Disbelievers

Jonathan Willis
October 04 2009 11:37AM

That title is certainly wrong when it comes to the grand scheme of things, but it’s a little nuts to toss Nikolai Khabibulin and the Oilers penalty-kill under the bus one game in.

Let’s start with Nikolai Khabibulin’s gaffe. After a lackluster preseason, Khabibulin’s season opener could hardly have gone worse. In a game where the Oilers outshot the Flames 34-to-21, Miikka Kiprusoff made 31 saves and Khabibulin made only 17. The last goal against was particularly brutal, with Kiprusoff gift-wrapping the puck for Flames forward David Moss with less than a minute left in a 3-3 hockey game.

As everyone here knows, I’m not a believer in Khabibulin; his track record in three of the last four years, along with his propensity towards lower body injuries are the two biggest reasons I’d hoped the Oielrs had pursued someone else.

That said, if you are one of those who believe in the Bulin wall, one game shouldn’t change your mind. After one game, for example, Martin Brodeur has a GAA in excess of 5.00 and a .815 SV% (I know because he’s on my fantasy team). Players have good games and bad games, and while I’m still not a believer in Khabibulin I can honestly say that a 50-save effort in a 1-0 win wouldn’t have changed my mind on him either. Give it ten games, then we’ll talk about what he’s done.

Similarly, I don’t believe in the penalty kill, which went two-for-four on the night, but again it’s too early to change anyone’s mind either way. I maintain that this team needed to bring somebody in, and I don’t think Kelly Buchberger has the coaching chops to propel this unit to even averagish results with the current personnel.

But my message today is that one game is essentially meaningless in evaluating these trends. The evaluation of both the Oilers’ goaltender and special teams will take some time, and if you were a believer during the offseason there’s no reason to change your stripes now.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Racki
October 04 2009, 05:39PM
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I thought it was a very promising game. Yah, the ending STUNK bad. But really, Khabibulin played pretty solid for almost the entire night, and that puck was just lively by the time it got to him. I hope he doesn't sweat it too much (*bad joke*). Seriously though, I have more confidence in Khabi now after seeing him yesterday. He played really well, minus the one bad play.

The Oilers kept pace with the Flames quite well last night too, and that also made me happy to see. Not as bad a game as one would think.

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#52 Smiley
October 04 2009, 06:05PM
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Wanye wrote:

You have done a wonderful job. Most of the time that I spent signing up was looking at Lil Wayne pictures.

*swoon*

True that, I'm just happy I got first dibs on my gravatar. Everyone else is on notice that I'm bogarting this particular internet meme for myself on this here interweb site.

But enough jibba jabba - my boy Horcs was outstanding in the faceoff dot last night and generally looked about four million times better than the shadow his former self that was on the ice most nights last year. Hopefully that trend continues.

Can anyone chime in on Bulin's propensity for epic brain farts in net over the course of his career? In other words, should we be worried that

a) there'll be more of those

and/or

b) his confidence will take a beating

as a result?

At least it wasn't, say, game 1 of the SCF...

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#53 6 ring circus
October 04 2009, 06:25PM
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I am not worried yet,we should have won last night,I will give this team 20 games to get it all together,after that if we are spinning our wheels it will be up to Tamballini to make moves to improve this club.

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#54 Victoria
October 04 2009, 06:53PM
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Hey 'Bulin, don't sweat it.

Har har!

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#55 Shapeman
October 04 2009, 07:03PM
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The only thing im glad about is that we played gritty and we almost came back. Bulin was pretty solid except on the alst goal. I was jsut amazed by how much Khabibulin sweats that was crazy. Gilbert Brule is gonna have a good season if he keeps playing like that. 7th place finish GOILERS!

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#56 Shapeman
October 04 2009, 07:05PM
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Cmon still no edit button waht kind of update was this. I need an edit button more than i need typing lessons or Brownlee needs his walker.

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#57 z
October 04 2009, 07:18PM
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The thing is, it isn't one game that he is played badly in or been unable to finish. He had a dreadful preseason including the bizarre dehydration event. I'm not going to tell you that he is washed up, but he is not exactly instilling confidence.

At what point does Tambellini begin to sweat over his summer of mistakes? Khabibulin vs Roloson error, no veteran centre & Heatley begging all add up to a whole lot of suck.

