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The Bachelorette: What Happens in the Fantasy Suite Stays in the Fantasy Suite?

July 29, 2014

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screen shot of ABC’s “After the Final Rose”

Last night’s “After the Final Rose” was the most dramatic ever! Not because the Bachelorette (Andi Dorfman) got engaged to a guy (Josh “I Can’t Put My Arms Down” Murray) after only knowing him for two and a half months and only going on, like, three dates — max — with him. Not even because she slept with both of the two finalists (Josh and Nick “My Neck Is Always Cold” Viall) a week before announcing which one she’d chosen. It was the most dramatic ever because somebody (Nick) admitted to said sex on live TV!

Nick: Knowing how in love with you I was, if you weren’t in love with me, I’m just not sure why, why you made love with me?….I didn’t have any expectations about that night, but to me, that night, that was like fianceĂ©-type of stuff. That meant so much to me. And I told you that. It meant the world to me.

You know it’s serious when you can hear a rose petal drop on a set with a live studio audience.

It’s an unspoken rule that what happens in the fantasy suites stays in the fantasy suites. It’s the one time the contestants can be alone together, away from the cameras, without microphones or their last few shreds of inhibition. Sex is had and it’s hinted at coyly by producers, but it’s not usually spoken of explicitly, especially not during the post-game “A.F.R.” when the focus is supposed to be on true wuv and mawwiage (and in the loser’s case, total devastating heartbreak).

Andi, with her facial expression set to Defcon 4 Frown, was not pleased with Nick spilling the beans:

That’s below the belt. I think that’s something that should be private.

It’s tempting to get on board the Andi Bus Tour through Indignation Town. After all, what happens in the fantasy suite stays in the fantasy suite. Like Andi said, that’s private. It’s not gentlemanly to kiss and tell. It’s pathetic for a grown man to cry because he didn’t get the final rose. Don’t try to slut-shame Andi because you’re bitter. You, Sir Scarf, just proved to the world why Andi didn’t choose you!

These are sentiments that have been expressed all over the Interweb and the Twittersphere since the show aired. They are even sentiments that we were inclined to embrace in our wine-and-chocolate-covered-strawberries-induced haze last night. But in the sobering light of day, we’ve popped two aspirin, washed the dirty wine glasses, and tried to get a little more Jack Handy about this whole most dramatic finale ever! thing.

If this had been “The Bachelor” instead of “The Bachelorette,” and a woman had gone on national television to ask why he had schtupped her if he didn’t love her, wouldn’t the rallying cry heard round the world have been “You go, girl!”? Isn’t that exactly what happened last season when runner-up Claire, regaining some viewer goodwill, said of Bachelor Juan Pablo, “Don’t tell me you love fucking me [and then not propose]“? And weren’t we all giddy when Andi herself pulled back the curtain of last season’s private fantasy suite to reveal what a self-centered pig JP was?

There’s something disingenuous about using the “privacy card” when you’ve signed up to be on a reality show about love (and — let’s admit it — sex). There’s something disingenuous about having sex with a person whom you know is in love with you (and whom you let believe you love right back, contract or not), and then dumping them and subsequently defending your actions by saying, “Your take on [what the relationship/sex meant] might have been somewhat different than mine.” There’s something disingenuous about answering the question, “You knew I loved you, so why did you make love with me if you didn’t love me back?” with the answer, “That’s exactly why I didn’t make you go through the rose ceremony.” There’s something disingenuous about saying that your intense feelings for this guy (while you dated, kissed and fucked him) were real, when you just admitted that you were in love with someone else the whole entire time, a person you planned on getting engaged to and having a monogamous relationship with for the rest of eternity!

