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Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Month End Report: April

Theme: Docu-Rama

Number of Twitter Followers: 108

Kurt Vonnegut Books Read: Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat's Cradle, Hocus Pocus

Next Two I Plan to Read: Breakfast of Champions, Slapstick

Or: Whatever is available at my local library.

Thoughts on the Liberty Bell: You wait in the security line longer than it takes to look at the bell. And that's all you're allowed to do: look. You can't ring it or give it a kiss or rub your crotch on it. The whole experience is fairly lackluster.

A record of the foods I ate while visiting Philadelphia: chicken fingers, pizza fries, 1 pierogi, a room-service Philly cheesesteak platter (w/fries, popcorn, molten chocolate cake), breakfast quesadillas, home fries, and an orange cream smoothie.

ETA for New Podcast: I'm hoping to have the first few episodes up this month. I'm listening to the unedited versions now and laughing my ass off.

New Podcast Name Revealed: The Power of Prayer Hour

ETA on Quinn's Arrival: 7 more Golden Girls Mondays

Next month: All sorts of crazy crap! Oh, a new theme...but not really!

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

What the WTF?!?: To be or not to be...the dumbest Chinese dude ever fair Shanghai, where we lay our scene...

For those of you who don't already know, in roughly a month-and-a-half, I will become the father of a beautiful baby girl. How do I know she is going to be beautiful? Well, first off, she's gonna be half-Asian, so how is she not gonna be gorgeous. Secondly, she'll be mine, quite literally a part of me, probably the best thing I've ever had a hand in making ever. Of course she's gonna be beautiful to me. I'm not a monster!

But I've had 32 years on this planet and I know what young girls are faced with on a daily basis: countless TV ads screaming about the life-scarring horror that is teenage acne; magazines full of seemingly internal organ-less fashion models; Hollywood celebrities with impossibly plump tits, lips, and asses. There are a lot of things out there in this big bad world specially handcrafted to make girls feel bad about themselves. That's a pretty scary truth to take in and I don't envy my female brethren.

As a guy, I can honestly say, I don't really give a rip. Sure, I could stand to take off a few pounds and, yes, I am losing my hair (well, the hair on my head--my ass remains a thriving jungle habitat), but I know I'm not going to have the rugged good looks of a Crispin Glover, or the sexy physique of a Carrot Top, or the gorgeous locks of a Jeremy Piven if I don't put in the work. And I'm not willing to put in the work. That's all there is to it. I don't know if it's because I'm a guy or because I've accepted my schlubby lot in the life, but I don't regularly get down on myself about my looks. My wife thinks I'm handsome and let's me have sex with her on a regular basis and that's all that matters to me.

Proving this month that the male species isn't totally immune to societal pressures when it comes to physical appearance, Zhang Yiyi, a Chinese author, has decided to drop $153,000 on plastic surgery that will transform him into the spitting image of English playwright William Shakespeare. No, really:

Zhang Yiyi will undergo 10 face-lifts in 10 months to look like Shakespeare so as to 'let the people across the world mourn' one of world's greatest writers and dramatists, reported Shanghai Daily.

Zhang will have to get checkups every month after the surgery, said China National Radio.

The Chinese author has a sculpted face with a sharp nose and deep eyes and has some resemblance to Shakespeare.

Zheng Churong, a surgeon, said the surgery will be for the eyes, chin and other parts of his face.

Zhang, who will meet the surgery costs through royalties he earned for his new book, said: 'Life is a process of striving to become a better person. I think the surgeries are worth the money.'

The process of choosing which beloved, world-renown writer Zhang would have his face pounded into was not an easy one, and you may be surprised to find out that "The Bard" was not his original choice. Here is a short list of just some of the other famous author's Zhang considered having plastic surgery to resemble:

-Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea; The Sun Also Rises)

-John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath; Of Mice and Men)

-Stephen King (The Tommyknockers; Gerald's Game)

-David A. Aaker (Managing Brand Equity; Brand Portfolio Strategy: Creating Relevance,
Differentiation, Energy, Leverage, and Clarity)

-Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Hocus Pocus; Cat's Cradle)

-R.L. Stine (Brain Juice; Return to Ghost Camp; the Fear Street series)

-Kilgore Trout (Maniacs in the Fourth Dimension; Oh Say Can You Smell)

-Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends; Runny Babbit)

-William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch; that book about drugs)

-Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino (Here's the Situation: A Guide to Creeping on Chicks,
Avoiding Grenades, and Getting in Your GTL on the Jersey Shore)

-Hans Christian Anderson (The Little Mermaid; The Situation's New Clothes)

-C. Dale Brittain (The Wood Nymph And The Cranky Saint; A Bad Spell in Yurt)

-Dr. Seuss (Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories; Hop on Pop)

-George Eliot (Silas Marner; Middlesitch)

-James A. Champy (The Arc of Ambition; X-Engineering the Corporation, Reinventing Your Business in the Digital Age)

-God (The Bible; Here's the Situation: A Guide to Creeping on Chicks, Avoiding Grenades, and Getting in Your GTL in the Land of Milk and Honey)

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Docu-Rama Film Festival 2011-Film #4: Obscene (2007)

It's hard to imagine people getting, as my mother would say, "up in the papers," which is a strange phrase I'm fairly certain she made up but swears is a real thing and I think is roughly equivalent to "up in arms," about books, specifically content that could be viewed as obscene. Every once in awhile a religious fruitcake will complain that Harry Potter is a Satan worshiper or that a children's book about a classmate with two mommies has prompted his five-year-old daughter to question her sexuality, but for the most part people lay off books. Hell, a lot of people don't even read books. Libraries have become the last bastion of horny old men looking to scope a little midday porn. And e-book readers are crap. That's just a personal opinion however, as I have never been face-to-hard-to-read-face with an e-book reader and probably never will. I like the feel of a book in my hand, the smell of the pages, the crack of a new spine. Books are a source of great joy for me, and I still hold onto the hope that I will one day be a published author and hold my very own copy of my very own book in my hands.

