The Royals on E!:

When I was in Washington DC two years ago to see my beloved angel, Angela Lansbury, I rented the most amazing apartment next to the Capital. It was probably one of the most elegant places I have ever stayed that wasn’t a five-star hotel, and I wish that I was a senator or something so that I could live in it full time. Reader, the crown moulding illuminated! And it wasn’t tacky or anything. It was the epitome of loveliness, and there was a fireplace and a wine chiller and everything about it was perfection. To have some ambiance, I turned on E! because I am passionate about well-produced trashy reality shows. As I sat on the couch, sipping wine and living my best life, I couldn’t pull my eyes away from a new show, The Royals, and I am fairly positive that I discussed this with you back in 2015, but I’m writing it again to tell you that this show is delightful. I was up until four o’clock in the morning over break getting caught up on season two and starting season three. This is unlike me. I do not binge watch programs. I do not sit for hours. I barely watch television. But the show is so good. I mean, it’s not good…you know what I mean? It’s delicious. I love everything about it. I had such a delightful time watching the palace intrigue, the backstabbing, the murders, the romances, the the complications of succession, the subtleties that are required for a monarch, and the costumes of all the characters. I want all of King Cyrus’s silk robes. And I love Elizabeth Hurley, reader; she is fabulous. And her hair is fabulous. Everything about her is fabulous. I want to be her best friend in real life. Make that happen, please. If you’ve never watched, start now. Seasons one and two are available on Amazon and the latest is available to stream on E!. So, reader, go, and live your very best life and pretend that this is really what happens inside the walls of Buckingham Palace. Maybe it is?

The First Monday In May:

For as long as I have known about it, I have longed to attend the Met Gala. I am not a powerful person in any way, yet, but I see no reason why I shouldn’t ever go. Life is very long, after all, and why shouldn’t I someday have that power? I have never liked people who think that they should submit to life because of circumstances. We live in a place where we can truly be anything we want to be if we are lucky or find a way to buy influence. It’s not a fair place, of course, but the American Dream is still a reality. So, that preamble goes to say that I was looking forward to watching this documentary, but I was hardly on metaphorical pins and needles. But as soon as the film started, I was riveted to the screen. When images of Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty exhibition were shown I started crying. I can’t explain it. I had forgotten how big of an impact his fashions made on me. In high school, I had pictures saved on my laptop of his show with the overdone red lips, the birdcage dress, and those bejeweled masks. I was fascinated by how loathsome these creations appeared, but yet how they transcended themselves to become beautiful. Seeing all of his couture assembled in one place was magnificent, and I wish that I could have seen the show. And then we learned more about the director of the Met Gala, and he said something that I have never properly put into words. “It really was a dream come true. I was just so seduced by the romance of getting lost in the museum and finding objects that you weren’t expecting.” He gets exactly what I have felt all my life. Little known fact about me, dear reader: I have long dreamed of being a curator in the Egyptian gallery of the British Museum. I don’t know why I’m so fixated on this particular position, but I crave it. I follow the current director’s Instagram and I like literally all of his pictures. He knows me, reader. I know he knows me. And I follow him on Twitter. And I religiously search his name on Google. I want to be just like him someday. And in the meantime, I routinely apply for the most minor positions at the British Museum. Do you know how many CVs I have sent into their applications office to either be ignored or laughed off? It’s embarrassing at this point. To make my mad desperation worse, when the Brexit vote came to pass, I was secretly giddy because England no longer had to offer its jobs to people in the European Union. I was now a much stronger competitor to clean toilets in a museum a couple thousand miles from home. Isn’t that tragic? I wonder at myself sometimes. Anyway, the film is brilliant. They visit Paris and go to the Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and look at his gorgeous clothes. Everybody in the film is so wonderfully passionate and madly in love with their career. And I think they are the luckiest people in all the world. I’m so envious of them, and yet by watching this documentary, I feel like I’ve found my tribe. I always knew they were out there. There are more people like me. Thank God. Oh, and Anna Wintour is the queen I always knew her to be. She is magnificent. She looked at a display for the gala and groaned, “This is making me feel violently ill.” I understand her completely. The First Monday in May is iconic. It’s an unexpected joy. I had no intention of being so swept up by it. But those ninety minutes were magic and they flew by. Get this on your Netflix queues at once!

YouTube Fireplace:

Anne Rice made an interesting comment on Facebook this morning that said, for her, the holiday seasons are a kind of purgatory. She is forced into reverie and celebrations when she would much rather work on a new book. My beloved Anne, who I met several years ago and was utterly charmed by, has found her passion in life, which is the most important thing a person can do. I did, as well, in travel and Egyptology, but I am not at a point in my life where I am allowed to pursue these interests full time or for profit. Like Anne, I was trapped during the holidays. Instead of scouring tomb walls for hieroglyphs or exploring the wintry streets of Brașov, I was home. And I had a fine time. It was great to have a refresher from work and not have to wake up at six o’clock in the morning. It was grand to have time to tidy the place up and enjoy leisurely pursuits, but I admit that I became a bit bored. I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a homebody. I need to be going places or planning on going places — so I spent a lot of time researching travel in Eastern Europe and Cuba. Such fun. But I’m rambling and far from the point. As I was sitting on the couch in my lounge, scrolling through TripAdvisor, I became so irate at not owning a fireplace that I nearly drove to Des Moines to buy an electric one. Then I remembered that if I bought that I wouldn’t be able to save any money for summer travel, so I sighed in exasperation. Then I thought about Lil Bub, the alien cat, and a video she made years ago sitting by a fireplace for two hours.


