Blog Posts John Farrier Likes

Revengers: Bootleg Avengers Knockoffs

We've seen an awful lot of cheap bootleg movie merchandise, often badly done in far-off countries to get around copyright laws, with different names that suffer in translation. If there aren't enough humorous knockoffs, how about some made just for us to laugh at? Jeff Wysaski at Obvious Plant made up a bunch of "fake fakes," based on the Avengers and the marvel Cinematic Universe. They are just weird enough to be believable. After all the trouble he went to in order to manufacture these for the photos, Wysaski offered the props for purchase. He could have charged a lot more money, because they sold out in no time. See the entire collection here. -via Boing Boing

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Snowstorm on a Comet

We followed the adventures of the Rosetta spacecraft as it approached and sent the Philae Lander onto the surface of comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The European Space Agency (ESA) is just now releasing substantial data gathered during the expedition. And it's awesome. Twitter user landru79 combined that data into a gif, which Phil Plait converted to a video.

(YouTube link)

Plait explains what we are seeing.

The landscape itself is the comet. Comets are lumps of ice — things like frozen water, carbon dioxide, and ammonia — and rock, mostly in the form of gravel and dust. Some orbit the Sun on long ellipses, and when they get close in the ice turns into a gas, releasing ice flakes and the gravelly bits. This surrounds the solid nucleus with a gaseous/dusty coma, and that can then blow away from the comet due to the solar wind and pressure of sunlight to form the tail.

67P is a double-lobed comet, looking more like a rubber ducky than anything else. It's very roughly 4 or 5 km across, and takes about 6.4 years to circle the Sun once. Rosetta was about 13 kilometers from the comet as it took these images, slowly moving around it so that our vantage point in the video changes slightly. Comets are very dark, and it was three times farther from the Sun than Earth is when these images were taken, so the lighting is fainter. Also, these were on the "dark side" of the comet, so the illumination you see is from reflected sunlight by the coma. The video represents about a half hour of real time.   

Phil has plenty more to tell us about the data from 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko at Bad Astronomy.


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Veteran Receives Penis Transplant

When we first heard of hand transplants, it raised the question of how organ transplants could be justified when they aren't necessary to save a patient's life. We've come a long way since then, with limb and face transplants to improve the quality of life. When the first penis transplants were done, doctors knew that such experimental surgery would be an important achievement in caring for those wounded in war. And in March, the first American veteran received a penis transplant during a 14-hour operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The surgery was successful, and the penis is expected to achieve normal function within a few months. Researchers a the hospital developed a new technique to facilitate such reconstruction.      

One of the challenges from this type of injury is that transplants typically require patients to take strong anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. Those drugs pose a risk, which must be balanced against the benefit of surgery that is designed to improve quality of life but is not essential to health.

To address that, doctors at Hopkins have developed a method to minimize the drugs required for these patients. That involves infusing some blood cells from the donor, to prime the recipient's immune system to recognize the foreign tissue as "self." Doctors at Hopkins say they can then treat the patient with a single anti-rejection drug rather than the usual cocktail of three.

Unlike previous penis transplants, this surgery included the scrotum and some tissue from the lower abdomen, in order to reconstruct a large wound. The patient was injured by an improvised explosive device. He also lost his legs below the knee as a result of the IED attack.

Read more about the transplant at NPR. -via Digg

(Image credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

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Skyrider 2.0, the Airline Saddle

Airlines are always looking for ways to make a few cents more, but the most lucrative way to do that is to squeeze more passengers into each plane. We're at the point now where average-size people are uncomfortable in economy class, even for short flights. How much smaller can airplane seats get? Okay, since you asked... let me introduce you to the Skyrider 2.0. It braces passengers and gives them something to lean against while they stand through the flight. I am not kidding.

Engineered by Italian aerospace interior design company Aviointeriors and introduced at Hamburg’s Airplane Interiors Expo in earl April, the seat positions a willing passenger almost completely upright on a polyester saddle and back support. It seems well thought out, it’s reportedly very functional, and it even looks good.  But I’ll still never sit on one.

Airlines can stack these only 23 inches apart, which means in the future, we may have to board with a lot more fellow travelers. Read more about this abomination at FastCo Design.  -via Digg

(Image credit: Avio Interiors)

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19 Secrets of Public Librarians

Being a librarian is a great job for someone who loves books, but a career in the library requires more than that. Librarians must be dedicated to curating and protecting the library's collection, and at the same time, be an advocate for the public's access to those materials. And it's more than books, as public libraries lend out many other types of materials. They also work to promote public participation and literacy. Then there are all the smaller things you don't know about a librarian's work. Here's a sample. 


