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Archive for the 'Nostalgia' Category


2012.01.01 The king is dead… long live the king.

It has been a year and half since this site has seen a new post, and twice that long since brian has made his presence felt. I have been hanging on to bipolar, thinking that one day I would resume posting again, but now I believe its time has passed.

As with most things in which I've been involved online, I'll endeavour to keep bipolar up in perpetuity, as an archive of times past.

If you want to catch up with me, head over to MatthewRasnake.com, which is a window into just about every aspect of my online life.

Brian, bipolar, and friendly readers, thanks for the memories!

chicago road trip, 2000

brian and matt

2009.05.11 Star Trek the New Old Generation:

I loved the new Star Trek. Let's just get that out of the way at the beginning, then continue.

I am a huge Trek fan, from way back (not WAY way back, like the 60's way back, but way back, like from the 80's). I used to watch Original Series reruns on TV as a kid (in the 70's), I went to see the first Star Trek movie in the theater (not that I really remember it, but my parents have reminded me), then stopped watching Star Trek altogether when Wrath of Khan came out because the little brain-worm-things scared the shit out of me. I got back into it when Next Gen started, and just went nuts over it. You ask me how dilithium crystals work in a warp drive, and I can probably give you an explanation without doing any research.

There are tons of reasons why I enjoyed the original series (and Next Gen, and DS9, and occasionally Enterprise), and I'd love to tell you that it was because of the hopeful and optimistic vision of the future, and the way it portrayed humanity as having overcome greed and prejudice and having dedicated themselves as a race to bettering themselves and fighting the just and righteous fight for freedom and cooperation. But really, I loved it because of the characters. The sometimes quirky, sometimes absurd, sometimes hyper-real, sometimes bizarrely unrealistic characters and relationships that populated the show. I loved it because of the stories, and the campy humor, and the glorious over-acting. And, I loved it because it sometimes asked deep philosophical questions, and other times it paraded around in front of you wearing a Nazi uniform. I don't think I really grasped the historical, philosophical, and sociological ramifications of the Trek universe until later.

But, we're here to talk about the new Star Trek movie, aren't we?

Taken on its own merits, I think this is a phenomenal movie. There are issues of science and issues of execution of course, but overall it is exciting, and fun, and touching, and very Star Trek in lots of the right ways.

I think Chris Pine made a great Kirk. All the characters were written (and directed, I assume) somewhat… over-the-top, and very earnest. I felt that, though Pine also suffered this, he had a presence and subtlety that really befitted the character, and that I can see serving him very well in subsequent outings. There was at least one scene (and I've been trying to remember exactly where it occurred, but nevertheless) where I remember thinking to myself… "There's Kirk. That's Kirk. That was right on." And I think it was just a single word, or very short line, delivered with a certain mixture of joy and self-awareness that I think captured the spirit of "The Kirk," and channeled a bit of the old Shatner magic. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed this new Kirk.

There were certain Kirk moments from a story/plot perspective and from a characterization perspective that I didn't like, but those would be difficult to elucidate without spoilage.

Quinto's Spock also had a lot to offer. Maybe he played it a little too close to the chest at times, and maybe he played it a little too "smirky" at times, but neither of those are entirely un-Spock-like qualities. I thought the father/son and the mother/son things were well written and well played, but I did feel that this Spock, somewhat interestingly, was representative of the Spock we came to understand over the last ~40 years, rather than the Spock we met in the first Original Series episode. Our Spock started out (well, after Where No Man Has Gone Before, anyway) as an emotionless, purely logical, and imperceptibly conflicted character who had very much chosen his Vulcan side over his Human one. That was not the Spock we got in this movie. In and of itself, that's not a bad thing, and I did really enjoy this Spock, but I also felt that this new Spock didn't represent where our Spock would have been at this point in his life. It didn't kill my enjoyment of the character, but it stood out to me as a point of unnecessary disunity.

Ultimately though, I thought Quinto's Spock was fantastic. He enabled you to become invested in the character very quickly, and he brought you along for the… yes, emotional ride through the rest of the movie.

The supporting cast was also varying degrees of good.

