Monday, April 30, 2007

Signs 4/30/07



Even though my heart is heavy with a pain that I brought upon myself, I know that I have reasons to be thankful to God. Things could always be a lot worse.
This doesn't solve the problem, or make the pain go away, but it helps me to keep my perspective in life.

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Quote for 4/30/07

"To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself."
Soren Kierkegaard

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Quote for 4/28/07

"It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get."
Confucius

It just jumped out at me. I just felt a need to post something.

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One simple step

I just had to do something, post something, to get out of this funk I'm in. That's why I picked the above Quote.
I still don't have it in my heart to write anything significant. But at least I'm moving forward. After all, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.", right?

Just consider that a bonus Quote from Confucious

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Missing

I just stopped by to tell everyone that I just haven't had it in my heart to write anything lately.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Quote for 4/17/07

"At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst."
Aristotle

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Signs 4/16/07



There is hope for this world after all. I was so happy to see this sign today after the last two weeks.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

What YINZ missed

Well, last night was the Celebratory Dinner of My Divorce.
Actually, to be completely fair and honest about the whole thing, it was more a celebration of my Brand New Life. And for something like that you need to be surrounded by friends.
It was a great time. We all had a great dinner. I had the Sirloin Marsala, which was absolutely incredible. A nice juicey, medium-rare steak smothered in mushrooms, herbs and marsala wine sauce. Also had the baked potato and wedding soup - which was almost as good as mine. Don't remember what everyone else had. All I know was that everyone enjoyed it.
Now for the pics.
I'm glad we finally got a good shot of me and my lady, Trish.

Left to right, this is my friend/co-worker Charmae with my friend/co-worker/sister, Merry, whom you probably remember from our road trip to see the Indigo Girls a week or so ago.

I thought it only fitting to get a picture of my best friend in the world, JT, with my lady. I was surrounded by people who love me last night.

Also left to right, this is one of my other co-workers, Dave, our server, and Dave's wife Nicole.

It's kinda funny how they managed to join us. P.Dave had texted JT to say he and his wife weren't going to make it. Dave and Nicole had actually shown up to meet with Charmae for later on, but everything was running a bit behind, so we invited them to join us. That's when JT texted back to P.Dave that we had a replacement Dave (so there !!!). JT also kept a steady stream of text messages going to our friend Becca who was supposed to come, but decided I wasn't important enough. So I'm demoting her from dear friend, to friend.
After dinner we headed into the bar and really started to celebrate. We all did a shot together at first - beat's a lame-ass bottle of Champagne that wouldn't even give us each a good swig. The ladies had Buttery Nipples, while the guys had Jack Daniels. I did another shot of Jack before settling in with a rum-n-coke. JT had a Sambuca. The girls (seen below) were all doing "girlie shots" of some concotion with Peach Schnapps, and cranberry - there was something else in it too, but I can't remember what it was.

It was a really great time, and a wonderful way to celebrate the positive changes that are taking place in my life. Wish yinz all could've been there.
Oh, well, maybe next time.

Sidenote: Trish had a bit too much to drink, so I made her come home with me for the night...

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Pre-show

Let me start by saying that I achieved the desired effect from my haircut before we headed to Mr. Smalls. We started our evening by going to Cici's Pizza for dinner. And that's where it happened.
I had my hair gelled back, my sleevless T-shirt, and my black leather jacket on when we walked in. There was a woman standing at the counter with two small children. She turned from the cashier and saw me with Bob and Matt, both of whom were looking kinda pseudo-goth/punk in their all black clothing. I smiled at her as she started to turn back to the register. As she did, one of her kids began to wander towards me. In a split second she reached out her hand and took hold of the boy's wrist as she said "Come over here Josh."
Bob and Matt both looked at me and we chuckled a little at this.
I've always enjoyed seeing how people will judge a book by it's cover. In fact, many of my closest friends have had to struggle with their original perceptions of who I am because of my outward appearance. When I first started to attend my church, many of the people who met me believed me to be just another recovering addict from the neighborhood. Then I had a conversation about the book of Revelations with some of the more learned members of the congregation and everyone's attitiude toward me changed. Now I'm one of the Elders. Even my dear friend/sister/co-worker, Merry had misconceptions about me before we started to have more indepth discussions about topics like classical music, spirituality, politics, culture, and so on and so on.
I guess what I'm getting at is this; I like knowing that the people who care most about me care about me for who I really am, not for who I might appear to be. It's a good feeling. And for those who aren't willing to go past my surface, they're the ones who are really losing out.
Anyways...
After gorging ourselves on pizza and such we headed off to the concert. It only took us about 45 minutes to get there, and that was with rush hour traffic.
We arrived to see a line of people stretched from the entrance around the side of the former church, that was now Mr. Smalls. We found a parking space about a block and a half away and walked to the club to wait with the rest of the crowd. Once inside we found our places and waited for the show to begin...

