Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Drive by blogging!
So I'm short on time and I've collected all of these cool links. Just think of this as another link-based installment.

I came across Adam Felber's blog - he's the guy from Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! on NPR.

I came across this link about a video store that edits videos to be more family friendly. I think this goes way past what Blockbuster does to some films... Anyway, I think it's weird and alarming. But you know, that's the funny thing about free speech - as old Voltaire said "Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins."

And Omar G. is up to his elbows in green stuff - you know it's gardening time for those of us who have such inclinations. I am an avid container gardener but since Deeps will be finishing up his PhD and we may relocate in the not-so-distant future I think I'm going to forego my usual giant patio of plants. But I can live vicariously through Omar....

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Monday, April 29, 2002

We’re in it...
May Sweeps started on Thursday and I’m thrilled. This is my favorite time of the television season – all the stuff you’ve been waiting for since September is coming together – couples get married or break apart, babies are born, someone dies – it’s all so exciting.

It’s also the last big hurrah before the summer doldrums set in. And it’s the time when I start thinking about whether or not my commitment to any current shows will continue into next year. I think I’ll stick it out with a few, but I’m really starting to think seriously about Buffy.

I came to Buffy sometime in Season 3. I caught a few reruns of Season 2 during the summer before Season 3 – we were packing for a big move and I found the reruns were entertaining distractions while packing. And I realized the show wasn’t the tripe I thought it was. Deeps had watched Buffy while I was working nights (mostly) at the Trib. He told me to give it a chance. I did and have been hooked ever since. Well, until part way through Season 4.

I won’t bore non-Buffy fans with the details, but there was a bad plot and the show got painfully dull and I just couldn’t take it anymore. But I hung on and was rewarded with a few choice episodes in Season 5. But it didn’t have the same sparkle or brilliance. Then I got to catch all the previous seasons on FX when Buffy went into syndication. Seriously, the first 3 seasons are very good. They hang together, there’s the odd bad ep but for the most part they’re really good stuff.

Season 4 really pales in comparison as does Season 5. Sure there was the death of Buffy’s mom in Season 5, which I would count among some of the finest hours of television. But season 5 was kinda weak. That is, until I started to watch season 6. So, with the exception of a couple of episodes, I’ve been seriously disappointed. Characters are becoming unlikable and annoying.

The most interesting characters are being ignored and underwritten. And the metaphor of the show is coming unraveled. Tuesday marks the start of the last few eps for the season and I truly hope that something interesting comes of it. I’m not expecting much, despite all the news I can find on the brilliant SpoilerSlayer’s site. Death, destruction and the end of the world are old hat for the show – I’d like to see a new spin on the old tales.

But if Buffy is a bore, at least I have some new summer viewing to keep me occupied. Summers (for television viewing) aren’t as bad as they used to be. Sure I can go to the beach and chill out on the balcony and stare at my gigantic Basil plants. And read books, but I still like to veg in front of the tube if only for a couple hours when I can bask in the glory of my air conditioning.

I’m not a regular viewer of very many television shows anymore. I abandoned the X-Files about 3 seasons ago. And God only knows when the Sopranos is coming back. Sex and the City is in question since SJP is preggers. I thought it might be a rough summer.

Then I discovered Nero Wolfe, which is really the perfect show for fun summer viewing. I like the weirdness of Tim Hutton and adore the oddities of Maury Chaykin. It’s not appointment television but I like to think of it as the semi-regular brunch that Deeps and I have on the odd Sunday morning. It’s not mandatory, but it’s quite enjoyable when you get around to it.

And of course there are my old friends over at BBC America – Changing Rooms and Ground Force, reruns of Cracker and Jonathan Creek, and the new import Manchild.

I’m less thrilled with Manchild, a tawdry show about four 50something men who are trying to retain the last of their youth while pursuing every available babe under 25. I’ve watched two eps and I’ve concluded that these men should wear more clothes on a more regular basis. I’m reminded of an anecdote I once heard about a young man working at the Williamstown Theater Festival. He worked backstage with F. Murray Abraham on a production and F. would regularly walk around backstage between scenes. The first time the young apprentice encountered F. he found that F. was shirtless. Disgusted, the apprentice muttered in frustration – “What are you, like 60? Put on a shirt!”

