Serial RAPS’ing: Love You, [Insert Name of Choice]

Inspiration can come from the most unlikely sources. Broken bits of children’s toys found at the bottom of a trunk. The ripped and torn remains of a poster on a wall. A TV show I had no intention of liking. Honestly. I never set out to “enjoy” Hannibal. In fact I was decidedly “anti” in the run up to it, and I bemoaned my favourite actor’s participation in a TV show of dubious moral value months in advance. I wouldn’t say that I am exactly eating my words, now that Hannibal is over. Not all of my reservations have been put aside. But I’ll credit the actor I call my muse and my inspiration, the show, and the fandom that bolsters the latter with its enthusiasm with one thing: They really hit my creative bone.

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And so this now finished first ever series of RAPS’s comes as a love letter to…

… to the actor who wows me with his performances

Bravo, Richard. I had my doubts about this role when news of it surfaced. A horror show – would I like to see my favourite actor in an unsavoury context? Having seen the six episodes of Hannibal which comprised your work on the show, the answer is yes. And how could it have been otherwise? With your usual aplomb and skill, you made the role your own, imbued Dolarhyde with life, and made him a character worthy of our empathy. That is what I love about your acting: You give us more than the mere motions (although movement is integral to your characterization of your roles). You manage to convey a whole subtext with your subtle acting choices, the modulation of your voice, minute expressions. You are never wooden, but always fluid in your representation of a character, and it is clear from your portrayals that you have made an effort to *understand* the character, to think like him, to *be* him. Thus, your Dolarhyde is not a pastiche loony serial killer, but a tormented human being in which we can find parts of you – and parts of ourselves.

I think this role will count as one of your strongest, most powerful portrayals. It is up there with Proctor and Thorin, in fact, it contains facets of either men – the madness of Thorin, and the inner conflicts of Proctor. I wish for you that this role will open more doors for you and bring new exciting opportunities to you.

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To the makers behind the show that challenged my principles

Let’s be honest here: I thought that a show that idolizes a cannibal serial killer was the product of a sick mind, and that the glamorization of murder was morally dubious at least. I am not quite convinced of the opposite when it comes to the latter, but I take back what I thought about your state of mind. I am not an expert on your show because I only watched the Red Dragon story arc, but what I saw was gripping and fascinating. I could never really get beyond my utter disgust of Lecter, and some of the gore stretched my boundaries, but I enjoyed the rest. I liked the psychological games and the way you challenged our perception of good and evil, and of guilt and innocence. I appreciated the holistic aesthetics that brought cinematography, music, script, acting and design together to present a coherent and unique style. You are to be commended for giving Richard room to bring his own ideas to Dolarhyde’s portrayal, allowing him to make Dolarhyde a multi-faceted character, to evolve his acting experience and to thus widen his reach. Oh, and thanks for stipulating that half his scenes had to be acted in briefs :-D.

I’d also like to add that I very much appreciated your interaction with the audience. Of course I know that it is part of your marketing strategy, and more pointedly so in a situation where your show was cancelled only two episodes into the season. However, your social media interaction with the fans was the best I have ever seen from the “higher echelons of the entertainment industry”. You were personable and sociable, reacted to questions and comments, drew the audience in with extra information and material, and presented yourself as fan-friendly, and almost “one of us”. You engaged in a way that made the experience not seem like a one-way street. Thus you made the Hannibal experience more exciting, instrumentalizing and manipulating us or not. And for the first time *ever* I found myself happily getting behind your campaigns to drum up excitement for the show – that’s quite a compliment, because I have never felt obliged to act as an unpaid marketing assistant before. I hope you will find new outlets for your creative vision.

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… to the fandom which surprised me with its creativity

Did I think you were nutters, idolizing a horror show about a cannibal? Possibly. But wait, that’s before I knew anything about you. I was very quickly impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm you displayed for your favourite show, and I really appreciated the inclusiveness with which you treated newcomers, and even critics, to the show. Rather than playing exclusively in your own little clique, you drew people in, reacted to tweets from outsiders (like me), making people feel welcome. Your concerted effort to support the show and those behind it, the way you embraced new cast-members, and your excited backing of anything Hannbal made you look like a unified group – which is particularly attractive when much of my own fandom seems to be fragmented, if not downright segregated.

But what impressed me most was the creativity that seems to be part of your fandom experience. It was only a chance sighting of a creative contest in the run-up to the show that introduced me to Freddie Lounds aka @tattle-crime, but my contribution was given the same friendly response as those of the in-crowd. I loved seeing @thetuxedos fantastic Hannibal fan art, and I am really grateful for having met plushie queen extraordinaire Nancy aka @_sinnamin in the fannibal Twitter community. I hope that your love affair with your favourite show will meet a happy ending and that a new host can be found for it.

