AHOY, BELOVED INTERFAITH CHUMS OF DAMES NATION!
We’re back and we hope you’re all well-rested and ready for another heady brew of enthusiastic
cultural recommendations !
One of several recipes for chai that we are super-keen on making & taste-testing
Ramadan, the monthlong Muslim holiday of daily fasting and reflection, began last weekend, and we’ve noticed a lovely and illuminating flurry of coverage about the holiday, its significance, and its specific & internationally varied foodways for an iftar, the daily fast-breaking evening meal. BuzzFeed’s indispensable and lively See Something, Say Something is running a great series of special episodes this month. So far, there’s been one on preparation for fasting, and another on the challenges of building an inclusive faith community. Eternal DamesFav and BuzzFeed writer Bim Adewunmi is featured in this lovely piece on the many ways to hold an iftar at home, at the mosque, or even in a bodega.
Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY! 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU Livetweet!
WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT SHAYNA PUNIM THO.
Rest in Power, Dear Heath.
Come one, come all, Dames Nationals! Gather around your TVs and your laptops ~*this very Sunday*~ to celebrate the glory that is 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, a film that awakened MANY A YOUNG WOMAN to the glories of both very basic feminism and Heath Ledger. OR MAYBE to the glories of Julia Stiles-- we bet a lot of you will volunteer as much on Sunday. We can’t wait to unearth the film’s rich queer subtext with you. PLEASE DO JOIN US:
When: Sunday, June 4 at 7:30 PM ET
Where: Twitter, using #TenDames to make sure you see all the brilliant & cheeky insights from your fellow Dames Nationals
How: Netflix (or an obliging DVD)
You’re just too good to be true, Dames Nation. We can’t take our eyes off of you.
Margaret and Sophie’s Headphone Happiness Hotline
Y’all, can we be straight with you right now? We Your Dames-- our focus this first quarter of 2017 has been PRETTY SHOT. Something about the constant emotional terrorism of just reading the daily news has made it a little hard for us to stay on top of our long-term projects WE GUESS. What does this mean for you, our dear readers? WELL, for one thing, it means that the ~*SPRING TUNEZ*~ playlist we started making for you in, oh, FEBRUARY is only just NOW being delivered to you on JUNE 2ND. Thankfully, due to CLIMATE CHANGE, large portions of These United States are still experiencing weather that could generously be described as “spring-like” despite the lateness of the season. Hopefully these tunes will provide at least our fellow North American Northeasterners with some comfort while they glance with brimming eyes at their sundresses while reluctantly again pulling a raincoat on over their weather-required skinny jeans & woolly socks. And, for the rest of you, ideally the songs will be good enough to delight even if they don’t align with the weather as perfectly as they otherwise might have. AND, if talking is more your speed, BOY HOWDY DO WE HAVE SOME OPTIONS FOR YOU!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Your Dames are mad for music podcasts (when they’re not mad AT music podcasts, that is, ba-DUM-bum-ksshhh). So we’ll start there and see where the recommending takes us!
First up, from Dame Sophie! Here are a few new-to-me favorites! First up, Talk Direction, in which hosts & besties Caitlin Foster & Cara Pond dissect all the One Direction news that’s fit to record, through a brainy, feminist, and frequently very funny lens. Unbreak My Chart is a British poptimist heaven, hosted by critics Fraser McAlpine and Laura Snapes, who dissect the week’s UK pop charts with verve and warmth, and encyclopedic knowledge. You’ve probably heard me raving about Billboard scholar Chris Molanphybefore - he writes the Why Is This Song Number One column for Slate and is a frequent guest on their daily podcast The Gist. Now he has a monthly show, Hit Parade, where he tells long-lost stories of Billboard’s Hot 100 charts using the same impeccably researched, easy storytelling style my imaginary AP US Government boyfriend John Dickerson employs on the Whistlestoppodcast. There are only two episodes out -- one about how UB40’s cover of Neil Diamond’s song “Red Red Wine” became a hit years after its initial release, and another about how the Beatles managed to occupy the entire Top 5 one week in 1964 -- so getting up-to-date will be both easy and deeply rewarding.
