Saturday, April 30, 2005

Why are people afraid to be out in public by themselves?

There are pet peeves, and then there are totally inexplicable quirks of human nature that make me think I must be the crazy one. I'm remembering a conversation with an ex just now..

a: “Just watched [some movie], it was pretty good, you should go see it.”

c: “That's cool, who did you go with?”

a: “Me.”

c: “You went by yourself?”

a: “Certainly, I don't find sitting in a dark room staring straight ahead to be a multi-person activity.”

c: “But you stick out like a sore them when you go to the movies by yourself!”

Why are people so insecure? Are they afraid that if they go somewhere without a cushion of other people that everyone will automatically assume that they have no friends and no one likes them and they must be a pretty awful person? Is that what they think of people who are out by themselves?

There was a game they used to play in my residence called 'assassins' which actually rewarded this little pathology, in fact it nearly required it. You were always protected from the person who was assigned to kill you if you were travelling with someone else who was also playing. This required that portion of one's brain that could have gone to curing cancer or writing a great novel to be filled with the names and locations and movement patterns of all the people in their social group, and to map out how to avoid having to do anything independently. ‘Be a good member of the herd,’ was the message.

The other fate worse than death for a fair few residence kids was to be seen going down to the meal hall by themselves. Despite the fact that you would certainly find tables full of your housemates already there, it was that minute-and-a-half walk down that made all the difference.

I sometimes think what people are really afraid of is that if they stop chattering for 2 minutes they might actually get the beginnings of a thought in their heads, and the resulting shock would throw their entire world out of order.

One last observation.. the conversations I've had with random people sitting at the bar when I go out tend to be orders of magnitude more interesting than the ones I overhear between groups of people sitting at tables, who universally seem to be gossipping or just complaining. Last night I had conversations about US politics, the international currency market, British history and the battle of Waterloo, art and painting and organic farming and veterinary medicine. Why? Becuase I said hello and talked to the people who weren't wrapped up in their little cliques.

Now, why am I complaining? By my description it actually sounds like a win-win situation.

By al - 12:30 a.m. | (5) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, April 29, 2005

Attention Whoring?

So I took the Ultimate Livejournal Quiz and replaced 'livejournal' in the questions with 'blogger' just to see how I compare. It's pretty sad. And by ‘sad’ I mean ‘awesome’.

The Ultimate LiveJournal Obsession Test
CategoryYour ScoreAverage LJer
Community Attachment37.63%
There's something special about you. Every once in awhile, one of your topics gets everyone chatting.
An expert on multiple-choice questions, an whiz at the cut-and-paste
Original Content66.13%
Newsweek, People, and aloneill's journal
Psychodrama Quotient28.92%
Known to go off without warning
Attention Whoring29.55%
You do a little dance whenever someone friends you

By al - 5:16 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Yeah, I Know. . . .

Yeah, I've been meaning to post. However priority wise, posting messages on a blog fall pretty low compared to work, filing my taxes, grocery shopping, and managing my budget. I guess D&D takes equal priority, so I was doing a bit of that last night :-p

I've been taking a Linux internals course at work this week. I could make some kernel puns related to task scheduling, pre-emption, interrupts, and time-slices, but I think even Al would lynch me. So I digress.

I was up until 2am watching a DVD. Took a while to get it to work properly on the laptop though. Couldn't get PowerDVD to display the subtitles and as I don't enjoy watching anime dubbed, that's a problem. After fiddling around with PowerDVD (it no work), discovered how much Windows Media Player sucks at playing DVDs (it sucks... hard!), downloaded a trial version of InterVideo DVD player. That one works, but it installs spyware and attempts to install a bunch of other crap like the Interactive software crap. As I have ZoneAlarm installed, everytime I start it up, I see it trying to call home. Windows Media Player 9 is pretty bad though. It tries to call home whenever it's done playing a media file (it's really frigging annoying). I was pleasently surprised that the disc works fine under Xine and Linux.