I turned my Apple TV on, launched YouTube, and found a ten hour video of a fireplace. I scoffed at first, but after a bit, the soothing sounds of the crackling fire and the warmth radiating from my space heater caused the illusion to seem real. It was almost as if I had a fireplace right in front of me. It was fabulous. Now, every night before I go to bed, I turn the YouTube fireplace on my bedroom television, and as I prepare for slumber, it’s like there is a cozy fire roaring away. I’m so in love with this. Where has it been all my life? I am truly blessed.


Inability to Purchase Amelia Edwards Autograph:


Readers, I am devastated. I love going to the Half Price Bookstore to stock up on Egyptological tomes for my research library. That thing has grown beyond my wildest imagination. I have books from the last two centuries. I love them all like children, and the shelves of my office are 3/4 filled. I don’t know what I will do when I run out of room. I’ll have to install more bookshelves. And a fireplace. And a bronze bar cart. And an oil painting. And a gorgeous rug. It’ll be fabulous. But for now, I’m just stocking up on the books. And I have a couple pieces of ancient pottery and a few ushabti figurines. I am not a fan of buying Egyptological memorabilia, because it encourages the illegal antiquities trade, and this is a favorite funding resource for terrorist organizations. But, if the objects have been in the United States or Canada for a long period and the dealer is reputable, I don’t feel so guilty. Better that a person who appreciates it has it. And I use my pieces as a reference and teaching tool. So my guilt is assuaged. I’m really not proud. Anyway, I was at the Half Price Bookstore looking to see if there were any unusual or particularly intriguing books that I needed to add to my shelves. And, reader, there were dozens, but I chose a half dozen that I’m very happy about. An exciting area at the bookstore is the rare books. The last time I was there, I found an Elizabeth Peters autograph that means all the world to me. Looking in the glass case for particularly unique pieces, I saw an autograph book from the early 20th Century. It had interesting autographs such as Mark Twain, which was a treat to see with my own eyes. As I got closer to examine his signature in more detail, I started squawking. Reader, I found the most unexpected treasure. Resting unloved in that autograph book was the autograph of AMELIA EDWARDS. I am still not recovered from seeing it. Why on earth is the founder of the Egyptian Exploration Society, an organization that has done so much good for the archaeological record, a woman who traveled the world raising money for the preservation and recording of ancient sites, and the fabulous creature who wrote A Thousand Miles Up The Nile doing in Des Moines??? I’m screaming now as I type this. Amelia is so important to me. Her travelogue led me through Egypt the first time, her delicious phrase “the satisfaction of a purposeless curiosity” is on the header for every page of this website. She inspired the Amelia Peabody mysteries. She is a regal queen! And I need her autograph. But it’s in that book, and because of blasted Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe, it costs $3250. I’d treasure it forever as a prized possession, but I could fly to Europe four times for that price. So, I hope whoever snatches that amazing curio up treasures it as much as I would.

Netflix Not Streaming Murder, She Wrote:


Y’all, I’m inconsolable. For the past three years, I believe, I have watched an episode of Murder, She Wrote, and relaxed before bed. It was a highlight of my day to enjoy the cozy mysteries of Cabot Cove, to marvel at Angela Lansbury, and to just chuckle at the insanity of it. I mean, how many friends can Jessica Fletcher possibly have, how many connections, how many times will the KGB try to end her life? It’s fabulous. And I really think that watching every episode of the series changed my life for the better. It is a masterclass in storytelling. I pay for a Netflix subscription for the sole purpose of watching my favorite program. It meant more to me than I can reasonably explain. So, on January 1, just a bit after midnight, I decided to ring in the New Year right with Angela. Imagine my total horror when I found that Netflix had pulled every season from their streaming platform. I screamed. My beloved Jessica Fletcher wasn’t on Hulu or Amazon Prime or even on YouTube. What was I to do? I am still not over this slight. I have contemplated cancelling my subscription to Netflix, but there are other shows I will watch on occasion, so it wouldn’t be worth it. I suppose I just have to order the complete season off of Amazon and watch the prehistoric DVDs. I don’t even know the last time I used a DVD. That technology is archaic at this point. I mean, I received a DVD player for Christmas when I was like 13 and it was cutting edge. But I stream everything now. How inconvenient it will be for me to have to go open a box and open a case and open the DVD drawer and flick through the menus. I am repelled by the thought, but if that’s what I must do to return to Cabot Cove, then that’s what I’ll do. I was planning to spend my mad money from my next paycheck on a box of solid gold face masks, but Murder, She Wrote it’ll have to be. Please write complaint letters to Netflix if you notice my skin isn’t looking as radiant as usual. I’m miserable.


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