Darling, genial film criticism geniuses of Dames Nation, it’s time again for a movie live-tweet extravaganza!
Who: YOU & any friends you think would enjoy watching, quoting & critiquing a practically perfect movie in a large geographically distributed group, joined through the magic of Twitter, using #clueless
Where: Netflix (or your DVD player) & Twitter
When: 8 PM ET on Sunday, September 20
Why are we giving you so much notice? Because we’re taking a break: the next two weeks will be newsletter-free.
We’ll be sharing some great links on Twitter (where we are putting of our Visual Crushes & Twee As Hell favorites these days), so please do catch us there.
We’ll be back with a full issue on Friday, September 18 and wanted you to have plenty of time to plan to join in our celebration of Cher, Dionne, & Tai (of blessed memory).
Dames Advice Corner!
I have just graduated from college, and I'm looking for a job. There is already a mind-boggling amount of advice out there on how best to go about the search, so I'm not going to ask you about that (though I certainly wouldn't turn down any bossy pearls of wisdom that you happen to have at the ready). What I would really like to ask you is: what on earth should I do with this sudden gift of free time?
Looking for a job is stressful, but between sending out résumés, and obsessively combing through job postings, it occurs to me that I have a unique space to fill with consuming whatever culture I like. What should I read? What should I watch? How should I spend these strange, precious moments where my time belongs mostly to me?
Thank you for your answer, and for all that you do.
Our favorite literary Frances, who also has A+ snack priorities (relevant later!)
HERE’S TO YOU for having the good sense to recognize the silver lining of opportunity in that horrid, post-college, pre-job transition period. The mere fact that you have the foresight to recognize the unique benefit of this less-than-ideal situation indicates to us, Your Dames, that whichever employer snaps you up will be very lucky to have you.
IN THE MEANTIME! You have the great gift of time and the inclination to fill it with things you’ll truly enjoy & carry with you into future conversations & meetings. It’s a little hard for us to figure out exactly the right thing for your taste, since we don’t know it. But we can tell you some of the projects we might undertake, if we were suddenly presented with world enough and time.
Be a tourist in your own neck of the woods - what are the places people always want to see in your area, that you’ve never seen? Go there! Take a friend and selfies, if you can! We are super-fans of small & underappreciated museums and local oddities, so we strongly recommend checking out Atlas Obscura (a noted Dames Favorite), which offers a great feature that shows you all the weird and wonderful sites in your region: it could be a great resource.
What’s one book you’ve always wanted to get into but never had the time to read? Buy a copy in paperback & dog-ear it to hell! (This is what Dame Sophie plans to do with Middlemarch before 2015 is out & she has the untouched Norton Critical Edition to show for it.) OR start a series you’ve always found intimidating, like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books (here’s a handy chart for just that purpose - click to enlarge!), P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves books, or Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Chronicles. In the opposite vein, grabbing a good book of essays to read between chores could be brilliant. Nora Ephron, Zadie Smith, Joan Didion & E.B. White could all be perfect to that end.
Is there a filmmaker whose works you’ve always wanted to delve into? Some Dames-approved options include Alfred Hitchcock, Preston Sturges, Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder (try FORTUNE COOKIE! So underrated!), Satyajit Ray, Akira Kurowsawa, Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Amy Heckerling, and Nicole Holofcener, to name a few. In a similar vein, if there’s a particular actor whose work you’ve always admired, take a look at their IMDB, and grab every one of their films your local library has to offer. Dame Margaret and Bruce, her Roommate Emeritus, did this once with her #1 Bad Guy Boyfriend, George Sanders, and it’s one of the most delightful cultural projects she’s ever undertaken.
Sanders sentiment sure to resonate with any job-seeker.
Have you watched Friday Night Lights or The Wire or (fuckin’) Deadwood orThe West Wing? Now’s your chance! What’s great about a tv-viewing project in these circumstances is that you can use each 42-minute episode as a little reward to yourself for accomplishing concrete goals like fine-tuning & submitting 3 resumes and cover letters or ironing outfits for your next round of interviews. You can watch WHILE you iron, even! (Or not: we are not sticklers about ironing, and you can always just use a spritzy water bottle & rely on gravity to get most wrinkles out.)
And finally! Is there a concrete project you’d want to undertake? One that sprang immediately to mind for Dame Sophie is learning to make 3 or 5 Best Snacks Ever, which will be a life skill, super-great for casual dinner gatherings with friends, and vital for getting through late-afternoon meetings. Some great resources for low-key, guaranteed-tasty foods are Smitten Kitchen, Laurie Colwin & Nigella Lawson (Dame Sophie’s favorite, food-spattered, titles by Colwin & Lawson are More Home Cooking and Nigella Bites, respectively).
We think you are absolutely on the right track and will come up with something great and deeply satisfying. Relying on the serendipity of what you can find near your home, available on a streaming service, or at your public library is a great way to both limit the ENDLESS SEA OF OPTIONS to a manageable size and make yourself feel like an intrepid explorer. Please let us know what you decide to do! And feel free to follow up with us on Twitter or via Gmail if you want even more specific recommendations based on your personal taste :)
Dame Sophie’s Picks of the Week!
Born-too-late for Vaudeville showman David Lee Roth shows us how to celebrate the end of summer in style
Some of you in Dames Nation must be as obsessed with the pseudonymous Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels series as Dame Sophie is. Please, SHOW YOURSELVES so that we may clap our hands together and smack our foreheads in synchrony, groaning deeply with the purest satisfaction of reading page-turners composed entirely of sentence-level perfection and searing emotional insights. Book 4 is out next week, and you can read a full recap of Books 1-3 to prepare! I am reading Book 2 now after a false start with it over the winter (Gloomvember destroys all well-laid plans, does it not?) and basically don’t want to do anything else. SORRY, adult responsibilities! If you’re in or around NYC on September 28, go see John Waters, Parul Seghal & Jenny Slate talk about these amazing books at Symphony Space!