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What’s that smell?
I forgot the most important detail about our trip to the movies on Friday. The theater was one of the smaller spaces where they show the “art” movies – complete with THX sound and stadium seating. We found good spots and parked about 10 minutes before the show started.

This is prime eavesdropping opportunity, which I always appreciate. I was listening to some woman ramble on about how Michael Douglas was the star of Traffic and really carried the film when another woman sat down in front of us with her friend. The woman in front of us had giant puffy hair and a Chanel knock-off look going. She was also wearing about 2 gallons of stinky perfume.

I should say two things about myself. One, I have always had a pretty sensitive olfactory nerve which makes me more aware of aromas and odors. Two, because of this sensitivity I personally choose not to wear many things with any odor because I find it a bit overwhelming. I’m not aware of any personal malady associated with it, I just have a super sniffer and I don’t like have the old snout blasted with bad perfume. We've all been there....

Deeps was the first to comment with something along the lines of, “Oh good God!” and my eyes started to water (literally!). Michael just started laughing because he’s been my friend for a long time and he’s aware of all my little oddities. He knew that the situation wouldn’t be acceptable. We were all suffering to varying degrees.

Of course, smelly lady sits down about 2 seconds before the previews start. I opt to bide my time, trying to hold out as along as possible. Each of men are prodding me and encouraging me to switch seats, finally I caved and moved from my perfect seat to a spot 3 seats down. I hated smelly woman because not only was she smelly, but she was a talker.

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Sunday, April 28, 2002

Meee—yow!
So Michael, Deeps and I trudged out to the cinema as part or our semi-regular ritual as members of the Wednesday Night at the Movies club. It was, however, Friday. Anyway, we chose to see the film being hailed as Peter Bogdanovich's comeback film, “The Cat’s Meow.”

The premise is steeped in old Hollywood legend. I won’t go into details; you can get them elsewhere. However, I will comment a bit on the elements of the film. The acting was okay, and despite the sort of potential that the story may have had, the script was sorely lacking. No one really knows what happened during that weekend – so there was a lot of room to invent something truly interesting. But instead we got a lame story that basically follows Orson Welle’s version of events.

Despite the close quarters of the film – 90% is set aboard a yacht at sea – the camera moves beautifully and the sets are lavish. And despite the fact that the film was adapted from a play, there wasn’t any of the awkward movement or talkieness that sometimes happens when plays are made into films. I still liked Eddie Izzard’s performance; but then again I’m quite partial to Mr. Izzard.

And Kirsten Dunst wasn’t that bad. I mean I think I reached a point during the film where I wasn’t overly aware that I was watching Kirsten Dunst onscreen. So, I guess that is a big breakthrough in our relationship.

But despite those few things, including my affection for the work of both Izzard and Bogdanovich, I can’t recommend the film. It’s plodding and dull and you don’t really learn anything more about the characters than what you may already know. I tried to find my redeeming qualities about the film since I picked it.

I might argue that Marion Davies is painted as the only semi-sympathetic character in the film, despite the fact that no one in the film is very sympathetic. And I might argue that the filmmakers make an interesting choice when Davies is forced to make a decision that ultimately makes her very unsympathetic. But that really gives the movie too much credit, so I’ll have to pass on that.

I’d suggest watching Gosford Park which was a much more interesting film and while it did sort of peter out near the end, it’s quite engaging for nearly 2 hours.

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Thursday, April 25, 2002

Where's my big red hair to go with my big white dress?
Nothing is probably more complicated to conceive and pull off than a wedding. The most complicated caper in a Hollywood film really could pale in comparison.

Think about the logistics: your family, his family, your friends, his friends, your parents friends, his parents friends, children, pets, flowers, DJs, a band, a minister/priest/pastor/rabbi/judge, the caterers, the baker, the stylist, invitations, showers, parties, and the space to coordinate. I am a pretty good project manager and I couldn’t do it.

