Monday, March 31, 2008

Too much hate for hand-holding

Most people already know about the Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps as pastor, whose stunts and public demonstrations of hatred seem more like parody than anything else. You think "they're kidding. Right?" They are the God hates everybody people who picket at the funerals of soldiers, children and others (www.godhatesfags.com -- copy and paste if you want to go there) and currently thanking God for those 5 people shot in Iowa City (it's God's vengeance on Iowa for being unfair to their church in some way). Anyway, normally they are hard to laugh at, they are so unbelievably pathetic and hopeless it makes you want to fling bat guano at them, but they have now made a MUSIC VIDEO. They've brought their message to the tune of "We Are The World" and it is hilarious in the most pathetic way. At about 1:45 in, they start taking solos! Wheee.

(Will somebody up there please come and get these people? Thank you.)

If you enjoy really bad charity celebrity sing-a-longs, there's a whole feature on them over at The Onion A.V. Club. [Page 1] [Page 2]. That's where I found this one.

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Al Gore, President of Earth

Happy birthday today to former Vice President and shoulda-been President Al Gore, who turns 60 today. There is still talk of drafting Gore for President 2008, and I think that if he entered the race, he just might be the front-runner. In reality, though, I think that Al Gore might be able to accomplish more by NOT being President. By being able to focus primarily on the very important issues of climate and the environment, he has served as a catalyst for change and has raised awareness worldwide... and acquired a couple of nice awards to boot.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth's Darkest Hour

So... did you participate in "Earth Hour"? On Saturday night (your time) participants were supposed to turn off the lights for an hour. MrB was pretty big on doing this so we located all the candles and lighters in the house. [news link]

We've got one of those Freeplay flashlights, that you just turn the crank to power it up -- which is the best thing ever. If you are heading off to the fallout shelter or out to your survivalist cabin in Montana, don't forget to take along one of those, along with your crank radio and can opener. Candles are a pain in the butt, especially if you hardly ever use them, as every few minutes one of them is having some problem or another staying lit, I burned up a few dust-bunnies that had formed on the votives, then my fireplace lighter burned out. sheeesh. I am a weenie these days when it comes to roughing it... and I have actually lived without electricity and plumbing for what amounted to several years (that's what you call poor)(and I really think that kids can put up with that situation easier than adults, especially when an adult is taking care of them and doing most of the hard work)... but those days are gone for me. At least I hope they are.

I know that there was an extreme energy savings with this dark wave that moved around the earth, especially when they turn out major city lights on streets and monuments. I'd like to just start conserving some power every day, and then there wouldn't be any need for reading by cranked flashlight once a year.

If you forgot all about "Earth Hour," you can always do it tomorrow. No fair doing while you sleep or while driving around or sitting in the neighborhood bar. ;-)

Great free music download

It's called "She Left Me For Jesus" and you can hear it performed live in the video below (the second song he plays). Some GREAT irreverent and funny lyrics from this local singer-songwriter. For (I would assume) a limited time, you can get the studio version of this song free from iTunes, look for the link on this page. Musicians like Hayes are out bustin' their butts night after night, trying to make a living playing music and entertaining us.

She left me for Jesus
And that just ain't fair.
She says that he's perfect.
How could I compare?

She says I should find him
And I'd know peace at last.
If I ever find Jesus
I'm kickin' his ass.


Hayes Carll website

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Purrsday Night - Springed

Henry sends a pink glow to melt your snow.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Nikita's Place - -

Mood Elevator Music

Well, it's been one of those weeks. The news is pretty depressing -- just certain Democrats trying to get McCain elected, watching Part One of the great Frontline PBS show Bush's War (which you can watch online if you missed it) and arguing with MrB over which character in it was the most to blame (a pointless and endless argument) and realizing there are 298 more days of Bush. [sigh] We need some comic relief!! I dug out this old CD called "Soft, Safe & Sanitized" put out by SPY Magazine. It's along the lines of the "Golden Throats" collection of your favorite songs sung by the WRONG people. I pulled off a track and posted it here. It's "Give Peace a Chance" by Mitch Miller & The Gang. Yes, that's right. It's 100% hoot. If you can stand it, let it play and get a load of his "Hassle the Man!!" and either "Dig! Dig!" or "Dick! Dick!" It's even worse than you are imagining.

