Discussion for Episode 13: Pressure

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
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Natasha (candygirl)
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Discussion for Episode 13: Pressure

Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Apr 7th 2003, 3:06 am

Welcome to our thirteenth MSCL.com episode discussion!

If you haven't already done so, please read the info about the weekly discussions here.

I highly recommend reading theAngela's World essay that pertains to this episode.

Other threads related to Pressure that may be of interest are:
Angela is the Bicycle Thief
fantasy vs. reality
Patty and Graham suck
is Angela clueless?
Angela and sex

Some threads about recurring themes:
food
the contradiction that we call Rayanne
Last edited by Natasha (candygirl) on Aug 17th 2004, 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Nostradamus » Apr 7th 2003, 3:36 am

In a way, this episode "evens the score" between Angela and Graham. Early in the series Angela stumbles across Graham's near indiscretion, much to her dismay. Here, Graham unwittingly overhears Angela discussing her close encounter with Jordan. His facial expressions of horror are priceless!

:lol:
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Apr 7th 2003, 4:25 am

I like that this episode title refers to several different situations (unlike other episode titles like Why Jordan Can't Read or the Zit). Angela feels pressure to have sex with Jordan. Jordan feels pressure to have sex with Angela. Graham feels pressure to go into business with Hallie & Brad. Hallie (not Brad) is pressuring Graham. Patty feels pressure to be supportive of Graham. I could go on and on with the examples, but you know what I'm talking about.

I love when Angela compares sex to a rash or a Rottweiller! I have had similar conversations about how sex can be something that people do, like bowling.

Interesting that Patty asks if Angela and Jordan are going out, then says, "Well doesn't he drive her home sometimes?" If a ride home after school equals "dating" then Angela is a pretty big ho - as Brian says, "Is there anyone's car you won't get into?" :wink: It just made me laugh because my mom used to think that any boy who called our house more than twice must be a boyfriend. I had to explain to her that I attended a coed school and I was capable of maintaining friendships with boys. It's a different world than when she was in high school!

I find it amusing that Jordan kisses Angela and then immediately starts eating again. Another food analogy?

One of my favorite conversations ever between Jordan and Angela:
Jordan : So, you like me?
Angela : Oh, shut up.
Jordan : I mean, your mother says you like me.
Angela : [laughing] Oh, shut up!
I think that this is the one time that they both seem at ease with each other and joking. Maybe I have different standards, but most of my boyfriends were my friends first and most of my friends have the ability to make me laugh. I realize that there is a lot of Angela and Jordan's relationship that BF has taking place offscreen, but given the moments we have seen between them, this is the one where they seem the most normal and natural (instead of tense or horny or nervous).

Funny to compare that conversation to Guns & Gossip when Patty confronts Angela about having sex with Jordan and Rayanne says, "Do you want my mother to call your mother and tell her you didn't sleep together?"

Angela looks so proud of Sharon when she listens to Sharon explain that she broke up with Kyle because of her "beliefs." Her face falls when Sharon explains that she DID have sex with Kyle "like, constantly."

More recurring phrases - Dr. Skolnik says, "Well don't say hello or anything," to Angela, which is what Angela said to Jordan in Self Esteem.

I find it interesting that Angela asks Dr. Skolnik for statistics. I realize that she just wants some reassurance that she's normal, but what would she have done if Dr. Skolnik had said, "Well 99% of 15 year olds have sex"? Would that have been enough to convince her to have sex with Jordan? Throughout the episode, Angela is looking for someone to tell her not to have sex with Jordan. Instead, Dr. Skolnik tells her to use a condom and a sponge, Sharon brings over a sex tape, and Graham lets her go out with Jordan to the house on Cloverdale. All the signs seem to point to the world tacitly giving approval and encouraging Angela to have sex with Jordan.

Speaking of the sponge, who would have thunk it would be discontinued and then brought back years later? Crazy!

I love seeing that moment when Graham and Jordan are aping each other in the doorway - not the first time that they have unconsciously imitated each other (Life of Brian - "Whatever happens, happens").

Say what you will about Jordan being from a different social class than Angela, but he is very gentlemanly when he helps her through the window at the Cloverdale house.

Rayanne's reaction to seeing Angela at the house is, "That's so cool!" Why is Rayanne so excited at the prospect of Angela having sex with Jordan? Is it because she credits herself with getting them together? Is she glad that Angela is going to be part of the sisterhood having sex? Or is she genuinely happy that Angela's relationship with Jordan is progressing?

