Category Archives: Arts and Entertainment

A&E… we bring you our insights on TV, movies, music, sports, and all other forms of art and entertainment that infiltrate our minds on a daily basis.

This Hard Knock Life

Growing up, I had two life goals.  The first was to own a half-dog, half-monkey that I would call a “donkey” (pronounced “dunky”).  The second was to become a Grammy-winning, multiplatinum rap star.  Needless to say, I have failed on both accounts, rendering my life, so far, an abject failure.  But while my dream of owning a donkey may be a biological impossibility, my rap dream lives on.  So for all you record execs out there, reach for a tissue box — This is my story.

I. LI’L GANGSTA

In 1997, I bought the cassette tape of the album No Way Out by Puff Daddy and the Family.  It was the first piece of music that I had ever owned, which made it all the more special. Despite its explicit content, the album spoke exclusively to the sensibilities of Asians with money-grubbing tunes (“It’s All About the Benjamins”), internationalist flavor (“Been Around the World”), and slow, lispy talkers (Mase, who became my personal favorite member of the Family).  It was also an added bonus that when Mase rapped about “living in tenements”, “tenements” sounded an awful lot like “Tiananmen,” which I used when arguing with my Chinese parents over the artistic merits of what they believed was devil music.

Despite my parents’ objections, I started secretly collecting tapes (and later CDs) of rappers like Mase, B.I.G., Tupac, Jay-Z, and yes, even Ja Rule.  I printed out lyrics and kept them in a 101 Dalmations folder, trying to cover my rap obsession as innocuously as I could.  I began going to Barnes and Noble just to read The Source magazine.  For my eighth-grade art project, I did a pencil drawing of Tupac.  In music class, I played a censored version of Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” as my contribution to the list of the “best songs of all-time” (the other nominees included a crapload of Beatles/Stones/Elvis nonsense).

I spent most of my time, however, just huddling with my Walkman (and later, Sony Discman).  I practiced rapping, channeling my no-good, big-tyme, gangsta self (rap name, Li’L T, with capital letters exactly like tHaT).  Sure, I was a twelve-year old Asian girl from the suburbs who had never been shot at, but I had faithful dreams of rap stardom.  I wasn’t trying to be nobody’s hero — I just wanted to be heard.1

II. THE DISILLUSIONING REALITY

On December 11, 1997, I wrote a letter to the editors of NBA Inside Stuff in which I asked them to put me in touch with Penny Hardaway, Stephon Marbury, and Grant Hill.  I thought that once I developed a correspondence with my favorite basketball players 2, I could ask them to join my new rap venture, tentatively called The Chop Suey Bunch.  My solo act as Li’L T was going nowhere: I’d already penned a handful of songs, but I was getting very little traction outside of middle school.  Thankfully, I’d become socially aware enough to understand that awkward-Asian-girl-rapping was never going to become a phenomenon, so I had to find a worthy performer to “spit my rhymes” (if I couldn’t rap, I had to make up for it with ghetto-talk).

Thus, I turned my attention towards recruiting performers to lend me their street cred.  They would be the ones to perform my songs, go on tour, and wear balloon pants in a strobe-light-filled music video.  And honestly, who wouldn’t want to rap to these lyrics?

(The following are verses from actual raps I wrote. Keep in mind I was 12 or 13, and obviously really weird. Special thanks to my dad for keeping these embarrassing computer files in a folder labeled “Teresa Raps”.)

JOE SHMOE
I look in my fridge / It’s really kind of gross
Mold is growing on the bread / Like the kind on my toes
Oh there is a squeak / I know it’s a mouse
They’re always in the fridge / And all around my house
I hear a huge snort / Sounds like a person I know
But it’s really my dog / His name is Joe Shmoe

THIS WORLD
I was born in Indiana / On May 26th I came out screaming
Everyone was happy / Everyone was beaming
‘Cause I came into the world
‘Cause I came into the world
Everyone was happy
‘Cause I came into the world

As you can see, I had immense talent (and ego, as evidenced by “This World”).  But after months of waiting, I never heard back from NBA Inside Stuff, or any of the other would-be performers (Chris Rock, Shaq, and the editors of The Source) I reached out to.  Their implicit rejection was disheartening.  It was also a wake-up call.