Seen on eBay





...with apologies to pussies of all types.

Auction link
Found via POAC

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Experience Lying to the American People = Presidential?

I'm sure most of you have seen this bit of fun by now:
news source links: [AP] [CNN] [Sinbad's recollection of the events in Bosnia]

She misspoke. Mistake, or lie?

This particular “misstatement” was described in detail at least 3 times in her recent campaign. It’s quite an elaborate fantasy; snipers, running with their heads down, too dangerous for a welcoming party… clearly, it didn’t happen this way. She described it in such detail, that it was very believable. What I have noticed about people who tell a lot of lies is that they actually believe their own words after awhile. That’s how they are able to continue telling those complete fabrications with a straight face.

Her defense:
"I say a lot of things -- millions of words a day -- so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement."

Today, she has a new defense for the statement:
She told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "I was sleep-deprived, and I misspoke."

She told KDKA radio in Pittsburgh: "You know, I have written about this and described it in many different settings, and I did misspeak the other day. This has been a very long campaign."
Yes it has, and if you can't take the stress of a campaign without having hallucinations, just wait until the real work of the Presidency begins, and the phone starts ringing at 3AM, bringing about even more sleep-deprivation.

I doubt that the latest defense is a valid one anyway, based on other "exaggerations" of events that she's told. There was the "helped bring peace to Northern Ireland" one, that was dismissed by Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of the province.

The website factcheck.org (a neutral group not committed to any candidates) has an abbreviated rundown of her claims of experience in foreign relations, compared with the facts. Included are her claims regarding Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Rwanda. Clinton also credits herself with a speech that she made in Beijing as part of her experience, but you know what she has repeatedly said about the value of speeches. (so OK... that last one is not a lie, it's just hypocrisy)

Then there's the NAFTA lie:
"I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning."

Paraphrasing from The Nation, "Clinton Lie Kills her Credibility," She held 5 meetings to help win congressional approval for it. In a closed-door session (where she was the featured speaker), ABC News reported that "her remarks were totally pro-NAFTA" and that "there was no equivocation for her support for NAFTA at the time."


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More quizlets

Not sure how reassuring this one is. (Soylent Green is meeeeeeeee!!!)


63% hmmmm. Not that good. You can beat me. (well... not literally)

Quiz - Sunni or Shiite?

McCain!! You're on!!
I probably did as well as he would on it, "mis-clicking" a few.


Found on Texas Hippie.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Baaa Raaam Ewe!!


[LINK] If you look closely, you can see that this is spelled out with sheep.

Found on Neatorama.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter West


Easter. It's never really felt like a "religious" holiday to me. Maybe it's because the rituals of it had so little to do with the events that it's supposed to celebrate, at least for Christian religions (its roots are Pagan). I was raised Christian, and my mother was a strong believer but she always had problems with the Holiday. She wanted me to have a "normal" time of it and fit in with the other kids (a lost cause from the start), but when Easter came around there was always the same rant from her about what a bunch of hypocrites were down at the church and everywhere else -- all dressed in brand-new clothes and only there to show off and look snooty. She'd say "that's the only reason they go to church, just to be seen in their new clothes and turn up their noses at us." She was absolutely right of course. For Easter a girl or woman was expected to turn up in new shoes, socks, dress... and hat!! Had to have a hat. We couldn't afford new stuff, so she would make me a new dress for Easter. It was the last thing either of us really wanted. We both hated putting on the dog, rituals, and snoots, but she tried to make me fit in. I couldn't stand those damned scratchy petticoats.

I got to avoid them in the above picture. We still lived in Arizona where it was socially OK to dress up your little girl like a cowboy. That might have been the last time I wore a holster! Maybe I just couldn't pass up an opportunity to share a really cute picture of myself. Those don't get taken anymore.

