Red 2: The Sequel To That Awesome Funny Action Movie You Loved

Posted in Movie, Review with tags , on August 26, 2013 by darthtanion

Greetings green ones.  I’m not really sure what that means but I’m sticking with it.  So tonight I was out at a preview screening of Red 2 thanks to those wonderful folks at Review Brisbane.  In return I’m writing a review for them so congratulations to everyone I guess.  We’re all winners here.  But enough of the banter.  Let’s get right into…

Red 2: The Review

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Sketch Pad: Both Sexy and Complete

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2013 by darthtanion

Hello and welcome back.  It’s been a while.  Before anybody gets excited this is not the triumphant return of The Ninja Chicken that the mainstream media has been speculating on for so long.  No, no.  I was fortunate enough to win tickets from Review Brisbane and as part of the deal I have to write a review.  Rather than writing one of those tiny 140 character reviews I thought I might take this chance to flex the old writing muscle and break the whole show down.  So without further kazoo I present

Sketch Pad: The Review

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Havergal Brian: The Wrap Up of the Gothic

Posted in Review, The Life & Times Of Me, Theatre, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by darthtanion

I have no witty entry to this blog.  My brain is fried.  I’m tired.  I’m… lost for words… completely.  That is of course excepting the ones I have thus far used to articulate the fact that my perspicacity has expired.  Why?  You may ask.  Because my poor tiny brain is yet to recover from the mammoth task of participating in the first production of Havergal Brian’s Symphony No. 1 in 30 years.  So, with that in mind, I cautiously begin…

The Gothic Symphony: The Wrap Up

The Gothic Symphony

OK, first things first.  What the hell is a Gothic Symphony?  Well, long, long ago a man named Havergal Brian decided he loved the Gothic era architecture but at the same time hated musicians & singers.  What to do, what to do?  Then, genius (& perhaps sadism) struck.  He would write the world’s most hardest-est piece of music that ever there was & hope when you listened to it you thought of gargoyles & big pillars.  The following 8 years gave rise to his first symphony, The Gothic Symphony, & is widely regarded as the world’s hardest piece of music to perform.  I have to admit that when you perform this piece you really don’t think of gargoyles all that much.  You more think of the devil himself sitting at a desk covered in manuscript saying to himself “ooooooh Luke is so going to regret not giving $2 to that armless, legless, homeless, hatless orphan last Christmas.”

Now that you know what we’re talking about, let’s talk about it.  When I first heard that we were doing a production of the hardest piece of music in existence I wasn’t particularly surprised.  I’ve known the chorusmaster for some time now (I’ll get to her later) & nothing she does is particularly surprising anymore.  I swear, if she had rocked up to rehearsal wearing a Woody the Cowboy costume with a squid for a hat I would have just assumed she couldn’t find her lederhosen.  That is to say, she isn’t one to back away from something just because nobody else seems to want to do it.  In all honesty I can’t say I know why I signed up to be in the chorus.  Perhaps it was because I was looking for a new project, perhaps it was just because it seemed like the thing to do.  All I know is that I never imagined myself not being part of it.  I love music & I love insanity so doing an insane piece of music was kind of a no brainer.

No brainer or not, I have to admit that when I was asked to be the tenor soloist I came out with the complete rainbow of colourful language.  I was terrified but how can you turn an opportunity like that down?  Thankfully, my fear was completely unwarranted.  The more I worked on the project the more I discovered that no individual part was really that difficult.  Yes every part was a challenge but not insurmountably so.  The only people who really had ridiculously impossible tasks were the chorusmaster (Alison Rogers), her assistant (Dane Leeson), the maestro (John Curro) & the répétiteur (David Mibus).  The thing about each of these jobs was the fact that they had to worry about everybody, not just themselves.  How they managed to keep going through it all I will never know but there is a quote I love:

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends It gives a lovely light! – Edna St. Vincent Millay

I think this is a statement that will always ring true of those four people, perhaps with the exception of the “it will not last the night” part.  Those guys partied much longer into the night than I after the show.  Perhaps we should amend it to “it will not last past 4am on a school night.”

