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Posted on December 24th, 2013

Dave!And... I'm back!

But before I continue with a look at the art appearing in the second half of THRICE Fiction Issue No. 9, you might want to go read Part One from yesterday first (if you haven't already).

Oh, and if you haven't downloaded your FREE copy of our latest issue, that should be your first stop!

Okay? Okay!

Now then... before I get started, I was going to talk a bit about what it means to be closing out three years and nine issues of THRICE Fiction. On our Facebook somewhere, I was joking about how "People said we wouldn't last... shame on them." But it was more than a joke. People were literally saying that we wouldn't last. Apparently there's past precedent: "New magazines rarely make it past a year... two years if they're lucky," they would say.

At the time, I didn't know why that would be. I guessed it was because the magazine ends up being more work than people realize. You start out strong with the best of intentions... but life gets in the way, and eventually the time between issues grow longer and longer until you realize you just don't want to do this any longer. Or maybe the people who quit started their magazine to get rich (ha ha) and the money never came. Maybe they didn't feel enough people were reading to make it worthwhile. Maybe the experience just wasn't what they expected. I dunno. And while I can't speak for our Editor, RW, I can say that it has never occurred to me to pack it in. I'm as enthusiastic about THRICE Fiction now as I was at the beginning. More so, even, because the response we've received has exceeded my wildest dreams.

So many thanks to all our contributors who have made us look so good these three years... and also to our readers who continue to download issues by the thousands. We're so very grateful, and there's more to come in Year Four!


Oh yeah...

The art for Issue No. 9... Part Two!

You can find that in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Posted on December 23rd, 2013

Dave!There's no fate but what we make for ourselves.

The process of putting together an issue of THRICE Fiction seems simple... the editor hands you a stack of stories, you paste them into a document, you add some pictures, and BLAM! a magazine is born.

Except it's nowhere near that straightforward. And most of that is my own fault.

When R.W. and I first began discussing how THRICE was going to work, I had a very clear direction I wanted for the design of it all...

  • Stories would never be interrupted. There would be no "please turn to page 24" in the middle of a story to distract the reader or interrupt the relationship the writer was building with them. I positively hate that, even though I fully understand the need for it... namely, it offers the designer a heck of a lot more flexibility in filling up pages when they can chop stuff up into little pieces. But since I don't go there, laying out an issue of THRICE Fiction is ten times more difficult than it has to be. It's like a massive puzzle that takes days to get figured out how things fit together.
  • Stories would be accompanied by art. While there's always give-and-take, the one absolute R.W. and I agreed to early on was that THRICE Fiction as a literary magazine would always be centered around the written word. But since we wanted a visually appealing lit-mag, we also wanted to accent every story we publish with pieces of art... maybe even letting in a cartoon or two. And, if the right piece comes along, perhaps we could have one "art spread" featured each issue. Of course, finding all that art is a massive challenge, and many a deadline has been stretched trying to find the right visuals for a story.
  • The layout is dictated by the story. I have four story templates with three variations each. How a story is presented is solely dictated by which layout it fits into for the best readability. Most times, I don't even read a story while laying it out. Which is a long way of saying "every story we publish is treated equally." This is an intentional process designed to avoid playing favorites with our writers. Sometimes it works that a story gets a full-page image. Sometimes a story gets just one small image. Other times a story gets a ridiculous amount of art thrown in... because that's what fits. I can count on one hand the number of times I've changed a layout because a story "needed" something different upon reading it. This "rigid" layout structure is design to keep things fair and make sure the focus is on our stories, but it's a lot more work than if I were to just dump things on a page and designed it to fit.

Of course, had I known three years ago what I know now... I probably would have done things differently. A lot differently. I'd hack stories apart, add art only if I could find it, and just cram stuff in any which way. It would have made my life much easier going forward.

But then THRICE Fiction wouldn't be THRICE Fiction, so I guess everything happened as it was meant to all along.

Which brings us to Issue. No. 9...

Thrice Fiction No. 9

Download the issue for FREE by visiting the THRICE Fiction website!

As always, the cover was a struggle. Originally I had done painting for it, but I had already done the past three covers and really wanted something different this time. I was working on an alternative, but that didn't come together this time around, so I was back to my design again.


