Friday, March 31, 2006

Show Review: David Sedaris

Those who know me, know that I love National Public Radio. I find that is provides a wonderful arena for open ideas, honest reporting of national and world events and it also can be quite entertaining. You hear voices on NPR you would never hear on mainstream radio. For the past 14 years one of the voices heard on Public Radio has been David Sedaris. Sedaris is the solo author of some six books, in addition to books and plays he has co-written with his sister Amy, who some of you may know from her hilarious series 'Strangers with Candy.' That show aired on Comedy Central and counted among its cast of actors and writers a younger Stephen "it's French, bitch" Colbert.

For Wednesday's show at the venerable old Keswick Theater in Abington PA, the Author read a few short works of both fiction and non-fiction to start the show off. His mild mannered, almost geeky, speaking voices seams to be the perfect offset delivery for his amazingly sharp wit and focused insight. Even when reading his fable about an alcoholic cat who is going to an AA meeting while in prison contains wonderful prose and laugh out loud provoking dialog. After working through some new and old work, Sedaris moved on to reading some passages from his diary that ranged from wry smirk inducing humor to tear maker laughs coupled with snorts. A Q&A ended the night and Sedaris was still on his game, keeping 90% of the audience in stitches. Some of the sad sacks that have season tickets to venues like the Keswick should really do their home work if they are going to be offended by a middle aged gay author who talks about buying a skeleton as a Christmas gift for his partner or tells us of the last time he touched a monkey.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Stoned

As man progressed from cave dweller to duplex dweller we gained all manners of talents. One of these talents is the ability to take a huge slab of rock and slowly chisel it away to bring out the art with in. Now some artist has given birth to this statue of Britney Spears doing the same. While the art work, titled 'Monument To Pro-Life: The Birth Of Sean Preston' may not be the best way to bring a child into this world (another bad way is if he is from K Fed's seed) one can hardly say it's not art. I think it is funny that both the pro life and pro choice groups have their own comments on this piece of art. What isn't funny is that we some how keep allowing Britney to be relevant in our world.

Speaking of skanks who get all infected with god knows what, I haven't posted in a few days because our computer was more gummed up than a piece of steak at a retirement home. We went and saw David Sedaris the other night and I will be posting about that. Plus I have a post coming about how let down I am in my favorite stand up: Dane Cook. I know she's hot Dane, but how could you. More to come.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

This Guy Can't Remember if He's Full of Shit.

How many of you have ever wanted to just scrap all of your normal routines and start over fresh? What if you could do all that and add being famous to your repertoire? Meet Doug Bruce, a British chap who lived in New York in a big huge apartment and now is living a big huge lie. This guy walked into a police station three years ago and told the boys in blue that he didn't know who he was, and in fact didn't know anything.

Later he claimed that he had never seen the rain, but some how he knew that when one is in trouble they should go to a police station. Lucky guess. Bruce used his gimmick to begin rubbing elbows (and one would imagine crotches) with the big names of New York and London. He became the talk of all the big party's in town, and after a few months peeked the interest of an old friend (who he some how remembered was a film maker) to make a documentary about him.

"Unknown White Male" opened in DC the other day and spewed the tale of this modern day circus freak. What it didn't do was show footage of Bruce and filmmaker Rupert Murray going to one of New York's awesome hospitals to take a CAT scan which would show if Bruce ever really had any brain trauma that would cause amnesia. The footage wasn't included because Bruce never went to a doctor, a move that would be like cutting open the goose to prove that it is just a golden egg making machine with feathers.

Fraud doesn't even begin to describe this mother fucker, but I have to say that I admire his idea. Who among us wouldn't want to try and snatch fame by basically starting our lives over. I would, but it would me in Melbourne, and rather than saying I couldn't remember anything I would say I couldn't remember how to do stupid office work.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

One (one) for the Little Guy

As I found out while out to dinner last night with a few other people our age, not as many people are as in tune to the world as sports as I thought. For some people the sports page is the first one used for the dog to piss on, while for others it is the first read. For those of you who don't see any value in sport I would encourage you to consider tiny George Mason University and there amazing run though a host of college basketball's best. As far as basketball power house schools go, GMU is not even in the picture. Although there are almost thirty thousand students at the northern Virginia school they are considered a "Mid-Major" program in sports, which means the school pays most professors and researchers the big bucks while the athletic program gets a lot less than other in state schools like Virginia Tech and UVA. It is not quite as pure as the Division III level of the NCAA (which is what my Alma Mater is) where the athletic department can't hand out any scholarships and makes little to no expenditures on unnecessary items for the program. That said, Mason is still a college where education seems to be the main focus, and the hoops team are just a group who the students can rally around. And rally they have.

On their run GMU has knocked out three of the 4 best teams in the country, while they themselves were told they weren't even supposed to be here. Many threw up their hands in disgust when GMU was added as an "at large" bid three weeks ago, but now they are one of four teams left standing. On their way to the final four, they took out Michigan State, North Carolina, another little engine that could - Wichita State and now UConn. Three of those four have won the National Title in the last 6 years. Now the Patriots will take on the University of Florida for a chance to get into the championship game themselves, no small feet. This is why as sports fans we love this tournament, because although the big boys normally end up winning, there is always the Cinderella story, always the buzzer beater, and some day that team will go all the way. Even if GMU doesn't win the title I have to say to them: That's good work out of you for just being here, and don't let anyone tell you different.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Am I about to turn 30, or 10?

I am stealing the idea for this post from my wife, but as part of our vows we get to do that. Her most recent post was about getting back things we had as kids, and what that can do for us as adults. For her it was a watch, but for me it has been toys.

I have to set the background here, so you know where I'm coming from. In 1985 the greatest toy of all time came out just in time for the Christmas rush. It was the GI Joe aircraft carrier, better known as the USS Flagg. The Flagg is the dream of all young boys from my era for a few reasons, but first is its size. It is almost 8 feet long, 3 feet wide and stands 2 feet off the carpet.