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… to all the individuals who engaged

… with the show, its creative collaborators, its fans – and with me. This was my first quasi-real time experience of a multi-part, filmed performance by Armitage, and I really enjoyed this communal, shared experience. I felt swept along on ever-crushing waves of excitement: the fannibals anticipating the new season of their favourite show, the makers impatient to share their work, the fans commenting on the individual episodes, sharing their insights and interpretations, and showing how they felt inspired by what we were all watching. In my usual Big Mama Bear-way I felt it was a bonding experience, very positive and mutually inspiring. Thank you for that! I found the Twitter-conversations very entertaining, and felt enriched by the mutual commenting on reviews. It really enhanced my Hannibal experience!

Which is why it was such fun for me to contribute to that with my little shrine project. Ever since the thank you-RAPSoids I had had this idea lurking at the back of my mind, that it would be cool to create a somewhat coherent body of work that extended beyond one single shrine. I don’t really think that my six Hannibal shrines present a coherent, comprehensible narrative that mirrors the story of the Red Dragon – not least because I shamelessly appropriated the material in order to indulge my own happy-clappy misinterpretation of Francis Dolarhyde. The individual shrines may not even represent the corresponding episodes they were made for. But I hope that the shrines themselves, and the fact that I made them, show that I loved “it”, “him”, “them”, and “you”.

Love you Hannibal

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PS: Dear shrine winners – now that the painful group shot is finally done, the shrines will go on their way to you asap. Thank you for your patience, Gai, Frauvonelmdings, Oaky, Armihyde, SheRA and Alessia!

64 thoughts on “Serial RAPS’ing: Love You, [Insert Name of Choice]

  1. What a love letter you have written. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. You perfectly described every topic eloquently and honestly. I am so going to miss Saturday nights. Still can’t get rid of ArmiHyde is here.

    Carolyn

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    • Thank you Carolyn – I love these communal experiences, I apparently like being part of the herd 😉 And the regular anticipation of the latest episode of Hannibal will be greatly missed.

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    • Hehe, I’m trying to think what kind of catastrophe describes me accurately? Quicksand? Glib and shapeless *hehe*.
      I’m quite astounded at my tenacity and long breath with this project myself. I have never been able to keep up a creative project over any length of time, never mind even a photo project (apart from my “sanity project”, which is sunsets and sunrises, something that doesn’t qualify as art because it is seen as kitsch). Photographing the shrines is the longest photo-project I have ever done. Not that it will ever see the light of day, apart from this fandom…

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        • LOL- I like the snarky unicorn. Farting rainbows? Sounds like me! 😉
          And bingo, I’ve seen random crap in art exhibitions, too. You never know, maybe I’ll become a posthumous art-world star!!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Stranger things have happened 😀 Just imagine getting all the shrines back in one place for a major retrospective 😎 And why would it have to be posthumous?!

            I love seeing the completed set – fabulous. They act as teasers for me because I have given up trying to watch the show as it is broadcast, and have decided to wait until the DVD becomes available in December. Then I can gloat over all the bits that I’ve seen in stills and gifs 😉

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            • I would love a massive big global shrine meeting. More for seeing the owners, than the shrines, mind you. Well, but that’s never gonna happen…
              Hehe, those little teasers may have gotten you on the wrong track, Helen. Francis is less cuddly than I present him 😉 BTW I think it is a very good strategy to wait for the DVD release and then watch the whole thing in one go. I admit, I don’t have the patience for that…

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  2. Awwww … they look so so perfect together 🙂
    I could never part with any of them – and am so glad that you can 😉
    My dad is a painter, who is always wary of selling paintings to people he don’t know. He once told me “I’d like to know, where they end up.” and I think he’s still devastated about not knowing the whereabouts of a lifesized painting of nylon stockings from his academic study years he sold over 30 years ago to a dentist (who died of drugabuse some years later).

