Operation: Mapleleaf (2005 edition)

typed for your pleasure on 24 October 2005, at 2.50 am

Sdtrk: ‘Nonstop to Tokyo’ by Pizzicato five

Saturday was fat-packed full of Excitement and Adventure, as instead of getting together round at either Derek or Jeff’s in the evening as per usual, we decided to make a day trip to Toronto, as we try to go at least once a year, and we missed out last year. Plus, we wanted to go before it got unspeakably cold, and before having a passport was absolutely necessary. Those of us living in Southeast Michigan are lucky, cos we can visit a whole other country after simply crossing a bridge or a tunnel; however starting next year, foreign visitors will be required to have a passport to visit Canada from Detroit, for the first time since the bridges and tunnel were built. Naturally, you can chalk that nonsense up to homeland ‘security’.
Aaanyway, it was to be a proper group outing, involving Jeff, Derek, Mike, Tim, Marika, and myself. Tim was the first to cancel, as he claimed financial embarrassment; plus he had to do something with his aunt on the week-end. Mike pulled out on Friday eve, due to some loan shark issues or some such. Since we were only going to be there for the day, none of us were carrying a lot of dosh; out of all four of us, I think I had the most, at $125. So, with our reduced numbers, Derek decided to stuff us all in his Cavalier as opposed to the van, as the mileage would be significantly better.

Having awakened at an unspeakable 4am Saturday morn, I left my house at 5.15 to obtain Mari, and she and I got round to Derek’s at maybe 10 after 6. Jeff was already there, polishing off his Egg McMuffin. We took off at about 7am, stopped at an ATM, bought fuel, drinkies and snacks, and were off in due course to the Blue Water Bridge.
Now, taking the Ambassador Bridge or the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel is fine if you’re only going to Windsor, but the Blue Water Bridge is much better for Toronto journeys, as it cuts the five hour drive time down by about an hour, as you don’t have to navigate through Windsor. However, we’ve noticed on our trips up there, that they’re a little bit more likely to stop you at the border, cos there’s less traffic, and the guards therefore have more time to inspect cars. So we were pulled over! Of course, adding to the suspense is that, apart from Jeff, none of us had proper ID — drivers’ licenses just barely count, and Social security cards aren’t valid. Don’t even bother with a school ID, and, as you well suspect, those ExpressPay cards they give you at Kinko’s aren’t an option, either. Whilst they disassembled Derek’s Cavalier, we had to go inside and present ourselves to an official over at the Immigration booth. After we proved that we were indeed on a peaceful mission, they let us go on our way; the whole process taking about 20 minutes. It was inconvenient, to be sure, but as we didn’t have to submit to a forcible cavity search, we left pretty satisfied.

Fueled by high spirits and various songs by Pizzicato five, the Space channel 5 sdtrks, and that song by Black eyed peas where the lass is singing about her ‘lovely lady lumps’ — a song so stupid, it’s funny, we all agreed — Derek drove, Jeff belched profusely, Mari knitted, and I passed out. I woke up round 10.30ish, when we had made it into Toronto airspace proper, and it was raining. As I’d brought Clicky Mk II, I had intended to take photos of the city from the view of the motorway, but it was too windy and cold (it was in the low 40s) to roll down the window, and with four people occupying a small car, the windows were perenially fogged up. C’est la vie..
After barely successfully navigating our way down several one-way streets, we pulled into an underground car park near City Hall. Fab Thing About Toronto, No.342783: You know how in ordinary car parks you have to remember ‘Red F’ or ‘Blue 6’, so you have an inkling as to where your vehicle is at? This being Canada, the floors were identified by various Canadian-related animals, such as ‘Squirrel’, or ‘Moose’, or ‘Rabbit’, as seen here.

Left, a 2D silhouette of a bunny; right, Mari

Very nice!

