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Home: The Toast

Marco and I (mostly Marco, I gave up) are setting up the storefront this week so you can buy totessss this is really happening (the Toasties who did the artwork are getting 50% of the profits and we’re selling them for $20 plus shipping and I’m excited to have them out of my entryway and holding your books.) I’m a little verklempt about them, because LAST MERCH. I think they’ll probably sell out, there are 1250 in total (minus a few I’m keeping back for the artists and Nikki and cherished Toastie houseguests who have nabbed one from my entryway), but if they sell out REALLY quickly we could conceivably have more made? We’ll see!


Feeling a lot of love for Matthew Vines right now, and so much frustration that this is the sort of response his kind, thoughtful work gets (as an affirming Christian, I feel like he is literally doing God’s work, because homophobia is a SIN, but my personal religious views are not the point):

Earlier this week, I wrote an article for Time asking Christians to please mourn with us, not to take offense at our anger, to acknowledge that LGBT people were targeted because of who we are, and not to qualify their laments for us. Even in my shock and horror, I tried so hard to be charitable, respectful, and kind. And I am grateful that most people received it that way, even many people I know who are not affirming but who still shared the article or said they appreciated it.

But then someone from my childhood church commented on my personal page where I had shared the article and said, “I must have missed your post on the beheading of Christians by ISIS. Please repost… I would like to read it.” He then sent me a private message telling me that what I had written in my article was “despicable.” Despicable because I had allegedly made a “moral equivalence” between non-affirming Christians and terrorists. What on earth led him to think that? Because I had said that “most Christians would never kill someone because of their sexual orientation.” And this was deeply offensive, he said, because “most” could be interpreted as just over half.

That is the most uncharitable interpretation imaginable of what I wrote. My clear intention was to affirm that only the most extreme, fringe elements of Christians would ever condone anti-LGBT murders. In almost every talk I give, I defend the hearts, character, and motives of non-affirming Christians. I tell people not to write them off as hateful bigots. I vouch for their sincerity, good intentions, and love for others.

And I should note, the man who sent me this message had not contacted me in more than four years. Four years. He went on to chastise me for “living in a bubble” and supposedly not listening to opposing viewpoints. He ended his message: “Your eisegesis is beginning to overwhelm your ability to continue having the much needed conversation.”

Nevermind the fact that I spent half of the day on Tuesday with a pastor who disagrees with me. Or that I spent half the day today with pastors who disagree with me. Or that I still took the time to meet with them, build and grow in relationship with them, and listen to their viewpoints even though that was incredibly hard for me to do this week.

I am normally very even-keeled in my dialogues with conservative Christians. I am not easily angered or offended. And I always maintain my composure. But today, in a meeting with a number of evangelical pastors in Portland, I started to explain how painful that message was for me to receive and I just broke down sobbing.


Baltimore:

A recent survey of 209 students at the schools reveals a generation with a stark familiarity with violence. Of the youths questioned, 43 percent said they witness physical violence one to three times per week, and 40 percent knew someone with a gun. More than 37 percent said they knew someone under the age of 19 who had been killed by violence, according to the survey released in February by Promise Heights, an initiative run through the University of Maryland School of Social Work that provides support to schools and community residents.

Renaissance mourned three students this school year lost to violence:Ananias Jolley, 17, who was stabbed in a biology classroom and died a month later; Darius Bardney, 16, who was killed in an apparent accidental shooting at an apartment building; and Daniel Jackson, 17, who was shot several times less than two miles from the school.

“I don’t know if people understand what is happening in Baltimore,” Renaissance Academy Principal Nikkia Rowe said. “If you just rode around the city and took pictures of the memorials that are standing from the candlelight vigils, it would blow your mind.”


WEIRDLY TOUCHING? Like, I know it’s just advertising, but they really walked the walk:

This search for niche groups led Subaru to the 3rd rail of marketing: They discovered that lesbians loved their cars. Lesbians liked their dependability and size, and even the name “Subaru.” They were four times more likely than the average consumer to buy a Subaru. 

