Should ALL Pasta Just Be Pappardelle?

That has nothing to do with anything else in this email, it just felt like a question that DEMANDED answers

Hello, Dames Nationals!

Carefully analyzed emotional conflict: INJECT IT DIRECTLY INTO OUR VEINS

MW: Dame Sophie is off this week so she can recap Hulu’s newly-released adaptation of Looking For Alaska, so our good pal Christina Tucker is here to lend Dame Margaret a hand with today’s issue. And the timing could NOT be better, because one of our mutual obsessions just reappeared: after being gone for 18 months, the podcast Where Should We Begin? is finally back for its third season. In each one hour long episode, you get the edited audio of renowned couples therapist Esther Perel doing real counseling with real couples who do not stint on the details of what’s wrong in their relationships! Want one where a couples’ mutual evangelical background has decimated their erotic life? Esther’s got you covered. One the struggle when your partner loves to be cuckolded, but you only want to sleep with him? Yup, Esther’s got that, too! Lesbians whose relationship started with infidelity? Of course she has that!!

The joy of rubbernecking on other peoples’ profound emotional conflict, if you share in it, needs no explanation. But what might surprise you is how emotionally useful eavesdropping on other peoples’ therapy can be. Even when their problems have nothing to do with yours, the conflict negotiating tools Perel teaches her participants are extremely useful.  

CT: Showtime’s excellent Couple’s Therapy shares a ton of DNA with Where Should We Begin? perhaps most notably the fact that you the viewer get the chance to learn about emotional boundaries and how past trauma can inform your current relationships right alongside the participants in the show. In the capable, and, it must be said incredibly hot hands of Dr. Orna Guralnik, a longtime couples psychologist, you get to watch four couples come in, sit in the waiting room and have a session. It is unspeakably thrilling to watch these people sort through their thorniest and most private issues on screen, and it is because Dr. Orna is so damn good at her job that you don’t feel gross watching. DamesPal Kathryn VanArendonk talked to Dr. Orna for Vulture about the process of making the show, how she met with over 1,000 (!) couples to find people who were willing to bear all for the small screen, and how important her perfect dog Nico, is to her process. We cannot implore you enough to watch this, there are only nine half hour episodes, you will devour them all and beg for more! 

MW: And maybe, with your help, we can ALL convince Christina to go and visit the fancy Philadelphia coffee shop that one of the Couple’s Therapy couples owns.  


If we get at least four new subscribers this week then Dame Margaret will be allowed to buy these leopard print booties (without which she will surely perish). So, please consider:


Dames-Adjacent Announcement: Help the MIT Libraries Unionize!

A little-known fact is that, in addition to being your loving guide to all the best pocketed dresses on God’s green earth, Dame Margaret has been an employee of the MIT Libraries for nearly 12 years. She adores her colleagues, including her managers, but over that time it’s become increasingly clear that when the Institute’s needs run contrary to those of the libraries, the Institute will win at any cost. And so she and her colleagues are working to unionize with AFSCME. If you want to learn more about why we’re doing this or help, you can:


Dame Margaret’s Loosely Arranged Thoughts

NOT flipping you off, dear readers, just sharing a link to this gif as an act of #ServiceJournalism for you 

If you’re one of the eagle-eyed readers who’ve (1) made it this far and (2) noticed that this email came out, technically, on Saturday, please allow me to apologize abjectly. Damespals Jasmine and Kate were both in town for the Boston Book Festival and they… kidnapped me, and plied me with wine and fine food and good company and you know, the hours just SLIPPED right by. But it’s okay, because my links are so good that I bet you won’t even MIND that they are hours late. 

  • First, and most important: WNYC released the first episode of Dolly Parton’s America, their podcast tracing Dolly’s legacy and impact on American culture, and it is EXQUISITE. I have a feeling that it’s going to inspire a REAL deep dive into Dolly’s back catalog for this Dame. 

