No Complaints #38: Oceans, Outsourcing and Ourselves

Do you remember five days ago when that pig thing was a big deal? Me neither, but apparently Past Me cared enough to spend quite a bit of a podcast guffawing about it. And sighing over Charlotte Rampling’s face, obviously.

Things to read

What does the future hold for you or me or for any other writer? Uncertainty. Almost all books tank. Every freelance writer alive struggles to make ends meet and has dry spells. All editors ignore almost everyone. Let’s not sit around watching the same four or five authors talk about their enormous successes for the next four decades. Let’s not fear the brand-new dewy-faced ingenues making cool shit and then making big stacks of money. Let’s not let our initial enthusiasm for them curdle into envy. There are always more to envy, coming up behind the last batch.

A magnificent dose of good sense from an Ask Polly column, with a rather nice added diss of Philip Roth. Email to Pocket.



“I think that what’s really happening there is that women in history or literature are often presented to us as sort of second-tier importance. We hear less about them, we study them less, representations of women are likely to be ‘less’ somehow. So in the comics, I often pit them against this positioning in history, looking for justice or something like that. Finding comedy in the imbalance that is apparent to us as modern readers. Then I think they are often looking exasperated by the men around them, not because the men are bad, but because the men have always been presented to us as more important, and then in the comic, they play into that, and the woman has just had it.”

I love Kate Beaton’s “Hark A Vagrant” comics, and this is an interesting interview with her. Email to Pocket.



“To reiterate: the ocean is a vast and unfeeling hellscape filled to the brim with terrors both seen and yet unseen by human eyes. And the moon is in charge of it.”

I'm sorry. I read this four times and laughed more each time, so it had to go in. Maybe it's because I have an extremely basic sense of humour; maybe it's because of all the times my dad made me draw arrows of precisely differing sizes on tidal diagrams when I was a child. Maybe both. Email to Pocket.

+Related: I want one of these.


“We’re taught to think of ourselves as the accumulation of what others think of us, and celebrity images – and thus their livelihoods – are a product of the same calculus. Within the confines of The Intern, it’s easy to see how unfairly Jules is treated. It’s harder, however, to see our own repulsion from Hathaway within that same paradigm: how we react against a woman who’s done her job too well, who’s failed to adequately hide her effort, and thereby opened herself to our generalised, often difficult to articulate, yet all the more powerful dislike.”

Anne Hathaway is basically Hermione Granger, and we should all be nicer to her. Email to Pocket.



“Part of the problem is the way gender intersects with class. There are records of the female code-breakers at Bletchley Park, even if it’s the men we usually hear about. But people simply didn’t write much about the women working on Waterloo Bridge  –  the crane drivers, the welders, people heaving and carrying concrete around –  and they were even less likely to write about themselves.”

Waterloo Bridge was built by women – amazing women we ought to know more about. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

Why yes, this is the third podcast I’m going to recommend that features someone with the surname “Zaltzman” (in case you were wondering: The Bugle in NC#28; The Allusionist in NC#16). What can I say, British podcasting is a pretty small scene, and they’re a talented family. Answer Me This predates both of them – it began in early 2007, making it a very well-matured podcast indeed. Like all the best things ever, it has a very simple premise: people submit questions via email, phone or skype, and hosts Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann answer them (with occasionaly heavenly interjections from Martin the Soundman). Any questions. I’ve been listening for so long now that producing an exhausive list of my favourite topics they've tackled is quite difficult, so here's just some things I can remember them talking about: infidelity, snails, death, cats, theme parks, weddings (a lot), cheese, politics, diy, gameshows, ice cream, Inspector Morse, poo. Occasionally they have guests, like Helen's brother Andy or Josie Long, and even more occasionally they do specials, like their 300th episode, or themed albums, like on holidays or royalty. I suggest you start with the most recent one, then be prepared to spend all your money on the entire back catalogue and start drunk-dialling their answerphone.

+Bonus thing: I did an interview with AMT's Helen a while ago that you might like to read.

Things to watch

This is Virginia.

A short Coen film.

When dinosaurs attack.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

How outsourcing works.

The guest gif

See ya.

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.