Here comes the judge.

Nothing like a trip to Warped to make you fear for the future of your country. Hey, you — yeah, you with the one-inch ear grommet. (I’m told they’re called “gauges.”) Now that your passion for individual self-expression has tipped over into self-mutilation, what with the Ubangi earlobe and neck tattoos, are you aware that you’ve now entered the shadowlands of the economy, that no one will hire you for anything more than hawking CDs of bands that will never get a major-label record contract? Maybe you’ll get beamed up to roadie someday, and you can pick up the girls the band rejects. Motorcycle maintenance — there’s another career path, if you have the skills. Or you could be the next Cat Whisperer, although you should note he has not done that thing with his ears, and if he wore a long-sleeved shirt and gave up on the stupid facial hair, he’d look relatively normal. You, however…

Oh, and you over there — yes, you, the sweet, lovely 18-year-old, although you look younger, hon. I’m assuming you’re 18 because you too have self-expressed through permanently inking parts of your body that will be revealed in standard white-collar office garb. It’s possible you are younger, though, and did this to yourself with a fake ID or even parental approval. Someday you’re going to get tired of working at Costco and want a leg up, maybe into a spot as a dental hygienist or LPN. Dentists are professionals, and like professional office staff; do you really want to spend the rest of your life dabbing concealer on that stupid butterfly under your earlobe? Tell me the story behind that one. Oh, you got it because a butterfly represents transformation, and you used to be really shy, but then you met Kenny and he brought you out of your shell — sorry, your pupae stage — so you thought you’d demonstrate your love and devotion by making it permanent. And then he left, but hey, it’s not like you put his name there or anything. Butterflies are pretty. Stupid dentists.


Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just spinning conversations with the air. It’s entirely possible this generation will march boldly into the future and seize it with both hands, and that one day the cover of Fortune magazine will feature a CEO with a net worth of $20 billion and a giant grommet in his ear, and that my teeth will be cleaned someday by a hygienist — nay, my dentures fitted by a dentist — with an inky sleeve depicting the battle of Armageddon, enacted by anthropomorphic toothbrushes. And no one will think anything of it.

And maybe monkeys will fly out my butt. Just watch.

Back from Cleveland in the nick of time for the heat to find another gear of misery. Today’s expected high: 100 degrees. Today’s expected cloud cover: 0. Percentage of today I will spend in the great outdoors: Not bloody much. But I’m glad I went, both for the midweek break and the chance to see some things I haven’t seen before, and meet the wonderful Michael Heaton, who led us to a great bar just west of downtown, the Parkview, where I was introduced to deep-fried asparagus. We were to meet him on the street out front and follow him there, so I said, “What kind of car do you drive?”

“A red convertible,” he replied.

Expecting a Mustang, or something worthy of a blogger who calls himself the Minister of Culture and the brother of a famous Hollywood actress, I was nonetheless taken aback when a Chevy Cavalier with deer damage pulled alongside. Oh, well — he is a journalist, after all.

More on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later. One last word about Warped:

I won’t apologize for enjoying the parents’ tent as much as I did — the air-conditioning, while not terribly effective, was a pleasant break, and the ice-cold water a wonderful treat. I read “A Clash of Kings” on my iPad and watched other parents — the woman who alternated between Virginia Woolf on her Kindle and mad texting on her phone, another who went through two issues of the Chronicle of Higher Education before turning to “American Psycho.” Reverse Daycare was staffed by a cute girl of Indian bloodlines who, I decided, must be a student of the hard sciences at the higher-ed level — she was self-assured among her sweaty elders, and her tattoo was small, on her shoulder blade, and depicted the DNA molecule.

But I did get out every couple hours or so, to walk around until I wilted and listen to some music. The music was? Loud. The sights were? Arresting (and I’m sorry, I can’t get this photo to rotate):

(You wonder how I handle these moments as a parent? Teachable!)

Now, off to catch up on a few days’ of put-off work. Stay cool, all.

