By Colin Horgan - Sunday, December 9, 2012 - 0 Comments
In the end, we’re all suckers for a good love story
The most popular question I’ve had to answer in the last few months is, at its core, very simple. It is this: Why? Why would the three of us – myself, Sonya Bell and Aaron Wherry – choose to take our Wednesday nights and write about a TV show that everyone seems to agree is sort of silly? After all, the premise of the Bachelor Canada is simplistic and a touch regressive. A man selects from a clan of women the one who he figures might be best for a potential engagement. It’s the kind of thing that some might argue sets our culture back a pace or two, assuming it’s moving forward.
I have no idea how to answer that simple question, apart from maybe saying that the idea amused us. Perhaps this is why everyone else watches the Bachelor – to amuse themselves with a bit of arms-length romance that is open to judgement and fodder for pseudo-gossip, and which has no serious bearing on our lives. This show, we have convinced ourselves, is not actually what it says it is. It is reality television, but not television about reality. We will never be put in such a ridiculous situation, we can assure ourselves. And we would never go to such lengths to find a potentially suitable partner, we remind each other.
Yet, when I looked around at the crowd attending (whether they were aware of it or not) the official Bachelor Canada Engagement Party at the sprawling Muzik nightclub in Toronto Saturday night, I began to wonder about that last part.
By Maclean's - Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 7:12 AM - 0 Comments
Reality TV meets real life, Colin Horgan comes face to face with Brad and Bianka, tweets are tweeted and vodka is consumed
By Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 2:18 PM - 0 Comments
Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry on Brad and Bianka’s love. And Whitney. Always Whitney.
To: Colin, Aaron
There you have it, Canada. The journey of “Canada’s first bachelor, Brad Smith!” has concluded. (It’s a little known fact that all other Canadian men are married at birth.)
In this week’s After the Final Rose episode, host Tyler Harcott welcomed Brad, Bianka and Whitney to turn on the waterworks in front of a live television audience. It was a far more interesting hour than the bachelorette tell-all episode for two reasons. One, we actually remembered everyone on stage. Two, they had something to say – not just scores to settle.
It’s the humanizing aspect that I found most powerful. Whitney, do you read this panel? If you do, I’m sorry that I’m one of those people who brought up the vein in your head, which you understandably found hurtful. (I did so because it illustrated so very well the intensity you were bringing to the competition.)
By Sonya Bell - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 5:20 AM - 0 Comments
Sonya Bell of the Maclean’s Bachelor Panel talks to the happy couple. Question 1: What now?
After eight weeks of roses, revelations, and Ray Bans, the Maclean’s Bachelor Panel had a few burning questions about the people and the process behind Canada’s very first Bachelor series. Sonya Bell put them to the happy couple themselves, Brad and Bianka. Here’s the full interview, edited for clarity, but including Brad’s every use of “douchebag.”
Sonya: Guys, my first and most serious question is: what do you do for dates now that you don’t have access to a private jet or even a helicopter?
By Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan, Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 12:45 PM - 0 Comments
Let’s take a minute to bask in Canada’s successful completion of its first Bachelor series
We open on a golf course. Brad and Whitney are about to meet for an afternoon together before visiting Brad’s family. But first Brad and Whitney need to have an important talk about, you know, the fact she seems to be coming unglued and seems to be having trouble expressing herself coherently. Somehow or another this conversation results in Brad apologizing. And then, after everything is declared more or less fine, the discussion ends with this soon-to-be legendary exchange. Brad: “Do you want to go hit some balls?” Whitney: “Yes.” Somewhere here’s a golf-themed romantic comedy that just got its closing lines. Anyway, it turns out Whitney sucks at golf. Which leads to this explanation from Whitney (which I think the whole season was basically leading up to): “I enjoy golf, but golf can be deceiving.” Woah. Don’t you see? She’s talking life, man. She’s talking about love. She’s talking about … herself.
Or maybe she’s just talking about golf (there are few things in this world of which I am absolutely and entirely sure, but one of them is that golf is stupid). Either way, despite choking spectacularly these past few weeks, Whit still has one chance to save this with a decent performance in front of Brad’s family. But under the unrelenting scrutiny of Brad’s sister—that woman should be interviewing politicians for a living—Whitney remains so unable to put together different articles of speech for the purposes of forming sentences that her inability to do so actually becomes a topic of conversation.
