Shoe Bros, Rosé Petals, & Other Petite Joys

Oh Dameslings, do we have a treat for you in the opener this week. It’s a story so pure it’s left us entirely this gif for days:

It’s the story of two men with perfectly matched mismatched feet (Jim McCormick, size 9 left foot and size 13 right foot, and Peter Talty, size 13 left foot and right foot size 9) and how they’ve been buying shoes together since 1971, thanks to a little matchmaking from one of Buffalo’s most-beloved news anchors. It’s one of those stories that only a really great local newspaper could produce-- a delight at all times, but particularly worth highlighting at this moment when so many of our small papers are under commercial and sometimes literal attack. And seriously. Just look at these two and try not to smile:

SHOE BROS!!!!!!!!!!

If that’s not enough local news cuteness for you, here’s a bonus series from the same paper wherein (1) local busybodies try to prevent a nice man from eating subs in his favorite spot, (2) a gentle friendship blooms in the wake of their thwarted interference, and (3) the lasting (entirely minor) effects of the story. And a heartfelt thanks to Kate Nocera, the chief of Buzzfeed’s D.C. bureau, for bringing both stories to our attention.

Western New York's most famous sub eater”, his sub, and his (borrowed) tree: a Tableau of Pure Contentment.

Dame Margaret Sprinkles Links Like Rose Petals

Live footage of me bringing a l’il extra romance into your lives.

  • As previously alluded to in this very newsletter, this week I got to contribute to a project I absolutely adore: NPR Music’s Roséwave series, wherein NPR’s most ardent poptimists make the case, one perfect playlist at a time, for openly embracing pleasurable things we’re supposed to disdain merely because they’re popular and femme-signified. For my contribution-- Bed Of Rosés: 24 Steamy Songs For That Summer Romance-Novel Tryst, yes I did come up with the name, and yes I am unreasonably proud of it-- I got to combine pop music with another unfairly derided joy-bringing, lady-centric artform: romance novels! Namely, I was tasked with recreating in a playlist the feeling of reading a really juicy romance. I am quite pleased with the results and I hope you all will be as well. If you feel inclined, please pop over to Twitter and @ me about the love songs that make you melt like a popsicle in 97 degree heat.

  • Continuing with the theme of proudly loving things even though they’re popular, I have a trio of spectacular links on enthusiasms often deemed “basic.”  First up, American Girl Dolls and, specifically, the cookbooks that the Pleasant Company made for each of their classic dolls, and which contains the best recipes. I never owned an American Girl Doll myself-- expensive costumed bears with hilariously waspy monikers were my overpriced toy of choice-- but it seems incredible to me now that I managed to avoid it, given how completely their whole vibe is my whole vibe.

  • Next up, let’s hang out with the hilarious Madeleine Aggeler as she gets drunk on LaCroix for her great column Over-Easy trying out the seltzer-based cocktail-in-a-can recipes commissioned by Punch Magazine. I, for one, will be picking up a six pack of Pamplemousse LaCroix on my walk home and making myself the “Shower Spritz”, designed by Natasha David of Nitecap, New York.

  • And to cap the trio off, how about a great longread on how succulents became the social media darlings they are presently, thanks to Alyssa Bereznek at The Ringer. DID YOU KNOW that it involved succulent gardens being planted on top of pumpkins? Because I sure did not, but it’s one of the many delightful things I learned from the article.

  • Speaking of delightful, that’s one of the words I would use to describe this delicate, warm, funny, comic strip about animator Angie Wang’s search for the shi zhu yi, or “water-boiled fish,” she remembered from her childhood in Bejing, the falseness of “authenticity,” but the inescapable pull of nostalgia.  

  • And I’m going to end by highlighting another tremendous project, although one I have little hope I will someday contribute to: The New York Times’ “Overlooked” series, which consists of obituaries for women and people of color whose deaths were ignored by The Times when they originally occurred. This neglected group includes figures as jaw-droppingly famous as Charlotte Bronte and Ida B. Wells, but also figures you’d somehow never heard of before. Like Bette Nesmith Graham, who both invented Liquid Paper (during her miserable years as secretary who could barely type) and happened to raise Mike Nesmith of The Monkees— a fact that comes up only as an aside in the obit, instead of outshining her remarkable personal accomplishments as has so often been the case with women’s family relationships in traditional obituaries. This is a project to which I expect to lose absolute hours of my life— and I bet you all will, too.

Dame Sophie’s Tuneful Linky Reverie

I was on a Torah podcast and I’m spending the weekend on the beach. Sometimes Google Image Search’s ability to turn up the most just-right gif is spooky.

