“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
― Anne Frank
Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
– Winston Churchill
So, to confirm, it was necessary for the FBI to break protocol in October of last year and publicly divulge information about an ongoing investigation into former rep. Anthony Weiner as it hypothetically might have related to Secretary Clinton (turns out, it didn’t). But it was not necessary for the FBI to publicly divulge that then-candidate Trump’s team or campaign was being investigated since July of last year for potential collusion with or ties to a government with an avowed strategy of disrupting US elections in his favor.
Got it. Clear as mud.
God, I’m angry at the state of US politics.
“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”
― Pablo Neruda
We made it to another weekend, kittens, and here in London at least it feels like spring really has arrived. It’s warming up, the daffodils are out in full force, and I think we are officially out of excuses for not being able to make it to the gym during daylight hours. Crud.
Here are your links, mostly politics free this week, to keep this springtime good mood going. Share your favorite stories from the week in the comments!
In case you missed the thread or story in question, this piece is worth a read.
This year’s NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest winners are a revelation and a delight!
Lipstick, oppression, empowerment, and the inner female life. Sign me up for whatever it takes to get this film released.
The CBO score on the healthcare reform, put forward by some Republicans and supported (at least initially) by the administration, came out this week. The estimates are 14 million losing insurance by 2018, 24 million by 2026. Read up and inform yourselves. In other political news, the courts temporarily blocked Travel Ban 2.0, a new budget proposal was put forward that amps military spending and cuts things like poverty support, big chunks of funding to whole agencies, and arts endowments (always a sign of great things to come ), and the president’s own party are refusing to back his thus-far-baseless claims of wiretapping. #winning?
I loved this supportive letter from Albert Einstein to Marie Curie.
Dear Saudi Arabia, you messed up…
And speaking of messing up, our own military (near and dear to my brat heart) isn’t exactly covering itself in glory on women’s issues lately.
So, minions, if we all pool our money…
A fascinating profile on Kellyanne Conway. Love her or loathe her, but this article makes a compelling case that she is, for all functional purposes, almost the acting First Lady in terms of profile, administrative involvement, and propinquity.
Album of the week: Sarah Vaughn, At Mister Kelly‘s
“But Sasha was from Russia, where the sunsets are longer, the dawns less sudden and sentences are often left unfinished from doubt as how to best end them.”
― Virginia Woolf,
One day after the president was praised to the skies for simply not acting like a narcissist or an uninformed jerk in public, we were right back to the crazy the next day with reports that the FBI is investigating the fact that the new Attorney General (and possibly more campaign officials and connections) also met with Russian officials in presumably shady circumstances. Business as usual in the brave new world.
Investigations need to happen, like yesterday. And my personal theory is that any investigation will quickly turn financial in nature, given the nature of the property and development businesses with which Mr. Trump has been involved all his professional life, and how it intimately it is tied to wealth movement and management of UHNWIs. Including Russian oligarchs. Things to, hypothetically, look forward to…
But in the meantime, I have a a bushel full of links for you, only a couple of which are political. Let’s call it a palate cleanser.
This investigative piece in The New Yorker is required reading to understand the background and complexity surrounding questions of Russian influence in the election, and the political stage in the United States as it stands right now. This short segment on PBS Newshour is also a good summary.
10 out of 10 C.s would watch a Chaucer opera.
The Milo Yiannopolous story, in case you missed it.
Also in case you missed it, icon and all around lady boss Roxanne Gay pulled her book from Simon & Schuster when they initially planned to go ahead with Mr. Yiannopolous’ book. Now that S&S has dropped him, there was some discussion as to whether Ms. Gay would go back to the publisher. In characteristic style, she answered.
Was there ever a more SDS appropriate topic that this?! I say to you, nay!
Likewise, a quick scroll through my Instagram feed will confirm I’m a sucker for a shop cat or dog.
Beauty junkies, hearken! Sephora has announced a new annual subscription service to expedite shipping on orders, no matter how big or small. Were I stateside, I’d be on this like white on rice.