  • Next: this long read from Tavi Gevinson, former editor of the late, lamented Rookie Magazine, on how Instagram has shaped her life, and her ambivalence about the platform, is exceptionally well-written and thought-provoking. As someone who spends a lot of time crafting a personal brand on social media, it’s going to sit with me a long time.

  • From Rookie, it’s natural to move on to a trio of articles on things central to the experience of 1990s girlhood, a state said magazine somewhat fetishized:

  • And finally, I have two links on the non-Hollywood film industry-- one on how two film buffs have turned their small town in North Carolina into an independent film-loving community sufficient to support a flourishing film festival. And the second on Utah’s Mormon film industry, a topic that has fascinated me ever since the release of Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy in 2003 (yes, I have seen it and no, it’s NOT good). 


Hottie Christina’s Rumination and Links

At least once a day I think about Willa simply yeeting this iPad off a YACHT 

My worst possible habit (who am I kidding, I have many) is waking up and immediately shoving my phone into my eyeholes. Usually I haven’t even put my glasses on yet, this early morning scroll is blurry eyed and half conscious. You can imagine my joy when I scrolled past this New Yorker article by forever fave Jia Tolentino on Drop Dead Gorgeous, a film I love with my whole heart. I don’t know how I missed this when it came out in July (coinciding with Drop Dead Gorgeous being released on Hulu) but as ever, Jia never disappoints: 

But what “Drop Dead Gorgeous” understands so well is that being a teen-age girl is, in fact, deranged and dehumanizing and frequently unsubtle. It certainly felt that way at the turn of the twenty-first century, when visible G-strings and virginity pledges were in vogue simultaneously, and young female pop stars were flagrantly doing exactly what is expected of contestants in a teen beauty pageant—performing desirability while projecting naïveté.

Drop Dead Gorgeous is still streaming on Hulu, treat yourself to a screening this weekend! 

An evergreen observation and Allison Janney in a tied-up t-shirt I feel completely normal about.

It felt like it took forever for fall to hit, and while it’s here I just want to luxuriate in it. I am writing this is the dreamy little window facing nook in the house I am currently living in, wrapped in a big drapey sweater and my favorite slippers (like a Classic Mommi). To my mind, nothing goes better with big sweaters and big slippers than a thrilling mystery. As though reading my mind, Hiliary Kelly over at Vulture wrote about my favorite mystery author, Tana French, and why she is such a master of the craft. I inhaled all of French’s Dublin Murder Squad books almost two years ago, in a feverish dream state that had me staying up well past my bedtime multiple nights in a row. Now that it is officially Spooky Season, I was craving a re-read something fierce, and Hilary’s piece reminded me to put them all on hold at my local library, since my trusty Kindle died and I only have the digital versions. (A tragedy I know; I am accepting donations.) If you have somehow missed out on French’s work, I implore you to grab one for the weekend. You will not regret it! 

As you can probably guess by my choice of gif above, I am absolutely one of the people on Twitter who yells about Succession all the time, even now, nearly a week after the second season ended. Given that this season wrapped up on a literal yacht because of course it did, I was glad Rachel Syme took the time (in fairness, we begged her to) to write a piece on the truly sumptuous boating fashions. They are exquisite, of course, and while I can’t currently afford Shiv’s three hundred and twenty five dollar jumpsuit (on sale!) on my freelance/unemployment budget (again accepting donations) a girl can always dream! “Next cove, please, Julius!”

Okay look. This week was weird for me as a freelancer—one that I imagine folks who are better at this than I am are well acquainted with—deadline week. Every project I’ve been working on for the past few weeks had a deadline of right now bitch! Honestly, I’m going a little cross eyed at my screen at the moment. With that in mind, here are some more links that I can’t quite wind up with something kicky, but I promise I loved them!  

  • Andrea Long Chu interviewed in Vulture, being brilliant and four years younger than me which is certainly illegal. 

  • Rachel Weisz is hot and smart and brunette. 

    Brittany Howard rocked this NPR Tiny Desk, because of course she did. 