People are joking about how Nick is a creepy stalker who needs a restraining order. But if we believe he was truly in love with Andi — and from the footage we’ve all seen, there’s really no reason not to — then why wouldn’t he do everything he could to see her again, to get some real answers, some closure? If she had refused all his requests to talk privately beforehand, then why shouldn’t he ask her, during the one chance he got, how she could have had sex with him if she didn’t love him? And why wouldn’t he be nervous and awkward and uncomfortable finally facing her?  Forget the fact that there were millions of people watching: it’s hard to confront someone you love who doesn’t love you back. How about a little more sympathy for the guy who got his heart pummeled? (We gave it to Claire, and she wasn’t even very likable!) As a straight man, Nick should be commended for being willing to be so emotionally vulnerable in public, and for expressing the idea that sex can mean something. Being in touch with your emotions and believing that sex is sacred are not the domains solely of women.

As sex writers, we are all for open relationships, as long as everyone involved is well informed about the situation. We’re all for women sleeping with whomever they want without being publicly shamed for it, as long as they’re honest with their partners. In all our advice writing, we encourage (read: demand) that people treat their sex partners with respect, open communication, and forthrightness — no matter their gender. That’s basic human decency.

Of course, decency is not a commodity television usually trades in. It’s a testament to the perverse power of reality TV that anyone thinks Nick should have acted any differently or that Andi acted nobly. We recently listened to a “This American Life” episode about one of the most popular reality shows ever in Japan which capitalized on the real suffering of one individual who was basically stripped, starved, tortured, and humiliated for viewers’ entertainment — it was hard to listen to and we kept asking, somewhat self-righteously, “How could people watch this, laugh at this, enjoy this?” Which of course begs the question, “How can you watch a show that purposely orchestrates people’s heartbreak, especially if you’ve ever had your own heart broken?”

Which is not to say we’re not going to watch “The Bachelor/ette” anymore (let’s not go crazy). But maybe we’ll try to watch it with a little less disdain and a little more empathy from now on.

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An Audience Member at “The Men Tell All” Tells All

July 22, 2014

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Our friend Laurie Sandell is not only a celebrity interviewer for women’s magazines like In Style, Glamour and Marie Claire, she is also a Bachelor Nation superfan. She started a private Facebook group for her likeminded friends (like us) called “Monday Night You-Know-What Discussion Group.”  She once bagged the White Rhino of Ben’s season of The Bachelor, a random run-in with show-villain and now tell-all author of “I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends,” Courtney Robertson (Laurie was bold enough to ask for a pic together and got one!). Her superfandom reached its zenith last night: she was in the studio audience of “The Men Tell All”! And now she’s here to tell us all about it:

How did you score tickets to “The Men Tell All”?
One of my friends knows one of the show’s producers.  As soon as I found this out, I immediately called in the most important favor I could imagine ever asking of him.

Where were you seated?
In the front row directly behind [host] Chris Harrison and the hot seat. It was just a fluke we got those seats: I brought a friend [another fellow superfan] and we were one of the last people called into the theater. They needed a party of two for the front row and we fit the bill.

What’s the difference between seeing it in person and seeing it on TV?
Surprisingly, it was eeerily similarly because the set was so utterly familiar, like we had teleported through our TV into the studio. Everything looked exactly the same: the lighting, the flowers, the candles, and, of course, the roses.

Are the guys better (or worse) looking in person?
So much better looking in person. We were actually floored by how good-looking they were. They were shorter than we expected, however — at least some of them were. They were all very comfortable and charismatic on stage. Clearly they had been in front of cameras for months. None of them seemed shy or embarrassed to be there.

Were there any surprises with the guys?
I have to admit, I have been a little bit lax in my viewing this season: I have an infant, so I’ve been watching with one eye, so I didn’t know exactly who the guys were. So when they came out, I was like “That guy is cute.” But he turned out to be the potentially racist one, so I quickly changed my crush.

To whom?
Ron was very charming and super cute.

What was Chris Harrison like?
He’s more sarcastic and hilarious than he is on the show. On the show he has to appeal to a mainstream American audience, but in reality he’s very wry and quick-witted, so that surprised me a bit.

And what was Andi like?
Very likable. And so much more beautiful in person — she truly is stunningly gorgoeus, as good-looking as any A-list celelbrity. Articulate and very put together. She came across as genuine.

