Tag Archives: russia

You Need to Know If Your Girlfriend is a Russian Spy – NOW MORE THAN EVER!

Check this out, 3.5 readers. I called it way back on March 31, 2016:

The Russians.

Oh sure, they say they want to be our friends but then as soon as we aren’t looking they kick the Ukraine in the balls and give East Europe a wedgie.

See that? Ahh, if only the head muckety mucks over at NATO HQ had bothered to read my fine blog, we could have avoided Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine and be putting our focus where it needs to be, namely, why the hell does the Academy keep nominating movies we have never seen for the Oscars?

But I digress, 3.5 comrades. In case you missed it, here are the top ten warning signs your girlfriend might be a Russian spy.

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Movie Review – Major Grom: Plague Doctor (2020)

Wow, 3.5 readers. It’s official. The Russkis have entered the comic book movie world.

BQB here with a review.

So like the rest of you, I was scrolling through Netflix’s Top Ten the other day and came across a film by the above name. I thought it sounded like a dumb name for a movie but then again, when I scroll through most of Netflix’s original offerings and read the titles and descriptions, it makes me feel like their entire greenlight strategy is that there’s a chimpanzee in a business suit in the basement of Netflix HQ throwing darts at various words and phrases and whatever the darts land on ends up being the next show.

But I digress.

It turns out this is a Russian movie. It’s dubbed in English but you can tell it’s a bit off, i.e. it might make more sense if you knew Russian and saw it in the original Russian, but then you’d also have to know Russian expressions, manners of speech, accents, colloquialisms etc. Sometimes I wonder if these movies are better not dubbed. For example, I thought the IP Man movies were better with the subtitles and lost something when they got popular and were dubbed with English speaking actors. With the subtitles, you could find out what they were saying but then also hear what is emphasized, what isn’t in the native language even though you don’t understand it.


Bubble Studios is behind this, a name I’d never heard of until coming across this movie. After looking it up, it turns out they’ve been bringing American style comic books to Russia for the past ten years, with the ultimate goal of making a movie and this is it.

It stars some Russian guy as the titular Major Igor Grom (yeah I’m not looking up all the actors and stuff I am too lazy), a St. Petersburg police detective with a reputation for being tough on crime, not afraid of skirting the rules if it means putting a bad guy behind bars. The beginning sequence and aftermath, where he chases down a van of bank robbers by wrecks half the city while doing so, only to end up getting yelled at by his captain makes me think some Russian film executive somewhere is a fan of the Lethal Weapon series and all the cop movie tropes that come with it.

Moving on, after the obligatory, “Give me your badge and OK you can have your badge back we have bigger problems!” sequence, we learn the son of a powerful billionaire has, in a most crooked manner, been released on charges stemming from him running an orphan down with his fancy sports car. From this incident, the vigilante known as the Plague Doctor is born. In olden times, Plague Doctors, with their big long beak masks, would treat the diseases, sometimes setting fire to afflicted areas if need be.

Here, the vigilante sees corrupt rich oligarchs as the modern disease that he must burn with the fire shooting fists of his elaborate costume.

Naturally, Grom must investigate, with a nerdy rookie sidekick in tow and a love interest in the form of an intrepid lady journalist on his arm. Sometimes he stops to eat a burrito (I think it is a burrito unless it is a Russian treat I don’t know about) to give him personality.

Overall, the movie is very silly, laden with plot holes, and sort of reeks of Russian film execs saying, “Hey look! We can sell out just as hard as the Americans!” A lot of stylized action and so forth, a lot of explosions and special effects and the occasional attempt at humor or plot explanation.

There are some things will come across as odd to Americans. For example, the Plague Doctor becomes popular on social media, leading some to ask why the government doesn’t just shut his postings down – after all, he’s hamming it up for likes and might stop if his attention goes away. Clearly, the Russian government has a greater power to do that than in the US. The freedom of speech becomes a key plot point – if we pick and choose who can speak, pretty soon the government will warp that into just shutting down any and all governmental criticism. Still, sometimes people say things that are pretty awful. In America, we’ve accepted that we have to accept people saying awful things as the cost of saying everything else we need or want to say, and of course, one person’s awful thing to say is another man’s firmly held believe so where does it end and where does it begin?

