The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre is now playing in the


in the NEWCOMERS SHORT 1 program

That’s right. You have another chance to watch the well-reviewedThe Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” at a film festival. And you don’t need to fly to New York to see it, just like you didn’t need to fly 5 weeks ago to Switzerland, because in the age of Coronavirus, for now, if a film festival is up and running, it’s doing so on-line.

Click here to get to the New York Lift-Off Festival. Find the NEWCOMERS SHORT 1 program. For $10 you can watch a wide variety of short films during the month of July. “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” is listed at #61 in the NEWCOMERS SHORTS 1 program, showcasing “films from brand new voices”.

Well, I guess I am a new filmmaking voice. I’m an old showbiz hand otherwise…

While you’re at it, please vote for “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” in the comments section and the festival’s special voting website. Here’s their explanation how:

Please vote by first writing VOTED in the comments section, followed by the names of your two favourite films. Then head to our website on to fill out the more detailed voting form.

Votes with only one selection/ the same film twice will be INVALID.

Strictly one set of votes per person.


The top 2 voted “audience choice” films, plus 1 jury selection will go through to the Network Round.

The overall winning film in their respective category will receive a physical screening at next year’s New York Lift-Off, and free membership to the Lift-Off Network.

Membership entitles the production team to fee waivers across all of our 25 festivals and showcases on FilmFreeway, along with production support applications to our Lift-Off Production Support package worth nearly $75,000, Career Road-Mapping Consultations and lots more…

Season Awards nominations will be awarded to winners in their category and special mentions.

Voting will end 10pm (BST) Sunday 31st July.

After the festival, these films will be removed from the public domain.

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The Landscape of Red Rock State Park – The Art in the Galleries

Detail of northwestern Arizona, with Sedona and Red Rock State Park centered
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An HIV Positive Gay Man’s Advice on Living in the Age of Covid

My friend Tim Cusack posted this on Facebook:

“For all the straight white people whining about how wearing masks is inconvenient and uncomfortable, how you miss human contact and all the things you used to be able to do, bemoaning that “things will never be the same again” and worried about COVID stigma, why don’t you ask one of your gay male/trans friends who survived the 1980s/90s how we managed to do it?”

Which led to some comments and responses ultimately so powerful, especially Tim’s maxims at the end, I want to share them:

John: “It was a decade of fear. I can remember our conversations. When I made this comparison early on I was called out for it.”

Tim: “Who would call you out for that? And why?”

John: “That it wasn’t a fair comparison. I was equating the sense of dread and isolation, but they weren’t having it. I have some staunch acquaintance.”

Heather: “I have a feeling that folx near me don’t wear them because they’re Republican jerks.”

Tim: “There were plenty of white gay Republican jerks who continued to vote the ongoing Reagan/Bush administration into office despite their obvious decision to allow us to all die off. They still wore condoms because they had no desire to be part of that body count.”

Ryan: “Wild to see others wake up to the fact that the US government will not protect you/us.”

Tim: “I know, right? “How is it possible that the GREATEST COUNTRY that ever is, was, or will be could just sit by while people are dying from a terrible infectious disease and not do anything about it?” [wrings hands in despair]”

Laura: “Yes, okay.

How? ❤️

Tim: “Value your continued existence and that of others more than what feels fun or good in the moment. Decide you have something more important to offer the world than a social life.

Accept that you must exist in community as a collective body not just an individual, egoistic being.

Allow yourself to mourn and honor the great loss of joy you are enduring.

Be creative and find ways of meaningful connection within the limitations imposed by the disease. Do something beneficial to others. We know that cultivating feelings of both gratitude and useful service release brain chemicals that boost the immune system.

Finally, as scary as this is, stay focused on the positive. We stopped thinking of ourselves as victims and instead began thinking of ourselves as people living with and surviving the new viral member of our community. We had to find a way to accommodate his presence. (I’ve always thought of HIV as having masculine energy for some reason.) Yes, people are dying horrific deaths without their familes being present to say goodbye. We know EXACTLY what that feels like. So many of us lived that experience. LOTS of others are surviving it. It’s not hopeless, and it’s not going to last forever, even if it FEELS that way.

Rob: “#guru”

Sanjay: “This is extremely concise and powerful.”

Harold: “Tim, you nailed it. A powerful reply from your heart.”

Tim Cusack

Tim gave me permission to post this. His main request was that add “HIV-Postive” to the title.

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40 More Days of Outdoor Memories

Covid 19 Taketh Away, but these Photos Remindeth

When Covid 19 started us sheltering at home, and I started posting daily photo reminders of lovely outdoor memories, I didn’t think I would be doing this for three months and counting.

