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July 2010 Archives

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here are some movies playing this weekend...


Dinner for Schmucks



Apparently this is a remake of a French film where yuppie executives find amusement by seeing who can invite the biggest buffoon they can find to a dinner party. Steve Carrell plays the major league moron in a role that a couple decades ago would have belonged to Steve Martin.

Beer rating: Something no one really drinks anymore, and lots of it -- say Michelob.

Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and Charlie St. Cloud, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgYou know the summer road construction is getting ridiculous when the DETOUR GETS DETOURED.

That's what's happened in Bartlett: Traffic has been detoured to Illinois Route 59 during construction on Dunham Road. But Route 59 will close Monday, Aug. 9, as staff writer Dave Gathman reported in today's story "Bad Timing: Route 59 to close before Dunham reopens."

But don't worry: Our Web team is here to help. They've put together a Google map of the construction zone you can use to plot your own detours:



View Bad timing for Elgin-Bartlett commuters in a larger map


Share your traffic horror stories here. And get more news on construction, closures, commuting and more on Sun-Times Media West's "On the Move" blog!


-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter




Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgNOTE: Courier-News freelance writer Janelle Walker has signed up for the second round of the "Elgin's Biggest Loser" challenge. Participants weigh in Wednesday nights, and Janelle is blogging the experience exclusively for The Courier-News.


I went into Wednesday's weigh-in optimistic, but realistic.

I'd been out of town Thursday morning to Tuesday evening, back home in North Dakota for my 20-year high school reunion. I knew there was going to be a lot of food around over the weekend, with little time for a workout and alcohol in large quantities. So I figured, if I came back breaking even for the week, that would be enough for me.

Not that I totally blew the diet. There were THREE pizza opportunities last week: One with girls from my class; one with my sister, nephews and their families; and one with my folks. And you know what? Each time, I had the salad (with blue cheese dressing, no less). I nibbled at the toppings on my nephew's pizza at Zorba's on Ottertail Lake and had a tiny bite of the cherry dessert pizza off my great-niece's plate on Sunday (Amazing how a 2-year-old can give you a look that says, "Hands off, Nellie!").

I stuck to the diet in other ways, too. I ate the hard-boiled eggs I brought with for breakfast most days, with a piece of string cheese or Greek yogurt. Eggs and string cheese were great highway driving snacks, too. I had chicken, including fried chicken, a couple of times over the course of the weekend.

But there were times when I didn't stick to the diet.


The good, the bad and the results of the weigh-in, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgNOTE: When I (Emily McFarlan) took over as your Readers' Reporter, lo those many years ago, and asked you, readers, what you were interested in reading, one of the very first responses I got was, "Did you know Elgin has an AWESOME music scene?" That launched a short-lived, semi-weekly Readers' Reporter column about local artists in The Courier-News' "Our" pages I had to drop after we made some changes to those pages. But this blog is supposed to be a place for those things we can't fit into the newspaper. And a place for conversation between readers and reporters.

Staff writer Katie Anderson has found a reader excited to write about the local music scene: Jason Duarte will be blogging Wednesdays exclusively on Between the Bylines. Here's a little bit more about Jason...

jason.jpgCourier-News reporter (and close friend, former co-worker and classmate) Katie Anderson asked me to write a music blog for the Courier the other day. Immediately, I said OK. Actually, I think it was more along the lines of, "Yes! I've been longing for a writing outlet! Rad! Thank you!"

I had a weekly music blog at Eastern Illinois University's Daily Eastern News when I was the associate editor for The Verge, the DEN's weekly entertainment paper, from 2007 to 2008. I'd write about USB-equipped turntables, review albums and shows, interview musicians and write about not just music, but all things entertainment. After class and newspaper obligations, starting at 10 p.m., I worked with Katie at EIU's printing press throughout the week, developing the next day's newspaper. Around 2 a.m., I'd walk home with "news from the future," as I liked to convince my drunken college neighbors.

During my last semester at EIU, my Verge editor (now current Daily Herald reporter), Marco Santana and I, won third place in Illinois at the Illinois College Press Association for "Best Entertainment Supplement." We dug it, to say the least.


More on Jason's music cred, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for katie.jpgYesterday, I walked through a crime scene.

This is not altogether unusual for reporters, as we often respond shortly after police and paramedics to places where car accidents, shootings and other nefarious activities have taken place.

Yesterday, however, the crime scene was in The Courier-News office.

My work day started about 8 a.m. at Elgin Branch Court. Bond court went quickly, and soon I was in my car and headed for the office. I turned "Viv," my 2005 Pontiac, onto Lake Street and headed up the hill toward the office like usual. Then, I noticed something strange.