How long did it take?
Eight hours.

What?!? Really? Start to finish?
Really, eight hours. When we first got there, we were in a holding room while the producers were making sure everyone was there. They gave us sandwiches. Then they ushered us into the studio and we spent the first two hours watching the fantasy suites episode — they tape “The Men Tell All” before the fantasy suites episode airs so we got to see it before anyone else. After that, each segment took a long time to shoot because they film more than they air, and there were breaks between each segment for leg-stretching and bathroom runs.

How were the bathrooms?
Luxury trailers set up like nice hotel restrooms. An entire trailer was one bathroom.

What was the audience like?
I was looking around at my fellow audience members, like, “Who are these people? How did they get here?” There were a lot of jewel-toned tops. It really did look exactly like the audience you see on TV. They’re a combination of people like me who are friends of friends, people who had won charity contests, randos off the street, and people associated with the show. For instance, there was a guy there — and there are hardly any guys in the audience — so I asked him how he got there and he said he provides the limos for the show. But I have to say, everybody in that audience was a superfan — there was not one jaded person in the room. I’ve been in the studio audience of “Dancing with the Stars” — I was there to interview Lisa Vanderpump — and I was seated next to another interviewer who was totally bored. At the “Men Tell All”, everyone — and I mean everyone — was into it, laughing it up.

Did you practice your reaction faces beforehand?
My friend and I were cracking up practicing our faces beforehand, but when the show started, we were so caught up in it, we really were making crazy expressions. Afterwards, we were actually afraid we might look really ugly because we hadn’t practiced looking pretty while looking surprised!

Did they use any of your reaction shots?
Umm, nothing BUT shots of us! We were practically in every frame! [See below, Laurie is the one in blue, with dark brown glossy bangs.] There were no super surprised reaction shots but we did tsk tsk when Chris Harrison talked about Marquel getting kicked off.  At one point, Chris  brought up a rumor that Andi was pregnant, but I misheard and thought she was about to announce that she actually was preggers, so I whipped my head around to my friend and gasped louder than I’ve ever gasped in my life.  Fortunately they didn’t use that.

What was the most surprising thing about the experience?
It was more intimate than I thought it would be. There’s nowhere to hide. You really are a part of the show. And the guys were very close to the audience. They were only a few feet away. They were milling about afterwards and we could have interacted with them, but there were a lot of producers around and I think it would have been unseemly to try to talk to them.

Any other dirt you can give us?
There are a ton of funny things that I’d like to share but they might really break the fourth wall and I had to sign an extremely steep confidentially agreement that no amount of fundraisers would ever help me recoup.

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What We THINK Will Happen on The Bachelorette Tonight

July 20, 2014

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Unfortunately neither of us is able to watch the “Men Tell All” episode of “The Bachelorette” tonight — starring Andi and all the men she has spurned so far. So we won’t be able to bring your our usual tart wrap-up and love lessons tomorrow. Instead, here’s what we imagine might happen on tonight’s episode…

1. Marcus will cry (again) and then admit that the only thing that got him through being dumped by Andi was moving to Vegas and becoming a male stripper.

2. Chris will tell Andi that he never actually had feelings for her, either — he was really just looking for an extra player for hide and seek in the corn fields of Iowa. He may also ask her to play one more game of hide and seek in the studio audience.

3. Andrew the rogue contestant will storm the stage and demand to show off his recently waxed chest. Andi will cry and stamp her feet and ask why no one takes this charade seriously?!

4. The men will perform a unique striptease-meets-mime dance. Andi will nod seriously.

5. Host Chris will take a lie detector test, just as the contestants have been forced to do, and will admit that this entire show is a farce. And then he will perform a striptease.

