So it takes me all the way to the end of the month to churn out another post, and it’s not even a proper post!
It’s bad news!
Despite the fact that I have still been dawdling and not updating this blog as often as I should, my output has been dealt a mortal blow… My computer has died :(
Well, perhaps ‘dead’ isn’t the ideal metaphorical diagnosis, it’s more akin to being in a deep and seemingly unreachable coma. There are signs of life in there, but they’re entirely inaccessible, at least to someone with my meagre technical prowess. Now I do know a certain individual upon whose mercy I can throw myself hopefully, but that won’t be for at least a week. Until then I am computerless, which is darned inconvenient to say the least.
It’s not just my access to this blog which is affected either, it’s knackering me up in lots of ways.
Most frustratingly, I was already half way through a new post when the coma struck. It is still in there, but I won’t be able to complete the post until I’m back up to full internet speed. Grrrr…
So for now I’m limited to typing this on my phone, which is an even slower process than when I use a ‘proper’ keyboard, and adding links and images is more fiddly, so not so much of them either…
I’ll soldier on, intermittently, and can only hope that the PC can be resuscitated. I’m pressing my thumbs, feel free to join in :)
Back sometime, somehow… ses x
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A couple of nights ago I sneaked out a post with my blogging summary of 2013 which is kindly provided by wordpress. It provides a limited statistical overview of how my blog has performed over the last 12 months. I guess it’s quite interesting, though probably moreso to me than anyone else… Oh well…
Anyhoo, in a vain attempt to make the subject slightly more interesting, I’ve decided to compare my 2013 figures with those of the previous year whilst trying to dig out some more curious gems of statistical strangeness. Slightly more interesting right?
I was actually around 600 site views down compared to my performance in 2012, which is a bit poor, but if you take into account the fact that I produced over 50 less posts last year, that figure doesn’t appear too bad. What also becomes apparent is that I was much lazier in 2013. Or that I was busier, or more distracted by something or other, or something. The dreaded advent calendar did account for over a quarter of my output in 2012, even so, I must make more of an effort this year. Whether I’ll succeed is another matter, but I’ll try ;)
For the second successive year, people came to my site searching for forced nudity, and for the second successive year they will have been disappointed. Advanced warning for any forced nudity enthusiasts out there: You’ll be disappointed again this year. Plastic fork sculpture replaced magic mushrooms as another popular search term, which is good in one way, maybe not so in another. Maybe I ought to write more about magic mushrooms this year to redress the balance.
Something that did go in my favour this year was my ‘global appeal’ (cough!) The site got views from 60 different countries this time round, 4 up on the previous total. From as far back as the records will allow me to go, my humble blog has been accessed from 74 separate nations which is quite good I think. If I can add to that figure over the next 12 months I’ll consider the year a success!
One further statistic to note is that since the start of this blog I’ve received 99 comments (although that may include some of my own in the form of replies) so the not-very-coveted opportunity to make the 100th comment is up for grabs… Feel free!
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Short and sweet, like a midget rolled in Sugar Puffs (is that politically correct?) Next time it’s all about The (not as) Secret (as it used to be) Project.
Ciao for now… ses x
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.
Time once again for a shoddily thrown together list of my favourite ‘things’ from the past 12 months. Overall, I would say that my 2013 has been for the most part pretty rubbish due to several factors which I won’t go into detail about. In a rather unexpected twist the end of the year has turned out to be extremely good… Again, I’m not going to go into detail about that either ;) There have been a few highlights though, so I’ve racked my memory banks (never an easy job) and compiled this list of indeterminate length. Enjoy…
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1) Funky Forest: The First Contact.
Another year, another insane Japanese film, no surprise there! It was originally released in 2005, but I only discovered it this year after a tip-off. It’s wonderfully bizarre and surreal, more a sequence of vaguely interlinked comedy sketches than a conventional movie with a cast of increasingly strange characters. I obviously loved it, and believe it’s worth watching just for the Notti & Takefumi segments alone. 10/10!
2) Sigur Ros.