III. NO WAY OUT

By the summer of 1999, my rap dreams were pretty much over.  I’d just started high school, Mase had gone into retirement, and a cutie-white-boy band called N’Sync had become my new obsession.  My experiment with rap looked merely like a passing phase, allowing my parents to finally exhale.

They should have known, though, that weird teenage phases never die.  And that’s what’s great about phases–much like rap in the 90s, they embody the naivete of youth, encouraging our older, wiser selves to reconnect with our silly young dalliances.  So even though I failed to achieve commercial success as a hip-hop star, now, more than ten years later, I still have an eerie recall of late-90s rap lyrics.  And at times, I’ve even been able to use this talent for good.  One night at a bar in Boston, after perfectly reciting the lyrics to Jay-Z’s “Can I Get A”, I finally got the words I had longed to hear: “Hey girl, you are STREET!” 3

You best believe it, son.

IV. COMEBACK?

For those who may still be doubting my rap abilitiez, I just want to leave you with this final song, dated January 8, 1997.  As of today, I’m still unsigned by the major record labels, but I know it won’t be long.

PETS
I have a cat named Carrot-Top / Also a fish named Fanny
My lizard’s name is Lizard / And also a rabbit named Granny
My parrot is named Bubba / My snake’s name is Spence
My pig’s name is Hamburger Bun / I got a frog for eighty cents

And just a note: I didn’t have any pets growing up.  See, now that shows the breadth of my creativity.

Li’L T out.

—————–

1. This is a quote from Puff Daddy’s “It’s All About the Benjamins”, which includes one of my favorite lines of all-time: “Tryin’ to get my hands on some Grants like Horace.”  Classic. 
2. Don’t judge me for liking Stephon Marbury. He was good once.
3. Fine, this was said by a white guy, but it still counts, right?

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Why Women Hate Sports

All women hate sports.

OK, this is not entirely true.  “All” women do not hate sports, just as “all” men do not love sports, just as “All That” was not all that “all that” (in fact, it was mediocre programming at best).  But, as a writer, I must make sweeping generalizations to stir up fake controversy and drive enraged traffic to this site.1 So, I stand by my claim: ALL WOMEN HATE SPORTS…with a few clarifying points:

  • When I say “all women”, I’m referring mostly to the following female groups: those who get bedazzled manicures, those who know how to bake a pie, and those who own more than two cats.  These groups are mutually exclusive.2
  • When I say “sports”, I’m referring to the three professional sports that the average American male watches most: Baseball, football, and basketball.  Hockey doesn’t count, because it is ruled by Canadians and all women have a soft spot for Canadians because of Bryan Adams.
  • When I say “hate”, I really mean it, guys.  Women do not tolerate sports.  They actively hate sports with an overwhelming rage equivalent to missing a sample sale.  It’s that serious.

So now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it: Why do women hate sports?  Is it a feminist repudiation against a misogynistic society that unfairly celebrates a jock culture?  No.  It’s actually far simpler than that.  There are  four clear-cut reasons why women hate sports.  If we understand these reasons, then perhaps we can save sports for women.

Jealousy. This is not where I say that women hate sports because they’d rather be spending time with their man.  Don’t flatter yourself, guys.  Women don’t want to spend more time with men. Instead, the thing women are most envious about is how much men actually care about sports.  If Cavs fans in Cleveland were asked to choose between keeping their wives or bringing LeBron James back, how many guys would leave their wives?  ALL OF THEM.  Men can rattle off facts about the Cowboys’ winning percentage on the road, but they can’t remember the date of their anniversary.  They can tell you the name of the Cubs’ fifth starter, but they can’t recall the name of their middle child.  To women, it often seems like men are programmed to cry only at a funeral, a birth of a child, or the aftermath of Game 7 (oh, and Toy Story 3, unless they are robots).  Men care about sports in ways that defy logic: They will develop a routine (the Red Sox will win if I sit on the left side of the couch, but not the right side).  They will chant in unison.  They will scream at the television.  And they will grow a playoff beard.  (And it’s always a disgusting one.)