There’s a mundane occurrence to delight every librarian. “Especially if there are language barriers, I love when someone musters the courage to ask me a question and we can go back and forth to make sure I connect them to the right resources,” Krakowski says. For Paolini, it’s when “someone comes in nervous, expecting us to be mean, then they tell me, ‘You guys are so nice … and I didn’t know you had e-books!”

But Paolini's favorite thing of all is getting a call at the phone reference desk from a sports bar where two buddies are arguing over player stats: “I’m like, ‘This is great that you’re calling the library to settle a bet!'”


Librarians find all kinds of objects wedged between the pages of books—$100 bills, Broadway tickets, condoms, paychecks, love letters, drugs, hatchets, knives, and even a vial labeled “smallpox sample.” Messiest of all, though, might be the food left in books, like crumbled Cheetos, slices of pickles, and whole strips of bacon (both cooked and raw).

Read the rest of the 19 secrets of public librarians at Mental Floss.

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Rainbow Grilled Cheese: Yay or Nay?

We've featured rainbow grilled cheese before on Neatorama back in 2016 - that time it was in Hong Kong. It seems that the culinary creation has now hit the States. Here's one by Ice Cream Garden LA.

So, would you eat one?

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Mystery at the Library: Secret Codes Hidden in the Books

The library can be a place of intrigue and mystery - that's what librarian Georgia Grainger found out one day, when a little old lady approached her with a question.

"Why does page 7 in all the books I take out have the 7 underlined in pen? It seems odd," she said.

Odd indeed! And when Grainger checked other books, she discovered that many, though not all, also bear the secret code.

So why are some books marked with the secret code and not others? Grainger reveals the deviously clever reason here.

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Charles Darwin's Kids Drew All Over His On the Origin of Species Manuscript

Charles Darwin had ten children, and at least three of them were young artists during the time Darwin was writing his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. They saw dad's project as a source of paper for their drawings and paintings! Of Darwin's first manuscript, only 45 out of 600 pages still exist. They are in the process of being digitized for posterity, and they have yielded dozens of the children's artworks. More than just scribbles, they are historic marginalia worthy of preservation.    

The drawings, made with pencil, ink, and watercolor, are playful and often humorous, although they reflect Dad’s talent for recording details, whether it be the multicolored wings of a butterfly or the pattern on a highlander’s kilt. Indeed, several of the drawings are more military-concerned and show battles or soldier’s portraits. Others show the children’s fluency with the natural world: bees buzz around flowers and a variety of animals are shown in profile and face-forward. Apparently, Darwin also recruited his kids for basic research including collecting various specimens and encouraged them to make their own observations.

See more of the drawings here. -via Everlasting Blort

(Image credit: American Museum of Natural History and Cambridge University Library)

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The First Venus Flytrap

Even though species normally evolve in tiny increments, when one develops something that is different from their ancestors, there has to be a first one to try it. YouTube comedian CalebCity imagined how that very first plant decided it would be carnivorous and then evolve into a Venus Flytrap. He plays the roles of two plants and a bumblebee.  

(YouTube link)

Brace yourselves. This is the one-man short version of Little Shop of Horrors. -via Tastefully Offensive

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I knew something was off about this scene from the less-than-symmetrical eyes on the left person's face. Then the robotic word selection in the second panel confirmed it. But it can't be a robot, because a robot would never say "returning back." That's redundant. I thought all this before reaching the second row, which took a totally unexpected turn, but it fits the setup perfectly. Those birds didn't have the greatest disguise, but our victim was too busy on his phone to even notice. This comic is from Chris Hallbeck at Maximumble, who thinks through all the details.

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Exercising with Her Buddy

Mary is a 17-year-old in Australia. Secret is her dog, a border collie/Australian shepherd mix. With a pedigree like that, you know this is an intelligent dog. Mary has been training Secret all her life, beginning with clicker training. They even exercise together!

(YouTube link)

Secret is learning new stunts during their exercise routines.