Patty's fake happy smile makes an encore appearance when she comes home from work for dinner with Hallie and Brad. She seemed suspicious of Hallie when Graham talked about her before, so why does she decide that she likes her? Possibly that having a fiance (note ONE e, not two because Brad is male) means she is taken and Graham is safe from her clutches? Or is not hating Hallie somehow part of being supportive of Graham? Or does Patty really not suspect anything yet?

Sharon is very amused by Rayanne's ice cube description - catch the smirk on her face as she watches Rayanne telling the gullible girls in the bathroom.

Such a contrast in attitudes - Sharon says, "So -- you're saying she's like, scared? To have sex?" and Rayanne replies, "Who knows? All I know is that she's hot for him." Sharon is concerned about Angela's emotional well being while Rayanne can't understand why Angela is "making this whole big deal over this -- *thing* that's like over in -- like three seconds."

Interestingly, Sharon fast forwards through all of the intimacy and "this whole boring relationship stuff" on the sex tape that she shows to Angela. Is she assuming that Angela already understands that? I think that Sharon chooses to focus on the physical act because that is what Angela is afraid of, BUT I think that part of the problem is that despite what Angela believes about her relationship with Jordan, they have not achieved intimacy or "boring relationship stuff."

Sharon's vehement "Promise me you'll make him wear a condom if you decide to do it" reminds me of Patty's "You did the right thing - you called me. Will you promise me you'll always do that?" in Other People's Mothers, which is fitting since both Sharon and Patty love Angela and want to protect her.

Sharon tells Angela, "The only strange thing is that after that, having sex was, like, expected, because, you can't like, go back. I mean, it kinda stopped mattering if, like, I wanted to." I definitely remember feeling that way, which is sad. I guess the male perspective is that he's won the battle so there's no need to fight it again.

Angela starts to ask Brian for his bike then stops herself by expositioning that she was going to ask to borrow it but that she won't ask him for favors anymore. Then she turns around to walk away and WAITS. She is beginning to recognize her selfish behavior, which is a step towards maturity BUT she still does it anyway.

Jordan later refutes Angela's excuse for leaving the house, saying, "Quit lying. Tino told me. Rayanne Graff has been clean for like weeks. Since the night she almost ODed, right?" I thought that even if Rayanne was still clean, Angela was perfectly justified in saying she was worried about Rayanne. If she was supposed to be on the wagon and Angela thought she seemed "out of it," it would make sense for her to make sure what was going on.

I agree with Jordan on one point - he never lied to Angela. On the other hand, Angela has told all kinds of lies to Jordan (and Rayanne has made stuff up about Angela) - including ridiculous things like the "Dear Jordan" letter was about her boyfriend who DIED. I don't think that being honest justifies Jordan's behavior but he never deliberately led her to believe otherwise. A lot of the things that Angela got upset about was due to what she created in her mind. Case in point - the letter she wrote where she says, "he could have handled things differently, and he really did not know me at all. Even though he acted like he did." She has very little basis for these statements and makes it sound like she and Jordan had a relationship when at that point they had kissed in his car (Dancing in the Dark), talked to him about the sex rumor (Guns & Gossip), and scalped her Dead tickets to pay him for the fake ID (Father Figures). I don't think that those few interactions between them merited the judgement that Angela made.

Back to Pressure - Angela says that "every moment of [her relationship with Jordan] has completely sucked." Is she being melodramatic or is this true? If you look at every instance when they have interacted, one or both of them seem uncomfortable or nervous in most of them. I guess that could be construed as sucking :wink:

Cynthia agrees with Rickie's description of sex as "seeing a comet...or seeing the other person's perfectness." Does that mean she had amazing crazy in love sex with Jordan? And why does she think that Angela worked at Big Guy Burger? That red hair would be pretty hard to mistake!

Graham goes from making out on the couch with Patty to taking a nap :puppydogeyes: Poor Patty - you can see how disappointed she is!

Brian tells Angela, "Don't just take it - yell back at me." He expects her to give as well as she gets, a sign that Brian sees her as an equal in that capacity. Despite their disagreements, he knows that Angela is honest with him when they fight.

In their sex discussion, Angela and Brian both use the word "boys" rather than "guys," which is indicative of the way they view males of their age group. They definitely aren't men yet - they are boys trying to figure out how to be men, to paraphrase Graham.

When Jordan asks, "Is [Angela] home?" why does Brian reply, "I'm not sure"?

