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Chelsea Does…Netflix #StreamTeam

Netflix Stream Team

I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and will be happily sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. (Okay, that’s an understatement. I should say CONSTANTLY. We use Netflix CONSTANTLY.) This post is sponsored by Netflix, of course!

I have been a fan of Chelsea Handler’s for years. She’s known for being a “shock jock”-style comedian, host of “Chelsea Lately”, E! network’s late night talk show (2007-2014) and author of several books including Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. She’s sarcastic, inappropriate, and completely hilarious.

When I read that Chelsea was going to do a Netflix Original Documentary Series, I was intrigued and excited to watch. “Chelsea Does…” is a series of four documentaries in which she immerses herself in learning about Marriage, Silicon Valley, Racism, and Drugs.

Chelsea Does

Each of the four documentaries can easily stand on its own; for the purposes of writing this post I went ahead and binged all four at once.

What all four installments of “Chelsea Does…” have in common:
1. Footage of a conversation she has about the given topic with a few of her friends (comedians and actors; the group is different in all four)
2. Footage of Chelsea talking to her psychologist about each topic
3. Chelsea travels to further investigate each topic (Marriage–Las Vegas, Silicon Valley–Silicon Valley, Racism–the Deep South, Drugs–Peru)
4. Chelsea’s dog, Chunk

I found all four fascinating, and had some laughs watching Chelsea ask questions that many wouldn’t ask themselves. The footage of Chelsea asking children about their thoughts on marriage was priceless, and the app idea (“Gotta Go”) she pitched a Silicon Valley company had me in stitches. The Racism installment brought me to tears and the Drug installment made me a little uncomfortable, but I learned so much while being entertained at the same time.

Chelsea’s not for everybody (and I don’t think she gives a &#$*, either!), but “Chelsea Does…” is definitely a must-see, especially if you like your documentaries on the unique and funny side. By the way, like anything else Chelsea Handler produces, “Chelsea Does…” is not recommended for children. Not by a long shot.

Have you watched yet? What did you think?

I’ll end with this programming note: just a little more than two weeks until “Fuller House” hits Netflix! The new trailer is HERE…Mark your calendar for February 26 and let’s binge-watch together!

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Missy.

In case you didn’t hear me shrieking yesterday during Super Bowl 50, Missy Elliott followed me on Twitter.

Yes, THE Missy Elliott.

One minute I was tweeting a reply (“I’d like to see Missy Elliott back up there!”) to Sirius XM’s question about who else I’d like to see on stage with Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyonce, and the next minute, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott herself was following me.

Missy Elliott followed you

And that’s when the evening took on an ALL CAPS flavor. (Apologies to my friends. I know how annoying that is, but MISSY ELLIOTT, YOU GUYS.)

I was so excited about it that I was doing a little bit of tearing up and sweating, very much like when Christopher Knight and Florence Henderson spoke directly to me the day before my birthday a couple of years ago.

I mean, MY LIFE.

I fully realize these people put their pants on one leg at a time just like I do. And heck, I have lots and lots of friends who are also doing spectacular things professionally just like celebrities: they just aren’t in industries that shine a bright spotlight. (A bunch of them should be, though!) I shouldn’t go weak in the knees at being noticed for a fraction of a split-second by somebody famous. But I do. I have. I did. Not sorry at all.

It only took a few minutes for my sass to kick in and tag Missy:

My new follower Missy

And then after I recovered a little bit, I started thinking about those marionettes in the “WTF” video.

Missy Elliott

By the way, I do believe I am responsible for approximately 2,435,821 of the 33,000,000+ views this video currently has on YouTube. (I wrote about it in November, here.) Make that 2,435,822.

Twenty-three-year-old D returned home from the Super Bowl party he attended and was more impressed by my new Twitter follower than perhaps anything else I’ve done in the last ten years (even though I didn’t “do” this). I had to show it to him so he would truly believe me, and then he started screaming too, and then he said, “WAIT, you can send her a direct message now??” and I said, “Yep!” Then he suddently started barking out messages that he wanted me to send to Missy Elliott on his behalf even though as far as I know the only time he’s ever listened to her music was when he used to ride in my car and I put him through listening to her album “Under Construction” on repeat for months and months. It’s okay, though. That prepared him for this day.

