Your NetFlix Fix: Another Free Month of NetFlix Up For Grabs!

Sign up for a free month, and you too will happily strum your guitar!Based on the positive response and good volume of traffic to the last time I did this, I’m putting it up again. NetFlix has sent me four free trial month cards, and they’re up for grabs for anyone who’s interested! As before, I don’t know if these codes are reusable (I assume they are) and I don’t get anything in return for passing these out. Well, aside from a little bit of traffic, and maybe a few new readers. And that works for me.

So here’s your NetFlix Fix:

You need to go here to sign up. ( in case the link doesn’t work for some reason.)

And you need to use one of the following codes:

  • M74162026215
  • M57814578885
  • M41920954495
  • M37078264715

You have until October 31, 2007 to get your fix. Enjoy!

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Global Warming: Saving The World One Hippie Jamfest At A Time

Hippie Jam Fest, Portuguese StyleFirst it was Bruce Willis. Now it’s the Arctic Monkeys (website). Finally celebrities and musicians are starting to make sense. It’s scary. What the heck am I talking about? I’m talking about a growing number of famous folk that finally realize that celebrity does not equal an advanced degree in medical science. Or political science. Or climatology. It’s the “I only play one on TV” concept that was once obvious to everyone, but in recent years has become uncommon sense.

In a recent article, Matt Helders, the drummer for the Arctic Monkeys had this to say when asked for his news-worthy thoughts on Global Warming / Climate Change / Honey-I-think-the-thermometer’s-broken:

“There’s more important people who can have an opinion. Why does it make us have an opinion because we’re in a band?”

A-fricken-men, Mr. Helders! There are more important people who can and do have an opinion. An opinion based on careful research. They’re called scientists. I don’t mean to diminish you in the slightest as a musician or a person (I really do like “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”). I just want to say I love it that you choose to focus on your abilities on creating catchy tunes, where they’re best suited. And while you do that, I’ll focus on programming websites for security firms, insurance companies and banks, because that’s what I do. And you know what? The scientific community will be OK diagnosing and resolving the problems that arise in their sphere of expertise. Remarkably well, even without our considered opinions.

That quote alone makes the article worth reading. But it gets even better. He also points out the irony and hypocrisy of the Live Earth concerts that keeps his band from attending:

“It’s a bit patronising for us 21 year olds to try to start to change the world… Especially when we’re using enough power for 10 houses just for (stage) lighting. It’d be a bit hypocritical,” he [Matt Helders] told AFP in an interview before a concert in Paris.

Bass player Nick O’Malley chimes in: “And we’re always jetting off on aeroplanes!”

Yep, it’s a massive concert series promoting, among other things, reduced consumption of power and resources. Featuring some of the largest power consumers on the planet. Of course, the this particular concert, according to the website will implement “Green Guidelines”, but will those musicians commit to following the same guidelines in their future concerts? And you’re telling me all the people attending the concerts get there by bike or bus? That green is starting to turn a little brown if you ask me.

Call me cynical, but I don’t see the point to this concert. Like the massive hippie jam festival in the classic South Park “Die, Hippie, Die” episode (see partial clip below), it’s a great excuse for people to get together, drink, smoke, socialize and listen to music, but it what exactly does that accomplish? (I’m not saying any of those activities are bad, mind you!) It’s not spreading awareness, hell, you can’t turn on the TV or radio without hearing heated debate on Global Warming. Every time something even slightly unusual happens with the weather these days, somebody brings up Global Warming. If anything, it’s diluting awareness. People like me are already tuning out on the subject.

“Let’s have, like, a week long music festival. Draw everyone here and then together we can tear it all down.” (6:30)

The beautiful deceit of the whole thing is, musicians continue to do what they were doing already (playing music at concerts and scoring with groupies) but now suddenly they get automatic kudos for “trying” to save the planet. (From a marketing stand point, its pure genius.) Well if that’s all it takes to save the planet, I call a Live Earth Bender! It’ll take place the last week of August, and I encourage everyone to go out and get plowed for a week. (Yep, I was already gonna do that on my previously mentioned road trip, but hey, now I’m spreading awareness, man! Instant Karma!)

