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What's Happening In The World

Random Thoughts That Run Through My Mind

New Direction

So I have decided to take a turn on this blog and send it spiraling off in a new direction through space and time. Okay so now that the disclaimer is out-of-the-way let’s get down to business.

This blog will now serve as an arena for the random thoughts and piss offs that I encounter while observing the world around me. So welcome to my mind it may be unhinged, a little out there, but it’s the only I have, so welcome aboard and I hope you enjoy the ride.

Lets start right in the shit show shall we? Yes the one we call the world today. One of the main stories making the rounds is the story of the poor man so violently drug off the United Airlines flight. Now I am not sure when we as a society decided that rules only apply when we feel like it. Also lets not forget that United is a private company and has the right to refuse service to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you bought a ticket, or you have somewhere you need to be. He was asked and offered compensation generously to give up his seat. When the flight attendant asked him to give it up, he became abusive and belligerent, refusing to give up his seat and claiming he most get where he is going because he had patients to see. Regardless of the reasons he needed to stay on the flight or the reasons United needed him off, these don’t matter because like most things now with social media, and media in general. We miss the damn point, You do as your told by people in authority, because as a civilized society we have agreed to place people in charge and agreed to heed their demands. If you follow and stay respectful, you will get by just fine.

There are two separate books that I think on quite often with this subject in mind. First is Small Comforts by Tom Bodett ( yes the “We’ll leave the light on for you” spokesman for Motel ) a random collection of essay’s from his every day mind. One such passage in the book tells us about an elementary school teacher who taught him a very valuable lesson in life, which was to Sit Down, Shut Up, and Pay Attention. A simple enough thought which seems like common sense, which we as a society seem to be lacking in abundance.

The second is All I Really Need To Know I learned In Kindergarten, by Robert Fulgham. Which shows the simplest things that we need to live by, once again sit down, shut up, pay attention, keep your hands to yourself, being respectful, and do as your told. These are basic principles instilled in us from the beginning, so why are they so hard to live by?

Another current story in my area and not so much the national stage, is a much darker and troubling story. This takes place in a small town in Kansas named Holton, without going into much detail, this is a criminal case of a at the time 19-year-old male, who committed anal sex on a 13-year-old girl in a cemetery. Now I will not get into the horrors of this crime, but while reading a local newspaper article on the trial, I found myself enraged at the absurdity of it all. The story pertained to the difficulty of finding an impartial jury in a small town, where everyone knows everyone, and all had an opinion. Now yes this is truly a problem and will hinder true justice, however it was the comments in the article from potential jurors that shocked me so. There was debate about whether the victim was to blame, for being out to late, dressed to slutty, misrepresenting her age, or that her parents were to blame for not keeping a tighter leash on her. Then there were those on her side, speaking of all the things that can be said about a man who commited such a horrible crime. Here is where I become unhinged, he has admitted that he had anal sex with her, no doubt there. So what is the question? It seems pretty straight forward to me, it doesn’t matter how she was dressed, how late it was. The law clearly states that anyone under the age of 16 can not consent no if’s and’s or but’s about it. We want to confuse issues and debate unimportant facts, while completely ignoring the facts. Personal responsibility which believe me I will go into more in-depth at later times, has been all but outlawed in this society.

So next time your faced with any of this. Just remember Sit Down, Shut Up, Pay Attention, and Be Respectful, and you will get by just fine.

 

The DUDE Abides

Few films have brought to life festivals dedicated in their honor, let alone a religion. But that is exactly what today’s title has done, in 1998 we were blessed to meet the Dude or His Dudeness but never Jeffery Lebowski. This instant classic brought to us by the Coen Brothers, follows the lack luster life of the Dude as he wanders aimlessly with no real direction except down the bowling lane. Suddenly thrust in to a wacky and off the wall kidnapping mystery, full of colorful characters, including nihilists, a rich man named Jeffery Lebowski, his trophy wife Bunny, his daughter artist Maude, and porn magnet Jackie Treehorne. The Dude is drug into this tangled web of lies and hilarity, when Jackie Treehorne sends some goons to get money from the Dude that Bunny owns, somehow confusing the unemployed Dude for the Millionaire Lebowski. The goons cross a line by pissing on the Dude’s rug, not just any rug but a rug that really tied the room together. Filled with twists, turns, and more memorable one liners than most people can handle, this is truly an instant classic. Filled with a cast that seems like a dream you never knew you wanted to see together. We have The Dude played perfectly by Jeff Bridges, his buddies Donnie played by Steve Buschemi, and Walter, masterfully handled by John Goodman. Rounding out with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Tara Reid, Peter Stormare, Flea, David Huddleston and the raspy smooth voice of Sam Elliott as the storyteller. With these players running the show, you will never see all the joy coming at you as you watch in awe and wonder as a classic tale of slacking, drinking, and bowling, wisp you away to a land you never knew you wanted to visit and live.

