Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for Father's Day

sergio leone room at the dam

I hope you're all having a good Father's Day; or, if you don't live in the US, a pleasant Sunday!

Currently reading:

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett: Only just started this one.

Movies:

in the shadow of iris
In the Shadow of Iris, starring Charlotte le Bon and Romain Duris

If you liked Gone Girl, you'll probably enjoy this movie. I did, anyway! It's in the same wheelhouse of twisty-twist, neo-noir thrillers, with a few gratuitous sex scenes thrown in because France. I don't want to talk to talk about the plot in depth too much, but the basics are that a wealthy French banker's beautiful wife disappears, and an ex-con and down-on-his-luck mechanic becomes suspect numéro un.

the lego batman movie
The LEGO Batman Movie, starring Will Arnett, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes

Honestly, I thought this movie was EXHAUSTING. Way too much going on and at a frenetic pace. It also wasn't as funny as I thought it would be, considering Lego Batman was the best part of the Lego Movie. It just reminded me of why I don't like superhero comics or movies, and why I dislike Batman movies in particular (he's still not as pointless and boring as Superman, though, I'll give him that much). YMMV of course.

This week[s] in heidenkindom:

Howdy there, y'all! It's been awhile since I've done one of these. The beginning of June was a challenge for me. I had to do my quarterly taxes, which never puts me in a good mood, and there were a bunch of work-related fires to put out that led to even more stress and headaches.

I did do a few fun things these past weeks: I went to a wine tasting of really good French wines; and my mom and I checked out The Western: An Epic in Art and Film at the Denver Art Museum. It was one of those exhibits that looks super-cool (see gif above), but doesn't have a lot of information. I was also disappointed in the near-total lack of discussion on the role of Indians and Hispanics in westerns. But whatever. Here are some pics!

Remington Koerner and Russell
Paintings by Charlie Russell, WH Koerner, and Frederic Remington

high noon by frank zinnemann
Dramatic entrance to the High Noon room

ei couse the captive
EI Couse, The Captive

passport by sergio leone. You won't know where to go next!
Sergio Leone's passport!

Frederic Remington, A Dash for the Timber, 1889
Frederic Remington, A Dash for the Timber, 1889

giant clint eastwood face
"There are two kinds of people in this world: those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig."


Have a fantastic rest of the week, everyone!


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Friday, June 2, 2017

Around the World In Books

around the world in books

This week is Armchair Book Expo, and the discussion topic for today is on diversity in books. I thought this would be a perfect time to post about a personal challenge I've created for myself to read more diversely: Around the World in Books!

If you follow my Sunday Snapshots, you know that this year I spontaneously started keeping track of the nationality of the authors I read. Since I've been keeping it up, I decided: why not challenge myself to read at least one book written by someone from every country on earth? This is the masterpost for my Around the World in Books Challenge; feel free to join in if you like!

FAQs:


  • How many countries are there? Seems like a straightforward question, but like most straightforward questions, the answer isn't as simple as you'd expect. The UN recognizes 193 countries. There are two countries not represented in the UN, namely Vatican City and Palestine. There are also countries not universally recognized as self-governing, for example Taiwan, which is considered part of China by the US. For this challenge, I am including Palestine as a country but not Vatican City, since no one is "from" Vatican City, if that makes sense. So the total number of countries in my challenge will be 194. Sorry, Taiwan.
  • Do people with multiple citizenships or books with multiple authors count for multiple countries? I want to finish this sometime before I die, so yes.
  • What about someone from a place that's no longer a country or was a different country when they lived there? (E.g., countries formerly part of the Soviet Union) Hm, I'm not sure. This is getting into politically murky waters. I think for now I'll just approach that on a case-by-case basis.
  • What if new countries are created or countries disappear? If that happens before I finish this challenge, I will update the list.
  • What's the start date for the challenge? The start date is when I started tracking countries read: January 1st, 2017


And now for the list. 8 down, only 186 to go!


around the world in books



Read Countries (by number of books read):

United States of America (13)
United Kingdom (6)
New Zealand (3)
Japan (3)
Canada (1)
South Africa (1)
South Korea (1)
Australia (1)

Unread Countries (alphabetically):
List of countries in the world provided by the US Department of State.

