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Ovine Apotheosis…

January 30, 2009

Our old comrade freep has often had his fellow posters gnashing their teeth with envy at his lyric gift, at his wild and fecund imagination and his feel for the beauty and mystery of language. Well, the bastard’s done it again…


Guess the Weight of the Sheep.
Rothbury Hay Festival 2009

Her eye rolled
And she leaned against the comforting rail.
She thought of Thomas Aquinas,
The quality of her soul,
And the possibility of salvation.

A stiff agricultural
Peered into the pen,
Observed her girth,
Calculated the depth of fleece
With eyes apt to measure cash.

Herbs, hay, meadowgrass,
Kofte kebabs;
Turnips, borage, sorrel,
Lavender, rosemary, onions;
Minted muttonburgers.

Her other eye rolled too
As she remembered Descartes:
‘Esprits animaux’; a very fine wind
That upholds every being
Except the bondman who guessed:
Two and a quarter hundredweight.

Eyes that relish being
Eyes that see every dawn
Eyes that know no weight
Eyes that cannot calculate
The things to come.

— by freepoland

  1. parallax permalink
    January 30, 2009 12:34 PM

    I like this freep – it’s very demarcational – you’ve been writing a few things about borders recently, haven’t you? ( I especially enjoyed the Border Ballad the other week. If Billy does an anthology of PPs then your ballad will be up there on my ballot paper.)

    Oh about the poem: it feels like it’s a sort of weighing-up of stuff – balancing differences – species, ideals, purpose, bodies or is that souls, passivity, action (oh hang about – my review is beginning to sound like a response to that B grade film Misha went to see wearing his raincoat).

    Anyway it’s very apt in establishing a sense of cadre – ness

    p.s. I’d delete it Mish if I were you – on the ComMod grounds that its sexist and divisive

  2. mishari permalink*
    January 30, 2009 12:37 PM

    True, para…but who the fuck’s going to complain? The sheep?

  3. parallax permalink
    January 30, 2009 12:39 PM


  4. mishari permalink*
    January 30, 2009 12:43 PM

    No…no…I’m a grown man…wife, children, responsibilities…repected member of the community…I will not be sucked into an infantile maelstrom of sheep jokes…

    You’re baaaaaaaaaaarred…

  5. parallax permalink
    January 30, 2009 12:46 PM

    I’d like to join in but – I’d have to cross the Tasman for that – sheep and shagging – well, it’s a kiwi thing

    …. but apparently (MM might be able to confirm) there’s better resistance/traction if you herd them towards a cliff edge

  6. BaronCharlus permalink
    January 30, 2009 12:58 PM

    Does Freep know you’re going through his stuff?

  7. mishari permalink*
    January 30, 2009 1:06 PM


  8. mishari permalink*
    January 30, 2009 1:06 PM

    PS: Baron, please enlighten me…where and when did MM’s A Farewell To Art (sic) appear?

  9. BaronCharlus permalink
    January 30, 2009 1:20 PM

    On Poster Poems, just before SirTopaz’s latest offering.

    He basically said ‘I’m so sad my dear friend has chosen to absent himself.”

    Or something like that…

    It’s marked as deleted, not vanished.

  10. January 30, 2009 1:29 PM

    Like the poem very much, freep. Sheep are underestimated animals IMO, and an important part of our civilisation, where would fishermen, farmers and folk musicians be without warm woolly jumpers to wear?

    Can anyone tell me who Sir Topaz is? It’s bugging me, plus I’m afraid I can’t decipher his poems without a cast list.

  11. parallax permalink
    January 30, 2009 1:46 PM

    zeph: ‘where would fishermen, farmers and folk musicians be without warm woolly jumpers to wear’

    well, if Billy every gets tired of being a poet he could always employ itinerant moustache shearers and sell the fleece to the ‘Save the Isle of Skye Community Jumper Knitters’ – he’d probably get a massive grant

  12. January 30, 2009 2:40 PM

    And the jumpers would be for sale in a tiny chic boutique in Bond Street at astonishing prices… “It’s poet’s wool, you know, there’s only a limited supply so each piece is a one-off..”

