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I've been part of the LJ community for almost 10 years now (user number 13,845 baby!). That's a long time. Other than school, I think that's the longest I've ever committed to a single thing. When I started, the community was small, scrappy, and surprisingly close knit. I remember going to LJ meetups in Seattle and meeting people from all walks of life. It was great.

During those early days I made friends in the community pretty quickly and there wasn't quite the signal to noise ratio that there is today, nor were there the problems with advertisers, etc. Now LJ is much more insular and cliquish than it was. You don't meet random friends the way we did in the early days. Hell, one of my friends ([livejournal.com profile] twirlingtulip) was someone who just happened upon my journal, and another friend ([livejournal.com profile] gina) became my friend largely because I shamelessly stole her user icon and she called me on it. The idea of something like that happening on facebook seems unlikely to say the least, which might be why I really dislike facebook.

With the rise of "friends only" LJ posts, LJ acquired many of the symptoms of facebook. It lost the openness of it. But there's still a charm here that I'm quite fond of and that I haven't seen in any other medium.

Ok, this post is getting away from me.

The point is that I think I'd like to return to LJ. It's been a very long time since I've used LJ on a regular basis. I think I'll change that.
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My chili seasoning
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. seasoned salt
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. Cayenne

Ingredients
1 (14.5 ounce) can Fire Roasted Organic tomatoes, chopped
1 (6 ounce) can organic tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup rose wine
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons of HP sauce (steak sauce will do)
1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce
5 slices bacon
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 serano peppers
1 anaheim pepper


Directions
In a crockpot, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, wine, pepper flakes, bell peppers and steak sauce.
While tomato mixture is simmering, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels. Cook beef in bacon drippings until brown; drain. Stir chili seasoning into ground beef.
Stir seasoned beef, peppers, beans and bacon into tomato mixture. Leave in crockpot for 4-5 hours.
Stir in cilantro and parsley. Heat through and serve.
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The Roast
  • A good cut of meat (I’m partial to prime rib, but a simple cut of roast beef can be fantastic)
  • 1 yellow onion (sweet if you can get it)
  • 5-6 sprigs of Thyme
  • 1 table spoon of Coleman’s mustard powder
  • 1 table spoon of flour
  • ½ tea spoon of garlic powder
  • Liberal amounts of pepper
  • Worchestershire sauce
1) Massage the meat with Worchestershire sauce and put it in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
2) Mix the flour, mustard powder, garlic powder, and pepper together in a bowl.
3) Cut the onion into 1/2" disks and pace them in the base of your roasting tin. The idea is for you to rest your meat on these onions.
4) Put the sprigs of Thyme on top of the onion (these will sit between the meat and the onion)
5) Heavily dust the meat with your mix that you just made. You want it covered. If you like pepper a lot, add to taste.
6) Put it in the oven pre-heated to 475 for 15 minutes to sear. Reduce to 375 and leave it for 15 minutes per pound (it’ll be bloody at this level). Add 15 minutes to get it to “medium/well” Alternatively you could just use a meat thermometer.
7) The gravy - When you pull the roast out let it relax for 15 minutes and then get all the drippings, black stuff on the bottom of the pan, the onions, etc, and put it in a saucepan. Add a cube of oxo (beef bullion) and a roux to the dripping along with a little water from the potatoes you were boiling (see below). Add salt/pepper to taste.

Yorkshire puddings
  • 2/3 cup low fat milk
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • Beef drippings if you didn’t make gravy (or a little veggie oil)
Make this while the meat is relaxing.

1) Put a little oil into each cup of a muffin tin and put it in the oven at 425. You want the oil piping hot.
2) Mix the milk, flour and egg in a bowl. Beat it.
3) Pull the tin out and pour the mixture in, and put it straight back in the oven. You want that oil VERY hot when you pour it in and you don’t want to lose any heat.
4) Do NOT open the oven for the next 15 minutes. You’ll want to. Don’t.
5) Pull them out, pour gravy on them, and eat.

Crispy roast potatoes
  • 4 russet potatoes
  • a little veggie oil
1) Peel and halve the potatoes.
2) Boil the potatoes until they’re semi soft (you don’t want them falling apart, but they shouldn’t be hard either).
3) Drain the water and rough them up in the pot by shaking it.
4) Place them in a pan that has oil that has already been heated to 375. Roll them around the oil to make sure they’re entirely coated.
5) Put them in the oven and ignore them for about the next 30 minutes (they should be done around the same time as the meat).
6) Serve with the gravy.


