Weekend Reads: The Cure, Bandcamp, Quibi, Box Office Delays, Farts vs. Masks

Recommended weekend reading material for July 25, 2020.

Every week, I compile a list of interesting, thought-provoking, and enjoyable articles. I hope they provide you with some good weekend reading material.

It’s been over a decade since The Cure released a studio album. The ensuing years have given rise to a number of “new album” rumors even as the band released several live albums to commemorate their 40th anniversary last year. But according to keyboardist Roger O’Donnell, The Cure is hard at work on an “amazing” album.

“Four years ago, I said to Robert, ‘We have to make one more record,’ O’Donnell said. “It has to be the most intense, saddest, most dramatic and most emotional record we’ve ever made, and then we can just walk away from it.’ He agreed. Listening to the demos, it is that record. I think everybody will be happy with it.”

Related: The Cure has long been one of my favorite bands, if not my actual favorite band. They’ve released so many great songs in their career; here’s a list of 12 of them.

Bandcamp has had four “Bandcamp Fridays” so far this year, earning more than $20 million for artists and labels. So they’re planning to have a Bandcamp Friday every month until year’s end.

[J]ust as amazing is that since the pandemic hit in March, fans have bought more than $75 million worth of music and merch directly from artists and labels, and to date, fans have paid artists over half a billion(!) dollars on Bandcamp.

Yet more proof that Bandcamp is the best music service out there, and if you truly want to support your favorite musicians, buy their music.

You’ve been listening to synthwave, chillwave, vaporwave, future funk, witch house, and dungeon synth. Well now there’s comfy synth.

Albums in the genre are often short — generally just 15 minutes or so of childlike, looping synth patterns, like something an elementary schooler might practice for their piano lessons… It’s a bizarre, playful aesthetic, the innocence of which feels like a reaction to how dark and violent our world has become: a plea (or even satire) of our desperate need to just feel safe for a few minutes in between daily spats of dread.

Quibi was supposed to be the next big entertainment service, but it’s turned out to be an entertaining flop.

While it has failed to secure a huge subscriber base or drum up much hype for its actual content thus far, Quibi has already been the subject of several juicy behind-the-scenes reports, detailing a cocky, out-of-touch workplace run by two Boomers too rich and self-assured to be told no. People aren’t avidly watching Quibi’s shows, but they’re busting out the popcorn to follow its real-world drama.

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet was supposed to be the big event film that the entire U.S. box office would rally around this summer — but its release date keeps getting pushed back. And, it might even premier overseas first, as other countries have been more successful in dealing with the pandemic. Another anticipated movie, No Time to Die (the final James Bond film featuring Daniel Craig as 007) was originally supposed to be released this past April and is currently scheduled for November 25, but it might not appear in U.S. theaters until Summer 2021. Via 1440.

Science fiction may seem like escapist entertainment, but Lindsay Ellis argues for its benefits, even during a pandemic.

Being able to speculate on possible future outcomes is part of what makes us human, what drives our ingenuity and our ability to create. While engagement with the present is integral, so too is our ability to imagine different futures — both the kind to strive toward, and cautionary tales we hope to avoid.

Ellis’ article contains a number of recommendations. One of them is for John Scalzi’s Interdependency trilogy, which I wholeheartedly second. I finished it earlier this year and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read.

2020 really has made us ask ourselves some crazy questions, like: Why can you still smell a fart through a mask?

The smell of a fart is caused by its sulfur-containing molecules. Chemistry professor Trevor Makal points out on Twitter that a typical one, methanthiol, is about 0.4 nanometers. That’s very, very small — the proverbial mosquito through the chain link fence.

Twitter has cracked down on accounts and content related to the QAnon conspiracy theory for violating its policies concerning spam, abuse, and harassment. In addition to banning 7,000 accounts, Twitter will block QAnon-related URLs and stop recommending and highlighting QAnon content.

QAnon is based on the interpretation of online messages posted by an anonymous figure — “Q” — who claims to have inside knowledge of the workings of the “deep state”. Q’s lurid tale of child exploitation and elite corruption has drawn followers into a kind of digital scavenger hunt that frequently results in intense harassment of perceived enemies or villains.

If you’re unfamiliar with QAnon and its claims, then I highly recommend reading this excellent (if disturbing) primer by Adrienne LaFrance. Via The Factual.

Rachel Seo explores the curious phenomenon of Christian social media influencers.

Entwined with the explicitly spiritual content that Christian influencers promote in their videos and captions is the implicit, underlying image of the “ideal Christian lifestyle,” which looks fairly similar across the board. Many Christian influencers post professional-looking photos of their spouses and families, then sell you photo preset packs so your Instagram feed can look like theirs. They write books and host workshops, teach you how to travel the world as virgins and how to catch a guy’s attention. In all cases, their personal branding encompasses their faith, which they then use to help propel their careers forward.

From the Blog

As part of the ongoing ​“Summer Game Fest” virtual event, Microsoft has made a bunch of Xbox One game demos available via the Microsoft Store until July 27. One demo in particular that caught my eye was the demo for The Game Bakers’ Haven.

Haven probably won’t come close to taxing the Xbox One’s technical capabilities. But if it can deliver on its sleek, stylish aesthetic and potential for engaging human drama, Haven could make for some really nice, refreshing play when it finally comes out later this year.

I really enjoyed the game’s bright, colorful aesthetic, from the manga-esque character designs to the fanciful environments to the dreamy, Daft Punk-y soundtrack.

Robert Smith photo by Drew de F Fawkes.

This post is available to everyone (so feel free to share it). However, paying subscribers also get access to exclusive content including playlists, sneak previews, and podcasts. If you’d like to receive those exclusives — and support my writing on Opus — then become a paid subscriber today for just $5/month or $50/year.