Not only did the awesome Icelandic band treat us to another wonderful new album this year, they also toured quite extensively, and I was lucky enough that a few of us managed to get our acts together and go to see them perform live at Brixton Academy in London. I did a full post on the night which you can read here if you like. If not, I’ll sum it up by saying it was truly fantastic and a night not to be forgotten.
3) The Secret Project.
Several times over the course of this year, I blamed my lack of blog-writing on a ‘secret project’ that was taking up a lot of my free time. I blamed a lot of other things too, I was full of excuses, however the secret project was a genuine distraction. I’m not going to say what it is yet as there will be a separate post on it in the new year, a grand reveal, after several months of hard work, frustration, more frustration and finally an end product, all in the name of creativity and collaboration.
4) Field Trip.
Another highlight of the year that earned its own post (which I can’t link as it has mysteriously disappeared) was my account of an afternoon spent wandering through Epping Forest in London, with friends, through extremely changeable weather, on acid. Sometimes one LSD trip can just work out better than others, and this was one such occasion. I’ll never forget the secret glade of the damselflies…
What made the field trip stranger yet was when it lead to…
5) The Hungarian UFO Fiasco.
This is yet another topic that I’ve already posted about, only this one hasn’t mysteriously disappeared despite its mysterious nature and obvious links to the one that has mysteriously disappeared, see…
Anyhoo, in summary, I was bombarded with site hits (well, 100 a day is bombarded by my standards) when a Hungarian UFO enthusiasts’ website linked my field trip post in relation to a fraudulent photo. Quite easily the most surreal thing to happen to me in many years.
6) Tomorrow’s Harvest by Boards Of Canada.
While lots of music fans were eagerly anticipating a new album release from a distinctive sounding, enigmatic, electronic music creating duo from France, I was eagerly anticipating the exact same thing but from Scotland. Boards Of Canada are responsible for one of my favourite albums of all time, so after an eight year wait since their last major release, the promise of new material had me excited. They didn’t disappoint, they’re consistently great… Although it’s still not quite as good as my favourite ;)
7) The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks.
Another topic I posted about earlier in the year was the sad loss of one of my favourite authors. Though his untimely passing was anything but a highlight, his last science fiction novel was a typically expansive all-action space opera with grand themes and extremely hi-tech. On reflection, it also tied up a lot of loose ends within his series of science fiction books, making it a poignant final chapter to the series…
Despite believing I was well out of range and probably immune, I was, much to my surprise, struck by cupid’s arrow in November. That’s the extremely good thing that I mentioned at the top of the post that I said I wouldn’t talk about, but I can hardly not include it in a list of the best things that happened to me this year, can I? I’m not going to go into detail, I like to keep some things private, but it’s fair to say I forgot how good it feels :)
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That’s it? Only eight this year, after I’d managed nine in the previous two previous retrospecticons? Yeah, well I did say that it hasn’t been the best of years, for the most part, so eight isn’t bad. And it’s about the quality of the good bits, not the quantity. And it’s about focusing on the positives, that’s always a good idea!
Back next year, with new ‘things’, hinted at and otherwise…
Peace… ses x
Yeah so I don’t like xmas yet I keep talking about it and devoting countless posts to it (especially last year) and for the past 25 years I’ve designed and manufactured my own xmas cards which is terribly contradictory, but there you go…
Then this year came along and I almost, almost ended up not producing a card. I’d had something planned for months, in fact I had the idea last year, and it was clearly a good enough idea for me to remember it all this time later. About 3 months ago I even did some background research for the card and did some preparatory sketches. There followed a period of procrastination and doing other things, then I ended up getting distracted by real life again, as has happened several times this year, although this time the distraction is extremely positive rather than negative… And it got to the middle of last week and I’d still done nothing.
The design was rather ambitious and didn’t lend itself to being done at the last minute (which is why I started months ago) so for the sake of not breaking my run of 25 consecutive years, I came up with a plan B. Plan B isn’t ambitious, and was clearly cobbled together at the last minute, but I feel better that I managed to produce something, even if it only just qualifies as ‘better than nothing’.
So without further ado, and no aplomb, and not even much of a drum roll, I present my 2013 xmas card.