What do people complain about today? Movies? You don't hear too much about theaters being picketed anymore unless its by fringe, gay-hating religious cults (Westboro Baptist Church; Catholics). Magazines? Bookstores and news stands do a decent job of keeping unsavory periodicals hidden from impressionable youth. TV? Not really. Networks are so frightened by the possibility of being fined by the FCC, they largely pussy out when it comes to edgier fare. What form of popular entertainment is left? Radio? You didn't seriously just suggest that people listen to radio, did you? Omigod, were you, like, born in the 1980's? Gah!
Believe it or not, people used to lose their shit over books, novels like Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer. Obscene tells the fascinating story of the man who published these, as well as many other, sickening tomes in America, Barney Rosset, founder and former owner of Grove Press and Editor-In-Chief of the Evergreen Review. Rosset spent his life publishing the books he loved, throwing caution to the wind. It paid off on the one hand, as he made available to the American public important works by authors such as Samuel Beckett, William S. Burroughs, and Tom Stoppard, among many, many others. He published many of the Beats. He was also responsible for bringing obscure, anonymously-penned Victorian erotica to the masses. I'll let you decide whether or not that was a good idea on your own time.

Where this philosophy didn't pay off were the resulting and expensive court cases to defend his right to publish what he liked. Sure, Rosset won some important cases, but he took a significant financial hit that has left him a far-less rich, but cheerful, old man today.


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Monday, April 25, 2011

Movie Penguin Monday: #2. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

[This week, another classic from the Movie Penguin vault. Enjoy.]
In his first inaugural address, Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke the immortal words "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It was an inspiring message for a country going through tough times. Unfortunately, it is also complete bullshit. There are plenty things to fear aside from fear itself: brain cancer, suicide bombers, complete economic collapse, nuclear holocaust, poisonous snakes, the depletion of the ozone layer, Bigfoot attacks, death. You name it, someone is probably afraid of it. Former model and chat show host Tyra Banks is afraid of dolphins, for God's sake. She once told People magazine, "I've been afraid of [dolphins] ever since I was 8 or 9. I have dreams that I am in a pool and there are dolphins bumping me and I'm frightened." A week ago I admitted to having an irrational fear of ventriloquist dummies. I don't know if it's their creepy humanish eyes or their sassy rhetoric, but I just don't trust them.

When you think about it though, FDR was right, I mean, if we spent our lives in constant fear we wouldn't get out of bed or leave the house or get together with our friends at Applebee's for neon-colored cocktails and fried cheese sticks. We'd be a nation full of sissies hiding under our beds, whimpering and inhaling dust bunnies. You can't let fear stop you from getting out there and mixing it up, grabbing life by it's tanuki-sized balls and shooting for the stars. C'mon, citizens of Earth, let's grab fear by its lapels and tell it where to go. I declare an end to all irrational fears! Get your ass to Sea World, Tyra! You really are missing out. They put on some wonderful shows.

You know what? I will allow one irrational fear to remain in the hearts and minds of the human race: the fear of clowns. What drives a man to paint his face white, affix a red rubber nose to his fleshy human one, put on canoe-sized loafers, and prance around comically for the so-called amusement of others? There is something lacking in the soul of a clown, something broken. I myself am not afraid of clowns, but I know plenty of people who are, and I understand why. Clowns seem unstable, both mentally and in their personal lives. They always have a sinister grin stretched across their face no matter what. And what does it say about a man or woman who decides to make clowning his/her profession, his/her life? That he/she loves children? No. Enjoys making people happy? Not really, because has a clown ever made you feel happy really? Think back to your childhood. Do you have a lot of clown stories? Joyous clown memories? Do you keep a scrapbook of great clowning moments you've experienced throughout your life? I'm guessing no.

You want to hear my clown memories? 1) The movie version of Stephen King's IT. Remember Pennywise? There's a fun clown. 2) The demonic clown decal I once saw spanning the entire rear window of a young Hispanic man's car. I don't know how he slept at night knowing that thing was waiting in the garage. 3) That episode of Mtv's True Life where the poor girl has to live in a house with two parents who force their clown lifestyle on her friends. Those two have got to be the worst parents in America. Stupid clowns!
All I'm trying to say is that I fully understand why some people are terrified of clowns. Is there a way to cure oneself of this fear though? After all, Tyra faced her fears by swimming with dolphins and I've confronted my fear of ventriloquist dummies by becoming inexplicably obsessed with movies and stories about killer puppets. What can the victim of clown trauma do to purge his soul?

How about a viewing of Killer Klowns from Outer Space? It does feature some of the most hideous clowns ever committed to film. If you can withstand 88 minutes of mutant space clowns, you can handle any clown that crosses your path guaranteed. Allow me to describe the plot in way more detail than the film deserves.

Like every good sci-fi horror film, our story starts at Make Out Point (referred to as Top of the World in Klowns). Mike Tobacco (?) and Debbie Stone are preparing to make out in the raft (?) Mike keeps inflated in the back of his SUV, when something that resembles a comet flashes overhead. Debbie suggests they drive over the hill and find the shooting star and Mike reluctantly agrees. Instead of finding a crater, the lovebirds discover a circus tent in the middle of the forest. Mike, being the adventuresome douche that he is, suggests they go inside and take a look around. The circus tent turns out to be a UFO filled with rotating doors, buttons that make goofy noises, and an entire room lined with cotton candy cocoons containing the withered corpses of Mike's and Debbie's friends and neighbors.