There are also some cultural differences that some American viewers might question. For example, Yulia, at first a thorn in Grom’s side as a journalist who keeps bothering him and later a love interest, obtains her goals through trickery and deception, for she lacks Grom’s muscles which he uses to smack the answers he needs out of most of the film’s goons and henchmen. In an American film, Yulia would just smack the goons around herself, the 300 pound brutes being flung wildly through the air upon a single kick from her tiny high heel shoe, although to the film’s credit (SPOILER) she does get to mace a couple of baddies so that’s fun. At any rate though, my brain registered a few moments where American feminists might be rattling off a curtly lettered complaint letter to…I’m not sure where such letters go in Russia…probably some bureaucrat in Siberia I guess.

Long story short, this is probably something I never would have watched if we a) weren’t in a pandemic where Hollywood has scaled back and new, blockbuster American films are few and far between lately and b) if Netflix didn’t put it in front of me. I would have never gone in search of Russian comic book movies. It was fun and I suppose the rub is now that I watched one I’ll probably watch a sequel.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy, though I do worry about the implications of the Russians entering the global blockbuster type popcorn munching movie market. The movie is fun and makes Russia seem like a nice place to live where tough guy cops like Grom have the citizen’s back. However, I’m not sure these movies ever would ever criticize the Russian government or Putin. Maybe there are Russian legal reasons why they can’t or maybe, more understandably, they just won’t because they don’t want to wake up cracking rocks in the gulag one day. I’m not sure what life is like for the average Russian and info coming out of that country seems to be scarce. My gut tells me its probably better than it was during the Cold War but not as good as it could be. Somewhere in there but what do I know? All we know is Putin has been president for what? Twenty something years? There isn’t a true democracy that would keep anyone in power for twenty something years. Add to that how Putin’s critics have a tendency to go belly up and well…I just worried a growing trend of Russian action/comic book movies might leave Americans thinking, “Hey, look! It’s a lot of fun over there! No need to worry about human rights abuses and so on.”

Putting the obligatory geo-political worries aside, the movie is fun and it isn’t lost on me that Grom has no powers other than he punches bad guys in the face, then eats a burrito while his girlfriend and nerdy sidekick do all the paperwork, which let’s be honest, is probably the Russian version of having a superpower.

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Movie Review – The Death Of Stalin (2017)

Grab your glasnost, 3.5 comrades.  It’s time for some perestroika.

BQB here with a review of the comedic farce, The Death of Stalin.

At the outset, you wouldn’t a movie about the death of one of the most prolific mass murderers in history would be the stuff of comedy gold.  Ironically, you’d be wrong.  As the film takes you by the hand and introduces you to the ultra-paranoid society of 1950s Russia, you immediately find a time when the tiniest slip-up, be it a poorly chosen word, an unavoidable mistake or even the wrong look on your face can land you and your family imprisoned in a gulag if you’re lucky, or lined up against a wall and shot if you’re not.

I know.  It still doesn’t sound funny, does it?  Well, there is plenty of horror mixed in, but the humor comes from the political wrangling of Stalin’s boot licking lackeys in the wake of their fearless leader’s demise.  All sat idly by and supported the executions of millions of their countrymen, but now, they’re so desperate to save their own skins that they’ll say or do anything, literally anything…no matter how foolish it makes them look, or how obviously contrary to the obvious truth it may be.

Early on in the film, we’re given a primer on life for the average Russian under Stalin.  A symphony’s performance concludes, and musicians and audience members alike begin to retire for the evening.  Suddenly, a technician for the local radio station covering the event receives a telephone call.  Stalin himself wants a copy of the recording of the performance to listen to.

Problem?  There isn’t one.  The performance was just broadcast live.  In any other world, the tech’s head wouldn’t be in danger.  He’d simply apologize and promise to do better, making a note to be sure to record all future performances.

