Greetings, Dames Nationals! We are opening this week’s issue by posing a very thorny question to you. Namely:
You can replace the cast of any movie with The Muppets, but you keep one of the human actors. What movie and which human do you keep?July 15, 2018
And, in addition, we’re trying out a little substitution trick of our own: this week’s issue is Half Dame— Margaret, to be exact!— and Half Guest, one we’ve long hoped to collaborate with: Lisa Schmeiser, whose great newsletter “So What, Who Cares?” (presently on hiatus) is one of our favorites of all-time. Read just one of its many erudite issues— or her excellent contribtuon to the newsletter below!— and you’ll know exactly why we were so happy to get Lisa on board to help this week as Dame Sophie sends her darling daughter off to camp.
As for our Muppet substitution plans, Dame Margaret thought about it carefully for quite some time before she realized an absolute and objective truth: Miss Piggy was BORN to be a Hitchcock Blonde. Look into your heart and know it to be true.
From there, it was just a question of figuring out which Hitchcock movies are light enough to make good use of Muppets. My answers: REAR WINDOW (Lone Remaining Human Actor: Jimmy Stewart), NORTH BY NORTHWEST (Lone Remaining Human Actor: Cary Grant, with a shocking heel turn from Kermit as Miss Piggy’s art dealer-arms smuggler ex, Phillip Vandamm), and TO CATCH A THIEF (again with Cary Grant, largely because Miss Piggy deserves a chance to wear this dress).
For Lisa, the question was: what’s a human Muppety enough to out Muppet the Muppets? And the answer was equally apparent: Jeff Goldblum. So she kept him and decided to replace everyone else in THOR: RAGNAROK with Muppets and honestly, DAME MARGARET WOULD WATCH.
The Hulk is obviously played by Sweetums...
...while Dr. Bruce Banner would clearly be Dr. Bunsen Honeydew.
We’d love to hear what you come up with— please do @ us on Twitter (@twobossydames and @lschmeiser) with your favorite swaps!
Guest Dame Lisa on (1) Herself and (2) the Great Outdoors
Greetings to the citizens of Dames Nation!
Margaret and Sophie have graciously nudged me out of retirement (from the Internet Newsletter Game) with an offer to guest-edit and how does one refuse the Dames? Trick question! The answer is "One does not refuse the Dames, therefore, there is no 'how'."
My name is Lisa and I spend all day assigning, editing, reporting or writing on the business of IT, a topic I find vastly intriguing, even if it sounds like something that thrills only the consultants brought in to streamline Initech.
When I am not thinking about the radical transformation of white-collar work from a series of linear processes to a transparent, collaborative environment, I am occasionally talking about tech news for This Week in Tech With Leo Laporte and the tech news podcast Download, and podcasting about fun nerd things over on The Incomparable, including cohosting the world's only film criticism show where all films are judged solely on the merits of their trailers, Phil & Lisa Ruin the Movies.
(I may also be reviving my newsletter because the Dames can have that effect. Heaven help me if they ask me directly. We've already established there's no saying "No.")
This week, I wanted to talk about the great outdoors, a place I have been spending a great deal of time lately, thanks to my intense personal conviction (backed by research) that being outdoors gets your head on straight.
You don't have to give it the full 127 Hours treatment -- you can dip your toe into the wilderness with some shinrin-yoku, aka "forest bathing," which is basically taking a slow, mindful walk in an outdoors environment.
First, to all the California members of the Dames Nation: Did you know that you can get your shinrin-yoku on FOR FREE in the redwoods every second Saturday of the month? Thanks to the Save the Redwoods League, California state parks admission is free one Saturday a month to the state parks that have redwoods. Admission tickets are limited, so set yourself a calendar reminder for the last weekend of the preceding month (so, for the free August 11 admission, you're online at 8 a.m. on July 28 to nab your ticket).
I went to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park last weekend with my free admission and it was amazing: my hiking trail was next to a gurgling stream, the air had that faintly resinous, clean tree smell, and the second-generation redwoods stretched toward the china-blue sky -- a reminder that people can and will do spectacularly destructive and short-sighted things (like raze forests because the concept of responsible environmental stewardship was not a thing in the 1800s), and other people can and will look at the mess and say, "So let's fix this and leave the world a better place than we found it."
If Troop Beverly Hills can do it, so can you.
For those of you in redwood-deprived areas of the Dames Nation, don't despair. There are other, equally awesome outdoors opportunities. This interesting piece on old-growth forests in urban areas around the U.S. pings locales from Indiana to Pennsylvania to Kentucky with pointers on where to recreate.
Another bonus to getting outside, if you're a tech and business reporter, is that the U.S. outdoors industry is kind of a fascinating subject right now. Let us count a few of the ways:
Trailways are boosting local economies! I love this story about the Southwest Virginia trail infrastructure, which benefits both hikers (who are tromping through some of the loveliest mountains in the eastern U.S.) and small towns.
There's also this excellent story on how cyclists have been good for Montana's small-town economies.
The American Indian Law Center at the University of New Mexico, an intensive program for Indigenous law students, is helping America's tribal peoples build a legal force to protect tribal interests -- and there are often environmental benefits. The role of tribal sovereignty -- remember, the tribes were sovereign nations before colonizers arrived and they remain so legally -- is a serious force for shaping what the outdoors could look like.
