ALL HAIL QUEEN EMMA, DARLINGS OF DAME NATION!
Given this week's nod to BEST OF season, we thought sharing this gif ofQUEEN EMMA BEING QUEENat the Golden Globes could be.... well.. at the very least mildly justified! As if a gif this great NEEDED contextual justification. This might be Margaret's favorite gif of all time (especially when taken in tandem withthis one) -- the only problem with it is that it's too large to tweet. Needless gif contextualizing complete, ONWARDS to your regularly scheduled Dames business: LINKS!
It's the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
Not just because ofhygge. Not just because we hope Beyonce will surprise us with a middle-of-the-night extra EP drop. No, it's because, as obsessive list-makers, recommenders and (ok, haphazard) catalogers of cultural products, your Dames kind of live for this time of year, when all the Best Of lists come out. It's a little overwhelming, so we seek to de-whelm you all by presenting our favorites from the current flood of lists, and some useful tools for making selections for both yourselves and loved ones. This feature will probably be ongoing as lots of lists have yet to be released, but here are a few of our very favorites available currently.
Terrific, Unusual Literary Lists
Slaughterhouse 90210 ("Kurt Vonnegut, Meet Brenda Walsh") puts out a do-not-miss list of great reads every year, and every year, our To Be Read List grows impossibly larger. In, you know, a good way. Maris Kreizman's categories include "Most Rapturous" and "Novel I Most Want To Assign To All The Bros I Know", which puts her picks an idiosyncratic cut above most.
Maria Popova's taste is exquisite, and her eye for beautiful illustration is pretty much Caldecott-worthy. We particularly appreciate her passion for small presses like Enchanted Lion and Flying Eye, both well represented on her list of Best Children's Books for 2014.
And finally, Emily Gould's guide to buying gift books your giftees will actually read does not limit itself to 2014 publications, but it does shout out Queen Emma's set diary from Sense & Sensibility, one of Margaret's best purchases of 2014, so it seemed correct to include it.
Tunes of 2014
Roll your eyes all you like, but this BuzzFeed listicle of 40 Songs That Shoulda Been Hits in 2014 is full of poppy gems, many at the intersection of catchy and utterly loopy. There's also a Spotify playlist, of course.
Will you forgive a few moments of nepotism? Sophie's husband Marcus has put together a double-disc Best Songs Of 2014 and it's really good, including many artists you may well have heard of (Future Islands, The New Pornographers, and First Aid Kit) and some you maybe haven't (SBTRKT and Public Service Broadcasting, who are the best damn recombinators of archival British sound recordings you ever heard). Margaret is extremely excited to give these a listen-- you can find Side 1 & Side 2, both on Spotify. [M. Ed. note: THANKS SOPHIE! THANKS MARCUS!]
And finally, Margaret spent all day Tuesday listening to DJ Earworm's mashup of 2014's twenty-five biggest hits, "Do What You Wanna Do." Despite its tragic lack of Beyoncé, she has a feeling you will find it similarly addictive.
Culture Tools Ahoy!
Obviously, Sophie wants to brag on Margaret's participation in NPR's Book Concierge, NPR's amazing annual gift to readers. Margaret wrote 13 of the 250+ enticing capsule reviews. Like Maris' list above, NPR Books' staff goes beyond expected genre & age group categories like children's, YA and historical fiction (though they've got those, too) to include categories like Seriously Great Writing, Short Reads and Let's Talk About Sex. Bonus: the search function is faceted, so you can mix & match categories for a just-right fit for your favorite reader.
If you want a book rec that's even more retrospective than the Book Concierge, the Penguin Hotline is here for you - staffed by real people who work at Penguin, and charged with recommending the best books based on your criteria, regardless of publisher.
Elder Statesman Chris Rock, Race, and Hollywood
Like everyone else on the internet, Margaret and Sophie spent much of the week "clapping with glee at every stop on Elder Statesman Chris Rock's Hollywood Racism tour," as friend-of-the-Dames/noted funny genius Danielle Hendersonmemorably put it. To promote his highly-acclaimed, soon-to-be-released new movie Top Five, Rock sat down withThe New Yorker,New York Magazine,Rolling Stone, andGrantland(with Dames favoriteRembert Browne!) and penned an editorial forThe Hollywood Reporter(Margaret's favorite of the bunch). These pieces were so insightful and funny and sharp thatVulture put together a round-up highlighting the best quotes... and so, unofficially, did everyone on your Dames' Facebook walls and Twitter feeds. Which is how we know we have the best friends on The Internet.
Inspired by all this brilliance , Margaret thought that it might be a good time to call out two exceptional movies she caught this year and one she's dying to see: Belle, directed byAmma Asante (now available fordigital rental), Beyond the Lights, directed byGina Prince-Blythewood (Still in theaters! Catch it while you can!), andSelma, directed byAva DuVernay, and due out on Christmas Day.
Belle, which was released this May, is a sumptuous period drama, pure catnip to any Dame with an affection for Jane Austen. And, because of its focus on Dido Elizabeth Belle, a real biracial woman raised in privilege in 19th century Britain, it manages to be groundbreaking and deeply emotional, too, while still sticking to beats likely to thrill anyone with ayen for fine corsets. It was a passion project for director Amma Asante, who gave a great two-part interview about it to IndieWire's Inkoo Kang:Part I,Part II.
Beyond the Lights, released just last month and sharing Belle's incandescent star, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, is a swoony romantic melodrama that's half about two stunning, charismatic youths falling in love and half about the violence the pop music system can inflict on its most beloved female stars. It's smart and moving and meaty and fun, which is a rare combination of things to be. Check out two pieces from Jezebel's Clover Hope: (1)this wonderful review(which hasvery mild spoilers in it), and (2)her great interview with writer-director Gina Prince-Blythewood(much beloved for her earlier movie, Love & Basketball).
AND FINALLY, Margaret is really looking forward to Selma and she feelsthis Vulture interview with Ava DuVernay will similarly whet your appetite.
Twee as Hell
So, Sophie is nuts about hedgehogs. Good thing Target is stepping up to the plate with their hedgie-themed children's furnishings. And then there's this Vine channel about the everyday adventures of Marutaro, the jazz-composing hedgehog. Go on, click. We'll be here.
And for Margaret, the real animal thrill has been this GOLD DIPPED SPIDERwhich is apparently for SCIENCE and not just glam.
Visual Crush of the Week
The one, the only,Miss Tina Turner. The baddest bitch.
To combine power & artistry, gold fringe, and LEGS for days? Love.
Unrelated to Anything Else Herein But Of Interest To Us, And Perhaps To You, Too
Where are all thepoor teens in YA lit? (Friendly additions to this list:TyrellandKendra, by Coe Booth,Boy 21, by Matthew Quick, andWhere Stars Still Shine, by Trish Doller) Lynda Barry'sSyllabus for keeping a visual diarysits atop Sophie's list for Things To Consider Doing in 2015. Care to join in?Speak to me! Real Talk: this will probably be an intermittent exercise, but the more, the merrier. Jia Tolentino was aCheerleader for Christ.A timely look at the history of Mary Martin's famed, Dame-beloved performance of Peter Pan, which was rebroadcast in 1989, just in time for Tiny Margaret to imprint upon it like a baby chicken.Awful breakup texts transformed into hilarious paintings.
And oh, yes, we set up a Two Bossy Dames Twitter account! We are uncharacteristically reticent there for now, but not for long! The paragraphic breeziness is building up behind the, um, wordy floodgates. Aaaaand that's how we know it's time to hit send. And enjoy the weekend, which we hope treats you with care & delightfulness.
We're taking next week off, but we'll be in your inboxes again on December 19!