Your Joy Quotient Should Only Go One Direction

Bon jour Dames Nation!

It is we, matriarchs of another nation, the Adult Fans of One Direction, aka AFOOD Nation, Cassie Niespodziewanski and Candice Tindell! You might know us from some of our tumblr greatest hits like this 100% real dialogue from the week Zayn left, or perhaps this totally chill primer on Harry’s Big Dick Energy? You might also recall when Candice described Harry as a High Class Renaissance Venetian Courtesan. Perhaps one of Cassie’s high art doodles? Even after the boys announced their “hiatus”, we stuck around and still post about our favorite four boys. With Niall and Harry on tour for the better part of a year-and-a-half, we had plenty to melt down about. We do
so love a good fandom meltdown.

Exclusive footage of the inside of our brains when we think about 1D

If you don’t know us for screaming about four boys, we’re tickled to meet you. We first met in college theater eleven years ago, and sometime around 2009, our brains fully merged, a phenomenon we refer to as “SAME BRAIN” when we don’t just finish each other’s sentences, but say a full, original sentence completely in unison. We moved to Chicago after school and in late 2014, fell down the One Direction Rabbit Hole.

In which Harry is Harry and Niall is all of us

Our entrance to the fandom is not unlike many other stories: Cassie showed Candice a picture of Zayn’s CryBaby hair from the 2014 AMA’s, and when Candice revealed she couldn’t name any other member of One Direction besides Harry, we watched the ‘Steal My Girl’ music video so Cassie could educate her. Three hours of music videos and “1D Funny Moments” later, we were hooked.. In February of 2015, after much impassioned texting about the start of the On The Road Again Tour, we started our blog. In the four years since, we’ve met incredible people from all over the world, from right near us in Milwaukee, Germany, the UK, Australia, Malaysia, New York City, L.A., and everywhere in between. We are constantly awed by the dynamic, interesting, smart, funny, lovely women we now count among our dear friends. In April of 2018, we even travelled an ocean to see Harry twice, meet some of our favorite blog friends, and fulfill a dream of going to the UK together. We can’t imagine what our life would look like if it weren’t for One Direction, but there would be infinitely less joy... and fewer sequins.

Candice (on left) is a Niall girl but she’s also an avid reader and checks out no fewer than four books from the library at a time. She sings in a band and hopes that tricks people into thinking she’s cooler than she is. At her day job, she attempts to dismantle the patriarchy one training at a time.

Cassie (on right) is a Harry girl, but she sometimes does improv and sketch, cooks and records it on Instagram (@chasspod), and live tweets the Bachelor (@Chasspod), and is personal makeup artist to her friends and loved ones. Today is also Cassie’s actual 30th birthday, and she can’t think of any better gift than fervently gushing about her favorite things to all of you.


Links and Sundry from CANDICE!

I definitely peaked gigging at the House of Blues Chicago.

In Defense of Cake

Cake is my favorite food. But it’s January. So while many are well into their healthy resolutions, I remain steadfast in my devotion to cake.

It’s easy to see how cake got a bad reputation. Many deem it too sweet, basic, and merely a celebratory tradition on birthdays and at weddings. For me, it’s a more refined, decadent way of life. So, I’m here to remind you just how important, dare I say holy, cake is to our own history: Some regions of America can track their history in the sorted layers of their cake recipes’.  And Ruby Tandoh (of GBBO fame and fellow 1D stan) wrote a beautiful article that explores our historical relationship to sugar and it’s intersections with race, class, and sexuality. And did you know that slaves used to dress up like their master’s and mock them at cake walks?  

To get closer to cake in 2019, I recommend All About Cake by Christina Tosi (of Milk Bar infamy). It’s beautiful, decadent, and unpretentious.

Some among us claim they’re “not dessert people”. I understand that it’s a matter of taste, but my god at what cost? Life’s too short; let me eat cake.

