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(Jay) Leno appreciates Mississippi life
Sun Herald ^ | Thu, May. 26, 2005

Posted on 05/26/2005 6:17:43 PM PDT by WKB

Few people are more influential in popular culture, or have more sway on our collective national consciousness, than Jay Leno.

As host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," a legendary and coveted role that allows the holder to become a gateway of sorts through which comedians, Hollywood stars and even the occasional presidential candidate or current first lady must pass, Leno, who performs two shows Saturday at the Beau Rivage, often sets the tone for what everyday people talk about the next day when they're gathered at the water cooler.

Following in the footsteps of Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, Leno was crowned in 1992 following an infamous, behind-the-scenes Hollywood battle that pitted him against fellow comedian David Letterman. (The battle also left Leno and Letterman's friendship in tatters.)

"So I'm heading down to Biloxi," Leno said in a recent telephone interview with the Sun Herald. "I like Mississippi, actually.

... Yeah, you know I do like it a lot."

Raised in New England, Leno said his affinity for history and "old things" naturally drew him to the region.

"You know, it was very moving actually. Out here (in Los Angeles) Realtors describe houses built in the '50s as 'lovely mid-century homes.'...So to go down to Mississippi and see really old stuff, well, it's a very pretty place," said Leno.

"(Mississippi) kind of gets a bad rap because people make jokes, but it's actually quite nice. I like sort of the Southern way of doing things. I think if more people up North... .I mean, I found the times I've been in Biloxi I've seen much more, not to make it a racial issue, but much more mixed audiences than in a lot of like Northern places. You know what I'm saying?" said Leno. "I mean, I think the progress in those areas has been tremendous. Everybody's friendly, everybody's very nice, everybody intermingles. You go to some Northern towns that are supposed to be so progressive, and these people live here, these people live there. Then you can go down to Mississippi and everybody gets along and does their business. And I'm not an idiot, I know there are problems everywhere. But it's certainly not what a lot of people think of.

"When I spent some time there I see why people are drawn to it. I can feel the pull of why people would like it. I sort of like country types of places, so I like that nice mix they have in Mississippi. I like the lyrical way people talk. I mean, there's a politeness in the society that you don't get in a lot of other places, you know?"

In fact, said Leno, he finds Mississippi "a real comfortable place to be. And you know it's interesting, with the Internet and cable, everybody now has access to the same information. You know, people think of the idea of going some place as a performer, the guys coming out in bib overalls and big straw hats in the audience. I mean, those days are pretty much gone forever."

Leno also said he admires the general regional attitude.

"The South has more fun with its heritage than I think anybody else, whether it's Jeff Foxworthy with the redneck jokes or something else. You know, New Yorkers and everybody else, all these people take themselves so seriously. Whereas, you know, I think Southerners can have a good time with it," he said.

Perhaps because if we don't laugh, we'll cry?

"There you go. I guess that's probably a good way to put it," said Leno.

And why does a man whose annual salary is in the millions bother to spend so much time on the road, traveling from one town to the next?

"I like to be a comedian. I never wanted to be a TV personality. You know when you're a TV personality, and you don't have a TV show, you have no personality. And my mom would always say, 'Just have something to fall back on.'...That's what this is. I was a comedian before I had this job. I've been lucky with this job, it's worked out terrific. But sooner or later I'm going to leave this job... .Plus, telling jokes is a lot of fun. I mean, I did this for the longest period, where (people said) 'You suck, you stink, where's Tom Jones?' You're the opening act, and nobody's paying any attention. And now, to get to the point where people are actually coming to see it, it's great. It's a lot of fun," Leno said.

Does the attention become like a drug? Do you get addicted to it?

"No, you don't become addicted to it. You know what it is? Probably a terrible analogy, but the first rule in show business is: Don't fall in love with a hooker. OK. You know, I mean? I realize this is not for a family newspaper. But you know, the idea of show business is, you enjoy it, you have a good time and as long as you have the same friends you had in high school, you keep a pretty stable (existence).