A few days after the symphony I was thinking about how well it all went & where it would go from here.  It hasn’t been done for 30 years.  Would it be that long until it is done again?  To be honest, I don’t think so.  One of the biggest things we fought throughout the whole ordeal was ourselves & our attitude towards what we were doing.  Yes, we were all committed but almost everybody, myself included, started out with a defeated outlook & had to prove themselves wrong before they truly got onboard & I think that’s why it has been so long since anybody has attempted it.  (If that makes any sense.)  Now, however, it hasbeen done.  It’s no longer this impossible undertaking attempted only by the foolish & the damned.  I think the real curse of the Gothic is The Curse of The Gothic.  It has become a self fulfilling prophecy because the first thing everybody hears when someone mentions it is that this is the hardest piece of music in the world, it’s impossible & it’s cursed.  Hopefully, when people bring up The Gothic Symphony now, they will hear that it was done by a tiny group of committed music lovers just for the hell of it.

I guess that’s it.  Nothing more to say except that I hope everybody had a great Christmas & I’m sorry for not blogging for so long.  (I’ve been a little pre-occupied.)  Farewell for now & always remember, if at first you don’t succeed, kill everybody who knew you were involved & deny, deny, deny.

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Half-Baked Ideas Merchant
(Half-microwaved ideas available for those on the go.)

Miss Saigon vs The Ninja Chicken

Posted in Review, Theatre on October 14, 2010 by darthtanion

Howdy doody folks.  If you laughed because I said doody then you need help.  (You need help with doody… hehe.  High five!)  Anywho, I have just returned from an evening at the theatre & have decided to load up the slingshot that is my ego & use it to launch my overrated opinion at you.  That’s right folks.  Please put on your goggles & attach something to protect your junk because here it comes, hard & fast…

Miss Saigon: The Review

Executive Summary: While not always perfect, this is a great production of an amazing show.

Review: As with pretty much all of my reviews I have to preface this by saying that many of the people in this show are personal friends of mine.  This means that my opinion is completely un-objective & you can’t believe a word I am saying.  Of course, this is a blog, so if you were really planning on investing stock in the opinions expressed here I really think you need to re-evaluate what the internet is about.  It’s about lies & pornography & I’m not so sure all of the pornography is the truth, the whole truth & nothing but the truth either but I digress.

I have to admit, when I heard Ignatians was doing the first amateur production of Miss Saigon seen in Brisbane I was skeptical.  No particularly surprised, however, Ignatians has a tendency to put on big shows & after the success of Les Miserables last year it was obvious they were looking for something that would really make people sit up & take notice.  I am happy to say I was pleasantly surprised tonight by the standard of the production they put on but first, let me say what I didn’t like so we can get that out of the way.

The set.  Apologies to everyone I just offended, there was obviously so much work put into the revolving flats which were flipped & rotated to make up almost every scene & I know set design does come down to personal preference a lot of the time but I just didn’t get it.  The colour pallet didn’t seem to have any real continuity & I always felt as though I was missing some symbolism somewhere.  Perhaps I was.  I also disagreed with some of Kat Henry’s choices in direction.  Again, personal preference but this is my blog so who’s preference were you expecting to hear about?

Right, now that that’s over, let’s get on to what I did like & there is plenty to like about this performance.  The casting in this show is great.  Everyone fits their roles so well.  I was actually a little shocked that they managed to find people who could not only sing the roles but sing them so effortlessly.  Brad McCaw & John Peek were great as Chris & John & both had some amazing moments which really stuck with me.  Wade Colbran-Thomas gave an outstanding performance as Thuy & really commanded the stage every time he entered it.  I do have to say however that I think the women slightly outdid the men.  I’m not just talking about the ladies in skimpy underwear.  Yes they were absolutely stunning, I’m still not sure what the hell The Engineer was talking about while they were in Bangkok & I don’t care.  I can’t recall every seeing a ‘sexy’ scene in a musical done so… well… sexily.  Especially with community theatre.  Normally they just seem awkward & apologetic.  You know what I mean.  “Sorry folks, we know it’s rude but it’s in the script & we’re trying to be artists.  It will be over soon I promise & then we’ll get back to some singing.”  The brothel scenes were sexy & most of all fun.  A special hat tip to the lady-boys on stage.  I kind of wanted to burn my eyes out watching those skirts ride up to reveal what I can only describe as a devilishly clever plan to smuggle walnuts on stage but it was very funny all the same.  However, the girls who really stole the show for me were the ones who had the hardest job.  That job being living up to the inevitable comparison I was going to make between them & my two favorite Broadway stars, Lea Salonga & Ruthie Henshall.  Natasha York (Ellen) did a stunning job of owning her role.  She had impressive vocals during her solos & blended beautifully during the duets & the quartet.  However, while I’m not going to play favourites, Kimie Tsukakoshi (Kim) was my favourite.  She was just fantastic.  Strong, confident vocals backed by a passionate, heartfelt portrayal of a young girl trapped hopelessly in love with a man & a life she can only dream of.  Every bit as believable as all of the Vietnamese girls I ever got pregnant & left for dead in real life.