At 10 years old I was sure this was the largest and most wonderful toy ever made. The second big reason I loved the Flagg, was the fact my father served on a Carrier, The USS Independence, in the late 60's and early 70's. Add to all that the fact that Top Gun came out the next year and you can see why a kid like me would want his own Carrier and a few F-14 Jets to fly on and off it.

That Christmas I didn't get the Flagg. Nor the following May for my birthday. I still remember seeing the box in front of a few kids houses on a bike ride a few days after Christmas and being crushed I didn't have it too. (To be fair I think the bike may have been my gift that year and I loved to ride it, so I should cut my folks a break.) One kid I knew named Kevin did get the Flagg, but his Dad never was able to put the whole thing together, so I never really did get to see it in all of it's glory.

Enter eBay. With a commitment of financial backing from Mama Greazy, I am determined to make my 30th birthday the one were I get the Flagg. My mom has said she will do all she can to make good on the gift she never got me. To that end I have turned to eBay to stock up on the needed accoutrements for operation of the Flagg. I am in the process of acquiring a small fleet of F-14s to grace the Flagg's deck, and will also attempt to find a few crew men and women as well. Once in my basement and put together (no easy task from what I read) the Flagg's final resting place will be an 8 foot section of plywood set atop two saw horses, much more noble than a box in a garage somewhere. Isn't It?

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Show Review: Jenny Lewis w/The Watson Twins

My wife and I braved a storm of young hipsters last night to see Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins perform at the Recher Theatre in Towson Maryland. Ambiguous cool person in jeans and a vintage shirt to the left of me, quasi hippie chick in a sun dress and old sweeter to the right of me and there I was stuck in the middle with her.

While the assembled horde seemed to enjoy the two opening acts (Wispertown 2000, and Jonathan Rice) we did not. Wispertown is fronted by Jenny's best friend Morgan who seems like a sweet girl, but may be a bit of a coat tail rider. Her speaking voice is amazingly reminiscent of Maya Rudolph's character Megan from the Wake Up Wakefield high school A/V skit, and that isn't a good thing. If you don't know it, it sounds as if a person who was already short a few brain cells did a few gravity bong hits before huffing Mr. Clean. As for Wispertown's on stage performance... well, it wasn't good. Imagine country rockers Sun Volt and indie girl harmonizers That Dog had a baby, but it was tone deaf, and then you have Wispertown 2000.

Next on the docket, was more standing around waiting and then it was time for Jonathan Rice, who doubles as a member of Jenny's band. As he took the stage in his black shirt and pants and crooned I watched as four or five girls in the crowd reached puberty while staring longingly at him. When he called those in attendance "kids" even I was offended, and I could probably be his dad, if the dog hadn't bitten me on my way up the stairs. His vagabond, rebel, smoldering vibe was a bit stale, but soon enough he walked off and sound checks were under way for the main act.

I loved the album "Rabbit Fur Coat" the first time I dialed it up on my Dell DJ. Lewis fronts Rilo Kiley, a band who have managed to put out three records with out most people knowing who the fuck they are, just like I like them. Despite the fact most people don't know Lewis, she is among the best singer songwriters out there today. With Rilo, or her side project The Postal Service, or now on her own Lewis is a force to be reckoned with through her pen, guitar and microphone.

I was happy to see that her live show more than lived up to what I have heard from her in the past. She has an amazing power to her voice, even though it has an almost angelic quality, which is odd because she seams fixated on death. One new song the band played last night was "Jack Killed Mom" a rousing tale of jack killing mom, but a great one. Add to that all of the wonderful songs from "Rabbit Fur Coat" and you get one hell of a show. I won't even bitch about the half hour we waited between Rice and the main act, oh wait. I just did.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

2 More Years.

What are you doing in late May of 2008? I will be watching the last few episodes of The Simpsons. Fox announced today that they have extended the show up to and past their 400th show (which will air at the end of next season) but stopped short of saying that those will be the last two. They could continue right on to 500 shows and up, but I have a feeling that these will be the last two.

The Simpsons was the first primetime cartoon show of this era, and paved the way for so many of the other great shows on today which are penned rather than filmed. South Park and Family Guy have been the two that have done the most with the mantle passed to them by Springfield's favorite family, but none have really passed the whole body of work. I will admit that on most nights I think South Park and Family Guy are better than what Simpsons has to offer now a days, but I don't think even those shows can ever touch the pure genius that was the middle of the Simpson dynasty. Seasons six through 10 are all gold, and are untouchable. That said the episode that will air this coming Sunday looks pretty good and guest starts Ricky Gervais who brought us the Office.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Movie Review

The man to the left of these words is a dick of the highest order. He may or may not end up being convicted of the crimes he is accused of, but one thing is sure: he will never get complete enough punishment for what he has done. Not in this world at least. Even if one of the 30 thousand people he screwed over were to kidnap and torture him it wouldn't be enough. If you want to get fired up about Jeff Skilling and his cronies as much as I have do your self a favor and watch filmmaker Alex Gibney's Oscar winning documentary, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.

I finally got around to watching it this weekend and I was struck with a few thoughts right away. #1 How much fucking money do you people need? #2 This was a great movie, well done and in my mind tight to the facts of the case(s). #3 America is screwed as long as the people allow big business and big government to be in bed with one another without at least one foot each on the floor. Lastlly: #4 There but for the grace of the American socioeconomic model go I.

I work for a fortune 25 company and in our previous incarnation, before being swallowed up by our current behemoth of an employer, we all wondered about some of the amazing numbers we reported each and every quarter. In the movie some of the Enron folks said that there were months they were sure they weren't going to hit their number, and then magically they would not only hit it, they would blow it away. That was us, and what happened to Enron could have happened to us then, or to any of us now. One reason stands out: corporate Greed. How much is enough? You can only get so big, and then you become lethargic and uninspired. Haven't these people figured this out yet?

