I wasn't intending to see "Us." I'd seen the trailer and decided that this movie looked 'way too scary for me,
But then I read all the critics' rave reviews that the movie was full of relevant metaphors and wit and humor and social commentary and syntax and conceptual...stuff.
However what ultimately convinced me to go and see this movie was one critic's observation that "Us" was more ambitious than Jordan Peele's previous hit, "Get out," which I loved.
I guess the problem was that I misunderstood the word "ambitious" to mean "wonderful," which "Get Out" was and "Us," frankly, wasn't. In fact, from the beginning of the film I kept waiting for it to start becoming wonderful. Never happened. All I could see playing out before me was a zombiesque slasher movie that sort of fell flat early on, specifically as soon as the zombies - or golems, dopplegangers, evil twins, or whatever you want to call them, but this was basically a zombie movie - mosied on into the house of their look-alike victims, introduced themselves and aired their grievances.
These slasher zombiesques, as it turned out, traveled not with the standard-issue random lumbering, slovenly, slobbering pack,
...but in a small family unit neatly dressed in stylish matching jump suits,
...each accessorized with a designer scissors,
...and they sought out specific victims, their human counterparts, who'd been plunked by fate onto the first-class deck of the cosmic Titanic, while they'd been shuffled into zombie steerage, as it were, about which situation they were plenty steamed.
However, instead of spending the movie as they should have, chasing after their human prey, who likewise should have spent the movie trying to avoid their zombie predators - these designer movie-zombie-types made themselves at home, barked orders and waved their scissors around at their terrified hosts, who often seemed not quite sure what they were supposed to be doing, but who definitely lacked the wherewithal to run out to the kitchen drawer and grab some scissors of their own.
I'm actually making the move sound better than it is.
I guess it was full of metaphors and symbolism, if you feel like calling all the ins, outs, and what-have-yous going on in the movie metaphors and symbolism. Of course if you want to you can find metaphors and symbolism in every movie ever made, good, bad, or indifferent.
So I don't know, maybe "Us" did have metaphors and symbolism, but it lacked tension, except for what was created by the plinky, scary-sounding music. It lacked any real scares, unless you count gore. It lacked logic, and even a movie about look-alike zombiesques requires logic within the zombie-world frame of reference. It was just one sloppy, disconnected, indecipherable scene plopped down after another. Until it got downright dumb. Which is actually okay for a movie to be, as long as it's an engaging ride. Which, for me, "Us" wasn't.
Here's a screen shot I took of a CNN video of Donald Trump in Florida on Friday announcing that he is cutting off aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
But what's wrong with this picture? Which element of the composition seems off, unharmonious with the rest?
Look at Marco Rubio, head bowed, eyes downcast, his expression somberly pensive, one would say a study in some deep sorrow.
Nor did I just happen to catch Marco Rubio in an odd moment. This was his demeanor during most of the video. He seldom looked up and when he did his face had the same troubled look.
While I watched the video I wondered if Marco Rubio was troubled by Donald Trump's words when Trump said, "We were paying them tremendous amounts of money and we're not paying them any more because they haven't done a thing for us,"
...or when Trump accused the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras of setting up the caravans, populating them with their "worst people" and sending them to our border. Perhaps it distressed Marco Rubio that Trump was cutting off aid as punishment to these already suffering countries.
Maybe while Marco Rubio listened to Trump say those things he thought of his own grandfather who fled from communist Cuba and entered the United States as an illegal immigrant. Perhaps Marco Rubio was remembering the story of how the immigration judge ordered his grandfather to be deported but later that day had a change of heart and his grandfather was allowed to stay in the U.S. and was eventually granted permanent residency.
Or then again, maybe the sun was just in his eyes.
No charges are being brought against Jussie Smollet and the case is closed.
So you see? Jussie Smollet was innocent all along.
Everyone was so sure that that his behavior was criminal, but our legal system proved everyone wrong. Jussie's record has been wiped clean.
Law enforcement officials wasted a fortune in time and public money pursuing an innocent man who'd been insisting all along that he'd done nothing wrong and that he'd been victimized. Turns out Jussie Smollet was telling the truth.