Anyway, I may not always remember that the Broncos won Super Bowl 50, but I will always remember that it was on this Super Bowl Sunday that one of my favorite artists in the whole wide world, of all time, followed me on Twitter. It was a good day.

Now…Monday, whatchu got?

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Candy Girl

Over the weekend while at a candy store I came across some Spree candy in a bulk container and paused for a moment. I hadn’t enjoyed Sprees in years, as in “I can’t REMEMBER the last time I enjoyed Sprees but I think it may have been the early eighties”. Honestly, I couldn’t even remember what they tasted like other than my childhood. After standing there for a moment staring at the colorful disks, I reached for the scoop to put some in one of those “fill-your-own” buckets.

When I was six or seven, I attended the birthday party of my cousin, who’s just a year older. My aunt came up with a scavenger hunt game to keep the party guests busy in the basement—now that I’m a mom, I really want to know what the adults were doing upstairs, by the way—and we were very excited because we were told that we would be searching for candy.

Okay, now that I think about it, it couldn’t have been THAT extensive of a scavenger hunt. Like me, my cousin lived in a small townhouse. The basement was fairly tiny.

ANYWAY, I vividly remember that guest after guest found candy bar after candy bar, and I was becoming frustrated. Finally, I opened the washing machine and—WAHOO! I had to climb up onto the washer in order to reach inside, but I claimed the brand-new roll of Sprees and then did a little victory dance. Although we lived only a couple of miles apart and visited frequently, I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about what my cousin’s bedroom looked like, but I remember finding those Sprees in the washing machine like it happened yesterday.

Candy is just like music for me, in that it has the power to take me to another place. (Sentimental much?) It may stem from the fact that, ever since I can remember, my mom has always checked dessert menus before the dinner menus when eating out. This way she can plan how much (or how little) she wants to eat for the main course. She doesn’t like to eat too much, should there be some amazing chocolate creation available afterwards. SWEETS ARE IMPORTANT TO MY FAMILY.

Take Heath bars, for example. Those chocolate-covered bars of toffee goodness were my late Grandpa’s favorite. I will grab a Heath bar on a road trip or anytime I’m feeling a little sentimental about that amazing man. Heath ICE CREAM bars? Oh my gosh. Love those.

When I was a kid, $100,000 Bars were my favorite, in taste and name. (I’m still angry that Nestlé got lazy and changed the name to 100 Grand.) I usually buy a bag of these along with all of the other kinds of Halloween candy I plan to hand out to trick-or-treaters but then hide the 100 Grands in the back of the kitchen cabinet because “Oopsie, how did we miss THAT bag? Oh well. Guess we’ll have to eat them.”

Traditional Caramello bars (as in, from the eighties, and they don’t make ’em like that anymore) remind me of Jim because every single time we would stop in a gas station to pick up candy when we were dating, he would grab a Caramello. We found the ones made by (Real) Cadbury in (Real) England over the weekend and scooped up a few, for old times’ sake.

Almond Joy has been my favorite candy bar for years. It happens to be Liz’s too. (#Twinsies) Ever since we had that moment that went, “What? You love Almond Joys? I LOVE ALMOND JOYS TOO!” we’ve been ritually snarfing down Almond Joys late at night when we travel together, and taking occasional “Look at me, I’m eating an Almond Joy. Jealous?” selfies, which we immediately text to the other. Yesterday on her train ride home she found a forgotten one in her bag that was leftover from the Los Angeles trip and she sent me a picture of it.

Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don't.

Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t.

Indeed I was immediately jealous and actually went to my kitchen to see if I had one stashed somewhere, but my search was fruitless. Or Almond Joy-less. Sigh.

Now that I’ve reminisced about my favorite candies, I need to go grab the rest of those Sprees. What are your favorites, and why?

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The Netflix #StreamTeam: Taking It Back. Way Back.

Netflix Stream Team

I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and will be happily sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. (Okay, that’s an understatement. I should say CONSTANTLY. We use Netflix CONSTANTLY.) This post is sponsored by Netflix, of course!