Karl Urban's doctor was good, but I felt that he was trying too hard to imitate the wonderful DeForest Kelley. I also felt that the writers did him a disservice by restricting his dialogue almost exclusively (I felt) to classic "Bones" catch-phrases. Dixon over at Shelfbound considered that this may simply be the way McCoy talks, which is an interesting thought, but one I don't necessarily agree with. McCoy (the "real" McCoy, you might say buh-doom-tsh!) had plenty of aphorisms and metaphors to go around, but his dialogue was never so heavy with catch-phrases. Ultimately, it's forgivable, but it was irksome.

As an aside, I absolutely adored the way they introduced McCoy's nickname. It was a bit awkward, perhaps, but I loved it.

Simon Pegg as Scotty was a real treat. The character was fun, and lively, and seemed to come off as both brilliant and moronic at the same time. I like Pegg, he's fun. Unfortunately, I never believed he was Scotty. Doohan's Scotty was brilliant but subdued, earthy but not offensive, and excitable but responsible. Pegg's Scotty was mystified, frenetic, and frequently out-of-his-depth. Also unfortunately, Scotty didn't get enough good screen-time to further establish the character. Perhaps there's more to him than this situation allowed to come through.

Uhura was good. Her character had strength, conviction, self-confidence, and power. It is a testament to the actress (and the writers as well) that they were able to establish this, because she was woefully lacking many really meaty scenes.

Sulu was also good, and I felt he fared a bit better than Uhura, scene-wise. He didn't try (unlike Urban) to mimic his predecessor, but inhabited the character he was given. I don't think that I ever really felt he was Sulu, but rather that he was some entirely separate character.

The Christopher Pike character was really great. I felt he got shortchanged in the leadership department in a few spots, but that ties into some movie-wide problems and more potential spoilage. Still, I really liked this character.

Finally, we get to Checkov. What to say… I did really enjoy his introductory moments in the movie, but ultimately I found his character to be very annoying. I also felt that this character was the farthest from the original source material. I won't go so far as to say I didn't like the new Checkov—because he was entertaining, to a point—but he's just not Checkov. However, maybe he is just another casualty of the way the characters were generally over-played. If he'd been more subdued, perhaps he would have fit perfectly. Who knows?

Well, I said "finally, we get to Checkov," but really, the Enterprise is the last (or first?) major character in the Original Series, and we should talk about her as well.

I really liked the new Starfleet ship exteriors, and felt they were true enough to the original. The bridge, on the other hand, was a different story. The old bridge was spacious, and austere but powerful, and it felt comfortable and open. This new bridge was bright, flashy, and claustrophobic. So much of the old Star Trek took place on the bridge—perhaps this is an indicator that the bridge will no longer be the central story-telling vantage point. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in future movies.

At last, we get to the story itself. As I mentioned, it was enjoyable and exciting. Unfortunately, I felt it was also, like most of the rest of the movie, a bit over-blown. It was as if they tried to make every single moment just as tense and dramatic as possible—tried to give the story as much weight as it could possibly carry. The good thing is that it delivered. The question is, is that a good thing? Personally, I prefer my Star Trek a little more cerebral, and a little less "wagon train." Maybe that's the Next Gen era initiate in me, I dunno. I just think there's a line between sci-fi action/thriller and sci-fi action/drama that this movie played too often on the wrong side of.

At this point, I'm not sure how much more i can say without really getting into specifics of plot. I definitely have more thoughts on specific aspects of the movie, and also generally about what it means that we now have this New old generation of characters.

As I've mentioned in other venues, to other people, I loved it, but I also hated it.

- 02:30 am - PL :: 2 Comments
categories ::  Cool Links - Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Movies - Nostalgia - Pop Culture - TV - Upset/Dislike

 

2009.04.10 identity crisis*:

* "Crisis" is definitely overstating it a bit, but nevertheless…

Earlier tonight, I told an old friend that "I couldn't be happier with where my life has led," and, of course, that is true. What i've been struggling with the last few years has been the "where."

In high school, i wanted nothing more than to start my own business, be my own boss, stay in the hick town where I grew up and be a "computer consultant" (whatever the hell that means.) I knew that I would a) be awesome at it, and b) be totally happy with my life. Instead—when i realized my father's brain would melt and my mother's heart would flop right out of her chest if I didn't—i went to college.