Carrot and turnip mash
  • Equal amounts (by size, not number) of carrots and turnips.
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
1) Slice the carrots and dice the turnips.
2) Boil for ages. Basically, the entire time you’re cooking, have these things at a low boil.
3) Drain and give them a minute or three to let some of the moisture evaporate otherwise they might end up soupy when you mash them.
4) Add a small knob of butter, some salt and pepper.
5) Mash the bejeezus out of them.
6) Eat.
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Things the GOP does to (I believe intentionally) annoy us.

- Claim they're fiscally conservative.
- Claim they're strong on defense.
- Misquote things and when they're caught, keep misquoting.
- Lie. And when they're caught, lie more.
- Turn political differences into theological wars.
- Boycott France
- Three Words: Free Speech Zones
- Ejecting/arresting people for asking questions they don't like.
- Support the Iraq war
- Parrot Rush Limbaugh
- Drive a gas guzzling V-10 pickup truck with one or more stars and bars bumper stickers
- Support Creationism
- Complain about political correctness, as if they long for the good old days when they could call women and black people whatever they damn well pleased.
- Vote for Bush/Cheney, McCain/Palin
- Insist that every publicly-placed television set they see is tuned to Fox News
- Troll websites asking why [Generic Democrat] won’t release his [Generic Official Personal Record]!?!?
- Say the words "fair and balanced" without a hint of irony.
- Name their astroturfed political campaign after a sexual act/fraternity prank
- Take Jonah Goldberg seriously
- Insist that Bill O’Reilly is the best source for news.
- Speak with an exaggerated regional accent
- Believe Bill Kristol
- Complain about the Liberal Media
- Refuse to believe the president is American despite the evidence.
- Insist that [insert policy] is a plot to kill Grandma despite a total lack of evidence.
- Insist that [insert policy] is a plot to kill soldiers despite a total lack of evidence.
- Insist that [insert policy] is actually communism/socialism/fascism/nazi-ism.
- Deny climate change.
- Claim forms of torture that people were convicted for in WWII isn't torture anymore.
- Employ the Nuremberg defense and browbeat anyone who says "Hey! That isn't allowed!"
- Fail to know what the Nuremberg defense was.
- Cut Veteran's benefits while declaring that democrats hate the troops.
- Laugh at or tell conservative jokes
- Form mindless mobs to shut down any intelligent discussion at townhalls and declare it a victory, declaring that it's the voice of the people.
- Make all GOP townhalls invite only to give the impression that america has a love affair with the GOP.
- Blather that anytime someone doesn't wear a bunny suit or a santa costume that it's an OMFG WAR ON CHRISTMAS/EASTER!!!
- Declare that Christ would support their policies of war, death penalties, bootstraps, and torture.
- Declare that anyone who went to college or lives in the northeast or west coast isn't a "real american."
- Buy-Cot Whole Foods
- Carry a gun to the mall
- Carry a gun to political rallies
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Dear Friend:

Thank you for contacting me. I have heard from
countless Americans struggling to afford health insurance
and health professionals striving to provide care. I
appreciate your perspective. There is broad consensus
among the American people on the need for affordable,
high-quality health care. The rising cost of health care is
the most pressing financial challenge for families and for
our Nation, and controlling this cost is essential to bringing
down the Federal deficits we inherited. Now is the time to
move forward, and I am committed to getting health care
reform done this year.

Since I took office, we have done more to advance
the cause of health care reform than we have in the
previous decade. In February, I signed H.R. 2 to provide
coverage for millions of children through the Children's
Health Insurance Program. I also signed the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act to make key investments
in computerized medical records and preventive services.

Looking forward, we will take additional steps to
lower costs, expand coverage, and improve the quality of
health care. My 2010 Budget makes a major down
payment on health care reform, funded by implementing
efficiencies in government health care spending and
restoring a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code.
There are tough choices to be made, and I will bring
businesses and workers, health care providers and patients,
and Democrats and Republicans together to create a system
that delivers better care and puts the Nation on a much
sounder long-term fiscal path. To learn more about my
agenda and share a personal story, please join me online at:
www.healthreform.gov. For further information on health
care and assistance that may be available to you, you may
call 1-800-FEDINFO or visit: www.usa.gov.

I share the sense of urgency that millions of Americans
have voiced. I watched as my ailing mother struggled with
stacks of insurance forms in the last moments of her life.
This is not who we are as a Nation; together, we will fix it.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
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President Obama,

I'm sure my comments will mirror what you hear on a daily basis from a variety of sources, but I thought I should lend my voice to theirs.