One of my favorite things about Netflix is the ability to go back and rewatch television shows from when I was much younger. Or just a little younger. (or to watch television shows that I missed the first time around, frankly.) I’ve written about this before: some of my best TV memories are right THERE waiting for me, and I can access any episodes I’d like to watch at any given moment with just a couple of clicks. Since Netflix is adding new (and old) stuff all the time, I check regularly and am constantly updating My List.

A few that reside on My List right now?

The Munsters
A Different World
Emergency! (OMG YES! Randolph Mantoooooooth)
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
The Wonder Years
Cheers
Friends (of course)

Also, Mad Men will forever and ever be on My List as long as Netflix carries it, amen. In fact, I was texting with a couple of friends the other day about Don Draper’s adventures; one of those friends had just finally finished the series. It made me long to watch the entire thing all over again. Fun fact: when the second half of Season 7 was originally broadcast last spring, we hadn’t yet gotten our cable channels back and I ended up buying all of those episodes as soon as they were available even though I knew Netflix would get them eventually. I was impatient. No regrets. That said, the second half of Season 7 will be on Netflix starting February 5, so if you need to see (almost all of) those storylines wrapped up into a neat little bow, mark your calendar.

And February 26? Have mercy!! FULLER HOUSE, a Netflix Original Series, will be available for our viewing pleasure. I CANNOT WAIT. The original “Full House” was one of those “warm and fuzzy with a side of cheeseball” sitcoms that I absolutely loved, and I’m thrilled that the entire original cast is back for this update. Well, with one (two) notable exception(s): Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen will not reprise the role of little Michelle. I’m a little bummed that we won’t get to hear either of them exclaim, “You got it, Dude!” as adults, but I think Uncle Joey still feeling the need to exclaim “Cut! It! Out!” in 2016 might make up for that. Will you be watching?

All I know is, I’d better figure out how to make some more time for streaming in my schedule.

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I Love L.A.

I just returned from a visit to the site of the #BlogHer16 conference in Los Angeles. I love L.A.

I. LOVE. IT.

Of course, my rose-colored glasses were deeply tinted on this trip, what with the “late January getaway from Chicago winter” and the “spending three and a half days with the most awesome team ever” elements. Los Angeles was a dream, and I wish I could’ve “slept” a little longer. Literally and figuratively.

On the way out, I got to walk through my favorite corridor at O’Hare airport.

ORD neon

Of course, when I was sitting at the gate in the middle of a flight delay that would last nearly two hours I forgot all about that neon happiness. Glad I took a picture.

Finally we took off and, after meeting Liz at LAX, we made our way over to the JW Marriott at LA Live right in the center of downtown Los Angeles.

The next couple of days were extremely awesome. I love my job. I love my co-workers. Getting to work in the same room is very rare for all of us: it only happens a few times each year. It makes me giddy, quite literally. It was better than ever this time, thanks to the fact that we have a newly-expanded events team, and I will tell you that if you have not purchased a ticket to the conference because you’re on the fence for some reason, just buy it now while Earlybird pricing is still in effect. No, I was not asked to plug the conference. I just happen to have a lot of work pride and having a seat in the meeting room where so many magical ideas were presented, I’m really just doing you a favor. Plan to attend. It’s going to be the best BlogHer annual conference yet. YES WE SAY THAT EVERY YEAR, but we also mean it. (Register here.)

Me, my sistuh from anuthuh muthuh, and my lil Bop Bop

Me, my sistuh from anuthuh muthuh, and my lil Bop Bop

One of the very best things about working behind the scenes on a BlogHer conference is that we have an excellent work/fun balance. We work VERY hard, but there is always always always a lot of laughter plus a few shenanigans sprinkled in there too.

Lori, Jen, Liz, Me, and Kathy  (Mwah!)

Lori, Jen, Liz, Me, and Kathy
(Mwah!)

There’s not a lot of sleep, however. My body happens to HATE the west coast, refusing to reset its clock and thus making me wake up at 3:30 am Pacific, each and every day. I was able to get a couple of short bursts of sleep beyond that but definitely not enough. Anyway, it was totally worth it.

