I once wrote jokingly here that there are only three plots, and they are Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, and Belisarius, because those are the ones everyone keeps on reusing.
There is a conference in Uppsala in Sweden the weekend before the Helsinki Worldcon called “Reception Histories of the Future” which is about the use of Byzantium in science fiction. The moment I heard of it, I immediately started thinking about our obsessive reuse of the story of Belisarius. (I’m going. Lots of other writers are going. If you’re heading to Helsinki, it’s on your way, and you should come too!)
It’s strange that science fiction and fantasy are obsessed with retelling the story of Belisarius, when the mainstream world isn’t particularly interested. Robert Graves wrote a historical novel about him in 1938, Count Belisarius, and there’s Gillian Bradshaw’s The Bearkeeper’s Daughter (1987), but not much else. Whereas in genre, we’ve had the story of Belisarius retold by Guy Gavriel Kay, David Drake (twice) and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and used by L. Sprague de Camp, John M. Ford, Jerry Pournelle, Robert Silverberg, and Isaac Asimov. So what is it about this bit of history that makes everyone from Asimov to Yarbro use it? And how is it that the only place you’re likely to have come across it is SF?
First, let’s briefly review the story. First Rome was a huge unstoppable powerful indivisible empire. Then Rome divided into East and West, with the Eastern capital at Constantinople. Then the Western half fell to barbarians, while the Eastern half limped on for another millennium before falling to the Ottoman conqueror Mehmed II in 1453. We call the eastern half Byzantium, but they went right on calling themselves the Roman Empire, right up to the last minute. But long before that, in the sixth century, at the exact same time as the historical Arthur (if there was an Arthur) was trying to save something from the shreds of Roman civilization in Britain, Justinian (482-565) became emperor in Constantinople and tried to reunite the Roman Empire. He put his uncle on the throne, then followed him. He married an actress, the daughter of an animal trainer, some say a prostitute, called Theodora. He has a loyal general called Belisarius. He built the great church of Hagia Sophia. He withstood a giant city riot in the hippodrome, the great chariot-racing stadium, by having Belisarius’s soldiers massacre a huge number of people. He wrote a law code that remained the standard law code everywhere in Europe until Napoleon. And Belisarius reconquered really quite large chunks of the Roman Empire for him, including Rome itself. At the height of his success he was recalled to Rome and fired because Justinian was jealous. Belisarius had a huge army and could have taken the throne for himself, which was typical of both the Roman and the Byzantine empires, but he was loyal and let Justinian fire him. This is all happening at a time of Christian schism and squabbling about heresy between different sects.
So first let’s have a survey of books using Belisarius, and then my thoughts about why this story has been used so much, considering that it’s am obscure bit of Byzantine history.
The earliest use of Belisarius in SF that I’m aware of is L. Sprague de Camp’s 1939 time travel story Lest Darkness Fall. De Camp’s hero gets sent back from 1939 Rome to Rome in the sixth century, where he meddles happily with history. He props up the barbarian Gothic kingdom with heliographs and inside information, and when Justinian fires Belisarius he hires him. There’s a modern reprint of the novel with additions by other writers, who go to all kinds of interesting places with it.
When Asimov wrote the Foundation Trilogy between 1942 and 1950, he was modelling it directly on the fall of Rome and then the Renaissance. His Belisarius, who briefly reconquers Trantor for the ungrateful Emperor, is transparently named Bel Riose.
Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line (1969) is a time travel romp, in which time travellers are visiting the period as tourists, and a tour guide gets tangled up with his ancestors in Constantinople. The Nika Riots are one of the things they visit, and also the inauguration of Hagia Sophia. These are just a tiny part of the book, which is mostly focused later in Byzantine history.
Jerry Pournelle’s The Mercenary (1977) is not actually a Belisarius retelling. It’s part of the Falkenberg series, which is about a collapsing space empire. There’s no one to one mapping, and I wouldn’t count it, except that it uses the Nika riots. Kay also refers to them, as do Drake and Stirling, but they’re in the past of the stories those books are telling. Pournelle sets it up so that a massacre in a stadium is the only way to save civilization, and the Belisarius parallel just can’t be avoided. I remember reading this for the first time and thinking really?
