Phoenix Phall Phunfest

Sunday, October 5, 2014 3:43 AM

My autocorrect now has learned "Phunfest" is actually a word in my world. I'm amused by this.

Anyway, just a couple of things I wanted to share about this lovely event:

I was surprised to see just how nuts the crowds were for the craft show before Phunfest and how light things got once the Phunfest started. Except for the usual crowds at the train ride, haunted cars, and the Flyers, this year was kinda dead. I think the cold probably had a little to do with that because it got downright frigid outside as the night went on. It was probably the emptiest PPP I've been to in the four or five years I've attended.

I finally got some food that held up to the Knoebels reputation of good food: Oasis cafe's chicken. Dude. Just DUDE. FTW

My husband finally enjoyed Phoenix much more now that I showed him that the front half of the train is better. 5 laps on Phoenix.

Last year I was not happy with Twister at all because it ran extremely roughly even in the front. This year, it was a mixed bag. Rode second to last car on the purple train and it was more like the Twister I love. Smooth but intense, and absolutely smoking through the helix and second half. That lap was actually dedicated to Mike since he couldn't make it out this year, and I wasn't sure if we'd ride again. We DID end up riding again in the last seat of the blue train, and while the ride was still friggin crazy, it was much more shaky and rough as well. Glad we got at least one really great ride on this coaster though.

Flying Turns wasn't that long of a wait when we rode (we bought tickets to ride before PPP started so the line might not be as long with enthusiasts). It was a good call, as we only waited for about 30 minutes and then walked right over for the first trains of Phoenix.

Can I just say once more that I loved Oasis chicken? Plus, you got two decent sides, stuffing, and a roll for 10 bucks. You can't beat half a chicken and all that extra stuff for that price at a park. Plus free refills on soda.

Finally figured out the spinning wheel ride thing and spent a good long cycle flipping upside down. Then walked straight into my friend Jaya and almost fell over.

No one wanted to ride the Cosmotron due to all the spinny rides we had already ridden, so I missed it this year. Oh well!

Black Diamond was a nice break, and I think they added stuff. Definitely something to look at in almost every turn. It doesn't really do much for me, but I appreciate the work that went into it.

Impulse seems like it is in a crummy spot. Kinda like a "parking lot" coaster. It is cool that it will be the first thing you see as you head into the park, and I like that the coasters are spread out from each other, but...maybe the placement will grow on me when I see the actual ride.

Finally, I caught the end of the coaster memorabilia swap meet, and my friend got me a bumper sticker that says "staples are for paper". I'm sure it is an ancient little joke, but I love it. There was also a photographer there that took some of the best coaster pictures I've ever seen. Really nice stuff. If I wasn't broke, I would have picked up three or four to hang in my library, especially since he had some amazing shots from Dorney and Hershey and they're my "home parks".

Anyway, all in all, this trip was a bit more subdued than some of my past PPP experiences, but I loved it as usual. Sorry if things were a little scatterbrained!

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Sunday, October 5, 2014 9:33 AM

Haunted House? Dodgem?

I would love to have gone to PPP this year, after a long absence. I considered it, as my park trips this year have been infrequent and it's my birthday weekend. Then I realized my dance group's annual charity fundraiser would be the same night so never mind.
Next year, Bunk.

I like the park during the day- you're right, its a good time to get laps on rides that get busy in the evening.
I also like the Covered Bridge festival. I'm normally not the craft show type, but that's a good one. And the food is great.

The years I've been to PPP the main restaurants in the park have already closed for the season. The only places I've ever tried are Cesari's and the walkup place next to Phoenix, I forget the name. Oh, and the festival food, of course. But, what about this Oasis chicken? Roasted? Baked? Fried? BBQ?

One last question- have they started construction on Impulse yet?
Wait, one more. What spinning wheel flipping ride?