One more awkward conversation, this time in a tropical paradise, and Brad is knocking on Whitney’s door to tell her they’re done. Only Whitney hides and then walks away and then tries to make it like she’s breaking up with him. “Marriage is not for me and Brad,” she announces as she departs the show. “I”m not ready to marry him.”
Indeed. So much for all that.
Bianka’s moment of truth also comes at Brad’s house under the withering questions of Brad’s sister, Ashley. Bianka, apparently, seems too “polished.” Presented with the possibility that she is a too good to be true, Bianka offers calm, confident reassurance that she is in fact pretty fantastic and soon enough Ashley and Brad’s mother are hugging her and more or less welcoming her to the family. After a little polo and some fussing over the cut of diamond, Brad duly puts a ring on it.
There’s something that still feels slightly—wonderfully—subversive about Bianka. Whitney looked reality television in the face and cracked. She charged into this and then suddenly, a few weeks later, looked around to realize she didn’t like where she was. Bianka bent reality television to her will. She sat back and made Brad meet her halfway. Both of these women tried to exert control on this process, but only one of them came away happy. Full credit to Bianka. I have no idea whether she and Brad will be together forever. But if you’re in a competition, you might as well win.
(As for Brad, I only hope that the fact both he and Kanye West are now dating ex-girlfriends of Kris Humphries will result in the two of them pairing for an instantly legendary diss track entitled Over the Hump.)
“You’re going to stay married for a long time. You really have to get yourself mentally committed to the other person. That’s tied to you making that decision. This is about Brad.” — Senator Larry Smith
With this parting advice from his father, Brad gives us a look of deeply profound thoughtfulness, and finally makes a decent choice.
Brad presenting the final rose to Bianka was surprising only in that he has made so many incomprehensible decisions – kicking off Kara, not getting to know model/neuroscientist Stephanie, joining the Bachelor Canada to begin with – that it would have been way too easy for him to propose to Whitney instead. He should probably consult his dad before so much as eating breakfast in the future.
But Bianka, our dark-horse candidate, sealed the deal by charming his family – and with perfect rom-com timing, telling Brad she loved him when she left for the night.
“I’ve been waiting so long to hear that,” Brad said afterward, dazed. By “so long” he means “two months.” Who is this guy?
Actually, we learned more about Brad this episode than in all of the weeks prior. We learned he spent his formative summers on a golf course. We learned he considers Barbados his second home. We learned that when pressed to try a fun new activity, it’s polo, and he’s a natural. Brad is probably more suited to the British throne than Prince Harry.
In a loose interpretation of “poetic,” the show returned Brad to Barbados, where he first realized he was ready to settle down, for the big finale. The engagement played out like a wedding ceremony: Bianka wore a long white dress, the host guided her down the stairs, and then she walked down the aisle while Brad cried (one of many, many scenes where Brad cried).
With her ear-to-ear smile, and fits of giggles, Bianka seems truly in love. Brad does too, with the small exception that a few days ago he still needed another date with both women to make up his mind. Like Aaron, I’m skeptical: Will this last longer than Bianka’s ex-boyfriend’s 72-day marriage to Kim Kardashian? I hate to break it to them that they did get engaged quicker than Kris and Kim.
But before I get too cynical – that’s generally Colin’s role – let’s take a minute to bask in Canada’s successful completion of its first Bachelor series, and the fact that – in true Canadian fashion – we managed to bring together two quasi, quasi celebrities: the son of a Senator and the ex-girlfriend of Kim Kardashian’s ex-husband. Fantastic. Look out, Chavril.
Finally, finally. THE BEST PART. The montage. Is it up on YouTube yet? Because I am so very ready to watch it again. The Bianka and Brad story, from the very beginning (that’s two months ago), set to Bryan Adams’ “Heaven.” Which was probably the very 1980s power ballad Bianka imagined dancing to at her future wedding as a 7-year-old.
