Roxane looks back on her first foray into competitive Scrabble:
I have a Scrabble nemesis. His name is Henry. He has the most gorgeous blue gray eyes I have ever seen. The beauty of his perfect eyes only makes me hate him more. He has been known to wear a fanny pack and often scowls. Nemeses aren’t born. They are made.
10 Things Your Bitch Ass Better Not Do At Thanksgiving Dinner, from Very Smart Brothas, is hilarious (you can be a vegan if you want, though, and if you are, bringing your own food is fine):
2. Say the food will be ready at 4…and have it not ready until 7:46
If you’re like me, you starve yourself the morning of Thanksgiving. Because there’s no point in eating my customary hotcakes and shrimp if I’ll need all that room in my belly for 3 o’clock. Which is why you can’t be fucking with people’s emotions and hunger pains by making us wait for hours — sitting in front of a TV watching Hitch and eating honey roasted peanuts and olives and shit — because your bitch ass still don’t know how long it takes to smoke a ham.
Q. Two Hands Clapping in a Forest: Can you advise me on the correct emoji skin tone to use if, say, using the clapping hands to applaud a friend’s good news announced on social media? On the iPhone’s five-color scale, my hands match the second-to-lightest shade, but in the “human diversity as it exists in the world” scale, I’m a pale white person, and I wonder if the nonobnoxious thing to do is just to go with the one that’s clearly intended for pale white people, rather than be the white person who can’t tolerate there being so much as an emoji that’s not for her. Thanks for the input!
A: Say, “Congratulations! I’m so excited for you.”
I am biased, because these are made by a librarian friend of mine, but if you want a beautiful onesie to buy for a friend’s baby that has rare book engravings on it, MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Very excited to read the new biography of the poet James Merrill:
Hellen knew perfectly well that there would be no bride, but mother and son spent half a century wrangling over his sexuality—he dissembling, she inveighing, he writing coded lines like “some blue morning also she may damn // Well find her windpipe slit with that same rainbow / Edge a mere weekend with you gives / To books, to living…” (“To My Greek”). It was Hellen who discovered young Merrill’s affair with Kimon Friar, his professor and mentor at Amherst, and convened a war council with Charles (hiring a hit man was discussed). It was Hellen who ruthlessly burned all his letters from this period of first love, in an effort to destroy evidence of his orientation. But it was also Hellen who introduced him to poetry: His first surviving poem, written at age 6, is an uncanny early version of the episode in “The Broken Home.” (Hammer suggests that Hellen may have doctored his prosody.) She was a writer of occasional doggerel herself, and instructed her son on the joys of rhyme and meter, bidding him recite poems in company. Merrill would always be beholden to his earliest pleasure in form, and to the imperative to “impress and entertain” with it.
The majesty of Brown Girls Do Ballet.
The trials of women who grow, and what weed legalization may mean for them:
“The best thing women can do it figure out how to get compliant. Being a legitimate business is the only way we can address this,” says Amber Cline, a 32-year-old farmer who says her artisanal weed business subsidizes her vegetable sales. Anticipating the legal changes, Cline began giving presentations around the region earlier this year on how farms can adopt environmentally friendly techniques that comply with new regulations. Cline estimates it will take existing farms at least $50,000 to get up to speed with new requirements, an amount beyond the reach of many. “There are a lot of us trying to grow with integrity, using the best practices we’ve developed over the years,” says Aleman. “But even if we think positively and organize, I think there will be a lot of hard years ahead, and a lot of people won’t make it.”
I couldn’t sleep, so I started watching True Blood. It is terrible. I am told that Joe Manganiello will come soon, which is good, bc that old vampire guy is NOT hot, and all the sex scenes are horrible, and I am not sure if Anna Paquin is a bad actress or that character is just unendurable. I would like your thoughts.
I do NOT welcome your thoughts on Jessica Jones yet, bc I am only two eps in. Can we communally table our Jessica Jones conversations until post-Thanksgiving?
