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VIDEO: Never Say Never Again (1983)

Part One:

Part Two:

Mr. Mendo once again explores the world of subpar James Bond films with Never Say Never Again, featuring Sean Connery returning to the role of 007 after a 12 year absence. In the movie, Blofeld threatens to detonate two stolen nuclear warheads unless SPECTRE’s demands are met, which eventually leads to a massive underwater battle. And if that synopsis sounds familiar, it’s because Never Say Never Again was legally required to have the exact same plot as Thunderball.

The movie also stars Klaus Maria Brandauer as a Eurotrash supervillain, Kim Basinger as his kept woman, Bernie Casey as the first black Felix Leiter (suck on that, Jeffrey Wright!), Rowan Atkinson as a completely unnecessary comic relief character, and a lot of random no-names playing Q, M, and Moneypenny.

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  • Correction. They did not have a training montage for Goldfinger. The footage that you used was from the pre-title sequence to “From Russia with Love”.

    • Bond did have a ducky on his head, though. That’s gotta count for something positive. Oh, and like Superman III, there’s some KFC in the movie, too!

  • Dear me… I still like “Never Say Never Again”, but, yes, it is a DEFINITE guilty pleasure — except for maybe Connery’s performance, which is a hell of a lot better than the pudgy boredom-fest he pulled in “You Only Live Twice” and “Diamonds Are Forever”.

    Two corrections: It’s “FAtima” (emphasis on the first syllable) and “Lois” (not “Louise”) Maxwell; you might want to redub every time you say Miss Blush’s name before releasing Part Two.

    • Michael A. Novelli

      Perhaps, but those don’t negate my larger point…

      • Oh, I know; didn’t I say it was a GUILTY pleasure? 😛

        I know you’re not interested in the backstory behind how the film was made, but it’s hella convoluted… including the travails of the director, Irvin Kershner (he of “The Empire Strikes Back”). :-/

        • My Mom and my wife PREFER this Bond movie over other, better entries (Goldfinger, Russia/Love, Dr. No, Live/Twice, Live/Die, Spy/Love, Eyes/Only, etc.) I walk into the study and leave ’em be. (Says the guys who watches Blake Edwards’ Casino Royale once a week.)

  • Cristiona

    I dunno. I didn’t think the various girls were that bad. More “cute” than “smoking hot”, but still…

  • cyberjohn

    Brilliant review there micheal. I just don’t get why they even bothered to make this movie there’s just no point. Also enjoyed the Blackadder

    • Michael A. Novelli

      I was wondering how long it would take people to pick that one up…

    • Better Black Adder than running a tropical resort for teens, while actually being a snarky dog with a growth disorder.

  • Ed

    I really dug this movie when I was a kid. It hasn’t aged well at all. Connery is still good though.

    • Michael A. Novelli

      What’s sad for me is that this was actually the first James Bond film I ever saw…

      • Ed

        My first was A View to A Kill, slightly better.

        • Slightly WORSE, in my opinion; even with Walken, it just… it doesn’t… meh.

          • Zorin clearly wasn’t his own weapon of choice.

  • Jake

    Had this been a remake of a Bond film Sir Sean HADN’T done (like, say, OHMSS), then I may be kinder to it. But the fact that it was one he’d done previously (& better) makes it very hard to like it. The fact that that same year’s Octopussy was so much better certainly didn’t help.

    • Really, that’s all they COULD remake. :-/

      Oh, and “Octopussy”? Came out BEFORE “Never Say”… so, how is “Never Say” the opening volley, then, Mike? 😛

  • Guysmiley2009

    Hey, Mendo… it’s Lois Maxwell, as in Lois Griffin… not Louise Maxwell as in Louise Brooks. I dig your stuff, but being an asshole only works if your sarcasm hits accurately.

    • Michael A. Novelli

      I…apologize for not being the exact type of asshole you wanted me to be?

      • Guysmiley2009

        I’ll forgive you if you rip Licence to Kill the new asshole it deserves

        • It doesn’t deserve one… but “A View to a Kill” sure does!