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Dropping Daylight

I almost didn't like Dropping Daylight. When they first hit the stage everyone noticed that the drumer was wearing a Cleveland Indians T-shirt. Ya know, that can be fatal in Pittsburgh, n'at. But their music made up for the error.
I liked this band. They had a good pop-alternative sound. And they had a lot of energy on stage. They certainly earned their keep, even if they only got to play 6 songs.

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Fair to Midland

I used to be one of those who believed the adage that "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all." But if I followed that rule with this band, I wouldn't be able to post anything about them.
These guys really sucked !!!
The guitars, keyboards and vocals were so mushed together that my only way of telling that there was music playing was because I could feel the drums and bass. They were too heavily reliant on sound bytes, keyboard programing and vocal effects to have any real sound of their own. The vocalist moved like a rag-doll having epileptic siezures. And the guitarist, who decided to go shirtless, was nothing more than pasty, white skin over a gaunt, almost skeletal, frame. I wanted to hurl.
These guys couldn't get off the stage fast enough for me, or most of the people around me.

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Skillet

I have been a fan of Skillet for several years now, and this was my first chance to see them live. It was everything I'd hoped it would be.
They're an intense, high energy, alternative Christian band with an incredible message that doesn't just focus on their Christian message, but on so many other aspects of life. They came out swinging with Whispers in the Dark (the video at their site is just as intense as the actual show - minus the crowd). And it's a song that has had a significant impact on me and the way in which I try to reach out to people that I meet who are in pain, or in need. It's also one of the songs which really helped me to get through some of the pain of my divorce.
I don't rememeber the complete set list, all I know is that I knew the words to every song. Their vocalist, and bassist, John Cooper, explained the origins of a few of the songs. Letting the audience know exactly where he was coming from. I mentioned John Cooper as one of my heroes because he not only puts on a great show, but he is one incredible songwriter. You can feel the pain from his own life that he writes about in his songs. And you can feel the compassion and heart that he has for others who are going through, or have gone through, that pain in their own lives. From the girl he talked to about suicide that inspired the song Last Night, to dealing with his abusive father as a child in Savior. And I think that's what makes Skillet such an intense band.
I got to meet John after the show. Not as some star-struck fan, but as someone who's old enough to know that a little encouragement, even when you're riding high, is always a good thing. I simply walked up to him, shook his hand and said; "I just wanted to tell you that your music has been really important in getting me through some rough times in my life. It helped me to get through a somewhat painful divorce, and some other difficult things. Thank you.".
He responded by saying; "Thanks, that means a lot to me, and thanks for coming tonight." I noticed a look in his eyes that said something akin to "wow" - as if what I said actually mattered to him.
So I placed my hand on his shoulder and told him "I knew that you would appreciate knowing that." Then I turned to walk away as he told me that he did appreciate knowing it.
One of the things I've always loved about being involved in Christian music is the fact that the people who are the "stars" are always so down to earth and respectful of their fans, and the people that their music touches. They are always willing to take the time to sit and meet and talk to the people that come to see them. And it is just as big a deal to them as it is to the fans. They fully appreciate the fact that their music, their words, their art is touching people and impacting their lives. And not always in a way that speaks of religion, but just a way that says, "Hey, I know what you're feeling, what you're going through, and you're not alone in it.". And sometimes, that's all someone needs to hear to get through another day.