Posted at 10:43 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

43 responses to “Here comes the judge.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 21, 2011 at 10:53 am

    A DNA molecule, small, on a shoulder blade – I could almost affirm that. The grommets, by the way, pucker into an odd mangled lobe. Lots of kids who get them tire of them (especially when they can’t go camping anymore for fear of getting snagged by treebranches), and I’m starting to see 20-somethings with the distinctive earlobe bellybutton. No idea yet what happens in another ten years (could smooth over fine), but we’ll have plenty of data for you here in central Ohio shortly.

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  2. Deborah said on July 21, 2011 at 11:02 am

    They can always get a job at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. I see a lot of ear grommets and tattoos on the cashiers and stock people there. They’re young and cute, but like you said what happens when they’re 50? I don’t get the giant ear grommets at all, is that considered sexy? It looks scary to me, but I think that’s the point, to make 60 year old women scared.

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  3. LAMary said on July 21, 2011 at 11:24 am

    A male newly graduated nurse prepared for his interview here by removing his grommets. Probably in the parking lot immediately before coming in for the interview. He had two bloody holes in his ears. It was distracting during the interview, to say the least. He didn’t get hired. We do hire people with tats if it’s not too obnoxious. There’s someone at the director level at this hospital with a tat on her ankle.

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  4. Julie Robinson said on July 21, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Even at 25 a young acquaintance is having second thoughts about her extensive ink. She’s getting tired of not getting the jobs she wants and being eyed suspiciously in stores. Maybe there’s a new DARE program out there. Not that DARE proved any more effective than, say, the True Love Waits campaign.

    The only good thing about this heat is the way you feel when you get to go back inside the AC.

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  5. moe99 said on July 21, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Today’s high in Seattle is predicted to be 64.

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  6. Randy said on July 21, 2011 at 11:47 am


    Your butterfly/Kenny/dentist story nearly had me spitting coffee on my screen. Hilarious. Thanks for the laugh.

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  7. Sue said on July 21, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I can hardly imagine the fight in 20 years regarding insurance coverage for tattoo removal and body piercing reconstructions. On the one hand – a potential growth industry adding dollars to the economy. On the other – the generations bookending today’s fashionable young adults aren’t going to want to help foot the bill once all those butterflies start heading south.
    This should be another one of those fun generational fights which seem to be taking over our national personality.
    I saw a woman the other day who had a baby’s photo (head shot) tattooed on her lower leg. I assumed it was one of her kids and immediately thought of the usual embarrassment an adolescent/teenager/young adult has when mom and dad pull out the picture album. How much worse to watch mom hiking up her pant leg to share a picture. Then it occurred to me it may have been a child that she or a close friend/relative lost; I’ve seen some of those mourning tattoos. That just gave me the shudders. How awful that for the rest of your life you’re going to elicit laughs or shudders just by walking down the street.
    Everyone kind of laughs at poodle skirts, psychedelic logos, polyester, zuma (?) pants and whatever the 90’s fashion embarrassment was, but permanent and prominent body art? It’s like you’re doomed to forever wear clothes from your most embarrassing fashion period.

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  8. Judybusy said on July 21, 2011 at 11:53 am

    We finally got a break here in Minneapolis: 72 when we woke up this morning! Perfect timing, as I can work at home today and it’s a helluva lot more pleasant, as we have no central AC and the window unit, known as Brutus, is loud.

    I’ve also wondered the same thing about the seriously pierced and tattooed. I see so much of it here it usually doesn’t faze me. The food co-op we go to has them in abundance, and I rather stick out when I pop by after work wearing Ann Taylor from head to toe, but everyone’s super sweet. A few weeks ago, there was a young musical trio outrageously attired in rags. Seriously, rags, many of them, draped about their bodies.Long, unwashed hair, not even in dreads, just nasty mats. I don’t even remember the music. I did wonder what they they think they’re saying by cultivating this appearance. It didn’t evoke my pity, just my “take a shower, and get a job, any job” response.

    OTH, I have a dear friend with serious work on his inner arms and a work in progress on his back; he works as a well-paid project manager for a medical device firm. He’s brilliant, and doesn’t identify himself via the ink. Therein lies a crucial difference.

    LAMary, that new nurse shouldn’t get hired simply because he was too stupid to check for bloody lobes before the interview. Eeeeeew.