Who knows, maybe next year I’ll pull my finger out and my socks up and create the ambitious project I had in mind all this year. Or maybe I’ll properly renounce xmas instead of just grumbling about it far too much and begrudgingly joining in. Maybe…
It’s now late on xmas eve, as I’ve left it until the last moment to get this post polished off and published. Grumpy, cranky and humbuggy as I am, I do hope that everyone has a pleasant day tomorrow in their own way whatever they’re doing. Though of course I hope that everyone has a day like that every day of the year :)
It’s the new retrospecticon next, then hopefully the nice people at wordpress will throw me another bag of statistics to share and chew over like they did last year. Until then…
Bon nuit… ses x
Imagine if you will a ‘Planet Of The Dogs’, a whole celestial body either undetected in our own solar system or off in some far flung galaxy, entirely populated by our canine chums. Maybe the dogs have evolved on this planet, become anthropomorphic like the cast of Dogtagian And The Three Muskehounds or the Americans in Art Spiegelman’s Maus comics.Or maybe they’ve not evolved, and there are just vast uncivilised continents over-run by packs of savage hounds, despite the obvious evolutionary and ecosystem-related issues that such a scenario would raise. Maybe they’ve even evolved beyond our understanding and are Interdimensional Space Dogs, at this moment preparing to release their earthbound brethren from the bondage of us puny humans, despite a good percentage of them living extremely cushy and luxurious lives…
Did you imagine it? Could you picture a dog planet in your head? Because according to the internet, there really is a different planet where all dogs live. This information is easy to find too, just search for a dog age calculator and you’ll find some manner of enigmatic table describing how dogs get older on some bizarre sliding scale (it works just as well for cats too, so feel free to imagine a ‘Planet Of The Cats’ if you prefer.)
As far as I’m aware, the definition of a year is how long it takes a planet to complete one full revolution of the sun, so it’s 365ish for earth, or nearly 687 if you were on Mars, and so on. It’s hard to imagine the strange orbit that the planet on which dog/cat years is based on follows. Maybe the easiest and most accurate way to calculate your pet’s age is to subtract the year it was born (that’s EARTH year) from the current year, and the resulting figure will tell you exactly how old the animal in question is!
Remember, there’s a lot of nonsense on the internet, but not everyone admits to it ;)
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Coming next, and coming soon… News of the xmas card that almost wasn’t!
Until then… ses X
Not quite a film review, but I did see a new movie recently that, although I wouldn’t describe as the greatest I’ve seen by some distance, is worthy of comment due to its unusual nature. Surprisingly, knowing my usual tastes, it’s not Japanese, disturbing and obscure either, it’s American. Alright, it’s still disturbing and obscure, but at least it’s not Japanese for a change.
This is the film in question…
The story itself follows a family of four on the last day of their vacation at a theme park, and in particular the father of the family who, after being sacked over the phone at the start of the morning, steadily loses his grip on reality and starts to be plagued by unhealthy predilections and sinister hallucinations. It’s implied that there is already a level of dysfunction between the parents and their young son and daughter, and these tensions are magnified as Jim White, the father, wrestles with his sanity. Things take an extremely surreal turn during the latter stages of the film, leading up to a quite baffling conclusion.
If that was all there was to the movie, it wouldn’t be remarkable. The storyline is patchy and aimless at times, and the acting is variable. It’s still quite enjoyable, dealing interestingly with several disturbing issues without being offensive, but what makes Escape From Tomorrow noteworthy is how it was made.
As the poster implies, the theme park where the film is set is no less than Disney’s magical kingdom. Over the course of several months the cast and crew went into the park to shoot the majority of the scenes for the movie. Without Disney’s knowledge, and amongst the completely oblivious holidaymakers. All the footage was filmed in black and white on high-end digital SLRs, cameras much like any other tourists at the park may have, with the actors blending in with the crowds, playing their roles while the camera crews moved round to get the shots they needed.
I can’t help but admire the logistical challenge of performing such a project which was written and directed by debutante Randy Moore, and although the film only received a slightly above average rating from reviewers, they all praised the audacity of even attempting such a feat, let alone succeeding in it. There were concerns that somebody at the gates may become suspicious that the actors were arriving to the park every day wearing identical clothes, which lead to scenes being shot in both Disneyland and Disneyworld, and all the post production of the film was done in South Korea, in an attempt to keep its creation a secret from the Disney corporation.
