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Whisper Network Failure

Posted by | Conventions | 6 Comments

(Warning: Long, possibly rambling, rather serious post ahead…)

There has been a discussion among various authors I know in the SF community about whisper networks recently–or maybe that’s a conversation that’s been going on for ages, and the whisper network only just reached me. Hard to tell, obviously.

Quick crash course in terms and examples:

Whisper networks, as I hear the term used, are basically the thing that a community or social group (i.e. SF fandom) uses to warn each other about missing stairs. (Christ, what a lot of jargon already…) Which is fine and good and a very valid community coping mechanism when, for whatever, reason, you can’t FIX the stair. There are plenty of people in SF fandom, for example, that cannot be “fixed”–they are what they are and they aren’t going away and whatever they are doing is either not illegal or not actionable and so a whisper network springs up to say “Hey, keep an eye out for Person X, and don’t be alone with them/engage them on-line/enter a business arrangement with them/whatever the particular issue is.”

For example, I am told that it was apparently well known that Isaac Asimov was a serial groper back in the day, nobody in power considered this “serious” (or they thought it was funny) and so the whisper network went around that you didn’t turn your back on him and you stayed out of arm’s reach or stuff would happen.

Which is really shitty, on one level, because nobody was fixing it, but people absolutely needed to be warned, so…whisper network to the attempted rescue.

The problem with this, of course, is that if you aren’t lucky/social/lucky/friends with somebody in the know/lucky, you don’t get the memo, and the next thing you know, you’re in the wrong elevator and there’s a hand on your ass, and if you’re even more unlucky, you say to someone “Dude! Person X grabbed my ass!” and they say “Oh, yeah, that’s just X, he does that. Didn’t anyone warn you?” and then not only did you just get your ass grabbed, you get made to feel like you’re stupid/unobservant/not even worthy of someone trying to warn you because no one cares what happens to you because you must suck.

Everybody with me so far? (Feel free to chime in in the comments if I am Getting Shit Wrong. This is being written fast and furious and my verbage is not as careful as it probably should be–if I say something stupid, point it out to me and I will correct if possible!)

I am a prime example of people who are failed by whisper networks. I have a wide circle of generally good friends in fandom who would totally jump in to save me if my car got a flat, but who honestly might not think to tell me that Person X is a missing stair, because they would assume that A) hey, I’m smart, I already know, and B) it’s such an awkward conversation to have, and C) everybody knows, don’t they?

And I am bad with names and bad with faces and while the vast majority of my fans are very good, once they figure this out, about saying “You know me from X,” so I can go “RIGHT! YES!” nobody in the history of the world is going to come up at a con and say “You know me from the time I grabbed your ass in an elevator.”

My entire connection to the whisper network is from pretty much two people who know me well enough to know that I don’t know and I have, I am afraid, already forgotten several of the names they told me, because I have a hard time processing stuff that’s not written down and so there is a non-zero chance that some day I will be squinting at a nametag and burst out with “Oh! You’re the ass-grabber! Right, I remember now!” and it will be awkward, although there is probably an argument to be made that in such case, I am a bumbling Nemesis of Social Consequences.

(Dealers and artists, let me add, are broadly the exception to this–the vast majority will be delighted to run down every person who comes by the table who is awesome or terrible–“Did you get the guy? With the thing? Oh god!” and “Yeah, don’t take his commission, he nit-picks for weeks,” but also “He is fantastic and I will introduce you tomorrow,” and “She is the sweetest person in creation, if I had fifty commissioners like her, I would be the happiest artist on the planet.” But you still have to show up where there are dealers and artists, which is not always feasible, and increasingly is much less connected to SF writer fandom, which is the pool I am slowly sliding into.)

But.

At WindyCon–where I personally had no problems or complaints at all, let me say straight up–I was on a panel about social media. (This is what spawned the whole post, incidentally.) And the conversation turned to the whisper network, and Recent Events and the things that everybody knows.

At least two people literally said “Everybody knew…” about MZB and I still don’t know if they were being sarcastic and my body reading was just off, but I tensed up and wanted to scream because I didn’t know. And maybe everybody did know in nineteen-sixty-freaking-three, but a goodly percentage of those people have died or dropped out of fandom or moved off the grid because life sucks sometimes, and if you keep not mentioning it because why bother, everybody knows, eventually you are standing in a room where nobody knows except you and you don’t say anything because dude, everybody knows.

