The Challenge, the sequel.

Against the good counsel of our better judgment, a few of us signed up to do another 48-hour film challenge. Not the one we did last year — this one, the original-recipe contest. So I’ve been thinking about stories. This means wasting time with the Apple trailers site, where I’m always left with the overwhelming feeling that I’m just not cut out for showbiz. A movie about a guinea pig strike force in 3D? See, I never would have thought of that.

The next step is wondering if we can assemble a team without turning to Craigslist, which last year gave us a mixed bag, including a guy who presented himself with great enthusiasm. He called me to tell me his idea for a sci-fi short: A man possesses a pack of cigarettes, and… well, I’m trying not to describe them as “magical” cigarettes, but it’s hard not to, because every time he smokes one, he sees a vision of his future. The last one in the pack tells him how he will die.

Now that I write it down, I see it isn’t really a terrible idea, if you did it right. You could make the brand of smokes something like Oracles. He’d have to buy them in a creepy shop; the clerk could be a nice little part. Twenty smokes would give him time to figure out what’s happening. The visions could increase in significance and jeopardy as the pack diminished. The last one would bring the action to a nice climax. You could pepper the dialogue with snarky lines about giving up this filthy habit and “these things are gonna kill me.” Title: “Bob Quits Smoking.”

Unfortunately, when I talked to the guy about it, I must have failed to express my enthusiasm. I believe I told him that under the rules of the contest, sci-fi was only one of the seven or eight possible genres we might be assigned, and did he have any ideas for a chick flick? Because a day or two later he sent me an e-mail withdrawing from the team and complaining that he didn’t feel his ideas were being respected. He didn’t even make it to a single meeting. So I also get a Fail on dealing with sensitive artistic temperaments.

Nevertheless, I think we should do it. The true challenge will be to play it sincere; too many teams treat the assignment as a lark, and end up doing spoofs on whatever they draw — “Snakes in a Minivan,” etc. I think you could stay on the table* just by not cocking your eyebrow.

* Obscure Pulitzer-judging reference for journalists only.

Whatever we end up doing, I hope it includes a follow shot. This link is recommended, especially the video clip. See how many you get. (I was a Fail here, too.)

A quick skip to the bloggage today, because I have ten tons of work today, and ten more tonight. I’m listening to highlights from Barry’s speech in Cairo today, and I have to say, I’m impressed. I’m sure others won’t be. After all, you can’t say something like this…

“Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible.”

…without being called a wussy little quisling by someone, probably starting with whoever is on Fox at this very moment. But don’t let that hold you back. Discuss.

Something I didn’t know and find sort of sad: What happens to a man married (and divorced) four times? You end up buried next to your mother. What would John DeLorean say about GM? a Freep columnist wonders. My boycott of Mitch Albom’s employer didn’t last long, but I did avert my eyes from Mitch.

I can say uno mas mojito, por favor therefore I speak Spanish. At least, according to Michael Goldfarb, via Steve Benen.

Remember the “terrorist fist jab?” Gawker does:

Here are ten photos from the past year, proving that fist jabs have overcome their scary, black-person-centric origins and flowered into a glorious tableau of diversity.

And with that, I’m out of here. Sharing week continues with today’s Decorum Share: Tell us something that would have been scandalous in a prior century. I’ll start: Some days, I don’t wear a corset.

Posted at 9:54 am in Current events, Movies, Popculch |

52 responses to “The Challenge, the sequel.”

  1. alex said on June 4, 2009 at 10:12 am

    In honor of TMI Fest, here’s a memorable dining experience from a few weeks back. (What I’m about to tell you was probably last considered acceptable, decorumwise, in the Stone Age.)

    We went to an evening car rally in downtown Auburn, then to our favorite nearby pub. We sat in a booth adjacent to the bar, where a trio of late middle-aged guys in visor caps shared a pitcher and a pizza. At one point, the fat one in the middle stood up from his bar chair and slid his left hand inside his jeans. He worked his way down the backside and spent a long moment digging at his ass. Then he pulled his hand out and sniffed it.

    Then he sat back down and ate and drank some more with his two friends, who were oblivious. I didn’t believe my own eyes at first. Then he did it again. And again and again and again.