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Flyleaf

I wasn't sure what to expect from Flyleaf, because I wasn't very familiar with their music. But I like them now.
They're a solid alternative band with a good sound. Their vocalist, Lacy, has a fantastic presence on the stage considering her petite size. The guitars are amazing, but the most imprssive part of their show is their bassist, Pat Seals - another one of my heroes.
Talk about energy. This guy never stopped moving. And he didn't just run around the stage - while still holding down the bassline. He moved around in leaps and bounds. Literally.
There were two risers on the stage. One for Lacy, and a small, ramp-like stand for Pat. As soon as the music started he jumped from his stand, which was at front stage left, clear to the back right of the stage, next to the drummer. From there he leaped forward to the speaker stacks, which he presently climbed on top of, only to jump back down and then jummped to the far back, left of the stage. That was all during the first song. And he never stopped !!!
Actually, the only time he stood still for more than a few seconds was when he was working the crowd. He spent plenty of time at the front of the stage leaning into the crowd, looking longingly toward the Mosh Pit.
I suppose I should mention the music. Like I said, it was good, and I liked it. But I'm still only vaguely familiar with it since I couldn't really hear the words. Lacy's vocals were strong enough, but there was to much noise and action coming from the Mosh Pit. So the only words I really heard were the ones coming from the girls who were standing around me. I'm glad they knew the songs.
In any event, it was a lot of fun to be in this crowd, watching this band.

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Periferals and whatnot

Bob:
Why is my son, Bob one of my heroes?
For one, he started the Mosh Pit !!! Yes, my son started the Mosh Pit. Some guy was jumping up and down next to him and kept stomping on Bob's feet. So Bob pushed him away. Somebody else pushed the guy back, and Bob started to Mosh with him.
I'm so proud of that boy.
Secondly, as we were mulling around after the show, waiting for Skillet to come out and meet everyone, he was scoping out all of the girls that were also hanging around. By the time I got back from my little encounter with John Cooper, he had gathered several "myspace" and email addresses from some of the girls. He is such a stud muffin !!!

Speaking of teenage girls...

The Accidental Pedophile:
Being in the Mosh Pit was a very strange experience for me this time since there were so many teenage girls slamming around in there. And I must say that I don't remember teenage girls being so well-endowed when I was that age. I also don't remember them being so scantily clad, either. But then again, girls didn't have access to Victoria's Secret, or Wonderbra's when I was that age. So maybe it was all a matter of perception.

Big Daddy:
Perhaps after what I just wrote above, this guy wasn't as big an ass as he seemed to be when I encounterd him.
Anyways, there was this guy, about my age - a little shorter but close to the same body size as me - standing a few feet away from me with his wife and two daughters. The girls looked to be about 13 years old, and he was watching them like a hawk. Now, I don't blame him for being cautious. If it were me I'd be watching too. But he was being a real jerk about it to the point where he wasn't allowing people to move towards the exit if they came too close to his daughters. At one point he even pushed two boys back away from himself while they were trying to get out to the bathroom. I know this because he pushed them into me.
This was not a big deal considering that I was in and out of the Mosh Pit quite a bit. But these kids just wanted to get out to the bathroom and he wasn't letting them get past him because of his girls. Even when they tried to go behind him, he pushed them away and into me again.
So I listened for a moment as the two guys griped about the situation. Then I noticed that Big Daddy was trying to stare them down. So I felt as if there was something I should do. I shot a glance at him as if to say "Hey, what gives?". He didn't like that, so he began to stare at me.

Word of warning here; never try to stare down a guy who can make one of his eyes roll up into his head. Especially if he has a cross branded onto his sholder...

So that's what I did. I rolled my eye, my brand was already visible, and I stared back at him. He was obviously trying to intimidate me into not getting involved. It wasn't working because I'm not a teenage boy.
He flinched.
When he turned to step back and away from me, with a rather unsettled look on his face, the two kids looked at me and smiled as they walked past Big Daddy to the bathrooms.
I understand wanting to protect your kids when you're at a concert, but when you show up to something that was as crowded as this place was, you have to be willing to cut people a little slack. Not every guy is trying to molest your daughter. "Ligthen up, Francis." or leave the girls at home the next time.

OK, I guess that's all I have to share. I still wish I had pics though.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No pics

I'm sorry to announce that I did not get any pics from last night's concert. Digital cameras were not permitted. Cell phones and disposables were, I suppose because of their inferior quality, but no real cameras were allowed to be brought in.
Of course, that doesn't explain the handful of people who did have them even though I was the dutiful drone who returned my camera to my car. I probably could've smuggled mine in, but I probably would've felt guilty afterwards. But I'm also sure that guilty feeling would've disappeared once I started snapping some really great pics of all the bands.
Oh, well...
I almost feel like not posting about it all because it just seems so lame to go on about how awesome the show was without the pics to support my reviews. But I will post about it all anyways. Just not right now.
I've got some stuff I need to take care of and I just don't have the time to put up the posts that I want to write concerning last night. So it'll have to wait until later tonight or possibly even tomorrow. So, suffice it to say, last night was absolutely incredible !!!