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  9. Judybusy said on July 21, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Sue, my conservative, Harley-riding but otherwise unadorned sister has an angel tattoo on her left shoulder in memory of a son born too early. Still, I agree, on the calf? People ask her about it, and she either gets to drone on about her mediocre kid or tell the sad story of a death too soon. Wow, that was mean. I’m even in a good mood this morning.

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  10. prospero said on July 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Earlobe grommet acccessorized.

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  11. Sue said on July 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Judybusy, the tattoo was full-sized, too. It was the size of a baby’s head (the lady had a stocky build, the face fit the area). So when she walks away from people they’re seeing this kid-face watching them.
    Shudder, shudder.

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  12. Scout said on July 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Since we’re vegan/vegetarian, any time we dine out it’s like an art gallery experience. And sometimes educational. The other night we spotted a fellow diner sporting the Eye of Horus on her back and after confirming what we thought we remembered about the symbol on my friend’s iPhone, agreed it was a “smart” tattoo, not only because of the symbology but because it was placed to be seen when wearing a tank top but easily covered when dressed for success.

    On the other hand, I fear that the kids who work at the restaurant are probably in the process of ensuring that they will always be in that line of work. One girl has her entire chest, neck and back tatted as well as full sleeves and what do they call the legs… leggings? At least her body art is in full color, no black, but still. The other one working that night had only a couple of tats but “expressed herself” by having rows of piercings on her face. Four on either side of her nose running down her cheeks, five across the forehead, a really large jewel adorning the area under her lower lip, one on each nostril and several rings on each eyebrow. Plus, of course, the 3/4 inch or so grommets in each ear. Both girls were probably in their early 20’s and it just seems kind of sad when you think of it. Like Sue said, it would suck to have to be stuck permanently in the fashions of when one came of age – for me, the 70’s. And I’m so happy that all those Bowie platforms and wide lapels are gone forever.

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  13. beb said on July 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I think all the guys with mangled earlobes work for “Hit Topic.” In fact I sometimes thing the only people they hire there are people into tattoos, piercings and ear plugs. However this ranting about same reminds me far too much of the facial hair controversy of my yout’. These days beards, mustaches, goatees, soul patches etc. are pretty commonplace and not a barrier to employment. I’m sure in time small tats and such will be acceptable. Larger ones? I’m not so sure.

    Moe @5: that is just cruel. The A/C at work is overwhelmed by the heat here in Detroit so I’m working in a small puddle of my own sweat. Outside it would be a very large puddle so for that small thanks.

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  14. Jenny said on July 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Wish I could be around 50-55 years from now to see these people living in nursing homes as the young aides help them to the bathroom, take a bath and dress them. What a sight that will be with their wilting, sagging tattoos and elongated ears with holes big enough to slide your finger through.
    great visual…
    If only they had a clue or cared.

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  15. Jenine said on July 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    @ Moe, neener neener received. I just checked San Francisco temps. Their summer fog is in full force, after a soaring 74 today they’re forecast for highs in the 60s through the weekend.

    Regarding young folks tattooing themselves, I talk about this with my elem. age kids and emphasize that tattoos are forever. So far they’re not into it. But I have an idea for the future if they should fall in love with a design and want to get a tattoo. I would encourage them to find a really good artist and have it drawn on in permanent market instead. I might even pay for that. They’d get to enjoy the experience and the art and it doesn’t have to get carried into middle age.

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  16. nancy said on July 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I tell Kate, “When you find a pair of shoes you want to wear every day for the rest of your life, then we’ll talk. Until then, no.” If it’ll wear off, wash out or grow out, it’s fine.

    Why isn’t temporary-tattoo technology more widespread? I remember reading about a company called Temptu, that does them for movies and TV series where an actor has to wear them over the course of a few weeks or months, and they last at least that long. I’d be totally down with that. I might even get one.

