Croquembouche Monsieur

Well, Dames Nation, you DO have us pegged,

Because that was the exact face we made while reading Sarah Gailey's exquisite piece of #Damesbait, "In Defense of Villainesses,"-- a piece many of you linked us to throughout the week-- on the glories of the classic Disney anti-heriones and their naked ambition. If you need us, we'll be at our vanities, investigating the joys of lavender eyeshadow smeared all the way up to our eyebrows, or at the vintage furrier, selecting a new luxurious coat for winter.

In the meantime, ENJOY SOME LINKS!

Cool [Plans] For The Summer

Your Dames are going to heed the advice A.Ham should have taken from the Schuyler Sisters, and are taking a brief end-of-summer break break. Next week is a no-issue week for us as we prepare to undertake separate, thrilling voyages -- Dame Margaret to Philadelphia for her Appointment Television Live Show at Philly PodFest and thence to a little island no-one’s heard of called Manhattan to see an obscure musical absolutely nobody cares about, Dame Sophie on vacation to beachy parts unknown with her family -- and the week after that, we have fabulous guest editors for you: Julia Carpenter & Adam Carlson!

To whet your appetite for their stellar forthcoming work in a fortnight's time, here’s a little tasting platter of Julia’s work from her newsletter, A Woman To Know. There’s no wrong starting place: every issue is that perfect balance between short enough to gulp them all down like so many Pringles, but sufficiently rich in deep dive-enabling links that you could treat each one like a fully-balanced meal.

Some faves:

  • Taytu Betul, Ethiopian negotiator par excellence & queen of "No" as a complete sentence!

  • Wu Zetian, who ruled China as an emperor (no cutesy diminutive suffixes for her, thanks!)

  • Margaret Cavendish, inventor of science fiction!

  • Alice Roosevelt Longworth, First Daughter and Washington power broker of whom Theodore Roosevelt once famously said "I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both." 

  • Ida Lupino, who went from being a teenage starlet to one of the earliest, and most successful, female directors in all of Hollywood history (who also posses the honor of being a longtime favorite of Meg, Dame M's cool mom). 

Dame Sophie’s Links, In The Style of Challenges From The Great British Bake-Off

We will not speak of The Male Judge

  • Silver Dragee-Encrusted Croquembouche: I think any friend I’ve ever made or romantic partner I’ve ever had liked me because I’m funny. But mostly, when I hear other people compliment me (sometimes when you eavesdrop, you DO hear nice things about yourself), they don’t focus on my effervescent wit. WHY IS THAT? Noted historian & funny lady Rosa Lyster (with an assist by her equally funny Frith) explain that Anne Boleyn is both to thank & blame for this state of affairs, as she was obviously hilarious, but Henry VIII and all his male courtiers simply couldn’t conceptualize female...humor??? So they decided she was a witch. As one does! Sound logic, Tudor bros! SO, now we know: if anyone’s ever described you as mysterious, delightful, enchanting, charismatic, or simply said, “there’s just something about you” (a la Pharrell in “Beautiful”), what they mean is you have them in stitches, because you’re a damn laugh riot. (h/t for this one to Maris Kreizman, whose newsletter’s title, The Maris Review, tells you exactly what kind of woman she is.)

  • Princess Cake: All hail Winona Ryder, maintaining the delicate balance between being very emotionally open & holding stuff back to maintain a healthy for her level of privacy: “I wish I could unknow this, but there is a perception of me that I’m supersensitive and fragile. And I am supersensitive, and I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. To do what I do, I have to remain open.” She says that sensitive is so often used as a bad word — a euphemism for weak or crazy.” Related: ~~~Your feelings aren’t character flaws, emotion doesn’t exist in opposition to logic, they’re both useful~~~. PS: as I’ve said many times before & will continue to say, handing out little handy packs of kleenex as I go to whoever needs them: it’s alright to cry.  

  • Elaborate, Yet Also Delicious 3-D Bread Sculpture: Oksana Chusovitinahas competed for three different nations at seven Olympic Games, has a son who is the same age as a bunch of her competitors, and we should all bow down before her. Bonus: you probably know the name Olga Korbut, as she’s a gymnastics legend & her name is super-fun to say. But did you know that she brought the house down as a 17 year-old at the 1972 Munich Games with an uneven bars routine that was so breathtakingly dangerous, elements of it are now illegal in competition? While wearing the cutest damn pigtails you ever saw? Well, now you do!