It’s just part of the background, but in to John M. Ford’s World Fantasy Award winning The Dragon Waiting, (1983) Belisarius won—Justinian and Theodora become vampires, and are still alive and the Roman empire was reunited.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s A Flame in Byzantium (1987) uses this period as background for a baroque vampire story set in a supposedly real Rome and Constantinople at this time, with Belisarius, Antonina, Justinian and Theodora appearing as characters.
None of these books do anything much with the religious schism issue—well, de Camp makes it a running joke, but that’s all really.
David Drake and S.M. Stirling have done a multi-volume retelling of Belisarius on another planet, with riding dogs, called The General series (1991-2003). I think I’ve read five volumes of this, I read up to the end of the story of Raj Whitehall, our Belisarius figure. (It’s hard to tell because they’ve been issued in multiple volumes with different titles.) This series just reruns Belisarius, in the future, with different tech. They’re odd books, because they’re great but also awful. First the good—they do very well with the schisms, by having a future religion of fallen man and his lost computer destiny, complete with relics of bits of motherboard etc. Some people worship the Spirit of Man in the Stars, and others Spirit of This World. Raj is genuinely in touch with an old AI, which is a whole lot like hearing spirit voices. Also, they map the whole historical situation onto another planet very well, and the characters of Justinian and Theodora and Raj’s wife Suzette is a very good use of Belisarius’s wife Antonina. I like Constantinople being called East Residence and the Rome equivalent Old Residence. And they’re fun stories, and you want to know how they come out, and they keep flirting the idea of Raj being fired and not quite doing it.
There is way too much detailed combat where the outcome is predictable (yes, I can skim, but I don’t like skimming) and much worse, it reads as casually and painfully racist against Islam, in a way that you can’t get around, and there’s no excuse for it, it doesn’t even really make sense in the context of the books. (And in the real historical period, Mohammed hadn’t really got going yet.) I’m prepared to believe humanity could be reduced to, in the image the books frequently use, cannibals chipping arrowheads out of old window-glass, but not that an Islamic civilization could never get back the tech to reach for the stars. In real history, Islam was preserving the scientific texts of antiquity in translation. And why would a future Islamic culture be like one specific medieval one? Have they no imagination? So these books are unquestionably problematic, but all the same a very good close retelling of Belisarius, with guns and riding dogs.
David Drake and Eric Flint’s Belisarius series (1998-2006, I have only read the first two volumes) use this history in a weird way. They have divine revelation inform Belisarius that the empire is going to be invaded from India, who had gunpowder. Now it’s possible, I mean Alexander did it in the other direction, but I found the way it was done in these books astonishingly unconvincing. I am a really easy sell for this kind of thing, and I’d been looking forward to reading these books, but they kept failing me on the level of plausibility. They’re also not really relevant to my argument here, because they’re not using the story of Belisarius—they’re using the characters in a different story. Though I suppose that in itself testifies to the popularity of Belisarius.
Guy Gavriel Kay’s two book Sarantium series (1998-2000) is a retelling of the story of Belisarius in a fantasy world. This is a world where everything and everyone is directly equivalent to the real historical world, Ravenna is Varena, Sarantium is Byzantium, Leontes is Belisarius etc. But he plays with the history and the fantasy to draw in iconoclasm, which isn’t one of the schisms from this actual period but which is comprehensible to modern readers and works brilliantly with the story. He also, of course, closes things up and changes the end. It’s strikingly clever as well as beautifully written. I’ve talked to people who know nothing about the history and weren’t even aware it had a parallel and enjoyed it, but if you really know the history it’s even better. Kay finds a way of reuniting the empire through Queen Guzel, in real history the gothic princess Amalasuntha. If you’re going to seek out one Belisarius retelling, this is definitely the best one.
So, what’s the appeal?
The first thing is that it’s a time when history could have changed, a pivot point, and a very clear one. If the Roman empire could have been reunited, well, everything would have been different! De Camp does that, and Ford, and… surprisingly few other people. Kay does, but he doesn’t explore forward of the change at all. Usually if you have a period perceived as a hinge for alternate history, like WWII or the US Civil War, it’s all that gets done with it. Not this.