If I were Katz I would be right pissed at how things are shaking out with him in charge.

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#58 Ender
October 04 2009, 07:25PM
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@Wanye

Wanye Gretz said:

Holy Crap it took me about 11 hours to sign on to this site. Why do things need to be so complicated?!

I totally don't mind going through it once if it gets us . . . an edit button. That said, guess what I can't find?! Grrrrr . . .

The avatar thing is cool. The quoting thing is way tougher than before. Paragraph formatting might need work, but I see how it saves space. Must say, this looked like the friggin' Stealth Bomber when I first saw it, but it's starting to look a bit more like the Galaxyland version of it; shiny and cool but unable to deliver a strategic missile strike. Just like the West Edmonton Wall, I'll try really hard not to pass judgement on the first day. I hope better things are on the way, in net as well as on the Nation.

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#59 brucechris
October 04 2009, 07:27PM
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Penner looked great, in more aspect than one. He's leaner and clearly motivated. I don't doubt that he's going to send MacT every one of his goal pucks this year.

JFJ does look a bit out of place on the first line... but he looked more effective than Hemsky last night.

Bulin wall? Please get better. That first Glencross goal hurt.

Moreau needs to be stripped of the C and/or traded. I'm done with this guy.

Souray gets my goat only because he is being a leader by NOT taking every point shot, particularly on the PP. He cycles the puck, letting everyone know that the play can't always be "back to Souray on the point". It's frustrating, but it also shows how he's trying to make good of a one-trick pony. Give him the C.

If the 4th line makes Gagner show up like that, then leave him there and get the line out a little more often.

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#60 Ender
October 04 2009, 07:42PM
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Jonathan Willis said:

. . . if you are one of those who believe in the Bulin wall, one game shouldn’t change your mind.

Do you have any idea what that man cost me?! Every remaining shred of dignity I had left. Citizens of the Nation, I ask you: if your brother-in-law / friend-of-dubious-nature / random-stranger calls out your beloved Oilers and says the Flamers are going to show them the door, what is your response? Why, you throw down the gauntlet, Citizens. You wouldn't let them talk smack about your wife, and in kind you take up for your Team. You put it all on the line. so this weekend I did that; I layed it down and I bet it hard. I knew my beloved Oil would not let me down. Ummmmm . . . yeah. Know what's on my Facebook page for a whole damn week? A friggin' Flamers logo, that's what. Thanks for nothing, 'Bulin. I've got my eye on you. Lead the way to a cup and I may forgive, but I won't soon forget this.

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#61 Victoria
October 04 2009, 07:44PM
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I think the Oilers Nation overlords just enjoy reading the ridiculous typos us minions make, knowing we have no power to change them.

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#62 z
October 04 2009, 07:51PM
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@Victoria

what are you tarking about/

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#63 Travis Dakin
October 04 2009, 07:56PM
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I am a citizen now!!! yay

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#64 Ender
October 04 2009, 08:06PM
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z wrote:

what are you tarking about/

No edit button. Conspiracy theory. Deep Oil would approve.

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#65 Ender
October 04 2009, 08:12PM
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@Wanye

lolz. Wayne, that is an awful tagline. The worst I've ever seen.

@ Bingofuel

Bingofuel, I like yours a lot better. :-)

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#66 Ender
October 04 2009, 08:21PM
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OK, this paragraph formatting sucks. Can't have it. Time to go back to HTML school . . .
[pause while Ender tries to learn something that doesn't involve a cup-size or a FO%; looong pause]

Let's see if this works . . .

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#67 Ender
October 04 2009, 08:21PM
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OK, better . . .

Let's go a step further . . .

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#68 Ender
October 04 2009, 08:24PM
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OK, that didn't work. Need the spacer line. Let's try this . . .


And? . . .

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#69 Ender
October 04 2009, 08:25PM
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Houston, we have lift-off! Good to go.

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#70 Travis Dakin
October 04 2009, 08:44PM
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@Jason Gregor

@ Jason Gregor or Robin Brownlee

The next time either of you guys get a chance to talk to Gagner privately, please tell him about Propecia. Dude's hair is falling out fast and that's a shame because he is so young. It's not going to grow any hair back but it will stop what he has left from falling out. I was like him at his age and I've been taking it for about 8 years now and it's worked very well. Just trying to help a fellow man out. That goes for all you Nationers whose hair is starting to go.

