Tag: Humor

2019 Oscars Red Carpet Rundown

Kittens, it’s that blessed time of year again: when we argue vociferously in the comments over the gowns and getups of the Oscars red carpet! Praise be!

I have opined in recent years that some Academy Awards red carpets have gotten…well, boring. But scanning through the images as they rolled in over the past couple of days, I was actively bouncing in my seat with delight to see some genuinely interesting and groundbreaking fashion on the step and repeat. Old school glamour absolutely has a place and shouldn’t be discounted, but I think the current zeitgeist (and certainly my own preference) is for more originality and personality in both design and styling.

This year had it in droves, particularly in the menswear category, which my soul thrilled to see. Nothing is hotter than a well worn tux or suit, but what a dull life it is when no one revisits or reinterprets the traditional stand by. Meanwhile, the ladies played with shape, flirted with menswear, and broke out the jewels. What a feast for the senses!

The red carpet and many (not all) of the awards also served to underscore how much style owes to the niches. Black culture, queer culture, nerd culture…aesthetics and innovation come from tucked away corners of society, and seldom from the mainstream. To see Style expressed rather than Fashion rewarded (not the same thing) was deeply gratifying. In fact, given the diversity of style to choose from and the myriad of important cultural news, it was difficult to break down what looked “good” and bad” for a lot of the people I wanted to cover.

Difficult…but not impossible.

Scroll down for my top picks, headshakes, screams of terror, and bafflement. Then let me know what you loved/hated and why!

 

The Good

Glenn Close in Carolina Herrera

Bow down to a woman who is LONG overdue an Oscar (even though I’m delighted that Olivia Colman won because I think The Favourite is one of the best films I’ve seen in years and her surprise and joy at her nod and win were so lovely to watch). Apparently her train weighed close to 50 lbs and while that seems a chore to drag around, she looked every inch a queen. And watching her stanning for another queen? *Chef’s kiss*

 

Regina King in Oscar de la Renta

Such a simple look, such perfect styling. Every single quotient here is correct: chic, sex appeal, elegance, impact. A mere centimeter more or leg or jewelry would have changed the mathematics, but left alone this whole look just sings. I may also be biased but I also give accessorizing points for when Captain America (himself fetchingly attired in a blue velvet jacket–we’ll return to the boys later) rose chivalrously to the occasion to help her up the stairs.

 

Angela Bassett in Reem Acra

The Queen Mother of Wakanda accepts your humble offerings of praise. I would normally grade the wrinkling much more harshly but I mean…just look at her. Her face should not be legal.

 

Constance Wu in Versace

This is so darn lovely in its execution! This is a look where all of the impact is in the details from the perfectly fitted and hemmed basics (required for the red carpet but sometimes missing in action for some reason!), the hint of glimmer at the neckline, and the absolutely stunning pleating across the bodice.

 

Gemma Chan in Valentino

I can already hear the shouts in the comments, but hear me out! It was difficult to see all the wild and editorial deployment of pink and not think of the character of Villanelle from Killing Eve and her famous pink confection by Molly Goddard. That piece in particular and most of the costuming of that show was dubbed an exercise “dressing for the female gaze rather than the male,” a take with which I agree and which I think we are seeing more and more of. Gemma Chan’s red carpet choices have been a great example of this and her pink frock was no different. Here is a ludicrously beautiful woman who could easily dress “safely” in her professional appearances, but has chosen deliberately editorial choices instead, playing with silhouettes and shape rather than traditional movie star gowns. This is not a traditional or safe choice, which is why I think it deserves a top billing.

 

Tina Fey in Vera Wang

A personal best, hands down.

 

Michelle Yeoh in Elie Saab

If ever there was a woman born to wear couture, it is she!

 

 

The Less Than Good

I am devastated to report that all three of the leading ladies of The Favourite (by far my favo(u)rite film of the year), let me down on the style front.

 

Olivia Colman in custom Prada

I am not going to judge this woman nearly as harshly as other stars. Like many noted and treasured British performers, she is not a Hollywood machine product and has not “invested” in fashion as a mechanism for attention or acclaim the way, say, Emma Stone has. That is not a criticism, by the way, it’s usually stonking good business sense! But it not correct to judge her by fashionista standards. And no, it has nothing to do with age. Both Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep are Women of A Certain Age, both are ferociously revered and fabulously talented. Streep has not utilized fashion the way that Mirren has and their efforts must be evaluated differently. But I digress. I think the color of this gown is gorgeous, her hair and makeup are impeccable and personal, and I love the beautifully embroidered tulle in theory, but I didn’t love the placement of it. Had this been draped differently, I think I would have liked it much more. Her acceptance speech, however? Genuine delight!