"I mean, the most beautiful women in the world come out and talk to me on the show, and I say to myself, 'Look, these women wouldn't talk to me when I was 25, and I know I'm not in better shape than I was back then. So why are they talking to me now?' Because I'm the host of 'The Tonight Show,' and not because I'm more handsome or I'm cuter. You just have to put things in perspective."

Working on the road also helps him, in a sense, keep it real, Leno said.

"When you work in TV, everyone will tell you how hilarious and funny you are, because they get paid to do that. And you don't really get a real life assessment. If I go to Biloxi and there's only 50 people in the audience, my TV show is chum. But if I go there and I'm sold out both shows, then I guess we're doing OK. You know, it's really a matter of sort of going around the country and sort of taking care of your customers."

And though we talked at length about other things, I'm quickly running out of space. So here are a few quick hits about the man: The only time Leno ever got stage fright was performing for then-President Ronald Reagan. One presidential aide told him whatever he did, don't make fun of the president. Another aide told him, "Reagan loves it, just nail him with any jokes you have about him or his policies."

...On the vagaries of fame: "You become fairly well-known. There comes a point where you can't do things. I mean I'll tell you an example," said Leno, who doesn't smoke, drink or gamble.

He explained that he was once at a newsstand looking through automotive magazines when he spied "this incredible-looking woman on the cover of a magazine called 'Perfect 10'

" (a magazine that features topless, non-silicone enhanced women). So, just like a lot of regular guys, he picks it up and starts thumbing through it.

"And I hear '(adopting a nasal tone) Mr. Leno?' I turn around and there's a guy, his wife and two 12-year-old daughters standing there. Now the father's looking at me like, 'You pervert.' And I'm like 'No, I just, uh, let me sign that.' And I put it down and go ehhh! I felt like a freak. You know I'm just doing something every guy does. And I'm so old and now I can't do that," said Leno. "So that's one of the disadvantages (of fame). I don't mind it when I'm by myself. But it's a little tricky when I'm with my wife, because people go, 'Is he funny at home? What's he like?' After the 80th time you answer that stupid question you get a little annoyed. But that's not really a complaint."


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; US: Mississippi
KEYWORDS: leno
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1 posted on 05/26/2005 6:17:43 PM PDT by WKB
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To: Coast2Capitol; Sonny M; MississippyMuddy; goldensky; gulfcoast6; MamaB; skaterboy; sgent; ...

Missippy ping


2 posted on 05/26/2005 6:18:27 PM PDT by WKB (You can half the good and double the bad people say about themselves.)
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To: WKB

Ahhh yes Jay Leno at the Beau Rivage :) Nice article :)


Jeff


3 posted on 05/26/2005 6:19:10 PM PDT by MississippyMuddy (No peace, without FREEDOM!!)
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To: WKB

Jay Leno has good taste in local and peoples.

God bless him.


4 posted on 05/26/2005 6:23:30 PM PDT by wardaddy
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To: WKB
Raised in Mississippi, I can say that the Mississippi Gulf Coast really isn't considered part of Mississippi, but rather a tourist trap. Go to Hattisburgh, or Natchez, or Philadelphia to get a taste of Mississippi. The smaller the community, the better, to get a feel for the real south.
5 posted on 05/26/2005 6:24:49 PM PDT by Yosemitest (It's simple, fight or die)
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To: WKB
**I like Mississippi, actually.

**You know, it was very moving actually.

**(Mississippi) it's actually quite nice. I like sort of the Southern way of doing things

Get rid of the "actually"s and the "sort of" and he just might actually, sort of like Mississippi.

Fluff piece trying to be news alert!!

6 posted on 05/26/2005 6:31:25 PM PDT by perfect stranger (I need new glasses.)
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To: WKB

Well ill be damned...now if we can just get him voting republican


7 posted on 05/26/2005 6:33:23 PM PDT by skaterboy (I love my lil Marigold :o))
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To: WKB
I like the lyrical way people talk. I mean, there's a politeness in the society that you don't get in a lot of other places, you know?"

It is good to hear someone say really nice things about the South. Those of us who live here know how "gracious" it can be. I wish I could have seen him at the Beau Rivage.