This is my good deed for the day. Lovingly, me.

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#71 Travis Dakin
October 04 2009, 08:45PM
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No that wasn't supposed to be a product ad. Just a helpful hint to the boys.

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#72 Wanye
October 04 2009, 08:45PM
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@Shapeman

The new site isn't entirely rolled out yet. There remain a couple dozen things we need to add in and they will be unveiled one at a time.

Among these is the return of polls, the return of the news aggregator and the inaugural run of the edit button.

And one final thing that is pretty awesome and my personal favorite change to the new site.

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#73 SirFozz
October 04 2009, 08:57PM
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Have nothing to add, just wanted to take my new account for a test spin.

Nice

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#74 SirFozz
October 04 2009, 09:07PM
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@Wanye

What's with the first name only there Beyonce?

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#75 Librarian Mike
October 04 2009, 09:10PM
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Wanye wrote:

The new site isn't entirely rolled out yet. There remain a couple dozen things we need to add in and they will be unveiled one at a time.

Among these is the return of polls, the return of the news aggregator and the inaugural run of the edit button.

And one final thing that is pretty awesome and my personal favorite change to the new site.

An MS Paint application that allows citizens to contribute pictures? I dream...

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#76 Robin Brownlee
October 04 2009, 09:23PM
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@Travis Dakin

You're kidding right?

"Hey, Sam. I noticed you're losing your hair . . ."

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#77 5Cups
October 04 2009, 09:24PM
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Does anyone else thing that the Flames got real lucky in their first two games? Does anyone else think that the Flames, if they continue to get outshot the way they are, are destined for a long season?

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#78 Suntory Hanzo
October 04 2009, 09:29PM
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@5Cups

Last year we had a good start, but won games we probably shouldn't have. As the season wore on, we lost games as we played the same way.

I loved the way we played against the Flames, but lost. As someone mentioned: we play the same way 10 times, we probably win 7 of them with that effort.

It's only one game, but I actually feel more positive after the loss.

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#79 Hemmertime
October 04 2009, 09:30PM
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20 comments per page is weak

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#80 Suntory Hanzo
October 04 2009, 09:32PM
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@Hemmertime

I agree with the 20 comment limit..slows down the catch up reading.

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#81 Smokin' Ray
October 04 2009, 09:35PM
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Wanye wrote:

The new site isn't entirely rolled out yet. There remain a couple dozen things we need to add in and they will be unveiled one at a time.

Among these is the return of polls, the return of the news aggregator and the inaugural run of the edit button.

And one final thing that is pretty awesome and my personal favorite change to the new site.

What about the blogroll? Some people say that's important. Just sayin'..

*wonders if he knows it's just me*

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#82 Librarian Mike
October 04 2009, 09:35PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

You're kidding right?

"Hey, Sam. I noticed you're losing your hair . . ."

Haha. While you're at it, my wife had some ideas about Pat Quinn's suit last night. "Too tight", she said. When they were interviewing him after the game, you could practically tell what religion he was...

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#83 Bar Qu
October 04 2009, 09:36PM
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This is fun - new site, old name....

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#84 Travis Dakin
October 04 2009, 09:50PM
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@Robin Brownlee

HAHA no man I'm serious. Wouldn't you have loved to have been told about something like that at his age? Imagine rocking the KISS hair still.

I see guys losing their hair and I want to tell them it doesn't have to happen.

I think he'd appreciate it. Those ears of his are gonna stick out extra far when he has to start rocking the Gregor look.

Man up and tell him!

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#85 Rigger
October 04 2009, 09:56PM
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@ Travis Are you kidding me? That kid isn't losing his hair for shat's sake, he's got FINE textured hair. Fine hair looks thin when it's wet, I know because I have the same type of hair. Plus he's got it longer in the front so it looks whispy. Look at it when it's dry, like in the roomate vid. I don't see any bald spots or receding there. His hairline looks the same as it always did. Good grief, we play a good game and THIS is what you choose to comment on? Guh!