And who is behind this frightful plot to turn the citizens of Earth into cotton candy cocooned carcasses? Clowns, or rather Klowns, a race of alien beings whose appearance is that of your common Earth clown. It's not enough that these aliens look like clowns however. No, the Klowns have adopted all sorts of pointless Earth-clown accoutrement for their sinister purposes. Along with Cotton Candy Cocoon Guns, the Klowns also wield Popcorn Guns, weapons that pretty much just shoot popcorn everywhere. It gets in your hair and sticks to your sweater. It's annoying rather than deadly. The Klowns also use the delicate art of balloon animal building and shadow puppetry to track and murder their victims. After they are discovered by Mike and Debbie, the Klowns spend the middle portion of the film causing comical havoc, like this:

And this:

Meanwhile, Mike and Debbie ask Dave Hanson, a local police officer and Debbie's ex-boyfriend, and surly Officer Mooney for help. Mooney believes the whole space clown invasion story is an elaborate prank hatched by the Terenzi brothers to sell more ice cream. Dave takes some convincing, but after finding a car at Top of the World covered in cotton candy, he joins Mike in his crusade to stop the clowns. Klowns, dammit! Sorry.
Debbie, who Dave has forced to stay home while the men go clown hunting, discovers the true nature of the popcorn fired at her in the Klown's spaceship when the kernals from her hair come to life, chow down on her dirty laundry, and turn into Klown snakes. More Klown invaders show up at her house, encase her in a balloon, which unlike the cotton candy cocoons keeps vicitims alive, and high tail it to the local amusement park. Dave, Mike, and those wacky Terenzi brothers join forces to save Debbie and defeat the Klowns.

Just as before it is easy to infiltrate the Klowns spacecraft and Dave and Mike go about the task of saving their mutual beloved while the Terenzi brothers make-out with two female Klowns, one of which has inflatable breasts that grow right before our eyes. It is strangely erotic and I found myself aroused against my better judgement. I've showered since viewing Killer Klowns and I still feel dirty.

Anyway, our heroes are chased through the State Fair style funhouse that is the Klown's spaceship and eventually come face to face with a giant Klown I'm going to call Klownzilla. Klownzilla tosses the Terenzi brother's rented ice cream van (with the Terenzi brothers aboard, I might add) as if it were a garbage bag full of Kleenex across the room and it explodes, (possibly) instantly killing both Richie and Paul. Klownzilla stomps around and snatches Dave up King Kong-style and Debbie and Mike escape, meeting the state police in the amusement park parking lot as the circus tent UFO takes off for home/another planet to terrorize. Inside, Dave stabs Klownzilla in the nose (the Klown's and the movie's weak spot) and he explodes, taking the ship and every Klown in it with him. Dave miraculously survives however, as do the Terenzi brothers (ugh), and everyone embraces lovingly. Then for some reason the three leads get covered in pie goo and The Dickies terrible "Killer Klowns (from Outer Space)" song plays over the end credits.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space is pure, undiluted, over-the-top, B-grade schlock and, therefore, has earned it's rightful place as one of moviedom's most enduring cult classics. There is nothing about this movie that makes sense or even tries to and that is what makes the whole endeavor glorious. There is a terrific scene in which Dave, Mike, and the Terenzi brothers discuss the possible motivations behind the Klowns' invasion of Earth. A concrete decision is never reached during this conversation or during the movie. And the reason why these alien clowns are wrapping us in cotton candy and sucking our blood is not important. What matters is that there is a character named Mike Tobacco. What matters is that two clowns trash an area drugstore and find themselves confused by simple Earth products such as shaving cream. What matters is that there is a giant Klownzilla! This movie delivers crazy after crazy on top of crazy and never lets up. And unlike other run-of-the-mill alien invasion pictures, Killer Klowns doesn't make you wait forty-five mintues to catch your first glimpse of the alien. We get Killer Klowns about ten minutes in followed by wall-to-wall killer Klown hijinks until the very end. Killer Klowns is dumb, but it's fun and all the Klowns blow up at the end, and that's all people really want from their clown-themed horror films: hundreds of dead clowns.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

What the WTF?!?: Not Cool, China!

Good luck: we all want some. But how can we get our hands on a thing as intangible as luck? Some people spend an entire football season clad in the same unwashed underwear. Others perform an elaborate series of rituals akin to the actions of a confirmed mental patient. Even otherers find their luck in talismans such as four-leaf clovers, discarded horseshoes, and severed rabbits feet.

And what, pray tell, is the latest trend on the talisman front? In China, it's live turtles sealed inside bags of urine-colored goop! A gooey bag of tiny fish is also available for individuals who would rather not watch a turtle slowly die of asphyxiation, but rather, two tiny fish. What the WTF, China?

These sadistic keychain vendors--oh, yeah, I forgot, these death bags are keychains!--are raking in the yen faster than they can imprison tiny animals in bags of "nutrient rich" goo for a couple of reasons:

1.) China has notoriously lax animal cruelty laws. The manufacturers would probably shove a baby monkey into a slime-filled novelty keychain if they could find a Ziploc bag big enough. Well, maybe not a monkey. I guess it depends on the whole "luck factor," like, how much luck having a baby monkey hanging from your car keys would bring an individual. Which leads me to point number...

2.) The citizens of China are slaves to superstition. I mean, that's how it looks anyway, as these lucky keychains are top sellers. As long as the people are buying them, the lowlifes behind the scenes are gonna keep cranking 'em out.

Sick. Get yourself together, China! For fuck's sake!

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Docu-Rama Film Festival 2011-Film #3: Marwencol (2010)

How would you deal with a horrible personal tragedy? I don't mean, like, you accidentally shrunk your favorite concert t-shirt in the wash or the city shut down your favorite Olive Garden for repeated health code violations. I mean serious, for real tragedy. Like, for instance, a horrific beating that left you brain-damaged. Imagine five drunken creeps literally kicking the memories out of your head, leaving you half-dead in the streets. A ruined Rocksimus Maximus Tour shirt doesn't seem like such a big deal now, does it?