Even as the movie debuted at the Sundance Festival, the film-makers feared a flock of magical Disney defence lawyers appearing from the sky and snatching the film away in a cloud of court summons and litigation. Thankfully that never happened, with the corporate giant, usually notorious for its draconian preservation of its copyright and intellectual property, deciding that the best approach to take was to ignore its existence, hoping that would minimise any publicity a legal battle would attract, despite the film’s largely negative portrayal of the Disney flagships. I’m glad they did.
Escape From Tomorrow corrupts the wholesome idea of a Disney theme park and turns it into a nightmarish environment full of sleaze and sinister, shadowy figures. How much of this alternative reality is genuine and how much of it is part of Jim’s fevered imagination is what keeps the film stimulating from start to finish, and it’s also worth a second watch just to admire the techniques used in creating this unusual and original piece of ‘covert cinema’.
If you can hunt down a copy, I heartily recommend it.
During my research into this post (wikipedia AND IMDB, I was thorough!) I stumbled across one particular quote from a film critic that had me chuckling self-consciously, as it probably nails on the head why I enjoyed the movie so much…
“Even Disney-hating hipsters are going to be disappointed; the film is a pure festival play that is more or less unreleasable unless theater owners start selling weed along with popcorn.”
Kyle Smith, New York Post.
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Back soon-ish, but with what I don’t know… I may have to see if I can unblock that Shpongle pipeline…
Until next time… ses x
Yeah, Shpongle’s still in the ‘pipeline’ but in the meantime here’s a quick post about my least favourite yet most moaned about subject…
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I know, right? I moan and complain about it so much that you’d think I secretly have a soft spot for it, but I don’t. If what I’ve seen on TV is true, the festive season is already gearing up to full speed despite still being quite a long way away. However, this year, I have a plan! In an ideal world I’d completely blank xmas, but there is still a certain obligation to go along with it for the sake of form amongst family and friends. The plan is to reluctantly acknowledge xmas without handing over an undue amount of my hard-earned money to the businesses who are so enthusiastically telling me that I should do the exact opposite.
This year, everyone who I buy a gift for will be getting a book. That’s all, nothing more, nothing less, just a book. Obviously it will be a different book depending on the recipient, but there will be no token gifts, no gifts for the sake of giving gifts and no sense that some gifts are more significant than others. I like books, as I recently mentioned, and a good book can provide a great many hours of pleasure, so I think it’s something that makes a wonderful gift.
In return, I’m asking everyone who feels under some obligation to buy me a gift to get me a book, nothing more, nothing less, and even more obviously not all the same one, as that would just be silly, but just a book. A decent selection of literature or some interesting factual books will keep me occupied and stimulated for several months, what more could I ask for?
By doing this, I’m hopeful that all parties will receive something that required a little thought but will provide a lot of satisfaction without costing an unnecessary amount of money and without having to ‘play the game’ of xmas. I’ve already discussed the idea with family and some of my friends, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive, which suggests that we’re all a bunch of humbug types, which is true! None of us are xians, though none of us are so churlish that we can totally ignore the all-pervasive ‘spirit’ of the festive season, so this feels like the ideal compromise. If it works well, I could imagine it becoming a blueprint for every year, which would be great.
Last year, I bought a friend’s daughter a pop-up version of The Wizard Of Oz, and so enamoured of it was she that she asked for a copy of the original story, not only wanting to read more, but also to preserve the fragility of the pop-up edition. If that’s not enough to prove the positive power of books, I don’t know what is…
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Yes, and despite my humbuggedness, I’m still working on a xmas card design this year, for the 26th year in a row, but I think I’m going to be particularly pleased with this year’s intriguingly multicultural edition, and if it works out as well as I hope, I’ll be posting it on here with suitably muted season’s greetings as well as making some hard copies to send out to my nearest and dearest. I can’t be too grumpy, can I? ;)
Next time, probably Shpongle, but not necessarily. It’s not possible to expect the unexpected…
Until then… ses x
Nope, it’s not what I said was coming next last time, that one’s still ‘in the pipeline’ but to fill the gap, and so as not to be too neglectful of this blog, with the added bonus of being topical, I’ve composed a little piece which once again makes me sound naturally grumpy… I must stop doing that!
