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Home: The Toast

Sansa rolled in a dead thing and was banished to the patio while her bath was drawn.


I wrote about Erma Bombeck!

For Bombeck, the great cosmic joke was motherhood, and suburban motherhood in particular. She and her husband Bill moved to Centerville, Ohio in 1959, buying a home in a tract housing development she would mine brilliantly for material in her 1976 classic, The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank. We are so used, now, to critiques of suburbia that reading Bombeck’s more curious, anthropological take on it seems like dropping through time. Her materials are carpooling, drive-through-everything, lost clarinet reeds, children who clamor for a pet and then never look after it, dirty ovens, gently bumbling husbands who drift through the house opening cabinets and never closing them, etc.

This may seem pedestrian stuff, but Bombeck’s voice is so fresh, so sharp and so eerily acute that there are moments that her work compares to that of Ira Levin, that great chronicler of suburban loneliness and alienation, or Shirley Jackson. She also wrote keenly about being an adoptive mother, about feeling unattractive, about empty-nesting and, more rarely, about sex. (She certainly wrote more frequently about meat loaf.)


I LOVE THIS:

So what’s next while we wait to see whether Martha returns?

I have a pretty interesting part in Ben Affleck’s movie “The Accountant.” The director, Gavin O’Connor, warned me: “Ben is a freak for ‘The Americans.’ He’s obsessed with the show.” So I get to this massive sound stage in Atlanta, and I just hear: “She’s here? She’s here? Oh my God!” from across the hangar, “Martha’s here?” And he comes running at me, arms out, and he’s a big guy, and he’s like, “God, just give me a hug, give me a hug, call me Clark once, oh my God — Martha!” After which I’m like, “I’m the coolest person on the set, everybody.”

*


This story about a real life version of The Americans (“The Canadians,” perhaps) is incredible, and I am also horrified and disgusted that the Canadian government revoked the birthright citizenship of their children:

But the FBI had not made a mistake, and the truth was so outlandish, it defied comprehension. Not only were their parents indeed Russian spies, they were Russians. The man and woman the boys knew as Mom and Dad really were their parents, but their names were not Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley. Those were Canadians who had died long ago, as children; their identities had been stolen and adopted by the boys’ parents.

Their real names were Andrei Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova. They were both born in the Soviet Union, had undergone training in the KGB and been dispatched abroad as part of a Soviet programme of deep-cover secret agents, known in Russia as the “illegals”. After a slow-burning career building up an ordinary North American background, the pair were now active agents for the SVR, the foreign spy agency of modern Russia and a successor to the KGB. They, along with eight other agents, had been betrayed by a Russian spy who had defected to the Americans.



Congratulations to the new mayor of London, Sadiq Khan! Zac Goldsmith was an embarrassment and Khan is a cool dude, and also, I LOVE THIS:


Fort Mac isn’t just a company town, it’s a community:

Nor is it a raw, unfinished place. The indigenous peoples, Cree, Chipewyan and Dene, have called this region home for centuries. Historically it was one of the first areas of western Canada visited by European explorers, travelling over theMethye Portage to reach the Clearwater and Athabasca rivers, rich sources of the furs that were shipped back to England to feed the demand for beaver hats – the first resource exploitation. In 1870 the post was named after William McMurray, the Métis Hudson’s Bay Company factor. As time passed, it transformed into a transportation hub and railway terminus, with fish plants and a salt mine, the gateway to the north. In the second world war, it was a logistical supply centre for defence and the building of roads and pipelines.

To their shame, Canadians themselves don’t know much about Fort McMurray (unless they have been there). But that has not stopped people from giving their opinions freely about its character and disposition, referring to the area as Fort McMoney, the place where people go to make easy dosh, or as an outpost for displaced Newfoundlanders – and while many people from Newfoundland and the Maritimes live and work there, they make up only about 20% of the population.


guys:

Maybe it was code, or some foreign lettering, possibly the details of a plot to destroy the dozens of innocent lives aboard American Airlines Flight 3950. She may have felt it her duty to alert the authorities just to be safe. The curly-haired man was, the agent informed him politely, suspected of terrorism.

The curly-haired man laughed.

He laughed because those scribbles weren’t Arabic, or some other terrorist code. They were math.

Yes, math. A differential equation, to be exact.


EVERYONE knows the words to “You’ll Be Back,” Andrew Rannells! My husband maintains a stony indifference to Hamilton, and I was like “Steve, do you know the words to King George’s song?” and he barely glanced up from the Financial Times and crooned a perfectly acceptable “oceans rise, empires fall.” (Honestly, I don’t know how anyone performs live, it’s terrrrrifying.)


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