Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Brief update

Yeah, I'm Boston and having a great time so far. Spent a few days with two of my sisters - one in CT and one in NH - then came into the Hub on Monday morning. I've been eating too much - drinking too many beers - and enjoying the sights.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I visited the Museum of Science for the first time. It would be a great place to take kids - lots of interactive exhibits - but I was there to see their "Baseball as America" exhibit. They brought in a ton of stuff from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, including Schilling's Bloody Sock and Lowell's hat from the '07 World Series - and it was great fun. I think I spent over 90 minutes soaking it all in. At one point, I was asking an employee a question and she said, you must really be enjoying this. I saw you earlier with a big smile on your face!

And a note for those wishing to go: they have some great discounts available IF YOU ASK! When I did, I discovered that teachers get in FREE! I just had to show a faculty ID and I saved the $19.50 admission. Wow!

After I walked over to the North End and had "the best pizza in America" (according to a fellow tourist outside) at Pizzeria Regina. Good - but heavy. That didn't stop me from visiting Mike's Pastry for an incredible tiramisu! Then pre-game at the Cask 'n' Flagon with friends from Surviving Grady.

Of course, I nearly got to see a no-hitter last night - but not by the Red Sox, unfortunately. I must admit that by the 8th, I was kinda hoping John Lackey would get the no-hitter - it would have been fun to have seen one in person (One of those Bucket List items, I think).

Karma must change tonight. I've been to 5 losses in a row - 2 in Tampa, then Friday's loss to the Yankees (although I had a great time and have great seats), then these two vs. Angels. WE WILL WIN TONIGHT!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On to Fenway!

Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
I wonder - is Manny describing his phone call from the Green Monster? Or imploring the Mariners to call him if his option isn't picked up? Whatever, Manny sure seems to be enjoying his captive audience! And I sure enjoyed the victory last night - the first since the All Star Break. Jon Lester looked awesome - really commanding. Without a doubt, he is our #2 pitcher right now.

Meanwhile, according to the Seattle Times, Manny ran into a little trouble leaving Safeco last night --

Seems that Boston slugger Manny Ramirez was leaving the ballpark, with headphones on trying to look inconspicuous and quickly get away from the crowds still leaving the stadium. He started to cross South Royal Brougham Way, against the signals of a traffic cop who was directing pedestrians. The police officer demanded that Ramirez open his wallet and show identification. He warned him that he could face a $500 fine and possible arrest for disobeying a police officer.

It became clear to those watching that the policeman had no idea who Ramirez was. He didn't ask for an autograph or anything, but did ask Ramirez if he'd attended the game. After the brief lecture, and no argument from Ramirez, the police officer let him go with no further trouble.

I love that the cop asked Manny if he'd been to the game! Yeah, kind of...

So, I've just finished closing the last suitcase. Don't ask how many I've filled for my trip northward - that's the great part about driving. You can bring TONS of stuff. I just hope my wonderful sisters - with whom I am crashing at various times over the next weeks - don't have heart attacks when they see how much I've packed. And you just know that I will have forgotten something!

n Friday, I'll be seeing this scene:
I'll be at the Yankees-Red Sox game Friday night (thanks to my sister Meg!), then the three games vs. the Angels Monday thru Wednesday. Here's hoping we can return the favor and sweep them!

Then it's off for a few days on that little slice of heaven we call Block Island:

There's nothing like spending a long day at the beach, reading a trashy novel, returning to the house and using the outdoor shower (!), then heading to the Oar for a Mudslide. Mmmm...

I'll probably not be doing much blogging (unless I make use of the Boston Public Library again!), so see you on the other side!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Shark

Photo by Stuart Franklin

Once upon a time, I was a big golf fan. I followed every tournament, every round, for quite a while. My interest arose from the fact that Brad Faxon, a PGA tour player, was from my home town in Rhode Island. He and my brother Mike knew each other (Mike is a good amateur golfer himself, and has won several amateur tournaments and even played in the US MidAmateur and the US Amateur!), so there was a feeling that I knew Brad. In the early 80s, he played in - and won - a PGA Tournament here in Chattanooga, and I followed him around several days. At one point, I introduced myself to him, and he greeted me warmly each time I saw him - even at other tournaments in Atlanta and Boston.

And that was how I fell for Greg Norman. Brad was in the lead in a tournament in the DC Area, and Norman came out of nowhere to win it. It was one of the Shark's first US appearances - before his famous showdown with Fuzzy Zoeller at the Master's - and he was such a glamorous and exciting player to watch. He played without calculation, naturally, all by instinct and talent. The fact that he so spectacularly lost so many major tournaments endeared him even more to me. (See how my love of the then- lovably losing Red Sox bled over into other sports?!)