Whew. That’s it for me kids, I’m going to either take a bath or eat something or fall asleep for ten hours or rewatch the Succession finale. 

XOXOX 

CT


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Quantum Doppelgängers

Theorizing that one could time travel within their own lifetimes, guest editors Kate Racculia and Kathryn VanArendonk stepped into the Two Bossy Dames newsletter...and vanished.

It’s Doppelgänger Week here at Two Bossy Dames with Kate and Kathryn!

Haha jk we’re right here. And very happy to be!


Kate: But seriously, and this is Kate talking here now, I am RIPPING EXCITED to be not only A Bossy Dame (™) this week, but to be CO-BOSSING with Kathryn, who, I am sure many of you know but do you? Do you really know? Is just as magnificent a person as you think she is, as intelligent and insightful a writer (about television at Vulture, but also just like in general) as I’ve ever known. Kathryn and I met through mutual friend and OG Dame Margaret, who I first knew from Twitter even though we were both living in Boston at the time. One thing led to another and now we all are, as the kids say, IRL friends. It is a good thing.

Kathryn: It is a good thing! If you don’t know anything about Kate, I (Kathryn) am here to tell you what a treat you’re about to have! Because Kate is a fantastic and lauded author of novels, including Bellweather Rhapsody which blew my brain wide open, and her new book Tuesday Mooney Talks To Ghosts which you should go out and purchase immediately (Editor’s note: This message is DOUBLE Dames Approved). It is so fun and smart and satisfying and it’s a perfect October read, but never mind that now because what we’re here to do is talk about QUANTUM LEAP. Kate, why are we talking about Quantum Leap?

That’s an… unexpected direction!

Kate: We are talking about QUANTUM LEAP because it is a foundational television text not only for me personally, but because it is— under the radar? It’s hard to say which is more improbable— that this show, this weird, wonderful show that was on actually had a decent viewership when it originally aired on NBC, or that it has somehow never been the nostalgic show on everyone’s lips. I feel like its lack of popularity now may have something to do with how the show actually approaches the past; there’s a dash of nostalgia— look at that 1950s washing machine!— but it does not operate under the assumption that the past was some rosy, mythic time we wish we were all still living in. Quite the opposite: the show is about individuals who are frequently in trouble because they are living in the (less enlightened, more restrictive, with fewer legal protections) past. And today you and I are talking about it because— look, it was made in the late 80s/early 90s, it’s a little creaky in places— but its essential premise is deeply humane and pretty radical in retrospect. I grew up with it, but you came to it later, so you’ve got more critical context— does that track for you, Kathryn?

Kathryn: It does. I had no experience with this series growing up, and I started watching because a fellow TV critic (Alan Sepinwall!) started bugging me to watch it. Then lots of people started bugging me about it. I think I’d held off because I thought it’d be … clunky? Or too campy or that it’d have aged poorly, and there are definitely moments like that. But I was pretty quickly drawn in by the premise which is so weird and appealing? 

Let me break it down for Quantum Leap newbies: 

(Cue drumroll and dramatic musical flourish)

Okay so there’s a guy named Dr Sam Beckett (played by an almost unconscionably attractive young Scott Bakula, which has not nothing to do with the show’s appeal). 

He is a real beauty queen, ol’ Scottula. 

He is stuck in the past thanks to a time travel experiment that went a bit haywire, and he’s being ported throughout history hoping to eventually make his way back to his own time. Whenever he arrives in a new time, he has to fix something so that he can move along to the next leap. But the really wacky twist is this: although we, the television viewers, see Scott Bakula doing all his fun time traveling shenanigans, everyone around him sees a different body, a person they already knew whose brain has been taken over by Dr Beckett. The goofy catchphrase of the show happens at the end of each episode, when Dr Beckett leaps into a new time, looks into a mirror to discover that he’s actually a [Rabbi! Woman! Gangster! DJ! Black man in the deep South!] and sighs, “oh boy.” (Except in the case of the rabbi, where he sighs, “oy vey!”) It seems so silly, but it’s NOT, somehow?!