If you some how have not blessed your soul with this film, you are truly denying one of the greatest pleasures available in this world. Spend the time check it out and bask in the wisdom of the Dude.

Please feel free to comment and also let me know anything you would like to see discussed on this blog. Thanks for reading

My Top Five Hockey Movies

In four days we will mark the Fortieth Anniversary of one of the best films of all times in many men’s opinions. Slap Shot graced us with its presence on February 25th 1977, a movie that brought Hockey to Hollywood, starring Paul Newman as Reggie Dunlap, player coach for the minor league Charleston Chiefs. The Chiefs a low-budget team barely hanging on are slapped with some bad luck when their local mill is closing essentially killing the town and the team. Reggie’s only hope to stay in the game is get some poor sap to buy the team and move them. Constantly at odds with the coach is Ned Braden, played spectacularly by Michael Ontkean, which some of you might remember from the cult classic Twin Peaks as Sheriff Harry S. Truman, don’t worry I am sure we will get to Twin Peaks soon. Ned the best player on the team, college educated and hell-bent on derailing himself and his marriage through odd behavior and excessive drinking, doesn’t buy Reggie’s claims that someone is interested in buying the lowly Chiefs. Enter in three of the most memorable characters in movie history, The Hanson Brothers, three young lads who show up with nothing but toy cars and tin foil for the knuckles. The Hanson’s are what you might call bruisers even in the game of hockey. With the new hard-hitting trio, a new age of rough and tumble hockey is brought to Charleston and hilarity ensues.

Next we have YoungBlood (1986), a classic teen age sports flick featuring Rob Lowe as Dean Youngblood, (great hockey name). The stellar Patrick Swayze as team captain Derek Sutton, the lovely Cynthia Gibb as Dean’s love interest and of course coaches daughter. In a minimal but memorable role, in fact one of his very first Keanu Reeves, as the clueless goalie. Young Dean is only 17 years old, and escapes his family farm to head to Canada to fulfill his dream  of playing professional hockey. This is a wonderful coming into your own story, with kill comedy and excellent hockey action to boot. Worth every moment of your time, and excellent for a nostalgic trip back to the 80’s.

A more recent small indie film, which did so well we are eagerly expecting its sequel this year is the 2011 great Goon. Starring Sean William Scott as the lovable Doug Glatt, an awkward Jewish boy living in the shadow of his Doctor father and brother, while he spends his time as a bouncer. While attending a minor league local game with his foul-mouthed best friend Pat played by Jay Baruchel, a brawl erupts leaving Doug to defend his friend and his gay brothers honor. The home team coach notices and offers him a try out to join the team and hopefully get them out of their slump. Though he can’t skate and never played a day in his life, we makes the team as an enforcer, eventually making his way up to a real juniors team. Finding his place on the team and with the girl of his dreams, Doug plays with fists the size of Pat’s Uncle Murry’s prostrate and a heart to match. You cant help but rout for Doug as bashes skulls and lifts our hearts. A modern-day Rocky on ice.

Now lets talk Mystery Alaska (1999) a charming look at a small and I mean small town in Alaska, that lives and breaths Hockey. In a town perpetually covered in ice and snow, they play a saturday game ever week of four on four pond hockey for which the whole town shows up. The story focuses around John Biebe the town sheriff and aging player, masterfully protrayed by Russell Crowe. A host of other well-known names, including Burt Reynolds, Hank Azaria, Mary Mccormack, Colm Meany, Ron Eldard, and Kevin Durand. Fill the screen with excellent chemistry and make you feel like you just want to move to Alaska. The story deals with an article written in Sports Illustrated about how the mystery boys could stand up against any team in the NHL. So of course here come the New York Rangers. In a lovely portrait of small town living and how hockey really burrows deep in to your soul, we follow along routing for the home team. A touching story that by the end if your heart is not swollen with pride and awe, there most be something wrong with you.