 

Emma Stone in Louis Vuitton

This pains me because I love both her movie and her, but this looked like pan fried meat. However, her unabashed love for her winning co-star was an absolutely joy to watch, click the link above if you want to revisit it again and bask in the heartwarming glow.

 

Rachel Weisz  in Givenchy

This pains me even more than Emma because I don’t just love her, she’s literally one of my favorite actresses ever…but this is just bad. The hair jewelry is beautiful but does not suit the rest of the look, which I can only read as cardinal fetishwear. And that is a BAD mental image right now. Again, a mixture of elements which, on their own are interesting, but don’t gel together well for me.

 

Lady Gaga in Alexander McQueen

I am sorry to disappoint on her big night but Lady Gaga for me was a case of so many individually good elements not being put together correctly. A structural gown with unexpected accessories is right in her wheelhouse, but the fabric didn’t seem to photograph well and had a wrinkled or unkempt quality in the shots I saw. And while her hair styling was an homage to Audrey Hepburn, whose iconic gems adorned her neck, the hair color and fake tan orange of her skin brought the look down. I am not a snob by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to style, but her particular mix of High/Low didn’t gel for me on her biggest red carpet night to date.

 

Charlize Theron in Dior

Sigh. I think it’s annual tradition at this point: Theron wears a Dior which I hate. She has a longstanding relationship with the house and is one of their brand ambassadors, but I have never felt they’ve done right by her. I feel the same way about Jennifer Lawrence, come to think about it… That necklace, however, is to die for.

 

Melissa McCarthy in Brandon Maxwell

Oh this pains me because I applaud trousers on the red carpet and live for a cape. But I did not feel that this iteration was an amazing deployment.

 

 

The Trends: Subverting Gender and Stereotypes

Pink Ladies

Helen Mirren in Schiaparelli – she can do no wrong.
Sarah Paulson in Brandon Maxwell – bad. Fire whoever pitched it.
Kasey Musgrave in Giambattisa Valli – not to my tastes but perfect for the wearer!
Maya Rudolph in Giambattista Valli – bad! Looks like curtains!
Marie Kondo in Jenny Packham – perfect! Sparks joy!

Pink was everywhere on this carpet which was a bit unexpected. We haven’t been having a pink “moment” in fashion, but on reflection we are having a series of decidedly female and queer empowerment moments in culture. Perhaps this constitutes something of a bold reclamation of unabashed femininity after a few rough awards seasons shadowed by #MeToo and other hard truths. No longer trying to make it in a “man’s world,” some of the most empowering messages we are hearing about and for women involve harnessing femininity (if you are feminine or choose to present that way) rather than subsuming it to more traditional (masculine) styles or perspectives. In other words, some girls like pink and they are going to wear it because they enjoy feeling girly, regardless of their age. Deal with it. And give them their awards.

 

Women in Menswear

Amy Poehler in Alberta Ferretti
Awkwafina in DSquared 2 – and it’s pink!
Elsie Fisher in Thom Browne – age appropriate and fun!

In a similar vein, some girls want to wear suits. Cool! Wear the suits, darlings, you look fab in them! I love menswear on women and enjoyed how many iterations of it we saw this year, even if I didn’t love all of them equally (sorry again, Melissa!).

 

Let’s Hear it For the Boys (in Velvet)

And finally, boys just want to have fun too! Fashion and style are often dismissed as feminine (and therefore frivolous) interests. Bullshit! Style and self expression through clothes is fun to do and plenty of men enjoy this space. We should vigorously encourage them wherever we find men dressing well, because the results…damn.

Oh, and there was a lot of velvet too. But, priorities.

Chris Evans in Salvatore Ferragamo

Chris Evans in Salvatore Ferragamo 

There are many Chris-es in Hollywood. He is my favorite. I may have rewatched the footage of Captain America being an officer and a gentleman towards Ms. Regina King a few dozen times at this point. Because…damn.