Kate: It’s deeply, deeply sincere! And also silly— it’s an anthology show that’s always playing around with different tones and genres (some more successfully than others). The showrunner, Donald P. Bellisario, is on record as saying that he wanted to do an anthology series but faced pressure from the networks— sort of the TV version of “short stories don’t sell”— so he created this convoluted but, once your belief is fully suspended, absolutely wonderful weekly exercise in point of view and empathy. Sam Beckett (dear lord, Bakula is a snack (lol Snackula)), a straight, white, well-intentioned but imperfect man, spends the whole show trying to see the world from other points of view, and changing history, STRIVING TO PUT RIGHT WHAT ONCE WENT WRONG, one life at a time. As a kid, I learned— in addition to a not-inconsiderable amount about the back half of the 20th century— that history is full of humans making small choices, falling down and getting back up, and that real change can be effected with kindnesses big and small one person at a time. ::feelings::

Kathryn: Yeah, watching Quantum Leap for the first time as an adult person in 2018, I had all these moments where I was expecting to die of horrible cringe-worthy awkwardness. I was sure there was no way Sam Beckett could jump into the body of a chimp going to space and find it anything other than painful to watch? But the show is so remarkably good at finding the compassion and humor in those scenarios, so unexpectedly humane. Where I did have some more trouble with though, is Al. 

Kate: Ah yes, Al. We do have to talk about Al.

Al: he’s always letting you down.

Kathryn: Al (played by Dean Stockwell) is Sam Beckett’s partner from the future who often shows up to help Sam make his way through whatever his current predicament is. Al is … look, his shirts are amazing. His sense of humor is often hilarious. And there’s at least one long-recurring arc about Al’s past that’s one of the more moving things the show has ever done. But Al is also what would’ve been gently called a “horndog” in the past, and would now be more commonly called a “rampant sexual harasser.” When Sam jumps into a woman’s body and Al can barely even handle himself, it’s not great. Not great! And yet it’s a testament to this show that Al can be such a huge part of the series and I still like it?

Kate: SAME. Al functions more like a device— he’s there to tell Sam where and when he’s leaped, and into whom he’s leaped, and help him figure out what he’s supposed to accomplish before he can leap out. They do develop a friendship— and that arc about Al, other than Sam trying to leap home, is really the only other through-line of the five seasons— but Al is more functional than fully developed, and you can tell the show wants you to focus on Sam and what he’s going through. Al’s full-on creeper mode, as an adult, feels like lowest common denominator lazy joke-making. It’s not a great look! But it’s not the heart of the show. 

So what I’m saying, when you remake this, make Al a woman, make their friendship amazing and platonic, and keep all the shirts.

SUCH PATTERNS! SUCH COLORS!

Kathryn: I need all the shirts. I need them! 

I had the true, overwhelming honor of talking with Scott Bakula about the 30th anniversary of this show, and one of the things he told me (that also helped me mentally deal with the Al situation), was that Dean Stockwell, the actor who played Al, was often responsible for Quantum Leap’s dives into social issues. Stockwell cared a lot about environmentalism, about gay rights, and about racism, and he was constantly needling Bellisario to let the episodes dive into those topics. So on the one hand, Al. But on the other hand, all the goodness this show became! It’s a fair trade for me. 

Are there a few episodes you want to call out in particular, as good ones for a Quantum Leap newcomer to check out? I should note that many of them are streaming on Prime, although it’s very annoying that you have to watch them with some commercial breaks. 

Kate: But it is an authentic Quantum Leap viewing experience; the show has ebbs and flows that lead into commercials! Ah, pre-streaming TV rhythms. Sometimes I miss you.

