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All Brontosauruses Are Thin On One End

1bronto3I don’t know why I thought of this Brontosaurus Monty Python skit today, maybe because I have a sore throat and John Cleese spends a good deal of the time clearing his throat, and it’s better to laugh and think of John Cleese being hilariously annoying than think of Ebola? No clue. Yet somehow my mind went there. If you’ve ever seen this skit (see skit included) you’ll know that it takes Cleese’s character Anne Elk a very, very long time to eventually tell the audience and terribly patient interviewer played by the late and beyond great Graham Chapman (Us Yellowbeards are never more dangerous than when we’re dead!) her point.

1bronto5Maybe the book I was reading, A Killer Retreat by Tracy Weber (Midnight Ink), the 2nd book in the A Downward Dog Mystery series, the first was Murder Strikes A Pose, made me think of the Monty Python skit as well because it was soooo slow and it seemed to take a looooong time to get through it.
It was a decent mystery. Cool that the author incorporated yoga, dogs, and vegans into the story, but wow, it was too long. And I didn’t particularly like the main character, she just seemed all whiny-First-World-Problems-poor-me. Mostly everything that went wrong was her own fault, but she seemed oblivious. She didn’t treat people well. The odd part was, I liked the other characters in the book, especially Bella the German Shepherd, I think I even liked the killer (no spoilers) more that Kate (no offence to any real-world Kates). I noticed this in the first book as well. It’s always a strange experience to read a book where you don’t like the protagonist, but you like the book.

I know a lot of purists of the murder mystery genre dislike these cottage industry murder mysteries centered around cooking, shopping, interior design, sewing, B&Bs, inns, Christmas, Halloween, yoga, etc. The nicheness of these domestic mysteries irks the diehard murder mystery buffs, but I often find them entertaining and quirky.1bronto10I enjoy yoga and it’s helped so much with my Fibromyalgia, I highly recommend it and Tai Chi, although I sincerely hope that murder and yoga never go together except in books, or Tai Chi and murder either, in fact, let’s leave any sort of murder to books, movies, TV, and maybe a Murder Mystery Party, wait, is that even still a thing?

I always assumed the gang at Monty Python were trying to make a point about people not getting to the point quickly enough and when they did, their point had already been said or done. 1bronto8

I’m off to drink some warm lemon water and I will leave you with these words of wisdom, Speak less, listen more, speak the truth and do no harm, also, all Brontosauruses are thin at one end, much much thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the far end. Namaste.


On the right track Muppets…they were Sewn that way

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In retrospect, there were some unsettling aspects to The Muppet Movie.
Also, how can it be 35 years since I first saw The Muppet Movie?
Sorry, back to the unsettling aspects not related to my feeling old.

1. Sending an assassin to kill a children’s program character is just wrong, on so many levels. So is kidnapping them.

2. Frog legs, yes, considered a delicacy, but I can’t think of them and Kermit together, no, just no.

 3. I see nothing wrong with the relationship between Kermit and Miss Piggy, except the stalking part, that’s creepy, but if they’re truly in love, well the pig’s heart wants what the pig’s heart wants.

1muppet234. Gonzo wasn’t very nice to Camilla the Chicken; I always thought she could do better.

1muppet315. Animal being super-sized, even to save his friends is irresponsible inventing. And how did Dr. Bunsen Honeydew get any inventing done with Beaker as an assistant?

6. Everyone could have been sweeter to Sweetums.1muppet21

This surreal classic is bursting with cameos: Bob Hope, Orson Welles, Paul Williams, Steve Martin, Carol Kane, Milton Berle, Madeline Khan, Dom Deluise, Mel Brooks, James Coburn, Telly Savalas (Who loves ya Kermit baby?).

Meant as a collection of Muppet experiences, for me, it’s means smiles.

I sang Rainbow Connection a lot after seeing The Muppet Movie in 1979. I’d like to formally apologize to anyone I bothered by incessantly singing Rainbow Connection, yet even now 1muppet3typing this I’m singing Rainbow Connection.

Muppetational fun:

Jim Henson’s Mom had an old coat that became the first Kermit, with ping-pong balls for eyes.

Jim Henson would have been 78 on September 24…we lost a bright, shining light too soon.

Most people think of The Muppet Show as American, actually it’s British. One of the original titles? The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence. Really. Meant to parody the amount of sex and violence on TV; they were purporting their show as the end of sex and violence on television.

Why a Muppet not a puppet?  Jim Henson thought of his creations more as a cross between a puppet and marionette or maybe he just liked the sound of Muppet.