          • Michael A. Novelli

            Right now, the only Bond episode we have in the queue is the second half of this one, his should hopefully be up in the next two weeks…

          • Guysmiley2009

            Bullshit

          • Michael A. Novelli

            For real. Quantum of Solace has been indefinitely postponed until science invents a way to make film bearable…

          • What, THAT film, or film in general? THAT film is INfinitely bearable…

          • Michael A. Novelli

            Yes, it’s true: I find film in general to be unbearable. That’s why I’m a film critic…

          • Well… if it doesn’t seem too presumptuous of me, I’d rather you do either of the last two Brosnan films, first. 😛

            Barring that, perhaps the sheer brain-boiling idiocy of Connery’s last two EON Bond films will do?

          • Oh, Hell, just go for broke and rip all Bond films, and video-games, and James Bond Jr. episodes, and the US Savings Bond program, and bonding tape, and Golgo 13 movies, and James Pond, and Ian Fleming in general, and . . . (goes off in tangent and starts talking like Foghorn Leghorn for next two weeks after this post).

  • You make many good points and good jokes. I especially like the one about voting for Lyndon Johnson. But you are speaking too quickly. Tone it down just a little.

  • Ricardo Cantoral

    Believe or not, this film was going to be a hell of a lot worse. Check out the script that was written in 1976 when Kevin McClory first attempted to produce the Thunderball remake. How bad was it ? Sharks with robotic limbs killing people in the sewers of New York. I shit you not.

    • You are correct, sir; to make it worse, they did a whole other draft in 1978 with the same plot, but names changed. It reads like “The Spy Who Loved Me” on steroids… and Connery was a co-writer on it (along with McClory and novelist Len Deighton, who should’ve known better).

      • Ricardo Cantoral

        Yeah, I was shocked to see Deighton’s name on that horrid script. I would like to know what ideas he contributed exactly.

  • Ricardo Cantoral

    BTW, I would not call Edward Fox, who plays M, a “no name”.

  • Stumpy Pedisco

    What kind of asshole only posts half a review?

    • Michael A. Novelli

      That’s how we keep you in suspense. 😀

      • Stumpy Pedisco

        Plinkett would never do that to me……

        • Stumpy Pedisco

          And he rapes and murders both cats and people!

  • cyberjohn

    What’s your beef with quantum Micheal

    • Michael A. Novelli

      Let’s see: it’s boring, melodramatic, obsessed with showing us how “serious” it can be, and, for all the emphasis on showing us the consequences of the characters actions, I never felt like the story continued Casino Royale. And, like most bad sequels, it tried to fix things that weren’t broken…

      • Ricardo Cantoral

        Quantum of Solace felt like bits and pieces of a film that was once whole. I wanted to enjoy it but it functioned on such a dumb formula; Characters talk, random shots of mundane things, and then someone is killed. That’s the whole film. Even less of a Bond film than the previous outting.

        • Thomas Stockel

          I am not a big fan of the movie myself. The main villain is not very threatening, interesting or charismatic, and his minion even less so. Phillip Seymor Hoffman was a far, far better villain in MI:3, that is how a guy who does not look physically imposing imposes his will upon others.

          I dunno, the whole Bond-is-on-the-run thing had been done a couple times already (Die Another Day, License To Kill), so watching again was boring.

          • Ricardo Cantoral

            The very notion of Bond quitting MI6 for the sake of revenge goes against the character entirely. Anybody who has read and understood Casino Royale would realize how much the secret service means to him.

          • He DIDN’T quit in “Quantum of Solace”; he quit in “Licence to Kill” — in “Solace”, he was doing his job the whole way through, but M had to realize that… which she didn’t until the end, because Quantum-connected higher-ups in the government were pulling the wool over her eyes.

            A smart plot, hmmm?

          • Ricardo Cantoral

            Yes, their devious ulterior motive of stealing water.

            There wasn’t a huge difference between what Bond did in LTK or QOS. The whole going rogue thing has always been a stupid idea in the series and it faired to no better the third time, the secound being Die Another Day.

