Pop, Pens and a Prawn

No Complaints #157

The heatwave in the UK finally broke and it rained briefly, and I feel like my productivity went up 3,000 per cent as a result. As long as I don’t read any news, that is.

Things to read

“There were none to be found in the photo of a family of ten, either, though that was hardly my focus. ‘The good girl’ looked to be a teenager, and I pitied her immensely. I feared she spent her entire life caring for others — first her seven younger brothers and then, perhaps, as many children of her own. I imagined she had gone from her parents’ house to her husband’s, with no moment in between to, say, live across the country from a family whose expectations were so Old World, it was almost comical. Did she ever have a moment to ask herself, at a safe distance from her family’s unrelenting needs and expectations, Who am I? What kind of life do I want to live?”

The imaginary stories contained in one photograph from Ellis Island. Email to Pocket.

“Some are applauding the ballpoint pen’s demise, but others are simply upping their pen game. Indeed, as the Chicago Tribune reports, fountain pen sales have grown every year (except 2009) for the past decade. It makes sense: Run-of-the-mill legal pads have long been eschewed by hip note-takers in favor of expensive Moleskine notebooks. After all, if writing with our hands is going to be a rare endeavour, it should be a treat, not a chore.”

Fountain pen purchases are on the rise, and other excellent pen-based trivia. Email to Pocket.

“Conspiracy theories might seem silly, easy to dismiss as the work of hardcore obsessives who have taken their high school education in close reading a few steps too far. But it’s not all heavily coded song lyrics and claims that a pair of rainbow teddy bears dressed in bondage gear are sending you secret messages. Conspiracy theories are fascinating because they allow us to see the sand in the gears of our culture: They speak to genuine frictions and frustrations, even if the way they do it is deeply flawed. In particular, they raise interesting, difficult questions about how we can appropriately discuss others’ sexuality, especially as we try to move toward an increasing acceptance of ambiguity and fluidity in sexual desire and identity.”

It’s the golden age of the pop culture celebrity conspiracy theory, apparently. Email to Pocket.

“The old web, the cool web, the weird web, the hand-organised web. . . died. And the damn reverse chronology bias — once called into creation, it hungers eternally — sought its next victim. Myspace. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest, of all things. Today these social publishing tools are beginning to buck reverse chronological sort; they’re introducing algorithm sort, to surface content not by time posted but by popularity, or expected interactions, based on individual and group history. There is even less control than ever before. There are no more quirky homepages. There are no more amateur research librarians. All thanks to a quirky bit of software produced to alleviate the pain of a tiny subset of a very small audience.”

One of the best blog-nostalgia posts I’ve read for a while. Email to Pocket.

“No doubt some of you are thinking: Where do you even get floppy disks these days? Producers have tried different avenues—eBay, classified ads, shady dudes in alleyways—and some have managed to get their hands on hundreds of usable diskettes. ‘You find some interesting stuff on them,’ Sterling Campbell, founder of Canadian floppy disk imprint Strudelsoft, says to Rolling Stone. ‘Pictures of I Dream Of Jeannie and Gilligan’s Island. People’s family photos and stuff.’”

The hot new archaic music format is 3.5” floppy disks. I mean, what? Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

This week, I chanced across a great music documentary about the Now That’s What I Call Music series of compilation albums, which I used to save up my pocket money for religiously when I was in my early teens. Have a listen.

Things to watch

Yes please.

The story of the men who make the sand dogs on pavements.

Good for her.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

A happy prawn who has never heard of Brexit.

The guest gif

Hypnotic floating Russian folk dancers make everything better.