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It's snowing, people!! Well, it's not even snow, it's more like pellets. Almost hail, but too soft. Tiny pieces of hail covered in dry, powdery snow. It did this crazy thing where it would wiggle along the highway as the cars drove by. Like the smoke from a blown-out candle, only moving horizontally. Once we got home and got a closer look at it collected on Jim's windshield wipers, Ian and I decided it looks like Dippin' Dots. Yes. The Ice Cream of the Future. From twenty years ago. Well since it doesn't just flow off the tongue to say it's Dippin' Dotting, I'm just gonna go with the beloved standby: "IT'S SNOWING!! WHEEEE!!!!"

Thanks to everyone who has signed up to get updates from Bent On Benton. If you haven't signed up yet, it's definitely for the best. It helps me to communicate with those who are really interested, and it helps you to know when to check back for new content. To get on the list, scroll to the bottom of the main page, type in your email address and click join. The service will send you a verification email, you click the link, and then you're in!
As you probably already know, I've spent the last 10 or so posts telling and showing you about Sean Michel of Bryant - the local American Idol contestant. I hope you are enjoying the coverage and I plan on consolidating it all later to one page.

In other news, I've got a couple of ideas for some upcoming posts, but I was hoping to get some input too. What type of things in Benton have you seen that you'd like to know more about? What do you already know about in Benton that you'd like to share with others? What's something that you do or see in Benton on a regular basis? What would you fix about Benton if you had your druthers? (Do you know where a person can go to get some druthers?)

1. I'm thinking of going to that park/lake area west of the airfield. But it's cold, man... so,

2. I'm thinking of going to that energy/electricity/my-electric-bill-is-already-high-a-price-hike-is-going-turn-me-Amish meeting. I don't like high electric bills, but I don't like boring meetings either. Does anyone plan on going to this thing? Speak up, please.

3. I could interview a local official and try to get him/her to run for president.

4. I could sample a new restaurant and try to get a free meal out of it. (Sakura Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi, ya'll!)

5. I could video an experiment of how much caffeine my 14-year-old can handle at the new Starbucks.

6. I could stop procrastinating and work some more on my photo map of Benton. (Remember, I told you about that in the This is Paradise post.)

7. I write another thing about writing another thing! Yes! That's it!

Let's have a vote on it. Write me and I'll post the ideas.


See the archives at right or below for [American Idol Contestant] Sean Michel interview, audio, video and photos.


Who's ready for a Sean Michel interview?

Email interview with Sean Michel January 30, 2007:
NOTE: Some questions are addressed as though someone is answering email on Sean’s behalf, since his bandmates are helping him with public relations.

I caught the Malvern show Sunday night and it was great. Got some cds to tide me over. My son Ian (14, Bryant H.S.) was with me and he even said it rocked, so it's set it stone. Much appreciation as well for keeping it a worship session as well as a jam session.
Really glad you and your son enjoyed the show. That means a lot.

Hey, I also need to ask something since I'm a big A.I. nerd: A lady at work said she thought Sean was disqualified for some reason (the rumor mill could solve Benton's energy cost crisis). Since the rumor was that Sean had divulged information that he shouldn't have, I would suspect that were it true, nobody would be able to divulge the information of whether the information was divulged. Right? Right. Clear as mud. That being said, I hope this is not the case. Not only do I want Sean to move on as far as he can without getting rooked into a syruppy pop tour, but it's also making for killer stats on my website.
Sean can't talk about what happened in Hollywood. However I can assure you that he was not kicked off for leaking details of the show, or anything like that.

Last thing: any chance of me getting an interview for my website by email if nothing
else? If so, I'll go ahead and include some Q's. Thanks in advance.

How do you decide where to go on a mission trip?
When in college, I would just go from a group that was going from the school. However, our most recent trips to China and Sudan were both because we (my friend Jay and I) had friends who were missionaries there who asked for our help.

Who has your greatest influence been musically & spiritually?
In music I would say Keith Green - in life, my friend Jay Newman.