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Top 10 Love Lessons from “The Bachelorette” (Andi’s Fantasy Suites)

July 15, 2014

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We always look forward to the Fantasy Suite episodes — contestants get naked, both literally and figuratively, and shit gets real. The Bachelor or Bachelorette may or may not sleep with three hopefuls in three days — and it’s all made possible by the host-slash-pimp, Chris. Unless, of course, it’s Andi’s season, in which case you’ll find more sexual innuendo in the Lego movie. Last night’s episode was all about feeeeeeeeelings. Yawn.

Anyway, here are the top ten love lessons — note: no sex lessons — we managed to wring out of this :

1. When a date is telling you about the heartbreak he suffered after a woman broke off their engagement, this is probably a good time to take a break from the tortilla chips and give him your full attention. (That said: Was this a Bachelorette first, to witness a woman actually eating?!)

2. If you’re trying to convince someone that getting naked is the obvious next step in the relationship, don’t tell them that you have “a childlike sense of wonder” (serious lady boner killer, no?). In fact, never ever say something like this about yourself. Also, if your date suggests that the two of you spend the night together in a luxury hotel suite, just say yes. Do not say, “I can’t wait to talk your ear off all night, that’s the thing I’m most excited about.” And definitely do not add: “I’m long-winded!” Instead, say, “Of course!” and then grin adorably, eager as a black Lab puppy, and say, “It’s too easy!”

3. When someone tells you they love you, and admits to being terrified at saying this, do not pout your bottom lip and make a baby talk noise like this person is an adorable toddler who just pooped on the potty for the first time.

4. Dance like no one is watching, even if you’re being trailed by an invasive camera crew. Even if you move like a jock whose muscles are stiff from lifting too many weights.

5. Think twice about taking in a fireworks display right before you’re about to do it for the first time. All that heavy premature ejaculation symbolism might be more than your date can bear.

6. If your family is the thing your partner loves most about you, there’s probably not a lot of boot knocking in your future.

7. It’s one thing to play hide and seek with your date when you’re home visiting family and it’s a family tradition. But to suggest it a second time? In a field that looks itchy and bug-ridden? Consider your invite to the Fantasy Suite revoked!

8. We’re all for honesty during breakups, but there’s a level of extreme honesty that can be purely self-serving. Let’s say, for example, that there’s no way in hell you’d quit your fancy lawyer job to become a farmer’s wife in Iowa, and you find yourself with no romantic feelings for this farmer in question. It would be kind to focus on the Iowa farming part, no? That’s what we thought. When you say something like, “I have more respect for you than to blame it on Iowa,” are you really thinking of his feelings?

9. When you’re dumping someone and breaking their heart, do not weep so much that the heartbroken one is forced to comfort you, the dumper. Those tears are just to make you feel like a better person — they’re not helping the dumpee. Cut the tears and let them go. And when you’re the dumpee, do exactly as Chris did: Be brief, be honest, be dignified, and walk away. (Gentlemanly hand kiss entirely optional.)

10. And finally, we never thought we’d have to say this, but apparently we do: If you’re not yet ready to sleep with a new partner, then it’s definitely too early to share that story about how you wet the bed all the way up until fifth grade.

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Top 5 Love Lessons from “The Bachelorette” (Andi on Hometown Dates)

July 8, 2014

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  1. When wooing someone — especially someone with an intellectual career — avoid these decidedly unsexy words and phrases: “it’s hard work,” “don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty,” “gumption,” “there’s no limits for a woman on a farm,” and “homemaker” (even if the person wouldn’t mind being a stay-at-home parent, there’s something so negatively old-fashioned about that word).
  2. Be aware of your “tells” on a date, e.g. a frowny-mouth relationship-barometer (the deeper the frown, the more turned off/disingenuous/full of it you are). Don’t give away your true feelings before you’ve given things a real chance. And if you have figured out your true feelings, then divulge them, don’t hide them behind your liar’s scowl.
  3. Don’t talk about your relationship like you’re doing a post-game interview: “I’ve worked hard for this, I’m ready for it, and I’m gonna give it 110%” (Josh).
  4. When you look exactly like your date’s mom and sister, consider that a HUGE red flag.
  5. Another HUGE red flag? When a close relative of your date tells you that his habit of “over-caring” can be totally “annoying.”  Cut bait asap, just like Andi did.

