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The Pipwick Papers

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Graham's off gallivanting and I had a chance to catch up on my bookmarked reading thanks to several train journeys this weekend. Put those two things together and you've got yourself a sneaky Pipwick Papers. You'll find a grieving sherrif, Roald Dahl-inspired clothes, the psychology of why clowns are creepy and more!

  • First up is this animated short, Borrowed Time, about a sherrif haunted by a tragedy from his past. It's not a happy story, but it's incredibly well-made. You might also be interested to note that the writers/directors, Lou Hamou-Lhadj and Andrew Coats are both Pixar alumni although they've known each other for years previously and this was a spare-time project. The composer, Gustavo Santaolalla, you might know from his work scoring The Last Of Us.
  • And this is the accompanying featurette about why it was made:
  • Hazlitt has Hugh Ryan writing about The Three Lives Of Malvina Schwartz. From the subheading ("Butches, Femmes, and Mobsters: Inside the world of America’s first drag superstars") I think I was expecting something... I don't know... more concerned with extremes or with a kind of out-of-the-ordinary attitude, but that's very much not what I got. Instead it's fragments of an oral history tape recording with an interesting person which is used to talk about wider issue of how and what we choose to record and what can get forgotten, particularly in regard to queer history:
  • Halfway through a question, Nestle stopped our interview, agitated.

    “I hear the wonder in your voice and…” she trailed off, picked at some invisible thing on the arm of her chair. “How can I put this? Buddy’s life wasn’t exotic. It was real. She was a working woman. She had talents and she wanted to use them to pay her rent, help her girlfriends. The real importance [of that tape] was how it showed the every day nature of making a life as a different kind of woman.”

  • Catherine Nichols has a piece over on Jezebel about Bob Dylan's writing called How I Changed My Mind About Bob Dylan. I've been wanting to read a fan's perspective on his writing since his Nobel prize got announced. I'll admit, I've never really felt the pull of Bob Dylan so I'm unfamiliar with huge amounts of his work. In terms of writing I gravitate far more towards Leonard Cohen. That said, Cohen himself called Dylan's prize: "like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain." There's been a lot written about the choice of recipient already but a phrase stayed with my from Nichols' piece where she's talking about the writing in Dylan's memoir: "the enthusiasms I grew out of were as real as the ones I grew into". I really like that sentence as a way of being kinder about my younger self's interests.
  • I really love how this collaboration between Boden USA and the Roald Dahl Literary Estate turned out. It's probably just as well it's only for a kids range as Boden prices aren't really very game journo-friendly, but I thought I'd mention it as one of those really lovely, well-thought-out collaborations, rather than just slapping a logo or an existing illustration on some pyjamas or a tshirt. I will say I'm terrified of Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka though, so having him reincarnated as an intensely staring child was an uncomfortable experience.
  • Speaking of things people find creepy, here's Frank T McAndrew on the unsettling profession of clowning.
  • Rose Eveleth writes for Motherboard about something I'll admit I hadn't considered which is how impossible pop-up ads can make websites if you're blind or partially sighted. I got a pop-up while reading that article on my mobile and I'm not sure if that was a joke or demo of some kind.
  • Jim Allen, the accessibility coordinator at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, said that with these in-window popups it can just become a guessing game. “It becomes like the game of Myst, where you just had to click on things to try and figure it out," he told me. "And what generally happens, unless the person really really really has to be on that page, they’re done. It’s like, I don’t have time to deal with this.”

  • Katy Waldman's The Trapdoor of Trigger Words for Slate offers a good summary of the issues and conversations surrounding trigger warnings as well as discussion of what light can be shed on the discussion by trauma therapies.
  • And to finish, here's a piece I read a while ago: How I Rewired My Brain To Become Fluent In Math by Barbara Oakley. It was an interesting and, I found, inspiring piece about adult learning and which encouraged me to dig out my own maths textbooks to start working through them again. I'm including it here because it made a few things I'm trying to do at the moment seem a lot more possible, well beyond just revisiting maths.
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