I remembered an incredibly talented artist named Katelin Kinney that I was lining up for Issue. No. 10, and decided to throw a Hail Mary pass in her direction to see if she might have something available. Lucky for all of us, she was perfectly happy to let us borrow some works for her portfolio, and we ended up with this amazing cover to close out our third year. It's a photo art composite titled Seed of a Soul, and the reaction to it has been overwhelmingly favorable, so thanks, Katelin!

For a look at the first half of the art included in this issue, click onward to an extended entry... → Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Bullet Sunday 360

Posted on December 22nd, 2013

Dave!Times to put down that snow shovel and grab a mug of delicious hot chocolate... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

• Thrice Nine. I am very happy to announce that today we have released the ninth issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine, featuring a bevy of talented writers and artists all wrapped up in this stunning cover by the amazingly talented Katelin Kinney...

Thrice FictionIssue No. 9

Do yourself a favor and go download a FREE copy at the THRICE Fiction website... you'll be glad you did!

• Light. If I ever come up lacking blog fodder, all I have to do is drive down Wenatchee Avenue (the main drag running the entire length of the city of Wenatchee). Today I nearly ran over a guy crossing the street against the light while hauling a filled body bag! Filled with what, I have no idea. But that's not all, as I also saw... two white guys poppin' and lockin' on a street corner... a woman in a motorized wheelchair dragging a wagon filled with Christmas presents... a little girl twirling like she just don't care in front of an Indian restaurant... Santa Claus... a guy in shorts and a fur parka sitting on the trunk of his(?) car smoking a cigarette and drinking from a giant coffee mug... AND this...

Light of the Turd

It says "CHURCH THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD"... but they drew a streaming pile of shit in the middle of it? Which is covering the secondary brake light, rendering it useless. Oh... and if you think that I managed to get into Denny's at 2:30 on the Sunday before Christmas? NO! No I did not! Which makes me sad, because that Hobbit Specialty Menu ain't gonna last forever.

• Mango! I'm a Kool-Aid kid. I would rather have a cold glass of Kool-Aid than soda pop any day. Tropical Punch is my favorite flavor, but I try to shake things up by making classic flavors like Orange, Grape, Lemon-Lime, and Watermelon. I also have tried specialty flavors that pop up from time to time like Purplesaurus Rex, Arctic Green Apple, and Sharkleberry Fin. And then this week I found Mango, which I almost skipped because I worried it would be too weird like the Pineapple flavor I tried last month. But, sanity prevailed, and I thought I'd give it a try...

Mango Kool-Aid

Delicious! Really good color, aroma, and flavor! If you like mango, then this is absolutely worth a shot.

• Reel. I've mentioned a couple times how I'm really stoked to see the Russian film Stalingrad, which takes place during World War II in the middle of one of the bloodiest battles in world history. The trailer looks absolutely amazing, even though I'm not a big fan of war movies. And now they've released a special effects real showing how they were rendered for 3-D. It's pretty mind-blowing...

Needless to say, I want to see the movie now more than ever. I guess it's in limited release, because I haven't seen it playing anywhere yet. It'll be a pretty big bummer if it leaves theaters before I can see it.

• Bittersweet. On one hand, New Mexico and Utah have joined the marriage equality bandwagon...

Equality Wins

On the other hand, Uganda has passed an "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" which mandates life in prison for anybody having gay sex. I suppose we should all be thankful that the punishment wasn't set to "death," which was their original idea for a sentence. But I'm too busy being absolutely horrified. Even more so because anti-gay abominations of humanity here in the USA played a part in it. The very ideal of "The United States of America" is one of a beacon of freedom and hope known throughout the world. What in the hell happened? Our government is spying on its own people. We're passing horrific laws allowing the indefinite unlawful detention of American citizens. Our politicians are bought and paid for by Special Interest money with no consideration given to the people they profess to serve. Our media so thoroughly polarizes us that we've become a country hopelessly divided in venom and hate. And now? Now? We have assholes so filled with blind hatred and homophobia that they're exporting it to other countries because their efforts are finally failing here at home. Hardly a new concept, to be sure, but still fucking abhorrent given that these people are professing to be spreading hate in the name of religion. God bless America.