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Top 5 Love Lessons from “The Bachelorette” (Andi in Belgium)

July 1, 2014

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photo courtesy of ABC/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

  1. It’s honorable to take the process of falling in love seriously (Marcus), but would it kill you to crack a joke once in a while? There’s a reason why people rank “sense of humor” as one of the most important qualities they look for in a mate.
  2. To quote Nick: “You’ll never get what you want if you don’t ask for it.”
  3. Guys, it’s great to be in touch with your emotions and allow yourselves to cry, even publicly (Nick, Dylan) — sincerely — but now you’ve got to work on being able to express your emotions, whether good or bad, verbally. Tripping over your words (Nick), being uber-vague about your feelings (Nick, Josh) — these things are only mildly endearing for so long.
  4. Sour grapes aren’t very appealing. You can’t control how others (Nick) behave, you (all the other bachelors) can only control your own behavior and hope that it will serve you karmically in the end. So don’t be the nice guy who becomes a bad guy by railing against the original bad guy.
  5. Never stay at a hotel that will give any rando who knows your name a key to your room!

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Amy Schumer Doesn’t Feel Bad About Your Abortion

June 25, 2014

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: We fucking love Amy Schumer. She’s spit-your-drink funny and she’s feminist, whether she’s talking about casual sex or body image or fisting… or abortion. On this latter topic she particularly tickles us: We’d always assumed that a good abortion joke was hard to pull off, but Amy Schumer makes it seem as easy as, well, Plan B. She even calls it “aborsh”! Here are our five favorite Amy Schumer abortion jokes:

1. “I have an excuse, actually, why I’ve been drinking so much. I haven’t said this out loud yet — this is exciting — I’m drinking for two. Thank you, wow. I mean, just for now. Somebody’s being evicted.”

2. [On Her Best Friend's Pregnancy] “I’ll never forget how she told us. She took us all out to brunch, and she was like, ‘You guys, I’m keeping this one.”

3. “It’s a weird age. They’re like, ‘Amy, I’m pregnant.’ And I still don’t know whether to be like, ‘Congratulations,’ or ‘Do you need a ride?’”

4. “There’s nothing more awkward than going to the first birthday party of a little girl when you told her mom to get rid of her — because the kid can tell.”

And yes, yes, we know that Plan B is not an abortion, but “4 quotes about abortion and one about the morning after pill” just didn’t have the same ring to it…

5. “You feel like such a dirty whore buying Plan B. It is so embarrassing because it’s over the counter but you have to ask your pharmacist, and they know what you want but they make you ask. They’re lookin’ at me, I’m like, you see where my eyeliner is, just give it to me.”

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Top 5 Love Lessons from The Bachelorette (Andi, Week 5)

June 17, 2014

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screenshot from ABC’s “The Bachelorette”

  1. When trying to express your most romantic feelings, do not say “You are awesome,” as if you’re at some sporting event marveling at an epic play, bro.
  2. Don’t be a poor sport on a date. Join in, lighten up and have a laugh. (That said, if your date makes you mime…in public…in France, not only should you feel free to sulk, you should feel free to dump your date.)
  3. We’ll say it again: don’t be a poor sport on a date: If you don’t love to cook or feel inadequate in the kitchen but find yourself there on a date, roll with it, put in a modicum of effort, and make fun of your lack of culinary prowess. Do not pout and whine, “I don’t know how my mom makes her awesome mash potatoes, I just eat ‘em,” you big retro meathead.
  4. Think about what a Bachelor/Bachelorette producer would have you do on a date to be more romantic, and then do it. (No way did Brian come up with that restaurant kitchen make-out idea to make up for the kisses he didn’t steal in Andi’s apartment kitchen — that was pure producer prodding, and it totally worked.)
  5. Ladies, very rarely does “fancy” up-done hair look better than casual flowing hair. Less is often more, so when in doubt, walk away from the matronly up-do that takes hours to accomplish by a high-end stylist who secretly hates all women and is exacting their revenge through said ugly up-do.