In more beauty news, the perpetual teases at Glossier teased the release of their next makeup product, which looks to be cream/water based blush. I forsee me begging my girls in the States to send me a bundle of products here shortly.
Michelle Lee, the EIC of Allure magazine accidently created a viral tweet that, I think, accurately represents most people’s online life these days.
THIS. A thousand times this. Mr. Trump is not a great manager, he has played a great manager for years and people have bought it.
Save the hedgehog. We need good things in the world, people!
Two years ago RadioLab ran a fascinating story on then-breaking research technology to edit genes. They recently published a follow up to this story that explores the leaps and bounds that have come in just two years of development and the potential (good and terrifying) for this kind of technology. Well worth a listen!
Gotta say, the “future liberals want” meme has been cracking me right up this week. I think it’s the best example of self-own I’ve seen in a long time. Have a scroll through your social media feed of choice and enjoy this one.
Album of the week: The Chirping Crickets, by the Crickets
I’ll tell you this about the Oscars – they’re real.
– William H. Macy
Gather round, ducklings, it’s time to fight in the comments! That blessed time of year has arrived again, the annual Oscars Gown Rundown on SDS, where we admire beautiful things and people…and occasionally throw some shade at questionable fashion choices.
I’m not going to lie, this didn’t feel like an awards show where the fashion was for the ages. There were some beautiful pieces and looks but it was fairly tame overall. The real drama this year lay elsewhere.
First and foremost, I am pleasantly delighted and shocked at Moonlight’s upset win over long declared favorite La La Land. The disorganized mess of having to apologize for announcing the wrong film and then get the correct team and people on stage to take their bow was cringe-worthy. But the fact that a small but powerful film about race, sexuality, poverty, and masculinity upset yet another film where Hollywood is fairly self congratulatory and referential is a win, as far as I’m concerned.
Other major stories were Mahershala Ali’s win for Best Supporting Actor, which I believe is the first win for an American Muslim actor of any kind, and Viola Davis being the first woman of color to win an Emmy, Tony and Oscar award. Asghar Farhadi was not present to accept his award due to the politics of the travel ban, and lots of people were sporting pins or other supporting design elements for the ACLU and other organizations. While the fashion might not have been speaking as loudly, plenty of statements were being made.
Viola Davis looked flawless and her speech was powerful–no surprise there whatsoever. Her Armani Prive gown was a stunner and perfectly executed. One design detail more and this would have looked messy, but the single design note of an unusual neckline married to a powerhouse red, and the results just sing.
I will always fall for a deceptively simple looking gown and Brie Larsen’s Oscar de la Renta nailed that criteria. A cross between’s Sargent’s Portrait of Madame X and a flamenco dancer, loved it. I would have liked a different hair/accessories look, however.
Michelle Williams has stuck to a rather precious and twee look for years now. Sometimes it works in her favor, sometimes it doesn’t. This Louis Vuitton is an example of the former. Another deceptively simple frock with some exquisite details.
No, this is not a gown. It remains a “best dressed” contender regardless. Men’s fashion is often wildly overlooked when done well, and is more often bypassed entirely by male actors who phone it in for events or photoshoots while their female counterparts spend hours preparing thousands of dollars worth of couture and accessories to just show up in public. Mahershala Ali did not phone it in, his Ermenegildo Zenga suit is perfectly tailored and (though you can’t see it well in this shot), his suit contains a subtle pattern that is a delightful change from the typical tux. He is also, let’s face, extremely easy on the eyes.
Speaking of not phoning it in! Taraji P. Henson decided she was going to armor up in the the most fierce af getup she could find, and that’s exactly what she did. Another relatively simple gown by Alberta Feretti paired with major jewels and even more major attitude.
Okay, I can admit that Sunny Pawar is here most because he’s adorable. I also admit he could have used a better hem job but I fell hard for his amazing shoes and stay fallen. I’m a big proponent of child actors dressing age appropriately on the red carpet and when I see it, I signal boost!
