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  #1  
Old 12-06-2011, 07:56 PM
Greymarch Greymarch is offline
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Jingle Bells - who is Miss Fanny Bright?

In the famous christmas song Jingle Bells, the lyrics mention someone named "Miss Fanny Bright." Who is Miss Fanny Bright? Was this a real person? If so, why was this person mentioned in the song?
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  #2  
Old 12-06-2011, 08:03 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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They discuss it some here. Apparently there's a Fanny Bright, age 11, listed in the 1860 census.
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Old 12-06-2011, 08:31 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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"Two forty as his speed"? What's that? A mile in 2 min 40 seconds?
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Old 12-06-2011, 09:12 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
"Two forty as his speed"? What's that? A mile in 2 min 40 seconds?
Could be. That would be a bit over 22 mph., which sounds like a decent speed for a standardbred, (or even a trotter), when pulling a sleigh across packed snow.
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Old 12-06-2011, 09:50 PM
Greymarch Greymarch is offline
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Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
They discuss it some here. Apparently there's a Fanny Bright, age 11, listed in the 1860 census.
I also saw that link. The song has been around for over 140 years. Surely someone, somewhere knows the truth. The local census could be a coincidence. There must be more to it.
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  #6  
Old 12-06-2011, 10:36 PM
svd678 svd678 is offline
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Surely most should realize that "Jingle Bells" is not a Christmas song; its a winter song. I doubt it can be classified a carol, as the YouTube article says.
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  #7  
Old 12-07-2011, 12:21 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
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Originally Posted by tomndebb View Post
Could be. That would be a bit over 22 mph., which sounds like a decent speed for a standardbred, (or even a trotter), when pulling a sleigh across packed snow.
I had a kind of an idea it was 240 hoofbeats to the minute, which to my musical ear sounds like a briskly-trotting horse (march tempo with twice as many legs), but I'm no horseman.
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Old 12-07-2011, 01:10 PM
BigT BigT is online now
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Originally Posted by Greymarch View Post
I also saw that link. The song has been around for over 140 years. Surely someone, somewhere knows the truth. The local census could be a coincidence. There must be more to it.
That link also shows that Fanny Bright was not in the original song. The third verse given in the sheet music is as follows:

A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one horse open sleight,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.
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  #9  
Old 12-07-2011, 02:04 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Bright Fanny Fanny Bright is in the second chorus.

2. A day or two ago
I tho't I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fannie Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seem'd his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And we - we got up sot.

Last edited by Annie-Xmas; 12-07-2011 at 02:04 PM..
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  #10  
Old 12-07-2011, 03:11 PM
FatBaldGuy FatBaldGuy is online now
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I can think of two possibilities:
  1. Whoever wrote the song really had a girlfriend named Fanny Bright, and he included her name in the song
  2. He pulled the name out of the air because it fit well with the rhyming scheme and rhythm of the song
We will probably never know the correct answer, but does it really matter?
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  #11  
Old 12-07-2011, 03:14 PM
BigT BigT is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
Bright Fanny Fanny Bright is in the second chorus.

2. A day or two ago
I tho't I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fannie Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seem'd his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And we - we got up sot.
I don't know how I missed that. I guess I just assumed the third verse was the right one because it starts the same.
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  #12  
Old 12-21-2012, 09:43 AM
Jacko Jacko is offline
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Who is Miss Fanny Bright?

I have long suspected that the name given to this girl is slightly off-color. If you look up definitions of "Fanny," you'll see what I mean. The singer is riding with a girl with a bright fanny? (I hope this suggestion, which I think would appeal to many literary scholars, does not violate The Straight Dope rules.)
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  #13  
Old 12-21-2012, 10:11 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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There's a plaque on the corner in Medford MA (on the very block where I lived for six months) stating that this song was based on sleigh races held in downtown Medford. In fact, they have a festival every year to celebrate it:

Quote:
About the Song
"Jingle Bells," the now world famous holiday tune, was composed at the Simpson Tavern in Medford, Massachusetts in 1850 by James Pierpont (1822-1893). The tavern stood at the site which is now 19 High Street in Medford Square. The song was composed in the presence of Mrs. Otis Waterman, who later verified the location of the song's composition. In 1857, James Pierpont, while living in Georgia, copyrighted "Jingle Bells." The lyrics of the song tell of the sleigh rides held on Salem Street in the early 1800s.
http://www.jinglebellfestival.org/index_0308.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ji...rd_MA-2010.jpg

If this is tue, the existence of a Fanny Bright in Connecticut is prettty irrelevant to the song, which the above claims was written in medford
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  #14  
Old 12-21-2012, 12:13 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
"Two forty as his speed"? What's that? A mile in 2 min 40 seconds?
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomndebb View Post
Could be. That would be a bit over 22 mph., which sounds like a decent speed for a standardbred, (or even a trotter), when pulling a sleigh across packed snow.
The lyrics are:
Quote:
Just get a bob tailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack, you'll take the lead
Two forty, 2:40, is the bay's speed on dry ground. It's just saying that you should use a fast horse, not the speed of the horse pulling a sleigh through snow, a very different thing.

The reference would be to a trotting horse, one hitched to a two-wheeled sulky for racing. Two forty would be a good time for an ordinary horse. Racing horses had just begun to break two thirty in 1850.
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  #15  
Old 12-21-2012, 12:35 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
There's a plaque on the corner in Medford MA (on the very block where I lived for six months) stating that this song was based on sleigh races held in downtown Medford. In fact, they have a festival every year to celebrate it:
In that case we can be pretty sure that Fanny used a metric ton of hairspray.
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  #16  
Old 12-21-2012, 12:49 PM
dstarfire dstarfire is offline
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According to my aussie friend, 'fanny bright' would be the australian equivalent of 'Pussy Galore' (of James Bond fame) today.
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  #17  
Old 12-21-2012, 01:42 PM
dougie_monty dougie_monty is offline
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I can't help but think that that's a mondegreen of some kind...
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  #18  
Old 12-21-2012, 04:44 PM
freckafree freckafree is online now
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I learned that line of the verse as "and soon my dearest love was seated by my side."
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  #19  
Old 12-21-2012, 06:36 PM
moriah moriah is offline
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Originally Posted by dougie_monty View Post
I can't help but think that that's a mondegreen of some kind...
If the song is based around races, maybe 'Fanny' is a diminutive of 'fan', i.e., a sleigh race groupie. And a 'Fanny Bright' may be a nickname of such a fan.

Was 'fan' used as such back at the time of the origin of the song?
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  #20  
Old 12-21-2012, 06:43 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
Surely most should realize that "Jingle Bells" is not a Christmas song; its a winter song.
To be specific, a Thanksgiving song. And it's basically about a traditional sleigh race the author's town held each year.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 12-21-2012 at 06:44 PM..
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  #21  
Old 12-21-2012, 10:46 PM
Two Many Cats Two Many Cats is offline
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Well, really, who was Nellie Bly? Or Annie Laurie? Or Lili Marlene?

All fictional really.
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  #22  
Old 12-21-2012, 10:53 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moriah View Post
If the song is based around races, maybe 'Fanny' is a diminutive of 'fan', i.e., a sleigh race groupie. And a 'Fanny Bright' may be a nickname of such a fan.

Was 'fan' used as such back at the time of the origin of the song?
No. "Fan" in the meaning of enthusiast (as a shortened form of "fanatic") dates to 1889, and was first used in baseball.
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  #23  
Old 12-22-2012, 03:14 AM
Vashbul Vashbul is offline
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Another Jingle Bells curiosity: whence the commonly sung addition of "ha ha ha" after the line "laughing all the way"?