The second thing is the richness of the sources. There are whole swathes of history where we don’t have any historians. We know things about them because we have archaeology, and inscriptions, and account books and letters and random surviving things, but we do not have contemporary history written as history or memoir by people who were there. For the age of Justinian, we have a history, the work of Procopius. Better, we have two, and both of them are the work of Procopius. We have his official history, with wars, facts, glory, and we have his secret history where he stabs everyone in the back. (Kay neatly makes his analog a player in the plot) The double vision of Procopius allows us to have a perspective on the period and the people, motivations, sex, scandals, and helps bring this obscure corner of an empire many people have forgotten to life. I think this really helps.
The last thing is the one I think is the real reason that this is appealing to us in particular: preventing empires from falling, preserving civilization from dark ages is something that appeals very specifically to science fiction readers. I probably don’t need to do more than mention A Canticle for Leibowitz in this context. I think this need began largely around WWII, when the science fiction reading and writing fans of the thirties, believers in science and progress and the World of Tomorrow started to see the real threat to all of human civilization that could lie ahead.
De Camp and Asimov were writing before the nuclear threat that motivated Miller, but the amount of sheer destruction of culture in Europe and Japan in WWII can’t be comprehended. It’s not just Hitler’s Baedeker raids on Britain, or the bombing of Dresden and Tokyo and the flattening of Monte Cassino. There’s a museum in Berlin that has a black and white photo of a Botticelli that used to be there. The objects excavated at Troy disappeared and have never re-emerged. The idea that Western civilization itself could fall was suddenly possible and terrifying, and with it the need to preserve it—not so much (for our writers) the art as the science and technology and the attitude that made them possible. I think this was there (and visible in De Camp and Asimov certainly) even before the threat of nuclear destruction brought up the fear of losing the whole world and the whole of humanity. Then once the nuclear threat was there it reinforced.
Retelling Belisarius in all these different ways, changing history, changing the end, letting Belisarius win, let people play with stories of staving off the collapse of civilization through a historical analog. Yarbro has Belisarius lose as he did historically, but most of the others have him pull it off one way or another. And historically Byzantium did endure and preserve Greek and Latin texts to be rediscovered in the Renaissance, though many scientific texts were translated into Arabic and preserved through Islamic culture.
Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published a collection of Tor.com pieces, three poetry collections and thirteen novels, including the Hugo and Nebula winning Among Others. Her most recent book is Necessity. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here from time to time. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.
Travel expands the mind — or so they say. What would Dan Moren, author of The Caledonian Gambit, have to say about that particular truism? As it happens, he has a story on the topic, one that has bearing on the story he tells in his novel.
In January 2001, during my junior year of college, I got on a plane for Scotland. This was significant for a few reasons. For one thing, I’d never left the country before. For another, it was only the second plane flight I’d ever taken, and the previous one had been nearly a decade earlier. And even more to the point, I wasn’t just going for a week’s vacation—I was moving there for an entire semester.
I was terrified, and had a minor anxiety attack in the car on the way to the airport. But I got on that damn plane anyway.
Hours later, jet-lagged and haggard, I hopped into a cab in Edinburgh that would take me to my home for the next six months. I tried not to feel like too much of an idiot when my addled brain at first couldn’t parse the thick brogue of the driver, but I eventually realized he was asking where I was from. “America,” I replied, in a daze, only to have him fix with me a bit of a look and say, “Yes, I know that. Which part?”
Looking back on those months now, I tend to view them fondly. The years have dimmed the intense feelings of isolation and loneliness incurred by the several-hours time difference, not to mention the ocean, that separated me from my friends and family back home. My floormates were welcoming enough, but I was so overwhelmed with everything that was new and different that I retreated into myself, spending most of the time that I wasn’t in class exploring the city on my own.
From the vantage point of a decade and a half later, I still wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. For one thing, it gave me a real taste of leaving home. It made me more self-reliant and resilient, and taught me that I am capable of handling whatever life throws my way. I made friends with my floormates eventually, and I got to travel not only around Scotland and England, but also around a host of countries in Europe, an opportunity I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.