Thanks for the report, I'm jealous.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014 12:09 PM

RCMAC, I care not a lick for Cesari's or that place by Phoenix, but I am like you because I will just eat there because it's easy in relation to Phoenix and other fun rides. Oasis is actually near what I call the front of the park (near the Ferris wheel and Downdraft). There is a hot dog and hamburger type place with condiment udders hanging on the side. Then somewhere around there, there's a little cafeteria looking entrance that says oasis cafe. I believe they had a sign sitting out on one of the bigger pathways advertising their meal deal. You'll know you're in the right place if you see a cafeteria line with ladies serving up huge pieces of chicken (there was also meatloaf available). The cafe itself is cool too because it opens up into a pretty big circular eating area, but you'd never know it from the outside. Plus, it's neat looking, like a huge tiki hut or something. And finally, the chicken is called "barbecued" chicken, but that is misleading because it does not have BARBECUE SAUCE on it (thank god). I'd call it grilled. Actually, I'd just call it awesome.

If I could put a picture up, I'd show you what I mean by the flipping ride. I've seen these at carnivals and fairs before. Only two people per car, you sit and face each other, and you're strapped in by a heavy duty seatbelt. Then the ride starts, and you apply and release a little metal foot brake. I'm not good at description sometimes...?

There is no construction on Impulse started yet. Boo.

We did not do the Haunted House. Bumper cars yes, Haunted House no.

Well, hope that's everything...I don't think I missed anything! :)

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Sunday, October 5, 2014 1:27 PM

I think you're talking about Looper: http://knoebels.com/index.php/looper

Unfortunately I couldn't make it this year because I'm music directing and playing a show, but I plan to be back for 2015. It's hard to pass up the framily [sic] reunion.

I was not a Phoenix phan until I discovered rows 1 and 2 are where it's at... for me. Some folks like the 3rd row "Schmeck seat" but all that does is remind me of all the reasons I hated Phoenix during my first PPP.

And strangely enough, two years ago I did find the last car of Twister to be much more survivable than even the front. The helix was still terrible, but the rest was pretty smooth.

However Bunky, I'm dismayed that you posted this *today* and aren't still there! ;) I might have to check out this Oasis chicken next time.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014 2:11 PM

Our puppies make it impossible for us to go somewhere overnight. We didn't have a dog sitter, so unless it is a one-day trip, no Phun parties for us!

Yes, it is Looper! Such a non-assuming looking ride, but it feels almost like riding Zipper if you get it spinning hard enough. The trick? Don't push in the pedal until the car starts rocking real good, and then push the pedal in and hold it. You likely will not stop flipping until you release again. Phantastic!

I too prefer rows one and two on Phoenix. Row 2, right side is my jam. I tried quite a few seats this time around, and I even sat in the back again (I still hold the same opinion of the back seat...blech). It is rare that I prefer the front on a good wood coaster, but it for sure is the front for me on Phoenix.

Last edited by bunky666, Sunday, October 5, 2014 2:15 PM
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Sunday, October 5, 2014 10:26 PM

Ah, the Looper. What a classic ride, and I'm not sure, but Knoebel's restored ride may be the last on earth. They used to be everywhere, and when I was a kid they were commonly called Rock and Roll. I remember seeing many portable versions at carnivals, and the last one I rode was at Gooding's Zoo Park back in the late 60's, early 70's. That sixties inspired name was probably what made Chance name their reproduction model Rok n Rol. (not nearly as good or successful)
You're right when you say it's a simple concept that delivers, but many of the older mechanical rides were just like that. I haven't been to Knoebel's to ride the Looper, but I'm very excited to try it when I finally get back there.

And I wasn't sure if you weren't maybe referring to the Power Surge ride they have, also a spinny flippy ride, but I heard somewhere (probably here) that it spent some time this season in pieces waiting for a restoration or repairs.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014 10:31 PM

This is getting a little long winded so I'll break it into 2 parts, afternoon, and Phunfest.

I'll respond here with my TR as well, if you don't mind, Bunky. We- Myself, Janice (wife) and Boogie (kid) arrived a little later than normal, around 1:30. Since Janice is a "casual" to "non" rider, Boogie and I got the Phunfest night stamp and we just bought tickets for the 3 of us for the afternoon.