          • Michael A. Novelli

            Now, what’s turned me off of the newer James Bond films is their complete lack of irony. I have to imagine that even hardcore Bond fans must watch some of the Connery era movies and admit to themselves, “It’s a little silly.” I don’t mean this as a bad thing, since Fleming was always slyly winking at us anyway. Bond’s appeal, at least to more casual filmgoers, isn’t that we buy that he can drive a car on two tires and shoot people at the same time, it’s that he just looks so badass while doing it. For all the backlash about Moore sparking a movement that eventually turned Bond into a “jokey superhero”, that was always kind of the case. That’s how people like him. Besides, CR and QoS try too hard to be Bourne movies…

          • Ricardo Cantoral

            Fleming certainly had a ton of silly things in his book. No matter what verison of Thunderball you read, or watch, it’s still rather odd that James Bond accidentally stumbles on a plot abduct Nuclear Weapons while visiting a health spa. Doctor No was even more over the top in the books, and I speak of the namesake character and the book.

            As for Craig’s Bond films, I see some good ideas but it’s painfully obvious that they want this character to be a run of the mill action hero. In Casino Royale, that whole episode with the Miami Airport could easily have been something John McClane would have got caught up in. Also they really need to stop with the stupid homages to the past films. In Quatum of Solace, they aknowledged The Spy Who Loved Me three times.

          • The silly works to a degree, but the Roger Moore movies just irk me the wrong way. So does Die Another Day. The Craig movies bore me, so I don’t watch those too often. Hell, I watch the Niven Casino Royale more than the Craigsino Royale version!

            Meh. Find my “Bond is Beer” post on the Golden Gun recap.

          • It’s a hell of a lot more smarter than what the people above you would have written-left up to them, it would have been car chases, heavy gadget use, lots of sex with interchangeable ladies, and all of the rest of the stuff that doomed the series previously, leading up to…Casino Royale & Quantum of Solace!

            @Ricardo Cantoral: Bond previously wanted to quit the service in the novel and movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service because he had become tired of gallivanting around Europe and the world searching for Blofeld; he and the original M almost come to blows over this issue, and Bond then does quit (but Moneypenny just changes the letter to a leave of absence, knowing Bond didn’t really mean it.) It is only when Bond meets Tracy and her gangster dad, that he’s able to really find Blofeld. So no, if Bond can threaten to quit, or almost quit, it can make for a great story, just like the novel where Bond suffers a severe head wound, and has to stop a scheme from happening with said head wound.

          • Ricardo Cantoral

            Bond’s threat to quit in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was just a moment of pure frustration. The same can be said for The Living Daylights (in the short story and film) when Bond didn’t care if M fired him. Even when Blofeld killed Tracy, he didn’t quit the service to go on a manhunt to find Blofeld. He tried desperately to get his life back together. Bond could not depart from the secret service or else he would have no purpose in life. Licence To Kill totally undermines the character and reduces him to an American action hero.

      • Personally, I think “Quantum” gets enough beef from “die-hard” Bond fans; no need to get heat from a man who’s only casually into them… :-/

        Things needed to be resolved, did they not? As for “bad sequels”, I know I’m going against the grain in saying this, but I’d include “Aliens”, not “Quantum of Solace”, in that category.

        If nothing else, it’s a HELL of a lot better than most of the Brosnan and Moore efforts, and, despite taking nothing but the title from Fleming, it feels more like it came from Fleming’s pen than even “Casino Royale” (which itself deviated a lot from its source text).

        I know I’m going to get a lot of “tl;dr” responses, but I’m glad I got that off my chest. 🙂

        • So-called ‘Bond fans’ like Mr. Novelli who think that a James Bond film is NOTHING but gadgets, big action sequences, fast cars, hot women, and that’s it. Apparently they’ve never read any of the James Bond novels-which have zero to little gadgets in them, and where Bond has a lot of injuries, goes through a lot of hell, has personal moments (emotional and otherwise) and also has better, more well-connected-to-the-real-world stories like Quantum Of Solace.

          I wonder what the so-called Bond fans would do if they were indeed forced to read said novels (Fleming’s, Amis’s, Gardner’s, etc.)? Probably their heads would explode.

          • For fun, I’m going to go out on a limb and proclaim, in my house, that the movie Bond is an Elseworlds Bond, and that the real Bond is James Bond, Jr.

            I’m lying. I do prefer the novels, though. What I don’t like is Bond video-games like play like Tomb Raider.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Actually, I enjoy the Bond Books, when I come to read them, however the only GOOD new-Bond (after the shitty reboot) was “Skyfall”, because it finally again had some humour in it. Casino Royale is a mixed bag in all honesty. And Solace… while it tells an original story it is as dull and humourless as it can get.

