No Complaints #72: Elections, Ears and Eating

If you need me, I'll just be sprawled on my sofa, becoming an expert in gymnastics.

Things to read

The Cursed Child is not fanfiction. TCC was not written within a network of uncompensated writers, sharing stories within a vast cultural conversation. TCC doesn’t do any of the things the best fanfiction does – it doesn’t push the characters forward, and it doesn’t dive any deeper, and it doesn’t feel like a critical response to any of the texts that came before it (Rowell’s Carry On performs far more work critiquing the Harry Potter books than this play). The Cursed Child is an official follow-on work: professional male writers came to JKR with an idea for a play and she approved all of it. Even if you think its sloppy, even if you think it’s a travesty, even if you don’t want to accept it as ‘canon’, you do not get to pin all of that on fanfiction.”

My friend Elizabeth really has the final word on this whole “the new Harry Potter play is fanfiction!” stuff. Email to Pocket.

+ Related: Elizabeth has just launched a funding campaign for her podcast, Fansplaining, which you should take a look at and spend some money on. Worth it just for the special Cursed Child episode, surely. I’m even on their most recent episode.


“The Democratic Party’s new presidential nominee has, instead, settled on a sartorial formula that many of her fellow women politicians, from Angela Merkel to Theresa May to Sarah Palin to Claire McCaskill, have relied on, as well: a simple jacket and a matching pant, over a basic – and usually pointedly high-necked – shell. The pantsuit. The uniform that claims to care more about substance than style, and that fights against longstanding cultural assumptions that women politicians can fairly be judged according to their clothing. The pantsuit is, for the trailblazing woman leader, an empowering paradox: It’s a statement outfit that makes its statement by saying as little as possible.”

Why women in politics dress the way they do. Email to Pocket.


“So we’re driving and driving, and after a few hours I need to use the bathroom. So I’m, like, ‘Can we stop for a second?’ And he’s, like, ‘Just go in this.’ And he hands me a two-litre bottle. And that’s when I hear this loud foghorn. So I take off my blindfold, because enough is enough, and I see that we’re in the middle of an ocean, on some kind of trash barge. And I’m, like, ‘What is this?’ And I see that Mark is crying. And he’s, like, ‘I got lost. I don’t know where we are. I’m so scared.’ And I’m, like, ‘Where were you trying to drive us?’ And he’s, like, ‘To the karaoke place where we met.’ And I’m, like, ‘That’s only four blocks from our apartment. How could you get so lost?’ And he’s, like, ‘Please don’t yell at me right now!’ And so we get out and find the captain, but he barely speaks English. And he refuses to turn the ship around. So Mark takes out this diamond ring – which I guess he’d been planning on giving to me – and he says to him, ‘If we give this to you, will you take us to land?’ And the captain grabs the ring, squints at it, and shakes his head. And so now we’re really fucked, because we have no way to communicate with our families and we’re essentially hostages on this ship. Eventually, we get to Guyana and find the US Embassy. And when we see the American flag we both burst into tears, just out of sheer relief. And Mark’s, like, ‘Will you marry me?’ And I say, ‘Yes!’”

Mad proposal stories. Bloody love them, especially when they're made up. Email to Pocket.


“While music-lovers may weep at the notion, I don’t think I’m alone in increasingly conferring my listening choices on algorithms, automated playlists, and channels curated by the BBC, NPR, and the like. Sometimes, my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist understands me so deeply that I contemplate whether I can, in fact, date an algorithm. But when it comes to what I read, the internet offers such a dizzying array of options and such overwhelming amounts of dross that the algorithmic offerings often end up feeling empty and predictable. Instead, I actively seek out the curated reading of human beings I admire – and see it as a privilege to do the same for others.”

Getting meta here – a piece about the value/duty attached to compiling a list of links for other people. Email to Pocket.


“The kind of things Salem looks for when watching himself back on tape is whether he’s breaking the food quickly enough or playing around with it too much, how well he’s controlling his breathing, and whether he’s spending the right amount of time chewing. All three elements need to be in sync on competition day. Combined with strong hand-eye coordination, they’re crucial to success. If Salem’s hand speed is too fast, for example, more food will enter his mouth than he can chew and swallow, interrupting his careful rhythm. ”

How a professional competitive eater prepares for a contest. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

I've been enjoying Election Profit Makers this week, a podcast about two childhood friends' quest to make money out of the US presidential election. There's a good balance of nerdy stuff about politics/betting markets with discussion of what's happening on the campaigns and their personal Trump-despair. Best to start at the beginning (there's only three full episodes so far, and there will be one a week until the day after the election) because that's where they explain the kind of betting they're doing and how it all works.

+ An interesting, albeit US-focused, piece about the slow progress of diversity in podcasting.

+ Can a woman's voice ever be right? Judging by the emails we receive at my own podcast (someone once took the time to edit out a clip he felt to be particularly harmful to his ears and share the file with us, no kidding) the answer is NO.


Things to watch

Unbelievable acrobatics.

The sofa of secrets.

If Pokémon Go was narrated by David Attenborough.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob


The guest gif

This has been a highly successful week in which I have achieved a lot of things.

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.