Credit to @Heughligans for the picture

Outlandish Reflections on a Plaid Carpet Premiere

What a weekend…

Well, it’s been a few days and I’m still not down from the high of all that I experienced at the Outlander Premiere on Friday night. It’s almost hard to know where to begin, but I have heard that the beginning is a very good place to start!

First of all, for those who are a bit wary, this is not going to be a recap of the actual first episode, so those who are determined to be unspoiled on August 9th need not worry! There are some excellent episode recaps out already that have that covered. What I am going to do is give you a window into my experience. Hopefully, this will allow everyone who wasn’t able to attend to feel at least a part of the excitement.

Tell me if you’ve heard the one about 6 women trying to get ready in a single hotel room…

That’s right, you heard me. Before we could go anywhere, it was necessary for 6 of us to get dressed, hair styled and made up. Not that easy as you might imagine. Especially as all of us had brought more than one outfit and it was necessary for each of us to try everything we brought on and get the consensus of the group on THE outfit that should be worn. Through that process, we took the time to order in a lunch as we feared—and were correct—that this might be the last meal of the evening.

Appetites dealt with, it was time to begin the shuffling required to get everyone shower, mirror and straightening iron time. Luckily, we had our own personal stylist on hand. It’s always nice to be friends with someone with red carpet experience. And while there may be no ‘Words heard on set’ tweets from Maril due to the filming hiatus for the premiere, I can report that the following words were heard in our hotel room:

Suck in…Lift your boobs….do you mind if I stick my hand here and adjust this…

And the best of all…

I usually get dinner first before I let someone do this.

But, right on time, we were tweaked, looking perfect, and all ready to go! We requested our UberXL vehicle and headed out for our special night.

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Pinch me…

I think all of us were still pinching ourselves that we were really going to the Outlander Premier as invited guests and we really had no idea what to expect.  Soon enough, however, we pulled up to the Spreckels Theater to join a line of others waiting for the Will Call lines to open. Coincidentally, a band of kilted men came by to help us pass the time. I mean, really, what could be more fun and appropriate! I couldn’t resist having my picture taken with them and was given an Outlander bandana of my very own.

I won’t show a picture, but I was amazed to find that even two of Diana Gabaldon’s children were waiting in line behind us. I figure they are in store for a pretty interesting evening since I’ve heard Diana say that they have never read her books as, in the words of one daughter, “I don’t want to read sex scenes written by my mother.” However,  it doesn’t surprise me at all that Twitter0c2dc2ethey didn’t expect any special treatment.

Pretty soon it was 6:30 and the Will Call line began moving quickly. I made very sure that I stuck close to the lucky girl who actually won the tickets as I knew my +1 status was dependent on her!

Once we had our tickets in hand, we walked behind the Step and Repeat Backdrop and Plaid Carpet the stars would soon walk and entered the atrium of the theater. It was a wonderland of trees, stones and kilted men. I truly felt I was walking through the trees at Craigh na Dun. Once in the theater lobby, we were able to peruse a selection of blue vases—a la Claire’s shopping in Inverness.

I can’t begin to list everyone I met from the Outlander Twitter and Facebook worlds. As with all Outlander-related events, meeting people in person that you normally only tweet and Facebook message with is one of the best parts of the evening.  I quickly ducked into the actual theater for a moment to see where my seat was. Turns out it was in the Orchestra level in Row S. This was one of the last rows in that level of the theater, but the venue was so small and intimate, I was sure I would have no problems seeing anything on stage.

Keeping my eyes wide open…

I then went back out to the atrium to people watch as others arrived.  I had the immense privilege of speaking with several key executives including Chris Parnell (Sony) and Karen Bailey (Starz). However, the highlight by far was the chance to speak with Bear McCreary. He graciously stopped and spoke with me for three or four minutes. I wish I could remember in more detail what he said—or what I said for that matter. I do remember telling him how much I admired his use of instrumentation in his work and he said how amazed he was at all of the support from Outlanders so far. I’m also crushed that I didn’t remember to have someone take my picture with him but I did get some video of him with Kathy. I also spotted Zac McGowan, Luke Arnold and Jessica Parker Kennedy from Starz’s Black Sails walking through as well. Last but not least, I also had the opportunity to speak briefly with Jolie Lash of Access Hollywood. She is the one who has put together some of the funniest cast interview filmed during her set visit to Scotland back in February, including the “Sexiest Gaelic Words” and “What is it about a man in a kilt” videos.