We hit Eaton centre first, to get out of the fucking rain (Normally, I don’t mind the rain, as you well know, but when the wind is actually flipping your brolly inside out, then it’s a problem) and to have lunch. We hit Sushi-Q, which was both good and bad — Good, cos I was hoping it was still there from the last time we visited T.O, but Bad, cos I had forgotten how small the portions were. Should’ve expected as much; after all, it’s a sushi stand in a mall, not an actual restaurant.. After scarfing the lot, we stopped round to Indigo, a book chain store akin to Borders, where Mari and I unsuccessfully tried to locate a copy of ‘Still lovers‘ (out of stock, the bastards), but I did see a copy of ‘The Stanley Kubrick Archives‘ by Taschen. It even comes with a Cd of an interview from the Sixties with Kubrick, as well as an actual 12-frame strip of film from ‘2001: A space odyssey’! Who wants to give me $200 USD to pick up a copy? You? Good!

Shortly after that, we made our way outside, where it was still pissing down. We’d noticed a lot of commotion towards the Sears side of Eaton centre, where various people were running — literally running — with tags of a sort stuck somewhere on their clothes, and more often than not, holding a piece of paper. As we left Eaton centre, we encountered more and more of them as we walked toward Chinatown. Over the course of observing several small groups of these people, we overheard a couple of conversations they were having over their cellphones; it was a good ol’ fashioned scavenger hunt. Hm! Although finding anything in a city that vast would be an epic undertaking, without question..
Chinatown was ace, as it always is. We hit a couple of bootleg backup DVD shops, and variety shops — there were more than a few places that had cheongsams on offer that would’ve looked delicious on Sweetie, but I passed — and eventually, we hit the creepy Chinese mall (Chinatown Centre) on Spadina, which is just an experience in itself. You kinda get the impression that the place was bought at a discount. The floors are always covered with leaves, the elevators sometimes work, the escalators don’t work at all, but it’s ace regardless. Plus, it’s got Kikiwai!

From there, we made our way back to Yonge (still raining, although not as windy), hitting Silver snail in the process, and then spending time in Sam the Record Man. Looking round as we walked, you couldn’t help but notice how much construction was taking place. Lofts. EVERYWHERE. Giant outdoor television screens. EVERYWHERE. New shops and restaurants. EVERWHERE. Having grown up in Detroit, one of the qualities that draws me to T.O is that it’s an actual, functioning city, with people, and transportation, and hundreds of places to visit and things to see. There was a metric ton of people making their way up and down the sidewalks, despite the inclement weather. Not only is it a living city, but it’s a friendly city, which amazes me no end. I mean, I don’t see myself suddenly becoming a people person upon moving there, but I’m sure my interactions will be, by and large, a lot more pleasant. I’ve been to Toronto probably about twenty times, and it’s always been like that. As I mused aloud to Mari, everytime I go up there I see something new, even in the places I’ve visited before, and I love that. And this is coming from someone who swears by consistency.

As we were running out of time — we wanted to leave Toronto by 8pm, plus, the walking was knackering us — we made our way back to the food court of Eaton centre for dinner, made a quick stop to Shoppers drug mart, where I acquired my requisite chip booty (four bags of Miss Vickie’s Original recipe, two bags of Ruffles All dressed), and we headed back to the car park, but not before getting one more decent photo in. An hour after leaving the city limits, driving through rain mixed with snow (!), I fell asleep again. All told, we really didn’t spend a lot of money, which I suppose is good. Jeff purchased the latest Goldfrapp Cd that’s not yet available in the States, I believe Derek bought a couple of DVDs, a wooden sake set, and a geomancy mirror, and Mari bought some Tylenol. Naturally, we had to let the border guard on the US side know that I bought some chips. Don’t you feel safer?

All in all, a lovely trip, weather and time restraints aside.

Yonge st, from the second floor of Sam the Record Man

Y’know, it’s all I can do to not drop dramatically to my knees and kiss the pavement every single time we visit Toronto

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Stuff / Nonsense

typed for your pleasure on 23 September 2005, at 1.01 am

Sdtrk: ‘Corporeal’ by Broadcast

Err, yesterday afternoon I motored over to Record time in Ferndale, in order to pick up Broadcast‘s excellent new release, ‘Tender buttons’. As I’d already heard it thanx to the pirates that sail the vast binary seas of the Internet, it was a guaranteed keeper purchase. It’s not as good as ‘Ha ha sound’ in my opinion, but it definitely has its own subtle Derbyshire-esque charm. And did I mention that they’re going to be in town again on 5 November? And word has it that there’ll be copies of Vol.2 of Microtronics for sale at the show! I am Brimful of Excitement!
But also while I was in the store, I wandered past their DVD rack and noticed that the long-awaited New order DVD box set, ‘Item‘, was out, which I’d forgotten the release date for, so I grabbed that as well and headed up to the register. If you’re a New order fan — and why wouldn’t you be? — it’s definitely worth a purchase. Especially watching the documentary ‘New order story’ on the second disk, and seeing Hooky’s interview segments, where he’s in a bar, dressed like Don Johnson, and surrounded by trannies. LOL, as the kids say..