Godsnack

Someone found a Cheeto that they think looks like Jesus. They are calling it Cheesus. I am not making that up. [LINK]

Who's getting hungry?

Found on J-Walk.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Texas parrots



We were having lunch at Cafe Mundi, it was just a beautiful day to be outdoors and we love that place. It's trying to hide from the gentrification going on in east Austin, but condos and matching upscale trendy development is creeping up on it. Anyway, MrB said "look at that huge nest in that cell tower." I honestly can't remember the last time I had binoculars with me, but we had gone to a concert the night before without having front row seats... so I was all set for bird-watching. Without the binoculars we couldn't have seen that there were a dozen or so green parrots flying around the big nest. (a couple of them are in the picture above right, but hard to see).

Turns out that they are Quaker parrots, a.k.a. Monk parakeets. They are originally from South America, but it's believed that the colonies in the USA are the result of pets going feral. Click [wiki Monk parakeet] to a better picture and learn more about them. I had heard they had colonies in Austin but didn't know where they were, and this location wasn't mentioned. I suppose they get around! With all the development and construction, I'll bet they have to move a lot -- and having that nest in a cell tower is not going to please certain of the powers-that-be.

More links:
Quakers in Austin (parrots not people)
Birds of a feather

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rights, rites, the right. Something's wrong.

There's been quite a flap in the presidential campaigns over pastors and religion, and how much influence they might have in the actual running of the country. I ran across this article on The Nation about why the Hillary campaign has not pounced with much ferocity on this whole Rev. Wright issue. If the public is going to examine a candidate's spiritual leader, this is about Hillary's.

[Here's the link] It's about a group known as The Fellowship or The Family. There's an expose by Jeff Sharlet that's been written about this group that will be published in May. It's a conservative and secretive Capitol Hill religious group with many cult-like features. They organize young people into same-sex group homes known as "cells," where they are indoctrinated concerning Jesus and power.

Historically, The Family has always been politically involved, esp. with right-wing world leaders. In the 1940s they reached out to Nazis (based on their fascination with power), and in the 1960s they forged relationships between the U.S. government and people such as Brazilian dictator General Costa e Silva and Indonesia's General Suharto. During Reagan's term, they bonded with Salvadoran general Carlos Eugenios Vides Casanova, "convicted by a Florida jury of the torture of thousands, and Honduran general Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, himself an evangelical minister, who was linked to both the CIA and death squads before his own demise." On the domestic end, The Family has been associated with Sam Brownback, Ed Meese, John Ashcroft, James Inhofe, Rick Santorum... and... Hillary Clinton, who is a member of the "most elite cell" of the Family.

Their doctrine and message is about power and elitism, issues close to the hearts of both the Christian Right and Neoconservatives.
...in mass societies, it's only the elites who matter, the political leaders who can build God's "dominion" on earth. Insofar as The Family has a consistent philosophy, it's all about power--cultivating it, building it and networking it together into ever-stronger units, or "cells." "We work with power where we can," Doug Coe has said, and "build new power where we can't."

Why does this matter? It matters because it has affected her behavior as a legislator:
...The Family takes credit for some of Clinton's rightward legislative tendencies, including her support for a law guaranteeing "religious freedom" in the workplace, such as for pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions and police officers who refuse to guard abortion clinics.

Is that what "freedom of religion" means to her? What if your co-worker insists on their right to anoint your office chair every day with the blood of a chicken as part of a religious rite? That kind of rite is not your right when it imposes a hardship on another citizen who has the right to be free from undesired religious rites of others.

Jeff Sharlet's The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

And while we are calling for Obama to "denounce and reject" a pastor, let's look at McCain's alliance with Rev. Rod Parsley, "who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it." [LINK]

He's also been associated with and endorsed by Texas televangelist, the Rev. James C. Hagee, a staunch anti-Catholic to point of calling them the Anti-Christ. McCain's reaction was “when he endorses me, it does not mean that I embrace everything that he stands for or believes in.” [LINK] Sounds just a bit like some of the things that Obama has said regarding his pastor.