On April 8, 2000, Kingston, NY resident Mark Hogancamp was brutally beaten to near-death by five drunk animals outside of a local bar, apparently because he mentioned his affinity for wearing women's shoes. Hogancamp spent nine days in a coma and forty-plus days in the hospital after waking up. After leaving the hospital--or, rather, being kicked out as he could no longer afford his stay--Hogancamp was forced to relearn the simple skills we all take for granted. He could no longer hold a regular, 40-hour-a-week job and the bulk of his pre-beating memories had been wiped clean. Through several volumes of journals he'd kept as a barely functioning alcoholic, Hogancamp learned that he had kind of been a self-hating, self-destructive asshole when he drank. The new Mark Hogancamp, however, was all about love and sober-living. And dolls.
After finding that the therapy options open to him were less than helpful, Hogancamp decided to blaze his own trail of healing. In his backyard, Hogancamp created the fictional town of Marwencol--located somewhere in Belgium and, until Mark's alter-ego's arrival, populated entirely by beautiful women--and documented it in photographs. In Marwencol, Hogancamp owns the most popular bar in town, as well as, a one-of-a-kind "cat fight" club; is married to a beautiful woman named Anna; and lusted after by a sexy, green-haired witch with a time machine. And though the SS is constantly trying to find Marwencol and take it over, the citizens--Hogancamp, the ladies, soldiers who have wandered away from the Front and found themselves in a place largely-untouched by the savagery of war--always band together to defeat their nefarious plots.

The documentary introduces viewers to Hogancamp, a likable guy who smokes like a chimney and wears ladies shoes, and allows him to recount some of Marwencol's most harrowing tales, two of which involve Hogancamp's handsome counterpart being abducted by the SS, tortured, and saved by Marwencol's quick-thinking women. We also witness Hogancamp's introduction to the New York City art scene, following him on a rare journey outside of Kingston to a gallery show in Greenwich Village. Hogancamp's story is sad, but inspiring, and his fantasy world, which he admits many times to liking more than reality, is an amazingly beautiful place. Seriously. I want to vacation in Marwencol this summer.


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Food Porn Friday: Wawa Italian Shorti w/ tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, pickles, oil, vinegar, mayo & mustard

This, my friends, is the sandwich they serve in Heaven. Right there at the ol' Pearly Gates. "Welcome to Heaven. Here's your harp and here's your hoagie."

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Food Miracles!

By now I assume you are all familiar with the Kate Middleton jelly bean (see above picture if not). The image is pretty self-explanatory, but here's a quick rundown of the story behind this miraculous item: some dude in England found a jelly bean that vaguely looked like the future Princess of Wales and decided to put it on eBay, with a starting bid of roughly 800 American dollars. And there you go. You're all caught up and we can move on to the comedic business that will make up the bulk of this post. Ready? Let's do it.

What you may not know is that I, Matt Lawson, am an avid finder and collector of just such miraculous edibles. I've been collecting for years, starting when I was 10 and I was served a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza with what looked like the image of Sammy Hagar--the Red Rocker himself--fashioned out of pepperoni slices on it. I devoted my life to searching for more foods with images of celebrities, historical figures, and religious icons on them. Here now, for your reading pleasure, is a list of just a fraction of the miracle foods that can currently be found in my growing, largely rotting, collection.

1. Jesus-shaped soft pretzel from a Detroit Tigers game.
2. Kenny Loggins image on an un-toasted English muffin.
3. Dorito shaped like Tyler Winklevoss' head.
4. A ketchup stain that sort of looks like Bea Arthur.
5. Summer squash that resembles Martin Short's Ed Grimley character.
6. Artie Lange's image stamped onto a tortilla.
7. Frito corn chip shaped like June 2003's Playboy Playmate of the Month, Markéta Jánská.
8. A pancake half-eaten by Nicolas Cage that kind of resembles Dame Judy Dench.
9. A BBQ-flavored Pringle shaped like Kryten from Red Dwarf.
10. Two fused peanuts that resemble filmmaker Martin Scorsese and Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson sharing a milkshake.
11. A gourd shaped like that actor from The Blind Side. You know the guy. The big, black guy. Him.
12. Judy Garland exposing her posterior to Marvin the Martian stamped onto a tortilla.
13. Maury Povich-shaped Slim Jim
14. An animal cracker shaped like Joseph Merrick.
15. Current Speaker of the House John Boehner's portrait seared into a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.
16. Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster riding a fire-breathing unicorn with rocket launchers attached to her hooves stamped onto a tortilla.
17. Luis Guzman-shaped Chips Ahoy.
18. A half-bag of flour shaped like Joy Behar.
19. Kevin Bacon-shaped piece of bacon

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Wednesday Morning Music: The Kelly Family-"Ain't Gonna Pee Pee (My Bed Tonight)"

There aren't enough songs with positive messages anymore. Good on ya, Kelly Family.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Movie Penguin Monday: #1. Christmas Evil (AKA You Better Watch Out) (1980)

[It's time you all found out: I'm discontinuing Movie Penguin. But don't fret! Dry your eyes and perk up your sad ears. I may be ripping a blog out of your life, but I have no plan to stop writing and posting snarky, long-winded, spoiler-filled reviews of weirdo movies. Mondays at Giant Electric Penguin are now MOVIE PENGUIN MONDAYS! At first I'll simply be re-posting some of my favorite reviews from the old site, reviews you may not have seen or actively avoided when they first appeared. So, here it is, the first ever entry in our brand-new MOVIE PENGUIN MONDAY feature: my favorite Christmas movie of all-time, Christmas Evil.] Last Sunday, I drove to my local mall to visit SpookyTown Depot, my very favorite seasonal Halloween superstore. My plan was to purchase a couple of half-priced Kate Gosselin wigs and a zombie clown mask (don't ask). Upon reaching the mall though, I encountered something most unexpected: a long line of children and their parents waiting not-so-patiently for some lap time with one Mr. Kris Kringle! That's right, Santa had already set up shop at the mall and it was only the day after Halloween! You'd think I'd be delighted, considering how much I love jolly fat guys with beards, but I was quite the opposite. I was incensed! And to make matters worse, SpookyTown was all out of Kate wigs (they did have plenty of lame, leftover Jon Gosselin costume sets--clip on CZ earrings, "faux" Ed Hardy t-shirt, half-pack of cigarettes) and in the process of becoming Santa's Pantry, which, truth be told, offers some of the most delicious smoked meats and cheeses. But that's not the point. The point is it ain't Christmastime! I've yet to stuff myself with Thanksgiving goodness! I haven't scrambled to buy relatively thoughtless last minute gifts for my wife! I haven't even heard that awful Paul McCartney song yet! For Pete's sake, nameless local mall full of stores I made up, slow your roll!

