The Night Circus Book Review

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It’s simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black and white striped canvas tents create a winding path towards the center, peppered along the way with food stands, side acts and drink carts.

The heartbeat of the circus is an exquisite clock, winding and turning with intricate detail, counting down the seconds until the circus closes at sunrise…for this circus, Le Cirque des Reves, is only open at night.

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For attendees of Le Cirque des Reves, the circus is a whimsical dream. Acrobats fly through the air, kittens dance and do tricks, a room filled with jars unleashes scents from all over the world, and illusionists make themselves disappear in the blink of an eye. The cold night air is filled with the scents of cinnamon rolls and caramel popcorn and a true sense of magic uplifts and heightens the senses.

And much like any circus, nothing is what it seems at Le Cirque des Reves. Behind the scenes there’s a fierce competition underway, a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been training since childhood to compete in a “game” that’s been going on for years preceding them.

Under the watchful eye of two mercurial instructors, these young performers are about to embark on a challenge that will only leave one of them standing…and the circus is but the stage for this epic battle of imagination and will.

But despite their game, despite rules and despite themselves, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love…a deep, magical love that slows down time, warms a cold room, makes the lights flicker, and causes these young competitors to decide between breathing life into their future or each other.

Written in rich, seductive prose that is beautiful in every sense of the word, The Night Circus is a feast for all the senses. It has the whimsy of Alice in Wonderland, the colors and characters of Big Fish, and the magic of Harry Potter. I was immersed in this book from start to end and was honestly sad when I had to leave Le Cirque des Reves behind (and even sadder that I couldn’t actually be there in person!).

Much like the circus itself, this book came to me without warning. I knew nothing about it going in, only that it had a Tim Burton-esque cover that instantly had me excited. While some parts were a little slower than others…and some characters surprisingly fell kind of flat, I loved The Night Circus and was instantly on IMDb wondering when the movie was coming out because, honestly…Tim Burton would do this book justice.

I love stories that transport me to another world…that make it so easy to close my eyes and imagine myself somewhere else. For me, The Night Circus was one of those stories. I felt the cold air on my skin, tasted the sweet cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. I looked up and saw the striped tents, and somewhere in the distance, the soft ticking of the clock kept reminding me how little time I had in this world. Filled with dream-like beauty and wonder, The Night Circus is for anyone who believes in magic, imagination, and most importantly, love.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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24 Fun Facts about Steve Carell

It’s a freaking scary world out there…but thankfully, we have Steve Carell.

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Best known for his role as Michael Scott in the US version of The Office, Carell is arguably one of America’s most versatile comics. He’s done it all – movies, TV, commercials, stage acting…he’s taken on hilarious roles, goofy roles, serious roles and scary roles. Not only is he talented, but he’s beloved by almost everyone who has the pleasure of working with him.

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Today is Carell’s 56th birthday, and whether you love him as the adorkable Michael Scott, the hilarious Brick Tamland or Andy the Virgin, or as one of his more serious characters in Dan in Real Life, Little Miss Sunshine, or Foxcatcher, there’s no denying Carell has got some awesome acting chops.

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To celebrate this genuine loveable man on his b-day, here are 24 fun facts about Steve Carell!

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24 Fun Facts about Steve Carell

Carell is the son of an electrical engineer (father) and a psychiatric nurse (mother).

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Carell was editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper.

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Carell’s original plan was to become a lawyer. He attended Ohio’s Denison University, where he received a history degree in 1984 before planning on to continue with law school.

While at Dennison college, Carell became a member of the country’s oldest collegiate improv troupe, Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company.

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Carell met his wife, Nancy Walls, while at the famed Second City in Chicago.

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Carell also applied for a role on SNL, but lost out to Will Ferrell.

The 1991 film, Curly Sue, was Carell’s film debut.

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But it was The Dana Carvey Show that helped advance Carell’s career. He worked in the writer’s room alongside Stephen Colbert, Louis CK, Robert Smigel, Bob Odenkirk, and Charlie Kaufman.

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Carell’s friendship with Colbert led directly to his breakout role on The Daily Show. He was on The Daily Show for more than 5 years.

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Like his foil, Michael Scott (The Office), Carell also loves hockey. His favorite position is goalkeeper and he even plays for a men’s league in Burbank, CA.

