Beards: GOOD! Infinity Wars: ...Fine.

Dames Nation, we went to see Avengers: Infinity War like the Marvel Cinematic Universe trash we are, and we were not wholly pleased.

It’s too bad this scene isn’t in the actual movie, as these people are excellent at running purposefully & we’d have happily watched them that for 10 minutes or so

To be sure, there were things to enjoy: Chrises Evans & Hemsworth and their glorious beards! Peter Parker’s patter with Dr. Strange & Tony Stark! Subsequent mockery of Tony Stark’s truly appalling boot-cut camo tracksuit! Solid one-liners! A lack of Hawkeye! Shuri calmly schooling scientists three times her age! The whole population of Wakanda being ultra-gracious hosts to a battle royale! (Actually, we have very mixed feelings about that last one.)

But overall...yeah, we were underwhelmed. If you were too (or, arguably, if you loved it and just want more Marvel), we have some alternatives to offer you. Herewith, some things you will probably enjoy more than Infinity War:

  • Agent Carter! To know Peggy Carter -- capable, tough, glamorous super-spy of the 1940s & one of Captain America’s great loves -- is to love her, and if you subscribe to Hulu, please be advised both seasons of this too-short eponymous show are streaming on that platform.

  • Gavia Baker-Whitelaw & Elizabeth Minkel’s wonderful fandom newsletter The Rec Center is full of strong fanfiction recs across a slew of fandoms. Some favorites from current & past issues include this musing on Bucky Barnes’ experiences in Wakanda and Steve Rogers’ post-defrosting interview on Fresh Air.

  • Literally just rewatch (or enjoy for the first time) Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Spider-man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther. Spider-Man:Homecoming is a particularly strong antidote to Infinity War because it will remind you how EASY it is to care deeply about the concrete peril of four teenagers in a malfunctioning elevator rather than the impossibly grand sum of literally half of all living creatures in universe.

Dirty Dancing Livetweet Reminder!

Let’s All Have The Times of Our Lives!

Last night, during the set break between a phenomenal opening set by Lizzo and an absolute crusher of a set by Haim, the DJ played “The Time of My Life”, and a pair of dancers in the audience (visible to most of the concert goers) actually did Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze’s RUNNING LEAP INTO THE LIFT and, frankly, Dame Margaret wondered if it were a secret viral marketing campaign for THIS SUNDAY, when we’re going to watch the all-time classic coming-of-age story DIRTY DANCING. Join us and celebrate one of the most feminist, sex-positive leading men of all cinema history: Johnny Castle. The movie is available free via Amazon Prime, and can be rented for the low, low price of Two American Dollars on other platforms. The details are as follows:

WHEN: 7:30 PM ET (that’s BST -5:00 for International Dames Nationals) on Sunday, May 6th, 2018

HOW: Streaming Amazon Prime, rented on another platform, or by DVD (or VHS for those of you wishing to kick it especially old school)

WHERE: On Twitter, with the hashtag #DirtyDames

We cannot wait to NOT be put in a corner with all y’all, Dames Nation!

TBD Subscriptions: The Price Is Always Right, But It’s BEST Through 5/31!

Hi, friends! Just a quick reminder that if you’re an unpaid subscriber, now is a great time to upgrade to a paid subscription. This is the last month where you’ll be able to get our Early Bird special rate of $45/year— starting on June 1st, annual subscriptions will revert to their full price of $50/year, and monthly subscriptions will continue to cost $5/month without the one month free we’re giving away currently.

All subscribers will receive at least 2 issues each month, but only paid subscribers will receive everything we write. So, if you want to guarantee receipt of all issues of this newsletter, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid subscription. And, if you grab an annual subscription by May 31st, you’ve bought 12 months for only $3.75 apiece— and provided us with a little peace of mind, knowing that at least some of you like us enough to buy a full year of our writing up front.

If for some reason a paid subscription is too big a financial stretch for you right now, but you’ll miss us big time, shoot us an email at, and we might be able to figure something out. We don’t want to lose any committed Dames Nationals if we don’t have to.