New fave pic of Liz and me.

New fave pic of Liz and me.

Liz and I immensely enjoyed unwinding each evening on the patio that was outside our hotel room. Definitely a favorite part of the trip.

Having a patio outside our hotel room did not suck.

Having a patio outside our hotel room did not suck.

As for the rest of the hotel, it’s also amazing. It’s spacious with lots of places for bloggers to hang out, connect, and laugh together.

JW Marriott at LA Live lobby

The pool area is gorgeous, too. I know it’ll be a popular hang-out spot.

JW Marriott at LA Live pool

We checked out where the sessions, expo, and keynotes will take place. We are super excited for this conference, but I said that already. I hope to see you there.

As for the area surrounding the hotel? Well, it’s Los Angeles. It’s beautiful and spacious and full of palm trees and sunshine.

I love L.A.

Is it August yet?

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Partying Like It’s 1986.

Since Jim and I had a pretty relaxing morning and afternoon—including going to see “Joy”, starring Jennifer Lawrence and by the way you should go see it right after you finish reading this post—I’m trying to get some work stuff checked off my list this evening.

I can get into a zone and mostly ignore what he’s watching on television as long as it’s something I don’t care about or something I’ve seen before, so he put on “Top Gun” and that pleased me. It was released in 1986, the year we were married. Jim was in the Navy back then, which made the movie doubly interesting. I think I’ve seen it about five hundred times.

1988, close enough.

1988, close enough.

A few observations:

1. “Talk to me, Goose” is one of my most-used movie quotes in life. TALK TO ME, GOOSE. Gold.
2. I love “Top Gun” because it was made before Tom Cruise jumped on the couch. Most people still thought he was a promising young actor and not yet a nutjob.
3. As a die-hard fan of the group Berlin, I do experience a little rage during the love scene when “Take My Breath Away” comes on, for two reasons. First, I read an interview with Terri Nunn (lead singer) and John Crawford (bass player who caused me to swoon uncontrollably for a few years as a teen) in which they said that they hated that song and didn’t want to record it because they didn’t write it and it sounds nothing like them. Second, it’s my least-favorite Berlin song from their entire catalog: I totally agree with them.
4. I like watching this movie with Jim because he talks about the minor inconsistencies, Navy-wise.
5. Meg Ryan was adorable in this film, but it wasn’t her hair’s best.

Wait, I’m supposed to be working so I guess I’m done making lists about “Top Gun”. Tell me: what movies have you watched hundreds of times but could still watch again and again?

top-gun-movie-

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So Long, 2015!

Another year is gone (I think I have whiplash!) and Jim and I will be spending another New Year’s Eve like boring older people. In fact, last night as we were discussing our exciting plans (basically watching movies on Netflix), our older son, who is headed to Wisconsin to do a bar crawl with friends, was sitting there thinking, “That is such a LAME New Year’s Eve.”

No, I’m not a mind reader but his eye roll and head shake told me all I needed to know to make a good guess regarding his thoughts.

Good thing he won’t be around, I guess. I mean, Netflixing IS a really good way to spend the last evening of 2015, for us. It’s peaceful. It’s exactly what we want to do. Right before 11:00 we’ll turn on Ryan Seacrest in New York’s Times Square so we can ring in the New Year on Eastern time, and then we’ll be going to bed.

Speaking of the Big Apple, we’ll be enjoying another kind of apple, too.

Cashier: "Any big plans for New Year's Eve?" Me: "Just this apple."

Cashier: “Any big plans for New Year’s Eve?”
Me: “Just this apple.”

(By the way, in case you have little ones at home and want to trick them into an earlier New Year’s Eve bedtime, Netflix has six themed New Year’s Eve countdowns available to stream whenever the heck you want. 6:30, right after dinner? GO FOR IT. Check them out here.)

If you’d like some reading material, I have curated my favorite posts from this year. It’s interesting to me that my favorites fall into three main categories:

1. Inspirational/Go get ’em
Invest in Yourself Because Life is Too Short
Invest in Others! Here’s Why.
Enthusiasm is Contagious. Let’s Spread it Around.
Lean on Me.