Walking into a Halloween-themed store in transition to a Christmas-themed store is fairly offputting anyway. On one aisle you might find plastic sickles, squeeze bottles of fake blood, and slutty cavewoman ensembles; in the next, Advent calendars, dancing Santas, and musical Twilight ornaments. It's weird and confusing and wrong. Christmas and Halloween are as different as jam and puss. They do not belong in the same store. If I were a justice of the peace in some backward Southern town and Christmas and Halloween approached me about performing a marriage ceremony for them, I would flat out refuse. Don't get me wrong--I'm not a racist. I would refer them to another JP. I'm just looking out for the kids.

Perhaps the only element of Christmas I can see working in a Halloween capacity is Santa Claus. I know that is a crazy thing to say, but think about it. Santa is a creepy dude in many respects. Take for instance that Naughty and Nice List he keeps. How's he keeping track of that shit? Exactly--he's stalking you. And not just you, but every single child on the face of the Earth. Santa's a child stalker, plain and simple. I'm not suggesting that he has any sort of sinister motive besides making sure lil' Jedidiah and Johannah eat their vegetables and refrain from pulling the dog's tail, I'm just saying that grown men who secretly watch children are kind of gross. You know the song:

He sees you when you're sleeping.

He knows when you're awake.

He knows if you've been bad or good,

so be good for goodness sake!

Brrr! Creepy!
Christmas Evil is the perfect melding of Christmas (warm family good times) and Halloween (unspeakable horror). Is it a Christmas movie about one lonely man's quest to bring joy to children and prove to his brother that he's not a hapless schlub? Or is it a Halloween movie about an unhinged psychopath who dresses up like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and takes revenge on all the assholes who have wronged him over the past year?
Well, it's mostly that second one, but there is enough heartwarming stuff mixed in to make Christmas Evil one of the most oddly compelling movies I've ever seen. How can you not love a movie that starts off with Santa munching on some MILF's box?

One magical Christmas Eve long ago, Harry Stadling and his little brother, Philip, watch in awe as Santa Claus climbs out of the fireplace, eats a sandwich, and stacks some colorfully wrapped presents under the old Tannenbaum. It's like a Family Circle Christmas pictorial come to life. Philip is delighted, barely able to conceal his giggles behind two tiny hands, while Harry watches with wide-eyed reverence as if he's observing a wild animal in its natural habitat. After Santa swigs some milk, he drops a few trinkets into the boys' stockings and disappears up the chimney.

In the bedroom they share, Philip claims that "Santa" was merely the boys' father in a fat suit and this revelation pushes Young Harry over the proverbial edge. "That wasn't Dad," he growls angrily at his little brother. "That was the real Santa!" Later that night, Harry hears strange noises coming from downstairs and convinced that Santa has returned to prove his existence to the entire Stadling clan and remove Philip's presents for his unwillingness to believe, he sneaks down to the family room and encounters a troubling site: "Santa" muzzle-deep in Mrs. Stadling's cooch. Yes, Santa is chowing down on mommy's hoo-ha and that's just a little more than Harry can stomach for one Christmas. Crestfallen, he runs to the attic and purposefully cuts his hand open with an ornament shard. Oh, Harry, even Santa needs a little poontang now and again. There's no need to get all secret cutting over it. Years later, Harry is a sad-eyed, middle-aged weirdo who endlessly hums Christmas carols and sits for hours on the roof with a pair of binoculars and spies on the children in his neighborhood. If he observes one taking out the trash, he makes a note of it in his Good Boys and Girls Book; and if he catches one ogling vag in a Penthouse magazine, as neighborhood n'er-do-well Moss Garcia is fond of doing, well, that gets written down in the Bad Boys and Girls Book. Harry's got a real issue with pornography, as displayed in one of my favorite exchanges in the film:

(Harry walks jauntily down the street, a smile stretched across his schlubby face)

Kid#1: Hey, Harry, what did you wish for last night?

Harry: I wished I was super magical!

Kid #1: I wished that I was principal and I could kick any kid out of school that I wanted!

(Harry smiles)

Moss Garcia: I wished for a lifetime subscription to Penthouse!

(Harry's face melts into a frown; psycho music)

But while the children he secretly watches seem to like Harry, his co-workers at the Jolly Dream toy company ("If it's not a Jolly's not worth having!") couldn't respect him less. It might be because until his recent promotion he was a assembly line drone like the rest of them, but mostly it's because he has a quick temper and is all kinds of creepy. He strongly believes in the shoddy toys his company shits out too, the most popular of which seems to be a toy soldier, in either red or blue, carrying a dangerously sharp lightening bolt in its hand just perfect for driving into a man's brain when he least expects it.

As the film progresses, we watch Harry become increasingly more unstable: he paints his face black and hides in the bushes outside Moss Garcia's house; he skips out on Thanksgiving dinner with his brother's family insisting that he is close to perfecting "the tune;" he sews his own Santa suit and paints a sleigh on the door of his rape van; and following a heated argument with a fellow executive at the company Christmas party, he steals a shitload of toys from the Jolly Dream factory.

Once Christmas Eve rolls around, Harry dons his gay apparel and drives off into the night to deliver toys and death sentences to all the good girls and boys of suburban New York. First, he visits an orphanage, and, after a tense showdown with an elderly security guard, unloads a rape van full of pilfered Jolly Dream toys for the children. Next, Harry heads over to the local Catholic church where he viciously murders two young couples with a festive holiday axe while a crowd of parishioners watch dumbfounded. Then it's on to the Garcia's house with a lumpy sack full of, well, we never really find out. My immediate thought was that it was a riff on the old "Flaming Poo Bag on the Doorstep" gag, though I'm fairly certain that a bag full of dog shit as large as the one Harry leaves for Moss (which is kind of a cool name, right?) once set on fire could easily raze an entire block of townhomes.

