2014 IS OVER, THANK DOGS!
MERRY NEW YEAR!
Even though being FREE from 2014's tyranny has us experiencing synchronized-ice-skating-team-winning-what-was-ultimately-4th-place level excitement, there is ONE thing from this garbage year that has been consistently THE BEST: It's YOU GUYS! Have we told you lately that we love you? Only a handful of you are legally required to subscribe to this newsletter, but MANY more than that handful do, and we're deeply grateful to all of you. The thoughtful replies, genuine compliments, and loving comments you've shared with us make our day every time. Thank you so much for reading this little newsletter, and for sharing it with your friends. You make the rockin’ world go ‘round.
Addendum: This Week in Hygge & A Beloved Reader Contribution
Sophie's sister Sarah, a super bossy dame in her own right, sent us this perfect mashup of Slick Rick and Hygge. We would be horribly remiss if we didn't share it:
Hygge, hygge, hygge, can't you see?
Sometimes your calm just hypnotize me.
And I just love your soothing ways,
I guess that's why they're so cold and you're so slay
[or sleigh, whichever you feel]
Bonus Track: a zillion references to & interpolations of La Di Da Di, courtesy of the meticulous listeners & annotators at NPR Music.
Twenty-One Guns for Richard and Three Cheers for Alexis!
Like a bad house guest who uses up the last of your toilet paper and doesn't warn you, 2014 had one more mean little trick up its sleeve: Stealing Edward Hermann away from us. The legendary character actor was a mensch among mensches and he will be dearly missed by all in the Two Bossy Dames Aerie. We all knew he was a class act, but Amy Sherman-Palladino’s story of how he came to be cast as Legendary TV Grandpa Richard Gilmore made us extra-weepy. We pour out an ice-old martini in your honor, sir.
To provide us some comfort, however, 2015 brought good news:Joan Collins is an actual dame now!! Yes, Alexis Carrington herself is now a Dame in fact, not just in our hearts, along with super-mod designer & noted Dames favoriteMary Quant. John Hurt is a now knight, and the utterly delightful James Corden received an Order of the British Empire. Thefull list of New Year Honoursis here. Good choices, Queen Elizabeth!
Music! Science!! Science Music!
Over at Aeon Magazine,Elizabeth Haymuth Margulis has some fascinating information to share on how repetition (1) makes us understand sounds as musical and (2) how listen to the same music over and over again will deepen our response to it, even if we don't like that music at all:
Even involuntary repetition, quite against our own musical preferences, is powerful. This is why music that we hate but that we’ve heard again and again can sometimes engage us unwillingly; why we can find ourselves on the bus enthusiastically grooving along until we realise that we’re actually listening to We Built This City by Starship. Repeated exposure makes one sound seem to connect almost inevitably to the next, so that when we hear ‘What is love?’, ‘Baby, don’t hurt me’ immediately plays through our minds.
As a pair who listen to the music we love over and over and over, both Sophie and Margaret were relieved to hear that doing so is "a crucial part of how music works its magic." Since repetition is so magical, we thought this might be a good time to share again one of our favorite pieces of music criticism from 2014: Owen Pallett's brilliant essay on how Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" is music made theoretically perfect. Since Margaret can't read "Owen Pallett" without listening to his perfect remix of Stars's heartbreaking “Your Ex-Lover is Dead”at least 3 times through, she is sharing that, too.
AND FINALLY! Last week, Margaret intended to mention her favorite albums of 2014, but apparently doing the final edit of the newsletter (1) on her iPhone (2) while drinking at a brewery was... not the best path to completeness. BUT, as Sophie said, WE DO WHAT WE WANT. Plus, the extra time gave Sophie an opportunity to think about some of her under-famous favorites of the year, so we're sharing them now, instead. We may only like them because we listened to these albums over and over, but who's to say for sure?
"Sylvan Esso" by Sylvan Esso (Band site; Spotify): Amelia Meath's warm, beautiful voice + Nick Sanbourn's hypnotic synths + lyrics Margaret relates to a dangerous amount = Easily her favorite album of the year and practically all she listened to from March-June.
"No Way There from Here" by Laura Cantrell (Laura's site; Spotify): Laura Cantrell is a long-standing member of Margaret's Coterie of Singing Lauras and this album (reviewed insightfully by Dames' favorite Ann Powers for NPR's First Listen series) is especially wonderful. Very straight-forward, sonically, this is a country record in the style of Patsy Cline, with beautiful songs and wonderful lyrics. Margaret thinks it's irresistible (and so does Sophie), but ONLY YOU can say for sure.