Counting the weeks until the construction guys break ground. For those I haven't mentioned this too, I'm building a house in Moncton. Yay for me. I'll post more about this later. In the meantime, ETA on ground breaking: about 2 weeks.

I think I figured out how to fix my linux/webserver problem. Involves some partition juggling/formatting/data moving, but the end result should be proper placement of my web data, more space for my user directory, less fragmented data. . . . and you guys don't give a rat's ass about what I'm talking about do you?

By Ming - 12:20 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Al Random Nonsense

My name in Arabic is الكسندر باترك اونيل. I have no idea what each of the letters mean, but I do know that it is read from right-to-left.

By al - 7:10 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

WFMU - I've Just Found My Radio Station

Wow, I just heard back-to-back on WFMU's stream a death metal song, "Unas, the Slayer of the Gods" by Nile and the traditional American folk song "Lazybones" by the Mills Brothers. How cool is that? Gotta respect a DJ with as much musical ADD as I have and the freedom to indulge in it.

And before that he played a song from an album of punk song covers by Slayer. And before that a song by the Cramps, which followed a traditional Iraqi song called 'dance of the palms'.

The DJ is now saying how death metal is great to work by, because the 'cookie monster growling' vocals aren't distrcting and the drumbeats keep you caffeinated.

Speaking of metal at work, a guy in the office who is typically very into jazz music got into my iTunes shared yesterday and was really loving my Master of Puppets album. He's a bass player so I'm assuming Cliff Burton's bass lines in songs like Orion and Sanitarium stood out.

By al - 6:33 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Wondering where everyone is? Al Mr. I post all the time. Then the rest of us. Including me don't post enough. I think we need to crazy this place up a bit.

A little story for the enjoyment of the population.

A friend of my from high school got together on Tuesday night. Decided to go to the grave yard and take pictures of the creepy grave there. My roommate got the coolest one in which me, my friend and my sister all look like ghost fading into the back ground.

end of story!
Okay bad story...But it is a post, bad grammer and all!

Now just need to figure out how to post pictures :S
too lazy.
Going to make cookies instead of trying to figure this out.

By Sabrina - 9:42 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Google Maps Sightseeing: Charlottetown Waterfront Boardwalk

By al - 2:12 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The ATC's Giant Anatomy Man

The ATC's Giant Anatomy Man

Lord knows why, but this poster, which is probably about 10 metershigh, has been hanging on the wall of the Atlantic Technology Centrefor the few months that I've been working there and likely longer thanthat.  I have no idea what it's for, who made it, or why it's still up,but my guess for #3 is that it cost someone a fortune and they don'thave anytihng to replace it with if they did take the thing down.

So we have our friend staring at us whenever we walk up the circularstairs where the centre of the building is cut out up to the roof.  I think a future career in the print graphics business is looking like agood choice.

Update: I wonder if he's related to this guy:

By al - 9:23 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Turn it Off

I wonder how many people these days will know the meaning of 'white dot'. I only know because my parents never saw the need to get a new TV when the one they got as a wedding present, with the dials to change channels and rabbit ears, still worked perfectly well.

By al - 3:16 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

MSN Conversation of the Day - Pearl Jam Edition

al Says:
you know what makes me laugh? that robert smith and morrissey hate each other

al Says:
just got this in my emailbox from tenclub:

al Says:
In anticipation of their upcoming studio release, Pearl Jam along with the Ten Club are proud to announce a 15 city tour of the great country of Canada. The tour opens on September 2nd in Vancouver, B.C. and ends up in St. John’s Newfoundland on September 24th. The Ten Club pre-sale starts

al Says:
today April 25, 2005 and ends Monday, May 9, 2005, at 5:00 pm pacific time.

Jussy Says:
holy fuck dude........whats the closest to us!!!??

Al Says:
still reading

Jussy Says:
al..........tell me u are getting tix please god please

Al Says:
just about to click 'order' on the halifax pair of tix for Hali. on Sept. 22

Object now or forever be coming to PJ

Jussy Says:
NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARRRRRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

Al Says:
Your Order was processed Click here to return to the main site.

