No Complaints #86: Creep, Crystals and Curious Rocks

Thanks very much for all the nice messages I received after last week’s truncated edition. I’m back on track now, getting on with things as best I can. I hope you are too.

Things to read

“My mental split is between the good and the bad, not the high and the low. Before finishing this interview, I watched an episode of the sublime Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the one where it finally occurs to the main character that she might not be the hero of her own story. (She has this realisation in song.) I’m not trying to be cute when I say that I could have written 5,000 words on it – I truly had what the Internet calls “many feels”. This is what I am looking for in art: feels. Intellectual, emotional, philosophical, religious, existential feels.”

I’m about to spend a weekend with Zadie Smith’s new novel, and after reading this interview, I could not be happier about it. Email to Pocket.


“It is sunny and safe here. There is no dramatic music to make you uncomfortable, only the beat of a soft snare to signify oncoming drama. When a character is upset, it is usually because a town meeting, held in Miss Patty’s dance studio, has not gone their way, or because someone they love failed to show up. When there are tears, they are warranted.”

I am currently experiencing Peak Gilmore Girls, having put out a special podcast about it this week, and preparing for the related live event on Tuesday. This piece does a good job of capturing why we love it so. Email to Pocket.


“In Chichibu, Japan, two hours northwest of Tokyo, there’s an odd museum; perhaps the only one of its kind. It’s called the Chinsekikan (which means hall of curious rocks) and it houses over 1,700 rocks that resemble human faces.”

Trust me, you need to see this. Email to Pocket.


“Across thousands of films in our dataset, it was hard to find a subset that didn’t over-index male. Even romantic comedies have dialogue that is, on average, 58 per cent male. For example, Pretty Woman and 10 Things I Hate About You both have lead women (i.e., characters with the most amount of dialogue). But the overall dialogue for both films is 52 per cent male, due to the number of male supporting characters.”

A brilliant, horrifying data project on Hollywood’s gender/age problems. Email to Pocket.


“The very act of a person seeing himself in a mirror or being represented in a portrait as the centre of attention encouraged him to think of himself in a different way. He began to see himself as unique. Previously the parameters of individual identity had been limited to an individual’s interaction with the people around him and the religious insights he had over the course of his life. Thus individuality as we understand it today did not exist: people only understood their identity in relation to groups – their household, their manor, their town or parish – and in relation to God.”

How the availability of mirrors in the fifteenth century changed how we think about ourselves. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

In my podcast column this week, I wrote about very long podcasts (think five hours at least). In the course of my research, I listened to quite a lot of The Secret History of Hollywood, a very long documentary podcast made by a chef-slash-movie enthusiast in Berkshire. I started at the beginning of the “Bullets and Blood” series, and I’m still going – the narrative is incredibly compelling, and hours in, I’m still as hooked as I was in the first ten minutes. Do give it a go.


Things to watch

The best show in NYC (aka men should do more pole dancing).

Dave Chappelle’s “Creep” is fantastic (and Leslie Jones is one hell of a back up dancer).

The birth of a crystal (more relaxing than the human equivalent).


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

“Well, I think we look snazzy.”

The guest gif


If you have a suggestion for something I should look at, hit reply to this email or talk to me on Twitter.

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THE END. See you next time!