Why does Jordan come to the side door as he did during his late night visit? He came to the front door to pick Angela up the night they went to the house on Cloverdale so it seems strange that he would pick the side door. He picks up pictures from the table in the hallway - is it just something to do, something to occup his hands (as many smokers say they need when they aren't smoking)? Or is he genuinely interested in Angela as a child and her family? I'd like to say it's the latter, but that's my Jordan bias :D

When Jordan says he won't hold it against her if her name comes up, she says "thanks" almost sarcastically, but I think that Jordan means it to be comforting. Angela lives in the kind of world where she and Rayanne write notes about people that are true. She doesn't quite grasp that Jordan is doing a nice thing here - he is promising not to lie to his friends about what happened or talk smack about her.

During this conversation, Jordan keeps wandering farther into the house - a little more and he would have run right into Graham! Although Jordan does seem to have a habit of inviting himself in and making himself comfortable, I think in this instance that Jordan is looking around Angela's house in curiousity since it is different from his own.

I laughed at the emphasis when Angela says, "I've never seriously thought about killing you."

She steps up so that she is taller than Jordan - a symbol that she is taking the high road in her decision not to sleep with him?

When she tells him that she'll miss his hair, he says, "Yeah?" almost like he doesn't believe her. He seems flattered - considering his previous "um" partners (like Cynthia), it isn't surprising to consider that Angela might be the first girl to tell him something like that.

When Jordan leans against the post to kiss Angela goodbye, the pose is very similar to when he leans against the fence at the World Happiness Dance. The circle of life :D

Interesting to note that when Angela is talking about being herself, she is riding Brian's bike.

Sorry for my short fragmented comments but I am exhausted!
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Post by TomSpeed » Apr 7th 2003, 12:11 pm

I'm so swamped at work today. :hammer1:

However, I'm going to sneak and post my favorite lines of dialogue from "Pressure."

Angela [to Jordan]: Because it - it *is* a big deal. I mean, because sex made your whole life start, and if you think about life as like a circle or
something, then sex and death are the same -- look, I'm not I'm not
saying they're the same, I mean, I've thought about having sex with
you, and and and *God*, I've I've never seriously thought of killing
you, but --

Angela's words could be interpreted both literally and figuratively. Death and sex are closely linked in literature, esp. in the works of Shakespeare. One is said to die when he or she has an orgasm. I like the idea that Angela has absorbed this relationship of death and sex from literature into her consciousness. Literally, she probably has thought of killing Jordan for driving her crazy. She hasn't seriously thought about killing him though. We all have random thoughts of killing people who make our lives difficult. Very few of us turn those thoughts into actions.
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Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by Megs » Apr 7th 2003, 12:22 pm

Another previous discussion on Angela's view on sex from this episode:

http://www.mscl.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1845
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Post by SanDeE* » Apr 7th 2003, 12:30 pm

I'll write more later, kinda in a rush but...

It really bothered me that when Graham and Patty were making out on the couch and the phone rang, Graham was thinking about Hallie. "That could be Hallie Lowenthal...blahblah." Patty said, "The machine will get it." I loved that she didn't care who was calling - almost a little out of character for her. That just bugged me that Graham was making out with his wife and when the phone rang he got so distracted thinking it might be Hallie he had to stop and take a nap. Lame.
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Post by TomSpeed » Apr 7th 2003, 1:10 pm

Kristin wrote:I'll write more later, kinda in a rush but...

It really bothered me that when Graham and Patty were making out on the couch and the phone rang, Graham was thinking about Hallie. "That could be Hallie Lowenthal...blahblah." Patty said, "The machine will get it." I loved that she didn't care who was calling - almost a little out of character for her. That just bugged me that Graham was making out with his wife and when the phone rang he got so distracted thinking it might be Hallie he had to stop and take a nap. Lame.
Graham's expression of exhaustion seems contrived. He isn't tired a minute before the phone rings? The thought of having sex with Hallie tires him out? The phone ringing steals his sexual energy? Or does Patty's sexual demand overwhelm him? Or is he more interested in Hallie than Patty? I think the writers want to have Graham sleeping on the couch so that he can secretly observe Angela, but more preparation/development needs to be done. Or he could exhibit some fatigue before the phone rings.

