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Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy 
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Post Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
There's been some discussion and yes, I daresay, some acrimony in the Last Movie I Watched thread about my controversial claim that Thunderball was a Bottom 5 Bond. Words were said, many of them mildly accusatory. My status as a Bond-movie-seer-all-of-person was called into direct question. Yes, it has been quite a scandal. I doubt Reelviews shall ever recover.

After I dealt with my pain and tears, I decided to get back on the horse, and rank all the Bond movies. I think we did this before at some point, but no matter. The most logical way to rank these movies, as far as I can tell, is with tiers. We use them in Fantasy Baseball all the time -- instead of trying to decide who the best first baseman is, you come up with various tiers so in case Prince Fielder is taken you can grab Albert Pujols and feel you've gotten roughly the same player. It makes sense here as well I think.

Within each tier I have them ordered roughly the way I want them, but that's far more fluid than between the tiers themselves.

Tier 1: The Absolute Best
Casino Royale - I was a dyed-in-the-wool Connery man, but this one blew me away and hasn't stopped impressing me since.
Goldfinger - The quintessential Bond, with roughly 300 iconic scenes
From Russia with Love - I need to rewatch this, but I remember it holding up as a superior spy thriller, even without the Bond touch
On Her Majesty's Secret Service -- Suffers a bit from Lazenby being a black hole of anti-charisma, but it's a pretty terrific film which earns its last scene

Tier 2: Good to Very Good Entries in the Series
Dr. No - Though it's a little unpolished and lacks the verve that defines the series, it's a great start to the franchise
Skyfall - This one has gained a bit for me upon further thought. I'm still annoyed somewhat by the second act, but there's no doubt this is a very well-made movie, even if not Tier 1
The Spy Who Loved Me - The only Roger Moore movie that truly succeeds in defining his take on the character. Plotwise it's a bit of a rehash of You Only Live Twice, but it's a rollicking good time

Tier 3 - Solid Bond Films
For Your Eyes Only - A nice return to form after the mess that was Moonraker, this one loses a few points for me by virtue of just not being particularly memorable, but it's pretty good overall
The Living Daylights - I think this one's been a bit unfairly maligned. Dalton debuts his steely-eyed take on the character to great effect, and the series says goodbye to some longtime regulars with style.

Tier 4 - Half-Decent to Decent
You Only Live Twice - Continues the "more is more" approach of Thunderball to its detriment, but Donald Pleasance as Blofeld in the underground lair to end all underground lairs makes up for a lot
Tomorrow Never Dies - The best Brosnan by the defaultiest of defaults, with an excellent Pryce as the villain and Michelle Yeoh as a terrific Bond film making up for a lot of stupidity
Goldeneye - It kept the franchise going and that's something I suppose, but I don't find much to like in Brosnan's first entry. There's not much that's terrible either (though Alan Cumming is pretty unsufferable) mind you, but it never manages to rise above "okay" for me

Tier 5 - The Mediocrities and Misfires
Licence to Kill - I appreciate that the series tried to take a dark turn, but there's so much silliness still mixed in that what's left is an unsatisfactory film. I can understand why this one has its defenders, but I don't care for it much.
Live and Let Die - I secretly enjoy lots of this one (Baron Samedi and Teehee are pretty sweet henchmen) and, again, appreciate attempts to be different, but there's that horrible JW Pepper character and interminable boat chase to mar the proceedings.
Quantum of Solace - They introduced a new potential villain in Quantum, they wrapped up the loose threads from Casino Royale and they didn't embarrass the franchise. Other than that, QoS leaves a lot to be desired. It's never outright bad, but it's rarely impressive in any way either.
Die Another Day - Continuing a theme in this tier, I respect that Die Another Day tried to be different (Bond gets tortured!), I like the song even though it gives me a headache, and I like some of the locations. On the other hand, the attempts to reference every previous film are absurd, and the cut-rate CGI is an embarrassment