A

Afghanistan
Albania
Algeria
Andorra
Angola
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Armenia
Aruba
Austria
Azerbaijan


B

Bahamas, The
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belarus
Belgium
Belize
Benin
Bhutan
Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Botswana
Brazil
Brunei
Bulgaria
Burkina Faso
Burma
Burundi


C

Cambodia
Cameroon
Cabo Verde
Central African Republic
Chad
Chile
China
Colombia
Comoros
Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Republic of the
Costa Rica
Cote d'Ivoire
Croatia
Cuba
Curacao
Cyprus
Czechia


D

Denmark
Djibouti
Dominica
Dominican Republic


E

East Timor (see Timor-Leste)
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Estonia
Ethiopia


F

Fiji
Finland
France


G

Gabon
Gambia, The
Georgia
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Grenada
Guatemala
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana


H

Haiti
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary


I

Iceland
India
Indonesia
Iran
Iraq
Ireland
Israel
Italy


J

Jamaica
Jordan


K

Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kiribati
Korea, North
Kosovo
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan


L

Laos
Latvia
Lebanon
Lesotho
Liberia
Libya
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg


M

Macau
Macedonia
Madagascar
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Mali
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mexico
Micronesia
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Morocco
Mozambique


N

Namibia
Nauru
Nepal
Netherlands
Nicaragua
Niger
Nigeria
North Korea
Norway


O

Oman


P

Pakistan
Palau
Palestinian Territories
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal


Q

Qatar


R

Romania
Russia
Rwanda


S

Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
San Marino
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Serbia
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Sint Maarten
Slovakia
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Sudan
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Suriname
Swaziland
Sweden
Switzerland
Syria

T

Tajikistan
Tanzania
Thailand
Timor-Leste
Togo
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Turkmenistan
Tuvalu


U

Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
Uruguay
Uzbekistan


V

Vanuatu
Venezuela
Vietnam


Y

Yemen


Z

Zambia
Zimbabwe




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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Armchair Book Expo: Introductions

armchair book expo

Today marks the start of Armchair Book Expo, the blogging party and get-together that coincides with Book Expo America in NYC.

I have to admit I kinda forgot it was starting *today*, but now I've remembered and I've pulled together three of the prompts to introduce myself! Hi, my name is Tasha, and...

Currently . . . In my pajamas avoiding all the stuff I should actually be doing.

I love . . . food and trying new recipes. One recipe we tried recently that was really good was veal-wrapped asparagus. Except we couldn't find veal cutlets, so I used chicken cutlets instead that I pounded thin. I wish the pesto had been better (Classico, do not recommend) and that it had some sauce to go with it, but otherwise it was a pretty awesome dish!

My current read . . . I'm finishing up Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner. There was a lot of walking in that book, let me tell ya. And I'm listening to The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles by GS Denning on audiobook.

My buddy . . . I have three little buddies whose names are Calypso, Thor, and Miss Sofielicious

Thor

Calypso

Sofie


Have an awesome BEA, everyone, whether you're in NYC or home at your computer!


Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for Memorial Day Weekend


Currently reading:

Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner: You've got to be really into journey books to get through this one.

The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles by GS Denning: Not as funny as the first Warlock Holmes book.

Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi: I don't intend to make any recipes from this book, but I am enjoying the pictures and learning about mid-East cooking.

Posted:

Learn about the super cool Colorado library that raised $140,000 on Kickstarter.

Movies:

moorise kingdom
Moonrise Kingdom, starring Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman

On a small mid-Atlantic island in the 1960s, two 12-year-olds decide to run away together, throwing their town into chaos.

Super charming and quirky, like most of Wes Anderson's movies. I loved the retro vibe and that all Suzy packs to run away is her kitten, kitten food, her favorite books, her brother's record player, her favorite record, a toothbrush, and extra batteries, because that is *exactly* what I would pack if I was leaving home at age 12. Edward Norton was also especially adorkable as Scout Master Ward. The only thing that was a bit of a letdown was the storm at the end, which I expected to be a bigger deal than it was due to the OTT foreshadowing. Otherwise, no complaints!

alien covenant
Alien: Covenant, starring Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, and Michael Fassbender

After an accident forces the crew of the colonizing spaceship Covenant out of animated suspension, they make a pit stop on an Earth-like planet. Bad mistake or worst mistake?