  • If you’ve ever longed to listen to someone talk about their weird, slightly fringe Jewish upbringing & then read aloud a colloquial & frequently profane new translation of the Torah, have I got the podcast episode for you, friends! I was David Tuchman’s guest on his Very Good & Important To An Admittedly Niche Audience Podcast, OMGWTFBIBLE, last week. Each week, David brings a guest onto the show to read aloud a portion of the Torah -- his own contemporary translation! -- while he makes fun of it. We read Pinchas, which is about all the top-notch ledger-keeping my old timey ancestors apparently did as they prepared to invade Canaan after wandering in the desert for 40 years. I’ve yelled about OMGWTFBIBLE and how important & delightful it is to me previously, if you’d like more of an introduction to what it’s all about. David is a wonderful host and recording this episode was approximately 613,000,000 times more fun than Hebrew School ever was (that is a very sophisticated joke about mitzvahs).

  • Speaking of religion! Do you read Naima Cochrane’s weekly #MusicSermon? Each week, she selects a topic in the history of R&B to share her knowledge of in-depth in a massive, contextually rich Twitter thread. It’s an interactive celebration featuring lyrics, gifs, videos, witty & critical asides, and you can either attend services live on Twitter, or catch up with her recaps later. Favorites: Happy Birthday, Luther, We Danced Hard As F*ck In The 90s, and The Other Female R&B Voices of the 90s. You can’t go wrong with a single one of her sermons, they’re all...Solid Gold, and very much worth a thank-you contribution.

  • And speaking of music! Strap in, this is going to be a real mish-mash of things putting a song in my heart this week:

    • First up, my daughter is very very very into K-pop. First in her heart is BTS, the seven-dude boyband who are impressively progressive in tweet, deed, and lyric.

    • Second, Pattie Boyd and Taylor Swift sat down for a conversation about being in very public relationships and the art that can emerge from them, and while I love “Something” and “Layla” as much as the next classic rock-addicted 40-something, I think the whole concept of a muse is gross. In general, I do like Taylor’s inversion of that trope a great deal, but I wanted this conversation to be significantly dishier and she’s just a little too guarded for that right now. Maybe in 30 years she and all of her ex-lovers will be dead or retired and she’ll feel free to say what she likes in an interview with a 28 year-old artist.

    • Finally, in a brilliant self-own, I correctly identified Tom Petty from a tiny snippet of a photo as I scrolled to the end of Margaret’s write-up of her wonderful Roséwave playlist and then had to endure the agony of having my smugness sullied by heartbreak. Tom’s family & bandmates have gone through his archive of unreleased material to select songs for a forthcoming box set. Great! But I’d have preferred that he be the one to do the selecting instead of his loved ones doing it as a grief-processing exercise. Anyway, the newly released song “Keep A Little Soul” is great and watching this video will make you feel like you’ve just watched your heart ripped out of your chest & shredded before your very eyes, but in a life-affirming way?

I’m still a little smug about identifying Tom Petty from JUST the above image, honestly.

  • This week in fame! Good news: after a justifiably longish period of presenting himself publicly in an insulated cocoon of healthy boundaries (which to my eye consisted primarily of not taking the subway), Lin-Manuel Miranda appears to have entered a more loosened-up period on Twitter, frequently posting short freestyle videos of himself on otherwise-empty subway platforms. These are very much in the vein of his inspirational tweets and are, roughly, a solid 50% even more charming than they need to be. My current favorite, recorded as the first US heat wave of summer 2018 threatened to crush us all under a cloud of steamy refuse aromas, is the third in his series of lightly naughty and very funny videos about just how hot it’s been. Hot As #1 and Hot As #2 first appeared in 2006 and 2012 respectively, and as a completist, it brings me heart’s ease to know that the triptych is complete at last.

  • Y’all know how much I love movie trailers, right? I love them so much, I would happily pay the price of a regular movie ticket to watch a solid hour of trailers in a nice theater, especially if the trailer collection had been selected by a movies smarty around a theme. My two current favorites are both notionally about British history, so I’m going to count them as thematic-ish. Behold, Soairse Ronan & Margot Robbie facing off in Mary, Queen of Scots, and Olivia Colman preparing for her role in The Crown alongside Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in The Favourite. The former is pretty transparent Oscarbait, which I can’t argue with. Both leads are going to win their golden statuettes eventually, and a historical drama is as good a route as any. The latter is...well, it’s pretty bonkers, isn’t it? They’re heavily pushing the fact that the director is also the director of The Lobster, another deeply oddball film. I suspect Steve Coogan’s oddball, self-referential adaptation of the oddball, self-referential novel Tristram Shandy will turn out to be a decent watchalike for this one, too.

  • I’m going to round out this week’s round-up with some A+ reading recommendations -- all biographies of women -- from fellow Substacker Rachel Syme. She goes on fairly regular thematic reading recommendation sprees and I’m always struck by the scope of her interests and knowledge. Margaret & I holler about this with some frequency, but it bears repeating: Even if you don’t think you care about perfume, take a spin around Rachel’s perfume newsletter, The Dry Down. Like TBD, it’s a writing partnership between two chums & talented writers, so it’ll always have a warm place in our hearts, even as we curse both Rachel & her exquisitely talented partner Helena Fitzgerald to the skies for the evocative power of their words, which result pretty regularly in us purchasing samples from Twisted Lily. Fie, fie! (And thank you for making us smell so nice.)

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