Dame Margaret’s (Apparently) Annual Sunnies Roundup!

You, to yourself, in re: your cheap but awesome new sunglasses.

Gather ‘round, Dames Nationals! Spring has beyond sprung and the time has come for my now-annual plunge into Amazon’s coffers of cheap sunglasses! While trying to find #damespal Jasmine Guillory a pair of sunglasses to match those featured on the cover of her forthcoming book, The Proposal, I combed the extensive options offered by ZeroUV, my preferred manufacturer of cheap sunnies, and I will now present the creme of their crop to you with some light commentary, as I did with great success last year! N.B. We do not use affiliate links, so we don’t make any money from Amazon or ZeroUV by highlighting these frames-- what money Sophie and I make for our efforts here come from our Substack subscribers unless otherwise noted. We just want you to be able to add a little glamor or whimsy or mystery to your look for a cool $10-12 while shopping at the same place you probably buy your toilet paper in bulk.

Category One: Classics!

  • A couple of weeks ago, I ordered what is now my… 6th pair, it seems, of what I have deemed the Golightlies: extremely glamorous, extremely large, and extremely identical to those worn by Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. If ZeroUV ever stops making them, I will sob, and have no glamours sunglasses to hide the resulting tear-puffed eyes.

  • If you want to up the glamor even further, look no farther than these metal-accented cat-eye sunglasses.

  • Alternately, if you want a slightly more louche glamor, you can opt for what I last year deemed the Dunaways (in honor of Faye)-- they’re about the size and shape of the Golightlies, but where those have thick, angular frames (a bit like classic Ray-Bans gone kabuki), these have narrow, slightly rounded square plastic frames that make them look a little 70s in the best way.

  • And finally, if you want a very fashion-forward but still classic look, these smaller square frames with a rectangular metal nose-bridge are perfect.

  • And if you want classic with a hint of irreverence, Zero UV has made a number sunnies that combine classic black or tortoise shell frames with vibrant reflective lenses-- from Golightlies to metal-accented cat-eyes to plain plastic cat-eyes, you have a lot of attractive options.

Category Two: California Candyland!

Category Three: Maximum Whimsy!

Dame Sophie’s Enthusiastic Culture Hollering

Disorienting, audacious, hypnotic, witty! My heart!

  • Ahhhhhhhhh we need to talk about Atlanta! This weird, wonderful show -- described by its creator Donald Glover as “Twin Peaks, but with rappers”, is now wrapping up its very very very good second season on FX. I’m behind by a couple of episodes in part because I keep needing more than a week to fully process all the ideas, images, and jokes each one presents. There’s a general overarching storyline, largely about Earn, an aspiring music impresario; his cousin Alfred, an aspiring rapper who makes much better money dealing weed; Van, a teacher and his daughter Lottie’s mother; and Darius, Alfred’s best friend, who seems to aspire primarily to having good experiences with people he likes. The general storyline isn’t the main point, though, it’s more of a framework that everything else about the show is draped across. “Everything else” includes, variously: dreamy/menacing encounters with Malcolm X, Black Justin Bieber, a screamingly funny gag involving an invisible car, racist economic and social humiliations, a caper involving transforming an iPhone into puppies into (eventually) cash, romantic relationship ups and downs, the challenges of having a very flaky barber, and a bottle episode that gives Get Out a run for its chilling money. It all hangs together thanks to the cast’s excellent performances and Glover’s steady insistence on hewing to a highly idiosyncratic artistic vision. Intrigued? Delighted to hear it!

    • You can catch up on Season 1 via Hulu. I bought a season pass for Season 2 & it’s worth every penny to me.

    • This round-table discussion with the core cast & crew members in the New York Times offers a good glimpse into the spirit of the show as Season 2 was about to air

    • Listen to eternal #DamesFav Sam Sanders interview Lakeith Stanfield (my beloved Darius, who deserves his own spinoff show) and Brian Tyree Henry (Alfred, in an interview that truly sounds like the start of a beautiful friendship)

    • This cut scene, featuring Earn, Darius & Alfred dancing to TLC’s “Creep” wearing silky pajamas like the ones Chili, T-Boz, and Left Eye (of blessed memory) wore in the iconic video for the song, captures so much of what I love about Atlanta: three dudes who care about each other, doing something silly together (with a frisson of competitiveness threaded through it). *chef’s kiss*

    • Bonus: Donald Glover is playing Lando Calrissian in the forthcoming Solo. Here’s a tour of his pristine Millenium Falcon, including a walk-in cape armoire this is not a drill, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just click & thank me later.

