HELLO DEAR KINDRED SPIRITS!
Let's play a game.
Sure, plenty of your have already played around with Time Magazine's "What would your name be in each
decade since 1890?" widget, but come on. It's totally the funnest. Plus, it gave Dame Margaret a reason to use these gifs from American Horror Story, with which she is hypothetically obsessed, but of which she is factually terrified (because she is a TOTAL WIMP about scary movies/TV shows) (as is Dame Sophie, who is now whimpering in a corner).
Like, look how hard Dame Sophie's life could have been if her parents chose her name arbitrarily based on its statistical popularity (instead of deliberately, as an expression of their exquisite taste and uncanny ability to predict the current popularity for old-lady names 30-some years early):
CASSAUNDRA! EUGENE! Oh the parade of indignities! And just because people in 1975 were, in general,
unaware of how specifically great the name "Sophie" is.
SO! If you're one of the four people out there who didn't get tired of this yesterday, hop to! Please tweet us with your best Alternate Decade Name and your worst. Dame Margaret's best is Matilda (1890s) and her worst is Camryn (2000s).
Well, we ARE bossy, after all. Need a fresh take on a problem you can’t quite crack? Large or small, we will tackle them all! Let us know how we can help you using this handy form.
I'm a late 20-something lady and, besides from a statement ring that I am never without, I do not wear jewelry. It's an aesthetic choice and one I feel works very well for me. Plus no more rat kings of necklaces every time I move. As I am a late 20-something lady I get gifted a lot of jewelry. Sometimes it's from gentleman callers, more often it's from well meaning relatives, friends of my mom, or even occasionally patrons at the library where I work.
My question is this: Is there a gracious way to let these kind people know that I appreciate the thought and effort that they've put into getting me a gift and simultaneously let them know that I won't ever wear it, and that jewelry is probably not the best idea for future gifts?
Thank you and goodnight,
Sophie: Well, this is a tricky bit of business.
Margaret: Gifts are the greatest, except for when they’re horrifying stress magnets. Because they are the locus of the weirdest tensions: Like, as a receiver, we're told “it’s the thought that counts,” but as a giver, you would never want to give something that delights both for itself and for the consideration it indicates.
Sophie: And the gift exchange relationship is always complicated by context: a gift from a patron at the library could be complicated by an unwelcome undercurrent of flirtation, while one from your mother could be complicated by her desire for you to like the things she thinks you will (read: ought to) like, and your desire to make her happy by letting her think you are happy.
Margaret: WHICH, incidentally, is the crux of how we’re going to advise you-- contextually, based on your relationships with these different gift-giving people.
Sophie: Yeah. For one-time or surprise gifts, we think you’re best off overall sticking with a “Thank you so much! This is so thoughtful!” approach upon receiving the gift and then either re-gifting to someone FAR outside your social circle from the gift-giver, or taking the unwanted jewelry to the local consignment/resale shop.
Margaret: On the other hand, if the person giving you the gift is likely to continue giving you gifts for a long time, like a gentleman caller or a good friend or close family member....
Sophie:...then the rules are different. When you have a long-term & close relationship with the gift-giving, you can lay your cards on the table, honestly but gently.
Margaret: For example, “This necklace you picked out is beautiful and I can see why it made you think of me, but honestly? I just don’t wear jewelry, even lovely stuff like this.”
Sophie: Exactly. You can be kind and direct. Or, if the relationship is long-term but not necessarily close, you can take a proactive-yet-more-oblique approach. As gift-intensive occasions present themselves, you can try emailing them a list of things you truly love as food for thought. (“You always buy me such thoughtful gifts! In case you’re looking for inspiration, here are some things I’ve been loving recently.”)
Margaret: Right! And finally, if you can find a close friend or relation you share with the gift-giver, you can let them know your preferences, and encourage your close friend to share that information with the gift-giver and others as appropriate.
We know this doesn’t solve your problem as neatly as you could wish, but we do think it’s the route most likely to yield positive results, long-term. Let us know how it goes!
We also have some follow-ups on our recent advice for CC, who wanted movie & book recommendations to help her prepare for an upcoming Mediterranean vacation:
The Persuaders! - (yes, the exclamation point is part of the title.) Alert reader Wendy shared this cheesetastic gem -- it’s a British show set on the Riviera & starring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis (!!) and pointed out that you can catch full episodes on YouTube.
And! Dame Sophie spied some information about an upcoming tour of Riviera Fashions through the ages at the Fashion & Textile Museum in London on May 22. To the Glamour Jet!
Twee As Hell
We thank Damespal Julie for bringing this Wes Anderson-designed Milanese cafeto our attention. It is the most Andersonian space ever to exist off a movie set & if anyone would like to send us sugar packets or barware from it, we will set up PO Boxes for the express purpose of receiving them TODAY.
