Golden Dames

Hi, Dames Nation!

We are Karen Corday and Sara Faith Alterman and we are so happy to Guest Dame for Sophie and Margaret this week. We met in 2008 when we took over producing the Boston branch of the nostalgia-and-humiliation juggernautMortified. Just a few weeks after this meeting, Karen asked SFA to be her “comedy wife.” She accepted, and we have continued to work, travel, drink, eat, and LAFF together EVER SINCE. We even made it unofficially official at the 24-hour Church of Elvis, which is not actually any of those things.


Here we are, standing on a stage under childhood photos of ourselves having a
Worst Childhood Poetry read-off. It is what we do.

Speaking of old friends, let’s pause a moment to wish a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Karen’s oldest and dearest internet friend: DAME SOPHIE!

Sophie and Karen met on the Bust magazine message boards in the grand old year of 1998! We had both recently graduated from Seven Sisters colleges (Bryn Mawr! Smith!) and moved to two of the smaller U.S. Big Cities (Philadelphia! Boston!), were bored at extremely terrible, low-paying publishing jobs, were considering becoming librarians, and loved to talk about….well, why don’t I show you? Remember Pitas? Well, it’s how some of us first blogged while listening to The Strokes on our Discman. Somehow, Karen’s Pita [yes, she called herself Hellsbelle! She knows! She is sorry!] and Sophie’s Pita are still online. Let’s enjoy some Vintage Sophie, shall we?

Sophie’s Ode to Her Cool Father:
(I’ve met him; he IS cool! -K) [Ed note: this is factually accurate and you can read Sophie's Dad's contributions to this very newsletter in our Longform Bossy Take on Nostalgia Formation & Historic Preservation!]


Here's the Julie London album in question:

Whatever Julie Wants Cover.jpg

Sophie Weighs In On Eminem’s Relentless Family Drama:


Sophie Defends Wes Anderson Against A.O. Scott and Asks Important Questions,
In Re: Frivolity and Leisure:


Finally, Sophie Recaps the 2001 Golden Globes! A snippet:


Sophie, I love you and I celebrate you and I cherish all these years we’ve had together on and off the internet. [Ed note: infinite row of sobbing & heart-eye emoji. -- Dame S.]

Oh yeah, we saw Wonder Boys together the weekend it came out. JEALOUS?!

The K Files

I’m going to start off and curate a (tiny) archive of well-curated archives. I know the word “curate” gets overused and side-eyed, but there is nothing I love more than a well-selected collection.

VHS maven Josh Burdick accidentally created an archive of 90’s television. Just go look at the breadth AND depth of what’s there: sure, coverage of just about every piece of news you can imagine, but also Talk Soup hosted by Kato KaelinBaby Christina Ricci on Regis & Kathi LeeCommercials that aired during Seinfeld’s series finale! Isn’t it weird that future TV watchers won’t have the same nostalgia for old commercials that we (I?) have because it’s so easy to skip them? I don’t know, the space in my brain devoted to the Wendy’s Garden Spot song could probably be put to better use.

Here’s another YouTube archive near and dear to me: zgreggz83’s Solid Gold archive, featuring TWELVE compilations of principal dancer Darcel Wynne’s flawless, spangled, high-kicking work. God bless Bev Blaisdell, the babysitter who looked me in the eye and told me I could be anything I wanted to be when I asked her if I could be a Solid Gold Dancer when I grew up. Darcel is STILL AT IT , continues to look and dance like a goddess, and has WRITTEN A BOOK CALLED DARCEL SOLID GOLD, serving as an inspiration to us all.

Celebrity Fragrance Guide: A Guide to Smelling Famous. What anonymous genius is responsible for this glorious resource? What does Rihanna smell like? Well, heaven, obviously, but she also allegedly smells like “Momoberry, Escada Moon Sparkle, Reb'l Fleur, [and/or] Rogue by Rihanna.” It’s also fun to find smell twins--Stevie Wonder and Ricki Lake, apparently! Pat Nixon and Tyra Banks?! And look, Meredith Vieira is the last person on earth who uses Jean Naté--isn’t that so fitting, somehow? What a wonderful world, sometimes.

Speaking of Jean Naté, Victoria Gent, proprietress of EauMG, the best damn fragrance and beauty blog on the internet, recently did a Drugstore Divas perfume series and it is spectacular. I never stopped wearing Skin Musk, and her ode to Navy, the heavy, powdery, inexplicable teen fav of the early 90s that in Victoria’s words “opens with stewed peaches and a dirty hair costus,” did the unnerving trick of making me feel like I was smelling my eighth grade best frenemy for the first time in twenty five years.


Classic? Maybe. Clean? No.

