Re: That's What She Said

1

I have been worried that what happened on Glee last night would finally happen (OMG FINALLY IT WAS GETTING ABSURD) and then the other thing would finally happen (next episode) and whoopsie-daisy! Reversal! To prolong the thing! Getting Jim and Pam together (I imagine; I don't watch the show) was a sort of brave move that forces them to push allegiances in a way that seems reminiscent of the genius of soap operas. You hate Kendall. You love Kendall. You seriously want Kendall to die. But she starts dating your favorite character. But then stab stab stab. (AMC is especially good at this.) How many sitcoms can manage that? Stasis is the point of sitcoms.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:07 PM
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It annoys me so much that people now think saying "That's what she said" is a The Office reference.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:12 PM
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3

In high school, we liked "That's what my last date said."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:13 PM
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OMG FINALLY IT WAS GETTING ABSURD

It totes was, to the extent that I was about to give up on the show completely.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:13 PM
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I've only skimmed it, but the linked post is pretty much in thrall to the conventional sitcom romance narrative. I was impressed that The Office actually took the step of bringing the couple together. Newsradio tried - very early on in the show - to break that narrative, but then they broke them up and fell back on the usual tension, then they lost their story altogether and got canceled.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:14 PM
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Also, the reasons to find The Office depressing, as a workplace story, have always been there. No one's ever getting out of that town.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:16 PM
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7

I am too tired and lazy to find out, apparently, but isn't the original Office based on this poem by John Betjeman? I teach it whenever I can and find that Accounting majors find it particularly moving.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:20 PM
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8

Another way to see it is that The Office is basically The Wire for the middle class.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:22 PM
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9

4: The only thing that made the conniving bearable was Terri's sister.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:26 PM
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10

Becks!


Posted by: Cryptic nedd | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:30 PM
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11

2 gets it right. You know what show is pretty good? Community.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:33 PM
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11: That's what Ned said.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:34 PM
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11: Seconded. The Halloween episode was especially funny.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:35 PM
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7: Whatshisface does read the poem in a funny scene, to which I would link if I knew how to make those pointy-bracket thingies on my phone. In any case, it's on YouTube.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:36 PM
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13: BEASTMASTER!

Also: "I know I'm not Batman. You could try not being a dick."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:39 PM
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14: girl, you gotta hit the button in the lower right hand corner, and then the other button.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 10:41 PM
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Huh, whaddaya know. It's like, right there.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 11:01 PM
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you gotta hit the button in the lower right hand corner, and then the other button.

That's what my last date said.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:15 AM
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Is "hit" the new "unfasten"?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:47 AM
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I'd unfasten it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:07 AM
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Interesting, even though I don't watch the show. I just found out yesterday that the number of people I'll be supervising is doubling again (for the third time since I started two years ago) but I'm not sure how I feel about that. I'm not sure I like exponential growth of responsibility; the money involved is certainly not growing at the same rate.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:30 AM
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I'm 2 seasons behind. Not that it's a particularly plot driven show, but I really love it a lot - enough that I'd rather watch it without preconceived notions. Am I right that I should skip this link and this thread?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:41 AM
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Actually, I kind of like that Jim is finally being knocked off his 'I'm the relatable main character!' pedestal. The UK version of the show was good at showing Tim (their Jim) as kind of a loser. He lived at home with his parents, he did exactly the same thing every day, etc.

There's been a tendency for the US show to have Jim be the audience surrogate (rather than a smug fish in a small pond, a la the UK version) and I think we're all just pissed off that the 'hero' is finally turning out to be as much of a douche as the other cubes.

I'm all for it. The best comedy comes in existential-dread form anyway...


Posted by: Rottin' in Denmark | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:45 AM
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@ heebie

Yeah, its getting a bit spoilery in here. Keep watching, though. The Office, in spite of the occasional misfire, has been one of the few shows to actually get more interesting as it goes along.