And ‘Corpse bride‘ and ‘Serenity‘ are practically out already?? Can I view them both simultaneously? Is that even possible??

Heh, funny story about work today: I arrived there at 8.50 am, as per usual, and my first job was to drive a vehicle to one of our drop-off points over by the Pontiac Silverdome, which took roughly 40 minutes. The other two drivers and I returned to base, and kinda sat round for a number of minutes until Kelly started doling out work orders for us.. John was given a Jeep, Dave was given a PT Cruiser, and I was given a van. So as Dave and John locate their respective vehicles, I’m still wandering round the lot looking for my van when it turns out that I was supposed to be given another vehicle entirely. As it turned out, there was a mix-up with the paperwork, which meant that there were really only two vehicles that needed to be delivered. So I sat round the dispatch office again for another couple of minutes, when Kelly informs me that that’s pretty much it for the jobs that day. I ended up being at work for about 90 minutes. Heh. Could’ve been worse, though; round 10 after 9, another driver showed up, and was sent home five minutes later, as there were really more drivers than jobs.
Working part time is ace, until you realise that there’s no money whatsoever in it. I’d look for something else, but as my machine shorthand teacher Mr Floury has mentioned multiple times during our class sessions, the less time you have at a job (or with other classes, or what-have-you), the more time you have to practise. Which makes sense, as remember, I’m dealing with an alternate universe keyboard layout here. So, while the long-term effects should be good, the short-term effects are shite in the meantime. Am I going to have to embark on a series of extravagant casino heists in order to afford getting out of bed in the morning?

Further nonsense, triggered by glancing at an issue of People magazine:
+ A friend of mine recently asked, ‘what the hell happened to Britney Spears?’, as regards to her recent getting preggers and looking like she was dragged through a hedge backwards. Nothing really ‘happened’ to her, inasmuch as she simply reverted back to her lowborn, south-of-the-Mason-Dixon-line lifestyle. Her entire career up to this point has been the equivalent of a sheep that has been taught how to walk on its hind legs as a circus performer. Once the sheep is back on the farm, it walks on all four legs as it’s always known. Britney is that sheep.
+ Jessica Alba is the Anthony Quinn of today’s Hollywood. Need a white chick? Call Jessica! Need a black chick? Call Jessica! Need a Hispanic chick? Call Jessica!
+ ‘Hollywood is a verb’ – painter Ed Ruscha

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typed for your pleasure on 3 March 2005, at 10.28 pm

Sdtrk: ‘L’enfer’ by Coralie Clément

Today, I ventured to the mythical and hazardous land known as Outsidemyhousevania, in order to run some errands. I was also expecting a call from an ex-coworker in order to see if we could get together on Friday, but as I more or less expected, she didn’t call back. :-\
So I filled the void in my heart with purchases! Hooray for Stuff!

+ the March issue of Newtype (woo hoo, ep.2 of Cromartie High school is on the free DVD! Now I can see if the series is worth buying)
+ Party of one: The Loners’ Manifesto, as suggested by Lily‘s lad, PBShelley
+ the Bye bye Beauté Cd by Coralie Clément. I’d never heard of her before, but there was some sort of sticker on the front that suggested that if you like Ivy, Stereolab or some other bands, that you might like this; plus the fact that I’m a sucker for Sixties-style French pop chanteuses forced me to pick it up. So far, not altogether bad, but the only similarity to Stereolab is that Coralie sings in French
+ the remastered version of The cure’s Three imaginary boys Cd (two disks, 20 extra tracks)
+ plus some sushi (eel & cucumber gunkan and one shrimp nigiri), five pieces of inari, and a can of UCC Coffee

