Adventures in Links – May 14, 2016 (Toast Points)

Theme: Toast Points

As some of you may know, The Toast will be closing on July 1. The site will still exist in perpetuity, but it will no longer generate new content. Instead, it will terminate all its contracts, send its employees off, and stop accepting new pieces (which means that I will go to my grave never having gotten them to accept a piece. Sigh.).

In case you didn’t know, The Toast is/was/will always be a humor and writing site founded by Mallory Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe. It featured silly art history and literature-related posts, heavier posts about adoption and surgeries, pop culture posts, and pretty much everything in between. It’s been in operation for about three years and briefly had a sister site, The Butter, which closed early winter 2015. That probably should have clued me in on what was going to happen.

Sad as I am about this news, I’m still trying to keep a stiff upper lip. So I’d like to share some of my favorite articles and segments with you. Feel free to share your favorites in return, and we can all try to console one another.

  1. “The Problem with Having Dinner with Cato the Elder.” This is possibly the first article I ever read from The Toast, and it made me an instant fan. It combines my favorite things: Latin, Roman history, and people groaning about obnoxious politicians. It’s just a gem.
  2. Two Monks Inventing Things. This is a brilliant series that imagines how medieval monks came up with their weird depictions of people. It features such burning questions as how anyone knows what any animal looks like, how much space eyes should take up on a face, and how tall animals should be in proportion to people. If you like art history, you will like this series.
  3. Western Art History. There are various components to this series, but my favorite is the women series – “Women Enjoying Heterosexual Kisses,” “Women Leaving Tactfully,” “Women Resting Miserably,” etc. These write out the sarcastic, exasperated, and narcissistic thoughts of women in paintings. It’s hysterical.
  4. Dirtbags – “Imagine a teen, riding a skateboard, smoking a cigarette, forever.” This series takes real and imaginary people (Winston Churchill, Athena, Hamlet, etc.) and slightly exaggerates their dirtbag qualities, giving us tons of swearing, birds flying left and right, and offers to fight everyone. It’s so good.
  5. Texts From – “Texts from literary characters.” Mallory Ortberg wrote an entire book of these, and it was one of the most pleasurable reads of my life. I so wish literary characters had had smart phones.
  6. Ayn Rand Rewrites – a reimagining of various songs, books, etc. if they were written by Ayn Rand. By now, there are dozens (perhaps hundreds of these rewrites), but my favorite have to be the Harry Potter If you click here, you can go to the rewrite of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which gives you a link that will bring you back to all the others. HP would have been so much better if it’d be written like this.
  7. “Herodotus Writes a History of the 20th Herodotus was a prolific writer but maybe not the best at describing or researching real things. This is how he would have described the 20th century. It is marvelous.

The Toast was highly influential for me, driving me to write more, read more, and take greater risks. It showed me how the things I like – literature, art history, classical history – could be funny and used to connect with others. I’ll be so sad to see it stop updating but at least I’ll always have these posts. Bye, The Toast, it was great while it lasted.


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