Because somebody has to.

• Pass. And lastly, in what I can only describe as a Christmas miracle come early, BARRY EFFIN' GIBB actually made an effin' appearance on The Barry Gibb Talk Show on last night's surprisingly funny Saturday Night Live...

Ordinarily, I wouldn't spoil the surprise like this, but... 1) he's right there on the video frame, and 2) The show featured guest host Jimmy Fallon and musical guest Justin Timberlake... was there any question that The Barry Gibb Talk Show wasn't going to make an appearance? Not the best installment of the long-running sketch, but certainly one of the most eventful! And a sad reminder that Robin Gibb is no longer with us, having died May last year.

And... time to make some holiday magic happen, people...



Posted on August 27th, 2013

Dave!On the bright side, you're half-way there!

This is PART 2 of a two part series on the art found in THRICE Fiction Magazine Issue No. 8. Needless to say, you should probably read PART 1 before continuing if you haven't already.

Or don't... either way, I get paid the same.


When last I left you, we were half-way through the magazine. Kinda. Because while I now have the luxury of going through the issue page-by-page, it doesn't work that way when putting the book together. Absolutely nothing is done in-sequence. Especially this time around, when things were running so late that I didn't have time to reach out to as many artists as I would have liked. Lucky for me, THRICE-regular Kyra Wilson painted two beautiful last-minute pieces she was able to work into her schedule... then Ira Joel Haber came along with his wonderful body of work that really saved my bacon! If not for him, this issue would have slid into September for sure! So, to both of these gifted artists, my heart-felt thanks for your help.

Kyra Wilson Ira Joel Haber

And now, on with the show.

The art of THRICE Fiction No. 8 continues after the jump...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Posted on August 26th, 2013

Dave!Stand back, it's a big one!

Laying out an issue of THRICE Fiction is like putting together a giant puzzle where all the edge pieces have been removed. Stories have to "flow" into each other in a way that keeps the reader engaged, yet still manage to make them feel like separate entities. You'd think that the more stories you have, the easier it would be to fit the pieces together because there's more options to choose from. You'd be wrong. It's actually quite the opposite. It's the choice that drags things out and makes things hard. If you only have a few stories, then the way they should fit together is more obvious. With a lot of stories? Well...

Yet, it is what it is.

RW Spryszak and I made the decision early on that the size of the magazine would directly relate to what we have to put in it. If we only received two stories that were "right for us" then that issue has two stories. But we never accounted for THRICE getting as popular as it has. RW is getting hundreds of submissions each issue. Hundreds. Our odds of getting great stories that are "the right fit" for us have exploded.

So I ended up with an issue that was 84 pages which I then had to pare down to 70. Because things start getting expensive after that.

And since THRICE shows no signs of slowing down, we've adjusted our publishing schedule to allow more time. The last thing we want to do is start slapping an issue together haphazardly to meet a date on a calendar, so it was our only option. The good news is that the quality of the magazine can be maintained. The bad news is that our submission window has dropped to one month intervals.

I'm choosing to look at this as a good thing.


Once again I am going to write a blog post about all the art that goes into the issue. But this time it will have to come in two parts. Here is the first half...

Thrice Fiction No. 8 Render

RW had an idea for a cover after reading one of the stories he accepted. He envisioned the Brooklyn Bridge all lit up at night in the fog. I thought it was a good idea, except I couldn't find a photo that would work. All my photos of Brooklyn were shot in the daytime, and any nighttime shots I found weren't working. I decided to just up and DRAW the idea, but I could never get it to come together. The Brooklyn Bridge is a very specific structure and people know when you get it wrong. I simply didn't have the time to get it right. Or I'm just not that talented an artist. Regardless, I had to try a new approach.

So night became day, fog became clouds, and away we go.