OK, I hope nobody reads this as a Global-Warming-is-bunk post. I have my doubts, but I think it’s smart to hedge our bets and take the greener path whenever practical. (I hate fluorescent lights, but we’re using the compact fluorescents at home. The sacrifices I make… 😉 ) And that’s about as far as I’m going on it. I’m not interested in debating the topic, it’s too much like politics now. And politics is one of the three forbidden subjects for this blog. (Religion and the Great Pumpkin are the other two.) And as I mentioned earlier, I’m just apathetic.

However, you might not be. Being the fantastic blogger I am, I anticipated that possibility. So if you are interested in an extremely well-reasoned discussion of the topic, I invite you check out Scott Adam’s four-part Global Warming mini-series on the Dilbert Blog (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4). As apathetic as I am on the topic, I even found it interesting. You may not agree with his conclusions, but you have to give him kudos for a very fair, thorough handling of the subject.

I guess it goes with out saying that Matt Helders is one cool monkey. 😀

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Aaron Pierce And The 24 Spin-Off We Want

Under-Appreciated 24 StallionWe’ve finally done it. We’re a bit late, but given we only started during the recently finished season, it’s an accomplishment. (Well, as much as watching TV can be considered an accomplishment. 😉 ) This weekend we finished the final hour of the whole 144 hours of 24 (IMDB). That’s every episode of the whole 6-day series.

If you haven’t seen the series yet, I recommend setting up your TiVo to start picking up episodes. Or better yet, you could do it my way: Queue up the series back to back in NetFlix. (NetFlix is my Tivo, I just can’t justify paying for both services at the same time.) Either way, you’ve got a lot of edge-of-your seat entertainment ahead of you. I’m kinda jealous.

It’s safe to say that 24 is my favorite, non-animated, television series that’s still running. (Now that The Sopranos (IMDB) is over.) Even when plot lines of several of the seasons became dangerously similar, and I was sure I could predict the outcome, a twist or two would send the plot off in a complete new, fascinating direction. Heck, the show was so engrossing, that my wife, normally an early-to-bed, early-to-rise person, would stay up until 4 AM with me watching the episodes back to back.

But I don’t want to dig deep into the many story lines and thoroughly review the series. It’s been done by people who love the show more than I do, and have way more time to burn. What I want to talk about is the 24 spin off that my wife and I think might make for thoroughly enjoyable show.

Before I get to that, lets start with the characters that should not have a spin-off. I keep hearing people say how much they love Chloe. I agree with the sentiment. She’s great, and hopefully, she’ll be with the series until the end. But Chloe is like Thai chili peppers (Phrik Khii Nuu to be exact). A little of her adds a good amount of spice to the show. A whole show dedicated to her would melt your eyes and char the frontal lobes of your brain. You know I’m right.

And I’m pretty sure most people are very, very tired of seeing Bauer’s daughter Kim in the show. I know, I know, she is fun to look at, but her character is just far too accurate. And by accurate, I mean annoying. Annoying in that way that only angst-filled, know-it-all kids can be. (I don’t care what her age is supposed to be in any given season, she is always the same pain-in-the-ass kid.) In any situation where she was in danger (which was any and every time she appeared in the show), my wife and I would find ourselves yelling “just shoot her!” at the bad guys with slow trigger fingers.

That pretty much covers all the potential spin-off characters. All the other good candidates are pushing up daisies. (That is, if there was enough of them left to bury.) Well, all except one. The character we both really, really liked: Aaron Pierce (Glenn Morshower). The unassuming, ethical, tough-as-nails secret service agent that appeared unglamorously in every season of 24. (The only character other than Jack Bauer to do so.) Always near and closely guarding the current president, his performance in the show stood out. As we were finishing up Day 5 of the series, my wife and I determined that we’d really like to see more of him in action. Heck if Law And Order and CSI can have something like 90 spin offs (Law And Order: Apartment Security. CSI: Branson, MO.) why not 24? How about “24:SS” or “24: Secret Service” with Agent Pierce in the Jack Bauer role? (Don’t worry Kiefer, you’re always welcome to cameo!) Or maybe dispense with the 24 format completely and make a show about the Agent Pierce’s experiences in the Secret Service?