This look proves that the devil really is in the details. Alicia Vikander in Louis Vuitton looks very similar to Brie Larsen in several key elements, but I found this look fussy and overly complicated in a way that didn’t suit its (obscenely gorgeous) wearer. It looks like a ballet costume rather than an Oscars gown.
I love prints on the Oscars red carpet and they are not often deployed, unfortunately. But Scarlett Johansson in Alaia shows why that may be the case. Her hair, makeup, and jewels are stunning but her outfit looks…tacky. The fabric looks cheap, I don’t think that the belt suits the look, and the blouson bust area isn’t doing her spectacular figure any favors.
Sigh. We can set our clocks by it at this point. Charlize Theron is a Dior ambassador and faithfully wears them each year, and each year in recent memory, her bustline has been assaulted in some way by the design. Like unto Scarlett Johansson, the blouson cut is really taking away from this look for me. A bit more fitted and this dress would have been the perfect vehicle to carry off those stunning jewels.
Felicity Jones is absurdly pretty in that English Rose kind of way, but this Dior seemed very twee for such an event as the Oscars. On a younger, perhaps teenage actress this would have been lovely, but it underwhelms for an event that is supposed to be a fashion highlight of the year. Her hair is also very low key which contributes to the underwhelm of this overall look for me.
No! No, Dakota Johnson! Whichever of your team members voted for this Gucci gown must be shown the door immediately. The color is not particularly great, but add to it the incredibly basic hair, next to no make up, and top it off with the fact that no one seems to have remembered to steam your dress properly and you have been Let Down.
I wanted to like this Kaufman Franco dress on Jessical Biel, I really did. It looks like a drag gown, and I mean that in the best possible way! But I feel she was badly let down by the styling of the look, her makeup looks harsh and her hair color and style a bit severe when paired with a bold but tailored gown. Normally I like looks to be balanced between drama and restraint, but the restraint here overpowered the drama.
There was a “buttoned up” micro trend to several looks this year, which is not a bad thing. Done well, severe or even religiously overtoned looks can pack a punch. But this gown on Ava Duverny looks heavy and awkward when she could have looked armored and dangerous.
The I Literally Can’t Make Up My Mind
A lot of people are falling over themselves to praise Ruth Negga in this Oscar de la Renta but I find myself torn. In some images this looks dramatic and beautiful, in others it looks odd and dare I say a bit frumpy. I have nothing but love for her selection of jewels (bring back tiaras, I say) and I love her makeup look independently from the gown, but I find them a bit oddly matched together. The darker garnet shades of her jewelry and smokey eyes don’t seem to match the better aspects of a floaty, peasant-y frock. Help me make up my mind, kittens!
Janelle Monae has developed a red carpet persona that she rarely deviates from: black and white and drama all over. This Elie Saab is certainly dramatic! A cross between 18th century, Elizabethean, and fetishwear, I should be all over this, but it’s not coming wholly together for me. I think that having both a sheer top and sheer paneled inner skirt made the look veer more towards tacky while all of the embellishments seem to compete. I’d have loved this look more if the skirt had stuck with either the layers of beaded black tulle, or committed solely to the layered white motifs. Both are too much.
Emma Stone’s Givenchy dress was the runaway red carpet star for me. The subtle gold tones were varied enough to keep from being flat, while the detailing did the heavy lifting. From the Old Hollywood hair (which I’m always a sucker for) to the simple yet stunning beauty look (apparently by Nars cosmetics), she clearly came ready to walk away with her Oscar. A gorgeous look!
“There aren’t enough days in the weekend.”
– Rod Schmidt
Kittens, we made it to another weekend! This one is badly needed for me, as I’ve now been sick with a persistent cold for two straight weeks, the hard drive on my computer died and needed to be replaced, and our house requires a deep cleaning.
