Catch Yerself On!

We open this week’s newsletter with two serious works of art, one short form, one feature-length.

Short form: this video of Alex Trebek pronouncing the word “genre”, which is perfect, and requires no further introduction. We’ll be soaking in it all weekend and invite you to join us.

Feature-length: Dame Sophie joined Dame Margaret and cherished #Damespal Kathryn VanArendonk on their TV Podcast, Appointment Television, to elaborate on her love for the Channel 4-Netflix show, Derry Girls, and the resulting episode is pretty delightful. Sophie followed it up with a thread elaborating on what the girls would make of Bono (which turned into a conversation about how well prepared and keen we are to put together some library conference panels on teen TV) that you should definitely Get Involved with. 

Livetweet reminder: Into the Spiderverse on 9/22

Meet Spider-Gwen, a character who I feel will be a “root” for many future homosexuals of ALL genders

Our next Dames Nation Livetweet selection is Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, a movie both of Your Dames love with their whole hearts. 

The fun begins at 7:30 PM ET on Sunday, September 22. We’ll be running an Open Thread like we did for the Tony Awards a couple of months ago, and will send out the link in advance.

Haven’t seen it yet? Watch the preview, then get ready by adding it to your Netflix queue, borrowing it from your local library, or renting it from your platform of choice. The joint adventures of Miles Morales, Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, Spider-Noir, and Spider-Ham are such a spectacular visual feast that we encourage you to watch it at least once before joining us for the group viewing extravaganza. 

Dame Sophie’s Podcast Corner

Footage of Future Me, still so psyched to listen to my shows after all these years

Dames Nationals, are you ready for some podcasts? I have three maybe-new-to-you shows whose virtues I wanna extol! They all fall under the broad conceptual umbrella of Shows That’ll Make You Think Differently About Various Things, a genre podcasts are particularly well-suited to explore.  

First up: Who Cares About The Rock Hall? Hosted by comedians Joe Kwaczala (he cares) and Kristen Studard (she doesn’t -- or does she?), this is a weekly roundtable about artists who are or should be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Each week, Joe and Kristen invite someone to make a case for a particular artist, discussing how each one meets criteria such as longevity, classic albums, influence on other artists, and whether or not your mom has heard of them, with lots of funny wisecracks and goofs along the way. 

Both Elaine Stritch & Colleen Donaghy would have been outstanding guests

I love the way the show incorporates genuine, earnest enthusiasm for music and addresses the very worthwhile question of who gets to be part of the canon, while also relentlessly taking the piss out of the Rock Hall itself and insisting that it become a better version of itself. The Rock Hall is fundamentally a very silly institution, founded in 1986 by Rolling Stone founder & editor Jann Wenner as a bulwark against his worries about his own encroaching cultural irrelevance. To a large degree, its inductees reflect Wenner’s musical and personal interests in shoring up the legacies of the artists he loved in his formative years, and by extension, his legacy, too. No surprise here: white men have been very well-represented in each year’s class, a phenomenon that reinforces itself as each inductee also becomes a voting member, who often nominates or votes for fellow white dudes. Over time, critics, musicians, and fans have rightly started insisting that the Rock Hall broaden the scope of artists and genres to be nominated and inducted, which is great, but it’s a slow, slow process. Kwaczala and Studard talk about this in every episode, keeping the conversation erudite and fun all the way. Because every episode stands alone, you can dive into their backlog with an artist or guest that strikes your fancy, or start at the beginning. Some of my recent favorite episodes are Joy Division & New Order, with indie rock scholar Wendy Fonarow; Evelyn McDonnell on The Hall’s Women Problem; and De La Soul with Oliver Wang. 

This is my request for a future Britney Spears episode of You’re Wrong About

You’re Wrong About is another weekly two-hosts show full of stand-alone episodes ready to challenge your assumptions about all sorts of things from homelessness and the “Ebonics” controversy (which came up again in this week’s Democratic primary debate when Joe Biden referred to the now-debunked “30 million word gap” theory of Black children entering school with language deficits because their parents don’t talk to them enough) to Tonya Harding (a two-parter!). The concept is very straightforward, with the hosts, journalists Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall, trading responsibility for deeply researching and explaining the topic of the week to each other. The foundational assumption of the show is that the dominant narratives we learn about current events -- particularly when they’re about women, queer folks, people of color, and/or poor people -- are often deeply flawed, if not completely wrong. Thanks to their easy rapport and their backgrounds as researchers and writers, Michael and Sarah are very engaging storytellers. Rarely has learning how badly I misunderstood or was just ignorant of certain historical episodes been this gratifying. Some favorites: Yoko Ono (who definitely did not break up the Beatles), The Stonewall Uprising, and Dan Quayle vs. Murphy Brown (ok, that one I knew about already). 