I like Patty's not caring about who is calling. It shows that she is caught up in the moment. I like the idea of Patty being more sexually carefree. Her actions here seem to be more sexually secure than how she acted before.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by TomSpeed » Apr 7th 2003, 7:43 pm

Random thought number one --

Doesn't where Jordan allows Angela to practice driving seem kind of cramped? The location must be on school grounds. The first rule of thumb to starting driving lessons is to go to an empty parking lot, a field, or somewhere else where there is lots of room. I don't think Jordan would let Angela start out driving at the school. And even if this isn't the first lesson, she clearly hasn't progressed to driving in a confined area. I think Jordan would care a little bit more about his car.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by Nostradamus » Apr 8th 2003, 3:20 am

Jordan strikes me as the kind of guy who started driving at an early age (whether it was technically legal or not) and thus is already at the stage where it is an almost sub-conscious process. Angela is probably the first person he has taught, so it may not occur to him how difficult it can be for a beginner to perform even basic steering and braking.

Speaking of cars, Angela's parents express their fears of the non-transportation uses of such vehicles:
Patty : Doesn't he drive her home sometimes? We don't even know what
kind of a driver he is. Not to mention --
Graham : Not to mention -- what else we -- can't mention.
Patty : Exactly. He has a car. Cars have doors and seats --
Graham : Oh, God --
Patty : They may as well have their own apartment.
...But they forget about the hood. Especially on an older "muscle" car like Jordan's, the hood provides much more room than the often tiny back seat, and the heat radiating off the engine block can keep a young couple warm, even in a partially unclothed state.

:wink:
I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.
-- Clarence Darrow

I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
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Post by starbug » Apr 8th 2003, 5:47 am

What always bugged me about the 'Angela driving' scene was that she was going forward, and then going in reverse, yet protesting that she didn't know what she was doing and couldn't make the car stop. I'm assuming jordan's car was an automatic; if it was a gearshift then my point is even more made.
In order to make an automatic move, all you have to do is lift your foot off the brake when it's in drive. But in my experience (limited) it moves VERY slowly. Not the breakneck speeds Angela was doing. A further action of actively accelerating would be required from her... going into reverse would require her to change the stick from Drive to Reverse. So, when Jordan's asking her to stop, why doesn't she just stop? Even if she took all her hands and feet off everthing, the car's going to be going about 1 mile an hour.

If you're in a stick shift, it's even harder to get the car to move at all...

I just thought this scene was utterly unrealistic.

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Post by SanDeE* » Apr 8th 2003, 12:44 pm

I like the kiss, though. :hug:

Awww.....! :D

Yeah, but the driving part is a little unbelievable.
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Post by Nothingman » Apr 8th 2003, 12:57 pm

I will agree that the driving scene could be seen as unrealistic. Angela could have stopped easier rather than putting the car in reverse, but as she admits later, it was exciting to drive the car. Perhaps she was caught in the moment and not really listening to Jordon when he yells "stop!", or maybe she disregarded his comment. The cars jerky movements seem realistic to me since it is difficult to learn how fast to accelerate, often, new drivers force the accelerator down to fast. I find I still do in cars I'm not familiar with. Also, lets not forget what the scene is really about. It is not a scene ment to portray the trials and tribulations of learning drive, it's true purpose is to act as a metaphor for the rest of th episode. The jerky fast movements, and changing direction of the car represent Angela's life at this time. I don't think that a slow moving car coming to a stop would make the same point. As Angela's life accelerates, stops, and changes direction throughout the episode, she keeps reaching out for someone to stabalize her, i.e Sharon, Dr. Skolnik, Graham, Brian. No one seems to recognize that and she is alone in her decision, this is also another important step in her developement. She is learning to make major decisions on her own.

QUIT LYING!
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Jordan later refutes Angela's excuse for leaving the house, saying, "Quit lying. Tino told me. Rayanne Graff has been clean for like weeks. Since the night she almost ODed, right?" I thought that even if Rayanne was still clean, Angela was perfectly justified in saying she was worried about Rayanne. If she was supposed to be on the wagon and Angela thought she seemed "out of it," it would make sense for her to make sure what was going on.

This is one of the few conversations between Jordon and Angela when they aren't trying to say what they think the otherone wants to hear. There are so many things not being said in this conversation. On the surface, Jordon is frustrated with being lied to and with Angela's reluctancy to sleep with him, but I think there is a lot more to his anger. He is hurt from being rejected at the Cloverdale house. He is frustrated with Angela's inabilities to fit into his image of how a relationship should work. He's also frustrated with her inabilities to communicate with him, and his inability to convey what he is feeling. I don't think he is used to being in a stituation where he has to work at a relationship, nor is he used to being emotionally involved. He doesn't understand why she has this power over him, and why he needs her approval. He still seeks reconciliation when he comes over to her house later that night, something I doubt he did with most or any of his other girlfriends. This arguement is so representative of what happens in most young relationships; where no one wants to start an arguement and then when one is unavoidable everything that each person has been harboring comes to the surface.
"To come to your senses, you must first go out of your mind." - Alan Watts