Here's an idea. Let's keep church and state separate. How refreshing and functional would it be if our candidates were not bound by loyalties to religious groups who are filled with hatred, bigotry, and lust for power and even world domination? It's an influence that a government that strives for freedom and justice could surely do without.



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Purrsday Night - March Madness



Not THAT kind of madness! We are just mad, that's all. We're mad and pouty because there was no catblog last week, because our apes were too busy being gone from the house for some festival or something! sheeesh!! We were left alone for more hours a day than is acceptable by cat rules and we did not get in our full hour-by-hour routines... not to mention that the litter pans were only scooped a couple of times a day. Next time this happens, we are going on strike.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Chey's Place on Sunday - - -

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Really Eccentric

We seem to be on a documentary kick when it comes to rentals lately. This first one, Crazy Love, is appropriately named. A woman ends up happily married to a man who previously went to prison for hiring someone to throw acid in her face, blinding and disfiguring her. Seems incomprehensible, and I hate to admit it, but I actually ended up understanding why she did it. I could relate. Love can make a person do some mighty strange things, and what a couple these two are!

King of Kong, a Fistful of Quarters. This is one I was curious about anyway, based on high Tomatometer and Dr. Monkey's recommendation. We saw the trailer a lot at the Alamo Drafthouse, partly because they staged an event surrounding it (it gets a mention in the DVD extras), they brought in a vintage Donkey Kong game and Steve Wiebe, in person, attempted to break the record (again) in the theater lobby. ----> video.

The hard-core arcade gamers in the film were really a very weird bunch, not bad-weird, just interesting-weird, with Roy Shildt (Mr. Awesome) winning the Superstar of Weird prize.

The Real Dirt on Farmer John is about a man who "bloomed where he was planted" (sorry about the cornball pun). John had a traditional farming background, and managed to weather the economic troubles of that profession, plus major problems relating to his traditional Illinois farmer neighbors (who didn't much appreciate his "hippie" lifestyle of the 60s and John's love of wearing feather-boas while riding the tractor -- stuff like that didn't win many Brownie points to put it mildly). He turns his luck around by transforming his land into an organic, community farming operation, and becomes a mentor and inspiration for many (feather boas and all). The movie comes stamped with kudos from Al Gore! [IMDB]

I prefer "Psycho" to the others


This is Floyd and Justin Bebee, Git-R-Dun and Psycho -- father and son mug shots, although not arrested together. Obviously the kid has been inspired by his dad. Dad Floyd has another kid who's locked up until 2016 for a felony. He's got a swastika and the words "White Pride," but he put them on his legs instead. [source]

From The Smoking Gun

Sunday, March 16, 2008

SXSW Day Four (Saturday)

Saturday

To see LOTS more pics or to see these bigger, click here.

The only place we went was back to The Enchanted Forest for the RajiWorld party. It was another perfect day with perfect weather and lots of good local bands (including AJ Croce (son of Jim), Friends of Dean Martinez, Mario Matteoli, and Billy Harvey) and other entertainment. The Art Outside show was still going on, with some pieces added or still evolving since being there on Thursday. A sampling of art and people:

Roggie Baer (it's her party)


Cody and Willy from Reckless Kelly


Billy Harvey, who has one of the weirdest and coolest websites ever!



an evening path


night tents and flora/fauna sculptures in day-glo


one of two dancers


one of several fire-show gadgets


It was a great 4 days for us. The weather was beautiful and it was quality time. Nobody got sick or hurt, and I didn't have to work for almost 4 days!


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Saturday, March 15, 2008

SXSW Day Three (Friday)

Friday
Quite a different day than Thursday! After yesterday's debacle with parking downtown, we decided to get Dillo-savvy and did the park-and-ride free Dillo shuttle bus. We couldn't believe we hadn't done it sooner. What a brilliant idea! Oh well, live and learn.

To see more pics, or to see these larger, click here.

