Miss Cellania's Blog Posts

Hey Hasbro, Girls are Important, Too

Jennifer O'Connell reports on a string of correspondence between the Hasbro toy company and her 6-year-old who noticed something odd about the game Guess Who?

 

Dear Hasbro,

My name is R______. I am six years old. I think it's not fair to only have 5 girls in Guess Who and 19 boys. It is not only boys who are important, girls are important too. If grown ups get into thinking that girls are not important they won't give little girls much care.

Also if girls want to be a girl in Guess Who they'll always lose against a boy, and it will be harder for them to win. I am cross about that and if you don't fix it soon, my mum could throw Guess Who out.

My mum typed this message but I told her what to say.

Well yeah, even though I am not familiar with the game, I also wondered why there would be such a disparity between male and female. Hasbro answered by trying to convince the child that the number of boys and girls in the game does not matter. O'Connell herself replied to the company's message, calling out Hasbro on not only their confusing explanation, but also:

Why is female gender regarded as a "characteristic", while male gender is not?

But you need to read the entire saga to understand how very confusing their logic is, including a second response from Hasbro in which they exercise damage control. Link -via Daily of the Day

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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One and Only

(YouTube link)

As contestants on a game show that has video producers competing against each other, the team of Travis Kurtz and Matin Atrushi had 72 hours to make a funny video, and this is the finished product.

We made this video for a TV show called "Viral Video Showdown" on SyFy Channel (Episode "Such a Cliche"). We had 72 hours to come up with an idea based on: 1.) action 2.) a cliche and 3.) the idiom "Between a rock and a hard place" and then write, shoot, edit and deliver a final product. We hope you enjoy it.

The episode featuring the making of this video will air this Tuesday. -Thanks, Travis! 


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What Is It? game 252

It's once again time for our collaboration with the wonderfully entertaining What Is It? Blog. Can you guess what the pictured item is? Or can you make up something interesting?

Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, please, though you can enter as many guesses as you'd like in separate comments. Post no URLs or weblinks, as doing so will forfeit your entry. Two winners: the first correct guess and the funniest (albeit ultimately wrong) guess will win T-shirt from the NeatoShop.

Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize, see? May we suggest the Science T-Shirt, Funny T-Shirt and Artist-Designed T-Shirts?

See all this week's unlabeled objects at the What Is It? Blog. Good luck!

Update: Craig Clayton identified it as a spark plug, which is correct but not fully explanatory. Then JJUUSSTTIINN said these as "ninja rocks," which are broken ceramic spark plug parts used specifically to break windows. As it's a holiday weekend and Alex is feeling generous, both will win t-shirts! Learn more about ninja rocks at the What Is It? blog. The funniest answer came from Lori Cunningham, who told a Thanksgiving story:

The remnants of my grandmother's gravy boat, which I broke 20 years ago, but still hear about every-freakin-Thanksgiving when someone says, "Pass the gravy, please." At least that is what I think they are saying. I'm still at the kid's table.

So she wins a t-shirt, too! Thanks to everyone who played along, and thanks to the What Is It? blog.

(YouTube link)


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Coney Island: America's Greatest Playground

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! Right here in this very post, for your enjoyment and reading pleasure, we reveal the fantastical, the perverse, and the unbelievable history of the one, the only … Coney Island!

In 1884, it had the only hotel in the world shaped like a giant elephant. In the 1920s, it was home to Violetta the Limbless Girl and Toney the Alligator-Skinned Boy. And in 2003, it was the only place in America where you could fire a paintball gun at a human target for the paltry fee of $3. Yes, Coney Island has always been one of a kind.

America's playground didn't spring from the foreheads of entertainment entrepreneurs fully formed and ready to corrupt the masses. Instead, its beginning unfolded much like the history of New York itself.

In 1609, Henry Hudson happened upon a barren sandbar separated from the New York mainland by a shallow creek. What would one day become Coney Island was just a spit of land infested with wild bunny rabbits. According to legend, the fervor with which the rabbits enjoyed themselves impressed early settlers, who decided to name the island in the animals' honor: (The word "cony" is Middle English for rabbit.) Half a century later, English colonists purchased "Rabbit Island," along with the rest of south Brooklyn, from the native Canarsee Indians for the bargain price of some wampum, two guns, and three pounds of powder.