At this point, the greeters started clearing the lobby for the big arrivals. One of these days I’m going to learn that sometimes it doesn’t pay to always follow instructions, but alas this wasn’t the day, so I took my seat.  Others who didn’t follow directions got some great pictures. As I stated earlier, there are no bad seats in this theater.

It really starts to get real or should that be reel…

I had just settled in my seat when I noticed a bit of a buzz. Ushers were escorting the cast to seats among the crowd in the Orchestra level. I would never have expected that to happen. I managed to get some video of them but I apologize for the quality and the sound as I was just a bit excited.

First up was Lotte Verbeek (Geilis Duncan).

Next, crowd favorite Graham McTavish (Dougal MacKenzie)

And entering to a great ovation, author Diana Gabaldon along with Co-executive Producer Maril Davis.

Also to the delight of the crowd, Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall) were next. After Sam was seated, I realized I had a perfect view of his face in profile from less than 20 feet away. Never in my wildest imaginings did I think I would be able to see Sam out of the corner of my eye while watching Outlander. I could actually see during the screening which scenes he paid close attention to and which were the ones where he grabbed his water bottle.

And last, but most definitely not least, one of my personal favorites, Tobias Menzies (Frank/Black Jack Randall).

Once everyone was seated, the house lights dimmed and out stepped Bear McCreary to give a live performance prior to the screening. He began with a couple of traditional Scottish folk songs: The haunting ballad Loch Lomond and then a fiddle tune called The Peasants Wedding. Next, was the very first live performance of the theme for Jamie and Claire that Bear wrote especially for the show. It was so haunting and evocative, I swear I could feel the wind from the moor and smell the heather. Lastly, Bear’s wife Raya Yarbrough took the stage to perform the song from the Outlander opening title sequence—a modified version of The Skye Boat Song. It literally gave me chills. I took a few short video clips but you will have to excuse my inability to keep quiet.

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Peasants Wedding -

Jamie and Claire’s Theme

I am also posting a video that someone else took of the entire performance and posted on YouTube. The video quality isn’t wonderful but the sound is pretty good.

Everything I thought it could be and so much more…

Once the live performance was over,  the curtain lifted and the credits started to roll. You could hear cheers and smatters of applause as names we know and already love flashed on the screen. Costume Designer Terry Dresbach received applause and cheers but the largest ovation by far was when Diana’s name was displayed. Thankfully for those not able to attend, Starz has released the opening title sequence on YouTube. Prepare to be amazed by the haunting vignettes and music. I will warn you that it is very addictive though. I’ve been finding myself singing the song for two days now.

I promised no spoilers for the episode content and I will hold by that. If you are interested in reading more about the actual episode, I highly recommend you read Candida’s A True Fan’s Review of Outlander Episode #101: Sassenach. She does a brilliant job and I understand the review has already been read and appreciated by those at the highest levels. As for my own reaction, I honestly can’t think of anything I would have changed. There were favorite lines, surprises, passion, action and humor. All of the things long time fans have appreciated about Outlander since 1991. Perhaps the best summary of my feelings is this tweet I sent to Maril Davis (@TallShipProds).

But wait, there’s more…

Not only did we get to be among the first to see a screening of the premier episode of Outlander, but there was also a moderated panel discussion afterwards. Even though jet lagged and tired from a day full of press interviews and a ComicCon panel discussion, the discussion among the participants was enjoyable and insightful. There were some great moments, especially when cheers went up for Gàidhlig tutor Àdhamh Ò Broin. Also, I think Ron Moore gave the best summary of Outlander Season 1 ever. I predict that the phrase “and that doesn’t go so well” will become a new catch phrase among Outlanders everywhere.

Laura Byrne-Cristiano was kind enough to upload a series of videos covering the Panel Q&A. (By the way, audience members were told that recording both the live musical performance and the Q&A was allowed.)