And now, from Margaret, two music shows you have probably ALREADY listened to, but which turned in particularly GREAT episodes in recent weeks, leading to me needing to shout about them anew. Our affinity for Switched on Pop-- a podcast where hosts Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding dissect Top 40 pop music using musical theory, songwriting know-how, and their effervescent wit-- is a long and established affair, but their episode from a few weeks ago about the “musical architecture” in Charlie Puth’s “Attention” and Haim’s “Want You Back” was so delightful that it accomplished something I’d previously assumed would be impossible: it made me LIKE a Charlie Puth song. So, please give that a listen if somehow you’ve missed it.
NEXT: guys, are all of you who care about either music OR the creative process already listening to Song Exploder? Please say yes because the show, where host Hrishikesh Hirway walks through the creation of a song with the artistic team behind it, layer by layer, instrument by instrument, is one of the BEST explorations or either music OR the creative process that I have encountered to date. The recent episode with British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka on his song “Black Man in a White World” is a real stand out, but his episode with Solange, Queen Carly Rae, and (WEIRDLY) Weezer are also just terrific. IF SOMEHOW you have been sleeping on this podcast, STOP. DROP. AND LISTEN-- each episode is 25 minutes AT MOST, and that includes 3-5 minutes that’s just the song the episode dissects played in its entirety at the episode’s end.
SPEAKING OF THINGS PEOPLE WERE DUMB AND SLEPT ON, do you guys have any idea how many times Dame Sophie and our Cherished Pals, The Black Hotties, raved about Still Processing, the New York Times’s contribution to the Culture Roundtable genre, before I, noted idiot Dame Margaret, FINALLY SAT DOWN AND LISTENED TO IT? Literal COUNTLESS TIMES for ACTUAL MONTHS. But now I have and guyyyyyyyyys it’s SO GOOD?? Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris (both black, both queer) are the kind of brilliant conversationalists that can connect the recent Baywatch remake to America’s history of segregated beaches while still producing a discussion that feels both effortless and extremely fun. If you, like me, have slept on this INCREDIBLE podcast for a genuinely shameful length of time, might I recommend checking out their episode on the new Netflix sitcom Dear White People and ALSO the incredibly invasive ways that white people like to perform “wokeness”? Because it truly knocked my socks off and I need new people to shout about it with. BUT ALSO so was their episode on reaffirming Whitney Houston’s place in the musical canon. (Oh, my stars, the Whitney episode is SO GOOD, it made me laugh, cry, sing along, and nod deeply. LISTEN TO IT NOWWWWW, everyone! -- Dame S.)
I, Dame Sophie, recently described Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast Unorthodox to a friend as “3 Jews, 8 opinions”, which is only a slight exaggeration. (This is a Jew’s prerogative: I frequently have 3 or 4 opinions on all sorts of things, which is part of how Dame M. & I maintain the lavishly high word counts you all enjoy so much in your inboxes weekly.) The trio of hosts, Marc Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Liebowitz, enjoy a warm and only occasionally prickly sibling-type relationship as they gleefully dissect the week’s News of the Jews, and then interview a Jew of the Week & a Gentile of the Week. It’s been one of my steady favorites for the last year, and is easy to listen to whether you’re a Member of the Tribe or not. (Recent favorite episodes: Wall This Way, including a segment about the Jews of Ireland [who knew?] and I’m A Ringo, featuring a lovely interview with Rob Sheffield talking about his wonderful new book, Dreaming The Beatles, which I will be ranting about in more detail next week)
Some monster woman named Maria Konnikova went and stole the dream I, Dame Margaret, did not even know I had. She made AN ENITRE PODCAST ABOUT CON ARTISTS, called The Grift, I guess because she literally wrote the book on them or something, and SPOILER ALERT it’s great. My favorite episodes are ALL OF THEM but also this one, on New York’s most famous art forger, and this one, on a SELF-MADE CON ARTIST HEIRESS (another dream, ALSO STOLEN). Thanks VERY MUCH to Dames National Leandra for bringing this one to my attention.