Eventually, he faded from public view, took on business interests and limited his playing appearances. But I kept up with him, mainly because my niece works for Reebok as a buyer for the Greg Norman clothing line. She would drop me tidbits occasionally - Greg called and ordered some shirts - which was fun.

So I was so pleased to see him play well this weekend at the British Open. ABC called it a blast from the past or a throwback performance - who cares. He played really well, and showed that he can still play on such a large stage. On the heels of Rocco Mediate's performance at the US Open, it's been a fun summer for those of us old enough to remember golf BEFORE Tiger. To reminded some of the bandwagoners that there have been many, many talented players who captured the hearts of golf fans over the years.

And if this means the Shark is going to start playing in a few more events, Yahoo!

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Review: Mamma Mia

I have a confession: I am a huge fan of ABBA. I can't help it - when I hear the opening strains of any of their cheezy pop songs, I find my feet moving and suddenly I'm singing along. Actually, I challenge anyone to listen to "Dancing Queen" or "Mamma Mia" and not find yourself smiling and singing along. So I knew that I would love the new movie musical "Mamma Mia," and I was not disappointed. I smiled and sang along (in my head) the whole way.

The story: 20-year-old Sophie is about to marry on the small Greek island on which she lives with her single mom, Donna. Sophie is desperate to meet her father, and discovers in her mother's diary that there are three candidates. She invites them to the wedding, sure she will recognize him immediately. And so they arrive: Sam the architect, Bill the globetrotting adventurer, and Harry the businessman. The story follows as Sophie tries to figure out who is her dad, and her mom tries to figure out her feelings for them.

The cast is fantastic - and they look like they are just having a ball. (Do you blame them? Spending weeks on a gorgeous Greek island singing ABBA songs - what's not to love?!) Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan have terrific chemistry (although he was clearly not cast for his singing voice - he's pretty weak). Christine Baranski and Julie Walters are terrific as her side kicks, and I found Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard charming as the other two suitors.

The real find is Amanda Seyfried as Sophie. I'm familiar with her work on "Big Love," on which she plays the conflicted daughter in a polygamous family. She is sweet, sexy, and charming in the role - this could be a real break-out star.

And of course the other star is the musical score. Yeah, there are holes in the story (Streep is way too old, and the time line seems screwy at times), but you don't have time to ponder it because here comes another ABBA tune! The songs have been well incorporated into the plot - or maybe the plot has simply been constructed around the tunes - but, whatever, it works!

A fun, infectious score - a charming, hot cast - beautiful cinematography - I can't wait to see it again!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Photo by Jemal Countess

Can you not picture JD tooling around downtown Hahira, Georgia, (pop: 1800) in this beauty?


Caution: rant ahead

The centerpiece for last night's All Star Game was meant to be Yankee Stadium. "The Colliseum of our present day society," waxed Joe Buck over on Fox last night. Fox took every opportunity to push their point, with montages of great moments at the Stadium, and of the great players who'd used the Stadium as their stage.

But the true "stars" of the night were the Yankee fans. From the start of the "red carpet" parade until JD Drew accepted his MVP Award before a full stadium, they epitomized class and intelligent fandom. Their knowledge and appreciation for the game itself and for the men who play it was inspiring, a lesson for all of us who aren't quite as committed.

Oh, no, wait. I was dreaming for a moment.

The exhibition by the "Yankee Faithful" last night was one of the most disgusting things I have seen in a long while. I have never truly despised their fans - I always have chalked up some of their antics merely to misdirected enthusiasm.

Last night, however, my abhorence of them soared. When I heard they had showered Jonathan Papelbon and his pregnant wife with obsenities and threats, that they had loudly hurled curses at Jason Varitek in front of his small children - my anger began to grow. I had expected the "fans" to boo during the player introductions, but the volume was unexpected. Each at-bat by a Red Sox player was greeted by cat-calls and boos - to the extent that I began to suspect the Yankee fans would rather the AL lose than the Sox perform well. Even JD Drew's seventh inning home run to tie the game was booed. What are they thinking, I could only ask myself.

But the most venom and vitriol was saved for Papelbon's eighth inning appearance. Their incredible performance didn't rattle Paps - I actually think it inspired him to shove it in their faces - but it did manage to rattle catcher Dioner Navorro into a throwing error. Which was, of course, blamed on Pap.

