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VICTOR’S VILLAGE STUDENT SERIES: Bread and Circuses in The Hunger Games and the Roman Empire

SURPRISE! We have one more entry in the Victor’s Village student series! This last one is a thought-provoking, meaty article from HGBC’s “assistant fangirl” (aka teaching assistant), peetasgirl!

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In the Roman Empire:

The phrase, “bread and circuses,” was coined during the time of the ancient Roman Empire by Juvenal, a satirical writer. In its original Latin form, the phrase would have been “panem et circenses,” or “bread and games.” This statement has become a common phrase, even in modern political satire. It describes a self-serving government (or emperor) who has done nothing to serve the people, yet is able to maintain popularity by offering state-sponsored “gifts” of food and entertainment. Essentially a bribe, which is unknowingly taken, but which still has the desired effect. It is an underhanded tactic to maintain power and control over a people.

“Panem et circenses” was an actual political strategy, used by the Roman Emperors and Senators to maintain their powerful positions of authority over an ever-increasing span of Empire. These leaders correctly realized that if the general populace – vast in number – were to become dissatisfied with their government, it would be easily overthrown. Later in the Roman Empire, these entitlements had become so popular, that sponsoring the “games” became the peoples’ expectation. Rulers were often judged, not by their effectiveness as public servants, but by the quality of the games/gifts sponsored.

When “panem et circenses” was first penned by Juvenal, he was attempting to awaken the common people to their pathetic attitude of complacency. It was a wake-up call. Juvenal saw himself as a voice to the people, and decried the selfishness and ignorance that he witnessed in the general populace. Roman citizens, who had once proudly participated in their government, had willingly laid aside their civic responsibilities. Instead, they had become satisfied with temporary appeasements from a self-serving government. The citizens had sold their inheritance for a bowl of soup, satisfying the immediate appetites, but at a terrible cost – the loss of their rights in government.

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In The Hunger Games:

The post-apocalyptic nation of Panem draws its name from the first part of Juvenal’s phrase. At first, it seems quite ironic to name a nation “bread,” when its people have so little food. As I think about this, I think it was a brilliant move on the part of the author – it sets up the entire dystopia.

imagesThings are not as they ought to be in Panem. The nation’s name is Panem (bread), which is the one thing that everyone needs in order to survive (food). Naming a nation “bread” implies a land of plenty and promise – provision for all. This is implied in the name. It is a very hopeful name. The government wants to capitalize upon this hope, and BECOME the hope of the people. For this reason, any other source of hope (Katniss) can be dangerous.

The government of Panem made some very calculated moves, in order to be viewed as the sole provider of both bread and hope. There is plenty of bread, but not for everyone. The government (the provider) decides who gets the bread. They use the people’s hope and need as a means of both physical and psychological control. They keep the people hungry, keep them hoping for more, giving grain to the Districts monthly (but never too much), in order to maintain their image as “the provider.” What Panem’s leaders have created is a state of total dependence. By so doing, they ensure that the citizens in the Districts would never rebel against the hand that literally feeds them. The Districts cannot rebel against the Capitol – it is their only hope of survival.

The Capitol itself is another matter. If the citizens in the Capitol were to rebel against the government, there would be upheaval in all of Panem. The Capitol’s citizens live in such close proximity to President Snow and the government agencies, they could easily stage an effective coup. So, it is in the Capitol that we see the Roman Empire’s strategy of “panem et circenses” employed to its fullest extent.

Capitol citizens receive much more than bread – they may have all the food they wish. It is a society where excess has become the status quo. Their entertainment – the “circenses” – is sponsored by the state via The Hunger Games. Tributes fight to the death for the amusement of the Capitol’s citizens, giving them an exciting diversion, and distracting them from the reality of Panem’s national condition.

Crafted by one of HGBC's students

Crafted by one of HGBC’s students

We read about them in the books, living lives of extravagance, and we want to shake them and shout, “Wake up! Can’t you see how all the other Districts in your country are suffering, while you live so luxuriously? It’s not fair!” This is what Juvenal thought about the Romans, and why he made his famous “bread and circuses” statement long ago. Like the citizens of Rome, the citizens of the Capitol are completely ignorant of others’ hardships; they are asleep. The government prefers this, and carefully controls the media to portray the Districts as they see fit.