Lastly we have Miracle (2004) the true and patriotic view of Herb Brooks played be Kurt Russell, and the US 1980 Hockey team. The miracle on ice as it has been dubbed featured a rag-tag team of unknown college kids taking on and defeating the mighty Soviets. A victory which no one in the world especially the Russians saw coming, in a time when America really needed its civic pride restored. A fine supporting cast, and nice mix of off ice personal interest stories and on ice action, keeps you entertained and a great way to show younger generations a true moment in history. A perfect fit for the family movie night which is becoming so hard to find something every one can agree on. Yup it’s a Miracle.

Elizabethtown

There is a familiar calm, a resounding thought that “Yeah its just like that” which flows through you when you spend two hours in the world of Cameron Crowe. Crowe has made many critical and commercial successes in his career, and some that just seem to fall to the sad land of underappreciated gems. Which brings us to Elizabethtown (2005), a truly charming tale of Drew Baylor played well by Orlando Bloom, a rising star in the shoe design industry. When his star comes crashes to earth with a gamble on an outrageous shoe design becomes a fiasco of monumental proportion. Arriving home after being shown the door at work, Drew decides to end it all by attaching a butcher knife to an elliptical machine, got to give Crowe credit for creativity here, it’s Psycho at the gym. Drew is interrupted by a cell phone ringing off the hook, finally giving in he gets the call we all dread. Mitch Baylor, Drew’s father had passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack while visiting his extended family in Kentucky. Leaving behind Drew, his younger sister Heather played by Judy Greer, and Hollie his mother sublimely portrayed by Susan Sarandon. Hollie realizing she has no clue to live life without her husband is sent into a whirlwind of trying to live life to it’s fullest. Drew is tasked with going to Elizabethtown Kentucky to retrieve his father and bring him home to Oregon. A not so easy task, since his family holds a little tinge of resentment for Hollie for stealing him away and moving him to California, a running joke through the film since they only lived in California for 18 months twenty some years ago. Drew reluctantly places his suicide on hold to make the trip, vow that he will get it taken care of and get back on the bike and finish himself off. While flying to Louisville we meet Claire our stewardess on the red-eye, that amazingly only seems to have them on board. Claire expertly brought to life by Kirsten Dunst, is a smart, full of life, talkative, and caring individual. Who instantly feels connected to the sullen and quiet Drew. She decides to draw him and map to get to the small town, as well as including her home phone, cell phone, and auto club numbers on the back, now that is service. Drew arrives to find what family really means, and how much his father  means to the whole town. A colorful cast of characters make up the extended family and friends drawn together to celebrate Mitch’s life. The film follows Drew along as he realizes, there is more to life than failure, so as family, love, and a true father son road trip. As in other of Crowe’s work such as Almost Famous, another of my true favorites, the film style completely immerses you and brings you in to his world, to see the stars on a hot southern night, and smell the home cooking Paula Dean is fixing up in the kitchen. I think everyone can find something or someone in this story to relate to, we all have that one relative or many relatives. Crowe writes the life he has lived and that we all have lived, a shows us the raw feelings and lessons we may not take away when deep in the situation. In standard Cameron Crowe tradition the movie also comes along with a truly fantastic soundtrack, songs that will stick with you for years to come to chase you down memory lane.  Treat yourself to two hours in Elizabethtown Kentucky and spend the evening with old family and friends, it’s well worth your time.