Congratulations to the happy couple. And to Whitney, for her break-out role as a brand new, never-before-seen style of reality show villain: the introvert. It’s been a trip.
If only all our lives could be set to a Bryan Adams montage. (Mine, for the record, would be set to “All For Love” from the 1993 soundtrack to The Three Musketeers, starring Chris O’Donnell as D’Artagnan, if for no other reason than to remind everyone that Chris O’Donnell was once a thing. However, “Over the Hump” might be a close second.)
Sonya, you alluded to this, but I would like to fully take us back to Week Two of the Bachelor Panel to throw a quote in your faces.
“I find myself again coming back to Bianka, who is still perhaps the most interesting one of them all, in some ways,” I wrote in those early days, before the reign of Laura B’s tormented soul and when Melissa Marie was still fulminating over her kid at home and What That Means For Future Love And Playboy Shoots. “The dark horse, I think,” I wrote. Boom. (Full disclosure: My mother reminded me of that quote over the weekend. Thanks, mom!)
Given that I forgot I even wrote it, I can’t really say why I thought Bianka was a dark horse. I think Aaron’s word choice (“subversive”) is perfect. Probably my comment was just set in there to make Sonya and Aaron scramble a bit and have to speak to it (thereby, as all good politicians know, acknowledging it as a possibility). But then they both just side-stepped the whole thing and came up with better, more insightful commentary instead, leaving me in the dust. I think I was always basically the Kara of this panel.
Anyway. Why did Brad pick Bianka? Maybe it was her standoffishness. Maybe Brad just liked the way she wore her polo pants around her chest. Maybe she liked that devil-may-care way Brad never, ever did up the top button of his shirt or rarely bothered to tuck that shirt in because it was altogether far too much for a man with such weighty decisions on his mind to have time for such things. Maybe she was just happy Brad’s suggestion of eating steamed hot dogs turned out not to be a euphemism. It’s difficult to say, really, but I’d wager that more than any of those things, it all came down to context.
Which means it all came down to Whitney, obviously. It was always going to. And as much as she made sure of that, so did Brad, as he allowed himself to be sucked into her vortex of pointed glares and pointed anatomy. She orchestrated her exit exactly as she had everything from the start: as a confusing, angry, abrupt and ultimately cold performance. “You can’t say hurtful things to me, Brad,” she said before shutting the door in his face, walking away from him and then breaking the whole thing off. Of course it had to be her who said it. The Bachelor Canada: On Whitney’s terms or on no terms. She stage-managed her departure like she stage-managed her whole act, including last week’s crocodile tears for all the girls she knew and abused.
So, back to that lasting image. Brad and Bianka, strolling off into the sunset to the sultry tones of the Groover from Vancouver…
Wait. As much as I also enjoyed that, something else stuck with me more.
A jewelry salesman arrived at Brad’s timeshare to show him some rings – one of which he’d eventually offer to Bianka. A selection of glittering, overexposed stand-ins for love, now just another commodified emotion, all lined up for him, awaiting selection. The analogy was pretty clear.
“I saw that ring, and I saw her face in my head,” Brad told us of that moment he picked his ring.
I still don’t know if that’s a good thing.
By Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 9:17 AM - 0 Comments
Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry on the reality of the Bachelor’s reality
To: Aaron, Sonya
Grampa Simpson once compared watching “one of those TV shows where they show a bunch of clips from old episodes” to being in a coma. Nineteen years later, that joke has fresh perspective. I’m going to guess this week’s installment is injected into the Bachelor season because everyone needs a little closure, and what better way to do that than have everyone air their grievances all over again on a stage of precarious chairs? It was like a weird kind of Bachelor Festivus where the only feat of strength is whether you can manage to sit through the whole hour.
But in at least one way, I can’t fault it at all. How else would we have seen that nanosecond outtake from the first episode when Bubba, on learning she was one of the eliminated ladies, heels in hand, shouted “peace the f— out, b–ches!” and clomped her way out of there, shoeless. Totally priceless. Bubba, we so needed you tonight. Because aside from that wonderful clip, were we basically left with a warmed over conversation about whose tits are fake and some half-baked drama between Tia and Brad. Did Tia tell him she wasn’t into him or not when they were in Mexico? I have a better question: Who the hell is Tia?