On pandering (I think this is a great essay. Porochista Khakpour and Jacqui Shine and Roxane also really like a lot of the essay, but have some thoughts (on their respective Twitters) about what it might fail to encompass, or where it falls short for queer women, and I recommend both the essay and said discussions merrily):
It is the fall of 2009 and I’m in the final year of my three-year MFA program. The program is hosting a reading by the writer and P. T. Barnum figure Stephen Elliott, who, in addition to being a novelist and memoirist, is editor in chief of the online literary magazine The Rumpus. The university does not provide him accommodations so our program director passes along his request that someone put him up for the night. I volunteer. Kyle Minor, another writer and an alumnus of the program, fetches Stephen from the airport. Stephen, Kyle, and I have lunch, where we talk about Denis Johnson, our works in progress, and our agents. I’d landed a hotshot agent six months earlier, am still freaked out by how, when I Google her, names like Junot Díaz and Jonathan Safran Foer appear. I have a story coming out in Granta, a collection in the homestretch, and I’m eager to talk about all this with writers who’ve been there. After lunch, Stephen takes a nap at my house while I go teach. I come back and take him to his reading, then to a bar with the other grad students, then to get donuts on our way home. Stephen flirts with me all night and back at my apartment he attempts, with what I’ll graciously term considerable persistence, to convince me to let him sleep in my bed rather than on the air mattress I’ve inflated for him in the other room. I decline several times before he relents, doing so only after I tell him I’m seeing someone. He sleeps on the air mattress, and in the morning we have breakfast and then I drive him to the airport.
Later that day, a friend forwards me the Daily Rumpus e-newsletter, which Stephen wrote in the airport and sent to his subscribers, allegedly a few thousand readers, writers, and fans of his site. Its subject line is “Overheard in Columbus.” Of the visit Stephen wrote:
It was really a great time, though I can’t put my finger on exactly why. It might have been the ride from the airport with Kyle Miner [sic] who’s living the post MFA life with a book of stories out, a couple of kids, teaching classes up in Toledo, finishing what sounds like a fantastic novel and contemplating law school. Or it might have been Claire, the student I stayed with. Or the walk for donuts at 10:30 on a Wednesday night, which felt late in that town, especially on the strip.
I tried to get in Claire’s bed. It was a big, comfortable bed. She said no, how would she explain it to the boy she was getting to know. I said there was nothing to explain to the boy, nothing’s going to happen. It’s like sleeping with your gay friend. But she wasn’t so sure. She had been drinking and I don’t drink. I slept on the air mattress in the other room.
Now, I realize I’m not a special snowflake, that every woman who writes has a handbag full of stories like this.
A history of Bjork, via her coverage in Dazed:
“Over the years I’ve been asked a lot of questions about what makes Icelandic people so special. I used to talk a lot about things like elves and isolation, but as I get older I think, especially with what’s going on in the world today, I think perhaps what really makes us stand out is the lack of religion. Give me a few bottles of red wine and I could probably go into that one all night. It’s just amazing talking to friends, especially from the States, who will tell you that half of their teachers at school were religious fanatics. I never had any religion imposed on me, I went to church maybe twice as a child.
“I find that when a lot of foreign people go through problems, like messy divorces, they suddenly start going to church more. In Iceland you wouldn’t do that, you’d start going in to nature more. The difference is as you grow up you don’t expect anyone else to sort out your problems – a priest or a president or a god or any kind of authority to surrender to or seek punishment or guilt from. If you are in trouble, you have to sort it out yourself. There are plenty of things we’re not good at, though. We’re hopeless at teamwork because everybody is so independent.”
Rembert talked to DeRay Mckesson:
To some degree, what you are doing is simultaneously selfless and a privilege, in the sense that there are people who want to be out there every day, but just have a nine-to-five and can’t. So it’s as if, at times, you’re speaking on behalf of those people who want to be there. But it’s also a privilege to be able to do it.
We’re trying to be a reminder that they’re not alone. We are representing all the people that can’t come, and we stand with you. And we want you to know there are so many people that support your work. We’re also doing it on Twitter, we’re telling these stories. We’re meeting with people, meeting with the protesters. The Mizzou football players reached out. So we had this text chain with like three black football players, with me and Netta — we’re trying to figure out how to support them, they’re trying to figure out things. Hopefully we’ll have a call tonight — but those are the things that people never see. They think that I’m just going to Mizzou. The guy doing the hunger strike,9 we’ve had long conversations with him in his DMs about this and that. Same with the Yale kids. Like, we know all those people.
Nicole is an Editor of The Toast.