  • PSA for fellow music obsessives! Last weekend, I learned that Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture hosts a low-cost four-day conference about pop music that’s open to the public. How did I not know about this Created In A Lab For Me event before now?? This year’s theme was What Difference Does It Make? Music & Gender and you’d best believe I put myself on their mailing list for 2019, because $28 is such an extremely reasonable admission price for four days of pop criticism brilliance with luminaries such as Ann Powers, Caryn Rose, Maria Sherman, and Rob Sheffield.

  • What To Read Next? As summery temperatures have finally hit the Northeast of the US this week, I’m starting to think about what I want to read over the summer. If you’re similarly inclined, here’s a webinar recording, slide deck & title list created by two of my favorite library colleagues, Robin Bradford & Stephanie Anderson. Robin & Stephanie are super-experts in readers’ advisory, the area of librarianship focused on matching readers with their next favorite books. This webinar focuses on a slew of appealing genres: Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, Crime Fiction, True Crime, Science Fiction & Fantasy, so if any one of those is your jam, get to clicking! One of my favorite things about this session is how Robin & Stephanie encourage book recommenders to draw on appeal factors from TV and movies as well as other books.

  • A brief musing on the fundamental oddness of the modern workplace: I haven’t quite worked out all the details of how this side-by-side review of David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs and Alison Green’s Ask A Manager (one of my favorite reads every week) resonates with this uproariously funny 5-minute film of a verbatim performance of a deposition in a case about photocopiers, and this utterly bizarre story about the NJ school superintendent who got caught pooping on the football fields and track of a high school (in a different school district), but as a trio, they’re too good not to share together. I think it’s something about the deep-rooted pettiness and disproportionately dramatic relationships that can flourish in our workplaces? The ways we obsess about these places where we spend so many of our waking hours? Maybe they’re just great tastes that go great together, but I think they also form a kind of Rorschach test about how we regard the nature of work in 2018.

  • Last but by no means least, and lightly spoilery for S6:E6 of The Americans (scroll on past if you prefer): There have always been a couple of episodes of The Americans each season that hit me like a gut-punch. Here in Season 6, the last one we’ll ever get  (SOB!), every episode is a stiletto to my emotions. Up through this week’s episode, the endgame has been an exercise in incremental noose-tightening in each episode, and even though I know historically things are going to go very, very sideways for my beloved Soviet spies, I still root for them. Remember Season 1, when, on a classic episode of Appointment Television, I had the pleasure of likening Elizabeth & Philip’s dynamic to that of their athletic colleagues Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov (of blessed memory)? All season long, they haven’t been partners in espionage, and the synchrony of their pairing has been totally off. This week’s episode, Rififi, marked a dramatic turning point in the plotting & the Jennings’ relationship dynamics, and it was maddeningly thrilling. I howled “ARE YOU KIDDING ME I HAVE TO WAIT TIL NEXT WEEK?!!” as the episode ended. Matthew Rhys’ soulful sulking and reluctantly still-sharp spycraft provide the most clearly-marked emotional entrées into Philip & Elizabeth’s slow-moving crisis, but it’s Keri Russell’s more reserved and incrementally emotional portrayal of Elizabeth that has been giving us subtly devastating glimpses of how crushingly hard everything in her life is for six seasons. Now that she’s running all these operations as a solo act? It’s impossible, but still she soldiers on, not quite believing Philip is coming to her aid for this last wild ride. An Emmy for this woman, stat! I have approximately eleventy-billion hypotheses about how this season will end. Please come yell with me about them on Twitter or in the old inbox!

When you know darn well you’re going to do a murder, but you’re not, like, a total monster, come on, get real

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