Capitol citizens are content to never think beyond their own self-centered lives, because they have been appeased by the government, and pacified by the media. They, too, are prisoners of the state of Panem, dependent upon the government as the sole provider of their “bread and circuses.” Unlike the citizens of the Districts, however, the Capitol’s people are completely unaware. They fail to realize their true position.

In Mockingjay, it becomes an especially harsh reality for the Capitol citizens to face, having the thin veneer of “bread and circuses” ripped away. For the first time, they witness what the government – and, unknowingly, themselves – had been carefully orchestrating for 75 years: A volatile nation, filled with governmental corruption and lies, where the wealth of the few weighs heavily upon the shoulders of the poor and starving.

Is it any wonder why Snow works to hard to keep everyone in the dark? To be the only hope?
Peetasgirl

VICTOR’S VILLAGE STUDENT SERIES: Hunger Games History

We’re back with another installment of the Student Series! This time, HGBC’s class is digging into the historic events that likely inspired the series!

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I can hear Caesar Flickerman doing a “Whoo whoo whoo!”

I can hear Caesar Flickerman doing a “Whoo whoo whoo!”

If you haven’t noticed the correlation between ‘The Hunger Games’ and history… well, my friends, you’ve missed some of the whole point of how Suzanne Collins wrote the books. Not only did she intentionally write the reaping as a version of the “Theseus and the Minotaur” Greek myth, and Katniss’ story a reinvention of the real slave-turned-gladiator-turned-rebel Spartacus, but so much of the setting of the books is from your Roman history book. The tributes, the arenas, most of the names of Capitol citizens, and the Capitol’s excess: it all comes from Rome. In the following post, one of my high school students explains the connection of Roman gladiators to ‘The Hunger Games’.

From cactus: When you are first reading or explained the concept of the Hunger Games, the first word that will spring to mind is “Gladiator”. But the Games are even more similar to Roman gladiators than you might think. Here are the examples:

Roman inspired with a twist of sci fi

Roman inspired with a twist of sci fi

The easiest similarity to find (which is mostly based off of stereotypes and assumptions we make about Roman gladiators, which is actually a relatively small part of their culture, concerning their gladiatorial games) is probably the tributes fighting to the death in an enclosed arena.

Best scenario: to be attacked by a Mutt or a lion?

Best scenario: to be attacked by a Mutt or a lion?

What a lot of people don’t know is that the Gladiators were living in poverty, like 90% of the tributes, before they were chosen or forced into the arena. Many of the gladiators were, in fact, prisoners of war, or slaves, which can also be related to the people of the districts. But if and when a gladiator is victorious over his or her opponents, they are showered in riches, much like the victor of the Hunger Games. The only difference is that a lot of the time, even the victorious gladiator is sent back into the arena to fight again for the audience’s amusement, but even then, ‘Catching Fire’ can slightly relate to that when all of the tributes are former victors.

In Rome, they also had people fight animals, like lions for entertainment, or publicly executed Christians or “Pagans” in the arena. So whatever dystopian vibe ‘The Hunger Games’ emits, ancient Rome was far more corrupt and violent.

What about Rome and reality television? Tag, you’re it.
Hunger Games Bookclub

VICTOR’S VILLAGE STUDENT SERIES: No Place For A Girl On Fire

We’re back with Part 2 of our 3-part Student Series! Check out squirrelonfire’s thoughts on the power of repetition in the trilogy. Also, how much do you love that tag name?!

Be sure to comment and tell HGBC and her students what you think!

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One of my favorite things about in-depth re-reads of this trilogy is finding all the little phrases and words that Suzanne Collins used to build these books. For example, she describes Peeta as strong and steady repeatedly in ‘The Hunger Games’. That is one reason why it is so devastating when Peeta becomes… well… not steady. Another favorite repeated word is “owe”. When Haymitch brings home two victors instead of one, she owes him. When Finnick saves Peeta’s life, she owes him. AND SHE HATES OWING ANYONE ANYTHING!