But anyway, yes: the 2-hour pilot, “Genesis,” is tremendous, because it introduces all the things that the show will ultimately end up doing so well: throwing Sam into an intense situation in media res (he’s a test pilot and his wife is about to give birth), plus an emotional mini-leap coda where Sam speaks with his own father, who has died in Sam’s current timeline, on the phone. I am ALSO a huge fan of the 2-part Lee Harvey Oswald leap (“Leaping on a String,” “Leaping to Judgement”), which I definitely (gently) forced Andrew to watch for Appointment Television, Kathryn and Margaret’s television podcast, of which I am sure Dames are WELL aware but on the odd chance you are not, get thee to a podcatcher! Any favorites of your own, Kathryn?

We cannot stress enough how accurate the moniker “Snackula” is. 

Kathryn: I love “What Price Gloria,” the episode where Bakula jumps into the body of a sexually harassed secretary and has to put up with all the subsequent indignities. I love “Catch a Falling Star,” the episode where Sam leaps into the body of an actor who’s performing the lead role in Man of La Mancha. Quantum Leap can be roughly divided into the goofy episodes and the serious episodes, and I admit my preference is for the goofy ones? (In season five he leaps into Dr Ruth?!), but it’s definitely worth watching at least a few of the serious ones, including “The Color of Truth” and “Shock Theater.” 

Kate: In other words, Quantum Leap, Dames Nation, is well worth your time and attention, your feels and your thoughts. And its anthology structure means it’s easy to dip in and out of, if you’re feeling pressed by the current multi-episode commitments of this, our Greatest Age of Television. (But is it? Is it our greatest age? Let’s do a little Leaping Ourselves before we make that call.) 

Forever mood. 


Links by Kathryn!

Truly, Film Twitter’s mind, it is lost.

  • You know what movie I really want to see? Parasite. I know almost nothing about it, which I have been told is the ideal way to experience this movie (Editor’s note: Scaredy Cat Dame M. has also been reliably informed that it’s no scarier than Get Out). But I have watched all of Film Twitter and several of my colleagues gradually lose their damn minds about this movie since it premiered at Cannes, and now it has opened in New York so soon it will be MY turn to lose my damn mind. Hilariously, every single screening in New York this weekend is now sold out. In the meantime, I am dealing with my Parasite FOMO by reading this fucking incredible profile of the director Bong Joon-ho by my amazing coworker Alex Jung

  • Speaking of fucking incredible profiles, this profile of John Updike by Patricia Lockwood?!?!!?!?!? This lede alone is like, legendary, put-it-in-an-anthology-right-now status writing: “I was hired as an assassin. You don’t bring in a 37-year-old woman to review John Updike in the year of our Lord 2019 unless you’re hoping to see blood on the ceiling.” 

  • Because I am thinking about the process of Writing Profiles this week, for reasons that will be clear later this month on Vulture dot com, I have also been revisiting this marvelous profile of Rihanna written in 2015. No, not the one that just came out where the writer admits in the profile that she did not have a list of questions prepared. This one, from 2015, by someone who treated the job with the respect it deserved. 

  • So, I was in London last week on a reporting trip (see above) and I had one chunk of a few hours where I needed to cast about in search of presents to bring home to my children. Jet-lagged, I wandered around one of London’s ridiculous gorgeous department stores and happened across these, the cutest most adorable high quality perfect tiny toy mice that are also, of course, a billion dollars. My defenses were down. My children were far away. I bought some. Specifically these, tiny baby twin mice in a box for my child who is obsessed with all baby things, and I have to say, they are somehow grow even more charming the more we play with them. I want … more? I want all of them. I want this mum and dad mouse in a cigar box with tiny sleeping masks. I want this Princess and the Pea mouse who comes with several mattresses and one over-large pea. I am desperately in need of this tiny mouse camper with its perfect waxed canvas tent. If you have any idea where I can get these in the US without spending a billion dollars, please drop me a line, preferably by way of a tiny perfect toy mouse messenger.

Links by Kate!

TFW your book is finally out, and also its main character is a goth-y, wry brunette.