First thing we hit up was the Carousel. The 3 of us absolutely *love* it! It's the only one I've ridden where you can grab the ring and it's just so much fun. One ride there, then over to the Bumper cars. Best. Bumpercars. Ever. Love how heavy they are and how easily they spin out. Yet also how easy it is to correct the spin with opposite steer and keep going.

While Boogie rode the Roll-o-plane, we got to the only reason Janice even comes with us, the Caramel apple stand. So good, it's one of the first things we seek out every year. From there, the Skyride. Fun, as always. My favorite part is waving to the cars below with a cupped hand, ala Princess Di. Embarrasses the crap out of Boogie. Love the view on the way down too. Janice, the photographer, goes a bit nuts here.

We walked over to another Knoebels staple, the giant slide, to find it closed. Bummer! Boogie and I love this thing. But it had rained a lot the night before so it was understandable. Walked through the kiddie area and found ourselves by the Haunted House and decided to ride it now before the line got crazy in the evening. I'm just not much of a fan of these old style houses. It has its charm, and I get the nostalgia, but it just doesn't do much for me. I will admit, I enjoy the one at Waldameer quite a bit. "Perhaps with your arm still attached...."

Next we decided to do Flying Turns. I was scared of this ride for what it had the potential to do, which is eat up way too much time in a limited time day. But better to do it now, on the ticket plan, and maximize the unlimited rides of the Handstamp later. Line was about 45-50 minutes, but we lucked out! Still about 15 minutes out the ops yelled back looking for a single cars worth of people. My hand shot up and Boogie and I skipped right to the front! Flying Turns is exactly what I expected. It was a lot of fun, but I wouldn't ride it again due to the long line. Every year, a full day at PPP flies by so fast, that I just hate to stand in one place for too long.

While Boogie and I were in line, Janice went ahead and took care of the other reason she loves Knoebels, the Peirogies. So good, but she ate them all herself because she knew Boogie and I had (bad) pizza coming.

With 50 minutes left before the break, we went back to close out the Carousel. We took 5 or 6 more rides and Boogie grabbed the brass ring 2 rides in a row!

Now 5pm, we headed back to the car to layer up for the oncoming cold and move the car closer. Most of you know how far away you end up parking when you first arrive.

Last edited by Tommytheduck, Sunday, October 5, 2014 10:34 PM
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Sunday, October 5, 2014 11:13 PM

Pt 2:

Back from the car and layered up, we went to Cesaris to eat before the Phunfest started. I think it's pretty well accepted in coastertool circles that the pizza here sucks. I don't like it, yet at the same time, I love it! How can that be? Well... I'm at Knoebels... I'm eating bad pizza at Cesari's... WHOA!!! That must mean I'm at PPP!!! I love PPP!!!

Every year Boogie drags me to Laser Tag and every year I try to talk him out of it. So we played laser tag with 18 other people. Yeah. It's pretty much wall to wall people shooting at each other. No skill, no strategy, no fun.

Now, Phoenix time. Phinally! Let me just say how much I love the Phoenix. It's hands down my #1 wooden Coaster, and probably my #3 overall if I were to ever make a list. (no, I haven't ridden El Toro) Phoenix never fails to deliver a fun, airtime filled ride. Definitely need to sit in the front of the train. Front row is amazing, but 2 is almost as good and we got a great ride in 4 as well. We always sit in the back too, just to re-assure ourselves that we aren't missing much. We took probably 8 rides or so over the evening.

Now I know that Phoenix isn't always this insane, but it holds my #1 wood for a few reasons. One of which is that I love PPP. It is hands down my favorite day of the year, I look forward to it every year, and I've only missed 3 since I started going in 2001. And those were for good reasons. Another is that it just runs so much better on those cool, crisp nights. And when the fog from the haunted cars starts to envelop the structure... We've ridden it on a hot summer day, and it's fun, but it's just not the same.