2. Bittersweet/How quickly they grow
Back in Time, If Only For A Moment
They Come Back.
To Infinity and Beyond
I Let Go.

3. Rants, Melisa-style
Control Freaks Shouldn’t Take Train Trips.
When Better Late Than Never is Not Okay

I am looking forward to 2016 because of all of its potential. We’ll be experiencing some changes in this house as the year goes on (including J’s college graduation at the end of the year, woo hoo!), and those who are nearest and dearest to me could also use some fresh starts and gorgeous, wide-open potential. However you decide to spend the last hours of 2015, whether it’s Netflixing like Jim and me or bar crawling like D or taking in once-in-a-lifetime experiences like J in Israel, I hope you enjoy yourself. I also hope you and your loved ones have an abundance of love, health, fun, and prosperity in the new year. XOXO!

Happy New Year 2016!

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It’s Like Groundhog Day, But On Christmas.

Same thing, different year!

The Wells family will continue our Christmas tradition of going to see a movie and dinner prepared by Jim. (We’re having Green Curry Chicken, which is Thai and not Chinese, but still Asian. Close enough.)

Our movie? The new “Star Wars” flick. FINALLY.
Thank YOU, internet, for not posting any spoilers. This has to be a new record because I totally expected to know what I was getting into more than a week ago. I can’t wait to see this movie, spoiler-free!

Besides that? Well, you know:

Merry Christmas to all of you who are celebrating!

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I Let Go.

I just dropped off a piece of my heart at the International Terminal for a once-in-a-lifetime Israel excursion. Sending my kid halfway around the world while I stay home is a completely nerve wracking experience but I did my best to keep it in check. My biggest hope is that he has a safe, fun, life-enriching trip. Now hold me.

That was the caption on a picture I posted last night, right before I drove my car away from Parking Lot D at O’Hare airport.

J just began the experience of a lifetime, a Birthright trip. This amazing organization provides Jewish young people aged 18-25 with a ten-day excursion that is meant to “strengthen Jewish identity, Jewish communities and solidarity with Israel.” Birthright wasn’t around when I was his age; if it had been, I would’ve jumped on the opportunity as well. His itinerary is jam-packed, featuring activities like visiting the Western Wall, spending the night in a Bedouin tent, floating in the Dead Sea (FLOATING IN THE DEAD SEA, I MEAN TAKE ME THERE RIGHT NOW), just to mention three of his action items.

Without me. Without Jim.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I’m usually pretty casual about stuff involving my boys. While we love our kids dearly (of course!), Jim and I have never been the type of parents who coddle: we’re the opposite of Helicopter Parents. We have always tried to empower our boys to make educated decisions and choices rather than hovering. We’ve tried to avoid giving them detailed road maps and projecting our own feelings and ideas on them. We’ve often answered their questions with questions. Because of that, they have grown up to be extremely well-adjusted guys who are smart, thoughtful, and productive adult-types.

Unfortunately, that easygoing spirit flies out the window when you’re dropping your “kid” off at the Turkish Airlines ticket counter to check in for a trip he’ll take mostly with strangers, excepting one long-time friend from religious school, to a small country that is rife with conflict and acts of violence.

While I never thought of it until I was going through it myself yesterday, I imagine this must have been similar to what my parents were feeling when they dropped me off at the airport for a month-long stay in Germany when I was fourteen.

CISV

If they had less to worry about regarding actual safety, I’m sure my young age more than made up for that. It’s not easy no matter how you slice it.

Dropping him off yesterday was harder than taking him to college for the first time, even though I know he’s going to have fun, I know his life will be enhanced/changed for the better, and I’m reasonably certain that he really will be safe (not only because I have confidence in the organization supporting the trip but I believe in odds, too).

College is right…over there. It’s two hours away. It’s close enough to home that should my presence become needed for any reason, I can grab my purse and go. There’s security in proximity.

Israel is waaaaaay over there. It’s on the other side of the world. While he’ll have the ability to text us and post pictures (THANK YOU, TECHNOLOGY), he’s so far away.

