Swanage, Sally and Snobs

No Complaints #144

My apologies for the unscheduled absence of a newsletter last week — I was laid low by a nasty bug. I’m feeling much better now, possibly due to the fact that I’m currently staying in a cottage built directly above an ancient Welsh holy well. Or maybe not. Anyway, it’s also my birthday this weekend, and in my own honour (?) I decided to have a last-minute sale on subscriptions for my podcast newsletter. If you’ve been thinking about signing up, it’ll now only cost you $5 a month to do so, rather than $7. For this, you get two extra weekly emails from me: a playlist of new shows to listen to, and some snark about the podcast industry (I often like to subtweet at newsletter length). Join us, it’s fun.

Things to read

“Tiffany Haddish has been on this whale-watching expedition for ten minutes and is already its undisputed captain — a turn of events no doubt surprising to the disputed captain, i.e., the man commanding the vessel and ostensibly hired to lead the tour. Gleeful in mutiny, Haddish's fellow passengers beseech her to hijack microphone duties from Captain Nick. Only one or two of them recognise her as a professional comedian and newly minted movie star; to the majority of middle-aged white people on this boat, she is simply a confident woman with three free hours to search for whales off the coast of Los Angeles. A woman whose commentary they enjoy.”

I loved this profile of Tiffany Haddish, not least because it also includes this sentence: “Tiffany Haddish is to Girls Trip as Daniel Day-Lewis is to There Will Be Blood”. Email to Pocket.

“In the episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians when Kim’s Vogue cover lands, her mother tells her sisters to congratulate her, for it has been Kim’s dream ‘her entire life’ to be on that cover. One might say that of a lot of little girls. But not all of them manage it. And very few of them manage it after being the centerfold of Playboy. Kim skipped past the careful career steps that most models/actresses must tiptoe through to land there (first step: Don’t be in a sex tape), and so she threatens a value that we hold very dear: good taste. In other words, Kim Kardashian turns us all into snobs.”

This 2014 piece about the rise of Kim Kardashian holds up very well. Email to Pocket.

“Those three films — When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail — are all icons in the romantic comedy genre, and it’s truly remarkable that they all came from the heart and soul of one creative force. Ephron deserves to be celebrated as a major player within the rom-com genre (and elsewhere), and as a trailblazing female filmmaker who told unapologetically female stories along the way. Though all three of Ephron’s Meg Ryan-led films would have staunch defenders in a debate to determine the best rom-com of all time, for my money When Harry Met Sally is a snapshot of Ephron — and just about all of its major players — at their very best. It’s no wonder that romantic comedies have been trying to recapture the movie’s ephemeral magic ever since.”

I love a serious rom com thinkpiece. Email to Pocket.

“Celia understood that I would be writing at all hours, and introduced me to her many friends as She Who Lurks in the Garden. No one was allowed to interrupt me on her watch; to knock on the door and solicit a conversation (the weather, the news, the arrival of cake) or even to convey an urgent message from the Mistress of the House. To be valued and respected in this way, as if it were the most normal thing in the world, was a new experience. I did not know it then, but I would go on to write three books in that shed. It was there that I would begin to write in the first person, using an I that is close to myself and yet is not myself.”

I can’t wait to read Deborah Levy’s new memoir. Email to Pocket.

“To me, the word ‘translation’ exudes a mysterious and evocative aura. It denotes a profoundly human art form that graciously carries clear ideas in Language A into clear ideas in Language B, and the bridging act not only should maintain clarity, but also should give a sense for the flavor, quirks, and idiosyncrasies of the writing style of the original author. Whenever I translate, I first read the original text carefully and internalize the ideas as clearly as I can, letting them slosh back and forth in my mind. It’s not that the words of the original are sloshing back and forth; it’s the ideas that are triggering all sorts of related ideas, creating a rich halo of related scenarios in my mind. Needless to say, most of this halo is unconscious. Only when the halo has been evoked sufficiently in my mind do I start to try to express it — to “press it out” — in the second language. I try to say in Language B what strikes me as a natural B-ish way to talk about the kinds of situations that constitute the halo of meaning in question.”

A translator and cognitive scientist tries to use Google Translate. Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

Hopefully you are getting some time off work over the Easter weekend, so my recommendation this time is something that requires a little more attention than a normal podcast. Radio Atlas is a brilliant project that provides English subtitles for outstanding audio documentaries made in other languages. Find out more and subscribe here.

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

Things to watch

Too funny.


Witches, obvs.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Happy Easter!

The guest gif