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “that’d be as fun to watch as paint drying.” Possibly, if the wrong people do it. But keep in mind, 24 doesn’t have room for two Jack Bauers. Agent Pierce simply can’t be as exciting or engaging as Bauer without stealing the show. (And at points he almost does in Day 5.) Given his own show, it could be every bit as action packed as 24, or alternately, the producers of such a show could substitute more elements of drama in place of some of the action. Either way, I think that it could be a great show. And if it helps get it made, I’ll even commit to watching the first season. (Hey, that’s more than generous, I’m not flush with spare time here.) 🙂

And because lists are fun, here’s a list of fan sites dedicated to Aaron Pierce, who, if asked, would probably agree that he deserves his own show:

Of course, in keeping with my previously mentioned attitude toward actors and celebrities, I’m not likely to join “The Glenn Morshower Society”, or start hanging posters of him up on my wall. However, I’ve added him to the list of guys who are welcome to join me for a fine cigar in celebration of a fine bit of acting any time they happen to visit Atlanta. On me. (I don’t have a formal written list yet, but the cast of the Sopranos is on it, as is Harrison Ford, Sean Connery and of course, Kiefer Sutherland.) No kidding. I have a some Ashton VSG robustos on their way even as I type. Drop me a line, and I’ll pencil you in. 😉

And for those of you that prefer buying to renting or TiVo-ing, here’s a handy list of the seasons currently available on DVD via Amazon. (I know, I’m so terribly helpful, huh?)

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Catch The Perfect Innuendo And Flying Hillbillies With Crowbars

It’s a weekend, so your already low expectations for this blog must be lowered a bit further. But, hey, at least I’m posting stuff. The same can’t be said for many bloggers (including myself usually).

So anyway, I’ve been laughing at this ad for a while now. Watch it and see if you catch what I think is so funny.

If you don’t see it, here’s a hint: In keeping with my love of creatively exploitative children’s names, I shall slap my first child with the moniker “Perfect Wave One”. (Because the previous 97,366,238 waves missed the mark, and were therefor, imperfect.) 🙂

Sigh. As much as I really tried to keep this post superficial, I couldn’t help but stumble onto some interesting background information this ad. It seems the college research paper-writer in me just couldn’t help but investigate. According to Alex Wade, a British surfer and freelance writer for Times Online, the main character/narrator of this ad is based on real person he refers to as “Paula the Surf Mom”. (As luck would have it, she has a blog too, and is very much aware of the ad! Yep, that post confuses me too. ❓ )

I don’t know anything about Paula the Surf Mom, but I disagree with Mr. Wade’s assessment that we can “readily infer” that the oldest of the kids getting out of the car is the main character’s “partner”. Until I read the post, I assumed this was another sad baby-boomer ad who’s underlying message is you will still be hot and irresistible to young, horny surfers, even if you have nearly adult children, so long as you drive a Lincoln.

I had another hysterically ridiculous commercial I wanted to embed in this post. It’s for a Georgia-based company named Builders Surplus. (I’m linking to the website purely for education purposes. This how NOT to make a professional website.) If you’re from the Hotlanta area, you probably know what I’m talking about. It involves a redneck with a crowbar, random breaking of glass and culminates with a flying “Yee Haw!” If you happen to have it, please upload this gem to YouTube. The world needs to see it! (And I need to write sarcastically about it.)

If you do, I’ll send you a cigar. I have a bunch of Ashton Maduros robustos left over from a dinner party turned herf my wife and I threw a couple of weeks ago.

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Oh Boy! Stars: They’re Just Like Us! (Who Cares?)

Why God, why do people waste synapse power on celebrities?Yesterday was a first. The first time I ever cracked open a US Weakly Weekly magazine in my whole life. Somebody left one laying on the floor of the stall in the men’s room. (I think whoever left it there missed their target by about a foot.) Being the adventurous sort, and having time to burn, I flipped it open.