8 posted on 05/26/2005 6:38:23 PM PDT by REPANDPROUDOFIT
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To: Yosemitest
Hattisburgh

Hattiesburg

9 posted on 05/26/2005 6:40:06 PM PDT by canalabamian (Diversity is not our strength...UNITY is.)
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To: Yosemitest

Never fear
The FR "spellchecker police" are on the job 24\7.


10 posted on 05/26/2005 6:41:38 PM PDT by WKB (You can half the good and double the bad people say about themselves.)
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To: REPANDPROUDOFIT

It is good to hear someone say really nice things about the South




Very true. Even here on FR it's rare.


11 posted on 05/26/2005 6:43:18 PM PDT by WKB (You can half the good and double the bad people say about themselves.)
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To: skaterboy

Well ill be damned...now if we can just get him voting republican




If he hangs around us long enough he will.


12 posted on 05/26/2005 6:44:16 PM PDT by WKB (You can half the good and double the bad people say about themselves.)
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To: wardaddy

Jay Leno has good taste in local and peoples.




Just not politicians. :>)


13 posted on 05/26/2005 6:45:01 PM PDT by WKB (You can half the good and double the bad people say about themselves.)
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To: Yosemitest

Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of Clarksdale, Tupelo or Corinth.

Now THAT'S Mississippi!


14 posted on 05/26/2005 6:46:44 PM PDT by MplsSteve
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To: WKB
Nice piece, but that first sentence is a bit of a stretch:
Few people are more influential in popular culture, or have more sway on our collective national consciousness, than Jay Leno.
15 posted on 05/26/2005 6:47:39 PM PDT by ErnBatavia (I don't drink and FReep...it just looks that way)
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To: WKB

Jay Leno is the real deal.


16 posted on 05/26/2005 6:48:27 PM PDT by WestVirginiaRebel (Carnac: A siren, a baby and a liberal. Answer: Name three things that whine.)
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To: MplsSteve

Actually Yazoo City is really Mississippi. :>)


17 posted on 05/26/2005 6:49:37 PM PDT by WKB (You can half the good and double the bad people say about themselves.)
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To: REPANDPROUDOFIT
Well, if you were going to do a stand up routine in, let's say, Baton Rouge, you certainly wouldn't insult the locals or their culture before hand.

Maybe just a little disingenuous.
18 posted on 05/26/2005 7:00:31 PM PDT by This Just In ("Those are my principles, if you don't like them, I've got others" - Groucho Marx)
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To: WKB
The only time I've been in Mississippi is when my Civil Engineer unit erected a pre-fab barracks at the Jackson airport. The people were nice, but what I remember most was how hot and humid it was. At the end of the day, we all took a shower just to dry off.

Humid in Chicago has got nothing on humid in Mississippi.

19 posted on 05/26/2005 7:01:12 PM PDT by Bernard (When I voted for GW Bush, I didn't think Bobby Byrd could pick judges.)
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To: ErnBatavia

"collective national consciousness..."?!

.......of the intellectually challenged perhaps. This is not to say that Mr. Leno isn't a funny man. He certainly is. But I am inclined to believe that unlike Jon Stewart, whose audience, which consist mainly of young, undiscerning leftists, Mr. Leno's audience takes him for what he is; a comedian.


20 posted on 05/26/2005 7:05:14 PM PDT by This Just In ("Those are my principles, if you don't like them, I've got others" - Groucho Marx)
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To: WKB
No way, Mississippi sucks, a horrible place to live.

(Paid for by Southerners for keeping yankees from screwing up the South. Stay Away.)

21 posted on 05/26/2005 7:20:10 PM PDT by shellshocked (They're undocumented Border Patrol agents, not vigilantes.)
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To: MplsSteve
Check out Holly Springs and Aberdeen for some real nice Antebellum homes. Corinth? The Yankees burned all but about a dozen of them here.
22 posted on 05/26/2005 7:24:22 PM PDT by vetvetdoug (Shiloh, Corinth, Iuka, Brices Crossroads, Harrisburg, Britton Lane, Holly Springs, Hatchie Bridge,)
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To: shellshocked
No way, Mississippi sucks, a horrible place to live.

