Obstructionist Umbrellas & Other Marvels

Hello, Dames Nationals!! Meet the Twitter account that consumed our morning (with joy): Soviet Soldiers Dancing, where archival footage of dancing Soviet soldiers is paired with iconic bops of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Both the dancing itself and the way it’s paired with the songs are utterly perfect. The only hard part was picking out just one video to open the newsletter. “Running Up That Hill” is surprisingly tender! “Lose Yourself” could not be better paired with these dance moves! Why does Soviet soldiers dancing to Morrissey feel like exactly what Morrissey has always demanded? The only complaint we could possibly level against this incredible enterprise is that it has yet to make one set to the iconic sax solo from Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Run Away With Me, ”but we assume it’s only a matter of time until that is rectified.

Livetweet reminder: Into the Spider-Verse on Sunday!

Meet Spider-Gwen, a character who I feel will be a “root” for many future homosexuals of ALL genders

Our next Dames Nation Livetweet selection is Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, a movie both of Your Dames love with their whole hearts. 

The fun begins at 7:30 PM ET on Sunday, September 22. We’ll be running an Open Thread like we did for the Tony Awards a couple of months ago, and will send out the link in advance.

Haven’t seen it yet? Watch the preview, then get ready by adding it to your Netflix queue, borrowing it from your local library, or renting it from your platform of choice. The joint adventures of Miles Morales, Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, Spider-Noir, and Spider-Ham are such a spectacular visual feast that we encourage you to watch it at least once before joining us for the group viewing extravaganza. 

By movie’s end, you, too, will be asking: what’s up, danger?

Thanks for reading Two Bossy Dames. This is a free issue — feel free to forward it to a friend who’d enjoy it! If you enjoy what we do, we’d love to count you among our paid subscribers!

Dame Margaret’s Literal Jumpsuit Rainbow and Other Delights

  • In my discussion last week of great Toxic Female Friendship Movies, I forgot a stone-cold classic of the genre: the Diablo Cody-penned, Karen Kusama-directed horror satire Jennifer’s Body (which even this extreme scaredy cat could tolerate). Almost as if it sensed my oversight, Billboard magazine put out an oral history of Low Shoulder, the fake indie band whose Satanic sacrifice of a non-virgin sets the movie’s gory events in motion. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, the history is a terrific read that will make you think deeply about the careers Megan Fox, Diablo Cody, and Karen Kusama could have had if the movie had been the kind of hit it had every right to be. 

  • Maybe they, like Jeremy Renner, would now be living the life of a Dick’s Sporting Goods employee granted many wishes by God, as put by particularly apt tweet quoted by Anne Helen Peterson in her excellent and highly relatable essay “I Can’t Stop Thinking About Whatever Is Going On With Jeremy Renner.”As is always the case with Peterson’s work on celebrity, insights abound. 

  • On the subject of constructed masculinity, Mel investigates: why do all straight men’s Instagrams consist solely of black and white photos of interesting buildings? Their answer is shockingly deeply!  

  • Rarely have I been more delighted than I was when I saw that Internet Weirdness Expert Katie Notopolous wrote a full piece about the following viral “an umbrella trapped my friend’s entire company out of their WeWork space for two days” tweet. Who else could have extracted from the workers involved the following quote: “In a thousand years, you’d not be able to replicate this. The umbrella has turned our office into, essentially, an unmanned panic room with no way in.”

  • Last week, I asked my Twitter followers which one podcast they would recommend as a great entry point for people who’d never really listened to a podcast before. The answers were fascinating and I am still figuring out the best way to share them with the world. They also prompted me to FINALLY try out the podcast No Such Thing As A Fish, made by the producers of the British quiz/comedy panel show Quite Interesting, which friends have recommended to me for years, and of course, my friends were right, and I am now obsessed. The format is simple: each of the four hosts brings the best fact they’ve learned in a given week, and then the other three share related facts (and make lots of dumb jokes) until it’s the next one’s turn. The only problem is that the show leaves me with LOADS of new stuff to read and investigate. For example, a discussion about ball pits led the hosts to mention this phenomenal longread about playground design, which did eat 20 minutes of my day, but in the BEST way possible. You will surely be hearing more about the impact of my podcast survey but for now: No Such Thing As A Fish! A delight!!  

  • I have two conflicting truths in my heart at this moment. First: given how hard we went on them this summer, as a culture, I am not confident that jumpsuits are going to stay relevant that much longer. I hope I’m wrong, because I acquired such fire ones in these, the boom times. But fashion is cyclical, and it would be dishonest of me to hide these fears from you. But, truth the second: Target has, at this moment, a literal rainbow of jumpsuits in really gorgeous autumn florals, all on sale for $20, and it would feel wrong to conceal that from you. Whether you want burgundy, copper, goldenrod, mustard, olive, emerald, or teal, Target has the goods to tempt you. I cannot promise you will love it the same next fall. But I know I love all of them right now.

Dame Sophie And Her Variety Pack Of Enthusiasms

It’s the spice of life!

