Salut, Dames Nation!
We love a queering of gender roles!
What does Monty Python’s famous Lumberjack song have to do with this week’s newsletter? Well, almost nothing! But it has something to do with NEXT week’s newsletter, which shall be guest edited by our #Damespals Willa (a historian/lumberjack expert whose failure to mention the above song was the ONE DOWNFALL* of her brilliant essay in The Atlantic which demonstrated, with beautiful clarity, the way lumberjacks have been to urban [mostly] white men what Le Petit Trianon was to Marie Antoinette since time immemorial) and Ruth (possibly better known to you as Rave Sashayed, the creator of such immortal Tumblr art as Boba Fett is a Lesbian 2K16 and Eaglecrest, the REAL North American School of Witchcraft and Wizardry). We are thrilled to have them and can’t wait to see the glories they lay before us and you!
*(N.B. Neglecting to mentioning this song was not actually a downfall, it’s just the thing upon which 98% of the commenters on the piece chose to dwell, which made Dame M. highlighting it inevitable, because trolling is her love language.)
Not Planning to Attend Sunday Night’s Practical Magic Livetweet???
Frankly, we don’t know what’s wrong with you either. Joined by our cherished pals Amy & Ally, co-leaders of the #girlgang pack, we Your Dames are anticipating a ROLLICKING good time to be had by all, and it would truly be a shame if you failed to join us for it. The details, in case they have slipped your mind, are as follows:
What: The last Two Bossy Dames livetweet of 2K16, of the 90s witchcraft classic, Practical Magic
When: This Sunday, 12/18 at 7:30 PM EST.
Where: Your homes, by way of the magic of Twitter and Netflix (or via personally owned DVD or VHS, depending on your level of dedication to 90s witches).
How: By gathering around the Twitter hashtag #BossyMagic
It’s gonna be a party!
It's been a long time since Dame M. watched this movie and every time she sees gifs of this scene, she gets stupidly excited to watch it again.
Tell Us All Your Woes!
Do you need some help remembering that NO man is an island, whether cookie-containing or otherwise? Well, today’s your lucky day! We’re going to do an Ask Two Bossy Dames issue early in 2017 and we’d love to help you -- you won’t even need to ply us with baked goods as you might with Cookie Monster, Life Coach. Just drop your query into our Google Form and you MAY be the lucky one showered with our wisdom & sparkling insights!
Dame Margaret's Christmas-y Quintet of Links
Based on cinematic evidence to date, I feel comfortable assuming this is the only dance Michael Caine knows. Don't @ me.
First, I have two important pieces of scholarship about two of my veryfavorite Christmas movies:
An interview with Michael Caine wherein he demonstrates that he loves The Muppet Christmas Carol as much as I do, and describes what it’s like to sing a duet with Kermit the Frog.
An essay from Chad Perman, my internet pal and the editor of established #Damesfav /online film magazine Bright Wall/Dark Room, on the enduring appeal and surprising darkness of It’s a Wonderful Life, an essay which so completely elucidated all my feelings about the film that it made me cry nearly as hard as watching it does! As someone who’s been touched by the ripples of Chad’s actions, all I can say is I’m very glad he has this film to remind him of the value of his quiet life, because even though we barely know one another, his work means a lot to me.
You know what ELSE means a lot to me? Copy editors, apparently, because I found myself getting a little verklempt while reading this tribute to the importance of the copy desk from The New York Times.
And then, to round things out, I have a pair of nifty gift suggestion.
For a person on your list who does not mind a little delayed gratification, you should pre-order this stunningly beautiful deck of tarot cards, each highlighting a fascinating woman from history whose work or reputation aligns with the card’s meaning. Since this is a Kickstarter, the cards themselves will not be manufactured and delivered for a couple months, but just KNOWING their on the way will likely give the right recipient an abiding thrill.