The New York Times’ 1619 Project -- seeking to tell truthfully the story of how the American system of chattel slavery affects every aspect of life in this country -- is the most significant achievement in American journalism this year. In its ambition, its scope, its power, and in its likely influence on contemporary thinking and discourse about our past, present, and future, I can’t imagine a bigger deal than the anthology that Nikole Hannah-Jones has assembled here. I’m thrilled that The Times is also publishing a podcast series as part of the project -- it’s brilliant to keep reminding people of its existence, and to provide people with another access point. Three episodes -- new ones available each Saturday -- are out as of this writing, each one introducing readers to a piece in the collection. Episode Three brings readers into Wesley Morris’ exquisite, moving essay on how every genre of American music draws on and owes debts to Black musicianship and ingenuity. This episode in particular is full of marvels, delights, and surprises, as well as moments of profound mortification. 

I’d love to know what shows you’re listening to these days; please do let me know if there’s something you think I’d like!

Dame Margaret Struggles to Control Her Materialist Impulses

This is a 3 minute and 33 second video about the cult of mathematicians that has formed around a particular brand of chalk. There IS further context for why I’m featuring it, but the video is so delightful that it can precede the context

This week, Media Twitter was dominated by a messy public fight that attained a prominence previously denied the the minor internet figure at its center: Caroline Calloway (a lesser Instagram celebrity) versus (in a disconcertingly loving way) her former ghost writer, Natalie Beach (who wrote a tell-all essay about their time working together, and then was disconcertingly loving right back in the The New York Times interview said essay gained her!). While I once again soaked up all coverage I could find (as I did earlier this summer with the Tati Westbrook-James Charles debacle this spat so resembles), I have to say that this particular fight left me feeling more sad than enthralled, especially after Caroline Calloway’s father suddenly died on Thursday morning. So rather than link to anything further about it, I would like to highlight (1) these mathematicians and their slavish devotion to Hagoromo chalk, a chalk I am now desperate to use and which I discovered thanks to a stray line in Natalie Beach’s NY Times interview referring to “the pencil community” and (2) the movie A Simple Favor, which has all the appeal factors of the Beach-Calloway contretemps, but is (unlike said contretemps) actually extremely fun and satisfying and, because fictional, both exactly as extra and exactly as guilt-free as you’d hope an opportunity for rubbernecking would be. As I have stated previously, the movie is free to stream at present on both Amazon Prime and Hulu-- familiarize yourself with it now so that you can make the BEST observations when We Your Dames eventually livetweet it.      

Truly the most friend-alluring sentence any glamorous woman could utter.

This list of who should win in the upcoming (untelevised) Creative Arts Emmys by Emma Fraser, one of the most consistently delightful writers in my Twitter feed, is nerdily enthralling in its own right. It’s so fun to both see the variety of work recognized with these awards and to read about the specifics of what people have accomplished in this field. BUT ALSO! By justly praising composer Nicholas Brittel for his excellent work on the theme song for the HBO series Succession, Fraser reminded me of both how long it’d been since I listened to Brittel’s score for If Beale Street Could Talk (it was robbed at the Academy Awards; it remains absolutely perfect) and of the composer’s incredible interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Have I linked to this interview before? Yes. Will I link to it again? IF THE CIRCUMSTANCES DEMAND IT, absolutely. That’s the kind of bravery you can expect here at Dames HQ. 

And finally, although I am trying to curb the incessant stress spending I started sometime around late 2016 for no reason anyone could possiblyidentify, I could not make it through Back to School season without sharing some shopping links. In the school supplies category, even though their list of the 100 Best Pens was absolutely wrong, I am incapable of resisting The Strategist's 100 Best Notebooks list. Their methodology remains SUBJECTIVE and FLAWED but it’s a List! Of notebooks! Some I’d never heard of before! I have to try them all!!!!! Provoking a similar Gotta Catch ‘Em All yearning in my heart is Target’s 20th anniversary Design for All collection, which finally goes on sale tonight at midnight! Celebrating two decades of collaboration with luxury designers and world-famous design houses, the collection is full of gorgeous things, but the two that fill me with the keenest longing are these trench coats: this 3.1 for Philip Lim one in navy blue with green accents which will allow me to cosplay as someone charmingly Type A and this Altuzzarra one in olive green with black accents which will allow me to cosplay as a very glamorous spy. All the items in these collections are being produced in limited numbers and many of the designers involved have extremely devoted fans, so items are likely to go quickly. If your favorite things sell out before you can get to them, console yourself with the knowledge that Target’s unlimited edition merchandise is also great. To wit: this leopard-print shirt dress, which I have been lusting after for weeks. WILL I FALL PREY TO ITS SIREN CALL???? Only time can tell. 

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