So my question: When did BestBuy start ‘requiring’ your phone number whenever you make a purchase? I’m at the cashier’s desk, paying for the Cure Cd, and she asks me ‘Telephone number, staring with area code, please?’ I of course gave some number that doesn’t exist — or, at the very least, isn’t mine. And it wasn’t as if I a) made a large purchase over $200, or b) paid with a credit/debit card or cheque! It would be a little more understandable for them to ask for a phone number for verification *coughsolicitingcough* purposes, but this is a $16 Cd here! I remember when they started that bollocks, asking for ZIP codes at RadioShack years ago, and once again, I’d always lie, but that isn’t as ridiculous/invasive as asking someone’s phone number.

My other question: Does anyone actually give out their real number to these companies? If so, d’ya think they’d like to buy a bridge from me?

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the Return of Stuff Week

typed for your pleasure on 15 December 2004, at 10.26 pm

Wow, and it’s only Wednesday!

+ a new copy of the recently re-released Hewligan’s Haircut, by Jamie Hewlett (of Tank girl fame) and Peter Milligan. I guess I’d be insane too, if I had a hole in my fecking hair
+ The Office: The Complete collection — includes the Christmas specials. COMEDY GOLD
+ Firefly: The complete Series — wow, American sci-fi that’s actually worth watching? How is that even possible??

aaaaand the jewel in the crown of my acquisitions, the Zeta Gundam DVD box set. Yeah, baby.

The box that it all comes in is a little over 15in long, and 4in deep. That’s to accomodate the poster, the nine pencil sharpeners modeled after various Mobile suits, the 48-page guide, and the ten-volume box set of all 50 episodes of the best Gundam serial ever made. When I first started getting into anime almost twenty years ago, I, along with countless other fanatics, had no idea that we’d ever see any parts of the Gundam franchise over in the States, let alone Zeta Gundam. But after a couple of false starts, it’s finally here. Happy? Decidedly so!

(sharpeners & DVD box not shown)

Thanx, Goddess of Stuff! Remind me to plant thousands of kisses on your most honourable lovely sexy feet, but only right after I finish watching the first Zeta DVD

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Stuff from Canada, music from Omaha

typed for your pleasure on 11 October 2004, at 3.31 am

Saturday was rather Action-Packed! Well, at least for me, anyway. Captain Jeff of the Jeff Brigade, The Mike & I were to make a tactical strike on Devonshire Mall in Windsor, in order to obtain more Stuff, cos, well, our lives are ruled by it. Jeff was on the hunt for a DVD copy ov eXistenZ, as well as the latest Dears Cd; Mike wanted to buy a copy ov Vidocq, and I was looking for any affordable DVDs on my List ov Must-Buys, as well as my usual haul ov strange Canadian potato chips, my favourites being Miss Vickies’ Sea salt & Malt vinegar, and Ruffles All-dressed. What do you want, I’m a potato chip conneiseur. As it turned out, Mike couldn’t make it cos he was up all night rearranging his room, so Jeff & I departed sans one ov our raiding party.

Jeff duly obtained his swag, and I went a little nuts with my acquisition:
+ Natural born killers: the Director’s Cut DVD
+ ABBA: The winner takes it all DVD
+ Bill & Ted’s Bogus journey DVD
+ a double DVD case, to replace one I have where the centre sprickets self-destructed
+ a copy ov Marc Almond’s autobiography, on clearance for $1 CD
+ three bags ov Miss Vickies’ Sea salt chips
+ one bag ov Miss Vickies’ Sea salt & Malt vinegar chips
+ two bags ov Ruffles All dressed
A bit much? Perhaps. But keep in mind the US dollar to Canadian dollar exchange rate is still five kinds ov ace, so I only really spent about $50 USD. Plus, what’s the point ov shopping in another country if you don’t really buy anything? We dinna find Vidocq, so Mike’s just gonna have to order it online like I did, the poor bastard..

