David Ogden Stiers Has Passed Away
March 3, 2018 8:26 PM   Subscribe

Stiers, who was 75, is best known for his role as Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester on M*A*S*H and for a number of Disney animated roles including Cogsworth from Beauty and Beast. posted by Frayed Knot (95 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ugh. Grew up on MASH, and feeling very sad about this.

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posted by BlahLaLa at 8:29 PM on March 3 [5 favorites]


He played the father of Lane Meyer in Better of Dead.

I watched a hell of a lot of M*A*S*H when I was a kid. So long, Major.

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posted by bondcliff at 8:36 PM on March 3 [7 favorites]


So many good characters, including the mad scientist who created Stitch. He had such a nice voice. RIP, Major.
posted by PussKillian at 8:39 PM on March 3 [7 favorites]


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posted by Horkus at 8:39 PM on March 3


He also played one of Macon's brothers in 'The Accidental Tourist'. He had great presence and he'll be missed.
posted by h00py at 8:41 PM on March 3


If you were going to spend a lot of time having a TV show make a formative impression on your personality, you could do a hell of a lot worse than M*A*S*H. Godspeed, Chaaaahls.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:42 PM on March 3 [8 favorites]


No!!! :( :(
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:46 PM on March 3


He played the father of Lane Meyer in Better of Dead.

"Mellow off, man!"

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posted by Chrysostom at 8:47 PM on March 3 [8 favorites]


Only 75, bummer. "You're really bringing me over, man."

Better Off Dead is one of my favorite movies of that age. Went and saw a table read for its 30th Anniversary at Sketchfest a couple years ago. He wasn't there (I think Paul F. Tompkins read the role), but that movie makes him immortal.
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posted by rhizome at 8:47 PM on March 3 [6 favorites]


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posted by Silverstone at 8:51 PM on March 3


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posted by Sphinx at 8:55 PM on March 3


I love this detail from his bio, because it's exactly the kind of thing Major Winchester would dream of doing: "Stiers was the associate conductor for the Newport (Oregon) Symphony Orchestra and the Ernest Bloch Music Festival.He also guest-conducted over 70 orchestras around the world..."
posted by misterbee at 8:57 PM on March 3 [29 favorites]


Everyone remembers him from M*A*S*H but I will never forget his turn as the vile abolitionist Congressman Greene on North & South and North & South: Book II. I know it was trashy 80s tv with seriously problematic portrayals based on horrifying source material, but it had so many good actors in it, and he was one of them.
posted by xyzzy at 9:03 PM on March 3 [5 favorites]


Knew him as an actor, but his voice is what I cherished. Lilo and Stitch is a great call out.

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posted by offalark at 9:06 PM on March 3 [3 favorites]


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So, so much M.A.S.H watched as a kid. Godspeed.
posted by parki at 9:08 PM on March 3


One of the great miracles of M*A*S*H is that it pulled off the very difficult trick of replacing beloved characters with very different characters who nevertheless made the spot their own: B.J., Sherman Potter, and particularly Charles Emerson Winchester, a sort of prototype Frasier Crane.

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posted by Halloween Jack at 9:13 PM on March 3 [23 favorites]


As a demonstration of just how good he could be on MASH: Charles Emerson Winchester dictates a letter of apology to his sister Honoria.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:20 PM on March 3 [9 favorites]


Well, this sucks.
posted by greermahoney at 9:40 PM on March 3


🚁

Abyssinia
posted by Ogre Lawless at 9:50 PM on March 3 [9 favorites]


This one hurts. :(

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posted by Melismata at 9:54 PM on March 3


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posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:57 PM on March 3


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posted by evilDoug at 10:01 PM on March 3


Via the Variety article on his passing:

In 2009, the actor revealed publicly that he was gay. He told ABC News at the time that he had hidden his sexuality for a long time because so much of his income had been derived from family-friendly programming, and coming out thus might have had repercussions in the past.

I cannot even. :(
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:02 PM on March 3 [28 favorites]


A solid actor, with not a bad performance in all his many credits. Instant gravitas everywhere. Considerable professionalism aside, a good person. Godspeed — you will be missed.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:06 PM on March 3 [1 favorite]



posted by bz at 10:10 PM on March 3


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posted by pt68 at 10:13 PM on March 3


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posted by droplet at 10:17 PM on March 3


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posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:18 PM on March 3


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posted by she's not there at 10:38 PM on March 3


He gave depth, diginity, and grace to even the smallest roles. In an episode of Leverage, made after he was open about his sexuality, he still made you believe that he genuinely loved and cared about a woman who he suspected had been scamming him.