In short, if you can score tickets to one of the last to performances of this fantastic production you won’t be disappointed.  It’s community theatre at it’s finest which will leave you heartbroken & begging for more.

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Portugese Rice Waxer

Jesus Christ Superstar: Belated Reviewing

Posted in Review, Theatre with tags , , on August 29, 2010 by darthtanion

Hi folks,
OK I’m going to write this really quickly because chances are that by the time you read it the show has already closed so who really cares what I say anyway.  On Wednesday I was fortunate enough to score myself tickets to Harvest Rain’s JC Superman.  Having done that I decided I would use them & then tell you all what I thought about it.  As I write this I’m very aware of the fact that the show closes tonight so it kind of feels like I’m writing Jesus Christ Superstar: The Why Bother but in keeping with convention I would now like to present to you…

Jesus Christ Superstar: The Review

JC Supersonic

Executive Summary: I loved it.  Not as good as their amazing production of Songs For A New World but still pretty damn sharp. *wink*

Review: OK so just to get this out of the way, first I’m going to start this review the same way I start all of my reviews about Harvest Rain’s productions.  I know these guys.  They are friends of mine.  If I didn’t like the show I would not be objective about it.  I would still tell you I loved it & just go to hell for lying before I ever gave them a bad review.  Better yet, I just wouldn’t write a review!  In short, you can’t trust my opinion but it’s so late in the season it’s not like you really would have anyway.

Let’s start out with the things I didn’t like about this show.  There was only really one thing I didn’t like but in some people’s opinions it is a fairly big thing.  I didn’t like the musical… at all…  I just don’t like JC Super Ted.  I think it is massively overrated & as a story, stinks.  I know that sounds horribly blasphemous of me but let’s look at it critically.  I’m not trying to say the actual bible story of Jesus is poor.  It’s lasted 2000 years so far & people are still writing songs & making movies about it so it has to have at least a few engaging elements.  I’m saying the story put forward in JC Supermarket is average.  I’m saying if you didn’t know about the story of Jesus then it would make no sense at all.  I’m saying if the bible had never existed & this was just a musical story written by some guy rather than a musical story ripped off by some guy it would be completely pointless but most of all, I’m saying Tim O’Conner is the musical theatre equivalent of  Sir David Attenborough.  He can make the most pointless, boring, cow pat of a subject absolutely enthralling & that’s what he’s done here.  The simple fact of the matter is that everybody does, at least loosely, know the story of Jesus so trying to make this plot stand on it’s own two feet is not a challenge you have to overcome.  It’s overcome for you.  The real challenge is making the music entertaining & this has been done by way of the amazingly talented Maitlohn Drew.  The arrangements & presentation of the songs in this production are fresh & imaginative.  The obvious standout was Mary’s solo I Don’t Know How To Love Him.  A song that has been done to death by everyone under the sun was given a completely new lease on life thanks, in no small part, to Naomi Truloff, who’s characterisations are always amazing to watch.

The lighting, sound, epic set (I mean seriously epic) & ensemble cast were fantastic.  I remember thinking how meticulously the show had been choreographed however, speaking with Tim after the show he said it wasn’t choreography but the cast had just really owned their roles & taken it upon themselves to put 110% into every scene & it really makes a difference.  Nobody appeared to be slacking or tiring.  No matter how hard I looked (because I was trying to find something to fault these guys on) everybody was completely devoted to the character they were playing.  It was brilliant!  The show started out with the breath-taking vocals of Tod Strike who had, by far, the hardest role in the show; Judas.  Yes, Jesus is a very challenging role too but Judas starts up & stays up & when he is backed by the awesome ensemble cast it made for some magical theatre.

