Oh, Fifty-Seven


The Blog of The Stony Brook Statesman

“Coraline” – The not so childish cartoon.


"Coraline" (2009) / Media credit: Dreadcentral.com

“Coraline,” Henry Selick’s  newest movie has been a box office hit. Originally a novel by Neil Gaiman, it was published in 2002 and has been created into a cartoon.

Henry Selick, the producer of movies such as “Nightmare Before Christmas” does not aim to shelter children but rather shock them into understanding. The movies mantra, “Be careful what you wish for” takes on a life of its own in this movie as the plot unravels. While Selick claimed to aim this movie at a children around 8 years of age, that is certainly debatable.

The movie starts off introducing us to the main character, Coraline Jones, voiced by Dakota Fanning. We are greeted with a somber setting and a fairly ugly, pink Victorian-style house. We quickly learn that Coraline is not pleased at having moved to this boring place, and despite her attempts to engage her parents, she is shooed away for pestering them with their very stressful stay at home jobs.

Coraline then finds a tiny door hidden behind wallpaper that she coerses her mother into letting her open in exchange for some peace and quiet. This is when things take a turn for the creepy.

As advertised in spoilers, Coraline starts visiting this other realm that she finds behind this small door. While at first the other world was everything that she had wanted, she quickly starts to see the holes developing in this perfect facade.

The cartoon is extremely visually stimulating, filled with vibrant scenes that will have you blinking to refocus your eyes once you have left the theater.

Coraline quickly watches her fantasy world turn into her personal nightmare. Here is where my dilemma with calling this a children’s cartoon comes into play. Certainly a movie that a family can watch together, “Coraline” is also the kind of movie that can and most likely will give a sensitive child nightmares.

The name of Coraline’s only friend in her new home, “Wibi,” short for “Why Born” is the kind of thing that a child may not understand in this movie. Throughout the movie, when Coraline is angry with Wibi, she calls him by his full name, “Why were you born,” a not so quiet insult that may startle a younger audience. The sometimes jolting actions of the characters and the lengths to which Coraline goes to protect her real family and her real life may be more than you bargained for if you take your sibling or child to see this.

On the other hand, as a movie to see with friends, I have only endless praise for this somewhat trippy, original and inventive flick. Availabe for a limited time in 3-D, “Coraline” is a movie with both a moral compass and a taste for the extraordinary.

If you happen to be in the mood for a movie that will let you relax while catching your full interest, all of your attention and giving you a reason to be excited, you should definetly pop in for “Coraline.”

It was well worth the 11 bucks.


Filed under: A&E Beat

A&E Beat: Utada. March 24. Mark the date.

If there’s anything I’m following closely nowadays it’s Hikaru Utada’s trek through the jungle that is the American music industry.  Who is Hikaru Utada, you say?  Well… Utada (her U.S. stage name) is one of the best-selling artists in Japan.  And to put that into perspective, her debut Japanese album, First Love, is the biggest-selling album in Japan to date, with over seven million physical sales.  She also holds the number four (this album, Distance, sold three million copies in the first week) and number eight spot on that Top 10 list.

Utada Hikaru

26-year-old Hikaru Utada. Image courtesy of Island Records.

With her gargantuan success in the Japanese music world, I thought, “Why release in America?”  But the answer’s clear to me now.  She wants to keep things fresh.  Here’s what she said in a press release.

“It’s true that I could have stuck to my throne and taken the easy way, but I felt that my creativity, my humanity would be endangered by staying in that position. I don’t want to just be this crazy artist who lives in la-la land, I want to be in touch with the real world and stay humble. And I like it when something feels scary—I see fear as a guiding light.”

Don’t jump to any conclusions about Utada before listening to her music and really checking her out.  She’s really unlike what many people expect popular musicians to be.  She can be a little shy, rarely dresses up unless it’s for an important occasion, went to Columbia University in New York, the city where she was born, and speaks both English and Japanese fluently. And she’s a pretty formidable tetris player, I hear.