I promise myself I will defeat his plan

I promise myself I will defeat his plan

One of my students goes into depth on this topic…

By squirrelonfire: “Catching Fire” has many themes of repetition, one of which being that Katniss keeps thinking about what she owes everyone (mostly Peeta). Katniss and Haymitch both agree that they owe Peeta, but they have different ideas of what that means. Katniss believe that since Haymitch worked so hard in the last games to keep her alive that it is Peeta’s turn to get saved. And Haymitch thinks that since he helped Katniss last time, Peeta gets to choose what he wants in these games. This is very interesting in how it plays out because Peeta will stop at nothing to save Katniss, while Katniss is trying to save Peeta but still not sure what she wants. Katniss is always changing her mind about what she owes different people. I think that it would be exhausting, but Suzanne Collins uses it as a tactic to write how Katniss thinks about different people and situations.

No place for a girl like me? Just watch me, Snow.

No place for a girl like me? Just watch me, Snow.

One of the other topics that I find interesting is the “Girl on Fire” as the theme of how the public (in the Capitol as well as the districts) views her. In the Capitol, it is just a fascinating fad started by a talented stylist and they love it, but the people in the districts see it as much more. In the districts, it is a spark that will start a fire that is rebellion. And they use her and her mockingjay as a symbol of defiance. “Girl on Fire” isn’t only how the public views Katniss, but also how she views herself. I really like the last sentence of “Catching Fire” Part II where she sees the arena and thinks: This is no place for a girl on fire.

Perhaps you “owe” it to yourself to find your own favorite repetition,

Hunger Games Bookclub

VICTOR’S VILLAGE STUDENT SERIES: Catching Fire Flashback

We’ve got a short but very exciting new series here on Victor’s Village! Our friend Hunger Games Bookclub is now teaching The Hunger Games to our youth as part of her Creative Writing class!

For the next three days, we’ll be posting guest posts from HGBC and her students, gaining unique perspectives on a series that they’ve (understandably) become very enthusiastic about! We’re calling it our “Student Series”. Almost sounds professional, right?!

By all means, please share your thoughts about the posts with HGBC and her teen students!

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*Spoiler Alert*

Flashback to the first time that you read ‘Catching Fire’: the gasp when you realized Peeta had been taken hostage and the chill in your bones at Gale’s words,

“Katniss, there is no District Twelve.”

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Kindergarten Katniss and Peeta? Awwww!

Were you a teenager? Those of us fans that discovered ‘The Hunger Games’ in our adult years sometimes forget that the trilogy was written for the teens. Teaching a high school class on ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy has given me opportunity to look at Katniss’ story again through fresh (much younger!) eyes. The following are excerpts written by several of my students from an assignment on Literary Devices in the books. I hope it reminds you that Suzanne Collins not only wrote an action-packed trilogy, but she also told a layered, complex story in a way that was accessible for young adult readers.

From thereisnodistrict14: A flashback is a literary device used by authors to convey a message to the reader. It is when a character suddenly remembers something from a long time ago in their life. For example, there is a flashback in ‘Catching Fire’ where Peeta and Katniss are outside the train on the tracks during a train malfuntion. Peeta is telling Katniss about when she was in school and he had a secret crush on her and she sang a song in class. The author is using this flashback to convey to the reader that there is a deeper level to Katniss and Peeta’s artificial romance.

On the count of three?

On the count of three?

From dontbeastupidfangirl: Symbolism is… an object that represents something different to give it deeper meaning. Sometimes an action, event, or word can have symbolic value… The Mockingjay is a perfect example of symbolism in ‘The Hunger Games’. It represents the spark of rebellion, the unity of the districts against the Capitol, and the rebellion itself. Another form of symbolism is when Katniss pulls out the poison berries and she and Peeta threaten to kill themselves rather than each other. It symbolizes the districts being fed-up with what the Capitol is forcing them to do. Suzanne Collins did an excellent job with symbolism in ‘The Hunger Games’ series.