New York State is slowly and carefully opening up – more carefully than can be sadly said of several other states in the country, states that really should have better benefitted from New York’s experience. I took my first subway ride in three months yesterday, going about important business wearing my mask and keeping my distance, as do most (if not quite all) New York City denizens. But it will be many days before I am likely to take another subway ride and even more than that before I’m living anything close to my normal city rhythm before all contracted mid March 2020.

And as to travel … Maybe again in August, our usual two-fisted touristing travel month, but who can say today to where and how then? Back in March when our trip to Europe was cancelled we felt confident we would be able go to Germany in August. Now, not so sure. America has so messed up its response to Covid, Europe would rather we didn’t visit for the time being …

So the Outdoor Memory pics will continue. The first 40 were posted there. The next 40 are collected here. And I’ll keep posting them until something close to normal travel feels possible again. Without mandatory two week quarantine.

Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #41:

Kitzbühel, Austria

Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #42:

Tirol, Austria

Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #43:

AIDS Memorial, Greenwich Village, NYC

Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #44:

Painted Hills, Oregon, during the total eclipse of 2017

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DAY 1 – the first film you remember watching

My memory is tricky here, but it was definitely Disney. I remember being told the first film I saw in the theater (at age 3) was either “Fantasia” or “Pinocchio” (either in a re-release).

But my first movie going memory is also the first time I went alone to the movies, at age 6 or 7. That would have been either “Robin Hood” (which I saw 4X in the theaters) or a re-release of “Mary Poppins” (I was indignant the kids didn’t have equal star billing with Julie and Dick).

DAY 2 – a film that you like that starts with the first letter of your name

First name or last name? Ah, loophole!

Last name is easy: “Amadeus” is one of my favorite films

First name – plenty films I like, but no obvious front runner…

“Down with Love”, “District 9”, “Death at a Funeral” (the British version), “Dr. Strangelove”, “Dead Again”, “Dangerous Liaisons”, “Delicatessen” …

I choose “Dan in Real Life”, because I like it a lot and hey, it’s my name.

DAY 3 – a film that has more than 5 words

For Romance:

“Call Me By Your Name”

For Sci-Fi:

“The Day the Earth Stood Still”

For Suspense:

The Man Who Knew Too Much

For Horror:

“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”

For Comedy:

“The 40 Year Old Virgin”

And for shits and giggles:

PS: not to mention those two mid-90’s long-named drag queen road movies…

“The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”
“To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar”

OOPS! I just realize I did that wrong!

More than 5! Not 5 or more.

Well, then I will stick exclusively with just the drag queen road movies. And if it’s just one, Priscilla wins that tiara!

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Trans Women are Women. Trans Men are Men. Non-binary People are Non-binary

I remember defending my identity as a bisexual man against gay men and women who passionately felt adding the B to what is now LGBTQ somehow attacked their identity.

I remember defending same sex marriage against those who passionately believed it imperiled “traditional” hetero marriages.

Of course these people’s fears, as passionately and sincerely but still wrongheadedly felt as they were (or still are), were and are demonstrably … without merit.

And some of these people were liberal minded, progressive and wise in many other ways. Fighting against discrimination and helping lift humanity, but falling hurtfully short in these instances.

Now again. Same old story. Affirming one minority group’s identity does not/will not erase or diminish another.

And one who in many ways led the way against bigotry and showed herself to be wise about human nature has herself fallen into the same old trap of irrational fear and blinders.

Mostly this makes me sad.

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Lucy Buglass

A Tell-Tale Review

Lucy Buglass runs the site “Lucy Goes to Hollywood“, where she just posted a four and a half star review of “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” as part of her series “Short Film Saturdays“.

I’ll share her review in full, but first a little from Lucy about her site and “Short Film Saturdays”:

“I love the way we can tell a story visually and in so many different ways, and it’s something I’m hugely passionate about. That sense of escapism that comes with watching a film is something many of us can experience, and I believe film is meant to be shared. That’s why this blog exists.

I explore a variety of genres and types, with a special focus on independent short films. Short Film Saturdays was created to support filmmakers and showcase their work.

I’ve always enjoyed short films as it’s fascinating to see how stories can be told in under an hour, sometimes no more than a few minutes. I’m constantly blown away by how talented people are.”

And now, Lucy Buglass’ review of “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre”:

The Tell Tale Heart is probably the most unique entry I’ve had into my Short Film Saturdays column, because the story is told entirely through song and from one perspective.

Danny Ashkenasi has adapted Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Tell Tale Heart into a series of musical numbers. It’s described as a “musicabre”, a phrase I am now very fond of.