The prosecutor, of course, gave no explanation as to why Jussie wasn't charged when it seemed so apparent that he'd committed at least half-a-dozen felonies, but then appearances can be deceiving, right? And though Jussie's behavior might have looked like criminal activity it turned out that it wasn't because the prosecutor communicated that though there would be no charges this was not an exoneration of Jussie Smollet, which of course means that he's completely exonerated.
So shame on everyone who thought that Jussie Smollet was guilty and who hoped to see him receive his just desserts. Those people were just haters all along.
And shame on the the law enforcement officials who investigated him, the media that maligned him, and the public who spoke badly of him. They all owe him an apology. In fact everybody in the country owes Jussie Smollet an apology. In fact everybody in the world owes Jussie Smollet an apology.
Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute, did I just write Jussie Smollet? Oh, yes, I see that I did, about ten times. Those were typos. I meant to write Donald Trump.
Now we know, according to Attorney General William Barr’s brief synopsis of the Mueller Report, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not establish (that's the word Barr used, "establish") that anyone associated with the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
But we also know that the Russian government did in fact interfere with our 2016 election through the spread of disinformation on social media in an attempt to tilt the election in Donald Trump’s favor.
And we know that on numerous occasions Russian agents communicated with Trump supporters, associates or members of Trump's campaign, among them:
...Donald Trump Jr.
We know that most of the above members - or rather, the former members - of Donald Trump's inner circle have been indicted on criminal charges or are now in prison for, among other crimes, lying under oath about communications with Russian agents who offered to assist in getting Donald Trump elected President of the United States.
We know that Don Junior and Jarrod Kushner were present at a meeting in Trump Tower with Russian agents and that Don Junior had solicited information from those agents to help his father's campaign. We know that it is a criminal offense to solicit contributions in any form from foreign agents to American campaigns.
We know that Jarrod Kushner failed to contact the FBI, as any decent American citizen should have, about the Trump tower meeting.
We know that during his presidential campaign Donald Trump was actively negotiating with the Russian government for a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow at the same time he was lying that he had no business dealings with Russia and praising Vladimir Putin.
We know that Donald Trump pressured James Comey to let Michael Flynn off the hook for his criminal offenses and not to pursue and investigation into Trump campaign collusion with Russia. We know that Comey refused to comply with Trump's demands and was subsequently fired.
We know that Robert Mueller opted to neither indict nor exonerate Donald Trump or any other members of his campaign on obstruction of justice charges, but rather collated all the evidence he had and turned it over to Attorney General Barr to make the decision on whether or not to issue any further indictments.
We know that Barr chose not to pursue any indictments of Trump, his associates or his family members.
We know that ever since the release of William Barr's synopsis of the Mueller Report Donald Trump has been behaving like a vengeful behemoth who's broken out of his cage and is coming for anyone who has angered him.
We don't know the full and true content of Robert Mueller's Report. We know only the meager interpretation given by William Barr in his brief synopsis.
With Donald Trump's supporters and abettors in the Republican Senate already moving to keep the Mueller Report from being revealed to the American public, we may never know what Robert Mueller's investigators actually uncovered about Donald Trump and the machinations of his presidential campaign.
But we already know plenty.
"I didn't know that Comey knew about possible collusion before the election," wrote my sister Romaine in a Facebook comment on yesterday's post, "Pulling a James Comey."
Indeed James Comey did know before the 2016 Presidential election about possible Russian collusion and undeniable Russian interference in the election.
A year ago, following a memo published by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes accusing the FBI of anti-Trump bias in its investigation of Russian collusion, I posted a blog that deconstructed the provenance of the FBI investigation - which preceded and was eventually taken over by the Mueller investigation - of the Trump campaign for possible collusion with Russia.
For the sake of anybody who's still interested, and who still has trouble wrapping their head around that whole squirmy, smelly primeval kettle of fish, including Fusion GPS, the Steele Dossier, FISA, et al, I've re-posted that blog below.
Have your brain do a few push-ups before reading.
Anybody who fully understands and can explain what The Memo is talking about raise your hand.
Extra credit if you can connect the dots between Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Fusion GPS, opposition research, the Steele Dossier, the Strzok-Page texts, and FISA.