After 4 years of engagement and 3 years of begging off planning, we’re going to take the plunge. Eventually.

I’ve got wedding (or rather marriage) on the brain, so I was delighted to see the Salon story about the Wedding Porn genre that’s developing in modern pop-culture as an entertainment phenomenon. The article is rather interesting and it’s a nice distraction from the overwhelming thoughts of wedding planning (or not planning).

As an industry, as a cultural phenomenon and as a rite of passage – weddings have become more complicated, expensive and I think to some degree they’ve become more important. Gay and Lesbian couples want to be married, Republicans want to abolish the so-called “Marriage Penalty” and Bush is trying to push through government initiatives to encourage couples to marry.

Like there wasn’t enough pressure before but the government is getting involved? If someone wants to go through all the trouble to get married – I say let ‘em.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Ears a-burning
I’ve been eavesdropping.I don’t do it on purpose and I don’t seek out people to eavesdrop on. Some people are loud talkers. I think I’m starting to develop a taste for it.

I think this is probably a bad admission to make on my blog – especially since I found out that my co-workers are sometime readers of Big Red Blog. Anyway...

A few weeks ago I heard a fascinating conversation between a woman who works at my Dentist’s office and her friend. Apparently things are not all sunshine and puppies at the good Doctor’s office and people are upset.

I’m unclear about the whole source of the unhappy – as it is generally frowned upon to turn around to your subjects and say, “Hey could you clarify what you just said?” It’s the drawback of eavesdropping. Sometimes you miss information and hilarity ensues. That’s why eavesdropping led to so many fantastic episodes of Three’s Company.

A few days later I heard these two guys going on and on about their church. I’m unclear what church it is and it really sounded more like a cult to me. I think one guy broke down during his conversation with his friend to confess (cry?) that he was a jerk and that he prayed to God for the capacity to ask for forgiveness. He was asking for forgiveness from his lunchmate because he'd dissed the guy at some weird sabbatical or something.

I prayed to God that they’d talk a little quieter and I could enjoy my weird Irish novel in peace.

And it happened again today. Deeps and I went to a little dive diner where we can have breakfast for dinner. Sometimes you need French Toast at 6 PM – don’t act like you haven’t been there.

There was a woman who was loudly talking about how she was a really successful actress and how she wanted to be a foster parent so she “dropped out of the scene.” (That’s an exact quote...it’s stuck in my head.) The guy she was kept hounding her with questions.

She talked about Michelle Pfeiffer, Jack Nicholson and Ed Begley Jr. Apparently she was on good terms with Mr. Begley Jr. and she talked about having coffee with him and driving in his electric car. Her odd companion seemed impressed.

He asked her the obvious question that most people ask actors “Have you done anything I might have seen?” She gave him the savvy answer, “I’ve done a lot of episodic television – you know I was the special guest star.”

When I heard “special guest star” I turned and took a good, hard look at her – to hell with subtlety! I have no idea who the woman is or what kind of “guest star” she might have been. And I’ve got a good eye for the “Hey it’s that guy” kind of character actors.

Perhaps I should have tried to strike up a conversation with her – because I too am a thespian. I starred in Steele Magnolias as Ouiser. Okay. It was college – still, I was good. Maybe you heard of me?

So the morale of the story – if you’re looking for good opportunities to eavesdrop, you should go to dive restaurants.

If you want to be eavesdropped on, go to a posher restaurant, drink a lot of martinis and talk loudly about how f***ing fabulous everything is.

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Sunday, April 21, 2002

I am Bob Seger sleeping on a pile of coats
So Deeps and I went to the beautiful Rosemont Theatre in beautiful Rosemont, IL to see the Kids in the Hall. This is the second time I’ve seen them on tour. We last saw them in 2000 and despite a few slow moments the show was spectacular.

At the time I remarked how I thought the show would be much better if they had brought out more of the beloved characters from the television show: Cabbage Head, Dean, Gavin, Darryl, Chicken Lady, and the French fur trappers. I was wrong...

