Kick up your feet in glee, Dames Nation! It is a blessed week!
Because Janelle Monáe has publicly confirmed her status as the world’s most desirable pansexual in a statement more definitive than… the whole video for her single “Make Me Feel” (which is saying something)
OR the whole video for her single, “Pynk” (again, making a pretty clear statement)
by saying, in her excellent profile for the cover of this month’s Rolling Stone, “Being a queer black woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker," and identifying herself as such. This statement led quite naturally to a 11,000% increase in dictionary searches for the word “pansexual”. The profile, which describes Monáe’s upbringing in Kansas City, her huge Baptist family, and how she came to form the Wondaland Artist Collective in Atlanta, is a great read, as is #Damesfav Jenna Wortham’s profile of Monáe for The New York Times Magazine. All of this fanfare is designed to accompany the release of Dirty Computer, Monáe’s newest album and “emotion picture”, which may just be her best work to date, and the first which is openly about Monáe herself instead of her android alter-ego, Cindi Mayweather.
On the strength of the singles alone, We Your Dames felt confident that this would be an exquisite album, but upon listening, even our high expectations for both boppiness and lyrical depth have been exceeded. Opening with a soaring collaboration with Brian Wilson, taking his trademark teenage symphonies to God harmonies for a stroll through her extended metaphor of circuitry-as-self? Why not? Hearing “Pynk” and “Make Me Feel” side-by-side in the middle of the album highlights both their strengths as individual songs as well as their perfectly gem-like settings in the work as a whole. Meanwhile, “Screwed” manges to both be an intensely ingratiating synthpop confection and a sincere, funny meditation on the idea that we should fight hate with love. And the accompanying “emotion picture”-- a 48-minute mix of narrative film and music videos-- is likewise incredible, taking Monáe’s traditional Afro-Futurism and melding it with even greater and more transparent emotional content, making for a viewing experience that’s both visually stunning (and FULL OF GREAT FASHION MOMENTS) and also surprisingly moving. It has also taken both of Your Dames’ giddy thirst for official news that Janelle and collaborator Tessa Thompson are dating to… unsustainable new heights.
Oh, we heckin’ ship it.
LIVETWEET CHANGE-UP: When MYSTIC PIZZA lets you down, Johnny Castle is always here to catch ya
Thanks to an eagle-eyed Two Bossy Dames Subscriber (Caitlin, you’re a hero!), we learned some sad news this week: MYSTIC PIZZA, the movie we’d picked for our next livetweet, is leaving both Hulu and Amazon Prime on April 30th, 6 whole days before we had intended to watch it with you all. We hope that you’ll take the time to watch it on your own before it leaves (IT IS SO GOOD), but we will not be able to make a pizza with you this time. INSTEAD, we are going to watch the all-time classic coming-of-age story DIRTY DANCING, and celebrate one of the most feminist, sex-positive leading men of all cinema history: Johnny Castle. The movie is available free via Amazon Prime, and can be rented for the low price of Two American Dollars on other platforms. The details are as follows:
WHEN: 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, May 6th, 2018
HOW: Streaming Amazon Prime, rented on another platform, or by DVD-- whichever suits your fancy.
WHERE: On Twitter, with the hashtag #DirtyDames
We cannot wait to NOT be put in a corner with all y’all, Dames Nation!
Dame Margaret’s Relatable Truths and Affordable Indulgences
This essay by a woman who works as a professional online dating ghostwriter-- specifically a “closer” tasked with getting women’s phone numbers by basically copying-and-pasting pre-formulated banter-- is both very interesting and very depressing. It’s full of truths both highly relatable (“We’ve discovered that a surprisingly large portion of the online dating process can be systematized into what is essentially clerical work”) and…. grim (“Despite my attempts at embracing the ‘Alpha Male’ attitude, the training staff have repeatedly told me that my writing is ‘too female,’ a characteristic that has never been fully explained. To mitigate this ‘error,’ I’ve been told I need to use shorter sentences, ask fewer questions, use fewer smileys, wait longer to reply, and set up dates before even asking if the woman is interested”), but it’s also compulsively readable.
Robert Hewitt Wolfe, a writer for the show ELEMENTARY-- a CBS procedural featuring Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson solving beautifully byzantine crimes in New York City that I recently praised on my TV podcast as a perfect show to watch with 80% of your attention-- shared a list of highly-specific TV writer names for particular recurring tropes, like a “Gilligan cut” (where a character makes a statement and then the show cuts to a visual that directly, comedically contradicts it) or a “truck full of ducks” (they think they’ve found the thing they’re looking for, but open the lid to reveal something entirely different) that were PURE CLICKBAIT to this process nerd.