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posted by monopas at 10:50 PM on March 3 [2 favorites]


He told ABC News at the time that he had hidden his sexuality for a long time because so much of his income had been derived from family-friendly programming, and coming out thus might have had repercussions in the past.

In the Hollywood Reporter oral history about MASH, Loretta Swit tells this anecdote about shooting the series finale:

A few episodes before, Margaret had borrowed a book of poems from Winchester. He got angry with me at one point and made me return it. In real life, we had this running gag. I would tease David all the time that no one had his private phone number. He was very much his own person, very reclusive in a way. So, in the final episode Winchester gives Margaret the book back. I open it and read the inscription. David had written his phone number inside. That's my real emotion on camera.

Today, when I found out Stiers was closeted, it made me wonder if that was the source of his "reclusiveness." That's really sad, if so. Even on the set of the most lefty TV show of the 1970s, he didn't feel like he could be his true self. And maybe he was right, that even there he wouldn't have been accepted. I remember just how toxic and all-pervasive the anti-LGBT stuff was when I was a kid. I'm glad he did eventually feel he could come out.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:57 PM on March 3 [20 favorites]


Looking up on IMDB to see which members of TV's 4077th are still with us, Colonel Blake passed in 1996, Major Burns in 2000, Colonel Potter near the end of 2011, Trapper John in 2015, and Father Mulcahey in 2016. The rest of the crew are hanging in there, and I was surprised that Hawkeye, B.J. and Major Margaret 'Hot Lips' Houlihan are all 3-5 years older than Major Winchester...

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posted by oneswellfoop at 11:00 PM on March 3


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posted by Ickster at 11:24 PM on March 3


He was in a very good episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
posted by Beholder at 11:27 PM on March 3 [14 favorites]


I always loved his adlibbed line in Beauty and the Beast:

Beast: I want to do something for her, but what?
Cogsworth: Oh, there's the usual things: flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep.
posted by girlmightlive at 11:40 PM on March 3 [10 favorites]


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posted by mikelieman at 11:55 PM on March 3


I did not expect nor prepare to feel this way. Id almost forgotten my love for him. I’m forty. That is 34 years of love. His role in MASH met my similar love for Mr. Rogers and Lavar Burton.
posted by psylosyren at 12:04 AM on March 4 [8 favorites]


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posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:32 AM on March 4


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posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:10 AM on March 4


He was also a musician in rl and conducted orchestras around Oregon and California. Remember his classical records that drove the other inhabitants of the Swamp nuts? And his trying to teach prisoners to play Mozart?
posted by Cranberry at 1:12 AM on March 4 [4 favorites]


I used, and still use his very abbreviated "Q", for a not-really thank you. Such a major personality on MASH.

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posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:23 AM on March 4 [2 favorites]


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"Don’t you see? Your hand may be stilled, but your gift cannot be silenced if you refuse to let it be... The gift does not lie in your hands. I have hands, David. Hands that can make a scalpel sing. More than anything in my life I wanted to play, but I do not have the gift. I can play the notes, but I cannot make the music. You have performed Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Chopin. Even if you never do so again, you've already known a joy that I will never know as long as I live. Because the true gift is in your head and in your heart and in your soul. Now you can shut it off forever, or you can find new ways to share your gift with the world--through the baton, the classroom, or the pen. As to these works, they’re for you, because you and the piano will always be as one."
posted by quinndexter at 1:36 AM on March 4 [20 favorites]


I was thinking about Charles Emerson Winchester III just this afternoon, and about how he was actually an improvement on Frank Burns, because while Frank was cartoonishly stupid and incompetent without any redeeming character traits, Charles was a much more realistically rounded character with stellar qualities to balance his pomposity. Also, while Frank was no match whatsoever for Hawkeye and Trapper or B.J.'s pranks, Charles could and did give back as good as he got, which made for a much funnier and more satisfying viewing experience, as for instance in this case:

Hawkeye: (after Charles takes a swig of the liquid in his hair restorer bottle) Charles, you're drinking your hair!
Charles: Don't be ridiculous. This is twelve-year-old Scotch. You don't think I'd keep it in the original bottle with you petty larcenists around, do you?
Hawkeye: Eugggh!
B.J.: What, what?
Hawkeye: I've been drinking from his Scotch bottle!