But failure isn’t an option here.  Ergo, the technician, fearful for his own life, turns from mild-mannered man to furious beast, locking the symphony hall doors and barking orders at audience members and musicians alike, demanding they all return to their places and do it again.

Once the situation is explained to all in attendance, they comply.  Impoverished peasants are brought in to replace audience members who already left.  You wouldn’t think fewer audience members would be a big deal but the tech sweats every last detail, fearful that fewer bodies will throw the acoustics off.  Meanwhile, the conductor has already left, so an alternate maestro is rousted out of bed and left to conduct the re-do in his bath robe.

Ultimately, hundreds of people all come together to remake the evening’s performance, all fearful that a refusal to play their part will learn to their imminent deaths.

This is life under Stalin.  It isn’t just a matter of shut your mouth and tow the Communist Party line, although even that to someone from a free society would seem unbearable.  No, it’s worse than that.  Stalin’s grip is so ironclad that the slightest, most unintended offense is enough to bring about your doom.

When Stalin falls terminally ill, the race is on for his inner circle of toadies and yes men to save their hides as well as their political careers.  They must walk a delicate tight rope in which they outdo each other in being the loudest to proclaim their love of Stalin, all the while trying to implement reforms that will keep the people from revolting amidst a power vacuum.  If you’re impressed by the reforms, don’t be.  People will still be imprisoned and shot, just fewer and not as at random.

Ultimately, it’s a battle royale between Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale) the head of the Russian Secret Police and the man who carries out Stalin’s executions and Communist party secretary Nikita Khruschev (Steve Buscemi.)

Beria is a sadist, a cold and calculating killer whose psychopathic ways are fully sanctioned by the state, giving him an air of heroism when at any time he’d probably be more suited for a straight jacket in a mental hospital.  On a regular basis, he delivers lists of people who Stalin wants killed to his forces, including intricate orders of how these so-called enemies are to die.  When you hear, “Shoot her first but make sure he sees it,” you, the viewer, realize you’re not watching a government at work but rather, a glorified Mafia organization.

Beria’s resume is so gruesome that you wonder why you haven’t heard of him.  On top of the murders, he’s also a serial rapist.  He openly boasts of the scores of wives who have sex with him in the hopes that doing so will get their husbands released from prison.  Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.  On top of that, he’s a pedophile, ordering his men to scoop up young girls to be used as his playthings.

He is a schemer and his struggle for power is humorous.  His idea of reform is to strike Stalin’s kill lists and replace them with kill lists of his own.

Meanwhile, Buscemi plays Khruschev like a washed up old stand up comic.  Each evening, Nikita goes home and dictates the day’s doings to his wife, who writes down every joke and comment he made to Stalin, along with Stalin’s reaction.  In the morning, his wife reads back the list, and Nikita commits to memory the topics that got a positive reaction and a negative one, thus reinforcing to the secretary what he needs to say and not say in order to keep his head on his shoulders another day.

As Beria and Nikita try to one up each other, they each vye for the hearts and minds of Stalin’s crew of degenerates.  These include Jeffrey Tambor as Malenkov, Stalin’s heir apparent who obviously isn’t suited for the job.  Tambor plays the part as a nervous man with a perpetually unsettled stomach, one who is weak and indecisive, changing his mind regularly on which man he’ll support based on who is currently pulling ahead in the battle of wits.

Molotov, another henchman, becomes a crucial power player.  Stalin’s death allows Beria to save him from a kill list but Nikita lobbies him extensively.  Despite having been placed on a kill list, Molotov still speaks highly of Stalin and even openly curses his beloved yet long imprisoned wife as a traitor, not because he believes any of this but because he wants to stay alive.

In the end, you find yourself rooting for Nikita as the least shitty apple in a bunch of truly shitty apples.  My main criticism is that as shitty as Beria is, you might lose sight amidst the hi-jinx that Nikita and company all stood by and were happy to let him do his evil deeds as long as it suited them, only to then distance themselves from the madness when it equally suited them.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  If you watch it and still think socialism is a good idea, get your head examined.