It’s always a little sad to see people who were once at the top of their game start to falter. The show was pretty good – I found the opening sketch to be particularly inspired. The fellas did a “Seussical” interpretation of the Bible featuring Scott Thompson as a swishy Christ who was crucified on a fold-up contraption that reminded me of an ironing board.

Nothing like a little blasphemy to set the tone for the show. Then we were off to the races and the show kicked off like Mario Andretti at the Indy 500. He always had a good start but then the inevitable “And Mario is pulling off the track...looks like engine trouble” would inevitably come. Who knew that I was good for a smart sports metaphor?

Anyway, the show was kinda slow – picked up again later, and finished on a high note. But I can’t say it was especially memorable or that I thought the ungodly sum of money we paid for our tickets was worth it...I can’t say it wasn’t worth it. But I’d rather have shelled about $15 or $20 less.

And there was Dave Foley. I’m not exactly sure what happened to him, but the years haven’t been quite so kind. He didn’t look awful but it was a bit shocking to see him some pudgy and pasty and disheveled. Now I wouldn’t normally comment on this except that I heard lots of people talking about it during and after the show – and Dave does a lot of cross dressing work with the troupe. Plus his new look of a man trying desperately to hold on to what is left of his youth is the kind of the thing that the Kids would make fun of – not embrace as their new middle-aged mantra.

Narcissist – party of me
The beauty of and the problem with blogs are similar – you never know quite what to write about so you write about something you have an interest in or know something about.

I write about my life and my observations. Call it what you will – self-indulgent, sad, a cry for attention – but I think there’s a lot of value in self-publishing. I thought that years ago when I worked for Tripod and helped to launch a revised plan for encouraging self-publishing and I still believe it.

Sure, lots of stuff is bad – and I know that my first homepage featured some writing that was neither clever nor pithy. And sure, the page included a big picture of my little dog – but it was out there and I was trying to make some kind of statement...

Anyway, there’s got to be a home for weird rantings, and bad poetry, and family photos from hell – just like there needs to be a home for thoughtful commentary, sharp writing and clever observations. I hope my site falls into the latter categories, although I regularly venture into the former.

On with my rantings!

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Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Twice as nice
I don't usually do double entries, but I've had a lot going on lately and I've been collecting all of these fine links so I thought I'd share a few.

First, I found this blog a few weeks ago and I laughed really hard at the stuff this woman purchased at Wal-Mart. Reminds me of the days when I was in college and the only shopping option was the big W. My roommate K and I would go to W-M and spend the precious few dollars we had on anything that had good packaging.

Our favorite color was shiny.

Anyway, the Posh lady is clearly a woman after my own heart.

We are Family
I've come across a few clever readings featuring dialogues between parents and their adult children. The first is found at Last Page and features a familiar topic - parents hounding you about your career while bewitching you with tales of their gardening adventures. I laughed out loud.

And let's not forget the trauma of holidays and family. I have been a regular reader of The Redhead Papers for several months and I love almost everything Regina writes -- my favorite is Thanksgiving. Mmm...it's like a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce.

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Time Wasters

I found these flash movies on Tom Tomorrow's site. Apparently they're little ads for a Panasonic product. I've watched them a few times (and don't speak Japanese), I haven't figured out what they might be advertising. I've since learned from Tom Tomorrow's site that they're ads for an ISP in Japan.

Despite the odd subjects, I think you'll enjoy Hi Ho -- I know that I do. Please visit any of the links below for some Hi Ho action.

I wish I was famous like you

My friend died and I lost all my money

Snow hijinks

I'd watch out for that squirrel if I was you

Hi HO fun, I have no idea why

Shark's are killers

I want you to want me

What's so dangerous about fishing?

Boy saves Girl

Hi Ho Techno Christmas

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Saturday, April 13, 2002

Who wants sweet?

I enjoy reading about television and I think that most TV critics are underrated. There are no Eberts of Kaels in the realm of TV criticism and I think that's too bad.