In college, i met some awesome creative people, broke out of my mold, and made sweeping plans for taking over the world with the most profound art, music, and literature the world had ever seen, together with this band of misfit geniuses in whom I'd found a family.

Then the 'net happened and I found another niche. I was going to carry this empire of sight, sound, and word into the year 2000, and become the best damned webmaster this side of the Mississippi. I was going to shift paradigms, set trends, and lead the denizens of the 'net to the next level. Not that I could see what that next level was yet, but that was my plan.

Luckily, I landed a job that let me do the only thing that I'd really want to sit still long enough to get paid for. Unfortunately, i discovered that it wasn't always possible to innovate on a deadline, for the kind of clients a high priced web firm dealt with. That, and I didn't have the base skills to really push the envelope. I was, after all, entirely self-taught.

As technology progressed, I collected plans and hoarded them for "when I had time." My work, psycho ex-girlfriends, the internet, and my plans themselves sapped my energy to the point where little got done. Occasionally, I'd have a burst of activity, and accomplish something neat, or push a pet project a little farther up the hill. Then I'd go back to the news feeds, or the game of Dune, or whatever.

I was going to be a first-rate poet, the next Kerouac, a top notch photographer, a musician, a publisher, a record producer, a freelance web guru, a gallery owner, a coffee shop owner… the list goes on.

It's taken me a few years, but slowly, I've realized that I can't do it all. And those grandiose plans I made years ago—the empire I built on dreams—depended on that family of friends as a static, unchanging unit with infinite reserves of energy and patience. To meet my dreams, my friends would have had to stay just as they were.

What I've come to realize is not that I can't count on my friends (because I know they'll support me in whatever I choose to do), but just that my friends have their own lives, and plans, and dreams. I can't package them up into mine, any more than they can package me up into theirs.

So I have been converging on this point, where I have to figure out two things: what I want to do, and what I can do. With all these grandiose plans I've made, which are the feasible, workable notions, and which are the pipe dreams?

These were the thoughts that, late last year, and early this year, brought me to re-dedicate myself to my writing. I still have lots of plans, little things I'd like to do, but, when push comes to shove, my writing comes first. Someday, perhaps I'll be able to expand my arena again, but right now, I have to seize my opportunities and focus on a smaller set of goals.

To a certain extent, the old Coffeemonk Design Flaws empire is seeing a sunset. The name "Coffeemonk Design Flaws" was always Bob's thing anyway, and without his participation, it has long felt hollow.

I'm still working out the details in my head, but very likely, coffeemonk.com will become my writing oriented blog, and Savant-Garde Press will finally emerge from it's long stasis to stand on it's own. I'm also planning to launch a personal blog at matt.rasnake.info (eventually), and will continue to maintain bipolar as well.

This, then, is not as much an identity crisis, as it is an identity acknowledgement. This is the happiness to which my life has led me…

2008.09.26 my man's (not) mccain:

i'm going to let you in on a dirty little secret: in 2000, when McCain was running against Bush, and Gore was an uninspiring shoe-in for the Democratic nod, i very well might have voted for McCain over Gore in the general election. i didn't get to agonize over that decision, as the frightening Bush candidacy dominated the republican primaries, and ultimately I didn't even get to vote for Nader because i went to the wrong polling place with no time to spare.

in 2000, John McCain was still widely regarded as the maverick senator who didn't toe the party line. he was a rough and tumble sort of guy with well defined convictions about how to improve or eliminate the problems plaguing our government. campaign finance reform, pork barrel spending, antagonistic relationship with corporate lobbyists and their interests. he was a republican, sure, but he had the right ideas about some important issues. and that whole thing about bucking the party line to take a stand was a very attractive component for someone who felt the stodgy old politicians were too enmeshed in their own comfort zones to do any real good.

so yeah, in 2000, John McCain was a great candidate, someone who appealed to the political independents who felt the major parties were loosing touch.

then, after the bush v gore debacle/travesty, McCain continued to stand up against the new administration when it counted. he appeared on talk shows, and all but called Bush a bumbling idiot. god, how i loved that! (because it's true, you see) he continued pushing for his causes, trying to make positive change, and being a thorn in the establishment's side.