A New Year’s Resolution

I’m a terrible cook. Okay, not totally true. I can make about six things well. But traditionally, if a recipe requires a protein other than chicken breast (I know), and more than 10 ingredients (I know, okay), I immediately bypass it. I was raised on casserole. Sue me. Luckly, my father has taken to using my parents’ kitchen like a medieval innkeep (brewing beer, bread from scratch, and cheese making etc) and introduced me to America’s Test Kitchen. Yes, unlocking everything on their website comes with a small monthly fee, but their YouTube channel is a great way to cheat the system. They have great recipes, tips, and, perhaps my favorite, product reviews. In fact, their executive editor, Lisa McManus, is so delightfully salty about underperforming kitchen tools that it feels more like you’re part of a sassy gossip session with your beloved, career-driven aunt. Oh, these idiots made the thermometer handle too short and you’ll burn yourself? Go off, Lisa.

Slather your Skin in Luxury

You know what’s great? Luxurious skin care products. You know what even better? Affordable luxurious skin care products. Look no further than The Ordinary. The only problem? The descriptions of their products are lengthy and confusing. I have in no way tried every one of their products, but here are some of my favorites.

Skin concern; fine lines and wrinkles

Retinoids are great if you know how to use them! I recommend their most gentle product which has all the same benefits of normal retinols, but isn’t as irritating. Start using once a week and work up to three times a week. You shouldn’t layer this product with Vitamin C treatments or acids. It’s a good dupe for so many products!

Skin Concern; Dullness, dark spots

Vitamin C is your friend! It’s great for skin brightening and fading dark spots over time. This product has helped fade some of my lingering acne scars. Full disclosure, Vitamin C does have a metallic smell and a stinging sensation the first couple of times you use it. Great dupe for this!

Skin Concern; Pimples, acne, redness

The Ordinary’s combination of Niacinamide and Zinc is a great, less drying alternative to salicylic acid though both can address pimples. I use the Niacinamide and Zinc when I have hormonal breakouts and my skin is red and angry. Salicylic acid and witch hazel can help with pimples and overly-oily skin. Be careful and work up to more uses a week so as not to dry out your skin. Dupe and Dupe.

For everyone; Oils and Hydration

For years, I thought that denying my skin hydration would help cure my oily skin and acne. Big Time Whoops. I recommend oils for anyone. My favorites are the Marula, Argan, and Rosehip oils. Bonus: they can also be used on things like dry hair, cuticles, and dry elbows! The Marine Hyaluronic is also a great alternative to the stickier formulation of hyaluronic acid.

Bonus Products:

I can vouch for both of their makeup primers and their caffeine solution is an instant eye de-puffer! Their lactic acid is a great way to exfoliate without using a harsh scrub and a great dupe for this cult beauty product.

___

Thanks a lot, Dante for completely re-shaping our idea of Hell, as explained in this New Yorker longread. Which would be one less thing to read in at least one iteration of hell.

Get Involved without Getting Overwhelmed

I work in sexual violence prevention so I know how overwhelming getting involved can feel. You don’t have to do everything, but it’s empowering to do something! Here are some good places to start: 

Ham Sandwiches for One and All!

Greetings, Dames Nation! Get ready to discover a fresh way to delight in Melissa McCarthy!

She has been a favorite actor of ours for Lo, These Many Years-- ever since her humbling beginnings as Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls, and perhaps never more than in SPY, a perfect action-comedy that you should watch tonight, whether for the millionth or the first time. But despite our long-running admiration for her, we have never felt closer to her as people than we did upon reading that she smuggled forty truly delicious-sounding ham and cheese sandwiches into the Golden Globes to pass out to fellow attendees. Apparently, dinner is served before the awards, which then last a small lifetime, leading people to get peckish. And it is, DARE WE SAY IT, a total Dame move to deal with that by smuggling snacks NOT JUST FOR ONESELF but also for everyone in one’s immediate surroundings. It is the kind of telling detail upon which one can build a really flourishing imaginary friendship, and that is what we’re now doing. Our only note? We would have taken care to have snacks for our vegan and vegetarian friends, too.


Introducing: PREMIUM YELLING!

Your Dames had a little State of The Newsletter conversation recently and we decided to offer a little something extra semi-regularly for our paid subscribers, which, obviously, we hope will be enticing! We are calling it PREMIUM YELLING, and it will consist of a mini-issue where one or both of us talks about a Very Favorite Thing of recent weeks-- whether it’s a new face mask we love, a TV show we’re dying for you to watch, or a link that’s SO good it deserves its own issue. Paid subscribers can look forward to the first issue of PREMIUM YELLING to hit their inboxes in a couple of weeks, but, as a taste, here’s what we’d have put in this week’s issue, if we were publishing one this week.

