No Complaints #88: Songs, Solitaire and Second-Best

This time of year, everything starts to feel squeezed. I think of the last day of December as the edge of a cliff I'm about to fall off, so that as much as possible must be fitted in before I arrive there. Which is to say: I'm sorry this newsletter isn't coming to you on Friday as normal - I got busy.

Things to read

“The intention was that Solitaire would get a generation of computer users still most familiar with a command-line input to teach themselves how to drag and drop, without even realising that's what they were doing. The fact that we're still dragging and dropping today suggests that it worked rather well.”

Maybe you thought you were just having fun, playing Solitaire and Minesweeper on your early Windows PC. Well, you weren't - you were secretly being taught how to use a computer. Email to Pocket.


“If we're really honest here, you probably know who Rosamund Pike is, but you wouldn't exactly cross the street to get a selfie with Rosamund Pike. This is in no way a diss. This is, actually, a massive compliment: Rosamund Pike has been given every opportunity to be Kate Winslet, but has politely declined the invitation. She is beautiful and posh and talented. She has been a Bond Girl. She has worked with David Fincher. The very top rung on the ladder has been calling out to her years, screaming at her to push a little higher, to reach a little further, to be the British Hollywood It Girl that I'm sure her publicity team would love her to be. Instead, she pops up every now and then when she has a film she wants to promote, and then goes back to enjoying her life and her two children. Kate Winslet, meanwhile, gets torn apart every time she puts a foot wrong in an interview. ”

Is there glory in being second best? I don't know. Discuss. Email to Pocket.


“The nurse lovingly cared for Athena, hand-feeding her, training her to bow and curtsy, and tucking her safely in the pocket of her apron. Athena responded with a fierce loyalty. On occasion, a little too fierce. Athena was not fond of people she found intrusive to her human and often used her impressive beak to peck at those who dared to get within reach.”

Florence Nightingale had a pet owl who used to peck her enemies for her. Email to Pocket.


“When we first meet her again, Paris is wearing a white cowl neck shirt under a black, slightly metallic collarless jacket reminiscent of the Nina McLemore suiting favored by women in Washington. It’s slim and impeccably tailored, with sleeves that end just below the elbow for a “getting to work” vibe — a look that works equally well if you’re Elizabeth Warren or just leaning across your glass top desk to pitch a potential client on her fertility options.”

Decoding Paris Geller's wardrobe in the Gilmore Girls revival. Email to Pocket.


“The lightly encoded thought process, then, is that if hygge is uniquely Danish, and hygge can only be enjoyed by insiders, then migrants and outsiders will destroy the nation’s hyggelig atmosphere, and therefore effectively destroy Denmark. Lotte Folke Kaarsholm, an editor on the newspaper Information, said, 'Of course hygge excludes. The whole problem with Scandinavia is that these countries can only really work if you shut the borders. You have all these ideals of kindness on the inside, but for our solidarity to function, you need pretty tall walls.'”

Every please stop talking about hygge immediately. It is a right-wing nativist conspiracy designed to tamp down political dissent and sell you furry rugs you don't need, apparently. (This piece also contains some fascinating insights into  British publishing, eg the whole hygge book fad was basically started by one post on the BBC website.) Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

This week I wrote about music podcasts, and as a result I've been listening to a lot of different ones. My favourite discovery while doing this column was Sodajerker on Songwriting, a Liverpool-based interview show with lots of great songwriters. They've had a lot of excellent guests, but my personal picks are Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy, Alicia Keys and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who wrote the music for Frozen.


Things to watch


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

I. Said. Not. Now.


The guest gif

See you at the other end of the week!


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THE END. See you next time!