The first thing I saw was several pages of famous woman vs. other famous woman wearing the same gown. The question, in clown-sized crooked font on every page was, “who wore it best”? I’ll spare you the specifics, because what it really boiled down to who had the nicest rack and shapeliest backside. And if neither had either, whoever had the best bone-definition won the day. Of course extra points were awarded to contestants who found a way to reveal more airbrushed skin than their opponent. Fascinating. Absolutely worth $3.49. (Coincidentally, I got a offer in the mail yesterday for another magazine that focuses purely on this sort of figure comparative-analysis for only a dollar an issue. A buck an issue! A steal, you say. You may have heard of it, it’s called Playboy.)

OK, so a bit pointless so far, but not yet annoying enough to stop. Well, I didn’t make it much further through the magazine before I hurled it down in disgust. The next several pages were pictures of famous people doing the mundane things that everybody else does all the time. A gnarled, weathered looking Ricky Schroder pushing a shopping cart. A platform shoe-elevated Eva Longoria buying junk food from a street vendor. Josh Hartnett sporting a serial killer mustache as he jogs under a rain cloud of his own sweat. And of course, it isn’t a story, without the right headline. (That is if a collection of pictures with a single sentence apiece can be considered a “story”.) And that scarce text gem was “Stars- They’re Just Like US!”

Well, no shit. Which is exactly why I don’t see the point of this magazine. I almost think they’re having a joke at their reader’s expense with this. Perhaps thinking “Ha Ha! Just look what you paid us for! Nothing! Who’s your daddy!” I really hope that’s what’s going through the editors mind even now, as he lights up a cigar and has a hearty laugh. Because I can get behind that kind of evil. But I have my doubts. In reality, I’ll bet the editor is probably an aging baby-boomer with a surgically-stretched face who is actually proud of this “article” and is deeply concerned about what Eva Longoria buys at a street vendor.

Probably the biggest reason I’ll never pick up this magazine again is that I don’t like seeing pictures of celebrities being unglamorous and normal. I don’t want them humanized. Celebrities work for me. (And you too, probably.) Their only job is to memorize lines and recite them in believable ways that imply sincerity and/or emotion, as applicable. Well, that, and look really good. That’s all I pay them for and that’s all I want. What they do in their spare time is their business. What they think about religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin is also their business. This kind of information just spoils the movie magic. When I’m watching Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I don’t want to waste even a synapse on Robert Downey Jr. and his trouble with narcotics. I want to just enjoy the movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate celebrities. Quite the opposite. I like celebrities professionally. Many of them do a fantastic, entertaining job of pretending to be somebody else in movies and TV. And it doesn’t bother me that they make millions doing what they do. I like actors with a good track record of great performances in entertaining movies. Once that track record is established, I’ll probably see any movie or TV program in which they star. But when the credits roll, the relationship is over. The transaction is complete: I’ve paid for my ticket, and you’ve delivered the goods. You’re not entitled give me your opinions on life, the universe and everything, and I’m not entitled to see your intimate moments with a shopping cart. And I love it that way. I wish everybody else did too.

However, if you do happen to be the type that enjoys seeing celebrities fueling their cars and taking out the trash, do I have a deal for you! For a mere twenty-five bucks, I’ll take a picture of myself, wearing a Hollywood disguise (hat and sunglasses- fake nose and mustache extra) doing very boring normal things in my neighborhood and send it to you. Hell, I’ll even autograph it for you! I mean, hey, my blog is literally read all around the world, but at least a dozen people a day. If that doesn’t make me a celebrity, I don’t know what does! But you better act fast, once I start appearing in US Weekly, it’ll be too late! 😉

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Sucker-Punch Sopranos Sunday

Antoni Gaudi’s Sun MosaicSunday beat me up something horrible. Like a guy with and overdue debt in the back alley behind the Bada Bing, I went to bed last night hurtin’. But not for the reason you might think. I wasn’t experiencing physical symptoms resulting from getting emotional over end of The Sopranos. Oh sure, I watched it. I wouldn’t miss it. A team of wild dancers from The Bing couldn’t keep me from it. (I think. I’d really like to test that theory to be sure. 😈 )

What had me down and out, more worthless than Homer Simpson at a nuclear power plant, was the sun. Did you know an afternoon drinking in the sun is the express train to a fantastically horrendous hangover? It may also surprise you that high SPF sunblock is not an adequate barrier between you and the ol’ temple jackhammer. Somehow, I forgot these important life lessons as I floated there on Lake Lanier smugly puffing on an Ashton Maduro #10 and knocking back Old Scratch Ambers. (That’s a pretty awesome combination, I might add. Minus the sun on my formerly pale skin, that is.)