The photos I had taken from my last visit to Brooklyn were a good start. I wanted the cover image to be on the bridge instead of looking at it, and I had plenty of shots for that. But the clouds were never where I wanted them to be. This meant I had to painstakingly cut out the bridge so I could manipulate the sky as I wanted... namely, having a big ol' cloud at the top for the magazine title to sit on! After I composited the bridge and the revised sky, I was dismayed to find that the cables were falling away, so I then had to paint over each and every one to get them to stand out a bit. After a lot of work, I sent the photo through a couple of Photoshop filters to add a bit of watercolor feeling and, voilà, our cover was born.

Except not really.

Everybody thinks that Photoshop filters are a magic button you press to get cool stuff happening with no effort. And, for the most part, that's true. But I'm never satisfied with the "magic button" approach, so I always end up re-painting parts so that they filter better... or using different strengths of filter on different pieces of the photo... or whatever. In this case I ended up with a photo that had twenty-two separate layers in the final composite to get what I wanted.

As usual, I find myself thinking it would have been easier to actually take the time to paint the thing from scratch.

Oh well.

To read about the rest of the art in this issue, you'll have to take a look after the jump. And I'll see you tomorrow for part two!

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Posted on April 1st, 2013

Dave!Sometimes you get the bear. Sometimes the bear gets you.

Though I would never actually want to kill a bear, so that saying doesn't make much sense for me. Unless I'm "getting" the bear so I can give him a hug. A bear hug!

In any event, the March issue of THRICE Fiction actually slipped a day into April, and there are a lot of excuses I could give as to why that happened. But, the honest truth is that the issue just ended up being a much bigger project than usual (54 pages!), and I didn't budget enough time to get things done.

Oh well. It turned out great, so hopefully our readers will think it's worth the wait...


Download the issue for FREE by visiting the THRICE Fiction website!

The cover this time around was a fun one. Fearless THRICE Fiction editor RW Spryszak told me that he kept on seeing "a man standing at a bus stop in the rain" for the cover as he was reviewing submissions. I thought this was a great idea for a Spring issue, so it didn't take any amount of convincing for me to take the idea and run with it. Especially since I could do a kinda tribute to one of my favorite films of all time... Hayao Miyazaki's wonderful My Neighbor Totoro...

Totoro Bus Stop

But since Totoro is trademarked, I decided to use geese instead. I also thought geese would be funnier.

The original cover image is composited from 23 separate photos from locations like Costa Rica, Maui, Barcelona, Vancouver, Seattle, and Fiji (among others)... plus one very important piece of stock photo art...

THRICE 7 Cover Construction

The process of stitching all the photos together into a single cohesive image is long and tedious (as I explained in a step-by-step for a past cover here). Once that's been completed, parts were painted over in Photoshop, then run through various filters to add rain and make the image look kinda-sorta like a painting. As usual, it would probably have been faster had I ACTUALLY painted the thing, but at least this way I didn't get any paint on my clothes. Anyway... here's the end result...

THRICE 7 Cover Final Art

And that's that.

For a look at the rest of the artwork in this issue, click onward to an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Posted on December 13th, 2012

Dave!In case you hadn't heard, my good friend RW Spryszak and I put out a literary magazine called THRICE Fiction, and we just finished out our second year with volume number 6. As always, the issue is FREE to download in PDF, eBook, or Kindle formats... just follow this link to our website.

When we first created THRICE, my only interest was having a creative outlet for my fictional writing. I'm not a very good writer, but I am enthusiastic about it, so why not? After the first year, our little literary rag started getting thousands of downloads... exceeding any expectations RW or I could have dreamed. But this unexpected success was bittersweet. Thanks to people far, far more talented than I, THRICE Fiction had outgrown my meager writing talents.

This put me in an awkward position. I wanted a place to write! Why would I want to continue to work on the magazine now? I do graphic design for a living, so having my only contribution be graphic design didn't sound like a lot of fun. It sounded like more work. Which meant that THRICE was probably going to die a quick and horrible death, as so many lit-mag attempts before it.

But then...

...RW started sending me the stories for the next issue.

They were brilliant, captivating, imaginative, and all the things that I actually enjoy reading. And now that I wasn't having to worry about what I was going to write, I could finally appreciate what everybody else was doing. So I decided to stick around.

And ultimately realized that finding ways to come up with something creative for other people was more "fun" than "work."

