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Who Wants to be a Blog-o-Naire? Pt. 1 April 21, 2009

Posted by Ted in : General , 1 comment so far

MERIDITH VIEIRA: Hello everybody and welcome to Who Wants to be a Blog-o-naire, the game show for people who have deluded themselves into thinking they can get rich quick by starting a blog. Audience, are you ready to meet our first contestant ?
AUDIENCE: Yesssss!
MERIDITH: Are you sure?
AUDIENCE: Yesssss!!
MERIDITH: Are you really, really sure?”
MERIDITH: (chuckling) Alright then let’s say hello to our first contestant, Ted from TV Crawlspace.
(Ted walks out and waves to the crowd.)
MERIDITH: Well hello Ted, it’s so nice to meet yooouuuu! Now, it says here that you haven’t written a blog post in a month and half!
TED: Actually, it’s been closer to two months.
MERIDITH: Two months?! Well, what seems to be the problem? (laughter from the audience.) Don’t you want to be a blogger anymore?
TED: I think I do but lately it’s been hard to get motivated. It turns out that writing a blog is actually hard work. In fact, I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to finish this post.
MERIDITH: Finish this post?  Ted, what in the heck are you talking about? (laughter from the audience.)

This is Howie Change the Channel March 1, 2009

Posted by Ted in : Candid Camera, Reality TV, Reviews , 2comments

  I’ve been wondering how many words to devote to the new show Howie Do It, which is similar to hidden camera shows of the past such Candid Camera and Punk’d (with the enigmatic apostrophe). Given its sinking ratings, I guess I should go ahead and get my review done before the show is cancelled. Some of the zany pranks featured on this program have included: Howie in a wig posing as a waiter who sticks his fingers into people’s food and drinks, getting a man to pick his nose, bumping a microphone repeatedly into someone’s face while conducting an interview, and the old standby, farting.

One segment involved recruiting participants for a fake reality show called “Break-In Makeover,” who were told to break into a house and smash the owner’s computers and televisions, which they were told would be replaced by new equipment. Then Howie pulled up in a strangely fake looking police car and disrupted their activities with a bullhorn. In one especially annoying prank a member of Howie’s crew attempted to seduce a man’s wife while the man watched on the set of a fake TV commercial. After each segment, Mandel cues a large studio audience by saying “This is…,” to which they respond zombie-like, “Howie do it!”

I think this show fails for at least two reasons:

  1. It insults the intelligence of the audience with the same old sophomoric garbage they’ve seen a thousand times before. Why do television producers constantly treat their viewers like a bunch of drooling chimpanzees?
  2. The few pranks on the show that could actually be funny are rendered humorless by Howie’s clumsy comic sensibilities. It all seems very forced and unnatural. Mandel treats his victims as disposable props to be used and throw away, herding them through the stunts like cattle.

The quality gap between Howie Do It and the classic Candid Camera show couldn’t be wider. Allen Funt had a light touch and, unlike Mandel, seemed to have sympathy for his subjects. He made it a point not to offend or degrade the people on his show. It played like a sociology experiment, helping us to gain insight into human nature. Mandel has dispensed with all the class and intelligence that characterized Candid Camera, opting for the cheapest laughs possible. The result is a sad, unwatchable mess. No deal!

A First Glimpse Inside the Dollhouse February 17, 2009

Posted by Ted in : Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Whedonverse , 3comments


Dollhouse, the new offering by Buffy creator Joss Whedon, premiered last Friday on FOX, amid unprecedented levels of fan anticipation. The general premise of the show is as follows: a girl named Echo has escaped a prison sentence by volunteering to live in a facility known as the Dollhouse, where she becomes a human guinea pig for unscrupulous employers. Their shadowy operation resembles a sort of high tech prostitution ring, and they possess technology capable of reprogramming a person’s brain to give them specific character traits. The reprogrammed “actives”, as they are called, are then rented out to wealthy clients for various purposes, legal or otherwise. After the mission is completed, the active’s memories are wiped clean, and his or her mind is reverted back to its original state. Here are some additional thoughts on the show:

  • The proceedings seem fairly gloomy, and would definitely benefit from more of Whedon’s trademark humor. I’m also wondering if the brain altering technology will be a permanent feature of the series or just a starting point. It would seem a little gimmicky (and boring) to rely on this as the central plot device indefinitely. Also, as a viewer I really don’t want to see Echo being used by these laboratory creeps week after week for the benefit of the Dollhouse’s high paying clients. I would like to see her somehow turn the tables on them and maybe even use the technology for her own advantage.
  • You would think having all your memories zapped from your mind and replaced with a new set on regular basis would take a serious toll on a person’s brain, especially considering the limited medical technology we have in our day and age. I mean, our sharpest pharmaceutical minds can’t come up with a drug that isn’t accompanied by a list of dangerous side effects. This seems like another logical reason why Echo’s “treatments” shouldn’t go on indefinitely.
  • The general opinion about the premiere episode among fans seems to be a feeling of slight disappointment tempered with cautious optimism. Viewership numbers for the episode were less than stellar, and Whedon undoubtedly feels like he’s on trial this week. We should all keep in mind that his shows typically don’t come flying out of the gate with apocalyptic greatness. The debut seasons of both Buffy and Angel consisted largely of stand-alone episodes which served to establish the characters and settings of the shows, with few earth shattering developments.
  • Whether or not Whedon is purposely lowering our expectations to a more realistic level (not a bad idea, really), I’m predicting that the show will improve greatly over the course of the first season, and the wavering faith of the fans will be restored.
  • The Dollhouse facility reminds me of Angel’s old hotel hangout. Just my imagination?
  • The first line spoken on the show was “Nothing is what it appears to be.” This seems like an easter egg of some kind to let us know that some unexpected developments are on the way.
  • Is Echo’s predicament perhaps a metaphor for capitalism? Maybe I shouldn’t even go there. Nobody wants to be that serious on Friday night.
  • It’s good to hear the badly drawn monster go “Aargh!” at the end of a TV show again.

Continuing Adventures on Lost Island February 10, 2009

Posted by Ted in : Lost, Sci-Fi , 2comments


In the previous installment I decided it would be a clever idea to visit Lost Island in order to find answers about the mysterious show on ABC. I hitched a ride to the island on a freighter ship, and managed to assimilate myself into the Lost beach community without much trouble.

After a couple of weeks of attempting to pick the brains of the series regulars with questions about the ghostly apparitions, the hatch, the four toed statue, the whispering voices, and countless other phenomena on the show, they began to tire of my incessant badgering. One day, while I was talking to Juliet, Jack clapped me on the shoulder and said, “Look, Junior (as he had taken to calling me), we don’t know the answers any more than you do. If you really want to learn something you need to go visit the Others’ camp.” To which I replied, “Wouldn’t that be kind of dangerous?” He smiled. “Nah. You’ll be OK.”

It seemed like a risky proposition, but the next night I was compelled into action. I had joined several of my fellow islanders who were conversing around a campfire. I noticed Charlie sitting on the other side. “Are you the real Charlie or ghost Charlie?” I said half jokingly. He gave me a glare. “Just as real as you, mate.” To prove his corporality, Charlie picked up his guitar and launched into a never ending rendition of “You All Everybody”, in the style of “99 Bottles of Beer”. After Hurley and a drunken Sayid joined in people started to get up and leave. Then suddenly everybody was gone. Not just the people, but the whole camp site too, including the bag of Dharma marshmallows I had been contemplating. Apparently I had gotten a demonstration of the islands new annoying time-spaz feature.

After unsuccessfully looking around for a few minutes for clues of my when-abouts, I sat down in the sand and began to consider my options. I looked out at the dark ocean and didn’t see any lights from nearby ships. It began to sink in that I had gotten myself stuck here for the unforeseeable future. I decided the next morning I would take Jack’s advice and head for the Others’ camp. I would find Ben or Richard, and hopefully one of them would point me in the right direction. Luckily I still had my backpack with me, which had been sitting next to me when the timeshift occurred. It contained my notebook, some snacks, a compass, and some other helpful survival items.

In the morning I set out on my journey through the woods. It wasn’t long before I encountered Desmond again, and I was relieved to see that somebody else was still on the island. This time he had fashioned himself a loin cloth out of scrap boar hide. He ran after me frantically, yelling “You’re gun tah die, Crawlspace!” I asked him what the hell he was talking about. He handed me a religious brochure explaining how I could gain eternal life by joining his new nature-based religion. I thanked him for the information, and promised to return later to discuss what I had read. After I resumed my hike, it occurred to me that I should have mentioned to Dez that his long lost girlfriend Penny might be on her way to the island and that he should get himself cleaned up a little bit.

A couple of hours of later I stopped to drink some water from my canteen and munch on some dried mango. Suddenly everything went dark and there was a strong gust of wind that knocked me off the rock I was sitting on. At first I suspected another time shift, but when I looked up I realized that the infamous smoke monster had found me. I grabbed my gear and started to run, but the dark cloud knocked me down and started to drag me by my feet. I kicked my way free, then picked up the largest rock I could find and hurled it at the thing. The rock went through the middle of the cloud and bounced on the ground behind it. A big toothy grin appeared where the rock went through and the smoke monster started to laugh. “You’re not too bright, are you?” he said.

(to be continued)

13 – Fear is Real: Be Sort of Afraid January 17, 2009

Posted by Ted in : Reality TV, Reviews , 4comments

 You want to know how to make a reality show really scary? Put the number 13 in the title. Now you’re talkin’! Then you have the 13 (there it is again!) contestants competing for $66,666 dollars in cash prize money. Holy cow! That’s over one twentieth of a million dollars. I could live forever on that kind of money. But wait a minute. Look at all those sixes! Didn’t I read somewhere that it was evil to have three of those together? Let me count 1,2,3,4…..oh my God! That’s five sixes! This must be the scariest, most evil reality show that ever ever existed! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

The ill-conceived 13 – Fear is Real on the CW takes cornball to a whole ‘nother level. It’s kind of like a halloween edition of Big Brother, wherein the usual cast of failed actors and deluded losers live together in an old cabin out in the woods, and receive tape recorded messages from a guy who calls himself the mastermind. They must follow his deep voiced instructions to the letter and endure various trials and tribulations in order to stay in the game. This includes such activities as handling snakes, getting face time with rats, midnight canoe trips, and being buried alive. The esteem challenged contestants are play-killed one at a time until one lucky winner receives the evil prize money. Tune in or die! Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Midseason 2009 TV Explosion! January 6, 2009

Posted by Ted in : 24, 30 Rock, Amazing Race, American Idol, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Fringe, General, Hell's Kitchen, Heroes, Holiday Posts, Kath & Kim, Lost, Midseason, My Name is Earl, Reality TV, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Smallville, Terminator: tSCC, The Office , 8comments

 January is here. The festivities and laziness of the holiday season are behind us. It’s time for everyone to once again get serious about things, get back to work, and face up to the hard cold reality of life. Right?

Wrong! January is the time of year we TV watchers plunge head first into some serious escapist entertainment, and here at TV Crawlspace the only reality we’ll be facing is reality television. In just a few days, a massive wave of midseason premieres will hit like a tsunami, carrying us helplessly out into the television ocean, hopefully never to return again.

For TV Guide’s complete schedule of midseason premieres, click here.

Here’s a rundown of shows I’m looking forward to (and a couple I’m not looking forward to) in chronological order:

13 Fear is Real – (starts Wed., Jan. 7 on CW 8/7c)
This is a spooky themed reality show that might be amusing, something along the lines of Survivor meets Blair Witch Project. I hope there’s something more going on here than guys in masks jumping out and scaring contestants.

NBC comedy night done (halfway) right – (all four shows resume on Thur., Jan. 8 on NBC 8/7c)
My Name is Earl – This has been a little bit better this season, with a half hearted attempt to return to the theme of redemption (Earl’s list) that made the show so appealing in the first season.
Kath & Kim – I watched this show just to see how bad it was, and to my surprise I liked it. Slightly demented but well written, it’s sort of a kinder, gentler version of John Waters. Everybody on this show apparently works in a mall. How cool is that?
The Office – This has been brilliant as usual. I especially liked the episode where Jim and Pam had their first disagreement. I hope this is a foreshadowing of things to come. I think I like them better as enemies than lovers. Is it just me, or are all the female characters on this show mean and vindictive?
30 Rock – As a fan of Tina Fey during her SNL days, I wanted to like this overhyped show, but the cutesy self-satisfied tone of it left me cold. The jokes aren’t funny, and the endless parade of guest stars can’t make up for the show’s lack of direction. The emperor has no clothes!

Howie Do It – (starts Fri. Jan. 9 on ABC 8/7c)
This appears to be a hidden camera prank type show with Howie Mandel. I may watch the one episode that is aired before the show is cancelled.

24 – (starts Sun. Jan. 11 on FOX 8/7c)
What I always liked about 24 was its sci-fi elements, like the spacey soundtrack, and the high tech gadgetry. This season Janeane Garofalo plays the new computer guru, Janis Gold. According to TV Guide, “Mid-season run-ins with Chloe should make for hot geek-on-geek action.”

American Idol – (starts Tue. Jan. 13 on FOX 8/7c)
It is what it is.

Smallville – (returns Thur. Jan. 15 on CW 8/7c)
I’ve gotten hooked on this show again after sitting out for a couple of seasons. It seems unfair that Smallville’s best season ever may be its last, although I don’t know if that’s been made official yet.

Supernatural – (returns Thur. Jan. 15 on CW 9/8c)
Another CW show that I’ve rediscovered. It seems to have improved a lot since its first season. CW deserves credit for giving shows like this and Smallville a chance, and not axing them at the drop of a hat.

Fringe – (returns Tue. Jan. 20 on FOX 9/8c)
This sci-fi drama from the co-creator of Lost is my favorite new show of the year. Run and tell your friends.

Lost – (starts Wed. Jan. 21 on ABC 9/8c)
There are few television pleasures that compare with getting lost in Lost. It’s pretty amazing that a show this weird could stay on the air for five years, but it’s been reported that season 6 in 2010 will be the last.

Hell’s Kitchen – (starts Thur. Jan. 29 on FOX 9/8c)
Not a great time slot for Chef Ramsey this time around. He’s going up against The Office and the ratings powerhouse Supernatural.

Heroes – (returns Mon. Feb. 2 on NBC 9/8c)
This quality of this show has fallen faster than Nathan Petrelli during an eclipse. The storylines seem to be wandering aimlessly. Too many characters to keep up with is part of the problem. Some have suggested it could be the show’s last season if the ratings don’t improve.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – (returns Fri. Feb. 13 on FOX 8/7c)
FOX is moving this to Fridays, where it will be paired up with Dollhouse.

Dollhouse – (starts Fri. Feb. 13 on FOX 9/8c)
This is the one that everyone’s waiting for, the new show from Buffy/Angel mastermind Joss Whedon, but there have reportedly been problems in production and FOX has now relegated the show to the dreaded Friday night time slot (set to debut on Friday the 13th, no less). Of course, the X-files thrived on Fridays, so there’s still hope.

The Amazing Race – (starts Sun. Feb. 15 on CBS 8/7c)
My favorite reality show will feature less airports this season, according to TV Guide.

Christmas with Jack Bauer, Part 3 January 2, 2009

Posted by Ted in : 24, Holiday Posts, Inspirational , 2comments




I knew my interview with Jack Bauer had gone awry when I found myself being lifted out of my chair by the shirt collar, and slammed against his refrigerator. “You’re starting to sound a lot like a terrorist, pal!” he snarled.
“Hey, uh, that kinda hurts.”
“Hurts? How’d you like to know what real pain feels like? I knew when I saw you that you were one of these purse-carrying liberal elitists. But now I think it’s even worse than that. Give me one reason to believe you’re not working for Al Qaeda!”
I implored him to look in my shirt pocket. He pulled out a box of Tic-Tacs and frowned, then wasted no time in tying me to a chair. After a couple of solid backhands to the face, he plugged in a power cord and touched together the stripped wires at the other end, causing a spark. “You’re going to tell me who you’re working for”, he growled.

“You really know how to throw a Christmas party,” I said, perhaps a little too casually. “I bet Martha Stewart would be so proud. I don’t YAAARRRGHH YIYIYIYI vugindamsonuva GARRRRRRGH YIYIYIYIYI YIYIYIIYIYYI buzabadooba YOOOWWWW IYYIYIYIYIY subaluzzabunaguzza.” (Rough translation: “Ouch.”)

I decided it was in the best interest of the country to tell him everything. I confessed my admiration of French cuisine and culture. I admitted to having written passages from the Communist Manifesto on public restroom stalls. I divulged my secret dream to raise the taxes of gun owners and abolish all religions except Scientology. I acknowledged my status as a United Nations spy and a champion disco dancer. I confessed my habits of sticking my chewed gum under tables, and embarrassing my family members with drunken air guitar solos. I told him about the piece of candy I stole from the Civitans box at the Golden Corral, and the copy of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish that I never returned to the public library. I gave him Bin Laden’s street address, email, cell phone and fax numbers, plus my old high school locker combination and my mother’s revised banana bread recipe.

Thirty minutes into the bathtub water boarding session, Bauer’s phone rang. He dried off his hands and answered it.. “Bauer here. What’s the situation? Yeah, OK. I’ll be right down.” He hung up and then threw me a towel. “Looks like you’re off the hook. They’ve got an emergency down at headquarters.” He grabbed his keys and I followed him out the front door.
“You’re letting me go?”
“I’m not done with you yet, but I’ve got bigger problems right now.”
I stood dazed as he attached a pizza delivery sign to the top of his ’92 Tercel and backed out of the driveway. He yelled from his car, “Don’t worry, Crawlspace. I’ll find you, and you’ll wish I didn’t.”

(The new season of 24 starts January 11th.)

Christmas with Jack Bauer, Part 2 December 29, 2008

Posted by Ted in : 24, Holiday Posts , 3comments




 It was Saturday evening, a few days before Christmas, and I was sitting down with Jack Bauer at his kitchen table for an exclusive interview. After the preliminary shots of whiskey were out of the way, Bauer began to talk candidly about his life. I was surprised to learn that he had been a surf bum during his youth, and had graduated from UCLA with a degree in English Literature before enlisting in the army. His military service had taken him on journeys around the world, missions that required him to become fluent in Spanish and Russian.

He explained that he was no longer employed by the Counter Terrorist Unit. He had been dismissed after his sensitivity training counselor had alleged that Bauer grabbed him by the throat and treatened to kill him. “It was all a big mix up”, Jack explained. “I didn’t mean to hurt the guy. But if they don’t want me around anymore, that’s fine. I don’t need all that bureaucratic red tape anyway.”

I decided it was time to broach a sensitive topic. “There has been great controversy about your show 24 in recent years. The show has had plenty of praise from critics, but there have also been plenty of detractors. They say 24 is too violent and that it glorifies torture as an acceptable means of gaining intelligence.”
He seemed mildly amused. “And where do you fall on that issue?”
“Well, as much as I like the show, I have to agree that you guys go overboard with the torture scenes.” I braced myself for the storm that might be brewing.

Bauer remained calm. “What I do in my line of work isn’t pretty, Mr. Crawlspace, but it’s necessary, if you want to continue to enjoy the quality of life we have in this country. You can’t always protect the rights of some fanatic when a million people could die from the nuclear attack he’s planning.”

“What I’m saying is,” I continued, “you may think he’s the guy you’re looking for, but without a trial or investigation, how do you know for sure? Maybe he’s just confessing to get you off his back.”
“Oh, I get it. You’re playing devil’s advocate,” Jack said, chuckling. “Of course. You had me there for a minute.”
The whiskey had apparently increased my boldness. “Actually, I’m being serious. I can understand using torture as a plot device in a TV show, but 24 practically promotes it as a lifestyle. I mean, if America is going to be doing these kinds of things in violation of the Geneva Convention, doesn’t it send a message to our enemies that anything goes? If the supposed good side is behaving more despicably than the bad side, how do we tell which side is which anymore? Why should I continue to support our country when we’re doing these things? I won’t. I’d rather join the enemy.”

Bauer put his half eaten Christmas cookie down slowly and stared at me from across the table. “Oh shit,” I thought. “Too far, too far.”

(to be continued)

Christmas with Jack Bauer, Part 1 December 23, 2008

Posted by Ted in : 24, Holiday Posts , 2comments




 The long awaited seventh season of 24 starts January 11, 2009. Millions will once again be enthralled by agent Jack Bauer’s superhuman efforts to protect his country from the latest batch of evildoers. I was recently able to obtain Jack’s email address through my covert intelligence channels, and I requested an interview. To my surprise he answered my email with a phone call, and invited me over to his place the following Saturday for some holiday hospitality and an inside look at what makes the tough guy tick.

It turned out he had taken up residence near my area. After a 30 minute drive on Saturday afternoon, I pulled up in front of his small brick house. I knocked on his front door several times, but there was no answer. Then I tried the doorbell. Bauer peeked through the curtains, then opened the door just a crack and gave me a cold stare. After I explained who I was he seemed satisfied. He opened the door and invited me in. I stepped into his dimly lit den, which was cluttered with junk and old newspapers and magazines. The sound of the Boston Pops playing jingle bells blared from an old Magnavox TV. Sitting on a short table against the wall was a small Christmas tree, decorated with red, white, and blue lights, and a few ornaments. Next to the couch I spotted a well worn copy of Dr. Phil’s Relationship Rescue, but didn’t ask Bauer about it. Everybody knows the guy’s got issues.

He gave me a quick tour around his place. He showed me his two favorite bulletproof vests, a couple of scary looking assault rifles, and his tropical fish tank. He picked up a bobble head doll that Tony Almeida had given him as a Christmas present several years earlier. Jack smiled wistfully and shook the doll. “Betty Boop was a hell of girl.” We sat down for the interview at his kitchen table. The piles of dirty dishes by the sink betrayed his bachelor status. He gestured towards them. “Sorry about the mess.” He took out a half empty bottle of Jim Beam and two shot glasses and set them on the table next to some store-deli Christmas cookies. I managed to choke down a shot after watching him drink three in rapid succession.

“So”, I ventured, “done with your Christmas shopping?”

(to be continued)

Inside the DTV Transition Nightmare, Part 3 December 17, 2008

Posted by Ted in : DTV, General , 3comments




OK, I know I left you all hanging for several months in anticipation of the third exciting installment of my DTV blog series. Rest easy, my two faithful readers, for your patience has finally been rewarded.

After a prolonged period of painstaking and painful alliteration, I have reached the following conclusions about the digital television transition:

If you don’t have a state of the art television and you’re not a cable or satellite subscriber, you may find the DTV transition to be reminiscent of the following situations:

1. The first time you looked in the mirror after your parents forced you to get braces.
2. Getting an unplanned one day crash course in lion taming.
3. Staying awake for two days, then taking a physics exam without a calculator.
4. Running barefoot through hot gravel.
5. Getting the hiccups during a job interview.
3. Washing down your cold french fries with a warm, watery drink.
6. Trying out for the rodeo while intoxicated.
5. That time your prom date found a ride home with somebody else.
7. Having a tooth pulled with three fourths of the normal dose of anesthetic.
9. Getting bailed out of jail by your mother.
8. Having shoes thrown at you during a press conference.

In the previous episode, you may remember, I aquired a digital converter box from my local Radio Shack, and I somewhat naively believed that this would solve all my DTV transition issues. I was able to successfully set up the channels on my converter box, but I found that a couple of the channels would cut out or the picture would freeze. With digital channels, unlike analog, you get all or nothing. If the signal isn’t 100% strong, you get no picture. In a desperate attempt to fix this problem, I bought two new antennas, neither of which improved my reception very well. My only other option will be to put up an outdoor antenna, but I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that won’t be necessary.

Keep in mind that the reason I’m fooling around with antennas is to avoid having a monthly bill from a cable or satellite service. The subscription TV providers are the big winners in this huge scam by our Washington brain trust. February 17, 2009 is the day Dish Network, Direct TV, Charter, Bright House, and all the others hit the jackpot. These guys aren’t getting my money. I’ve never paid for television and never will, unless they figure out a way to outlaw free TV altogether, which will probably be the next step in the never ending downward spiral that is the American way of life. The other big DTV snafu that they don’t tell you about is the fact that you will no longer be able to tape one show on your VCR and watch a different show at the same time. You will either need to buy an extra television, or invest in an expensive Tivo system.

The bottom line is, you will have to pay out the butt for new TVs, cable and satellite services, antennas, and/or digital video recorders, unless you have already done so. It’s almost enough to make me give up TV and start dating again.

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...