The Muppets have been parodied…a lot.1muppet7The Muppets appeared regularly on the first season of Saturday Night Live.

Oscar the Grouch was originally orange…why did he turn green? Conspiracy theories abound…1muppet9

Statler and Waldorf, trolling before it was called trolling.

Disney bought The Muppets in 2004. Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock were not included in the deal.

Kermit was a showrunner before they became trendy.

Star Wars fans watching The Muppet Show were given a sneak peek of the Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) Bespin outfit on The Stars of Star Wars episode, months before The Empire Strikes Back hit theaters.

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Tim Burton and John Landis were Muppet performers on The Muppet Movie.1muppet16

Most Muppets are left-handed. Why? They use their dominate hand for the mouth, leaving their left hand to move the arms of a puppet; human left hand works best as Muppet left hand.

Kermit the Frog once hosted The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

No celebrity was allowed to guest star more than once on The Muppet Show.

Guest stars on The Muppet Show could request who they wanted to perform with; Miss Piggy is the reigning Queen of Guest Requests. Moi? Mais bien sûr!

Sometimes Kermit would be Kermina; maybe he was just sewn that way.

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GRACEPOINT

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“We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”Stephen King

Is that why we watch murder mysteries? Not only to test our observational and deductive skills, but to explore, process, and cope with the unthinkable horror of murder?

Last year I watched ITV’s Broadchurch because it starred David Tennant (Doctor Who, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hamlet, Casanova, The Escape Artist, The Decoy Bride, etc. ), the murder mystery part was a lovely bonus.
No spoilers, but this British murder mystery had so many twists and turns I started to feel dizzy, and the amount of red herrings almost seemed a little fishy. By the end I thought maybe I knew who had committed the murder, but in the case of murder mysteries I’m always delighted to second-guess myself.
The murder, the unfathomable death of a child may have appeared to be the focal point of the series, but the interactions between the people of this small town where the real story.

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When I heard FOX had picked up Broadchurch and were adapting it under the name of Gracepoint I was intrigued. Even more so when I heard they were bringing along one of my favourite doctors, David Tennant to reprise his role of a burned out policeman, this time with an American accent.

While I was waiti1broad13ng for the October 2, 2014 première I borrowed the digital copy of Broadchurch from Netgalley.com (for the low price of an honest review), written by Erin Kelly (Minotaur Books), adapted from the TV series. Thankfully just as absorbing as the series. A gripping read, full of the same tension, suspense, and the essential elements of a delicious murder mystery.

1. A murder victim.
2. Emotionally damaged sleuths; we don’t just want them to investigate murders, we want to get into their dented psyches and try to figure out what makes them so good at getting the bad guys.
3. Great plot, subplots and more subplots, the more subplottery, the better.
4. A bunch of lying suspects. Of course, usually only one of them is lying about murder, but they’re all lying to cover up their dirty little secrets.
5. A setting to die for. I want to be submerged in the setting, to feel like I’m there; whether it’s a small town, big city, boat, train, plane, or space, I want to be where the characters are.

The very first sentence transports you to the small town, “One road in, one road out. Broadchurch isn’t on the way to anywhere and you don’t go there by accident”~Erin Kelly…and you need to stay until you’ve uncovered all its murky secrets.
So, all criteria met for brilliant crime drama on any continent.1broad1

I’m glad to know series creator and writer Chris Chibnall (Doctor Who, Torchwood, United, Broadchurch) and director James Strong came across the Pond to bring Broadchurch to the coastal California town of Gracepoint (though filmed in British Columbia, Canada).

The cast looks amazing, David Tennant, now Emmett Carver (Alec Hardy in Broadchurch), joined by Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Kevin Zegers, Josh Hamilton, Michael Peña, Kendrick Sampson, Nick Nolte, Jacki Weaver, Kevin Rankin, Virginia Kull and more as family, friends, and neighbours become suspects in a horrifying crime that threatens to tear the very heart out of the sleepy little tourist town.

Also excited to know Broadcurch will be returning for a second series, with David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Arthur Darvill, Jodie Whittaker, etc. plus some exciting new add-ons.

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Critical clues await those who must solve a horrifying crime, and bring peace and justice to a town torn apart.


Orange is the New Black, except for Pumpkins

 1. I like the colour black better than orange, except for pumpkins, they’re much better orange.

2. While the series, Orange Is The New Black is excellent, Piper Kerman’s Orange Is The New Black: My Year in Women’s Prison high-end-white-lady-sent-to-prison-lite-for-a-crime-she-committed-when-she-was-young-and-naive memoir has an incredible self-awareness you rarely find and should experience. Read the book.

