Dames Nationals, please join us in screaming about the excellence of Call the Midwife.
This SHOW though.
Given the show’s content and our demographic, it is hard to imagine that there are any among you notionally open to the show but not already obsessed with it, but as it was just the subject of a particularly excellent profile in The New Statesmen, a profile which celebrates both the show’s almost exclusively female creative team and its commitment to showing the reality of being a midwife in London’s impoverished East End in all its messy complexity. It’s truly astonishing how many hard subjects the show can address without ever seeming overwhelming, or making its warm, loving tone ring false. If somehow you have yet to watch it, all six seasons currently available are streaming on Netflix, and we cannot recommend the show highly enough.
Do you have a pressing need for a little ADVICE?
Real footage of Your Dames’ Inner Monologues… most of the time.
Then come avail yourselves of our relentlessly accurate insights by submitting a question to our handy dandy Google Form. We will be picking a few to answer in next week’s issue-- if you’re lucky, maybe we will pick yours!
Dame Margaret’s Weirdly Athletic Weekly Links
A thing I did not understand until I, Tonya: Just what a remarkable skater Tonya Harding really was. I could watch this triple axel on an infinite loop.
This week, I had the pleasure of appearing on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast and discussing the recent movie I, Tonya, about the life of disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding. I found the movie surprisingly moving, if a little tonally uneven, and definitely recommend you going to see it-- particularly if the trailers have piqued your interest. And if, like me, you remember only the bare outlines of the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan scandal, or if you’ve missed it altogether, you would be well-served by checking out Nancy Burson’s 30 for 30 documentary on the whole circus, The Price of Gold.
And if that’s not enough Tonya for you, can I recommend unreservedly eternal #Damesfav Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s compassionate, insightful, challening profile of her from this week’s New York Times Magazine?
Then, continuing on in the theme of excellent work from writers we have long admired, Rachel Syme turned in an exquisite essay on what tennis smells like in real life versus what perfumiers tend to create when they set out to evoke it…
...which, in its turn, reminded me of one of my favorite pieces of long form writing ever: David Foster Wallace’s 2006 profile of tennis player Roger Federer, then the best male player in the world. This piece communicates so vividly and persuasively the joy of watching Federer play that it nearly makes me regret my lack of interest in watching sports.
And now, lest you fear that I have been bodysnatched by some kind of SPORTS ENTHUSIAST, let me share two final links that are a bit more ON BRAND. First, read about how Otto Penzler, the owner of New York’s incredible Mysterious Bookshop, took the mystery genre from “toilet reading” to the thinking person’s genre fiction it’s considered today. Spoiler: it has to do with using GOOD BOOK BINDINGS, a subject on which I can wax... surprisingly poetic.
And then, delight with me in the announcement of Correspondence, a new, year-long collaboration between established #Damesfav Jens Lekman and fellow Swede Annika Norlin, where they each write a song a month, designed to function like a public pen-pal project. I am excited to hear the music produced by this collaboration but, honestly, if the only outcome of the project is reminding me how much I love Norlin’s song “The Quiz”-- dayenu. But given both songwriters' skill with personal narrative, I think the results of this particular project could be really special.
Dame Sophie’s Favorites Of The Week
Above: Chris Evans doing his impression of me.
Thirst Aid Kit, Bim Adewunmi & Nichole Perkins’ podcast about (mostly straight) female desire, wrapped its first season with not just an excellent discussion of what makes Chris Evans such a splendid object of desire, but also an interview with the man himself. Yes, Chris Evans, in costume as Captain America, chatted charmingly about his dorkiness, his beard, his manliness role models, and his new understanding of fanfiction. It’s an episode for the ages & if you’re so inclined, will take you on a journey. Enjoy.
My obsession with the just-right-for-me high-low mix of skincare products continues apace. If you are similarly inclined, Gothamista’s video roundup of her favorite skincare for $20 and less has some great options, which I especially need because I lucked into a large sample of the SK II essence, and while it’s an understatedly perfect product, there remains no way in hell I’m spending $179 on a full-sized bottle of it.
I think about teeth a lot. I really like to brush my teeth & have been a dedicated flosser for as long as I can remember (yes, I have heard it’s not necessary, but you can take my floss from my cold, dead hands). I was one of maybe ten middle-class Jewish teens in America who didn’t have braces during adolescence. I got them in my early 30s, when my dentist noticed that I was grinding some of my teeth away to nothing. My daughter has them now, and although we’re very fortunate to have insurance that covers a lot of the cost, I do sometimes find myself hanging out in her orthodontist’s waiting room, pondering how we arrived at this particular moment. In the main, Americans don’t just want straight teeth: we want perfect smiles. It’s kind of weird, and definitely classist as hell. This piece from The Cut about our obsession with aggressively perfect dentition is particularly interesting on the topic of the corporatization of orthodontics practices, while this one in The Atlantic gets at the cultural rationale for our big, bright, enthusiastic smiles.
After a few years of experimenting with a yearly theme word instead of a specific resolution, I’m now working through an uberlist of 118 things to do in 2018. Some items are big & aspirational, some are small and immediately manageable. They’re all specific, though, so rather than thinking thematically, I’m thinking (and so far, doing) concretely. I like it a lot - so far, so good! I’m making my bed every day and doing a better job of managing TBD’s finances, and when I stop to think about it, even if I don’t get anything else on the list fully done this year, I’ll be happy with doing just those two consistently. Somewhere in the middle of big/aspirational and small/immediate is listening to more audiobooks, aiming for 5 this year. I’m a very promiscuous podcast listener, perennially behind on most shows and often sampling ones that are new to me. I’d like to make more room for longform stories in my ears this year, and that’s where Texas Monthly’s new series of audiobooks is coming in handy. Each one (so far, a series of four, with two out now and two due out later in 2018) is arranged around a theme: true crime, sociology, business & culture, and a grab-bag of award-winning features. I also just started listening to Persuasion on audiobook; it’s one of my go-to comfort rereads and I thought it’d be nice to have it read aloud to me this time.