By now, the police are involved, dragging in every poor bastard in a Santa suit and making them stand in a line-up, while confused churchgoers attempt to pick out the killer. Harry, however, is still galavanting around town in his rape van pretending that it's Santa's sleigh and calling out the names of the reindeer. He stops at a party and is invited inside for drinks and dancing. After a spirited group number, Santa Stadling delivers a final message to the children in attendance:

The woman's face at 1:15 says it all.

The party scene made one thing very clear to me: Christmas Evil and Taxi Driver are basically the same exact movie. Let me explain. Harry Stadling, like Travis Bickle, isn't really a bad guy, he's just misunderstood. Both men could clearly see how truly awful life can be. They also respected and cherished the innocence of youth. Travis shot up a sleazy brothel to free Iris from an empty life of child prostitution. Harry robbed Jolly Dream blind because he didn't agree with Corporate's decision to cheat orphans out of free toys. Travis and Harry had the balls to look the status quo right in its beady little eyes and say, "No way, man. I'm not going to sit here and watch the system get more corrupt. I'm gonna do something about it, man. I'm going to strap an elaborate sliding action holster to my arm and assassinate a politician! Or shove a toy soldier into a Catholic gentleman's brain! Whatever I do, it's gonna make a difference dammit!" Taxi Driver made Rober De Niro a household name and won the Palme d'Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival; Christmas Evil has been called "the greatest Christmas movie ever made" by director John Waters. Coincidence?

Unfortunately, the deeds of a hero of Harry Stradling's magnitude cannot go unpunished. Or can they? Harry is chased by a mob of torch-wielding parents and shunned by his longsuffering younger brother, but instead of having Harry burn for actions a conventional audience might find "atrocious," "anti-social," and "not very nice," writer/director Lewis Jackson gives his protagonist an out...a flying rape van out:

Here's a list of Christmas movies off the top of my head: The Santa Clause, Fred Claus, Santa Claus: The Movie, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Nothing Like the Holidays, Ernest Saves Christmas, Elf, The Family Stone, Four Christmases, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, Prancer, The Polar Express, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York...

Yep, I gotta agree with John Waters. Christmas Evil is by far the greatest Christmas movie of all time. Happy Early Ass Holidays, everybody!

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday Morning Music By Request

I received the following e-mail from a reader named Donnie last weekend:

Hey, man, Ive been reading your website for a while now and I've gotta say, the Wed Morning Music thing is dumber than hell. Your always either post some queer indie rock bullcrap or some silly ass shit I don't know what. I'm wondering if you would post something badass or like manly and shit sometime. Me I'd like to hear some metal or some gangster rap. Gangster rap is badass, man!!! Other than that faggoty indie music trash, I like your web site OK. My girlfriend reads it more n I do. She likes Åwesome Animal Thursday. Y'all gonna bring that back any time soon? Allright man. I'll hit you up later.


Well, Donnie, even though we don't agree with many of your word choices, we've decided to give you what you want. It's Wednesday morning music, so get ready for something a little more bad-ass than usual. Enjoy it, Donnie.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Docu-Rama Film Festival 2011-Film #2: We Live in Public (2009)


When I was a kid, I used to daydream for hours about the things I would do if I ever became an eccentric millionaire. Eccentric millionaires lived the kind of fast-paced, whacked out, self-centered life that really appealed to my 7-year-old id. As a 32-year-old, not-terribly-eccentric non-millionaire, I've finally realized what's important in life--family, close friends, high-speed internet--but that doesn't mean I've completely abandoned my daydreams.

Last week, while sifting through a box of stuff my mother brought over from Charlotte, I found one of the many lists I made regarding my millionaire hopes and dreams when I was a youngster, and though today I'd probably make a few minor tweaks, most of the aspirations listed, written in my childish scrawl with a red crayon, remain wholly relevant to my life. Here's just a taste.

Things I Would Do If I Were An Eccentric Millionaire by Matt L.

1. Buy my own Shamu.
2. Buy my own Sea World.
3. Eat JELL-O for dinner every night.
4. Buy my own Toys-R-Us and play with all the toys.
5. Pee in a lemur's face. (Ed. note--I really hated lemurs when I was a kid for some reason)
6. Bring ALF to my house to live with me.
7. Ride Shamu to Hawaii and buy a volcano.
8. Turn my volcano into a secret spy headquarters.
9. Fill my volcano secret spy headquarters with dragons that only respond to my, and maybe Graham's [my best friend], demands.
10. Buy Graham his own Shamu.
11. Fly a rocketship to Mars for my birthday party.
12. Buy a house in Duckburg. Be best friends with Scrooge McDuck.

It goes on from there. Gets a lot more anti-lemur. Disturbingly so.

Point is, eccentric millionairacy didn't happen for me. It did, however, for Josh Harris. Of course, his eccentric personality was forged by his mother's lack of interest in any and everything he did as well as his drug addict-like obsession with Gilligan's Island. I've always blamed my parents for being there for me too much as a kid, loving me unconditionally and taking me on vacations. It's made me the decidedly un-eccentric, gainfully employed, home-owning family man I am today. Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad! While I'm playing Upwords with my beautiful wife of three years and preparing a nursery for my forthcoming baby, Josh Harris is planning his next wacky internet experiment and dressing up like his creepy clown alter-ego, Luvvy.


I don't know if Harris ever made a physical list of the things he wanted to do when he grew up and became worth a cool 80-million bucks, but here's a handy little list I made for him after the fact.

1. Josh Harris created internet television. It was called Pseudo and it was way ahead of its time. Harris was slowly pushed out of Pseudo's inner circle when Luvvy became a horrifying distraction to investors. Harris didn't care though. He was already planning his next venture...

2. A community called Quiet. Quiet was located in a bunker underground. Citizens were given jumpsuits to wear, food to eat, drugs to snort, booze to guzzle, and guns to shoot. Participants were also regularly grilled--and later, "tortured"--by an on-site psychologist. There was only one catch: cameras would be filming the people of Quiet 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, for 30 days. Things went pretty well for awhile, but Harris, who viewed the entire thing as a social experiment and less the art project everyone else believed it was, kept upping the stakes: throwing people out for no reason, subjecting citizens to psychological torture, etc. On the first day of the new millenium, New York City cops stormed the bunker and threw everybody out. Harris ducked out the back entrance.