Can’t Buy Me Love

So as it is Valentine’s Day, lets talk one of my favorite romantic comedies. Can’t Buy Me Love (1987), a film that shows you never know love till you know yourself and can show that to the world. Starring a young Patrick Dempsey, and the left this world way to early Amanda Peterson, and a very young Seth Green. The story follows Ronald Miller, Dempsey’s character as he begins to take on his senior year in high school. Always the outcast, and peeking over the fence at the popular group, especially the head cheerleader and royal hottie of the school, Cindy Mancini. Invisible to all except his three close friends, Ronald would do anything for that one chance to be known by at least just Cindy. Ronald has spent his whole summer mowing lawns to pay for a new telescope, the day arrives to make his purchase, however while at the mall he spy’s Cindy arguing with a clerk. In a fortunate accident, well for Ronald at least, Cindy had worn her mom’s suede jacket against her wishes to a party and be drenched in red wine. Trying anything to convince the clerk to save her to no avail. Ronald comes to the rescue and offers to pay for a new jacket, if Cindy will date him for a month to make him popular. As you can imagine things go haywire, and some hilarious and heart warming moments as well as some cringe worthy events, all come together to make a truly touching  romantic film of first loves. A definite must see for anyone who likes romantic comedies or 80’s cinema.

To also cover V-Day I would like to touch on perhaps in my humble opinion, the best romantic couple of all. Amy Pond and Rory Williams from Doctor Who. The Ponds as called by the Doctor, show anyone willing to watch exactly what devotion and communication mean to a relationship. Rory is called “Rory the Roman” the man who waited, because he stood guard over Amy as she slept for over two thousand years. Always watching and protecting his love. Before which Amy brings him back from the dead by simply refusing to forget him and knowing that no other love will ever do. These two constantly show us exactly what love can be and should be. Probably one of the most heart wrenching moments in television history was the episode of Doctor Who, season 7, The Angels Take Manhattan. With Rory sent back to the 1930’s by the Weeping Angels, Amy surrenders herself to them, in order to spend her days with her love Rory. Dedication and love and everything else that we should inspire to be in a relationship, can be learned by just watching the Ponds. Not always gooey, or sappy, sometimes down right cross with each other, but yet always united and one. For my money no one beats the Ponds. Not to take anything away from the David Tennant years, or any other Doctor. But to me Matt Smith and the Ponds are the ones who are can’t miss. People always ask which Doctor to start with, and I always say you should check out Christopher Eccelston and Tennant. Matt Smith though is a great place to start.

 

High Fidelity

As promised lets talk some High Fidelity. First off I would like to cover a topic that seems to be rather polarizing with most people. Music in movies, some people seem to find music a distraction in film. While others like myself find that it can certainly add to the experience. Then there are some certain movies, where the music plays an intricate piece to the storytelling. Now I am not talking scores here, for yes in a few films, such as Schindler’s List, The Last of the Mohicans, The Mission. These films the score speaks volumes to the audience. But for this discussion we are more focusing on the use of vocal songs, being used to help the director to tell his story. High Fidelity is one that follows this formula, weaving a compelling story with engaging acting, and a soundtrack to get lost in. A good soundtrack can instantly transport you back to the film, when you hear a simple song from it. This one in particular graces us with tracks from, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Stereolab, Elvis Costello, The Beta Band, and many others. The movie follows John Cusack’s very relate able character Rob Gordon, owner of Champion Ship Vinyl, a record shop in Chicago. We meet Rob as his long time girlfriend is leaving him, and follow along with him as he navigates the post break up waters, trying to keep his above water meanwhile trying to figure out where it all went wrong. One charming feature of this movie, is the filming style, which makes you feel like it’s just you and John Cusack walking around Chicago talking like old friends. The film also features the comedic blessings of Jack Black, Todd Louiso, as well as a touching ex-girlfriend played be the lovely Iben Hjejle. Rounded out with some exceptional help from Tim Robbins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joan Cusack (of course), Joelle Carter, Lisa Bonet, and host of others. The running gag through the film is Rob’s Top Five lists, a charming and catchy way to keep the audience engaged while Rob makes his way through the break ups of years past. This film grabs a hold of you right from the beginning and never lets you go, in every step you are sure to find parallels to your own life.  The music will always constantly give you that swell in your heart as you listen a drift back in your mind to times of your youth. A touching romantic comedy, that anyone ever in love or loss can relate to. Definitely worth your time.

