Matrons, Mothers and Music

No Complaints #138

I’ve gone a bit “the internet is eating our brains!!” this week because I’m researching a forthcoming piece about smartphone addiction and have read too many studies about how we can’t stop scrolling, even when we want to. Please, scroll on:

Things to read

“Mr & Mrs Cooke — very much pleased with it — particularly with the
manner in which the Clergy are treated. — Mr Cooke called it
‘the most sensible Novel he had ever read’. — Mrs Cooke wished
for a good Matronly Character.”

This is from a document that Jane Austen created, which she titled “opinions by various people of Jane Austen’s work”. It’s a fascinating insight into the reception of her novels at the time, and of her own reaction to criticism. I found it via another newsletter, the great Black Cardigan Edit, which you should subscribe to. Email to Pocket.

“Curiously, one of Uber’s central arguments in the gig economy case against it relies on a previous ruling in favour of a strip club. In 2012, a topless dancer who worked at a Stringfellows club in London lost her claim of unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal. Nadine Quashie argued that working conditions at Stringfellows effectively made dancers employees, not self-employed. In its ruling, the tribunal found that Quashie’s dancing was ancillary to the main purpose of Stringfellows, which was viewed as a restaurant. Quashie and other dancers, the tribunal ruled, were provided with a marketplace to sell their services. Uber has claimed the same, albeit in this case the marketplace is taxis, not topless dancers.”

Very interesting exploration of how the so-called gig economy is just a new manifestation of an old problem, ie the exploitation of workers by companies that want to shirk their responsibilities as employers. Email to Pocket.

“This angst is visible in Day-Lewis’s expressive features, so that when he and Alma first lock eyes, it’s as if the sudden psychic shift in the weight of his heavy heart moves the room, causing her to stumble. From the simple directions given in Anderson’s screenplay (‘He looks at her. She looks at him.’), we know not whether the stagger—an exclamation point mark in a film of flowing gestures and punctilious edits—was staged, improvised, or accidental until we witness the breaking of what we might call the film’s sixth wall: The appearance of Woodcock’s mother’s ghost in a wide, static shot of his bedroom clues us into the fact that there’s indeed another plane of existence in Woodcock’s world—a land of the dead superimposed over that of the living, one that’s been having its way with him.”

I thought Phantom Thread was one of the best films I’ve seen in years, and this an excellent discussion of why it works so well. (Also, I am now 100 per cent obsessed with Jonny Greenwood’s soundtrack for the film, it is the only music I can work to.) Email to Pocket.

“The basic reason is simple: according to the data trackers at BuzzAngle Music, more than 99 per cent of audio streaming is of the top 10 per cent most-streamed tracks. Which means less than 1 percent of streams account for all other music. That makes streaming more concentrated at the top than current album or song sales. Of course, the most popular releases have always dominated the music market, but it seems these new services increase that disparity rather than reduce it. The rising tide is lifting only certain boats.”

I liked this piece about the Spotify/music streaming disaster, because as well as outlining the problem, it also offers some practical tips for how a responsible fan can try and stem the tide of awfulness. Related: I would read a similar piece about buying books online. I mean, I would like to be able to search a comprehensive database and receive my order in the post quickly, but I also don’t want to give Amazon money to destroy publishing. Email to Pocket.

“Facebook says that they are building communities, but really they’re fracturing us. We are all on our own little news bubbles and on our own little islands. It’s also fracturing our own creative projects. The internet has turned into a place where you can’t have many different people speaking as one entity and expect those people to make a living. And to me, those are the most exciting, rewarding projects, and I can’t make those now. I am looking at the past with rose-colored glasses, but you can say categorically that the internet was a better place 3-4 years ago. It used to be fruitful, but it’s like a desert now.”

I’m really on an “big internet companies are ruining everything” reading kick this week. This on, for variety, is about Facebook ruining online comedy! Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

I wrote in my Tuesday podcast newsletter this week about live episodes, and how I don’t really get why people want to listen to them. Read more about that here. But like all of us, I am a giant mass of contradictions, and I have enjoyed the odd live episode when it’s from a show I really rate, so I thought I’d round up a few of those here.

All the Power Ladies, Live — Call Your Girlfriend

This is a throwback to before Trump was elected when people still had hope. It’s quite nice to listen to now.

Reclaim Your Bootyhole — Another Round

Last year, Tracy and Heben came to London and recorded this excellent show.

Live in Brooklyn — Crimetown

Sort of like a ‘best of’ night for the show, so a good place to start if you haven’t listened before.

Why is talking about money so awkward? — Ctrl Alt Delete

Emma Gannon is a podcaster who I definitely want to know more about her process, after hearing what she did with this live show.

Offal Edinburgher — The Bugle

All the way from 2011, a bit of vintage Bugle where Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver do standup together in Edinburgh. I miss the Old Bugle.

Things to watch

This is gloriously nerdy and I love it.

I learned a lot from this. It’s also very moving.

Ok so these are pictures not video, but please enjoy the excellent work of Broadway Bricks anyway.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

This Is Your Brain On Twitter.

The guest gif