Coney Island remained as barren as the day Hudson found it until pleasure cruises and sea bathing became popular in the early 1800s. Eager to capitalize on the new American infatuation, entrepreneurs opened Shell Road, connecting the burgeoning borough of Brooklyn to Coney Island via a toll road paved with oyster shells. In 1829, Coney Island's first hotel opened, soon followed by more hotels, clam shacks, and bathing pavilions. Within 30 years, Coney Island had become a full-fledged resort, attracting New York's wealthy as well as its working class.

During the 1870s and 1880s, the upper crust moved on to distant, fancier beaches, and Coney Island became a blue-collar getaway. It was democratic, sure, but slowly it succumbed to gambling, drinking, brawling, and prostitution. Partial credit for the demise belonged to John McKane, Coney Island's exceptionally corrupt police chief (who was also the superintendent of a large Sunday school). Under his charge, the resort was nicknamed "Sodom by the Seaside." Garbage boats regularly dumped tons of rotting vegetables, tin cans, and even dog and cat corpses just a mile off shore. When the tide came in, so did New York's refuse.

Fortunately, by the turn of the century, Coney Island had cleaned up its act -sort of.

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The 6-Pack Ring Fishing Experiment

The following is an article from the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research. Not actual science.

by Antoni Chan, Ithaca, New York Benjamin Stein, New York, New York Kenneth Bromberg, New York, New York

After purchasing six-packs of soda cans or beer cans, must we cut the plastic rings that hold the cans together? People say that if we discard these rings without first cutting them, birds and fish will get caught in them and die. We decided to test that claim.

The 6-Pack Safety Hypothesis
Is there really a significant problem? Does our environment -- and the survival of several species -- hinge on us snipping these plastic rings? Our goal was to prove that fish and birds will not get caught in 6-pack rings.

To do this, we used baited 6-pack rings to try our hardest to catch a bird or a fish.

Our Equipment
To purchase supplies for this experiment, we went to our local grocery store, the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. We noticed that outside the store there are both birds in the trees and fish in the water.

Here is a list of the equipment we used:
* 1 set of rings from a 6-pack of soda
* 1 worm (to use as bait for fish)
* bread (to use as bait for birds)
* string, a rock and a stick (for fishing rod)
* potato chips (to snack on while we waited)

And here is a cost analysis of our research project.

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Bad Movies for Thanksgiving

When you think of Thanksgiving films, you think of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and Alice's Restaurant, and to some degree, Miracle on 34th Street, and …what else? There are not very many classic movies centered around Thanksgiving, but if you dig a little, you'll find a few films that aren't exactly fit for prime time audiences. For example, there's Blood Freak, from 1972.

This movie is about a man who turns into a murderous monster with the head of a turkey after he eats a chemically treated gobbler at the turkey farm where he works. Blood Freak has been a cult classic for Thanksgiving for decades now, with many Movie Host shows of the late 70′s onward making a point of screening it at this time of year. The biker who turns into the blood-crazed turkey monster is an Elvis look-alike which adds to the fun. So does the desk-bound, chain-smoking, script-reading narrator who sermonizes about the evils of drug abuse while the movie plays.

There are more lesser-known Thanksgiving movies and shorts in a list at Balladeer's Blog. Link


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Chinese Space Children Posters

Government artists knew what would grab attention for China's aerospace research program. Babies! Puppies and kittens! Adorable smiling faces! See more of these posters from the 1960s through the 1980s at Retronaut. Link -via Flavorwire


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Fiona Apple Cancels Tour to Stay with her Dog

Fiona Apple is postponing her South American concert tour to be with her dying dog, Janet. Her message explaining the decision was posted at Facebook.

I have a dog Janet, and she’s been ill for almost two years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She’s almost 14 years old now.I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then ,an adult offi
cially – and she was my child.
She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face.
She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders.
She’s almost 14 and I’ve never seen her start a fight ,or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She’s a pacifist.
Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact.