And so here we are with another year under our collective belt...

Thrice Fiction Issue No. 6

It was not all smooth sailing this time around, however. Two artists who had committed to contributing work had to drop out at the last minute. This left me with no cover plus five additional pieces of artwork that were needed. And this was right in the middle of a very busy travel period, which meant there was no way I could even think about it until December (and it's at this point that I must once again thank Kyra and Chad for not only producing some amazing art, but for getting it to me on time!). Guess I really need to start having firm deadlines for artists like RW does for the writers. Anyway...

When it came to the cover, I kept coming up empty. I had no clue what I was going to do, so I found a random story idea generator on the internet. My first pull was "A FRUSTRATED LEOPARD'S BOWLER HAT IN THE PARK." This was just too insane, so I hit the randomizer again and got "A HAPPY SKELETON'S DREAM DURING ARMAGEDDON." That was even worse. So I combined the two and came up with a frustrated leopard attempting to get his bowler hat back from a skeleton that was dreaming in the park during armageddon. Simple.

I don't know why, but it totally works! The background was grabbed from photo I took of trees in the cemetery. The skeleton was drawn on a yellow pad with a felt-tip pen, using reference pieces I found on the internet (and then scanned). The leopard was traced from a stock photo I bought (because, seriously, I was not going to spend the time trying to figure out how to draw all those spots correctly). Ultimately, I'm pretty happy with it and think everything turned out great. If nothing else, it's colorful.

If you want a "Behind the Scenes" peek at what went on for the rest of the art in THRICE Fiction No. 6... it's all in an extended entry. The art thumbnails are low-res, so you'll be able to see them better if you download the issue...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Portlandia 2

Posted on August 11th, 2012

Dave!My day started exactly the way every day should start... with perfect toast.

Vahid (from The Iron Fist and Sarah (from Sarah Joy took me to Milo's City Cafe where, I kid you not, they have a guy whose only job is making perfect toast. He has a pair of wooden tongs that he uses to check your toast, flip your toast, and make sure your toast is toasting evenly to just the right toastiness. It's amazing, and his dedication to awesome toast is epic. He's the Toast Master! And perfect toast is what he does. Given my love of toast, I couldn't have been more impressed. I wanted quite badly to go shake his hand after breakfast was over, but I was too star struck. If only every restaurant took toast this seriously.

And then I was off to the Portland Zine Symposium...

THRICE Fiction Table

THRICE Fiction Table

Overall, it was a very nice event... though I'm still not sure that THRICE Fiction was a good fit. The majority of the stuff there was DIY hand-crafted works, and that just isn't us. But, even so, we did pretty good for the day. I originally ordered 40 copies of our new 2011 Black and White Annual, 20 for each day... even though I never expected to actually sell that many. Since I was handing out flyers to let people know that we give our magazine away for free on our website, who would spend money to buy it? But, even after telling people how to get THRICE for free, I still ended up selling 14 copies and trading 7 more. So... worth it, I think.

The only real problem with the event was the heat. It was insanely warm at the venue. At the 2:00 half-way point, I had sold 12 copies. The two remaining copies were sold by 3:30. Which means I did nothing from 3:30 to 6:00. It was just too hot in the afternoon. You could see people coming inside... wandering for a bit... then leaving while fanning themselves before ever getting to my table. Only the most dedicated zine fans stuck it out, but they were the ones least likely to buy a book, as they were after the home-grown DIY stuff.

Stuff like tiny little hand-folded, hand-draw books that a guy was selling for 50¢ each. He made me one with monkeys that he traded for a copy of Bad Monkey Comix, and I love it...

Tiny Monkey Book

And there was a lot of cool stuff at the show. One of my favorite zine tables was near me and called Everything Waffles, a monthly magazine dedicate to a guy who takes photos of himself with his cat, Waffles. Sounds boring, I know... but these aren't ordinary photos... they're costume photos that are really well done...

American Pride with Waffle
"American Pride" (with Waffles) by Justin Schwab

Genius. The guy has videos and a podcast too.

I ended up only booking a table for just the one day instead of two... for which I am now grateful. I don't know that I could survive a second day of non-stop sitting in 100° heat. But I am really glad I came, and seeing all the incredible creativity that people have in creating zines has me really, really interested in creating some of my own.

