This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Friday, March 29, 2013

My #atozchallenge Theme for April: Film Genres A to Z

Click on Badge to sign up!

         In my recent post for Alex Cavanaugh's Movie Countdown Blogfest, I mentioned that my list of movies would be hinting toward my Blogging from A to Z Challenge theme.  Well, the first big hint was the list of movies.  I am a big fan of movies and there are many movies that I like far more than others.

        My April theme will be some of my favorite films based on film genres A to Z.   An example as a preview is my first post.   For "A" the genre will be films about automobile accidents.  That should give you some idea of where this will be going.

        So that's it!  Keeping it short today.  I've got 26 movie posts to get ready.  Yeah, that's right--I haven't even started.   This could be a train wreck.   Hmm--what are some movies about train wrecks?

Blog Disaster!

        I'm not the only one with blogging problems.  Our co-host Stephen Tremp was banished from Blogger!  Hopefully this will only be temporary, but in the meantime you can find Stephen at his new blog address   Hope you retrieve the old blog successfully Stephen.

Connections:  The Circle of A to Z Life

        During the 2011 pre-challenge build-up, I got some promotional time for the A to Z Challenge on the Dennis and Judi radio show on FM 101.5 in New Jersey.  We got some sign ups as a result of that brief appearance.

          For the 2012 Challenge our official badge was designed by appropriately named artist Ada Z.   Ada also contributed a video to the A to Z Video Challenge.

          This past week Ada Z posted on YouTube a video commercial parody related to Dennis and Judi.  The station picked it up and featured it on the station website.  It's pretty clever and very short.  I've embedded the YouTube clip below.   Take a moment to enjoy the clip and perhaps you can visit the station site and leave a comment.   Let them know you're from the A to Z Challenge.  Who knows?   Maybe we'll get another mention on the air.    If you can, tweet or pass on the video for others to see to help Ada Z get her work noticed by more people.

101.5 FM link

        Have you got an A to Z theme?   Have you ever lost your blog and had to start a new one?   Have you tried to get the A to Z Challenge promoted through any conventional media sources?

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ask Arlee: Are You Ready for the A to Z Challenge?

The Big Question  

    Yes, someone actually asked me if I was ready for the A to Z Challenge which begins next Monday April 1st.   In fact, more than one person has asked me that.  What a silly question!  I'm one of the bloggers running this thing.   I should be ready shouldn't I?

       Well, I'm not.  Not really.  Kind of ready, but not as ready as I'd like to be.  Not as ready as I was in the two previous years.

       Tons of computer problems have been plaguing me and various life issues have been diverting my time away from A to Z.  Good news is that it looks like my computer issues have been fixed (for now at least).  I did the disk reformat and reinstalled my hard drive and the machine is working almost like new.  I probably will need to replace a fan that is getting noisy, but otherwise I've never seen this baby working so fast.

        And contrary to about half of those who advised me, I reinstalled Chrome and having no problems whatsoever.  Everything is working faster than ever.  Let's hope it stays that way for a while.

        So bottom line is that I have very few posts prepared and will be shooting these off as I go.   Before my problems started inundating me I had signed all four of my blogs as I did last year.   I'm going to try to keep up, but if I have to drop a few then so be it.

How Do I Follow a Blog on a Platform Different than the one I'm on?

       This is another question that was addressed to me.   My A to Z Ambassador Judy Raiser from Raising the Curtain took on this question and is providing the answer at the A to Z Blog.  Be sure to stop over to find out the answer.

A Reminder Will Be Coming Your Way

        Just in case anyone has forgotten that the A to Z Challenge starts next Monday, the A to Z Team of co-hosts will be sending out some reminder emails with a few suggestions to help you along your way.  I hope you are all more ready than I am to put up your first posts A through F during that first week.

        After the Challenge starts, many of you who are prepared with pre-written posts will be on auto-pilot as you cruise on through the list visiting all sorts of bloggers.  Good luck to you and congratulations on being so well organized.

       The main thing is have fun with it all and I hope you find this year's Challenge to be very rewarding.  I'll be back on Friday when I will announce my A to Z theme for Tossing It Out.

        Are you ready to go?

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Nicki Elson Takes a Turn at Controversy

Nicki Elson:  author of Divine

       Just to show I'm not the only one who can stir some controversy, I've invited Nicki Elson to come stir things up and toss out some of her own.   Nicki's got a book coming out on March 26th  (hey! That's tomorrow for those reading this today).    The opinions presented in this post are not necessarily those of the Tossing It Out management so if any rotten eggs are thrown, toss them in Nicki's direction.    I know that my readers are nicer than that, but do let Nicki know what you think in the comment section.   

Divine Temptation

I’m so excited—and yes, a bit nervous—about being invited over for Arlee’s Controversy Monday. He extended the invitation after I hinted about a controversy regarding my new novel, Divine Temptation (to release tomorrow!). I didn’t mean to write a controversial book. I’m just a Jesus-loving girl who also happens to like writing sexy books, and I didn’t think the two had to be mutually exclusive. I still don’t think they have to, but I’ve already come across those who beg to differ…and the book hasn’t even been released yet, so I can only imagine what I’m in for.

Now, I did fully expect to take some flak for including explicit sexual content in a novel that features a heavenly angel as one of the leading characters. On this point, I’ll refer you to my post Should I have faded to black? (written in response to an earlier novel, but it applies to this story as well), but what surprised me, and what I want to talk about today, is how unwelcome any ounce of faith is in a mainstream paranormal romance novel, even one about an angel.

I get that when reading a romance novel, no one wants a CCD lesson, so I appreciate the feedback that led me to pare back and even cut certain scenes. They weren’t plot essential, and now the story moves at a better pace, but what bruises my heart is to see that just the suggestion in the narrative that God is all-powerful or that Satan actually exists or that a person should feel guilty for their sins can set some people off.

I certainly don’t think that everyone in the world believes these things, but I also don’t understand why those who don’t believe choose to get irate instead of simply viewing my world as a fictional universe. The story is fiction, after all. I’m sure no one ever asked J.K. Rowling to qualify narrative statements to say “Harry had been taught to fear Voldemort.” In that universe, Voldemort does exist and he is evil. In mine, Satan does exist and he is evil. And God is all-powerful.

So why in a world that doesn’t flinch when fictional stories speak of Voldemorts or Aslans or Saurons as real beings, does flat-out stating core tenets of Christian faith in a work of mainstream fiction fluster certain people? Why is it more palatable when the characters are dressed up as lions and wizards?


Nicki Elson


Divine Temptation at Goodreads (the 25th will be the last day to enter to win a paperback copy)

Author page at Amazon (Divine Temptation will release on 3/26, but Amazon has been known to post Kindle versions early, so it might be available at post time)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Meet Arlee Bird's A to Z Ambassadors (Part 2)

        In my post of last Friday, I introduced two of my Ambassadors--my team who volunteered to help me patrol the A to Z sign up list and spread good will throughout the Challenge participants.  Today I bring you the other three members of my team.

Yvonne Lewis

Arlee Bird meets Yvonne Lewis in Los Angeles in 2012     

    When I first started the A to Z Challenge in 2010, I had nearly 100 bloggers sign on within the week I had announced my intentions to blog through the alphabet.   The very first to join up was Yvonne Lewis who now blogs at The Written Word of Yvonne Lewis.  Later, Yvonne would become one of the handful of bloggers I have met in person when she vacationed in Los Angeles last year.  

         Yvonne is from the United Kingdom and began blogging in 2006.  She has had two books of her delightful poetry published:   Negative V Positive, with a portion of the book blurb written by her idol, Irish singer Daniel O'Donnell, and Written from the Heart, with part of the blurb written by A to Z co-host Alex J. Cavanaugh

Jaimie Ramsey

Jaimie Ramsey and her husband
       Jaimie has been blogging at Living in the Light since late 2010.  Her blog title comes from the Bible verses 1 John 1:7-9.   She's not ashamed to proclaim her Christian faith and typically blogs about God, faith, and family.  Please be sure to visit Jaimie and give her your support and encouragement.

Alana Garrigues

image.jpeg         Alana Garrigues at Writercize is a Challenge veteran.  She is a freelance writer, journalist, and all around creative hand at all things writing and otherwise.  Alana played a big role in promoting last year's Challenge and she was a natural for me to call on to assist me with this year's Challenge.

           I'll be visiting with Alana and Nutschell "The Writing Nut" on March 30 when I go speak to their writers group about blogging and of course the A to Z Challenge.  Here is an excerpt from Alana's blog:

I have very special news for bloggers in the Los Angeles metro area. Lee (Arlee Bird) agreed to be the guest speaker at the Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles (CBW-LA) March meeting, just before the A to Z Challenge kicks off! On March 30 from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m., he will speak to a group of writers and bloggers at the El Segundo Library about the merits of blogging and social networking as it pertains to the author's platform. 
 CBW-LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring writers on the road to publication. It is the brainchild of another local mastermind, the fabulous Nutschell Windsor of The Writing Nut, and she dedicates countless hours and passion to sharing her knowledge of the publishing industry with writers, aspiring and published alike. 

For more info about this workshop visit Alana's blog at:

You can also visit Alana at:

For local news and writing updates:

My sincerest thank you to the entire Ambassador Team!

     Do you know of anyone who has not signed up for the Challenge yet?    You perhaps?  The final week of sign ups is ahead of us.  Be sure to tell anyone who  might be interested in joining us.  Also spread the word on social media.  Hopefully we can match the 1800 we had for last year.  We have about 500 to go to reach that goal.   Let's go A to Zingers!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ask Arlee: What kind of blog is best for me?

English: Monkeys Blogging Español: Simios blog...
English: Monkeys Blogging Español: Simios bloggeando (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         A few months ago a blogger whom I like to refer to as "Dr. Johnny" posed a question to me after he had read some of my advice on a LinkedIn forum.  Johnny Velazquez, PhD blogs at Parilla.   Here is Dr. Johnny's question to me:

Should I concentrate on a particular subject when I blog, or whatever comes to mind? Blessings.

My response:

        This is a question that I think many of us face when we consider blogging.   I've seen this work as a dilemma that sometimes keeps people from blogging before they even try it, while in other cases bloggers will begin to have doubts about the purposefulness of their blogging or disappointment about a seeming lack of interest in what they are doing.

        To blog or not to blog?   Am I just wasting my time or is this endeavor all eventually going somewhere?

        If your goal is to be a writer per se then since blogging is writing, that in itself is good reason to keep on blogging.  If you're published already or hope to have your work published in the future, then your blogging activity becomes your platform for your work and your market exposure.

        If you have some other goal in mind like expressing your beliefs, sharing your knowledge, or whatever other reason you may have, then blogging can be useful as a tool of getting yourself out into the cyber world as an expert or an enthusiast in a particular field.   And if nothing else, blogging is fun.

        So what should you write about?

       I think content depends on your goal.  I tend to go the random route and blog about what's weighing on my mind or whatever idea pops into my head.  I consider my blog an eclectic blog because it doesn't stick to any particular subject.  In some ways I may still be trying to find myself as a blogger.   At least I'm consistent in my posting and I have my platform that I can eventually use as a springboard into other realms.

       If you have a field of specialty then you may want to create a niche blog where you are a go-to guy for whatever topic you're the master of.   It may limit you, but then again you can always sidetrack now and then for reader relief and to give yourself a writing break.

       Personally, I think the niche blogs can get a little dry and redundant unless written by an exceptional writer with a wealth of near unquestionable knowledge and experience.  If you keep the material fresh and on top of trends you might appeal to your target audience and begin to attain a regular following.  This will probably not be easy and will probably require a lot of work.  But if you stick to it, this route may be well worth the effort in the long run, especially if you have books or other products to market.

     You may want to gravitate towards your personality and whatever agenda or information you want to convey to your audience.  It doesn't hurt to experiment and get reader feedback to help shape your course in blogging.  And you should post on a schedule so any readers you manage to hook know when to look for your blog posts.

      The bottom line is to blog about what interests you most.    Show the readers the side of you that you want them to see and try to make an effort to get them to like you or at least want to come back to see what the heck you'll be doing next.  Subject matter is probably less important that style and presentation.  The most interesting topic can put a reader to sleep if left in the wrong hands, while an utterly ridiculous topic in the hands of a creatively entertaining writer can grab a reader's attention. 

       Content may be king, but the housekeeper who keeps everything clean and fresh is the one who makes the castle an inviting place to visit.   Blog about what you like and then listen to your guests.  Ask questions to see what they think.   Learn to read between the lines or beyond what is said in the comment box.  If the comments are especially good then you probably have done something right in the post you've written.   Now keep doing it.

       If you aren't getting as many comments as you'd like to see then you've got to get out there and drum up blog business.   So, in answer to your question, blog about a particular subject if you wish or use whatever comes to mind when you're writing.  Like what you do and if that comes across to the reader there's a good possibility that they may like it too.   Write it right and keep yourself open to changing your direction if you need to.   From what I've seen so far, there are no set rules in blogging, but some things work better than others.    It's up to each individual blogger to find out what works best for them.

      What kind of blogging works best for you?   What kinds of blogs do you prefer to read?     Do you regularly read any blogs that you would consider to be "niche blogs"?    Did I basically answer a question with a question?

Would you like more comments on your blog?

If so then check out to see what D.L. Hammons has put together.  Join the Blog Blitz and have the biggest comment day of you blogging life!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Top Ten Controversial Films

         It's time for Captain Alex's Movie Blogfest!   For the participant list you can go here.    I did this one the first time Alex hosted it and actually did two lists which you can find here and here.   So as not to be repetitious I've decided to keep in line with my theme of controversy on Mondays and post some of my favorite films that might or might not involve some controversy, with a few thrown in that will provide a clue about my Tossing It Out A to Z Theme.  

Top Ten Controversial Films:

Birth of a Nation (1915) -- At over 3 hours in length, this silent film might prove tedious for those who don't appreciate old movies.  I've watched it in it's entirety three times.   Charged with racism and historical twisting, this film has been debated for nearly one hundred years.  Sophisticated for its time, I find the film to be a fascinating document of film making history as well as a perspective on the way a controversial time of U.S. was dealt with on film.  Many of the roles of blacks were played by white actors in make-up.   Is that controversial?
poster for Citizen Kane
poster for Citizen Kane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Citizen Kane (1941) -- Greatest film ever made?  Precursor to modern film making?  Dated, over-hyped bore?    If one knows film history it's easy to see the signifcance of this film.

Pulp Fiction (1994) --  The "Citizen Kane" of this generation?  Another wacky mess from Quentin Tarantino?   The first time I saw this in the theater I hated it.  The second time I saw it in a theater it made more sense and I loved it.   I've watched it several times since and it's one of my favorite movies.

The Passion of the Christ (2004) -- One of the top grossing films in history, this one created quite a stir when it came out.   No other Jesus film matches the graphic reality of "The Passion".   Some people hate this film.  Of course there are some people who are not too fond of Jesus or His story.

Cover of "Easy Rider [Region 2]"
Cover of Easy Rider [Region 2]
Easy Rider (1969) --  This counterculture film changed the film industry and brought credibility to its stars Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson.   Movies changed in a big way after this one.  Was it for the good or the worse?

Memento (2000) --  What?   This is one of those movies I had to watch more than once.   Is it genius or just a gimmick?

Midnight in Paris (2011)  -- Is it time travel or literary fantasy?   Oscar worthy?   Woody's best?

Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001) -- Where's the controversy in this one?  Well, I saw it and you probably didn't.  This is a film that I watched three times in succession.  There aren't many films where I've done that.  I just liked the philosophical study of the questions and the situations.  I think it's a nice film that's interesting to ponder.

The Human Centipede (2009) --  With a concept that is pretty disgusting, I won't even bother describing what this movie is about.   If you're really curious click the link to read more.  I was actually surprised how well they pulled this one off.  They not only made a sequel, which I have not seen, but number 3 is coming soon.   Watch this if you absolutely have to see how they do this, but keep it away from the kids.  Definitely not for the squeamish.

Gone with the Wind (1939) -- Is it terrific epic film making or dumb romantic schlock?   Big controversy because Clark Gable as Rhett Butler said "damn".    Damn?   Ah, the good old days.

         What do you think?   Which ones have you seen?   Do you think any of these are controversial for any reason and why?

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Meet Arlee's A to Z Ambassadors (Part 1)


      This year I am grateful to have some outstanding assistance to help me monitor my portions of the A to Z sign-up list.   These "Ambassadors" will be patrolling the list to make sure links are good and signed blogs are actually participating in the Challenge.  They will also be visiting participants to give encouragement with their comments.   This week we will get to know two of these Ambassadors.

Tim Brannan

I got into blogging around 2008 as a way to bring my old website "The Other Side" back to life and to work as a design diary for two books I was working on, "The Witch" and "Eldritch Witchery".  While as chance would have it I really got into blogging.  My blog, also named "The Other Side" was a general purpose gaming blog that focused on horror games and games from the "Old School Renaissance".  

I got involved in the A to Z challenge on a whim in 2011. I had no plan, no idea and no theme.  I loved every second of it.  Even the the days I struggled to find something.  Last year I turned it up a notch and submitted TWO blogs.  One the Other Side I did game reviews for each letter of the alphabet.  That worked great and kept me really busy. I also entered my then brand new blog The Freedom of Nonbelief where I did the A to Z of Atheism. That also went really well and I focused on some of the noted Atheist thinkers, bloggers and writers active today.  
I also used the A to Z to promote my book The Witch, which was going to be on sale that fall.  I started it and my blog together, I was going to have them help each other.
This year I am an Ambassador. Which I am reading as "cheerleader".  I make it a habit to go to every blog in a blog hop anyway and try to reply to some post.  The A to Z is no different, it just sometimes takes me a lot longer.  So being an Ambassador is a good for me really. Plus I love visiting all the blogs in the list.

Also this year I have two blogs participating.  I am doing this on The Other Side again, where I have a 2 themes. I need to decide which one to do. I also have a team blog I am part of participating, Red Sonja She Devil With a Sword which is dedicated to the comic character Red Sonja.  Every day will feature art from a different Sonja artist.  

I am hoping that two blogs in and being an ambassador will allow me to connect to a lot of new and exciting bloggers and maybe expose a little bit of my chosen hobby to the rest of the world.

The Freedom of Nonbelief,
Red Sonja: She-Devil with a Sword,


Judy started her blog, Raising The Curtain after stumbling on the A to Z Challenge blogsite in early March last yeat. She credits the Challenge with giving the impetus she needed to dip her toe into the blogging waters. Her blog is now reaching its 100th post and its first anniversary. Judy says she learned a lot during last year's Challenge having been one of the first to start and finish thanks to her Australian timezone.
Judy's characterizes her blog style as humorous wisdom. her philosophy is that laughter is important but is doubly effective if accompanied by a lesson or a message. The theme of her blog is looking at life at the cross roads of middle age. Judy provides a self-deprecating plank so that others can feel that they are not alone in navigating the swirling waters of what can only be described as a confusing time. Whilst you won't find all the answers to life's middle age puzzle through the blog, you may find just enough humour to get you through your next encounter with your teenage children or having to deal with the endless responsibilities that seem to converge at this time of life.

When not blogging, Judy lives with her husband and two teenage sons. She moonlights as a lawyer, media and journalism university student and Challenge Ambassador. A full plate on anyone's reckoning, but as the world turns... so do the transitional days of our lives.

         Next Friday we'll meet the rest of my team.

          Do you find your comment section to be kind of empty at times?   Would you like to get more comments?   How about getting 100 comments at least once in your blogging career?   

          If these are thoughts that have crossed your mind check out D.L. Hammons' post at Damyani's Daily (W)rite blog.  D.L. and Damyanti are two of the  A to Z Challenge co-hosts and they're interested in helping bloggers improve their blogs.  Be sure to visit D.L. Hammons at his blog Cruising Altitude 2.0 and while you're there sign up for his Blog Blitz and see your comments soar.  


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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ask Arlee: What Do You Think of Group blogs or Team Blogs?

     Recently I have been involved in setting up a prototype group blog that has been suggested to a local writers group that I've been a member of for the past year.   A couple of the members have blogs that are not very active yet, but I'm the only member who has an active ongoing blog.  Since I have the more extensive blogging experience they've been asking me for some advice concerning the potential of having a group blog.  You can see my test blog as it currently stands at Writers Workshop West.

         Likewise, not too long ago, author Sharon Hamilton asked what I and my readers thought about shared or group blogs.  In the present post I will express my thoughts about this type of blogging and invite you to leave your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

What Is a Group Blog?

          The first group blog I encountered  my early blogging days was Writers on the Move, a collective effort by several writers who present a wide range of topics.  In fact in my third month of blogging I was featured on this blog in my first guest spot.  The blog is still active with 23 contributors showing on its roster.

         Since this first encounter I've discovered many group blogging efforts and I'm sure many of you are either familiar with some or may even collaborate on a a group blog.  This type of blogging allows for diversity and greater flexibility in keeping the blog more active than just one person can do.  The pressure to produce can definitely be alleviated when a team is working cooperatively.

          A group blog starts with one primary administrator opening the blog (this is true for Blogger--perhaps others can tell how this works on other formats).   When a team has been assembled, each member is added  to that blog as an author.  All approved authors can enter into that blog account and sent up their own posts.


         If the right team has been assembled I see very few disadvantages.   I set up the Blogging from A to Z Blog in October of 2011 and since then I've had the finest team of collaborators a blogger could ask for.  Several of the members are now in their second year of blog collaboration and A to Z works like a finely tuned machine as most of you who visit can attest.

         D.G. Hudson said:

Re - group blogs; I don't like them as much; too many voices in the mix. It will be interesting to see what you say about them, Lee.
Visiting a group blog can make a reader feel like they are interrupting a private party. The A to  Z blog is one exception to this. I'm not saying all group blogs tend to be that way, but many are.
For professionals (journalists, etc) I see the need, but I'm still not a fan of group blogs. Give me an individual's blog, because in a group, no one stands out...

         I can see D.G.'s concern.   I can't recall a specific blog like this that I've encountered, but I know it can happen.    This is why the blog must have a purposeful theme that is directed toward a reading audience and gets them involved.  

         Having the right team members is so important.  If some members aren't pulling their part of the weight, the blog can easily fall apart or drag down in quality content and hurt the reputation of the others.  When a blog fizzles it can be demoralizing to those who had previously been enthused about it.


         So far I'm sold on the group blog idea.  As stated above the right team makes a world of difference.  When you've got good players the whole team wins from the standpoint of getting more exposure for themselves and their blogging efforts.  The extra posting opportunities add to ones internet presence and allow more links to the individual member sites.  

        Collaboration also builds good internet bonds.  I love the A to Z Team and we work well together.  We each have our specialties to help spread out the work.   If one of us is sick or in a inopportune fix of some type, another member will jump in and pick up the slack.   It's a good feeling to know you have online friends you can count on.

        As a writing collective we are also an idea factory.  Between our own material and the connections that allow us to gather up posts from many sources, we can keep this blog running seven days a week with minimal effort from most of us.  With so many hands available the blog almost runs itself at times.

Other Group Blogging Ideas

         One method of communication we have begun using this year for the A to Z Team is a private group blog.   Allowing us to separate our team communiques from our regular email, we can exchange thoughts and make team announcements on the private blog.

           A private group blog would be great for critique groups or others wishing to have non-public exchanges without resorting to email.   A group can do essentially the same type of communicating or work on collaborative efforts through methods like Google Docs and other similar platforms.  The private group blog allows for good ongoing communication threads.

Tell Us What You Think

          Have you tried team blogging?  What are the advantages and disadvantages that you see it group blogs?   Have you ever tried a private blog?    Can you recommend some good group blogs?



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