ACK MY BOOK CAME OUT THIS WEEK, which is an incredible feeling. I spend actual years invested deeply in the inner lives of imaginary people and suddenly they’re up and running around and it is Simply the Most. I am so grateful that I get to do this (i.e., write books), and for all the wonderful people who make it possible and who I’ve met along the way (HI MARGARET), and that my books are finding their way to their readers. It’s amazing.

It’s also kind of overwhelming, because, like...I spent years being deeply invested in imaginary people, and WOW it sure makes you feel vulnerable to know that they’re up and running around! Plus, it’s been a freaking crazy day/week/month/year/decade/century, and we could all use the online equivalent of a hug. These links give me joy and comfort. I hope they give you joy and comfort too.

  • Flatbush Cats. Who amongst us could remain unmoved by nice people nursing street kittehs back to health, fostering them until they can find homes? Did I mention the gentle jazzy soundtracks in their videos. It’s trap-neuter-release in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

  • Tuna Noodle Casserole is the Best and so is Samantha Irby. (For a truly cathartic ugly laugh-cry, I cannot recommend “Feelings Are a Mistake,” her ode to her deceased cat in We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, highly enough. RIP Helen Keller.) 

  • I make this Smitten tomato pasta chickpea dish all the damn time, it’s basically grown up spaghettios, pls enjoy. 

  • If I am having a hard day, this is a blast of giddy goofy perfection straight into my veins: Seth & Ina Go Day Drinking

  • Did you catch Ready or Not when it was in theaters? SEE IT, it is just TERRIFIC. I guess this is not a specific link (tho Angelica Jade Bastien’s review is excellent), so much as a general recommendation and an excuse to post this gif, which has a thousand uses.

And you thought I was going to end my Bossy Dame tenure without introducing my live-in assistants. This is Gomez.

And this is Ramona. 

They run my Instagram.


Two Bossy Dames is brought to you by:

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Help us build Dames Nation by upgrading to a paid subscription on Substack

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Cel-e-brate! Five! Years, Come On!

Happy Newsletter Birthday To Us All!

Dames Nation, did you know that we launched this newsletter from our hearts to yours exactly five years ago this week? It’s true! You can time travel by reading Issue One right now, and though we can’t vouch for the continued validity of any of the links therein, we think it still slaps.

We love to write this newsletter for you all, and kind of can’t believe it’s been five whole Earth years already. We hope you love it, too, and because we are shameless praise-cravers, we’ll ask you to share your favorite experiences with Dames Nation, whether digital or face-to-face. Has Dames Nation yielded new friendships in your life? Romances? Feats of cultural or emotional or physical derring-do? Tell us all about it in this handy open thread!

If you’re a newer reader or just want to take a stroll down memory lane, you can read a couple of our special birthday issues of years gone by: a 2015 origin story / process nerd Q&A with Kathryn VanArendonk, and a Q&A from readers in 2016

As always, if you like the work we do and want to support it materially, we’d be delighted to count you among our paid subscribers:


Dame Sophie’s Premium Bossy Spotlight Rerun: A Pencil Rivalry For The Ages!

Surrender to the multicolored pencil hypnosis

I first wrote about the rivalry between two pencil-and-pen houses, both alike in dignity, way back in 2015. Since I just started a new job last week, office supplies are on my mind & I thought I’d dust this one off for fun & erudition. Enjoy! 

As longtime readers & even casual perusers of our Twitter feed(s) will know, both Dame Margaret & I are very into office supplies. Stationery, pens, notebooks: these things matter to us. A well-balanced writing implement is a thing of beauty and a useful tool.

Gather ‘round, then, Dames Nation, to hear the wonderful tale of Germany’s rival houses of industry & innovation. Yes, we are talking about Faber-Castell vs. Staedtler! These high-quality suppliers of stationers’ shops and art stores everywhere have been cranking out ever-more-specialized and high-performing writing implements since the 1700s. So far, so whatever. 