One person who seems to have a pretty good idea of what the problems both were and are is Gibney who puts together a masterful combination of former workers both high and low on the food chain, to go along with reporters and analysts who covered the whole Enron story. Interlaced through out the movie are clips of the testimony given before Congress of one Jeff Skilling, Dick number one. CED. Chief Executive Dick. Just listening to him talk made me feel like I needed to take a shower. Add to that the insanely big headed and over the top traders who joke in recorded phone calls about how they are screwing the people of California and you would think the Dick Head category was all filled, but its not. You have to throw in the former Enron executive who walked away with a third of a Billion (With a B) dollars before all the shit went down. Of course he had to give some of that to his wife, because the got a divorce when he left her to wed his stripper girlfriend who he had knocked up. Seems some people got big pay days to spend all their time at tittie bars, good work if you can get it.

I was so mad after watching this movie that I just wanted to steal something from a major corporation to try and tilt the scales back to the average joe ever so slightly. Oh yeah, I did... can't say what though, but it is round and has a whole in the middle.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Cats Win! Cats Win!

I just got done listening to the Geelong Cats win the NAB cup in nail biting fashion by beating the Adelaide Crows in the final minutes of the tilt. The Cats were still short handed, but able to stay in the game until they were able to pull ahead on a 9 point goal at the 17 minute mark by Joel Corey.

That goal made it 86-84, rather than the 84-83 trailing tally that would have resulted if Corey was to try and kick or carry the ball into the 50 meter zone for a normal six point goal. Two minutes later another 9 pointer rang off the goal post, but GFC still managed to cement the win with a goal by Cam Mooney to provide the final score 3.10.5 (92) to 1.10.15 (84).

Geelong trailed at the end of each quarter and only lead once in the game, just past half time, but they never quit and by the time Corey put them ahead with his "supergoal" I got that same feeling you get when a team hits a big three pointer in March Madness. Mooney was a major difference down the stretch for the Cats as he tallied 3 goals to go along with the 11 marks he collected in the game.

With the win the Cats snap a 43 year championship drought. Now we wait till April 1st for the first game of the full fixture when the Cats will host the Brisbane Lions at Skilled Stadium in Geelong. I wish I could be there, but since I can't I will just say to all the Cats: that's good work out of you boys.

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I Love this Car.

I have been a lover of the Chevrolet Camaro since I was a little kid. Ok, I'll fess up, I am of Italian heritage and I grew up in New Jersey, so I have to love the Camaro. I think when you start in school they put something in your school milk to make you crave one, and still when the time came for me to chose between a z-28 and a Ford Mustang I opted for the 'stang, turning my back on my destiny. A few years ago Chevy announced they were doing away with their mid range mussel car, focusing instead on the SUV craze and putting their energy into the new hybrid body types of the SSR and now the HHR.

I was sad to think that I would never own a brand new Camaro, if I ever owned one at all, but then the Mustang came into play again. Just like in the mid 60's when Ford gave the world the Mustang, ironically in what they thought was a move to sell more cars to young working women. While there is no question mussel cars would appeal to a lot of people they have been guy territory for generations. As they died out in the era of 'fast and furious' jap crap cars that sound like weed wackers, most American car makers pulled the plug on their mussel car lines, or like Chevy took once proud hot rods like the Impala and turned them into family cars. Enter Ford Motor Company who decided to re-imagine both the Thunderbird, and the Mustang calling on much of what made the first generation of those cars great. Both new Fords were a huge hit, and the copy cat nature of the car bizz was at it again. They have begun to scale down SUV production (with the added incentive of $2.50 a gallon Gas), and ramp up the reintroduction of cars filled with power, strength, and the defining American attribute... attitude.

You only need to take one look at the new Mustang or it's followers the Charger, GTO, and Camaro to see that Detroit is starting to become the proud home of mussel again. If you want a car to take the kids to soccer games in don't buy one of these, but if you want to feel like a renegade cop from a 1970's TV show, get on line now. 2009 is right around the corner, and if the response to the concept Camaro touring the auto show circuit is positive then that is when you can get on the list to own one. I plan on making the right choice this time around, and although I think the new Mustang in great, I will be ready to pick up a jet black '09 Camaro with black and red interior and the loudest engine and sound system available. I might even see if I can get my job at the Pizza parlor back and start rolling the sleeves of my tee shirts up again. You Got a problem with that? I didn't think so.

I know I can't bring back my youth, but I can at least get my self a car that looks fun to drive. Let's face it, no one wanted a Mini Van Matchbox car when they were a kid, because they are inherently not fun. When I look back at the Camaro in it's many incarnations I see a car that for much of it's run had an air of cool and might. The late 60's models are revered as classic, while still being bad ass looking. The mid 70's left a bit to be desired, but by the time the late 70's came along it had that swagger back. Most people associate the 80's models with the acronym IROC, which as a punch line usually drew the phrase Italian Retard Out cruising, but were really cool cars. I was never a fan of the most recent incarnation and I guess neither was the buying public, which lead to the discontinuation. Now the Camaro is back, and it is some good work out of the folks at Chevy. Vinnie, Paulie get your keys we're goin' drivin'.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

WM ISO Caged Heat.

In this hectic world it is hard for single people to find other like minded individuals. I am lucky enough to have spent a third of my life with someone I love more than I ever thought possible, and obviously I don't know what the search is like anymore. I was 20 when I started dating my wife, and we met on campus at our college, so we were a bit of a captive audience for one another, which makes finding someone a bit easier. That being said, I have stumbled on one of the strangest dating websites ever, where captive dating audience is taken to a whole other level. As a bit of a back story here, I work for a company that gets thousands of pieces of mail every hour, and the post office sends us a hand full of the wrong mail sometimes. If you use one of those pre-made return address labels be sure that it is stuck to the envelope well, because if it curls up and gets stuck to the letter in front of it at the postal processing center it may go to a high volume site like my employer. When we open a letter we don't look at the envelop, unless upon reading the letter we realize it wasn't meant for us, at which time we reseal the letter and promptly send it on its way to the rightful receiver.