"Stay Gold" by First Aid Kit (Band site; Spotify): Johanna and Klara Soderberg have the kind of voices that Sophie could (and does) listen to forever and ever. The sound is a little bigger on Stay Gold than on previous albums, which were more spare & unadorned, but it's still a very intimate listening experience, thanks to the sisters' tightly interwoven vocals and personal lyrics.
"God Help The Girl" Original Film Soundtrack (Film site; Spotify): this could just as easily fit under Twee as Hell (where we've included links to making-of shorts from Pitchfork previously), as it's the soundtrack of a film written, directed & scored by Twee King Stuart Murdoch. The songs are ones you'll either love or hate, depending on your affection levels for Belle & Sebastian. They kind of sound like what the Andrews Sisters would sound like if they wrote Smiths-, emo-, and Northern Soul-inflected pop and hung out with super-boyish young men. Sophie especially likes the dialogue snippets, which remind her of the the soundtrack for The Knack and How To Get It, directed by Richard Lester and scored by John Barry. (you have GOT to see the trailer, for they do not make them like this anymore, free from dialogue and stocked with gushing critical praise referring to the film as "some kind of berserk pinwheel.").
Twee as Haaaayull
Hank the Brewer’s Dog is, perhaps, the Twee as Hellest thing of 2014. This gif of him competing in the traditional Klement's Sausage Race is no exception. It was one of For The Win's Top 10 Gifs of 2014, from whence our header gif is also derived. Tip of the hat to Ashley, Margaret’s source for all things Hank related.) [Editorial Sidebar: SB: I am so, so sorry, home city of Philadelphia, but I am going to have to start rooting for Milwaukee now. Do the Phillies & the Brewers play in the same league? Can I just root for them both? MHW: I have no idea, but surely Philadelphia will understand that a dog THIS cute trumps all other loyalties? SB: The Phillie Phanatic holds no grudges. I expect to be able to maintain divided loyalties, especially since I rarely watch actual professional sports.]
Remember the gnome high heels from a few issues back? ModCloth continues their sartorial reign of twee with these BAMBI-themed, faux fur-lined heels, tag-line: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fawn.” We repeat: deer-themed shoes with a pun-tastic Cyndi Lauper-referencing product name. WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW? Now that we have clicked even once on anything remotely like this, we’re just going to be seeing ads for this kind of thing on Facebook forever, aren’t we? [Yes, yes, we are. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯]
These beautiful, Depression Era watercolors commemorating American design. The houses look straight out of the backgrounds of Lady & The Tramp!
All of Alice Pattullo’s gorgeous silkscreen work, exemplified by her perfect & entertaining Alphabet of Superstitions
Brad Elterman's awesome LA celebrity photos of the 1960s-1980s. (Brooke Shields + KISS = HEAVEN.)
This vintage lady motorcycle racer is Phryne Fisher in elaborate paper puppet form, no?
Sophie was rewatching You’ve Got Mail for the gazillionth time this past week when she noticed that Joe Fox’s address looked really similar to Liz Lemon’s address: somewhere in the 100s of Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. So of course she looked it up, and it turns out that they are neighbors. REPEAT: The You've Got Mail universe crosses over with 30 Rock. And Mad Men, apparently. We understand that Fox Books has fallen on hard times recently, but hope they can rally their way out of Chapter 11.
The Beyonce SAT. Sophie’s self-image as a Beyonce connoisseur was shaken this week when her score on this quiz gave her flashbacks to the mediocrity of her SAT Math score. [19/40. Ouch.]
Meanwhile, The Cut’s Brain-Dead Fortnight features have been showing the world what true Service Journalism is. A representative sample: A Slight Accolade To Miniature Things (which we’re not 100% sure we didn’t write and then forget about), Which Chris Is Which? A Handy Hunksplainer (which helped us clarify our unanimous hierarchy of Chrises: Evans, Pratt, Hemsworth, Pine), 33 Celebrity Pets With Big Personalities (HOW did Margaret not know until RIGHT NOW that Martha Stewart had a chow chow named Genghis Khan II??) and Inside the Weird, Lovely World of L.L. Bean Commenters (AKA “Maple Syrup is really personal!”).
You need to hear Lou Reed freaking out with joy after hearing The Ramones for the first time.
And because we are never over year-end best-of lists: 14 Books from 2014 That Every Music Lover Needs to Read