  13. January 30, 2009 3:29 PM

    One round of clipping Mills’ moustache could supply enough material for several scarves as well I reckon.

  14. mishari permalink*
    January 30, 2009 3:45 PM

    Mills has the perfect villain’s moustache. I’ll expand on this in my next post, which will be about Indian movies of the 60’s and 70’s and why I loved them and their eloquent moustachios…

  15. 3p4 permalink
    January 30, 2009 4:12 PM

    kind off prophetic me saying “a lambent grows into a twisted sheep” recently

    hope you love the movie Baron,,:)

  16. freepoland permalink
    January 30, 2009 10:32 PM

    Sorry it didn’t rhyme. Thanks for posting it mishari, but para is quite right, and it should have been immediately deleted for its obvious fomenting of division between species. As well as for being formless. Free verse is shameful really.
    It has the slight use of alerting people from civilised parts that there is a species of Northumbrian farmer / shepherd which has one-tenth of the sensitivity and percipience of a dying ewe. I lived in Lincolnshire for a while, and a similar creature lives there. I once spent three hours in a pub in Heckington and nobody spoke about anything but onions.
    The title is verbatim from an advert placed in the Northumberland Gazette. And you may well ask ‘What is the purpose of a (non-book) Hay Festival?’ I can tell you it is better than the annual nonsense that sends GU into orgasmic delight at literary celebrity: they have terrier races. And Real Hay, which you can buy.
    Just been to see ‘Revolutionary Road’. Good acting, not much of a story, nodded off.

  17. mishari permalink*
    January 30, 2009 10:53 PM

    Spare me the humility…it’s a terrific poem. I’m pleased to hear about the title..even better.

    A three hour discussion of onions ? Jesus…mind you, objectively speaking, an onion farmer would doubtless find a three hour discussion of poetry equally trying.

    I must admit, your Hay festival beats the hell out of the one that galvanises the poor old Grauniad every year. I’ll bet they’ve got better prizes than sodding deck-chairs, too…

  18. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 30, 2009 11:15 PM

    I’m pleased to see that Para and Mishari were accorded the same courtesy deletion as ZS, even if Sarah Crown didn’t give it the personal touch.
    Para, I think the authority on sheep abuse is that son of Somerset Alarming. It’s well-known that a Somerset lad’s first sexual experience is usually with an animal (not counting family members, of course) and the sheep affords a far more comfortable fit than a polecat or badger. The wool is warming on a chilly morning and also provides an excellent handhold.

  19. January 30, 2009 11:45 PM

    I quite like your poem freep, it has a heft to it.

  20. mishari permalink*
    January 30, 2009 11:48 PM

    Trust Mowbray to drag a discussion of the numinous into the gutter of bestiality…

    You think you got deleted for being over-abusive, MM? Wow…Sadly, it was gone before I had a chance to see it.

    Stll, good to know my reputation remains stainless thanks to the eternal vigilance of Grauniad mods…

  21. mishari permalink*
    January 30, 2009 11:50 PM

    Yes, Isa…heft…weight…presence. I’d go further. It approaches the lambent. Haha..geddit? Sheep? Lambent? Never mind…

  22. pinkroom permalink
    January 30, 2009 11:51 PM


    A jolly good moustache
    for a Bollywood arch-villain
    but his eyes lack the flash’
    they’re just piss-holes, quite civillian.

  23. mishari permalink*
    January 30, 2009 11:51 PM

    …Oh..3P4 beat me to punch…damn.

  24. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 31, 2009 12:23 AM

    Grand Prix

    The Mowbray brand is truly fantastic,
    It’s the leading name in prophylactics.
    It ranges from the Emperor Melton,
    Which has the profile of a naval gun,
    To the extremely modest Captain Ned,
    Roughly the size of a weevil’s head,
    And ultimately the Al-Adwani,
    Which is literally too small to see
    And requires an electron microscope
    Nano-tweezers, a steady hand, and hope.

  25. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 31, 2009 12:26 AM

    Found that lurking in my documents folder. It must have been a riposte to something. Anyway, thought I’d give you the benefit.