Today we got a letter from a man who was looking for a lady, and with some specific demands too. She needed to be between 31 and 45, white, blond, into the lord and oh yeah by the very nature of the web site he was contacting (why he was using snail mail over email I don't know) this lady needed to be in prison. A convict. Caged Heat anyone? I was more than intrigued by the notion of a prisoners seeking pen pals web site so I jotted down the address and when I got home I logged on and proceeded to laugh myself silly. Don't get me wrong, I know there are a lot of people in jail who probably shouldn't be. And there are even more who did the crime they are in for, but may have had extenuation circumstances for doing so that I will never understand. I don't think these people should be denied contact from the outside world, but you can't turn your back on comedy when it pops up. In the end, however, I do hope these people get rehabilitated and can rejoin society, and on the bright side they may have someone waiting for them when they get out.

Eshawn is a 19 year old female who is in for prostitution in the state of Texas. She will be getting out of the can in early 2009 and she assures potential suitors that she has skills in the bedroom which would lead you to believe that she must be older than 19. She also professes "I have no kids to my knowledge." Classic.

Carrie is a 28 year old permanent resident of Indiana, well at least till her release date in early 2008. She went away for dealing cocaine, but wants to let you know she is a romantic at heart. "I enjoy holding hands, cuddling, kissing, foreplay, walking and spending quiet nights alone with someone I love. I believe in sparing no effort in pampering my man and pleasing him in every way." Sounds great, plus she adds "I will be willing to teach you a few things..." Sure like how to cut coke with Ajax. "...as well as learn a few." Like how to not get caught next time.

You ladies are thinking: Greazy, can I find a man on this sight? Yes you can. In fact the site only lists 32 women, but a whopping 1161 boys. One available fellow wants to let the ladies know what he is looking for. "I'm looking for a female who's in good shape willing to send pictures and likes to hold a conversation through the pen. I'm not looking for a relationship at this point of time just a female pen pal so if you like what you read and see holla back at ya boy." If this sounds good to you just remember that Willard wont be out till 2013, attempted murder kind of ties up ones social calendar you know.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

HBO

Sundays are for cable, now and forever. And while Showtime has begun to join the game with stand out shows like The L Word, Weeds, and HUff, let's face it: HBO owns Sunday. This note for the desperate housewives, you are about to become second class citizens on Sunday, because the heavy weights are back.

Not only are the Sopranos back on at 9:00 but they have been backed up by what looks to be another very good show at 10:00 in Big Love. We all know about the dysfunction in the New Jersey family, but it is a totally different story in Utah. Tony may hold down a wife and a mistress or two but even he has not had the balls to marry more than one woman. Only time will tell if Big Love has the chops to make it in to more than one season, but I will say this: Many people doubted Six Feet Under after it's first episode and that ended up being one of the best shows HBO ever had.

There have been some misses, like The Comeback or Carnivale, which was among the worst shows I have ever seen, but by in large they do great work. Once I started to watch the Sopranos in season two, I started to watch more and more of their shows, and as time has gone by I have become a big fan of most of them. In addition to Six Feet Under, I also follow The Wire, Extras, Entourage, and Deadwood. Each of them is different and brings something to the table you just cant get from network. It might be the profuse amount of cursing that you get in Deadwood, the violence of the Wire or the comedy of Extras and Entourage that no network would allow.

This past year I was also captivated by the historical series Rome which takes a slightly different view of one of the most documented empires of all time, by looking through the eyes of lesser Romans who just so happen to be at the crux of much of the historical fact we know today. Added in of course are plot lines that can best be called flights of fancy or wild guesses but they make for great TV. As with all HBO's shows the acting is top rate, and no expense is spared to make it seem as real as possible.

If you tire of the dramas and comedies they give us, they also have some great documentaries and live topical shows about politics, life or sports. Real Sports is a great sports news mag show, and Inside the NFL is a staple. I think Bill Maher is one of the best satirists out there today, not to mention the fact that he is always on point and calls 'em like he sees 'em. Lastly, Penn and Teller's Bullshit is an amazingly funny show that couldn't get one minute of programming on network, let alone the name. If you haven't seen it, run do not walk to check it out.

I hope HBO keeps it up, and as long as they do I will be there to watch 90% of what they do. And to think when they tried First and 10 all of those years ago it was a total pile of shit, how fast they grow up.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Good Work Out of Me.

There are some things in this world you are supposed to do gracefully, such as winning. No one likes a sore winner, for that matter it is best if you can lose gracefully as well. It was with that in mind that I told my barber to just go ahead and cut my hair as short as possible yesterday.

I am going to try and lose my hair with some grace. At this stage in the ever present Hair Punic Wars being waged on my body, Hannibal is crossing the alps on his elephants, and my new sprouts seam to be crossing my neck and massing with reinforcements from the lower back region. It's not that I see clumps of fallen follicles in the drain everyday, cause I don't. My brush isn't fettered with cast off locks either. Its almost as if they have just stopped growing in one by one, a mass conspiracy to leave me chrome domed.

I've had a good run though, so I can't complain. I am 80 days from my 30th birthday and I stillhave 90% coverage. My older brother began to lose his scalp war in his early twenties, so I guess I am lucky. Above all else, I can't abide trying to hide it, or deny it, so I told the lady at the barber shop to buzz me.

She was surprised, and even asked me a few times if I was sure. "You have such nice hair" she protested, but like a middle ages English King, or an unruly patron at a strip club I responded thusly: "Off with it lusty wench!" Ok, not the lusty wench part, but like a sheep she sheared me. Now I can look forward to the day in my not so distant future when I can somberly walk with a tuft of my hair and my brush to the trash can and bury them in classic military fashion, as the trumpets play the theme from the show "Hair."

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Record Review: Arctic Monkeys

First things first, this band is called Arctic Monkeys - not THE Arctic Monkeys, thus avoiding the recent trend of bands with "the" band names. These boys come to us from Sheffield England and in the tradition of the Brit Rock music scene, the English are telling the world that these lads are the next, next, next big thing. The tradition in America when our cousins across the sea tell us they have the next big rock band is for us to embrace it for a record or two and sell their shows out. But then we get tired of them telling us how great they are and stop paying any attention to them as their records still fly off the shelves in the rest of the English speaking world. (For a case study please see Oasis.)