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  17. prospero said on July 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    So-called movement Conservatives like Buckley and Buchanan (for all his innate insanity) have always claimed Edmund Burke as the Father of modern conservative politics. This is a discussion of what Burke’s view would be on bullshit like the Norquist no new taxes pledge and the Family Leader pledge that claims slavery was beneficial for families. Of course, Norquist himself has admitted that letting sundown kick in on the Shrub cuts would not violate the oath of fealty all these chickenshit GOP pols have signed in obeisance to the decidedly treasonous anti-government nutcase.

    So what remains the political cover for their purely partisan brinksmanship. I think a strict Constructionist reading of Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution puts anyone who signs an oath to a man that wants to render the government small enough “to drown in a sink” on the wrong side of treason, and I wonder what teabaggers , Scalia, Thomas and other “originalists” think about this anti-Constitutional behavior. Of course they don’t want Senators elected by popular vote either, as stipulated by the XVIIth Amendment, so, who knows? And how did that arcane notion ever occur to, or appeal to, teabaggers?

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  18. Deborah said on July 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    My father had a tattoo on his arm that he’d gotten during WWII, while he was in the service. It was a bird of some sort. He was embarrassed about it when I asked about it when I was a kid and said he did it because of the peer pressure and regretted it. I had a hankering for about a day to get a small one that I would design, but the hankering didn’t last thank goodness. Nancy, temporary tattoos that last a month or so sounds like a great idea, but I would be super picky about what designs are available. If they could be something you could design yourself, there you go.

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  19. Little Bird said on July 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I have a few tattoos. And they can all be covered easily by everyday normal clothing. Those ear grommet things scare the crap out of me. I’ve seen one guy who had one in his lower lip! I wonder what his dentist thinks, “Open wi- never mind, I can see just fine.”

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  20. paddyo' said on July 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I’m with Randy @6 — PLEASE, MORE air conversations with GrommetBoy and ButterflyGirl . . . and I for one am dying to meet Kenny.

    As I have worn, since birth, a very large port-wine stain over most of my right arm, wrist and shoulder, tattoos have never held much appeal. “Here’s mine,” I’ve said whenever the topic comes up. When we were young, we seemed to express our quest for different-ness/distinctiveness, not to mention rebellion, in more temporary ways, didn’t we? Hair length, particularly.

    What is it that fuels the widespread urge today for permanence with ink and/or piercings? Merely youthful indiscretion/stupidity? Something tribal? And how the hell did most of us dodge that one as pupae long ago?

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  21. Suzanne said on July 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    “They’re young and cute, but like you said what happens when they’re 50?” I said the same thing about Mick Jagger or any number of other rockers who are now grandparents and they are still prancing around on stage in spandex, although often I find it quite disturbing. So who knows? My kids are pretty much adults now, but I always told them that if I was contributing even one dime a year to their upkeep, they dare not get a tattoo. So far, they have not.

    I figure the game the nursing home staff will play in the future is “Guess what that tat used to be” because no doubt that cute, little butterfly, after forty years of weathering and skin stretching, will have morphed into a big, fuzzy moth.

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  22. coozledad said on July 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    The passed out guy reminds me of an incident some friends of mine witnessed in a parking lot following a Pink Floyd show. Some guys were walking a comatose friend out to the car, supporting him under his arms while his feet dragged the pavement. When they found their vehicle they leaned him up against it while they got they keys and started to open the doors. He slid down the side of the car and executed a full split. This brought him back around.

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  23. prospero said on July 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    DIY tats.

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  24. adrianne said on July 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Dagnabbit, Nance, I love when you channel your crusty curmudgeon self and scold the young ‘uns with their crazy tattoos and body piercings!

    What used to outrage your mom when you were a teen? Daisy Dukes shorts? That loud, crazy rock n’ roll music?

    Please share!

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  25. nancy said on July 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I have to say, Ace, my mom was surprisingly easygoing. I was her final child, her late-in-game bonus, and I think she’d already lost her taste for disapproval. On the other hand, I never came home with a permanent body modification.

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  26. Heather said on July 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    No tats–way too permanent. I did have a stud in my nose for about 15 years. I took it out a couple years ago, but not for any special reason–I was just done with it. It actually went well with my look and I think it was subtle enough not to put anyone off. There was a guy at my office who had a couple of eyebrow piercings, and while I’m actually not a huge fan of piercing culture, my main issue with those was style-related–they really clashed with the corporate dress code.

