Ceci n'est pas un newsletter (JK JK it totally is)

Dames Nation!

Can you believe that Carly Rae Jepsen invented ecstatic, bounding heartache in pop music?


We hate to contradict a pop genius, but that’s where you’re so wrong, CRJ

We kid. Sort of. Yes, of course, there have been gloriously shimmering pop gems celebrating big, sad, triumphant, overwhelming feelings before. We’re on record as being super-into them! So much so that we put together a playlistcelebrating them!

But there’s something so special & elemental about the way Carly Rae writes and performs songs in this vein, and it seems like everyone is commenting on it lately. It’s such a pleasure to read Jia Tolentino’s coverage of her recent performance with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (part of Canada’s year-long sesquicentennial celebrations), incorporating such insights as

Jepsen’s greatest gift as an artist is her way of making the space between love and desperation seem infinite; there is an obvious pathos embedded in the way she expresses desire and affection that is singularly well-suited to a string section.

Anne T. Donohue, another of our very best pop writers, has correctly dubbed CRJ the Queen of Summertime, and Sarah Blackwood, in her essential-for-both-parents-and-non-parents column Parenting By The Books, remarks on how easily the purity of Carly Rae’s songs about longing & desire suit the work of loving and being loved by small children. Your Dames: Still Loving Being Taken To the Feeling, pretty much!

Dame Sophie’s Link Buffet


Accurate burn is accurate.

  • Hugely important fact from this lovely profile of Rebecca Sugar, creator & show-runner of Steven Universe: there’s a soundtrack album out now, huzzah! If you’re not already familiar with the universe of Steven Universe, it’s a show about a boy who may also be the partially reincarnated spirit of his own mother, who was herself a living embodiment of a powerful alien consciousness known as Rose Quartz. He lives in an appealingly run-down seaside resort with Rose’s colleagues, The Crystal Gems, (named Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl) who are sworn to protect Earth from everything bad that might befall it. His dad, Greg Universe, lives in his van down at the carwash. It’s a fantasy-adventure show about family (biological and chosen) and morality and love (much of it hella queer, all of it deeply affecting) and adventure, and it’s wonderful. Every episode is just 11 minutes long and the first four seasons are available on Hulu. If you loved the heart, emotional complexity, and songs of Phineas & Ferb but wished that they did more with season-long plotting, this is a show for you. One of Pop Culture Happy Hour’s best episodes from last summer was a deep dive into Steven Universe & is definitely worth a listen.

  • Shoppers’ Alert! If you live in a climate where winter weather affects you, and Current You would like to make a mild splurge-type purchase that Future You will thank Past You for, I urge you to review the following beautiful Estonian mittens possibilities in this Etsy shop. My winter coat is a loudly patterned navy & ivory affair, so I’m going to go for a complementary contrast like these pink & ivory ones or maybe a total contrast with these orange florals. (h/t to beloved DamesFav Karen for this one!)

  • OOOooo, we absolutely love Eloise! Unsurprisingly, Kay Thompson, who created the hilariously willful, deeply spoiled, and rather sad & abandoned enfant terrible of the Plaza Hotel, was herself kind of a mess. A hugely compelling mess, the sort that garnered book contracts on the strength of her excellent ideas and enjoyed the hospitality of Liza Minnelli for over 15 years, and also the kind who managed to burn every bridge she ever built. A real multitudes-containing piece of work, in other words. If you’re able to get to New York between now and October 9, scamper off to the New York Historical Society to catch the Eloise at The Museum exhibit (but kindly refrain from pouring a pitcher of water down the mail chute while you’re there, merci & charge it, please).  

  • File Under: HOLY SHIT The Americans Just Keeps On Being Way Too Real. Here’s a reflection on the life, times & espionage contributions of Yuri Drozdov, the trainer of many successful secret spies such as Philip & Elizabeth Jenkins in the USSR’s Illegals program. My favorite detail is Drozdov’s nonchalance on the matter of whether any secret caches of spy materials are still planted in various countries for emergency use by Russian spies: “Whether they are still there [or not], let that be a headache for foreign intelligence services," he said. You can just hear his insouciant exhale of cigarette smoke & see his eloquently cheeky shrug in your mind’s eye, can’t you?

Forget it, Doctor, it's Soviet Spycrafttown.

Dame Margaret’s Marvelous Miscellany


What would YOU pay for a home haunted by shenanigans like these?

  • The best article you had no idea you needed: Million Dollar Listing’s star real-estate broker Ryan Serhaunt describing, in realistic, prosaic, and witty detail the potential market values of fictional Super Villains' Lairs like the Bates Motel or Malfoy Manor. It’s very weird and EXTREMELY funny.

  • Speaking of the Malfoys, did you know that last Monday, June 26th, was the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? Yrs trly got to celebrate this momentous occasion by first writing and then speaking about the ways the Harry Potter series has changed our culture. If you missed these last week and generally like my writing, you should definitely give them a read/listen!

  • As we head into high summer, I feel like we all-- regardless of gender identity!-- deserve to be wearing only dresses that can also be worn to bed or nightgowns we can pass off as dresses. At the moment, Old Navy has a surprisingly flattering jersey swing dress in an array of patterns and colors that fits this brief to a T, and is on sale through 7/9 for $10 ($22-- but better colors!-- in plus sizes). This seemed like News You Can Use. Tip: go one size down from your usual Old Navy size to get the most flattering fit-- I’m typically a large there and this dress definitely looked cuter in a medium.

  • The swing dress is a garment that SEEMS like it only works on skinny bodies, but ACTUALLY (in the right fabric) can flatter almost universally-- floaty fabrics do tend to suit thin bodies better, but dense and drapey fabrics can look good on just about anyone. And that’s true of more styles than you would initially expect, as this article where two best friends with very different body types spent a week dressing identically capably demonstrates. In addition to making visible the struggles of shopping when you can’t wear straight sizes, I bet this piece might encourage you-- straight- and plus-sized alike-- to take a few more risks with your look.

  • If it does not, then RuPaul’s Drag Race, capably celebrated here by recent convert Tyler Coates, may just do the trick. Just THINKING about it is definitely making me regret the incredible purple lipstick I did not buy myself earlier today.

The Harold Herald
Being a semi-regular compendium of assorted links about Dame Sophie’s beloved & lavishly dimpled son, Mr. Harry Styles, late & someday once more of One Direction.


Will Harry be shoving food in his mouth in every scene in Dunkirk in which he is not actively drowning?
Let us hope! A growing boy needs his sandwiches & tea, after all.

I would give my eye teeth for a video of actual wolves dancing to Wolves.