But for all of that, I have never been quite so glad to come home at the end of the semester. If I’d felt a little more assured about the cleanliness of the airport floor, I would have dropped to my knees and planted a big fat kiss on it.
It was only a year after my time in Scotland that I first started sketching out the idea for a big sprawling space opera—a series of books inspired by the likes of Timothy’s Thrawn trilogy and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga. I wanted to create a universe that felt real, felt lived in, because that was what I loved about those stories.
But as I started writing the first draft of what would eventually, many years later, become The Caledonian Gambit, I realized that the story of a washed-up pilot and the squad of covert operatives with whom he teams up didn’t really feel like those stories. Instead it felt hollow—like it had no sense of place. Even set as it was against the backdrop of a galactic cold war between two human factions—the bellicose Illyrican Empire and the ad hoc Commonwealth assembled to oppose it—it needed a more concrete anchor, a sense of what these sides, and the characters that served them, were fighting for.
It wasn’t until several years afterward that I finally found the heart of the story, and it came from looking back at my time in Scotland. I realized that this wasn’t just a story about big galactic conflicts, but about the smaller challenges that we all face.
It was a story about going home.
Eli Brody, the protagonist of The Caledonian Gambit has been away from home a lot more than six months—try nearly ten years. He couldn’t leave his homeworld of Caledonia fast enough, even if escaping that dirtball meant joining up with the very forces that had invaded and occupied it. And he would have been plenty happy—or, at least, so he told himself—never to set foot on that planet again. Until covert operative Simon Kovalic shows up and asks him to do just that.
Kovalic’s a man without a home, too. He’s from Earth, which, like Caledonia, has been under the thumb of the Illyrican Empire for two decades. Unlike Eli, Kovalic’s dedicated his life to fighting back, trying to reclaim the home that he had to flee when the Imperium came.
In fact, everybody in The Caledonian Gambit is fighting for their home in one way or another. Both Eli and Kovalic’s homes exert a gravitational pull on them, as if keeping them in a long, irregular orbit. Ultimately, they’ll swing back around and have to come to terms with the homes that they left behind. And neither of their homecomings is likely to be as much of a relief as mine was.
As much anxiety as I had about moving to Scotland, the years have shown me that leaving home is an integral part of figuring out who we are. Even if we ultimately end up returning, well, you have to leave in order to come back. In stories, the hero’s journey is predicated on this idea, but it’s no less true for our own lives. Whether our home is as small as a patch of dirt, or as big as an entire planet, there is—as they say—no place like it.
Transcript of New Orleans' Mayor Landrieus address on Confederate Monuments
Beleaguered tenants of Kushnerville
This HaBO is from Anna, who lost this romance in the Great Book Purge:
I’m hoping that someone can help me find this book that I purged from my shelves and instantly regretted. I think it’s a Zebra or Signet book or something of that ilk, but I haven’t been able to find it online. It’s at least 5-10 years old, maybe/probably much older? I’m pretty sure it’s not R-rated.
What I remember of this Regency era novel is that the hero of the book isn’t thought of very highly by his aristocratic family, I think because he’s trying to make something of his life by being a botanist, but it’s not going very well. The hero and heroine try to solve some kind of mystery, or deal with her family or something like that? He’s generally bummed that his experiment isn’t working out and maybe his family is right, but what I remember most is that at the end of the book the hero and heroine are making out in his green house and when he looks from her to the plants he gets really excited that he finally sees shoots growing, so he’s now a winner both in love and science. Please tell me that this rings a bell with someone?
(And incidentally, I’m looking forward to any other books people come up with that might be this one, because botany heroes might a fun reading binge to go on.)
“A winner both in love and science.” My heart grew three sizes today.
Yellow. It's sunny, cheerful, full of life, and just all around happy. So when you use it on your interiors, chances are you'll be bringing some of these attributes into your home. Wrap your walls with it, upholster your chairs, or use it sparingly in your artwork. Whether you're looking to make a bold, vibrant statement or evoke an understated warmth, yellow is a sure-fire stop on the color wheel. Take a look at these 18 spaces that have us going bananas over all things yellow.