So I had already been worked over by the time I was lying listlessly on the couch in front of boob-tube, double-fisting cold-brewed coffee (a subject for another post) and tankard of ice water. Lemme tell ya, in that scene where Tony walks in the hospital room were Silvio lies comatose, I really identified with Silvio. So it was, with squinty eyes, a cranium in an invisible vice, and lots of fluids I watched the final episode of the Sopranos.

But before I get into what I thought about the Sopranos series finale, let me just say, I called it. Well, sort of. I really saw one of two likely scenarios happening, based on the second to last episode. In the first, and probably most popular scenario, a giant, bloody massacre, reminiscent of the gangland slayings back in the prohibition era. While that might have made for some amazing cinematography, with intentional visual effects to clue the audience in on the timelessness of mobster violence, it really seemed unlikely to me.

These guys are no dummies. The head honchos of both sides kept low profiles, they both knew that a face to face confrontation would be one neither of them would walk away from. So an Italian restaurant full of well dressed Italian men shooting each other was really unlikely. Tony’s team had already holed-up in two story house, so you knew it wasn’t gonna go down in The Bing either. If the series was going to end bloody, the second to last episode would have been the last. Leotardo‘s goons screwed up. To win it they had to hit Tony first and then Silvio instead of wasting time on Bobby. Whacking Bobby first was like screaming “Yo Joe!” right before your sneak attack on Cobra’s headquarters: stupid. Fatally stupid.

So the other scenario, and the one I expected, was the Tony-lives-and-life-goes-on (or Tony-wins) scenario. And as it turns out, I was right. As I mentioned in the discussion for the bloodbath scenario, both bosses are smart guys. It just turns out that Tony had better connections, which both gave him Leotardo’s whereabouts and got him out of hot water. In the end, it probably was his counseling-enhanced diplomatic skills that saved his bacon. There was a reason that study was brought up in the previous episode.

OK, so what did I think of the end? I thought it was great. I liked it for a number of reasons. And I’m gonna give ’em to you in list form.

  1. It pissed a lot of people off. And that makes for a lot of fun reading. Mr. Chase essentially said, “Hey, this is my show. It ends how I want it to end. You gotta problem with that?” Yes, a lot of people do! But nobody can accuse the guy of being a sell out. 🙂
  2. It was unexpected (by people other than me). And I kept looking at the clock and thinking things like, “OK, Tony, you just gotta make it another 8 minutes.” I was pretty sure I was right, but I had to keep watching to be sure. It could have turned on a dime.
  3. It leaves the door open for a movie (or future episodes). This is the real reason I wanted it to work out the way it did. I didn’t want this series to end, and I like the idea that there could be a Sopranos movie on the horizon. (I don’t know how well the show would translate to a movie, but I still like the idea.) Or better yet, the series could be resurrected, bringing us back to items #1 and #2.
  4. It was consistent. Nothing about this story was ever clean, or neatly tied up with a bow. It’s been a dirty mess since before episode one and is still a dirty mess after the final episode. I watched this final season wondering how on earth they were ever gonna tie everything up. But as the show stomped forward, ignoring things unresolved, it became clear to me that it couldn’t realistically be done in one episode. Nor would there be an attempt to.
  5. It made a boring meal at a restaurant the most tense and talked about thing on TV. If you weren’t tense watching the final scene you were on something. And whatever that was, it was probably illegal.

As one of the articles I read roughly said, you get the impression that life continues, but you can’t watch it happen. And that is really pissing a lot of people off. People like Nikki Finke, who thinks people should express their lack of approval for the show’s final episode by pulling their HBO subscription. Talk about entertainment, peoples’ angry reactions to the show is possibly more entertaining than the show itself!