ALL I Want

So just finished the first film of the evening, one that in this writers opinion is a greatly underrated coming of age pictures. All I Want or sometimes called Try Seventeen from 2002, starring Elijah Wood, Franka Potente, Mandy Moore, and Elizabeth Perkins. The film follows Elijah Wood’s character Jones Dillion, as he attempts to begin his first day of college, which he immediately drops out after orientation and meeting his roommate. Bestowed with a good amount of money from the recent passing of his grandfather, and directionless from a life spent bouncing from boarding school to school. He is desperate to find his place in life, a mother who refuses to tell him anything of his long absent father, and advanced beyond others, at the young age of seventeen. Jones manages to rent and apartment and finally begin to set some roots, through the use of a vivid imagination and ability to convince people he is older then he appears. Life starts to flow at a pleasant pace for him, his new neighbors, a gay cowboy painter down stairs, a self absorbed actress, and an edgy beautiful photographer, round out the make shift family he has searched for. Filled with good humor, off the wall fantasies, and heart warming bonding and love, this film is a delightful hour and a half escape. Do not go in looking for mass hidden meaning or something heavy, or you will surely leave disappointed, but yet come in with a light heart and will to just be entertained.

Please feel free to leave comments or requests of anything I should check out or talk about on here. Hitting Up High Fidelity next, a can’t miss for anyone with a pulse, so stay tuned.

Passion (The Forgotten Point)

Passion beyond the cinema, but including the small screen. Movies can transport you anywhere in the depth  of your  imagination, a good television show as well. But before those were even a distant dream, you had to rely on fine art to give you the feels. The artist who beyond speaks to me is the timeless Vincent Van Gogh, no other artist’s use of color, brush strokes, or vision come anywhere near the eye and talent of Van Gogh. Lets be honest here, one of his most famous Sunflowers is a simple painting of a vase full of sunflowers. How does a man have so much passion for his craft that he can turn such a simple thing into a masterpiece.

Which brings me to one of the most heart swelling, tear jerking episodes of TV I have ever experienced. Now as previously stated I am a browncoat firefly loving nerd, however another great passion of mine is that I am 200% Whovian. The world of Doctor Who is a polarizing topic and one that will be greatly discussed in later posts. But the episode in the fore front today is Vincent and the Doctor, from Matt Smith’s first season, season 5 episode 10 of 2005. Just a quick recap of Doctor Who, the Doctor is a timelord, traveling through time and space in the TARDIS, which stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space, otherwise known as the big blue police box. As he travels he picks up companions, not to be confused with the type of companion Inara was in Firefly. For this time the companion happens to be my personal favorite Amy Pond played by the amazingly talented and quite lovely Karen Gillian. Since the TARDIS can travel through anywhere in time and space, the adventures can go literally anywhere. This fine episode starts with Amy making the doctor take her to an art museum featuring classic works be Van Gogh himself. A special treat for this episode the man giving informational tours is none other than Bill Nighy, in my humble opinion one of the best British actors to ever bless our screens, with his comedic perfection and at times heart wrenching feels. While noticing something amiss in Van Gogh’s “The Church at Auvers” the doctor decides to bring Amy to meet Vincent played by Tony Curran. They find him miserable, broke, and completely unappreciated, and being driven mad. Following the adventures of the show and the danger averted, The Doctor decides to bring Vincent back to the present to hear what history has to say about him. While Amy entertains Vincent, who is in awe of the view of his life’s work, The Doctor grabs the tour guide to ask the question that will change a man forever, ” where does Van Gogh rank in the history of art?” with Vincent listening Bill Nighy gives the most touching, sincere, and heart warming answer of which shows that Vincent is indeed the best artist in history. As the tears swell in Vincent’s eyes he embraces the tour guide with a new sense of self and swelled heart. If you can watch this episode with out a knot in your stomach and an uplifted feeling in your heart, then I worry for your soul. Check it out, even if you think that you don’t understand Doctor Who, or you just don’t care for British television, don’t worry you can make it through. It will change your perspective on life, beauty, and your self, and maybe even art itself.

Passion

Last night was spent watching Super Bowl Li, an instant classic come back story. Now whether you’re a Patriots fan, or Tom Brady Fan, or just hate them, you have to admit that few really display his level of passion for his work. That of course got me thinking while trying to drift off to dream land last night about passion. To which in my mind of course instantly connects to movies my passion. More accurately my two favorite directors, and the passion they have for their craft. Allow me to explain.