  26. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 12:42 AM

    A corker, MM. Is that the one they deleted?
    Un–fucking–believable. Who the hell wouldn’t be amused by that, for God’s sake?

  27. freepoland permalink
    January 31, 2009 12:54 AM

    I’m off to Dumfries for a few days, where
    my hefty friend Lamont oft laments the half life of the left, leaving lambency aft. The rise of the right he rightly blamed and rued the rot of risible rotters. Leftness and heftness have held too heavy a haft in the evil elf’s health. Holy Archangel Uriel defend us from the death of deference, and St Aidan preserve our loins from decay. Amen.

  28. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 12:55 AM

    BTW, MM, I’m sending off Series 7 of The Shield in the morning. All 13 hour long episodes on a single DVD. They’re in the .avi or DivX format and Windows Media Player won’t play them without a codec that has to be downloaded and installed. Fuck that. Go here:

    Download and install VLC Media Player. It’s all I use. It’s Open Source stable as a rock, uses very few resources and I’ve yet to come across a media file, video or audio, that it can’t play. Don’t worry about downloading something nasty. I assure you there’s no chance of that.

    Install it. OK, put the DVD into your drive and open it up to view the contents. You’ll see 13 files, all named and numered (ep 1 etc). Drag and drop them to your desktop, create a new file, put them into it.

    Now right-click on one of the .avi files. On the drop-down menu, choose ‘properties’. Then choose ‘Open With..’. Select ‘browse’. Go to C:/ Program Files/vlc. Find the vlc.exe file. Double click on it. Click on ‘apply’. You’re done.

    The .avi files should now be represented by a traffic cone icon. Double click on any .avi file in future and it’ll open and start playing in VLC player. Adjust parameters to taste.

  29. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 12:56 AM

    Keep your eye on Scotsmen, freep. They wear skirts, you know…

  30. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 1:01 AM

    Come to think of it, MM, when you install VLC player, it asks you if you want to make it the default media player. Click ‘yes’ and disregard the rigamaroll outlined above.

    I could have converted the files to a burnable DVD format and burned them onto a slew of DVDs but it would have taken me literally hours. I’m fond of you, MM, but I don’t want to get into your knickers, the only conceivable reason I’d spend 7 hours converting video files.

  31. parallax permalink
    January 31, 2009 11:06 AM

    freep rhymes with sheep – see, it’s all coming together now .. . Dumfries sort of rhymes with sheep – if you squint a bit

    that’s bye-the-bye … have a great few heft days off freep, and when you return I want to know Jack Russell’s REAL name … fluffy?

  32. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 12:50 PM

    I’ve squinted ’til I’m cock-eyed, buggered if I can see it. Truly, the antipodean ear is a wonderous strange thing.

    Of course freep’s dog’s real name isn’t Jack Russell, you fool. It’s John, John Russell…

  33. parallax permalink
    January 31, 2009 1:33 PM

    dum – freess rhymes with ‘some sheep’ – – sort of — well, it does for me

    nah – that terrier’s got to have a transcendental name (given freep’s scholarship in religious sermonic discourse of the …. nope, forgotten now, I think it’s 16th or 17th – hey maybe 18th century – stuffed if I know – anyway it culminated with everyone fucking off from Europe to the New World in pursuit of religious
    freedom) so maybe Fluffy is called Calvin or Hobbes or … yep even John

  34. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 1:53 PM

    “Ooooh, what a cute likkle doggie…what’s his name, then?”

    “His name, Madam, is Barebones Praise-God Keys-to-the-Kingdom and I’ll thank you not to give him any of those pork-scratchings. It’s Lent, for pity’s sake…”

  35. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 2:05 PM

    BTW, MM, I couldn’t fit the very last episode onto the DVD, so rather than leave the second DVD mostly empty I burned the first 6 episodes of the new series of crypto-fascist thriller 24, the documentary Man On Wire and the film Bolt.

    I don’t know if CGI animation is your cup of tea, (personally, when it’s well done, I love it. Wall.E was terrific), but Bolt is worth watching just for the astonishing quality of the CGI. It convinces me that the time when CGI people will be indistinguishable from base-line humans is not far off, a prospect I’m deeply ambivalent about.