Obesity. How do you watch a sporting event?  Sometimes sitting down.  Sometimes standing up.  Either way, you’re getting fat.  Yes, it’s ironic that sport inspires men to gouge themselves on beer and nachos, thus turning them into flabby masses that do not resemble the heroes they so admire on the field (unless they are a fan of CC Sabathia).  If we didn’t have sports, would men actually stress-eat a bucket of chicken wings every Sunday?  Hopefully not.  Our sports-watching culture has led to a corpulent male population chock-full of beer-bellied dudes and Type 2 diabetes.  Women, at least, have a good excuse for getting fat (We carry your children, dammit! Let us have our whoopee pies!).  Men have no such excuse.  The reason men are fat is because of sports.  And women hate them for it.

Cheaters. It’s hard for women to like professional athletes because 99% of pro athletes are adulterous cheaters.  Well, that might be an exaggeration… 98% of pro athletes are cheaters, and women hate men who are unfaithful.  Women classify cheaters in the same category of “shitty man” that includes murderers, rapists, and wife-beaters.  On the other hand, male fans have the moral fortitude of a perforated sponge.  Men will forgive their fellow shitty man as long as he delivers in the clutch, but women will never, ever, ever forget that the guy cheated on his pregnant wife.  Sorry, Tiger.  Unfortunately, our sports heroes of today (Kobe, Favre, A-Rod) are all veritable, no-good, douchebag cheaters.  Throw in a Rape-lisberger and a heartbroken Eva Longoria, and women will turn their backs on pro athletes.  All it takes is one bad apple taking pictures of his junk with a cameraphone, and no women will root for this lot of shitty men.

Crotch Grabbers. There is only one thing that women hate more than cheaters, and this is watching men grab their own crotches.  In an average baseball game, crotchshots are shown almost as often as something interesting happening (finally… a single…).  Come on.  Does an extra mini-appendage really need that much maintenance?  Players — we know that you are a man.  You don’t have to prove it to us. And since you have millions of dollars, perhaps you could invest in some medication for your below-the-belt ailments.  Athletes should only be playing with one ball, thank you very much, and that ball should be made of leather.

So, to Roger Goodell, Bud Selig, David Stern, and all men out there, if you want to convince women to like sports, please take the following advice: (1) Players: Soap.  Use it down there.  (2) Owners: Discourage your players from marriage.  Women will put up with philanderers (this is why women still love George Clooney), but they will not put up with cheaters.  (3) Fans: Lay off the dip.  You’re getting fat.  And even though it sounds terrible now, just consider two words: veggie platter. (4) Boyfriends, Husbands, and Fathers: Care about your women as if they were on your fantasy team.  And if that doesn’t work, well, then just trade us. Please.

1. This crappy, “gotcha” headline is an ode to other articles that make ridiculous sweeping generalizations of entire peoples: “Why You’re Not Married” or “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior“.

2. I estimate that these three groups make up close to 60% of all women.  But “60% of women hate sports” is not a good headline.

NB: I love sports.  But I do hate crotch grabs.

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Kim Jong-Il is Coming to Town

It’s that time of the year again, when the big-bellied man up North holds center stage.  He’s rounding up his minions, firing up his sled, and getting ready to dole out holiday gifts with gusto.  What will he bring us this year–maybe a Kindle, a brand new pair of socks, or perhaps a plutonium-fueled nuclear fission bomb?

Of course, I’m talking about Kim Jong-Il, the jolly yet combustible man-who-always-wears-sunglasses-and-would-be-a-great-Oakley-spokesman-if-he-weren’t-a-ruthless-Communist-dictator.  It all started  right after Thanksgiving with a random November  attack on a disputed South Korean island.  Then, with his son/successor/Mini-Me by his side, KJI proceeded to make numerous threats to blow South Korea to smithereens… yes, season’s greetings from your favorite  psychopathic, WMD-waving dictator.  Who doesn’t love the threat of world-ending nuclear war?  What will he bring us next year–an anthrax-exploding Christmas card signed lustily by the Chinese and Russians?