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My Hero

One other thing I have to post about before I run.
After last night, I have to say that my son, Bob, is my hero.
OK, wait, my son, Bob, and John L Cooper of Skillet, are my heros after last night.
No, wait, my son, Bob, John L Cooper of Skillet, and the bassist of Flyleaf (whose name escapes me at the moment - but I'll find out before I post again), are my heros after last night.

I'll bet you're just dying to find out why, aren't ya?

Well, you'll just have to wait until I post about all of it later.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Psyched !!!

Got another Concert to go to tonight.
Skillet.
Posts with pics tomorrow. I highly recommend checking out the audio and video offerings in the Now Playing section at their site.
Ya gotta love a band that has a chick drummer !!!

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Somewhat disappointed

I may have to discontinue my Signs label.
For the last two weekends there hasn't been anything posted on the YMCA reader but upcoming events and sign-up dates. The scriptural messages aren't there anymore. And it get's worse...
Talking to Mom yesterday, she informed me that the lady whose responsibility it was to decide what goes on the reader has retired. And the new person doesn't seem to have such an appreciation for the fact that the "C" in YMCA stands for Christian.
Perhaps it's only an oversight, but I do hope this wasn't a shortlived little distraction on my blog. I really enjoyed posting the signs, and my own commentaries. And judging from the responses, some of you did as well.

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Quote for 4/9/07

"Don't try to be different. Just be good. To be good is different enough."
Arthur Freed

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Typical of me

Every year it's the same. Easter rolls around and I feel as if I should have something significant to post about my faith. But I never really do.
Every year it's the same. I sit here and watch countless specials and "documentaries" on Jesus, Christianity, the Church, and all of the questions that have been pondered over my faith throughout the last 2000+ years. And still I can't focus enough on any of it to make a really good post about my own views of such things.
Every year it's the same. I simply fall on God's mercy and thank Him, with everything that is in my being, for the great love and salvation that He has shown me, shown us. I can do nothing else.

Happy Resurrection Celebration !!!

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

On the road

So, what exactly was a Pittsburgher doing in Cleveland for anything other than a Steelers/Browns game?
Well, my dear friend, and co-worker (who is like a sister to me), Merry, had tickets to see the Indigo Girls in Cleveland. She actually had four tickets and asked if I might be interested in taking Trish. Unfortunately Trish couldn't make it, and I nearly didn't go myself. But then Merry's roomate backed out and left Merry without a way of getting there. And rather than allow my friend to be disappointed, we decided that we should go there together and Merry would give away the other pair of tickets to someone there who really wanted them.
The road trip was pleasant as we listened to CD's, mostly Indigo Girls - so I could become more familiar with their material - and talked about whatever. We arrived in Cleveland at about 3:00 and stopped for a bite to eat before heading to the amphitheater. We got there just in time to hear the sound checks.
Merry found a great place for us to stand outside of the gates. We could see right through the gap in the gateposts and that's how I got these shots. They're not very clear, but you can make out some of the activity on the stage.

The gates didn't open til 5:00, so we wandered about outside looking for anyone who might need tickets. Eventually I saw a young lady approaching the ticket booth, so I stopped her and asked her if she wanted free tickets. She seemed a little unsure of this, but I assured her that I had a friend who was giving away two tickets. I found Merry, who had been standing at the gateposts watching the activity inside, and introduced her to the girl. She only needed one ticket but immediately got on her phone to find someone who would be willing to join her.
Merry and I went back to watching the sound check.

Once the gates opened we headed inside and started checking things out. It was a nice amphitheater. And the set-up was good.

We mulled around a bit before finding our seats and settling in. This was the angle we had for the show.

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Three 5 Human

"I know y'all are thinkin' "What the hell are these black people doin' on stage rockin' the hell out of us?"."
Trina
This is Three 5 Human. They were an incredible act, and they ROCKED !!!

When Tres looked at me and did this, I knew it was gonna be a great show. There was a lot of energy up there.

Each of the Girls came out to do a song with them. Amy was out first.

Then half way through the set Emily joined them.

You could feel the energy coming from this band. And you could tell they were feeding off of the energy that we were giving back to them. It's just a shame that Merry and I were pretty much the only people standing up and enjoying the concert. But there's more about the crowd in my next post. These guy's still put on a great show.

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The crowd

I've seen some boring crowds before. but this one was pretty lame. And believe me I know lame audiences. Being the fan of Christian music that I am, I've seen plenty of audiences that refuse to get up and move around because, depending on your denominational affilation, it would be too much like dancing. And dancing is a sin, you know? To which I always reply - "Oh, yeah? Then explain King David to me ..."