Where's everyone in the band from?
Sean - Bryant; Nick - Bryant; Michael - Hamburg (UCA); Justin - Dallas, but now Little Rock (we know him from OBU); Eric- Bryant.

Who has a day job and what is it?
Sean works with Jacob. (See the Benton Courier story in the last post) Nick does telemarketing, but that’s only for the last week and won't last long. Michael is a student. Justin works for Stephens Investments. Eric does maintenance for an apartment complex and also is a nursing student.

What's the number one goal of being in the American Idol competition?
At first, to have a good story to tell and share a few laughs. But now, to use whatever means necessary to share the truth of the gospel.

If Sean makes it to the finals at A.I., what challenges are anticipated with the people in hair and wardrobe?
Gonna just be myself, and that includes hair and clothing.

With the co-habitation in the mansion? I don’t foresee any difficulties if that were to happen, because I see the other contestants as friends to share with, not competition.

What will the band do if Sean ends up in the finals, thusly tied up in a lengthy competition and a year-long A.I. tour for the next year?
In that unlikely event, the band would be on hiatus. But the band is at the heart of what we do, there is no solo act.

Now that everyone has seen Sean on tv, is going to Wal-Mart out of the question?
No, not really. Just go late. I did sign three autographs at Wal-Mart the other night though. but I don’t mind any of that. I just have to remember to start carrying a Sharpie around with me.

What's with the hair? At what point was it a decision and not a maybe-later I'll cut it.
Its just hair. I like it. I think it looks good long. There's no decision...right now my hair is still long.

I don't know. I was a journalism student for a while, but I switched to video production, so I'm just not that experienced at interviewing.

Oh, I got one. What opportunity is there to see another live show?
Right now, there is nothing confirmed. But we are working on several dates in the upcoming months. Check our Myspace. We'll post dates as soon as they're certain, and we have a couple in the works.

What kind of schedule does Sean have with all the attention he's getting right now? Interviews? Travel?
There have been multiple interviews everyday for the last week other than Saturday and Sunday, when we were preparing for the show Sunday night. Most have been phone or internet interviews, but a couple of times we have gone to radio stations and a TV studio. Other than that, the schedule is pretty routine.

Sean Michel

Thanks to Sean Michel for the interview answers. I know Arkansans are rooting for him. Too bad people in China and Sudan can't vote in this competition. And now everyone knows: if they want to catch Sean for an autograph, just head to the Bryant Wal-Mart late at night.

Scroll down to see more story, audio, video & photos of Sean Michel.

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!


Sean Michel featured in Benton Courier & on Fox 16

More video to come, but meanwhile, here's an article from the local newspaper serving Saline County (Benton & Bryant + a few smaller towns). This article took a while getting into this newspaper, but my guess is that Mr. Michel has been pretty busy nationwide in these past few days. When the article did show up in the Sunday January 28th paper, it made the front page. Hey, this is big stuff around here!

Also see the bottom of this post for an article and video from Fox 16, the Little Rock affiliate.

Bryant's Michel picked from Memphis audition for ‘American Idol'

Bryant's Sean Michel, 27, is heading to Hollywood to compete for the honor of “American Idol.” But he is already an idol to at least one person, his friend and roommate, Jacob Baggett.

Baggett is mentally disabled, but he didn't let that stand in the way of his own “American Idol” audition. “I wasn't nervous at all to try out,” he said.

Baggett, an avid drum and guitar player, traveled to Memphis with Michel to audition for the show.

The two tried out together the first time. Michel was selected to continue the competition and Baggett was not, but this has not diminished Baggett's support for his friend.

“He's going to Hollywood and I'm happy for him,” Baggett said. “I love ‘American Idol.' It's fun. I made some good friends.”

The two met when Michel was a student at Bryant High School. Michel, originally from New Orleans, moved to Bryant while in his early teens.

“I used to work with school-age kids at an after-school day care,” Michel said. Baggett was a student there, and the two met when Baggett was 10 and Michel was 16.

They also attended the same church, First Southern Baptist Church in Bryant, and their parents lived near each other.