Well, that’s it… that’s my whole review… what?  Oh fine.  I guess I have to say something about the guy that played Jesus but I’m not happy about it.  Having performed with Luke Kennedy I’ve seen how much good press this guy gets & the thing that really gets up my nose is that he deserves it!  In every way!  I hate to add fuel to the fire but he can sing, he can act & he is a nice guy.  In short, I hate his talented, friendly, better-looking-than-me guts.  Hey Kennedy!  If you’re reading this I’ve got an idea for you.  I want you to go out, rent a copy of Who Framed Roger Rabbit & take it to a public toilet.  I don’t mind which one but the dirtier the better.  Start it playing (you make need to do this on a laptop or something.  You’re a smart cookie, you’ll figure it out.)  & when it gets up to the part where Christopher Lloyd starts laughing with those “burnin’ red eyes & that high squeaky voice” just dunk you’re head in a bowl, flail your arms around & pretend it’s me howling in the background with delight.  Rinse & repeat.  Seriously though, I’m just jealous.  Luke Kennedy is flawless in his portrayal of Jesus.  I know praise of this guy is so common these days it almost feels like a band wagon I have to jump on but there is a reason for that.  He’s fantastic.  His rendition of Gethsemane is the greatest I have ever heard.  I don’t mean the greatest I have heard live or in Brisbane, I mean ever, anywhere, in any medium & I’ve even heard LUKE KENNEDY sing it before!  The final knife in my side was at the end of the evening when my partner looked towards Luke’s lovely wife & say “Aww… she gets to go home with Luke KENNEDY.”  I’m not even kidding.  He was that good.

Anyway, it’s now 3PM & the final show goes on stage at 6:30PM so if you haven’t already got tickets then you had better hurry.  The season all but sold out anyway & so it should have.  This show is everything Brisbane theatre needs & deserves the great success it has enjoyed.  I just have one final thing to complain about.  The lady sitting in front of me.

Dear Madam,
Did you enjoy the show?  Me too.  Did you know they now have an invention called a hair straighteners?  You should use one or some bobby pins or a large bucket of water or anything that would keep your massive, Fran Fine-esq hair do from blocking the view of half of the theatre.  I thought I’d gotten turned around when heading to the show & ended up in a Flock Of Seagulls reunion.  Seriously, you made Effie look like Angry Anderson.  Any time someone moved to the middle of the stage it looked like they were walking on a cloud of your hair.  At what point of the night’s preparations did you turn to the mirror & say “I know what look I’ll go for.  Recently electrocuted!”?  Next time you’re coming to the theatre please give me a call & we’ll organise to go together.  That way you can sit next to or behind me.
Luke J. Venables ESQ.

Did you see the show?  If so I’d love to hear your impressions.  If not… suffer in your jocks.

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Future King of Your Backyard

Why Oh Why Do I Choose To Fly

Posted in Pointless, Rants with tags , on August 21, 2010 by darthtanion
Dear Interwebs,

Of recent times I’ve become dangerously aware of the fact that this blog has had an awful lot of reviews on it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reviewing things.  It’s a chance for me to pretend others care about my opinion &, more importantly, pretend I care about anything.  The only problem with that is it means I haven’t had a good rant for some time now.  You know what I mean.  A good, old fashioned, I’m-bored-&-have-nothing-to-do-so-I-think-I’ll-complain-about-something-for-a-while rant.  They’re fun, they’re easy & they give me something to do while I’m sitting on my 90 minute flight to Sydney.  You will have to forgive me though.  I’m very tired & thus I will be easily distra… (hey look they have little TV’s in the roof.) …cted so this might take a while.

I can tell that the first question you are hoping I won’t answer is “Why are you going to Sydney, Luke?”  The short answer is: I forget.  (I could probably abbreviate it even further by just posting a picture of me flipping you the bird but that just seemed inappropriate.)  The long answer is: I forget, I think it’s a conference or the ballet or a small gathering of Semi-European males with ever-so-slightly-more-than-slightly effeminate hobbies but it’s not important.  I’m not here to rant about that, I’m here to rant how about how I got here this morning.

