Toast Points For The Week Of July 11th

This week my dad talked me into watching All The Presidents’ Men, which I had never seen; the next day he delivered a really lovely sermon/historical lesson on Lincoln’s melancholy and spirituality (if you like sermons, I recommend listening to it), so #peakdad levels were reached.

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So, You Make Comics!

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Femslash Friday: Agents of SHIELD

Previously on Femslash Friday: Jane Eyre.

On paper, there’s a lot that Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD does right. It’s attached to the Whedon name, overseen by Joss’ brother Jed and his sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen and branded with the Mutant Enemy production label. Its cast is led by the utterly capable Clark Gregg, whose Agent Phil Coulson was so beloved after his death in The Avengers that the Marvel franchise felt forced to bring him back, however hackneyed the explanation. And—most impressively—its Bechdel-friendly ensemble features as many female characters as it does male, and all the women embody the strong female character archetype in radically different, largely original ways.

In reality, SHIELD got off to a rocky start. But once it found its footing—sometime after the introduction of Bill Paxton as the hammiest ham in Hamtown—the ardent fan following began to feel justified, the GIFs came fast and furious, and AO3 and Tumblr overflowed with fan fiction, some canon, mostly not. Predictably, on the show, more than one woman ended up involved with the blandly handsome Grant Ward, and his relationships with Melinda May and Skye, who doesn’t even need a last name, piqued enough interest among the fanbase to generate plenty of fic. But Ward isn’t what you’d call a fascinating character; he’s quite flat, even when the writers are grasping at straws to make something, anything about him interesting. Infinitely more fun than watching Ward stumble around the much tougher, more intimidating May or giggle and hold hands with Skye was the show’s most popular aspirational pairing: feisty self-described hacktivist Skye and Jemma Simmons, a charming, brilliant British scientist with more than a little bit in common with a previous Whedon sweetheart, Angel’s Fred Burkle.

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Cocktail Hour: Open Thread

Do you do more things on summer weeknights than winter ones? Feel festive all the time? Do you then regret everything in the mornings? NO MATTER. Because it’s Friday and we are gonna open thread like the wind.

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Shirley O’Flannery: Shirley Jackson and Flannery O’Connor Were The Same Person

I’ve been reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle, the last novel Shirley Jackson wrote before her death in 1965, and thought I had remembered someone saying her agoraphobia was the thing that inspired her to write so much about creepy houses. (Have you read The Haunting of Hill House? Go read it if you haven’t, preferably late at night and under the covers, with a flashlight.) So I toddled on over to Jackson’s Wikipedia page where I made the most thrilling discovery: Shirley Jackson was, without a doubt, Flannery O’Connor’s mystical alter ego. Look at these pictures! The hair, the glasses, the deeply held personal conviction against smiling.

Why would O’Connor need a mystical alter ego, you might ask, when she already wrote so much weird shit? I don’t know. But here are some other thoughts and facts that prove their strange relationship beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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Dirtbag Arthur Miller

Previously in this series: Dirtbag John Milton

BIFF enters, skateboarding.
BIFF: more like willy blowman
BIFF exits, skateboarding.

LINDA: oh Biff
when are you going to make something out of your life
BIFF: i went on a job interview today
LINDA: that’s wonderful
how did it go?
BIFF: stole a pen
LINDA: oh Biff
BIFF: s’a good pen
[BIFF leans over and carefully draws a mustache over LINDA'S mouth]
BIFF: see

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How to Buy a Car Without Interacting With a Human

It’s true. I have recently (yesterday!) purchased a motor vehicle. It was a pleasant and invigorating experience, and my car is very beautiful and full of confusing technology and excessive purse storage. I have named him Dracarys, and he will serve me well. Having accomplished this task in less than 48 hours with only a brief flurry of emails, one telephone call outsourced to A Man, and a ten-minute in-person visit merely to sign pre-arranged paperwork and receive a bucket of swag and two sets of keys, I now wish to share with you the lessons I have learned along the way. They’re applicable to those of you who might want to purchase a new or certified pre-owned vehicle, I will not pretend to know anything about the niceties of used-car-haggling. I hear Roxane Gay’s dad is who you should bring along for that. Otherwise, this is what you should do.

Step One: 

Figure out exactly what car you want to buy. Do this online. Do not walk into a dealership. The internet is literally stuffed with rankings and reviews and Best Mid-Price Blue Sedans lists. “Shouldn’t I test drive some cars?” No. Can you drive a car? You’re set. After you’ve been driving it for a week, you won’t be able to imagine driving a different car anyway. Why spend a couple hours of your life trying random cars like you’ve flown into Phoenix for business and are trying to figure out where the parking brake is on your rental? It’s a new or certified pre-owned car. They drive. They go vrroooom. I am glad you have picked a car.

Step Two:

Discover who sells this car in your area. Let us now move to my beautiful, personal story of triumph. I decided on a particular car, as per Step One, let’s call it a Dragon. There are two Dragon dealerships in Salt Lake City. I went to the dealership websites.

Let’s get one thing straight: I do not talk on the phone.

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Link Roundup!

RELEVANT TO TOAST INTERESTS: Kristen Stewart’s new haircut.

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DOLLYWOOD:

In May, Dolly Parton returned from promoting her new album, Blue Smoke, to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for the celebration she hosts every year: the Dollywood Homecoming Parade. Thousands gathered along the stretch of U.S. Route 441 known as Dolly Parton Parkway, from stoplight number six to stoplight number three. The devoted sat in strategically placed lawn chairs; the less eager watched from roadside hotel balconies. My boyfriend and I stood in the median of the parkway, opposite a spiraling bumper-car attraction, and watched as the first few floats passed: veterans, students, and an official contingent from the City of Pigeon Forge. A marching band played “9 to 5” and then “Islands in the Stream.”

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Shopping at Thrift Town!

At Thrift Town, they think that Chico’s is a designer label. They price Chico’s jackets higher than they would sell for at a Chico’s outlet. I wish I could tell them this. I applied for a job at my local Thrift Town last year, but even though I had an interview, I wasn’t hired. I guess that the fact that my last full time job in 2008 paid 4K made them think that I “wouldn’t be happy there.” (Applied for a job at Chico’s too.) Personally, I would be happy not to have to buy food with an EBT card, but employers can’t seem to get past my salary history.

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