This was the type of discovery that the small, struggling automaker was looking for. But Subaru had been looking for niche groups like skiers and kayakers—not lesbian couples. Did the company want to make advertisements for gay customers? At the time, in the mid 1990s, few celebrities were openly out. A Democratic president had just passed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and after IKEA aired one of the first major ad campaigns depicting a gay couple, someone had called in a bomb threat on an IKEA store.

Yet Subaru decided to launch an ad campaign focused on lesbian customers. It was such an unusual decision—and such a success—that it pushed gay and lesbian advertising from the fringes to the mainstream. 

If you’ve ever wondered why people joke about lesbians driving Subarus, the reason is not just that lesbians like Subarus. It’s that Subaru cultivated its image as a car for lesbians—and did so at a time when few companies would embrace or even acknowledge their gay customers.


FASCINATING:

In 1913, the Daily Mirror newspaper responded to Lord Headley’s conversion in a story headlined “Irish peer turns to Islam”.

“That the lure of Eastern religions is affecting an increasing number of Europeans, is again shown by the announcement that Lord Headley, an Irish peer, who spent many years in India, has become a convert to Islam,” the article stated.

Like Headley, many of the early British converts to the religion were young aristocrats or the children of the mercantile elite. Some were explorers, intellectuals and high-ranking officials of empire who had worked and lived in Muslim lands under British colonial rule.

The stories of these converts, says Professor Humayun Ansari of Royal Holloway, University of London, reflect the turbulent times in which they lived, as well as the profound questions that were being raised about religion and the nature and origins of humanity.


Canadian hero (or, well, The Canadian Who Lived, and we are pretending there is no chance this story is a lie, FYI):

What followed was a 12-hour hunt. The wolf continued to pursue Barnaby and Joey, as they were pushed farther from her truck.

“He was dogged. He was just determined,” Barnaby says. “I was in trouble.”

Barnaby said she became dehydrated, her calves and thighs were aching, and there was another vicious attacker that was testing her mental strength.

“I was going crazy with mosquitoes. There were zillions of mosquitoes.”


GASP:

Back in early ’70s, master of slapstick Jerry Lewis made a movie about the Holocaust. That movie, called The Day the Clown Cried, has become one of the world’s great lost films, as Lewis tried to bury it after the blend of outrageous comedy and horrific subject matter went over terribly in test screenings. In it, Lewis plays a clown who is arrested for mocking Hitler and is forced to take kids to the gas chambers (if you want a sense of the kind of comedy that pervades the film, the clown’s name is Helmut Doork). Now, a rare 30-minute cut of The Day the Clown Cried has surfaced online.


I am obsesssssed with the Oneida Community:

Founded in 1848, and in operation for just over three decades, the Oneida Community was profoundly revolutionary for its time, paving the way for advances in women’s and workers’ rights. At the commune headquartered on the Oneida River in upstate New York, women cut their hair short, ditched the corset, and did the same work as the men. Everyone worked four to six hours a day, and no one accumulated any material possessions—not furniture, not fine clothing, and certainly not silverware.

Most scandalously, commune members engaged in a system of “complex marriage,” believing that loving, open sexual relationships could bring them closer to God. They believed the liquid electricity of Jesus Christ’s spirit flowed through words and touch, and that a chain of sexual intercourse would create a spiritual battery so charged with God’s energy that the community would transcend into immortality, creating heaven on earth.


AND then I found this older piece in the sidebar:

I wasn’t buying Leyendecker’s work because I knew it would go up in price; I was buying it because I became obsessed with this man who had the gall to make his lover the icon of American masculinity. I was very interested in the construction of the masculine subject, and it gave me no end of tickles that the man who created icons like the Arrow man and the Chesterfield man was gay.