So, thank goodness for Whitney, I guess, who briefly managed to breathe some life into the thing via her very presence, which in itself was a bit confusing. Does this mean the only one who wasn’t there (Bianka) is the one who Brad chooses in the end? If so, that was a bit of an awful giveaway. So much so, that I can’t imagine it to be the case.
Anyway, Whitney strode in and everyone got their back up. Ana didn’t even clap for her, you guys. Didn’t. Even. Clap. Obviously, this show of what anywhere else might be considered total neutrality was really a signal of hatred. Tyler asked about it, and Ana weighed in on the Whitney situation. Ana thought Whitney bullied other girls, Ana said, but that Whitney didn’t bully Ana because Ana would never take that kind of thing, and maybe it was all a big misunderstanding and Whitney just wanted to be number one, Ana thought, and maybe that’s what Whitney got. Ana and Whitney are probably just two different people, Ana decided a short time later.
Then Whitney had it out with Gabi, as we probably all assumed she would, and in so doing taught us two things. First, Whitney told everyone she’s a confident woman and that – lesson one – all women should be confident, too. (Like Ana?) Whitney also said she never “directly” said anything negative to any girl. She almost immediately followed that up by telling Gabi that “people” had since asked her how she didn’t “knock Gabrielle in the face” and that these same “people” say negative things about Gabi, including that “she’s just blatantly rude.” See? Not directly. Lesson two.
Brad was there too, eventually, saying nice things about Chantelle and of Laura B’s shattered, shattered heart. He also told everyone that Kara and he had a moment when they said goodbye where they both realized there was nothing there. I know the feeling, Brad. I had a moment like that with my TV tonight. It lasted about an hour.
To: Colin, Sonya
To be honest, I kind of enjoyed the montage of boobs. Of all the montages shown this week, it was the only one that seemed important. It felt like a metaphor for something. Or maybe it just felt real. Or at least blatant. Enough with all this contrivance, here are some breasts. Thank you to the producers for finally getting to the heart of the matter.
I’ll also found at least three other reasons for reflection in this episode (this blog is basically now my own personal reflection journal).
First, the clip of Brad making out with someone (Bianka maybe?) in which, just for a moment, his right eye opens and he looks back at the camera that is watching him make out. If I’m going to watch people make out, I’d like to be able to imagine that they are not aware of the fact that I am watching them make out. (If I ever run for political office, that’s the sentence that will be clipped for the attack ads.) And not acknowledging the general presence of cameras, except when recording those personal testimonials, is probably something like the first rule of reality television. That fleeting glance from Brad made me feel awkward and weird. And I’m pretty sure only the people in front of the cameras are supposed to feel that way.
Second, Whitney’s declaration that if the other ladies weren’t as willing as she was to pursue Brad then maybe they weren’t there for the “right reasons.” Being there for the “right reasons” is the second commandment of reality TV competition. In this case, presumably, Whitney meant being there in order to fall in love with and win the heart of Brad and then live happily ever after. Of course, this is completely insane. There are only two reasons to ever agree to appear on the Bachelor: to get on TV and to possibly have some relatively harmless fun in the process of getting on TV. Within the “reality” of the Bachelor, that reasoning would make you a terrible person who was not there for the right reasons. But in reality, those are the only reasonable explanations. Possibly this explains why Whitney has been struggling as the show has reached its conclusion: she has begun to realize the bizarre nature of her existence and is now slipping into a profound existential crisis. I bet in the season finale she ends up just laying on the ground blank-faced like those people in the music video for Radiohead’s Just.
Finally, Stephanie, the model/neuroscientist. Who? Exactly. Did you know there was a model-slash-neuroscientist on this show? There was. Honest. She was eliminated after two episodes. She appeared again last night, only I don’t believe she actually said anything. So a model-slash-neuroscientist—note: she also apparently speaks five languages—was placed into a reality TV dating competition and subsequently disappeared without making any impact of any kind. How is this even possible? Shouldn’t she have been able to last longer on resume alone? In what weird version of reality is an attractive neuroscientist casually dismissed? For that matter, why is a model-slash-neuroscientist even on this show? Am I to believe that a model-slash-neuroscientist has a hard time getting a date?