I for one have been having a time trying to wrap my head around the whole Nunes Memo thing, The Memo supposedly either proving FBI bias against Trump or not proving anything in the special investigation that started out as an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election but could end up, well, who knows where?
But has anyone actually tried reading The Memo? Darned thing was only 3 1/2 pages long but reading it was like trying to push your brain through oatmeal. Greek legalese oatmeal.
Still, I've been attempting to unravel the tangle which spawned The Memo, and for those who'd like to give their tired brains a break from trying to figure out this integrated differential quadratic post-graduate calculus word problem on their own, I'll share what I've been able to come up with, though I can't even guarantee I've got it all right. But I'll try.
As there are several story lines to this narrative, I'm going to break it down, hopefully for the sake of a smidgen of clarity. So:
He's been on the radar of the FBI since 2013 under suspicion of being a Russian agent.
In 2016 the Trump campaign took Page on board as a foreign policy adviser but dumped him in September when his unsavory reputation started creating bad PR. In October Carter Page was put under surveillance by the FBI. He is currently suspected of having passed to Russian agents sensitive documents related to our national security for his own financial gain. Now hold this thought.
George Papadopoulous is a 30-year-old...well, I don't know what he is now,
...but back in 2016 when he was 28 years old he was recruited to be another foreign policy adviser (along with Carter Page) to Donald Trump's campaign team even though he was living in London, go figure.
During this time young Papadopoulous began meeting with Russian agents who told him that there were Russians who had dirt on Hilary Clinton. These agents pushed Papadopoulous to arrange a trip for the Trump campaign staff, or even the Donald himself, to Russia to pick up the Hillary dirt.
However George could never get the trip-to-Russia idea off the ground with the rest of the Trump campaign team.
One night, mayhaps in disappointment and frustration that he wasn't going to get to go to Russia with the gang, Boy George, after a few too many drinks in a London bar, spilled to an Australian diplomat that his Russian friends had dirt on Hilary.
The Australian went straight to the FBI, who subsequently interviewed George Papadopoulous about his dealings with the Russians.
But George forgot what his mother taught him and lied to the FBI.
The FBI figured that George - along with a good many other Trump staffers and former staffers - had lied and by October of 2017 he'd been arrested, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and has been cooperating with Robert Muller's investigation ever since. So, even though Donald Trump has tried to throw George Papadopoulous under the bus, the kid'll probably be okay.
Okay, I'm now realizing that George Papadopoulous doesn't actually have anything to do with The Memo. But he's still kind of an interesting side plate.
Here's what Fusion GPS is:
During the Presidential primaries in 2015 Fusion GPS was hired by The Washington Free Beacon, and anti-Trump conservative group, to gather opposition research - read "dirt" - on Donald Trump, according to rumor to help Marco Rubio's campaign, though Rubio has denied this.
After Trump became the Republican Presidential candidate The Washington Free Beacon stopped funding the dirt-hunt on Trump; however at that time the Democratic National committee and the Clinton campaign took over funding the investigation. In other words, now Fusion GPS was doing their opposition research on Trump for the Democrats instead of the Republicans.
In the course of their investigation, Fusion GPS approached British ex-spy Christopher Steele,
...who accommodated the company by putting together a dirty dossier on Trump known as the Trump-Russia Dossier or Steele Dossier, a copy of which he slipped to the FBI, so dirty it was.
It turned out that, besides giving the poop scoop about Donald's supposed romp with a couple of Russian prostitutes during the course of which they all went wee-wee for fun and which was clandestinely filmed by Putin's agents for future blackmail use against Trump in case he won the American Presidential election, anyway, besides containing that narrative, the dossier had some nasty dope on...Carter Page.
According to the dossier, Carter Page, in July 2016 while part of the Trump campaign, flew to Russia for clandestine meetings with Russian officials on the subject of trading lucrative contracts to U.S. corporations in exchange for getting Trump, if he were elected President, to lift U.S, sanctions against Russia.
Okay, stay with me now:
By October of 2016 it was clear to the FBI that there was Russian interference in the Presidential election and an investigation into possible Russian collusion with members of the Trump campaign was well underway, though, unlike the FBI investigation into Hillary's emails, ...FBI Director James Comey did not think it necessary to share the existence of this investigation with the public.