But that's just the beginning -the rest will make you run for the tissue box. Read the whole story at Uproxx. Link

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

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Kids On Thanksgiving

(YouTube link)

Random kids in Brooklyn tell us what they are thankful for. I also did not know that Thanksgiving is a Jewish holiday. Link -via Breakfast Links

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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The Perfect Guide To Holiday Etiquette

(YouTube link)

Billy is demonstrating different ways to behave at the dinner table. Billy needs therapy, or at least constant supervision. This video contains language that may be deemed a bit rude in the workplace. -via Buzzfeed

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Santa's Little Mishap

(YouTube link)

It was a lovely idea. A crowd of children were waiting for Father Christmas to arrive at the Broad Street Mall in Reading, England. Santa Claus, played by Steve Chessell of the 11th Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, lowered himself into the shopping center's atrium by rope -but was stopped by his beard getting caught in the rope's rappelling mechanism! Link -via Fark


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Corgi Goes Down Stairs

(YouTube link)

How do you deal with human-sized steps when you've been bred to have incredibly short legs? It takes courage for this puppy, but she has it. -via Buzzfeed

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

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Epic Meal Time Thanksgiving

(YouTube link)

The Epic Meal Time guys put together a Thanksgiving feast featuring a pig stuffed with a stuffed turkey (by Chef Zadi), brown goo, and a fast-food lasagna, among other dishes. And then they served it at Someone Cares Soup Kitchen. Warning: NSFW language. -via reddit


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Headline of the Day

The Daily Mail has a story about, well, it really doesn't matter what it's about and who can tell from the headline anyway, but don't you just love the way they string words together? Link -via Boing Boing


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Popping Corn One Kernel at a Time

Design students Laurent Beirnaert, Pierre Bouvier, and Paul Tubiana created "Oncle Sam," a machine that pops popcorn one kernel at a time. It can even butter and salt each individual kernel! Not all that efficient, but as an art project it's fun to watch. The contraption is part of a French exhibit called "Low Tech Factory." See a video of it working at Laughing Squid. Link

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Is Our Retro Obsession Ruining Everything?

Rock critic and music memorabilia collector Simon Reynolds is the author of the new book Retromania. In it, he asserts that obsessing over the past is holding back creativity in music.

Reynolds: I wonder why we’re so obsessed with the past, particularly in music, because that’s my thing. A lot of the other retro phenomena I find vaguely amusing, but the music is a genuine worry because I like to be surprised. The first instinct for a new band starting out now—and I’m talking about very musical, intelligent people—is to go to an existing template and then tinker with it. They have fun trying to reproduce it as exact as they can or adapt it to their purpose in some way. But there are not so many musicians trying to come up with something out of nowhere, which is quite hard to do.

In the past, though, people have tried to do that. That was the general modernist ethos for a long period in music, particularly in the ’60s, but also in the post-punk era I grew up in, and in the electronic techno scene of the ’90s. You might use an idea from the past, but you’d probably mutilate it in some way or drastically change it. Or you’d use it as a springboard to go somewhere new. Now the ethos is much more like reproducing antiques. It’s about getting that drum sound or that guitar texture. It’s literally a backward movement. My concern is a sense of everything being seemingly vaguely familiar. It’s a bit depressing.

How true is it that modern music, and pop culture in general, depends too much on the past? There are plenty of examples in an interview with Reynolds at Collector's Weekly. Link


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House MD

(YouTube link)

If you never watched the erstwhile TV show House, you can catch up watching this compilation of clips from all 177 episodes. Well, you'd have to add some arguments about lupus to be really complete, but this will give you an idea of whether you should watch the DVDs. -via Metafilter


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Nanette Vonnegut on Her Father

To accompany the new Kurt Vonnegut book, We Are What We Pretend To Be: The First and Last Works, the author's youngest daughter Nanette gave an interview to The Rumpus. It covers a lot of personal insight into Vonnegut's life, like the effect World War II had on him.  

My father was remembering what it was like and he knew: these are a batch of babies going off to war for nothing. There was a reviewer, William Deresiewicz, who writes for The Nation. He said Slaughterhouse-Five is not a book about flying saucers; it’s a book about post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rumpus: You hadn’t looked at it that way before?

Vonnegut: Nobody had the words for it back then.

Rumpus: So when your dad wrote he was expelling demons.

Vonnegut: He was expelling them with writing and with artwork. If he wasn’t writing he was creating terraces on our patio. He was a nonstop creative force. It was like he had to keep busy or he would die.

The demons gave him the impetus. I do think people are born with the seed of genius, and it either gets worked or it doesn’t. Probably his experiences [in WWII] gave him the impetus to create. Everything he wrote about stemmed from that.