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Top Ten Quotes From Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

#1 – “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart.”
#2 – “When reason fails, the devil helps!”
#3 – “We’re always thinking of eternity as an idea that cannot be understood, something immense. But why must it be? What if, instead of all this, you suddenly find just a little room there, something like a village bath-house, grimy, and spiders in every corner, and that’s all eternity is. Sometimes, you know, I can’t help feeling that that’s what it is.”
#4 – “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”
#5 – “To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.”
#6 – “The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
#7 – “I used to analyze myself down to the last thread, used to compare myself with others, recalled all the smallest glances, smiles and words of those to whom I’d tried to be frank, interpreted everything in a bad light, laughed viciously at my attempts ‘to be like the rest’ –and suddenly, in the midst of my laughing, I’d give way to sadness, fall into ludicrous despondency and once again start the whole process all over again – in short, I went round and round like a squirrel on a wheel.”
#8 – “We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.”
#9 – “I did not bow down to you, I bowed down to all the suffering of humanity.”
#10 – “And the more I drink the more I feel it. That’s why I drink too. I try to find sympathy and feeling in drink…. I drink so that I may suffer twice as much!”
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Is Your Girlfriend a Russian Spy?

Lot of talk about Russian spies in the news lately, 3.5 readers.  Is your lady an agent for the Kremlin?

Only this handy top ten list can let you know for sure.

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In Case You Missed It – Is Your Girlfriend a Russian Spy?

The Russians are coming!  The Russians are coming…to your bedroom…dun dun dun.

Did you miss my list of the Top Ten Warning Signs Your Girlfriend Might Be a Russian Spy?

Fear not, 3.5 readers.  Check it out now:

Top Ten Warning Signs Your Girlfriend Might Be a Russian Spy


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Top Ten Warning Signs Your Girlfriend Might Be a Russian Spy


The Russians.

Oh sure, they say they want to be our friends but then as soon as we aren’t looking they kick the Ukraine in the balls and give East Europe a wedgie.

Let’s face it.  For many Russians the Cold War never ended and they’re looking for their chance to spread communism across the globe.

Fellow American men, here are some warning signs that your girlfriend might in fact be a Russian spy:

10.  You asked her if she is a Russian spy and her answer was “nyet.”  Nyet, of course, is Russian for “no.”  This is a clear sign your girlfriend is a Russian spy as an American woman would have responded, “No” or “Shut up and buy me something assface.”

9.  You glanced at her cell phone and noticed she has “Putin” listed in her contacts.

8.  She gets up in the middle of the night, strips naked, opens up the freezer and then just stands there taking in the cold blast.  You could question her about this, but she’ll just give you some bullshit excuse about it being some kind of weird sex fetish.  In actuality, she does this because it reminds her of summertime in her native Siberia.

7.  She can’t name a single player on the local baseball team.  (Note for this to work you need to not be a nerd who doesn’t know a single player on your local baseball team.)

6.  She has difficulty fitting in during social gatherings.  You and your friends always want to talk about movies, music and popular culture whereas she just keeps randomly blurting out stuff like, “Religion is the opiate of the masses!” and “When we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope we use!”

5.  Ever since she got a look at your fully stocked bathroom she’s been willing to do horrible, unspeakable things in the boudoir in exchange for a roll of two-ply.  “Pass the Charmin” has taken on an entirely new meaning.

4.  You have compared notes with your male friends.  When their girlfriends get mad at them, they get a lecture or the cold shoulder.  When your girlfriend gets mad at you, she slams her shoe down on the counter and shouts, “We will bury you!”

3.  Whenever you ask her where she wants to go on your next date, she invariably replies, “the Pentagon” then asks if you know whether or not they allow flash photography.

2.  She regularly asks if that is a hammer or a sickle in your pants or are you just happy to see her.

  1. You wake up often in the middle of the night to find your neck locked between her thighs, leaving you gasping for air.  You question her about it but she swears she’s just being kinky.  She’s not.  She’s trying to strangle the shit out of you like one of those damn double agent she-assassins that are always trying to kill James Bond.  Oh well.  We all have to go sometime and what a way to go.
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Bookshelf Q. Battler’s Ridiculous Technology

By:  The Siberian Yeti, Newly Self-Appointed Ruler of the Bookshelf Battle Blog

A question for you, 3.5 readers.