North Korea has always served as a great American buzzkill, trying to ruin our holiday season by being crazy.  So, to get you back in the Christmas spirit (and to take your mind off uranium isotopes that could melt your brains), please celebrate the holiday season with joy, laughter, and of course, more of Kim Jong-Il:

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Bring Her Back

The big news in the entertainment world this week has been all about American Idol — who will be the judges for next season?  Simon’s out, Ellen’s out, J.Lo’s out, but Steven Tyler is (reportedly) in the mix.  Yawn.  Well, even though I no longer watch the show, I am here to make my plea.  American Idol, please bring back… PAULA ABDUL!  

Abdul was with Idol from the very beginning, ever since its auspicious start in 2002.  She was there back when Simon Cowell was still an unknown British crank, and Ryan Seacrest was just the spiky-haired sidekick to Brian Dunkleman.  Throughout the years, Abdul established herself in Idol circles as the sweet, caring, and often-incapacitated judge.

While Abdul was often criticized by critics for not being critical enough, this criticism is ultimately flawed (kind of like this sentence).  Although Abdul’s contribution to the judging panel was limited, her presence truly transcended American Idol.  With Paula, she wasn’t just there for the music.  Instead, she was so much more.  She brought critical issues to the forefront, opened dialogue on everything from healthcare reform to prescription drugs, and spearheaded long-needed change to America.

Some examples of her most important work:

A Leading Proponent of Healthcare Reform: In 2005, Abdul landed on the cover of People Magazine, detailing her “Medical Nightmare.”  In the article, she discussed the chronic pain from an old cheerleading injury that led to some of her bizarre Idol behavior (eg. slurring her words, falling asleep, clapping as if she had flippers instead of hands).  Although she didn’t say it explicitly, Abdul was making an unmistakable call for  reform.  After all, if one of the wealthier women in the country can’t get adequate care, then how is Joe the Plumber going to survive?  Plumbing is more taxing than cheerleading, you know.  And now, five years later, we have universal healthcare. Thank you, Paula “Pelosi” Abdul.

A Feminist Beacon: Controversy arose when dismissed season 2 contestant Corey Clark claimed that he had a 3-month affair with Abdul during the show’s taping.  His book, “Sex, Lies, and Paulatics” not only stretched the homophonic properties of the English language, but also exposed a potentially sordid side of Idol.  However, (if true) the affair only revealed that Abdul used her power to lure young men to her britches.  She was simply following the timeless example of men who have done the same.  (Of course, her one transgression was that of choosing Corey Clark… bad taste, Paula).  But still, without Abdul’s message of female empowerment, we wouldn’t see a record number of women running for office in 2010. It’s a lot easier for cougars to prey on young men when they have the full backing of a political platform.  Meg Whitman’s male interns better watch out. 

paulamoneyAn Economic Bellwether: Abdul reportedly turned down a $5 million+ deal to return to Idol in August 2009. Although nothing has been reported about a potential comeback this year, last year’s offer clearly indicates that we are recovering from this recession.  If Paula Abdul is being offered $5 mil to get drunk and make nonsensical comments on TV, then we better be creating more jobs in the meantime.  And if Paula refuses to come back, then I’d be happy to mumble and drink scotch out of a sippy cup on primetime television. I’ll even cut you a discount and do it for $1 mil. 

I think I have proven my point: Paula Abdul is so much more than a singer, dancer, choreographer, and druggy cougar.  As she would say, “You’ve got a sensitive side of you… got, uh, total, uh spicy side of you… You are real.  You’ve… got… to keep going.”  And on that, I rest my case. Bring back Paula Abdul to American Idol! 

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Coming Out of The Dark Ages

Growing up, I was surrounded by a lowbrow smorgasbord of R.L. Stine, Salute Your Shorts, and Mortal Kombat.  Instead of reading Chaucer, I double-fisted Goosebumps and the Babysitter’s Club.  I Chose My Own Adventure and got diphtheria on the Oregon Trail.  I listened to explicit rap.  And though critics may feign horror at my culturally-deficient childhood full of commercial drivel, I thoroughly enjoyed not being a hoity-toity opera kid.  (Plus, as a member of the cultural underclass, I was always able to make fun of the highbrows and their pretentious madras pants.)

I mention this background only because I’m about to double back faster than Joe Barton not apologizing for apologizing for apologizing (yes, you read that right).  Now, as a slightly-more cultured adult, I’m concerned that true art is dead.  In my view, we’re suffering from an ugly, modern-day Dark Ages (or perhaps, Twilight Ages?): hundreds of years later, historians will look back on this era, from the neon parachute pants of the ’80s to the plasticized “real” housewives of today, and they’ll think, “Jeez. What was in the water back then?”