Poe’s classic 1843 short story is told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator, who tries to convince the reader of his sanity while simultaneously describing a murder they committed.

In this adaptation, the narrator is played by Ashkenasi, who also wrote and directed the film. It’s clear just how much work he’s put into this project to bring it to life.

The Tell Tale Heart stays largely true to its source material, which is just over 2,200 words in length. Ashkenasi’s songs are named after famous lines from the book, the first one being True, Nervous, after the iconic opening line.

His version of the narrator is just wonderful. It’s a bold performance of such an iconic literary figure, who seems to leap out of the pages and deliver that much-loved story on screen.

What struck me most was just how much emotion Ashkenasi was able to convey in his face as he sang, and at times I found myself feeling very disturbed by it.

Teamed with close ups on his expression, it makes for a very uncomfortable and claustrophobic experience.

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Who But The Lord – Words: Langston Hughes; Music: Danny Ashkenasi

I looked and I saw
That man they call the law
He was coming
Down the street at me!
I had visions in my head of being laid out cold and dead
Or else murdered
By the third degree
I said
O Lord, if you can save me from that man!
Don’t let him make a pulp out of me!
But the Lord he was not quick
The law raised up his stick
And beat the living hell
Out of me!
Now I do not understand
Why God don’t protect a man
From police brutality
Being poor and black
I’ve no weapon to strike back
So who but the Lord
Can protect me
We’ll see

The above words were written by Langston Hughes in the 1950s. It angers me that they still speak so closely to the struggles we are witnessing today, even more so than I was aware of when I set them to music in 2012.

Langston Hughes died the year I was born, 53 years ago. When I chose to set many of his poems to music for the Harlem Renaissance Festival being conducted at the Metropolitan Playhouse in NYC January, 2013, I thought of the project as a historical musical revue chronicling the 20th century African American experience, as witnessed and poetically narrated with great immediacy by Langston Hughes. I read all of Hughes nearly 1000 poems, found 200 that “sang” to me, and set over 60 in a cycle of 39 songs, that travel from the Jim Crow South, through the Great Migration, to the North, Harlem, World War 2 and Civil Rights, also illuminating the themes of Dreams Deferred, Love and the Spirit. Hughes words and ideas dictated the structure of the musical review. I hoped it would be experienced as a documentary as much as a musical.

Back when we with little rehearsal time put together a concert performance of what is now called “I Too Sing America – the Blues According to Langston Hughes”, I perhaps thought of the project mostly as a look back to where we have come from. Not a direct reflection of where we are today. But the words to “Who But the Lord?” could just as well have been written this week.

So I will share some songs from “I Too Sing America” with you today. Particularly three that are part of the larger “Civil Rights” segment. The second song in this trio, “Song of Adoration” sets one of Hughes’ most bitterly satirical poems. In today’s parlance, it is very much about “White Privilege”, the white privilege to oppress minorities. “The White Ones” completes this trio as well as the Civil Rights segment of the revue.

(I almost didn’t share this song because I am not happy with the quality of the recording, but it needs to be included to complete the trio. Hughes’ words may refer to specific socio-political events and parlance of his time, but the wider implications hold too damningly true to today.)

Song of Adoration – Words: Langston Hughes; Music: Danny Ashkenasi

I would like to be a white man, wouldn’t you?
There’s so many lovely things that I could do
I could lynch a Negro
And never go to jail, you know
I would love to be a white man, wouldn’t you?

I would love to be a white man, wouldn’t you?
So many tasty things that I could do
I could tell the starving Indian nation
To go straight to damnation
Oh, I would love to be a white man, wouldn’t you?

I would love to be a white woman also, too
There’s so many cultural things that I could do
I could belong to the DAR
Tell Marian Anderson stay out the DAR
I could adore being a white woman, wouldn’t you?

I’d love to be a white congressman, too
There’s so many helpful things I could do
Just to get the Negro’s goat
I wouldn’t let no soldiers vote
I would love to be a white congressman, wouldn’t you?

Oh I’d love to be a white Christian, ain’t it true
I’d act just like my fellow Christians do
For Jesus I would search
With no black folks in my church
Amen, I’d love to be a white man, wouldn’t you?
Halleloo! O Halleloo! Halleloooooooo
Langston Hughes
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While the world goes to hell …

… I looked away from the news on my lap top and pointed my camera up and about while still perched on my back yard lawn chair…

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May 25th, in happy, coincidental conjunction with my birthday, the Switzerland International Film Festival made my first short film “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” available to stream for one day only.