German industry is known for attention to design and detail, and for its thriving tradition of family-owned businesses. But did you know that both of these companies are based in Nuremberg? And that their healthy, centuries-long economic rivalry over things like ink reservoirs, custom-engineered coatings and pigments, and something one Faber-Castell employee earnestly explained as an ergonomic “no-slip zone”specially designed for their youngest customers, eventually blossomed into an all-out legal drama over which noble company can boast the strongest pencil-making pedigree? 

It all comes down to bragging rights. Carpenter Friedrich Staedtler created the first graphite-based wooden pencil in the 1600s, but his company’s existence as a corporation was muddied by various dissolutions & re-formations over the years. Meanwhile, Faber-Castell has been in continuous operation since 1761, and in 1995, won an injunction against Staedtler, who were trying to celebrate their 333rd anniversary. 

Faber-Castell also commands the luxury pencil market. “In our industry, there is no doubt Faber-Castell is the Mercedes,” -- a thing said with a completely straight face by pocket square-sporting CEO Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell, I am not making this up, I swear! Old Anton-Wolfgang gave that quote to a Wall Street Journal reporter!

Is there anything more pleasing than a highly regional business story with international consequences? I really don’t think so. If you have some hot business dirt on a long-simmering rivalry between, say, Dixon-Ticonderoga and Eberhard Faber (absolutely related to Faber-Castell), or Sharpie and Mr. Sketch, please do tell us all about it. 

Related Link-o-rama! 

  • I know that The Strategist’s list of the 100 Best Pens remains highly controversial. I think part of the problem with the list is that its scope is too broad. 100 pens? How am I going to keep track of that? After scrolling through the first ten entries, I just search-and-find for evaluative comments about the pens I usually use, and where the editors’ assessment disagreed with mine, I shrugged and muttered something about how even sensible criteria are subject to personal preferences. A Good Enough version of this list is also a Strategist offering, their list of the 23 Best Pens (as rated by enthusiastic Amazon reviews, last updated in 2018).

  • Helen Zaltzman covered the history of Bic & Biro ball-point pens on The Allusionist a few years back. This episode tickled some faint memory about the Great Pencil Rivalry and prompted me to go down this little rabbit-hole in the first place. Thanks, Helen!

  • Want more, including interviews with employees of both companies? That’s what the BBC World Service is for, friends.

  • Rad & Hungry: office supplies from around the world (with a subscription box service for the truly obsessed).

  • Pilgrimages to Manhattan’s CW Pencil Enterprise and Goods For The Study await! (CW Pencil has a quarterly pencils, etc. gift box subscription, too). 

  • Our friends Anna & Alene hosted an episode of Bellwether Friends with special guest & DamesPal Cecily Walker all about pens!

If you have favorite pen & pencil resources not mentioned here, please do let me know! 


Dame Margaret Brags, But Only A Bit

Not shown in this gif: the fact that the cover GLITTERS!!!

Just UNDER a year ago, in a fit of inspiration, I did something I often do: I tweeted a wish for a particular type of romantic comedy to appear before me, and with haste.

However, unlike my absolutely fire gay-wedding-plus-ones-fall-in-love romantic comedy, Insignificant Others or my Laura Dern and Angela Basset as Exes Who Must Road Trip Home Together After Dropping Their Kids Off At College (inspired by this photo), something magical happened with this tweet: it became an actual book, that is incredibly fun, and available for you to buy right now! When I sent that tweet, long-time #damespal, Reese Witherspoon-approved & New York Times Bestselling author Jasmine Guillory had just finished her final draft for The Wedding Party, a book that just happened to feature (as the main character’s mom) a black single mother who was also a social worker: Vivian Forrest. And when Twitter basically drafted Jasmine to make this book a reality, she and her agent both though: why the heck not? And so, the coolest gift I’ve yet received came into existence: my friend wrote me the book I dreamed of, and everyone gets to benefit from it. If someone would like to follow suit with the other tweets linked above, I would be eternally grateful. But, in the meantime, I am so happy to add this book to my Jasmine Guillory shelf.