But as far as her journey here in the States, she’s releasing her first single, “Come Back To Me,” on Feb. 9, and I think it has a chance in the mainstream world.  The music is nothing too complex, but her vocals are impressive, as usual.  It’s catchy and has a story to it, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it will fare. Read the rest of this entry »

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Paying 10 grand to go for a Starbucks run? No, thanks.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal shed light to the fact that many of our college peers are asking their parents to PAY for them to get the chance to go on coffee runs, a.k.a., the eponymous college internship. Apparently, there are internship firms out there that charge money to help students like you and moi to polish their resumes. So, when did it become the norm to drop 8 grand on cover letter “fine-tuning”?

Pre-meds aside, internships are THE thing to do while you are in college—they’re practically a necessity to get a job, and while many are administrative-duty heavy, they do provide a valuable idea of what it’s like to work the 9 to 5 grind. But is it really imperative to go to one of these Kaplan-esque services? Or is it just another direct result of our economic recession (and thus, fear of not getting a job)? After some digging, and checking the message boards of sites like media bistro and ed2010, I’ve come to a conclusion—forget about those companies that are trying to rip you off. I will succumb to the gods of Kaplan (I think there is more a fear of NOT taking the courses than there is of wasting your money by going to them), but as for these companies, this is nuts. For all of you who are applying for internships now (which should be every college student on this campus), take the time to write your cover letter, really try to make your resume reflect the job you want, and then, well—stalk your future boss. Plead like Pavlov’s dog (I’m not using the correct analogy, but you get the point). Editors and bosses alike love when 20-something fresh-faced students grovel at their feet for the chance to get an internship with them, whether it will be the standard copy runs, or in my case, actually writing articles. They want to see how badly you really want to work at their magazine/mortgage firm/hospital.If that still doesn’t work, then to be honest, you probably didn’t even have a chance to begin with—whether or not you get Fast Track Internships.

Of course, if all else fails, make like a tree and follow the trend. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em—hey, charging your peers 10 grand to help them make their already perfectly fine resumes better—now THAT’s entrepreneurial.


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here we are, more than halfway through the semester, and it’s hard to believe that i’m still scrambling to get a hold of all my classes. but, in true college student fashion, i’ve been procrastinating my “must dos” and ploughing through my “should dos”, hence my post.

i’m so excited to see the red cups at starbucks(anyone who knows me knows that i associate christmas with peppermint hot chocolate), and of course, the gap christmas jingleshave just been released. anyone remember napoleon circa 2004 jon heder brings sexy (?) back in his rendition of “winter wonderland”– the striped sweater he’s wearing made we almost wish it were freezing out so i could bundle up in an unreasonable number of sweaters, scarves, and mittens. although i’m a strict believer in not listening to christmas music till after thanksgiving, i had to make an exception for this one– it’s gonna be on TV anyways, why fight it? : )

there are some amazing galleries in the city that the nyt wrote about this week. i’m particularly enamored by the Sean Kelly Gallery, which is currently featuring Joseph Kosuth and his verbacious pieces of art (read: blown up dictionary definitions plastered ont the white walls of chelsea may be a word-a-phile’s dream). paula wilson at bellwether and haeri yoo’s colorful abstracts leave me wishing it were the beginning of fall again, with the leaves changing ever so beautifully.

if you can’t make it to the city, try the library’s gallery or the one at the sac— both have some amazing work on display right now– the portraits of america are very poignant– hits close to joe the plumber in the times in this week…

of course, with the weather taking a turn for the gross (i don’t mind the rain, but i hate the hot/cold effect from the dorms to the streets), i’ve been on a mission to find the perfect scarf for winter. a peace treaty has some especially nice ones that are ethically produced– a portion of the profits go to various charities. i like the colorblock scarf–it adds a nice punch of color to dreary days (aka, every day this week).

i’ve been researching about slow food this week, and am so impressed with the yale sustainable food project— the school has such an extensive sustainable food project– i almost wish i went there, just so i could eat their food, but then i realized the economic crisis we’re in and am so glad the brook is cheap.

random: more women in nyc are birthing at home? i don’t know how i feel about that…. your thoughts?

lastly– keep your eye out on paterson’s proposals for albany!!! health care and education are getting big cuts, my friends, but a couple things to look out for: if passed, tuition might raise to $4,950 a semester, and the brook might be getting some of that money directly passed back to them (rather than going to a big “pool” where the money gets re-distributed). if you have time this weekend, read this. there are some pretty big changes, so be aware.