On slush! I do not like submission fees (although I definitely appreciated reading this, which made good points about why it’s not EVIL) but I think the issue of publications not making money has a lot of good people in the industry scrambling to find a solution, sometimes badly:

Overall, I agree with Mamatas that there’s an ethical issue in charging submission fees. We never instituted them at Electric Literature for Recommended Reading, Gigantic, or any other magazine I’ve worked on. Plenty of journals barely take any work from the slush, but even a magazine that only publishes slush is likely only taking 1–2% of submissions. So the majority of unpublished writers are funding the minority of published, which isn’t a great foundation. Imagine if every worker had to pay to get a job interview? (Or, since most magazines don’t pay, maybe the analogy is paying to get an unpaid internship.) The defense of submission fees is that the fee is pretty small, perhaps only as costly as snail mail postage. But $3 adds up quickly. I’ve often heard the average story gets rejected twenty times before an acceptance. 21 x 3 = $63. The Offing pays $20–50, meaning you’d expect to lose between 13 and 43 bucks per story. Literary writers can’t expect to make much money from quiet short stories about cancer and obscure poems about birds, but surely we don’t need to actively lose money to get published!



Obviously I was going to read this:

Creepy dolls have been a staple of horror movies for about as long as horror movies have been a thing. Chucky. Bride of Chucky. All those nightmares from the Puppet Master movies. More recently, Brahms, the emotionless goblin that Lauren Cohan had to babysit in The Boy. But only one family has built an empire out of their creepy doll. You know her as Annabelle, first seen in The Conjuring and later in her eponymous spinoff. She is the rare horror character who really exists, though in real life she doesn’t look anything like her on-screen counterpart. She lives in Monroe, Connecticut, and if you have $169 to spare and the desire to spend four hours in a room with several possessed artifacts, you can meet her.

On a warm Saturday night in June, a couple hundred people gathered in the parking lot of an Italian restaurant in Monroe called Roberto’s. They were patiently waiting to be checked in for “An Evening With Annabelle,” which consists of a lecture, videos, buffet dinner, and later, we’ll all learn, an impromptu acoustic cover of the Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B.” Everyone in line had to sign a waiver before entering, absolving the hosts from “any liability or traumatic influence associated with viewing the items or being in the presence of Annabelle,” but this did not deter eager patrons from making jokes about the lady we were about to meet. “She’s gonna be furious if you go on in there with a phone on,” the guy in line behind me said to his friend.


I thought this was very beautiful.


Sam Irby went and got herself married to a lovely lady and she’s the best:

if i want to do something, i just do it. i don’t have to clear it with anyone or worry about making anybody look bad, once i decide a thing is happening? then i just make it happen. being an orphan is 9/10 amazing!
cons: no one to constantly borrow zero-interest loans from.
pros: LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE.
so when i was like, “let’s just spend an intimate afternoon at the courthouse, bride,” mavis, at first, was cool with it. why waste money on white dresses and an open bar when we could just hit the drive-thru and maybe go to a movie after? i hate smiling and pretending i can tell a whole bunch of cousins and uncles apart. at every wedding i’ve ever been to the happy couple can’t even pause for a bite of rubbery $75/plate chicken because they have to run laps around the room shaking hands and thanking people whose envelope on the money tree might only have twenty bucks in it, which they won’t find out until the next week. i am not doing that. all i wanted to do was swear my fidelity in front of an officer of the court before driving over to the nearest blue cross blue shield office so i can upgrade my insurance and start planning a bunch of dental cleanings and surgeries.

but then this hoe started telling people, and their collective response was “GREAT CAN’T WAIT TO JOIN YOU.” three weeks ago i’m in chicago, blissfully unaware, daydreaming about how cheap my ativan is gonna be, and she’s in michigan arranging a processional to the tiny municipal building. i was just going to bribe a dude hanging out at the bus station with a pizza to come bear witness to this unholy matrimony, meanwhile she’s on the phone with the one judge in town asking if he might be able to set up folding chairs and a concession stand before we get there. MAVIS WYD.


Adorable:

Long before she became an opera star, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop believed that Brünnhilde, the heroine in Richard Wagner’s “Ring of the Nibelung,” was actually named Bwünnhilde.

Only years later did she realize she thought so because Elmer Fudd can’t pronounce his R’s.

Like many other singers and crew staging the 17-hour, four-opera Wagner extravaganza at the Kennedy Center, Ms. Bishop got her first taste of opera from a cartoon rabbit and his speech-impaired nemesis.

“I could sing you the entire cartoon before I knew what opera really was,” says Ms. Bishop, who performs the part of Fricka, wife of Wotan, king of the gods.


This poem is great.


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