Anyway two of my favorite sites offer insight and criticism about Television on a very regular basis -- Television Without Pity (criticism is less broad and found in the insights of writers who "recap" episodes of various shows) . The other site is Teevee which offers a host of critics writing about various issues in television -- advertising, TiVo, Olympics coverage, etc.

This week they wrote about a show that I've really come to enjoy a lot -- but it's still a flawed show. The folks at TeeVee think that Andy Richter Controls the Universe is clever and innovative but ultimately the show has a sweet, nougaty center.

I don't like the sweet center! This show isn't mean enough? How many sitcoms do we need where the poor schlub does the right thing and learns a lesson? If you're going to be an edgy show then please feel free to be edgy -- show me the guy who keeps sleeping with the horrible anti-Semitic hottie instead of dumping her from all the guilt. (The moral dilemma about sleeping with a super hottie who is also anti-Semitic came up in a recent episode.)

Someone recently told me he read an interview with Mr. Richter (we haven't found said interview online yet) where Richter said he doesn't write the show, but that he generally likes what is written. However, Mr. Richter said the show has a little too much heart.

I concur! I’m looking forward to future shows with a little less heart (you know big, red and heart-shaped like a valentine) and more like a black void in the chest where the heart (the valentine one you might have found in Operation) should be.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Let's get married and never talk

I was listening to this story on NPR the other day about a guy who married this woman but he didn't speak for the first year of their marriage. He was about to become a monk when he met her and decided he should have sex one last time before taking vows.

I'm unclear what 'order' he was going to enter. Anyway...

Apparently they fell in love but I don't think they talked much because he was doing intermittent vows of silence and then got married but didn't speak for the first year. I missed the rest as I arrived at the mall before the story was over. But, it got me thinking.

Maybe it's not a bad idea. I'm getting married soon (don't ask) and maybe Deeps and I should explore this vow of silence. We've got the whole vow of poverty thing nailed!

Ba-da-bump! Thanks ladies and germs, I'm here all week!

Baby people
There are many babies in my life -- my sister's having a baby, my best friend and former college roommate is having a baby, my friends' wives are having babies. Everyone has baby fever.

So, for the baby people I thought you'd all appreciate this blog entry I found. This guy writes about the music that he and his wife chose for their kid -- basically it's only stuff they can tolerate.

Babies need names
One day I'll get around to updating my list of lists to include some of the baby name lists I've composed with Deeps. We have a whole complicated system for determining the right name combination for a baby. Among some of our criteria the name should reflect the personality of the family, it has to sound good and has to be yellable.

Mmm....dinner
Babies need food right? I have no idea how I came across this blog but reading it makes me really, really, really hungry. I need to go to the grocery store. Anyway, I think it's fascinating that this guy writes with such zeal about food. I might have to try some of his recipes.

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Sunday, April 07, 2002

Insomnia is in!

So we've sprung forward! Yaay! More light! Less dark!

And ultimately (at least for a few weeks) that means less sleep for me. But I'm not alone. The National Sleep foundation released a study saying that about 60% of Americans suffer from symptoms of sleep disorders at least one day a week.

I've been an insomniac for about 15 years. As a kid I apparently slept like a log and had no problems sleeping long and hard all through the night. I slept in the car, at school, at home, in the living room, at my desk -- everywhere. Now I sleep lightly for a few hours each night. If I can get 4 hours without interruption I'm thrilled.

Insomnia, at least for me, is something I have learned to live with. I can manage it pretty well most of the time, but every once in a while I fall off the wagon and go through a prolonged spell of sleeplessness. It's not good. The fastest way to break a human being is to deprive her of sleep.

Anyway, about this time of year I get a little turned around for a few weeks. Daylight savings does that to me.

I blame Indiana for this phenomenon. We never had to change the clocks. The state decided to abstain from participating in Daylight savings and so half the year we were in the Eastern Time zone and the other half in Central.

I never had to change my clock until I went to college.

And so with a heavy heart I spring forward this year. In a week I'll be fine. But at least for this week, as my alarm sounds each morning I'll wish I could hit snooze for a few minutes more.