    Our waitress was a nice gal, and I wanted to tell her that she needed some sani-wipes to clean up after that crew and handle their money, but I just didn’t know how to broach the subject politely.

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  2. Danny said on June 4, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Rest in peace, Kwai Chang Caine.

    Now he is with Master Po.

    EDIT: Alex, that reminds me of that story I had a year or so ago about the neighbor who masturbates loudly and often. Remember, the one who was scaring the neighbor kids who shared a common wall? I did end up broaching the topic with him. Anyway, the kids moved out. Now the new neighbor, a middle-aged divorced man is being treated to the sound and the fury.

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  3. Kevin Knuth said on June 4, 2009 at 10:34 am

    The cigarettes are a great idea! The gimmick would be better if a down on his luck guy “found” the pack…and each one showed how he got where he was. In today’s economy it could be quite good!

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  4. Laura said on June 4, 2009 at 10:45 am

    I bare my arms (the ones attached to my shoulders, not weapons) regularly, weather permitting.

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  5. Dorothy said on June 4, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Alex wins already. Don’t even bother to try to beat that story.

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  6. 4dbirds said on June 4, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Hum, something scandalous in another century? I am a married woman who works outside the home, in a field that requires analytical skills and I get paid for it. I also wear trousers almost exclusively. I know that wasn’t what you were really wanting. How about this, I am prone to prolong bouts of melancholy, take medication for it and feel no shame whatsoever. Even in the last century, batshit crazy people were hidden from view. 🙂
    Happy birthday to my brother Paul and to my sister Sarah (RIP)

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  7. LAMary said on June 4, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Just minutes ago, I was second in line to enter the parking garage here at the hospital. The security guard at the card reader did a terrorist fist bump with the driver in the car in front of me. He did not move towards my car to do the same with me. I feel slighted and very white.

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  8. Colleen said on June 4, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I am batshit crazy too.

    Hmm. Alex does win. good god.

    I have checked into hotels alone.

    I chew gum in public.

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  9. 4dbirds said on June 4, 2009 at 11:17 am

    The order taker at the local Checkers here does the fist bump with everybody after taking their money. You know I’m more embarrassed that you know I eat at Checkers than that I take anti-depressants.

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  10. MichaelG said on June 4, 2009 at 11:23 am

    A guy at work picks his nose. And looks at his newly mined treasure. While talking to you.

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  11. Danny said on June 4, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Well, turn that frown upside down, Mary. Here’s a fist bump!

    | | | |-.
    / )|_|_|_|
    | |-^-^-^-‘
    | || |
    \ ‘ /
    | |
    | |

    EDIT: Umm, that doesn’t look right. Methinks Word Press does not like ASCII art.

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  12. Jolene said on June 4, 2009 at 11:34 am

    MSNBC is repeating BHO’s speech at 12 Noon EDT–in case you missed it and want to check it out. Like Nance, I was impressed. If nothing else, this is a man who is willing to say true things out loud.

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  13. Jolene said on June 4, 2009 at 11:37 am

    BTW, that terrorist child in the last of the fist bump photos is Ethan Gibbs, the son of the WH Press Secretary. Apparently, he and BHO are buds.

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  14. Dorothy said on June 4, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I don’t wear long white gloves, hosiery or a hat when I leave the house in the spring or summer. I might even forget to wear a slip if I have a dress on.

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  15. Connie said on June 4, 2009 at 11:50 am

    I have a dress on today and forgot my slip. And I am sitting at my desk in my private office with windows with no shoes on.

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  16. coozledad said on June 4, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Alex: According to my wife, that guy used to work the oven at Buffalo Joe’s Pizza in Cary, NC.

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  17. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 4, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I’m an ordained Protestant (non-Anglican or Lutheran) preacher with a bottle of Maker’s Mark next to the Rice Krispies in the pantry, and wine bottles in my recycling bin.

    And i have a copy of the Koran on my bookshelves, right out in the open and everything, next to the Book of Mormon, the Mathnavi, the Zohar, Das Niebelungenlied, The Kalevala, and Wormius’ Latin translation from the Greek of the Necronomicon (secondhand copy i found in an old Arkham bookshop).