Dame Sophie would like to holler enthusiastically with you about the new-to-Netflix series Derry Girls. This six-episode sitcom set in Derry, Northern Ireland during The Troubles, is here to scratch your “oh, I just love coming of age narratives packed with jokes and pathos and a soundtrack full of 90s bangers” itch.

The cast, led by a quintet of scrappy, fractious teens, is so good and sharp, each episode is full of delightful capers, and every character is both broad and specific. Perhaps most remarkable of all, the show never lets you forget that the threats of both state-sanctioned violence and retaliatory outlaw violence is ever-present, while also celebrating the characters’ determined pursuit of their everyday lives, in all their hilariously petty quotidian glory. Excuuuuuuse us, heavily armed occupying army and/or paramilitaries patrolling the streets, Erin and her friends’ body language screams, we have bigger fish to fry, like haplessly plotting to lose our virginity and telling tales to Sister Michael about a crying statue of the Blessed Mother!

It’s a remarkable balancing act that goes down smooth; you could easily binge it all in one evening. Be ready to have a tab open to Wikipedia so you can quickly look up answers to your contextual questions, and also be ready to embrace the subtitles. The actors talk fast and I’ll admit I could understand them maybe half of the time without subtitles.

This seems like a great plan, doesn’t it?

If you liked this taste of PREMIUM SHOUTING and don’t want to miss out on more of it, well HEY! We’ve got a button for that!

Subscribe now


Dame Sophie’s Winter Survival Strategies

I want to live inside this gif

My contributions this week are dedicated to cultural things I’m engaging with in my pitched battle with winter. We’re past the winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, and although I know we’re cruising towards spring, but January & February always seem to take forever to get through and it’s just too damn gloomy for this sun & SPF 50-loving gal. We can do this but we’re gonna need reinforcements. Here are mine!

  • Baking: One of my favorite goals from 2018 was baking new-to-me recipes. I rarely cook these days, though I still love reading about cooking. Baking still holds a lot of charm and interest for me, perhaps because it’s always optional, and I can give it away. Last year, my challenge recipes were Pear Bread (a snap), Bee Sting Cake (lavish but homey), and Baklava Babka (quite fiddly & worth every moment of it), which I got in juuuust under the wire on New Year’s Eve. So far in 2019, I’m eyeing this Russian Honey Cake and the Ligurian Focaccia from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I think I want to get more into yeasted desserts, too. Watch this space for further teeth-gnashing & prideful crowing, and if you have a favorite recipe to pass along, please do.

  • Audiobooks: I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of loving to be read aloud to. Some of my fondest memories are of my mom reading aloud to me, and I particularly love listening to audiobooks of books I’ve already read. This ticks several boxes for me: reading aloud, revisiting stories I know I love, and the comfort of knowing that I don’t have to pay super-close attention to every word. I can half-listen and rewind if I like, or just let the narrative current pull me along if I prefer that. Current & upcoming listens include: Bring Up The Bodies, The Complete Sherlock Holmes (read by Stephen Fry), Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, My Life as a Goddess, by Guy Branum, and Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries. These last two aren’t rereads but I think they’ll easily fit into my rewind-to-catch-up strategy.

  • Weirdly Compelling Celebrity Profiles: as much as I love US Magazine’s Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us! feature, what I love even more is the school of profiles that take as their foundational premise the notion that the main way that celebrities are like us is that they are deeply odd, but unlike us, their fabulous wealth insulates them from having to pretend to be normal and they can just go all in on being gigantic weirdos. Some of the ones I’m stockpiling include a recent piece on Jeremy Irons on His Irish Castle and Antiques Obsession, Taffy Brodesser-Akner on Jimmy Buffet & his distinctly non-Buffet-y lifestyle,  everything on this juicy list from way back when in 2014, and one that’s actually a book excerpt by surviving Beastie Boys Mike D and Ad-Rock, about how their record label just about killed their now-classic sophomore album, Paul’s Boutique, in favor of a late-career album by...Donny Osmond.