The Clock Strikes Midnight

All too soon, the Q&A session was over and I knew my magical evening was drawing to a close. After lingering a bit in the lobby, trying to make the evening last as long as possible and speaking to friends, we finally exited the theater to the sidewalk outside. There we were privileged to have the opportunity to speak for quite a while with Karen Bailey, Sr. Vice President for Original Programming with Starz, and her husband, Palmer. It was great to hear some interesting tidbits about things that may be coming up for Starz and its productions.

Waving goodbye to Karen who was off to another event, I and the rest of my party adjourned to the nearby Westin hotel for a drink, some nibbles and the chance to discuss the night’s events. I sent a few congratulatory tweets to those I knew had made such wonderful contributions to the production including Terry Dresbach and Àdhamh Ó Broin.

Finally, even drinks and food couldn’t prolong the evening any longer. We hopped in our UberXL and made the journey back to Kearny Mesa, a tired but thoroughly pleased party. Sadly our group of six wonderful ladies had to split up and go our separate ways, but we have wonderful memories we will share forever. Thank you so much to Marisa, Candida, Darcy, Jen, and Kathy for sharing this fantastical evening.

Watch out world. Outlander is coming!

Credits to @Heughligans (Plaid Carpet picture) and @Candida_LN (Forest Lobby picture)

View of Centre Hallway House

I climbed a hill and lost 200 years but where is Jamie?

Mea culpa…

Hmm. Maybe I should have thought twice about committing to writing blog posts while I was on vacation.  I seem to be getting a bit lax about deadlines as the vacation progresses. I guess it’s a good thing no one enforces the deadlines but me. :-)

Anyway, when last we met I was looking forward to visiting The Highland Village Museum (An Clachan Gàidhealach) at Iona in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I am happy to report that I had a spectacular visit on a beautiful sunny day last week. The Village is spread across a hill overlooking the great Bras d’Or inland sea but the views before you even enter the village proper are just spectacular. I was also presented with immediate opportunities to test my Gàidhlig comprehension (I give myself a B+).

A Journey Begins…

Once I paid for my admission ticket, I began my journey through the history of Cape Breton settlement. There weren’t any stones but I still managed to lose over 200 years as I climbed the tree-shaded path up the hill. I wonder if I will find Jamie?

The first habitation on my tour is a Black House—or An Taigh Dubh in Gàidhlig. This is the type of dwelling that many Scottish emigrants left in Scotland when they moved across the Atlantic to Nova Scotia. As I stepped into the hazy darkness of the single room lit only by a peat fire, I was greeted by it’s resident—a shepherd who tended his lordship’s flocks. He apologized for the clutter, as he was in the final stages of preparing to move across the Great Sea to join his wife and children who had already left. He was very interested to hear if I had any first-hand information about the new land of Nova Scotia. I tried to channel my best inner Claire (a character in Outlander for the uninitiated) and make a few comments without prophesying like Cassandra. ;-)

A trifle gratefully, I made my escape from the Black House and move further up the hill toward the first habitations of the Scots in the new world of Cape Breton.

An alien land…

Continuing up the hill, I paused to speak to some other new residents—Heiland Coos!

Once passed the coos, I entered the realm of the first Scots in Nova Scotia. The first thing the Scots had to do when they arrived was clear the great forests that covered their new home. As those of you who are familiar with the Scottish Highlands may realize, this was quite a change from the deforested landscape most of them had left. In fact, many of them had only carried a single axe head on their voyage and had to craft a handle for that before it could even be used.

However, once they did manage to get some trees felled, they were able to build dwellings for themselves and their animals. Entering the log cabin, I was greeted by a frontierswoman—in Gaelic!  I answered her ‘Ciamar a tha sibh?’ with ‘Glè mhath.’ I fancy she was a bit surprised but I don’t think even I could butcher the pronunciation of that too badly. Pleasantries exchanged, she was happy to show me around her humble home.