Jussy Says:
. . . . . . . ./ / . / / / / EHGEHRERDHOGERDF

Jussy Says:

Jussy Says:
did we just get tix to pearl jam!!!!!???!!!!!!

al Says:

Jussy Says:
................i'm stomach is doing flip flops.

jussy. says:
OWNED!@!!~~ says:
OWNED!@!!~~ says:
jussy. says:
OWNED!@!!~~ says:

By al - 2:05 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Walk in the Park

Rowena taking my friend Berna for a walk in the park.

Meeting with one of those scary little sweater dogs.

By al - 12:58 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, April 25, 2005

Technorati Tag-Spamming a New Problem

Hmm.. noticed that the Technorati tag for 'dogs' has no useful pages, just a bunch of spam from a site with 0 incoming links. Looks like they should tweak their tag aggregator to filter out link farms and other such nonsense, if they want to be useful.

Technorati Perhaps a requirement for a minimum number of incoming links (elitist! they cry), or a mechanism to tag a blog as bogus or not human (anti-botite!).

Perhaps they could limit the number of posts from a single source in the aggregation (if there is enough other posts to fill out a page.) On the other hand, myself and Robert Paterson seem to monopolize the 'PEI' tag, because other people don't seem to use it as often.

Technorati does have a lot of potential with their tags system, if they can make the results pages usable, and can offer, say, RSS aggregation of a tags page without charging money for it (following the rule that you shouldn't charge for something that would take someone else 15 minutes with a PHP editor to clone, you'll only lose goodwill).

I've been thinking that a good and well-used tagging system would be a better replacement for CityFilter, which is now mostly some guy's Bloglines subscription writ large, because it includes posts by Islanders about everything, rather than posts about PEI or some aspect of Charlottetown specifically. (not a slam, just that I preferred the old MetaFilter-style format because the content was focused.)

So if, say, 30 people used the 'PEI' or 'Charlottetown' tag regularly, a person could load up the Technorati aggregation page for that tag and get a good idea of what's happening around here from the perspective of bloggers, rather than a bunch of posts about what some set of people had for breakfast that morning.

But there seems to be some work needed to smooth out the edges in Technorati's tags implementation first.

PS. To start using tags on your own blog go here, bookmark the link and when you choose that bookmark, enter your tags. Then press Enter, and the html code will be shown. Press ctrl-c to copy this, and paste it into your blog post. (or if you have a blog that supports categories you are probably good to go already.)
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By al - 1:46 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Man vs. Poodle

I'm pretty sure I am smarter than my poodle, Rowena. Unfortunately she has the advantage that her entire life revolves around me, so she has 24 hours a day in which to think of ways to outsmart me, while I can only devote a few minutes at a time to teasing and befuddling her. So the human vs. canine battle of wits isn't as lopsided as one might think.

She's lately become quite attached to the blanket I gave her to sleep on. Now if she sees me walking towards it she'll rush ahead of me to plop down on it before I take it away. This means, of course, that there is a challenge afoot.

Some things I've done to her blanket when she doesn't get to it in time:
  • Rolled it up and tied string around it. She managed to slide the string off and unroll it.
  • Put it under the coffee table. She will sleep on the floor next to it, stick her head under it to at least be touching it, but she won't move her blanket (moving things is not something she's allowed to do. She's actually a really well-trained dog, so our battles of wits are within the context of her training.)
  • Rolled it up and put one end of it under the leg of the couch: She used it as a pillow.
  • Made it into a tent. She wouldn't sleep under it, but tried to lean against it, which knocked it down, and she had her blanket back.
  • Put it under a mat. She didn't mind this at all.
  • Any time I put it out of reach she doesn't try and grab it. Good dog. I'll not do that anymore.
Most of the time I'll just drape it over her like a shroud, usually she won't even make an effort to creep out from under it. If I had tried that with my cat she'd have been across the room, halfway up the wall and ready to jump down at me in a dive bomb attack in the time it takes the dog to get that 'oh dear, what now?' look.
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By al - 12:24 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Duplex for rent in Charlottetown

Doing a bit of whoring for my parents, who are looking for tennants for this duplex on Churchhill Ave. in Charlottetown. Rent is $600 / mo per side plus heat (about another $100/mo over the year). Not a bad place. Also, if someone wouldn't mind living with me we could go in on one side together. (there's 2 bedrooms plus one other quite small room upstairs.)