As a child in the sixties, I don't recall anyone doing that - now it seems de rigeur. Always done a shade insincerely, as in "we know what a bunch of nostalgic buncombe this song, and its depiction of an activity few of us have ever personally experienced, is; let us now gently mock it and the top-hatted, sideburn-joweled swell who spawned it".
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  #24  
Old 12-22-2012, 03:38 AM
Shakester Shakester is offline
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Originally Posted by dstarfire View Post
According to my aussie friend, 'fanny bright' would be the australian equivalent of 'Pussy Galore' (of James Bond fame) today.
Plenty of Aussies right here on the forum, me for instance. While "fanny" definitely means "lady parts" everywhere but the US (where it means "arse", which yanks call "ass"), there's no meaning of "bright" I've ever heard apart from "light" or "clever".
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  #25  
Old 12-22-2012, 05:40 AM
PlainJain PlainJain is offline
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Originally Posted by FatBaldGuy View Post
We will probably never know the correct answer, but does it really matter?
Does any question posed on this board matter? These kind of "answers" are annoying but to come from a charter member...
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  #26  
Old 12-22-2012, 08:35 AM
ekedolphin ekedolphin is offline
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Originally Posted by dougie_monty View Post
I can't help but think that that's a mondegreen of some kind...
Definitely not a mondegreen; I've performed it this way in school choir.
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  #27  
Old 12-22-2012, 08:46 AM
Mean Mr. Mustard Mean Mr. Mustard is offline
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Originally Posted by PlainJain View Post
Does any question posed on this board matter? These kind of "answers" are annoying but to come from a charter member...
Now, now, PlainJain, don't get yourself all upsot.


mmm
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  #28  
Old 12-22-2012, 08:54 AM
TonySinclair TonySinclair is offline
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Well, damn. I'm pushing 60, and I never heard or read more than the first verse of that song before now.
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  #29  
Old 12-22-2012, 09:41 AM
Gary T Gary T is online now
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While we can all snicker at the slang meanings of "fanny," it is indeed a legitimate first name (e.g. Fanny Farmer) and probably didn't conjure up those meanings when it was more commonly used.
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  #30  
Old 12-22-2012, 09:45 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Two Many Cats View Post
Well, really, who was Nellie Bly? Or Annie Laurie? Or Lili Marlene?

All fictional really.
Nellie Bly.
Quote:
Nellie Bly (May 5, 1864[1] – January 27, 1922) was the pen name of American journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. She remains notable for two feats: a record-breaking trip around the world in emulation of Jules Verne's character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. In addition to her writing, she was also an industrialist and charity worker. She originally intended for her pseudonym to be "Nelly Bly," but her editor wrote "Nellie" by mistake, and the error stuck.
Annie Laurie
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William Douglas

William Douglas became a soldier in the Royal Scots and fought in Germany and Spain and rose to the rank of captain. He also fought at least two duels. He returned to his estate at Fingland in 1694. Traditionally it is said that Douglas had a romance with Anna/Anne Laurie (16 December 1682, Barjarg Tower, in Keir, near Auldgirth, Scotland — 5 May 1764, Friars' Carse, Dumfries-shire, Scotland). Anna was the youngest daughter of Robert Laurie, who became first baronet of Maxwellton in 1685. The legend says that her father opposed a marriage. This may have been because Anna was very young; she was only in her mid-teens when her father died. It may also have been because of Douglas's aggressive temperament or more likely because of his Jacobite allegiances. It is known for certain that they knew of each because in a later letter by Anna she says in reply to news about Douglas, "I trust that he has forsaken his treasonable opinions, and that he is content." ...