  • You may recall my enthusiasm for British rapper Dave and his outstanding Glastonbury Festival moment with 15 year-old superfan Alex this summer. The Year of Dave continues with another big win — his debut album Psychodrama won the Mercury Prize yesterday! Psychodrama is a concept album about being Black and British, inspired by the experiences of Dave’s brother Christopher, serving a life sentence for his role in a 2010 murder. It takes the form of a psychotherapy session and is intense. For a taste of what I’m talking about, here’s last night’s performance of “Psycho” , in which Dave is on fire. The live arrangement is quite different from the album cut; it’s sonically more lush, which throws his stark, searing imagery into higher relief. Dave didn’t expect to win, and his joyous celebration with his mother (who he brought up on stage during his acceptance speech) and friends sure did bring a congratulatory tear to the old eye. Way to go, Dave (and family)! Can’t wait to see what you do next.

  • Speaking of nominations, the longlists for the National Book Awards are out, and my To Be Read list runneth over once more. We’re heading into Best of the Year season and while I am often lightly horrified by how “best” gets defined (or worse: not defined — I’m a process nerd and a criteria nerd), I still find lists like these broadly useful as discovery tools. They fill in gaps, they provide useful starting points, and when we get to see a longlist, they give us a sense of that year’s award committee’s priorities. Of the 50 nominated titles, I have so far read three (Say Nothing, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, and Fleishman Is In Trouble), so I’m about to set my library card on fire with a bunch of upcoming holds!  

  • Oh, glory be, Eric Singer, accent expert extraordinaire, is back! This is another video of idiolects, comparing real people’s voices with the way actors have portrayed them in film and TV. UGH, BLISS. If this is your first exposure to Singer’s work, treat yourself by going all the way back to his first video for Wired and settle in for some displays of highly specific expertise. (Related: this adorable video of Brian Cox teaching 30 month-old Theo the big Hamlet soliloquy)

  • Two things written specifically for me: this investigation into stripey shirts (Why are they so wonderful? Where can one acquire them at a variety of price points? What are we trying to say about ourselves when we wear them?) and John Mulaney’s next Netflix special, described thus in the pages of the October issue of Esquire:

  • Ric Ocasek & Cokie Roberts died this week and I am bone-deeply sad about losing both of them. I think my exact words both times were some kind of incoherent howling along the lines of “oh my god, NO, this is terrible!” I wrote a grief-stricken roundup of notes on The Cars (Ocasek’s band, if his is not a household name for you), revisiting some of my favorites from their catalog:

    • When’s the last time you listened to “Magic”? Even if it was literally one minute ago, please listen again right now to feel once more the pure ecstatic joy of your best summer crush!  (And please judge the video gently, it was a big deal for 1984 technology.)

    • For my money, nobody wrote with more immediacy & accuracy about impossible love. “My Best Friend’s Girl”? The reveal is purest anguish! Yet you’re hollering along with gusto! Magic again! 

    • “You Might Think” is clinical grade, high-test tentative seduction of the most irresistible sort. You might think it’s foolish, but Paulina Poriszkova took that chancey rendez-vous & they were an OUTSTANDING rock couple, so. 

    • He wrote “Drive” — a stone classic of the Crying On The Dancefloor genre — for the Cars’ other vocalist, Benjamin Orr (of blessed memory) to sing, and I genuinely believe it’s the most heartbreaking ballad of the 1980s. 

    • It’s a testament to The Cars’ broad, weird appeal that on any given day, I will hear The Cars in my car all over the dial: on the local 80s station, on classic rock, on the “anything we feel like” station (that is literally the slogan: “playing anything we feel like”). They’re everywhere, and Ocasek’s influence is, too, thanks to his long and varied career as a producer. Weezer! Guided By Voices! Bad Religion! Jonathan Richman! You want your band to sound crisp AF & have a subtle glow, like a Fenty Beauty-level sonic highlight? Hire Ric. Seriously, go back in time and hire him, you’ll be glad you did.

  • A content note about this section: I’m going to talk about death in more depth. This is the last set of links for me this week, so if you need to skip this section, scroll right on past to the wacky colophon, no worries, loves. So. Maybe it’s weird for a reasonably healthy woman in her 40s to write about this in a newsletter that she generally tries to keep on the effervescent tip, but I do think about it a lot. After being born, dying is the thing we all have most in common. We can’t prepare ourselves or our loved ones for a sudden death, but many of us will depart this plane of existence in ways that we can plan for, at least partially, and creating a plan for it is a gift we can give both ourselves and the people we love.  Particularly if you were raised in the US, you may well feel squeamish about this, because ours is a very mortality-averse culture and since we don’t normalize talking about advance directives and what kind of services and burial we’d prefer, it can be hard to start the conversation. Planet Money covered this topic in some detail, covering the way that the people in La Crosse, WI have radically changed the culture of conversations around mortality, largely by talking about it, and talking about it, and talking about it. I also really like this piece about the process of thinking through and writing down your preferences (and making sure your loved ones & caregivers know what they are). The American Bar Association has published an end-of-life toolkit designed for use by lay people. If you’re so inclined, you can download each element of it as individual PDFs and go through it one by one, over a period of time that feels manageable.  

Ok, that’s all for death this week! A propos only of my own silliness, here’s the John Mulaney-as-a-real-estate-agent shoulder shimmy I do every time I’m pleased with myself, having 100% forgotten that I borrowed it from him:

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