No Complaints #6: Beer for bros, marvellous Matilda and parsing passwords

Today, I’m going to use this bit at the top to point at Kate Solomon’s music newsletter and tell you to sign up for it immediately. She’s single-handedly teaching me that the popular music, as I believe it is commonly called, is something I can enjoy despite years of conditioning otherwise. Done that? Ok. Here are some things to read while you listen.

Things to read

“Despite the fact that beer brands have little understanding of their female customer base, women are well integrated into almost all aspects of the beer scene – from brewers, to distributor reps, to home brewers, to bar owners. And there is an increasing – albeit small – number of women in positions of power, like head brewer or owner.”

This piece is about the American beer market, but I don’t think the UK is that different. And some of the quotes there do really nail why I’ve always felt so unwelcome in places that specialise in craft beer, even though I quite like to drink it – no one actually belittles me because I’m a woman, but everything from the menu to the decor usually screams “this is not really for you!”.


“There is something mildly destructive about collecting people’s keepsakes. Observers disturb the things we measure. But with passwords, or other secrets, we ruin them in their very discussion. Virtually all the people who revealed their passwords to me said they planned to stop using them. And yet they divulged them all the same.”

I'm not sure this piece tells us anything particularly profound about passwords or the internet, but as a way of collecting fascinating stories from people, it’s outstanding. It makes me think that passwords are the twenty-first century equivalent of the commonplace books of centuries past – the place where we keep the fragments that mean the most to us.


“Travelling intensifies everything about stripping. Good nights feel twice as good, bad ones make you cry and question everything. When things are going well, the crappy motel has character and its quirks are tolerable. When they aren’t, every irritant is a reminder that you’ve forsaken the comforts of home to seek your fortune. I imagine oil field workers experience the same thing, although their salaries are guaranteed more than those of strippers. But they sleep in group housing, are far from home, and have taken a chance too. When it pays off, with fat paychecks to deposit or stacks of cash to take home, it feels like you’re living the American dream.”

Not a new piece, this, but still excellent – the writer explores the economic history of small towns across American as she travels between them working as a stripper.


“Everyone relishes a migraine. They have a literal aura! Migraines foster the sort of pure narcissism that only intense, essentially benign pain can. We sufferers (that’s how it’s described, “migraine sufferer”) feel it is meet and right that the migraine should be dramatised in films like Pi or White Heat; this strengthens the perception that migraines are the hallmark of geniuses, or at least psychopaths. Joan Didion writes about them; of course she does.”

I, too, am a migraine sufferer, and I would like you all to acknowledge how my headaches are simultaneously much worse and yet somehow more interesting than yours.


“There are so many actresses and models who get paid to look pretty, and one of the reasons I left Hollywood is that it’s really hung up on appearances. One of my mottos is that it’s not my job to be pretty for you. I like to get dressed up; I like to look nice, but I don’t want to do it for a living. When I’m doing a voice, I can be an old woman, a little girl, a man, all these things I am not in real life.”

An interview with Mara Wilson, aka Matilda. I think she might be that rarest of child stars – someone I like more now they’re all grown up.

Things to listen to

My latest radio enthusiasm is The Frequency of Laughter on BBC Radio 4. Each episode relates the history of a five-year period in British radio comedy (four have been broadcast so far). Grace Dent, who presents, is clearly a huge fan of a lot of this stuff, and she skillfully interviews key people from the time under scrutiny, as well as introducing lots of clips. Even if you’re not as keen on radio comedy as I am (although if you don’t like classic episodes of Round the Horne I don’t know what’s wrong with you) you’ll find plenty in there to laugh at a second time. It also strikes the right balance between celebrating the great stuff that talented people wrote and performed, while still interrogating why so many of said people were white men who had been in the Cambridge Footlights.

Things to watch

Jon Stewart on the Colbert Report.

Neil Gaiman reads out parodies of his own work.

This documentary about “the quiet persuader” – the man who inspired Mad Men.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Get off! We agreed that this would be my page!

The guest gif

It isn’t strictly a guest gif, this one, but I couldn’t not include it. What *was* the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinking about during PMQs this week?

THE END. See you next time*!

*Next time will probably be next Friday. If you want to suggest things I should include in the next one of these, please do reply and send me links.