We spent several hours at the Yep Roc party at the Dirty Dog (which used to be held at the Yard Dog -- so it's a whole different Dog) down on 6th Street. It started at noon with free Lone Star beer and BBQ (nothing for us veg-heads to eat but cole slaw, but we didn't need food yet anyway). Really excellent bands, some I'd seen and some I hadn't. Started off with the Iguanas, a favorite from New Orleans. Then a bluegrass band from North Carolina called Chatham County Line.

Next up was Chuck Prophet. We hadn't seen him before but we've heard him a lot on KGSR. Here's what he sounds like:

Liam Finn is the son of Neil Finn (I love Neil Finn) and a member of Crowded House. I heard a lot of his dad in his voice. He put on a wild and energetic set with just enough cowbell!

Our Dirty Dog visit ended up with The Sadies, a kind of an alt-country alt-surf hard-rockabilly band from Ontario. We saw them a few years ago opening for our beloved Jayhawks.

After walking many, many blocks we caught the Dillo back to the car (and just in time as I had begun to get blisters on the soles of my feet), and went over to Maria's Taco Xpress on So. Lamar for the Sin City Party. The name "Sin City" is taken from the Gram Parsons record, and is run by a family friend of his from L.A. A friend of MrB's was expected to meet us there, and if it hadn't been for that we might have left soon after we got there. It was just jam-packed, too loud, and no place to sit where the bands were playing, and my feet advised me not to do any more standing. But things worked out almost magically... he showed up, we went out to the patio, and managed to borrow 3 chairs near the stage... and all in plenty of time for the Mother Truckers! Perfect. Look at this cute picture of Teal as she poses for the camera!

She's got one hell of a voice, and Josh plays some great rockin' guitar! They are California transplants, now known as as an Austin band, and proud of it.

I couldn't resist taking of pic of this adorable pet iguana that someone brought with them. I was told that it was a girl. Don't know exactly what species.

Next up was the Band of Heathens, and the week wouldn't have been complete without seeing these guys, they are a favorite.


So, two short but great sets from local favorites, and nobody held back. Outstanding! We called it a day after that, and went home to our lonely and cranky cats.

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SXSW Day Two (Thursday)

Thursday
We had every intention of going downtown and trying to catch either Kim Richey or Billy Bragg and Carrie Rodriguez, and did succeed with the "going downtown" part of it. A combination of active construction, day party street closures, normally free lots charging money, and people actually trying to work in their offices (it was a weekday, after all), we had one hell of a frustrating time just driving around, much less finding a nice free parking space. So... we ditched those plans and headed to south Austin.

Click here to see lots more pics or to see any of these bigger.

Started at Opal Divine's Penn Field where we saw Jo Carol Pierce (with Mark Andes) and the Jitterbug Vipers (pictured below):

Then we went over to The Enchanted Forest where they were have a music party and an art fair. We had seen only the edge of this place before, where DaVine Foods is, and maybe a little beyond. We were stunned at how large and beautiful that place was back behind the gates. I would describe it on this day as if Elrond had decided to locate Rivendell in the heart of South Austin and construct it from found objects -- and Vilya, his Ring of Power, could not have conjured up any better weather! Also, it's hard to imagine a LESS-corporate event than this one. Such a relief. Do check out more of these on the photobucket link above. You're not in Kansas anymore:








Oh yes, and there were bands! Pictured below is Buttercup from San Antonio. All the bands we saw were really good. From the UK, there was Hey Negrita, Alabama3, and People in Planes. From Spain there was Jet Lag. From Austin, The Summer Wardrobe and Dustin Welch. We ran into a band we saw Wednesday, Blue Mountain, and got to chat with Cary Hudson, the guitar player. He was there to see his friend Tommy Womack from Nashville, and was right about him -- he is quite a songwriter.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

SXSW Day One (Wednesday)

To see the pics bigger or see more of them, click here.

Wednesday
Started out (noon) at the Bandango Party at Yard Dog where we saw John McNicholas and grabbed some (free) beer. Look at these adorable young fiddlers on So. Congress.