Anyway, during the course of this budding investigation two FBI agents, lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page (no relation to Carter), exchanged emails of a derogatory nature about Candidate Trump, calling him things like "idiot" and "a loathsome human." (How could they, right?) The existence of these emails is also not mentioned in The Memo, but are kind of related. Anyway, those emails were eventually discovered and the two agents were fired by Special Prosecutor Mueller.
Those ill-advised emails kind of energized the Republicans - and Trump himself - who wanted the Trump-Russia investigation to go away and might have given Republican Congressman Devin Nunes - who'd already screwed up once in his roll as member of the House Intelligence Committee - the moxie to write up his memo - The Memo - charging anti-Trump bias in the Mueller investigation.
But I've gotten 'way ahead of the story; still, pay close attention here, I'm about to get into the meat and potatoes:
In October of 2016 the FBI was suspicious enough of Carter Page's activities that the agency sought a warrant to put him under surveillance. They sought a surveillance warrant from the United States Foreign Intelligence Court, known as FISA, which is a federal court that oversees granting warrants for U.S. intelligence agencies against foreign spies in the United States. Which is what the FBI suspects Carter Page of being. The FISA court granted the FBI the warrant. One of the pieces of evidence considered in the granting of the warrant was the Steele Dossier.
Fast forward to 2018. the Mueller investigation has been rolling along, slowly, day by day, for the better part of a year, closing in, inching closer and closer to the truth about Russian interference in the 2016 elections and no doubt other things yet to be revealed about... well, who can say who might be implicated before the Mueller investigation is over?
In any case, the Mueller Investigation has, as we all know, been causing the above person some agita, as well as some of his water-carriers, among whom is Congressman Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is the group which oversees all intelligence issues for the House.
It was Nunes who wrote The Memo - against the will of the FBI - the point of which was to accuse the Mueller special investigative team of anti-Trump bias because the Fusion GPS opposition research investigation which initially procured the Steele Dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee.
So, weakening the Mueller investigation and whipping up popular sentiment against it was the hoped-for outcome for of The Memo.
(Sigh) Sorry, I know the whole thing is probably too gnarly for most mortals to digest. Me included, even after writing out all of the above.
But Anyway, now the Democrats want to release a 10-page rebuttal memo filling in all the important info that The Nunes Memo left out. And Nunes has come back by saying that he's going to release a rebuttal memo to the Democrats' rebuttal memo.
(Sigh) It's going to be a long investigation.
Unless, God forbid, it ends up being a too-short investigation.
Okay, so what do you call it when you do something you shouldn't have done, which leads to a terrible outcome that you hadn't at all planned on for yourself and others, after which you attempt to dodge judgement and put a halo around your own head by taking a strong righteous stand against the very evil you yourself enabled?
If there wasn't a word for that before, there is now. It's called Pulling a James Comey.
I just now coined the phrase, inspired by an Op-Ed piece in yesterday's New York Times by James Comey called "My Hope for the Mueller Report" in which Comey sanctimoniously informs us, the American public, that he is not rooting for Robert Mueller, special counsel for the investigation of Russian collusion in our 2016 Presidential election,
...to either indict Donald Trump or clear his name, but wishes only for justice to be done, and admonishes us that it is up to us, "Americans of all stripes," to deliver a "resounding election result in 2020" to bring down Donald Trump, "a chronic liar who repeatedly attacks the rule of law."
To which I reply, gimme a break, James Comey. You were the one who greatly helped Donald Trump get elected by your deliberate breach of FBI and Justice Department regulations to Trump's advantage during the 2016 Presidential election.
In the summer of 2016, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation had finished investigating whether there was any illegality in Hillary Clinton's use of her private email server for government business,
...it was James Comey's job as head of the FBI to turn over to the Justice Department all evidence gathered by his agency. It should then have been the job of the Attorney General's office to study the evidence and adjudicate whether there was any suspicion of crime or culpability on Clinton's part.
It should have been up to Attorney General Loretta Lynch to share with the public conclusions reached by the Justice Department.