The supposed cause of their hate was that day's New York Daily News, which featured a quote - taken out of context - that Pap thought he should be the closer in the game. Which is the mentality a closer should have - he always should think he's the only man for the job. Other reporters included how Pap was complimentary of Rivera, calling him the "godfather of all closers," and how he fully expected Rivera to be the closer that night. And when Pap came out in the 8th inning, wasn't that a sure indication that Rivera WOULD close out the 9th?? Surely those intelligent fans could have figured that out?!

I must admit that, although I was rooting for the AL, when Mariano Rivera finally appeared in the 9th, I truly hoped he'd blow it. That he'd give up a two or three run home run, and shut up those idiots. Nearly happened, too. And because of the fan-caused throwing error by Novarro in the 8th - which eventually resulted in the tying run - the game continued on (and on) without their star closer finishing out.

The irony is that Terry Francona treated the Yankee players (and really, all the players) with such respect. When replacing both ARod and Jeter, he didn't make the switch between innings as he did with other players (including his own). He sent in subs after the first out in the inning, allowing each man the chance to leave the game and be saluted by the fans. When it was time to bring in Rivera in the 9th, he let Francisco Rodgriguez come in first, get an out, and then replaced him with Rivera. "Enter the Sandman" to a huge ovation and lovefest from the Bleacher Creatures. (Actually, Tito's very classiness nearly did the AL in, because he could have used more innings from all of his players and pitchers. But in his desire for everyone to get a chance to play, he used up his bench long before the innings were used up!)

If the game were at Fenway, I'm sure NYY players would hear it from the fans. But I think our fans would rise above the hatred, and cheer for the TEAM in front of them, not the laundry. Yes, it killed me several times to find myself hoping Jeter would get a hit, or that Kazmir would pitch well. But for the good of the team, I did it.

I'm glad Yankee Stadium is being blown up. I only wish it could have been done last night.

ETA: Here's a first-hand account of what Papelbon endured during the Parade yesterday - written by his driver.

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It's over at last!

Photo by Jim McIsaac

I can't believe that I stayed up for the entire All Star Game last night. Somewhere around midnight, I began questioning my sanity; after all, "it's only an exhibition." You reach the point, however, when you've invested so much time and energy into a game that you just can't quit. You know that as soon as you turn out the lights and close your eyes, someone will pull a triple play or hit a grand slam. So you keep watching.

Which isn't to say I'm not happy with the outcome. The American League won, assuring the Sox of home field advantage in the World Series. Although, as was pointed out by several people, if the AL had lost, it would have meant that the Sox could have completed their four game sweep of the Series at home. Oh well.

And JD Drew being named MVP was sweet. What a turn around for him. I take back any dark thoughts I directed toward Theo when he signed the once-fragile JD. He has rebounded so incredibly this year - he might be our team MVP by season's end. With a healthy Papi back in the lineup next year, I'm predicting an explosive August and September!

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Monday, July 14, 2008

All Star Dustin

Photo by Jim McIsaac

Here's our All-Star Second Baseman Dustin Pedroia. I love this photo - it captures to so well the enthusiasm and awe that comes with being a first-time all star. According to reports, the normally "chirpy" Pedie is being somewhat subdued, just taking it all in.

Pedroia was somewhat of a surprise, considering where he was just a year ago at this time. He'd survived (barely) the calls for him to be benched all spring, and had already turned things around enough that the words "Rookie of the Year" were being whispered. He ended up being a key component in our run to the playoffs and, ultimately, the World.

After many forgetable second baseman, he seems to have staying power. And it helps that he is so endearing and such a grinder. Watch him swing a bat, and you have to control giggles. Yet, he unleashes all the power that 5'6" will allow, and there goes the ball out of the park.

Now if we could just find a shortstop who could be his double-play partner. The ones we've had of late have been, well.....

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Oh, Captain, OUR Captain

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Jason Varitek has really been struggling offensively of late, and is being ridden hard by the 'EEI-type fan boys. But I know his value is way beyond what his batting average shows. The way he works with the pitching staff, his preparation for every start - I can't imagine there is a better prepared catcher in baseball today. Those who don't understand his value (see: Tom Jones of the St. Petersburg Times) mock the "C" he wears with pride on his chest. But we know he is the Captain, the one who provides direction to the team, provides a positive voice for our often-maligned bullpen. I hear he has a few personal issues he's dealing with right now, and that might be affecting his offensive production, but he is still providing leadership. Look at that photo above - encouraging Okajima, who I think needs as much encouragement and positive affirmeation he can get.

So, here's to the Captain!

And for more Manny fun, another Elsa photo from yesterday's game:
I wonder if that's one of Big Papi's Vitamin Waters?

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Order is Restored to the Universe

Order has been restored to the universe. The Red Sox are back in first place in the American League East! They defeated the Orioles today 2-1 (a very long - over four hours! - game, and a real nail-biter at the end). And the Tampa Bay Rays continued their slide - they've lost seven in a row now.