From cactus: In ‘The Hunger Games’ the spark was the metaphor for the main plot to be resolved later in the trilogy; the rebellion, and the spark meaning the slow birth of rebellious behavior among the districts. In ‘Catching Fire’, the main plot stems from the “spark” from book one igniting and “catching fire”. This creates uprisings in the districts and sets up the last book to full blown rebellion and war. This is clear symbolism. They even use Katniss’ symbol as the mockingjay to intertwine with the whole catching fire theme, when she twirls and her wedding dress “catches fire” and the fire consumes the dress (another symbol for the Capitol’s strong hold, deciding even what clothes you wear) and transforms it into something new: a mockingjay. I love this scene. It uses three big symbols to tell the story of this entire book in a matter of lines.

Caesar's face says it all!

Caesar’s face says it all!

Take it from my students… don’t you owe yourself a re-read?
Hunger Games Bookclub

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FANSITE EXCLUSIVE: New ‘Peeta’ TV Spot From THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gents! We’ve got the exclusive debut of a stunning new TV spot for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1!

Ready to get emotional? This spot is going to take your Peeta feels to a WHOLE. NEW. LEVEL.

WE CAN’T EVEN HANDLE IT!

Lionsgate has clearly noticed that all it takes is a teeny bit of Peeta to drive this fandom into squealing fangirly oblivion.

Though we’ve seen the footage previously, seeing it all re-cut with Peeta’s full warning speech to Katniss layered over each scene is tense, thrilling, and exactly what we need from these TV spots! Readers know what’s coming and anticipate the fallout eagerly, while movie oriented fans will be intrigued by all the drama.

We’re a little surprised by just how much of Katniss and Peeta’s struggles have been revealed in the TV spots, but you know what? BRING THE HINTS AND REVEALS! We love them! They give off a wonderful sense of foreboding! If this is what they’re willing to show, what secrets and other big, incredible scenes are nestled away until movie time?

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 will be out on November 21st!

Fandom– Recognize

credit to - turntherightcorner.com

credit to – turntherightcorner.com

San Diego Comic Con 2014 is in full swing, and the Internet is a buzz with all things Benedict Cumberbatch, Marvel, Hobbit-y, Game of Thrones-y and oh yeah– Lionsgate-y. I’m one of the sad few who is not attending the convention, and frankly will probably never attend, because crowds of that magnitude give me the heebie-jeebies, and trust me when I say this– you don’t want to be around me when I have the heebie-jeebies. Anywho, Comic-Con is a place of fandom-wide fun and excitement, and just all out nerd-gasmic heaven.

Y’all like cupcakes, right? I betcha do! Why not, they’re delicious, and fluffy, and if they’re made right they are moist (not in the naughty way), and light, and put a smile on your face with their fondant, and they’re butter cream goodness. Lionsgate apparently likes cupcakes too, or baked goods if we’re speaking in broad terms. I know this because this weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, part of the fun and festivities are baked goods, including cupcakes. That’s right folks, they have a sleek-looking, Capitol-esque bakery set up on display for the burgeoning public to ooh and ah over. This is awesome for all intents and purposes, ’cause everyone and their glutton tolerant aunt likes some free baked goods every now and again. The only fly in the ointment of this sweet, little gesture is the slightly glaring fact that who ever, or whatever marketing firm chose the designs for some of these goods, well– stole them.

That’s right folks, I just used the S word, and it’s not the shit kind. Nope, I call foul on who ever, or whatever person, or group of people who decided stealing other people’s ideas is an acceptable business practice!

Crystal Watanabe has been a staple in this fandom for years, she’s involved more than a random fan as well– and on top of that she’s got more than a life outside of her endeavors involving The Hunger Games. Crystal used to pretty much run Mockingjay.net, now she’s the founder, and head at Jabberjays.net. Crystal is a master at bento, as well as artisan baking. Which brings me to the previously used S word. Crystal’s designs for two Effie Trinket themed cupcakes are being used without her permission right now at one of the biggest entertainment themed conventions in the world, and all of this is going down without what’s probably most important– credit where credit is due.