 

Chadwick Boseman in Givenchy 

He has consistently pushed red carpet styling for men so of course he wouldn’t leave us bereft at the Oscars. A highly traditional tux jacket is elevated by being absolutely encrusted with beading and flowing elements reminiscent of north African garments. He and the whole cast of Black Panther have been giving us the most gorgeous, high fashion, Afrofuturistic looks possible for a year now and the red carpet is all the better for it. Spare us safe, give us damn style!

 

Nicholas Hoult in Dior

Hot damn. The best of all the stars from The Favourite in an unusual take on the tux–almost feminine in the interpretation of a train, which is apropos given he played a glorious fop.

 

Jason Momoa in Karl Lagerfeld

He’s…look, he’s messy. But this look overlaps nicely with the pink theme and the more “flamboyant” looks for men, so it had to be included as a notable mention. Even if it’s really messy. But still, those muscles. Damn.

 

David Olelowo in Etro

Damn.

 

Stephen James in Etro

Damn.

 

Henry Golding in Ralph Lauren

DAMN.

 

Best In Show

Billy Porter in Christian Sirano

My god what a stunning look and absolutely perfect for the wearer, star of POSE. The look directly references drag ball star Hector Xtravaganza, updated for both 2019 and the wearer. Christian Sirano was an excellent choice as designer as having earned a reputation for dressing bodies that the more traditionally minded fashion and film industries have not cultivated. This for me summed up the best of the red carpet and the award wins this year–unfortunately leaving the Best Picture win aside. What was once underground and transgressive can still be unique and deeply unconventional while being more accepted in the mainstream as glamourous in its own right. Queer culture demands that both truths can apply and I love it!

 

Come, kittens, let’s argue!

Embracing Vulnerability (Especially When You’re Bad At It)

“What happens when people open their hearts?”
“They get better.” 
― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

The past few months have been challenging on the work front, but in an unusual way: most of what has challenged me has been a result of success and advancement more than setback. This is not a bad problem to have! I’m gratified by the opportunities I’m getting, while simultaneously intimidated or by many aspects of them at the same time.

Almost every day week I am confronted with a challenge or issue that I have never faced before. On the one hand, this is extremely good for me and my career as it compels growth. I enjoy the opportunity to shape my work and take ownership of certain issues that I want to improve or contribute to. On the other hand, it’s also been difficult navigating uncharted territory 100% of the time. I fret inordinately about making mistakes and being out of my depth–even if these worries are usually unfounded when I take a step back and look rationally at my situation.

This past month, after a particularly bad and long lasting bout of anxiety in the face of yet more unexpected challenges, I decided to try and do something that is very difficult for me: be more vulnerable.

Opening up. With the benefit of hindsight, I’ve been thinking lately on how I’ve confused honesty with vulnerability. Honesty is not difficult for me; I’m notoriously lacking in poker face and tend to operate on a policy of complete transparency. This applies to my professional life as well as my personal. I have neither the skill nor patience for personal politics and would ten times rather attack problems full on than sidle up to them sideways. I also don’t tend to hide my opinions or emotions (even when I wish I could). However, honesty is not vulnerability. The former implies providing something to me, the latter requires receiving, and often also involves an element of risk. I took a few risks this month and tried to communicate more openly with key people about how I’m coping (or not) with certain circumstances and ambitions. In some cases I’ve tried to be humble and ask for help or guidance, in others I’ve pitched new ideas or projects. While I haven’t always gotten the answers I’ve wanted, these conversations have helped reduce uncertainty or confusion.

Being out of my comfort zone. I’ve had to make some tough decisions in areas which were new for me. Whether it’s balancing bigger budgets or running different kinds of projects or dealing with new-to-me people management situations, I’ve had to make judgement calls which have higher stakes. And I’m going to have to manage the consequences of these decisions, both good and bad, and only some of which I can anticipate. Which leads me to….

Learning to be uncomfortable. There is a world of difference between things that are bad for you or toxic, and things that are simply temporarily difficult or unpleasant. After a few years dealing with the genuinely toxic in a few areas of my life, I am still learning to differentiate between the two. Discomfort isn’t fatal–it’s probably a larger part of the human condition than thrilling joy–and learning to navigate periods of discomfort and difficulty is a skill that I need to hone. I am am trying to learn how to be more at peace with my own inexperience and fears–to acknowledge them and deal with them while not allowing them to cripple me. This is very new emotional space for me and not very good at existing in it yet, but I’m trying.