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I don’t like fireworks.
1) They’re boring. Kids are allowed to like fireworks, they’re spectacular and exciting when you’re young, but over the years you start to realise that it’s pretty much the same thing each time, a bit bigger and a bit louder, but essentially the same. Once you’ve seen about half a dozen of them, you’ve seen them all. Yawn.
2) According to those who make the news, most people don’t have much money. If that’s true, surely the last thing they would do is spend close to the equivalent of a week’s worth of grocery shopping on twenty minutes of flashes and bangs. Apparently not. Money to burn…
3) Two out of my three pets don’t like them. That makes this time of year a little stressful for them (and by association me) and it happens again around new year’s eve. Thanks millennium* for making new year fireworks so popular. The third pet is deaf, but even when he had his hearing, he didn’t take any notice of them anyhoo.
4) Childhood trauma! I guess it proves that the public information films they used to show on TV were effective, but I wouldn’t go near a sparkler without a thick pair of mittens. One of the boys in the neighbourhood had a club foot, and a story went that a firework had shot into his pram when he was a baby and been the cause of his deformity. That could have been complete nonsense, but it was an effective deterrent against pyrotechnic horseplay.
That’s probably about all I can think of on such self-imposed short notice, but the main thing is that I just think they’re boring. I imagine if I could fly over the UK on bonfire night I would regress and find the fireworks spectacular and exciting, purely because of the different perspective and scale, but while I’m rooted to the ground I’m not interested. I also used to enjoy a Playstation 2 game called Fantavision (Which I may have mentioned on this blog before) which was a fairly surreal, trippy, fireworks-based puzzle game.
So fireworks aren’t all bad, just mostly.
For the record, I don’t have anything against bonfires, they happen at all times of year in different cultures all over the world, and there’s an undeniable primal urge to congregate around a roaring fire, though it’s always much better in good company. The word bonfire is medieval in origin, meaning a fire of bones. I doubt many people put bones on their bonfires any more, which may or may not be a good thing…
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Could be one of two things next time, depending on ‘the pipeline’. Wait and see…
Back soon ;) … ses x
* I saw in the new millennium in a hot, fragrant bubble bath smoking weed, drinking liqueur and listening to good music (with company of course.) The plan was to be blissfully unaware of the precise arrival of midnight, but the blistering cacophony of synchronised igniting gunpowder all across town sort of gave it away. It didn’t spoil the occasion though.
Intermittently back again, but at least with something a bit different. Hopefully my output may start to increase a little over the next three months, if things go to plan… Hopefully!
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Politics. Strange subject. I’ve been variously interested or disinterested in politics at different stages of my life before arriving at my current status of not caring in the least. I’m still vaguely aware of what’s going on, I catch bits of news here and there, but it only serves to confirm my belief that there are far too many bad people in positions of power all round the world at all levels. I don’t let it bother me.
If I was in charge, I’d want the world to be a utopia, like one of those planets that Captain Kirk and his Star Trek buddies would occasionally stumble across, full of loved-up hippies and trees full of tasty fruit, only without the fundamental flaw that meant it wasn’t a utopia at all, but something dark and sinister…
Anyhoo, that’s not going to happen, but once upon a time, just over 20 years ago in fact, I almost came into a position of (relative) political power, and who knows what the world would be like if things had turned out differently back then…?
At university a friend and I used to run the indie/alternative disco nights at the Student Union bar on campus. Through doing that we got to know the president and vice president of the Student Union, a couple of young men who seemed to live a rather cushy and luxurious lifestyle, at least compared to most of us poor students. They supplemented their income by hiring themselves out as DJs, using all the university’s equipment and the van, while the bulk of the union related work was done by other members of staff.