I've said it before but I think these guys will stick around, because this album is top notch. More over, the Arctic Monkeys don't have the nasty habit that some of the other bloke rockers have had in the past of telling America how great they are. In fact, in their track "Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But..." they tell anyone interested in jumping on the band wagon that they can smell those types. Frankly they don't give a fuck what they do or say "Cause all you people are vampires. And all your story's are stale, and though you pretend to stand by us. I know your certain we'll fail."

Lead singer Alex Turner doesn't look like a rock star, hell none of these boys do. They look like they are just a bunch of young normal English guys who play pubs and bars on the weekend. Their music, however, belies their looks. Ranging from balls to the wall rock to more pop like radio rock, Turner's voice is strong and undeniably British. There is no attempt to cover the accent or to stop using Brit slang. The guitar is great, provided by Jamie Cook, and takes the songs to another level. Andy Nicholson, bass, and Matt Helders, drums, are the rhythm section and give the Monkeys a great back bone.

From slow mellow songs like "Mardy Bum" or the cheeky"Riot Van" about being rousted by cops to the more heavy tunes like "I Bet You Look Good On the Dance Floor" the foursome shows they have great range. Along with those three, I found the stand outs to be "Still Take You Home" a cocky ode to a girl at a show ("Under these lights you look beautiful") and "Fake Tales of San Francisco" which I think may be the best on the record.

The Arctic Monkeys come to us from Domino Records who dropped Franz Ferdinand on the world a few years ago. Some will compare the two, but I say the cold primates are heads and shoulders above FF. So go on and pick up a copy of the new big thing from England, but when you have stopped listening in a few years don't be surprised if I am still saying 'that's good work out of you' to the Arctic Monkeys. What can I say? I'm just cool like that.

I had said in previous posts that I was listening to Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, and Panic! At the Disco with the intent of delivering reviews to the blog, but I have also said that I will only review things I have liked and I couldn't get my head around either of these acts. Panic if just a poor mans Fallout Boy and Clap tried to hard to be different and ended up kind of sucking. Oh well nothing ventured nothing gained. Speaking of different I still have one review left. Matisyahu is a Hasidic Jew who performs reggae music. I know you can't wait.

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cats kick ass, Have a chance to win the cup.

The Geelong Cats of the Australian Football League moved on to the finals of the NAB Cup with a chance to earn their first major title in 43 years. The Cats got a balanced attack to win (3.10.14) 101 over the Freemantle Dockers (1.10.12) 81.

The twenty point victory was made possible by a huge forth quarter for the Cats who trailed by 10 points after three quarters time. With the win the Cats now move on to the Finals of the NAB Cup to play the Adelaide Crows at AAMI Stadium in Adelaide. The Crows earned a landslide victory over Melbourne (1.16.24) 129 to (1.5.5) 44. As a reminder to those who didn't see my last post about the Cats the score line is 9 points goals or supergoals, then 6 point goals and the last digit is behinds which are worth one point. A goal is earned when the ball is kicked through the two center goal posts. A behind is awarded when it goes between the outer post and inner post. There are four posts at either end of the pitch, the two inner posts being slightly taller than the outer.

When the NAB Cup concludes the 16 teams in the AFL will begin a fixture of 22 games and the top 8 will make the four week Premiership Playoffs which culminate in the Grand Final to crown a champ. I will up date anyone who is interested in the times and channel of any AFL games shown in the US, and the time of the highlights show called Toyota Aussie Rules, which airs on Fox Sports Net. More Record reviews to come, including The Artic Monkeys later today.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Record Review: Cat Power

This is my third record review this week, with at least two more to come, maybe a third if I like it. I am trying to only bring things I have liked to the forefront on this blog, because I tend to think it is too easy to be negative, and lets face it there is already a lot of it out in the world these days.

I liked this record enough to listen to it three times through the first night I had it. Cat Power has been around for along time now, and in the beginning she wasn't my cup of tea. In her early days Chan Marshall, which is her name, was more of an act to me: Cat Power. On "The Greatest" I heard more of herself, and less artistic mumble, of which she has been critiqued in the past.

The record starts with the tune for which the album is titled and I was a bit taken aback when the strings joined the piano and guitar. The tune they were playing sounded an awful lot like "Moon River" and although I couldn't shake that thought as the song wore on, I knew I was in for a well done record. She sings: "Lower me down, to the culprit south. Make 'em wash a space in town for the lead and dregs of my my bed." I was pretty pleased at track one, but as the disc played on the juxtaposition from one track to the next, like the slow tempo of "The Greatest" to the more upbeat "Living Proof" seamed to present her story in a complex but masterful set of layers.

It is fitting for Marshall to reference the 'Culprit South' in the first few stanzas of the record because there are hints of southern flare all throughout the record. The kind you would expect from a performer who took the name for her musical persona from a truckers cap that read Cat Diesel Power. I know the harmonica, fiddle, and steel guitar scare most young, indie, or hip kids to the point where they have to pull out all their Yo La Tengo seven inches just to feel clean again, but Cat Power pulls it off so very well.

Like Jenny Lewis, earlier this year on her record "Rabbit Fur Coat" Cat Power melds different styles together to bring us a refreshing musical trip that will both entertain and inspire. The stand out track here is Willie in my opinion and while it is driven by piano there is a smoldering sax line that is accented by stripped down rhythm section to bring the full package to the table. Cat power gets a full 'that's good work out of you' from me today.I am sorry to say Cat Power had to cancel her current tour due to medical reasons, just the other day. I hope she is ok, and will be back out again soon, because I would love to see her. More to come!

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Record Review: KT Tunstall

I'm going to keep this week of record reviews going on this early Wednesday morning with the debut album from a Scottish singer, songwriter named KT Tunstall. I have to give all the credit for me even hearing this record to who ever did her pre release press, cause I couldn't get away from reviews of this record. Already a hit in the UK it seams the lads and lasses at her label are hell bent on making this a hit this summer, and with Tunstall's natural talents they might just pull it off.