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Carell is maybe best known for his role as Michael Scott; however, producer Ricky Gervais was considering a whole handful of other actors before Carell even popped up. This list included Paul Giamatti, Hank Azaria, Bob Odenkirk, and Martin Short.

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But Carell would go on to win a Golden Globe for the role in 2006 and would come to rack up 12 other Golden Globe nominations for his portrayal of Michael Scott. In totality, Carell has been nominated for more than 120 awards and has won only 33 of them.

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Both Carell and his wife own a general store in Marshfield, Massachusetts. Residents claim that Carell will occasionally stop in and help stock shelves.

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Carell’s wife has appeared alongside Steve in several of his projects, including The Office, The 40-Year Old Virgin, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.

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The famous chest-waxing scene in The 40-Year Old Virgin was real. He wanted his reactions to be as life-like as possible. What a pro!

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Carell’s role in Little Miss Sunshine (Uncle Frank) – and arguably one of my favorite role’s of his – was actually written for Bill Murray. The role almost went to Robin Williams before Carell was ultimately cast.

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Carell is also a talented fife player.

James Spader was actually gunning for the role of Brick Tamland in Anchorman…but producers thought he was too good for the role. Spader would go on to replace Carell in The Office after Carell left the show.

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For his role in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Carell actually learned a few magic tricks from David Copperfield. He had to sign a non-disclosure agreement swearing him to secrecy.

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Before Sean Penn starred as Harvey Milk in the biopic, Milk, Carell was cast to play Milk in the film, The Mayor of Castro Street. Carell’s film got scrapped after Penn’s film was released.

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Carell was awarded star number 2,570 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 6, 2016. Both Adam McKay and Will Ferrell accompanied him and helped unveil the star.

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Carell gave a commencement speech to the graduates of Princeton University, one of whom was his niece, in 2012.

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For his Oscar-nominated performance in Foxcatcher, Carell went full-method for the part, not interacting with his co-stars or crew on set. His fellow co-star, Mark Ruffalo, said he found Carell “terrifying” while filming.

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The director of Foxcatcher claimed that Carell’s character John du Pont was so unpredictable that he wanted to cast someone that no one would ever imagine playing that role.

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Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

 

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10 Creative Ways to Upcycle Old Clothes

I recently watched a documentary about where your “donated clothes” go and it shook me hard. Try as you might to do the right thing and donate your gently-used clothes to charity, most of them just end up in a landfill. This was upsetting as I’ve dumped tons of clothes in those “donation bins” that may as well just be garbage bags.

So I’m exploring new and creative ways to reuse my clothes, or upcycle them into something else. From DIY home decor to new trendy clothes everyone will love, here are 10 clever and fun ways to upcycle your old clothes.

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10 Creative Ways to Upcycle Old Clothes

Embroider a fun design on an old tee shirt with this Embroidered Tee Shirt DIY.

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Have some left-over tee’s or fabric scraps? Create your own Fabric Twine, great for other crafting needs!

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Turn your favorite tee shirts into cute tote bags, perfect for grocery shopping!

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Some of dad’s old shirts can be transformed into sachets or coin bags.

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Combine two tee shirts to create this fun Reverse Applique Tee.

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Looking for something quick and easy? This DIY No-Sew Tassle Tee is a fun way to jazz up your wardrobe.

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Old jeans can be upcycled into a fun denim rug.

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Ripped or old clothes can be cut up and reshaped into a striking geometric pillow.

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Liven up a tired old button-down shirt by turning buttons into little ice cream cones!

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All this sweater needs is a little splash of pom-pom!

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Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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Woman Inherits the Earth

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“God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs, God creates man, Man destroys God, Man creates dinosaurs…Dinosaurs eat man…Woman inherits the earth.”
Jurassic Park

IMAGE CREDIT: Lee Draws Stuff

Come back every Tuesday for “The Bees Knees”, where I post the best quotes from my favorite movies, TV shows, songs, and books.

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8 Dinner and Dessert Pairings

On any given weekday, about 90% of my drive home from work is trying to figure out what to make for dinner.

It’s near impossible to find the time to make a tasty home-cooked meal, let alone a dessert to match. However, these tasty dinner and dessert pairings are sure to be crowd-pleasers no matter what the occasion.

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Whether you’re planning a family dinner on Sunday or just a casual meal on Wednesday, these dinner and dessert pairings will give you a new appreciation for food and flavor!