Some pics and movies here: Link.

Email me if you're interested (aloneill blat gmail blot com).
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By al - 6:51 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wintersleep @ The Wave, April 22/2005

Just a few pictures from the show last night. Wintersleep were good, the sound wasn't the greatest, guitar and bass were a bit hard to hear clearly. The drums came out loud and clear, though, and since the drummer is the best part of that band all was well.

Wintersleep @ The Wave, April 22/2005

Wintersleep @ The Wave, April 22/2005

Wintersleep @ The Wave, April 22/2005

Now, Wintersleep were supposed to close the show, and my nemesis Grand Theft Bus (who have a nasty habit of opening for bands that I actually want to see) were supposed to be the opening act. But GTB insisted that they should go on last, giving some idiotic explanation about it being the last show of the school year and wanting people to be dancing at the end of the night.

Oh well, on the bright side it meant I could leave. As did quite a lot of other people.
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By al - 2:25 p.m. | (5) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, April 22, 2005

By the Numbers

For those of you keeping score at home, here's the current makeup of the House of Commons:

Liberal: 131 (not counting the Speaker)
Tories: 99
Bloc: 54
NDP: 19
Independents: 3 (Chuck Cadman, David Kilgour, and... wait for it... the redoubtable Carolyn Parrish)
Vacant: 1 (Labrador, left vacant by the death of Lawrence O'Brien)

So the Tories and the Bloc, together, have exactly 50% of the sitting members of Parliament... but then the Speaker would break the tie. In other words, assuming the NDP won't vote to bring down the government (as Mr. Layton implied), one of the three independents has to vote with the Bloc and the Tories.

I am currently giggling with how-the-hell-did-this-happen glee at the possibility of Carolyn Parrish getting her revenge in the most glorious way possible.
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By al - 3:10 a.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Word: Music Surfing

Music Surfing: v.: To listen to all of the 30-second samples from an album on the iTunes' Music Store Another great way to inflame my Nerd Attention Defficiency Disorder.

It's similar to the part in Microserfs where the housemates, who all work for Microsoft, don't have the time nor the attention to watch a movie the normal way, so they turn on the closed captions and watch it on fast-forward. Similarly you can get the gist of an album by hearing some key 30 second passage of each song.

The thing is, with an album like Weezer's blue album I have the thing pretty much memorized anyway, so all I need is the little cue and I'll have the song in my head completely anyway. So the result is the same.
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By al - 10:18 a.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

New PopeTM Better than ever

So Joseph Ratzinger, the guy who called immigration and liberalism the biggest threats to the Church, is the new pope. This should be a good shot in the arm for the (Episcopalian) Church.

But let's cool it with the Nazi jokes. Just because the guy was forced into the Hitler Youth and then conscripted into the Wehrmacht does not make him a Nazi.

Think about how ridiculous the Nazi comparisons are.

Ratzinger served as JPII's right hand man and butt boy for 25 years. No real Nazi would serve under a Pole for that long. And no real Nazi would have let them have a Holocaust memorial in the Vatican.

That's just stupid and simple minded.

The Catholic church is way, way, way older than the Nazi party and has a far more sophisicated body of reactionary doctrine than some idiot racist party that lasted 15 years.

(photo found at Jesus' General.)