The entire interview is a fascinating read for Vonnegut fans. Link -via The Atlantic


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U.S. Space Team's Up Goer Five

xkcd

There are around a half-million words in the full Oxford English Dictionary, though most people use only a few thousand in everyday communication. Randall Munroe of xkcd explains the Saturn V rocket using only the 1,000 most commonly-used English words. This comic grew out of Munroe's journeys into Simple English Wikipedia. You can see another example here. If you want a taste of how difficult it is to explain things using only the thousand most common words, The Up Goer Five Text Editor will point out any words you use that are too uncommon. However, if you are going to explain something to children or people who are learning English as a second language, the simpler the better. Link -via Metafilter


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Startled Red Panda

(YouTube link)

Red pandas are the cutest little wild fur balls on earth. But if you startle one unexpectedly, you're treated to a few seconds of adorable comedy gold. This was recorded at the Maruyama Zoo in Hokkaido, Japan. -via The Daily What

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

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A Few Facts About Steven Spielberg's Lincoln

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website.

Okay, I know many of you haven't seen the new Steven Spielberg film Lincoln yet. I saw it myself last week, and yes, it really is a great film. Steven Spielberg directing Lincoln -isn't that the very definition of a "must see" picture? Well, here are a handful of facts you may not have known about the movie Lincoln, with no spoilers. That's right, go ahead and read, because this list contains no spoilers.

* Steven directed the entire three-and-a-half month production in a suit and tie. "I think I wanted to get into the role more than anything else," he said. "Because we were creating a part of history, and I didn't want to be the shlubby baseball-cap-wearing 21st century guy. I wanted to be like the cast."

* Steven addressed everyone in the cast by their character name. At all times during the shoot, Daniel Day-Lewis was addressed as "Mr. President" by the director. Sally Field was addressed as either "Mrs. Lincoln" or "Molly." Every other cast member was addressed as his or her character.

* On the daily call sheet, the part of Abraham Lincoln was listed as being played by "Abraham Lincoln." Daniel Day-Lewis' name was never mentioned.

* Describing playing Lincoln, Daniel said, "I never, ever felt the depth of like for another human being that I never met, and that's, I think, probably the effect Lincoln had on most people that take the time to discover him. I wish he had stayed [with me] forever."

* The original choice to play Abraham Lincoln was Daniel Day-Lewis, "8 or nine years ago." He turned the role down. Then Steven considered Liam Neeson. Neeson agreed and waited a few years for the script to be developed, but by the time it had come together, he turned the role down, thinking he was "too old." Then it came back to the original choice of Daniel Day-Lewis, who finally agreed.

* Once Daniel decided on the voice he wanted to use while playing Lincoln, he sent an audiotape of it to Steven with a skull and crossbones on it so no one but Spielberg would hear it.

* Abraham Lincoln's executive mansion was recreated to the letter for the film. Lincoln's office was duplicated, including the same wallpaper and books Lincoln used. The ticking of Lincoln's watch in the film is the sound of Lincoln's real watch, which was recorded in its home at Lincoln's presidential library.

* Hal Holbrook, who plays Francis Preston Blair, won an Emmy award for playing Abraham Lincoln himself, in the 1974 miniseries Lincoln. He also played Lincoln in the North and South miniseries and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

* Sally Field desperately wanted the role of Mary Todd Lincoln, but Steven thought she was too old (she is ten years older than Day-Lewis and twenty years older than Mrs. Lincoln at the time the film took place). It wasn't until Daniel Day-Lewis personally agreed to screen test with her (he flew out for the test from his home in Ireland as a favor) that Steven saw the film and agreed to give her the role.


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The WKRP Turkey Drop

The 1978 episode of WKRP in Cincinnati called "Turkeys Away," in which the radio station staged a Thanksgiving giveaway has become a classic holiday memory -and one of the funniest TV shows ever! It's also the subject of today's Lunchtime Quiz at mental_floss. How many details can you recall from that show? I scored 100%. I would have been ashamed to have scored any less on this one. Link


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The Flash Mob Experience

 v

Doghouse Diaries illustrates what we all think these days. Link -via Blame It On The Voices


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Workout

Even if this doesn't describe what I've done "lately," it may be a prediction of what will happen with a holiday feast and its leftovers around! This Twaggie is a Tweet from Laughing Lesbian, illustrated by Wobbly Goggy. See a new illustrated Tweet every day at Twaggies! Link


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How To Draw A Cartoon Turkey

Check out more Thanksgiving cartoons by Mark Anderson at Andertoons. Or you can draw your own!