When I first walked out of the theater, I was pretty enthusiastic about this movie. It surprised me because it wasn't what I was expecting, and I enjoyed the ride. But after about twelve hours to think on it, I had to reassess. It does feel like it was directed by three different people who wanted to make three different types of movies, and it does seem like it was invented purely as a vehicle for Fassbender ("The Fassbender show," as Penny put it). But. I loved the Island of Dr Moreau vibe in the middle of the film, and I was actually really impressed with Fassbender, whom I still have not forgiven for that disaster of a Jane Eyre adaptation he was in. Of course, his character's a robot, so the role really plays to his "acting" strengths.

Overall, I'd say this movie's worth watching just for the Fassbender-on-Fassbender scenes, which are weird but well-done.

nocturnal animals
Nocturnal Animals, starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal

Rich ice queen Susan receives a manuscript out of the blue from her ex-husband, whom she hasn't talked to in 20 years. It's dedicated to her and the title references their relationship, so she can't not read it. But why did he send it and what does it have to do with their failed marriage?

Not a perfect film by any means. But: 1. It looks fucking fantastic (of course it does, it was directed by Tom Ford); 2. the scenes from Nocturnal Animals (the book inside the movie) were crazy suspenseful and just awesome filmmaking; and 3. it's a very literary movie and I loved how it portrayed the experience of becoming completely engrossed in a novel.

I will say that there were a lot of loose threads left hanging, and several scenes that seemed to serve no purpose other than as fashion plates, but by far the weakest part of the movie is the ending. Ford described it as a "sad" ending, but I wouldn't call it that. It was just anti-climatic. I wish he'd found a way to up the drama and emotional impact rather than taking what felt like a lazy way out.

Still, if you enjoy classic film noir, you definitely want to watch this movie. It's a surprisingly effective blend of cynicism and romanticism, a story about revenge and living in a world where everything, even people, are disposable.

hitchcock truffaut
Hitchcock/Truffaut, directed by Kent Jones

A documentary about Truffaut's book of the same name. As some of you might know, I am pretty familiar with Hitchcock's work, so for me there wasn't much new information to be had here. I did learn Truffaut died just four years after Hitchcock (!), and I liked listening to the recordings of their interview, even if they were frustratingly tantalizing. Example: Hitchcock would be like, "When [Jimmy Stewart] stands up and sees [Judy from Vertigo] emerge from the bathroom, he has an erection. And now I'm going to tell you a very disturbing story, turn off the recorder." And then all you hear is a click and I'm like, Nooooooo, he was just getting to the good part! Now we'll never know the story!

Personally, I think this film is too "inside baseball" and self-indulgent. And hey, if you need even more evidence that Hollywood is a sausage fest, look no further. I seriously doubt the idea that maybe a woman or two should be included in this doc ever even crossed Jones' mind.

These weeks in heidenkindom:

Summer is still being a coy little bitch, I have to say. It's perilously close to June and we still have the heater on! Come on!

This past week was pretty stressful, work-wise. I've been trying to get in more exercise with spotty success. What else? Oh! Someone gave me duck eggs and they're reeeeeally good. Especially in scrambled eggs and omelettes, because the yolk-to-white ratio is higher than with chicken eggs. So they come out tasting super rich and creamy. Highly recommended if you can get your hands on some.

Bonus:

Speaking of food, I'm hosting a readalong next month of Livia Day's A Trifle Dead over at Book Bloggers International. I hope you'll join me, especially since I'm breaking the discussion format and just sharing recipes inspired by/included in the book. Yum!



Hopefully June will be better for all of us. Have an excellent week everyone!




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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for the First Sunday in May

Thor is happy

It's been awhile since I've done one of these, so...

Currently reading:

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett: If you love books and libraries, you need to read this novel.

Posted:

The Vegetarian discussion post. I also wrote a review of Trust Me by Laura Florand, but I didn't post it. I'm not sure if I will.