Let’s chat about vulnerability in the comments. What does that look like in your life and how have you leaned into it–or fled from it, as I tend to do?

Weekend Links

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”
― Audrey Hepburn

Happy weekend, my poppets. It’s been another wild week of news with a lot of hard stories, but once again I’ve lovingly curated a bunch of links to take you through several of the big stories and even more of the small gems you might have missed. This week we have nature, crime, humor, in memoriam, Black Excellence, and a gem of a short film to wrap it all up. Go forth and read!

Shut up and take my money.

Shut up and take more of my money.

Tiny, jeweled, winged warriors!

Is anyone shocked at this point? Anyone?

In related news, Roger Stone is an idiot. (*shakes head)

Good. More. (And more similar organizations, because it’s abuse it not a monopoly of any one group.)

What strikes me now as irrational about our response isn’t our ordinary parental instinct to protect our kids from scary stuff. It was our denial.”

There’s this idea that getting help is somehow cheating…” The communal and familial nature of building wealth is interesting to me, especially given current cultural examinations of wealth and power. There have been a lot of mini pop culture scandals and stories of late wherein individuals are lauded as self-made when they are most definitely not, or some variation thereof. Both Jeff and I had parents who paid for our educations–though we both still earned scholarships, worked jobs (two at one point in my case), and went to a ridiculously inexpensive university for our undergraduate degrees. But privilege is privilege and we have it. Here in the UK, it’s extremely common for parents to help adult children with the down payments that put them on the property ladder for the first time. There are political and policy aspects to wealth building that cannot and should not be ignored. In other words, it is a rare, rare (wo)man who is a financial island and we should probably ditch the myth of the self-made man as it’s inaccurate, unhelpful, and not a little soul-crushing.

Your headline of the week, ladies and gentlemen.

Not holding my breath

I want this biopic and I want it NOW.

I have not spawned but I know exactly what FOMOG is.

Phryne Fischer, ladies and gentlemen!

RIP to a true fashion maestro who has defined a generation of several fashion houses. I’m curious to see how his successor will pick up the reigns at Chanel and what that will mean for the house, Lagerfeld seems so tied to it in my head that I have a hard time imaging it without him! Adieu, good sir.

Black History Month is not over, and Mr. Obama has some reading recommendations if you are inclined for some self-education. My repertoire of African and black American authors is truly shameful and I’ve been working to correct over recent years.

Oh yes, this is the queer content I want for a weekend reading.

When the history of this current administration is written, I honestly think people will be baffled at how much it got away with due to sheer brazenness. And not in a good way. (Side note, Matthew Whitaker is also an idiot.)

The only Oscars prep I am doing.

I really feel like the recent science reporting on insect biomass collapse has not gotten nearly enough airtime…

What the actual fuck is going on here?!

In better news, put Girl Scouts in charge of everything, thanks.

Let’s end on a sweet note, shall we? Reader, I wept.

Weekend Links

“History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.” 
― Thomas Jefferson

Happy weekend, darlings! The Amazon/New York deal is off, a national emergency has been declared over something that will not substantially affect the very thing that the US government is declaring is the root of the emergency in the first place. What a hideous mess. We are in the upside down.

Never fear, I’ve put together a list of weekend reading for you that is light on the politics and heavy on the pop culture and obscure scientific weirdness. Truly the sweet spot of the Small Dog Nation!

This weekend Jeff and I are doing a belated Valentine’s day date after basically only catching glimpses of one another for a solid week and general life admin. Very sexy and the stuff of true love. Let me know what you’re up to in the comments.

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My hypothetical children are doomed.

Spoilers if you have not yet seen Russian Doll on Netflix, but this write up from Vulture is so good. Relatedly, if you have not yet watched Russian Doll, stop what you are doing and binge it immediately.

*Files away as she continues to try and learn how to do her hair, despite being in her 30s.

I had to study up on population distribution in the British Isles for my immigration test, and once again was reminded that for all London may feel like the center of the world, the nation is the size of Idaho with a very unevenly spread populace. A fact driven home by this short bit of pre-Brexit reporting.

This is accurate, do not @ me fellow 90s girls.

Racism and its ugly history is everywhere, and academia is just enjoying/enduring a moment in the spotlight as part of a much larger and overdue examination. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I actually did some hard looking at and grappling with the communities I was raised in and lived in–including my almost notoriously mostly-caucasian university, flagship education program of a religious institution which didn’t start ordaining black men to its priesthood until 1978. Correlation? I think so.