James Comey instead drew his own conclusions regarding Hillary Clinton's guilt, innocence or just sloppy email habits and called a press conference to blab his opinions. For that offense Comey should have been fired. And for that offense he was fired, but months later, ironically, by Donald Trump. Trump used Comey's breach of the rules ten months earlier in talking to the press about the Clinton investigation as an excuse to fire him, but only after Comey's position as head of the FBI no longer suited Trump's purposes.
But far worse than James Comey's first violation of Justice Department rules to benefit Donald Trump was his second violation, ten days before the 2016 election, when he publicly announced that the Clinton email case was being re-opened because some emails she'd sent to her aide Huma Abedin had shown up on the computer of Abedin's scandal-ridden husband, Anthony Wiener.
Nothing of importance was found among the emails and the case was closed a week later, three days before the election. But the dropping of that 11th-hour bomb shell proved disastrous to Hillary Clinton.
Now, it just so happens that while the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton's use of her private email server, the agency was also investigating Donald Trump's campaign for possible collusion with the Russian government. But the existence of this investigation James Comey chose not to share with the public prior to the election. He chose only to share the Clinton investigation, to the misfortune of Hillary Clinton and our country.
James Comey has subsequently admitted that he handled the Clinton email investigation as he did because he was sure that Hillary Clinton was going to win the 2016 Presidential election.
After all, he already knew that Donald Trump was a chronic liar who repeatedly attacked the rule of law.
And so James Comey chose to sensationalize the Clinton email investigation and hide the Trump Russian collusion investigation.
That's not justice. That's hubris. Which is also what Pulling a James Comey is.
...the 500-mile pilgrimage through northern Spain,
...that people from around the world have been walking since the middle ages.
...and talked with,
...people from all over the planet.
Being Americans, we often found ourselves the objects of curiosity of fellow pilgrims from other countries who were interested in understanding what made Americans tick.
The two main questions people had about us had to do with our health care system and our culture of gun violence.
Why don't we want national health care like they have, they'd wonder, and why do we have so many guns and so many shootings?
Some people had the impression that the United States was an exceedingly dangerous place, where one must live in fear of getting shot then not being able to afford treatment.
I couldn't say that impression was false.
One day I was walking for a while with a woman from New Zealand. This was in 2013, the year following the Newtown, Connecticut massacre where 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School between the ages of six and seven were fatally shot along with six adult staff members.
The woman wanted to talk about the shooting, which had horrified her and her countrymen. She asked me the usual question: why do Americans shoot each other so often?
I gave her my usual answer to the question, that our lawmakers were in the pockets of the gun-making industry, and also that Americans loved their guns.
The woman wasn't buying it. She said that New Zealanders also loved their guns. She said that everyone in New Zealand owned guns for sport but that they didn't go around shooting each other.
"That's crazy," she said.
What was wrong with Americans? she wanted to know. How could we shrug off the deaths of all those children? She told me that her family was enraged when they saw on the television an American lawmaker saying that there was nothing to be done about tragic deaths of the Sandy Hook children.
She assured me that if anything like that ever happened in New Zealand they'd do something about it, all right.
A week ago today 49 people were murdered in a mosque Christchurch, New Zealand by a white supremacist with an assault rifle. Yesterday the Prime Minister of New Zealand announced a ban on the sale and possession of all assault weapons, effective immediately.
The reaction of the people of New Zealand to the ban has been overwhelming approval.
Apparently the government of New Zealand is not fed by the gun industry
As are our lawmakers.
*See my Camino blogs:
Books By Patti Liszkay
...and I was a student at St. Timothy's school,
But the very best thing of all about St. Patrick's Day was the St. Patrick's Day Frogs.
The St. Patrick Day Frogs were a delicacy to be savored only on St. Patrick's Day and found only at Haegele's Bakery, which was a block up Barnett Street from our house.
Every St. Patrick's Day my mother would buy each of my four siblings and myself a St. Patrick's Day Frog. For me coming home from school to my St. Patrick's Day Frog was on a par with the the delight of waking up on Christmas morning. I truly loved those bright green cream-headed cake frogs.
I believe - though the passage of years may have blurred the time line for me somewhat, and if anyone wishes to correct me on the exact year I will stand corrected - but I believe that I was nine years old and in 4th grade at St. Timothy's when I ate my last St. Patrick Day's Frog .