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3. Sorry Netflix, I borrowed the Season 1 DVDs from the library (yay libraries!!!). Not enough GBs and frankly, I don’t trust myself with that much access to older TV shows and movies. Maybe someday. Now just doing my time until Season 2.

4.  I wondered if this show was going to go beyond being a bunch of whiny felonious narcissists strolling around in a homogenized, Hollywoodized, faux female prison fantasy. They did.

5. It took me a while to get into this book/series, but I finally understood, it wasn’t about prison, or the amount of hair products they manage to get in there; it’s about degrees of damage, not just the prisoners, but the staff, and even those on the outside.

6.There are a tons of nods to various shows, books, etc. : Star Trek, Weeds, American Pie, Manga, The Fault in our Stars, 50 Shades of Grey, This Is Where I Leave You, Les Miserables, The Help, Harry Potter, Stephen King, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and of course who could forget the Robert Frost lecture.1black15

7. Did they ever catch the chicken? No, wait, don’t tell me.

8. Piper Chapman aka “College” (portrayed by Taylor Schilling) has a cultured façade to cover her narcissism and fear; I wonder how many of us wear disguises?

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9. You may recognize Michael Harney (Healy), he was Steve on Deadwood, Xander’s dad on Buffy, also in Weeds and tons of other stuff.  Busy guy.

10. The people that get close to Piper are inevitably sorry. Is she a toxic person? Or is she just doing her thing and people get in the way?

11. Uzo Aduba (Suzanne/Crazy Eyes) was actually a track star growing up; she even auditioned for Vicky Jeudy’s part, so she’s more like Crazy Legs than Crazy Eyes.

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12. OITNB kind of made me want to visit Litchfield…the town in upstate New York, not the imaginary prison.1balck19

13. George “Pornstache” Mendez portrayed by Pablo Schreiber (The Wire, Weeds, etc.) is half-brother to Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan, RKO 281, The Butler, X-Men, Mixed Nuts, etc.).

14. The show attracts cool guest directors like Jodie Foster and Andrew McCarthy, hmmm, Pretty in Orange?

15. A majority of the time we see the prisoners wearing khaki, but I guess Khaki is the New Black just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

16. Transgender star Laverne Cox has her twin brother, artist/musician M. Lamar play her in the flashbacks, when she appeared to be a man.

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17. Each time Kate Mulgrew appears onscreen I expect to see aliens (too much Star Trek?), or for her to say she’s really Piper’s Mom (they played mother and daughter on the cancelled-too-soon NBC medical drama, Mercy).

18. OITNB shows how people change when they’re around certain people, and that’s definitely not confined to being in prison.

19. Where did Red (Kate Mulgrew) get the nickname Red? Her hair colour? Because she’s Russian? Or maybe there’s a Shawshank Redemption connection, Morgan Freeman’s character also had the nickname Red.

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20. Love it, hate it, ignore it, haven’t gotten to it yet? There are obvious and subtle socioeconomic messages layered among the gratuitous sex scenes, high school drama, and First World Problems; highlighting circumstances may have landed most of the characters in prison, but some had more options than others. Orange Is the New Black is a pretty pink powder puff translation of a social system that’s as broken as those that end up in it, but it has an awesome cast, superb writing, great directing; overall, a cool show.


To Find the Hand of Franklin Reaching for the Beaufort Sea

When I heard the news they had found one of the ships from The Franklin Expedition, the historian/Indiana Jones/child in me was so excited I could feel my heart pounding. Was it the HMS Erebus or could it possibly be the HMS Terror? Stan Rogers’ memorable song, Northwest Passage playing in my head, I was thrilled this part of Canadian/British history had finally been found.

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When Sir John Franklin, Royal Navy Officer and explorer left England in May 1845 for his 4th Arctic expedition, he and his men had no idea they were sailing into the history books, not for their discoveries but for their mysterious disappearance. The loss of the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror and their crews inspired searches1frank16, songs, plays, books, rewards, statues, theories, and still do, to this day. It has all the hallmarks of a great story: exploration, hardship, mystery, bravery, lead poisoning, cannibalism, tuberculosis, scurvy.

Canada has an inferiority complex (and not a very good one). The U.S would have done a half-dozen blockbusters of this with the likes of: Bruce Willis as Franklin, Johnny Depp as Crozier, and Brad Pitt as Fitzjames.
The Franklin Expedition is the stuff of legend.