  • Pecan, Rosemary, Caramel & Apple Pie: The more time passes, the more I’m inclined to hold a bit of a grudge against Justin Timberlake for the diminishment of Janet Jackson’s standing in the public eye. She’s a private person, to be sure, but shouldn’t her recent album have dominated our collective musical consciousness for longer than an Internet minute? Wesley Morris unpacks the cultural significance of her groundbreaking 1986 album Control, which, packed to the rafters as it is with hits of pure pop and R&B fire, absolutely dominated my bedroom radio & middle school dances for at least two years. When’s the last time you spat out her immortal street harassment clapback “No, my first name ain’t Baby. It’s Janet. MISS JACKSON IF YA NASTY!” Probably not recently enough. Do it, even if you’re at home reading this in the quietude of your bed. This is disruptive, propulsive sonic armor, essential for summer (and every season), and it’ll do you good.

  • Deceptively Simple Perfect Shortbread: perhaps you think manspreading is a modern vice. Au contraire, Blackadder, this scourge has been with us since at least the Victorian era, when it was known & reviled as THE ROOMY DODGE (courtesy of #DamesPal Karen). I move that we bring this term back into popular derisive usage.

Roomy dodgers are definitely nasty boys, who don’t mean a thing to me (uh!).

Dame Margaret's Links, Which are Justly Listed Second, Because They Have None of Dame Sophie's Elan, Nor Even a Gif to Open Them

At least if I'm opening with a still image, it's a stellar one.
[Can you even imagine how cool we'd look in these skirts???]

  • There is nothing that I do not love about Menja Stevenson’s series “Bus Tour,” a project wherein she made outfits that matched the seats of buses she’d take to and from class at her art school in Stuttgart, and then photographed herself wearing them ON the buses. In addition to making me wonder how a fabric that looks SO ugly on seats could look so great as a dress, it led me to this terrific article from the BBC, answering the VITAL question: WHY is train-seat fabric so ugly? In addition to identifying the many reasons, the piece also taught me three important things: (1) the type of fabric used on public transit is called moquette, which seems like a GREAT word to know for Scrabble, (2) there was, at one point, a bus line between London and Birmingham that upholstered its seats in leopard print fabric, and (3) the London Transit Museum sells certain iconic British moquettes by the yard, so I could theoretically one day upholster a fainting couch in fabric featured on my favorite Tube line or (EVEN BETTER) a pair of SNEAKERS made from same.

  • As someone who grew up in a city that’s simultaneously famous for its liberal politics and its huge Catholic population, I know a lot of people whose positions on the question of abortion are incredibly fraught, fraught in a way that I rarely see reflected by voices on either side of the pro-life or pro-choice debate. So I found this thorough, thoughtful essay addressing the challenge of voting when you believe with equal fervor that abortion is a moral wrong and women’s rights and bodily autonomy are sacrosanct, from theologian/memoirist Rachel Held Evans, incredibly refreshing. I grew up thinking of abortion as a given, so her struggles aren’t mine, but they are those of many feminists who grew up in communities of faith. Her explicit detailing of all the ways you can value life without also controlling women’s bodies (or value women’s rights while still leaving space for people’s private moral stance on abortion to be complicated) is extremely worthwhile.

  • If you know us, your Dames, then you must also know that we are total process nerds. So of course I found this piece from Vice, detailing day in the life of a day in the life of a Brooklyn funeral director, insanely fascinating. So many forms! He has unclaimed ashes that he’s kept for DECADES! How could you NOT want to read that??

  • And finally! Here, have a pair of GREAT things from April that I accidentally slept on, LIKE A FOOL.

    • (1) This piece from #Damesfav Rebecca Traisterre-examining the legacy of Marcia Clark, who spent twenty years as a laughingstock for “fumbling” the O.J. Simpson trial only to finally experience a little more nuance thanks to-- shockingly enough-- Ryan Murphy, a television auteur not famed for his subtlety. This essay made me grateful, again, for the terrific documentary miniseries O.J.: Made in America (still available to watch for free on and it made me impatient for Murphy’s FX series, American Crime Story: The People v.s. O.J. Simpson, to drop on one of my streaming platforms already. I SUBSCRIBE TO THREE. SURELY ONE WILL GET IT SOON????  

    • ​(2) Laura Gibson’s album Empire Builder, the April release of which somehow slipped past me despite the fact that she is one of the top-ranked Lauras in my Coterie of Singing Lauras (a club which incorporates more women in more music styles than you might ever suppose). I was lucky enough to have the lead single pop up in my SoundCloud last week and I have been totally immersed in the album’s delicate spiny slinky folk ever since.