  • Improving My Various Processes: Yes, like any of us who have bought in even the smallest amount into late-stage capitalism, I’m invested in doing a better job of being myself. I’m not trying to change who I am fundamentally; I’ve decided that’s a fool’s errand, so I’m refining certain things. Or at least revisiting them to see if I want to refine them. The element that’s most on my mind this week is timing, prompted in part by Daniel Pink’s recent appearance at DC’s Politics & Prose Bookstore, where he outlined four or five of the big concepts in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. I’m particularly intrigued by his 25-minute nap routine of gulping down a cup of coffee, putting on his noise-canceling headphones, and shutting his eyes til the timer on his phone loudly dings for his attention as the caffeine hits his bloodstream.


Dame Margaret Hasn’t Ripped Her Nose Off Yet, But It’s Not For Lack of Spite Towards It!

Unlike my nose, Olivia the Dog is perfect, and ready for her close up.

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Dames for What Ails You

Welcome to 2019, Dames Nationals!

We hope your last weeks of 2018 were restful, refreshing, and full of quality time with some of your very best-loved people. Ours certainly were, and we come to you today to yell about one of the most rewarding couple of hours we spent in late December, being swept away by the greatness and goodness of Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Watching this scene: the first time either of us ever longed to be a police officer. Because now we know we could use the siren for trolling-with-love reasons!

We can’t yell enthusiastically enough about this movie. It’s visually dazzling, it’s funny and warm, the stakes feel both realistic and high -- no mean feat in a movie where Spider-man dies and all the other Spider-guys (who include two women, a literal black-and-white film noir fella, and...a very confident pig, just go with it, it works) appear, each with their own gently tragic backstory. The relationships among Miles, his exquisitely well-rendered family, his fellow Spider-kin, and his city are deeply touching. And we haven’t even told you about the vocal performances! Which -- surprise! -- are also best described as a parade of delights. This is not just one of the best superhero movies we’ve ever seen (and we’ve seen and loved a fair few), it’s one of our shared favorite stories of 2018 in any format and any genre. If you haven’t seen it yet, do like Miles & take a leap of faith by giving yourself the gift of perfect storytelling this week. If you have seen it, hooray & please come yell with us about it on Twitter.


Dame Margaret’s Post-Holiday Coping Strategies  

For when this Leslie Knope gif is a distressingly accurate assessment of your physical well-being.

  • First off, because it seems like 82% of the people I know came back from the holidays with some kind of lingering cold, may I recommend this very healthy and easy-to-make soup? We put it together in our office a couple weeks ago-- someone brought in their slow cooker and we all brought in ingredients-- and the results were really lovely. Whether you make it for yourself or to bring over to a friend, it’s a quality recipe to have in your back pocket.

  • And, if you are either laid up or diving deep into January chores, may I recommend the coziest possible accompaniment to either? By which I mean BBC radio dramas, almost certainly the squarest thing I profoundly love. But here’s the thing: they’re perfect? I’ve recently been revisiting my Audible copy of The Jane Austen BBC Radio Drama Collection and despite usually hating (1) abridged versions of classics and (2) unabridged full-cast audio productions of classics, for some reason radio plays of classics delight me to no end. For one thing, they are a Who’s Who of British Actors you love-- the BBC’s Mansfield Park, for example, features voice acting from Felicity Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch, and David Tennant! For another, they’re just so well-written and produced! They manage to preserve an astonishing amount of the stories original My lifehack for maximizing your radio drama dollars: download and set up the Library Extension on the adaptable browser of your choice, then page through this list of audio productions created by BBC Digital on Audible (which I find easier to browse by production company than most library catalogs). As you see titles that look interesting, open their individual pages and the Library Extension will tell you whether any libraries to which you have borrowing privileges have the productions in their online catalogs. I have found that Overdrive in Boston has LOADS and thereby listened to many great ones for free. Which made me feel less guilty about buying all three volumes of the BBC’s Lord Peter Wimsey radio drama collection the very moment I realized they existed.

  • If you, too, found yourself absolutely delighted by the sartorial exuberance our brand new class of congresswomen brought to their swearing in ceremony, then you’ll love The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan analyzing the semiotics of Nancy Pelosi and Krysten Sinema’s high-profile embrace of hyper-feminine fashion. Hot pink does not signify now what it used to!