    There was an entertaing film not long ago, with Al Pacino, based on just this premise. Can’t remember what it was called…

  36. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 31, 2009 3:07 PM

    Books and DVD arrived today, a most interesting looking crop. Thanks again. I’ll look out for The Shield. Was it in last week’s Sat Gu that someone was comparing it favourably with the Wire? I’ve never heard of Bolt or Man on Wire, but look forward to experiencing them. I expect you’re looking forward to Rupe Penry-Jones in ‘Whitechapel’ next week. Probably filmed in Prague.

  37. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 3:19 PM

    I don’t really think The Shield is on a par with The Wire, which I’m convinced is the finest TV drama ever made, but it does shine out in a sea of dross. Glad you got the books.

    Man On Wire is an interesting documentary about the chap who wire-walked between the Two Towers. It follows his prep etc, then the event. It’s strangely compelling.

    Yeah, I’m curious to see Whitechapel, most likely filmed, as you say, somewhere in Eastern Europe. Maigret was shot in Budapest, which looked more like 50’s Paris than Paris actually does.

  38. January 31, 2009 3:38 PM

    MM no sheep shagging in Somerset as far as I know. Cows are the main farm animal in those parts – so you’ll see men both young and old wearing sturdy belts. If you look further you’ll note that they aren’t wearing belts to keep their trousers up. I leave the rest to your imagination.

  39. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 3:40 PM

    …Christ, people are going to think I’ve started a forum for entirely the wrong sort of animal lovers.

  40. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 31, 2009 4:03 PM

    Do you mean the original Maigret or the Michael Gambon one? Most of the latter seemed to be interiors.
    Chris Petit wrote the article:

    worth a read if you’re interested. I watched most of (shown quite erratically, which I complained about to no effect) Homicide LOTS when it was reshown on ITV4 recently. I had no idea that the washed-out look of the early series was a deliberate effect. I thought the video stock must have deteriorated, or there was something wrong with my DVD player.

  41. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 31, 2009 4:06 PM

    Thanks for that, Alarming, and thank God I haven’t got an imagination.

  42. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 4:08 PM

    I meant the Gambon one, which contained a fair bit of exterior work.

    Thanks for the Petit link. He’s usually an interesting read, so I’ll certainly have a look.

    Never really saw much of Homicide LOTS. I think I’ll get the DVDs and check it out…

  43. January 31, 2009 4:12 PM

    MM I loved the first series of Homicide which had great cameos by the likes of Robin Williams – but it seemed to go the way of all these US series with Inspector Gorgeous being brought in to replace Sergeant A-bit-ordinary -looking.

    Finally catching up with the Wire – 3rd series is very good. Can finally see why everyone has raved about it. 1st two series were good but this one really takes off.

  44. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 4:21 PM

    An interesting take by Petit and not much to disagree with except his contention that The Wire became more conventional and less daring and that The Shield is more, I dunno, realistic.

    One of the big problems for me, viv a vis The Shield is that we’re presented with a gritty slice-of-real-cop-life show wherein not one single cop ever says “fuck”…ever.

    It has the effect of constantly making me aware that what I’m watching is essentially fakery, albeit first-class fakery.

    The show didn’t have the luxury of being made for HBO and had to cut its cloth to suit and it has damaged it in a fundamental way.

    It’s still horribly watchable, compelling and sometimes quite shocking, but I can never shake the feeling that things are being soft-pedalled.

  45. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 31, 2009 4:22 PM

    God, now my memory’s going along with everything else.

  46. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 4:22 PM

    Thing is, Al, The Wire really has to be judged in its entirety. It builds slowly, but, boy, what a head of steam it builds up. You’ll be inconsolable yet deeply satisfied by the end…

  47. January 31, 2009 4:33 PM

    Though I’m not sure about all the talk of its realism . I’m not bothered about things being realistic – how can fiction do that – but the prison bits sometimes do remind me of Peter Sellers in the Wrong Arm of the Law. and there’s a literate quality throughout all the characters that doesn’t quite ring true. But thank God for that as it makes for some gripping scenes and tinder-box dry dialogue and interactions. The way each series unfolds another section of the society it’s in is great.