Posted by: Rottin' in Denmark | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:47 AM
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14: Ah yes! That's good.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:09 AM
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(Though I wish he'd done the stanzas about the "stinking cad" and the "bald young clerks.")


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:10 AM
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10 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:13 AM
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Thanks, Rotten.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:16 AM
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It annoys me so much that people now think saying "That's what she said" is a The Office reference.

But it is. At least, were I to ever say it, I would be referencing The Office.

What's that line from originally?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:26 AM
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What's that line from originally?

High school, in my experience.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:29 AM
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I picked it up at MIT, along with, "----er? I don't even know her!"


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:32 AM
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Obbviously the original Office is based IN Slough but this choice was notnecessarily directly inspired by the Betjeman poem -- which has probably helped place it as the most iconically dreary of satellite towns... but icon or no icon it really is that anyway, and I think (just because of the sounds of its name and the "Slough of Despond" element too) it would be well within reach as a place to use and be funny even if R.Gervais hadn't read the poem.

(He may have said he was inspired by it: I wouldn't entirely trust his saying so though!)

The very whiskered UK variant of "That's what she said" is "As the actress said to the bishop"


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:32 AM
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32.last: Brent says that in this clip at 3:42.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:41 AM
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7 is a wonderful poem, new to me. Thanks.

I like both Offices, though Gareth is much much better than Dwight, both better written and more colorfully acted. I like the trapped stasis of a real unhappy office combined with sitcom convention a lot.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:46 AM
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35

Staines is my favorite ironically dreary satellite town.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:52 AM
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36

Rather than rely on the fact that his intellect could capably get him a job at any other two dimensional office space Scranton, PA, has to offer, Jim is now terrified of losing his job--and his pressurized wall of status--at Dunder Mifflin.

I'm sure there are thousands of jobs going begging in Scranton during a recession.

(That remark isn't the main reason that the column is dumb, but it does stand out.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:12 AM
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37

36 suggests that I think that The Office actually is a documentary and that Jim is a real person who might actually go out and try to get another job. I do not.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:55 AM
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Eric Partridge said that "as the actress said to the bishop" was at least as old as WW2: it sounds to me like a Max Miller-ish catchphrase, in era and cheekiness, though not necessarily his (bishops haven't been part of everyday comic banter since the 60s, really; and "actress" as semi-euphemism is even more dated). Gervais's use of it for Brent is inspired really: it has to be instantly recognised as (i) a joke marking quick-wittedness (its user commenting on and repurposing someone else's innocently intended phrase); and also (ii) a joke that's actually a bit too well-heeled, so tin-eared Brent is trying too hard and and not quite as quick-witted as he thinks. (As Brits will probably better remember, prior to The Office, a lot of Gervais's comedy was explicitly about the audience being utterly unsure whether Gervais was in on the joke of how tin-eared his apparent humour was...)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:12 AM
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39

How are the following words pronounced?

a) slough (v. to shed skin)
b) slough (n. of despond) (is this ever used in any other situation except "of despond"?)
c) Slough


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:16 AM
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I think they're all 'sluff'. I have a hard time not reading them as rhymes-with-plough, but I don't think that's ever right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:18 AM
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40: That's what I thought, until looking at the Betjeman poem in 7.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:19 AM
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39: a) sluff
b) slau (to rhyme with cow)
c) as b)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:19 AM
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41: "plough" is pronounced "pluff".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:22 AM
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7: that's a nasty poem. Poets think they're all superior and hate ordinary people.

8: except the Wire was really good and THe Office is sort of, well, meh. It's a little too taken with itself, with its own archness. Has a touch of that wink, wink, look how clever I am thing going. Watching it, I have a hard time forgetting that these people are actually very wealthy actors.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:27 AM
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Ricky Gervais clearly just picked Slough (rhymes with plough and bough) because it's even worse than Reading.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:31 AM
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"Slough," in the sense of backwater/side channel/mire, rhymes with "zoo" here (and, I gather, in most of the US).