In political news things are a bit less bombastic this week (meaning, I surmise, that someone has managed to hide the President’s phone during his preferred Twitter times), but plenty of weird or bad things still happened. For instance, they administration is now claiming that Mr. Bannon’s elevation on the National Security Council was the result of a faulty “copy and paste” job, the president conflated (dangerously, in my opinion) military and law enforcement work when it comes to rounding up and deporting immigrants, and transgender safety has been drastically walked back. Just because they aren’t picking silly fights with allies and being ridiculous in public doesn’t mean that policy changes aren’t happening. If you like these policy changes, fine, let’s have a respectful and vigorous debates in the comments as to why! If you don’t like this policy changes, keep up the pressure on elected leaders to make your voices heard.
[ETA after the above was written: annnnnnnnd then the White House banned selective news organizations from a press gaggle, apparently in retaliation for not being flattering enough. These happy, carefree days, aka three months ago, are now over and I’m back to being low level scared.]
However it’s not all doom and gloom this week! As usual there is a heaping pile of links for you to peruse, spring is slowly creeping closer, and this weekend sees the return of that great and glorious SDS annual tradition: the Oscars style review!
This piece on Medium got shared around quite a bit this week, comparing and contextualizing President Trump’s rise to internet culture.
Meanwhile, this article from MTV was a good reminder that those of us whose candidates lost the election might have to get used to losing even more in the short term. But we’re obliged to keep up the protests and civic engagement regardless. Despair, or worse apathy, are not options.
There was more than a little nonsense from CPAC this week, including this bit of you-can’t-make-this-shit-up news.
In a piece of good news from this week, I was heartened to read of the selection of Lt. General McMaster as the new National Security Adviser.
London Fashion Week wrapped and the street style images are as eccentric, colorful and stylish as you could wish for. Some years fashion weeks feel powerful and proactive, showing looks and styles that portray women (primarily) deliberately in command of their image, other years it shows a more reactive and vulnerable side that is more reactive to social or political climates. Neither is wrong and both are art. But in a season that could have easily gone the latter route given current realities, I’m thrilled to have seen more of the former.
Meanwhile, Maddie from Whiskey Tango Flat White has some thoughts on the political t-shirts shown at FW, particularly by Dior.
This beautiful but melancholy piece in Town and Country about the private art collection of a family destroyed in the Holocaust was a great read.
One writer debates the pitfalls of a President Trump soaked media landscape, what news is not getting the attention it needs as a result, and why the media ecosystem might need to work harder to pay less attention to him.
These short videos by Vogue have been tiny pockets of visual delight.
In writing this post, the do-over attempt at immigration bans is underway and there’s plenty to be upset about in this version as well. Not least of all the fact that the administration seems to think that they can foist “unwanted” people on a government to which they do not belong.
This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder.
A hard to read piece about one good thing that might come out of the whole Milo Yiannopoulos media situation: a better and more blunt discussion about sexual abuse against young and teenage boys, particularly if they are gay.
A hideous action, and one that I am afraid will become more common, not less.
Album of the week: Drunk, by Thundercat
“Fools are more to be feared than the wicked.”
– Queen Christina of Sweden
A quick PSA to say that over the weekend, at his first 2020 campaign rally (to which, sigh), the President seemed to imply that some kind of terrible event had occurred in Sweden the same day.
Meanwhile, in Sweden, a librarian responsible for Sweden’s official Twitter feed (the handle is passed around to different citizens to manage on a weekly basis, apparently) woke to learn of this. She was then responsible for assuring the Twitterverse that Sweden is, in fact, fine.
A little shade was also thrown on the feed, which can be a nice thing to read on a Monday morning. Go forth and read up. This morning the President tried to cover himself a bit, but Sweden clapped right back again. The whole thing is pleasantly silly.
But also remember that this is the third made up tragedy the administration seems to have referenced in a single month in office. And remember that the nearest thing to successful terror attacks in Sweden recently was a conspiracy of anti-immigration neo-Nazis.