Believe it or not, I have been reversing my anxiety over the possible dangers of my kid traveling through Israel by reminding myself that the United States isn’t exactly the safest place right now either. This is what our world is coming to. It’s ridiculous.

Over the last three days I can’t tell you how many times I talked to him about keeping track of his passport and his camera and his wallet and his phone and his cash and how he should have fun but completely keep his eyes open to his surroundings and the people around him. Being an American in any foreign country is hard enough when you’re a fully grown adult with lots of travel experience. Being a twenty-year-old on a whirlwind tour of Israel with a bunch of other college kids requires a little more diligence and focus, and I can’t do it for him.

All of this thought and anxiety and worry, just from delivering my son to the first stop on what is going to be one of the most amazing trips he will ever take in his life.

After he received his boarding pass and handed over his suitcase, I asked him if he wanted me to wait with him while the rest of his group went through the line. I told him I was happy to stay but I didn’t mind if he wanted me to leave. He said, “I’m fine with you leaving but thanks for taking me this far.” It was all a little poetic. I smiled and sputtered out a couple more reminders about his passport and safety abroad while we were hugging each other goodbye and then, as difficult as it was, I let go.

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City Girl Farming

Way back in the day, before I was spending a good chunk of my waking hours online (blogging and such) I spent a good chunk of my time playing games like “Sim City” and “Roller Coaster Tycoon”. Looking back, I can’t believe I played as much as I did, but I suppose in a few years I’ll be in disbelief about all the time I spend on the internet, too.

Eventually blogging and other social media pursuits took over and I stopped playing computer games.

Over the years I have received countless invitations from friends to play every game under the sun, like “Words With Friends”, “Candy Crush”, and lots of others whose names I can’t recall.

I resisted. Actually, I didn’t only resist. I blocked invites because they were coming fast and furious.

Then, about eighteen months ago I was talking to Liz and she was telling me about this awesome game called “Hay Day” that she was playing, to help her relax after a stressful work day. The game entails building a farm, maintaining it, and filling orders for trucks and boats. It’s a Thinking game but sort of a no-brainer at the same time. I tried it, and naturally I was hooked. I got into the habit of playing it for a little while every evening before bed. Liz and I created our own “subdivision” so we can easily sell items to each other. It’s been ridiculously addictive.

I like to think that Jim is amused by this farm obsession since I’ve always been a city girl in real life. (My dream home would be any condo in a downtown Chicago high rise. Marina City? Totally, but I’d take anything.) See the irony?

Anyway, if Jim is amused he doesn’t show it. I try to drive him a little crazy by telling him about what kind of pies I’m baking, or how great my cows are doing, how awesome it was that Liz sold me a cheese wedge for just one coin (one coin! That’s almost free!), or “LOOK AT ALL OF MY DOGS!”

Wookit those puppies!

Wookit those puppies!

He’s not very amused, as adorable as I am. He thinks the game is ridiculous. Even so, he gets into bed every night, looks at me with my iPad, and says, “FARMIN’?” which cracks me up.

I have been trying to get him to play “Hay Day” for more than a year, and he has resisted, hard core.

Hard.
Core.

Fast forward (or slightly rewind? Depends on how you look at it) to two weeks ago, when he told me that he started playing “Sim City: Build It”. He LOVES this game. I could almost say he’s obsessed with it.

He started telling me about the metals and plastics his factories were making, how great his people are doing, and how he needed to build a Board of Education for his citizens. This all sounded oddly familiar.

I said, “Huh. This sounds an awful lot like ‘Hay Day’. You know what you’re doing, right? FARMIN’.”

“No, I’m not,” he said.

“YES YOU ARE. YOU ARE FARMING.”

And then he let loose with, “This is the big city, not the farm. I’m a mover and a shaker, Jethro!!”

Jethro. Sigh. And LOL.

It’s still the same game. THE SAME GAME. They may take place in different locales with differently themed tasks and they may be from different companies, but they’re the same game at the core. Exactly.

How do I know for sure? I know because of the play-by-plays he provides, I know because of what I’ve looked at when he shows me what he’s doing, and I know…because I have downloaded it myself.

What?? Yeah, I downloaded it. OKAY?

You can take the girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl. Virtually, that is.

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