Murderous Courtliness, Saudade, and Other Sundry Subjects

Dearest and Most Darling Dames Nation, 

You are lucky that we are writing this week at all. 
You are lucky that, despite Chris Evan's best efforts to murder us with his courtliness, we are not yet dead.

The important thing here isn't just the reflexive thoughtfulness of the gesture, although that's surely important.
It's the elan with which he extends his arm.
It's the bright, engaging smile he offers to Betty, the one without a hint of condescension.
It's the fact that he continues chatting with her in apparent fascination for the whole walk to the stage.
Chris Evans is a menace (by which we mean he's perfect).
Chris Evans must be stopped (by which we mean MARRY MARGARET).
Chris Evans has-- as Sophie put it-- torn our ability to can into tiny little shreds, while laughing maniacally.

And yet still, we Dames live to Boss another day.

Truly, we are unvanquishable.

 A special hello to all of our new subscribers, and a big thank you to Lisa Schmeiser of So What, Who Cares? for sending you our way! We always love Chris Evans, but-- like Mr. Knightley-- we only rarely talk about it this much. And now! To the meat of our weekly letter:Taffy Brodesser-Akner: Still the Absolute Greatest
One of TBD's favorite longform writers, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, published two terrific pieces lately about surprisingly similar reality TV competitions: (1) the recent, all-female season of The Ultimate Fighter and (2) Dame Margaret's most beloved piece of garbage TV, The Bachelor. Read this paragraph wherein Taffy describes the taste of an energy drink (the first of many equally hilarious descriptions in the UFC piece) and TRY not to follow her to the ends of the earth, scattering rose petals in her wake: In the pantry, bursting open, there were many things that are called water but aren’t quite: coconut water, vitamin water, fruit water. There were more kinds of shake mixes than there are countries in the world. There was Xyience, which at the time was the official energy drink of the UFC. It touts “sustained energy with no crash!” and zero calories. It tastes like purple drank that has been heated by the sun in its plastic container, then refrigerated to almost freezing, then left out on the counter of your mobile meth lab triplewide. I hope I’m not giving away trade patent secrets when I say that.These two pieces are great and so is Taffy's live-tweeting of The Bachelor. Saudade: Our Favorite Kind of Sadness

Earlier this week, Sophie was chatting with our pal Connor about Great Lady Troubadours of Sadness. Astrud Gilberto (who’ll be familiar to many as the voice that made The Girl From Ipanema famous) came up in the conversation, and Sophie remarked that if Connor liked her, he might also be interested in other Brazilian artists whose work embodies saudade, which, like other Dames favorite hygge, is a sort-of translatable concept from another culture that we would like to build awareness of. Saudade doesn’t have a snappy, single-word analogue in English, so here are a couple of descriptions:The concept has many definitions, including a melancholy nostalgia for something that perhaps has not even happened. It often carries an assurance that this thing you feel nostalgic for will never happen again. My favorite definition of saudade is by Portuguese writer Manuel de Melo: "a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy." -- Saudade, An Untranslateable, Undeniably Potent Word (also a great episode of Alt.Latino, NPR’s Spanish & Portuguese-language music podcast)