Well, maybe they knew all that and were saying it ironically, because I would like to think that, and I am just humorless about this topic and not everybody you meet has body language while sitting in a chair that I can read with flawless accuracy. Because I grew up on Sword & Sorceress and it really kind of mattered to me a LOT but there’s Being A Fan Of Problematic Things and then there’s this. ‘Problematic things’ to me is enjoying Baby, It’s Cold Outside, and doesn’t come anywhere near this shit.

Anyway.

That’s not the bit that spawned the post. That bit I have not yet processed and may go to my grave not processing and even if I process it, I still might not talk about it in public, because there are living victims out there and that’s way more important than my bullshit.

The bit that spawned the post was five minutes later.

The bit was when somebody was explaining the whisper network, and saying “We all got told not to get in an elevator with–well–certain authors–or we’d get groped–”

Author X,*” muttered someone in the front row, not quite under her breath.

“Author X?” I said out loud, more startled than I probably should have been. “Seriously?”

“No, it was Author Y,” said someone else.

“I thought Y was just a drunk.”

“No, X was the drunk, Y was just annoying.”

“Look, they were both gropers,” said someone else, exasperated.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” I said, displaying my awesome professional panelist demeanor, and dropped my head in my hands. “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

Was this true?

I don’t know. How could I? I’ve never met either of them. I’ve never had anyone come up and say “Yeah, avoid X,” or even “Avoid Y because you’re his type,” (although I have heard that is a thing.) All we have are rumors, and the occasional acid statement “Oh yeah, he’s a great guy to hang around with. If you’re male.” and frankly, I am lucky as hell to have gotten that much. I don’t know if it’s not true. I’d probably stay out of elevators with them, though, and in that regard, the whisper network has done its work well.

I don’t think this was a conversation unique to this panel or this con. I suspect variations on this go on everywhere, whenever you get chunks of fandom together. (Hell, if anything I’d say it was a tribute to Windycon feeling safe enough for people to say this out loud.)

There are too many of us. Maybe fandom got too big, or maybe it just got too fragmented. We are ten thousand little circles that talk to each other, mostly in person, sometimes not at all. (Hell, I know of at least one problem in the local scene, but I couldn’t tell you his name if my life depended on it. I knew it for the two days when I was reporting him, now I’m reduced to vague physical descriptions and hand-waving, because my brain can retain shocking amounts of bird fieldmarks and the Latin names of plants and is absolute shit for other things. If I ever meet him again, sans certain context clues, I will walk right by without realizing that Angry Bald Man once had to be deployed to keep him away from a dealer at another convention. But hey, if there’s a Virginia Rail perched on his head, I’ll be able to ID that sucker cold.)

Well, I got this far rambling. If I were a good and sensible columnist, I would provide some thoughtful solutions for how to make things better, but I’m not and I can’t because I don’t know.

Really smart, canny, kind people, who understand other people on a level that I kinda don’t, have been beating their heads against this for ages, and the best anyone can seem to come up with is that we need to get the whisper network working better and louder, while we are trying desperately to fix missing stairs.

Maybe there isn’t a fix. Maybe this is just a function of what happens when you get a bunch of people together in groups–certain people who can milk the system of courtesies and politenesses and benefits of the doubt, a system that is flawed, but nevertheless allows a hundred humans to get into a closed metal tube for six hours and then all disembark alive at the other end, which the primatologists tell us is not something you can expect chimps to do.

Anyway. that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. It’s discouraging and I don’t know the answers, but there it is.

*They said a real name. I know it. Probably you know it. For various reasons, some of which will be obvious in another few sentences, but also including the fact that I don’t know if it’s true because I’m not in the goddamn whisper network, we will be using pseudonyms.**

**Sadly, for all I know there’s a dozen people in the audience who know, from those remote clues, who was under discussion. Which is sad. And I don’t want to name names because I’m afraid of the potential backlash, and that’s maybe sadder. But I can’t police this space as tightly as I need to, and I don’t know if I can keep it safe from a really dedicated troll onslaught, and as is the entire point of my post, the whisper network is fucked up. So, err, please don’t name names here, if you think you know them, because I don’t know and can’t deal right now.

