Patti La Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Listening?

As Sam’s Aunt Betty would say, HI Y’ALL!

Of this gif, R. Eric says “If you ever get tired of angrily calling your representatives about, well, everything, feel free to just send them this GIF with a note that reads ‘Do better... This Christmas!’”, a caption upon which we could not hope to improve.

All week, Dame Sophie raved about our beloved R. Eric Thomas’s tribute toPatti Labelle’s iconically botched performance of “This Christmas” at the 1996 National Tree Lighting Ceremony, and like a fool, I slept on her suggestion until THURSDAY. THURSDAY!!! Don’t be like me-- read it RIGHT NOW, it will make your entire day better. I have watched this video at least 6 times since and it has lost not one ounce of its flavor.

SUNDAY: Shed Rebellious Tears with Us at the ROGUE ONE Livetweet

..and also with our tissues.

Whether, like Dame Sophie, you have already made your plans to see THE LAST JEDI or, like Dame Margaret, you are recent convert to the Church of Lucas, OR EVEN AGNOSTIC ABOUT HIS UNIVERSE, we hope that you will join us on Sunday to watch and tweet about ROGUE ONE. It’s strong enough to bear rewatching even if you have seen it many times over and independent enough to stand alone even if you’re ignorant of or indifferent to the rest of the series from which it comes. THE DETAILS:

WHEN: 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, December 10th, 2017
HOW: Streaming on Netflix or by DVD-- whichever suits your fancy.
WHERE: On Twitter, with the hashtag #RogueDames

Margaret’s Favorite Things of 2017

Is it great that I coped with a lot of the misery and anxiety of 2017 by bleeding money on frivolous things? Probably not. But it DOES mean I can recommend some GREAT frivolous things on which to spend money!

  • Much as 2016 was my Year of Bold Lips, 2017 was My Year of Winged Liner. I still don’t wear eyeliner every day-- too much of a hassle to remove (although this eye makeup remover is HIGHLY effective) -- but it’s now something I can do easily, and I love love love the way it looks on my. My path to glory: I got a cheap drugstore eyeliner pen with a tip similar to that of the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner that my makeup savvy friend correctly swore by. I built up confidence and fine motor skills with the cheap stuff and then, once my hands were sure and my wings artfully flicked, I started using the fancy stuff. And then, once black liner was old hat, I started branching out to colored liner-- brights from the drugstore with L’Oreal’s Infallible Paints Eyeliner pens(which do come in black and are SO easy to use) and a lovely navy from Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner line, which is now tied with the Kat Von D for my favorite formula and applicator. The true secret to becoming an eyeliner expert: get pointed q-tips and, while you’re still getting the hang of your eyeliner pen, use a q-tip dipped in eye makeup remover to thin overly-thick lines to the desired width, erase wobbles and errant strokes, and trim and shape your wings. You’ll be bambi-eyed with me in no time.

  • I also fell completely in love with ColourPop cosmetics this year. My favorite products from them: their Lippie Stix (not transfer-proof, but highly pigmented enough to face elegantly, super moisturizing and wearable, and they smell delectable), their Ultra Satin Liquid Lipstick (more staying power than the Lippie Stix but still super wearable), their Ultra Blotted Lip (crazy buildable color that feels like almost nothing on your lips), and then their Super Shock Eye Shadow and Highlighter, both powders with a cushiony softness that you really have to feel to believe. It is rare that any ColourPop product ever costs more than $10 and all of them feel like they could be worth MUCH more, so they are a VERY dangerous site to get to know.

  • NOT AS DANGEROUS, however, as artisanal luxury perfumes, a thing with which I have become obsessed thanks entirely to Helena Fitzgerald and Rachel Syme’s perfume newsletter, The Dry Down. Subscribe and then, like me, find your way to a perfume boutique like New York’s Twisted Lily or L.A.’s Scent Bar where they truly will give you (1) personalized recommendations based on what scents you enjoy and (2) provide you with teensy samples bottles of said scents (3) for free-- tiny samples bottles that are nonetheless enough perfume to last months! OR! Just wait until Helena and Rachel curate their next sample pack and get for $30 a set of perfume samples over which you can obsess the year round! The perfume boutiques can afford to give products like this away for practically free because they know this is how long it takes for you to mentally justify spending $100+ on a bottle of perfume but look. A bottle can last you for years! And the boutiques are such a glorious place to spend time-- they feel like something that belongs on Diagon Alley, and the salespeople are as eager to talk scents and as knowledgeable about them as a really good bookseller would be about books. All told, it’s worth it.

  • As are Hell Bunny’s reasonably affordable dresses, such as the absolutely perfect one I wore to officiate my friend’s indisputably stunning wedding. They are sold all over the place, from ModCloth to Amazon, so you’re best off finding out the name of the style you like and googling a bit to find the best prices-- that’s how I got this cotton Cinderella dress for only $38, including shipping.