By midnight Swiss time “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” received a 9.7 out of 10 (97.37%) rating from a total of 494 votes on the SIFF site.

Here are some of the comments viewers left on their site and elsewhere in response to the film:


“The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” is an exquisitely conceived piece of art. On every level its impact is both breath-takingly beautiful and raw. You cannot take your eye from a moment of this exceptional piece of creative teamwork. I am breathing deeply again now, thank you!!

  • C. Scott


This film is a powerful adaptation of Poe’s dark story. You may think you’re familiar with it, but the music takes you deeper inside in a clever, persuasive way. Danny Ashkenasi sings the music he composed to Poe’s lyrics emotionally and with nuance. Filming the story in unusual color tones, with lively motion and intensity , the viewer is carried on a frightening journey. The tension and the struggle of the narrator resonate long after the film is over. I recommend this film highly.

  • Shonti


Beautifully filmed and performed realization of Poe’s psychological tale.

  • Mark


My friend Joanne said it best: “Wow! It was excellent. From his narration, the dramatic effect of the celli, the suspense building and the escalation of his madness and guilt. Well done!”

  • Catherine


Zum Fürchten schön! Fabelhafter Darsteller , sehr gute Regie, Schnitt und Musik, Gratulation!

(Translation:  Frightfully beautiful!  Fabulous Performer, very good direction, editing and music.  Congratulations!)

  • Helga


TTH Postcard front

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Swiss Alps 1


May 25 is my birthday.

And my party favor to you is:

you can see “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” for free!

And your birthday present to me could be leaving a positive comment/rating.



The Festival is live now!

Watch and rate and leave a comment here! 


There are some technical difficulties.  The film won’t play on the SIFF site, but they will direct you to it’s original Vimeo site: WATCH “THE TELL-TALE HEART – A MUSICABRE“.  But please still leave your rating and comment here.

Remember, you have until midnight in Switzerland (6pm EDT)





I’ll explain.  My short film “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre”, a musical adaptation of the classic Edgar Allan Poe short story, has been accepted into the Switzerland International Film Festival.  But because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, they cannot screen their program in a traditional theater setting.  So, just like many other festivals, they had to either postpone, or cancel, or move on-line.  They chose to go on-line.

Which now means, you don’t have to be in Switzerland to watch, and moreover, viewing will be free of charge.

SIFF is dividing their program into 4 categories over 4 days.  Short films will be available only May 25th.  Which just so happens to be my birthday!  Kismet!

I’m told the short film selections will be available all day, Swiss time midnight to midnight May 25.

Which I guess means 6pm, May 24 – 6pm, May 25 EDT, if you’re on the East Coast, USA.

Or 3pm, May 24 – 3pm, May 25 PDT if you’re on the West Coast, USA.


Viewer comments and ratings will help determine awards for films.  So please, as a birthday gift to me, go see “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” May 25 (or already May 24 evening in the USA) in a virtual Swiss film festival, and if you like it, leave a positive comment and rating.

(And if you’ve already seen it at one of the previous festival appearances, on-line or otherwise, you don’t need to see it again – yet feel free to – have I mentioned it’s free? – but please do go to and leave a rating and viewer comment).


swiss alps 2

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The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” has been nominated for 4 Hollywood North Film Awards for International Short Films:


Best Production Design – Nicholas Callais

Best Original Score – Danny Ashkenasi

Best Sound Design – Todd Maki

Best VFX and Colour – Austin Lepri




The HNFA 2020 Awards ceremony will be live-streamed May 31st on their Facebook events page.



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WALNUT CANYON – Journey Through a 900 Year Old Native American Settlement


Left side of the canyon loop, as seen from the visitor’s center…


The Hopi name is Wupatupqa.

Also known as Walnut Canyon National Monument, it is the place, about 10 miles southwest of Flagstaff, Arizona, where 900 years ago the Sinagua people lived in at least 25 dwelling rooms along the cliffs of Walnut Canyon, carved out by a sharp shoe lace shaped looping of Walnut Creek.



… the left and middle island part of the canyon loop.



A closer look at the canyon “island”, as one walks down a steep path towards it from the visitor center:




The canyon, as one turns towards the right, when facing the “island” from the aproach.



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40 Days of Outdoor Memories

Thanks A Lot, COVID 19!


Back in early April, when it became clear we would be hunkering indoors for at least the next month, barely getting out, and certainly not doing any traveling, I started posting on my social media accounts pictures of some wonderful vistas I took in the past in the great outdoors.  I called the postings “Daily Outdoor Memory Escape”, a name I now find a bit unwieldy but I guess I’m stuck with it.  And it looks very much like I’ll continue posting these for some time still, since we’ll be hunkering down in NYC a lot longer than we first assumed back in early April.

