Mr. Sensitive

July 29, 2011

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 16:45

The market is beginning to show real signs of stress due to the fears of the richies that they won’t be able to control the crazies in their own, dysfunctional party.  I think it is just fantastic that the crazies refused to back their own Speaker’s debt compromise—he put himself out there, trying to lead, and they just turned around and dropped trou, in unison.  I love it.  Don’t try to fight it, Republicans.  This thing was meant to be.  The only way that the American people can get over their Tea Party dalliance is to get a big mouthful of the mayhem the crazies intend to bring about.  The richies wanted to stick it to Obama so badly that they eschewed both traditional right and left and pandered to crazy.  They endorsed anyone who could polarize voters and get people to the polls and it won the Republicans control of the House.  Now they must be wondering if they’re really in control of anything.  It’s beautiful.  The flash crash of 2009—a 1,000 point drop on the Dow in the span of 10 minutes—is still the most exciting moment of my life.  Except for the birth of my children, blah, blah, blah.  But I’m greedy.  I want to see 2,000 points down, and I’m starting to think these lunatics are going to make it happen for me.  Separately, if you are one of those people who believe we’re living in the end times—whatever that means—and you are also a Congressman, and you are supposed to vote on a bill that has long-term implications for government spending, taxes, and entitlement programs, shouldn’t you have to recuse yourself?  If you think Jesus is coming to take you to Heaven in the next few months or so, maybe you should leave the long-term planning to the people who expect to still be here.  Just a thought.

The Family Stock Index outperformed the S&P 500 during this miserable week, declining just 2.8% versus a 3.9% loss on the broader index.  This performance advantage is slightly misleading, however, because we were 20 points lighter until Ruby and Lisa blasted off on Thursday—more on them presently.  In general, if the headline percentage change in the FSX is truly indicative, there ought to be approximately the same number of components that did better than that composite number as those that did worse.  Think of it like a see-saw: you can guess at which way it is going to tip based on the number of kids on each side…but not if a couple of those kids are really, really fat.  We have a lot of kids on the down side, but Ruby, Lisa, and Zero were super fat this week, so the balance is off.  In fact, the rest of us should be grateful that they had extra helpings of the bullish cheesecake, else we’d have tested the 2011 lows.  It may still happen next week—if there’s no debt ceiling extension, we’ll blow right through.

Advancers

  • Lisa (LSI) +9.7%.  Happy to be going to the beach with three kids.
  • Ruby (RBY) +24.6%.  Happy to be going any place but the beach with three kids.  (No doubt Ruby could contest that assessment, but the market doesn’t allow for appeals.)
  • Zero (FRZ) +8.7%.  No big Zero news has crossed the wire this week.  He and Charlotte went on their belated honeymoon two weeks ago, but the market is forward-looking and wouldn’t give a flying crap how much fun it was.  Team Charlotte are going to have to decide what to do with themselves when Justin finishes at Northwestern in August, and Katie tells me that Charlotte and Zero haven’t made their decision.  That’s what she says, but the market seems to be buying aggressively here.   SECRET DECISION?

