So. Since the beautiful, A+++++++ recommender Barrie Hardymon praised us on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour this morning, our number of subscribers has nearly doubled.
As Dame Sophie put it, when we woke up this morning, we were like HAIM before Matthew Perpetua wrote them up. NOW we feel like HAIM opening some dates for Taylor Swift.
We're trying to be all THIS GIF about it
But obviously all we can serve is THIS GIF over and over on an infinite loop
So, a mission statement, for all you new members of Dames Nation: The only thing we really try to do here is make something we ourselves would be excited to receive every week. We hope you end up excited to receive it, too. We're really, really glad you're taking a chance on a (pair) of unknown kid(s). AND NOW!!! To our originally scheduled newsletter programming!!
NEMESES: A SLIGHTLY SELF-MOCKING & HIGHLY DISCURSIVE EXAMINATION
As longtime readers know, Your Dames are primarily about celebrating things we love, not so much about publicly excoriating things we loathe. But the truth is, there are plenty of things we hate, and we are also fascinated by rivalries. Somewhere between loathing, rivalry and hate-respect lies...the nemesis. We asked our readers for examples of nemeses, and for your distinctions between enemy & nemesis, and you did not disappoint! We're pretty sure, at this point, that disappointing us is the only task you guys COULDN'T accomplish.
First, we love Maggie’s existentialist take on nemeses:
The thing about nemeses is that you have to have a clear sense of self to have one, no? There can be no push without a pull, or something physics like that. In order for a nemesis to exert a force on you, you must hold some kind of mass. I wouldn't know, as I almost failed many science classes in high school. But I got a 94 in high school biology, and I do feel qualified to say: an amoeba cannot have a nemesis. This is a human thing. This is not to say you are a fully realized person, or that you have any other qualities besides having the nemesis. I guess my point is that if you have a nemesis, congratulations! You exist.
We also love, out of context, this statement about her high school sports nemeses: “We beat that team my junior year, winning sectionals, and I've never been happier to see girls my age sink to their knees on a field and cry.”
Unbeknownst to Maggie, Meredith agrees about the fundamental humanity of nemesis-dom:
A nemesis is someone who makes doing yo' thang harder in personal ways, whether by existing in the same sphere/trying to do the same thing you're doing/outdoing you at it, or having such a (seemingly, at least) specific understanding of your life that the way they irritate you seems specifically engineered to wreak the most havoc on you. [...] The point is, your nemesis follows you around like an obnoxious satellite, affecting you in specific, personal ways.
Thinking about this segment forced Dame Sophie to reckon, at long last, with the truth that her nemesis is that literary fish in a barrel, Mr. Jonathan Franzen. This is embarrassing, because who wants Jonathan Franzen for a nemesis? That’s not a cool choice. Jonathan Franzen makes it so easy to hate him, and the media aids and abets him in this endeavor by continuing to write down and publish the sexist, unrepentantly clueless snobby foolishness that spills so freely from his lips.
But here’s the thing: when you have loathed Jonathan Franzen, Obnoxious Garbage Person, since 2001, but grudgingly admired The Self-Flagellating Essays of Jonathan Franzen (especially, God help you, his essay about bird-watching) in 2008, and have also torn your hair out over his every stupid utterance but been unable to stop yourself from reading them and have had conversations with him in your mind where you were able to convince him NOT ONLY that the Internet can and does contribute substantively to critical discourse, BUT ALSO were able to convince Imaginary Jonathan Franzen to read an Actual Jennifer Weiner book already, so that at minimum, he would not make such an ass of himself when complaining about her publicly, you have to admit that Jonathan Franzen is your One True Nemesis.