Anna Laurie's later life

In Edinburgh in 29 August 1709 Anna married Alexander Fergusson, 14th Laird of Craigdarroch. (Early editions of Brewer's are in error claiming her husband was James Ferguson, who was in fact her son.) She lived at Craigdarroch for 33 years. Under her directions the present mansion of Craigdarroch was built, and a relic of her taste is still preserved in the formal Georgian gardens at the rear of the house. She was born on 16 December 1682, about 6 o'clock in the morning at Barjarg Tower, near Auldgirth, Scotland. Annie Laurie died on a Saturday, 5 April 1764, and some sources say she was buried at Craigdarroch. Portraits of her exist at Maxwelton and at Mansfield, the seat of the Stuart-Monteiths. The portraits show that she had blue eyes.
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  #31  
Old 12-22-2012, 10:19 AM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
That link also shows that Fanny Bright was not in the original song. ...
But Batman still smells.
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  #32  
Old 12-22-2012, 10:30 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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While we can all snicker at the slang meanings of "fanny," it is indeed a legitimate first name (e.g. Fanny Farmer) and probably didn't conjure up those meanings when it was more commonly used.
It's the difference between British slang and American slang. Fanny means vulva in Britain. In America, the term has always meant buttocks. It's a quite dirty term in Britain, but a polite euphemism in America.

Usage shows it to appear much later than we would think. It didn't start showing up in American slang until the 1920s, so any use of it in the 19th century would be innocent. And even though it seems likely that the term came from John Cleland's 1748 book Fanny Hill, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, it doesn't appear in the modern sense until the 1830s. Heck, Jane Austin used Fanny for the heroine in Mansfield Park.

Like many slang terms, especially obscene slang, fanny probably was used earlier than the print first usages. Whether Cleland was using a current term I don't know, but Fanny Hill = public mound, a pun on the Latin term mons veneris works too well to be complete coincidence, so I bet he did. We discussed it more in this thread.
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  #33  
Old 12-22-2012, 11:02 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Fanny Hill = public mound,
While Fanny Hill's own mons was open to the general public, I suspect you meant pubic.
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  #34  
Old 12-22-2012, 11:20 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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While Fanny Hill's own mons was open to the general public, I suspect you meant pubic.
I did, but now I'm thinking I like mine better!
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  #35  
Old 12-22-2012, 01:31 PM
dougie_monty dougie_monty is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Did she just lay down and dee?
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  #36  
Old 12-22-2012, 07:27 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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Originally Posted by dstarfire View Post
According to my aussie friend, 'fanny bright' would be the australian equivalent of 'Pussy Galore' (of James Bond fame) today.
The problem with this theory is that Fanny was a very common female name during certain eras.

I'd liken it to the name Dick. It's such a common man's name (or nickname anyway) that you can't assume any off-color slang meaning without some other indication that the author intended it that way.
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  #37  
Old 12-22-2012, 08:39 PM
Shakester Shakester is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Fanny means vulva in Britain.
Not just in Britain - as I noted several post up, it means that in Australia, and to the best of my knowledge that's what it means in every native English-speaking country except the USA and maybe Canada, which picks up a lot more US influence.

Australia isn't part of Britain. New Zealand isn't part of Britain. The Republic of Ireland, while part of the British Isles, is not part of Great Britain. India, South Africa, and so on. All places where English is either the native language or one of them, all not Britain.

It irritates me when Americans act like they're the only English speakers outside the UK.
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  #38  
Old 12-23-2012, 01:26 AM
dougie_monty dougie_monty is offline
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You may be interested to know that--believe it or not--China is one of the countries with the most English speakers, because of its sheer high population.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:38 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
Not just in Britain - as I noted several post up, it means that in Australia, and to the best of my knowledge that's what it means in every native English-speaking country except the USA and maybe Canada, which picks up a lot more US influence.

Australia isn't part of Britain. New Zealand isn't part of Britain. The Republic of Ireland, while part of the British Isles, is not part of Great Britain. India, South Africa, and so on. All places where English is either the native language or one of them, all not Britain.

It irritates me when Americans act like they're the only English speakers outside the UK.
Well, it irritates me when people drag in irrelevancies to threads. I was talking about 18th & 19th century slang usage in Britain and America and how one might have influenced the other. That additional countries later adopted the same slang may be true but it has no part in this discussion. Context is everything.
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  #40  
Old 12-25-2012, 06:04 AM
Shakes Shakes is offline
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nm

Last edited by Shakes; 12-25-2012 at 06:08 AM..
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