  • Neemz

    “and a lot of random no-names playing Q, M, and Moneypenny”

    Edward Fox a “no name”? And how famous would Bernard Lee have been had he not been cast as Sir Miles Messervy in 1962? Ditto Desmond Llewelyn and Lois Maxwell.

    Alec McCowen and Pamela Salem are not “no names” either, at least if you live on the correct side of the Atlantic.

  • Neemz

    All the health food/free radicals stuff was in the original Ian Fleming book “Thunderball”. M had gone on a health food kick and was trying to “convert” Bond.

    The line about filling the cup “from here” is a direct ripoff from the UK sitcom “Porridge”, which was written by the writers of “Never” (Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais).

    Why is it considered important that Rowan Atkinson be well known to US audiences? Does it confuse them if they see a foreign actor they don’t know?

    Largo’s boat was called the Disco Volante in both “Thunderball” and Fleming’s original novel.

    • Ricardo Cantoral

      I found that whole Shrublands episode quite funny in the books. Especially the part when Bond was cursing M for sending him there. In general, there is a lot of funny and silly stuff about Bond in the books and movies but NSNA was just dumb.

      • Amen. Are you also giving credit to the Gardner and Benson novels’ Bond as well?

        • Ricardo Cantoral

          Sorry but I generally hate the continuation novels. There have only been two Bond novels worth reading after Fleming’s final work was published; Colonel Sun and Christopher Wood’s novelization of The Spy WHo Loved Me.

    • Michael A. Novelli

      “Why is it considered important that Rowan Atkinson be well known to US audiences? Does it confuse them if they see a foreign actor they don’t know?”

      It might if they’re watching this film and don’t know who he is or why I’m making such a big thing about him…

    • Joe Informatico

      Hey, everything sounds better in Italian.

      • Michael A. Novelli

        Amen, cumpano…

  • George Kaplan

    I am glad that two others expressed a level of concern over Eddy Fox being referred to as a “random no-name.” After all, he’s the only actor with a bicep in his face.

  • Olaf_the_Lofty

    I think Kim Basinger comes under the heading of “super hot chicks”. Certainly in the Eighties she was one of Hollywood’s top leading actresses.

    • Michael A. Novelli

      If you look closely, I think you’ll find that I never said anything about Kim Bassinger’s looks in this video, at least not that I remember…

  • cyberjohn

    The differnce being that in Porridge it was funny in NSNA it wasn’t

  • K Shinn

    Another quick side note on two points – Bond’s piss does not instantly kill that henchman, he dies from the half-a-dozen or so comedy syringes and scalpels that impale him in the back. And Largo’s yacht is called the “Flying Saucer” in both versions – the original just disguises it slightly by using the Italian phrase, “Disco Volante”. Excellent review!

    • Ricardo Cantoral

      What was really dumb in that scene is 1. Why was Lippe (the henchman) so overwhelmed by urine getting splashed in his face ? Was it corrosive ? 2. He merely bumped into all that glass so how could it have killed him ?

      In general, it was really dumb scene. The most painful part was when the fight was synchronized with boxing match occuring on the TV.

      And FYI, Lippe was played by Wrestler/Actor Pat Roach. He was the big German guy fighting Indiana Jones in Raiders of The Lost Ark and the big Indian in Temple of Doom.

      • K Shinn

        1. It’s BOND’s urine. Bearing in mind how much he drinks,getting an eyeful of his wee is probably like having a large shot-glass of Polish pure spirit chucked in your corneas.

        2. He doesn’t just bump into glass, HE GETS IMPALED ON HALF A DOZEN COMEDY SYRINGES AND SCALPELS which just happen to be arranged in such a stupid way that he receives multiple serious stab wounds…

        • “HE GETS IMPALED ON HALF A DOZEN COMEDY SYRINGES AND SCALPELS ”

          You win one internet.

        • Ricardo Cantoral

          I do understand that’s what the death was suppose to look like, and it did, However, his impact on that shelf seemed just a tad too soft, don’t you think ?

  • spiff2268

    Damn, I’m starting to feel old. The first Bond film I ever saw was “Moonraker” in the theaters. I know it’s one of the dumbest Bond films but it’s still my favorite.

