No Complaints #49: Muji, Madeline and Mer-legs

My new year's resolution is to send this newsletter on time more often.

Things to read

“I’ve been practicing what I will have to say to the people who don’t know yet, the people who knew I was pregnant and will wonder why, a little too soon, I’m not anymore. My hairdresser. My college professors who saw me in April. The nice man at the corner bodega who just a couple of weeks before it happened asked, 'Are you…?' and then made a wide arc over his stomach with his hands, and was so sincerely happy when I confirmed I was. At some point, to someone, I’m going to have to explain. 'We lost the baby' is the accepted euphemism but such an inadequate descriptor of what we went through. It sounds vague and a little careless, like we stopped paying attention, like we briefly lost sight of her and then she was gone. At the point we were at when we lost the baby, 'we lost the baby' means we’d already acquired a crib, a car seat, a onesie covered in foxes. An infant thermometer. A hardcover copy of Madeline. At the point we were at when we lost the baby, 'we lost the baby' means I had no choice but to give birth to her, to feel contractions, to push. All the usual trappings of childbirth and none of the rewards. At the end, we did not hear her cry. At the end, it was just over.”

Katie Coyle wrote one of my favourite books of last year. She also lost her daughter. Email to Pocket.


He was responsible for setting up many key scenes in the history of cinema, most signifincatly the iconic final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where a government official pushes the Ark down an aisle surrounded by thousands of crates. He now works for Weta Digital as art director. He also designed the current Walt Disney logo opening sequence.

Turns out, every amazing imaginary place in a film from before the mid-1990s was a painting, not a set, and these are the men who made them. Email to Pocket.



“After a year on stimulants, Anna’s body fought back. She went to sleep one night and woke up 24 hours later. Then came another sleeping spell, and another. Soon it was happening every week: The longest spell was 53 hours. Her assistant would drive by her house to make sure she wasn’t dead in a ditch somewhere.”

A history of hypersomnia, or extreme sleepyheadness. Email to Pocket.



“Muji … calls up a wonderful Japan that doesn’t really exist. A Japan of the mind, where even toenail-clippers and plastic coat-hangers possess a Zen purity: functional, minimal, reasonably priced. I would very much like to visit the Japan that Muji evokes. I would vacation there and attain a new serenity, smooth and translucent, in perfect counterpoint to natural fabrics and unbleached cardboard. My toiletries would pretend to be nothing more than what they are, and neither would I.”

What even is Muji? (Other than the place I buy all my bookshelves.) Email to Pocket.



“'Most people over the age of about 23 right now have some fond memories of VHS tapes, and there’s a shorthand between the viewer and the piece in that instance. The texture of the thing is familiar, if skewed,' Johnson told me. 'There’s an inherent creepiness to the beauty, and I think the creepiness is something to be explored. I know it certainly freaks me out a little, and I just want to share that creepiness a little.'”

On the creepy beauty of VCR glitches. Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

Christmas Day's Doctor Who only reminded me how long it's been since I had any idea what was going on in that programme, and the coincidence of catching A Night a Vampire on the radio shortly after persuaded me to go back and rewatch Tennant-era Who... That aside, I can confirm that this is a brilliant series of readings to consume on a long, grey, slightly hungover New Year's Day train ride. David Tennant doing his actual Scottish voice is somehow completely appropriate for tales of the undead while also being quite calming. They're all good, but I particularly enjoyed "The Lady of the House of Love" by Angela Carter and "Bewitched" by Edith Wharton.

(Women Make Podcasts Too returns next week.)

Things to watch

For Auld Lang Syne.

Aretha Franklin does Carole King.

My cousin Oskaar.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Hey! I'm over here and I've got mer-legs!

The guest gif

Heading into 2016 like:

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.