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#86 Rigger
October 04 2009, 09:57PM
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Hmmm, not sure how to make new paragraphs on this new format but I'm likin it.

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#87 unca miltie
October 04 2009, 10:00PM
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Suntory Hanzo wrote:

Last year we had a good start, but won games we probably shouldn't have. As the season wore on, we lost games as we played the same way.

I loved the way we played against the Flames, but lost. As someone mentioned: we play the same way 10 times, we probably win 7 of them with that effort.

It's only one game, but I actually feel more positive after the loss.

my take exactly. The Oil started 4-0 last year and at best should have been 2-2. The effort last night was the best we have seen for a long time. Calgary did outplay Vancouver in the first period though.

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#88 Rigger
October 04 2009, 10:01PM
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I was at the game last night and it was awesome, right up until that last heartbreaking moment. That basically sucked the wind right out of everybody's sails. Having said that, I thought we played well overall. We were finishing our checks, and working harder than I've seen in a long time. Rexall was loud and proud, and I was pumped to be there. Some of the best hockey we've played in a long, long time. I'll forgive Khabibulin for now, but he'd better step it up.

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#89 Travis Dakin
October 04 2009, 10:02PM
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Rigger wrote:

@ Travis Are you kidding me? That kid isn't losing his hair for shat's sake, he's got FINE textured hair. Fine hair looks thin when it's wet, I know because I have the same type of hair. Plus he's got it longer in the front so it looks whispy. Look at it when it's dry, like in the roomate vid. I don't see any bald spots or receding there. His hairline looks the same as it always did. Good grief, we play a good game and THIS is what you choose to comment on? Guh!

Ok woah relax there bro. It's comment 84 on a day off. Here let's try this.... Good game last night. If they play like this all year they will be alright. Happy? That's great that you have the same hair. If you were losing your hair you would probably know that there is a denial phase and a developed ability to hide the hair loss. That only lasts so long before you gotta start shaving. Comrie has the same thing going on. Premature baldness sucks and it's pretty easy to stop. Chill man.

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#90 Rigger
October 04 2009, 10:05PM
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Thanks for the insight Travis. Just so you know, I'm not a "bro", and I'm NOT losin my hair either, just know what it's like to have baby fine hair. Whatevs, anyway, it was a great game. I had an awesome time, right up until the last minute. And yes, if they play like this all year, I will be happy.

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#91 Travis Dakin
October 04 2009, 10:08PM
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You are offended by Bro too? Jesus you must be a riot to hang around. Sorry there uh, Pal, Buddy, Sugartits, Homie, Mon Ami, or if you're a girl, Sweetheart, baby cakes, sweet ass, darling, toots.

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#92 Travis Dakin
October 04 2009, 10:09PM
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"Why don't you try my given name, Rigger"

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#93 Rigger
October 04 2009, 10:12PM
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@Travis Dakin

Who said I was offended? I'm just merely pointing out I'm not a dude. None of those bother me actually. If I have to pick one, I'll take Rigger because it is my handle after all. Don't have to be a dude to be a Rigger.

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#94 Rigger
October 04 2009, 10:13PM
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Sorry still learning how to use this new format.

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#95 Travis Dakin
October 04 2009, 10:15PM
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Yes you do. There is no place for women on the Rigs. HAHA Joking. Well then, if you had a name like Kelly, Jamie, Drew, or Morgan I would make the same mistake. My bad.

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#96 Travis Dakin
October 04 2009, 10:15PM
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Rigger wrote:

Sorry still learning how to use this new format.

How in the hell do we put spaces? There should be a tutor video for this thing.

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#97 Rigger
October 04 2009, 10:16PM
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*gasp* Blasphemy. LOL! True dat though, I guess it's a pretty dude like handle. Call me Bertha, HA!

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#98 Rigger
October 04 2009, 10:17PM
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I've no idea, nor do I know how to bold or use italics, etc. Hmmmm...

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#99 Rigger
October 04 2009, 10:18PM
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Apparently, I also don't know how to quote all the time either. WTF?

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#100 Librarian Mike
October 04 2009, 10:20PM
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Give it a couple of weeks, and everything will be sorted out. I have to say, I'm impressed that the site has been running really stable so far. Huzzah to the Shopkeep.

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