have a lovely weekend, and try to stay dry….

rain in nyc

Filed under: style note, , ,

style note. show your true colors.

so the weather has officially taken a turn to winter, which means that in no time we’ll all be pulling out our jackets and mittens and look like marshmellows from all the padding. but during this tweener time when it’s neither safe to go out in shorts and a tank top, nor look like you’re traveling to the Alps, embrace the true nature of fall and it’s real advantage: layering.

while the runways try to reinvent it every season, it’s easiest to see how it’s done by scoping out some kids at The Brook. i spy minnetonka moccasins, striped sweaters, skinny jeans, and bright dunks all abound the campus. layering is a great way to extend your wardrobe past its prime (recession-chic, is the new word for it), but it also keeps you warm on those (very) chilly nights when starbucks is closed.

to buy: fur lined jackets (faux, por favor), galoshesmoccasins, beanies, and the perfect umbrella

boots and beanies

boots and beanies

(this is fall fashion perfection. thank you, sartorialist, for being on-point as always.)


a yale-ite. courtesy of scott, as always.

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A&E Beat: CMJ Thursday-Friday

On Thursday I had to wake up pretty early in order to get to the city on time for College Radio Day! My friend Keri was in the Music Director’s panel, so I arrived around 11:30AM at NYU. The moderator was pretty horrendous. She pretty much spoke for each of her panel. When I stepped out of the room she apparently answered a question directed at a specific person on the stage with “there isn’t enough time so I will just answer it.” Also, she said everything I already knew about the position. During lunch, a band called Memphis Pencils played. I kind of felt bad for them because they played in front of the one audience that would critique them the hardest – college radio DJs. I didn’t see anything super special about them, but they did have eight guys and a lot of different instruments including a xylophone, banjo, horns, and a trash can. They reminded me of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, a band that had played a previous CMJ. Their guitarist did throw out animal crackers, and the banjo player had a giraffe shirt, complete with spots and a tail on the back which did make them unique nonetheless.

Afterwards, I left and attended two panels. The first one wasn’t too interesting although I wish it was. It was called Lifestyle Marketing. It basically dealt with different ways to market to your audience. The most interesting panel member spoke of dealing with artists by sponsoring them with wine and each year playing a festival at the winery in California. I left and went to another panel that focused on social marketing. A popular topic, especially with today’s society relying on MySpace and Facebook, I felt like it would be interesting mainly because I am currently managing a band and the market is different than when I used to play. Some of the advice was to not clutter your page with so many widgets but rather give them [the people] something to come back to, maybe something special. After the panel discussion was over I got a chance to chat with my buddy Steve of Punchline who spoke on the panel. It was nice to see him again and I spoke of that I’d be seeing his band in the coming weeks since I booked them at Vibe Lounge in Rockville Centre soon.

The major event for the day was the Knitting Factory, or the Photo Finish Records Showcase. The label has done massive things in the past year and a half since signing their first act Envy on the Coast, fellow Long Islanders and friends. They were the headlining band but I got there early to check everyone else out. The show was sold out, and was finally one worth staying for the entire thing. I also got a chance to see a ton of friends from my town and neighboring areas. I walked in to a surprise – I saw a band called Sparks the Rescue that I had worked with a couple years ago. They sounded as tight as ever. I unfortunately walked in on their last song and a half. Immediately after them was a band called Fighting with Wire from Ireland. I don’t know how they got on the show, but they were so awesome. They were a heavier punk band, a three-piece. They thanked the crowd, and America, a ton. Friday Night Boys from Maryland played directly after them. They were a lot poppier then the previous two but still catered to most of the teenage girl population. I didn’t watch them very much; I was too busy grabbing some drink specials with a bunch of friends. Recover played next, which was probably one of the bigger acts on the show. It was surprising to see they played in the middle. They are a post-hardcore band, along the lines of the Sleeping. They were solid, mainly because it was their reunion show. They announced the audience that they would be back in full force and the crowd cheered loudly. It was wild to see how the crowd changed dramatically from the last band to this one. 3OH!3, a rap-rock group, played a weird set. They played some pop-rock songs as well, and had a lot of friends on stage. Apparently, I missed this, Martin of Boys Like Girls fame, was on stage singing along. The last two acts were who most of the folks came out for – Envy on the Coast and Anthony Green (featuring Good Old War on backing band.) EOTC played a brand new song that got the crowd very pumped up for the rest of their set. Anthony Green was on way too late, I thought, so I left toward the end of his set. Another long train ride home, because tomorrow was going to be the longest day ever.