I’m just going to say it, but this is not cool! I know that the big guys on top of the money-making machines that supposedly dictate our lives, wholly believe that taking a “little persons” ideas and shilling them as their own, is acceptable. But damn it all to hell– it’s not! I know they’re just cupcakes, but even cupcake designs are things that deserve to be credited to the originator, the designer– who in this case is Crystal Watanabe.

So Hunger Games fandom, if you think it’s cool to steal other people’s ideas– by all means eat up. But if you don’t– say something, that’s what the Internet is for– other than porn of course. This credit issue could be easily remedied with a simple piece of card stock going up on display in that bakery set up. Simple, concise and easy, because this is potential revenue lost to an artist.

Effie Trinket cupcakes designed by Crystal Watanabe of Fictionalfood.net.

Them There Eyes

Share Your Hunger Games Thoughts at Victor’s Village!

Mockingjay-Background

Guess what, guys? There’s tons of amazing things going on in the fandom right now and we want YOUR opinion on it! Why, you ask? Because we love to have what you have to say (and because I’m getting married in 16 days and staring at a to-do list that is FOREVER GROWING)!

SEND US YOUR GUEST POSTS IF YOU DARE!

We’re seeking out some stellar guest posts because, believe it or not, we know that our opinions aren’t the only ones that matter!

If you’ve got ANYTHING to say about The Hunger Games books, movies, merchandise, actors, fandom, that new teaser and the occasionally obnoxious reactions to it, etc. that you’d like to share with tons of members of the fandom, write it up and send it to thevictorsvillage@gmail.com! Wit preferred, but not required. As long as your writing isn’t a hot mess (we have faith in you!), we’ll post it up to be shared with other fans!

Send in your posts by Thursday, July 3 at 5pm EST and we’ll love you forever!

VICTOR’S VILLAGE THIRD ANNIVERSARY GIVEAWAY!

It’s June 13th, 2014! Do you know what that means?

HAPPY THIRD BIRTHDAY, VICTOR’S VILLAGE!

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thehungergames

Yes, it’s been three years since our little Hunger Games themed corner of the Internet made its debut! If you told us (particularly me) three years ago that this site would develop into a delightful community of fandom-wide discussion and hilarity, introduce us to tons of amazing friends, and provide us with stellar opportunities to really dive into the fandom we already love in ways that are usually reserved for people WAY cooler than us, our general reaction would be “NO EFFING WAY!”

We won’t bore you with sentimental mush this year. In short, we want to say THANK YOU with some sweet contests! The best part? They’re all open internationally!

CONTEST #1 – GUESS THE TRAILER RELEASE DATE

We know every fan just about is a thousand percent done with waiting for the MOCKINGJAY: PART 1 trailer, so why not turn it into an awesome game?!

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Clearly!

Guess the date and time of the MOCKINGJAY: PART 1 trailer released in the comments and you’ll automatically be entered to win a Catching Fire Fan Camp poster signed by Josh Hutcherson, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone and Jeffrey Wright!

THE RULES
1) Comment on this post with the date and time you think the Catching Fire trailer will be released! All times must be PST. It’s can be down to the minute, if you’d like!
2) In the event that two contestant guess the same exact time, the first visitor to comment will win.
3) All contestants must include a valid email in the appropriate field.
4) This contest is ONGOING until the trailer release!
5) ONE GUESS PER CONTESTANT. Anyone putting in multiple guesses will be disqualified.
6) The winner will be contacted on the day of the trailer release. The winner has 48 hours to claim their prize, after which the prize will be offered to the second closest guess.

CLARIFICATION: Some fans have been asking what we mean by “trailer”. We are defining it as the first montage of footage from Mockingjay: Part 1. Additionally, we will base the contest on the time it will be released online, NOT the time is appears in theaters.

CONTEST #2 – RAFFLE-PALOOZA!

Check out the page below (because Rafflecopter is so jelly of our awesomeness that it won’t work on this site!) t enter for a chance to win another signed Catching Fire Fan Camp poster, DVDs, or Hunger Games art!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

Once again… THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without your support! It’s not always an easy experience, but it’s super rewarding and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

And It’s Friday the 13th! Muahahahaha!
The Girl With The Pearl

Victor’s Village 2013 Year in Review

Because it ain’t over til the last interview is over, we shall not discuss the BEST TOPIC EVER tonight!

