Bad Winks and Good Dogs

Hello, Dame-imals! It is practically a national holiday for We Your Dames as Kesha’s new album came out today! 

It’s honestly kind of reassuring that Kesha is not much better at winking than I am, but that we’re both-- somehow!!!-- better than Rihanna

We are both huge fans of both her many excellent singles from her “turbo-pop” period and, even more, we loved her 2017 album Rainbow, where she finally got to lean into the rock, singer-songwriter, and country talents she’d never previously been able to explore. High Road, on the first few listens, feels like a beautiful (if sometimes choppy) melding of the two, combining club bangers like “My Own Dance”, straight-up country ballads like “Resentment”, singer-songwriter songs like “Father-Daughter Dance” (which fucked Dame M.’s shit directly up), and pure Kesha hits that seem to meld the best of all three, like lead single “Raising Hell”. It’s a mix of broad influences, from Iggy Pop to Lizzo, and a deliberate attempt on Kesha’s part to reclaim the pure, fun pop sound she used to embody from the dark traumatic past that generated it. As Kesha says to Billboard ““When I play some of the poppier songs, people lose their shit, and those songs are my babies too,” she says. “It brings me so much joy to see people boogie and have the best time with their friends, and I shouldn’t take that away from myself...Emotions are forever. Part of this album is resurrecting the fact that you can be a fucking mess in your head one day, and then you can also be glittered-up and have the best night of your life.” We think the album captures that ethos beautifully and, while it’s not a skip-free record for us, Dame Margaret is very glad that she has tickets to see Kesha on her upcoming tour.  

Livetweet Reminder: To All The Boys I Loved Before: P.S. I Still Love You, February 16th!

We fell head over heels for Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky when they first graced our screens in 2018, and the latest trailers for the next chapter in their adventures have us on tenterhooks. We hope you can join us! 

Who: YOU, darling Dames Nationals! Bring a friend! 

When: Sunday, February 16 at 7:30 PM ET

Where: Watch on Netflix and howl delightedly with us on Twitter or our handy thread, to be sent out the day of the grand event! We’ll circulate the hashtag as we get closer to the film’s release, too. 

Well, actually: Correcting The Internet Has Never Been So Zippily Substantive

Dames Nation, say hello to Well, actually! Our beloved past (and future??? Your Dames can dream!) guest editor Jacqui Shine has just sent out the first issue of her own excellent newsletter, which is a guide to “things you need to know that you don’t know you need to know, inspired (mostly) by people being wrong on the internet.” 

Sadly, yet blessedly, Jacqui is never, ever, ever going to run out of content, how terrible/lucky for us! Future issues will address topics like the word “factoid”, the history of American childhood, and the influence of cop shows on the popular imagination. 

Jacqui’s newsletter is true service journalism, giving readers handy vocabulary for talking about a misunderstood yet widely discussed topic. Issue One starts by explaining Kimberlé Crenshaw’s work defining and describing intersectionality, a term she originated in 1989 that now enjoys such popular usage that it’s often misapplied. Enliven and enlighten your local Twitter discourse and lunchtime conversations with confused aunts & uncles by dropping this link in the conversation!

Well, actually would be extremely our jam even if it weren’t the brainchild of a friend we admire and love, but because it is, we are especially thrilled to highlight her work with you all!

Dame Margaret’s New Professional Goals, Updated Recommendations, and Everlasting Favorite

Fully representative image of how Dame M. feels when surrounded by dogs

  • This week, I discovered a new life goal: get paid to cover the American Kennel Club’s annual Meet the Breeds event, where you get to pet hundreds of different types of dogs. This New York Magazine report, complete with whimsical watercolor illustrations, makes it sound maximally charming-- there is even a couple there on a first date! Geniuses!

  • If, after so many years of reading my writing and listening to me on podcasts, you are curious what I look like *on film*, you’re in luck! My appearance on WGBH’s Drama After Dark, to discuss this past Sunday’s episode of the deliciously woke-soapy adaptation of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon, is yours to view at your leisure. Subscribers curious about the impact of the conditioner I praised in last week’s newsletter can view to see its results first-hand and in motion. I (obviously) say nice things about how much I love the community we all build here!

  • Two similar projects into which I have dipped, but the depths of which I am still waiting to plunge: The New York Times’  granular examination of how the career trajectories of 37-year-old-women in politics throughout the country compare to that of Pete Buttigieg and538’s similarly extensive documentary project on what happens when women run for office.