When you gave your first national speech I, like most people on the left, was truly excited about your political prospects. I immediately started speaking with friends and colleagues about the possibility of you running for president.

When you began your run I, again, was one of the faithful. I attended rallies, I drove others to your rallies, and I (for the first time in my life) became involved in a political campaign.

My point in writing to you, Mr. President, is that I am part of that wave of young people who carried you into office. We believed in you when you spoke of closing Gitmo, ending don't ask-don't tell, ending signing statements, and getting real healthcare reform.

What happened?

We gave you a 60 seat majority in the senate and a massive lead in the house. We put you in office with a clear mandate and all we asked is that you deliver change.

Where is it?

So far all I see are continuous concessions being given to a group of people who are so beholden to extremists that they will never vote for anything you endorse, and a continuation of your predecessor's policies. And now I read of secret deals with the health care industry and see that the public option (which was, already, a compromise) is all but abandoned.

I was discussing this the other day with a good friend of mine (who was a delegate for you in November) and the only arguments he could make in your defense were...

1) incrementalism, and
2) at least he isn't George W. Bush or John McCain.

That isn't why we elected you, sir. We didn't support you in the primaries and then in the general election because we wanted the lesser of two evils. We supported you because we believed you when you said you would bring real change and would not bow to lobbyists and special interests.

Well, sir, from where we stand it looks like you are doing exactly that.

You are the leader of your party, Mr. President. You have the ability to push this through, but you need the will.

Now I don't expect you to read this. I'm sure some unpaid intern will scan this, send me a form response, and move on with his or her life. So to that intern, please speak with your supervisor about this message and see if you can convey the general sentiment up the chain of command. President Obama had a groundswell of support in 2008. These days all there is out there is resentment and disappointment, and an increasing lack of interest in 2012.

The emails I get indicate that the President wants us out in the streets and in town-halls, and I'm sure that he's shocked by our lack of enthusiasm. But the President needs to understand that for us to follow, he must first lead.

A good commander is always in front of his troops, sir.
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Sam Raimi, of Spider-
Man, is making a movie based on World of Warcraft
.

Now I'm going to make a prediction here. Are you ready? Here it is...

It will be awful.

Well, it will be awful if it's actually set in the WoW universe. If it is about the Troglodytes who spend more time in the game than they do with the outside world? That might be entertaining. Heh.

Also, slight nerd knowledge here... If it's from the perspective of humanity and the alliance, the audience is going to unwittingly be cheering on the aggressive fascist faction who are pro-slavery (and pro-genocide against anyone who looks scary and isn't a willing slave). Those orcs, trolls, and minotaurs? Yeah, they're more peaceful and freedom loving faction. Ironic, no?

Frankly, I don't think a good WoW movie is possible. The story spans 3 single player games + 1 expansion, and an enormous MMO with 2 additional expansions. It's a massive story, not to mention the fact that it's quite cheesy with no main character. This is no Lord of the Rings.

So yeah, it's gonna be HORRIBLE!
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So HBO has begun casting for GoT, which will begin shooting the pilot in Ireland this winter. Considering that it will require a budget as large, if not larger, than Rome and is in a medieval fantasy setting... the pilot needs to be amazingly awesome. The casting is a good sign that it will be done well.

Sean Bean - Eddard Stark
Peter Dinklage - Tyrion Lannister
Mark Addy - Robert Baratheon
Kit Harrington - Jon Snow
Harry Lloyd - Viserys Targaryen
Jack Gleeson - Joffrey Lannister
Gillian Anderson - Catelyn Stark (Rumored)

Dinklage and Bean are perfect. Like... omg.

Addy isn't what I imagined Robert looking like AT ALL. However, slap a beard on him and give him long regal hair, and it could work I suppose. After all, he was supposed to have gotten rather fat after taking the throne. However, the way someone looks when they were in shape and then got fat is quite different than someone is just fat. Addy is just fat. Also, Addy his kind of a higher pitched nasal voice. Robert should have a deep booming voice. Like an angry Santa. So I'm dubious. Besides, I always imagined Robert looking and sounding like Brian Blessed (Link).

I can't find a bio of Kit, but George R R Martin is quite excited about him and having seen a photo of him I think he's got the right look.

Lloyd has the right sort of look for Viserys, though wasn't his hair silver? I'm pretty sure he was. We'll see if he can do the utter insanity of Viserys. That's more important.

The only thing I saw Gleeson in was Batman Begins and that was 4 years ago. So I have no idea how he'll fare as Joffrey.