Let me premise my thoughts on this record by saying I am now, and have always been a huge fan of the musical sub genre of a woman with a great voice and the ability to play the guitar and/or the piano. (See Missy Higgins, Cheryl Crow, Clare Bowditch, Sara Bareilles, and Tristan Prettyman references in the last few weeks.) This is not to say that all you need to do to sell me a record is be female and strum the strings or tap on the ivory while humming along in tune. I want storytellers, and frankly, I'm not asking that everyone be Bob Dylan. We can only expect to be captivated once, maybe twice a year by some new release, but it is the solidly good records that make a music year pass well.

In "Eye to the Telescope" this is precisely what Tunstall brings us. Her voice is a bit more serious than some of the previously mentioned artist, but holds a distinctly attention getting quality that begs to be listened to. The music on the record is well arranged and superbly played to keep from distracting too much from the vocals, all the while aiding in the process of telling a story. Tunstall her self appears to be a story, if you can believe what you read about her.

She is part Chinese and Scottish, and lists her influences as all past artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Tom Waits or even the Flaming Lips. Her music comes across as raw in intention but polished in presentation and I wonder if her public persona is the same. In a recent interview following the Brit awards she said she is just a normal girl who isn't used to getting all dolled up for industry gallas. "My problem is that I'm rubbish in high heels" she said, adding "As I stepped up for my Brit award I kept thinking to myself, 'Whatever you do, don't fall.'" No worries KT, you keep it up, and I think you'll find your self standing steady on your two non high heeled feet.

This record has a few tracks you can add to play lists on your Ipod or what have you. The first single in the States is sure to be "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" but I think the stand out is "Other Side of The World" which has all the chops it will need to make it on radio. "Under the Weather" is also well penned and played and is a bit more on the adult contemo tip, but easy on the ears. Any of you who are fans of the new hit show "Grey's Anatomy" may recognize the song "Miniature Disaster" from a recent episode as well. KT, 'that's good work out of you.' Still on the plate for this week, Cat Power, Artic Monkeys, Either Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah or Panic! at the Disco, and just added to the docket Matisyahu the Jewish Reggae artist.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Record Review: She Wants Revenge

This is the first of three or four new-ish records I have been listening to over the last few weeks, and I figured I would do a week of reviews. I decided to start with this self titled record, because it was the one that jumped up and grabbed me first. My first thought was, can't these guys try and emote a bit more with their vocal, but when I got past the 80's style drone and allowed myself to tap my toe to the dance floor rocking music, I began to dig this disc.

Adam and Justin are the LA lads behind SWR and they had one idea in mind when they pulled this duo together: get on the floor mother fucker. While perusing their web site I found a great quote that illustrates their modus operandi: "We just wanted to make a record that would make girls dance and cry" says Justin Warfield the voice and guitar half of the group. I can see how that desire manifested it self in the end product which is heavy on Adam Bravin's bass and computer programmed beats that make you think of a dance in 1988. They admit to being inspired by, among others, Joy Division and The Cure, and the influence is apparent. The song writing is better than I had expected, and some of the songs are down right transcendent. The first single is Tear You Apart, which is very good, but in my mind the stand outs are "Red Flags and Long Nights", "Sister" and "Broken Promises for Broken Hearts."

She Wants Revenge will be required listening for the mid to late teen bad ass set, but there is a lot of quality for us old late 20's folks as well. If you spend anytime at a club that actually encourages dancing these days you will be sure to hear a few of these tunes, and if you look real hard you will see a few of those kids who scare old people in the mall while on their way to Hot Topic actually crack a smile as the dance with one another. That is if they haven't lost their mind in the music and are all over each other.

Lyrics like "she was a bad, bad girl, so he told her so" and "she likes disco and tastes like a tear. Tells me 'don't stop dancing' and she's pulling me near." put the hot steaming froth topping on this cup of dark and rich rhythm. And for that I say to She wants Revenge 'that's good work out of you." All this week I will be looking at KT Tunstall's debut, the new Cat Power disc, the newest British invasion of the much ballywhoed Artic Monkeys and a review of either Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah or Panic at the Disco.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Best of 2005: Music

Something about making lists appeals to my retrospective nature. As much as I enjoy looking forward to events to come, I love to look back on the past and more over, I love ranking things in order. I spent along time putting together my list of my 50 favorite songs of all time, and as 2005 wore on I began to make a list of the new music I was listening to that I enjoyed. Some of these songs were released in 2004, but due to not being on radio, a major label, or an American label I didn't hear them till '05. As was the case with the top 50 of all time, these are my favorite, and I am in no way saying they were the best, just the ones I liked best.

#50 D.H.T. - Listen To Your Heart. (It's a long list and there is room for a well sung cover or two.) #49 Anna Nalick - Consider This. #48 The Killers - Jenny Was a friend of Mine. #47 Kasey Chambers - Pony. (Quirky voiced Aussie country singer, I think she is interesting) #46 Sara Bareilles - Gravity (she'll be back on the list in '06.) #45 Gwen Stefani - Cool. #44 Keane - Everybody's Changing. #43 Green Day - Boulevard of Broken Dreams. #42 Tristan Prettyman - Love Love Love. (I think she is going to be huge.) #41Kelly Clarkson - Addicted.

#40 Ani DiFranco - Knuckle Down (First of 3 from her new throwback album.) #39 Missy Higgins - The Cactus That Found the Beat. (Love Her.) #38 The Cat Empire - Two Shoes. #37 Foo Fighters - In Your Honor. #36 Weezer - Perfect Situation. #35 Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot. (They are pretty damn good.) #34 Scissor Sisters - Tits On the Radio. (it is a trip to actually hear this on the radio... in Australia) #33 The Postal Service - We Will Become Silhouettes. (Death Cab + Rilo = Great) #32 Sheryl Crow - Letter To God. #31 3 Doors Down - Let Me Go.