Dame Margaret, meanwhile, spent the week reflecting on her MANY college nemeses: Pretentious bros in her classes who made the fatal error of equating a bubbly demeanor with an empty head. Each time she bested them -- which she recalls doing CONSTANTLY -- Dame Margaret would imagine asking, Lina Lamont-style: "What do you think I am, dumb or something?"THIS led Dame Margaret to the searing realization that Singin' in the Rain's Lockwood and Lamont might just be the most underrated fictional nemeses of all time! THINK ABOUT IT! Their relationship -- co-stars, famously in tabloid love who actually hate each other -- exists on the fine line between passionate love and unadulterated loathing. Lina's massive lack of talent and class (embodied by her unfit-for-the-talkies accent -- we have many thoughts on accent & class) keep Don Lockwood from being the kind of star he'd like to be, but his fame is so inextricably linked to hers that it seems impossible for him to exist without her. AND FINALLY!! In loathing the way Lina's elegant facade conceals her TRUE self -- a scheming, dim-witted broad -- Don is REALLY loathing what he knows he himself has become: A big phony who pantomimes class on screen without every showing what makes him TRULY special. It's as obvious as a pie to the face!
Lockwood and Lamont are incredible nemeses.
FINALLY, What’s an examination without a round-up?
Dame Margaret’s new favorite historical nemeses, a pair of (possibly appocryphal) dashing Franco-Prussian hussars who pledged to fight a duel any time they were within 100 miles of each other.
Two writers locked in a battle to come up with the most stressful possible email: collaborators? OR NEMESES???
Cinematic, more than faintly homoerotic surfing-and-armed robbery bro-nemeses Bodhi & FBI Special Agent Johnny Utah.
20th century children’s literature nemeses! E.B. & Katharine White vs. Anne Carroll Moore (or Anne Carroll Moore vs. Stuart Little, take your pick)
Guy Ritchie’s definition, featuring exuberant swearing and some rather demonic dentition.
Do you have further thoughts on nemeses, frenemies, and rivalries? Let us know!
Twee As Hell
A new edition of ALICE IN WONDERLAND illustrated by Queen of Twee, Rifle Paper Co’s Anna Bond, in honor of the book’s 150th anniversary this fall.
HEY! You can buy a genuinely domesticated fox $9,000! You know what THAT means? You could buy a PAIR of domesticated foxes, one for each of your Favorite Dames, for only $18,000! Chump change!
Or I GUESS we'll settle for this adorable Feminist Conversation Hearts Mug instead. One each, please! Better still, treat yo'self to one of your own! #RiotsNotDiets
Read So Hard, Libraries Wanna Fine Us
Joan Didion’s totally sick burn on Franny & Zooey!
Friend of the Dames Barrie Hardymon on sizzling hot reads for cold winter nights (Whooooo, yes! to A Ring of Endless Light, a formative hot read for Dame Sophie) (PS we added this to the mix before Barrie made this newsletter the Thing That’s Making Her Happy This Week.) (PPS somehow Friend of the Dames seems like an insufficient designation for Barrie now. We’ll have to think of a new, more exalted title.)
Book reviews: public service or art? (Eminently Reasonable Dames Survey SAYS: A little bit of both!)
Ken Russell’s photos of The Last of the Teddy Girls would you please FEAST YOUR EYES upon this hot female badassery:
Among [Russell's] most famous work from this period is “The Last of the Teddy Girls”—a series of photos documenting London’s girl gang subculture and their male counterparts. Russell was attracted to these young women for their sense of independence and style—dressing in suits, land army clothes—while rejecting society’s expectations of more traditional, feminine roles. (Teddy kids of either sex were known for fights breaking out wherever they congregated.) The images show Russell’s innate talent for composition and offer a fascinating look into a rarely documented female subculture.
Related: George Harrison, Dame Sophie’s Favo(u)rite Beatle, was a Teddy Boy, too, before the not-yet Fab Four headed to Hamburg & later started suiting up mop-toppily under Brian Epstein’s aegis (So was John Lennon, but who can look at John when George & his amazing hair are in the picture, rowrrrr?)
An 8-year-old-girl in Seattle feeds a flock of crows; They bring her (among other treasures) 1/2 of a "Best Friends" necklace. No. Don't adjust your glasses. This is REAL LIFE you're reading about.
Alan Alda (1) is married to a woman named Arlene!!! and (2) they met at a party on the Upper West Side when they were the only two guests willing to eat a rum cake that had fallen on the floor, so now Dame Margaret finally knows how she will finally find a husband worth having.
Continuing news about the Northeast's endless winter: A hilarious YouTube video rendering Bostonian's Facebook posts about the recent blizzards -- fittingly! -- as a Ken Burns-style documentary.