It was when I was ten years old and in 5th grade at my new school, St. Christopher's,
It was to my joy when I came home from school on that St. Patrick's Day to find that my mother had traveled across town to Haegele's to buy my brothers, sister, and I our Frogs. And to my horror when I remembered that it was Lent and so I couldn't eat my St. Patrick's Day Frog.
I wanted so badly to eat that Frog, to bite into that sweet green icing at just the spot where one hit part cake and part creme, my favorite way to eat it. I yearned to eat the Frog, I longed to eat it, but I knew that I couldn't eat it because it was Lent and I'd given up sweets and I truly believed at ten years old that a Catholic could no more put into her mouth something she had given up for Lent than she could eat meat on Friday.
And it wasn't just that I longed for my St. Patrick's Day Frog. I grieved for it, too, because now I knew that St. Patrick's Day arrived in the middle of Lent, that it would always arrive in the middle of Lent, and that I'd never eat another St. Patrick's Day Frog for the rest of my life.
I don't remember who ended up eating my Frog.
But I'm sure I didn't grieve for too long, and I rather think that was the last time my mother made the trip to Haegele's for the St. Patrick's Day Frogs, anyway.
Anyway, that was fifty-seven years ago, and in truth I'd forgotten all about the Frogs.
Until last night when my brother Joe sent my sibs and myself this picture that he found yesterday on the Haegele's Bakery Facebook page:
I chose these chords to ruminate on because the following day was my piano students’ spring recital, and, “Take My Breath Away” being one of the songs I was performing, I figured if I was going to angst in the middle of the night I might as well angst productively.
After a while I stopped thinking about chords and started thinking about minutes. I always think about minutes before my students’ recitals. I like to know how many minutes a recital will run so once the performances start I won’t feel like glancing at my watch, angsting and wondering whether the recital will run too long or too short.
And so, in the wee hours of recital day I thought about the minutes, mentally listing each piece and its length, adding up the minutes in my head one more time. Six students plus me with pieces ranging in length from one to eleven minutes, still adding up to thirty-five minutes total. I finally fell back to sleep.,
And the next day, despite all my pre-recital angsting, I managed to arrive at our venue, Graves Recital Hall, in time,
And I remembered my chord progressions, everyone's pieces were lovely and calmly executed,
Some bishops have been holding special Masses called Masses of Reparations in which the presiding bishop begs forgiveness of God, the victims of sexual abuse and the community for the sins of the priests and the negligent church leadership.
Other bishops and priests have led worshipers in special prayings of the rosary and special prayers for abuse victims.
There have been homilies and letters and messages of sorrow and regret read by the Catholic clergy to parishioners, and Catholic TV broadcast a 12-hour service of prayers and penance as an offering of reconciliation.
But these responses haven't been easing the hearts and minds of the Catholic faithful, who have likewise been disappointed that the recent Vatican summit on clergy sex abuse came up with no real ideas for making reparation for past crimes or for preventing future crimes.
Actually I've come up with an idea.
In biblical times when one wished to publicly exhibit deep and sincere repentance for a grave sin committed by oneself or by members of one's community, one abandoned one's fine clothes and donned sackcloth and covered oneself in ashes in a show of humility before God and men in hopes of receiving forgiveness.
If the powers that be in the Catholic Church are sincere in their repentance and desire to rid its clergy of sexual predators who disguise themselves as men of God to lure their prey, this is the approach the Church should take.
However I'm not saying that the Catholic clergy should abandon their vestments and start wearing sackcloth. I'm saying they should abandon their vestments and start wearing the clothes that the rest of us wear.
Pope Francis should issue a papal edict, legally binding by the Roman Curia and the Holy See, proclaiming that in humbly begging forgiveness of God and men for the sins committed by the Catholic clergy against children and the vulnerable, as a penance for these sins henceforth all members of the clergy, from the priests to the bishops, archbishops, cardinals, even to the Holy Father himself, will no longer wear any distinguishing clerical garb or vestments. The edict should establish that from now on members of the Catholic clergy will dress the same as everyone else. No more Roman collars,
...or even the Pope.
Let priests minister to the faithful in the dress of the day,
by Patti Liszkay
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by Patti Liszkay
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of German Village,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.