On Friday, I took an early train to NYC in order to reach some panels I wanted to get to. It basically showed me how bitter NY really is. I had a man talk in my ear for the entire train ride. Every other word was an expletive. It seemed like he was pissed off at about everyone. One of my favorite quotes that he had with another man was, “well all of my felonies expired.” However, the other man replied with “if you get arrested, we’ll see how well they expired.” I laughed discreetly. I got in at 11AM and was able to catch the panel that featured some A&R Reps, moderated by Matt Pinfield of RXP. Basically, they talked about what they did then mentioned how to get in the face of these reps. The half-full room listened with pure excitement because most were in bands themselves. The last 30 minutes featured them picking out different artists that submitted demos and critiqued them. It was reminiscent of an American Idol-style without performing live for the judges. All I thought was how these guys could tell the aspiring artists how it is to their faces without completely destroying their self esteem. I’ll be honest, I probably only heard one good demo of all of them.

Once the panel let out, over 15 minutes late, I took a subway downtown to Pianos for the Planetary party. I had a good time. The place was two floors, a live stage on the first floor and an acoustic stage on the second. I checked out some of the acoustic acts since they began first, but I really came to see Anarbor, a band from Arizona, that recently played a venue I work with. They played some pop rock that seemed pretty good, nothing different then the other couple thousand bands are playing. Keri, Christine, my friend George, and I left and went over to Fontana’s for another private party hosted by Pirate, another promoter of our radio station. I saw a ton of people I knew, most of which I met this past week, and was introduced to some new faces. We also got a ton of free drink tickets from the host of the party, our friend Doug. This was probably my favorite party because I got a whole bag of free stuff including three T-shirts and stickers. I also played Keri in pool and lost miserably. As the clock ticked, we ran out around 5:45 to head to Highline Ballroom for what I knew would be the highlight of the festival for me anyway, Saves the Day/Kevin Devine/Moneen. The bouncers at the club were a lot ruder then most – and kept the CMJ badges out a lot longer than were supposed to. Because of this, I missed Moneen, a band from Canada that I enjoy. I got inside and caught Kevin Devine who, for the first time for me, played with a full band. A Brooklynite, he sang a lot of sad songs with upbeat music and strumming on his acoustic guitar. Once he finished up I had to push to the front, which wasn’t too hard, to get as close as I could for Saves the Day. I wasn’t too impressed with the beginning of their set since they played songs mainly off of their newest album Under the Boards. I was quickly pleased when they started ripping out old songs from their fan-favorite Through Being Cool. The band also played a track off of Can’t Slow Down, which was their first record as STD. The band ended after an encore at approximately 9:30PM – probably the earliest concert I have ever been to. Perez Hilton was the reason, because he was holding an after party for his group weird followers. I knew that I wanted to end CMJ on a high note and decided to grab the next train back home. I was sad because I knew that my first-time experience was over – but I knew that only meant less than a year for CMJ to begin again.

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A&E Beat: CMJ Monday-Wednesday

The past week consisted of free concerts, meet and greets, music panels with industry professionals, free food, beer, giveaways and most importantly, a chance to miss classes. It’s all thanks to the CMJ Music Marathon, dedicated to showcasing new artists. The festival, which takes place in NYC, hosted over 1,100 bands this year and used over 50 venues in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and New Jersey.

As a representative of our college radio station,WUSB, and The Statesman, I was lucky enough to attend the festival for the first time, which was a dream of mine since I first heard about some of my favorite bands playing a couple years ago. The badge costs roughly $500 but with our student discount and other discounts, we were able to get down to a little below $300.

The festival ran from Tuesday Oct. 21 to Oct. 25. However, Monday was a special day for me and the fellow WUSB e-board because we were invited to a private party thrown by the Syndicate, one of our promoters who are responsible for the hundreds of CDs we receive each year. The party was thrown in Rebel, a club on west 30th street in Chelsea. The line to get in was extra-long, even though we were on the list. Not a worry, because famous faces like Matt from The Starting Line were waiting on the line with us.