To me, Twister is just OK. Like Bunky said, it can be a mixed bag. Once is usually enough. I don't want to beat myself up too bad and ruin the rest of my night. I become more sensitive to this as the years go by. We took one ride together in the front row and I was shocked at how well it was running. Smoothest I can remember. Boogie rode again, but I decided to sit out anyways.

Boogie loves the Looper, or as we call it, The Hamster Wheels. Problem is, you need 2 people, and there's no way in hell you'd ever catch Janice or I on it. So we are forced to stand around and look for single riders for him to partner with. He did manage 4 or so rides. One of which was with an employee who bragged that his record was 118 loops in a single ride. I don't think they counted, but I was getting dizzy just watching them. Damn.

Drop Tower: Boogie loved it

Fandango: Too intense for me (even MaxAir, much slower, makes me queasy) Boogie loves it, and in a surprising twist, Janice rode it too. She didn't like it. It didn't make her sick, but was too intense.

And finally... the Phlyers

Lets face it, we all love the Phlyers. While I love Knoebels, I'm really only there for 3 things, the Carousel, the Phoenix, and the Phlyers.

Boogie and I got some pretty good rides in, and in a first for me, I hit the trees! In fact, I think one of my rides could very well have been the most violent I've ever gotten them to snap.

Problem was, there were 2 operators that were complete buzzkills. THey would run the motor at full speed, but as soon as people got snapping hard, they'd slow it to half speed. Now, you could still snap at half speed, but not nearly as crazy. One rider went up and asked the guy when our ride was over. "One night a year we come up here and you have to go and slow us down?" The op said it's not okay to be doing it like that. "Is too... is not..." I didn't hear the rest. But I'll say this, it kept the lines short. Word had gotten around. Being that the Phlyers are my favorite ride on the planet, it didn't stop me, but even Boogie didn't want to bother. So many of my Phlyer rides were taken solo while he and Janice were on other rides.

Overall, another very successful PPP. And extra satisfying because we had to miss last year.

A few tack-on notes.

The chicken: We've never tried it. I just mentioned it to Janice as I read Bunky's TR and she stopped and said "aw man... I wanted to try that, it looked so good!" Next time, for sure.

The hotel: We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Selinsgrove. It's apparently brand new and was nice. We normally stay at the HIE in Milton, but decided to try this one out, as it was slightly closer to Knoebels.

Last edited by Tommytheduck, Sunday, October 5, 2014 11:17 PM
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Sunday, October 5, 2014 11:49 PM

Briefly....just got to the hotel post-Dorney (post-post-"Hangover Day").

Phoenix regained that little extra that might have been lacking (the hops going into the turn-arounds).

Flying Skooters, when properly op'ed by people who understand PPP rules are different...are completely NUTS. When op'ed by people who wants "regular rules" enforced...just plain HARD to keep them under control.

As always, ended my "season" such as it is on KG's world's greatest bumper cars...and an extra-long session.

No frozen tea this year...just too cold. Hot cocoa was delicious.

Turns, for a nostalgia FREAK like me, is just amazing.

Twister's helix is MUCH better now that the ride maintains speed without the jarring mine-train banking at the entrance to the signature element.

Finally, and most importantly:

Moosh, Martha, and Tanya were remembered in style.

My crazy family of enthusiasts had another phantastic reunion, and I can't wait to see each and every one of them again next year.

(OK, maybe not so brief, LOL).... ;~)

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Monday, October 6, 2014 1:25 PM

Aw, Gator, I didn't know you were coming up for PPP! Would have met you and TtD...though I have this strange feeling I spoke to Tommy in line for Flying Turns. *laugh*

I didn't attend the memorials. I debated going to the Moosh one because I liked him here on CB for the short time I was on the site before he passed, but I didn't know what time it was.

I have seen Loopers at carnivals and fairs, but I never had much luck with them in terms of flipping. This one was just nuts.