Prosperity beckons…

Exiting the Log Cabin (Taigh-logaichean), I made my way forward in time to the house of a slightly more prosperous farmer who owned a center-chimney house. This dwelling was a vast improvement over the log cabin. It had painted walls, a hardwood floor and actual partitioned rooms—all clustered around a central fireplace that provided not only for cooking but also the heat for the entire house. Also, many of the rooms served more than one function. You will note in one of the pictures below that the living room is set up for a milling frolic where they waulk the wool to make the cloth softer and more durable. An interesting note about waulking wool—in Scotland waulking was done exclusively by women but in Nova Scotia it was done by women and men. Personally, I think the men just didn’t want to be left out of the singing and gossiping that were part of any Cape Breton function. For all you Outlander fans, I have heard that there may be a waulking scene in Outlander!

After leaving the previous house, I ventured into the church that has served the community for hundreds of years. One of the things I have noticed since I first began coming to Cape Breton almost 15 years ago, is that every community seems to have set aside the piece of land with the best view for their church, and this was no exception.

Leaving the church situated on the high ground, I descended into a Cape Breton village of roughly the 19th century time period. I stopped to peek into a Centre Hallway house from about 1865 and admired the brand new cook-stove. Such a time-saver for the farmer’s wife.

Tentative steps…

After the 1865 house, I walked past the Village School and then stepped into a turn-of-the-century General Store. This is where I got very brave. Not only did I answer the Storekeeper’s ‘Ciamar a tha sibh’ query with ‘Glè mhath,’ but I even ventured a further comment on the weather—’Tha e glè briagh an-diugh!’  Smugly I thought to myself—Àdham would be so proud—unfortunately, however, the storekeeper took this to mean I spoke Gaelic fluently and unleashed a torrent of Gaelic at me. Luckily, she quickly interpreted my panicked deer-in-the-headlights look correctly and switched back to English. We did have a lovely conversation though about how I came to speak even a little Gaelic and I took the opportunity to tell her about a new upcoming television series called Outlander. ;-)

I finally found Jamie…

Next up on my path through the village was the Blacksmith’s Shop. And guess what!! I finally found Jamie. Ok, so maybe he’s not a six-foot four-inch Highland Scot with red hair, but he does speak Gaelic and has a useful skill! I took a few pictures and a quick video of him at work making nails. (And just maybe had a brief flashback to a certain scene in MOBY).

The last stop on my tour of the Highland Village Museum was a turn of the 20th century house. These are the types of houses still much in evidence in many places on Cape Breton. In this house, modern appliances such as stoves, washing machines and ice cream churns are starting to be seen. As I concluded my tour, I stopped to read the signboard about the 21st century Gaels in Cape Breton and also to make a purchase in the gift shop. I’ve never yet experienced anything easy about Gaelic but I’m hopeful this little book will live up to its cover.

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking this tour through the Cape Breton Highland Village museum with me. If you are ever in Cape Breton—and I sincerely hope you will visit—be sure to stop by. You can find all the details about planning a visit at their website: Highland Village Museum

Final note…

I also wanted to take a moment to congratulate Linda Schultz (@lsdragonfly1) on winning the first ever GreatScot! giveaway. I know that the signed first edition copy of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood and the Outlander poster will have a wonderful home—just as soon as I’m home long enough to mail it!

Stay tuned for the next post all about my visit to the Gaelic College (Colaisde na Gàidhlig) where I see a man about a kilt, observe a waulking demonstration and listen to some fine fiddling from a former Premier of Nova Scotia!

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What’s in a Name? Gaelic vs Gàidhlig in the Outlander World

So as we roll into summer, we’re only 47 days away from the premiere episode of Outlander. (Unless you’re lucky enough to win one of the coveted invitations to the July 25 Gala premiere or July 30 Time Warner Cable preview. Anybody need a +1?) As existing Outlander fans though, we need to be prepared for the multitude of questions that will come our way as the rest of the world falls for Outlander.

One question I’ve had, and that I’ve heard others ask as well, is ‘what is the difference between the pronunciation of Gaelic and Gàidhlig?’