8 Dinner and Dessert Pairings

A delicious Red Wine Braised Short Rib dinner is made even better when followed by a Brownie Truffle with Cream and Raspberry Jam. Red wine is what connects these two together…so make sure you have plenty for drinking with dessert once dinner is done!

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Everyone is going to love this Roasted Garlic and Tomato Fettuccine, but anything made with garlic comes at a stinky price! Combat garlic breathe with a slice of tasty Classic Apple Pie. Apples help combat stinky breathe, especially of the garlic variety!

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If you’re looking for something a little healthier, try this Chipotle Chicken Salad. It’s a great summer go-to and a quick dinner for weeknight planning. Finish your meal off with a slice of Lemon Pudding Bundt Cake, perfect for giving you a taste of something sweet without the guilt.

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This all-American meal of Crispy Baked BBQ Chicken deserves a sweet surrender to another classic, Peach Shortcake. Best of all, the dessert is gluten free!

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A splash of honey helps combine this tasty dinner and dessert combo. Delicious Honey Mustard Broiled Salmon is finished with a helping (or two!) of Peach Toasts with Honey-Whipped Ricotta. This is a tasty summer meal that’s great for company.

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These Cheesy Spinach Lasagna Rolls make a great family dinner. They cook up quickly and are a fun alternative to traditional lasagna. Finish things off with another Italian classic, Berry-Misu!

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Take a trip to India with this tasty Mixed Vegetable Curry (you can even add meat if you want). Then cool it down with a sweet Strawberry Lassi Smoothie, great if your dinner was a little on the spicy side.

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Drizzle your Flat Iron Steak with a tasty basil aioli. Great for putting on tacos or just serving as is, this steak is a crowd-pleasing dinner no matter what the occasion. Ironically, strawberries compliment basil quite nicely, making these Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches the perfect finish to this meal.

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Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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Mad Women Book Review

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Life in the 60s was a rip-roaring time. Creativity was at an all-time high, the young generation influenced everything from fashion to advertising, and new technology paved the way for a title wave of movements, protests, commercials and TV shows.

However, if you were a women looking to join the workforce, it was a very different world. Sexism ran rampant. Jobs were often limited to being a secretary or an assistant. For most women, having a job was something fun to do until she was able to settle down and start a family…but for some women, a job meant money, freedom, a reason to get out of bed in the morning. And for an even lesser few, a job was everything.

Fans of AMC’s Mad Men know this all too well. Betty Draper (January Jones) tries joining the workforce again but leaves when she realizes she can’t get dinner on the table in time. Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) takes her job as office manager very seriously, but is constantly berated by inappropriate gestures and comments. But Peggy Olsen (Elizabeth Moss) is the exception. Olsen starts her career at Sterling Cooper as a young secretary, then falls into a copy gig where she writes ads for free on her own time. She eventually fights and claws her way through the corporate jungle to have a permenant spot on the copy team and eventually even works her way up to copy chief.

But how real is Olsen’s story? When we know women were treated like second-class citizens, especially in the office environment, how believable is it to think that a woman could come to take on her own agency some day? As it turns out, it’s actually pretty believable.

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In her book, Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the ‘60s and Beyond, Jane Maas discusses her rise to fame, starting as a copywriter and fighting her way up the ladder to become a creative director and industry leader.  A snarky and fun book that moves at a quick pace, Mad Women sets out to tell the other side of what was going on in those sky-rise buildings in downtown Manhattan.

For us younger readers, this is a first-hand account to the sexism our mothers and grandmothers endured as the price of entry into American professional life. Not only does it showcase Maas’s slow and steady rise to fame, but also covers other important issues of the time, including unequal pay, unfair treatment, and the choices many women faced, either by choice or force, between motherhood and their careers.

But this real-life Peggy Olsen story covers some fun stuff, too! Fans of Mad Men often wonder, was there really that much smoking and drinking in the office? Did people really have sex at work? And did account men really take clients out for 3-hour martini lunches? According to Maas, the answer to all these questions is a resounding YES.

Maas leaves nothing off the table, talking about everything from the office lounges that were filled with alcohol of every kind to the Ogilvy & Mather’s annual Boat Ride, a sex-and-booze filled orgy, from which it was said no virgin ever returned intact (however, no mention of a lawnmower in the office!).

With true accounts from the inside and stories that might even make Don Draper blush, Mad Women is a love letter to the women who fought to make something of themselves in a world that had them pigeonholed into homelife. Maas tells her story with great poise, offering credit where credit is due and acknowledging those who helped pave her way (and knock her down).

