Salutations, Dames Nationals!!
Not sure about your wandwork there, Richard, but our hearts sure are levitating.
As those of you in the United States are likely aware, it's one of America's peak sportsing seasons: World Series Season! We your Dames are sports agnostic-- we are curious about them, as we are about all popular culture, and extremely capable of being delighted by them when they are objectively delightful, such as when charming football players like Richard Sherman (of the Seattle Seahawks) do press conferences in full Harry Potter cosplay, ordiscuss which of their teammates would play on their Quidditch team, and in what roles. But mostly, it's an area where we're permanently under-informed-- we are happy to let other people practice their fandom, but we do not have the time or energy to join them.
USUALLY, this state of affairs is just fine. But EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE one of us-- (hint: Dame M.)-- becomes possessed of a PASSIONATE OPINION about sports that she cannot POSSIBLY justify holding, because she thinks it's immoral to be self-righteously annoyed by something that cannot also bring you active joy. And, so, to work out her feelings about this issue, she makes an ordered list of the reasons a non-sportser can morally pick a sports team to root for, should they so choose. Right now, this list has 47 reasons, ranked from most moral (it will bring a True Sports Fan you know and love joy) to least moral (Rooting for the team that’s favored to win or has the history of winning the most, which is so immoral that she has officially deemed it "Below Consideration"). This is a living document-- it has doubled in length since it was born earlier this week in an email to Dame M's cherished pal Eileen, the True Sports Fan whose allegiance to the Indians is giving direction to Dame M.'s hopes this post-season-- and will probably grow yet longer still. It is very silly. But also cathartic AF to write.
Please tweet at us if you have any reasons you think need to be added, and ranked!
Dame M.'s Healing Balm-Tough Truth-Healing Balm Link Sandwich
May we all escape 2016 with the determination, tenacity, and intellect demonstrated by this octopus.
If you were paying attention to my Twitter last week, you might have seen the glorious tweetstorm that came after (inspired by a dinner party conversation with Hottie Christina) I googled the phrase “octopus escape.” The best thing to come from said tweetstorm was this aggressively delightful longread on octopus intelligence from Orion Magazine, excerpted from Sy Montgomery’s book The Soul of an Octopus. It turns out that being overwhelmed with wonder at the extraordinary natural world in which we live is a real tonic to my spirit. I hope these crafty octopuses strike you the same way, because my next few links are a bit rough.
First, cherished and eternal #Damesfav Taffy Brodesser-Akner sat down and spoke with Kesha, the first long interview the pop star has granted anyone since her request to be freed from her contract with Doctor Luke (due to allegations that he raped and emotionally abused her) was denied in a New York court last February. The piece is just as interesting, nuanced, and devastating as you would expect. #FreeKesha
Second, for the very same issue of The New York Times Magazine, Wesley Morris wrote a REAL BARNBURNER of an essay about “Why Pop Culture Just Can’t Deal With Black Male Sexuality.” It deals, pretty graphically, with the history of lynching in America, so it’s not a light read, but its insights are devastating, and worth confronting. For example, on imperfect allies, Morris says: “It can be a peculiar thing being black in this country. Even the people who claim to love you are capable of these little accidents of hate — the social equivalent of finding hair in your food.” Which is something it feels like you’ve heard a million times but only because it is so perfectly expressed that it’s hard to imagine the sentiment being described any other way. This piece, which ends by discussing Barry Jenkins’s forthcoming film Moonlight pairs particularly well with Gene Demby’s interview of said director on the Code Switch podcast that dropped on 10/26. I found this interview really hopeful-- eavesdropping on Gene and Barry bonding over their common history, and hearing the path Moonlight took from conception to commercial release, you get powerful proof of how representation does matter, and you get a sense how sometimes even a system as fucked as Hollywood works to support art the way we all hope it will.
Both also go well with this short essay Solange (WHOSE NEW ALBUM IS STILL INCREDIBLE, PLEASE TELL ME YOU’VE LISTENED) on the daily experience of racial microaggressions. This essay was illuminating for me, despite my familiarity with microagressions, but it’s also one I could imagine being persuasive to someone who’d never heard of them, or even to someone who felt threatened by or hostile towards the concept. So it seems like a particularly great one to have in your internet toolkit in this garbage fire world in which we life.
And, a pair of perfect, hilarious McSweeney’s columns as palate cleansers: “If Women Wrote Men the Way Men Write Women” by Meg Elison and “Hello, I’m a Social Justice Warrior, and I’m Here to Take Your Guns” by Patrick Rielly.
Dame Sophie’s Link Buffet
Friends, it might not seem like we’re going to make it through this year, but BY GOD, we are going to do it. I consider this newsletter a weekly renewal of a pact with you all to haul each other through the emotional muck.
So! Without further ado, here are some things I saw this week that I wanted to make sure Dames Nation saw, too, presented in order from Dumpster Fire (because we oughtn’t look away) to Actually Pretty Lovely (because we need it to carry on).
Patron Saint of Gloomvember
Important self-care facts: Daylight Saving Time is nearly over for (most of) those of us in North America, and falling back may seem like a great idea, but it will mess with your sleep something rotten. Prepare by treating yourself as you would a tiny baby by adjusting your sleep schedule incrementally over the next week to escape the worst of it. PS: this strategy will help you deal with switching time zones, too! Relatedly, #Gloomvember -- the lowest time of the year for the Northern Hemisphere -- is upon us, right on schedule, so I’m going to re-share our #Gloomvember Remediation Act piece from two years ago. Tweet your legislators!