Well, what better source for a definitive answer than Outlander’s own Gàidhlig expert and tutor, Àdhamh Ó Broin? Here is what Àdhamh has to say on the subject:

What is the correct pronunciation of “Gaelic”? “The correct pronunciation is actually exactly as it looks. In the language itself, the word most commonly encountered is Gàidhlig /GAAHLeek/ (although in parts of Argyll, it is more like /GELLeek/ ‘e’ as in “get”) and this has meant that many people now say /Gahlick/ in Eng. But in truth this is more like a nickname for the language than a proper name. Scottish, Irish and Manx (the Isle of Man) are in fact all Gaelic -like “gay” & “lick” stuck together. This a language family, of Gaelic or Goidelic languages, not one particular language. The correct historical terms in English for the three sister tongues within this are exactly as above: Scottish, Irish and Manx. In fact, out of the six Celtic languages, only Scottish has ceased to be referred to by its historical national title, which is a matter of some regret, as it is the only language prior to the arrival of English ever to have been spoken throughout the country and its culture gave us most everything -from kilts, to pipes, to black pudding- we now associate with Scottishness. Another point to address would be the myth that has been floating about that Irish is /GAELik/ & Scottish is /GAHLik/ but if this were true, then the Scots who speak the language would be referred to as Gahls rather than Gaels which we know is not the case.

So which one to use? In Outlander, we have stuck with /GAHLik/ because this is the preferred term of the majority of Scottish speakers. There is no point in confusing matters for the sake of it. But were you to ask me my preferred pronunciation? That would be just as it looks and how it is pronounced in Nova Scotia to this day, /GAELik/!”

So there we have it. Originally there was probably no difference in the pronunciation of the two terms but for most of today’s Scots, and in Outlander, /GAHLik/ is the preferred pronunciation.

So as an added bonus, here is a picture that Àdhamh posted on his Facebook page this weekend.

CLACH NA CAILLICHE
The Witch’s Stone
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This stone was a boundary marker between Gleann Dà Ruadhail (glen of two red streams) and Srath Lachainn (Lachlan’s valley) parishes in my home district of Cowal, Argyll

The “cailleach” associated with this stone was believed to be able to change shape to become a cow and return to human form.
An excavation has just been completed on the other side of the modern road that now intersects the area and they found an old inn where the drovers would drink their fill and sleep over for the night.
The glen is almost devoid of human activity now, save for the whoosh of the odd passing car moving between the two parishes…

 

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All Mixed Up and Sitting on Top of the World – Outlander Retreat Main Event Part 3

When last we met, Retreat attendees were giving the new Outlander Behind the Scenes feature a rousing standing ovation. Alas, that was the end of the official presentations of the Outlander Retreat weekend. Last up in the official events schedule was the Afternoon Mixer.

Nibbles and Natterings

Exiting the main hall to the skirl of  bagpipes and still on a tremendous adrenaline high from all the fantastic tidbits and visuals of the last hour, I found myself facing a banquet worthy of Castle Leoch and Mrs. Fitz herself.

 


For the next two hours, Outlanders mixed and mingled with each other as well as with Diana and many of the Random House and Starz reps. It was a beautiful affair and Diana was beautiful and gracious as she moved from group to group. I think just about everyone had a chance to chat with her if they were patient. I had one very important question I had been wanting to ask and this was finally my chance. I knew that Diana had been listing the annual DragonCon event as tentative on her appearance schedule for a while, but I was finally able to confirm that she won’t be able to attend the event this year because of commitments in the UK.  While disappointed for myself, hopefully you readers in the UK will be able to experience the DG phenomenon in person for yourself.

As for the food, there was definitely some noshing going on. I had several bites that were delightful. My favorite was probably the smoked salmon on oatcake, but the shepherd’s pie bite was very good too.  I also tried the lavender fudge, and while it was good, I just seem to have a problem with lavender. I can’t imagine why. ;-)

Soon, though, all the food was eaten and slowly but surely everyone began to hug and bid each other farewell. I found I really had to drag myself away. Well in all honesty @LallybrochLaura had to drag me away, otherwise I might still be there. I just didn’t want the magic of the weekend to end. My last sight as I climbed the steps and stepped away from my magical weekend was this one of Kristin Matherly.

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I think she may have had the best idea of all. How much better can it get than a nice sunny spot and a great book to read?

A Meal with a View

Luckily for me, there was one last event on my unofficial Outlander Retreat agenda. A few friends and I planned a post-Retreat dinner in the revolving Sky City restaurant at the top of the Seattle Space Needle. As we were just a bit early for our reservation, Laura and I took the opportunity to visit the Space Needle Observation Deck on what had to be one of the most beautiful days in Seattle that I have ever seen.  Hardly a cloud in the sky and you felt you could see forever.