We haven’t had a great archaeology story in a while, enjoy!

After a deservedly-viral piece last month, Anne Helen Peterson is back at it with another piece, this time on the realities of student debt and what some of the long term ramifications of this debt will be. There are racial issues, gendered issues, policy issues, psychological issues all to be considered and Peterson does a great job of parsing through them.

Science is brilliant.

This Medium post on the differences, but more importantly similarities, one woman is experiencing at a 20 year distance was a thoughtful read.

My time in certain industries bears witness to this. What a sobering read…

A healthy society should constantly reassess what it finds offensive, but it is fascinating to consider what used to bar people from public life back in the day vs. what they are able to get away with now.

Farrow dropped his latest. It’s his usual brand of jaw dropping.

What could possibly

Black Panther, is that you?!

I do want better examinations of boys and men and masculinity…but this article seems like a bad misstep. The internet agreed.

This is such a specific problem that I never, ever thought about until I read this piece.

What an idiot

Good boy, rover.

NEW LIZZO ALERT. Happy Valentines Day!

Holy crap.

And finally, what a mess. I ask because I genuinely want to know and I genuinely need more some expert to tell me: are we at constitutional crisis yet? The whole thing is farcical…and a bit frightening. And once again I have not the smallest faith that the party who has spent the vast majority of my adult life screaming about constitutionality, balanced budgets, limited government, and so forth will do a damn thing to check him. Meanwhile, this action is almost certain to run into legal and procedural roadblocks, all for an outcome that in the “best case” scenario will net the administration less money than congress was willing to give it a year ago if it had…you know…negotiated.

 

Weekend Links

“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.” 
― Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

London is freezing, guys. I cancelled gym classes and stayed bundled in at least three layers of clothing for most of yesterday, feeling precisely no shame about any of my life choices. It was not a day to go outside!

January was a rough month, and that was before the polar vortex hit. I’m not sorry it’s behind us! After another doozy of a week, I’m spending the weekend preparing for a work trip and buying a hoover to finish cleaning up from the repair works to our apartment. This project ended up being much more of an ordeal than I could have ever anticipated when the whole mess started back in August. It’s put me off home ownership for a long while to come–never have I been as delighted to not have enough net worth for this amount of property damage to be my permanent problem! Living on the floor of our living room for weeks while the repairs have gone on has been awkward and and stressful and I’m not sorry to have the (literal) mess behind us.

A question I have long pondered!

Here is a 100% delightful profile and feed to brighten your day.

God…no wonder we’re tired

In case you missed the horrible and horribly important story in The Atlantic about the accusations against Ryan Singer…well, it’s hard to read, but important in the midst of the many (long overdue) conversations we are having as a society.

Relevant to my random, weird interests!

What did the President know and when did he know it, etc. etc. At this point, the “best” explanation for Mr. Trump regarding all his many minions having contact with inappropriate foreign agents, is that he’s such a bad boss and poor manager that he was totally ignorant of large amount of illegality within his personal and political organizations. And of course, this is not actually a very good legal defense at all!

GOOD.

This thread went viral and it is worth every single second of your scroll time.

What a fascinating piece on a topic that is probably beyond the majority of western society.

This Kickstarter project has a backstory!

Ugh, do not want.

Overwhelmed by stuff? Overwhelmed by the Konmari decluttering of stuff? Some help!

DID not want and here we are.

Oh this is a deeply necessary read in our household. I shed like a sheepdog!

In unsurprising news, a disinformation attempt.

Give this person all the awards.

Has anyone else seen The Favourite? I watched it last week and loved it, the performances are absolutely brilliant. Anyway, a relevant piece on Queen Anne and the fact of a royal body, a royal woman’s body, and the body of a woman deemed to be unattractive or unacceptable.

This piece on the importance of self-compassion has really resonated with me. I’ve become increasingly aware over the last couple of years of how brutal I often am to myself. If anyone talked to one of my friends the way I talk to and think about my own person, I’d light them on fire and dance on the ashes–and yet I really struggle with the notion of being kind or gentle to my own body or brain.