But I digress...
Now this guy, I had a lot of respect for him because he was up and moving the whole time. Just like Merry and I (well, not so much me - I was just taking pictures). And he was having a great time and didn't care who saw him. God bless him.

And I know that you can't make out anything specific about her, but the lone standing figure in this shot was the young lady that Merry gave her extra tickets to. It made us both feel really good about giving them to her since she was obviously enjoying the concert with us. She called Merry a Godsend because she really couldn't afford to pay for the tickets, but she really wanted to be there. We were both glad to have helped.

The people behind us complained that they couldn't see with us standing up and asked if we were going to be standing for the whole show because they paid for their tickets too. And since they didn't like my advice that they could stand up and enjoy the show with us, we decided to move around to the sides and out of everyone's way.
But I said it in the nicest possible way...

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Indigo Girls

All I can say about the Indigo Girls is that they are incredibly talented musicians and vocalists. I was in awe of them the entire time, and I'm just beginning to familiarize myself with their music.



At some point during the set, Trina of Three 5 Human, joined the girls for a song. She too is one incredible vocalist.

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More Indigo Girls

About 2/3 of the way through the concert, the crowd finally came to life and started moving closer to the stage. Merry and I beat everyone to the front because we were already up and moving.
Actually, to be completely honest, Merry had been moving towards the front before anyone else had gotten the idea. Then the security guard waved her on up and that's when we made our move. So I managed to get a few good close up shots of the Girls.
After that, the crowd just followed our lead, and the whole show took on a different feel altogether. It was awesome !!!




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Encore

Three 5 Human came out with the Girls for the encore and it was amazing !!! Again, there was so much energy on that stage you could feel it. They did three songs, but I only knew two of them. they covered Midnight Train to Georgia, and I believe they ended the night with Tether - which totally ROCKED !!!



I am so glad I captured this image. For me, this says everything you need to know about the energy that was flowing through everyone.

In this one, you can barely make out Amy jamming with the drummer on the drum stand. It was another great capture for me.

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Set List

Yield
Pendulum Swinger
Heartache For Everyone
It's Alright
Money Made You Mean
Power Of Two
Devotion
Lay My Head Down
Three County Highway
Get Out The Map
Watershed
Shame On You
Closer To Fine
(Merry thinks this is when the security guard waved her up to the front)
Kid Fears
Land Of Canaan
Galileo

Encore:
Rock And Roll Heaven's Gate
Midnight Train To Georgia
Tether

Thanks, Merry, for e-mailing the list to me.

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Wrapping it up

The show ended and we let the crowd filter out a good bit before we finally decided to make our way to the exit. That's when we ran into Liberty, selling his wares. He was a lively individual and quite friendly, even to us Pittsburghers.
Merry posed with Liberty here.

We lingered in the parking lot for a little while longer, talking to some of the other stragglers, before we headed for home. There was a full moon to keep us company for the ride, but I can never get a good shot of that. It always turns out looking like a blob of white on a black background.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Worth the wait

I took a little "Road Trip" yesterday with my friend/sister/co-worker, Merry. We went to Cleveland to see the Indigo Girls. Yeah, I know, what's a self-respecting Pittsburgher doing in Cleveland for anything other than a Steelers/Browns game? I'll explain that later. As it stands, I have a several tales to tell and plenty of pics from the event. I just don't have any time to post or download any of it. So just stay tuned.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Quote for 4/1/07

"Silence is the virtue of fools."
Francis Bacon

Happy April Fools Day !!!

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The next step

Step number 1 was actually filing for the divorce. Number 2 was getting my brand (yes, you can still see the video of the event). And now for step number 3 in the exploration of my Brand New Life; I cut my hair yesterday.
Now, keep in mind, I was expecting my hair to be a little bit longer when I planned this particular look. But the divorce didn't take as long as I thought it would. Still, I'm OK with how it looks at the moment.

All I did was wash it, slap a little gel in it, and then combed it staight back.

I'm hoping to have the full length down to the middle of my back by the end of summer.

This is what it looks like without the gel, but pulled back into a pony-tail. The front isn't quite long enough for the right look, yet.

And, of course, with no fuss or additives, it almost looks like there's no difference. I just comb it back after I wash it and let it dry the same way I always did.

Now, as soon as I can really afford to get the tattoo work done, I'll be on my way to step number 4.

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Quotes from 3/2007

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