3. We Live In Public-Dot-Com. After the conclusion of Quiet, Harris bought a rather large apartment, filled it with cameras--in the bathroom, in the bedroom, in the kitchen, behind the mirrors, in the fridge, inside the toilet, etc--and moved his girlfriend, former Quiet citizen Tanya Corrin, in, so people could watch them laugh, fight, and screw. SPOILER ALERT: It did not end well. Tanya moved out, Josh found out he was broke.

4. Josh bought an apple farm. OK, so the whole apple orchard thing isn't that cool actually, but, you know, good for you, Josh.

5. Josh moved to Africa. It was here Harris committed his most eccentric act to date: commissioning a local artist to paint portraits of the characters from Gilligan's Island for him. Now that's what a crazy rich guy does!


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Things I've Learned From the Internet

#6. Auto-tuned preteen girls from privileged families will be the death of pop music.

Oh, to be a 12-year-old girl with the desire to have a lucrative recording career and parents rich enough to fund my ridiculous dream in 2011. The time is right and the road to ironic semi-stardom has never been clearer nor, oddly enough, more traffic-ridden. Hell, you don't even need natural talent. Don't believe me?

You were expecting Rebecca Black? By now, if you live in America, have regular access to a computer or snarky 25-year-old barista, and possess functioning eyes and ears, you are familiar with Black and the Ark Music Factory, a
creepy talent agency that perpetually shits out marginally talented teenagers onto YouTube and lets the trolls have at them. The video for Black's single "Friday," which has been viewed over 92-million times on YouTube as of this writing, went viral after it was posted on several blogs and has given birth to more silly covers and parodies than you can imagine, including, my personal favorite, "Sunday," performed by Sadie Black, about how church can be fun (?) even when choosing a pew proves to be a crippling ordeal.

But back to Alana Lee and her awful song "Butterflies." I'm not going to sit here and bad mouth Lee. First of all, she's a child. Second of all, she has successfully recorded a song, performed in a music video for said song, and released said video into a cold and uncaring world, damn the consequences. What have I done? Three episodes of a poorly promoted movie-themed podcast? A single performance with my three-piece musical outfit, The Not Happys, in my basement? Maintained a pop-culture skewering blog with limited returns? OK, that one's pretty impressive, but you get what I'm saying.

I'm also not going to let Alana Lee slide. "Butterflies" is garbage. I don't care how old you are or what style of genitalia you carry between your legs. This is a song for no one. Or, rather, it is a song for the evil geniuses at the Ark Factory who know that little girls will buy (i.e. beg their tired, stressed out parents to buy) whatever crap sounds like the crap they already like. So, that's the first thing.

There's also this whole auto-tune issue. Now, I don't hate auto-tuned stuff, but I enjoy when it is used transparently. By that I mean, I like when a song utilizing auto-tune makes that fact glaringly obvious. "Hey, everyone, we're using auto-tune here to make our song sound quirky and strange." Ark isn't using auto-tune to give "Butterflies" an offputting edge. They're doing it because Alana Lee simply doesn't have the pipes to pull the song off. Fast forward to :36--the first time we hear the song's "haunting"chorus--where Alana reveals that she is, in fact, a robot masquerading as a human girl child. The less said about what goes between 2:02-to-2:45 the better.

Before we run screaming from the Ark Factory, let's check in on CJ Fam, who, if I'm not mistaken, is a toddler.

Ick. This is more gross than anything ever. 1930's Shirley Temple is turning over in her grave.

Ark isn't the only music factory in town. No, sir. Your daughter doesn't have to team up with Patrice Williams to be an internet laughing stock. Take Jenna Rose. The video for her ode to crass consumerism, "My Jeans," has only been viewed by a paltry 4-million people, but it features everything that makes Ark's output so mesmerizing: 12-year-old drivers, awkward dancing, and an irritating rap break.

I simultaneously love and hate this song. Let's start with the reasons I hate it:

1. It's a song about jeans.
2. Jenna Rose seems like a total bitch. I can only go by the "character" she plays in the video however. She may be a perfectly nice young woman. The Jenna Rose yammering on about her stupid designer jeans though seems like a self-centered little snot.
3. Promotes the wrong idea that owning a pair of expensive jeans will allow you to "go anywhere." (1:30) You gonna wear those jeans to a job interview? I guess you can if you don't want the job, not that Jenna Rose will ever need a job.
4. I'm jealous of the sweet castle mural on her bedroom wall, OK!?
5. The line "Ha ha ha ha/Jack my swag." (2:25-2:27) That scene should have been followed by one of her father walking into frame and smacking the smirk off her face.

But, yes, there are things that I love as well:

1. I think as parody, it works pretty well. Like, if it is revealed one day that "My Jeans" was a parody of all the Arks and Willow Smiths and Justin Biebers of the world, I for one would be pretty stoked. Sadly, I think it's just a dumb song written for a rich girl who wants to be famous and hopes to one day appear on Mtv's My Super Sweet Sixteen.
2. As readers know, I like a well-crafted pop song, and "My Jeans," while vapid and shallow, is also catchy as hell.
3. The rap break, performed here by Baby Triggy and a friend who isn't important enough to name, isn't as creepy as the Ark rap breaks. One question though: did Trig buy a new Blackberry or did Trig's mommy buy it for him?
4. The line: "...feels like Heelys racing on my spine." (1:18) I'm sorry, that line is brilliant. And age appropriate. That line is pretty much what keeps me from wanting to punch this song repeatedly in the skull.