We watched Mason Jennings at Jo's and headed over to the big Guitartown party at Mother Egan's. The 5 hours we spent there were spent listening to really solid outstanding Americana, alt-country, or alt-what-have-you bands. We saw Tom Freund, Shawn Mullins (first time to see him and he was awesome! Watch the video for "Beautiful Wreck" below)


Jon Dee Graham played a hard rocking set and was absolutely great! I was not familiar with Chip Robinson, Eric Ambel, and Blue Mountain (more about them in Thursday's post) but we really enjoyed them a lot (it's so nice, if you don't travel, when these things come to your doorstep as they do during SXSW). Then came the late addition to the lineup: Bela Fleck, appearing as part of Abigail Washburn's Sparrow Quartet, which also features Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee! All outstanding musicians. Bela must be the best banjo player in the world. What a treat to have seen all these folks at such close range, in the daylight but in the shade, and merely for the price of a couple of glasses of Guiness.



The Sparrow Quartet was a bit late showing up, so we were very pressed for time in getting over to the Austin Music Hall for the Music Awards (we were on foot, which isn't necessarily slower considering the parking situation).

Lots of upsets and surprises in the Awards themselves, enough for a whole new topic. The show was held in the newly-remodeled Austin Music Hall, which sucks as much as ever, in our opinions. Same bad acoustics and they've added a mezzanine with a shaky railing, so big whoop.

Show highlights:
Lyle Lovett, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Colin Gilmore performed with offspring and relations of Uncle Walt's Band (the talent is inherited).

Gary Clark Jr. WOW! OK, I really hope this kid is the "next big thing out of Austin." We have been seeing him in these clubs since he was too young to be in them. He was damned good back then, playing traditional blues styles, but has really blossomed with his own style in the past year or so. He appears in the 2007 movie Honeydripper (dir. John Sayles, starring Danny Glover).

Also in the show... The Judys and a set with indie sensations Okkervil River with Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators) sitting in.

Spoon made a major sweep at the Awards, and on our way out of the Hall, we were right by Britt Daniel of Spoon, so we got to shake hands and congratulate him. That was pretty cool. Then we hoofed it back to the car... 10 blocks... but we can't complain about free parking. A great kickoff day!!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SXSW music this week

It's here! The biggest music festival in the world, SXSW music. There are maybe 1600 official artist showcases and impossible to determine how many bands without showcases are playing the day/side parties. We don't get wristbands, we found out that there's plenty of free (or reeeally cheap) stuff going on, and every year there are more and more "side" parties. This is the best all-round guide to those that I've found, and here's another listing, but there's not one list that includes them all... not one.

We are probably starting the whole thing tonight. Blogging and visiting other blogs will be light to nearly non-existent until this week is over, so until then we will see you at the Continental Club, Yard Dog's alley, Mother Egan's, Opal Divine's, Enchanted Forest, Maria's Taco Express, or Jo's. I'll be back here maybe on Sunday unless I get a breather.

Shown is Octopus Project, taken last year at Jo's Coffee. She is playing the theramin.

Twenty Photos

Voluntary meme found via konagod. Besides, I really wanted to move those horrible barbaric pictures from China down the page a bit:

1. Go to photobucket.com
2. Type in your answer for each question into the PhotoBucket search bar.
3. Choose your favorite photo to represent your answer.
4. Copy the html and paste it here.
5. Answer only in picture form.

1. What is your first name?


2. When is your birthday?


3. What kind of car do you want?


4. Where did/do you go to school?


5. What is your favorite season?


6. What is your favorite type of shoe?


7. What is your status?


8. What is your favorite movie?


9. What is your favorite song?


10. Who is your favorite Disney character?


11. What is your favorite clothing line?


12. What is your favorite vacation destination?


13. What is your favorite dessert?


14. What is your favorite letter?


15. What are you most afraid of?


16. What is your favorite TV show?


17. What annoys you the most?


18. What is your job?


19. What is your favorite animal?


20. How old are you?


Tag yourself if you want to do this one.