There were two police squad cars and an evidence van parked in front of 300 Lake Street -- The Courier-News building.

My first thought was that our editor Paul Harth or cops reporter Steve Johnson was interviewing members of the police department for an editorial or news story. (One morning last spring I arrived to work to find about a dozen taxi cabs in our parking lot and parked around the building because Steve was writing a story about cab drivers in the city.)

Curiosity piqued, I parked Viv in her usual spot, crossed the street and walked to the building. To my surprise, the first thing I saw once inside was an Elgin police officer covering the front desk with dark fingerprint powder.

I quickly learned The Courier-News was burglarized over the weekend. Now this was interesting!


The details of the crime, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for katie.jpgSome days, newsrooms are hectic. Reporters and photographers are busy covering scandals, accidents, fires and other breaking news. No one has a minute to spare, and there is no shortage of copy to fill the next day's paper. Ask any journalist -- it's stressful, but exciting!

JPEG_Happy_Writer.jpgThen there are slow days... Nothing is breaking, and the next city council and school board meetings are a week away.

When this happens, we dig into press release folders, sift again through old e-mails and even surf the Web for story ideas.

Yes, even I, self-proclaimed Never-ending Story Ideas Girl, have been caught on a Tuesday afternoon (newsroom staff meeting day) frantically checking craigslist for something to turn into a story.

You see, although creative, intelligent, modest and "tuned in" to the goings-on in our respective communities, at some point, all journalists need a story idea. When we find ourselves in need, we have a few options:


1. Rub our furrowed foreheads, squish back deep into our seats and chew our pen caps until the Story Idea Fairy drops a good one on us.

2. Panic.


More legit ideas and links, after the jump

Brew Reviews: Salt

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Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here is the one movie opening this weekend...


Salt



This movie, starring Angelina Jolie Pitt Faith Gibson-Aiello, looks like a cross between the Jennifer Garner TV show, "Alias," and Matt Damon's "Bourne" movies. Do you think spies in the real world are as good-looking as any of the above? Not! If they were, then we would know who all the spies are. Spies probably look like my coworker, Dave Gathman. Or anybody in an accounting department. Anyway, this movie is the ONLY major studio release this weekend. What's up with that? And will the sequels to "Salt" be called "Pepper," "Condiments," "Of the Earth," or, my personal favorite, "Lick."

Brew review: I'm gonna save my beer money to buy DVDs of "She Spies," and Pamela Anderson's detective agency classic, "V.I.P."


WHAT?! You were looking for a REAL movie review? Our Sun-Times Media colleagues Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times and Josh Larsen at the Naperville Sun do a swell job at that.


-- Mike Danahey, Staff Writer




Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgNOTE: Courier-News freelance writer Janelle Walker has signed up for the second round of the "Elgin's Biggest Loser" challenge. Participants weigh in Wednesday nights, and Janelle is blogging the experience exclusively for The Courier-News.


Drumroll please... The Pre-20-Year Reunion number is... 12 (down TWO since last week!) POUNDS.

I am ecstatic about this number. I am no size 2 yet, but think I am ready to go down a size in my blue jeans.

Now, one of the "problems" with weight loss is the whole clothes-shopping issue. I gave up a lot of my "skinny jeans" a while back... mostly because the styles were long gone. And we all have seen makeover shows where the subject has lost weight, but they haven't gotten out of their "fat clothes" quite yet. These people always look like they are swimming in their outfits.

But, on the other hand, when your goal is more than 20 pounds, there are a lot of sizes to cover on the way down, and who can afford to buy clothes for each one of those size intervals?

This, however, gives me one more reason to be looking forward to the 2010 Frock Swap CCC. Yes, I am sneaking in a shameless promo here.


More shameless self-promotion, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgIt's down to two in the city of Greensboro, N.C.

Two finalists to become the next police chief of Greensboro, that is. And one of them is former Elgin Police Chief Lisa Womack.

Previously, Womack was one of 11 in the running to become police chief of Seattle, Wash., in late April, as we reported then in The Courier-News' Friday Pulse column. She had retired from the Elgin Police Department on April 1.

The Greensboro News & Record's The Crime Scene blog posted a roundup of miscellany about our former top cop yesterday. In an entry titled "Police Chief Finalists Miscellany," public safety and criminal justice reporter/blogger Ryan Seals wrote...


We spent much of the day Monday digging into the history of Ken Miller and Lisa Womack, the two finalists to become the next police chief for the city of Greensboro.