The Obligatory Award Eligibility Post 2014 Edition

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Okay, so let’s talk about happier stuff for awhile!

We’re sliding into the end of the year and the award eligibility posts are going up, if any of you are voters in such beasts and so inclined. So, without further ado, here’s the stuff I’ve written this year that might qualify for something!

Flash Fiction:

Godmother – self-published, approx 600 words (as T. Kingfisher)

Short Story:

Jackalope Wives – Apex Magazine (written as Ursula Vernon)
The Dryad’s Shoe – Women Destroy Fantasy, Fantasy Magazine (as T. Kingfisher)
Toad Words  - self published, (as T. Kingfisher)

Novella:

Boar & Apples – self-published as part of the Toad Words & Other Stories anthology, approx 25K (as T. Kingfisher)

Novel:

The Seventh Bride – self-published, approx 57K (as T. Kingfisher)

Podcast:

The Hidden Almanac (with Kevin Sonney)

I think that covers everything of significance I’ve been doing lately. If you are so inclined to vote for one of those, thank you!

Windycon!

Posted by | Conventions | No Comments

I was the Toastmaster for WIndycon 41! It was awesome. I mastered a lot of toast. That toast didn’t know what hit it.

Also, I was made to talk in public, but that seems to have gone pretty well. Nobody threw things at me. I will never be an improv actor or stand-up comic, but with a friendly crowd hoping that Opening Ceremonies will not run four hours long, I am generally capable of being funny without being malicious and keeping a running commentary going, which is 95% of the job. The other 5% is reading little scraps of paper that people keep handing you with desperately vital announcements on them, usually written in somewhat cramped cursive that you are puzzling out while trying to talk.

It was fun and I was fairly lightly scheduled and didn’t do a dealer’s table, so it all worked very well. Got to see many great friends, drink with some of them, hang out with lots of authors (many of whom are also friends), be on panels that were occasionally contentious and eat ghost pepper ice cream. I regretted one of those decisions very much.

Kevin was inducted as a member of Dorsai Irregulars, a con security group that he’s been working with for a few years, so my booth babe is now lost to me forever and Taliabear will probably be stuck helping me man tables until we are old. (And if any of you from Security comes after HER, swear to god, I will cut you.)

If you are unfamiliar with any of these people or with how con security functions, just assume Kevin won a lifetime achievement award for “Most Likely To Run Toward The Sound Of Vomiting.”* The award is shaped like a hat. Anyway, I’m proud.

As is usually the case after a weekend of extroversion, I slept for approximately fourteen hours today and plan to do so again tomorrow. Lotta fun, would do it again, need nap now.

*This is 20% of con security. 40% is giving directions, 20% is checking badges and managing signing lines, and the other 20% of classified.

Seventh Bride Launch Day!

Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

bridecoverfinal

It’s that time again! A brand-new novel, fresh off the presses, and by presses I mean my poor abused editor and my extremely gracious band of proofreaders.

This is up on Amazon and Smashwords. Kobo, Nook, and iBooks links will trickle in as Draft2Digital updates them. As always, if you’d like to buy a PDF, e-mail me directly at ursulav (at) gmail.com and we will make it happen!

You can check on the links and current statue here: t.kingfisher.com

Not Dead: The Book Tour Story

Posted by | Events | 15 Comments

So I got back from the book tour Saturday night, and I am apparently not dead.

It was a near thing a few times.

People on the book tour kept telling me I must love it. I have not yet found a graceful way to say “Well, no, this is a generally stressful experience for me and I am delighted that there are people who like my stuff and I want to make sure they have a great experience and I have to do this school visit show for kids and I want them to have a great experience and I want to not suck at it so I have worked very hard on getting a schtick down and doing it and I am proud of being able to do that well because it is not a thing I am normally good at but I would much rather stay home except that sounds like I’m not happy to meet the fans and I really am and if they are happy then I am happy to have made them happy but it’s all very complicated and weird and maybe I am complicated and weird, I don’t know any more, what day is it?”

This is difficult to state without running out of breath, so I usually just said something along the lines of “Well, I’m an introvert, so I’ll sleep for a week after this, but I’m glad everybody likes the books.”

(Seriously, though, thank you VERY much to the adult fans who came out for my various public bookstore events–it was very good to see people who like me who are over the age of eleven. I start to feel very weird and disassociated after too many school visits, and a Digger T-shirt or a pack of Red Vines or a jar of random honey in the right place makes me feel sort of like the real me again for a bit.)