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:41 AM
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Poets think they're all superior and hate ordinary people.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:15 AM
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38: Simon Templar, the Saint, uses the actress/bishop tag all the time in the original Leslie Charteris stories.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:21 AM
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I find The Office absolutely hilarious every time I watch it. And yet, I don't go out of my way to watch it. If my girlfriend suggests it or if my roommates happen to be watching it and I don't have anything going on, great, but I haven't downloaded it myself or bought or borrowed the DVDs, let alone looked up when it airs. I've seen probably five to 10 full episodes, laughing constantly through them but not bothering to find the next one.

I've noticed in other contexts that the TV shows I love have a balance of focus on short-term and long-term plots, in the same episode if possible. Stargate SG-1 springs to mind. There's a different planet almost every week, but they're always pursuing the same basic mission.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:22 AM
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the TV shows I love . . . Stargate SG-1

You're not helping your credibility here.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:25 AM
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44.1 That's why I find it particularly fascinating that when I teach it at Quintessentially Middle-Class Immigrant Strivers College, it's most specifically the people who are looking forward to entering office life and buying a suburban home that react really positively to it. One young man came to my office nearly weekly to talk about how that poem made him realize that, although he's still very proud of his choice to be a suburban accountant, he wants to make an effort to try to stay in touch with literature, a sense of the sublime, etc. He'd never thought about any of that as necessary to life before, and reading Betjeman gave him the feeling that life has a purpose other than being a good worker and becoming a homeowner.

I don't think it's nasty to suggest that the middle class shouldn't have to focus exclusively on day-to-day shallow economic striving to the exclusion of wonder, excitement, philosophical/poetic musing, etc.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:03 PM
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There's a different planet almost every week,

All of which, oddly, have a remarkable relationship to British Columbia and are inhabited by one village of English speaking people dressed in burlap.

(Admittedly, I couldn't make fun of the show if I hadn't watched it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:08 PM
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I don't think it's nasty to suggest that the middle class shouldn't have to focus exclusively on day-to-day shallow economic striving to the exclusion of wonder, excitement, philosophical/poetic musing, etc.

Sure, but what about suggesting that we should be bombed and killed?



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:11 PM
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Hey, he specifically doesn't want the clerks killed, just the upper level managers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:13 PM
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54: Yeah...I guess I would be spared. Thanks, John!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:18 PM
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51: You're not understanding. What PGD's saying is that he's totally down with the gente.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:19 PM
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Poets think they're all superior and hate ordinary people.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:20 PM
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Poets think they're all superior and hate ordinary people.

I celebrate myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.

(Whitman, of course)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:30 PM
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Poets think they're all superior and hate ordinary people.

I sort of agree with part of PGD's comment, but I don't agree with this. My belief is that most poets are ordinary people, and know that is what they are.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:36 PM
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Geez, Walt Whitman, the last guy to claim that "Whatever you do to the least among them, you do unto me" was Our Lord. What kind of hubris does it take to compare yourself to Him?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:53 PM
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The best comedy comes in existential-dread form anyway...

This is interesting. Like, Cyrus I don't actively seek out the US Office, but I'll watch if it's on. The UK version, on the other hand, I drank in but couldn't watch more than two in a row, because Gervais was playing my then-boss almost to a T. It made me sort of dizzy after a bit.

In contrast, Steve Carell's doing over-the-top shtick, that, while plenty funny, doesn't so much seem like actual office-manager behavior. (In fairness to Carell, it probably perverts my reaction that, like PGD in 44.2, I have a hard time shaking the fact that I recognize Carell and some of the other actors from so many other places. Gervais was unknown to me when I picked up the UK version.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:53 PM
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60: I think you're misunderstanding Walt, CN.