Update: More good old fashioned heresy over at the Fem-Tube.
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By al - 2:26 p.m. | (6) comments | Post a Comment

Staying Humble: Card Trick-weilding bartender: 1 - 2 computer programmers: 0

Oh Jesus if this wasn't sad, I couldn't quite figure out the whole trick back to front so I didn't say anything when the bartender at Baba's showed me a trick where you deal out 26 cards, face up, then place down cards such that the first card plus the number of cards you put down after the first card adds up to 10, and then deal out a number of cards he tells you to.

The trick is, the fancy addition bit is a distraction, and the showing him the first half of the deck should ahve made it obvious. The only thing the addition does is to make sure you cycle back through half of the deck when he tells you to count out some number of cards. (say he pays attention to the fourth card you dealt at first, he would count the number of cards it took you to add up to 10 3 times, and then subtract from the whole deck to tell you to count that many cards until you hit the one he remembered.

Me and another girl who was apparently an Oracle programmer and had started programming in 8088 assembler couldn't figure that damn thing out.

No excuses, either. I suck. And it's all based on the oldest trick in the book, misdirection.

Penn Gillette should come kick my ass.

By al - 1:35 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, April 18, 2005

Rock Snob Snub?

There's a new kid on the blogging block, the darling of all the popular kids, claims to be the ‘official home of rock snobbery on the web.’ But something feels completely hollow about them, including what I've read of the book they're hawking in the 'sample pages' section, Entries from The Rock Snob*s Dictionary. Once I'd read the whole of their site, admiring the sharp writing and good site design, the thought occurred to me: I don't think they like music.

What I found missing was any love for the act of listening to music, no exultation in the sheer joy of plopping on a pair of headphones and rocking out. No writing about what makes music good. What I did see was gossip-column-worthy bitchiness about once hip bands doing un-hip things and a lot of meta-rock-criticism. Now, while rock writers certainly deserve to have the air let out of them, the general blog hubbub is labelling this a music writing site, and I don't think it is. And I think perhaps anyone who falls for this false premise, that is 'for rock snobs' has fallen into a classic internet trap.

My next though was “Have I been trolled?” A troll, a true troll and not the overused catch-all message board insult, is a venerable USENET practice more accurately known as 'trolling for newbies', where someone calculatedly makes statements designed to trick a newcomer into revealing his lack of knowledge on a subject.

Similarly, and perhaps this isn't intentional, I believe anyone who calls a site about music, rather than a satire of music writing, is revealing the shallowness of their own love for music.

The reason I got so worked up about this little site is that I was actually hopeful that I had found another good music site, and one that embraced the true nature of rock snobbery. The first thing that I looked for after reading the blog's month of posts was what other sites it linked to. Scanning down the list, I noticed one glaring omission, setting off alarm bells: NO FUCKING ROCKSNOBS.COM.

If you don't know, go there and check it out. You might (probably will) disagree with most of the opinions there, but that's because they're real opinions, from a real music fan, and not the carefully refined reflection of some indie-hipster zeitgeist.

Now, why would a site claiming to be the 'official home of rock snobbery' miss such an obvious kindred spirit? To think that they don't know about it is silly, what do you think the first domain name they tried to get was? sure as hell isn't anyone's top choice. It's like one of those lame suggestions hotmail will give you if you try and claim an address that already exists.

So my guess is that the people behind know that if a reader were to encounter real rock snobbery, their house of cards would flutter to the ground faster than one could say 'Nick Denton media empire'. doesn't have professional designers, illustrator credits or a PR machine, and it is not not not in existence to sell anything.

What I really think The Rock Snob's Dictionary is is a mirror held up to the music journalism world to show the sad uniformity of the generally accepted opinions of various personalities and movements in the world of rock and roll. But that wouldn't explain the adulation they are getting in the blog world. I'm continually trying to figure out if it's a joke or not, and if it is, how many layers out is the number of people linking to the site that are in on it?

Now, I believe they have managed to break most, if not all, of the Rocksnobs Rules of Etiquette, most blatantly Number Six: "Rocksnobs should always feel free to stand up and say, "Yeah, I listen(ed) to _____, so what?""