After about a 30-minute wait we walked in and received free stuff at the front desk. By time we got in, though, the music already started. Some highlights – Rival Schools and And You Know Us by the Trail of the Dead (longest band name ever) – played. Truthfully I didn’t really watch most of their sets because I was too busy schmoozing with some industry folks, like my friend Christian McKnight, who is responsible for part of the Bamboozle festival each year, Pat from the Syndicate who ran around like a madman since it was his party, and several members of my favorite bands like the Sleeping, Armor for Sleep, and Midtown.

The party died down close 1:30 a.m., so I caught a 3 a.m. train back to Hicksville to attempt to get some rest so I could head back to Stony Brook early Tuesday afternoon.

Although I missed Tuesday’s opening bashes and performances, I came back in full force, and full rest, for Wednesday. I headed to NYU because they were the official sponsors and I needed to grab my badge so I could use the power to get into all the shows and bypass the lines. I took the F train downtown to meet some friends over at the Cake Shop. It was jam-packed and very sweaty. To any show attendee it was obvious the place was packed way overcapacity, but where is the fun if it was less crowded?

The crowd was diverse in ages – many were in their early 20’s while I did spot a select few that seemed to be in their 40’s. It was interesting to see the amount of people drinking beer at 5:30, which seems like an early time to be drinking, but that’s my opinion. I caught part of Marnie Stern’s set which featured a female lead singer with a backing band that had that raw punk/indie influence that I felt was going to be a common theme for the festival. As soon as the band ended, people rushed to the cold air to cool down from the heat.

Keri, WUSB’s Music Director, Christine, the Program Director, and I met our friend Pat from the Syndicate and his friend Bryan to head to an Indian restaurant. It was fun to watch all the other restaurants try to get you to come in and eat. However, our destination was already known. The place was super tiny and featured enough Christmas lights to fill at least 5 full trees, yet I feel I am still underestimating. The walls were lined with shiny wrapping paper; it was a festive place to say the least. Our waiter kept calling each of us his “best friend.” He even brought out a cake with a candle for a “crazy birthday” for Christine.

It wasn’t her birthday but we got free cake.

Soon after, Keri, Pat, and I headed to Crash Mansion to check out a band called Passenger I picked out randomly from the CMJ pamphlet they gave us. The band played for only a handful of people but made the show well worth it for those watching. They played fun pop songs accompanied by an acoustic guitar with a full electric band, which is my favorite type of music. The vocals were reminiscent of Augustana, another band I checked out earlier in the year. We only caught four songs so we left and walked down to the Bowery Poetry Club.

The poetry club was a much smaller venue that had a coffeehouse in the front and a stage in the back. Roughly 50 to 60 people were packed in the back area. Also a common theme, the show ran a little late so we actually caught a band called Pegasus XL, a band from Georgia that featured Jeff Rosenstock from ASOB and Bomb the Music Industry! fame. They were a fusion of genres – rock, synth, and punk. I like the term ‘dumb rock,’ though not politically correct, because of their stage antics. A lot of their set comprised of making fun of the crowd or themselves.

“Give it up to us for not preparing,” one of the members shouted. “We just literally put our band together.”

The band actually had much of We Versus the Shark, the band I came to see, playing instruments for their set. Because it was running late I had to miss the set by the band I really came to see. I wasn’t disappointed, though, because Pegasus XL was very entertaining with their profanities and stage antics.

Keri and I walked over to the Bowery Ballroom. Unfortunately there was a line to get in, even for those with CMJ badges. We waited in the cold for about 25 minutes until we were let in. Again, everything was running late. We watched a band called Love as Laughter which wasn’t too good. They sang out of key and weren’t too good at playing their instruments. “They are too old,” one audience member said. “They look like dads.”

We left and missed Wild Sweet Orange and ran over to the Canal Room for our final destination to check out friends of mine in As Tall as Lions. Again, the place was running late so we got a chance to check out a band called the Howlies. They were fun rock with punk and pop influence. They had a lot of “woos” in their songs that made you want to sing along. I was fortunate enough to see a lot of my friends since the band is from Long Island.

