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Who Knew ‘Les Misérables’ Had a Christian Message?
The Christian Diarist ^ | December 30, 2012 | JP

Posted on 12/30/2012 7:05:20 AM PST by CHRISTIAN DIARIST

I first caught the musical “Les Misérables” back in 1987, when it made its U.S. debut on Broadway. My lasting memory of the Tony Award winning production, which enjoyed the third-longest run on the Great White Way after “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera,” is that much of the audience wept through Act II.

As “Les Miserables” appears this holiday season on movie screens throughout the country, featuring the vocal talents of actors Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried, among others, I now think the musical decidedly spiritual entertainment.

It’s not that “Les Miz” has changed since it moved from stage to screen; that the storyline, which is based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, has been reworked to appeal to Christian evangelicals, in a crass Hollywood attempt to capture the movie-going audience that made Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” a box office sensation.

No, what has changed in the 25 years since I saw “Les Miz” on Broadway is that I am today a “re-born” again Christian. Indeed, in my young adult years, I ventured away from the faith life of my childhood and early adolescence. But after getting married just before the turn of the millennium, I restarted my walk with the Lord.

I see in the story of Jean Valjean, the hero of “Les Miz,” a journey of redemption with which all of us can identify who have strayed from The Way, only to be rescued from our sin-sick lives by Christ, our Savior.

After his parole from prison, to which he originally was sentenced for stealing bread for his starving sister and her family, Valjean is provided food and shelter by a kindly bishop. The ex-con returns the kindness by stealing the bishop’s silver.

Valjean is caught by the authorities and brought before the bishop. But rather than confirm the ex-con’s theft, the bishop tells the authorities he gifted the silver to Valjean.

That act of Christ-like grace persuades Valjean to become an upright man. So he changes his identity and starts a new life, eventually building a successful business and even ascending to mayor of the town in which he leads an exceedingly abundant life.

But that is not the end of the story. Valjean does not live happily after. As every Christ follower knows, just because we are born – or re-born – again does not mean there will not be times that try our souls.

In Valjean’s case, when he changed his identity, when he began his life anew, he violated his parole. He was hunted through the years by a determined police inspector, Javert, who vowed to find and re-imprison Valjean.

As it happens, Valjean learns that a man believed to be him has been arrested. It presents an opportunity to “M’sieur le Mayor” to be free of Javert once and for all. It is the kind of snare Satan often sets before us to get us to fall away from our Christian principles.

Valjean struggles with what to do.

“Who am I?” he asks himself, in one of the best-known musical numbers from “Les Miz.” “Can I condemn this man to slavery? Pretend I do no feel his agony? … Must I lie? How can I ever face my fellow men? How can I ever face myself again?”

In the end, Valjean makes the hard choice; the right choice.

“My soul,” he sings, “belongs to God, I know. I made that bargain long ago. He gave me hope when hope was gone. He gave me strength to carry on.”

So what else could he do? Valjean revealed his true identity, saving an innocent man from wrongful imprisonment.

Valjean’s act of self-sacrifice was extraordinary. But to those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, the extraordinary is made ordinary.


TOPICS: Current Events; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: bloggersandpersonal; catholic; christians; christinaity; entertainment; hollywood; lesmiserables; moviereview; redemption; vanity; victorhugo
It's wonderful to see that 'Les Miz,' the Christian parable set to music, has fared so well at the box office, besting both 'The Hobbit' and 'Django Unchained.'
1 posted on 12/30/2012 7:05:28 AM PST by CHRISTIAN DIARIST
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To: CHRISTIAN DIARIST

I wouldn’t see it if you paid me. Why ruin perfection(saw the play twice,,once in London) by having to pretend that you aren’t watching familiar Hollywood faces usurp the roles of the original London cast?

Colm Wilkinson is Jean Valjean, not Hugh Jackman. Sierra Boggess is Fantine, not the liberal loudmouth, Anne Hathaway.
No thanks. I won’t give my money to these anti American leftists.
Besides, I heard that the movie sucked with a heaviness that never lets up throughout.
The music of Les Miz is fantastic so get the CD of the original production and play it nonstop for a year or two like I did.