Oh yeah, one last thing. The second sucker-punch of the day. The abrupt black screen. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I was caught off guard by that. (My cable service is pretty crummy, so it wasn’t the first time my screen went black during the Sopranos.) When the screen went blank, you would have thought somebody spoke out of line in the back office of The Bing. My wife and I in unison yelled “OHHHH!” 🙂

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The Transformers Trailer You Haven’t Seen

You haven’t seen this preview for the Transformers movie for a couple of reasons. 1.) It’s not part of the move and 2.) It wasn’t made by anybody working on the movie. But don’t let that deter you. Watch this, it’s awesome.

Michael Smith and Joe Mangione Transformers Animation

So what the heck is this then, if it isn’t from the upcoming Transformers movie? It’s the hard work of several people including one Michael Smith who badly wants to get a job with Industrial Lights and Magic (or possibly with the people working on the upcoming movie or any sequels to it). And frankly, after watching the clip above, and this clip on MSN Soapbox, I want him to get that job too.

[UPDATE: Where are my manners? Thanks Scott for the for the heads up on this! If you like these video clips, spread the word and get these guys a job! And consider making a donation to Scott’s Team Hanselman and the fight to eliminate diabetes! ]

Want to know more about this guy and his work, check out his website. Or better yet, check out his Transformers page and get the latest word and video clips!

Want to compare Mr. Smith’s (and crew!) Transformers to those in the actual movie? Here’s the trailer for your viewing pleasure:

Transformers Live Action Movie Trailer

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Air Trumpet? I Call Bullshit

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or in a country with an ultra-repressive government sporting a Virtue and Vice Ministry (which is kind of like living under a rock) you’ve likely been exposed to it. If you live in the United States, and you watch any television or even pass through a major city on your way to work, you’ve seen it. You simply can’t escape it. It’s the manic, flailing-haired, iPod-bearing, convulsing silhouette. And there’s no apparent cure. But I’m not interested in curing you. (If you’re infected, that’s your problem.)

Like the slick little MP3 player, the commercial seems to be tremendously popular. Probably every ad that has ever been shown on TV has made it to YouTube, with titles and comments indicating that each new one is much better than the previous. Bullshit. Each new one is the same thing, with different music and different background colors. But that’s not what this post is about.

What I’m really calling bullshit on is the “Air Trumpet”. (I’ve trademarked that term. Wanna use it? It’ll cost you. But we can come up with a reasonable payment plan.) Of all the instruments you could pretend to play, the “Air Trumpet” is only slightly more likely than the “Air Tuba”. (Also thoroughly trademarked.) Does anybody really play air trumpet when they’re listening to jazz? Or anything else with a prominent brass section? And before you correct me on this, you need to know that I’ve eliminated actual trumpet players from consideration. They actually have a reason to wiggle their fingers.

Offending iPod Commercial (“Air Trumpet” at about 0:22)

What makes this even more ridiculous is that I’ve seen the air trumpet in at least two iPod ads, the latest (above) and another I couldn’t find. (Actually I got too sick of watching iPod ads to finish my pursuit.) What I don’t see is air guitar. You know there’s a lot of that being played behind locked doors to music being cranked out of the iPod. Way more than air trumpet. So I’m calling bullshit there too.
You know what really bugs me about these commercials? The narcissism. I have no time for narcissism other than my own. (OK, and in some blogs I read, but they have the added benefit of being amusing/funny.) It’s irritating to have somebody other than myself making a scene in my living room. I want to reach a silhouetted hand into the screen and tap them on the shoulder. When the figure momentarily halts his epileptic fit, I lean in with my silhouetted head and whisper, “you know, you look like a complete idiot dancing by your self like that.” I envision myself talking to Mr. Stompy-Dance in this video (about 9 seconds in):

And the worst thing about this popular silliness is that it inspires lesser mortals to make (huge, labored sigh) their own iPod commercials. And that invariably involves acting out an old Barenaked Ladies song while while walking on a treadmill or standing on a desk in your socks. View at your own risk. There’s a reason this one carries the prestigious one-star designation. (Safe for work, but not safe for your mental health.)

But surely, you say, there’s one of these innovative commercials you like, Brian. Oh yes, there is. But probably not one that CrApple sanctions:

You’ve been serrrrved! (Still don’t know what it means, but it seems like such a great way to end a post.)

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