This has got me in the mood for more tearing up of the indie set, but this post is getting long. I do plan on e-mailing DragonAttack (I bet the people won't even know where that name comes from) and asking her opinion, and I'll post the response here if I get one.
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By al - 12:45 a.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Laugh of the day

Decided to go to the Frosty treat in Kensington today. So I dragged my sister and her husband to K'town. I got my usual small Reece’s pieces flurry with chocolate ice cream and companions got their usuals too. Sitting on the wood step between the dairy bar and the gift shop we were enjoying our ice cream before we wondered over to see my aunt's. Then we heard it, loud and thumping and soooo familiar. If you live in Canada you have probably hear it...if you live in the Maritimes mostly like you would recognize it. If you are from PEI there is no escape (but that is okay).

Two young guys in a car supped up to look like a sports car, and lots of amp were flying down the road playing Stomping Tom, their windows down. I was in the middle of a bit of my flurry and almost lost the precious ice cream. There was a momentary stun before I could swallow and laugh. OH PEI I where I live and have roots you are my home and undeniably a strange little red island, with funny little inhabitants. They make me laugh and wonder. Why ask what is out there? When really we should ask what is right here?
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By Sabrina - 12:43 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Animation Show 2005

If you are in Charlottetown and haven't seen The Animation Show 2005 at City Cinema yet, go see it. I was smiling through the whole thing, something which only really good music and creatively-done animated art can do to me.

Short descriptions of each of the shorts are here:

(Some of these are from Vol. 1)

The ones that I loved the most were:

Ward 13” (Trailer) - a stop-motion story of a car accident victim trying to escape from an insane hospital where the doctors are all trying to kill him. It's as well-directed and sequenced as any action film, and the pace is constant. The claustrophobic indoor shots make you wince when the protagonist flies around a corner in a wheelchair or is cornered by a cthulu-like fellow patient.

When the Day Breaks” (Clip) - This is why my heart will continue to race when I see the National Film Board of Canada logo. The white background and pencilly-looking drawings seems to be a common theme among Canadian animation artists, probably the most famous example of that is “The Man Who Planted Trees” (The original story is online, read it if you haven't. It will bring tears to your eyes.) What made this one so great was the rotoscoping of the actors, who managed to convincingly act out how a humanoid rooster or pig might move, and then the way the film was transferred from VHS to 35 millimeter which gave it all a very eerie, not-fully-there look. Beautiful.

Also, the sound was so incredibly detailed, where you could hear the humming of the alternating current going into a toaster to the mundane sounds of every day life. It gives you the impression that these are events that really did happen, but you are seeing a dream-like representation of the visuals. You could close your eyes and get a perfect impression of the story.

The F.E.D.S.” - This is rotoscoped animation in the style of Waking Life, depicting the jobs of those people in the supermarket who offer free samples. What I noticed about this was that the two 'customers' in the film are not given full stature as humans. Where one of the food service people who wears glasses has her eyes drawn fully behind them, a 'customer' who complains about the name is drawn with opaque, reflective glasses that obscure his eyes. Another customer, who asks annoying questions and takes too many free samples, is never shown from the front. Even though the food service people are drawn with different colours, from blue to light green, while the customers' skin is close to their presumed actual skin tone, seeing the full facial features of the protagonists gives them a much more empathetic representation.

Just like Waking Life, if it wasn't for the animation techniques, the subject matter would have put me to sleep.

A running theme through most of the shorts was a lot of violence. Violence in animation is nothing new, of course, ever since SteamBoat Itchy we've known that it's funny to watch animated creatures get hurt. This new style doesn't shy away from the consequences of violence, though, with a dog dragging his dead master home after his walk in “Guard Dog” to the nearly true-to-life image of an accident we see in “When the Day Breaks”, while it still made me laugh, this was more of the 'I'm laughing but you probably aren't' kind of reaction.

Anyway, go watch this, and I'm definitely getting the DVD of Vol. 1.
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By al - 9:45 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

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