  48. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 4:38 PM

    I don ‘t think it’s realism that’s the issue, Al, so much as plausibility. Corrupt, violent, venal LA cops who never once use the word “fuck” is a bit hard to swallow…

    The Wrong Arm of the Law. Was that the one where they break out of prison to pull a jewel heist and then have to break back in to establish the perfect alibi?

  49. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 4:58 PM

    BTW, MM or Al, did you ever see Petit’s film Radio On? I liked it a lot…

  50. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 31, 2009 5:20 PM

    I’ve not seen the Petit or the Sellers, I’m sorry to say. I think you’re right on Homicide, Alarming, it did start to go a bit NYPD Blue after a while, though the disappearance of Pembleton was the biggest blow. I can’t remember ever consciously noting the absence of fuck on The Shield, which seems a bit mysterious. I’ll have to rewatch an episode. Series 1-3 were pretty good, but I thought it took a downward turn with Glenn Close, and the Whittaker stuff was sometimes tiresome. The scene where Lem was trying to burn the cash from the money-train was something special. Or ‘Good cop and bad cop have gone home. I’m a different kind of cop…’ Class, though not a patch on The Bill. ‘We’ve lost him, Tone!’ Every street in Sun Hill has an artic on it doing a 3 point turn.

  51. January 31, 2009 5:41 PM

    Radio On had some great images of the Westway in it as I remember plus an extremely young Sting. Petit was a film critic for Time Out and did rather pioneer that ” Imagine Bugs Bunny on acid and you’re half way there” style of criticism that’s proved so popular.

    As a riposte to that Lee and Herring did a great sketch showing what Norman Wisdom on acid would rally look like – basically a frightened man cowering under a table.

    But Petit has done some interesting stuff with Ian Sinclair since his Time Out days.

  52. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2009 5:42 PM

    I think it’s a measure of just how good The Shield is that you don’t notice the lack of obscenities. I suppose I’m just particularly aware of what words people are actually using, having been raised in and still living in a multi-lingual environment…maybe. I dunno, it’s just something I’m aware of.

    I don’t think it detracts from the the show, but whenever, for example, Mackey and the boys encounter various gang-bangers, the curiously expletive-free conversation that follows just jarrs a bit. Not many Crips and Bloods model their conversational style on The Cosby Show.

    Not a big deal, really and one happily suspends disbelief to allow oneself to be engrossed and swept along.

    You’ll enjoy the last series, MM. Very dark.

  53. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 1, 2009 11:50 PM

    I’m looking forward to it. I rewatched episode 1 series 1 and you’re right about the fucks. Piss and shit put in an appearance, so I don’t know what the demarcation line is. I had the impression that it was a cable show-aren’t they a bit freer than network? Perhaps that’s why piss and shit get in. Considering the stuff that shows up just in that episode banning fuck is bolting the stable door to the power of ten.

  54. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2009 12:16 AM

    …the line is evidently drawn at fuck and cunt and all variations thereof. Shit, asshole, shithead etc make appearances, but not to any great degree. Is it a cable show? I assumed it wasn’t for the simple reason that all the other cable shows I’ve liked–Deadwood, The Sopranos, The Wire and Curb Your Enthusiasm–had no qualms at all about coarse language.

    I just assumed The Shield was a network show, on after the watershed to protect the delicate shell-likes of the likkle kiddies. I guess I’ll have to google around to find out.

    You should get the DVD by Tue or Wed.

  55. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 2, 2009 12:22 AM

    I don’t think that’s Swords on Zephirine’s blog. It’s too literate. The natives seem to be getting a bit restive – think I’ll give it a miss. I checked out twenty minutes of Generation Kill – some nice details – the reporter buying his body armour on ebay – but it does suffer a bit from the usual war-film problem of identifying who’s who. Ought to get easier.

  56. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2009 12:32 AM

    I think it’s intentionally a bit confusing, to reflect the sheer confusion of war. It gets much less so, however.