Tommy, that's funny about the chicken! The place really doesn't look like anything special, but I've been craving that chicken for two days post Phest. I also got an excellent ride on Phoenix seat 4. Best of the night actually (except maybe in the front).

What is it about Phunfest and Knoebels in general? I can't put my finger on it. There are other parks that are small and charming, and there are other events that give fond memories, but this remains so special to me, and obviously to many others as well. We're already planning next year's trip (with a little more panache this time around). I can't wait!

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Monday, October 6, 2014 2:09 PM

For me, a lot of it is just the atmosphere. The way the park is situated amongst the tall trees, the rivers, the bridges, the quirky food-shaped buildings. Then you add some ye olde-fashyoned rydes that are very well maintained because they don't intend to remove them any time soon. Then for PPP you add in the colorful foliage and getting into the autumn spirit (even if it means wearing a winter coat on Saturday night and shorts on Sunday).

Those are things that allowed me to enjoy Knoebels on my first visit in 2007 even though I didn't like either of the 2 big coasters, and didn't have any enthusiast friends beyond the 3 guys I was traveling with.

But now, I love Phoenix and have cast a wider social net, so as I said before, PPP is like a family reunion. It's nice having that and HoliWood Nights to bookend the season.

(I should add that I'm realistic about Knoebels though; I know it's not to everyone's taste, and I try not to build it up as something that it's not. I have a blast at Cedar Point. Disney parks don't entice me much. It's srsly OK for different people to like different stuff.)

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Monday, October 6, 2014 2:38 PM

birdhombre said:

Some folks like the 3rd row "Schmeck seat" but all that does is remind me of all the reasons I hated Phoenix during my first PPP.

That's OK bird, I'll be right behind you Schmecking the daylights out of the ride.

This particular H.P. doesn't stand for "Harry Potter", LOL...it's something way more magical. ;~P

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Monday, October 6, 2014 2:41 PM

birdhombre said:

cast a wider social net...

For someone who grew up vaguely anti-social (and probably somewhere on the ASD scale before there even was such a thing)...I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Matthew Sullivan (Moosh). If I ran into one person I know, I ran into a hundred. And as always, had a phantastic time at the after-PPParty.

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Monday, October 6, 2014 3:23 PM

Missed you guys this year. It feels like it's been forever since Gator and I spooned, err, rode a roller coaster together.

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Monday, October 6, 2014 4:13 PM

For me, it's a lot of things. First and foremost, PPP was my first ever rollercoaster event. 6 of us from a bygone forum, (our own RavenPhile being one of them) who only knew each other from online, all met up and took a crazy, multi-park, no sleep roadtrip. It was quite a leap of faith heading out with 5 strangers, but we had a blast. I can still look back at that crazy trip as one of the best events of my life.

Now that we don't do long group road trips anymore, it's usually just my son, wife and I at PPP. But every PPP I'm reminded of that incredible trip.

Another reason I like it is just plain Because It's Knoebels. While some people don't like it, it's one of my favorite amusement parks to visit. As I said earlier, Carousel, Phoenix, Phlyers. I think I expressed my love for those in the TR above, so I'll leave it there.

I love riding coasters in the fall. Nothing beats a coaster ride in the cool, brisk fall air. Throw in Halloween and all it's associated shenanigannery, and it's perfect. In fact, while most people probably associate coasters with hot weather, I actually associate them with cool weather. That seems strange even to me, but it's likely because we live in Cleveland. We visit CP often, but never in July or August, as it's too crowded. And lets face it, May, June, Sept, Oct on Lake Erie can get pretty cold, so it seems we're there in cold weather more than warm.

Last edited by Tommytheduck, Monday, October 6, 2014 4:15 PM
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Monday, October 6, 2014 4:20 PM

bunky666 said:

Would have met you and TtD...though I have this strange feeling I spoke to Tommy in line for Flying Turns. *laugh*



I suppose it's possible. I was wearing a black 1965 Impala hoodie and Boogie was wearing a way too big for him Whitesox hoodie. (He pretty much didn't pack anything for himself.) We were probably going on and on about random stuff, cuz that's just what we do.