Last week was the first full week back on Standard Time and here in the Northeast, where both your Dames live, it was Officially Way Too Gloomy. Rainy, overcast, dark at 4:30 pm, just...totally unacceptable. So we came up with a plan: The Gloomvember Remediation Act, and although neither of us is presently active in any legislative body governing any sovereign land, we hope that some enterprising legislator will take it up, because something clearly needs to be done.
Basically, in states experiencing Gloomvember weather conditions, as described above, residents may be permitted to stay in bed, or on the couch, futon or other lounging furniture of their choice, wearing the loungewear of their choice, under as many blankets as necessary, reading whatever they want and/or live-tweeting the latest episodes of Miss Fisher's Mysteries or other similar, mutually agreed-upon-with-their-pals activities. Absences from school and/or work will be excused due to Gloomvember, and states in the Sunshine Belt will be levied an extra Gloomvember Remediation Tax (only during peak Gloomtime months from November to March) to pay for it all. This is the time for our brothers and sisters in High Sunshine Index areas of the country to join in support of their fellow citizens in states where they have already had 6+ inches of snow and full-blown SAD during the first week of November.
Can Brookover & Willison count on your support for this important initiative? We are open to friendly amendments, but attempts at filibustering will not be tolerated. Come on, people. Solidarity and twinkle lights for all!
Vine is shutting down. This is a far-out bummer even to people like me who haven’t used the service in years, as it’s been a leading site for Internet humor and joy, particularly by young Black creators. You would never have heard the phrase “on fleek” without Vine creatrix Kayla Newman (Peaches Monroee), and your life would be poorer for it (though if you’re white, maybe...refrain from referring to something as being “on fleek” and just revel in the enjoyment of your awareness of this gift from a lexical innovator & leave it at that). Of course, Newman has earned zero dollars for her zeitgeisty work, and that’s a very real & gross problem. Additionally, who will archive all the Black Lives Matter vines? Eternal Damespiration Bim Adewunmi poured one out for her favorite vines, as did her BuzzFeed colleague Sylvia Obell. In fact, #RIPVineis a great place to find some hilarious & heart-warming classics of the 7-second video genre. And as Alexandra Erin points out in this excellent thread, it really seems like Twitter chose to kill a segment of its business that it didn’t fully understand or appreciate, in large part because they made a bad calculation about where the market is. Hint: it’s not white dudes. Many of these links are courtesy of Original H/T & cherished DamesPal Christina Grace.
I don’t wear makeup much. I love makeup, and I frequently intend to wear it. In fact, I have more lipsticks than I know what to do with, but it’s just never been a significant part of my daily routine, and I’m pretty incompetent at applying it, so I would usually rather go out bare-faced than risk looking like a clown. SURPRISE SURPRISE, this deeply incisive look at Hillary’s makeup and Ivanka’s Dad’s spray tan, especially during the debates, is by none other than Alice Bolin, whose piece on women’s public existence as emotional labor nearly caused your Dames to have an actual fight, we both loved it so much. (And whom Dame M. was lucky enough to meet IN REAL LIFE last week. She’s great, y’all, and not a day has gone by since wherein Dame M. did not think of Alice’s leopard print skirt with real longing. Also spoiler DAME M. WANTED TO SHARE THIS PIECE THIS WEEK, TOO, BUT DAME S. GOT HERE FIRST.) (¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Something tells me you will have no shortage of #content, Dame M.)
Doreen St. Felix is the author of the Fader piece I linked to above, about how young, Black creators have been doing all the work and earning precious few of the dollars for their fine work on Vine. If you like her brilliant analysis, there’s plenty more for your ears on her weekly cultural criticism podcast with Ira Madison III, Speed Dial, aaaaand she’s the guest this week on the Longform podcast, yay! Cel-e-brate good times, come on!
This Chuck Tingle interview in the Columbia Review is gut-bustingly funny, and you should feel free to read it on those grounds alone. It also -- bear with me! -- provides a glimmer of hope for humanity that we sorely need as 2016 draws ever so slowly & horribly to a close. For those unfamiliar with Tingle & his idiosyncratic oeuvre, he is a self-published author of gay erotica with fantastic elements. Representative titles include Gay T-Rex Law Firm Executive Boner and Pounded by the Gay Unicorn Football Squad. He truly won my heart this summer, when he was nominated for a Hugo Award and used that status to prank the misogynist trolls of Gamergate (a thing, which, if you are ignorant of it, give thanks and relish your ignorance, for it is terrible and we have moved out of the Dumpster Fire section of this here link buffet) with a short story about -- you guessed it, an amorous adventure with an actual Hugo Award! A man who earnestly and without a trace of self-seriousness says that the point of his work “is to prove love” and that he hopes his work leads us all towards being “future buds floating in a handsome spaceship” is someone I feel really good about embracing as a fellow citizen.
Same, Chuck. Same.
I continue to hold out hope that we will all bask in this level of civic happiness one day. (Maybe even on November 9?) These hopes feel a bit foolish today, but I insist on their long-term viability. If a grief & rage-addled Time Lord can be this happy sometimes, so can we!
And finally, because I can, here’s Lupita Nyong’o hula hooping in a perfect lemon dress & heels in the offices of Vogue.