2 posted on 12/30/2012 7:23:08 AM PST by Mountain Mary (Pray for our Republic...)
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To: CHRISTIAN DIARIST

Whether you understand it or not The Hobbit is Christian allegory (as is true of all of Tolkien’s work much like Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia). I much prefer the book to the ridiculous musical that Broadway cobbled together for Les Miserables. The musical still spends too much time glorifying the French Revolution which in its very nature was communist and driven by class warfare.

Django Unchained....bleeech why bother


3 posted on 12/30/2012 7:32:32 AM PST by Nifster
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To: Mountain Mary

found the plight of the poor fascinating in the picture....
America’s people at the “poverty” level have NO idea what poor is.....


4 posted on 12/30/2012 7:33:45 AM PST by nevermorelenore
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To: Mountain Mary

I gave a copy of the Tenth year anniversary concert to my daughter for Christmas. She has always identified with Cossette since we adopted her from a bad situation when she was 3 1/2. She was thrilled.

But I’ll probably go to the movie. I love seeing, hearing, reading a favorite work in many different formats. It only enhances the experience.


5 posted on 12/30/2012 7:35:12 AM PST by Mercat (Adventures make you late for dinner. Bilbo Baggins)
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To: Mountain Mary

If you think English actors aren’t leftists, you’re kidding yourself.

To me, the essence of any show is in its script and music, not in the performers of the moment.


6 posted on 12/30/2012 7:36:14 AM PST by 9YearLurker
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To: Mountain Mary

I am reflexively suspicious and skeptical of anything that receives the praise of the OFM (Obama-fellating media) and tend to avoid it. However, Mrs. Bears dragged me to see this production. The underlying Christian message was evident to me early on. This has likely been missed by the Left in their rush to embrace the “revolutionary” portion of the story.


7 posted on 12/30/2012 7:39:54 AM PST by Arm_Bears (Ted Kennedy's Oldsmobile has killed more people than my guns.)
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To: CHRISTIAN DIARIST
In his autobiography Witness (New York: Random House, 1952), Whittaker Chambers raved about Victor Hugo's Les Misérables (Paris: Hetzel, 1862), which he read over and over when he was young. Although the book, in his view, is flawed and falls short of being a literary classic, nonetheless, in its pages are found "the play of forces that carried me into the Communist Party and out of the Communist Party." Chambers said that the book taught him that Christianity and revolution are irreconcilable and that ambition, arrogance, pride and power cannot overcome an authentic and persistent humility, which is the basic virtue of life.

Les Misérables, said Chambers, taught him Christianity, although he "scarcely knew it," and gave him his "first full-length picture of the modern world--a vast, complex, scarcely human structure, built over a social abyss of which the sewers of Paris was the symbol, and resting with crushing weight upon the wretched of the earth."

8 posted on 12/30/2012 7:48:03 AM PST by Fiji Hill
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To: Nifster
Tolkien specifically rejected the idea that his works were allegory, stating he hated allegory in all its forms.
9 posted on 12/30/2012 7:49:02 AM PST by Timmy
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To: Fiji Hill
Loved that book. Should be required reading for all Americans.
10 posted on 12/30/2012 7:51:39 AM PST by Timmy
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To: CHRISTIAN DIARIST

I think anyone that’s read it, realises that.


11 posted on 12/30/2012 7:57:38 AM PST by stuartcr ("Everything happens as God wants it to, otherwise, things would be different.")
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To: CHRISTIAN DIARIST

Christian parable? Hogwash. I read the book years ago, and the one of the things that stuck in my mind was Victor Hugo’s repeated insistance that the problems of the poor would be wiped out once universal education was established. He mentioned several times that all of the ills that befell Jean Valjean were a direct result of his lack of the ability to read. Victor Hugo, as the narrator, used his story to push a “social justice” agenda.


12 posted on 12/30/2012 7:59:47 AM PST by paint_your_wagon
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To: Timmy
Tolkien specifically rejected the idea that his works were allegory, stating he hated allegory in all its forms.

Yes, and as an Oxford philologist, Tolkien knew what allegory was. I would say that "allegory" isn't really the right world to describe his works; better to say that they had strong Christian themes.