  • In the Get It While the Getting is Good category, there is a business called MoviePass where, for a subscription fee of $9.95 a month, you gain the ability to see a new 2D movie every 24 hours at… no additional cost? Like, honestly, it feels like black magic? Like maybe I have secretly sold my soul? But it works on all movies, no matter how recently they have been released, it works at nearly every theater in my metro area, including my favorite independent repertory-art house, and at $9.95, it saves me $4 a month if I see even ONE movie. The app is glitchy and there is no way this pricing model is sustainable, but for Oscar season alone, I have to imagine it will be worth it for many of you. And, for me, it’s reinvigorated my moviegoing like nothing else-- I saw easily four times as many movies this past month as I would normally.

  • Which puts me in the position of saying: PLEASE GO SEE LADY BIRD AND THE FLORIDA PROJECT. PLEASE. Between those two movies and The Big Sick (and The Shape of Water and Call Me By Your Name and I, Tonya and The Disaster Artist and all the other good stuff still to be released), I am actually looking forward to the Academy Awards this year even if the idea of Jimmy Kimmel hosting makes me soul-sick with weariness.

  • If you’re more of a homebody, though, you know what else was great this year? TELEVISION, a subject about which I may even…. have a podcast or something. As the holidays approach and you end up with (hopefully) some time on your hands to kill, the best shows I watched this year are as follows, complete with links to them being discussed brilliantly by me and my co-hosts on Appointment Television: One Day at a Time (on Netflix), Please Like Me(on Hulu), The Bold Type (on Hulu), American Vandal (on Netflix), Big Little Lies (on HBO Go), and Alias Grace (on Netflix).

  • If you want to sit on the couch but rest your eyes from screen glare, FEAR NOT! Over at NPR, I contributed to their annual Book Concierge, recommending 7 books published this year which I particularly adored.

  • Also good for homebodies-- podcasts!! Three I got into this year that I would like to particularly shout out: I just recently recommended both  Making Oprah, which was released last year but remains one of my favorite things of 2017, and Uncivil, Gimlet Media’s look into the myths and misapprehensions surrounding the Civil War, in our Thanksgiving Wednesday newsletter but am compelled to shout about them again because Y’ A L L. But as yet unshouted is my love for Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin, wherein a couples counsellor airs actual unscripted sessions with couples struggling in their relationship. It is RIVETING, and sometimes uncomfortable, but always, ALWAYS rewarding.

  • I always like to pretend that I am “doing dishes” or other chores while I listen to podcasts but guys. I’m going to be straight with you. What little energy I have ever had to do a dish was almost entirely sapped by this year of hellfire and damnation. So what I actually did while listening to those podcasts was play wee little app games on my phone. My two favorites: I Love Hue, which is a free, solo game where you peacefully take shuffled tiles and rearrange them by color gradient (hopefully in fewer moves than the national average), and Carcassonne, which is both a board game and an app, and with which I start my day every day by attempting to whoop my beloved former roommate, and end every day playing against the hardest robot in the hope of honing my skills in order to eventually.. whoop my beloved former roommate.

  • I did leave the house, too, however, and here are some of the best things that happened to me when I did:

  • AND FINALLY! In this long twilight that is the year’s end, the flickering light getting me through at the moment is vintage gossip about the British Royal family, a thing which I am consuming in advance of going home and digging into Season 2 of The Crown. I leave you with some tidbits about Princess Margaret:

Live footage of Dame Margaret thinking about changing into pajamas to watch Princess Margaret's fictional hijinks.

Sophie’s Favorite Things 2017

I both feel bad & not-so-bad. Cognitive dissonance is weird.

You know me, I love a reflective inventory. You could look at this entire newsletter enterprise as one big ongoing project in reflective inventory, really. Anyway, it’s the end of 2017, a year that’s been so awful that every good thing has felt earned. I need that tarnished-but-nonetheless-silver lining, and hope it brings you comfort, a spring in your step, or a little extra steel in your spine. Here’s to a 2018 we’ll muddle through somehow, together, and to the things that helped me through 2017.

  • Judging by the many conversations I’ve participated in or just observed on Twitter & Facebook this year, plus Rio Viera-Newton’s regular columns in The Strategist and Nicole Cliffe’s about-to-debut newsletter on the topic, skincare is on nearly everyone’s mind this year. Maybe because it’s one small thing we can exert control over in this awful bananapants living nightmare world? Maybe because we just like to look nice? The five products that have made the biggest difference to my skin for the smallest investment of time & money this year are:

    • COSRX Master Pimple Patch - the indignity of having skin that is both aging _and_ acne-prone is rendered at least 50% less awful by the miracle of these little patches. They’re essentially acne-fighting, clear band-aids that you can definitely walk around wearing in public without much worry that anyone will comment on them. They’re so useful and effective, I buy them in bulk.

    • Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence - again, a godsend for aging, acne-prone skin. Who needs little rough patches, wrinkles, AND zits? Not me, thanks so much, skin! This gel goes on between washing your face and moisturizer/sunscreen. Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes and you’re already on your way to smooth radiance. The same stuff is in their sheet masks, which are a good, inexpensive way to dip a toe into the turbid waters of snail slime & bee venom’s restorative powers, and if that's not a Peak 2017 sentence, I do not know what is.

    • Shiseido SPF 42 sunscreen - Listen, this glamorous shtetl pallor of mine isn’t going to maintain itself! I used to think I could have sunscreen that was effective, or sunscreen that didn’t transform my face into an oil slick. Now I have both! This sunscreen goes on a tiny bit chalky, so if you do not gleam silvery white like the surface of the moon herself, this may not be the product for you, but it does soak in to transparence after about 5 minutes for me. YMMV, but seriously: get yourself some sunscreen you look forward to applying daily.

    • Aquaphor spray ointment - setting aside my burning hatred for the word “ointment”, this product is fantastic. Forced-air heat is so drying & awful all winter long, and this fine mist of heavy-duty moisture is so perfect. I love everything about it, from its weird, frozen bubble texture to the way my arm still feels properly hydrated some 6 hours since I last applied it.

    • Pantene Pro-V Foam Conditioner - not technically a skincare product, but it lives in the bathroom with all of the skincare products, so they’re basically kissing cousins. My hair is very long and gets weighed down easily if I’m not rigorous about rinsing out my conditioner. This foam is super-light and rinses out in a trice, but still gets out all my tangles. Perfect!

  • Our guest editors are The Actual Best. They give Dame Margaret & me the rest we need to bring you wonderful people this newsletter all the other weeks of the year, and it’s such a pleasure to hand over this platform to them. I reread Linda Holmes’ essay Everything You Make Is An Engine this week & marveled at how it distills exactly what we hope to do all the time with this newsletter: “anything you make – a podcast, a book, a TV show, a business, really any endeavor that you undertake – is not just the thing it is, but it’s also an engine that powers, directly or indirectly, other things and other people. And that’s more true the more success you have.” So please read or reread Stacie & EvelynLizzie & BarrieFug Girls Heather & Jessica Betsy & JulesSyazwina & MabelHannah & MarcelleRachel & Naomi, returning editors Christina & KamilleBlair & AK, and most recently, Nikki & Nicole. And keep an eye out for Amma, Sue, Mallory, and Becca, coming at you next week!

  • I’ve long held the opinion that music is magic, and in 2017 I relied really heavily on that idea to help get me through. As you all know, I fell in love with One Direction (& in particular with this monstrous scamp at whom I can only roll my eyes while also feverishly hoping a pair of reasonably-priced tickets will open up for his June show in Philly), and back in love with longstanding kings of my heart, U2. The healthy, loving masculinity embodied by 1D and U2's relationships is a minimum baseline we should all expect all the time, but thrown into high relief against the abject vileness of so many men's behavior, it seems almost like an unlikely miracle. This long(ish)form cartoon in The New Yorker sums up perfectly my philosophy of tunes: “And that’s kind of the crux of fandom, isn’t it? You love the thing for itself, but you love it more for its ability to take you somewhere, to someone. Music is a time machine.” Take me to the feeling again, beloved songsters.

    • Bonus! This week on the NYT Popcast, Jon Caramanica & Jon Pareles had an excellent, in-depth conversation about U2: where they are in their career, the goals they seem to be restlessly chasing even when they could easily rest on their laurels forever, and how they are basically a praise band, an opinion that pains me even as I recognize its fundamental truth.

  • I love movies in general and in particular, I love sharing movies I love with people I love, so Dames Nation’s bimonthly livetweets are among my very favorite things of all, ever. This year, we’ve shared the following movies with you:

  • Someone remarked to me way back in January, a propos of a mutual acquaintance, “you know, if you want to have a friend, you have to BE a friend”, and if there’s been a mission statement for me in this trying year of our lord 2017, that’s it. Making my people a priority, and expanding my definition of who “my people” includes, has nourished my like nothing else in 2017. Group texts, semi-regular brunches with vintage chums, Friendsgiving, Indivisible chapter meetings, just showing up to a pal’s house with some great frozen pasta and a bunch of peppers to roast -- all of these & more form the bedrock of the life strategy I’m doubling down on in 2018. U2 are right: love is all we have left.

The biggest gift!

A Generous Scoop of Bonus Links, Because Why Not?

Thank you, PBS Dad!