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  18. 4dbirds said on June 4, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I have made 50 women pregnant today. Many of them unmarried.
    (Ok only imaginary women, to test data collection software on a major childrens study that will follow over a hundred thousand children from conception to age 21.)

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  19. Jolene said on June 4, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I started to say that most of the things people are describing as scandalous were pretty tame and that, as scandal-generators, we were a pretty lame bunch. But then I remembered how much outrage one could generate by wearing or not wearing the right thing in the tiny Midwestern town where I grew up. So, I guess what’s amazing is not how unscandalous we are, but how lax our standards for scandalousness have become. Still, isn’t anyone doing something more shocking than not wearing a slip? Try as I might, I can’t think of anything myself–at least not anything I’ve done in the past 20 years.

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  20. crinoidgirl said on June 4, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Oh, shame, SHAME, on all of you. 🙂

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  21. 4dbirds said on June 4, 2009 at 12:27 pm


    It wasn’t all that long ago that I wouldn’t pay a bill until I received a reminder notice in a pink envelope. That would be extremely scandalous to my midwestern parents but heck we had a kid with cancer and had way more month than money.

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  22. Sue said on June 4, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    The only thing I can think of that would have gotten me into trouble a hundred years ago was that time last November when I went into a voting booth and voted for a black man for president. The other thing I can think of is that I wear pants all the time, but since they cover my ankles maybe that doesn’t count.

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  23. Catherine said on June 4, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    To Jeff from the last thread: OK, how about Maria’s son?

    Similar in price to the pearls, but one of a kind…

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  24. LAMary said on June 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    I live with a man to whom I am not married. Also, I occasionally decide to not remind my teenagers of something that is pretty important, and I let them suffer the consequences of not taking the responsibility themselves. Nothing hugely important, just stuff like picking up dry cleaning or returning library books.

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  25. Catherine said on June 4, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    The follow shots montage link was worth the time. I knew fewer than half the movies, but there were some big-time favorites in there, including Goodfellas, Lost in America and Children of Men. For the Alan Rickman fans out there (Sue!), Clive Owen is almost as yummy in Children of Men, and the camera work in the whole thing is amazing, yet in service to the story.

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  26. LAMary said on June 4, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    The Obama speech in its entirety.

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  27. Scout said on June 4, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Here are two:

    I live with my same sex partner and we don’t even pretend that we’re just eccentric old spinsters.

    I wear white before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. Oh, the humanity.

    But yeah, Alex wins, although, I doubt hiney paste mining in public would be acceptable in any century.

    On edit – I forgot to say that I really like the cigarette pack idea. It’s very Twilight Zone. I agree with Kevin Knuth that the the main character should find the pack, or have it be given to him when he asks to bum one off somebody.

    BTW, Kevin, you don’t happen to live in AZ, do you?

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  28. Dorothy said on June 4, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Jolene – a couple of days ago on this website I already confessed to something that was, and probably still is, considered scandalous a century ago, so I didn’t think I’d bring it up again. The dress-sans-slip thing was more tongue in cheek than anything. But I’ll concentrate and see if I can come up with something worse.

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  29. Dexter said on June 4, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    scandalous in a prior century…hauling deer into a “preserve” and charging admission to come in and blow them away.

    Neville Flynn: ” Enough is enough! I have HAD it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!”

    But…let’s doctor-up another bit of script:
    Neville Flynn: “Hey, hey, hey, we have to figure something out.
    Rick: All right. Well, I know what I gotta do. We’re in a 12-foot little van and we’re on the toll road where no stopping is permitted. And any one of those slimy little pieces of shit can trip a seat latch or gnaw a brake line or the ignition switch and this minivan goes down in the ditch faster than a Thai hooker. So my job is to keep the Highway Patrol informed on how totally screwed we are, and then find some way to keep this mother on the road another two hours until we get off this toll road. Figure that out.”

    Doesn’t work ,does it….

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  30. beb said on June 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I often don’t wear a hat out of doors. Sue @22, if you wear a bathing suit, any bathing suit, and not just that thong hidden in the back of your lingerie drawer, that would be shocking.

