love it. Cried about a dozen times across this series. Such a good selection of people. Also, still revelling in my season 2 turnaround on Bobby, who is far and away The Best One.

(Quite a TV heavy month, I realise now. Not surprising, given that we’re building up to moving home next month.)

This exquisite, dumb Made In Chelsea ad

So stupid. So wonderful. So stupid.

A guy who works at Levi’s Regent Street

Good customer service stories are exactly as boring as bad customer service stories, but they’re so much nicer to live through. Basically, one of the staff did their job and helped me and my lanky/going to seed self out. Didn’t have quite the right stuff in stock – and knew that going in – but he still put the effort in to get me confident in sizing and fit.

Ant Man and The Wasp

I’ve now seen all the MCU movies, and I think this, the first Guardians movie and Thor: Ragnarok are probably the best ones. They have actual jokes, no-one’s mooching about being emo, and the stakes feel proportionate to the story.

I’m looking forward to Avengers: Endgame, but I already know it’ll be too long, there won’t be enough jokes, and a huge chunk of dramatic tension will be undercut by the need for sequels to exist. Just like the comics.

Pure

Pure felt so distinct and so well-put-together. I don’t think any plot in the show surprised me (I don’t think they were supposed to) but the cast and the script made everything feel so well connected and so live. Such a joy.

Oslo

I’m here again, teaching at AHO next week. I really really love this city, and the folks in it.