This blog series (admittedly it sounds pompous, but what else should I call it now that I’ve surprised even myself by keeping it up for nine months) is of course inspired by Star Trek, more precisely in my case, The Next Generation. I’m no real trekkie in the sense that I only gained an interest in the original series once I’d seen the recent reboots, and I’ll forever remain on team Picard (bound to return with a new series in the near future). His reading of the intro remains one of my fondest childhood memories, along with spending long hot summers devouring the Star Trek paperback collection of my local library. To this day, if somebody asked me what fictional universe I’d choose to live in, Star Trek would be the first and only choice, a world containing the best two possible inventions of mankind: teleportation and the eradication of the common cold. (For I hate packing for long trips, and having a blocked nose.) So it was perhaps surprising that it took me some time to dive into Star Trek-Discovery, but I will consider it as having arrived in my life with perfect timing, with some brilliantly written characters, a lot of classical Star Trek quirks and even some of its original cheese and, as a novelty, a story with real danger, cliffhangers and surprises. And since it’s just too good to have the mass appeal of Game of Thrones, no one threatened to spoil it for me day in day out (just some of my trekkie friends over beer, but they are excused.)
My next discovery besides Discovery belongs to my favourite type of series: the mini-series, since ain’t nobody got time for dozens of episodes in their busy cat video browsing life and it’s of course Chernobyl, which manages to conjure some of the tensest moments I’ve ever seen on a screen even though one is more than aware of how the story will unfold- I may have been even more familiar than the average viewer, as I had previously read Svetlana Alexievitch’s Voices from Chernobyl, which I warmly recommend as a companion read to the series. The uncontrollable nature of the invisible killer we’ve summoned to life without fully understanding its workings and the consequences of these workings permeates both the series and the book, resulting in a visceral yet at times strangely cathartic fear.
Speaking of cathartic experiences, I like to say films never make me cry, only football games do (say hello to the idiot stylishly shedding tears of joy into a can of Carlsberg over the recent Champions League final), but the very same idiot’s eyes felt just a little moist while watching I Am Easy to Find– available online in its full length, it’s a short film set to music from The National’s recent album, directed by Mike Mills and starring Alicia Vikander, who plays a woman through all the stages of her life. No tricks or make up, current Alicia is both a baby and a dying grandmother while everyone around her changes with age, tapping into that equally beautiful and scary truth that as our bodies decay the core of our being and the way we perceive our own selves remains fundamentally unchanged. Having arrived in the dark domains of the tragedy of all existence, there is no better way to exorcise it than with the equally morose and uplifting, wise and self-absorbed Nick Cave spending his 20 000th day on Earth.
Had I diligently written this article on the last day(s) of May, I of course would not have known who won the men’s Champions League final, but the tears in the beer have happened, and have washed away the ‘how could we bungle the Premiership in such a maddening way’ tears, so here’s an article about what the (soon inevitable) Premiership win would/will mean to Liverpool and one about how big data helps us win games (besides our very big hearts.) My own greatest footballing achievement this month was sitting right next to the net which saw all five goals of the women’s Champions League final, played on May 18th on Budapest’s Groupama Arena, or Ferencváros stadium, as UEFA likes to call it, because sponsorship deals and stuff. Sadly four of these were scored by Olympique Lyonnais and only one by Barcelona, but making the final is already a big step ahead for Barca’s women’s team, while Olympique Lyonnais are the absolute standout team of the women’s game, and a joy to watch. Stepping over into something more political, here’s a bit about how football unites the feuding Moldova and Transnistria, then there’s probably the best article ever written about what makes us love football (with an unexpected detour through French existentialism), and you really thought you’d get away with no Messi this month? (He’s of course failed quite grandly with Barcelona in the semifinal, and people are quick to jump to conclusions, which is quite symptomatic of how our social media obsessed world works these days: one perceived failure can obliterate decades of accomplishment, because like puppies we always remember only the last treat we had.)
Tycho have long been my go to ‘writing music’ on account of having no lyrics which could disturb my (generally pretty questionable) flow, and now they’ve gone ahead and done it: their new album, Weather, features vocals, so now here I sit typing away to the song above and my flow remains just as questionable as always. In other musical news, the criminally bland Dutch Snow Patrol song won Eurovision- I refuse to draw the more commonly alluded to parallel with Coldplay, because the classic piano driven Coldplay was so much better than Duncan Laurence, and the new bland Coldplay is way chirpier. For a tantalizing few moments I lived with the hope that Italy could snatch it and for once the best song in competition would actually win it, but Mahmood can console himself with the thought that he’s the only Eurovision contestant ever whose entire record I listen to. On repeat. It’s an intriguing and though provoking cocktail of trap, Italo-pop and oriental touches, dealing with the coming of age of a young man of mixed Italian and Arabic descent and his fractured relationship with his absentee father in particular and society in general. Then there was of course the small matter of Hatari, but I’ll let John Oliver explain that, and in the non-Eurovision musical world, Jarvis Cocker is still faboulous and I just love a good bit about what inspires artists, in our case Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig,
In the section I shall name, this month, as photography and other arts, we begin with a very important book on Swiss cat ladders, we then move on to celebrating the work of IM Pei, revel in some rather handsome posters (I find that the Facebook one, while well executed, is absurdly ironic, as most corporations are built on the very principle that you’ve always got someone else to blame for your mistakes), breach the intriguing topic of the Weimar republic. and finally we have some anti-Brexit visual happiness from several EU countries, Returning briefly to movies, let us celebrate the absolute icon that Keanu Reeves is, who, after being The One (I trust everyone has seen Matrix by now), is now John Wick, fundamentally the sublimation of every action hero ever into The Idea of the Action Hero, you may read this interview here before bathing your eyes in some Keanu for Saint Laurent.
The bits and bobs part is as seething with disparate knowledge as ever, beginning with a long-ish read (or listen, depending on what you prefer) about what gives value to our lives, the altogether lighter matter of what colour tennis balls are, a trip through the pre-gopnik subcultre of the dizelaši, an enlightening conversation about how social media functions, and finally a return to some of my first loves (I do have many, even if that’s a contradiction in terms), grammatical nitpicking and Star Trek.
Last but not least, behold May’s collection of bad phone photography, which has many lows and a couple of highlights, in particular the work of 0036mark, who enlivens Budapest walls with fabulous mash ups of Hungarian and international popular culture.