UPDATE: For everyone who has been asking, YES! I am happy to sell my extra copies of THRICE Fiction 2011 B&W Annual and Bad Monkey Comix. When I get home I'll find out the cheapest way to mail them, then let you know how much it costs. And, of course, I will honor the show prices for the THRICE annual ($7, which is just 5¢ more than I paid for them, so it's a pretty good deal!).



Posted on August 9th, 2012

Dave! Since I have never even attended a "zine show" I'm a little nervous about exhibiting at the Portland Zine Symposium this weekend. Part of the problem has to do with a sentence out of the tabling guidelines...

"In order keep the Portland Zine Symposium focused on zines and to maintain the DIY spirit of the Portland Zine Symposium, at least 51% of merchandise at any table must be handmade zines and/or independently published materials."

Sure, THRICE Fiction is independently published... it's just Bob and myself... but we're hardly "Do It Yourself" when it comes to the actual production of the magazine. Digital copies are given away for free, but anything people want to physically purchase is professionally printed. So... the question becomes "Will we be welcomed with our slick printed magazines and books?" or "Will people stop by just to slap me in the face and set our table on fire?"

I honestly don't know.

So last Wednesday I went to Flickr and did a search for Portland Zine Symposium photos.

Oh crap.

It's just table after table of handmade books that looks like they were copied at Kinkos and stapled together in somebody's living room.

So now I've gone from being "a little worried" to being "a lot worried." I considered canceling, but I had already bought a non-refundable airline ticket and spent a lot of money printing a book to sell. "Oh well," I thought. "Guess I'll just show up and hope we're 'indy' enough that I don't get slapped and set on fire."

And then realized I don't want to risk getting slapped, so I decided to hand-make a zine instead (which is something Bob had suggested years ago... go figure).

This was easier said than done, as there wasn't time to hand-draw a new zine from scratch. Not knowing what else to do, I figured I'd just assemble some stuff from my blog and see how that went (which is something else Bob had suggested years ago... go figure). Ultimately I decided to make a zine filled with Bad Monkey cartoons. I figured since everybody loves monkeys, this was my best chance of not getting our table set on fire.

Then I spent the next couple nights cobbling together a zine. Then I ordered a booklet stapler and a stack-cutter. Then I printed copies (in color, because I'm That Guy). Then I spent the next couple nights saddle-stitch stapling everything together. My stack-cutter never showed up, so today I had to go bother a print shop to trim my books for me.

And so now I have a hand-made zine for our table...

Bad Monkey Comix

To make them seem more "hand-made," I worked hard to get them looking beat up and aged. All the interior pages are yellowed and textured. The cover has wear and tear marks printed on it. Then I took each copy and rubbed it on a gem cutter's cloth to add a little bit of scuff. They're as hand-made as I can get, given the time constraints I'm under...

Bad Monkey Comix Wear and Tear

Overall, the experience of making this zine sucked. And I'm still not 100% convinced that the DaveToons will even make sense out of the context of my blog. Oh well (again).

But... it definitely has me anxious to try making more zines in the future. With more time and less anxiety, it seems like this kind of thing would actually be something fun to do!

In the meanwhile, everybody cross their fingers that my first zine show doesn't end up with my getting slapped and a visit from the fire department...



Posted on August 6th, 2012

Dave!Going to be in Portland, Oregon this Saturday?

If so, then be sure to drop by the THRICE Fiction table at the Portland Zine Symposium from 10:00am until 5:00pm at Refuge on 116 SE Yamhill. Admission is free, and I will be there representing the magazine and selling copies of our new THRICE Fiction 2011 Black & White Annual for just $7... over half-off the $14.95 retail.

It's pretty...

THRICE Fiction B&W Annual

Copies are limited to how many I can fit in my backpack, so show up early if you want one!

Or just stop by and say "hi" to me even if you don't want one!

NOTE: I will be at the show SATURDAY ONLY! If you show up on Sunday, I won't be there. I'll be wandering aimlessly around Portland on a Voodoo Doughnut sugar high.


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