After Michel returned from Ouachita Baptist University in the fall of 2001, the friends began spending time together and playing music.

At the suggestion of Baggett's mother, Michel began working with him at Easter Seals. Michel moved to Friendship Community Care Inc. in the fall of 2004, where Baggett was then a participant.

Friendship Community Care was established in 1972 to serve individuals with developmental disabilities.

Today, Friendship serves approximately 100 people in Saline County, according to Regional Manager Debbie Stehling. All are excited about Baggett and Michel's auditions, Stehling said.

“The kids all watch ‘American Idol,'” she said. “They love it and always talk about it.” (continued)

Click here to order from your Saline County Avon Representative

Baggett and Michel have been roommates for about two years. Michel, who was accustomed to living the bachelor life, calls the situation “rewarding and difficult.”
“A lot of times we butt heads because I am seen as an authority figure,” Michel said.

Michel said he helps teach Baggett independent living skills, such as cooking, but noted that Baggett teaches him how to live.

“My job is to help him, but a lot of times he teaches me,” Michel said, “just through things he says and does.”

Michel is a firm believer in the Christian concept of loving others more than oneself. “That's when you learn,” Michel said, “when you stop putting yourself first.”

“Jacob teaches me to be real,” he said. “He is always himself. That is all he knows how to be.”

Baggett also encourages Michel musically. “We get to jam a lot,” Michel said, “which helps me because a lot of times I don't want to play and he does.”

Michel's music career began early in his life. “My mom started singing at church and I always admired her voice,” he said.

Michel began singing at church in the ninth grade. His early musical influences include R & B groups, such as Boyz II Men.

In high school, Michel was part of a Christian band. “Through that, I really felt like God was revealing to me how powerful music was,” he said.

“I was communicating with Him and He was communicating with me,” he said.

At Ouachita Baptist University, Michel began taking his music seriously. He started another band and began writing his own music. (continued)

He returned to Bryant in 2001 and started playing with his current band, SeanMichel.

Michel explains that the name was chosen because he had played in the area already and people were familiar with him.

“All the good band names were taken,” he joked.

The decision to try out for “American Idol” was done at the last minute, he said. While watching a football game the night before, another friend recommended that he audition.

“I started laughing,” he said. “I don't watch the show.”

“It was about 3 a.m..,” he said. “I had my boxers on and I had to teach Sunday school the next morning.”

After some encouragement, he threw on some jeans, woke up Baggett and left for Memphis around 5 a.m.

They arrived in Memphis about 8 a.m., joining approximately 16,000 other “Idol” contestants waiting to audition.

“They looked like cattle,” Michel said.

The two auditioned after waiting for about 12 hours. The tryout period lasted more than a month, when Michel finally auditioned in front of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell in Memphis.

“It's pretty tedious,” he said, “and really draining emotionally and mentally.”

He calls his “American Idol” experience a “pretty crazy ride.”

Even if Michel wins the competition, he does not want to be a pop star. The mellow crooner feels that he was “made” to sing with his band.

“That's really my heart right now,” he said.

He and his band members stay busy playing local bars, churches and other venues, such as Vino's and Whitewater Tavern in Little Rock, and Jupiter Java in Bryant.

SeanMichel will be appearing at Juanita's in Little Rock in the next few weeks.

Band members include Sean Michel, Nicholas Taylor, Michael Harville, Justin Sanders and Eric Carden. The band has a Myspace Web site at

The Hollywood round of “American Idol” will be broadcast on the Fox Network Feb. 13 and 14.

Click here for Sean Michel online article and video from Fox 16.

Watch for more video, and don't forget the video, photos, and radio interview from the past few posts. Scroll down to find them!

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!

Sean Michel Malvern5

This is the second part of the prayer before the show started.

See below for MORE SEAN MICHEL stuff, including more video, photo slideshows and a recent radio interview.

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!

Sean Michel Malvern4

This is the first part of the prayer before the show started.

See below for MORE SEAN MICHEL stuff, including more video, photo slideshows and a recent radio interview.

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!