Instead, here’s some fun for the regulars that we usually bring you earlier in the year, but Joan Rivers wouldn’t shut up then awards show season and shit got weird. ANYWAY… it’s time for the Year In Review, where we give you all the stats on the awesomeness of you, our readers!

But first, let’s start in a bittersweet note: 2014 is the year we say goodbye to our dear Twiffidy as she moves on to focus on other endeavors. She has been an amazing part of this site and we couldn’t be more thankful for her! Wishing you the best, Twiffidy!

On a happier note, this has given us the chance to take on a new writer here at VV! We’ve already seen her fresh perspective in her guest posts, including predicting a behind the scenes look at The Capitol in Mockingjay and calling out shipping gone bad.

WELCOME TO VICTOR’S VILLAGE, JJ!

We hope you guys are ready, because JJ starts bringing the noise tomorrow! *pops champagne cork*

As for those stats, let’s take a looksy, shall we?

Countries

188 COUNTRIES. Our minds = BLOWN. We’re still shocked by the regular readers who participate, but to see that people have been lead to this site from all over the world is enormous.

Search Terms

The only downside the those 188 countries is that many of those folks were probably looking up trusty search term #1. Which, funnily enough, leads them to a post that makes fun of people searching for that and similar terms!

Best Posts

Note the highlight! Only one post about Katniss’ much-coveted cowl is actually from this year, but another of our top 5 posts is actually a fanfic-style guest post from late 2012 by Hunger Games Bookclub! Kudos, HGBC!

Comments

Some of our regulars caught fire (Get it?! *nudge nudge*) as they chimed in on all things Hunger Games this year. It can be a messy task, but we’re glad you’re out there doing it!

So what we really mean to say is THANK YOU for a great year!

Let’s do it again in 2014, PLZKTHX!

The Girl With The Pearl

Day Two The Capitol.pn

Today wasn’t exactly a wealth of Catching Fire or Mockingjay news, so you’re just going to have to suffice with a little personal happy dancing over other things from some of us. Why? Because today was day two of TheCapitol.pn’s relaunch, and those silly little ID cards that aren’t technically available for physical ordering until next week, well– certain fansite staff members got theirs in the mail today anyway. What can I say other than it’s nice waking up to the UPS man dropping off a package for you, (no not that kind, you crazy kids, the other kind)– opening it up, and finally knowing why you were asked a couple of week ago for the information of what District you were sorted into when TheCapitol.pn was up and running the first time, and not living up to its massive stores of potential. It’s not some big, scary secret that a vast majority of the larger, and some of the smaller fan-sites out there are in contact with Lionsgate, is it? If it is,

Yes, those are my real cheekbones

Yes, I own those earrings

um– how do you exactly think we were able to give out tickets to the LA premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and how do you think we were part of the promotional puzzle piece scavenger hunt for The Hunger Games? Really, how?

Anyway, the IDs are kind of snazzy, no? I didn’t get one last time around, mind– mostly because I’m lazy, and maybe I didn’t like the look of them. Also, I didn’t like any photos of myself at that time, and I didn’t want another hard plastic card with a photo of myself that I didn’t like in my possession– much like my license or my passport. Trust me I’m kind of glad my passport expired, just so I can go through the process of getting a new one. Speaking of passports, isn’t it a bit odd that they’re called “ID Passes”? Think about it, the citizens of Panem can’t exactly travel freely, so why call their ID’s “passes”? They can’t go anywhere. Hm, maybe they’re called passes as a subtle dig at their immobility? Back to the actual ID cards though, they’re much better designed this time I think, I like the icy gray tones, the thumb print decal, and the way the photo looks slightly raised, but it’s not. It’s nice, it’s well designed, and I’m probably going to keep mine for a very long time. Maybe not in my wallet, but perhaps in a scrap book that I’ll look back at in 30 years and think, “those crazy fansite years were so crazy.”

#IdentifyYourself

Them There Eyes