Later that eve, I got round to Mike’s, to punch him in the ballbag for staying up so late, and to wait for Tim & his pal Jason to materialise, in order to go see the faint perform at the Majestic theatre. My reaction to hearing that they were coming to town was initially lukewarm — I think they’re kinda cool, but not enough to actually buy any ov their Cds, plus I hadn’t heard a single track off their latest release, ‘Wet from birth’ — but when Tim & I last met up a month or so ago, he mentioned that there’d be free tickets involved, so that swayed my decision.. As it turned out, there were only enough tickets for three people. Mike was magnanimous enough to let me have the third ticket, as ‘you know more about the band than I do’, he said. We were fairly certain there’d be tickets available at the door, anyway..

We drove downtown to the locale, and were pretty fucking surprised to see that the line to get in was a block long about an hour before the doors opened at 9pm. None ov us had thought the faint was that popular.. Since the tour wasn’t rolling thru Ohio, I reasoned that there were travelers from Ohio present as well.
Let me take a moment to bask in the images ov the throngs ov cute goth & electroclash girls that were there. Ahhh. Right, I’m done. 🙂
So we ambled to what we thought was the end ov the line, but it turned out that instead ov wrapping around the block, it continued across the street about twenty people in length. Yeah, we were in for a wait, alright.. But the fun really kicked in when they opened the doors, and one ov the security blokes told everyone with tickets to go on in, which ov course left Mikey outside. Tim, Jason & I waited inside near the doors for about ten minutes, when we noticed Mike motioning for us to come over. Apparently the box office sold the last ticket to the bloke right in front ov Mike. OH NOES!!1! Jason had given Mike a $20 to slip the door girl, as ‘she looked like she could be bribed’, but just as Mike took the $20, the guy who was behind him in line a couple ov paces back told him, ‘Dude, they’ve got more tickets now! I just got one! Go get in line!’ And sure as there’s shit in the cat, Mike managed to buy one. How were more ov them suddenly available? We don’t know. Perhaps it was a Sign from God. *snickering*

The first opening act, Beep beep, went on about 10pm. They’re labelmates ov the faint, and christ in shitty knickers, they sucked. Picture a blend ov the bad parts ov Gang of Four (who I never liked to begin with) and Buzzcocks, all topped off with a vocalist that was actually shrieking the lyrics instead ov screaming. Shrieking only works if you’re in a Noize band, or if you’re Diamanda Galas. Plus the guitarist kept rocking violently from side to side with a glazed stare, his mouth wide open in a frozen smile. He was truly the Best Mannequin on Drugs guitarist in a spaz-rock band that I’d ever encountered. In short, if you have the opportunity to see Beep beep live, throw things at them. Heavy things. Aim for their heads.

An hour later, after an extended session ov the soundcheck guy incessantly testing every microphone on stage by bellowing ‘Heyyy-UP’ into them, TV on the radio went on. They weren’t altogether bad. They were like Living colour with more ov a shoegazer-style guitar attack, except for that one song they did that sounded rather like New order. The four ov us, as well as the rest ov the crowd, were summarily impressed. In fact, most ov the crowd seemed to already know about TV on the radio, as a number ov people were singing along with some ov the songs. Any group that has both ov their guitarists as well as their bassist continually playing five inches from their amps for Better Feedback Power gets a thumbs-up from me..

Round midnight, the faint finally took the stage. Put simply, even if you’re lukewarm like I am about their music, everyone should see them live. The new album is less new wave-y than Danse macabre, but they still definitely have a sleazy and illicit vibe to them. The faint is a band that makes electronic dance music. They will make you dance, plain and simple, and you won’t be able to stop yourself. It was interesting to note that the band spent a lot ov time dancing themselves, especially Jake, who kept strutting away from his keyboard. Also, I was actually in a mosh pit for the first time in about a decade, and I had a hell ov a time! It was all because ov THE FAINT. (Ov course it could be argued that it wasn’t a real mosh pit. I mean, we’re talking the faint here, not Ministry.) A fine show, a fine show. It’s almost enough to make me start wearing eyeliner again..

A summation: Saturday was pretty fab! Although standing for an hour in line, then standing for another five hours in Converse All-stars, isn’t a good idea

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Past my bedtime? Why yes!

typed for your pleasure on 7 August 2004, at 5.30 am

Sorry I’ve not written in a while; I’ve not had a whole lot to say lately. Or rather, I’ve had plenty to say, but I’ve not been in a ‘proactive writing mood’, I guess. My apologies to my consistent readers — all six ov you..