13 posted on 12/30/2012 8:00:33 AM PST by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
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To: CHRISTIAN DIARIST

As a “Les Mis” aficionado I approached the movie with great trepedation. Check out the reigning Jean Valjean- Alfie Boe on you tube singing “Bring Him Home” at the 25th Anniversary concert or at this year’s Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert-and you will hear near perfection-so how Hugh Jackman would compare was problematic.
So I was presently surprised that I enjoyed the movie-the theatre was 2/3 full, and for two and one half hours the movie ran there was barely a movement from the audience. The oft criticized close ups during the musical solos actually amplified the emotions of the songs-the advantage of having actors singing rather than having singers acting. You could hear the weeping on many numbers. Overall a pleasant surprise.


14 posted on 12/30/2012 8:00:39 AM PST by pineybill
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To: CHRISTIAN DIARIST

As a “Les Mis” aficionado I approached the movie with great trepedation. Check out the reigning Jean Valjean- Alfie Boe on you tube singing “Bring Him Home” at the 25th Anniversary concert or at this year’s Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert-and you will hear near perfection-so how Hugh Jackman would compare was problematic.
So I was presently surprised that I enjoyed the movie-the theatre was 2/3 full, and for two and one half hours the movie ran there was barely a movement from the audience. The oft criticized close ups during the musical solos actually amplified the emotions of the songs-the advantage of having actors singing rather than having singers acting. You could hear the weeping on many numbers. Overall a pleasant surprise.


15 posted on 12/30/2012 8:00:53 AM PST by pineybill
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To: Mountain Mary

There is a Christian message in the unabridged book; it’s the story of the Catholic priest. Unfortunately, what you find in the book store is an abridged version that edits out the section on the priest, among other things.


16 posted on 12/30/2012 8:02:58 AM PST by Ham Hock ( i)
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To: Timmy

Yes, Tolkien rejected simple minded allegory, where this stands for that, and so forth. He thought that C. S. Lewis was too obvious, with figures like the lion in his children’s fantasies.

But he didn’t reject the basic Christian principles that underlie his fantasies. For instance, the Silmarilion is not based obviously on the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent, but when you reach the last sentence it becomes evident that you have read a version of the story of the Fall.


17 posted on 12/30/2012 8:06:04 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: paint_your_wagon

I tend to agree with you. My MIL saw this on Christmas and wants hubby and I to go see it. I saw the musical myself in Boston many years ago, I was a teenager at the time so while enjoying an outstanding performance I am not sure how much I actually got out of the message.

That being said I have no intention of seeing this in the theatre. I really loathe the hollywood set and their liberal/communist pablum that the sheeple populace eagerly laps up. Truthfully they wouldn’t know a christian message if Christ himself in the flesh was explaining it to them. They do however long for a communist revolution that would create the desired “utopia.”


18 posted on 12/30/2012 8:18:31 AM PST by longfellowsmuse (last of the living nomads)
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To: nevermorelenore
found the plight of the poor fascinating in the picture.... America’s people at the “poverty” level have NO idea what poor is.....

I had the same reaction - if I was could redo the federal welfare state, I would eliminate food-stamps and most other forms of welfare and give the "so-called poor" a copy of this movie to watch.

19 posted on 12/30/2012 8:29:04 AM PST by ghost of nixon
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To: Mercat

What an elegant response you gave, “I love hearing, reading a favorite work in many different formats. It only enhances the experience.” And that it was! I saw the stage production twice and have the original cast recording to listen to but I thorougly enjoyed the movie for all the extras movies can give.


20 posted on 12/30/2012 8:32:58 AM PST by Cordio
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To: CHRISTIAN DIARIST

It actually was a wonderful movie! I always wondered when they would make the musical into a movie. I had seen three different movies made on the story, One in the old days, an old black/white one w/Valjean played by Frederick March, one where he’s played by Phillip Jourdan (?), and the one in 1998, w/Liam Neeson.

All were good, and so was the 10 anniversary concert, w/Colin Wilkinson (who, incidentally, played the kindly Bishop in the movie!)My two daughters took me to see it last night, and both younger women were crying during it, I had tears too! The younger one, particularly, was a fan of the play for a long time. She had a cd disk of the play, and a VHS of the 10th anniversary concert. I’d heard of the newer 25th anniversary of the concert, but hadn’t seen it.