For yourself, because you will need something to do over the holidays other than talk to your family: may I recommend Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia? I have been praising this book, on many platforms, for over a year now-- everywhere from Pop Culture Happy Hour to our $10 subscriber bonus email. I have bullied at least a dozen of my nearest and dearest into reading it. AND YET, as the weather turns snowy again, nearly a year after I read it, I must shout of its greatness once more, so enchanted by it do I remain. The plot: A pair of 17-year-old twins, Alice (aspiring musical theater actress) and Rabbit Hatmaker (oboist), journey, in care of their music teacher Natalie, to their annual statewide music festival at The Bellweather, a sumptuous, ancient, isolated hotel in upstate New York-- one that, 15 years earlier, was the scene of a tragic murder-suicide. Chaos of a very specific and engrossing type then ensues-- a talented teen musician disappears! Illicit love affairs occur! Ancient grudges are dredged up, and terrible foes confronted! A giant snowstorm traps everyone at the hotel indefinitely! Characters are repeatedly described in a way to which I related so intensely that I was forced to take to Twitter and accuse the author of “subnovelling me”! It is the exact type of book you most need to read between Christmas and New Year’s. And if, like me, you happen to share with Kate a fondness for Weezer, or Agatha Christie, or David Bowie, or The Grand Budapest Hotel, then it will be a special treat-- that rare piece of referential art capable of taking all these familiar notes and reforming them into something wholly distinct, something that’s the equal of all the great things to which it pays tribute. [Strongest possible co-sign. The number of times I looked up from this novel & shouted, with my eyes full of tears, "MY EMOTIONS!", approaches infinity. -- Dame S.]
Dame Sophie, Proud George Michael Apologist
This image is a beautifully gift-wrapped lie.
This one is a more painfully accurate representation of the song yelled about below.
Hi, friends. It’s freezing out here in the mid-Atlantic, and I’m here today to warm all our souls by making a case for redeeming George Michael from the cheesy, winking celebrity limbo he's been in for so long and elevating him to his well-deserved status as a truly great pop-soul singer. The song I am choosing to bolster my argument is not the hugely problematic but also sonically perfect “Father Figure”, nor the justly iconic & devastating “Careless Whisper”, but everyone’s favorite (or least favorite, though if this is the case for you, I’m sorry, you are wrong, just stand there in your wrongness & be wrong) sadly beautiful modern holiday weepie, “Last Christmas.”
Please accept no substitutes. No Jimmy Eat World, no Taylor Swift, no Glee, no Carly Rae Jepsen (no, not even she!). These versions all have their hearts in the right place, and they demonstrate how justly beloved the song is, but they commit the cardinal sin of increased tempo. This is the wrong approach for a heartbreak song. You have to take your time with “Last Christmas”, and George Michael knows this. (Ditto “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. I maintain that the reason so many misguided souls out there consider it a portrait of date rape, and not the dance of mutual seduction it so plainly is, is that their only frame of reference is the too-fast versions performed by literally every performer pair other than Ray Charles & Betty Carter.)
People, he sells the hell out of this song. Listen to his his whispers (“Happy Christmas”), thrill to his dejected swoops (“you toooooooore me apaaa-aart”), clasp your hands to your bosom over his tortured croons (“you gaaaa-aave me awaaaaay!”). He got his heart cruelly stomped on last Christmas, and he’s turned this heartbreak into a spiritual exercise. Oh yes, he’s walked through the fire, and he fully intends _not_ to be made a fool of again, thank you very much, by giving his heart, this time, finally, to someone special. Probably. Maybe. He’s psyching himself up, and maybe it won’t work out? Ugh, the way the song ends with an echoey, could be triumphant, could be dejected “someooooone” reminds me of the emotional devastation that Queen’s “Somebody to Love” always leaves in its wake. I really hope the George of both the song and real life has indeed found a real love & hasn’t been fooled again. Give yourself the gift of listening to this song with fresh ears. I dare you not to be moved. If you remain unmoved, God, Jed, I don't even want to know you.
A couple more bits & pieces for you:
Last-minute gifts for the feminist killjoy in your life, compiled by the ever-brilliant Anne Theriault.
Mmmm, accent talk! You know how your friend (or maybe you) came back from a semester abroad with a faintly different accent? Atlas Obscura knows why! They also know why we pronounce capicola as gabagool here in NJ, a thought which returned to me in a super-Proustian way this afternoon at MPOW’s holiday lunch, during which we were presented with an enormous platter of antipasto including both gabagool and prosciutt. If accent talk is brainy catnip for you (as it is for me), revisit my previous extended thoughts on accents, class & self-presentation.
All these years later, Rushmore might still be my favorite movie of all time. This video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz reminds me of so many of the reasons why.
Max Fischer aptly captures our entire attitude towards 2016.