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Post by TomSpeed » Apr 8th 2003, 1:02 pm

Their kiss in the car is pretty great. I also like the look Jordan gives when Angela throws out the idea of him sneaking into the house when her parents are asleep. He looks like he's thinking, "Alright, what a great plan." I think he might have done something like that with other girls he has dated. However, the fact that he slips up and talks in a normal voice volume level when Angela and he are in the kitchen later that night makes me wonder if he's sneaked into a girl's house before. Does the realization that they aren't going to have sex that night cause him to drop his guard? Or is this a typical Jordan-esqe loss of concentration?

I also like Angela's look and response in the car: "I can't believe you took me seriously." Although the risks force her to take back the invitation, her making the invitation reveals that she has been thinking very hard about having sex with Jordan. Her surprise when he shows up that night seems really genuine. I love this line: "I've had this dream but without the cold cuts." I'm sure that she is tempted to smuggle him upstairs.

More later.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by likelife » Apr 8th 2003, 5:03 pm

i've been busy recently, so hopefully this week i'll make up for it!

JORDAN AND SEX AND THE FOOD ANALOGY

in the terms set up by mscl, hunger symbolizes more than a need for nutrional sustenance. people who are hungry, esp. when they are CRAVING food, or constantly eating (can we say rayanne?) are people who are not getting the emotional and psychological support they need at home or in general.

i'd say jordan is a good example of this sort of person. jordan's oral fixations are that he smokes and uses breath mints -- we do not see him eating that often but part of that is because we usually see him for brief periods of time, and in public settings.

from what we do see and hear of jordan, we can assume that he does not have someone at home who cooks him dinner, makes him lunches, or even gives him lunch money. he probably craves attention and emotional closeness but has no knowledge of how to ask for it and what is appropriate. because of his good looks, jordan has probably been blessed (or cursed?) with a lot of girls who are willing to make out with him / have sex with him without much effort put forth on his part. unfortunately, this has taught him several things:
a) that he can EXPECT girls to want to have sex with him, and b) that sex is a good way to fill that emotional void that he always feels but does not know how to express.

when jordan shows up at angela's at night and is given food but no sex, some interesting things are going on. we see that he has no clue in terms of what would or would not be appropriate in angela's world, both in her eyes and the eyes of her parents. i doubt that he has snuck into a girl's house before to have sex... at least, not in the middle of the night, with both of her parents asleep. but on th eother hand he took her seriously when she joked about it... he has not really been exposed, it seems, to the "normal" suburban existence that is angela's reality. her family eats together. they go to bed when it gets dark. her mom talks to her about her boyfriend.
so he gets no sex, but he DOES get sustenence, and he does get care. maybe (just maybe) angela is slowly educating jordan (without consciously doing so) that people can show they care about each other without having sex. she gives him food, she jokes with him, and later, she compliments him on his hair. angela giving jordan a midnight snack is symbolic of the nurturing that he receives from her simply by being near her. sure, the snack is cold cuts and she did not have to do much to prepare it (i.e. she did not perform the nurturing/magical art that graham does when he cooks), but still, it's a start.

one's social behavior is informed primarily by what they learn at home and from their peers. jordan's home life sucks, and from his peers he learns that sex comes easy and should be expected. not to clear him of any responsibility whatsoever, but i would argue that he pressures angela to have sex because he knowsno other route. in the past, he's gotten sex WITHOUT the relationship, so why should he be denied it when he MAKES the relationship effort, lets her drive his car?
his own moral code is simple. we've seen it here and in other episodes. lying is bad, setting the record straight is important (remember in guns and gossip?), and helping a person in need is the right thing to do (he helps rickie in halloween by telling him to leave the track, and later in so-called angels he shows him the shelter). none of this is wrong. he just needs to flesh it out a little.

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Post by doodles444s » Apr 8th 2003, 5:31 pm

Likelife.. I just wanted to say I think that was a great analysis of Jordan, Angela, and food. I really understood it and it surprised me. I guess I just wanted to compliment it.

Sorry I don't have anything more say. But I'm supposed to get my set within the next week, so I haven't watched the series recently. I just like to keep up with what you guys are saying about the episodes. I love how you guy find symbolism in these things. It reminds me of what I/we attempted to do in high school English classes. (you guys succeed

Ok-- sorry- got a bit off topic... Again... great post likelife!
:go:
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