 

Five Things I Loved in January

“Lots of people go mad in January. Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June. But January is your third most common month for madness.” 
― Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary

What an absurd month January has been. Once again, I feel as though the sheer amount of news it has contained (most of it bad) has been enough for six months in normal times, and we are the dead of winter which means it’s hard to feel particularly motivated or enthusiastic about anything. This coming from a woman who actually likes winter. And yet! There are good things out there which deserve to be shouted from the rooftops!

Here is a short list of things that made me happy this month. Share your favorite things with me in the comments and let’s beat the cold weather together.

Kate Spade Quincy Bag

This was my Christmas present from Jeff and I love it. It was a pricier purchase and gift, but I had been researching black leather bags for several months and had a very specific set of requirements. It needed to be big enough to carry all the stuff I schlep around with me on a daily basis, but still not overly large or a tote. It needed to be nice enough for work and running around the city, but “plain” enough for every day. It had to be made of nice materials but of a design and style that would wear well and I could use for literal years. I hunted for months and dismissed several subpar candidates until I found this one and even then I didn’t buy it because I was being responsible. However, as Jeff himself put it, “You’ve been talking about needing a basic black bag for months,” so we agreed it was an acceptable Christmas present. We don’t tend to buy birthday presents or anniversary gifts so Christmas is the one holiday we are okay getting nice presents for one another (he got a fancy fitness tracker). We picked it up in the States where the currency exchange is in our favor and I’m justifying it by using it every day that I’ve owned it so I am definitely already getting some good Cost Per Wear numbers.

 

Library cards

On the OTHER side of the spending spectrum, I renewed my British library card this month. I have a library card for the county in the States where I’m registered to vote and pay taxes and I use if constantly for ebooks and audio books. At any given point I have at least three books going in various formats and have usually maxed my borrowing limit. But one of my Year of Discipline goals was to catch up on some very basic life admin, which included updating the British account that I had let slide, which was registered under the wrong address, and to which I owed a late fee of £3. A very nice librarian helped me reactivate my account and kindly waved the fee, after which I immediately checked out four actual books. I’ve been consuming my digital book content for so long that I’d genuinely forgotten the pleasure of physical library books. They smell great, feel great in my hands, and the process of remembering how gosh darn nice it is wandering through shelves looking for interesting finds has been lovely. I may not have a bedside table (due to camping in our front room), but by golly my book stack is back!

 

Baths

Also free, or very nearly: baths. I made the mistake of remarking how mild a winter we have been having and Mother Nature immediately cackled and sent us several weeks of freezing weather this month to show me who was in charge. It’s been the kind of London-y, Dickensian cold that seeps into your bones and makes you feel like you will never be warm again. Enter hot water and accoutrements! Because we’ve been exercising so much more, we’ve stocked up on large bags of epsom salts to soak in. I’ve also taken advantage of various deals at Boots to buy 2 For 1 bath oils or gels. Expensive stuff may look great on your tub rim but at the end of the evening, when all you want to be is cozy when you finally slide into bed, cheap bubbles are just as nice as anything you could possibly fork money out on. Beat the winter! Wear layers, break out the nice cashmere for nights in, take baths!

 

Sunday Riley Good Genes

I used up yet another both of this extremely expensive and (alas for me) extremely effective skincare product. Good Genes is a bit of a cult product, and for good reason. It doesn’t work for everyone but those who see results from it tend to swear by it. I am a devotee. The excesses of the holiday season, plus travel, plus biting cold and winter air generally have all conspired to do an absolute number on my face. This lactic acid treatment helps exfoliate and break down gunk and debris, which helps my skin absorb other ingredients better and makes makeup look better on. However, due to EU regulations, the UK version of the product is made up of different materials in very different quantities and I’m loathe to slather something on my face that I’m not familiar with–especially at this price point! Ergo, I shall not be replacing this product for a long while (probably until I’m back in the States again on our next visit, and goodness knows when that will be) and am instead making due with similar products at much lower pricepoints in the meantime. But I must salute a product that has done good service in the wars!

 

The Dead Queens Club, by Hannah Capin

You’ve heard a lot about this lately, but one of my two best friends in all the world published her debut novel this month and I’m so damned proud of her I could cry. Not only that, but the origin story of the idea dates to one of our many long correspondence and phone gossip sessions on the subject of Tudor history. I have probably never had a prouder friend moment in my life. And while I’m obviously biased…this book is GOOD, guys. A hilarious, sly, girl-power-y retelling of Henry VIII and more importantly the women who surrounded him–and without whom he would be nothing but a failed late medieval monarch. If you love YA, or just brilliant debuts, pick it up. I promise you will not be disappointed. And I promise you that what she’s going to do next will blow your socks off. Get it here, or even better at your local bookstore!