Tier 6 - The Bad
Thunderball - It's bloated, overstuffed, has the worst actor in the history of time (as Felix Leiter) and, more to the point, it's the turning point of the franchise into camp. Dr. No, From Russia with Love, and Goldfinger were terrific films. Goldfinger is a little bit less serious, for sure, but Thunderball doubles down on preposterousness and set a (bad) standard on what a Bond film should be.
Moonraker - Bond in Space! And he's getting old. And there's a character named Holly Goodhead. I didn't find this one as egregiously terrible as some of the others down the list, but can't really defend it either
Octopussy - Pretty much the same movie as Moonraker as far as I'm concerned -- little plot, lots of dumb puns, Roger Moore way past his prime, absurdity around every corner, etc.
A View to a Kill - And let's keep that Roger Moore misery train rolling with this warmed-over Goldfinger retread, which has a nifty theme song but very little else to recommend it. Although after Holly Goodhead and Octopussy I guess we can be happy Mayday wasn't named Hairy McTwat or something.
Diamonds Are Forever - God I hate this movie. As a child I was convinced that Connery > Anything, and then I saw this cinematic abomination and had to admit that, no, that's not true. Mincing gay assassins, brash and annoying Jill St. John, no gadgets, fake moon landings...ugh, kill me
The World is Not Enough - This one leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I can't even fully articulate what's so bad about it, but I found it particularly uninspired in every way, flatly directed, and Jesus Christ Denise Richards
The Man with the Golden Gun - Incredibly flimsy plot? Check. Most annoying henchman ever? Check. The completely-unasked-for return of JW Pepper? Check. Stunts with slide-whistle sound effects? Check. Christopher Lee may be awesome, but this movie ain't.

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Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:19 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
Hmmm, let's see. I haven't seen them all. Still have some Connery's and Lazenby's to watch, and although I think I saw most of the Moore ones and the first Dalton when I was a teen/kid, I don't remember them well enough to rank. So to be fair, just with the ones I've seen recently and remember.

(using James' tiers)

TIER 1: The Absolute Best
From Russia with Love
Goldfinger

TIER 2: Good to Very Good
Casino Royale
GoldenEye

TIER 3: Solid Bond Films
Dr. No

TIER 4: Half-Decent to Decent
Tomorrow Never Dies
Quantum of Solace

TIER 5: Mediocrities and Misfires
The World Is Not Enough

TIER 6: The Bad
Die Another Day




I also haven't seen Skyfall yet.

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Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:07 am
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
Now I'm waiting for Bond 24 with Sarah Jessica Parker as Hairy McTwat.

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Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:36 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
Ken wrote:
Now I'm waiting for Bond 24 with Sarah Jessica Parker as Hairy McTwat.


Nice to know people actually read my posts :)

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Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:28 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
Nice to know that someone here besides me is picking up on tier lists as a good alternative way of ranking things.

I don't take much issue with your placements. I think I like Dr. No, Thunderball, and Skyfall a bit more than you do, and Casino Royale maybe a bit less. I might also flip the two Dalton entries, bump everything by Moore and Brosnan down a tier or two with the exception of GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, and I would put Live and Let Die and Die Another Day into an oil drum in the hopes that they would eat each other.

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Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:58 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
Ken wrote:
Nice to know that someone here besides me is picking up on tier lists as a good alternative way of ranking things.

I don't take much issue with your placements. I think I like Dr. No, Thunderball, and Skyfall a bit more than you do, and Casino Royale maybe a bit less. I might also flip the two Dalton entries, bump everything by Moore and Brosnan down a tier or two with the exception of GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, and I would put Live and Let Die and Die Another Day into an oil drum in the hopes that they would eat each other.

I'd put Live And Let Die into a cage with Golden Gun and hope they tear each other apart.


Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:51 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
TIER 1: The Absolute Best
Casino Royale
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Goldfinger

TIER 2: Good to Very Good
Skyfall
Tomorrow Never Dies

TIER 3: Solid Bond
Goldeneye
Die Another Day
From russia with Love
You Only Live Twice

TIER 4: Half-Decent to Decent
Thunderball
Dr No
The Man with the Golden Gun

TIER 5: Mediocrities and Misfires
Quantum of Solace
The World is Not Enough
Live and Let Die

TIER 6: The Bad
A View to a Kill
Diamonds are Forever
The Spy Who Loved Me


NOTE: Haven't seen the Dalton Bonds and the Moore bonds from Moonraker to Octopussy


Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:59 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
Top Tier:
Casino Royale
From Russia WIth Love
License To Kill
Goldfinger

Second Tier (Good):
Skyfall
The Spy Who Loved Me
Thunderball
Dr, No.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Tomorrow Never Dies
The Living Daylights