As we all know, The Toast is closing up shop soon. I hope Mallory, Nicole, and Nicole take to the sea in whatever ways they see fit. What will YOU miss most? Femslash FridayTwo Monks? Everything written by Nicole Chung, who came along and made a great website the best website in the world? Hard to pick, I know, but the If X Were Your Y series is a solid choice, as evidenced by the recent If Oscar Isaac Were Your Boyfriend from Sulagna Misra, the woman who declared him 2016’s Internet Boyfriend, so she oughta know.

The Toast was the first place I sent my stuff when I decided to try writing in public for the first time since my aforementioned late-90’s blogging experiments and they published my very first essay. They let me do it twice more [Sassy magazineListening to the radio!] and I thank them for that and for always having something good to read. Right before I finished my section of the newsletter, I read Gloria Yip’s When You Smile: On Humor and the Heart and was promptly floored and wrote to SFA: “I HAVE TO ADD SOMETHING TO MY DAMES SECTION. I’M VERY EMOTIONAL NOW.” I did and I am.

Sometimes the internet gets in my business and sends me multiple variations on a theme and expects me to figure out what the universe is trying to tell me. For instance, this ‘Smooth Criminal’ Vine made the rounds on Twitter, and I have to watch it at least ten times every time. Hannah Pilkes’s MIGHTY WIND UP before she takes wrench to stockpot is just…::kisses fingertips.:: THEN, here came Aida Amoako’s essay in Queen Mob’s Teahouse: A Murder Mystery in Pop: How ‘Smooth Criminal’ Subverted the Hardboiled Detective Genre, a great piece bringing together two of my loves, dance and detective novels, in the most wonderful way. Why ‘Smooth Criminal’ now, world? Whatever the reason, I’m glad.

Even more puzzling is the sudden presence of SARK on my radar. I have never been a SARK fan; her aggressively whimsical, seemingly simplistic self-help aesthetic, not to mention book titles like Succulent Wild Woman: Dancing With Your Wonder-full Self!, turned me right off at first glance. I had forgotten how ubiquitous and infuriating her How To Be A Fabulous Feminist poster was in my late-90’s women’s college universe until school friend/celebrated indie rock time travel novelist Mo Daviau posted said artifact on FB and then wrote about it and how crappy and embarrassing it looks through a modern lens. I have to admit my 90’s SARK issues had little to do with that poster’s lack of intersectionality, and I certainly wouldn’t have known to call it that; I was and am just a very cranky person who distrusts primary colors, childlike lettering, and platitudes! HOWEVER, then Jaya Saxena wrote about 2016 SARK: her “empire,” which has spread from books and posters to a vibrant, much loved internet presence, her significance as a “precursor to the vulnerable, confessional writing we see across the internet, especially from women” (guilty!), and her still-rare-on-the-internet sincerity and openness. SARK is still very much not my jam, but I appreciate what she’s doing and what she means to people, forgive her for that poster (I GUESS!), and continue to ponder why the universe thinks *I* need to think about SARK right now.

Shirley Jackson, on the other hand, IS very much my jam, and reading and rereading the first paragraph of The Haunting of Hill House as annotated by Random House Copy Chief Benjamin Dreyer is my idea of self-help. Speaking of Shirley J, imagine my joy upon discovering Ruth Franklin’s newsletter Updates From The Shirley Jackson Files, bringing the world lots of important and satisfying Shirley Jackson news as she finishes up Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, coming in September!

Those are my current files, friends. Thank you kindly; have a Flaming Moe on me!

SFA Takes it Away: I Got Y’all Knuckleheads In Loco Parentis

Hello! I hear you like Hamilton. We have that in common, so I’m charging into This Week in Hamilton like the minutemen militia charged the North Bridge during the Battles of Lexington and Concord. I grew up about 10 miles from the North Bridge and my family used to participate in Revolutionary War reenactments, so I am uniquely qualified to make that joke.

Let’s do this. If you make it all the way through I’ll tell you about the time I talked to LMM about winning a Pulitzer Prize while eating chicken fingers with Sarah Vowell. Seriously.

Thanks for sticking with me. Here’s your reward:

I was so so so so fortunate enough to see Hamilton, and even more so because it was on the evening of Prince’s death, so I was present when the cast got down to Let’s Go Crazy in his honor. The entire audience was dancing and crying, even a bunch of confused teenagers sitting behind me who didn’t quite understand what was going on. Those kids, by the way, were singing along with the show during the opening number until some angel person behind THEM hissed “I didn’t pay $500 to hear YOU sing.”

Through some magickal events I ended up at a party afterward. Well it wasn’t really a party. It was bowling. Because all of the shows on Broadway have a bowling league. And each team has a punny name. Hamilton’s is The Hamilpins. Les Miz’s is One Pin More. Try not to die.

Some highlights:

  • LMM is an unbelievably nice person who gives a lot of hugs. In fact, he hugged me. I’d say it was the #1 most wonderful and memorable moment of my life but I have a baby and I don’t think I’m allowed to value anything above the first time I held him. Let’s call it a tie.