    Yeah, I thought I detected a bit of resentment at the intrusion of outsiders on zeph’s blog, although being new to the place, I’m not sure who’s new and who isn’t.
    Perhaps that isn’t Des, but it is eerily reminiscent of the old gas-bag…

  57. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 2, 2009 12:41 AM

    Christ, it’s a Fox cable product. I shouldn’t be watching it. Though of course I will. No man is a hypocrite in his pleasures.

  58. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2009 12:52 AM

    …ah, Fox. That would explain it. Prolly terrified of alienating their Bible-bashing nut-job constituency. Even so, I must say I’m surprised. Fox does not seem like a natural fit for what is a brutally amoral show…then again….

  59. seanmurray permalink
    February 2, 2009 2:09 PM

    ‘Finally catching up with the Wire – 3rd series is very good. Can finally see why everyone has raved about it. 1st two series were good but this one really takes off.’

    Series three is excellent. The only one I wasn’t mad on was series two . The Wire set down the docks — should have worked like a dream, but it lacked those long arty pans of nothing much happening (e.g. the young dealers fannying about on thon couch dumped on wasteland) that made series 1 unlike much I’d ever seen before on TV (I much prefer it to The Sopranos).

    My favourite, though, is series 4. Hardly a cop show at all — more like the greatest series of Grange Hill ever made, with some of the most moving scenes I’ve seen on telly.

  60. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2009 2:20 PM

    One of things that made The Wire so signicant, I thought, was the way it used every series to examine a different aspect of The Death of the American Dream. Schools, labour, civil society, the courts, journalism…much as I loved The Sopranos, it plowed a fairly limited furrow, aside from the odd trip to Hollywood to mug Lauren Bacall or the trip to Italy to firm up the stolen car racket. I think the over-used (and often mis-used) term Dickensian was, for a change, applicable.

    Ya feel me, dog?

  61. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2009 2:29 PM

    …although, I must say, I was astonished and amused to discover that McNutty was actually an Old Etonian from Sheffield (or is it Leeds?). He had me convinced he was a Baltimore native…oh, and Stringer Bell is actually a Hackney lad.

  62. February 3, 2009 8:57 AM

    Sean I agree about wire series 2 ( tho have yet to see 3 + 4 ). It opens the world up further but I think they did that dodgy bloke comes into contact with wholly immoral bunch better in the Sopranos. But unlike the Sopranos which for me started to reheat plots after series 3 it looks like the wire people knew how to develop the idea and stop when it needed to stop.

  63. February 3, 2009 8:58 AM

    I mean series 4 + 5 – too distracted by snow and robins obviously

  64. February 3, 2009 10:26 AM

    mishari Stringer Bell a Hackney boy? Really?
    I’m not linguistically savvy enough to really tell 9 times out of 10 as regards accents except for the obvious duffers ( Dickie Attenborough and Sean Connery ) but those Wire boys are good.

  65. mishari permalink*
    February 3, 2009 11:50 AM

    Yup…check it out, Al. Idris Elba AKA Stringer Bell…

    BTW, Al…if you want the rest of The Wire, let me know. I’ll burn it and send it.

  66. February 3, 2009 12:20 PM

    Reading his CV one wonders if the Wire producers watched his turn as a gigolo in AbFab and thought “That’s our man!”

    I knew someone who was Compo’s stunt double in Last of the Summer Wine ( as a name-drop goes you’ve got to admit it’s prretty impressive ). He got the part by standing in a doorway with his back to the producers. That and being prepared to be pushed down the hills around Holmfirth in a tin bath

  67. February 3, 2009 12:25 PM

    Thanks for the offer, extremely generous. Series 3 draws to its conclusion tonight I think. If you give me your email I’ll send you a postal address to mail to.

    Sadly all my Herzog docs and Svankmajers are on video but will have a go on the Norstein DVD as way of a thank you.

  68. mishari permalink*
    February 3, 2009 12:34 PM

    send your address to:

    …and I’ll get right on it.

    Video? Al, Al, Al…you need to join us in the 21st century.

  69. mishari permalink*
    February 3, 2009 12:52 PM

    You knew Compo’s stunt double, Al? I’m going to need your autograph, man…

Comments are closed.