Secret also dances, does housework, and creates art. And she finds time for some fun, too! See more of Secret at her Instagram page. That's a good dog. -via reddit

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Thor seems a bit shocked. Never underestimate the power of a cat responding to the basic feline instinct of knocking things to the floor. And you can grant them all the power in the world, but that won't motivate a cat to come to your rescue, unless he happens to be in the mood to do it. This is the latest comic from Jon Baker at Alarmingly Bad Comics. -via Geeks Are Sexy

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Vermont's Witch Windows

An architectural oddity that is almost exclusively found in Vermont is the "witch window." These are windows mounted on a slant, just under the roof line of a house. They are sometimes referred to as "Vermont windows" (for obvious reasons) or "coffin windows." The tale told is that crooked windows are harder for a witch to fly into. That doesn't make much sense. There was one witch trial in Vermont, but it was a couple hundred years before the witch windows became a thing. Other explanations don't make sense, either.

“You’ll also hear them referred to as coffin windows,” explains the Historical Society rep, “The idea being that it’s difficult to maneuver a coffin with a body from the second floor down to the first floor in these narrow staircases, so slide it out through the window and down the roof.” Then again, she says, that “does not seem any easier.” At the end of the day, every conclusion drawn about the curious windows ends with a question mark. Why on earth create a completely lopsided, and by all means impractical, window?

The real answer may be that it's the only way to fit a decent-sized window into a room that sits in an offset gable. But that explanation is no fun! And can you imagine trying to hang a curtain in one? Read about witch windows and see more pictures at Messy Nessy Chic.

(Image credit: Piledhigheranddeeper)

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Unheard of Instruments in the Saxophone Family

Have you ever seen a slide saxophone? Or a Conn-o-sax? Those are just a couple of the rare saxophones in the collection of Dr. Paul Cohen, who plays, writes about, and collects unusual saxophones. Here he shows off his instruments to saxophone players from the United States Army Field Band.  

(YouTube link)

The saxes range from tiny little things to the huge 6.5-foot contrabass sax that will make your chest rattle. Dr. Cohen even has some custom-made and one-of-a-kind instruments, such as the saxophone with no keys that you play in the manner of a bugle. You could make an entire band out of saxophones! -via Metafilter

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Houdini Cat Encounters Water Trap

Sven has a cat named Muldar who is a genius. He wants what he wants and no human shenanigans are going to stop him. Closing the door? Pfft! Muldar will just open it. Set a pan of water in front of the door? Not a problem. For Muldar. For Sven, it's a problem.

(YouTube link)

Sven noted that the water pan was added to keep Muldar from scratching at the door, and that putting a round knob on the door (as has been recently suggested) would make no difference. I concur; Muldar would just figure out how to open a door with a round knob. -via reddit

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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The World's Most Frightening Blanket

You can get a photograph printed on pretty much anything these days. Redditor angelinthehallway posted this photo of her bed, graced with a blanket she received for Christmas. Her husband ordered it through Walmarts photo-printing kiosk. He is also a redditor, and had to jump in to claim that yes, it was his face on the blanket. And he posted a picture of Christmas Day at their home to prove it.

I think they should hang this in the windows as a curtain, facing out. The neighbors would freak out, as well as anyone passing by. And as a bonus, the people inside wouldn't have to look at it on the bed. 

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A Different Kind of High School Yearbook

As far back as anyone can recall, American high schools have printed yearbooks to celebrate the accomplishments of their graduating seniors and other students, and to serve as a souvenir book with pictures of their carefree student days. This high school yearbook called '43 Ramblings chronicled the proud students of Topaz High School in Utah, which was the school for residents of Topaz Internment Camp. The students had been shipped in from their original schools up and down the West Coast, and continued their education at the school created for them. Topaz was several times the size of the better-known Manzanar Camp, with over 8,000 people at its peak.

Utah State University has archived the 1943 and 1944 editions of the Topaz High School Ramblings yearbook. With a cursory browse, the Topaz High Rams look just like any other 1940s high school students. They played sports, printed alma mater lyrics that probably nobody knew by heart, and produced a slick-looking literary magazine. Topaz High was a prison camp school for unjustly incarcerated Americans, but the yearbooks provide the perception of normalcy.

In the 1943 Ramblings, the beginning dedication reads, “This year finds us vastly different from our naive selves of previous years.” Alongside photos of students, the old high schools they attended, mostly in California and Washington, are listed directly above their Topaz High School activities.

Imagine showing your grandchildren that you were once "The Brainiest of the brainier girls," and then explaining why you graduated from a school in Utah. Read about Topaz High School at Atlas Obscura, and browse through the yearbooks at Utah State University's Digital Collections.