Apparently this week was Stuff Week for me; or, as they call it in Germany, Stüfwoch. I’ve received:
+ my McFarlane-sculpted Vlad the Impaler Inaction Figure. Highly detailed, and sports about two to four points ov articulation
+ the Soft cell ‘Non-stop exotic video show’ DVD, which compiles all the videos made for their first album. Might I add that Marc Almond is camp as tits with pasties
+ the Thunderbirds International Rescue edition DVD set — includes both feature-length films ‘Thunderbirds 6’ and ‘Thunderbirds are Go’, and some stickers and magnets and perforated punchouts and trailers and interviews and quizzes and Easter eggs & other effluvium. F.A.B!
+ the Meat Cake Compilation, by the esteemed Dame Darcy. It’s a hardcover, and the silver-gilt page edges are a nice touch
+ the Ultra-gash Inferno trade paperback by Suehiro Maruo. IT’S. MESSED. UP. It answers the question, ‘What if Coil & Takashi Miike made a manga?’ Again, IT’S. MESSED. UP. I cannot stress this enough
+ my brand spank-me new CH-DVD-500 DVD player. Back in the saddle!

Managed to pull some strings (well, maybe a string, and it wasn’t connected to anything) and left work half an hour early, in order to catch Subliminal self play at Paycheck’s lounge Fri eve. I showed up just in time; they were the second act, and midway thru their second song when I entered. There was a small group ov people there, but I unfortunately get the impression that they were there for the other groups, so I’m glad I could show my support. Genevieve surprised me when I sat down, as I didn’t expect her to be there; Patrick had Emailed me a day earlier, saying it would just be him driving up, but Gen thought it’d be better if she came along, rather than staying at home alone with Oliver, their insane cat. And with good reason.*
Greyson’s voice kinda reminds me ov Brendan Perry ov Dead can dance, except for one song, where he sounded like one ov the Navin brothers from The Aluminum group; which is to say, a bit crooner-ish. Which is good, cos I like The Aluminum group. And Patrick really seemed to enjoy playing his synth, although I say he should start using a Moog Liberation, so he can be as cool as this guy. 🙂
After the show, we played catch-up briefly for about an hour — they had leave early, in order to make the thousand-year voyage back to Cleveland — but it was ace seeing them, even if for such a short period ov time. When Autumn rolls round, I’ve promised that I’ll visit, as I’ve not seen them since I was the best man at their wedding four years ago..

*No seriously, Oliver is ca-razay. The day ov the wedding, I crashed at Pats & Gen’s place for a few hours after the proceedings, whilst the Happy Couple was off honeymooning. Oliver, obviously threatened by this giant, bipedal cat named Dave, prceeded to incessanlty hiss & growl at me. Eventually, he had me cornered in their studio, where I locked the door, and remained there for roughly an hour. I made my escape when he finally fell asleep. It was a Day ov Marriage and Cat-induced Terror. This, then, is the Legacy ov Cleveland

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Stuff from Canada, music from Omaha on October 11th, 2004


Yes; sadly, my life revolves around acquisition.

typed for your pleasure on 31 July 2004, at 4.30 am

The Goddess of Stuff dropped by for a bit before I sped off to work on Fri. My copy ov ‘Foot: A playful biography’ was delivered, as well as my ‘Crash babies’ silkscreen. w00t! I’m really glad I panicked and ordered it when I did, as I have print number 155 ov 160. *mops brow*

Also, I received a letter from Oakland Community College, stating that they’ve gotten my Free Application For Student Aid. Now alls I have to do is submit a couple ov forms, and with any luck, they’ll bestow a generous grant upon me, or something equally good..

The lads & I might try to catch Beat Takeshi’s ‘Zatoichi’ over at some cinema in Birmingham Sat eve..

A PS2 game that I, as well as a small yet rabid handful ov others, have eagerly been awaiting, will see a domestic release on 21 Sept. Its name? Katamari damashii. Its price? TWENTY DOLLARS. I am in love with the world! 🙂

And this might be the best / funniest thing I’ve heard all week — William Shatner (with the help ov Joe Jackson) covering Pulp’s ‘Common people’. Staggering.

Not much ov an update, I know, but I’ll doubtless have more ov an interesting post this Sun, for your edification

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