then, somewhere around 2004, things started to change… i'm not sure exactly when i noticed it, or the specific situation, but there was a moment, when McCain came out in support of Bush, Bush the bumbling idiot, Bush the perpetrator of a War of Lies and Bad Intentions, and I *knew* then that McCain had done it—this was the moment where McCain made the decision to value political maneuvering over personal conviction. this was the moment where whatever respect i had for McCain as a politician, and a person, was lost.

after that, McCain appeared more and more in support of the administration, in support of the republican establishment. i didn't pay much attention to him after that, except to feel a sense of disappointment whenever i saw him.

now, we're on the cusp of another election, and this time, he's the nominee. he won. it's his show. and he's trying to bring up his maverick status, and his willingness to stand against the establishment, which is something that he hasn't noticeably demonstrated in the last 5 years or so. he still talks a good talk—about campaign finance reform, about pork barrel spending, about kicking the lobbyists out of washington and putting a halt to the undue influence of corporations on the legislative process. he's cribbed the obama cry for "CHANGE!" and tried to own it.

but in light of his recent record, all of this is hollow talk. he *had* a record as a maverick, he *had* a record an an anti-establishmentarian, he *had* a record of standing up against the lobbyists. he *had* a record as a broker of change.

HAD.

now what does he have? a record of 90% agreeement with a 19% presidency. a campaign run, almost exclusively, by lobbyists and former lobbyists for the very corporations he's fought against in the past. he has a campaign that spews a torrent of LIES at every turn, and, even when these lies are dissected by the media, continues to regurgitate them. he has a campaign where the political maneuvers are blatantly obvious and frankly, somewhat disgusting. he has the audacity to make a baldly political VP pick with little to no actual qualifications.

and let me just talk about that for a second. off the bat, let me just say that Sarah Palin's gender is completely irrelevant, as is her religious affiliation, her sexual orientation, and her shoe size. what's relevant are her qualifications and her political views.

despite those things, it is obvious to me (outside looking in and all that) that McCain picking Sarah Palin was at least partially motivated by a desire to haul in those former Hilary voters who loudly and frequently (before the DNC, anyway) let it be known that they were on the fence about Obama. in other words, McCain's pick *was* gender oriented. considering Palin's other stats, that fact seems obvious.

as for her qualifications, there really aren't any to speak of. she has some local executive governmental experience, and she's been a Governor (since Dec. '06) for just a tad longer than Obama's been a presidential candidate (since Feb. '07). she has zero foreign policy experience, and her major federal experience has been in getting earmarks from congress for her hometown. she may be a great governor (though an ethics investigation may indicate otherwise), and she may be well suited to it. but this little bit of experience is not presidential material. senate, sure; house, definitely. but not presidential.

in fact, her almost total lack of qualifications for the office leads me to feel that her nomination for the post of vice president is actually… offensive! it shows a lack of respect for the office of vice president to nominate someone who is not eminently qualified for the post. sure, we had Dan Quayle for a while, and he was in no shape to run the country, for sure. but just because there's precedent…

but, ultimately, this is about McCain. and what it comes down to is this: he's a "used to be." he used to be honest, he used to be righteous, he used to be respectful. he used to be a lot of things that he's now left behind in the name of getting the victory.

he used to be someone i would consider voting for. he's not anymore.

- 02:22 am - PL :: 4 Comments
categories ::  Nostalgia - Politics - Rants - Society - Upset/Dislike

 

2007.03.31 a gathering of old men and their ladies:

last night, after a two year absence from the stage, saw the re-emergence of Louisville's own Old Man. It was a great show, with some old classics and new hot ones from the album that's in the offing.

The Rud was much the same as I remember (my band also hasn't had a show in quite some time, and we haven't played the Rud for quite some time besides), but now they've settled on the "back stage," which i think is a major improvement from the "mid" stage. The sound is still mushy as ever. I think the Rud's sound system (or sound guys, i'm not sure which) is better suited for simpler acts, like… well, mainly vocalists, poets, plays, etc. I think you throw some guitars and drums in the mix, and the system has to work beyond it's limits to get the sound out there. Which is not to say that it's bad, just that there's some color to it. I still think the Rud is a great place to play, and a great place to see a show.

so Old Man rocked it out, did a superb job, and i enjoyed it thoroughly. oh, and there was a song with neil on the harmonica, putting the folk into "punk/folk." very cool.