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Top 5 Love Lessons from The Bachelorette (Andi, “The Journey So Far”)*

June 10, 2014

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  1. If you’re going to talk politics on a date, then the only appropriate response to the topic of Benghazi is “Bring it on!”
  2. It’s gauche to ask your date about the ancient indiscretions of their partner, especially if said date was the Secretary of God Damn State.
  3. If you’re going to tell your date how dead broke you once were, don’t talk about having to somehow finance your houses (plural) back then. Be sensitive to the genuine financial hardships your date might have experienced in the past or may be experiencing right now.
  4. The discussion of scrunchies has no place on a date, whether you’re running for President of the United States or not.
  5. While on a date, don’t try to disguise your age, especially not with a schmear of Vaseline over the camera lens. Be proud of your extensive journalistic experience and own your wrinkles.
*This week’s “Bachelorette” show was a one-hour recap of the season so far that made room for Diane Sawyer’s exclusive ABC News interview with Hillary Clinton which aired on Monday night. 

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Why Lo Won’t Watch “Game of Thrones” Anymore

June 9, 2014

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Lo wanted to pen a smart, thoughtful piece on all the serious, misogynistic, pro-rapey problems with “Game of Thrones” that have made it unwatchable for her, but after reading Bethany Jones’ piece ‘Game of Thrones,’ Sex and HBO: Where Did It Go Wrong For TV’s Sexual Pioneers? over at Indewire’s “/bent” blog last week, there was no point: Jones nails it. At three pages, it’s a tome of an internet article, but it’s so worth it! The piece is funny, erudite, well-researched, and spot on. It should be required reading for any GOT fan.

Here’s one small taste, in which she uses one of our favorite philosophical party tricks to expose just how fucked-up the “sex” scenes in Game of Rapes, er, Thrones are:

So let’s imagine another scenario. Let’s imagine that in the background of most episodes of “Game of Thrones” we saw dark-skinned semi-naked people casually or brutally humiliated because of their race: lynchings, gratuitous beatings, n-words thrown about, all the horrible theatre of race-hate, say. Imagine that the incidental exposition scenes of “Game of Thrones” didn’t take place in a brothel but in a slave market, for no real reason. And in a slave market where the slaves showed signs of contentment and arousal at the point of sale. Imagine that in the background of incidental scenes of “Game of Thrones” we saw dark-skinned people being tarred and feathered, or whipped, or branded, just incidentally. And imagine that the camera dwelt lingeringly on the small physical details of these acts, just for the hell of it. And then, as a finishing touch, imagine that all of this was done spuriously, as a departure from the source material and for no meaningful narrative gain, but just to spice up the action, to show some pecs and tits, to give an impression of grittiness, to get some people off. Imagine a non-white person was subjected to the most violent instance of racial hatred, and then appeared to forget about it in the following episode. Imagine if having resisted being beaten, and imagine whilst saying ‘no, no’ to their abuser, they shifted their body in an ambiguous way, a way that could have been interpreted as inviting further punishment but could also have been seen as self-protection. Imagine if this meant we were told it was no longer an instance of racial hatred but a mutually consenting act.  Imagine we were asked to forget all we know about the historical and contemporary power dynamics that structure and inform racial violence.

Would you think that was ok, HBO? And how many people would think that was ok?

If you read only this, then you are doing yourself a disservice: you’ll miss the exact moment Jones declares that HBO jumped the sex shark, how ill-informed about and indifferent to rape the director of one now-infamous GOT rape scene (pictured above) is, and how a 1976 BBC production featuring a young, mad, sadistic king who trusses up a naked woman and kills her (sound familiar?)  is less sexist than this “modern” HBO show. This is the stuff brilliant PhD dissertations are made of — except, lucky for us, Jones gets to use phrases like “frathouse flatulent ether” here. Sanity is coming!

 

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