Meet Kinney, the corgi who only responds to her owner when he does his Beatles impression!
Cook your own traditional British fry-up in miniature, PLUS enjoy reminiscences of the Royal Family’s eating habits, from their former staff chef. Apparently, Prince Charles was a locavore before it was cool and is a big believer in leftovers [my people! -- Dame Sophie] fab link via Rebecca Rose!
How Katharine Hepburn Became a Fashion Icon. We really can’t improve upon this headline, so we won’t even try.
Pollen has just recently become Dame Sophie’s nemesis (second only to La Franzen), so she has to admire, grudgingly, these super-detailed early 19th century portraits of the microscopic plant effluvia causing her so much grief.
We are eternal suckers for traditional crafts rendered in unusual ways, so we looooove these “thread paintings” of regular people’s homes by embroidery whiz Stephanie K. Clark.
And finally, an interview with the three female producers of our incipient visual crush, IRIS, Albert Mayles’s documentary about Iris Apfel, the coolest lady in perhaps the world.
So, some of you may have heard about this scrappy little independent film, Avengers: Age of Ultron? Distribution is fairly wide at this point, so we’re sure you should be able to go see it in theatres if you are so inclined. Apparently, it’s been enough of a success that its distribution company is selling tie-in merchandise. But what’s this? All of it features the male cast members and none of it includes the lone female badass of the group, Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow? The hell, you say!
Our wry, pretend ignorance of this juggernaut aside, it’s actually true that Black Widow appears on precious little of the merchandise Disney & Marvel are hawking in support of the movie, and has in fact been replaced by Captain America & Iron Man in the Quinjent Motolauncher toy that should feature her emerging from the back of a jet on the back of a motorcycle. Barf. We are not here for this garbage erasure of Natasha, so we are happy to share some links to bridge the gap. If you have more to share, let us know!
Super-cute superheroine cuffs made from empty TP or paper towel rolls!
Mimi & Boo, designed by librarian Jen Talley, has some great stuff in their store for the adults and http://www.redbubble.com/people/mimiboo/works/14826863-no-boys-clubs?c=380466-girls-rule some for kids (or adults who, like Captain America, prefer their discourse profanity-free)
And of course, Linda Holmes’ piece on Black Widow, Scarce Resources And High-Stakes Stories is indispensable background reading on some of the broader contextual issues surrounding this marketing misstep.
Miscellany: This Week, We Forego Rhyming Charm to Tell You It’s A DOOZY of a Linkfest
100% non-required summer reading deliciousness. We were talking this week about how our TBR piles (partly physical, partly virtual) are having baby book piles at this point, but what the hell, right? It’s just more glorious words to revel in and then press into the hands of friends & loved ones!
Should-be required reading for all college-aspiring high school students, and for all other adult humans who care about them: The Nicoles over at The Toast talk frankly & movingly about full-ride financial aid at fancy private colleges. As someone whose life was indeed changed by full-tuition financial aid, Dame Sophie urges you very earnestly to share this one widely.
Julia Child's kitchen is a magical place. Learn her smart ways (what dudebros would call lifehacks)!
We don’t agree with everything Kanye says (his commentary on race lately has been OFF) but when he says things like “Fonts — see, I get emotional over fonts. Spacing. Proportion.”-- we’re not made of stone, okay? Between this, and the revelation that Kanye was instrumental in bringing Kim around to supporting Bruce Jenner during his gender transition (to say nothing of all of his good music), we just can’t help but love him.
Just reading about the new trend of intricate coloring books for adults makes Dame Margaret feel more calm. She may pick up one and a set of beautifully sharpened colored pencils on her way home.
Perhaps if she already had access to these one of those magical destressing/regressing books then the idea of this Tokyo hotel’s bookable "Crying Rooms" (stocked with very nice tissues and sad movies!) might be less immediately appealing to said Dame.
In the realm of “Men Writing Hilariously About Prominent Pop Stars,” Rembert Browne’s seminal “Going Way Too Deep Down the Rabbit Hole With Nicki Minaj’s Recent Bar Mitzvah Appearance” is neck-and-neck with Bobby Finger’s “Who Isn't in Taylor Swift's 'Bad Blood' Video?” for Piece Most Likely to Make Dame Margaret Weep Tears of Mirth.
Speaking of mirthful tears, this satirical Oral History of Mad Men made Dame Sophie laugh til mirth-tears combined with an allergy-induced coughing fit to produce her most strenuous giggle-induced ab workout of the past month.
Finally, 27 Times Tumblr Perfectly Summed Up Nature is not remotely important, but is guaranteed to improve your mood. As our chum & fellow newsletter proprietress Lisa put it, call and response Tumblr is the best Tumblr.