You know, we like to consider this newsletter a little oasis of happiness and delight in a world full of pain and horror. We love imagining you opening & rejoicing in our weekly stream of GIFs, links, and commentary glorifying the female gaze.
It’s designed to propel to towards your weekend with some measure of joy, a giant, jaunty middle finger extended in the direction of sadness. If we just find a few more examples of charm and goodness, we think, and crowbar them into this weekly linkfest, that’ll help! Sadly, more and more often, your Dames are feeling feelings best summarized as a cri de coeur of ughhhhh WHYYYY???
This week’s terrorist attack on Wednesday Night Bible Study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, has us even more heartsick than usual. We’re not going to stop sharing the uplifting & frivolous stuff, because we just can’t. Uplifting, frivolous stuff is our way of fighting the nastiness of this world, and yeah, it’s a small thing, but it is our thing. Hold that thought.
Anyway. We can’t imagine letting this garbage week pass without sharing the most urgent responses to our latest national funeral.
Top Links of the Week, Post-Charleston
The dead. They were our fellow citizens, they had lives and families and favorite movies and ambitions and more. Rest in power, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Reverend Daniel L. Simmons, Reverend Depayne Middleton-Doctor, and Susie Jackson.
Black churches have long been focal points for racist terrorism. The day after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, a young white lawyer gave a blistering speech to the Birmingham Young Men’s Business Club, which rings as horribly true today as it did 52 years ago.
The indispensable Jay Smooth’s most recent video is mostly about Rachel Dolezal, but also touches meaningfully on Charleston. Dame S. is devoted to his commentary on race, class and gender.
And finally, Gene Demby’s thoughtful piece on the unusual delight of, in the wake of Rachel Dolezal, experiencing unity in blackness oriented around joy and hilarity instead of just misery.
Dame Sophie’s Top 5 of the Week, Pre-Charleston (HUGS FOR ALL)
Bring it in, lovies.
File under: Who Knew? Just as “free shipping when you spend $75 or more!” can entice you to buy an extra pair of socks or that cute tote you don’t really need, a centerpiece item in a mid-range retailer’s line can ruin an entire quarter. Damespal Lisa Schmeiser (whose So What, Who Cares TinyLetter we strongly endorse) passed along How a Single Sweater Led to J.Crew Layoffsand now we would like to read many more stories about fashion design & marketing strategems.
If you need a 100% pleasant and soothing gameplay experience, both of your Dames highly recommend playing Neko Atsume (aka THE KITTIES GAME at my house). It’s basically a full-color, large-screen version of Tomogotchi, only the cats never die. Nothing bad ever happens in Neko Atsume, you just pile up little wins throughout the day, cash in your sardines for goldfish and buy your feline visitors ever-fancier toys and food. Everyone’s happy! Here’s a super-detailed how-to-play guide and an explainer for those completists among us who need to entice every cat in the game to come out & play with scratching posts, snuggle on fancy soft cushions & play with rare toys.
Are you, like the Hulk, always angry? (It’s ok, I'm a very well-adjusted person who is somehow also filled with rage. Let’s form a club! Oh, wait, that’s what this newsletter is!) Do some vicarious smashing with these badass roller derby queens from 1948. [We think the h/t for this one goes to Carli, but we aren’t 100% sure!]
This perfect photo of a perfect soap bubble is my everything right now. Ahhhhh.
Maybe you’ve seen the 33 ⅓ books before at bookstores or on a friend’s shelf (or maybe you own a zillion of them). They’re brief but in-depth analyses of key albums, including ones you’d expect (Electric Ladyland, The Velvet Underground & Nico) and some you might not (Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love is the classic example). I kind of dream about submitting a proposal to write one someday. Fellow dreamers, if you have the get up & go, Bloomsbury are accepting proposals right now! Do it! I will buy & read it!
Dame Margaret’s Top 5 of the Week, Pre-Charleston (TO your hugs she adds DAPPER MUSTACHES!)
Get a load of these glamour-pusses!
A little over a week ago, Dame Margaret’s best friend Kerry sent her Episode #115 of The JV Club with Janet Varney with the note “Have you had any DEEP SOULFUL PAINS about the greatness of Paul F. Tompkins lately? If not, I have something for you!” And boy was Kerry right. Varney’s podcast, structured around sharing and investigating memories from childhood and adolescence, turned out to be a perhaps perfect venue for learning more about Paul F. Tompkins, Dame Margaret’s #1 Imaginary Husband. Even if you don’t know his work, she is willing to bet you’ll fall in love with him on the strength of this interview alone. The final segment of the podcast, where Varney plays a brilliantly modified version of M.A.S.H., is especially great. Dame M. can’t wait to copy the format to keep herself and friends entertained on road trips this summer.
One alarmingly cute 6-year old + A handmade stuffed tiger named HOBBES + A canny and dedicated Tampa Airport employee = The most heartwarming video you will likely watch this month.
Laurie Winer of The Los Angeles Book Review sat down with Lisa Kron, author and lyricist of the Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home, and invited her to speak insightfully about the 6-year process of writing her first musical (!!!), the challenge of dramatizing a largely internal story, the brief scenes from Bechdel’s graphic memoir that Kron turned into show-stopping moments (like Dame Margaret’s obsession “Ring of Keys”), and all kinds of other smart things. If anyone would like to buy Dames Margaret and Sophie tickets to the show, know now that we’ll not tell ye nay.
Witanherst, London’s most expensive mansion, is also its most mysterious. While millions and millions of pounds are being spent to renovate it (in a style described as “continental Baroque interior, with English-eccentricity overtones”), just who, exactly, owns this “architectural embodiment of an offshore account” is a carefully protected secret-- one investigated to lengthy and fascinating results in this New Yorker article by Ed Caesar.
And finally, please throw on The Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks and scroll through photographer Henry Bourne’s strange and witty portraits from the UK's many historic and obscure Pagan festivals. Please take special note of Ranger, the Saddest Puppy in All Britain, pictured with his cruel owners at East Sussex’s Jack-in-the-Green festival.
The Gospel of Dames (Because there’s no such thing as a bad week to spread good news)
The weird, wonderful, and emotionally resonant comic Maria Bamford just got her own Netflix show! Let us all rejoice!! If you’re unfamiliar with her comedy, give a listen to her bit “Joy Whac-A-Mole” to get an idea of her style.
Better even than Ms. Bamford’s success is the news that Friend of the Dames/illustrator extraordinaire Simini Blocker has a graphic novel coming out with First Second Books in 2017! Written by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, drawn and colored by Simini, Hop Hop Wish is an all-ages comic that sets out to invent new fairy tales and, honestly, it sounds absolutely wonderful. We have a feeling we’ll be buying a copy for everyone we know.
Last but not least! Your beloved Dames Margaret & Sophie will be live-tweeting the premiere of the new PBS series POLDARK on Sunday night -- join us for brooding! And cheekbones! And West Country accents! You know, if you’re into that sort of thing. 9 PM EST on your local PBS affiliate, hashtag #PoldarkPBS!