I want to know so much more about Stephanie. I want her to run for Liberal leader. I want to pitch CBS a one-hour drama about a model-slash-neuroscientist who solves crimes. I want a public inquiry into how this woman managed to pass through this show like a smart, accomplished, attractive ghost.
Maybe she’s dreadfully boring. Or maybe she explains everything about the reality of the Bachelor’s reality.
To: Colin and Aaron
I really like that Colin’s take-away from the bachelorette tell-all episode is boredom and Aaron’s is boobs. You don’t often see those go together. To this list, I’ll add bullying, though with a caveat.
The Bachelor Canada is a “truly made in Canada fairytale,” host Tyler Harcott says. It’s true. Far from the hair-pulling barn-burner the preview promised, the lesson at the end of this polite, if strained, reunion episode seemed to be that everyone is beautiful on the inside and outside and sorry about all the previous name-calling, eh?
Even rebel bachelorette Melissa Marie couldn’t muster up anything worse than a complaint that Brad was a disappointing choice because “He’s nice, but there’s a lot of nice guys out there.”
The episode was at its most wholesome when it sought to deal with Gabrielle, one of our favourite Bachelor Canada villains. A montage of the Oakville native’s time on the show saw her tell the cameras: “Yeah, a lot of skanks around here” and “Whitney, she’s the kind of girl guys would throw some dollar bills at and she’d come running.” The bachelorettes and the audience growled and turned to her, and Laura F. piped up that she thought Gabi was a production plant the first night at the mansion, because “Who comes in and stirs up that shit?”
This is where things would have gotten real on Jersey Shore, or even on Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Instead, Britney gently interjected to settle the matter, with the gravitas of the Queen. She told Gabi that the things she says are not facts, they’re opinions, and it’s bullying when she behaves that way. “I do love you. I do. It’s just that some of the things you say can be mean.”
AND EVERYONE CLAPPED. The epic showdown was over. It lasted maybe two minutes. This ultimately happened each time one girl came under fire —even Whitney, Britney said, is someone she admires because of her strength. AND WHITNEY WEPT.
So here’s my question. If we all love each other deep down, and understand that Gabi is just insecure when she bullies and Whitney is maybe just an aspiring actress, why are we dragging them in front of a live audience for this girl-on-girl hate?
Here’s what Tina Fey’s character from Mean Girls would have to say about it: “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores.”
Let’s move on to the final episode and see what Brad’s family make of Bianka and Whitney. I think we’re all ready for the sober second thought of a Senator.
By Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 4:14 PM - 0 Comments
The fantasy date episode: Brad hunkers down with three finalists (on three different nights) in the Maritimes
To: Aaron, Colin
It’s all fun and games until Canada’s Prince Charming turns into a toad.
Bachelor Brad Smith, who has espoused the virtues of commitment and communication for weeks now, handed roses to the exact two girls he has identified as being emotionally closed off and perhaps not ready for a serious relationship: Whitney and Bianka.
Kara, my mascara streams down my cheeks with yours.
It’s safe to say most viewers went into this week’s episode expecting that after Whitney’s cold and calculating side was exposed during the home visits last week, she was going to be the one sent packing Wednesday night. (Well played, you crafty reality TV producers you, well played.) Exactly no one was going to miss her. That included, it seemed, Brad: “I can’t be with someone who’s emotionally repressed and that’s what I get from her.”
By Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 12:19 PM - 0 Comments
And so the truth comes out. Or part of it, maybe.
To: Sonya, Aaron
And so the truth comes out. Or part of it, maybe.