Sean Michel in Malvern video2

Sunday night, January 28, 2007 in Malvern, Arkansas at First Baptist Church on Main Street.
More sound check, but a little more interesting than the last one. I like that “Rejoice” song.

See below for MORE SEAN MICHEL stuff, including more video, some photo slideshows and a recent radio interview.

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!


Sean Michel-Malvern, Ark. (Pictures)

Here's a nice little slide show of Sean Michel and the band in Malvern, Arkansas. They played at First Baptist Church on Main Street. I saw the date on their myspace and wondered if they were actually going to play, since American Idol might be restrictive as far as what sort of appearances contestants are allowed. I shot over an email last night to ask, and got word back that yes, they were still going to play. Great! We got there an hour early and got a seat on the second row - luckily right behind a cute little girl who wasn't camera-tall.
I hope my code works right the first time. If you see pictures that aren't Sean Michel, well, I'm working on it.

Sean Michel show in Malvern Arkansas

Alright, now for some video, eh? I can't put all of these in the same post, (since the Blogger interface will freak out and crash my browser) so there will be a few separate ones.
This show was Sunday night, January 28, 2007 in Malvern, Arkansas at First Baptist Church on Main Street. "Hello to the Benton and Bryant people I saw there, especially Kelly and family, who sat next to us during the show.

This first vid is just part of the sound check. They had a cord problem before they started and had to replace one, and then into the first or second song, another started smokin! I thought it was incense at first, but then I remembered having asked Ian about 10 minutes before the show if he smelled a burning styrofoam chest. Yeah, I think that was the smell of a cord being called to Heaven. That said, let's start the clips.

See below for MORE SEAN MICHEL stuff, including a radio interview, Friday morning, January 26, 2007.

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!

More Sean Michel

This guy is going to take up a little bit of space on my site I guess. That's alright Sean, we're rooting for you here locally. I went to the show at First Baptist Church in Malvern tonight, and it was really good. I got a couple of cds of theirs too. I've got pictures and video coming up from tonight's show, so check back. I should tell you that YouTube yanked my AI viddy, so here it is from another host.

See below for MORE SEAN MICHEL stuff, including a radio interview, Friday morning, January 26, 2007.

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!


Sean Michel radio interview

Sean Michel was on the radio this morning for interview with the morning crew from The Point 94.1 FM Click here to listen.

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!


Bryant guy on AI

ADDENDUM: Here's Sean playing in Sudan (apparently the home of his fashion sense) in 2005 at a Ramadan festival.

This is just a short note to let you know that a local guyhas auditioned on American Idol and made it to Hollywood. Look for him in the pre-lims. He is Sean Michel, age 27, of Bryant, Arkansas.

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!


This is Paradise

Paradise Pets, that is. But before I get to that, I gotta tell you - I'm working on a project to map out photos of the businesses in Benton. I'm pretty excited about it. It works with Google maps kind of like when you look up a business on Google, but with this one, when you click on the location marker, there pops up a picture that I took of the place. How cool is that? It's taking a little time to do, and the photos will come gradually, but I hope for it to be a great promotional tool for our fair city. Onto the animals...
As I was taking pictures for the map, I noticed that Paradise Pets was one of the few businesses still open at 5pm on Saturday. The sign was all colory and glowy and it drew me in. Then after I got in there - the animals! Yeah, I was big mush as soon as the ferret looked at me. Anyhow, here be the pix.

Y'know that Jefferson Airplane/Starship/Canoe song about the white rabbit? What if Grace Slick saw TWO rabbits? I don't know, I was just thinkin.
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Honestly, I don't know if these are mice or rats, but look at the little guy in the end. He's got his eyes closed but he's mumbling to me in a New Jersey accent, "Hey, camera lady - you should go away so I can get some sleep." Despite his rude demeanor, I still thought he was pretty cute.
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This was confusing. The head's on the far end right? Well that where I focused. My science whiz son tells me the tail just looks like a head to confuse predators. I must be a predator because...
Okay now look at the glass above Two-Head's face head. He has a little green friend in the next reptilarium.*<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