Is Bookshelf Q. Battler some type of wizard?  Is he a mage?  Does he dabble in the black arts?  Surely you, his trusted 3.5 readers, could shed some light on the subject.

I ask because I once assumed that with our Commodore 64, which allows us to play Tapper all the live long day, we Yetis were ripe with technological prowess.


Behold!  The Commodore 64 in all of its glory.  It allows us to play Zork, Galaga, and Tapper.  So much Tapper.  We cannot get enough of Tapper.

But as I survey the Bookshelf Battle Compound, I notice many devices that make the Commodore 64 look like a pile of Yeti droppings.

Did Bookshelf Q. Battler create these using magic?  Or, do you all have these devices and we Yetis just did not get the memo?  Perhaps you did not share news of this technology with us because you lousy Americans wish to conquer Siberia and put a Hooters restaurant on every street corner.  You would probably even build street corners.

Bookshelf Q. Battler has a device not much larger than standard pad of paper.  It is a single piece of glass with a few buttons and when I press them I am able to watch movies.  Movies and television shows all day long.  Does anyone in America work?  Is everyone in your country an actor?

This magic glass device has a picture of an apple.  I don’t get it.  Is it supposed to tell you where you keep the apples?  In Siberia, we are only allowed three apples per year.  I usually barter mine for more toilet paper squares.

Plus, Bookshelf Q. Battler’s computer has a game on it called Skyrim.  Apparently, Mr. Battler was pretending to fight dragons and marry peasant wenches all day.  And yet he whines about having no time to write.  Typical American cry baby.

I must procure a copy of this game to bring back to Siberia.  All other Commodore 64 games pale in comparison, except Topper.  Nothing can beat Topper.

We Siberian Yetis do not appreciate being kept in the dark about your technology, America.  You will be hearing from our Yeti lawyers.

I must go now and check on Bookshelf Q. Battler.  I am forcing to watch Olga’s Stew-stravaganza Part II: Electric Stewgaloo.

Commodore 64 Image Courtesy of Flickr User Pete Brown via a Creative Commons License

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Ten Ways to Stretch Your Toilet Paper Rations

By:  The Siberian Yeti, Newly Self-Apponted Ruler of the Bookshelf Battle Blog

3.5 readers.  How utterly decadent.  Very Western.  Very American.  Very “oh look at me, I’m a blogger, I’m special, I’m going to post a picture of what I ate for lunch today because I am so great everyone will want to know!”

Bozhe moi.  In my village, we have only one newspaper.  Literally, we only have one copy of a newspaper.  It was printed in 1943 and we Yetis have been reading it ever since.  It is our second favorite form of entertainment, the first being our state of the art Commodore 64.

But you Americans?  You have so many options to choose from when it comes to the written word.  So much free thought can’t be good for you.

You may notice that Bookshelf Q. Battler’s posts are still popping up now and then.  They will do that for awhile.  He has scheduled many posts in advance.

But rest assure, Mr. Battler and his Head of Security, Bookshelf Battle Dog, are locked up in the basement, where they are being forced to watch a selection of my favorite Russian films:

Olga’s Stew-stravaganza

Dude, Where’s My Yugo?

Ivan and Anatoly’s Adventure, Which Was No More or Less Excellent than the Adventures of Other Citizens

Vodka Wars

The Passion of the Ration 

For over a year, I have requested that Bookshelf Q. review my book, Ten Ways to Stretch Your Toilet Paper Rations.  Imbecile that he is, he has constantly refused me.

Now I know why.  Look at this ridiculous display of Western greed I found in the bathroom once occupied by the former proprietor of this so-called book blog:

Bookshelf Q. Battler, that is definitely more than 3 squares!

Bookshelf Q. Battler, that is definitely more than 3 squares!

As you are aware, we Siberians believe in weekly rations of three squares of toilet paper.  No more.  No less.  Frankly, we could get by on two.  We would be grateful to just have one.

But four squares?  Why don’t we just put on cowboy hats and have fake silicone bosoms attached to ourselves while we’re at it?