Spice up your Thanksgiving grocery shopping list with a cute little turkey! It will also look good on your last homework papers before the holiday, or a love note to someone you are thankful for. Andertoons has a tutorial to make drawing a turkey easy for you. Link


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PhantomX Hexapod

(YouTube link)

The PhantomX robot has been around for a while. This demo shows its activities running Phoenix code, and features children who are not nearly as afraid of this creepy crawly thing as they should be. Now imagine this machine covered in battle armor with guns mounted above and below. Then imagine it covered in fur on toy shelves for Christmas. I'm not sure which is scarier! -via Metafilter


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Strange Musical Instruments

From the archives of Popular Science magazine, see nine of the strangest musical instruments ever, from the harpitar of 1918 to the musical typewriter of 1939. Each instrument is linked to the original magazine article about it. Shown here is a 14-foot tall fiddle, featured in a 1935 article. Link -via the Presurfer


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Angry Birds Theme by Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà

If you love that song from Angry Birds, here's a way to listen and to share it with others without admitting you're addicted to the video game. A lovely performance by Candian violin virtuoso Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà can be found on Angèle Dubeau's new album Game Music, or try out just the song with video from the game at Geeks Are Sexy. Link


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PSY and MC Hammer at the AMAs

(YouTube link)

This intergenerational mashup was performed at the American Music Awards last night. If you're a little burned on "Gangnam Style" but want to see what Hammer does with it, you can skip to the middle of the video. Oh, the awards? Wikipedia has all the winners. Link


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Family Feud: Adidas vs. Puma

The following is an article from Uncle John's 24-Karat Bathroom Reader.

Here's the strange story of a family-owned business so dysfunctional that business schools teach it as a lesson in how not to run a company.

FOOT SOLDIER

Not long after the end of World War I in 1918, an 18-year-old German soldier named Adolf Dassler returned to his hometown of Herzogenaurach, in northern Bavaria. Shoemaking was the biggest industry in the area, so it was no surprise when he decided to become a cobbler.



Dassler started small, working in an empty laundry shed behind his parents' house. There he constructed his first shoes -work shoes- out of leather scraps salvaged from wartime army helmets and other gear. His interest soon turned to athletic footwear. An inveterate tinkerer, he made his first sports shoes for his friends. But as his designs improved, his reputation spread beyond Herzogenourach, and he soon had more work than he could manage by himself.

In 1923 his boisterous older brother Rudolf joined his business. "Rudi" handled sales while "Adi" made the shoes. In 1924 they formalized their partnership by founding the Dassler Brother Shoe Company. Two years after that, they moved their growing business into a factory on the other side of town.

PARTY POOPERS

When Hitler seized power in 1933, Adi and Rudolf joined the Nazi Party. They certainly benefitted from Hitler's use of sports as a propaganda tool. But they weren't the most dedicated of party members, something that became clear during the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in Berlin. Hitler intended the Olympics to serve as a showcase for the Nazi doctrine of Aryan racial superiority, but all the Dasslers cared about was getting Jesse Owens, the famous African-American track-and-field star, to wear Dassler Brothers shoes in the games. He did, and won four gold medals. Owens' victories gave the company its first international exposure. Soon athletes from all over Europe began making their way to tiny Herzogenaurach whenever they passed through Germany, to get a pair of Dassler Brothers shoes.

CAIN AND ADI

The brothers really had very little in common: Adi loved nothing more than to sit at his workbench and tinker with his shoes. Rudi, on the other hand, was a people person, but also short-tempered and loudmouthed. Their personalities complemented each other during the early years of the business. But as Germany moved closer to war in the late 1930s, their relationship became strained, made worse by the fact that they, their wives, their children, their parents, and all their siblings all lived together under the same roof in a villa in Herzogenaurach.

In December 1940, Adi was called up for military service, but he managed to get an exemption after just three months in uniform, perhaps with help from Rudi, who may have pulled strings from Herzogenaurach. If so, that probably made Rudi all the more bitter when he was called up for military service in 1943 and couldn't get out of it. He was convinced that Adi and his wife Kathe had schemed to get him sent to the front so that Adi could have the business to himself. Rudi retaliated by trying to get the factory shut down so that Adi would also be sent to the front, but he failed.

OH BROTHER

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Profile for Miss Cellania

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