It's more like:

I'm just average, common too
I'm just like him, the same as you
I'm everybody's brother and son
I ain't different from anyone
It ain't no use a-talking to me
It's just the same as talking to you.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:01 PM
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Several people have mentioned this, but the problem with the linked post is that it seems to be evaluating the show in the context of other American TV shows, when the better way to think of it is in comparison to the British version. Given that, the stuff that the post complains about actually sounds like the best possible way for the show to retain the feel of the British version in the (very different) context of a long-running American show. That is, yes, it's the most depressing show on TV, but that's the whole point.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:37 PM
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it's the most depressing show on TV

The most depressing show on TV is whatever is playing on Discovery health at any given moment. Here's one sample prime time lineup:

Full Body Lift: Valerie's Story
In the world's most extreme plastic surgery operation, British woman, Valerie Rogers is going to have 35 lbs of fat and loose skin cut from her body. As an erasure of the past in which she lost a whopping 308 lbs, she will transform into a new person.

160 lb. Tumor
Immobilized by a 160-pound tumor and near death, Romanian Lucia Bunghez has given up hope until she sees a Discovery program documenting a similar case in America. Discovery Health Channel sends a team of specialists to Bucharest to perform a miracle.

Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Last Gasps
A four-month-old is found unresponsive in his crib. His parents frantically rush him to a nearby firehouse for help, but he can't be revived. And, a developmentally disabled woman has a seizure then collapses and dies on a city bus.

Untold Stories of the E.R.
I Need Some Help Here
Paramedics wheel in an 18 year-old woman who is unresponsive after being involved in a car accident, and discover she's pregnant. Around Halloween one doctor faces a patient with an axe sticking out of the top of his head but realizes it's no holiday gag.

None of their standard picking which conjoined twin will die or botched sex reassignment surgeries (and that's the smaller of the tumor specials I've seen in the listings), but it's still a decently representative sample.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:58 PM
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One main difference between the US and UK versions of the Office was in how believable the boss' antics were. I found the US version to be so over the top that it wasn't believable, whereas the British version was almost too believable (it didn't really like like Ricky Gervais was actually doing an "acting"). The former results in more laugh out loud funnies, but the latter hits harder.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 2:08 PM
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but the latter hits harder.

So you're saying it punches above its weight?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 2:17 PM
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65 - The Invention of Lying is the first thing of his that I've watched in which Ricky Gervais actually does seem to be doing any acting.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 2:31 PM
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a: i am becks-style -- is this even a thng these days? -- and very very happy
b: dsquared is back which is GREAT bcz where i work i can probably see right into his HOUSE and i love him
c: when my friend said "don't get trapped on a love triangle" and i said secretly to myself "hahah but this is a QUADRLATERAL" i knew she was right and i was foolng myself....
d: except so far she was too cautious, and it has all been so cake for me
e: so here i am, slammed on red wine, pop and er pork scratchings, saying Oh! unfogged! it is fun beng rolled put of the prison you made for yrself by the cute and the hott and the loving
f: and even if the triangle reasserts itself -- as it will, they are pesky polygons-- at least you are out of the prison you made for yrself
g: dsquared! unfogged east! all lovely londoners! let's make this happen...


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 4:56 PM
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i am becks-style -- is this even a thng these days?

It's probably time to rechristen it "tierce-style."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:08 PM
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hurrah!


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:20 PM
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69: Maybe "in a tierce direction" or "of a tiercely manner" to Brit it up a bit.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:34 PM
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Really an awful review. Miles off target (as the actress said to the bishop).


Posted by: turgid jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:48 PM
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Tiercewise could mean how I am when I sheepishly return the following day to survey what um Tiercefoolish said or did while Becks-style. I appear to have proposed co-opting dsquared into an Angel-based Love Pentagon. IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE. As the A said to the B.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 8:41 AM
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69: Teircely works for me. And 68 is really aweinspiringly tiercely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 9:24 AM
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68 is my favorite comment in like a year.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 9:27 AM
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Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Crash Boom Bang Big guy

That's what she said.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 9:29 AM
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I think they started letting the air out of Jim last season when he undermined Pam's dreams of being an Artist in the Big City, sucking her into his plan to crawl back into his mother's uterus and stay in Scranton forever. (Stray thought: Did Jim's parents and brothers appear in the wedding episode?)


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 11:17 AM
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