Or then there's this mic drop:

Charles: (after one-upping Hawkeye and B.J. with a photo of himself having dinner with Audrey Hepburn) When will you two cretins realize that your feeble imaginations cannot keep up with my real life?
posted by orange swan at 2:12 AM on March 4 [32 favorites]


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posted by drworm at 3:30 AM on March 4


I was thinking about Charles Emerson Winchester III just this afternoon, and about how he was actually an improvement on Frank Burns

We got into this a bit on the last MASH thread, and I'd put it this way. Frank Burns was the "Stephen Colbert" (as opposed to, you know, Stephen Colbert) of his time. He was a priceless satirical creation who really captured something true about conservatives. He was a sneering bully and a terrified child, spewing this word salad about wholesome American values when he wasn't sneaking around cheating on his wife. But Charles was a real person, and Stiers brought him to life so well. It's hard to say which character was better, because they're kind of not the same species. Burns was a great cartoon, but Charles emerged, with all his faults, as a great man.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:42 AM on March 4 [23 favorites]


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posted by filtergik at 3:56 AM on March 4


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posted by Songdog at 3:58 AM on March 4


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So many great roles. I grew up on MASH so he was always Winchester to me. Then in my twenties, he really touched my heart as the doomed scientist on that episode of ST:TNG. Then, just last year, I watched Hunchback of Notre Dame for the first time and was blown away. His part of the Archdecon was a small one, but he gets to sing in the spectacular opening song and knocks it out of the fucking park.

"You can LIE to yourSELF and your MINions..."

You will be sorely missed, sir.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:19 AM on March 4 [2 favorites]


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posted by mystyk at 4:26 AM on March 4


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posted by TedW at 4:38 AM on March 4


"Each man must dance to his own tune." ~ Charles Emerson Winchester III
This hits me hard. I've been a long time fan of M*A*S*H. That being said, when I was much younger I found myself being quite the fan of Hawkeye, I mean he's basically doing an impression of the Marx brothers, and as a child that was hilarious to me.

Having rewatched the entire series as an adult a couple of times, I find myself realizing that I have more in common with Charles and I appreciate his quick wit and droll sense of humor. It's more refined. And there's also a tenderness to his character that is sometimes missing with Hawkeye because he always has to be the center of attention. Charles has his moments of vanity to be sure, but for him it's more about dignity.

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posted by Fizz at 4:39 AM on March 4 [6 favorites]


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posted by cmfletcher at 4:47 AM on March 4


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posted by young_simba at 4:51 AM on March 4


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posted by james33 at 5:05 AM on March 4


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posted by dannyboybell at 5:13 AM on March 4


The U.S. dub voice of Kamaji, who operated the boiler in Spirited Away. Starting around 4:00 on the video on this page. He has one of my favorite lines: "Finish what you started, human."
posted by dywypi at 5:17 AM on March 4 [6 favorites]


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posted by SillyShepherd at 6:15 AM on March 4


He had a good run.

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posted by dfm500 at 6:18 AM on March 4




The U.S. dub voice of Kamaji, who operated the boiler in Spirited Away. Starting around 4:00 on the video on this page. He has one of my favorite lines: "Finish what you started, human."

Yes! I came here to mention that role, as so much has been rightfully said about his performance as Winchester. Kamaji is a relatively minor character, but Stiers conveys his strangeness, gruffness, and tenderness in a relatively short amount of screen time. Having grown up with his presence in the cast of M*A*S*H, I was glad to see him have a strong career as a voice actor.
posted by Gelatin at 6:34 AM on March 4 [2 favorites]


Inspired by last weeks post on M*A*S*H I just bought the first two seasons of M*A*S*H on DVD to start a watch through of the series. I'm pretty sure I've seen every episode multiple times, but never even close to in order.

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posted by COD at 7:06 AM on March 4 [2 favorites]


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posted by R343L at 7:06 AM on March 4


I'd just gotten to the season where Winchester was introduced in M*A*S*H, which i started rewatching because of here.

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posted by XtinaS at 7:59 AM on March 4 [1 favorite]


I really liked his role as Oberoth, leader of the Asurans (Replicators), on Stargate Atlantis. He was just so cold. It was beautiful.
posted by xedrik at 8:02 AM on March 4 [3 favorites]


Mr. Jolly is my favorite role of his. My spouse and I still quote lines from Teacher's Pet many, many years after it was on tv.

(a Disney kids' cartoon by Gary Baseman! It was so good.)
posted by 41swans at 8:12 AM on March 4 [1 favorite]


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posted by ZeusHumms at 8:18 AM on March 4


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posted by bjgeiger at 8:26 AM on March 4


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posted by /\/\/\/ at 8:38 AM on March 4


"Know this. You can cut me off from the civilized world. You can incarcerate me with two moronic cellmates. You can torture me with your thrice daily swill, but you cannot break the spirit of a Winchester. My voice shall be heard from this wilderness and I shall be delivered from this fetid and festering sewer!"

RIP DOS
posted by Ber at 9:38 AM on March 4 [5 favorites]


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posted by Smart Dalek at 10:41 AM on March 4


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posted by Splunge at 10:50 AM on March 4


So long, Mr. Stiers, you were a goddamned treasure.
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posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 11:30 AM on March 4 [1 favorite]


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posted by BrashTech at 11:30 AM on March 4


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posted by pointystick at 11:57 AM on March 4


Doctor Timicin on TNG...

RIP Doctor Charles Emerson Winchester III...

I will always remember him saying, "Thank you, Max" to Klinger...one of the most real acting moments on the show.
posted by Chuffy at 12:05 PM on March 4 [8 favorites]


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Count me as another one who grew up watching a lot of M*A*S*H and TNG. Thanks, Mr. Stiers.

I guess he did one thing, he did it very well, and then he moved on.
posted by wiskunde at 12:17 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


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posted by karen in austin at 12:21 PM on March 4


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posted by bryon at 12:31 PM on March 4


I played under his baton with the Newport Symphony on a couple of concerts. The first time I did, I assumed he was just a stunt guest conductor whose arm-waving we were supposed to ignore. I was fortunately dead wrong -- he was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about orchestral music, and he was gracious and kind and charismatic to boot. The world lost a good one.
posted by bassooner at 2:13 PM on March 4 [25 favorites]


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posted by camyram at 3:16 PM on March 4


One of my favourite moments of his on M*A*S*H has already been mentioned (the time he sought out piano pieces for the left hand for a patient). My other favourite is from a more comedic episode, in which he emerges from a drunken weekend in Tokyo, realizing to his horror that may have gotten married. Finally at the end of the episode after the woman has helped him clear up the confusion, he looks at her and with perfect exasperation, asks, "what is your NAME???"

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posted by wabbittwax at 3:20 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]


The mayor in "Doc Hollywood" (a personal guilty pleasure). So much ingratiating charm, stopping at the razor's edge of unctuousness. Masterful character acting.
posted by Chitownfats at 3:31 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]


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posted by LeLiLo at 4:39 PM on March 4


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posted by detachd at 5:44 PM on March 4


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posted by pjmoy at 6:24 PM on March 4


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posted by haiku warrior at 6:59 PM on March 4


So, uh, in the Nineties there was a TV pilot for Justice League...

Stiers was Martian Manhunter, dignified as ever amidst the absurdity.

My favorite Charles Winchester moment was when he and Colonel Potter were forced roomies during a mumps outbreak. Potter kept playing his cowboy records at the expense of Winchester’s beloved opera. Potter: “Can Caruso yodel?!” Winchester: “Not. Even. At. Gunpoint!”
posted by Eikonaut at 11:23 PM on March 4


The scene in MASH where Winchester realizes he's given dessert to children who haven't had dinner gets me every time.

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posted by Joey Michaels at 12:54 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


The screenwriters created the lines that Stiers spoke onscreen, but he made them. What a great actor. RIP, sir.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:18 AM on March 5


This guy was great. If I had to rank favorite M*A*S*H actors/characters, which in and of itself is so fraught as to be comical because they are all great in their own ways it'd be something like this for me, from top to not top:

Hawkeye tied with Potter, Radar, Winchester tied with Father Mulcahy, Margaret, Blake, Klinger, Trapper, BJ, followed by Sidney Freedman (because damn he was good), and then Frank Burns somewhere down here as well. Honorable mentions for Rizzo and Nurse Kellye because they're damn fine too.

I can't say that the actor for Frank deserves to be at the end but damn I just can't find the redeeming points of his character in the series so it's hard to put him anywhere but there, but maybe that's missing the forest for the trees since he was portrayed so well at being so horrible, if that makes any sense.

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posted by RolandOfEld at 7:23 AM on March 5


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posted by cass at 8:51 AM on March 5


Maj. Burns was a whiner and the dynamic in the tent was more of a bullying sort when he was on, and I bet the show would not have lasted as long if he hadn't been replaced by a character more the equal of Hawkeye and BJ (who was more similar to Trapper John than Winchester was to Burns). AFAIR, the first real serious moment of the show was when news came back that Col. Blake died, and the Potter/Winchester/BJ change was required for the show to become what it did, something not so silly (props to Altman, regardless).
posted by rhizome at 11:39 AM on March 5


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posted by theora55 at 1:05 PM on March 5


Aw, in my endless self-soothing cycle of watching Fraiser, I have just seen the episode where he plays their mother's lab partner. Marty worries that he may be Fraiser and Nile's actual father, and that made just so much sense.
Marty asks him, "Did you love Hester?" and he answers, "Yes. Enough to entrust her with my biggest secret. I'm gay." And now that guest appearance makes just so much sense to me, and I'm sad to hear of his death and sad all over again thinking of the very recent death of John Mahoney. Two really wonderful men.
posted by thebrokedown at 8:38 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


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posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 1:56 PM on March 6


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