  • And speaking of Nancys and shifting signifiers, one of the few delights of work the last two weeks has diving into the newly reinvigorated Nancy comic strip and Olivia Jaimes, the pseudonymous artist who’s brought it so gloriously into the present. If you’re unfamiliar with the newly au courant Nancy, this quick article on The Ringer explaining how it has arisen, phoenix-like, from the ashes of its former glory should catch you up and prepare you to enjoy this pair of longer articles from Vulture’s Abraham Riesman: one on Jaimes’s incognito appearance at a comic convention, and one an in-depth interview about Jaimes’s creative process. All of which will, best of all, lead to you diving into Jaimes’s backlog of Nancy strips, wherein you will consider if all critical voices are just bots, the lengths to which you’d go to avoid watching an 8-minute YouTube video, and adding the phrase “You hooligans! Be earnest, dang it!” to your everyday lexicon.

  • We have long loved R. Eric Thomas’s columns for Elle Magazine, but it’s been a long time since one made me laugh as hard as his recent column on Queen Elizabeth II’s golden piano, which is maybe the one object in the world he was BORN to write about.  

  • Thanks to Nicole Cliffe, the Only Redditor Who Really Matters, I have recently become aware that Jane Stanford, co-founder of Stanford University, was poisoned with strychnine in 1905 and we still don’t know by whom! As a result, I’m obviously on a tear reading about it, and the two best articles on the subject so far are “Who Killed Jane Stanford?” (from Stanford Magazine) and “In 1905, someone murdered the founder of Stanford University. They've never been caught” (from SFGate). JOIN ME IN ARMCHAIR SLEUTHING THIS ONE OUT! But keep in mind:

Nicole Cliffe@Nicole_CliffeLET ME STOP YOU THERE: her husband had been dead for 12 years already, he didn’t do it UNLESS

Sophie’s Early January Tabs Clear-Out

Emily Gilmore’s storyline was the only good one in the last crop of Gilmore Girls episodes, don’t @ me

Lololollll who am I kidding, I konmari’d* my tabs last week and then again this week and still here they are, 64 strong! I share news of my sickness with you so that you may feel some measure of being seen / superiority over an Internet person! My gifts to you this week are the highly selective bounty of my overflowing tabs situation and the sure knowledge that at least you aren’t as ridiculous of a content packrat as I am. Or are you? Do let me know, I love to dispense compliments (to those tidier than I) and commiseration (to those in the same boat as I).

*Full disclosure, I’m ambivalent about getting rid of things in service to minimalism. That’s not my aesthetic, and I think there’s a lot of class, gender, and misapplied morality tied up in embracing minimalism that needs unpacking. On the other hand: 64 tabs. Get a grip, Brookover.

I could probably get the hang of this. I’ll watch a couple of episodes of her show & see where it takes me.

Two Bossy Docents

We’re Maggie and Laura: librarians, coworkers, friends. And maybe most importantly, docents.

Laura and Maggie, Docents Extraordinaires!

After a grueling six month training period in early 2018, we finally attained the Boston Public Library’s Scarf of Docentry. Should you choose (and you should!) to attend one of the BPL’s free daily tours, you could be lucky enough to have one of us as your guide. You’ll be treated to a gleefully detailed history of the building and its incredible art and architecture. By way of introduction, we’re going to share with you some of our favorite tidbits about our favorite library while taking you on a mini photo-tour of the library.

BUT! Before we introduce ourselves and our beloved library, a quick reminder from your Chief Dames.


SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! Belle Livetweet at 7:30 EST!

Live footage of us welcoming you to the #BelleDames party

Don’t forget that, this Sunday, we are treating ourselves to a viewing of Amma Asante’s gorgeous romantic drama Belle! It’s not streaming for free on any platforms at the moment, but it can still be checked out from your local library or rented on a wide variety of platforms for about $4. We hope that you can join us for we are CERTAIN the movie is worth encountering. Here are the details:

When: Sunday, December 16th at 7:30 PM EST

How: By renting or borrowing a copy of the movie.

Where: And following the hashtag #BelleDames on Twitter


MEET MAGGIE!

Something Ms. Levine could be heard to say about BOTH The Greatest Showman and Legally Blonde: The Musical, among many other worthy shows.