We played phone tag much of the day, but did get a lot of useful information on both candidates, but were never able to get to the heart of the glaring question that stands out thus far:

What prompted Lisa Womack to resign from her post as the police chief in Elgin Ill.?


Maybe we can help answer that question, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for dave2.jpgIt's been on WGN Radio. It's made the message board circuit. Now, as promised, here are some of the e-mail responses to Dave Gathman's WGN column, "WGN: A loving radio family turns into angry arguers."


Nice work, Dave.

Kevin Metheny
Program Director | WGN Radio


Mr. Gathman:

Thank you for mentioning my name in your column about WGN. It's so nice to be remembered.

It's truly sad to see what they're doing to a once great radio station.

Obviously, I'm happy to be retired.

Thanks again,
Tom Petersen
(NOTE: A former WGN newsman, now residing in the Elgin area.)


Dear Dave Gathman,

Thank you for so eloquently expressing the feelings my husband and I have about the changes at WGN-AM.

We have listened to all the "oldies but goodies" that you mention and we have become increasingly distraught at the new programming. For years, WGN was the background to our breakfasts, with interesting and often amusing topics put forth by commentators we felt we knew intimately--Wally Phillips, Bob Collins, Spike O'Dell and Kathy and Judy. Of late, the only ones we appreciated were Steve Cochran (gone) and John Williams (and even he has gradually moved into the assertive and annoying mode that characterizes the "new" format.)

The notion of infuriating the audience to increase viewers, raise ratings and revenue is lost on us...but then we are in the less-desirable senior demographic, not what WGN is interested in. Any suggestions for a substitute--one that doesn't turn our morning cup of Joe into a bitter brew?

Sincerely,
Joan Colby

Read more reader responses, add your own, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for dave2.jpgThe column I wrote for Tuesday's Courier-News, condemning the recent change in talk-show hosts and attitude at the previously beloved WGN Radio, really tapped into a vein of emotion. It has incited more reader responses than anything else I've written during a 30-plus-year career in journalism.

The weirdest experience has been hearing myself discussed on WGN itself. On Tuesday afternoon, new WGN host Garry Meier, whom I slammed in the column, read the lede paragraph, in which I say that the on-air changes feel like a member of my family has died.

"My God!" Meier said. "This isn't a pet. It's a business!"

(AUDIO: Listen to afternoon host Garry Meier and veteran host John Williams discuss Dave Gathman's column on WGN Radio.)

I hear that before I tuned in, he also called me a "clown" and said the column should have been printed in The Onion (a satiric humor magazine).

Meier's comments show that he still just doesn't get it. WGN listeners kept the station at No. 1 or No. 2 in the Chicago ratings for so many years precisely because the people we listened to on air did feel like a family to us.


More responses to Dave's column from readers and other media outlets, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here are some of the movies that open this week...


Inception



I keep hearing that bad 70s song "Dream Weaver" when I think about this movie. Or maybe the moviemakers have planted that song in my brain! Either way, I am confused by the ads where it seems as if some people can invade your dreams to learn your secrets while others might be able to put ideas into your dreams. I say, why bother when you can just go on Facebook to do pretty much the same things? This is directed by the guy who did the last Batman movie, which I saw, and which I thought dragged on for three endings, was really full of itself and had weird fascist-meets-Jesus undertones. But what do I know?

Beer rating: This flick looks more like a Jaeger bomb.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgYes, we know the city of Elgin is rehabbing its oldest home at 302 W. Chicago St. through the sale of other Resident Officer Program of Elgin homes, grants, donations, sponsorships from companies and its share of casino money. And that will not only preserve the home, but also allow the city to demonstrate how to make such historic homes energy efficient.

Oldest Home in Elgin 001.jpgBut $675,000 still is a jaw-dropping number.

To wrap our minds around that number, The Courier-News launched another newsroom-wide effort to look into just what that much money will buy you.

  • Since the city of Elgin canceled its fireworks this year for budgetary reasons, staff writer Gloria Carr made a call to Mad Bomber Fireworks Productions in Elgin, ran the numbers and concluded the city could sponsor Fourth of July fireworks for 33 years with that much money.
  • Staff writer Katie Anderson looked up the cost of the 2009 Aston Martin DB9 -- better known as the James Bond car. That car runs about $200,000, meaning the city could buy at least three. And, she pointed out, think what the city could do with all those James Bond cars!
  • You could ensure you -- and generations to come -- are well informed on what's happening in your hometown by subscribing to The Courier-News for the next 2,800 YEARS.


What kind of house costs $675K, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgNOTE: Courier-News freelance writer Janelle Walker has signed up for the second round of the "Elgin's Biggest Loser" challenge. Participants weigh in Wednesday nights, and Janelle is blogging the experience exclusively for The Courier-News.