AHHHHH we thought we still had at least six months to steel ourselves for the emotional gut-punch that Star Wars: The Last Jedi will almost certainly be! Not only does it seem perfectly set up to follow The Empire Strikes Back in being a bit of a downer (though ending on hope!), but it will deliver one last Star Wars experience featuring Carrie Fisher. These Vanity Fair covers sneaked up on us, and we were not ready.
First, of course, there’s Carrie Fisher, gracing her very own alternate cover as General Leia—only the second time VF has ever done multiple covers. As we saw in the Last Jedi trailer, she stands gloriously regal in one of Star Wars’ favorite items of clothing: a space cape. (In space, they probably just call them capes, but come on.) We’ve heard many times over the past few months that she’ll feature prominently in Last Jedi, and we’re so ready to watch her command over the Resistance as gloriously as she does this cover. I think there’s something in my eye …
Then, there’s the cover featuring Finn, Poe, and Rose Tico, which gives us a whole different set of feelings. Finn has gone beyond just the jacket to essentially cosplaying Poe from The Force Awakens, which is adorable whether the two wind up in a romantic relationship or not. If they do, though … ahem, we’re trying not to get our hopes up, but this is making it tough. It’s also great to see the new trilogy’s increased diversity on full display, and Rose Tico making one of the covers leaves us more intrigued about her character—not to mention ensuring that there’s a woman on every single one of these covers.
There’s also the baddie cover, with Gwendoline Christie/Captain Phasma putting in some actual face time without her mask, and sad, inept Kylo and Hux looking like they’re not sure if they’re leaning close together to look tough or out of fear. And, last, there’s Luke and Rey, whose relationship still remains a mystery. Will things go the most obvious route, with Rey as Luke’s daughter, who he abandoned on a desert planet because it was effective in keeping him from the dark side, so why not? Or is she a Kenobi? Is she someone else, and they’ll just have a wonderful mentor/mentee relationship?
Whatever the case, we’re preparing ourselves to feel feelings, Star Wars. Do your worst.
(images: Vanity Fair)
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It’s that time of year again…the season I like to call “Hangover Tuesdays,” when I get drunk on Monday night and watch The Bachelor for your entertainment.
This time around it’s The Bachelorette.
After thirteen seasons of this shit, ABC finally got their act together and gave us a Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, who is a woman of color.
Slow clapping it out for you, ABC.
Rachel is 31, a civil litigation attorney, and hails from Dallas, TX. She “won” last season’s The Bachelor (IMO) by exiting late enough to land her own show, but before having to take home Nick Viall, the dude who doesn’t know how couches work.
It’s okay Nick. Furniture is hard.
Now Rachel gets to select from 31 eligible dudes in order to find her one true love on reality TV.
I’ll be honest. I’m all about romance, but if this ends with Rachel dismissing all these guys, wine glass in hand, like Cersei Lannister eyeing the Iron Throne, I will be okay with that.
Also, think about this for a second: I learned from the podcast with Leah and Bea of The Ripped Bodice, that the contestants on The Bachelor/ The Bachelorette are not allowed entertainment in the McMansion (to up the drama). No TV. No video games. No internet. No books. No magazines. For weeks.
Thirty-one guys in a mansion with zero entertainment.
Can you imagine the sheer amount of masturbation that must be going in the house?
I wouldn’t touch anything.
“Why are we out of hot water again? Why does everyone keep taking showers?”
Anyway, I’ve poured myself a generous Kraken rum and Coke, and I’m ready to watch all the delicious WTFery.
Now, the first episode of the season is basically “Dudes get out of a limo and try to make a lasting impression on The Bachelorette.” It’s super awkward. At least one of them will fuck it up epically.
In the opening package, we meet the first real douchebag. His name is Blake. Blake is a personal trainer who talks a lot about his testosterone, sexual experience, and penis. Blake will clearly be responsible for 90% of the masturbation in the McMansion. Blake might be responsible for 90% of all masturbation, period. The real love story here is Blake and his penis, okay?