So the Sox head into the All Star Break in first place by 1/2 game, with a record of 57 wins, 40 losses. Now a chance for the guys to relax, for the Bull Pen to recharge for the second half. Because now the REAL season starts!


"Dog Days" of Summer

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Good victory last night for the Sox - actually, another "classless" victory, 12-1. I missed the game - DVR'd it, so I might hang onto it and watch it during the next four days of no live baseball. Kevin Youkilis had 6 RBIs, including his first career grand slam. And Drew, back from several days off with a back strain, had a homer - and Manny followed it immediately with another. Those kind of games are rare - and to have two in one week is, well, great!

Remember my post a few days ago, about first pitches and not knowing how they choose who does them? Well, the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday called upon a world class, award-winning athlete:

AP Photo by Morry Gash

Yes, it's Uno - winner of this year's Westminister Dog Show! A much better choice than Paul Reiser, IMHO!

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Friday, July 11, 2008

GBA - Bronson style

Caught this link from Cyn - it's Bronson Arroyo singing "God Bless America." Quite superior to that Irish Tenor who sings at Yankee Stadt!


McCain not eligible?

I somehow missed this story. It seems that since John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, there's some question about whether he suits the Constitutional directive of being a "natural born citizen." Could be an interesting twist in the 2008 campaign!

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Would you believe...

Globe photo by Jim Davis

I love this photo. During a pitching change during yesterday's beat-down, Manny stepped inside the Green Monster - and apparently used the time to catch up on some phone calls! If he ever gets a shoe phone, we're in trouble!

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Now that's more like it!

AP Photo by Steven Senne

Now that's what I needed to truly put that road trip behind me. A good old fashioned beat down, a real ass-kicking. The Sox annihilated the Minnesota Twins this afternoon, 18-5. The scored 7 runs in the bottom of the 7th alone. It was great to be on the delivering end of such an upset, rather than having to sit by sadly. I hope they haven't used up all their offense - we've still got three more games before the All Star Game!

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Happy Manny = Happy Sox fans

AP Photo by Winslow Townson
Boston Herald photo by John Wilcox

I love to see a happy Manny. And we got to see that joy last night, as Manny blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the 8th inning to tie the game. Shortly thereafter, Brandon Moss hit one up the middle to score Youkilis, and the Red Sox went on to win 6-5.

I hope this means Manny's little batting slump is over. It's been painful to watch him of late, the worse being against the Yankees Sunday night when he watched three strikes fly by him without swinging the bat. Horrible. But Monday he got the game-winning RBI in the 1-0 victory over the Twins, and he made the big difference last night.

Now if some of that good luck can just rub off on Tek....

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Deja Vu

As anyone who has ever attended a baseball game can tell you, a lot goes on that you don't see on your home broadcast. Special attendees are recognized, the National Anthem is sung (or played), and then there's the ceremonial first pitch.

I often wonder how they choose who throws out that first pitch. I mean, some are obvious - who else but Jerry Remy would throw out the pitch on Jerry Remy Day? But others, well, I'm not so sure about. While I was in Tampa recently, the first pitch was thrown out by Paul Reiser - who once starred on the sitcom Mad About You. Kind of a B-list celebrity at this point (IMDB has nothing more recent than 2005 for him). An unremarkable choice.

Yet, from my perspective, an eerie choice. Why? Well, when I was at a game last year at Safeco Field in Seattle, who threw out the first pitch?

Yes, you guessed it, Paul Reiser. The odds must be astronomical to see the same passed-his-prime sitcom star throw out a pitch a two different parks, a continent apart, and in consecutive years! Bizarre

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Your American League All-Stars!

Missed the selection show, but here is the AL team (courtesy of the Boston Globe):

Starters (won fan vote):
Catcher: Joe Mauer, Twins
First base: Kevin Youkilis, Sox
Second base: Dustin Pedroia, Sox
Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees
Third base: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Outfield: Manny Ramirez, Sox
Outfield: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
Designated hitter: David Ortiz, Sox

Reserves (voted by players):
J.D. Drew, Red Sox
Jason Varitek, Red Sox
Joe Crede, White Sox
Carlos Quentin, White Sox
Grady Sizemore, Indians
Carlos Guillen, Tigers
Justin Morneau, Twins
Milton Bradley, Rangers
Ian Kinsler, Rangers
Michael Young, Rangers
Dioner Navarro, Rays