Decliners

  • Reagan (REGN) -7.7%.  Reagan is a high-risk, high-reward play on adolescence and young adulthood.  On the one hand, she is intelligent, inquisitive and industrious.  On the other hand, she falls all the time.  This past week she skinned her knee in the parking lot at Great Wolf Lodge and got a big purple knot on her forehead owing to an accident with a picnic table.  Reagan and Jenny went to a park with the family of some of their friends on Wednesday, and Reagan apparently leaned down to grab something she dropped and hit her head on a table.  I’m not clear on two things: first, why she didn’t see that there was a table in between her and the ground and, second, why she lunged for whatever it was so incredibly hard.  Did she drop something that was going to get away?  Was it a snake?  I will have to work to help Reagan to reach the same point in life that I have: always believe in your ability to understand even the most daunting and sophisticated concepts, and never believe that you are going to be able to walk from the living room to the bathroom without running into something.
  • Mario T.Y. (SUP) -8.0%.  Bad car week for Mario.  He was vexed by a costly fit of colorblindness, but the real issue is that he had to ride with Nicole most of the week and so he wasn’t able to talk to his beloved sister on his way to and from work every day.  Or that’s what I’m told.
  • Dustin (DST) -8.8%.  Maybe Ruby could use some help on the ‘business trip’ she’s taking during triple-kid week at the beach.  It’s not too late to escape…unless it is.
  • Katie (CATY) -10.0%.  Tough week for the Empress.  She is facing four separate but simultaneous audits at work (external financial audit, internal financial audit, tax audit, IRS audit) and the Sleep War against Brinky is no less ferocious for being as-yet undeclared.  The real problem, though, is Jenny.  The newly-minted ten-year-old has been stomping and moping and griping her way through the first month of her eleventh year with unprecedented anti-vigor.  I just finished cleaning up the carnage from Jenny’s first decade: I fixed the ceilings, painted the walls, replaced the carpet, and cleared out the broken toys and shredded books.  The next decade’s disaster is going to be hormonal and emotional, and that is all Katie.  Good luck, Mommy.  I’ll be busy trying to get Brinkley to aim for the toilet.
  • Winston (HWD) -10.3%.  I was happy to see the NFL labor dispute resolved this week, as we are planning on resurrecting the weekly football picks competition this year, now with expert selections by Brinky.  Alas, not everyone can claim a victory with the return of football (did it really go somewhere?).  Mario is undoubtedly hard at work on his fantasy team, so Winston’s dreams of a fall replete with long, unhurried walks and games of fetch have been definitively dashed.  Thus he will find himself hopelessly jealous of Icarus once again.  But I’m sure Nicole B. will welcome him back to the club.
Name Ticker 7/29/2011 Change
Brinkley BCO $29.84 -1.55
Charlotte ICE $123.30 -4.42
Dustin DST $51.19 -4.91
Icarus FLOW $3.41 -0.04
Jenny LEN $17.69 -0.91
Justin WOLF $3.48 -0.01
Katie CATY $13.86 -1.54
Lee MSTR $159.37 -12.31
Lee LEE $0.91 -0.04
Lisa LSI $7.36 +0.65
Lucas LEI $2.69 -0.16
Lulu LULU $60.54 -2.90
Marcus MCS $9.68 -0.38
Mario T.E. PBY $10.75 -0.61
Mario T.Y. SUP $20.24 -1.77
Marisa MOLX $23.48 -1.72
Nicole B. NI $20.13 -0.93
Nicole L. COL $55.09 -2.32
Reagan REGN $53.06 -4.41
Ruby RBY $4.20 +0.83
Wilson WILC $6.48 -0.46
Winston HWD $15.57 -1.79
Zero FRZ $2.99 +0.24
Zondro ZQK $5.26 -0.19
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July 27, 2011

Incomplete – A New Poem By Brinky

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:23

Incomplete

 

A sky with sun only

And no moon;

A beach with sand only

And no surf;

Led Zeppelin with Plant only

And no Page;

This is my face

With only this lonely mouth

And not a second mouth

To let me eat

And chew on a toy

Or a shoelace or a napkin

All at once.

 

Surprise!

Both mouths are for food!

July 25, 2011

How Justin Got Started

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 17:10

Justin is a notorious dog-kisser, despite the fact that his dog is a notorious poop-eater.  I have seen Justin get all up in Icky’s mouth to smell whether he’s been eating cat poop out of the litter box.  Do you know how I would check to see if Zondro had been doodoo-gobbling?  I wouldn’t.  I would just spray some bleach in his mouth and we’d both move on, leaving the mystery unsolved but resolved.  So Justin is gross.  But now I wonder if it started early, with Lemonade or Randy.  Look at Zondro, angling for a smooch from Brinky.

I have no one but myself to blame for what went down next.

I have always believed that if my son grows up and realizes that he prefers to kiss boys, I will be totally cool with it.  If he realizes he prefers to kiss dogs, not so much.  It will be my fault, too.  And by my fault, I mean Justin’s fault.

Brinky’s Tale

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 16:03

Sorry, wrong spelling.  Although, if you mix in a picture of Brinkley sleeping, a picture of him eating, and a shot of the elusive poopface, you do have the whole story.