At dinner, the food was superb but the company even more so. It was a wonderful chance to sit down and really discuss all our feelings about the day and share with each other our favorite memories. You could actually feel friendships clicking and solidifying as we enjoyed our food, conversation, and revolving view. All too soon though, it was time for even that last remnant of the memory-filled day to be over. We all headed back to our hotels for the night and then back to our respective home cities and daily lives.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, like the Outlander Retreat weekend, it is time to wrap up my official Outlander Retreat blog posts. As I reflect on all the happenings of the last days, I find that it already seems to be fading into mythical status in my mind.

Did I really meet Diana Gabaldon?

Were all the online friends I met in person for the first time this weekend really as awesome as I had hoped they would be?

Do I really have in my hands the book that I have been waiting almost five years to read?

The answers to all these questions is yes. But even now, as I sit here composing this blog post, I find that I don’t want to let the weekend go.  For lack of any better words of my own, I’ve decided to include here one of my favorite songs by Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie MacLean titled ‘Caledonia’. For those who may not know, Caledonia is the Latin name given to Scotland by the Romans, and in this song MacLean is singing about being homesick for Scotland after a weekend with friends. I find this song fits my feelings perfectly because, after this magical wonderful weekend, I find myself homesick for Outlander. And just as soon as I hit publish on this blog, I will be diving right into that magical world once more.  Don’t be worried if you don’t hear from me for a bit, I’ll be in my favorite fictional world.

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From Savory Meat Pies to Starz in My Eyes – Outlander Retreat Main Event Part 2

OK. I’ve only had 3 hours of sleep but I’m back up and totally jazzed about finishing this blog post. Why does this never happen when I get 3 hours of sleep on a work night? But, yet again, I digress.  Where did I leave off?

A moment in the sun (of Diana’s presence)

Oh, yes! Lunch! But wait, there was this other little thing that happened before lunch. As a part of signing group D, I waited my turn to get Diana to personalize my brand new copy of MOBY! Happily, the line moved pretty quickly as attendees were limited to having their copies of MOBY personalized with just their name. Being the lovely gracious woman that she is, Diana signed my copy for me in the Acknowledgements section where my name appeared. I was thrilled to have another few moments to have her sign the book, thank me for my help, and have my picture taken.

Still basking in the glow of my moment with DG, I headed up to grab some lunch. Some of us who have blogs and fan sites had deliberately maneuvered our way into the same signing group so that we could have lunch together and plot strategies for getting new subscribers for Starz. This is important: New subscribers will be one of several key drivers for the success of the Outlander TV series and determine whether it is renewed for subsequent seasons.

Entering the Armory food court, I found it to be a hub of activity. Apparently, in addition to our own event, there was also some kind of Filipino cultural celebration being held. Skirting the resultant crowds, I scoped out my options and settled on Pies! I figured a savory meat pie would be the closest meal I could come to one that Jamie and Claire likely will eat in MOBY. The Cheeseburger Meat Pie was delicious. (I really wanted the English Meat Pie, but there weren’t any ready when I ordered and besides, I was afraid that would brand me a Sassenach forever.)

Cheeseburger pie

Cheeseburger pie

After our strategy session wrapped up and lunch was devoured, we headed back down to the Fisher Pavilion for the continuation of the afternoon events.

Highland Fling

First up on the roster of afternoon activities was a demonstration of Scottish dancing. Seattle’s Royal Scottish Dance Society delighted attendees with their performance of Scottish country dances in both soft and hard shoe. I was also delighted to hear several tunes that I recognized as staples in the Cape Breton, Nova Scotia musical repertoire. Cutest of all were the littlest costumed members of the group. I caught some lovely pictures and a few short videos to give you a taste.

After the dancing, I spent the next hour pleasantly conversing with many Outlanders I heretofore had only known through social media while valiantly ignoring the siren call of MOBY from the depths of my Random House tote bag. Next up was the hour for which we had all been waiting. It has to be something good if a sign like this shows up, right?

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Reason to Believe

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