Third Tier (Okay):
You Only Live Twice
For Your Eyes Only
The World Is Not Enough
Goldeneye
Quantum Of Solace

Fourth Tier (Average):
Live And Let Die
Diamonds Are Forever
Octopussy
A View To A Kill

Fifth Tier (Bad):
Moonraker
Man With The Golden Gun
Die Another Day

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Last edited by Jeff Wilder on Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:17 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
I'll give this a go using the same type of ranking method, but I should say that even some of the films I rank in the lesser categories have a fond place in my heart:

Tier 1: The Absolute Best
Goldfinger - The quintessential Bond film. Even though it doesn't have the emotional elements that have made other Bonds more "complete" experiences, it's still an almost unparalleled piece of entertainment.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Apart from not having the leading man it deserves, this is in many ways the best Bond film. It has the best Bond girl, the best musical score, and the best ending. It says quite a bit about the strength of everything else in the film when even the weak casting of James Bond can't bring it down.
Casino Royale - I've probably seen this film over a dozen times at this point, and every time it still feels like the breath of fresh air it was when it was first released. I find the first hour of action somewhat tiring now, but every time it gets to the end, with the iconic line "Bond. James Bond" and the cut to black with the classic theme music, I always get chills. I've been debating with myself whether this film or Skyfall is Daniel Craig's best. For me, it's a very tough call, but for now this one still holds the throne, if only barely.
Skyfall - I saw this for the third time in the theater just yesterday. It was at an independently-owned cheap ticket theater, one I hadn't been to in probably over 15 years. When the movie started up, there was this strange sound coming from behind me, and when I looked back, sure enough, I could see the film projector spinning above. For all I know it's the only theater in the Phoenix area that hasn't completely switched over to digital. Anyway, it doesn't really matter if James Bond's latest is projected on digital or celluloid. It's a celebration of everything that we love about Bond, and a successful re-purposing of everything we love about Bond into a modern era.
From Russia With Love - Bond's second official entry is one of the best Cold War thrillers ever made. It might be the most down-to-earth Bond narrative, and it's slow pacing and general sense of paranoia is something you don't see much of in subsequent Bond films. The fight in the train with Robert Shaw is one of the series' best moments.

Tier 2: Good to Very Good Entries in the Series
Thunderball - Don't get the hate for this one, and it's always been one of my favorites. Yes, it is overlong, and it's book-ended by one of the more silly openings in the series (with the jetpack) and one of the more patience-testing endings (the underwater battles). But everything in between is first-rate Bond, with Connery as good as ever ,the women as good-looking as ever, and a Caribbean setting that's not bad on the eyes either. Plus, it has one of my favorite John Barry scores, second only to On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
The Spy Who Loved Me - Roger Moore's best outing as Bond, by quite some distance. It still has some of the more negative elements that you associate with the Roger Moore films, but it's the only one that is able to take those negative elements and elevate them into something more substantial and entertaining. That opening ski jump off the snowy cliff is one of the true highlights of the entire series.
Goldeneye - One of the first Bond films I ever saw, if not the very first, and so it holds a special place in my heart. But even if that weren't the case, I would still think this was the best Pierce Brosnan effort. Like many of the more recent films, it's overlong, but it's got some great set-pieces and Sean Bean makes for a quality villain. It does have one of the worst examples of product placement ever though, with the BMW that never gets used in any kind of chase sequence.

Tier 3: Solid Bond Films
Dr. No - It's fascinating to go back and watch this after seeing all the place the series went after it. You forget just how low-key most of it is, and just how cold and brutal Connery plays the role. The best moment: when Connery quips "That's a Smith & Wesson, and you've had your six" before coldly taking care of business. Subsequent Connery films would build on this one's potential, but Bond's first outing is still one of the better entries.
You Only Live Twice - Bond was definitely starting to show signs of the silliness that would come to pervade the series in later years, but I'm still really fond of this one. A good part of that is probably the Japanese setting, and it's cool to see Tetsuro Tanba in a Bond film.
License To Kill - Looking back on this one now, it really does seem ahead of its time. It was the first Bond film rated PG-13, and it was certainly a more serious and at times downright grisly entry into the Bond canon. Dalton played the role with an intensity that people might not have been ready for, but time has been pretty good to this film.
Tomorrow Never Dies - Brosnan's second outing is boosted considerably by having Michelle Yeoh as the Bond girl. She's fantastic, and Jonathan Pryce is also interesting as the main villain. There are also some moments that stand out to me as truly bizarre, such as Bond's confrontation with Dr. Kaufman.