You might not agree with me, but let’s take a look at this era in music, literature, and the arts.  In music, Michael Jackson is the singular ray of enlightenment.  He doesn’t have the same feel-good story as deaf Mozart or orphaned Bach, but his legend is still comparable.  Fine, I’ll give you MJ.  Let’s move onto literature, where we’ve failed to produce any seminal work outside of wizards and vampires in the last 20 years.  Outside of those two series, I can’t think of any book that has garnered attention as an “instant literary classic.”  (Maybe James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, but that only comes to mind because of the Oprah shakedown.)  And finally, I am hard-pressed to name a contemporary artist today who works outside of TV or film.  Maybe this is ignorance, but I’m guessing that we’ll never see the likes of another famous Picasso or Warhol in our future, tech-centered world.  After all, why spend years painting some masterpiece when you can just Photoshop?

So what are the implications of this?  Well, I’m worried that kids won’t be able to write sentences longer than 140 characters.  I’m afraid that genuine laughter at the theater will soon be replaced by muttering “LOL.”  And I’m terrified that Snooki is a household name.

But then again, my fun-killing crossover self is probably just resisting the inevitable change in our definition of art.  Perhaps hundreds of years later, we’ll have redefined  “highbrow culture” to comprise of scatalogical humor and excessive hair spray.  Maybe then we’ll recognize the Twi-Hards as a social and literary movement akin to the Beats.

But I hope not.  Because as a card-carrying member of the current cultural underclass, I still reserve my right to make fun of the hoity highbrows.  And I won’t be able to do that if I’m one of them.

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What Would Ryan Seacrest Do?

Remember when Jesus died on Good Friday, rose again on Easter Sunday, and then somberly looked into our eyes and said, “I’ll be back?”*  Jesus has proved to be a man of his word, rising from the dead to hobnob with Thomas the Apostle, have a resurrection fling with Mary Magdalene, and appear in a bucket of pizza sauce.  Indeed, Jesus has been sighted many times, but not only in inanimate objects like fish sticks and pancakes… In fact, I am resolute in my belief that JC is back; he’s inhabited a body (fake-Locke style),  and he’s living right here amongst us mortals in Southern California.

In fact, you may have heard of him.

And the modern-day resurrection of Jesus is…

(Wait for it.)

(Wait for it.)

(Commercial break.)

(Long yawn.)

(Thought we were back but it’s just another commercial break.)

(…OK, we’re done here.)

Yes, Ryan Seacrest is the modern-day resurrection of Jesus.  (Shock, awe, teen screaming, and applause.)  In case you haven’t heard of him, Jesus is the guy with long hair who walks on water.  Seacrest is the ubiquitous face of Hollywood, the host of American Idol, the host of E! News, the host of American Top 40, the host of his own daily 5-10 AM radio show, and the host of Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve (with Ryan Seacrest).  Unless you drive a horse and buggy to work, you know who Ryan Seacrest is.  He catapulted Kelly Clarkson to fame. He kickstarted the Kardashians to infamy.  He is a hosting hog (he’ll show up at your son’s bar mitvah, demanding the mike).  He’s been on TV more often than Brian Williams, Oprah, and God (or, who he calls, “Pops”).

You might be skeptical.  But there is evidence suggesting that Ryan Seacrest, is, indeed, Seasus.  First, he has six jobs.  Six.  The fact that Seasus has six jobs is a testament (pun intended) to his ungodly work ethic (let’s just assume that from now on, all puns are intended).  Second, he was born on December 24.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Some disbelievers might say that Jesus was actually born on the 25th — well, Bethlehem is 7 hours ahead of Dunwoody, Georgia, where “Ryan Seacrest” was born.  So it was still the 24th in the ATL.  What up.  Third, both guys had/have girl issues.  Jesus supposedly had a lover in Mary Magdalene; Seacrest supposedly is straight.  The life of do-gooding bachelorhood seems to fit them both, though it’s a shame that Seasus got rid of His free-flowing locks (better to attract hair gel sponsors, I suppose).  And finally, if all that isn’t convincing enough, then just take a look at Jesus’ modern-day moniker: if you rearrange the letters to RYAN SEACREST, you get CRY, SATAN SEER.  (It only took me about two minutes to get that one — for some reason, “Satan” just jumped right out.)