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Candid Camera Pranks Mr. Rogers

An entire generation of American children know and love Fred Rogers from his TV show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Over the years, many were delighted to find out that Rogers was never playing a character, that he was exactly the same off camera. Even when Candid Camera tried to get a rise out of him. He didn't react the way they expected.

(YouTube link)

It seems like a lame prank, but this was recorded before smart phones and WiFi were everywhere, when many travelers would look forward to watching TV in their hotel rooms. But not Rogers! He let the small things go, and even when he was tired he never missed an opportunity to treat people kindly and make them feel good. -via reddit

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This Guy Built A Fully Functional Kitchen In The Back Of His Tiny Electric Car

When people say they've been living out of their car they usually just mean they've been spending way too much time on the road, because without the basics like a stove, a fridge and running water one can't truly live in their car.

But the guy behind the YouTube channel Kiwi EV Adventures really wanted to figure out how he could live out of his tiny electric car, so he could take full advantage of camping season.

So he installed a functional kitchen in the back, complete with cabinets, a stove, refrigerator and a sink with running water, all of which can be easily removed from the car as needed.

(YouTube Link)

-Via Boing Boing

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The Ever Present NPC Naming Dilemma In Dungeons & Dragons

Naming NPCs is one of the banes of my existence as a DM (or GM if you prefer the more generic and broadly encompassing title), and try as I might to come up with new names I often fall back on old standards.

If the guy or gal is a rogue-like character then the words sneaky, stabby, cutter, shadow or fingers tend to find their way into their name somewhere, and rangers are almost always named Roger, Dan or Dana for some reason.

And, as this Electric Bunny comic shows, when all else fails you should just name them after the first thing you see. My personal favorites- Mr. Coffee and Senor Stinkbottom (my dog's nickname).

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Zoo Animal Reviews

A few days ago, zoos and aquariums began giving their animals Amazon-style ratings on Twitter. As more and more reviews came in, biologists, science labs, and universities got involved. Everyday people started rating their pets and favorite species, too.

You can see a ton of these as they come in with the Twitter hashtag #rateaspecies or see a roundup of some really funny examples at Buzzfeed.

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My 28 Days on Tinder

I never tried online dating. I looked at Yahoo Singles once many years ago, and found quite a few guys I knew. I also knew why they were single, because their ex-wives had already told me. That's life in a small town. It's probably better for younger people. Redditor keongmanja, who is from the UK but lives in Indonesia, tried Tinder for a month and kept stats on how it worked for him. Then he turned his data into a chart. He doesn't tell how many times he swiped right to get 53 matches, but the consensus of commenters is that four actual dates in a month is pretty good. There were a few quibbles about his terms.

-via Mashable

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Joe College

It's desperation time for the spring semester. This guy apparently didn't do all that well on his midterms, because he has better things to do than study. But he has a good grasp on what the real world is like. The professor wouldn't fair so well in his plan, since she is not only a woman, but is old enough to have gray hair. This comic was based on something mentioned in the book The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money by Bryan Caplan. The comic is from Zach Weinersmith at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

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Cat Goes Ice Fishing

A young cat has discovered a miracle in winter time. He can walk on water! The ice-covered pond lets him get really close to those tempting, wriggly fishies!

(gfycat link)

The problem is, he got his sporting activites mixed up. He thought he was fishing, but he's really ice skating! He's about as good at it as I am. -via reddit

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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A Shower Curtain for Continuous Connectivity

There are people who cannot survive without their phone or tablet available at all times. If you find yourself getting very dirty because you can't bear the thought of missing out on something while taking the time to shower, help is here! The iPad Mount Clear Shower Curtain Liner Tablet or Phone Holder (or screenholder for short) is a clear shower curtain with pockets to hold your phone or tablet. The pockets are on the outside, at different heights for different people -even children! This product is ...thought-provoking.

1. Better have a good lock on your camera, unless you really want to broadcast your ablutions.

2. If you must be constantly connected, how do you sleep?

3. Who has enough hot water to be doing anything in the shower besides washing?

On further thought, I can see someone watching a movie while taking a long relaxing bath. It might also be handy for elderly people who could call for help if they fell. Still, the marketing for this product seems a bit nuts.

-via Boing Boing

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The Logistics of Living in Antarctica

The bottom of the world is the coldest place on earth, and is not conducive to human habitation. But people live there anyway, although not permanently, and not in the way we are used to. For one thing, what time is it? For another, what country are you in? And most important, how do you keep warm?