And speaking of TV writers, the great and hilarious Megan Amram, whose ICONIC PUN GENERATING ABILITY is one of the many things that make THE GOOD PLACE among the best shows on TV, has created a web series called AN EMMY FOR MEGAN, pretty much exclusively to win herself an emmy for Best Actress in a Web Series, and it’s WILDLY AND IMPROBABLY FUNNY.
As a highly fashion-attuned person, I was nonetheless deeply charmed by Curtis Sittenfeld’s anti-fashion essay for The New Yorker on the one shockingly resilient H&M blouse she wore to nearly every event on her book tour last year. It’s instructive to step into the world view of someone who finds shopping and dressing to be kind of baffling and overwhelming, particularly when their puzzlement is not laced with misogyny. I know there are some among you who will relate to this one strongly.
And, for the rest of you, here is a quick list of affordable indulgences I highly recommend from my “Oh thank god, I got a tax return!!” shopping spree:
First, Eight & Bob‘s Champs de Provence perfume, available in an affordable 20 ml bottle for $45, is a really lovely clean floral scent that will make you FEEL sunny even if your April Showers are really hanging in there for dear life. A perfect thing to tide you over until The Dry Down releases their spring fragrance sample packs-- an annual subscription to their newsletter is (1) its own reward and (2) a way to get early access to said sample packs, so may I recommend it as an affordable luxury as well.
I resisted the siren call of this swing top from Marimekko’s collaboration with Uniqlo for A WHOLE MONTH, but to no avail. I simply have to pay $30 to look like an unbearable adorable and exuberantly chic maybe pregnant woman, and I cannot regret it.
And finally! My beloved ColourPop Cosmetics premiered a new lipstick formula this spring called Lux Lip and it is, without question, the nicest lipstick I’ve ever found for $7. It’s long-wearing and creamy and incredibly comfortable on my lips. Of course, the first tube I bought was a red-- Nu Wave, which has a beautiful and DARE I SAY distinctive blue tone to it without sacrificing on brightness. An excellent addition to your lip wardrobe.
Dame Sophie’s Springtime Musings
A propos of nothing but my appreciation of cuteness, there are some extremely cute bunny visitors in my yard twice a day lately, chomping on clover and grass and twitching their little noses in a way that makes me emit high-pitched coos. I haven’t been able to coax them into my house to take up residence in Dixie cups, but if I apply myself, this gif could become my reality. I’m just putting the idea out into the universe; any positive domestic rabbit-related thoughts you want to throw my way will be most appreciated.
Welcome, sweet Prince Louis! Your parents totally faked me out by giving you your big brother’s middle name! I was hoping they’d go for Albert Frederick Arthur, but your name is lovely, and it’s great that the formal announcement of your name doubled as a formal recognition of Louis Tomlinson as your parents’ favorite member of One Direction. I was very pleased to win a low-stakes game of Bingo (with myself) by correctly predicting that Louis’ tweet in honor of you would include a tacit offer of being your secular godfather and confirmation that he’s sending you an Adidas tracksuit as a gift. A lot of people in the US have been experiencing some confusion about how to pronounce your name, so let’s tell them how to do it right: it’s LOO-ee, not Lewis. Glad you made it here ok, little buddy, and I’m looking forward to your mother one day speaking very frankly about all the work that has gone into her glamorous postpartum photo ops over the years.
One of the biggest news stories of my week was the arrest of a suspect in Golden State Killer case, which the late crime writer Michelle McNamara kept in the news through her relentless investigating and writing about the case, which spanned 40 years, 45 rapes, and 12 murders attributed to him so far. McNamara died in 2016, and her widower, comedian Patton Oswalt, ensured the publication of her work by arranging for a researcher and crime writer to finish her book, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark. Oswalt was on Seth Meyers’ show this week talking about the surreality of being in Chicago with McNamara’s family, friends, and collaborators this week as the news started to break. I’m highlighting McNamara’s work in part because it’s a tragedy that she’s not alive to see it bear this spectacular fruit, and in part because in their effort not to over-emphasize her contributions, law enforcement officials are overcorrecting and being dismissive about it. I’m not saying Michelle McNamara cracked this case. I’m saying she worked it, as one of her friends among police put it, to dust, and that work matters. I’m a horribly impatient incrementalist -- I’ll complain and stomp my rhetorical foot and tap the wristwatch in my mind’s eye, all while acknowledging as much as I can that small steps move us ever forward -- so this argument is especially resonant for me. I can’t wait to get to the conclusion but I know that laying groundwork is important & worthwhile. McNamara’s work helped do that for law enforcement officials in California, and now a killer is in custody. If your taste in true crime runs to podcasts, My Favorite Murder has two episodes on the case, Episode 115 with Patton Oswalt and researcher Billy Jensen, and Episode 118, which giddly captures the hosts’ reactions the day of the arrest.