Midway through our final year of study, my friend and I hit on the idea of running for the presidency ourselves. Not only did it seem like a great way to spend 12 months, but we also thought that maybe we could be more pro-active in the actual union side of things and make the university a better place for the students we’d be representing (idealistic as ever!)
There was a significant obstacle to our plan however, the majority of the students on campus studied sports-related courses and traditionally the president and vice president came from that group. We were art students, so our base support was much smaller, and there had always been very much of a “them and us” attitude amongst the student community.
Undeterred, we made our election intentions official and started to campaign for support, mostly through me making a series of posters, fliers and badges (I was in my creative element!) as well as taking part in the organised hustings and debates that were scheduled in the run up to the date of the election itself. We met the other candidates, and they all seemed quite nice, three other pairings, all from the sports science department. I don’t remember any of their names now, or even slightly recall what they looked like. But I remember what happened on election day…
Campus gossip suggested we were in contention for victory (thanks in part to my enthusiastic marketing campaign I believe) along with two of the other duos, who were helping us by splitting the sporty types, with the fourth party considered to be out of the running.
The university was split into two campuses, nine miles apart, and there was a polling station situated on each site. To vote, students had to show their ID cards to the acting returning officers, who would then tick their name off a register and give them a voting card to mark (secretly, of course) and stick in the black box. It was all very formal and correct.
I think voting must have closed at around 8pm, and we nervously awaited the results as the ballot papers were checked and counted on both sites. We nervously awaited in the bar of course, where else? It seemed to take hours, it probably did. Rumours crept out that we appeared to be doing quite well, so we had to stay in the bar a little longer for the results to be announced. Then the strange thing happened…
The ballot had been declared null and void.
There was evidence of cheating.
Who had been cheating?
Everything that happened afterwards was all a blur of confusion, excuses and dead ends. To summarise, when checking the registers for who had voted, one of the officials noticed that a handful of students appeared to have voted at both sites, something which was of course theoretically possible to do, but not without detection once the registers were compared. One of the people who had voted at both sites was my running mate, the presidential candidate (it sounds fancy when you say it like that!) Another of the double voters was my partner at the time, and another was a mutual friend. Several other arts students had also registered votes on both campuses. That’s what we were told, but it wasn’t true.
My co-candidate spent the whole day on one site, and didn’t travel between campuses until after the vote had closed. My partner spent the whole day with me at the other site, as did the mutual friend. As for the others, they all said, convincingly enough, that they had only voted on one campus. So what was true was that someone, at some level in the election process, had deliberately scuppered the ballot and tried to implicate us into the bargain. Nice!
The union officialdom decided that there would be a ‘re-vote’ scheduled for 2 weeks after the original ballot, and the week after the majority of the art courses finished their term. Naturally we complained, and argued for a full re-election the following term, and took our complaints to the area level Students Union, but they were unable or unwilling to help. There was no investigation into what had happened, and a fortnight later we came in a creditably close but still comfortably second place to the more charismatic of the sporting duos (I remember that much, they were charismatic!)
The following term was our final one, and we all had to spend too much of our energies on our academic work to make any more waves about the injustice we felt we had suffered. We never got to know if whoever it was that voided the ballot did so at the behest of one of our rivals, and we never got to know the count from the first ballot. Maybe we wouldn’t have won anyway. Maybe…
I hope I don’t sound bitter, I’m not. It was a long time ago, but it’s something that I’ve not forgotten. I’ve looked back on it and wondered if it was potentially a significant fork in the path of my life, and what different path my life may have taken if the outcome of the ballot had gone in our favour. I don’t know. That’s not to say that I’m unhappy with the direction my life’s taken since then, we all have many forks in our journey that can radically alter (or not) our course through life. When one possibility seems to have been denied you by devious means, you can’t help but wonder, what if…?
Politics… No wonder I have such an uncomfortable relationship with the subject!
Aha! I managed to find some of the posters from the election campaign down in the cellar, so here are a couple of examples…
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Next time, and not too long to wait for it either (yeah right,) notes from my expedition into deepest, darkest Shpongleland!
Until then… (DON’T) vote ses ;)… ses x
P.S. Some bonus, loosely relevant music for you to enjoy, if you wish :)