    The cigarette story I think has legs. It reminds me just a little of a tale by Murray Leinster from the 20s. Called “The Seventh Bullet” it was about a man who had broken the law, or maybe it was a taboo in some Orient country. There were seven bullets in his gun. The first six were his and would go whereever he aimed, but the seventh bullet belonged to the devil. So vhe’s running away, using his bullet carefully to make his escape. But it’s not enough. He’s down to his last bullet and seconds away from capture and a hideous death by torture. He decides the only thing to do is kill himself first. So he puts the gun to his head, pulls the trigger, and the seventh bullet misfires.

    The guy scratching his butt reminds me of this video where a chimp is sittign in a tree, scratches his butt, smells his finger and abruptly falls out of the tree.

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  31. Dexter said on June 4, 2009 at 3:03 pm

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  32. Sue said on June 4, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Beb, it is a family joke about how I won’t wear a bathing suit, and since this is sharing week, let me tell you why:
    Back in the day, I wore a bathing suit, because as I have explained many times to family members, I never had anything to show but I never had anything to hide, either.
    Once, back when I didn’t have anything to either show or hide, I was at a pool, minding my own business, when a little boy pointed at me and said (not using his inside voice, obviously) “Mom! Is that an albino?”
    Another time, back when I didn’t have anything to show but was working on developing things to hide, I was standing poolside watching my kids splash around. I suddenly became aware that I happened to be standing next to the life guard. The tall, female, blond, little-red-suited life guard. I wished that I didn’t have such a finely-tuned sense of the ridiculous as I sidled away. Seriously. I sidled.

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  33. Julie Robinson said on June 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    My own delusional theory about the pool, keeping in mind I’m almost sightless without my glasses: I can’t see them, so they can’t see me! Works for me.

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  34. Catherine said on June 4, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    More scandalous behavior:
    I have never voted Republican (cover your ears, Grandma Jinny!) unless you count Ahnuld.
    I enjoy dining alone in public.
    One year, I earned more than my husband.
    I recently sent book club invitations… by email!
    And frequently, my shoes and purse don’t match.

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  35. Connie said on June 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Every one of the 31 yrs I have been married I have made more than my husband. And I wear sandals with no stockings to work.

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  36. Dexter said on June 4, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Sharing week: I was a pretty fair country ballplayer in my late teens, at least good enough to be invited to the Montreal Expos training camp for a tryout in the spring of 1970. Uncle Sam said ixnay; he wanted me to go to Indochina.
    So…”You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it…”
    Gawd, I love that scene! (On The Waterfront)

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  37. Jenflex said on June 4, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    100 years ago: I bathe more than once a week. In hot water, no less Scandalous waste….

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  38. Dexter said on June 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Jenflex: What grossed me out were the stories of how first pa, then the missus, then the little ones all bathed in the same water on Saturday nights!
    Speaking of bathing, once I attended a conference in Manhattan, and locals “adopted” out-of-towners for a couple nights , to avoid Manhattan hotel costs.
    I got a rattan mat on a hot studio apartment floor and the shower was just a trickle out of a tiny shower head. drip drip drip.
    Now I ain’t sayin’ I wasn’t grateful , I’m just sayin’….

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  39. Sue said on June 4, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Not Pa Ingalls. Pa Ingalls always brought in lovely fresh clean snow from the Big Woods of Wisconsin to melt and heat for each member of the Ingalls family. Even in summer he brought in fresh clean snow. I know this because 150 years later it’s June and we’re still freezing up here, dammit.

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  40. caliban said on June 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    The President’s speech is exihilarating. It’s a rum dodge to claim any human beings are exceptional, but, you know, human beings are exceptional. But if it’s runs hits and errors, we’ve got Carl Rove claiming he knows a lot of Ivy Leaguers who are stupid. Is he that stupid? I mean, you have your legacies and your overachievers. W and Sotomayor?

    The cigarette pack is fairly clever, because it leaves the denouement to the protagonist. I mean, she can just quit smoking. I’d say this is John Crowley territory, and the cinematic opportunities, lit flame etc. are very cool. And there’s Roy Batty:

    Fist jab? Got a sweet black angel. Sometimes it just floors me how racism gets a walk. And Scout, fly the flag dealt you. Einstein said:

    I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.