We both enjoyed those when she was still in high school about 12 years ago. She couldn’t wait to see the movie! The older one had seen the 1980 t.v. movie and liked it, but hadn’t heard the play, or seen the concert based on it. She’s usually not a real big fan of musicals or operettas like that. But she did enjoy the movie a lot more than she thought she would!


21 posted on 12/30/2012 9:00:39 AM PST by dsutah
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To: 9YearLurker

Well that’s your choice and mine is to avoid giving my money to Hollywood leftists like Anne Hathaway, an avowed socialist who protested with the OWS goons in Union square and gave the profits of her wedding photo publications to pro gay causes.
If English actors choose to be liberal, they can do it in the UK. If American actors diss MY country and take anti American, anti capitalist stances in the process, then yes, I take offense and will not support them by seeing their stupid movies.


22 posted on 12/30/2012 9:29:20 AM PST by Mountain Mary (Pray for our Republic...)
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To: CHRISTIAN DIARIST

I would no spend a dime watching this and enriching leftists in Hollyweird


23 posted on 12/30/2012 9:37:43 AM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: dsutah

Les Miserables with Jean-Paul Belmondo is pretty amazing. It is set in Nazi Germany war times and loosely refers to the universal themes in original Les Miserables. It is one of my favorite movies, but rather hard to find.


24 posted on 12/30/2012 9:39:31 AM PST by Anima Mundi (Envy is just passive, lazy greed.)
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To: Mountain Mary

I’m a huge Les Mis fan. I recommend seeing the movie. It’s different than the Stage version. I think it does a much better job of conveying the Christian themes. There are crosses everywhere, and it’s much easier to understand the lyrics.

It’s much darker than the stage version. I didn’t like the Lovely Ladies or Master of the House scenes.

However, I loved Empty Chairs better than the stage version. On My Own was also fantastic!

I would never buy a CD of the movie. Musically, I like the stage better. However, the movie was good in a visual way. It’s a very emotional movie.


25 posted on 12/30/2012 9:41:14 AM PST by luckystarmom
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To: paint_your_wagon

You’re correct. Hugo was a committed socialist. He also however, valued capitalism and Christianity. He was a complex person. His great uncle was a doctor of the church which no doubt influenced him.


26 posted on 12/30/2012 9:43:09 AM PST by Mercat (Adventures make you late for dinner. Bilbo Baggins)
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To: GeronL

I haven’t seen a movie in 29 years !!!!....
Get off my lawn!...lol


27 posted on 12/30/2012 9:44:45 AM PST by Blackirish (Forward Comrades!!!!!!!!!)
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To: Mountain Mary

Actually, Colm Wilkinson did play in the movie! It’s not a large role, but he’s in a couple 2 or 3 scenes. He played the kindly bishop who gives Valjean the candlesticks! He played in scenes toward the beginning, and at the end when he’s joining him in heaven, smiling and beckoning him to heaven!

He (Wilkinson) has a wonderful voice still, even at his age (I think he’s in his late 60s-early 70s) and did a beautiful job! Also one of, if not the original actress, to play Eponine is in it too, as one of the prostitutes! (Francis Ruffelle (sp?)) Really, I understand your feeling on some of the players, but if you can set aside your feeling about some of the actors and just focus on their art, you can still enjoy it!

I know Anne Hathaway is a liberal twerp, but she did an outstanding job in her portrayal of Fantine, and sang beautifully! So did Hugh Jackman, his portrayal was powerful, and his voice was beautiful! (for a guy, that is!) He, Russell Crowe, and many other actors in the film-young and old-did a great job in the characters they played.

She’s (Hathaway)like Barbra Streisand in some ways; she (Streisand) is also an obnoxious liberal, but she can sing, beautifully, and her acting is decent. I can tolerate the known leftists, and still enjoy their performances. (it’s not easy, though)I can only suppose that not all of them are like that! I can enjoy movies and t.v. with actors w/both right and left politics if the story is a good one!


28 posted on 12/30/2012 9:45:44 AM PST by dsutah
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To: Cordio

I read the unabridged version two or three times in my 30s and 40s and recently listened to the unabridged audio version. I find that listening to a favorite book enhances the experience. In this case, I enjoyed some of it more but since I couldn’t skip over the boring parts, I ended up glad I was done and I doubt I’ll ever read it again. Hugo’s essays on 18th and 19th century French politics was extremely tedious.