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    • It’s really weird, but I am not possessive of any of my creative work. I find it hard to give my prints and photos away, yes, but only because I always believe they are not good enough, and therefore I better not make anyone feel obliged to accept something they do not want or like. With the shrines I feel no desire to hold on to them – maybe because I know I could always make one for myself, if I wanted to – but mostly because their purpose is to cheer someone else up, not me. So yes, I part with them very easily. My reward is the reaction I get from the recipients and the readers. What is much more important to me, is to have a photographic record of every shrine I have made. And what I would love to have, is a record of the shrine’s new whereabouts *hint hint* ;-), so in that respect I feel like your dad.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed reading this, especially your love letter to RA. I wasn’t enthused about him taking on the role, fearing that it would probably be one I couldn’t fully embrace, in a show I’d have trouble watching, but I’m very glad he did. Dolarhyde doesn’t make my top-five-chaRActers-I-love, but he has his own little corner of my heart, or rather Francis does, thanks to Richard’s incredible performance. However, he is definitely in a class of his own when it comes to ogling opportunites! 😉
    I’m not likely to ever understand the attraction of Hannibal,, but I can still appreciate the enthusiasm and commitment of all concerned, especially the Fannibals and their welcoming inclusiveness to the Armitage community.
    The shrines look amazing together. Congratulations to their new owners, and all praise to you G on your fabulous creativity. 🙂

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    • I am really glad at the way the whole thing turned out. I had my doubts, and I share your opinion re. Dolarhyde. In terms of character, he is definitely not in my top five, either. In terms of portrayals, he certainly is, though. He was a tricky character to get right, but RA nailed it – and that makes the whole thing worth-while. Hehe – and yes, not to underestimate the ogling opportunities, Dolly may become a shrine favourite.
      The ogling department was definitely in full swing in this series. I mean, right from episode 3×08 Hannibal provided perfect material for drool-facilitating shrines. It was easy to use that as starting points for a shrine.
      I liked how the fannibals welcomed the Armitage Army, too, and I think quite a few our sisters-in-RA have become firm fannibals. Good on them.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Your reflections on Armitage, the producers, the fannibals and the entire experience… Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes! It’s been a wonderful ride. I love these “serial” shrines- and especially the top photo with the red ribbons arrayed like Red Dragon wings. I would like to personally add my full-fledged and hearty endorsement of your thanks to the producers upon the costuming stipulations, with an additional wave of gratitude for the Belstaff black leather get-up.

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    • Hehehe, I think the enthusiasm of the fannibals was contagious, judging by the praise I am heaping on all concerned. But well, Armitage always deserves love, and I honestly thought that Fuller, DLC, Loretta Ramos, even Sean Armstrong, were really good in terms of interacting with the fandom. It was a very new experience for me, and maybe I am too easily impressed, but I always feel that they ought to get a bit of praise back for something they are not *obliged* to do.
      Yay – the red ribbon arrangement has been noted! (I really cursed the idea as I was going along with my shoot because those bloody red bits kept moving every time I touched a shrine. Grah. That styling idea had obviously not been thought through…)
      I second your expression of gratitude for the appearance of Belstaff gear on Dolly’s delectable frame. Actually, Belstaff should make a whole leather collection specifically for Armitage. The man has been a brand ambassador without knowing it…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well said! I too was a bit leery of the FD role, but I went ahead and read the book then watched seasons 1 and 2 of Hannibal and my mind was changed, much for the same reasons as you stated. And Richard definitely transformed and brought even more to the character than I expected. You’re also so spot on about the Fannibals! Wonderful, friendly, and creative people.

    And of course, you’ve once again done a beautiful job with your Dolly Serial RAPS!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s dedication, Susie, watching seasons 1 and 2 despite reservations. I could never even bring myself to that, so well done. I enjoyed the book very much, though, and after reading that, I was pretty sure that RA was going to deliver on Dolarhyde. The book made it very clear that there were more layers to Dolarhyde than only the a-social weirdo and the homicidal monster. I was less worried about RA creating a pastiche serial killer, than about the makers of the show not allowing him to show his full potential as an actor. Thankfully, they did.
      And yes, I really enjoyed the time on the fringes of the fannibal community, too. The ones I interacted with seemed a friendly, funny bunch, so I really have no problem wishing them a continuation of the show. They were so enthusiastic and supportive, I hope they will get what they desire.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a lovely tribute. Your blog always makes me smile. I’m so glad your Hannibal experience was positive. Cinematically it was always a joy to watch even when I felt it dragged. The Hannibal team did an extraordinary job of keeping the fans involved. I wasn’t much into Twitter until this show but now I see what fun it can be. Like you, I’m a fan of Freddie Lounds now, and the boom operator Sean Armstrong, but that may be because the three of us have a shared love of manatees.
    I wanted to say even your group photo shots are as creative and artistic as your individual shrines, from the neon Love You Hannibal to the red ribbons spread out like the dragon’s wings, or is it the crime scene blood splatter direction with Will in the center, or maybe FD’s spreading blood in the end…so many references to wings. Thank you for always making me smile.