The Portuguese call it saudade; a longing for something so indefinite as to be indefinable.  Love affairs, miseries of life, the way things were, people already dead, those who left and the ocean that tossed them on the shores of a different land — all things born of the soul that can only be felt.” -- Anthony De Sa, quoted in George Monteiro’s essay “An Anatomy of Saudade”, which includes many other definitions of the termThis kind of bittersweetness resonates powerfully with your Dames, especially at this time of year when dried-out Christmas trees line the tree lawns awaiting garbage day but it’s still nearly fully dark by 5 pm.If saudade seems like a thing you’d be into, here is a very quick & dirty starter pack. Please DO hit us up with some recommendations & refinements of the definitions we’re using & examples we’re providing!Music: Astrud GilbertoMaria BethaniaCesaria EvoraExplosions in the Skyearly Magnetic Fields and their noted influencers, certain 1960s Girl Groups songs (especially "Remember (Walking In The Sand)", by the Shangri-Las).Movies: Wes Anderson’s movies all have their moments of saudade, especially Grand Budapest Hotel and The Royal TenenbaumsAlmost Famousalso gets a big, big nod. And it also suits one of Margaret's underrated favorites, Celeste and Jesse Forever, to an absolute positive T.
And one other thing! Melancholy, beauty, reminiscence: you know what else embodies them all? TWEE. Twee is mockable, though, because it seems precious & cute (and is closely associated with femininity), while saudade must always earn a head-nod of respect, maybe because of its basis in deep feelings (which men can also have). We could, and perhaps should, do an entire issue on why we embrace twee, and how it’s different from straight-up cutesy-poo-ness, but it’ll have to wait for another time!Weather-Related Self-Hypnosis Anthem of the Week Gloomvember continues with its reign of windy, frigid terror. This week, Tangible Intangible by Fly Golden Eagle is giving us a sonic nudge towards our happy place. The golden syrup guitars, the warm organ, the slightly far-off vocals about who knows or cares what - it’s all of a piece with songs by fellow dreamy tunesmiths Real Estate and My Morning Jacket. And oh! When that fuzzy guitar comes in around 4:00! We are instantly lounging poolside with a stack of New Yorkers & Allures, big floppy hats slightly askew. In our minds, at least.Twee as Hell
The microtrend of stunning elderly women being the focus of haute couture house’s spring campaigns. See: Joan DidionJoni Mitchell, and the #flawless Italian women pictured above.Music for a Woodland Clearing Songza playlistHow Wes Anderson’s Cinematographer Shot 9 Iconic ShotsThese flowers arranged and photographed by Sarah Illenberger so that they look like fireworks.Podcast Bonanza!We listen to a lot (A LOT) of podcasts. Here are some of our favorites of the last couple of weeks - some new, some just new to us.International Treasure Julie Andrews on Here’s the Thing: Alec Baldwin remains a not-great interviewer (he always steps on his subjects’ lines!) but he does ask good questions and Julie Andrews is, well, Julie Andrews. PS if you haven’t yet read her memoir, Home, you are in for a treat. PPS: Alert reader & Dames BFF Ally reminds us that Actual Dame Julie can still say “supercalifragilousticexpialidocious” backwards. So.Gilmore Guys: Kevin is a Gilmore Girls fan. His pal Demi is a first-time viewer. They’re watching and critiquing every episode, along with segments like supercuts of every pop culture reference, and evaluations of the various early-aughts fashions. Delightful.The Spindown is our pal Julie Jurgens’ weekly show that combines music, comedy, and advice. We are particularly into her dry humor and appreciation of men in cardigans, well-documented on her Tumblr.Miscellany: More Related Than Usual to The AboveIt’s impossible to recommend just one of these pieces on class and teethteeth & more teeth. Jia Tolentino’s essay on Elena Ferrante moved My Brilliant Friend from “to read” status to “THIS IS ALL I AM READING NOW FOREVER, SORRY, ALL OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES!” Design*Sponge's 10 Decorating (and Life) Lessons from Gilmore Girls makes us want a See No Evil-Hear No Evil-Speak No Evil monkey lamp even more than we already did. Work in Prowess's hilarious spoof of biopics, Very Smart Man Has Other Problem, makes us want to resolve not to watch any movies like this in 2015. Our friend Alicia, always an ally on issues like this, called our attention to Joe Biden bringing the heat, as he always, always does. VP FOR LIFE. All-of-a-Kind Family quiz!!! Sophie is totally a Sarah, though she kind of wishes she were a Gertie. The women who collect hair jewelry, aka the women Margaret and Sophie mildly aspire to become someday. Which is an actual possibility, since Sophie’s mom has some of this jewelry. [Ed. note: Of course she doesWhat, you think I grew to be a bossy dame with faintly macabre taste by accident? Role models were required!] AND FINALLY, Amy darling, you've made it: Thanks for sharing this hilarious piece from McSweeney's, "Someone on This Desert Island is Banksy." It was spit-take inducingly funny.