Now, do I really thing Rebecca Black, Alana Lee, Jenna Rose, and the rest of the Ark automatons are going to rise up and take popular music by force? No. I don't. I think a handful of little girls are going to receive a few extra bucks to throw on top of their trust funds before they graduate from high school, graduate from college with a business degree, and marry their father's divorced golfing buddy, their forays into the music world a faded memory, a fever dream that barely seems real. Patrice Williams will be hiding from the IRS somewhere in Southeast Asia, Triggy--he'll have dropped the "Baby"--will have his own VH1 dating show, and Sadie Black will be a kindly matron who plays the organ and teaches Sunday school. The world will right itself and President Trump will declare war on China. What a beautiful future indeed. Read the rest of this article.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wednesday Evening Music: "Lovin' My Man"

We saved this one for after the sun went down because

It also mentions God a lot.

Oh, well. Doesn't mean it isn't...sexxxxxxy...

Oh, baby....
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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Docu-Rama Film Festival 2011-Film #1: Brother's Keeper (1992)

It's a well-known fact that the deeper one journeys into the country (AKA, the sticks, the Boonies, Squeal-Lika-A-Pigville), the more unruly the nose hair one is destined to encounter. There's just something about country folk and prominently, almost proudly, displayed nose hair. Take, well, everyone in the Joe Berlinger/Bruce Sinofsky documentary Brother's Keeper. The characters who inhabit each frame of this compelling, sometimes disturbing, film are either extremely proud of the nasal shrubbery they have cultivated over their lifetimes or too old to care about petty things like personal hygiene. I have an inkling that it is a combination of the two.

But Brother's Keeper is about more than unkempt nostril foliage. It's also about murder. Fratricide to be exact. Or, rather, alleged fratricide. It's also about, in no particular order, these other things: poverty, illiteracy, tractor repair, incest, shacks, farming, beards, and community. Also, at one point, a pig is graphically slaughter for your viewing enjoyment.

Brother's Keeper tells the story of the Ward brothers, or "them Ward boys," as they're known around town. The Wards--Roscoe, a toothless, nearly unintelligible collector of chickens and turkeys; Lyman, a nervous fella who takes sanctuary in the barn whenever things get too 'real;' William (AKA Bill), the dead one, prone to accidents (cut himself with a chainsaw; one foot crushed by a cow), headaches, and stomach problems before his mysterious death; and Delbert, a likable sort whose been accused of smothering his sick brother--live together in a two room shack filled with garbage and cats and have done so for as long as any of them remember. It's like some kind of weird Beckett play or something. All three living brothers--William is already in the ground before the doc begins--are wide-eyed innocents, their only connections to the outside world a small television on which they watch Matlock and Jeopardy and their occasional tractor-jaunts into town.

The town in question is Munnsville, New York. That's right, bub, there's more to New York than skyscrapers and M & M stores. There's also cattle, toothless bumpkins, and miles upon miles of pristine, boring farmland. In the tiny town of Munnsville, the Ward boys have always been viewed as outcasts, smelly halfwits who rarely spoke to anyone they weren't related to. The citizenry treated them well, but they didn't go out of their way to chew the fat with 'em neither. Of course, this all changes when the state police charge Delbert with murder. Next thing you know, the good people of Munnsville are pooling their money to hire a lawyer, throwing charity potluck suppers, and jockeying for camera time to express how much they love them good ole Ward boys. Nobody in town believes Delbert is a cold-blooded killer. You tell me, does this look like the face of a soulless murderer?
Brother's Keeper is a gripping film, especially when the filmmakers take us into the actual courtroom. In the film's most devastating scene, nervous-nelly Lyman is reduced to a sweaty pile of tremors when repeatedly asked by the prosecutor if he was telling the truth in a statement he made when he was first questioned by the police (Lymon claimed he had discussed putting Bill out of his misery with Delbert the day before their brothers death; Delbert, under duress, agreed to the murder scenario interrogators laid out for him). It is a moment almost as hard to watch as the pig slaughter that follows it. Almost. I actually closed my eyes during the whole pig killing thing.



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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Morning Friday Parody

Typically, I don't find myself tickled by the antics of teenage boys, but this parody of Ark "Music" Factory recording "artist" Rebecca Black's "Friday," brought to you by two young men who refer to themselves as "funnyz" and "simplyspoons" respectively, is fairly entertaining. Dammit, fine! I think it's pretty hilarious, so much so, I decided it was worth sharing with the GEP audience, many of whom I'm sure are a) also not entertained by high school kids with access to video cameras and b) pretty much over the whole "Friday" thing. Just push play and soak it in. You won't be disappointed.

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Friday, April 1, 2011


Our actual theme for April is...

Awesome documentary films all month long! This month, GEP gets real.

Ugh. That was dumb. Forget that last part.

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And now...the official theme of April...



That's right: all April, GEP is celebrating the erotic art of hardcore pornography! Features will include:

***Anal Sex Movie Smack-Down!!! (films will include Butt Blasters 17, Bang Me in the Anus--Explode in My Face 5, Mistress Anal's Butt Dungeon, and Butthole Bandits 37: The Cornhole Conundrum, and Last Tango in Paris)

***Explicit biographies of all your favorite adult stars!!! Stars like: Betsy Buns! Dora the Ass-plorer! Brenda Browneye! The Vagina Twins! Coco Cootchmuffin! Splash! Tina the Extra Bendy Sex Midget! Ron Jeremy's Foreskin! Robert "Big Balls" Massive Dong! And many, many more!!!

***Reviews of the latest sex toys and devices!!! Items like the Amsterdam Sex Swing! Battery-operated Butt Wands! Sex Dolls with real human teeth! Anthropomorphic dildos! Barbed-wire cock rings! And exactly one more!!!

***Graphic descriptions of the newest and hottest sex acts in porn today!!! Horrifying acts like the Alabama Hot Pocket! The Blue Waffle! The Abe Lincoln! The Randy Butler! The Birmingham Booty Call! The Texas Chili Cheese Fry Combo Platter! Chocolate Reign! The Boston Pancake! The Boston Crepe! The Boston Hashbrowns and Cup of Coffee! The Twat Puzzler! The Cincinatti Bowtie! The Macaroni & Scat! The Tony Danza! And many, many more!

***And tons--and I mean TONS--of vag close-ups!!! IT'S GONNA BE SICK!!!!!!!!!!!

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