Weekend Links

“In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.” 
― Carl Sagan

I’m probably going to type this phrase at least thirty more times this year, but it has been a hell of a week, pumpkins…

I’m steering clear of shutdowns and witness tampering in public on the opposite side of the Atlantic, and not touching Brexit. The world is a mess, the media is cutting good journalists and other workers from the very institutions we need most right now, and Ebola cases are rising. There’s a lot to take in and I’m afraid I’m going into the weekend feeling a little moody and grumpy over all.

Cheer me up! Let me know what you’re getting up to in the comments and share a GOOD news story that delighted you this week.

Some shit is going down in Zimbabwe and we need to be following it.

This series of short essays at The Atlantic actually dropped last week but is still worth a review.

This longform piece on human history, DNA, and the complexities of trying to solve the deepest questions of our existence is well worth the time. Our better technology is not exactly uncomplicating the matter.

Quite literally a problem I had never thought of before!

I wrote a piece last week about the confusion I feel over people who align themselves with political movements, the end point of which seem to require their eventual removal from power. It seems dangerously short sighted.  I am equally confused about the point that this piece from the Huffington Post raises: one day Mr. Trump will no longer be president, however and whenever that may be. The Republican party has rebranded itself in his image in record time. What on earth is the plan for when he’s no longer in the Oval Office? He has reduced his political focus to the circa 35% of people who fanboy for him, specifically aggrieved white men, and leaned blatantly into racism and misogyny. While this may be heart-rendingly powerful in the short term, in the long term it is not a winning coalition–the demographics are against you.

This should not be.

And on the back of the previous link, this opinion piece: “Populism of all stripes may be anathema to the billionaire class, but they helped create it.

Tax. The. Rich.

Oh dear

I’ve been craving a longform or profile piece on Senator McConnell lately, to better understand his motivations or endgame. The New York Times came through. It’s a fascinating read, not least of all because of how many connections the Senator is able to call on to speak on his behalf. I dislike much of what he has done, but he is damned effective at his job.

The saga of J. Crew continues.

Oh you KNOW I was going to share this piece. I either want to beg, borrow or steal the MERL’s social media team for my own nefarious work devices.

“I am quite literally from another age,” Attenborough told an audience of business leaders, politicians and other delegates.

This is a concept I will fully and unabashedly stan.

I have been following the #CovingtonCatholic story all week and it’s a mess. The initial images went viral for a reason, the clash of two competing moral positions each staked out with handy props. On one side, while and male America with his MAGA hat, and on the other a champion of identity and narrative politics. Both sides believe they are defending themselves, and they have armies of Twitter eggs on their mutual sides. First the tale was of on the side of the indigenous Elder, then the wronged Good Catholic Boys, and then who even knows. As the story has continued to spin out as it’s been revealed that the children are represented by a PR firm who was aggressively pushing narratives on their behalf (and booking them news slots), further clips of further bad behavior of the sexist and racist variety have surfaced undermining the GCB narrative, and the timeline of events has clarified. In other words, yeah…the kids were behaving in demonstrably racist ways and the initial images probably portrayed the emotional truth. But by this time, the real story is the overcorrections by the media first to cover the story, then to cover the counter stories, and then to mop up the timeline long after the damage was done. The event is a Rorschach test for your political views and we’re long past the point where the facts matter.

I’ll just end by saying that Trayvon Martin didn’t have a PR team. Tamir Rice didn’t have the backing of one of the world’s most powerful religious institutions. Thousands of children have been separate from their parents, made orphans or actually LOST. Meanwhile these Good Catholic Boys are being defended from within the Oval Office and still being positioned as victims of oppression. Spare me. This whole exercise reaffirms the underlying conflict in the initial images that caused this media incident: who is power, and who isn’t? Who is protected and who isn’t? The victimhood narrative does not work when you control all of the levers of power.

Senator Bennett sort of drops the mic

Let’s end on a fun note and an aesthetic I can get behind!

 

ETA: JUST KIDDING. I should never publish Weekend Links early on a Friday in 2019, I truly should know better by now. Excuse the language, but holy shit…lying to Congress is not a “minor charge,” whatever his lawyer may say.