I was pleased with the outcome of this photo. The lines, the texture, and the contrast... I'm awesome. he he. Check out his foot. Elliott! Elliott! Ouch!<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

This looks like a crab habitat, but it's a little known fact that PeeWee Herman actually resides at Paradise Pets on Market Street in Benton.<!--[endif]-->

How does it feel to be 2-D? No, I'm not trying to make some obscure smiley, I'm really asking. 2-D!<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

Go little froggy! Cling to the hope that one day - one day! you will be free in your own tank. You could go a-courtin' one day and bring home a froggy lady who loves you. Don't bring home a white mouse like the song goes (no matter how cute she is). It just never works out when you cross species. I mean, you don't want little pink-eyed fuzzy tadpoles to raise. Eww. <!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

The fish on the right is a riot. Look at the face he's making. It's like the face you make when you realize what a doofus you were for selling your Google stock off at $50 and thought you were making a bundle.<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]--><!--[endif]-->

Heyyy there lone-ly gi-irrrrl...
lone-ly girlll...
Let me make your broken heart like newwww...*

The yellow and blue fish are pretty in this tank, but look at the top left of the coral. See the little slim fish? Is she wearing Burberry plaid? She just looks fabulous, Dahling.<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

These are the ever popular Popsicle Fish in blue. They're known for their deft athletic ability coupled with a mean streak versus their siblings; therefore, it is recommended to have a comparable number of Referee Fish co-habitating with them.<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]--><!--[endif]-->

Hey ya'lls - I found Nemo!!! (I'm still looking for Waldo.)<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

Die-hard Denver Nuggets fans, this tank is totally on Carmello's side and they don't think he should be suspended for so long. Also, they like his chocolate bars.<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]--><!--[endif]-->

I'm pretty sure the yellow one, top middle is a decoy. See everybody swimming away from it? Yeah, they know.

Goldfish are orange. Did they not have the color orange back in the day when these little dudes got their name? Was it too hard to say? Have they changed color down through the generations? Are they incognito?<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

Okay, I don't know if I have anything funny left to say - it's getting late so I'm just slapping some words out here. Bla bla bla you're not reading this anyway so I can just type in whatever. E is not the MC, however, he is very square. He's got like a Frankenstein head, he's so square. But baby, Elvis doesn't care.<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]--><!--[endif]-->

More ORANGE fish.<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]--><!--[endif]-->

Oh, no, I definitely have to say something about this footlong critter. Actually there are two in this tube, so the next picture you see is not this ferret's tail, but his friend's. He would pop his head out and sniff the camera just long enough for me to get a focus, but not long enough for me to get a picture. I started do a bird whistle and he got curious so after the 5th or so try, I got his furry mug.<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

Ferret tail. What more can you say. Meh. Ferret tail.
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Bird apartments. There are the love birds in Apartment 3G, and there are the parakeet ladies gossiping in 227.<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

I took the photo and I searched for a few seconds to figure out where the fish is. You let me know if you see him.
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*Totally made up word – like most of the description here.
Eddie Holman did the song "Hey There Lonely Girl" in 1970 after changing it from "Hey There Lonely Boy," the original that Ruby and the Romantics did in 1963. Robert John recorded it in 1983, then in 1990, New Edition had it on their album, "Under Blue Moon." Excellent song.

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!


Canoeing Cancelled

*EDIT* My handy dandy Avon Lady, Stephanie, submitted some photos she took last Saturday of the Saline County River flooding into Lyledale Park - the one with the canoe/kayak/johnboat ramp. I don't see the ramp! After looking at these photos, click here to see a post from last summer that shows the normal water level.

Sidenote: It looks like the ads are catching on, so I guess I will keep 'em. Tell your friends about them and they will become more useful over time. Thanks everyone who has just visited for the first time, and to those who come back day after day. Obi Wan, you're my only hope.

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!


Folks. It rained.