Scott Kazmir, Rays
George Sherrill, Orioles
Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
Mariano Rivera, Yankees
Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
Justin Duchscherer, Athletics
Joe Nathan, Twins
Joakim Soria, Royals
Cliff Lee, Indians
Francisco Rodriguez, Angels
Ervin Santana, Angels
Joe Saunders, Angels

No Beckett, no Matsuzaka. What, no Lugo?? LOL Also interesting that no Yankee players chosen as reserves, and only one Ray (as well as Kazmir, which is deserved)

I'm so excited for first time All Stars, Youk & Pedie. And glad that the other players recognized the value and contributions of Tek and JD.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

I choose to ignore

Photo by Jim McIsaac (whose work I am loving of late!)
Today's Red Sox-Yankees game was carried nationally by the despised Fox Network. They have increased my hatred by deciding folks in my area would rather watch the Cubs-Cardinals game. So I had to resort to my backup: MLB Game Day Audio. (The only reason I pony up the money to be a member of "Red Sox Nation" is to get free access to this service). Now, I am a visual learner - I do much better if I can read or watch rather than hear something. So, normally I would also follow along on the SG chat and GameDay Live on

However, Comcast has decided they don't want me to have fast access. For the second day in a row, I have experienced extreme slowdowns in access. Yesterday, after an hour of no access, I called Comcast; after screwing around on their end, they decided they needed to send a technician. When? Sometime between 8 and 5 today. Aaargh. Miraculously, by 6pm, I was back at full function - and was whizzing around the net this morning. So I cancelled. But, between this same time frame today - 2pm and 6pm - I again experienced problems. Aaargh.

In order to preserve my audio connection, I had to shut down everything else. Talk about frustrating!! So, since I was not able to actually see the game, nor participate in any discussions of it, I choose to ignore that the game ever happened. I will pretend we are going for a sweep tomorrow.

Seriously, I'm bummed we lost - but not in despair. It was a very close game - it was within our grasp to win it several times - and it's made us doubt that the Yanks will be a contender this year. I never count them out - but comparing what I saw in Tampa

with what I've seen in the Bronx of late - I think we all should be much more worried about the Rays.

In the meantime, here's Tim Wakefield playing some air trumpet to a Sinatra tune:

Now, don't you feel better?!

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fourth of July

Photo by Jim McIsaac
Now here's the Captain American I'd like to be rescued by! Happy Independence Day!

ETA: Paid attendance at tonight's Tampa Bay Rays' game: 16,830....Pitiful

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Spaceman, the Surrealist and me

I'm just back from Tampa - actually. St Petersburg - where I saw the Red Sox lose two games to the Rays. [More on that later]. Before the game Tuesday night, Bill Lee put in an appearance at the Ted Williams Museum at the Trop, helping raise funds for the Museum.

I always loved the Spaceman. He was the original crazy - we always seem to have one on our team - and he was never boring. Since he retired, he's been living up in Vermont, and is still playing in some kind of Senior professional league.

So, I made my way down to the Museum as soon as the Trop opened, and was one of the first in line. Those ahead of me were fawning over him, of course, and I really wanted to say something more meaningful than, you were one of my girlhood idols. So as I approached I noticed he was wearing a sticker on his collar that showed he had visited the Salvador Dali Museum. I went Monday, and was bowled over. No matter what you think of him personally, Dali produced some provocative and challenging works of surreal art. So I said to Bill, "Isn't the Dali Museum wonderful?" He looked up from signing my picture, somewhat startled. He agreed, and went on to tell me that he owned seven of Dali's paintings. He said he hung out with Dali from 1970 to 1978, but stopped when Dali "got really weird." (You'd have to be really screwy for Lee to think you're messed up!) Then he started asking me about some of the specific paintings they have - he mentioned that he loved one called "A Portrait of my Dead Brother," painted in 1963 as a way of exorcising his brother from his mind:

This image doesn't do justice to the biggest element: each one of the dots is a cherry, with black for his brother and red for himself. It seems his brother died before Salvador was born - and had also been named Salvador. From Wikipedia:
When he was five, Dalí was taken to his brother's grave and told by his parents that he was his brother's reincarnation, which he came to believe. Of his brother, Dalí said: "… [we] resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections." He "was probably a first version of myself but conceived too much in the absolute.
I agreed that the painting was interesting, but told him my favorite was "The Hallucinogenic Toreador":
which is far too complex to get into here. I think he was kind of surprised I could reel off another painting!

At this point, the handlers were kind of poking Lee, urging him to wrap it up and sign some more. So I thanked him, and got someone to snap the above photo.

So, most come away from a signing with an autograph and some pithy words. I discussed Surrealism with the Spaceman! Who would have ever guessed that he would like Surrealism? :)

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