  • I ended up at a table with Sarah Vowell, who asked for a hot fudge sundae and didn’t realize that it came in a martini glass the size of a soup tureen.

  • I hid in the bathroom and sent a lot of panicked text messages to Meredith Goldstein, who had recently found herself in a similar situation with astronomically higher stakes at an Oscar party with Michael Weatherly from NCIS.

  • My unselfconscious husband spent a lot of time talking to Sarah Vowell about her latest book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.

  • He also talked very, very loudly about trying to get an autograph from LMM.

  • I went back into the bathroom because GOD YOU’RE SO EMBARRASSING.

  • Sarah Vowell brokered an LMM autograph for us.

  • I immediately purchased The Partly Cloudy Patriot audiobook on iTunes.

  • LMM’s handwriting is barely legible. It’s literally just some squiggly lines. (I tried to find it and take a picture for you but I don’t know where it is. I know. Maybe I put it in a drawer somewhere? What the fuck is wrong with me?)

  • The hot fudge sundae went mostly uneaten.

Game of ThrOMG

Ok. Ok.

It’s no kind of spoiler at all to say that historically the general timbre of Game of Thrones has been: “Ladies: You got boobies and bossy mouths and that’s about it. Now shutcha bossy mouth and take out dem boobies.” Even if you don’t watch, I’d imagine you’ve probably heard a thing or two about all the raping thinly disguised as just another happy hour at Ye Olde Beyond the Wall Pit Stoppe and Seksual Assaulte Emporium.

Regarding last Sunday’s episode, I’ll try to be vague but just in case: SPOILER ALERT.

This is everything. Even if you don’t watch the show. Or care. Or whatever. It’s important because the women are finally starting to win, which is why this show’s a science fiction fantasy AM I RIGHT LAYDEES UP TOP/LOLZ/WEEP/SCREAM/HILLARY 2016.

Here’s a recap.

All of these game (of thrones. GET IT?!) changing shifts in power dynamics could mean that the show’s women will finally kick the patriarchy in its arse and rule like the queens/swagger like the pirates/annihilate fanatical megalomaniacs like the heretical monarchs they are.

This BuzzFeed list of thoughts had while watching this week’s GOT episodepretty much covers it. I myself screamed the following:

  • Shit! Fuck yeah! FUCKING YEAH!

  • Get that eyeliner off your FACE.

  • Wait, is eyeliner guy the same as no-face guy? No, wait, thousand-island guy? No, thousand-FACE guy?

  • Fly, girl!

  • Burn, ya FUCKS.

  • Zig then zag! ZIG THEN ZAG! THIS IS NOT HARD. Oh, well, you’re dead now.

  • Ow, get off my leg!

  • Oh SHIT it’s the dogs!

  • Yes! Who’s the man now, dog?

  • Wait - IS THIS THE FINALE? Oh ok good.


Real Quick

  • This latte artist reminds me of when I was studying abroad in London and went to a Guinness pub called The Toucan all the time. The bartender there was a very unfortunate looking man whose nose had clearly been on the receiving end of one too many drunken sucker punches, but he was an extraordinary Guinness foam artist. He was so good that he could write his phone number. Considering how long British phone numbers are AND that he had to write the +44 for all of us American dumdums, it was pretty astonishing.

  • People with a lot more time and a LOT more talent than I have created “The Neu Jorker,” a full-length parody issue of The New Yorker. Ads and everything. She’s a beaut.

  • Two words, one hashtag: #TeaLizard.


  • Rue McClanahan’s friend Michael La Rue is opening a Golden Girls-themed restaurant called the Rue La Rue Cafe and we will meet you there for cheesecake.

  • Don’t forget your free Ticketmaster tickets. And to frost ya tips, homey.


Off-Duty ShowgirlAn acquaintance once described her style as “off-duty showgirl.” The phrase stuck with me, and it is a theme and a mood that accurately describes lots of my favorite music. This playlist is best enjoyed in a silky robe, perhaps with your hair in a towel, seated comfortably with some frosty nail polish, a frosty beverage, and a slight air of world-weary ennui. Put your feet up; you’ve earned it. - K


Photo by Gordon Parks, my favorite photographer of all time. These are actual off-duty showgirls!

The Holy Trinity of Pop SadnessDame Margaret, Guest Dame/Unfriendly Black Hottie Kamille, and DamesPal Elizabeth had a Twitter conversation in which they came up with this short, potent trio of perfect extremely sad pop songs and I stole them away, made a playlist, stole the title from Margaret, and present it to you in its entirety. - K on behalf of M, K, & E

Sea Me, Feel Me: In honor of Game of Throne’s mistress of marauding, regent of reaving, and forewoman of fluid sexuality on the high seas Yara Greyjoy, I bring you this playlist of sea shanties sung by ladies. - S