In total contrast is Josiah who was inspired to become a state prosecutor after his brother’s suicide. He describes his struggle after his brother’s death, and how is disillusionment landed him in juvenile court where he turned his life around.
Once the opening package is over, we cut to LA. Rachel stands outside the McMansion, wearing a gorgeous white and silver gown, and prepares to meet her suitors.
In the limo the dudes share their excitement. “This could be your future wife you’re meeting for the first time!”
Josiah is the second out of the limo and is totally charming. “I am convinced that, by the end of our experience together, you will have no reasonable doubt.”
Then there’s the guy who dressed up like Steve Urkel. Complete with “Did I do that?’
Way to throw back to the OG TGIF, dude.
Let’s not forget Dean, the guy who met Rachel on the After the Rose special who said “I’m ready to go black, and I’ll never go back.”
Dean is an idiot.
Just when Rachel looks like she’s going to scurry away for a much needed pee-break, a marching band shows up. Hey! It’s Blake E! Masturbation guy! He’s playing a snare drum which makes sense as I assume he has tons of forearm strength. At least in his right arm.
Upping the ante on the awful factor is Bryce. Although it doesn’t come out in the show, Bryce filled out his ABC bio as follows:
Biggest Dating Fear: The chick is actually a dude.
Nothing like a little transphobia to ruin your Monday and make you pour another a drink.
Despite the fact that they published it, ABC immediately jumped all over the comment with “does not reflect the views of ABC” etc etc.
Fuck you, Bryce.
Then there’s Adam. Adam shows up with what appears to be a marionette of himself, thereby fueling my nightmares for years to come. WTF dude.
WHO THOUGHT BRINGING A PUPPET TO A FIRST DATE IS A GOOD IDEA? DID YOU RUN THAT IDEA BY YOUR SERIAL KILLER FRIENDS?
I READ A LOT OF MURDER SHIT AND I HAVE LEGIT GOOSEBUMPS.
One guy showed up dressed like a penguin and it was way less weird than the puppet. I tried finding pictures of Adam and his marionette but apparently IT’S TOO CREEPY FOR THE FUCKING INTERNET.
Then we meet the guy who will clearly be the “crazy” one. Whaboom. Lucas. A guy who likes to shake his head back and forth as fast as he can while screaming “WHHHHAAAABOOOM.” Lucas has clearly done some brain damage to himself through this process. I don’t think you’re supposed do that with your head, dude. Google coup contrecoup injury for chrissake.
He even wears a shirt with a picture of his face and #whaboom printed on it.
This man desperately needs to be punched in the face.
(Note from Sarah: the still image for the above video is so perfect I had to screencap it for my own joy and amusement:)
After all the men arrive, Chris Harrison – who has been cursed by an evil wizard to live in the McMansion and count roses forever – checks in on Rachel. His face is all smiles but his eyes say, “Release me from this curse…”
Rachel doesn’t pick up on Chris’s desperate plea for help and grabs some champagne. Chris goes to the rose bushes to weep.
The cocktail party portion of the evening seems fairly chill. Rachel has some one-on-one time with most of the guys. My favorite question? “Backstreet Boys or N’Sync?”
Now, most of the focus seems to be on the CREEPY FUCKING PUPPET. You can see the dudes plotting to burn him and release his demonic soul to hell.
“Is he always going to be around?” Rachel asks, horrified.
BURN IT NOW.
I HAVE SEEN THIS MOVIE.
Then Chris Harrison, cheeks mascara stained, drops the “first impression rose” on the table.
WHO WILL WIN THE FIRST ROSE?
Call me cynical, but I’m guessing it’s not the dude with the puppet who is clearly possessed by Satan.
The competition for Rachel’s time is fierce. Men interrupt each other. They try to push each other out of the way with testosterone. I can smell the Axe Bodyspray from here.
This is why I can’t be The Bachelorette. I’d be all, “WHICH ONE OF YOU CAN SHUT THE FUCK UP THE LONGEST? FINE. YOU GET THE ROSE.”
