Hamilton, Hands and Happiness

No Complaints #143

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Things to read

“While it’s fresh in my mind now, I cannot imagine forgetting any detail of sitting with Elizabeth while we watched Hamilton. But I will forget. I will forget the details of this difficult but hopeful year. I will forget the size of eyes as she stared at the stage and tried to memorise it. I will forget because the years pile on, and memories cloud as they bump into each other, and I barely remember where I was yesterday. But she will remember. That’s the thing. She will remember every detail.”

I challenge you not to cry during this piece about a father who took his daughter to see Hamilton. Email to Pocket.

“When asked if a female climber needed to be tougher than a man, she said: ‘I think that women in general have to work harder in a man’s world to achieve recognition.’ She recalled an exchange in which she was diminished by a colleague. ‘I was at a climbing dinner once when a very well-known climber came up to me and said: ‘Are you a roadie?’” she said. ‘For me, that was the worst thing he could have said.’”

I’m enjoying the New York Times’ belated attempts to fix the huge bias against women in their obituaries section. Even in the last two years, only one in five of their obituaries were of women. It’s really a remarkable omission when you start to dig into it: they didn’t run an obituary for Charlotte Bronte, or Ida B Wells, or Sylvia Plath. They are now going back and publishing long overdue obits to correct this — more details about the project here — and this one of the climber Alison Hargreaves is particularly good. Email to Pocket.

“It doesn’t have to just be material from books. Movies, speeches, videos, conversations work too. Whatever. Anything good. Actually writing the stuff down is crucial. I know it’s easier to keep a Google Doc or an Evernote project of your favourite quotes. . . but easy has got nothing to do with this. As Raymond Chandler put it, ‘When you have to use your energy to put those words down, you are more apt to make them count.’”

Why you should keep a commonplace book. Email to Pocket.

+Related: My friend Sarah, who also does her own excellent newsletter, explains how to keep a reading journal.

“As difficult a time as Lisa Simpson has on The Simpsons, Smith points out that there’s also something inspiring about the character’s dogged determination in the face of that hardship. ‘I think my favourite thing about Lisa Simpson is her resilience. Oh, that I could be that resilient! And I will say, if I’ve learned anything from her, I’ve learned that.’”

A dual profile of Lisa Simpson and the woman who voices her. Email to Pocket.

“America fell in love with sniglets; their popularity went way beyond HBO subscribers. Merchandise included a board game, a word-a-day calendar, mugs imprinted with especially popular sniglets, a syndicated daily comic panel, and six sniglets books, three of which were New York Times best-sellers and were often found in the very best bathroom reading racks of the mid to late 80s, which is how I first learned about sniglets as a word-loving fourth grader.”

A “sniglet” is a word which isn’t in the dictionary but ought to be. Very interesting piece. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

The “Five Women” episode of This American Life is remarkable for a lot of reasons, including its subject matter (a #MeToo adjacent discussion of a specific man’s abusive behaviour, told from the point of view of five different women) and the way the story is told. I also recommend reading the section in Ann Friedman’s newsletter about her time working for Don Hazen, the man in question.

+A reminder: you can get a podcast playlist from me in your inbox every Sunday if you become a paying subscriber.


Things to watch

If you thought you couldn’t be compelled by a film about hand gestures, you are wrong.

Of course I want to know all about Oprah’s bath tub.

A beautiful Gaelic film about wild swimming in Scotland.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob


I got new glasses, what do you think?


The guest gif

We’re done here.