Hi! I’m Maggie. First, a little background - Laura and I became tour guides for work-related reasons, but, for me, it was also the culmination of many years of anticipation. At some point in my youth, my brain combined Donna Murphy’s character in Center Stage with my grandma’s most elegant friend and somehow that imaginary person was also a docent. Naturally, I wanted to become that person. In 2018, I became a docent, although I did not become Donna Murphy.

My second-most cherished dream, having grey hair, is still to be achieved, but that’s okay because it’s important to continue setting goals for yourself. As a person who is easily excited and loves to share her excitement, talking about the history of the library to the public is now one of my favorite ways to spend an evening. But first, some links!

  • I was lucky enough to see the Fabric of Survival exhibit in my hometown over Thanksgiving. It consists of 36 embroidered fabric collages, showing how Esther Nisenthal Krinitz survived the Holocaust. Not a trained artist, Krinitz made the pieces to share her story with her family, and the work absolutely floored me, along with everyone else at the gallery. The pictures can’t really do them justice, so if it visits your town, you won’t want to miss it.

  • You might not have to scroll far back in any group thread to find the term emotional labor; this What is Emotional Labor? interview with the sociologist who coined the term helped me think more precisely about the way I describe relationships to make communication inside them and about them more effective.

  • Alanna Bennett’s long read on the writing partnership behind many beloved movies from the early aughts was a delight to read and a great reminder that the Legally Blonde musical’s original Broadway cast recording is available on Spotify. Also a reminder that Susan May Pratt was a wonderful “Judy Greer but sadder” addition to all my favorite movies and that we should appreciate her much more than we probably do.

  • I rarely listen to podcasts, but Last Seen, about the famously unsolved 1990 heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was so relevant to our docent gig that it is worth mentioning. Tangentially connected, this write-up by Sara Egan, an educator at the Gardner, and how she and her team handled a school group visit the week after the 2016 election really spoke to me. “As museum educators, we have the ability to create this space for our visitors – we have the flexibility to respond to our visitors and we have the objects and environments that remind them of the beauty of our shared humanity.”  In my day job and as a tour guide, I always keep this last point in mind.

Back to Library Art! A crown jewel in the Library’s art is John Singer Sargent’s Triumph of Religion mural. If you can’t visit the piece itself, Susan Promey’s terrific book Painting Religion in Public can tell you just about everything you need to know. You may have already known Sargent was an accomplished portraitist, but how familiar are you with the models he used? Not at all?? You’re in luck! I’m pleased to introduce you to Antonio Corsi, the Italian model who was the Zoolander of his day. His New York city apartment in the 1900’s was filled with costumes and congratulatory notes from fancy people, including Queen Victoria. Sargent used Corsi for at least eleven of the figures in his gallery but Corsi was such a widely sought-after model that Edwin Austin Abbey, whose name graces another room in the BPL, began using him for his own murals. All in all, there are at least sixty-nine figures modeled from his likeness throughout the library. Nice! For more information on Corsi, please enjoy this extended trailer for an unfinished documentary about the man, the myth, the legend - Corsi: Prince of Models.

Corsi modeling for the “Hosea” figure above the Two Bossy Docents in the Sargent Gallery.


MEET LAURA!

Wave hello to a Dark and Terrifying Art that has much more to do with public libraries than you might have ever guessed!

I’m Laura, and when I give tours of the BPL, I love to tell visitors about the at-the-time revolutionary idea of public libraries that are Free To All, and about the French Ventriloquist who started it all. That’s right, public libraries as we know them may never have existed without Alexandre Vattemare, who made his name as an ACTUAL VENTRILOQUIST after he was fired from his job as a surgeon-in-training when he KEPT MAKING DEAD BODIES TALK DURING SURGERIES. After gaining fame writing and performing comedic plays where he played as many as twenty characters by throwing his voice, Vattemare took his new-found wealth and notoriety and traveled from place to place urging cities and cultural institutions to share books and information. His trips to Boston sparked the big idea that led to one of the nation’s first Free-to-All, publicly funded libraries, plus he was a real weirdo and I just love him so so much.

I also like other things, I guess? Here are a few links that are, strangely, not about libraries or Alexandre Vattemare.

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