Let’s start with Mr. Kevin Smith. It amazes me to this day how many people are still unaware of his existence. True if you’re not of a certain age, or comic book inclination, you have missed the boat on him. However when it comes to passion, he can not be denied. Sitting here thinking “what the hell are you talking about?” well please let me illuminate. It all really starts way back in 1994, yes I know some are saying “that long ago really Jeez,” while others like myself are thinking  “Shit that was yesterday”. Kevin Smith was working at the Quik Stop convenience store in New Jersey. Wanting to be a film maker decides screw lets just do it. At least he would be able to say he had tried. Tried and succeeded he did. Like any great writer, he went with what he knew. Born unto us this day were Randall and Dante, two clerks just trying to make it through another day. We follow them through rude customers, relationship drama, death, and most important of all a hockey game. Through this day we meet many auspicious character, many of whom will connect more movies down the road in what is to be known as the View Askew Universe. None however would become more recognizable or beloved as Jay and Silent Bob. Jay played by an unknown Jason Mewes, and Silent Bob by none other than the man Kevin Smith. Smith putting himself in the movie, so that even if his gamble didn’t pay off and one day was broke he could point to this and say at least I did something once. What a gamble, in the era of mega Hollywood Blockbusters and sickening budgets. Here is a black and white gem, black and white, because that’s all he could afford. The budget was an anorexic $27,000, yes you read that right most people have cars worth more than this piece of art that will truly last a lifetime. How did he pay this monumental sum you ask, by selling a large part of his comic collection, maxing out his credit cards, and a $3000 loan from his parents. Jay and Silent Bob would go on to star in many more films, but not enough in my opinion (I’m still waiting for clerks 3), and have become cultural iconic figures. Not bad for a clerk, who would spend his time for 27 days working at the store from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. then film till 4 a.m., sleep a little and do it all over again. This to me is proof positive that a person can do anything, your only limitation is your imagination and yourself. So please do yourself a favor watch this movie, or if you have watch again, and try to think about how much drive and passion went into it.

Our next contestant, the Man, the Myth, the Champion of Strong female Characters, Joss Whedon. Now once again if you are not a Sci-fi fan and comic book guy, you may say “who the hell?” Joss created many wonderful worlds, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cabin in the Woods, Angel, Dollhouse, wrote Toy Story for gods sake. Of course the one closest to my heart of them all, FIREFLY and it’s follow-up motion picture, SERENITY. Yes folks my coat is of the brown like color, I aim to misbehave. If you know not what I speak we will cover these at a later time, they are far to special to placed in anything but their own series of blogs. No today I want to talk about another one of my favorites of his, no not Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, but yup I love that one two. Today we tackle Much Ado About Nothing (2012), now you may be saying I have never heard of this or eh I am happy with Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 version, which yes is a fantastic one and we will get to some day. But no this one is a not to be missed, if for no other reason then the back story behind it, for we should all be so lucky as to have the support and love behind us that brought this film to life. It all starts with a little film you may have heard of called The Avengers, if you haven’t then you problem don’t own a TV and I am not sure why you are reading this. Yes the big machine of Disney bought Marvel and created a universe, and what a universe full of stars. But I digress, the massive undertaking of making Avengers had enveloped our hero for some time. Joss and his lovely wife were due to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary which is an accomplishment in its own right now a days let alone in a celebrity couple. Rather then take a trip like they usually do for such an occasion. Joss’s wife Kai, presented Joss with a most unique gift. Take that time and make the project that has been your passion for years. Now that is a supportive spouse. Joss had longed to make his own version of the Shakespeare classic. So during a break from filming Avengers, Joss took 12 days and filmed a modern, black and white, telling of the play with all the correct Shakespeare language. Think on that for a moment, 12 days for actors to learn and shoot a period piece, the only word that comes to my mind is amazing. They pulled it off and they pulled it off seamlessly. Filmed in Joss’s personal home, including a festive party scene, with many of his and Kai’s personal friends drinking and having a good old-time. The film includes many who have worked with Joss, Amy Acker, Clark Gregg, Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Reed Diamond, just to name a few. Laughs, stunning filming, and chemistry, make this a perfect date night, family night film. Give it a go and you won’t be disappointed. Also trying to think about what Joss shows us about life and love, and that only thing stopping you is you.

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