July 24, 2011

No Substitute

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 14:35

This is the story of what happened to me when I met Katie, and how I understand it not at all.  She didn’t leave anything out of the Love Story posts on the yourgirlsandboy blog—that was really all the time we spent together before I graduated and left town.  During the spring of 1994—we didn’t know each other until then—we talked at the state science fair, we talked at the JMU science fair, we rode together on the bus ride home from JMU, and that was it.  We certainly never kissed, and in fact we said and did nothing irretrievably or precociously romantic—I think I was afraid even to let myself hold her gaze for too long.  Remember, I was not a clumsy dude at that point.  I was pretty, I had a mysterious rep, I knew my strengths and how to use them.  Believe me when I say that I used nothing in my arsenal of lady-slaying weapons; I didn’t so much as reach for a squirt gun.  I could not let anything happen, period.  So we had those two trips together, with our classmates around us almost all the time, and I was pulling in all the stops.  That should have ended it, whatever it was.  We didn’t see each other again for at least six months, probably closer to seven.  Teenagers don’t think or feel anything longer than it takes to update their Facebook status, right?  But when Katie met me at the door of her house in December, it felt like we had been together the whole time.  That should not have been possible.  I was seventeen years old, and in that year or so alone my Dad had died, I had graduated from high school a year early, my family had moved across the state, and I’d finished the first semester of my freshman year at Carolina.  Think of how many people I’d said goodbye to and how many new, very hot people I had met.  And it didn’t matter.  Sure, Katie and I wrote to each other dutifully almost that entire time, but while those letters were honest and sweet and often really funny, they were hardly the stuff of Shakespearean sonnets.  I was still holding back, and Katie didn’t know how to do anything but hold back.  By the time we got to December and I had no doubt about how things should go, I did pull out all the stops I’d previously pulled in with a twelve-days-of-Christmas series of poetic postcards to lay the groundwork for our romance when I came to visit her over my break.  It was cheesy, but cheesy works if you actually mean it, and poetry works if you’re actually a poet.  Still, I wasn’t prepared to see Katie again, and I prepared my ass off.  I saw her smile and smelled her fragrance—not some perfume, just the careless smell of her hair, her breath, and her skin—and I didn’t understand how it was possible that she was just as perfect as I remembered.  I still don’t understand, but I can definitely live with the mystery.

Katie was once again being the sentinel of self-esteem the other day, and when I told her I love her she mumbled something about how she didn’t know why.  I said I don’t have a reason.  I could list thousands of things I love about her, but no definitive reason why I love her.  That’s why she shouldn’t ever doubt me, I said.  Reasons can change when the facts change.  But I love her because I do, no reason necessary or available.  I will love her until I die and my love for her will be the last thing I feel, the part of myself I hold on to while everything slips away.  And somehow, I always knew.

Substitute Katie

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 13:18

Even when my wife abandons me to go on vacation–again–my muse is always by my side.  I love you, Katy Perry, and your music is like a bear hug from the universe.  Everything but ‘Firework’; that song sucks.

July 23, 2011

Fashion God vs. Thunder God

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 10:29

I spent a lot of time reading Existentialist writers when I was a teenager; I read Being And Time, Being And Nothingness, Fear And Trembling, and I have a very vivid memory of spending a whole summer day locked in the guest room adjoining Nan and Pop’s bedroom in their North Shore Point compound reading The Stranger and feeling really alienated and special.  Then I graduated from high school.  Existentialism is a useful philosophical infusion for a young person, so long as you understand that you’re still going to want to have tasty food and a nice place to relax and probably some babies later on in life, and that it’s okay to want those things.  If you’re not careful, you might misconstrue the point of Existentialism as self-indulgent moral ambivalence, when in fact the message is actually one of inescapable personal responsibility for the moral content of every decision.  Anguish–which I love as a concept–is the knowledge that your choices cannot be validated by any external authority, and the burdens you create by making bad choices can never be borne by anyone but you.  I happen to like it that way.  After all, the only burdens that imaginary beings can lift from your shoulders are imaginary ones.  If properly understood, existentialism ought to make a person more conscientious, not less.  It’s not nihilism at all.  There is tremendous value in our lives, and it’s value that we create ourselves.  But some people refuse to understand.  People like Mercurio here.

 

He’s spent a lot of time on his costume–time well spent, I say–but he hasn’t resolved any of his existential dilemmas.  Thor, who is every studly football player and pretty cheerleader from your high school (all in one!), doesn’t give a shit.