  • I have an update on one of our previous subjects of commercial concern: I’ve found a new purveyor of tights to recommend, and they are super affordable! Manzi Tights, sold through Amazon and available with Prime shipping, do not come in the same rainbow of splendid colors as We Love Colors and Snag Tights (our previous recommendations), but they only cost $13-$15 for 2 pairs, and they are very nice tights. I grabbed some in navy (after discovering that We Love Color’s offering in navy was a little brighter and bluer than I prefer) and found myself completely delighted. They are soft, opaque, and sturdy without ever being heavy or constricting. They do not fall down over the course of the day-- I can really put them on and forget about them. And they hold up over time-- I got my first pair in October and, many wears and washes in, they’re still in excellent shape. I (size 14, 170ish pounds, 5”4’) fit perfectly into the size L, and find the size charts provided to be trustworthy, and the quality is consistent in all four colors I now own-- navy, brown, black, and burgundy. The plus-size options are even more limited, colorwise, but if you’re looking for good, black workaday tights, I can definitely vouch for these.      

  • Finally, I loved this piece from super producer Jon Brion on what it was like both to work with Mac Miller while he was alive and produce Miller’s final album without his immediate collaboration. It’s both moving, a vivid picture of an artist we lost much too soon, sincerely conveyed and convincingly rendered, and informative-- the process Brion describes is intricate and hearing about it adds so much to my understanding of the music. In light of this piece, I’m re-running a Jon Brion introduction I wrote for this newsletter waaaaay back in 2015, lightly updated for today. If you’re not aware of the breadth of his work as a musician, composer, and producer, I think you will enjoy discovering him. 


Not quite as good as the version of “Waterloo Sunset” I saw, but still noteworthy.

This week, after intending to do it for almost a year, Dame Margaret finally added all her favorite Not-Available-On-Spotify music to her iPhone. While this incredibly mundane detail about DM’s personal data management hardly seems newsletter-worthy, it DID lead to her rediscovering Jon Brion’s phenomenal and tragically out-of-print album Meaningless, which in turn led her to wonder: Do you guys know how GREAT Jon Brion is??? Let me count the ways:

  • It’s hard to find Meaningless via strictly legal methods, thanks to it being out-of-print, but it you can listen to it on YouTube, both all the way through and as individual tracks. Some tracks that particularly stand out to me:“I Believe She’s Lying”(“I have every confidence that she’ll dismantle mine”-- is that a FUCKING LYRICS OR WHAT?), “You Can Still Ruin My Day” (Why haven’t more songs been written about this in-between place, when you aren’t falling for someone’s crap anymore, but a word from them can still utterly sink you?), and “Hook, Line, and Sinker”. I am praying that, somehow, someday this album gets re-released (20th anniversary edition on vinyl in 2021, someone make it happen!!!) and comes to streaming platforms, but in the meantime, you can grab second-hand CDs from Amazon and other vendors.

  • HisJune 2006 interview with NPR’s Sound Opinions (which starts 20 minutes into the episode here) is ferociously insightful. While his observations about the difference between “performance pieces” and songcraft were so remarkable that they were excerpted and re-released as a 99% Invisible episode, EVERYTHING he says is just as great. His indignation when people credit him for the genius of the frequently female or non-white artists whose music he produces! His unwillingness to settle into just one career when he’s hungry enough to pursue three simultaneously! His full-throated defense of Kanye West as a melodic genius! It’s a deeply interesting and wildly endearing interview. 

  • Speaking of artists he’s produced, can we talk about how many perfect albums of which he’s been an essential part? Kanye West’s LATE REGISTRATION, Aimee Mann’s BACHELOR NO. 2, Fiona Apple’s WHEN THE PAWN..., Best Coast’s THE ONLY PLACE-- he even did the orchestral arrangements for LEMONADE.The list goes on FOREVER.

  • He holds delightful live shows the last Friday of each month at Largo in L.A. wherehe’ll play his own music like a one-man-bandor play random audience song requests in random audience musical style requests, like “Tainted Love” on the xylophone, and is often joined by talented friends, from Fiona Apple to Sara Watkins. I went in 2017 and was lucky enough to hear him cover “Waterloo Sunset” in a way I’ll never forget-- it’s a great, very Cool L.A. experience.

  • And, of course, his work scoring films is justly admired. From LADY BIRD to PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE to ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, he make scores that both suit the material and sound like him. While, for me, they are not the type of score I will play independent of the movie, they compliment the films they accompany perfectly.

In not-particularly-short, Jon Brion’s a supremely talented guy and I would love to hear your ideas about which properties (other than ETERNAL SUNSHINE...) he should adapt into Broadway musicals. Come give me a shout on Twitter!

Meet us in Montauk.

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