#30 Liz Phair - Everything Between Us. #29 Rilo Kiley - Portions For Foxes. (Just like the last two this is a great record, more to come) #28 Ani DiFranco - Studying Stones. #27 Natasha Bedingfield - These Words. #26 Coldplay - Fix You. (I really liked this whole record.) #25 Kanye West - Heard 'Em say. #24 Faithless - Mass Destruction. #23 The Killers - Mr. Brightside. #22 The Like - June Gloom (they have more potential then the first record show.) #21 The Streets - Fit But You Know It.

#20 Greenskeeper - Lotion (an homage to Silence of the Lambs, seriously.) #19 Son Volt - Bandages & Scars (Good to see Jay back making more great music.) #18 The Cat Empire - Miserere (another great import from down under.) #17 Death Cab for Cutie - What Sarah Said (great song that hasn't gotten air play...) #16 Green Day - Holiday (... because this amazing record was getting all the air play in '05.) #15 Cold Play - Speed of Sound (The signature single from X&Y.) #14 Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine (She's Back! And she brought a new twist on her old sound) #13 The Killers - Somebody Told Me. (Just try to not like this album.) #12 Killing Heidi - Undertow (Another clutch find by my Wife in Oz, they rock.) #11 Missy Higgins - Scar (My absolute favorite new artist of the year, more on the way)

#10 Ani DiFranco - Lag Time. Year after year Ani just keeps making it happen. Her writing is second to none, and her playing and singing just keep getting better with each passing year.

#9 Foo Fighters - DOA. You would be hard pressed to find a more complete rock outfit around today. Dave and the boys hit a homerun with In Your Honor

#8 Betchadupa - At Night. Bet you haven't heard of them. These Kiwi boys have a great sound, and amazing musical roots. See Split Enz, Crowded House etc.

#7 Ray LaMontagne - Trouble. Think about Jack Johnson, then add a ton more talent and better song writing skills.

#6 Tristan Prettyman - Songs for the Rich. West coast girl, with a silky voice and impressive lyrics. I won't even hold her close association with Jason Mraz against her.

#5 Weezer - Beverly Hills. These guys have been doing their own thing for almost 15 years now, and they excel at it. This song couldn't have been more radio friendly if it came with a canned Casey Kasem intro.

#4 Fallout Boy - Sugar We're Going Down. Love the Simpsons reference in the band name, and after putting up an initial fight I loved the song. More catchy than Pam Anderson's hep.

#3 Liz Phair - Why I Lie. All you 30 something hipsters who want to say Liz has lost something need to listen to this song. It is classic Liz and the guitar parts rock hard. Welcome back LP, and keep on makin' 'em, I keep on buyin' 'em.

#2 Green Day - Wake Me Up When September Ends. This was one of the best records put out in the last few years, and I thought this was the best song on it. I love that they can make radio friendly music that has a little something to say.

#1 Missy Higgins - The Special Two. I put it in my top 50 of all time, so it had to be number 1. I heard this song somewhere over the Pacific on a Quantas plane on my way to Australia. While we were there we kept hearing it because it is a great record. Missy is a top shelf song writer, and she is still so young. As she gets older she will become even better, I only hope she achieves all the success she desires, both at home and here in the US.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Don't Mess with a Good Thing

The commissioner of the National Football League pushed back the hangman from the noose yesterday. Paul Tagliabue delayed the commencement of the uncaped era in the NFL by agreeing with the Union that they should take 72 more hours to try and not screw up what has been the best run and most profitable sports league in all the world.

If no deal is met by Sunday we may be on the verge of only a few teams being able to compete based on the amount of money they will be able to spend. Although the team I root for, the Washington Redskins, will be one of them, I would rather see the billionaires (owners) and millionaires (players) work this one out and keep the status quo in the league than test the waters of a MLB style plan. For pushing the deadline back I say "not bad" but if you can get something worked out I will say "that's good work out of you."

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Top 50: 1-10

Most of the people I told about my Top 50 favorite songs of all times list thought I was crazy. Crazy to try and pick 50 songs above all of the rest that stand out as your favorite of all time. Crazy to think that such a thing could be done with out changing with every month, and most of all, crazy to take the time to do it.

In the end I am just a huge loser, and my job allows me the time to spend hour after hour listening to music on my trusty Dell DJ. (The DJ is like my Child, for more on this see the latest entry on my wife's blog) So at last here they are, the 10 songs I love the most, and for the most part, feel will always be very high, if not in the top 10.

#10 Bob Dylan - The Mighty Quinn. I am one of those people who believes that no list of great songs, or song writers can ever be complete with out Dylan. That said, I think most people would list of ten to twenty songs before they ever got to Quinn the Eskimo. I don't know why this is my favorite Dylan song, and I can't really say with any accuracy when I first heard the song. The first time I remember knowing I liked it, I recall being amazed I knew all the words, but didn't really remember ever being cognizant of it before.

#9 Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here. Having attended high school between 1990 and 1994, I was fully immersed in the "everything 70's is cool again" movement. Living 25 miles from the center of the world (aka NYC) I had more than one chance to go and see Lazer Floyd. I must admit it wasn't till I picked up the "Pulse" record that I started to pay more attention to Floyd, and after hearing this song at party after party in both high school and college it took a hold of me. The music is enchanting and the lyrics haunting, it is an all time classic.

#8 The Allman Brothers Band - Melissa. Like the lion share of the top 10 I first fell in love with this song in high school, it was for some terrible reasons though. I was into a girl named Melissa and we were going to the prom together, and I wanted to make her a mix tape (the lost art of the 80's and 90's). I never gave her the tape due to ex girlfriend related complications so I listened to it in my mustang over and over and I got hooked on this song and numbers 6, 5 and 3 of the list. She was probably more of a musical influence on me than any other girl I have ever dated, other than my wife.

#7 Sheryl Crow - Hard To Make a Stand. As far as I am concerned Sheryl Crow is a rock goddess, and of all her amazing songs this is head and shoulders above the rest. The guitar intro just hits you in the face and by the time the drums join in and the vox begin she has you hooked. It is just an amazing 60's style rock song replete with socially conscious story line and tasty licks.