following Old Man was an actual old man, alone on stage with his acoustic, strapless guitar, and his haunting voice and often nonsensical lyrics. i think everyone was pretty much alternately astounded and confounded by the performance. some of the lyrics i couldn't make out, and the ones that i could, well, some didn't seem to make any sense at all, as if they were just words stuck together for no particular reason, others made complete sense, but perhaps the most interesting part was that there was a deepness of emotion behind every lyric. in the end, the only pronouncement i could make was, "it wasn't good, but it was awesome." oh, and i told neil somebody should do a study on the guy, see how his brain works.

most of the rest of the evening was spent hanging out with friends, some of whom i haven't seen in several months. it was good to catch up, hell, it was good just to be around them again. it also gave the prick an opportunity to talk about finally making use of the practice space we've had for a month now. hopefully this week, we'll at least be able to get our stuff moved in, which will act as a catalyst towards getting us to the practice space at least once a week to *use* that stuff. i'm looking forward to it. i'm excited by the idea of a "new beginning" for the band, and have been itching to strum the strings for a while. (i'm a terrible guitar player, if i'm not at practice, i hardly ever touch the thing, except to move it from one spot to another.) if all goes well, perhaps we'll be ready for our resurgence party in 6 months or so.

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2007.03.27 of old friends, avail:

wherein your humble narrator again laments the inevitability of social distance

the wife and i had the pleasure this evening of hanging out with a few old friends, one of whom has recently embarked on a new life adventure in LA la land. again i was reminded of why it is i've chosen these people as close friends, and again i've had some nostalgic pangs for the times when i could just walk into the next room to enjoy wit, share an anecdote, or request advice. i realize, of course, that i've traded up—for someone with whom i can share many of the same things (along with many other things besides–not all of them "dirty", you cretins)

now all my closest friends but one are married (and he's probably not far off), and that has a way of cramping the social style, especially when you get doctors, near-doctors, students, and parents in the mix. schedules are hard enough to work around when you're just you. when there're two of you to consider, well, it quickly spirals out of control. work time, me time, us time, we time… we time nearly always gets the shaft in that arrangement.

i know that there's not a lot that any of us can do about it, so until we're able to be more proactive about it, i'm just planning on enjoying the infrequent times i get with my friends, and looking forward to the times that i can be reminded why i liked them so much in the first place.

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- 10:51 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Local/Louisville - Nostalgia - Society - Wife

 

2006.09.16 well now, that's a little weird:

so, i was in college, right? i'm sure some of you know what that's like. in college i had a job—a couple jobs, in fact—that involved me mostly sitting around on my ass watching people not know how to work simple devices. during my ample free time, bored off my nut, i would occasionally write stories or little anecdotes to humor myself. once we actually got campus "internet," i would occasionally write these stories for a buddy of mine to give us both a little amusement. i hired him into the computer lab i managed for a semester, and he stayed put after i moved on, so i wrote little parodies about life in the lab after I left, and i wrote them in the style of a screenplay (more or less). in the midst of one of these stories, i wrote a parody commercial-break, for a product I assumed would never exist. i have just found out today just how wrong i was.

but first, a word from our sponsors… (a parody commercial written in the heady year of 1994)

warning, the rest of this post is probably NSFW

Scene:
Dark, misty jungle. Camera pans slightly to find a naked woman, lying on the ground, legs parted slightly, suggestively.

Voice Over:
A scent of a thousand years… a scent which commands and humiliates all who catch it.

Scene:
Full body profile view of woman on ground, her right leg slightly bent at the knee, foot on the ground.

VO:
A scent of love, passion, desire.

Scene:
Full body profile view, pulled back. Wolf walks up to inside of woman's right thigh, appears to sniff as woman bends knee further and camera pushes in towards woman.

VO:
A scent of magic, and mystery.

Scene:
Profile view, encompassing the woman from head to thigh. A man's head emerges from behind her thigh, he raises his head to gaze at her, and they smile knowingly.

VO:
The scent of… VeHina.

VeHina, the newest fragrance from the makers of Giorgio, Channel No. 5, and other fragrances. Available at your nearest Sears/Roebuck location.