Tier 4: Half-Decent To Decent
Diamonds Are Forever - Connery's last outing starts out strong but gets increasingly more eye-rolling as it progresses. Everything before Bond gets to Las Vegas I think is actually pretty solid, but a good portion of the U.S. material is definitely subpar. Connery riding through the Nevada desert in the moon buggy is probably the low point of his tenure as Bond, but even without that segment, this would still be the weakest Connery film. Not without its pleasures though.
Moonraker - I actually don't mind quite a bit of this one, at least up to the point they go into space. Holly Goodhead is one of the worst puns of the series, but I've always felt like the first three-fourths of the film were fairly low-key by Roger Moore standards. Maybe I'm misremembering the film, but it does seem like the whole space aspect eclipses the better elements the film has to offer.
For Your Eyes Only - This is considered one of the better Moore efforts, but I've always thought of it as one of the more unremarkable films in the entire series. I don't think I've seen it all the way through more than two times, far fewer than any other Bond film with the exception of The Living Daylights.
The World Is Not Enough - This one comes very close to crossing that line into pure camp. It's got a goofy villain in Renard, it's got Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist, it's got that one-liner "I thought Christmas only comes once a year" where a face-palm is really the only proper reaction to it. I think it's saved by Sophie Marceau's duplicitous Bond girl, whose relationship with Bond is slightly more interesting that what you'd normally see.

Tier 5: The Mediocrities and Misfires
Live And Let Die - Roger Moore's first outing as Bond is neither his best effort or his worst; it falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. It does have one of my favorite scenes though, when Yaphet Kotto reads off the number on the back of Bond's watch and asks Jane Seymour if he's speaking the truth or not. She says he speaks the truth, but when Bond leaves, he says she "didn't even come close." It was a 50/50 chance, you can't say she didn't even come close! She's either completely right or completely wrong!
The Man With The Golden Gun - I know plenty of people absolutely hate this one, but try as I might, I can't convince myself to join them. Yes, a good chunk of it is quite stupid, but I've always liked its smaller scale, and how the big climax centers on a duel between two killers. Having Christopher Lee as the titular "Man with the Golden Gun" also helps matters.
The Living Daylights - Much like For Your Eyes Only, I've only seen this one a small handful of times, and I've never been able to connect with it. Nothing against Timothy Dalton, who makes for a perfectly decent Bond; it's just that there's something perfunctory about the material surrounding him.

Tier 6: The Bad
A View To A Kill - Once you get past the pleasures of Christopher Walken as the villain, there's very little in this film that stands out as particularly memorable. There's actually not much about this one I can say; I haven't seen it in years, and to be honest, it's not one I've ever really felt the need to see again.
Quantum Of Solace - In Mark Kermode's great review of Daniel Craig's second Bond outing, he says "If it wasn't James Bond in these fight sequences, this would be a Jason Statham movie." Nothing against Jason Statham, but James Bond is not supposed to be a traditional "action hero." He's supposed to be a spy, which is something the filmmakers seem to have completely forgot when making this film. The result is a James Bond film that hardly ever feels like a James Bond film.
Octopussy - The Roger Moore films have always been the jokier and more trivial entries in the Bond canon, but this is the one that finally felt to me like the series had just become one big joke. Individual moments are perfectly fine, but by the time Bond is disarming a bomb in clown makeup, we've moved well past the line of acceptable material.
Die Another Day - The first Bond film I ever saw in theaters, and that's something I'll have to live with for the rest of my days. The film starts with the vaguest hint of promise, but it doesn't take long before any sense of hope evaporates. Between the ice palace, the invisible car, the giant space laser, the unforgivable CGI effects, and Halle Berry at her most cringe-inducing, this is the Bond series' ultimate nadir.

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Last edited by Blonde Almond on Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:27 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
@Jeff

I can only imagine that listing Licence To Kill in two different categories is a commentary on the discord between the strength of the storytelling and the weakness of the story.

