Monday Musings: 23 August 2021

This week I watch a remake of a Roald Dahl cult classic, recommend my favourite authors from Quillette (and pair with a beverage), and listen to the blues.

Dear Substack Subscribers, 

This is the final weekly email before this becomes a first-Monday-of-the-month offering complete with a link to join an interactive discussion starting at 7 pm on the day. This is a purely cultural chat where we join with beverages and talk about what we have been watching, reading and listening to and will hopefully provide some respite to those in lockdown. With some luck, this chat can happen in the flesh next year if there is enough interest. 


I watched the Witches, the most recent movie adaptation of Roald Dahl. 

This adaption is completely different to the original (which I loved along with the book) so it didn’t spoil my childhood too badly... 

One of the biggest differences is the portrayal of the Grand High Witch. The performance by Anjelica Huston has made the original a cult classic. Even Dahl, who hated the film adaption for its creative licence in regards to the ending, had to concede that she played the part well.

I haven’t watched the Witches for ages but the 2020 version made me appreciate how much easier it is to create such a movie with CGI. If anything, the modern version, while more seamless due to modern technology, is almost too clean. 

The originals' use of prosthetics and makeup to show up the Witches - and in particular the Grand high Witch - grotesqueness is still pretty incredible. 

There is something still more terrifying about the original scene (spoiler alert) when the Grand High Witch gets turned into a rat. This scene was so memorable to me from my childhood that I couldn’t help but comment on the difference when watching the new adaptation.

Both films are worth a watch, but please watch the 1990 version first (if you haven’t already) because it is still a great film that can even compete when pitched against the CGI and technology of today. 


To change things up, this week's recommendation is not a book but a Reading List from Quillette Magazine.

I specifically want to introduce some of my favourite writers whose work appears in Quillette but barely anywhere else.

My first recommendation is to read Marilyn Simon who is now dubbed by editor and founder as the resident sex writer:

Her articles can be found here, but if you only get a chance to read one from Simon, my favourite is A Modest Defence of the Missionary Position. 

Rob Henderson is the second author on my reading list. He is most notable for coining the phrase luxury beliefs (which is used in the cover article of the day.

His work produces excellent insights into how humans function and the dynamics at play between them, it can be read here. If you only get a chance to read one of his articles I’d start with the first Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class—A Status Update

Naming the third and final favourite proved the most difficult. Instead of weighing everything up in a meritocratic way, I am going to go with parochialism and put Australian writer Matthew Blackwell in third place. His work can be viewed here. Again, if you only get a chance to read one of his articles start at the beginning with The Psychology of Progressive Hostility. 

This week an album - I know how old school - but since you are most likely stuck at home you might as well turn on Nina Simone Sings the Blues.

I am not going to ruin it by deconstructing it. Just listen. That is all.

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Best wishes,