Now that Bookshelf Q. Battler is indisposed, he can no longer stand in my way.  I will now review my book myself.

Ten Ways to Stretch Your Toilet Paper Rations, a new non-fiction book by the Siberian Yeti, is a fantastic read.  You are all ordered to purchase it immediately.  End of review.

If you are unable to find my book on your favorite American website, Amazon, the site you fat, stupid, lazy Americans use to have flying robots deliver snacks and video games straight to your homes, thus allowing your copious bottoms to become one with your couches, then I will simply share the ten ways below:

Top Ten Ways to Stretch Your Toilet Paper Rations

10.  Pinecones.  Don’t ask.  You’ll figure it out.

9.  Stop eating.  You’ve had enough already.

8.  Use both sides.

7.  Subsidize your TP budget with leaves.

6.  Use pages from the 1943 newspaper.

5.  Seek assistance of rabbits, as suggested by noted American philosopher Eddie Murphy

4.  Horde TP squares during times of constipation, and they will be ready in times of dispensation.  Always be ready for times of boom and bust.

3.  Barter your services in exchange for payment in TP squares from your fellow man.

2.  Run through a car wash.  One day we might get cars that don’t fall apart when we wash them.

1. Hold it indefinitely.

Yes, my new book is sure to be a big time NYT bestseller.  Step aside, Mr. James Patterson.  Out of the way, Mr. Steven King.  The Siberian Yeti will be climbing the charts, all thanks to my conquest of a book blog viewed by 3.5 readers.

We Siberian Yetis do everything our government requests of us with no question.  You silly free-thinking Americans are no doubt filled with questions, so you may leave them in the comments below and I will respond with all the ways in which you are wrong.

I must go now and give Bookshelf Q. Battler his daily water ration.  One dixie cup.  No more.  No less.

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The Siberian Yeti Now in Control

Hello 3.5 Bookshelf Battle Readers.

The Siberian Yeti here.  I have returned to Bookshelf Battle HQ, made my way past Bookshelf Battle Dog, and have subdued legendary blogger, martial artist, international ladies’ man and magical bookshelf owner, the one and only Mr. Bookshelf Q. Battler.

yeti crash (2)

Top Secret Surveillance Footage of the Siberian Yeti Village Revealed!

No longer will he fill the minds of the masses with his spectacularly awesome ideas.  As the Mayor of the Siberian Yeti Village, I must keep people from thinking big ideas, lest they start thinking ludicrous thoughts, like three toilet paper squares per week are not enough.

Just look at the trash ideas this alleged book blogger is trying to sell you on:

A Book Review of Lock-In by John Scalzi – Robots and viruses, mystery and deception, too much stimulation for your pitiful American minds!  We Siberian Yetis prefer to watch mold grow on rocks.  That is all the excitement we can stand.

An Ask the Alien Column – Interactivity?  Blech!  Patooie, I say!  Why do you want to promote your book, blog, or writing project through the assistance of a rude and snarky alien when you could engage in the ancient Siberian Yeti art of snowball juggling?

These Silly “Can’t Stop the One Post a Day Challenge” Columns – Bookshelf Q. Battler claims he can defeat Highlanders, Chuck Norris, and zombies all in the name of bringing a daily dose of absurd nonsense to his 3.5 readers?  Preposterous!

Frank Underwood Reviews Green Eggs and Ham, House of Cards Parody – Such tomfoolery!  We Siberian Yetis have been watching House of Cards on our Commodore 64 at a rate of one frame per three days and we are totally rooting for the Russian President to crush Underwood like the capitalist pig that he is!

Defense of Shatner – How can Bookshelf Q. Battler defend a man who is the typical spoiled, rich Hollywood actor, complete with a toupee on his head that looks like a tribble?

Yes, I, the Siberian Yeti, am now in control of the Bookshelf Battle and from now on, there will be no interesting ideas on this blog whatsoever!  Get used to it, pitiful 3.5 readers!

Image Courtesy of Creative Commons License via Flickr User Hilary H – “Yeti Crash” 

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