So, that is Seasus.  He’s able to preach his gospel through the church of radio.  He’s got more Twitter followers than the populations of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont combined.  He’s liked by many, hated by few, but known by everyone.  And for all those wondering, What Would Seasus Do?, I imagine that it goes something like this: He wakes up at 3 AM, talks for five hours on His radio show, throws jabs with Simon Cowell on American Idol, oversees a Kardashian episode where a hissy fit is thrown, does prep for American Top 40, takes an Underdog pill around 6 pm, blows through His E! News gig, calls up Dick Clark to see if he’s still alive and if He can finally change that show’s name to Ryan’s Rockin’ Eve, hangs up once He hears a croaky voice, calls up Pops, has a discussion with the man upstairs for the umpteenth time about Dick Clark (“It’s his time! He’s like 105!”), loses the battle once again, and before you know it, it’s 3 AM and He’s telling his radio show producers that “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”  Good one, Seasus.


* Yes, I did Wikipedia “Jesus”…But no, this quote is not in there.  At least, not anymore.  I hate when they edit out my Jesus quotes.  I’m confident he did say it at some point:

Free-riding man in street: “Hey Jesus, will you pick up some barley?”

(Jesus sighs, rolls his eyes)

Jesus: “I’ll be back.”

See?

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Flying Coach On The Wings Of Love

To preface this post, I hadn’t watched The Bachelor all season.  But on Monday night, in Olympic withdrawal, I decided to turn on the season finale.  And after watching five minutes of The Bachelor in St. Lucia, I almost regurgitated my dinner.  See, I never knew I was lactose intolerant until I had to watch all that cheese.

Let’s start with Jake, the sexy Texas pilot who probably set a world record for cheek dimples and lame comments.  Some of his ringers last night included originals like, “I just followed my heart” and “There’s heat.”  Thank you, Cicero.  After his awkward date with Tenley, Jake couldn’t even find the words to describe the “physical” thing that was missing between them.  Jake, that “mysterious”, “inexplicable,” feeling is called erectile dysfunction.  Check out a Cialis commercial.

Unfortunately for Tenley, she couldn’t shake her saccharine image as the cute, cheery, all-American, limp-noodle girl.  There was something about her that made me think she’d be better off selling candy necklaces at a Care Bear Convention and dating the guy from Blue’s Clues.  After her disastrous date, she even seemed to acknowledge that herself.  By then, she had turned on the tear jets to try and capture some sympathy in a pre-audition for The Bachelorette.  Unfortunately, she lost that one too.

Ultimately, Vienna just had too much “spark” for Mr. My-Dimples-Look-Like-Cavernous-Mountains, and she sailed off into the St. Lucia sunset with her ring, her man, and a stirring video montage set to Jeffrey Osborne’s “On The Wings of Love.”  During the aftershow, the happy couple reminisced about their wondrous journey, and also deflected any talk surrounding the tabloid fervor that a) they broke up, b) she has a secret boyfriend, or c) she is nutso.  Of course, in Bachelor-speak, “nutso” means “misunderstood”.  Then the pair started dancing in an on-air display of awkward PDA in front of a serenading Jeffrey Osborne.  Nice touch, ABC.  That was like adding Cheez Whiz to a pile of Mac and Cheese floating in a fondue pot made of gouda.  Excuse me while I shove a rose stem into my eyeballs.

But despite my cynicism of this television show about a six-week instant-gratification romance, filmed with a beautiful St. Lucia backdrop and favorable lighting, I do recognize that last night was truly a joyous occasion.  It was the beauty of two people coming together as one, flying through the majestic skies as a unit, bound together by an inexorable feeling that the world was just the two of them, in the moment, living, laughing, loving each other, feeling hope for their shared future, feeling excitement for their vaunted spark, and smiling down on the rest of us as they soared, gleefully, on the wings of love.

[Insert sarcastic comment here to ruin the moment.]

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