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    • 🙂 That’s a wonderful compliment, Snowy, if the blog makes you smile. You know, it’s a mystery to me, anyway, why people like to read me, but it gives me huge pleasure when they do and agree with something I spew forth about 🙂
      Ha, I had to look up what a manatee is. (I laughed out loud when I saw the German word for it – “Rundschwanzkuh”, which translates into “round-tailed cow”. Sometimes my language is just too funny…) And what an interesting favourite animal – hehe, you are a select group. Just HOW does one become a fan of a manatee?
      Yes, you are right, the “wings” theme really appealed to me, right from the first episode of the Dragon story. I loved the way the show recreated certain visuals just for the sake of aesthetics. It was completely superfluous, but the impact of such visuals is even stronger (on me) precisely because they are superfluous.
      Glad you liked my “neon” experiments. That was actually the most fun part of the whole shoot – drawing with light, literally. Hm, maybe I’ll write a little “Behind the scenes”-post about the shoot, just for the fun of it…
      Oh, and thanks for reading and commenting. ❤

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    • Yup, a lot of people were less prejudiced than me, going into the show. I concede that I was wrong about a few of my assumptions. I am not really sure whether I will go back and watch earlier episodes, though. Not just because of the lack of RA in them, but I found the few bits I saw which referred back to earlier episodes really difficult to look at (i.e. Hannibal taking Abigail’s blood). I just can’t stomach it.

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  7. What lovely words for all those involved with Hannibal and just praise it is too.
    I didn’t venture into fannibal land and I’m not on Twitter but it’s nice to know that you had a good experience with the fannibals and BF and his crew, It sounds like they have a nice community. Guylty, the Shrines look great together and I hope their new owners enjoy them! xx

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    • I may be a bit over-enthusiastic, but then again, I think praise is always good 😉 Of course they do not need my approval – they couldn’t care less, I guess. And somehow it feels just right to give *something* back when I received much from *them*.
      Glad you like the finished project – I hope the new owners will have fun with them.

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  8. This is just wonderful! I agree with you about virtually everything….. I was a little more optimistic going in, because I just kind of figured RA would at the very least elevate the eps he was in. But I must agree, I too found the Fannibal experience pretty exceptional, and the whole series quite well done, though very tough to watch at times. I watched the 1st 2 seasons as well as S3 and was glad to have that background for the Francis arc. I really think this has been a wonderful part for Richard, though I may still be too new to put it in full perspective with everything he’s done. I’m (obviously) excited about my shrine 🙂 🙂 And I hope you know that this post is just too good not to be shared with all who should read it (capisce? 🙂

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    • Yeah, I should’ve trusted RA, but I was too caught up in my own prejudices. Well, in this case I am glad to be proven wrong 🙂
      You know, whether you have been a fan for long or not, what matters is whether *you* liked this role, and how *you* rate it in the whole body of work he has created so far. I did not expect it, but I honestly think this was an outstanding performance from in oeuvre.
      Re your last sentence: *eeeeeek* 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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  10. Lovely final thoughts on the series and everything around it! And i just love the last photoshoot, especially the red ribbon wings! But also the shrines themselves! They make me smile so much but also remind me in such good ways about the series and his role in it 🙂 Also about how amazing he was in it.
    It so agree with you, it was overall a wonderful involving experience. It felt great to be able to share this with many people, to talk about it as it was happening and all that. It felt like a happy enthusiastic ‘herd’ for a chance and yes, i admit i wish it was like this most of the time 🙂
    I’ve always admired he fannibals in a way 🙂 The enthusiasm they have is contagious! I also liked the way the people in the show and around the show engaged with them. It was the oddest thing, the darkness of the show and the energy, positivity and sort of love around it, in the crew, in the producers, the fans. It was lovely to be part of it somehow. And the creativity was great! The drawings, the videos, the shrines! so much more to see and wonder and enjoy!
    I have to admit i still feel a bit silly myself writing 3k words about each episode LOL It is a TV show for G.d’s sake! I’ve been watching them all my life but never thought them worthy to write about in a place where it would sit there forever. BUT, it was very enjoyable too, and stepping back and thinking about things i learned a lot of new stuff too, just about the BTS stuff, about light, camera, etc.I think it really has changed the way i will watch TV going forward.
    Another things that i liked and felt very good about was being able to voice my concerns and fears about the show without feeling a wall of resentment building up. I never felt with the fans or the show they were defensive or in any way negative about criticism. And they never seems to take themselves too seriously, the work yes and the quality of it stands for it, but not the subject and such.
    I still feel the series much elevated the book material.
    And i’ll never mistrust R again in his work 🙂 I was very doubtful about the choice, which in retrospect has more to do with my fear of disliking something he does or disliking a character he portrays profoundly 🙂 It has taught me a lot about my fears 😉 And to let go of them. Never say never but i really don’t think i’ll have to fear he will make me go to a place i absolutely despise 🙂
    A very good experience overall 🙂
    Here’s hoping we get to repeat this all sometimes soon with one of his next roles 🙂
    And i’d looove to see a photobook of all the shrines! 🙂