People have finally noticed that everyone belongs outdoors, not just lithe white people. I urge you all to go to the library and read a copy of Outside magazine's May 2018 issue, which has several excellent articles detailing the good work people are doing to make the outdoors accessible to historically underserved populations, then check out this piece they did on the Climbers of Color initiative to train nonwhite mountaineering expedition leaders.
Then set aside three minutes and twenty seconds to watch this short film about one woman's ecstatic, restorative relationship to open-water swimming.
I've been lucky enough to spend some time swimming outdoors lately -- I introduced my daughter to open-water swimming at Waialea Beach, and we snorked in Kealakekua Bay. A month later, I took her swimming in Lake Britton. Although I'm an ardent lap swimmer (I thrill to the meditative state of repeatedly ping-ponging from one end of the pool to the other), I was surprised by the extent to which my brain and feelings were reset by the full sensory engagement of swimming in an open body of water. So if wandering around forests is not your thing -- or even possible -- try to find a body of water to float around instead.
Of course, there are outdoor issues that need rectifying, like the hot-garbage practice most activewear and outdoors wear companies have of not making clothing for women above size 10 or 12. Or the hot-garbage budgetary priorities that have led to a serious maintenance backlog at our national parks. Or Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's hot-garbage plan to sell off public lands to environmentally unfriendly industries at fire-sale prices -- that's another thing that needs to be addressed. Or the baffling decline (36 million and counting!) of trees in the U.S.'s cities.
Let’s all do our best to remain calm.
But in order to summon the stamina and mental clarity required to take out the hot garbage, start by stepping outside and trying some shinrin-yoku.
(P.S. Don't forget sun protection and a decent water bottle when you head out. Because I am princess-y about water temperature -- the colder, the better -- I swear by my 18-oz. Yeti Rambler for hourlong jaunts . This thing was a panic buy in an airport shortly before a trans-Atlantic flight and I kid you not, 20 hours later, there were still ice cubes clinking against the sides. I found this incredibly luxurious whilst in a country where the locals never put ice in their drinks.
I also have an exceedingly soft spot for the Zojirushi vacuum-insulated bottles, as they're amazingly lightweight and never, ever leak when tossed in a bag. If you need more liquid -- and you will for longer hikes -- consider a Camelbak reservoir. I'm a fan of the lumbar ones that you wear at your waist like the 1990s never went out of style.)
This is one piece of Phyllis Nefler wisdom we can always use.
Dame Margaret and Other Who-lebrities
Leaping off into the Physically Impossible: We present, The Rock.
Ardent Dameswatchers will already know, but for the less devoted among you: I was on Pop Culture Happy Hour today to discuss Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s absurd new action movie, SKYSCRAPER. It’s a particularly fun and giggly episode, good for a listen even if you don’t give a hoot about the Rock.
While for my official PCHH “What’s Making Me Happy This Week”, I cravenly opted for self-promotion, I was extremely tempted to name my new podcast obsession, Who? Weekly with Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber, a podcast about “everything you need to know about the celebrities you don’t”-- specifically, that special class of semi-famous person who’s constantly in the gossip rags, but noteworthy in basically… no other way. Or, in the language of Lindsey and Bobby, the Who-lebrities. For a gossip fiend who sometimes feels guilty about enabling the Gossip Industrial Complex, this podcast is a real find-- snarky enough to delight my judgmental side, funnier than it is mean, and-- at the end of the day-- as impressed with the chutzpah of its Whos as it is amused by their ridiculous antics. And, because I never knew about any of these scandals to begin with, the show is weirdly evergreen. I have listened to about a month’s worth of episodes in the last week, and I can only imagine the trend will continue. If you want to jump in, too, let me give you the same recommendation I got from #Damespal Christina: try their recent, charmingly absurdist deep dive on how Bryce Dallas Howard is not the same person as Jessica Chastain, even though it seems like she should be.
I have mixed feelings about the coursework I completed to get my Masters in Library Science, but it did give me a number of fun facts to trot out at cocktail parties. Such as: DID YOU KNOW that books “written” by ghosts via dictation through spiritualist mediums are technically cataloged in the Library of Congress as collaborations between the Medium and Dead Person, (Spirit). Such as this novel by Emily Grant Hutchings and Mark Twain, (Spirit). This fact came back to dazzle me all over again as I read this terrific account of Pearl Curran, a Midwestern housewife who-- while claiming to channel the spirit of a Puritan settler named Patience Worth-- became the toast of literary America in the 1920s. Read it and join me in my furious disbelief that this story and the BILLION OTHERS Hollywood could produce about women combining con artistry and spiritualism in the 1840s and beyond have not yet been made into the blockbuster films WE ALL NEED SO DESPERATELY.
Then to calm your understandable dander, take one extremely funny and charming review of MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN by the extremely funny and charming Glen Weldon, one impossibly sweet letter to an unusually lovely Dunkin’ Donuts, and one vital tip on how to survive summer heat without air conditioning, and call me in the morning.
And, since Dame Sophie is not here to share them herself, I share these two extremely good links in remembrance of her:
Kate Halliwell’s Harry Styles Style Matrix, which documents and ranks every suit our dimpled darling wore on his genuinely tremendous world tour.
And this news that a movie based on the Wham! classic “Last Christmas”, about which Dame Sophie has written so beautifully, is in the works, featuring a script partly by Emma Thompson, with (hopefully!!) prominent queer characters.
Two Bossy Dames is brought to you by:
Elaborate theories of subtle brooch warfare,
And this gif, which is perfect, eternal, and utterly essential.
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