While I waited, I went to grab a beer, but it was too overpriced – even for New York. ATAL began their set over 25 minutes late. As a whole they seemed tired, mainly because they played a show only four hours earlier in Brooklyn. However, lead singer Dan Negro’s vocals penetrated the packed out room. The rhythm section, bass player Julio and drummer Cliff really kept the crowd moving. At approximately 1:20 a.m. they played a new poppy song that the crowd moved along to even though most seemed exhausted from the day. ATAL finished out their set with two encore songs, including their single “Love, Love, Love.” The entire floor shook for that one and people screamed the chorus (appropriately, “love, love, love…”) into my ear. I then went home in a car with some of my friends to get some rest for the next early day.

I will update my antics from Thursday-Friday tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Filed under: A&E Beat, oh fifty seven, , , ,

A&E Beat: Heroes Season 3… What happened?

The impression I am getting with this show at the moment is not good. Not good at all.

For those of you who don’t watch, “Heroes” is the ongoing story of a growing group of people who find themselves with superhuman abilities, some good and some not so good. These very different people’s destinies are linked together as they struggle to discover who and what they really are and what shadowy figures are attempting to either destroy them or use them for their own ends.

So think X-Men, but without the requisite colorful costumes.

Altogether, creator Tim Kring had a goldmine of creative opportunity here. While he didn’t necessarily have to break new ground in the whole superhero department — people being able to fly or heal is nothing new — he did manage to create a new and rather captivating universe that keeps you guessing at every turn.

Season 1 had that in spades. Season 2 got a little hairy at times, but it’s forgivable given the writer’s strike at the time.

This time around, I really miss being able to say “Man, I love this show!” Quite honestly, the show is pissing me off.

This season is about “Villains” and how a possible future filled with people with abilities forges a rift between all the characters. There’s this whole “Choose a Side!” and “Who is a Villain?” aspect this time, which I’m sure must be great for marketing. However, in terms of writing and execution, I get the sense that they’re really trying to both undo the last season’s missteps and expand the story with as many jumps and surprises as possible. I suppose that’s fine, but taking into account that the season is only five weeks in and there are maybe six major storylines that only pay lip service to the overarching theme tends to indicate that the writers’ priorities are all over the place.

What’s more, each storyline varies in quality. Without giving too much away, I’ll say that while I respect Hiro’s efforts and development to an extent, Peter is hitting an all-time-low and that is really sad. You don’t take away a character’s credibility like that, even if you want to explore how he or she would act on the wrong side. Meanwhile, Suresh is… I don’t even want to talk about it.

Finally, the dialogue is horrendous and cliched, and there is simply no excuse for that. When the season premiered and Sylar said something to the effect of “It hurt… Like the morning after a bad taco dinner,” I threw my hands up in dismay. That’s just the wrong foot to start on, but they keep hopping forward on that same foot. “Playtime’s over?” I’d say “Seriously?” but Grey’s Anatomy isn’t to my taste.

It can be said that it’s still very early in the season, despite so much having happened. Things could get drastically better in the future. I’d like to see that. At the same time, things could not. Luckily, the show still holds my interest, so I’ll keep watching. Unfortunately, I can see myself pulling my hair out for many weeks to come.

Of course, HRG is consistently badass.

Filed under: A&E Beat, oh fifty seven, , ,

free food.

one of the greatest things about homecoming is all the free food that you can smuggle between Thursday to Sunday morning. While there are the obvious choices (ie, the bbq, tailgate parties, and the concession stands), there are some events on campus that offer delectable delights, but no students will show– they’re so under-publicized on campus, that many of us don’t realize they exist. 

as a student ambassador, i had to help with the academic showcase on saturday morning, a series of lectures from established professors on campus: the J-School’s Dean Schneider was one of the speakers. however, more interesting was the abundance of amazing breakfast manja: mini bagels with all sorts of cream cheeses, pastries, muffins, juices…. all complimentary for ANYONE that wishes to attend. how ironic, then, that at an event with free food there was not a single student… 

a word to the wise, then: watch out for every event on campus– some are less publicized than others, and those, my dear Brookers, are the ones worth going to.

Filed under: oh fifty seven,

homecoming this weekend…

pics up soon.

Filed under: oh fifty seven,

November 2018
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