It's been a while. The weatherman kept saying it was going to rain, but it would sputter and not ever start. Having apparently changed a spark plug or whatever it is that gets changed in order to make something go, the rain started overnight and didn't stop until lunch time the next day. Even then it wasn't quite finished.
These pictures were taken on Saturday, I'm posting on Sunday, and my pansy butt dog Hoover still won't go out in the yard to do his business. How does he hold it for so long? I have no idea, but he just doesn't like to get wet in the rain. Getting wet by jumping in puddles and ditch water is somehow an entirely different matter for him, but I digress...

Firstly, here's the map of places I went. After that, the pictures I took - and if I can get my darn computer to process the video I made, then I will post that next.

East Lakeview Drive

Pauline Lake

Cedar Ridge

Hicks Road

Market Street and Willow Street

Christy Lane & Vicinity

River Street

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!


Edison & 35 Mart

I just spotted a good subject on, a local forum regarding a gas station/convenience store at Edison and 35. Maps and story follow...

Click the map to biggify.
Click the map to biggify.
Click this screenshot to read the forum topic.

See the archives. Post a comment. Get Bent On Benton!


I'm so bummed

Well, not as bummed as the people whose minivan caught on fire at Taco Bell on Military Road about 45 minutes into the new year. I was at the stop light in front of Taco Smell when I see smoke coming out from under their hood. "Radiator," I think, but then I see smoke coming out of the back too. And then I see people piling out of the car fast and boogie-footin' it across the street.
As they reached the opposite curb, flames wafted out from under the hood like a supermodel's hair in the breeze of a giant fan. Now, being the on-the-spot amateur photog that I am, the first thing I think of is not 911, but CAMERA! I'm such a dork. This happened very quickly and I realized the light had turned green. I also realized there was a car behind me who - in spite of the show - possibly wanted me to drive on.Blinker right, and I turned into the Office Depot parking lot.

Now that I'm parked, I have to get out to take good video, since my driver-side window mechanics broke off inside the door on a frosty morning 2 weeks ago. Also, I left my regular camera at home - which hardly ever happens, so I have to use my cell phone's camera. After fumbling with the tiny buttons in the dark for what seemed an eternity but ended up being just long enough for the fire to spread to the rear of the vehicle and light up that minivan like my belly after a burrito supreme. Two seconds later I hear, "Rarrrrrrrrrrrr..." coming from around the corner. Probably from the Fire station on Old Military. It had only been like a minute since I saw this thing start in the first place. Good on ya, Benton FD for being there fast and furious.

By this time, I'm getting plenty of footage on my sweet little cell phone, thinking maybe they'll put one of my pictures in the paper, or maybe some of my video could make it to a local newscast if it's a slow news day. They could say the video was provided by, and I'll finally get more than just a few [valued] regulars visiting daily. Yes, I'll be famous and they'll carve my likeness in the moon.... Well, anyway, I got some good footage for a cell phone.

Next I get home and tell the hubby about my sighting. He jumps off the couch and spins around on one big toe in the middle of the living room. "We'll be rich!" he shouts, "Now we can adopt all the stray dogs we want!" Actually he just half looked up and said, "Huh!" but let's pretend - since it's my post - that he was as excited as me. At the very least he said, "Sure," when I asked if he wanted to see the video/pictures, so I went about getting my connection cord and phone to hook up to the laptop.

Now comes the bummer. Windows Explorer doesn't recognize the drive where the phone's folders are supposed to be showing up and I look at the phone to find what - after a plummetous 90 seconds of Googling - online forum writers call WSOD, or, the White Screen of Death. I won't go into all the reasons I said, "Aw man!" about 20 times in a row next, but I will tell you that I'm not optimistic about ever seeing that video again. Well, at least my phone didn't catch on fire at Taco Smell, right?

Yes, back to the minivan. It looked as though the fire was out, and back-up crews began pulling away from the scene. Still some smoke and you could see that the wall near the drive-thru window was no longer off-white but instead a very on-black. As far as who the minivan belonged to, I hope nothing of great value was lost, and that your insurance is in order. Also, I hope that you got something to eat, since you didn't quite make it through to the pick-up window. [sigh!] Prayers, everyone, for the minivanless in 2007.

Click photo to enlarge.

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