Not everything is sunshine and rainbows for me, though: it is POSSIBLE (though not yet confirmed) that my current favorite lipstick-- ColourPop’s Lux Lipstick (wears beautifully and only costs $8!!!) -- has been discontinued in my current favorite share of red: Hi Striker, a really classic blue-toned red that suits my complexion exquisitely. Thankfully, when Capitalism closes a door, they open a window: as part of a collaboration with YouTube Makeup Scientist Safiya Nygaard, ColourPop has released one of their Lux Lips in a shade Nygaard named Fred, short for “Frankenred.” It’s based on the color produced by melting many different reds together that’s meant to contain a multitude of undertones. They also gave Safiya the money to make the World’s Largest Lipstick, which is exactly the kind of marketing stunt I’d like to reward. So, I am going to order myself a tube of Fred, and one of Berry Me In Lipsticks (a shade produced by melting 600 different lipsticks together), and hope for the best.

But if it’s not as good as my go-to, that’s okay. I have another go-to I can comfort myself with: Cabot Creamery’s Habanero Cheddar Cheese, which I discovered in the Vermont State Pavillion last weekend at the Big E, aka the Eastern States Exposition, aka New England’s federated state fair. It is spicy enough to give me the hiccups (a true mark of honor in the spice category), but not so spicy as to be unpleasant to eat, or indigestion provoking. Paired with a carefully sliced up honeycrisp apple, there is truly no better snack.


Bossy Reviews: We Love Colors Tights & Socks

Tights warm enough for an ocean-side photoshoot in the autumn dusk and pretty enough to be worth photographing!

Almost exactly a year ago, Your Dames set out to find new fall/winter tights that really worked for us, which resulted in us reviewing We Love Colors tights. As the air turns crisp again, we thought that sharing a truncated version of our review again would be strong #service #journalism. 

The combined criteria we demanded from our tights:

  • High denier (or thickness), creating warm tights that are genuinely opaque

  • Colors that extend beyond black, brown, and navy

  • Tights that work for many dimensions: short and round (Dame M.), tall-for-a- lady-and-round (Dame S.), and many other shapes and sizes besides (because our audience is diverse and we like our reviews to work for as many of you as possible).

  • Sturdy: we are neither of us rich in either money or time, so we needed tights that would hold up well with much wearing, and that would wash easily

The (Abbreviated) Review:

Enter We Love Colors. We loved the options available (51 colors! Splash colors!) and were particularly impressed with the range of sizes they provide (for example, Size EE in their Plus Sized Nylon/Lycra tights fits wearers up to 6’0” and up to 375 lbs. They offer options for men as well!). We loved that they’re a small, family-owned company, who do a portion of their manufacturing here in the US. 

Of their offerings, the tights we liked best were their Solid Microfiber Nylon/Lycra Tights -- Sophie liked them so much, in fact, that she went back immediately and bought a few pairs of the Microfiber Socks (which, despite reporting to be made from the same fabric, felt a little lighter-weight than the tights). Your Dames found both the tights and the socks excellent for three-season wear: they’re comfortable, hard-wearing, and are just the right thickness to wear with snug shoes. The colors in person are very loyal to how they’re represented on the site and often truly beautiful -- Margaret gets complimented on hers incessantly. We both started with the 1X-4X size but have since switched to the M-L size, after finding that We Love Colors’ sizing is quite generous (bonus: we aren’t having to pull up our tights a zillion times a day). They’re listed as preferring handwashing, but we have both been slinging them in the wash in a mesh bag on cold and air drying them, and they are 100% fine. No pilling, no stretching, no runs. And, one year later, they are still in impressively good shape. 

TL;DR: We love We Love Colors’ Nylon/Lycra Microfiber Tights and Socks and HIGHLY RECOMMEND THEM to all Tights-Seekers of Dames Nation.


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