And now, back to your irregularly scheduled blog.

so, yeah, that was weird. but it gets better. apparently, a company in Cologne, Germany is producing a fragrance called—oh yeah, i'm not even kidding—VULVA. this, people, is what we call not mincing words. it is a bit amusing to me that they use "flavour" instead of "scent" in a few places… especially since their FAQs specifically recommend against "drinking" Vulva.

perhaps more frightening is the fact that they have "other fragrances" in development, including "Vulva – Eighteen," and "Vulva – Exotic." the "Eighteen" version is inexplicably packaged in white, and I have to wonder what they mean by exotic… do the vulvas of different races or cultures have different scents, or are they just "spicing it up?"

and to take it one more step further into the absurd, they also mention that they're working on a scent for women (as obviously, with women already having vulvas, they won't need to carry around a vial of the scent of one). one might wonder just what masculine fragrance they might attempt to capture. perhaps their next product will be called "Balls," "Shaft," or something "edgy" like "Foreskin."

this icky-dirty-need-a-shower bipolar experience has been brought to you by the letters "V," "J," and, uh… "J."

- 01:14 am - PL :: 2 Comments
categories ::  Girls - Nostalgia - Pleased/Like

 

2006.09.07 blast from the link-blog past:

not that bipolar was ever really a "link-blog," but I compiled this little list for my best gal earlier today, and thought it wouldn't be totally imprudent to post it here for you guys. i have a couple post ideas brewing, but really i just need to get off my ass and post my usual off-the-cuff b.s. like i used to.

anyway, here's the list o' links:

2006.05.22 joyeux anniversaire:

it seems almost inconceivable, but today marks the sixth anniversary of the first post on bipolar. of course, that post was pretty much just a test post, but no matter. and it's also not to say that bipolar has enjoyed much life in the last year. out of the last 10 months, it seems i've only successfully posted in three of them. brian has fared a little better, posting in four out of the last 10 months.

i suppose this is one of the reasons why blogging has gone the way it's gone… the only people who can effectively keep it going are the ones who are getting paid for it.

nevertheless, brian and i are still here, still putting up stuff when we can find time to do it.

now, in honor of our anniversary, and anniversary posts past (which, on review, I've realized were fewer and farther between than I'd have hoped) here's a brief recap:

a few things I didn't mention, or barely mentioned were the births of my goddaughter?sara's niece emma?and my first nephew, reuben. of course, now I have four nieces and a nephew, and they are all uniquely adorable.

sara's almost finished her third year of med school, and is looking forward to getting a greater concentration in her chosen field of pediatrics here in the upcoming fourth year.

lastly, a large chunk of my friends, those from the core murray group, are finally getting themselves married off. brax this past month, and nate and the puffin in very short order.

six years covers a lot of ground in the lives of 20 somethings to 30 somethings. i do wish i could have chronichled more of the last year, but i suppose it's better to live a life you've no time to write about, than to have tons of time to write about the life you wish you had. six years has seen me go from a time of insecurity (personally, financially, professionally), to the complete opposite. I've gone from waiting for my life to get started, to realizing that it already has. and even better than that, I'm happy.

2005.11.15 posterity & procrastination:

in the interests of complete and total procrastination on the novel-writing front (2640 words), i have undertaken a massive clean-up operation here on bipolar. at least, on my side of things. i've changed the permalinks to link to the individual post pages, rather than the monthly pages, and i've gone through every single one of my old posts to bring them in line with some of the better ways i've figured out to do things since we started. javascript new window links are now "accessible" (which just means they should work for people *without* javascript as well), all self-referential links point to individual post pages instead of monthlies with a hash anchor.

i've found quite a few dead links, and have started treating them in a standardized way (when i can't find a replacement or updated link)…

oh, and the big thing… all those posts in the "Old Posts" category from before we moved to movable type have now been gone through and assigned actual relevant categories. "Old Posts" (is/are) no more!

i also did a little jimmy'ing with the categories page, so now the categories are sized (and weighted) a little more sensibly.

the last thing i need to do is go through each post and hunt for linkrot. i've done a little already, but i've skipped around a bunch, so i'm sure there are more to be found.

all that stuff, and i've set up a new machine at home and installed SuSE linux on it. too many toys, too little time!

now, let's see if i can procrastinate on my procrastinating and get some work on on that novel…


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