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    • You are right – an interesting dichotomy between the darkness of the material and the positivity of the fans and makers. Well, that’s entertainment, I suppose. Maybe the fans and makers of Hannibal are a step further than me, in the sense that they can distinguish between reality and fiction. The moral dimension of the piece seemed to pose no problem for them. And yes, I suppose that is fair enough. It *is* a piece of fiction, not a documentary, it is produced for entertainment. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but for whom it is, it is only just entertainment, something to have fun with…
      Yes, Mr A chose well, I completely concede that point. I would think it was a great career move, in that it will have put him on the map for parts in US TV shows and/or feature films. And on a personal level, it provided opportunity to push himself and prove his acting chops once again.
      Re. photobook – the idea is firmly rooted now. I’ve already planned the layout in my head. Before I get to it, I need to reorganize my archive though *bummer*.

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      • eeek, you just reminded me of the mountain of Scotland photos i never organised .. sigh.
        To the end i kept going back and forth with the morals question because if i stick to morals i have no reason to see the show. But then i feel like i am passing judgement on the genre, there evil always wins and it is based on contracting ‘right’ and ‘good’. And i always feel bad about mixing moral with art as i always feel this is how censorship begins. And i feel art need not be moral, though it does need to challenge and maybe reaffirm our view on morals. However i don’t think the show preoccupied itself with the question of morals or challenged them. Can’t blame them, who’d want to take on such a task 😉 But it still preoccupied itself with interesting themes, impulses good and bad and how we control and master them and such. I do hope R will take on challenging material again where we raise questions about morals and reasons and ethics, it is always an interesting subject and the quality of his acting makes the debate more interesting. And having the debate about fiction makes it somehow more open, less political and prejudiced than if it was reality or press i find.

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  11. Unglaublich beeindruckend sie so nebeneinander zu sehen, Dolly in 6 Akten, äh shrines 🙂 Quasi für die Ewigkeit festgehalten! Und ein schöner Abschluss für den Drachen und den Dolarhyde-Charakter 🙂 Nach all der Kreativität mit Feuer, Drachen, v.a. in rot bin ich sehr gespannt was Du uns für Urban designen wirst!

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    • Da bin ich auch gespannt. Ich sehe ziemlich viel olivgrün und ziegelrot in meiner Zukunft *ggg*. Bisher bin ich noch relativ uninspiriert, was Choppie-Baby angeht. Muss an den Haarzotteln liegen… Vielleicht muss ich mich mal in meine eigenen Grunge-Roots zurückversetzen und meine Doc Martens rausholen. Dann wirds vielleicht was…

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      • warts ab, da wird es viiiiile Bilder von Chop und Urban geben die uns Müttern das Herz zerreißt! Ich sehe da ganz viel Potential für “Schmacht” und “Herzschmerz”…. und einen Hund gibt´s auch noch, Potential ohne Ende ❤
        Du hast noch Doc Martens? Gab es die 1994 schon? Ja ich glaube doch. Bei den Chucks mit dem Stern die er aber auf einem Bild anhat bin ich am zweifeln, die gibt es doch erst seit 10 Jahren oder so?

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        • Die Converse gab es in den 90ern schon. Habe mir selber welche gekauft 🙂 Abgesehen davon sind das doch die klassischen Basketballschuhe von anno dunnemals.

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          • Okay – ohne Kinder hatte ich das damals nicht auf dem Schirm! Mit den Dingern kann man Sport machen? Habe selber 2 Paar, aber zum Sport finde ich die nicht geeignet, nur für die Optik 🙂 wie meist…..

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              • Vor 50 Jahren, oder sagen wir mal vor 20-30 Jahren waren Sportschuhe noch Sportschuhe und hatten ein Fußbett. Heute kauft man Nikes für 140 Euro und Du musst noch ein Fußbett für 20 Euro kaufen,das ist doch unverschämt oder?

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  12. Pingback: See You Next Year… | Guylty Pleasure

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