Muppets, Spirits, & Other Very Special Guests

Greetings, Dames Nationals! We are opening this week’s issue by posing a very thorny question to you. Namely:

Cory Taylor@CoryjTaylor

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:

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.


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