During the week of home dates, where Brad met the final four girls’ families, there was a moment. Sitting at a small dining table in Calgary, Whitney’s dad looked across and asked Brad whether he could see his feelings for Whitney growing beyond where they were at that moment. He even uttered the words: “Look me in the eye.” Which we all know is man-talk for Listen Buddy, I Am Very Serious Here Now. And Brad just straight up said Yes, either because he is an amazing liar (doubtful) or because he genuinely felt he could be with Whitney for the long haul. Either way, it was emphatic. And did Whitney maybe feel the same way? Err… <”There was awkward silence, awkward tension.” — Whitney, 2012>
By Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 12:09 PM - 0 Comments
Only four women left–one of whom scares our panelists–in the struggle to win Brad’s heart
To: Sonya, Colin
Well that was a heavy hour and a half. After a preview of the tears to come, it took about 12 minutes for somebody (Britany) to start crying this week. Britany then confessed to Brad that her father had suffered from depression and alcoholism and that as a child she worried about him killing himself. Brad then confessed to Whitney that his best friend had killed himself in university and another friend had died in a boating accident a year later. Then Chantelle’s father called to say her grandfather had died and she decided to leave the show to attend the funeral.
There was also a trip to Paris, in which Laura B. was left behind after being lectured on her insecurity, and a rock climbing adventure that almost made Brad vomit. And then Brad bailed on the rose ceremony. And somehow, having started last week’s episode with 12 women, we ended this week’s episode with only four.
By Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 3:32 PM - 0 Comments
What we learned about life and love in this week’s episode
To: Colin, Aaron
It’s week three, and Brad and his bachelorettes have settled into a nice little routine of planning dates, going on dates, or if all else fails, lying around the mansion talking about dates.
Fair enough – they’ve been pretty spectacular events. Brad took a second girl (Kara) up in a helicopter this week to go cow wrangling in Alberta, and showed off his baby daddy potential when he flew five girls to Mexico and bequeathed soccer equipment onto underprivileged kids. Brad also convinced six bachelorettes to compete in some sort of lumberjack Olympics that gave Whitney the chance to flex her bicep and drop jaws across the nation. Mitt Romney, don’t put this woman in a binder.
By the end of the episode, I’d reached the following two conclusions, which I will defend until the end of my days.*
1) Brad “The Bachelor” Smith is actually a pretty great guy, even with the v-neck t-shirts.**
2) But, there is more going on in the bachelorette mansion than meets the eye, and herein lies Canada’s great opportunity.
By Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 2:08 PM - 0 Comments
So many questions. No. 1: Why?
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To: Sonya, Aaron
“I’m finding it harder than ever to manage eight women.”
— Brad Smith
To be fair to Brad, handling eight people—men or women—vying for your attention in a small champagne-soaked hotel room in New Orleans, only hours after each of them has given you a private burlesque performance would probably be a bit much for anyone to manage. And to his credit, under the circumstances, he seemed to deal with it fairly well—all episode, in fact. He even managed to deal with Melissa Marie P (for ‘Playboy,’ presumably)’s unstoppable barrage of impatient attempts at getting him into a very serious and heavy conversation about how much he, the Bachelor, does or does not want to love parenthood.
By Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 12:30 PM - 0 Comments
One bachelor, three critics, countless possibilities
Sonya Bell, Colin Horgan and Aaron Wherry discuss the finer points of The Bachelor Canada — in Horgan’s words, “the Iliad and the Odyssey and Wuthering Heights and Sense and Sensibility and the Great Gatsby all rolled into one … but different.”
To: Colin, Sonya
As all high school textbooks will soon be edited to reflect, there are two pivotal dates in Canadian history: 1812, when the land that would become this nation was valiantly defended against American invaders in one of humanity’s odder conflicts, and 2012, when this country valiantly rebranded as its own one of America’s greatest contributions to 21st century humanity.
Not only did we get to keep the Northwest Territories, but now, with the debut of The Bachelor Canada, we can claim one of the last of a beleaguered America’s great institutions. Without even needing to invade, we have successfully conquered the continent.
For those unfamiliar with The Bachelor, the premise is perfectly logical: a contestant seeking true love is presented with a couple dozen members of the opposite sex, several of whom he will make out with and one of whom, in theory, he will marry. Over the course of several weeks impossibly elaborate dates are had and, one-by-one, the women are eliminated (the weekly elimination involves an ancient pagan ritual known as a “rose ceremony”). This whole process is regularly referred to as the “journey.”