Book tours are horrible for that sense of unreality to begin with. Book tours in California make you start to wonder if the rest of the world even exists at all, because clearly you are in a world where people pay twenty bucks for a club sandwich and that is not a world I normally inhabit and it may not actually intersect with my world, except when I am told to get on a plane and go to that other world.

I went to a hotel in Beverly Hills. I mean, the publisher had booked me a room. I wouldn’t have gone there normally. It was a little scary. I walked in grubby and clutching a stuffed moth that a fan gave me and somebody handed me a complimentary cocktail and nobody looked at my cheap shoes. There was no front desk, a woman came up to me at the bar with my reservation in a little leatherette folder. I had to put the stuffed moth down to sign it. They acted like it was totally normal to walk in wearing cheap hiking sandals and carrying a stuffed moth. Of course, all the best people carry stuffed moths.

Life is weird when people think you have money. I sated my spasms of lower-class guilt by photographing Moth-bob holding the cocktail. It is important to stay upbeat and positive. The alternative is uncontrollable hysteria. The bartender ignored this. All the best people photograph their stuffed moths with their free cocktails, clearly.

I have only hazy memories of the school visits. I get up in front of a hundred kids (ideally) and do my schtick. There are slides with Danny doing various amusing things. I talk about where ideas come from and ask them what their favorite monster is. Some kid on every tour always says “Slenderman.” It is important to stay upbeat and positive. I say “Ooh, creepy!” and go on to the next kid with their hand up.

We make up a story together. It’s almost always the same two or three stories. The secret is that kids are very creative but rarely original, and anyway, I can steer it pretty easily. It’s a cross between improv comedy and cold-reading. It looks more impressive than it is. I’m fine as long as one of the kids says their favorite monster is a zombie or a vampire, or Godzilla or a giant squid. (Other giant animals can substitute on the last one. Giant snake is often popular.) Then we make up a story about the monster. Kids are very eager to see zombies overrunning the school or giant kaiju stomping on it. If the librarian is a good sport, I make them the hero. They pull their sword or their harpoon or their garlic-shooting gun out from under the desk because monsters are hard on library books. There is an epic showdown, at which the librarian emerges victorious.

It is surprisingly easy to steer them toward this. Kids like a victorious librarian.

I try to stress that you have to practice and it’s okay to do a little chunk at a time and then take a break and then come back and do more. I am pretty sure that they are not listening to this bit, but they take it in good spirits because I am an adult and therefore cannot be expected to understand anything really important. The teachers tell me that it will stick in their heads somewhere, so I keep saying it.

Then I take questions. This is also like improv comedy. The truth, though, is that I would be a terrible stand-up, because the first heckler would destroy me. I am very fast and very clever as long as we are all friends and cheery and positive and I go to stammering pieces in the face of negativity and am left going weakly “Uh, let’s not do this guys…?” The teachers and librarians keep the peace. My publicist makes it clear that I am not a disciplinarian and they will have to do this. I find myself saying “Settle…” in the same tone I use on the beagle. It doesn’t work on him either.

I would like teachers and librarians to be riding herd on Twitter and tell people that they are not being their best selves and need to remember respectful listening. It is getting much too immediate for me. I can be ruthless and impassioned on a blog or a forum, but only if I get an hour to polish my post and rewrite it three times. Sometimes I just want to tell Twitter to settle.

Fortunately, there are still teachers and librarians in the schools. I answer the same questions, often four or five times in a session. I do not lose my temper after the third time someone asks how I got the idea for Danny. It’s fine. They weren’t listening. Honestly, I’m not listening to myself either at that point. I can answer that question in my sleep, sideways. If I talked in my sleep, I would be explaining about dragons not fitting in at school. Possibly I am, and my husband is sleeping through it.

The adults have more complex questions that require thinking. Sometimes the kids in the back–usually the higher grade levels–ask me a professional question about revising, and I try to answer it quick before the first graders in front get bored to pieces. If we have time and the technology is working, I draw for the last five minutes. The technology is almost never working. The publicist is very clear that I have an iPad and will only do schools that can hook it to a projector. The schools all claim they will do this. About one school in four can actually get this to work. They never have the right dongle, or they will totally do AirPlay except I’d need an educational account and oh yeah, the new school security won’t let me in.