    • Same. It was still playing in theaters when I was born, and it, Superman I & II, and Empire Strikes Back are the earliest visions of memory I have. Not that a baby would even know why a guy in a circle is shooting at us, why laser beams are shooting everywhere, what is a beard (Drax’s poor-man’s James Mason’s Nemo impression), and other things like that. There’s a picture in our family album of my Dad holding me in front of the discount theater’s lobby poster of Moonraker. My Mom said he thought it was the cat’s meow. Today, I hate the film.

  • Voyagrvi

    Not sure why anyone thought this movie would be good, and why Connery agreed to be in it. They shoulda backed off the moment the name ‘Lorenzo Semple Jr’ was mentioned. The script he churned out for McClory was so terrible, it makes the loopy Gerry Anderson-Tony Barwick treatment for Moonraker from the early 70s look like OHMSS. Things were so bad, Connery hired the guys who wrote the classic sitcom Porridge to spice the script up. Yes, two comedians, in a film that wasn’t supposed to be a comedy. It’s like getting the Wachowskis to ‘improve’ Invasion Of The Body Snatc….what, they did? When? And they ruined it, you say? Gee. What a surprise.

    To save time, here is the history of Chunderbore aka Thunderboring aka Lots And Lots And Lots Of Swimming. Not interested in this? Then don’t read it, you simpleton. Ahem:

    1) 1959/60/61. Fleming, Whittingham and McClory come up with a treatment for a Bond film. This was prior to Eon getting the rights. Film is called Thunderball. Cue juvenile sniggering.
    2) Film is not made. Fleming shrugs and writes a book based on the treatment. Forgets to credit the other two guys. Possibly cos they didn’t do a heck of a lot. McClory, who felt he created SPECTRE and Blofeld (he didn’t) sues him. Jack Whittingham facepalms and wishes he’d never got involved.
    3) Brief but nasty court case. Fleming gets the rights to own the book, as long as he credits the other two at the start. McClory gets the rights to make a Bond film of any sort, as long as it’s Thunderball. Fleming is fatally weakened by the stress, but rallies in order to ignore the pleading of everyone around him and binge drink and chain smoke and gorge himself with rich food for the
    remaining eight months of his life. He dies in 1964 in his mid 50s, to no-one’s great shock.
    4) Very dull movie of Thunderball made in 1965. Hugely popular, even though it’s easily the worst
    Bond film to date. Holds title until 1971, when Diamonds Are Forever comes out and makes even the TV version of Casino Royale more worth watching.
    5) Fastforward to late 70s. Len Deighton/Connery script based on Thunderball comes close to being made. Called ‘Warhead’. It falls over. Moonraker premieres and makes people pine for the artistic brilliance and sober grimness of Live And Let Die.
    6) More court rubbish. Warhead is thrown away, replaced by an almost identical script by that idiot from the Batman show. Inexplicably it is made, and gets hammered by the boring but sensible Octopussy at the box office. Connery manages somehow to look younger than he did 8 years earlier, and shrugs off reports that the NSNA set was a hell hole of despair and incompetence.
    7) 1990. Timothy Dalton gets the Lazenby treatment and is blamed for wrecking the franchise because he was made to perform in two very uninvolving and “out of character” Bond films, and the franchise seems to have croaked. Kevin McClory comes out of cryosleep and proposes making Thunderball again. With Dalton. Warhead is the name again. Eon and MGM tell McClory to hit the road. Four years later, Irish TV star Pierce Brosnan saves Cubby Broccoli from having to live on just $100,000 a month with GoldenEye. The next three films slide into the sort of crass stupidity and camp wankerishness that made most of Roger Moore’s efforts so horrible, and the franchise dies again, only to revive with the relentlessly wooden and wholly unlikable Daniel Craig for about two minutes before falling over again.

    What a lot of bother for a film that was never any bloody good even when it was first made.

    • Michael A. Novelli

      And if anyone ever wondered why I do the bare minimum of research for this show, this is why. Bravo!

    • Ricardo Cantoral

      You know what ? Give me Diamonds Are Forever and the six that preceded it over any Bond made afterwards.

  • Cristiona

    There was a lot of gasoline in that chick. Or in the pen, I guess.

    • Michael A. Novelli

      Well, she did seem to have a lot of hairspray on her head. That probably didn’t help…

      • Ricardo Cantoral

        You thought the film sunk low enough with the comedy but then they actually the guall to pull the “blown up person’s smoking shoes” bit.