Top view of a globe showing the North Pole
I’ve always been fascinated by history. Reading about The Franklin Expedition as a child and I wondered, was it possible some men survived and stayed in The North? There were alleged sightings of men from these ships as late as 1858, but who knows how much of that was tall tales. And I can’t resist Northwest Passage (Stan Rogers) combined with Paul Gross (Due South).

My excitement went into eclipse when the pragmatist in me realized how much finding this ship had cost and how much more it was going to cost to excavate the site. History is wonderful, but there are living people who are suffering. Our government alleges we don’t have enough money for: Veterans, affordable housing, social programs, disabled, food/water/transportation inspectors, environment, infrastructure, research, medical issues, Aboriginal issues, and the list goes on. This is like saying you’re going to fly over the Scotland to check out your ancestry when you can’t afford to make your mortgage payments or put a new roof on. Despite what the government is telling us, Canada doesn’t have it’s own house in order and until we do, we shouldn’t be spending taxpayers’ money on historical treasure hunts, no matter how cool they are.

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There are many books on the current trend toward the right-wing, Tea Party-like movement in Canada, but I was stunned by the aptly titled, Irresponsible Government by former Conservative MP, Brent Rathgeber (Dundurn Books), who now sits as an Independent after leaving his party because they had become what they once mocked. Amazing foreword by Andrew Coyne (The NationalPost/CBC).
Rathgeber’s book is a scathing look inside the secretive and controlled world of the CPC. I imagine he’s not a popular guy with some of his former caucus and I’m sure he’s off the PM’s Christmas card list. This book is a declaration, I can almost picture Rathgeber in Twisted Sister (Dee Snider) garb singing, “We’re not gonna take it!”.

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Sick of being a trained seal, Rathgeber stood up and said, No more! and tries  to remind Canadians that we vote in legislators, not a government, but if those legislators just tow the party line th1frank14en we inadvertently voted for one voice instead of many. Politicians should be seeking service not power. Where are the checks and balance1frank18s? Let’s ask the Senate, oh, nevermind.
Fascinating points about the death of fiscal accountability, and sadly, that’s not only under this government, they’ve just made a science out of it.  Where has our access to information gone? Government keeps information from its citizens, and we all know the media, if it bleeds, it leads. But where is our responsibility? We elect people that lie to us, then whine about them, and then elect them again or more just like them. Ironically Rathgeber’s publishing company received financial support, tax credits, etc. from various Federal and Ontario programs to help publish this book.

Canada began a responsible government in 1848, the very year the British Admiralty launched a search for the Franklin expedition. Maybe we need to be reminded. We’ve had our ups and downs as a country, after all, we’re young, maybe we’re just going through our teen rebellion years. Let’s hope we find our way again before it’s too late.
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History should remain a mystery until we have taken care of all those who are alive right here, right now.


Dear Luke, We Need To Talk. Darth

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 Icebergs, henchmen, Fight Club, The Walking Dead, Friends, Twilight, Dora The Explorer, Jurassic Park, The Superbowl, Beastie Boys, Star Trek, Disney, The Grinch, Seinfeld, X-Files, B-52’s, Twilight Zone, Elton John, NASA, Harry Potter, Kurt Cobain, War Horse - no one is safe from John Moe’s satirical pop culture whimsical correspondence, and I’m so glad.

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This book Dear Luke, We need to Talk. Dad Darth and other Pop Culture correspondences by John Moe (Three Rivers Press/Penguin) is hilarious, a remarkable, one might even say, noteworthy poke at pop culture. I love to laugh and when I saw the title on http://www.bloggingforbooks.org I knew I was going to have fun.

Some of my favs include, Bruce: A Shark’s Journal, which had me in giggles, especially the June 14 entry where Bruce fell off the wagon. Some of you may remember the eating issues Bruce had in Finding Nemo, now have that go Jaws.

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Also, a letter from the Pea1darth17nuts gang teacher regarding the lack of adults in Charlie Brown and his friends’ lives; also, how grateful she is to have a job considering her speech issues.

An explanation of what happened to Agents 001 through 006.

All of Jay Z’s 99 Problems.

Concerns about the overall direction the Doctor Who franchise is taking.

A letter to the island on Lost on how to promote tourism there.

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Saul Hudson (Slash from Guns’N’Roses) as a Heavy Metal Editor, explaining to Axl Rose why Sweet Child O’Mine isn’t going to be a hit.