Then someone gives the Whaboom guy a megaphone and it’s a shitshow. All control is lost. Somewhere a producer is dry swallowing Xanax. Every other contestant hates the Whaboom guy.
Another guy is randomly pushing a vacuum around. I am not kidding.
If I was Rachel, I’d cry.
Actually if I was Rachel I’d sit with my feet in the pool reading Defy the Stars and ignoring everyone, which is why I’ll never be cast on reality TV.
“This week on Introvert… Can Elyse spend nine hours in total silence emerging only to make herself toast and then take a nap? Tune in and see!”
Rachel gives the “first impression rose” to Bryan, a chiropractor from Miami, FL who stole a kiss.
Finally, FINALLY it’s time for the Dreaded Rose Ceremony. Chris Harrison appears, a glass of champagne in his hand. His eyes reflect the sadness of a man trapped in a fairytale world, a man who cannot escape this beautiful, LA prison.
My husband offers, “Straight up keep the penguin guy, but Whaboom has to go.”
Dewey runs to the litterbox.
I’m like three rum and Cokes in. My tongue is numb.
During the ceremony one of the dudes, Diggy, reflects, “You need that rose. You can’t live without it.”
HOLY SHIT HAVE YOU BEEN CURSED TOO?
The Penguin gets a rose. Josiah gets a rose. Diggy gets a rose (thereby escaping his curse). THE GUY WITH THE FUCKING PUPPET GETS A ROSE.
Chris Harrison shows up to tell us we have one rose left.
Then, for reasons no one except the producers understand, Rachel gives the final rose to Whaboom.
So what did you think of tonight’s episode of The Bachelorette? Will you be tuning in this season?
One of the chief difficulties of small-space living is figuring out where to put all your stuff. And one of the chief difficulties of studio living is, how do you set up the bed so that you don't feel like you're sleeping in the middle of the living room? This 345-square-foot Paris studio has a very clever, and very elegant, solution to both of those problems.
If you want to read more about what is actually happening at the National competition: https://www.kidwindchallenge.org/p/17-
Mason will be back on Friday, and, until then, Shawn and I have the place to ourselves. I suspect we'll get up to all sorts of mischief, including maybe going hog wild and cleaning the house. Books will be read with abandon! We might even have DORITOS AND CHEESE FOR DINNER.
Yesterday, it was sunny, so I spent much of the day outside. I'm really proud of how my faux Japanese garden is looking this year, and I'm working very slowly on getting other parts of the yard in decent shape. (I should really take some pictures before the ENORMOUS bleeding heart stops blooming). I don't think we'll ever be a showcase garden, but it would be nice if I could look out and feel happy instead of thinking, "OMG what a mess." I definitely think we're well on our way to that. Especially since several bulbs showed up for stuff I don't remember ordering. I planted them in a couple of different places--a few near the little free library (which is my one remaining "problem" area) and a bunch in the front of the Japanese garden. I think they're going to be irises...? We'll have to see what blooms next year, if the squirrels don't eat them all and/or replant them for me.
I got a couple of letters from my international pen friends yesterday. I love all my pen friends, but I have a couple that I adore. My friend in Canada is AWESOME. Of course, I didn't get her from IPF. She's actually someone I know from Bleach fandom who volunteered last time I put out a request for pen pals. Her letters always make me happy.
The other letter came from an IPF friend from the Netherlands. I like this particular woman because in her very first letter back to me she talked about her daughter and her daughter's partner (female.) This meant that I felt free to be my honest/authentic self, which is something that I've been sloooooowly revealing to my other IPFers. I mean I had that one German lady quit me because I told her I wasn't Christian. Can you imagine if I'd said that I was a big ol' lesbian? Probably we could have heard her head exploding from across the ocean, eh? But, my Netherlander is great. She got me following the recent election there--another country that held tight against the rise of fascism. She always closes her letters with "Ah! That Trump of yours!" in various iterations.
A sign of our times.
IKEA's KALLAX storage is so versatile as is, that it just makes hacks all that more wonderful. Astral wanted closed storage for her craft room and office, but also needed it to be modular in case her space requirements changed. The after adds a little height and a lot of personality: