Angry Video Game Nerd

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Angry Video Game Nerd
Avgn logo.png
Also known asThe Angry Nintendo Nerd
GenreInsult comedy
Created byJames Rolfe
Developed byCinemassacre Productions
Written byJames Rolfe
Directed byJames Rolfe
StarringJames Rolfe
Mike Matei
Kyle Justin
Theme music composerKyle Justin
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes139 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)James Rolfe
Mike Matei
Producer(s)James Rolfe
Editor(s)James Rolfe
Location(s)Newark, New Jersey (seasons 1–3)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (seasons 3–present)
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time3–35 minutes per episode
Production company(s)Cinemassacre Productions
Original networkCinemassacre
YouTube (2006–present)
ScrewAttack (2007–2013)
GameTrailers (2007–2013)
Picture format240p (2004–06)
360p (2007–08)
480p (2008–12)
720p (2012)
1080p (2012–present)
Original releaseMay 16, 2004 (2004-05-16) – present
External links

Angry Video Game Nerd (abbreviated as AVGN, and originally known as Angry Nintendo Nerd) is an American comedy retrogaming web series, created by and starring James Rolfe. The series centers on Rolfe's nameless character, referred to simply as "The Nerd", who is a short-tempered and foul-mouthed video game fanatic who delivers commentary and sketches on retro video games he considers to be of poor quality. The show would later encompass reviews of gaming consoles, peripherals, and short lectures about video game history and culture.[1]

Starting out as an independent filmmaker, Rolfe's earliest videos of the Nerd character were intended as a joke privately shown to his friends.[2] With collaboration from his friend Mike Matei, Rolfe put the Angry Nintendo Nerd videos on his website,, in 2004. In 2006, Matei persuaded Rolfe to put his work on YouTube, where it got popular. In 2007, the series became a program on ScrewAttack and GameTrailers, where it was renamed Angry Video Game Nerd to prevent trademark issues with Nintendo, and to allow Rolfe to also review games from non-Nintendo consoles.[1]

Angry Video Game Nerd was a success and has gained a cult following, as well as the character appearing in various other media such as a feature-length film, various video games, and public appearances. Considered as one of the pioneering internet reviewers in its history, the Nerd was highly influential in bringing online video reviews to the mainstream public.[3]

Premise[edit | edit source]

James Rolfe in-character as the Nerd in 2008.

The show revolves around the Nerd's commentary of retro video games which he deems to be of particularly low quality, unfair difficulty, or poor design.[4] Rolfe's character, "the Nerd", is a short-tempered and foul-mouthed video game fanatic who satirically reviews old video games in the form reminiscent of insult comedies such as Mystery Science Theater 3000.[5] The Nerd plays the game while talking about its various problems, technicalities and imperfection, mixed mostly with profanity and bad language volition,[6] in an effort to warn people against playing the game, and sometimes with a short lecture about the gaming era's history.[7]

Dressed up as a stereotypical nerd in his basement, the Nerd reviews the game with his trademark eyeglasses and white collared shirt with a pocket full of pens, high khaki pants and white socks and loafers, while sometimes being bombarded by guest characters from video games and popular culture as well. These guests often provide additional commentary on the games, mock the Nerd's anguish, and act as parodies of the characters from which they had been derived. In response to them and to the games, the Nerd derives comic appeal from excessive and surrealistic use of fantasy scenarios, anger, and consumption of Rolling Rock while reviewing video games.[5] His anger and profanity over these bad games would sometimes climax in him destroying whole game cartridges, or defecating, burning and sometimes even crushing entire video game consoles.[5]

In many cases, the Nerd would dress up as other popular characters while reviewing their games, such as Batman. Other characters in the show include Shit Pickle (an earlier character created by Rolfe), Guitar Guy (who created the show's theme song and is played by Kyle Justin), the Game Glitch Gremlin, Super Mecha Death Christ 2000 B.C. Version 4.0 Beta, and an assortment of others, while also the occasional guest appearance by other video game reviewers such as Pat the NES Punk.[1][8]

Production[edit | edit source]

James Rolfe's first videos were intended as "just a joke", with no intentions of making them public, showing them only to his friends.[2] In May 2004, Rolfe created his first on-camera game reviews just for fun; utilizing insult commentary with exaggerated bewilderment to two games; Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde under the title of "Bad NES Games", which would later become the signature of the Nerd character.[7] Rolfe explained later in an interview for Daily News that the joke was just how upset one obsessive gamer could get over these games that were already 20 years old.[7] Although the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde review was intended to be the last, Rolfe’s friends, who enjoyed the previous “Bad NES games” reviews, encouraged him to create another. Collaborative friend Mike Matei helped in producing and publishing the videos on Cinemassacre,[2] and released outside of the website as "The Quickies" tape, part of a four VHS tape set called the "Cinemassacre Gold Collection".[9]

In 2006, Rolfe began making the episodes available to a wider audience. Soon, Rolfe released a review of The Karate Kid game which was the first episode where Rolfe’s character is introduced as “The Angry Nintendo Nerd.”[5] Naming these videos “The Angry Nintendo Nerd Trilogy”, Rolfe posted them on Cinemassacre. The success of the show made Rolfe branch out into other gaming systems, and would later change the title into the Angry Video Game Nerd to prevent trademark issues with Nintendo.[2] Rolfe diversified the reviews of platforms and products such as the Atari 2600, Super NES, Sega Master System and Sega Genesis video game consoles, the Power Glove and U-Force peripherals, films such as The Wizard, and the Nintendo Power magazine.[1]

On September 12, 2006, Rolfe's series received mainstream attention when his review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles went viral on YouTube.[10] In an article by writer Alex Carlson, he explained that before 2004, video gaming criticism was mostly reserved for the larger game magazines and websites. These already established names were made up mostly of professional writers and journalists that were seldom challenged, and doesn't entirely correspond to the opinions of the average gamers.[11] Video portals and online videos were at its infancy. Carlson stated that the Nerd popularized independent viral video reviews made from the perspective of an average gamer. It was a purely independent in nature, from the simple and old-school cinematography right down to the camcorder-based video editing. He stated that afterwards, "everyone with a webcam and Fraps can now become a critic and don a characterized mentality, spouting profanities at will without getting censored."[11] Since then, the show has increased substantially in quantity, production value, and fandom.[12] Rolfe began infusing various episodes with emphasis on home-made special effects and narratives. The first of these cinematic episodes was review of Friday the 13th game in October 2006, featuring expressive lighting and camera angles to emphasize its horror film-themed narrative in which the Nerd is attacked by Jason Voorhees for disliking the game.[5] Later episodes have alternated from straightforward game reviews to those with a narrative focus resembling a documentary, with Rolfe pointing out information about the game or gaming console under review. When asked if the Nerd is going to make reviews in the current generation of video games, Rolfe replied that the “show is all about nostalgia,” adding that he's “mostly a retro gamer."[5]

In late 2007, Rolfe halted the production of the series after suffering from a break in his voice.[13] On March 17, 2010, he publicly announced that he was suffering from burnout as a result of stress from his constant work, and that the show would be entering a brief hiatus. The show was resumed a month later; however, only one episode is released each month, as opposed to two episodes per month due to Rolfe's other projects.[14] By 2013, the show garnered more 900,000 subscribers and over 400 million views on YouTube.[15] By 2014, Cinemassacre already had 1.5 million subscribers. Rolfe stated that the show "got popular right around when YouTube got popular."[7] However, in January 2013, the YouTube channel was suddenly shut down due to claims of severe violations of YouTube terms of service.[15] YouTube later reinstated the channel. In March 2016, the channel reached 2 million subscribers, after 10 years since the channels creation and first uploads. Rolfe made a short video to thank all the people who subscribed, watched the videos on the channel and for supporting himself, Mike Matei, and everyone who made Cinemasscre more popular.

Videography[edit | edit source]

Year Title Medium
2004 Cinemassacre Gold Collection VHS
2007 Angry Video Game Nerd, volume 1 DVD
2008 Angry Video Game Nerd, volume 2 DVD
2009 Angry Video Game Nerd, volume 3 DVD
2010 Angry Video Game Nerd, volume 4 DVD
2011 Angry Video Game Nerd, volume 5 DVD
2012 Angry Video Game Nerd, volume 6 DVD
2013 Angry Video Game Nerd, volume 7 DVD
2015 Angry Video Game Nerd, volume 8 DVD
2015 Angry Video Game Nerd X Collection Blu-ray

Other media[edit | edit source]

Rolfe's review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game was reported in an MTV segment called "Viral Videos Infect the Mainstream".[10] On November 2, 2008, his videos and personality were featured on the nationally syndicated radio show Opie and Anthony.[16] The Nerd has also become the subject of Howard Stern and David Arquette in an episode of Stern's Sirius XM show, in which Stern commented negatively on the show's format as well as the gaming community in general during a TooManyGames 2011 convention in Philadelphia.[17] James Rolfe himself appeared as the Nerd in various gaming and internet conventions.[18]

In September 24, 2008, Rolfe collaborated with another famous internet reviewer Doug Walker, to create a fictional feud between the two's most famous characters; the Angry Video Game Nerd and the Nostalgia Critic. The feud began when the Nostalgia Critic posted a video online where he expressed his disgruntlement towards the Angry Video Game Nerd due to their similarities. He objected to comments, supposedly written by the Nerd's fans, that made "unfair comparisons between the two of them." This would later escalate into a series of tongue-in-cheek video responses between The Nostalgia Critic and Angry Video Game Nerd, with the two daring each other to review certain materials. The feud culminated when the Nerd and the Nostalgia Critic crossed paths in person in a video game store in Clifton, New Jersey called Digital Press. This feud, which would be released as a special for both shows, was a huge hit.[19] Both characters would finally fight their last battle in October 10, featuring a lengthy fight scene, parodying popular films and cliches, such as The Matrix Reloaded and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. In ThatGuyWithTheGlasses's first anniversary special, the Critic and the Nerd begin to settle their score once and for all, eventually joined by other contributors to the website, in which gamers sided with the Nerd and reviewers sided with the Critic. The two sides called for a truce and the two finally put their differences aside.[20] The Nerd would later guest star in various Channel Awesome shows, even appearing to review the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie with the Nostalgia Critic.[21] The Angry Video Game Nerd along with the Nostalgia Critic, made a background cameo appearance in the anime Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited.[22]

Together with Pat the NES Punk, the Angry Video Game Nerd has collaboratively hosted Cinemassacre's yearly NES marathon; a charity event to raise money for children's hospitals.[23]

Film[edit | edit source]

Year Title
2014 Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie

Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie is an independent film based on the series. James Rolfe serves as director, producer and co-writer and reprises his on-screen role of The Nerd. The film was released July 21, 2014 in limited theatrical releases and was released online, on DVD and Blu-ray by the end of the year. Development of the film began in late 2006, following the popularity of the Angry Video Game Nerd web series, with the completion of the screenplay by 2008.[24] Like the web-series, the film was made independently, as such the film's budget of more than US$300,000 came entirely from crowdfunding.[7] The movie was also created as a homage to the Nerd finally reviewing one of the worst videogames of all time; E.T. During filming the movie, Rolfe had to balance his schedule with the ongoing show.[7] Rolfe asked for the show's fanbase to provide webcam footage of themselves fictionally reacting to the Nerd's webseries, to be used as an intro to the film featuring the Angry Video Game Nerd character.[25]

The story centers around the alleged burial of over 1 million copies of the proclaimed "worst video game of all time", E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600, as The Nerd embarks on a quest to prove that there is nothing buried there after being pressured by fans to review the video game, while being pursued by federal authorities who believe he is investigating Area 51 and the crash of an unidentified flying object.[26]

Video games[edit | edit source]

Year Title
2013 Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures
2016 Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation

In 2013, an official video game titled Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures was announced. Developed by FreakZone Games (creators of Manos: The Hands of Fate), it was released on September 20, 2013 on Steam.[27] The game follows the Nerd attempting to rescue his friends, all of whom were sucked into the Nerd's television set (done in a Cheetahmen-esque style). The Nerd uses a NES Zapper as his main weapon, and a character known as Naggi the Patronizing Firefly, a parody of Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, guides him through the tutorial. Throughout the game, he faces zombies, Mr. Hyde, Custer, The Giant Claw, Fred "Fucks" (Fred Fuchs), both Jason Voorhees and an oversized version of Freddy Krueger's right arm (references to the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street games respectively but their names where changed to Bimmy (Freddy Krueger) and Jimmy (Jason Voorhees) (referencing the infamous typo from Double Dragon III to avoid copyright) and more.[28] On July 12, 2014, it was announced that the game would also be released on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.[29] The Wii U version was released in North America on April 2, 2015, and released in Europe on December 10, 2015.[30] On June 4, 2015, a 3DS version became available for download in the Nintendo eShop.[31] On July 17 of the same year, during ScrewAttack's annual SGC convention, Freakzone announced a sequel, Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation, originally due for release in Winter 2015,[32] but was delayed to March 29, 2016.[33]

There have also been some unofficial Angry Video Game Nerd games including Angry Video Game Nerd's Angry Video Game, Angry Video Game Nerd in Pixel Land Blast, AVGN Game Over, AVGN Game Over 2, and AVGN Planet. There is also the Angry Video Game Nerd and AVGN K.O. Boxing, both for the Atari 2600. The Nerd touched upon these games in the episode AVGN Games.[34] The Nerd also appeared as a playable character in the game Texting of the Bread produced by ScrewAttack.

Music[edit | edit source]

Year Title
2011 The Angry Video Game Nerd Collection
2013 Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures (soundtrack)
2014 Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

The opening song of the show, simply entitled The Angry Video Game Nerd Theme Song, is a staple of the series since its earliest conception.[35] The song was written by Kyle Justin, and over the years had different variations to correspond with specials. Programmer and musician Lachlan Barclay published soundtrack album based on the web-series in 2011.[36] This earliest compilation of the show was created by Barclay due to demands from fans after he played the song on Video XYZ. Another compilation album was released in 2013 containing the music derived from the Nerd's video game.[37] Developed also by FreakZone, the album was released by ScrewAttack Entertainment LLC as a digital download. An album based from the movie was released in 2014 composed by Bear McCreary, who had previously worked with Rolfe on the webseries Christmas special. The film's music was composed of rock-and-roll, heavy metal, a symphonic orchestra, and synthesized musical elements from various gaming systems such as NES, SNES, and SEGA Genesis.[38] The album features two remixes by McCreary as well.[39]

Reception and legacy[edit | edit source]

The Angry Video Game Nerd show is a huge success, creating a cult following, and making James Rolfe one of the most popular and pioneering internet celebrities in its history, before the advent of YouTube.[7][40] The Angry Video Game Nerd was voted Best Online Web Series in Mashable's 3rd Annual Open Web Awards on December 16, 2009.[41] WatchMojo listed the Nerd as #10 in its Top 10 YouTube Celebrities, describing him as that "one guy playing video games in his parents' basement who made it a career".[40] Academy Award-winning producer Peggy Rajski describes the origin of the show's success stemming from the correct use of the internet as well as the crowd funding system. Rajski further said that "[Rolfe] already cultivated an audience that cared about his prior work. When he asked them to step up, clearly they were willing to."[7] Fellow filmmaker and internet celebrity Doug Walker dubbed the Nerd as the "Greatest Video Game Critic of All Time".[42] Jacob Rich of Michigan Daily described the Nerd as the "pioneering internet 'gamer' show", adding that "pretty much every major game review show online today has 'AVGN' to thank for establishing its format".[3]

Writer from the University of Florida Zach Whalen described the show's presentation of retro gaming into contemporary gamers as "a process of looking back to an unattainable past and trying to bring that past into the present".[5] Indeed, Rolfe also commented during an interview with The Guardian of the show's impact in the current generation of the video game industry, saying that they "still relate to it and they like learning of the past".[43] In the same article, reporter Luke Langlands also noted the show's influence of inspiring the creation of other independent online shows. The Nerd's success as an independent celebrity outside of the commercial mainstream of pop culture, popularized the notion of making lifelong careers online. In a survey published by Mediscape, a number of people admitted to being inspired by the Nerd to create and submit their own content in various online spaces, including YouTube, DeviantArt, SourceForge, GameFAQs and ScrewAttack.[5] WatchMojo also called the Nerd as a "trendsetter" for other gamers and amateur reviewers online,[44] influencing the likes of those such as the Nostalgia Critic, Angry Joe and others.[5][11]

In his analysis of the show and the character, writer Alex Carlson of Hardcore Gamer, dubbed Rolfe's character as "The Nerd Who Changed Gaming Culture Forever". In his written article, he described the Angry Video Game Nerd as "one of the most recognizable figures in gaming culture", adding that "if you're a gamer, it's nearly guaranteed that you've browsed YouTube and seen at least a couple of videos from the series. Nearly a decade after the series' humble inception, James Rolfe's frequently sailor-mouthed alter-ego is still spreading influence. With each new gaming channel appearing on YouTube, there's some level of inspiration coming straight from The Nerd. From the very beginning, The Angry Video Game Nerd was a giant leap forward. Whether James Rolfe knew it or not, the rise of The Nerd was a moment that changed gaming critique and entertainment forever".[11]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Rolfe, James. "Cinemassacre In General: Faqs and Interviews". Cinemassacre. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Cinemassacre FAQ". The CineMassacre Productions. 2010. Retrieved June 4, 2010. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rich, Jacob. "'Angry Video Game Nerd' movie a disappointing failure". Michigan Daily. Retrieved May 15, 2015.  September 7, 2014
  4. Guzman, David (March 3, 2011). "Top 20 Angry Video Game Nerd Freak Outs". Retrieved March 10, 2011. Ever since James Rolfe – the filmmaker who brought the Nerd to life – started posting tirades about awfully ancient video games on YouTube in 2006, the following he’s gotten there has become pretty big. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Fleury, Jim. "Revenge of the (Angry Video Game) Nerd: James Rolfe and Web 2.0 Fandom". Mediascape. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  6. Enevold , Jessica et. al. Game Love: Essays on Play and Affection. McFarland (January 14, 2015). pp. 261-262. ISBN 978-0786496938
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Walsh, Michael. "YouTube star James Rolfe goes long with 'Angry Video Game Nerd' movie". Daily News. Retrieved May 15, 2015.  April 8, 2014
  8. LeClair, Dave. "The 6 Best Angry Video Game Nerd Episodes". MUO Gaming. Retrieved May 15, 2015.  December 4, 2012
  9. James Rolfe (2007). What Was I Thinking?: The Making of the Angry Video Game Nerd (DVD). ScrewAttack. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 MTV (September 12, 2006). "Viral Videos Infect the Mainstream". MTV. Retrieved March 22, 2011. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Carlson, Alex. "The Nerd Who Changed Gaming Culture Forever". Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved May 15, 2015. January 7, 2014
  12. Weprin, Alex (June 2, 2008). "Spike TV Revamps Web Presence". Broadcasting & Cable (Cahners Publishing) 138 (14–25): 28. Retrieved March 10, 2011. "The new features a high-resolution full-episode video with the ability to embed episodes of Spike programming on outside sites, social-networking features and exclusive original content from YouTube stars such as "the Angry Video Game Nerd" and established entertainment brands such as Playboy Enterprises and Ultimate Fighting Championship." 
  13. "Cinemassare News Archive: 11/21/2007-2/18/2008". Cinemassacre. Archived from the original on March 19, 2008. 
  14. "AVGN: Episode 90 – "Action 52"". April 30, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 Narcisse, Evan. "YouTube Shuts Down Popular Angry Video Game Nerd Channel [Update: It's Back!]". Kotaku. Retrieved May 15, 2015.  January 8, 2013
  16. Lundblad, Kent. "I Don’t Like the Angry Video Game Nerd Or His Friends". KentBalls. Retrieved May 15, 2015.  January 1, 2012
  17. Pereira, Chris. "Howard Stern Slams Gaming Convention Attendees (NSFW)". 1UP. Retrieved May 15, 2015.  May 12, 2011
  18. Lewis, Evan. "The big draw at RetroGameCon 2014? Web-series star 'Angry Video Game Nerd'". Syracuse. Retrieved May 15, 2015.  November 7, 2014
  19. Matei, Mike (November 19, 2013). "AVGN Vs. Nostalgia Critic – The Final Battle". Cinemassacre. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  20. Walker, Doug (May 11, 2009). "Epic Brawl". Channel Awesome. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  21. Walker, Doug (May 11, 2009). "Nostalgia Critic & AVGN: TMNT 2014". Channel Awesome. Retrieved March 31, 2015. 
  22. Saabedra, Humberto. "AVGN and Nostalgia Critic Cameo in "The Unlimited: Hyobu Kyosuke"". Crunchyroll. 
  23. Rolfe, James (November 7, 2014). "NES Marathon for charity". Cinemassacre. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  24. James Rolfe (September 19, 2013). "AVGN Movie Timeline". Cinemassacre. 
  25. James Rolfe (October 13, 2013). "AVGN Movie Update – October 2013". Cinemassacre. 
  26. "Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie". 
  27. "Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures". Steam. Retrieved September 21, 2013. 
  28. "Let's Play AVGN Adventures - Part 4". YouTube. September 24, 2013. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  29. "Wii U & 3DS Announcement". Twitter. July 12, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  30. Carlson, Alex (April 2, 2015). "Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures Gets a Wii U Launch Trailer". Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved April 4, 2015. 
  34. Matei, Mike (November 19, 2013). "AVGN Games - Angry Video Game Nerd". Cinemassacre. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  35. Justin, Kyle (September 2, 2014). "Ten Years in the Making...". Kyle Justin Official Website. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  36. Barclay, Lachlan (May 1, 2011). "The Angry Video Game Nerd Collection". Lachlan Barclay Official Website. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  37. "Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures (soundtrack)". ScrewAttack Entertainment LLC. Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  38. "'Bear McCreary's 'Angry Video Game Nerd' to be Released'". August 27, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  39. "Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". September 2, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  40. 40.0 40.1 Brayton, Rebecca. "Top 10 YouTube Celebrities". WatchMojo. Retrieved May 15, 2015.  January 21, 2013
  41. Cashmore, Pete (December 16, 2009). "Open Web Awards 2009: The Winners". Mashable. Retrieved December 16, 2009. 
  42. Walker, Doug (February 13, 2015). "Nostalgia Critic: AVGN Movie". Channel Awesome. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  43. Langlands, Luke. "Video games and nostalgia: Angry Video Game Nerd's YouTube empire". The Guardian. Retrieved May 15, 2015.  February 28, 2014
  44. Paradis, Dan. "Top 10 YouTube Video Game Reviewers - TopX Ep.11". WatchMojo. Retrieved May 15, 2015.  January 29, 2015

External links[edit | edit source]

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