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  41. Jolene said on June 4, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Dorothy, I can’t be sure, but your last post suggests that I may have inadvertently insulted you. I hope I’m wrong. I was teasing, too, in my remark about wearing a slip, and, like Jeff, I felt you honored us with your candor in yesterday’s discussion.

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  42. deb said on June 4, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    michael, i never worked with a nose-picker, but i worked with two (count ’em) men who farted openly. while they were talking to you. one of them would actually lift a leg and squat ever so slightly before letting it rip. alas, both of these fellows worked in newsrooms — separate ones, 160 miles apart. and only one of them worked in sports.

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  43. deb said on June 4, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    my own scandalous behavior: i used to go out with the boys and have a cigar with my after-dinner brandy, just to piss people off. this caused quite a stir at the sportsman inn in monticello, indiana, in the early 1980s. just think what a scene i could’ve caused 100 years earlier.

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  44. basset said on June 4, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Scandalous in 1973: wearing bib overalls to high school. In Indiana.

    Men farting is scandalous? Would have thought you’d be used to it by now.

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  45. Jolene said on June 4, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Speaking of who’s buried near whom, I heard a funny story when I went w/ two of my sisters to pick out a headstone for the cemetery plot where my dad is buried and where my mother eventually will be buried.

    Inn addition to showing us headstones that they had in stock, the proprietors of the monument company showed us pictures of headstones that they had sold and placed in various cemeteries around the countryside. They showed us several pictures of stones on which both birth and death dates for one member of a couple and the birth date of the surviving spouse were carved. In a number of cases, the surviving spouse was relatively young–say early 50s.

    I remarked to one of the shopowners that these survivors were making a big commitment to many years of remaining single, and she replied that, in her view, having one’s name prematurely carved in stone was a way of making a public claim on the deceased, as well as demonstrating that one had once “belonged to” someone–sentiments that were powerful in the wake of death but that tended to fade over time, with the result that survivors sometimes end up someplace else altogether.

    Her husband then went on to tell us about two couples in a neighboring town who had adjoining cemetery plots. In one couple, the wife died first; in the other couple, the husband died first. The survivors then married each other, and sometime later, they both end up buried where they’d expected to be. And, because of the particular pattern of deaths and burials, both survivors ended up w/ both of their spouses by their sides for eternity. Pretty cool, huh?

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  46. Dexter said on June 5, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Jolene, I hope you saw the old “Curb Your Enthusiasm” bit about the grave sites that Larry, Cheryl, Susie & Jeff picked out. The money bit was that Jeff had to be on the end because he was claustrophobic.

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  47. Dorothy said on June 5, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Oh Jolene now I must apologize. I didn’t mean to imply sour feelings. I wasn’t insulted at all. Dang internet – you can’t tell “mood” at all in thread comments. I was kidding right back at you. No worries. I don’t offend that easily, I promise you.

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  48. John said on June 5, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Scandalous behaviour? My wife and I have spent a few vacations at Hedonism II in Negril. While we may not have been a party to all the activities, we have sampled enough to have gotten the flavour. BTW, the late afternoon/pre-sunset jerk chicken is heavenly.

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  49. coozledad said on June 5, 2009 at 8:49 am

    It’s looking a whole lot like David Carradine died in pursuit of the ultimate self-administered orgasm.
    You know too many people are being hauled to the morgue as a result of this when it has it’s own medical terminology. I can see the obit now: “In lieu of flowers, please give to the Autoerotic Asphyxiation Society.”
    Thank God I never heard about this at a tender age. I’d have probably wound up ingesting a bread bag.

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  50. Danny said on June 5, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Wrong, it’s a cover up. The Chinese Ligation finally caught up with Caine for killing the Emperor’s nephew.

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  51. coozledad said on June 5, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Either that, or he’d just finished listening to a cassette of his old band “Water”.

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  52. Kevin Knuth said on June 5, 2009 at 10:53 am


    Nope, I live in Fort Wayne, In. (although lately it has been “Fort Rain”)

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