AND FINALLY! Do you like these limited-run documentary podcasts like Serial? But maybe you want something that’s a little less navel-gazing or true-crimey or self-consciously novelistic? Or do you just, correctly, think that Oprah Winfrey is one of the most fascinating figures of modern media history? WELL EITHER WAY, MARGARET IS HERE FOR YOU, MY FRIENDS, and I need you to listen to WBEZ’s limited-series documentary podcast Making Oprah. All told, it’ll take you 4.5 hours to listen to the three main episodes and the three excellent bonus episodes, and you will come out the other side SO INTRIGUED AND SATISFIED AND EDIFIED AND GRATEFUL TO THEM FOR MAKING THE SHOW.
HOPEFULLY one or more of those suggestions will leave you feeling like THIS:
If so, you know the drill: come shout at us on Twitter about how smart we are.
A Slew of Sophielicious Links
Bring it, fools. (By “fools”, I mean everyone from President Cheeto to David Edelstein)
(Not you, darlings, obviously. AS IF!)
I’m still not sold on subscribing to CBS’ one-network Hulu, but the trailer for Star Trek: Discovery has me teetering. Two female leads! Played by women of color! In spaaaaace! Swapna Krishna’s very personal reflection on Michelle Yeoh’s choice to use her own Malaysian Chinese accent in her role as Captain Philippa Georgiou made me feel many representation feelings. This is the kind of scifi we all need.
I saw the New York Times' CEO Mark Thompson speak a couple of weeks ago in Philly & his most interesting/chilling comment was that though he thinks the Times will easily continue in print for the next five years, as printing facilities nationwide shut down, the ability to distribute it outside the NYC area shrinks. This lovely video tribute to one of the Boston Globe's printing plants shutting down (you can see a pressman carefully inspecting & skimming a copy of the Times at one point) highlights that very problem.
Best Director of our hearts Barry Jenkins highlights seven international film influences on Moonlight reminding me that I need to watch every film Wong Kar-wai has ever made. Swoon, swoon, swoooooooon.
My daughter & I have been gorging our eyes on Riverdale this past week and while I’m not quite ready to tease out the ways we view it differently thanks to our 30-year age difference, her in-depth knowledge of the original Archie comics, and my enjoyment of all the cultural allusions and meta-references packed into each episode, this piece in the LA Review of Books does a great job at getting at what I love and revel in about the show, despite its flaws (looking at your regrettable choices to write that garbage Ms. Grundy plotline and erasing Jughead’s canonical asexuality, CW.) (I can’t lie, though, I am also lowkey Bughead trash. I know. I KNOW. I’d so much rather that underrepresented folks like ace & aro people were represented well on a mainstream teen soap, and ALSO I am deeply susceptible to seeing beautiful people with sizzlingly sweet chemistry go all moony over each other. I am a problematic fave.)
Just one item for The Harold Herald this week: NBD, but the world’s most delightful & accomplished boy was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition today. When this crossed my Tumblr dash this morning, I shouted: “Is this real?! Oh, hot damn!” and punched the air. Once again, this sweet lifelong learner in haute couture does not disappoint.
And finally! Have you heard the good news about Jonathan Richman, the great, understated bard of everyday life? Over the years, he’s written songs about everything from Ice Cream Men, to dancing at the lesbian bar, to his great love for Boston and New England, generally, and many more. He still tours, and if you have the opportunity to see him live, GO, he puts on a wonderful acoustic show. Anyway, a fellow member of a music-related FB Group that Dame M and I adore posted this little video, which has stolen my heart and tucked it inside its own. It’s from a 1994 episode of what I think is Conan O’Brien’s first late-night show, and features Jojo accompanying then-SNL cast member Julia Sweeney on a song about the Irish bars of New York. It’s a song of pure charm and sweetness, and will improve your outlook this very day by at least 100%.
The immediate effect of the above song on Dame S’ entire spirit