If you heard a high-pitched squeal on Elgin's west side on Wednesday, say about 5:20 p.m., I believe what you heard was me. That was my reaction when I realized, belatedly, what Laura Dion-Jones was telling me.

I had lost another five pounds. In a week.

Now, when I lost five pounds in the first week, all I heard was "Oh, that is water weight," and it comes from just eating healthier. The body flushes out water or whatever.

But the five pounds this week just means something else to me.


Leave Janelle encouragement, why that's important, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here are some of the movies that opened this past weekend (which still doesn't mean Danahey has seen them or done any sort of research whatsoever on what might happen in them. Just that Readers' Reporter Emily McFarlan was out of the office on Friday, when Brew Reviews usually are posted. And hilarity ensues.)...


Despicable Me



Another 3D cartoon. This one involves some Uncle Fester-like goof who wants to steal the moon. He winds up caring for three orphan girls. It has quirky written all over it.

Beer rating: A Blue Moon buzz.

Predators, The Kids Are All Right, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgIf you believe this rap video, Elgin is pretty much the Compton made infamous by NWA and Snoop Dogg, as our own Mike Danahey said.

(WARNING: It is NSFW. Really, really NSFW. No REALLY, the chorus alone repeats the F-word four times. There's nothing we can do about it, since it's out there on the Internet, but don't click on it if you're under 18.)



It's called "Welcome to Elgin" by Madd P, and it's reportedly the first single off his mixtape, "MELTDOWN."

P tweeted last week the entire "mixtape" soon will be available online for free download. And while we all are waiting on pins and needles for that to happen -- and "comin' down 20 with our Glocks" -- we launched a newsroom-wide effort to count the rap cliches and Elgin references in this video (mostly, so you don't have to brave the language).

My favorite characterizations are the downtown neighborhood where The Courier-News building is located as full of "crack fiends and drug dealers with them rocks / mixed in with corporate owners, casino and crooked cops" and "studios, liquor stores and laundry on every block / that's why those alphabet boys say we're the City to Watch." Also, you "never know when it may be your final day" here.


Count them all, add your own, tell us where the eff do you come from, after the jump!

Thumbnail image for julia.jpg(PHOTO: Nikki Limberis (left) of West Dundee prepares baklava with other volunteers on Monday in preparation for Greek Fest this weekend at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in Elgin. Andrew A. Nelles | For The Courier-News)


As promised in our story today about St. Sophia's Greek Fest this weekend in Elgin, here's a tasty recipe, compliments of the women of St. Sophia, for anise slices or paximathia. Kalí óreksi! (Enjoy your meal!)


greek.jpgPaximathia (anise slices)
Prep. time: 3 hours
Makes: 9 dozen slices

7 cups all-purpose flour
7 tsp. baking powder
2 cups sugar
2 cups vegetable oil
7 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. anise extract OR 1/4 cup ouzo
Sesame seeds (optional)

Sift flour and baking powder in bowl. Set aside.

Combine sugar, oil, eggs, salt and extract in large electric mixer bowl. Beat at high speed 10 minutes or until light and creamy.

Remove bowl from mixer. Gradually add the sifted flour, folding with a spatula until the flour is blended into a soft dough. Cover and chill for at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 11x13" cookie sheets. Divide dough into six equal portions and place on a well-oiled surface. Shape each portion into a 13" x 2" slightly-flattened loaf. Place two loaves, about two inches apart, on each cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Bake 25 minutes or until done. Remove from oven. Slice each loaf, crosswise, into 3/4" thick pieces and spread apart on cookie sheet. Return to oven and back 10 minutes longer or until lightly golden.


-- Julia Doyle, Community News Editor




Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgNOTE: Courier-News freelance writer Janelle Walker has signed up for the second round of the "Elgin's Biggest Loser" challenge. Participants weigh in Wednesday nights, and Janelle is blogging the experience exclusively for The Courier-News.


Ever notice that when you start a diet or an exercise plan, there are some friends who are supportive and encouraging and other friends who seem to want to push you off the straight and narrow?

I will have to admit that I might, at times, fall into the latter category. Not that I would ever intentionally try to sabotage someone's diet or pooh-pooh their efforts to their faces. However, those from The Courier-News office will tell you that I might have an evil streak, too.

I told Laura Dion-Jones, the life coach who has put together Elgin's Biggest Loser, that I love to bake. I get bored at night or just need something to clear my mind, and I will start pulling out the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies or peanut butter chocolate chip cookies or banana bread with chocolate chips or a cheesecake or brownies. I usually have all of the ingredients needed for the above in my kitchen at any time.