Like Mad Men, she doesn’t shy away from what made that era so unique. Yes, sexism was rampant and yes, smoking and drinking was permitted pretty much everywhere, but whether you were a creative director or a junior copywriter, there was no denying that advertising in the 60s was nothing if not a freaking grand time.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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19 Fun Facts about Johnny Bravo

Man, I’m pretty!

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In the early 90’s, TBS founder Ted Turner wanted to build an animation empire. His production company purchased Hanna-Barbera (The Flintstones, Space Ghost, Scooby Doo) and launched Cartoon Network in 1992.

The network continued airing those nostalgic cartoons, but Turner was committed to creating unique, original content to get that younger generation hooked on animation.

On July 14, 1997, Cartoon Network debuted a show that would become a cornerstone of that move towards fresh, new content: Johnny Bravo.

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Now, let’s get one thing straight here. I LOVE Johnny Bravo. I love him so much that if you don’t like him, I might have to question our friendship 😉 (not really, but maybe…)

And it would seem that I’m not alone. As a matter of fact, most of the viewers of this classic cartoon are women…and they love it. I don’t know if it’s Johnny’s adorable charm, hilarious chauvinist yet loveable (?) attitude, or the fact that he loves his momma, but this man has a place in the hearts of women all over the world.

To celebrate the 21st anniversary of this narcissistic greaser with the killer pompadour, here are 19 fun facts about Johnny Bravo!

19 Fun Facts about Johnny Bravo

The fact that Johnny sounds just like Elvis is no coincidence. Creator Efram Giovanni Bravo (!) Partible wanted voice actor, Jeff Bennett, to create a mix of old and young Elvis for Johnny’s voice.

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Elvis wasn’t the only inspiration, though. James Dean, Danny Zuko (Grease), and Michael Jackson were also inspirations into how Johnny looked and moved.

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Speaking of Jeff Bennett, here’s what the voice of Johnny Bravo looks like…in all his forms! This guy’s got some talent!

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Naturally, the competition was tough for this role, but what allowed Bennett to get the part was his ability to do the karate chop sound effect with his mouth without skipping a beat!

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Three of Johnny Bravo’s biggest supporters at Cartoon Network were women. Ellen Cockrill, Janet Mazotti, and Julie Kane-Ritsch fought to keep this loveable chauvinist on air.

And they weren’t alone. When creators showed the first episode to viewers, every woman in the audience was applauding…just goes to show you he’s a total ladies’ man!

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Johnny Bravo was based on Partible’s senior thesis project, an animated short called Mess o’ Blues. The short featured an Elvis impersonator with jet black hair and a white jumpsuit. There has been no official release of the short, though some snippets of footage do exist.

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Much of the animation of Johnny Bravo was inspired by Al Hirshfeld illustrations. Hirshfeld, who was famous for his caricatures, inspired Bravo’s head and hair, specifically.

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Johnny Bravo was Partible’s first rendezvous into TV.

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The legendary Joe Barbera was a weekly visitor to the Bravo writer’s room.

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Johnny Bravo also helped launch the careers of Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) and Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents). MacFarlane was a writer and storyboard artist while Hartman was a writer and director.

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PS: Wanna know more about Family Guy? Check out this post on 32 Fun Facts about Family Guy!

There was talk of a Johnny Bravo movie, starring The Rock, in 2002. The Rock is apparently a huge fan of the cartoon and was completely on board until the project fell through.

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Johnny Bravo is one of five original Cartoon Network shows. He’s so much a part of Cartoon Network that he’s the mascot of Tooner Field.

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India loves Johnny Bravo. Like, LOVES him. So much so that his name was added to their dictionary. It is used to describe someone with a personality similar to Johnny Bravo himself.

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Farrah Fawcett, who also loved the show, made a guest appearance as Little Suzy’s cousin.

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We may not know how old Johnny is, but is birthday is February 14th. How appropriate!

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The name “Johnny Bravo” was inspired by an episode of The Brady Brunch, where Greg got signed on to be a rock star named Johnny Bravo.

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Johnny gets hit by something in every single episode of the series.

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There’s also a theory that Johnny Bravo predicted 9/11. In a scene aired on April 27, 2001, a film poster appears to show a burning tower emitting a smoke cloud with the words, “COMING SOON”. Four months later, the attack on the Twin Towers happened.

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Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

 

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