I keep a backup on a USB stick that’s supposed to be Hello Kitty except that you pull her head out of her body to get to it. “Here,” I said, nearly every time, “let’s use the severed head of Hello Kitty.” They usually laugh. I assume they think I’m a serial killer in my day job. It is important to stay upbeat and positive.

I only nearly got trampled once, and it looked scarier than it probably was. I was a little freaked out. The teachers yelled. Not at me.

They send out a person to meet you at the hotel and drive you from place to place, and that’s good, because I would never get anywhere on time. This person is either someone from the bookshop or a paid “media escort.” Apparently that’s a thing you can be paid to do. Who knew? They pick you up at the hotel and drive you around and make sure the signings go well. Some of them will tell you about other authors, whether you have any idea who they’re talking about or not. (I usually don’t.) Most of them are very nice. They blur together after awhile. There was the weird woman who read me obituaries before the presentation and then said something vaguely racist and fell asleep while I was still trying to think of something to say that wouldn’t involve me no longer having a ride to the airport. That was probably the low point. I could also have done without the one who talked to herself in high pitched baby talk while driving, or the name-dropper who ran out of names before we hit one I recognized.

There are good ones. I will be forever grateful to the woman at the bookfair in Charlotte who took me home over the lunch break and let me take a nap on her couch between shows. Sometimes book stores give me gift certificates and I wander the aisles wondering what I can fit in my suitcase and looking at gardening books for a climate that is nothing even remotely like my own.

Sometimes the people who drive the cars want to talk. A dude tried to explain birds to me. I am pretty sure it was mansplaining but he might have been a douche to both genders, so I can’t swear to it. I laid in the back of the car, more horizontal than vertical, and grunted as he confused wrens and egrets. (I wish I was making that up.) The next one had a talkative hippie. If we drive up and down the road from Santa Cruz to the airport hotel in San Francisco, I can now show you every place he’s camped. And skinny-dipped. Incidentally, he plays drums.

He told me that he was sure I wouldn’t have the book tours any other way. I grunted.

This time a bookshop sent me a wonderful woman who grew salvias and kept bees and we spent all of the car rides talking about gardening. It was wonderful. And the escort at the end was a life-saver. My presentations went from a hundred kids to “Oh, yeah, this is a full school assembly, five hundred kids!” and I panicked and she said “What do you want to do?” and I said “I guess I have to go on,” even though I really wanted to throw a diva fit except that I don’t know how to do that, because I think it involves disappointing people and that is basically my Kryptonite so I went and I did it and it was kind of horrible because that many kids is a wriggling sheet of chaos and there is no way they can keep focused and I cannot hear the questions and the teachers cannot shut down all the distractions, but we got through, and afterwards the principal told me it was wonderful and I tried not to look too glassy eyed and I don’t remember what happened next, except the media escort told me she was writing the publicist and telling her that I was a trooper.

She was very nice. She could say “no” on my behalf and make it stick. I really need people like that. By the end of a book tour I am basically a large sack of ground ham wearing black tank-tops and a flattering jacket. I will agree to anything if you make it sound like this is something that all the authors do. I am focusing so intently on not dying on the spot that I have very little processing power for anything else. When we had downtime, she parked in the shade and I got to play Marvel Puzzle Quest on my iPad and that was really awesome because it’s only the computer throwing fireballs at you.

After the school visits and the bookshop things (the bookshops are better because you don’t have to do the schtick the same way and there’s not a set hour you have to fill and there are often adults in the audience and sometimes you even know who they are and sometimes they bring you stuffed moths or want to talk about ecology) you either get on a plane or into a car and then you go to the next hotel. The hotel has always lost the credit card authorization from the publisher, because the publicist talked to the day manager and the day manager wrote a note and the night manager doesn’t know where the note is. You give them your card and then call the publicist (who is on Eastern Time so it’s usually ten at night and you feel guilty) and the publicist groans and apologizes and then it all gets sorted out in the morning.