29 posted on 12/30/2012 9:46:54 AM PST by Mercat (Adventures make you late for dinner. Bilbo Baggins)
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To: Anima Mundi

You’re right, I seem to remember that there was one that was set in the ww2 era! I couldn’t remember it for some reason until you mentioned it!


30 posted on 12/30/2012 9:58:26 AM PST by dsutah
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To: luckystarmom

Yeah, you’re right about those two scenes (songs)! While very funny in a r-rated way, they did get a bit garish and over the top! The blood and gore in the battle scenes was stomach-turning as well as the scenes in the underground sewer (ugh!). Still, the cinematography and the singing performances were beautiful and breathtaking!


31 posted on 12/30/2012 10:05:11 AM PST by dsutah
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To: luckystarmom

Yeah, you’re right about those two scenes (songs)! While very funny in a r-rated way, they did get a bit garish and over the top! The blood and gore in the battle scenes was stomach-turning as well as the scenes in the underground sewer (ugh!). Still, the cinematography and the singing performances were beautiful and breathtaking and sort-of made up for those other scenes!


32 posted on 12/30/2012 10:06:23 AM PST by dsutah
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To: CHRISTIAN DIARIST; zot; Alamo-Girl

4 times miserable ;-) —> book, movie, musical play; musical movie.

The movie had Edmund Gwinn as the bishop and Burt Lancaster as Valjean. I saw it a month ago on TCM, definitely worth watching. And Robert Newton as the police inspector/persecutor. and Hugh Jackman has performed on stage in musicals before he became knows as X-man “Wolverine.”


33 posted on 12/30/2012 11:27:10 AM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: Fiji Hill; zot; Interesting Times; Alamo-Girl

Thank you for this information in your post #8.


34 posted on 12/30/2012 11:32:39 AM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: paint_your_wagon
I read the book years ago, and the one of the things that stuck in my mind was Victor Hugo’s repeated insistance that the problems of the poor would be wiped out once universal education was established. He mentioned several times that all of the ills that befell Jean Valjean were a direct result of his lack of the ability to read. Victor Hugo, as the narrator, used his story to push a “social justice” agenda.

Whittaker Chambers noted the flaws of Les Misérables--"its melodrama, its windy philosophizing, its clots of useless knowledge, its overblown rhetoric and repellent posturings"--but despite these shortcomings, he considered it "a great act of the human spirit."

35 posted on 12/30/2012 11:47:50 AM PST by Fiji Hill (Fight on!)
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To: CHRISTIAN DIARIST
True and that comes out clearly at the end of the film, but the movie and the play combined that Christian message with a socialist or communist one (those red flags flying at the end).

I'm not sure that the French revolutionaries of 1832 were actually socialists (they weren't Marxists, since Karl Marx was all of 14 in that year). Victor Hugo did refer to himself as a socialist, but it's hard to say just what he meant by that. It was a very vague idea for him and for many others at the time. Hugo was appalled by the idea of class warfare, but was the kind of 19th century gentleman who thought that "something must be done" for the poor.

Boublil and Schonberg who wrote the musical thought about playing up socialist themes more, but decided to bring Christianity to the fore, feeling that was more consistent with Hugo's original vision.Les Miserables was the favorite novel of Ayn Rand, who hated both socialism and Christianity, so I guess there's something in there for everybody.

36 posted on 12/30/2012 12:01:32 PM PST by x
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To: Mercat

Who was Hugo’s great uncle?


37 posted on 12/30/2012 12:01:36 PM PST by married21
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To: Mercat

the movie was very good, well done in all

the theater was packed and absolutely silent for the entire show, with great applause at the end

similar to one of the old time epics I remember going to see, like Ben Hur


38 posted on 12/30/2012 1:35:31 PM PST by silverleaf (Age Takes a Toll: Please Have Exact Change)
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To: GreyFriar

I haven’t seen the movie with Edmund Gwinn as the bishop and Burt Lancaster as Valjean. Thanks for recommending it.


39 posted on 12/30/2012 5:58:08 PM PST by zot
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To: GreyFriar

Thanks for the ping!


40 posted on 12/30/2012 9:25:21 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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