  • Olaf_the_Lofty

    Good stuff! Thank you. A couple of highlights:
    c.7:20. I don’t know if that’s the stupidest costume any actress has ever worn in a Bond film, but it has to be high on the list. She looks like a plastic disco pirate.
    c.11:00. Now how carefully composed the shot is to stop us seeing that Bond’s ridiculous rocket frame is actually suspended from a crane.

    • Thing is, Olaf… the actress who played her designed it herself. She designed ALL her costumes in the film, in fact… sorta shows why she’s rarely worked again, but, hey, fun villainess. 😛

      • Michael A. Novelli

        I for one don’t see why insisting on dressing like a Henchman from Power Rangers should be a bar to success as an actress, but then again I have no idea why anyone thought this film would be any good, so there you go…

        • Apparently, her character motivation was “Kali/black-widow spider” — she apparently lives for killing, and the orgasmic joy it brings her (damn, never thought I’d type those words).

          She’s like Xenia Onatopp from “GoldenEye”, except there’s more reason to have her in the plot; I read an interview the actress gave (in a book devoted to ALL the “Thunderball” projects — not a light read), and she apparently wanted every outfit to have something to kill with. Her pillbox hat at the casino? On it are lots of little spiky knives and such (and that’s the example she GAVE… :-P).

          • Ricardo Cantoral

            I think Fatima Blush, just barely, holds the film together. In one of those rare moods when I watch NSNA, I usually turn it off after Blush dies.

            Klaus Maria Brandauer also did a great job but like Connery, the script gives him nothing to do.

  • Ricardo Cantoral

    If there one scene to compare between NSNA and TB it’s the one with Bond telling Domino that her brother is dead. You really don’t need to say a damn word after that.

  • Ricardo Cantoral

    BTW, Micheal have you looked up Lorenzo Semple Jr’s name on the IMDB ? That would explain a lot about the script.

    • Michael A. Novelli

      Well, as I’ve mentioned, I try not to do too much research for these videos (it would be out of character for Mendo to know too much about anything he’s talking about*), but I’m not unfamiliar with his work…

      *Also, as a critic, at least as far as these videos go, I firmly believe that a movie should rise or fall on its own. Backstory is irrelevent if the quality isn’t on-screen…

      • Ricardo Cantoral

        I see your point but I think it would have been some terrific comic material for your review. 😉

        • Michael A. Novelli

          I agree. However, unless the stupity of something needs context I think it’s better to leave things loose. Besides, people from outside the site already seem to think I come off as a bully for not loving their favorites films; wouldn’t want to make things too personal ;)…

  • Guest

    Michael,

    If I could offer one criticism, it would be that you talk too fast. Slow down, man.

    • Michael A. Novelli

      It may surprise you to learn I’m actually speaking much slower than I normally do…

  • Brian O’Connell

    The way it segues from the cat to the nuclear explosion, I guess predates lolcats, “I can haz nucular wepponz?”

  • Michael A. Novelli

    I’m not seeing very many comments about the second half. What did y’all make of it?

  • Me like recap, parts uno and two.

  • Gunflyer

    I dunno I thought this Miss Moneypenny was pretty damn hot… but the sexiest Moneypenny was without a doubt the lady in The Living Daylights. Holy SHIT that lady was hot hot hot.

  • Tony

    Are you honestly suggesting that no one saw “The Man Who Would Be King.” That film is a classic & one of the reasons Sir Sean now has that AFI award

  • You were complaining that the plain-looking female characters were played by actual average looking women instead of the usual Hollywood Homely girls???

    • MichaelANovelli

      Hard to say; this episode was so long ago I don’t even remember writing it, or much about the movie.  Though, that may just be the haze of chemical dependency…  🙂

      • As a reminder, you more or less stated that most of the female characters, even the ones that are meant to be plain/bookish like Moneypenny were less than hot. 

        My comment was refering to the Hollywood Homely trope which tends to cast hot/beautiful women to play characters who are meant to be plain/average looking and that NSNA more or less averts this trope.

        • MichaelANovelli

          Well, if I were to hazard a guess, this was probably during one of my periods when I was more into men than women.  Those happen from time to time…

  • MichaelANovelli

    Ah, memories… One of my favorites from the old apartment!