It’s just turned 7AM which means I’ve been up for three & one half hours.  That’s right, I got up at *mumble… mumble… mumble… carry the two… mumble…* 3:30AM!  This is not a ridiculous ask.  It’s a little crazy but it happens.  Allow me to take it from the top.  It was a dark & stormy night.  (Seriously, it rained last night.)  I got home from rehearsals (I use the plural because I had rehearsals for three different groups plus some private tuition.  To put it plainly, I was tired.) & started to prepare the one or two things… (holy crap they just showed footage of the Pamploma Running of the Giant Things With Horns… Ouch) …I needed for my overnight stay in Sydney.  Shirt, pants, varying selection of native American head dresses, etc.  One thing I made sure of was that I had checked in for my flight.  I looked at train times & according to Translink I would be there with an hour to spare provided I caught the 4:40AM train.  I shuddered a little at the thought but resigned myself to getting up at least one hour before what bogans affectionately refer to as the “butt-crack” of dawn.  (Hey look, it’s 17 degrees in Buenos Ares.)  I awoke on schedule, showered on schedule & left the house on schedule.  Transfered some money over to my spendings account & headed to the ATM to get cash out for the train.  It is at this juncture I would like to point out to the people who run my bank that ATM’s do not need sleep.  Just because it’s so early in the morning that even the sparrows are still staggering their way home from the previous night’s drunken escapades, I should still be able to withdraw money.  The first ATM told me that I didn’t have enough money.  (I checked on my phone.  The money was there.)  It then wouldn’t even give me a balance because “I’m sorry, I can’t do that.”  The next ATM was closed.  Not broken, CLOSED!  Fortunately the third ATM was just right & Goldilocks got her legal tender.  I then continued on to the train station.  My train never came, so I caught the next one.  A bit scary but not a real problem.  I was early anyway.  The next train decided it would be cool to stop at Roma St station for half an hour or so.  WHY?!?!  Did the train get tired?  Did it’s wheels get sore?  Was it the litle train that COULDN’T?!?!  I gave up asking these questions after several people ignored/called the authorities on me & then gave up on the whole train system all together.  By this stage I had started to panic.  Planes have a tendency to leave without you if you’re not there so this could turn very ugly.  It was time to go taxi.  I called any random taxi company that would answer, ordered a taxi then promptly ignored that booking for the first taxi that drove past.  My first question was how long will it take to get there.  Fortunately, he was pretty sure we would be there in time so I relaxed a little.  Once I did that the taxi ride was a wonderful experience.  Twice the cost but it was so easy & the driver was just chatty enough to keep me amused but not annoyed.  Now I know why they say “Once you go taxi you’ll never errr… ride the tracks… E… again… train tracks.”  Never mind.  I then had to sprint to the check in area to get my boarding pass printed where I got stuck behind two people who thought it would be a good idea to plan their holiday while they were standing at the counter.  It essentially reduced QANTAS to one open counter because they not only tied up the person who was serving them but also the supervisor who had to come over & help.  Fortunately, I got my boarding pass printed & sprinted for dear life to the gate.  I have discovered that airlines have the amazing ability to put every gate at the end of an amazingly long hallway.  You then have to walk down another long hallway after you go through the gate so what is the first long hallway even for?  (Excuse me one minute.  The plane is landing.)

Word's Largest Coat Hanger

Ooooh look it's the... you know what it is.

OK.  Back.  It’s now 9:47PM.  Sorry, I didn’t really get a chance to get back to you after we landed.  You’ll live.  (Excuse me.  I’ll be right back.)

OK.  Back.  It’s now just before 6AM on Saturday.  Sorry, I fell asleep.  We’re not really getting far with this so I probably should wrap it up.  Long story short, I made it to my plane & to Sydney but almost had a heart attack from fear I wouldn’t.  I must admit it has been quite lovely here.  I went to an awesome restaurant called Phillips Foote where I was treated to a lovely, huge T-Bone steak like this:

Steak from Heaven

The bread was crusty, the steak was tender & the cook was kinda weird looking.