Boyz To Men were right: it’s so hard to say goodbye to [summertime]. If you’re of a similarly “noooo, don’t go, summer!” frame of mind, you can psych yourself up for the inevitable return of homework & scarf weather, by consulting Vulture's 2015 Fall Entertainment Generator: 308 Things to Watch, Hear, and Do.
Maura Johnston’s Reloading the Canon 80s playlist is a direct sonic route back to the middle school gym dance floor for listeners d’un certain age, which is an ok place to go from the psychological comfort of one’s grown-person kitchen.
Sidebar: Johnny Kemp’s “Just Got Paid”, which pairs perfectly with “Diamond Girl”, totally belongs here. This playlist may be what prompts Dame Sophie to finally write her epic treatise on “Mutt” Lange as The Producer of the 1980s.
Badass ladies are pretty much our favorite humans, so Kate Beaton's top 10 warrior princesses, covering fascinating women from England to Iceland to China to the American West is a must-read.
Etsy is often great, but the high proportion of coded-girly goods branded with “Hustle” there is best summed up by this perfect comment: “Etsy is a nightmare hellscape of pastels and chevron and I am not pleased that they have dragged HOVA into their depravity.”
BONUS TRACK: A propos only of making you guffaw immoderately, please enjoy THESE BANANAS (yet apparently sincere) tweets from Billionaire Magazine, courtesy of Dame Sophie’s chum Betsy, whose This Mold HousePinterest board is a goddamn treasure.
Hmph. Maybe going back to school isn’t so bad.
Dame Margaret's Top Five of the Week:
Have you ever asked yourself “I wonder how screen legend Katharine Hepburn prefered her brownies”? Then The New York Times is here for you with this terrific piece of reader mail from 2003, detailing the time Ms. Hepburn straight-talked one of her young neighbors into sticking it out at Bryn Mawr and shared her recipe for brownies to boot.
How has fashion embraced glasses as the one piece of assistive technology worth their attention and ignored… pretty much everything else? And what could they gain by making stylish canes part of their purview? Those are two questions you’ll be astonished you never asked before reading this interview with Liz Jackson, the woman who’s petitioning J. Crew to start selling canes.* (h/t to the great newsletter Uptalk for this one-- definitely subscribe to it, especially if the Dames alone don’t slake your thirst for GREAT LINKS).
Oh, what’s that? The Maximum Fun podcast network just released a new show specifically pitched to everything Dame Margaret loves most in this world? WHAT ARE THE ODDS???? Meet Can I Pet Your Dog?, the greatest thing to happen to Dame M. since sliced bread -- a 45 minute podcast where Allegra (a dog owner) and Renee (“a dog wanter”) get together to discuss -- with hilarity, insight, and a keen eye for detail-- important things like the dogs they’ve met this week, the hijinks of Allegra’s dog Pistachio, big dogs v. small dogs, the lives of dogs with famous owners (such as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s dog Tobillo), and-- MOST IMPORTANTLY-- straight pop bangers about corgis. Start with episode one because (1) there are only 5 episodes total and (2) everything about each one of them is perfect from the flawless theme song straight down to the end credits. (h/t to Damespal Connor!)
If you, like your Dames, were completely astonished by the PROFOUND JOY you felt watching Drake and Serena Williams grin at each other like lovestruck doofuses earlier this week, then you, too, will need this piece of Classic Mallory Ortberg Brilliance “Things I Believe Drake Did Become Worthy Of Serena Williams.”
As a lady who has long loved David Foster Wallace’s non-fiction, but consistently struggled with both his fiction (SHE WILL FINISH INFINITE JESTSOMEDAY! [probably]) and the particular, aggressive type of prominence he has assumed since his death in 2008, two things lately really clicked with Dame Margaret: this piece by Molly Fischer on how, because of the length and complexity of his writing, he gets used in…literary dick-measuring contests between a certain type of intellectual and this Pop Culture Happy Hour Small Batch on David Foster Wallace and the recently released biopic about him. In the latter, Glen Weldon and Katie Presley present an intelligent, deeply humane enthusiasm for Wallace that was really a balm to her soul. It reminded her, in the best way, of getting to talk about him with the genius who first introduced Dame M. to his work-- her super smart, compassionate, and awesome big brother. So basically: David Foster Wallace-- beloved by some jerks, but also great reading for non-jerks! Check it out!
Dames At Home & On The Air
This Man is a KING of Devastating Eye Crinkles
As is her wont, Dame Margaret has been taking her incisive-and-charming combo pack of cultural criticism on the road, with a recent appearance on Pop Culture Happy Hour talking about Difficult People and amusement parks [but still we live in a world with no Small Batch on America’s Best Pectorals -- please, we beg of you, Glen Weldon, get on this at once! -- Dame S.] and Appointment TV, which she co-hosts biweekly with Kathryn VanArendonk and Andrew Cunningham of Overdue, a podcast about all those books you’ve been meaning to read. (Dame Sophie is looking forward to attending the first-ever live edition of Overdue this very weekend, yaaaaay!).
Bonus material for those of you watching & listening along with Appointment TV’s TV Book Club discussions of the celebrated & lamented one-season wonder Terriers, a faintly heartbreaking profile of Donal Logue, who plays Dame Margaret’s heart’s desire Hank Dolworth, and who deserves to be approximately 100000% more famous than he is.