Umm, errr, yea, it's a horrible place to live. (Please go there and spend your tourista dollars though.) 8-)

23 posted on 05/26/2005 7:30:21 PM PDT by Col Freeper (Never argue with an idiot - - it's a useless activity and the leftist just enjoys it.)
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To: McCainMutiny; MacDorcha; JohnPigg; smug; TexConfederate1861; peacebaby; DixieOklahoma; kalee; ...

Jay Leno weighs in on our precious Southland.


24 posted on 05/26/2005 8:00:37 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: Yosemitest
...the Mississippi Gulf Coast really isn't considered part of Mississippi, but rather a tourist trap. Go to Hattisburgh, or Natchez, or Philadelphia to get a taste of Mississippi.

The "tourist trap" area is a thin strip of land, fortunately (pretty much just between the beach and the L&N railroad tracks). Natchez is a bit touristy now, too - goes with the casinos, I guess.

25 posted on 05/26/2005 8:10:29 PM PDT by Cloud William (Liberals are the crab grass in the lawn of life.)
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To: canalabamian

Sometimes, I get in too big of a hurry.


26 posted on 05/26/2005 8:37:12 PM PDT by Yosemitest (It's simple, fight or die)
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To: MplsSteve
I've seen a little of Columbus, but that was many years ago.
27 posted on 05/26/2005 8:38:37 PM PDT by Yosemitest (It's simple, fight or die)
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To: Cloud William

Take the drive up the Natchez Trace to Nashville. It's worth your time, and money.


28 posted on 05/26/2005 8:41:10 PM PDT by Yosemitest (It's simple, fight or die)
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To: Yosemitest

I spent a year in Pascagoula....the "Anal Cavity" of the South......yeeecccchhhh! :)


29 posted on 05/26/2005 9:18:44 PM PDT by TexConfederate1861 (Sic Semper Tyrannis!)
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To: TexConfederate1861
That falls in the category of "not true Mississippi."
30 posted on 05/26/2005 9:25:32 PM PDT by Yosemitest (It's simple, fight or die)
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To: Yosemitest

personally I think the whole piece is condescending. He sounds like he's apologizing for likeing Mississippi. Trying too hard to explain why he "really, you know, likes those quaint Southerners". He wouldn't understand the real Mississippi if it bit him in the patootie. I love that state with every fiber of my Southern being. My youngest was born in Jackson. Ah, how I miss those Southern evenings with the smell of Honeysuckle and the twinkling of the fireflies.


31 posted on 05/26/2005 9:45:33 PM PDT by WVNan
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To: WKB

Thanks for posting this.


32 posted on 05/27/2005 6:17:49 AM PDT by bourbon (quasi morientes et ecce vivimus!)
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To: MplsSteve
My vote for real Mississippi towns is Brookhaven. It was once voted by truckers and the most beautiful small town. Things there are as neat as a pin, as slow as molasses and as pleasant as Mayberry.
33 posted on 05/27/2005 7:05:41 AM PDT by helen crump
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To: stainlessbanner
!!!!!!!!!!!!

free dixie,sw

34 posted on 05/27/2005 7:30:57 AM PDT by stand watie (being a damnyankee is no better than being a racist. it is a LEARNED prejudice against dixie.)
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To: Yosemitest

Holly Springs, The Athens of the South. The locals gave Grant no problem during his occupation, so all the old houses still stand.


35 posted on 05/27/2005 7:39:22 AM PDT by Sybeck1 (chance is the “magic wand to make not only rabbits but entire universes appear out of nothing.”)
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To: WKB

I traveled to my alma mater (Wyoming) to see them play Ole Miss in football last season. 3,000 Mississipi fans made the trip as well, and they were great people. I've seen a lot of football fans, and they were definitely the friendliest, most gracious that I've experienced. I'm thinking of making a trip to Oxford this fall to see Wyo's return trip to play the Rebels. I hear its a great place to go.


36 posted on 05/27/2005 7:44:12 AM PDT by VegasCowboy ("...he wore his gun outside his pants, for all the honest world to feel.")
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To: VegasCowboy

You just need to be proud they weren't playing
Mississippi State. :>) Just kidding Bull Dog Fans
Thanks!!