Unfortunately, I forget who we talked to in line. Sorry, but if so, well, hey... nice to meet ya!

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Monday, October 6, 2014 11:41 PM

Looking at your pic, it wasn't you, but I think I did see you at Phoenix.

PPP was my pseudoquasi first enthusiast event. I didn't go with anyone and didn't arrange to meet anyone on CB (and didn't know ACErs or TPR people at ALL). I went with my husband, and although he's not an enthusiast, we had a decent time. What struck me even then though was the calm but palpable energy that ran through the place for the whole evening. There was no rowdiness, no yelling and screaming (except on the actual rides), and no jackass behavior issues. Everyone was pumped up and exhilarated, but no one was obnoxious. It felt pure and somehow nostalgic (a difficult feat when one has never even been to an event before).

The feeling was only amplified when I made the trip a few years later by myself and wondered if I'd meet any random CoasterBuzz people (I didn't that I know of), and I did not want to leave, sticking around for the bonfire lighting and chatting with a couple of drunken enthusiasts on my way back to my car (they were staying overnight). I was a stranger to them, but they invited me to stay, which could have been creepy but totally wasn't. The park itself has an underrated magic to it, and I always feel accepted at this event, whether or not I know a soul.

Last year I went with Jaya (a closeted enthusiast who just never had anyone who shared the love of coasters like she did until one day we got talking about coasters and it was all over from there), and I reconnected her with the bliss that is Phull Phrontal Phoenix (until that point, she was not impressed with Phoenix and most wooden coasters in general). We got to experience Flying Turns way before we thought we would (we didn't even know it was open for PPP until that same day), and I freaked out in spectacular fashion (I really was scared at one point...that thing may not be that fast, but it really looks like it is gonna fly over the side). We ate horrible pizza that tasted better because it was free and because it was Knoebels (interesting phenomenon that we seem to share), and we immediately started talking about next year.

This year, Jaya was so excited about Phoenix that she was bouncing up and down. I was actually more calm than she was (not that that's saying much), but I was still grinning like a jackass and rocking back and forth on my toes with excitement. This place and this event might not "do it" for everyone, but we all have certainly caught the bug.

And I'm giving serious consideration to a Knoebels visit next weekend just for the chicken.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014 11:30 AM

I had to pull out of going last minute. That's what a $600 to fix my well will do, but water is kinda more important I guess.

Hope to be back next year.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014 5:53 AM

My wife and I had a great time. It was a nice change that the crowds were thin. The last two previous PPP were packed, and that's what we were expecting. We love Knoebels, and the event.

I didn't notice that chicken deal, and had we seen that we may have gotten that instead of the free Cesari's pizza. When did they start giving those little cups with the included drink ticket? I remember getting a full size cup last year.

We love the looper ride, and flip the whole time. This was the first time my wife got dizzy because of it. Getting old sucks! :-) We rode everything with all the derides we could want. Rode Black Diamond 4 times in a row without a wait. That was a first for us. Was surprised that they were running both trains on the Phoenix. We've seen single train ops with much larger crowds(opening day typically.)

It's nice to see a few TR on the same thread. It was a great phunfest.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014 8:27 AM

Knoebals is one of the best parks I've ever visited. My last visit was during PPP in 2006. Now that they got the Flying Turns operational I just HAVE to attend a future PPP. I'll also visit Dorney to tie up a loose end, TALON was down when I visited it, thwarting my effort to make it both my 400th Roller Coaster and my 100th Inverted Roller Coaster one and the same. (Dorney's Wild Mouse wound up being my 400th coaster, while Great Adventure's Superman became my 100th inverted coaster (after waiting nearly two hours in line because I had the misfortune to be there on what turned out to be the most crowded day in that park's history!)). Some times if you want to ride something you just have to "tough it out".

Last edited by Regulus, Thursday, October 9, 2014 8:30 AM
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