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Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:29 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
Ken wrote:
@Jeff

I can only imagine that listing Licence To Kill in two different categories is a commentary on the discord between the strength of the storytelling and the weakness of the story.


I would certainly include LTK in my top tier; my opinion of it has grown exponentially over the years. BBL to post a full list.


Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:57 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
Quote:
Second Tier (Good):
Skyfall
License To Kill
The Spy Who Loved Me
Thunderball



last week you had Thunderball at #1, what caused it to fall that quickly?

viewtopic.php?f=27&t=6262&start=0


Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:01 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
Seeing Thunderball on 70 mm was really a great experience, but it just doesn't hold up to closer home viewing inspection. It's too long, and also feels longer than it is. Sitting through it can be a chore, as it's a very unweildy piece of work.

The Bond series has the run the range of different approaches to filmmaking. At their most extreme, they're as different from one another as Kubrick is from Adam Sandler. This makes it literally impossible to love all of them at once; I doubt I'll ever meet anyone who does. A lot of people I know have a hard time reconciling Casino with Skyfall, let alone Moonraker with License to Kill or Tomorrow Never Dies with You Only Live Twice, etc. You can see the entire series as a kind of masculine expressionism, which still makes Die Another Day the worst since Bond is one-upped by the obnoxious Halle Berry. The ones I like unconditionally are Goldfinger, Majesty, Spy Who Loved Me, LTK, World is Not Enough, Casino, and Skyfall, but many of the others remain intermittently interesting. DAD is the only one which I consistently avoid.


Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:47 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
calvero wrote:
Quote:
Second Tier (Good):
Skyfall
License To Kill
The Spy Who Loved Me
Thunderball



last week you had Thunderball at #1, what caused it to fall that quickly?

viewtopic.php?f=27&t=6262&start=0


The License To Kill on two lists was a mistake. Corrected it.

The more I thought about it, the more Thunderball seemed to fall off. So I gave it a re-watch. Still close to the top. But not quite there. The undersea battle goes on a tad too long.

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Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:21 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
MGamesCook wrote:
Seeing Thunderball on 70 mm was really a great experience, but it just doesn't hold up to closer home viewing inspection. It's too long, and also feels longer than it is. Sitting through it can be a chore, as it's a very unweildy piece of work.

The Bond series has the run the range of different approaches to filmmaking. At their most extreme, they're as different from one another as Kubrick is from Adam Sandler. This makes it literally impossible to love all of them at once; I doubt I'll ever meet anyone who does. A lot of people I know have a hard time reconciling Casino with Skyfall, let alone Moonraker with License to Kill or Tomorrow Never Dies with You Only Live Twice, etc. You can see the entire series as a kind of masculine expressionism, which still makes Die Another Day the worst since Bond is one-upped by the obnoxious Halle Berry. The ones I like unconditionally are Goldfinger, Majesty, Spy Who Loved Me, LTK, World is Not Enough, Casino, and Skyfall, but many of the others remain intermittently interesting. DAD is the only one which I consistently avoid.

No way is Halle Berry more obnoxious then Britt Eckland in Golden Gun, at least Jinx character was headstrong and actually did something useful, Mary Goodnight was just pathetic and incredibly irritating.


Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:43 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
Yessssssss join me in the Thunderball-is-kinda-bad club. The water is warm

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Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:46 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
This year, I'm trying to knock out the rest of the Bond films that I have not seen. Watched Thunderball last week, and have no problem categorizing it as "bad." With that said, I'll put what I have seen, which isn't hardly any, into three tiers.

Top Tier
Casino
From Russia With Love
Goldfinger

Middle Tier
Dr. No
Quantum of Solace--I think people are a little too harsh on this one. It's a nice companion piece to Casino, not great, but not awful either. It has its moments.

Bottom Tier
Thunderball

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Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:18 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
JamesKunz wrote:
Yessssssss join me in the Thunderball-is-kinda-bad club. The water is warm

Because you pee in it. There, I said it.

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Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:54 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
Ken wrote:
JamesKunz wrote:
Yessssssss join me in the Thunderball-is-kinda-bad club. The water is warm

Because you pee in it. There, I said it.


You're just still mad about my post count not being erased.

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Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:58 pm
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Post Re: Ranking the Bonds with the Tiers Strategy
IT'S NOT FAIR.

We shall over coooooome... we shall over coooooome...

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