 

 

How to philosophize with a hammer, indeed.  I often wonder if I would still be muttering stark insanities myself if my own pretty cheerleader hadn’t re-introduced me to the circle of life (with help from The Lion King).  Timing is everything.  I mean, fashion is everything, but timing is a close second.

July 22, 2011

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 16:57

The headlines are just as useless this week as last: there’s some stuff happening, sure, but a lot more stuff maybe possibly happening and then not actually happening.  In the first category we have the $29 billion Express Scripts-Medco merger and a stream of blowout earnings reports from IBM, Apple, GE, and others.  In the latter category we have the U.S. debt mess and the Greek debt mess (was there a bailout?  was there a default?  why is the Travolta musical called Grease anyway?  the whole thing gets named after the gel the guys put in their hair?  I would have called it Bangin’ And Dancin’).  It’s all overblown and overwrought.  The market has a few tough days and the hand-wringing becomes endemic: oh no and my god about unemployment, budget deficits, trade deficits, commodity inflation, land sharks, etc.  Then Apple sells a gazillion i-somethings and we rally like none of that matters.  Which is because it doesn’t matter, at least not until it does.  All the imbalances in the housing-finance complex that nearly crushed us when they coalesced in late 2008 were obvious and egregious from at least 2006 on.  The hand-wringing actually offends me more than the glass-is-all-full-no-I-swear punditry.  Professorial clowns predicting the suffering they won’t themselves experience strikes me as unsavory, since a lot of nasty will have to transpire just so they can say ‘I told you so’ over pâté at the next Davos summit.  When the hand-wringing starts because the Dow is threatening to fall back below 12,000, it’s important to remember that we were at 6600 two years ago and it’s taken an awful lot of optimism and easy money to get us to the point where Dow 10,000 is a worst-case scenario for all but the beariest of the bears.  Dow 12,000 isn’t the end of the world, and neither is Dow 10,000.  The end of the world is Dow 0, with all financial assets becoming worthless.  I’m not panicking until I think that’s where we’re headed, although, to be fair, I don’t have any money in stocks so I can afford to be cavalier.  My Amazing Fantasy #15 was up another 25% year-over-year, in fact, so nyahh to all the CFAs and MBAs everywhere.

The Family Stock Index posted a positive week, up 1.1% to 1276.07, but we trailed the major averages, all of which rose by two percent or so.  Breadth was decent—17 advancers to 7 decliners—but not spectacular, and we were led by the pets, which is certainly not how you want to be led.  I don’t like how we’re positioned for the balance of the summer and I wouldn’t be surprised if we test our month-ago 2011 lows in the range of 1190-1200 within the next two to three weeks.  Or maybe I’m feeling pessimistic because I’ve already got tendonitis in my elbows and Brinkley’s not getting lighter.

Advancers

  • Zero (FRZ) +7.0%.  Yeah, I’d love a bag of ice.  You say I have to buy a guitar with that?  Have you been outside?  I’ll take five guitars if I have to.
  • Zondro (ZQK) +5.4%.  I’ve noticed it before when I’ve had occasion to shine a flashlight in his direction, but now I’ve got photographic evidence: Zondro has crazy eyes.  They both look like normal, brown doggy eyes, but when light is shined on them—such as a camera flash—one clearly shoots ordinary red laser beams whereas the other shoots green.  The market had not fully valued the green laser eye, not until this week.

Here he is, with Brinky beside him blazing standard red:

Here he is again, this time with the girls and a watermelon wrapped in fur and pain:

  • LULU +4.8%.  No known stink should have been able to withstand the bleach and Pine-sol beatdown I delivered yesterday, but as always, the proof is in the pooping.  It seems that Lulu has synthesized a new transuranic element, but one with a much longer, and smellier, half-life. Lululium?  She can collect her Nobel Prize in Chemistry at the same time I receive my Physics prize for the discovery of Yogurt Face.  Unless I set her on fire first.
  • Marisa (MOLX) 4.1%.  Marisium isn’t nearly as catchy as Lululium, but Marisa may in fact be the creator of the sublime stink in the closet.  Cat food alone could scarcely produce that odor, but mix in a little bird skull and you have a true colonic calamity.
  • Jenny (LEN +4.8%), Reagan (REGN +3.4%) and Brinkley (BCO +3.8%).  The rally in all three of my children is owing to this weekend’s overnight stay at the Great Wolf Lodge and adjoining water park.  This is Jenny’s big tenth birthday extravaganza, and she’s taking two of her friends for a girls’ weekend in lieu of a birthday party.  Reagan not only gets to go, but she gets to bring a friend of her own.  The Empress is providing chaperone services, and the decline in her stock price this week may be due in part to the fact that she is going to be outnumbered five-to-one by little girls.  So why would Brinkley rally on this news?  Because he will be staying at home with me, and will have a full day and night in which to deliver the Operation Simba coup de grace, during which time I cannot be reinforced.  This is a first for us, and I have the feeling that only one of us will be walking away from the battle.  Lucky for me Brinkley can’t walk.
  • Nicole B. (NI) +3.0%.  All of the WELL JUSTINs and concrete metaphors have finally permeated the market’s consciousness, and the merger arbitrage trade is on.  Nicole pushes to a new 52-week high this week and Justin trades down as the shorts pile in.  Let’s just hope I don’t have to sit on insider information for two months this time.  If Justin drags his feet with his Nicole as long as Mario did with his, I’ll propose to her myself just so that I have something different to write about.
  • Marcus (MCS) +3.0%.  Speaking of foot-dragging, no word from Marcus on when he might be making the pilgrimage to NC to revive his stagnant stock.  But perhaps the market knows something I don’t.  SECRET VISIT?

Decliners

  • Katie (CATY) -1.8%.   The Empress has learned in the last few weeks that she did in fact have childhood food and drug allergies that Ruby and Mario neglected to mention, at least not until Brinkley broke out in a rash from eating strawberries and Katie’s joints quit bending after she started an antibiotic.  The market, being forward-looking, is now wondering what other allergies and intolerances have been lost to the parental sands of time.  Good thing Katie already refuses to eat shellfish.
  • Nicole L. (COL) -2.2%.  Nicole missed earnings this week and the market was not kind, knocking more than three dollars off the stock price when the news hit on Friday.  Of course, Nicole will be part of a two-income household soon enough.  Perhaps investor fears could be allayed if the market had even the first clue as to what Mario actually does for a living.  Something about golf?  Something with computers?  No, the other one does computers.  I’ll bet even Katie doesn’t know.
  • Justin (WOLF) -3.3%.  Specifically, I will propose to Nicole that she and I cut on Justin a little bit until he gets his mind right.  What did you think I meant?
Name Ticker 7/22/2011 Change
Brinkley BCO $31.39 +1.16
Charlotte ICE $127.72 +0.22
Dustin DST $56.10 +1.02
Icarus FLOW $3.45 +0.01
Jenny LEN $18.60 +0.86
Justin WOLF $3.49 -0.12
Katie CATY $15.40 -0.26
Lee MSTR $171.68 +1.99
Lee LEE $0.95 +0.01
Lisa LSI $6.71 +0.02
Lucas LEI $2.85 -0.07
Lulu LULU $63.44 +2.90
Marcus MCS $10.06 +0.29
Mario T.E. PBY $11.36 -0.27
Mario T.Y. SUP $22.01 +0.20
Marisa MOLX $25.20 +1.00
Nicole B. NI $21.06 +0.62
Nicole L. COL $57.41 -1.27
Reagan REGN $57.47 +1.88
Ruby RBY $3.37 -0.06
Wilson WILC $6.94 -0.07
Winston HWD $17.36 +0.24
Zero FRZ $2.75 +0.18
Zondro ZQK $5.45 +0.28

Sleep War – Preliminaries

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:22

Brinkley is a terrible sleeper.  He sleeps very lightly, so that he can be easily woken by things such as people sneezing on another floor of the house and continental drift.  Furthermore, he is as committed to staying awake as he is ambivalent about staying asleep.  It doesn’t matter how tired and grumpy he is, he will always search for something to engage his mind—my glasses, the ceiling fan, a cat, a cat’s shadow, whatever—so that he can’t relax and fall asleep.  He has an excellent sense of how to do this already.  The key is to focus on something at all times, but never on the same thing for too long in a stretch.  If you get locked in mentally, you will calm down and inevitably yield to your internal rhythms.  It’s fine to count sheep, but after ten or so, the sheep need to become birds, and then the birds need to become motorcycles, and so on.  Brinkley won’t just sit and watch Dora—he’ll watch Dora, and the Turkey Clock, and the cats, his sisters, and any movement or hint thereof anywhere in the room.