Because schools start early and you have to drive to them, you generally have to get up at 6:30 in the morning if you want to eat breakfast. I started actually doing the thing where I put the little hanger card on the doorknob saying that I do want room service to deliver breakfast. It feels horrifically extravagant but I get another half hour of sleep. I order a bagel and cream cheese and coffee and orange juice. They come during a fifteen minute window, usually around 7:10, and set the tray with its little covers down on the writing desk. I tell myself that they are an adult human who just wants to get this over with and get a decent tip and I sign the little check that the publisher is paying for and there is probably no way they can tell that I am thinking oh god oh god I am getting room service and I feel guilty and this is too much money even if it isn’t my money and I used to be on food stamps and maybe you should just take the food away and I will eat the squashed power bar in the bottom of my purse because at least I understand squashed power bars except that I’m pretty sure that is written in very small type in my eyes so I try to avoid prolonged eye contact in case they figure out I’m a lunatic.

There is plastic wrap over the orange juice. Frequently there is a cut orchid. I wish they wouldn’t cut an orchid for me. It is depressing that somebody hacked off part of an orchid that could take ages to bloom just to put it on my tray so that I can bolt my bagel and stare at the orchid at six in the morning. Six in the morning is a lousy time to try and appreciate an orchid. I can’t grow orchids. It is important to stay upbeat and positive, but that probably didn’t do the orchid any good.

(The waitress at the hotel breakfast buffet the last day saw that I only ate fruit and knocked off the buffet charge and only charged me for a fruit side. I got a little choked up, although I think I hid it well. I had been on the road for a week at that point and it seemed ridiculously, extravagantly kind.)

“You’re not an introvert!” said the media escort in LA accusingly, after the second day of schtick, when I had spoken to approximately three hundred children total. “You say you are, but you’re not!”

I am still vaguely resentful of this, even though it’s been a week. Should I have brought a note from my doctor, or my husband?

I thought about explaining that introverts do public speaking all the time and we can even be quite good at it, it’s just that we have to sleep for a week afterward. I wanted to explain that I really do hope people are glad to see me and I hope they come out because if they don’t, I’ll still be on the book tour being exhausted anyway, except nobody will be there to talk to about books and that’s the only reason this is worthwhile. It is definitely not the room service bagels. I thought about explaining the bit where I will sleep for a week.

Instead I grunted. As the owner of my favorite coffee shop pointed out, when I was relating this tale of minor woe, that was really the most introverted response. (Then I went to the drugstore, then I came home and slept for two hours. There are empty places in my chest that will not refill without hours spent asleep. Which is probably why I am awake and typing at three in the morning.)

But anyway, I appear not to have made too bad a hash of it and I am home and trying to get back into my reality from that reality and it doesn’t fit quite right yet, but it will probably be fine by the end of the week. It is important to stay upbeat and positive. Or something like that.

The Dryad’s Shoe

Posted by | Writing | One Comment

My short story in the Women Destroy Fantasy collection is available to read on-line!

The Dryad’s Shoe

If you enjoy it, please consider buying either the e-book or print volume from Fantasy Magazine of the whole issue–it is some super cool stuff.

And can I just say how awesome it is to have been involved in this project? I was so honored that Cat Rambo seized this one. I frequently lack the energy or the sanity to really get both hands into all the worthy causes that I should and being able to be part of WDF and the whole we-are-part-of-fantasy-no-matter-what-th

e-haters-say awesomness of it is just…whoa.

(It’s also T. Kingfisher’s first trad publishing credit, so, y’know. How cool izzat?)

Land Narwhal

Posted by | Art | 2 Comments

landnarwhal1

When the unicorns went into the sea, untold millennia ago* they shed their hooves and took on blubber to become narwhals, and for the most part, they were happy.

But ages passed and ice melted and the seas were no longer as hospitable as they had been. The narwhals heaved themselves up on the beaches and began the long, slow process of reclaiming the land. If you travel to the most remote islands in the long-lost sea, you can find the land-narwhals frolicking in the surf, gallumphing over the dunes, using their horns to heal (and occasionally skewer) passing seabirds. They are still more agile in water than on land, but given enough time, they may reverse the steps that led them to the sea.

And then we’ll have hippocorns, and I just hope everyone will be happy.

*Red bulls may have been involved. The fossil record is silent on this point.

(Someone told me I was a unicorn today, and I replied that I preferred to be called a land-narwhal, and…well…you know how it is.)

Poetry Found on Tumblr

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Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error!–
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

—  Antonio Machado

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