Now they need to find Jaime and Cersi Lannister. They'll be key casting choices, though the toughest choice for casting will definitely be The Hound and The Mountain That Rides. I'm guessing they're going to be stuck with people from the WWE.

Frankly, I think this series would be perfect if they cast Jason Issacs as Tywin. But that's just me.

Here's George R R Martin's reaction to the casting.

Anyway... that's enough nerd for right now. I'm going to walk Melissa to her test.
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Jeff: alcohol + sedentary = beer gut
me: I walk from the car to the office.
Jeff: haha
me: also: couch to fridge
Jeff: this is why I force myself to go jogging. so I can drink more beer
me: you know what sucks about jogging when you're out of shape? (other than everything)... The jiggling.
Jeff: yeah hehe I know
me: I am NOT a fan of the jiggling
Jeff: you get used to it. :)
me: I feel like a fucking jello mold.
Jeff: yeah just don't be one of those douches who wear like spandex.  I wear a baggy pair of shorts & t-shirt. spare the world. :)
me: hahaha spandex with a beer gut and skinny legs
Jeff: yeah

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Back from the beach. Had a really good weekend. Going to head out in a few minutes to go make decisions on wedding colors and whatnot with Melissa, my mother, and her parents. Yep, colors. Oh, and we get to decide on procession order and stuff. It's a party over here. ;)

I can't complain, though. I spent the weekend at the beach at a resort. It was pretty great.

Came up with a short film concept that I pitched to Jabriel, who thinks it's funny. I might futz around with the idea some more and flesh it out. Also came up with a project idea while helping Nathanael brainstorm for his latest project. I might futz around with that, too.

We saw The Watchmen last week. Overall, I was pleased. However, I've read the graphic novel so I understood what was going on. Melissa, who had never read the graphic novel, was violently pissed off about it. She had no idea what was going on and sensed that if she did know, she would have enjoyed it. Thus, pissed. I think this is largely due to the fact that Zack Snyder is a god awful director.

On retrospect, if it wasn't for the fact that the guy playing Rorschrack was so awesome, I don't think I would have enjoyed the film.
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www.thehuntforgollum.com

Watching it made me think to myself that I seriously need more productive hobbies. ;)
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Ok, so we played a little Left 4 Dead Survival last night. I have to say that it provides the most realistic zombie situation I've seen in a video game or movie. Here's how it basically plays out.

1) You make a plan to survive the zombie apocalypse with your friends.
2) You quickly arrange defenses in accordance with the aforementioned plan.
3) Zombies come at you screaming, jumping, and sprinting right into your face.
4) You initiate the plan, which works for about ten seconds.
5) Then the zombies chew RIGHT THROUGH A BRICK WALL!!! and laugh at your plan. Well, scream and moan at your plan.
6) You shout "OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK!" and kiss goodbye to your plan. There's a new plan. That plan is "fire wildly while screaming and panicking."
7) The wall chewing zombies become brain chewing zombies and eat one of your friends.
8) This causes everyone to shout "OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK!"
9) Someone says in a panicked voice "What's the plan! Where do we go!?! WHAT'S THE PLAN!?!?!"
10) Someone else says "This way!"
11) The group follows because he sounds like he knows what to do. However, there is a problem with his plan of "this way!" Zombies are that way.
12) More shouts of "OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK!"
13) Zombies feast on everyone's brains.

This all takes around 2 to 3 minutes to play out. And frankly, if we woke up tomorrow morning and the entire world was zombified ala Dawn of the Dead, that's probably how things would play out for any of the survivors.
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Justice Breyer elaborated on what children put in their underwear. “In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day,” he said. “We changed for gym, O.K.? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear.”

*laugh* That's an actual quote. It's even better than the argument between Justice Breyer and Former Chief Justice Rehnquist where they were discussing privacy and decency issues connected to sodomy laws and Justice Breyer brought up the point that he thinks lying at the dinner table is quite indecent and wondered whether the Former Chief Justice thinks Texas could regulate that as well. Heh.

Side note: Former Chief Justice Rehnquist DID think that Texas could regulate lying at the dinner table.
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A few years ago Paul Potts came along. Welsh, a cell phone salesman, and all around awesome fella. If you haven't seen the video of his performance, you should click the link above.

Then in the last week or so everyone has been talking about Susan Boyle. And with good reason,though I do think the reaction of the crowd and the judges betrays an ugly side to our common culture. Anyway, if you haven't checked out the link above, you should.