Speaking of podcasts, one of my very favorites, Oh My God, What The F*ck Bible, is back for a new season! As you may recall from my previous rantings about it, OMGWTFBIBLE is hosted by former yeshiva boy David Tuchman, who has undertaken an entirely new English translation of the Torah, which he then invites friends & minor luminaries to read aloud while he makes jokes about it. When we last left the show, it was on a bit of a cliffhanger: what was going to happen to the Hebrews at the end of Vayikra/He Called/Leviticus??? Catch up with all of rules about how to create nice smoky smells for Yehovah, when you need to do some wavy waving with your sin offering, and extremely clear, not remotely confusing instructions about how to eliminate yuckiness from your life with the current episode, All The Bible Bits Volume 3. Starting next week, David will bring us a new episode every week, matching the Torah portion of the week, all the way through Books 4 & 5, and Iiiii caaaan’t waaaait!
A video showcasing Prince & The Revolution’s demo for “Nothing Compares 2 U” is out, and surprising no one, it’s very good. I mean, of course it is. “Nothing Compares” is one of Prince’s greatest feats of songwriting, and The Revolution were at the height of their powers in 1984. But it’s the rehearsal footage the vocal is set to that’s the real news. I’ve watched it a bunch of times and what sticks out for me is, variously: how much fun they’re all having, how much work & care went into their stagecraft, and most of all, how much this great artist punished his body in pursuit of the sharpest, most electrifying moves he could execute. He gave us countless ultra-athletic performances over the years, and in the end, they killed him. Prince was a lavishly talented and seemingly inexhaustible performer, and watching him at work is thrilling even now, but we also know now the awful toll those that work took on him. I can’t watch this video without thinking about that devil’s bargain, and about how much we need to radically reimagine our social, health, and criminal justice approaches to pain management and medication dependencies.
A side note about one of my favorite aspects of this video: Prince’s smile. We didn’t get to see him smiling much. Not that he owed us any particular emotion, and he was hugely appealing no matter his facial expression. He was very serious about his music and work as a performer, and that should enough for anyone. But I love to see Prince smiling, to see his puckish side. His was such a lovely smile, smiled by a very funny person, and I think it’s important to remember that. In general, I love when impossibly famous artists take a moment to let the mask of their public persona drop, and in particular I appreciate that we get to see this one, The Purple One, who lived exclusively on his own idiosyncratic, hyper-controlling terms, with the face he saved for his friends & colleagues in his band.
I was in New York last week and got to see this exhibit of work by Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral at the Museum of Modern Art. Her work is fascinating: as an encapsulation of her cross-disciplinary and collaborative work with her husband, poet Oswalde de Andrade, to distill & express an authentic Brazilian identity in the early 1900s, as a window on colorism & Orientalism of the period, and as an example of art from the Global South that we rarely see or hear about in the US. The connections to works by Rousseau, Braques, Cezanne, and Gaugin were captivating, along with an unexpected echo of children’s book illustrator Esphyr Slobodkina, whose work for The Little Fireman echoes Tarsila’s painting Palm Trees! I couldn’t help noticing that Constantin Brancusi, who was Tarsila’s friend, ripped her off nearly wholesale by transforming her monumental painting A Negra (which is as iconic as it is problematic to a 21st century eye) into his sculpture The White Negress. I also loved the resonances between this exhibit, which is about a specific moment of national identity development, and the Mexican Modernism exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art two years ago, which covered similar ground. My art history knowledge is very Western and Northern, and I’m so used to museums announcing exhibitions of work by artists from the West and the Global North that when one does announce a major show of work from continents other than Europe & (white) North America, it’s worth noting. The show of Tarsila’s work is up through June 3 & if you can go see it, do!
In the last two weeks, two friends have gingerly approached me to learn more of the Good News About One Direction and I don’t know what’s prompted this windfall, but it tells me that it’s time to update my Harry Styles Primer for Young Olds. I’ll get to that in the next couple of weeks & will give you a heads-up when it’s live. In the meantime, please enjoy this thread of concert posters for each of his European tour stops. They’re simple & brilliant: the date and location frames a notable gif from each evening in question. His suits on this leg have surpassed even my wildest fever dreams & flights of couture fancy. This Gustav Klimt-inspired black & gold embroidery extravaganza? WHAT. SIR. I can’t deal with this sumptuously be-suited nightmare monster HAMBONE-slash-future Catskills resort owner, and I also can’t wait to be assassinated where I stand when he debuts whatever absurd bespoke confection is next. I would not be averse to a Hokusai-inspired look and would also be delighted to expire immediately on glimpsing something in a Georgia O’Keeffe mood when I see him in June. (Yes, after howling my regret into the void a few weeks ago, I found a decently-priced ticket for the Philly show.) (!!)
This fine weather does put a spring in one’s step during a celebratory stroll.
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This little girl’s in-depth (but notionally polite) critique of her father’s attempt at doing her hair.
And these very thoughtful and loving ways to handle grief (one’s own, or the grief of a loved one)
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