No Complaints #34: Pinball, Pompeii and Paradise

I wrote and talked a lot about Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet this week. It’s almost like it’s August or something. . . But on the plus side, I was also sent the link to this 1577 Trachtenbuch and spent several happy hours looking at really old drawings of amusing trousers.

Things to read

“Out went the modern flour, yeast, and gluten additive. In came a sourdough preferment, ancient flours, and artisinal techniques to develop gluten. I used Kamut, rye, and spelt flour; all grains common in the Roman world. I refuse to believe that Prof. Calvert was the first person to come up with the idea of autolysis. After all, bread-making’s been around for eight thousand years. Many, many bakers must have noticed the benefit of giving hydrated flour a rest, so autolysis was in. The same applies to double-hydration.”

Recreating the recipe for a loaf of bread last baked in pre-erruption Pompeii. Email to Pocket.



“There's a certain physical violence to game as well; when the small silver ball lands on your flipper you can feel the weight of it, and hear the crack as you slam it towards the back of the machine. When an experienced player gets into a groove, it's kind of like watching a baseball star in front of a pitching machine. At the precise moment when the ball rolls to the right spot on the flipper, they smash it with calculated fury, hard enough to send it flying up ramps that circle around in rollercoaster loops before dropping back onto the playfield. They repeat these moves again and again for maximum points, hitting their mark every time: BANG, around the loop, BANG, around the loop, BANG, around the loop.”

Women are bossing their way around pinball tournaments, and it is glorious to read about. Email to Pocket.



“I have a job that involves going to concerts and listening to exciting new sounds from around the Asian continent. From the moment I learned that my visa agent in Shanghai was splendidly named Magic Cheng to the realisation that my name is transcribed in Chinese characters as, roughly, ‘expecting auspicious hope’, it felt like the stars had aligned to make this move happen. This is how my first week in China went.”

A slight departure for No Complaints here, because this is a comic, not an article. But still very much worth your time. Email to Pocket.



“Me trying to operate my brain is like a feral animal trying to operate a broken treadmill television while trying to run on the also malfunctioning treadmill. I frequently look up from my futile nose-focusing and notice thoughts that baffle me. At one point, in my head, I am just screaming the name “IRENE!” I don’t know anybody named Irene. Another time, my brain is reciting the script to a fictional cigarette commercial in a man’s voice. I’m not a man. I don’t smoke cigarettes.”

Taking a ten-day silent meditation course really is an excellent way to get to know the inside of your own head. Email to Pocket.



“I decided to check out their ‘wonderful paradise’ and clicked the sign, which teleported me to a floating island far, far above the campus. That sounds cool, but it turned out to actually be pretty boring up there. Unlimited imagination and the best the vandals could come up was something that looked like the home of a minor James Bond villain.”

Remember Second Life, the virtual reality we were all going to be living in by 2008? No, me neither. But it turns out it’s still there. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

I am still not sure what I think about Reply All. On the one hand, I like the concept of a podcast that explains the internet (it’s ridiculous how fast it moves these days; I was off last week and there are entire jokes about jokes about jokes that I will never understand now). On the other, I really don’t like the bro-banter that features heavily in this podcast. So when they’re not doing that, it’s great – I particularly like this interview-based episode about Email Debt Forgiveness Day, this one about how you talk to Isis online, and this one about One Direction conspiracy theories. That last one really illustrates my problem with the podcast as a whole – the subject is totally fascinating, but the entire approach of the episode is based on some assumptions about female fans that I really don’t like.

Things to watch

Werner Herzog’s Ant-Man.

Land dog, sea dog.

Covent Garden in 1929.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Weirdest kebab ever.

The guest gif

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't imagining doing this 90 per cent of the time.

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.