What I don't understand is why people aren't talking about Stavros and his son. It's worth checking out. :D
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Melissa and I had a discussion this weekend on a topic rarely discussed.

God vs. Aliens

 Not kidding. Here's the basic argument from my side...

Four things:
1) The universe is so vast it's practically infinite from our puny perspective,
2) Our concept of reality doesn't even really take into account things like Dark Matter and the fact that relative weakness of gravity suggests that it's occurring on another plane and we're seeing it's shadow... thus, it could be even MORE vast,
3) We've discovered that life endures in seemingly impossible regions (like the bacteria living underground within the earth's crust near magma),
4) And even Bonobos have figured out how to use tools.

Given those four things, I think it's quite possible that we're not the only life in the universe and if there is life out there it is also quite possible that it's worked out how to use tools. As such, the possibility of alien visitation, while remote, isn't implausible.

Meanwhile, I think it's highly implausible that there is some bearded dude judging you, giving you a private cloud when you die, and being able to do anything but refusing to show his face in modern times (yeah yeah, burning bush... that happened thousands of years ago. Also... is a brush fire at a time when people were generally illiterate and lacked any way to record it the best he could do? Seriously, it looks kinda weak from where I stand.) 

Generally the fall back position for theists (though not raised by Melissa) is "Well, if there is no god, where did everything come from?"  The irony of that argument is that it assumes that a god has always existed and requires no explanation for where HE came from.  Yet, for some reason the concept of a universe without beginning is too difficult to imagine. 

Basically, I'm more likely to be abducted by aliens than to find myself face to face with a god in this or any other lives.

I won't paraphrase Melissa's argument because I don't want to get it wrong.  But there you go, that was our Sunday afternoon discussion.
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OMFG <3 <3 <3 I wish I would have thought of this first.

Also: the actors are freaking AWESOME!
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Roast Lamb with Goat Cheese

Ingredients

* 5-6lb leg of lamb, boned and butterflied
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
* Olive oil, for drizzling
* Large handful of mint leaves
* Firm goats cheese, (such as Crottin), half frozen
* 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
* Few sprigs of rosemary
* Mint and lemon vinaigrette
* 6 tbsp olive oil
* Handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
* Zest and juice of 1 lemon
* Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and put a roasting tray in the oven.

2. Put the lamb on a board and open it out. Season with salt and pepper and rub all over with olive oil. Scatter the inside with the fresh mint leaves, rubbing the leaves into the meat.

3. Take the goats cheese from the freezer and using a microplain, grate it over the mint leaves, followed by the garlic.

4. Roll the joint up and over to form a nice long sausage shape, tucking the ends in, if needed. Secure the joint in place with kitchen string at 3-4cm intervals. Tuck some rosemary sprigs under the knots of string around the lamb.

5. Take the preheated baking tray out off the oven, scatter with a few more sprigs of rosemary then sit the lamb on

top. Season once more and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes.

6. Reduce the temperature to 375 and continue to roast, allowing 20 minutes per pound, basting every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to rest. To serve, cut into thick slices and serve with mint and lemon vinaigrette.

7. For the vinaigrette pour the olive oil into a small mixing bowl. Add the mint and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Whisk in lemon juice to taste, until emulsified. Check for seasoning then drizzle over the lamb to serve.



Potatoes Boulangère

Ingredients

* 1 can chicken stock
* 1 sprig thyme
* 2 sprigs rosemary
* 2 crushed cloves of garlic
* 2 large onions, peeled and sliced
* 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes peeled and finely sliced, on a mandolin if possible
* Olive oil
* Salt and Pepper

1. Bring the chicken stock to a boil and infuse with thyme, rosemary and crushed garlic cloves. Strain before use.

2. Gently sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until softened and lightly colored.

3. Rub an oven proof dish with olive oil and layer the onions followed by the potatoes, repeating until the dish is full finishing with a final layer of potato. Make sure to season each layer as you go.

4. Pour over the stock until it comes 2/3rds of the way up the dish. Press down on the mixture to help the liquid absorb and finally drizzle a little olive oil on top.

5. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 20 - 25 minutes or until soft and golden on top.
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1. Wet Dog Beer, specially brewed by [livejournal.com profile] silentclarity, is rather delicious.

2. I want to try brewing now. I've already decided on a name of the brand. "Disgusting."

3. I'm cooking Roast Leg of Lamb with Goat Cheese and Potatoes Boulangère. I'll post the recipe later.

4. Che is playing at the Hollywood Theater. It's 4 hours long and I can't tell you how excited about that film I am. Soderberg routinely kicks ass.
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