Dame Margaret did for you this week an incredible act of service: She watched the Netflix Original movie A CHRISTMAS PRINCE (which brings made-for-TV-filmmaking at its most absurd to your favorite streaming platform) and made a podcast gently mocking it in loving detail.
It is Very Bad. Do not be so ensorcelled by the excellent jokes Margaret and her co-hosts make about the film and watch it for yourself-- if you must have more #content, both #damespal Kathryn and EW’s Dana Schwartz have written extremely funny recaps. And the tonsorially majestic Rahul Kohli also hilariously live-tweeted his watch of it, partly in support of his beloved iZombie colleague Rose McIver, partly in support of entertaining the general public. But if you need something to entertain you while you frantically wrap presents, this episode of Appointment Televison could be just the thing.
Dame Margaret Keeps the Cry in Christmas
Dame M. looking at a calendar with NO WORK WHATSOEVER for ELEVEN DAYS!
Ugly cry alert: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s partner Mimi O’Donnell wrote about falling in love with him, his struggles with addiction, and the horrible grief of losing him. Not an easy read, but an intensely powerful one.
And in a similar but less absolutely devastating vein, I loved this interview with Thelma Schoonmaker, one of Hollywood’s most accomplished cinematographers, on her relationship with her late husband, director Michael Powell, and his favorite of his films, the supremely weird but deeply charming A Matter of Life and Death, a recently restored print of which is currently making the run of repertory theaters worldwide. It’s such a treat to read about respectful relationships between artistic equals.
Broadcast News is one of those movies I always think I should love, but can only ever manage to quite like. That said, this absolutely terrific longreadabout how the movie was made and just how much it anticipated about our current moment in journalism has made me resolve, again, to watch it one more time and see if THIS is the moment I finally respond to it the way I have always thought I should.
Helena Fitzgerald’s “20 Authors I Don’t Have to Read Because I’ve Dated Men for 16 Years” is so perfect that it nearly makes the all the time I have spent listening to men much stupider than me talk about books feel worthwhile.
As the Season of Bougie Dinner Parties rolls on, allow me to recommend my new favorite Bougie Conversation Starter: “If The New York Times Magazineinvited you to write something for their Letter of Recommendation series, what would you write about?” For me? I feel like maybe Josephine Tey, maybe lipstick, or maybe loose-leaf tea, or maybe Ernst Lubitsch films, or maybe movie theaters, or maybe creative partnership, or maybe epistolary novels, or maybe UGH HOW DO YOU PICK JUST ONE AND HOW DO YOU MAKE IT SUFFICIENTLY PROFOUND? Recent excellent installments from the column: Letter of Recommendation: Stump the Bookseller and Letter of Recommendation: ‘Passport to Your National Parks.’ Join me as we all brainstorm bougily together.
NPR Music's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2017 is up, and it put both Charli XCX and Kesha in the top twenty, so it's perfect. The corresponding Spotify playlist is an EXCELLENT way to find a new musician to love.
On December 26th, the Canadian music website Zunior has its annual Boxing Day sale, where all digital downloads are half-price, bringing the cost of albums down from $8.88 Canadian Dollars to $4.44 Canadian Dollars. Browsing this sale and discovering new Canadians to love is a ritual I cherish in a weird and deep way. If you need a list of people worth your time, well, GUESS WHAT, I have one for you RIGHT HERE!
Dame Sophie’s Year-End Grab Bag
Not sure how a frozen dessert-themed squeezy toy embodies "grab bag",
Google Image Search, but I'm going with it!
So as you may recall, here in the US, we had a pret-ty great Election Day last month, and then Doug Jones managed a win in his Alabama Senate Race. Hurrah! You know what’s next? The 2018 midterm elections. These are super-important and I’d like to point out that there are over 100 Black women running for a wide variety of offices next year. Doug Jones’ win would not have been possible without this segment of the electorate, who have to bear with being both demonized and deified in ways that erase the full complexity of their humanity. How about those of us who live here put our money and time where our mouths are and support them in every concrete way we can? I’m excited to support Tanzie Youngblood in her run for NJ’s 2nd Congressional District. Who’s got your vote?
After the garbage fire of domestic & global politics and the still-gathering storm of #metoo, The Most 2017 Conversation of 2017 is about skincare. We both wrote about this a couple of weeks ago, and then the great & good Jia Tolentino wrote about it in a way that made me feel so seen & understood. If you want to get involved with some skincare recs, Racked has you covered with 5 Cheaper Dupes for Expensive Skincare Products and this video round-up of Best Budget Friendly Skincare under $20 is spot-on.
This piece has everything: bee facts! The surprising philosophical questions of inter-species consciousness! The sneaking suspicion that apian scientists might be high over 75% of the time! Atlas Obscura is a gift every dang day. I also give thanks for Dame Judi Dench, who it turns out is OBSESSED with trees and has managed to convince the BBC--yes, the British Broadcasting Corporation, you may have heard of them?--to produce an hour-long special about making all her greatest arborial dreams come true. I KNOW. Think about what such a thing would look like in the US. You can’t. Meryl Streep’s World of Fungus? Rita Moreno’s Wild Grasses Adventure? Such things would never come to pass, even though they absolutely should. Anyway, here’s Judi Dench being moved to recite Shakespeare to express her love of trees. Here she is positively giddy with joy while visiting a 1500 year-old yew tree. Dame Judi Dench is a living UNESCO World Heritage Site, God bless us, every one, the end.
How could I close out our last issue of 2017 without some tunes talk? Music was truly a balm for my spirit & a powerful reminder that I can't just wallow (I can definitely do some wallowing & then pick myself up and get on with it). Spotify tells me I listened to over 29,000 minutes of music this year and further confirms that above all other artists, One Direction, Harry Styles, The Beatles, U2, Charli XCX, Carli Rae Jepsen, and Tom Petty helped me process all my feeeeeelings. The resulting playlist is particularly good on shuffle. If you need a music longread, hero musical journalist Caryn Rose has ranked all 218 U2 Songs from worst to best. I am going to be re-skimming this for weeks, I just know it. And finally, conversational fodder for your last few holiday parties of the year: an oral history of the strangest Christmas duet ever, David Bowie & Bing Crosby’s “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth”.
Well done, old chap! Cheers, darling!