CIA 1darth111report from Agent Gilligan from the Island ProjectGilligan’s Island goes to a dark place on April 21, 1973 when they ate The Howells (It was time)…

A Welp! review of Cheers, Rick’s Café, Bronto Burgers, Overlook Hotel, Bates Motel, etc. A funnier version of Yelp!, not just people whining about the their First World Problems with restaurants, here’s a hint, you can afford to go to restaurants.

Correspondence between Batman’s producer and Neal Hefti the writer of the 1966 Batman theme; this money man versus artist exchange pits artistic integrity against commercialism which explains why the theme ended up being, you know, Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na Batman! and so on.

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Muppet Studios Casting Office where we find out some of the reasons certain Muppets could not be included…

An Oral History of Pac-Man Ghosts (I think Inky had it the toughest). Wocka wocka wocka.

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And some dysfunctionally tasty drink recipes from Mad Men:

Drapertini

4 ounces gin
1 ounce vermouth
3 olives
5 tears that I never shed as a boy

Shake, stir, then pour down the sink because those days can never return.

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Draper Manhattan

2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce vermouth
2 ounces of aromatic bitters
3 dashes of bitterness about my own need to hurt everyone who loves me
2 scrapes of the grime from that apartment I had after Betty and I split
1 maraschino cherry
Pour contents over ice into a glass, catch a distorted reflection in the ice for a moment, and wonder who you are or who anyone is really, sit in chair.

There, it’ll all be ok now.

1darth20


Been There. Done That. Try This!

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There are so many things we want to teach our children.
Love. Hope. Caring. Compassion. Empathy. Life skills. Listening. Learning. Reciprocity. Understanding. Manners.

With a child with Asperger’s Syndrome you have a few others life lessons to the list, the strangest one is lying. I’ve tried to teach my son to lie, with really no success.  Why would I teach my child to lie? Because society demands it. I’m sure we can all think of hundreds of examples of social lying. I’m sure you’ve lied today, probably multiple times. Imagine your life if you didn’t know how to lie. You boss asks if you like your job. Someone asks if their dress makes them look fat. Society is a hotbed of lies. Some lies are harmless and others are horrible. But what if you couldn’t lie? What if you told the truth no matter how detrimental it was to you?

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“You can’t handle the truth!”~Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men (screenplay by Aaron Sorkin)

People say they want the truth, but that’s the biggest lie of all. They would rather lies than uncomfortable truths.
So how do you teach someone social lying while telling them it’s wrong to lie? A confusing message, to say the least.

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I think the human race is evolving, and I believe a time is coming when there will less or no distinction between those who are neurotypical and those who allegedly ‘not’.
Asperger’s or High-Functioning Autism are now on our regular viewing schedules, in our books, in our workplaces, as friends, family members, bosses, employees, etc.
Once known as Nerd Syndrome, or for much of the 20th century diagnosed as Childhood Schizophrenia, before that insanity or demonic possession is now seen as essentially benign.
We’re just starting to realize having Autism isn’t necessarily terrible, or catastrophic, it’s a neurological difference. We need to understand and offer proper resources.

1aspie10The book, Been There. Done That. Try This! An Aspie’s Guide To Life On Earth (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) is a unique, comprehensive, effective, fascinating treasure trove of Aspie knowledge, mined by Tony Attwood (Editor, doctor, author, and Aussie Aspie expert), Craig R. Evans (Editor, doctor, author, and Aspie expert), Anita Lesko (Aspie, author, BSN,RN,MS,CRNA). This book may be written for those with Asperger’s by those with Asperger’s, but I think some of the advice can help neurotypicals as well.

It offers advice from true experts, Aspies sharing their knowledge on how to manage anxiety, depressions, meltdowns, sensory issues, bullying, careers, dating, sex, marriage, friendships, transitions, and so much more.  Mentors include: Temple Grandin, Liane Holliday Willey, Bob Castleman, Anita Lesko, Dr. Patrick Suglia, Debbie Denenburg, Lisa Morgan, Mitch Christian, Gary Burge, James Buzon, Charli Devnet, and more.

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The more I read about modern life being so challenging for people with Asperger’s the more I thought, is it perhaps too challenging for everyone? Is that why anxiety rates are so high, use of prescription drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, sleep disorders, eating disorders, bullying, fighting, so much more prevalent? Maybe people with Asperger’s are just more obvious because their brains are always honest and don’t try to hide the problems.

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If we could all just except Neurodiversity we’d see that we all need help in different ways and can be amazing, in different ways.
This book is wonderful for Aspies so they know they’re not alone and it gets better; for parents to remember there’s hope; and for others to understand that different isn’t less.


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