37 posted on 05/27/2005 7:47:29 AM PDT by WKB (You can half the good and double the bad people say about themselves.)
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To: bourbon; wardaddy

Thanks for posting this.




What War Daddy wants War Daddy gets :>)


38 posted on 05/27/2005 7:50:34 AM PDT by WKB (You can half the good and double the bad people say about themselves.)
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To: bourbon


We're you too lazy? Nice sentiments expressed by Leno.


39 posted on 05/27/2005 8:04:49 AM PDT by onyx (Pope John Paul II - May 18, 1920 - April 2, 2005 = SANTO SUBITO!)
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To: VegasCowboy

That Rebel/Wyoming game is 09/24. My advice is the dress lightly and hydrate well.


40 posted on 05/27/2005 8:04:54 AM PDT by Sybeck1 (chance is the “magic wand to make not only rabbits but entire universes appear out of nothing.”)
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To: bourbon; onyx

WERE you too lazy, NOT we're.

Not igorant - just in a hurry.
I have a graphic for the "grammar police" but I can't post it.... I see now that it contains the f word...lol


41 posted on 05/27/2005 8:11:27 AM PDT by onyx (Pope John Paul II - May 18, 1920 - April 2, 2005 = SANTO SUBITO!)
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To: onyx
We're you too lazy?

Simple answer: Yes.

42 posted on 05/27/2005 8:12:40 AM PDT by bourbon (quasi morientes et ecce vivimus!)
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To: bourbon


Dayum b, when you cut and paste back to me,... first PLEASE correct my errors...lol.


43 posted on 05/27/2005 8:14:47 AM PDT by onyx (Pope John Paul II - May 18, 1920 - April 2, 2005 = SANTO SUBITO!)
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To: onyx

Again, I was too lazy.


44 posted on 05/27/2005 8:16:47 AM PDT by bourbon (quasi morientes et ecce vivimus!)
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To: bourbon


FOTFL! Good enough! I really wish that grammar graphic I located, didn't contain the f word, because otherwise, it's just perfect. I think I'll ask one of the talented guys to do a little editing.


45 posted on 05/27/2005 8:19:10 AM PDT by onyx (Pope John Paul II - May 18, 1920 - April 2, 2005 = SANTO SUBITO!)
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To: onyx

so, are you fixin' to be in V'burg full time?


46 posted on 05/27/2005 8:39:35 AM PDT by bourbon (quasi morientes et ecce vivimus!)
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To: WKB; MplsSteve
Eupora and West Point is the real Mississippi.

Anyway, if Leno is thinking of moving, I wouldn't mind helping with his vehicles.

47 posted on 05/27/2005 8:46:40 AM PDT by oyez (¡Qué viva la revolución de Reagan!)
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To: bourbon

*sigh* yeah *sigh* again --- it'll be full time, but I am awfully beat right now. Totally stressed. I've been stalling and going in circles. This move is quite the undertaking. Instead of sorting thru everything twice, a debris box will be delivered in an hour that's 18' long, 8' wide, and 6' high. I've decided to toss out everything I know I don't want or can't take, and then pack only what's left. This way I should only have to handle each item once! I was supposed to have been there last week to greet the first moving van, but the hell with it. I hired two men to unload it.

I'm finding it it difficult to say good by to people... knowing I'll never see them alive again. Up until that load left here last week, I was close to successfully stopping the whole move because we could have made good money selling that beautiful old house to someone who's trying to acquire a number of the old homes...lol. But, the doctor loves it, so I'm going along for the "ride."

Are you getting ready to be daddy to another little one?


48 posted on 05/27/2005 9:01:28 AM PDT by onyx (Pope John Paul II - May 18, 1920 - April 2, 2005 = SANTO SUBITO!)
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To: WKB
Few people are more influential in popular culture, or have more sway on our collective national consciousness, than Jay Leno.

Who is Jay Leno? /sarcasm

49 posted on 05/27/2005 9:06:13 AM PDT by PistolPaknMama (Will work for cool tag line.)
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To: onyx

yup. it won't be long at all now. The lovely Ms. Bourbon is almost full-term.


50 posted on 05/27/2005 9:32:09 AM PDT by bourbon (quasi morientes et ecce vivimus!)
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