To make this more the way I make things, I have created a grid to express the relationship comparatively.  The first dimension is ‘bad sleeper.’  A bad sleeper is someone who has trouble falling asleep and/or sleeping soundly and restoratively.  A good sleeper is Katie.  The second dimension is ‘bad person.’  A bad person is someone whose disposition degrades materially whenever he or she isn’t well-rested.  A good person is Katie.  The adults first:

 

Bad Sleeper Bad Person
Katie No No
Lee Yes No

As alluded to before, Katie is neither a bad sleeper nor a bad person.  She can sleep fairly well whenever she needs to—disruptive fat meanies notwithstanding—but she is still even-tempered and capable when she’s tired.  In contrast, I am the person for whom Ambien was invented.  It often takes hours of silence, darkness, and pharmaceutical sedation to slow my brain to the point that I can sleep.  I have been like this for years, though, so I can handle it.  Give me a cup of coffee and a mission and I can go forever.  But you are surly, one might tell me.  Indeed I am, but I am consistently surly, and therefore my repugnant demeanor should be understood as but one aspect of my carefully-cultivated misanthropy, not the product of sleep deprivation.  The children’s matrix follows:

 

Bad Sleeper Bad Person
Jenny Yes No
Reagan No Yes
Brinkley Yes Yes

As you can see, Jenny has the same configuration as her father.  She has always been a terrible sleeper, but she is even less hampered by lack of sleep than I am.  I know that I can stay awake firing on most cylinders all night, and I have little doubt that Jenny could join me.  In fact, she tries to convince me that we should do precisely that at least once a week.  Reagan is Jenny’s opposite, in this as in so many other respects.  While Jenny is angling to stay up as late as possible, Reagan starts asking if it’s time for bed before 8 p.m.  I am not exaggerating for comic effect.  Reagan falls asleep if she is still for more than twenty minutes—this is a Machi trait—and she sleeps well, if aggressively, throughout the night.  Anyone in the same bed with that sweaty kicker is unlikely to get a good night’s sleep, but Reagan will be quite chipper come the morning.  But if Reagan doesn’t get enough sleep, she is a basket-case.  She staggers around the house looking like someone’s been shot and her hair is an explosion of crusty sadness.  Katie’s combination—double no—is the best, which means that Brinkley’s double yes is, indeed, the worst.  He is a terrible sleeper and a terrible tired baby, and the time has come to put a stop to it.

Katie and I bear this fat load equally, as I face his fury during the day and she has him at night.  He sleeps most of the night, yes, but he wakes up several times to eat—he forgets during the wee hours of the morning that he hates formula—and he is almost always awake for the day by 5:30, if not earlier.  This hardship falls on Katie, as it must.  If I can’t get away from him regularly I am afraid I will turn into my mother, and no one wants that.  In addition, I am already a bad sleeper and Brinkley’s anti-slumber machinations could easily be enough to overwhelm my defenses if Katie were unwilling to stand between the tiny human grist-mill and her husband.  Still, he takes his toll on her as well, and the time has come to break him and end this nonsense.  We are going to sleep-train him, Katie says, which is apparently a thing.  We haven’t truly gone through this exercise before.  We didn’t have to train Reagan to sleep at night, and Jenny was a special case.  Jenny would go down for bed, then wait for us to go to sleep and climb out of her crib or her bed to spend the next several late-night hours ripping pages out of books, drawing on the walls, changing clothes, and who knows what else.  There was nothing we could do but trap her in her room, and even that took several security iterations to manage.  The Sleep War against Brinkley will take place while the girls are in Hilton Head next month.  We can’t have it while they’re here because it’s hard enough to get Jenny to stay out of our room without a crying baby to give her an excuse

July 21, 2011

A Boy And His Dog

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 16:02

And his filthy, filthy outfit.

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