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  27. Deborah said on July 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Prospero, I tried to design from scratch on the DIY tat link and found it terribly user unfriendly. I work with design software all day long (Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign), If they could get it to work like that or let you upload a design that you created with software you usually use, then maybe…

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  28. prospero said on July 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Deborah, I’m hopeless with that sort of thing so didn’t try it. Hell, I’m inept with Corel. You can upload your own image at that site, though, and I think they also have templates that can be modified.

    This is hilarious. Former Harvard President Laurence Saunders on the Winkelvoss twinnage:

    “One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o’clock, there are two possibilities: One is that they’re looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an a**hole. This was the latter case.”

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  29. moe99 said on July 21, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I think you mean Larry Summers, Prospero. He knows assholes because he is one.

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  30. prospero said on July 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Right you are Moe. Must have been thinking of the male Jackie Susann. God knows why. Summers may well be an asshole, but them Winkelvosses are every single thing wrong with the Ivy League. If not for legacy admission, they would have been at home plotting how to become the Menendez brothers.

    How hard is it to make a jackass of a genuine horse’s ass. Alan West and “lady” etiquette. Dumbshit was acting like a paranoiac fool in the first place. And a great video of Julia Stiles: “I still maintain he kicked himself in the balls.” Florida voters must be so proud of themselves, with Rick Scott and all. Proving his party loyalty by committing most extensive welfare fraud in history. And bailing on the company with a golden chute

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  31. brian stouder said on July 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    fyi – don’t miss the interesting discussion at the end of the last thread; and – sincerely – apologies to Maggi Jochild and Rana, for my thoughtless word choice. You both made thoughtful points, and gave me much to ponder

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  32. Little Bird said on July 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm
    I want to know where this guy is gonna work.

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  33. prospero said on July 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Fairly stunning graphic representation of potential damage from debt ceiling default on state governments.. Oops, there goes Alaska, the ultimate welfare state that contributes next to nothing but seriocomic relief to running the federal government.

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  34. Dexter said on July 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I am impressed . After years of reading Michael Heaton’s words, last week I did introduce myself online and we had a brief email exchange. Impressed I was also, when he told me he had gone to NYC for Tom Waits’ HOF installation.
    I’d love to sit in on a roundtable with Bill Flanagan (CBS rock critic), Heaton, and Dave Marsh (Rolling Stone, Sirius XM radio rock and roll critic) . I’d mostly just listen.

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  35. Jean S said on July 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I don’t think you can be a chef in Portland unless you have multiple tats…

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  36. paddyo' said on July 21, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Hey, LB @ 32 — for all we know, maybe that’s a pre-autopsy photo and he won’t be needing any employment, gainful or otherwise?

    I also see a hole where his grommet used to be. Thank GOD I got rid of that gauge, man, that was seriously gonna fuck up my ear. Now I can get a tattoo . . .

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  37. Runner said on July 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    LB @ 32, I would bet that image is Photoshopped. The angle of the image doesn’t lay right under the jawline. It should dip more to follow the body contour. And the colors are weird – bright in some spots and dull in others.

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  38. Scout said on July 21, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    For your consideration: Tat Fail – Nursing Home Edition

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  39. deb said on July 21, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Nance, I recently researched Temptu for a story, and you can order their temporary tats online. Go for it! Scandalize everyone at the pool!

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  40. Little Bird said on July 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    You guys should take a look at some of the other tattoos at that site. WARNING, not all of them are safe for work.

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  41. LAMary said on July 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I’m fixated on the unicorn peeing rainbows on the third page of the ugliest tattoo site. That is one confusing tattoo.

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  42. Rana said on July 21, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    brian, no worries. I only brought it up because I think well of the folks here and thought you’d all appreciate what I had to say.

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  43. John said on July 22, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Late to the party (my time zone’s 5 hours behind you, and it was a heluva day). I couldn’t resist sharing our favorite tat dilemma portrayal, courtesy of the sublime SNL writers:

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