How does baking make Janelle evil? Find out, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpg(WARNING: This may be the longest blog post EVER. But it does have a lot of pictures!)


Quite frankly, we're disappointed in Elgin gadfly Tony Aiello's picks for stick figure puppets for his Elgin2030 video blog rants. Sometimes the connections seem dubious at best.

Gollum for Mike Warren. Really? Warren is chasing around town naked looking to take a ring from two hobbits. You really think he's that twisted and evil?

And Courier-News Reporter Mike Danahey is Jonah Jameson from Spider-Man? Though Danahey might be that cranky at times, Jameson was an editor. Readers' Reporter Emily McFarlan is Lois Lane, a.k.a. Twitter Girl? Every fanboy knows you don't mix Marvel and DC Comics characters. It ain't kosher.

So here are what we think might make better puppets for Aiello to play with. Putting this together made us realize you really need a lot of free time on your hands to make a puppet show -- luckily for us it was the Friday before the Fourth of July holiday.


City Manager Sean Stegall

Thumbnail image for stegall_web.jpg

Aiello's Robin, the Boy Wonder, from the Batman TV show pick for Stegall is probably Aiello's most inspired choice. Still, it's old school. We're thinking maybe Harry Potter.

Thumbnail image for harry potter.jpg

He bears a slight resemblance to a young Elvis Costello.

elvis-costello.jpg

Or even Buddy Holly would do.

buddy-holly-crop.jpg

Mayor Ed Schock

schock07.jpg

Aiello has Schock as the evil Mr. Potter from "It's A Wonderful Life." Even if you believe Schock is that stingy and evil, a better fit would be Charles Comiskey, who owned the Chicago White Sox and whose miserliness led to the Black Sox scandal. Schock is a Sox fan, so this would be a better fit if you lived in Aiello's world.

Thumbnail image for CharlesComiskey.jpg


City council members, Aiello and your Courier reporters, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgI first was introduced to the Twilight saga when I started commuting from my apartment in Chicago to The Courier-News in Elgin. A thoughtful coworker lent me Stephenie Meyer's first book on tape for that hour-long drive.

twilight chaos.JPGFrom the yearning, earnestly-read opening notes, "I'd never given much thought to how I would die," I knew I'd made a terrible, terrible mistake.

"Eclipse," the third movie made from the melodramatic four-book saga, is somewhat less terrible. Fellow reporter Katie Anderson and I braved the midnight showing, along with two sold-out theaters of screaming teenagers, at Classic Cinemas Cinema 12 Theater in Carpentersville.

But calling "Eclipse" the best of the saga is like calling it "the least fuzzy strawberry in moldy bunch," as Naperville Sun film critic Josh Larsen noted on Twitter.

And calling it "one of the better movies of the year" and giving it an A-, as Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper did in his exclusive YouTube review, is pretty much a desperate plea for attention.


What "Eclipse" has on the rest of the series, and why it's still terrible, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here are two movies that opened/are opening this week, including the latest Twilight movie you can't get away from...


The Twilight Saga: Eclipse



These movies are so commercial, apparently even the title has a corporate sponsor -- a brand of gum. The bizarre love triangle between a damsel, a vampire and a werewolf continues in the third chapter of a series way out of my demographic. Obviously, for your typical young romance novel reader, most vampires would be a safer choices because they can offer you wandering the planet with them forever and apparently all have washboard abs and dress well. Sure, they'll promise you the moon and can keep you warm at night, but werewolves are part canine, so they could get fleas or parvovirus and are prone to licking themselves.

Beer rating: Many pints of Blue Moon. And maybe a Bloody Mary or three.

The Last Airbender, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgNOTE: Courier-News freelance writer Janelle Walker has signed up for the second round of the "Elgin's Biggest Loser" challenge. Participants weigh in Wednesday nights, and Janelle is blogging the experience exclusively for The Courier-News.


Seven pounds now, total. It might not be the biggest number among the men and women who are doing Elgin's Biggest Loser, but for me, just wrapping up my fourth week of dieting, it is a number I am pretty happy with.

Friends already have said they can see a difference in my face. Luckily, I guess, that is where it first shows when I do lose weight.

It also is, I think, the hardest place for a person to notice his or her own weight loss or gain. When you look in the mirror every day, you (or, at least, I) don't really notice that slow progression.

The biggest difference I have noticed is just a gradual increase in muscle tone. And I can thank my Gazelle for that. You remember the Gazelle infomercials: Tony Little hawked these machines, telling viewers, "You can do it!"


More on the Gazelle, after the jump.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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