Movies, movies, movies!
Over the weekend we rented a fine little film called Session 9. It's creepy and atmospheric without being overly gorey or contrived. I think you can see where it's heading, but the journey is enjoyable.

This was clearly a very low budget movie, but I really liked the creative use of camera and lighting by the director. I strongly encourage people who enjoy a suspenseful, psychological thrillers to check out this film.

We also went to the movies which is really becoming a challenge. The movie we wanted to see was sold out at 9:30 last night so we went to see it at 11:45 this morning. The jury is still out on my opinion of the movie. More on that later...

Queenie
I’m not the only one voicing a little sadness over the loss of the Queen Mum. Now I’m disappointed she’s passed on because I’ll miss those lemon chiffon duds of hers. I think others might be taking it a bit more seriously.

The last entry about my eyeballs
Many people wrote in to voice their concern over my pending blindness. Happily I can report after a weird experience in dilated eyes – the peepers are healthy and happy. No worries and my prescription probably won’t change much until I’m about 40. Good news!

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Friday, April 05, 2002

Who is murdering the gross pigeons of Evanston?

Someone is killing pigeons. Sure pigeons are gross, and many people view them as rats with wings. My relationship with them has never really been that hostile. So, I wouldn’t care except that I’ve had three unfortunate run-ins with pigeon parts – a pigeon head, a pigeon wing and a partial pigeon leg with foot attached. All three parts had been ripped off – it was gross and a little horrifying.

I was thinking that the culprits were cats. But that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me because I’ve never actually seen a cat running loose in Evanston. I’m sure it happens, but in all the years I’ve been here I haven’t seen it. Plus, all the parts were in the more “urban” downtown region of Evanston where there is nary an animal in sight.

Yesterday the mystery was solved in as much as I’d like it to be. On top of the old Marshall Field’s building lives some Peregrine falcons. The building has been converted to condos and no one can do any work on the roof because the protected birds have been roosting there for a while. Apparently the falcons are fond of your run-of-the-mill pigeon. And I guess the Peregrines are messy eaters.

So the moral of this story is that if you’re ever on the north side of Chicago and see pigeon parts, it could be a cat – how pedestrian – or it could be a Peregrine falcon.

Case closed.

Toodles to the Queen Mum
I’ve never been a Royal watcher or Anglophile, (although I do enjoy many fine BBC programs) but I have pulled my head out of my own life for a short moment to think of the Queen Mum. I guess I liked her. I know absolutely nothing about her except that she was the Queen’s mum, she was a cute old lady and she had a fondness for big, bright, flowy dresses with giant, smart hats. And of course the pumps and purse matched. She was old school and she was clearly the most fashionable Royal after Diana.

You’ve got to admire a woman who’s not afraid to wear a poofy, lemon yellow dress with a matching hat.

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Monday, April 01, 2002

Ad-tastic

I found this SherpaBlog about ads and marketing. I appreciate the weirdly scientific arena of marketing. Sherpablog is where a semi-savvy consumer can go to get really freaked out. I love that stuff...

But I'm starting to hate all the weird marketing that's being directed at me. I've gotten three large, 4-color cardstock flyers for some kind of prescription medication that one would take if seriously afflicted with foot fungus.

Excuse me? My feet are fungi free. What the hell list did I get on that some marketing genius thinks I've got stank feet?

Deeps says it's a lifestyle medication. A) Huh? B) What lifestyle does someone think I'm living that I have foot funk?

Is no place sacred?
A few weeks ago we had primaries in Illinois. I got a flyer in the mail supporting a Democratic candidate for judge. The weird part -- the flyer came from my gym. Well, it allegedly came from my gym. The return address is listed as a place that isn't my gym. I don't know who the woman is that is addressing me "on behalf of your friends at the EAC" and I don't recall giving my gym permissing to sell my contact information.

I was not that ticked about it but the more I think about it the more annoyed I get. Where's my privacy policy?

And to add insult - my number must be in very heavy rotation for the giant list that telemarketers have. I've been averaging more than a dozen calls a night all week. Ugh.

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