I selected it myself from their meat display then BBQ’d myself on their communal BBQ’s.  It’s freaking awesome.  Then I got treated to a hotel room view like this:

Mercure View

Should I spit out the window?

Which is hard to gripe about either.  All in all I guess this turned out to be a good trip so I still don’t actually have anything to complain… (did I just hear a kitten?) …about.  It sucks having an awesome life sometimes.  Oh well.  Now I just have to make it to the airport on time to get myself home.  *Insert scared face*

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Master of Salad Ponies

The Reviewer Inside Me

Posted in Movie, Review with tags , , , on August 12, 2010 by darthtanion

Goof de Morgan Loonies & Jelly Toons,
How have you been this past week… errr… month… errr… ok I know it’s been ages since I last did a blog post but in my defense I’ve been very lazy so the least you could do is cut me a little slack.  So what, I hear you ask, has brought me out of this laziness induced state of blogospheric hibernation?  Well, the good people at @reviewbrisbane have sent me along to another movie & lovingly suggested that I shove my opinion all up in your business… So here it is.

The Killer Inside Me: The Review

Executive Summary: I didn’t like some things but overall it disturbed me brilliantly.

Review: There is a subtle but distinct difference between a movie you like & a good movie.  This movie fits into both categories for me but I’ll be honest & say that some people just aren’t going to like it.  Not because it’s a bad movie but because it’s disturbing as hell.  Being a preview screening there was a small speech at the start.  (Which was lovely.)  Sam (who was lovely) from Icon told everyone that this movie would split the audience due to the disturbing nature of some of the scenes.  (Which were less lovely.)  I think the fact that it is so disturbing is a testament to how good this movie really is.  Well enough summarising, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.  The first thing that has to be mentioned is the casting.  Casey Affleck steals the show.  That is not to say the rest of the cast is poor, they’re fantastic but Affleck is just too amazingly well cast for anybody to beat him.  He is the epitome of a baby-faced-killer.  His high, squeaky, more than slightly effeminate voice resonates in your mind long after the final credits have rolled.  Apparently some movie goers have been saying that The Killer Inside Me glorifies domestic violence & while the scenes in question were a little difficult to watch, I really couldn’t disagree with those people more.  Sam from Icon (Remember her? She was lovely.) told everyone about director Michael Winterbottom’s desire to stay true to the novel upon which this book is based.  In my opinion he handles a difficult topic with class & artistry.  I think it’s more than fair to say that Affleck’s character is far more unnerving than the graphic scenes of domestic violence which he depicts.  Telling his victims he loves them as he ends their existence.  It messed with my head so much that when my girlfriend called me afterwards, telling her I loved her as we said goodbye honestly felt truly evil.

The other thing I liked about this movie was that they didn’t go for cheap thrills.  There was quite a few sex scenes but no real nudity & by that I mean no nipples.  A few bum cheeks but no nipples.  It would have been so easy to just flash a few tits across the screen & guarantee yourself some quick publicity.  Perhaps it was artistic integrity, perhaps it was just that Jessica Alba’s chest wouldn’t fit into the movie’s budget but I really feel that it helped give the movie that 1950’s feel they were chasing.

I’m about to break a long standing rule of mine.  I’m about to talk about the end of a movie.  I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is a spoiler but I was a little disappointed with the very end of the movie.  I can’t tell you exactly what I didn’t like but it was a very small thing.  The only reason I mention it is because it was the VERY end of the movie & everybody knows that the end is the important bit.  You’re always better off to have a huge screw up in the middle of a movie than a small one at the end.  There were a few other things I didn’t like.  Some parts of the story seemed a little rushed.  I find this sometimes happens when you try to jam a whole novel into just a couple of hours.  There were one or two plot holes as well.  I don’t know if these were in the original story or if they were also the result of trying to squeeze the contents of a book into the dimensions of the big screen but they were slightly annoying.

All in all this movie was brilliant.  Some hiccups in the story are all too easily overlooked when they are compared to the brilliance of the acting, scripting & cinematography.  The Killer Inside Me opens this weekend so if you’re in the mood for a good watch I’d say check it out.  Just don’t plan on feeling all warm & fuzzy when you leave.

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye Forever.

Luke Venables
Alaskan Chilli Bean Farmer