#6 Bob Marley and the Wailers - No Woman, No Cry. Back to Melissa's never delivered mix tape for one of the all time classic live recordings. Aside from just being a great fuckin' song, the live version takes a 10 and pushes it to an 11. A few years after I started to listen to Bob the Fugees had a hit with their version, and the song is so good it even stood up to being covered. Many a dorm room has been the site of this song playing on repeat as a black light illuminated a dead head poster and young people used soda cans and bottles for things other than drinking soda.

#5 The Band - The Weight. When you learn at the feet of Dylan, and get to back him up you are bound to pick up a thing or twenty about amazing song writing and how to play a kick ass tune. Along with constant replays on that mix tape this song was the #1 most played song on each incarnation of the radio show I shared with my best friend in college. Through all four years of school we played this song on each and every show we ever did making it a chart topper on shows like What the Hell is that Smell?, Ground-0, Morning Would, The Birds Nest and each alumni show since. If you don't tap your foot or your finger or nod your head along with this song you have no musical soul.

#4 Layla - Eric Clapton. I was 14 when my Dad took me to see "Goodfellas" without my mom knowing of course. As the movie ended and the long guitar solo from the end of Layla played I was transfixed by the music, almost forgetting about the profuse profanity and violence I had just heard and seen on my father's right hand. I asked around and found out what the song was, and saved up money from my work as a mop up boy at the pizza parlor (which after the movie had a bit of a young Henry Hill feel to it) and picked up Time Pieces on cassette, which I wore out. Not too long after that Clapton became huge again with Tears in Heaven, and Unplugged and to a lesser extent with his blues album "From the Cradle" which I cherish, but this one was always the one to me.

#3 Janis Joplin - Me and Bobby McGee. I got my hands on a copy of the record Pearl in high school and fell hard for Janis. Add to that the external influence of that mix tape, and the dinner I worked in and this song was all around me for a few years. I have often found my self thinking about the line "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose" and sadly it has made a lot of sense to me in too many circumstances in my life. Janis was such a master of her craft, and this songs comes to life when she sings it in such a way that It will never budge from this spot on the list. Forever number three.

#2 Led Zeppelin - D'Yer Mak'er. 1990, St. Joseph's Prep in Princeton NJ and Juan Mike, and Mike are playing hackee sack in the quad while listening to Led Zep. They are upper classmen, and I am a freshman, but I gird up my courage to go over and ask them who was on their radio, and what was the name of that amazing song. Juan let me borrow "Houses of the Holy" and from that moment on it has been my favorite record to listen to all the way through, and I think it is the greatest B side ever. I don' t think any rocker has ever come up with a better way of getting their point across than the Zep boys do here. "Oh baby, baby" indeed!

#1. Billy Joel - Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights go out on Broadway) Sue me, I'm an Italian guy from jersey, so I have to love pizza, I-roc's, Frank and Billy. My brother and sister were listening to Billy all through my life, in part because it was music my parents would allow them to play in the family truckster on trips, but moreover because he is just great. As I got older I went out and got some of his back catalog for myself. In fact "Glass Houses", was the first album I ever bought myself, when I was about 10. When I found "Turnstiles" I found my second favorite record of all time, but my number one song. While James, Summer Highland Falls, Angry Young Man, New York State of Mind, and the rest are all amazing songs 2017 lured me in over and over again.

I listened to the picture Billy was painting, and even wrote a short story about it in high school. I have had the pleasure of hearing Billy play it a few times, and once since September 11th which some of the lyrics almost seem to synch up with. I know most fans don't know this song, and that has a lot to do with it not being a radio hit, and him having so many others that are, but if you are reading this and don't know this song go out and get it. I think you'll agree it is a fantastic piece of song writing.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

How I Met Your Mother

I know the avant guard thing to do these days is to say you don't watch TV. The reasons range from 'being more of a reader' to 'there is nothing good on' and most often rests in 'they just don't make 'em like they used to.' Well here is at least one show that I think harkens back to the glory days of sit coms.

How I Met Your Mother" airs Monday Nights on CBS at 8:30 and it has all the makings of a long running, consistently funny show. One of the things that goes into that recipe is a cast of faces that you know that you know from somewhere, but none are huge mainstream stars. The two faces that most people probably recognize are Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser MD, and himself in Harold and Kumar) and Alyson Hannigan (Willow from Buffy, and The band Geek in the American Pie franchise) I think Harris really steals the show as the over done, but rather hilarious Barny. His maleness is overwhelming, and yet he doesn't come off as a total dick, which is nice. He acts as the devil on every other characters shoulder, and casts a cloud of childishness mixed with thirtysomething success on the group. Hannigan's Lily character and her soon-to-be husband (played by Jason Segel) are a constant influence of cheery optimism, held in check by their grade school crush on one another.

The central character is Ted, played by Josh Radnor, who is telling his kids the story of how he met their mother, via a voice over, at the beginning and end of each episode. Radnor does well as the nice guy who is looking for love in the big tough city, but to be fair he is supported well, and has yet to step up as the lead roll on the show despite his roll most often being the focal point. The rotating nature of his love interested should allow CBS to bring many up and coming actress in as Seinfeld did with Jerry's girlfriends. Ted's first object of affection is Robin, who is now a recurring roll and featured among the credited stars of the show.

Although the future voice of Ted has already identified Robin as "Aunt Robin" to his kids, the show has lingered on the idea of the two being interested in one another, and with a typical life span of five to six years for a sitcom, one would think they will want to drag out some story lines that don't lead to "meeting your mother" and save that for the last season or two. I would also expect to see the "Ted talks to the kids" device fall by the wayside for the middle seasons of the show.

While there is nothing in this show that has never been done before, there is a whole lot of things that are done well and live up to the progenitors of the genre. With each half hour, you will get your fair share of laugh out loud jokes, along with catch phrases (Barney's "Suit Up!") and quotable new small group slang. And with crap out there like "Joey" we see that not every idea that a network throws names, writers and cash at is funny, so enjoy one of them that is. I have to say to the folks who gave us "How I Met Your Mother" that's good work out of you.

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