So here are the first 40 Outdoor Memory Pics, with links to the original blog posts they hail from, and which include a lot more pretty outdoor pics like them:


4/2/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #1:

Grand Canyon (South Rim)



4/3/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #2:

Grand Canyon (South Rim – Desert View Drive)



4/4/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #3:

Rainbow Bridge at Lake Powell 

Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 10.29.12 AM


4/5/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #4:

Dunedin, Florida

Screen Shot 2020-04-05 at 9.16.21 AM


4/6/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #5:

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Screen Shot 2020-04-06 at 11.08.42 AM


4/7/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #6:

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Screen Shot 2020-04-07 at 9.25.29 AM

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GL Extravaganza p2 - poster - landscape




I’m pleased to announce that “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” has been selected to play on-line in the LIFT-OFF GENRE CONTENT EXTRAVAGANZA, running through May 13.




That link will take you to a page of 122 films, shorts and features, in the comedy, horror or sci-fi & fantasy genres.  There is a one-time $10 rental fee, which will allow you to watch as many of the films as you like for a week.

“The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” can be found at #106.


GL Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 4.57.43 PM


And while you are there, please give “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” your vote in the comment sections.  Instructions are on the site and also copied below:


GL Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 4.58.35 PM


“Enjoy and please remember to share this great collection with your friends, family and peers.

We are running the Lift-Off Genre Content Extravaganza to bring people true indie content during these crazy times! Our Online festivals have been a proven method for bringing new eyes to the independent film market. Thank you for supporting true, indie cinema!


Please vote by first writing VOTED in the comments section, followed by the names of your two favourite films. Then head to our website on to fill out the more detailed voting form. When selecting your festival page from the drop down menu, this page is LOGCE2.

Votes with only one selection/ the same film twice will be INVALID.

Strictly ONE set of votes per person.

The top five films from both pages of the festival will be rated by Lift-Off’s Official Judges who will go further in-depth and score the 10 films based on multiple aspects.

The film with the highest overall score wins an official selection for a live screening at an upcoming Lift-Off Film Festival.

The top 3 voted finalists will join us for a Director’s Commentary on our YouTube Channel.

Voting will end 10pm (BST) Wednesday 13th May

After the festival, these films will be removed from the public domain.”








GL Extravaganza - poster - portrait p2

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The Tell-Tale Award That Got Away

Flicks logo


I was doing some maintenance work on the Tell-Tale Homepage, when I saw I had noted an award won from Flicks Film Festival, but had not posted a laurel or certificate or even logged what the award was for.

I checked the Film Freeway website – Film Freeway is the site through which I submit “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” to festivals – and found Flicks Film Festival among the list of submitted organizations, and that I was listed as an award winner.  But here again it wasn’t noted for which category the award was won.

I went through my emails.  And discovered this notification from November 29, 2019:


Congratulations – Your entry has been identified for official selection and has gone through for further judging.


And then December 18:


Huge Congratulations – Your entry has been identified as an award winning achievement and you have WON.

Your winning entry is automatically entered into our Annual Award Event being held in July 2020 under the category you are a winner in.

Please be sure to email at us so we can send your Official Winners Certificate and Laurel for the category you have won this month.


That was great news.  And that must have been when I added Flicks Film Festival to the Awards list.  And the notification to be in the running for the Annual Award surely gives me something for which to be in happy suspense.

But none of that explains what the award is for.

At the time I emailed back:


Hi, Flicks Film Festival,

How exciting to learn “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” is a November winner.

I look forward to learning via the Official Certificate and Laurel what the win is.


Danny Ashkenasi


And that is the end of the “paper trail”.

I never received the expected response with my Official Certificate and Laurel.  And what with the winter holidays and travel and several other festivals contacting me, the Flicks Film Festival award question slipped my mind and I didn’t follow up.

Until now, when I was editing the Tell-Tale Homepage and noticed this unexplained awards listing.

A little late to email Flicks Film Festival again perhaps?

Luckily they do have a website, where the winners of past months are just a click away, which is where I found this certificate for their November selections:

Screen Shot 2020-05-05 at 3.01.50 PM


So, I won for Best Actor in a Short.  Excellent!  Thank you, Flicks Film Festival!

And the Film Freeway website allows for the creation of a laurel using a generic template:

Best Actor in a Short - Flicks Monthly Film Festival - Nov 2019

So, all’s good.  That’ll do nicely.  The award that got away has been finally officially claimed.

But I’ll keep my eyes open wider come July…


Flicks banner



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