(YouTube link)

No one is "from" Antarctica, and no one can go there without a reason and great planning. Getting there is an adventure in itself. Wendover Productions explains the ins and outs of living in Antarctica in detail, and makes it all interesting.

Update: Matthew Heyns brought up Emilio Palma, who was born in Antartica. I found out there have now been eleven people born on the continent! 

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Dachshund Negotiates a Maze

Chobi is a long-haired dachshund just trying to get through this water bottle maze his human left in the hallway. When he comes to a part he's not so sure about, there's a real problem backing up, because his body is too long to just turn around!

(YouTube link)

What's amazing is how this little doggo even tries to get through without toppling the bottles. My dog would just crash through without a thought, while Chobi honestly looks sad about the few he accidentally knocked over. Luckily, the next maze was easier.

You can see more of Chobi at Instagram. -via Tastefully Offensive

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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I Could Have Sworn I Parked My Car Right Here

TastyTalk took a picture of some pigeons walking along a ledge. What he ended up with was an optical illusion straight out of a 1960s horror movie. Sure, if you look closely, you can see the edge of the concrete ledge they are standing on, and the cars on the ground about a floor below, but that edge could easily have been between lanes in a parking lot. He was accused of blurring the image intentionally to enhance the illusion, but is that so bad? We ended up with a neat picture to make us smile.   -via reddit

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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The Difference Between Australia and New Zealand

Jordan Watson of the How To Dad series usually brings us instructional videos on how he interacts with his adorable daughters. But since he became well-known on the internet, he's come across a lot of folks who assume he is Australian. He is not. He is from New Zealand. In this video, Watson explains the differences.

(YouTube link)

Mainly, it's a different country. They don't even share a border. Yet the differences between the US and Canada are still more pronounced from our perspective. You gotta hand it to him, he's doing his best, and he's proud to be a Kiwi. -via reddit 

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In Defense of Anakin Skywalker, the Most Unjustly Maligned Star Wars Character

The original Star Wars trilogy established Darth Vader as a mysterious and truly badass villain. The prequels came along to take the mystery out of the villain, but by then the internet was here to encourage fans to coalesce their opinions into memes: the prequels were lame, Anakin was a whiner (as if Luke and Ben Solo aren't -it must be genetic), nothing will ever be as good as the original trilogy before the Special Editions. The stoic, terrifying Darth Vader couldn't have possibly been born from the emotional and needy young man we called Anakin.   

And, yes: like that iconic Mean Girls character, Anakin Skywalker just has a lot of feelings. To be sure, his emotional outbursts in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith are incredibly difficult to watch. Most would say that the reason they’re difficult to watch is because George Lucas is terrible at writing dialogue and Hayden Christensen is terrible at acting and the result is a cringetastic cheesefest that has been meme-ified a million times over.

But I don’t think that’s entirely fair to Lucas’ story or Christensen’s acting. When it comes to what Anakin is actually saying, there is always a deeper meaning: his “I hate sand” speech is a veiled cry for help regarding his inability to overcome the trauma of his youth, while his fumbled confession of love for Padmé as they gaze into each other’s eyes next to a crackling fireplace in a cozy, dimly lit room (I mean, seriously, girl? You’re sending a pretty clear message there) is exactly what you’d expect from an emotionally stunted teenager.

Viewed as part of the larger story of Anakin’s life, his savagely violent outbursts carry weight as well. After unleashing his fury over his mother’s death on the Tusken villagers, Anakin confesses to Padmé in an anguished whirlwind of misplaced rage, desperately attempting to justify his actions while knowing in his heart that they were wrong. Later, Anakin’s terrified “what have I done?!” exclamation after aiding in the murder (or not) of Mace Windu reflects his belief that he has arrived at the point of no return – that whatever spark of good he may have fostered has suddenly been snuffed out. And his tortured scream of “I HATE YOU” after his battle with Obi-Wan… Well, I don’t need to dig too deep for that one. Between those three words and Obi-Wan’s tearful response (“You were my brother, Anakin! I loved you!”), there appears a boundless chasm of roiling, unspoken emotions. It breaks my heart every damn time.

Allyson Gronowitzlays out the argument that Anakin actually does have a rich psychological arc hiding beneath the stilted dialogue of the films, once you explore the forces that molded him, which are vastly augmented by non-film literature. The upshot is that Kylo Ren is turning out to be a better villain because of the lessons learned over six movies in 28 years that dealt with Anakin Skywalker. Take a dive into Anakin Skywalker's psyche at Slashfilm.

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Profile for John Farrier

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