Movies:

la la land
La La Land, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling

Oooooooooomg. Love this film. Love love love love love love! It's like a love letter to classic Hollywood musicals. The first half, where there's a TON of singing and dancing and insanely awesome choreography, is especially enjoyable. The second half has almost no singing or dancing, which I did not like as much. But, I mean, I laughed, I cried, I didn't hate it too much for not having a happy ending. If seeing a CinemaScope logo at the very start of a movie gives you warm fuzzies, you need to watch this movie. It was made for you.

the fate of the furious
The Fate of the Furious, starring Charlize Theron and Vin Diesel

If you ever feel like your brain needs to be beaten into a porridge-like substance unable to produce anything resembling logical thought–and I have felt like that on occasion–may I recommend this movie. It's actually not that bad. I mean, yeah, some of the stuff defies the laws of physics, but that's what you want in a Fast and Furious movie, right? Plus you got your exotic locales, cars falling out of buildings, that British guy who always plays a sketchy spy, the guys exchanging humorously insulting quips, super shiny, fancy motorized vehicles arranged in ways suspiciously resembling a car commercial. What's not to like?

These weeks in heidenkindom:

Have you ever had periods of time where you try to plan or do something and absolutely nothing ever works out? I think I'm in one of those periods right now.

Bonus:

Want some books about art? The Guggenheim has over 200 free to read online.



Have a great week, everyone!





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Saturday, May 6, 2017

9 Reasons The Vegetarian Will Change the Way You Think About Everything

the vegetarian by han kang

(Note: As Chrisbookarama pointed out, The Vegetarian cries out for a clickbaity title. So I used a link bait title generator to come up with one.)

A few days late, but still here! As you might know, I hosted a readalong of The Vegetarian by Han Kang for Book Bloggers International last month. Here are the discussion questions and my responses. Feel free to participate in the discussion yourself if you've read the book!

Questions:


First of all! What did you think of the book in general?

Well, I wouldn't say I enjoyed it, but then I'm pretty sure that's not its purpose. It's kind of a South Korean version of The Yellow Wallpaper. It wasn't an easy read, but it did make me think.

We never get to hear directly from Yeong-hye except in brief snippets of dream and memory. Why do you think the author tells her story through the lens of other people? Do you think this is effective?

I think Kang wanted to avoid giving the reader any illusions about Yeong-hye's agency (she has none) or choice. The book as a whole really makes one question how much choice any of us have. Like you may think you have control over your own body, your decisions of what you eat every day, who you marry, and so on, but how much of that is free will and how much of it is an attempt to fit into the role and circumstances you were born into?

Yeong-hye says she stopped eating meat because she had a dream. What do you think the dream was actually about?

I think the dream was about how much she wanted to get rid of her Objectively Awful Person (TM) husband, and she realized she could either kill him or reject violence completely. Hence the veganism.

Vegetarianism and fasting has been used as a form of social protest in the past, particularly among women (see, for example, "The Awakened Instinct: Vegetarianism and the Women's Suffrage Movement in Britain" by Leah Leneman and The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J Adams). Do you think this is what Yeong-hye is doing? Is she refusing to eat meat in order to stick it to the goddamn patriarchy?

In a way, yes, although I don't think she sees it like that because her actions are driven by her subconscious, not logic. She just got so SICK OF IT, she had a mental break. And as my Anthropology 101 professor once said, "Our culture dictates how we break."

As the story goes on, Yeong-hye seems to be transforming into a plant herself (or at least wanting to). Is this an art-imitating-life situation?

Her hubby certainly treated her like a plant. Like, "I got this plant because it looked okay and I thought it wouldn't be high maintenance, and for a while it grew just fine as far as I could tell. Then it started withering up so I decided to get rid of it."

He's a prince, ladies.

Yeong-hye's brother-in-law may seem more sympathetic to her than her husband, but is he?

Uhg, what a perv. He obviously views himself as better than his brother-in-law, but I doubt he sees Yeong-hye or his wife as people any more than Yeong-hye's husband did. There's also a part where he says he just assumes her silence is consent. Um, no.

There's a surprising amount of violence, both psychological and physical, in this book. Why do you think that is?

Yes. One would expect a book about a vegetarian to be violence-free, but nope! I think it's a response to the conformity of the society. People can't act out or express their emotions, so anger and fear and other negative feelings get pushed deeper and deeper inside until a person can't take it anymore and then it explodes out of them in unhealthy ways.

There's a part of the book where Yeong-hye says she felt like the dream that made her turn vegetarian came from her stomach. "The face is inside my stomach. It rose up from inside my stomach." I found that interesting because the gut is called the "second brain," and it responds to a lot of the stimuli in our brains that we don't want to deal with.

I also think part of it has to do with certain social contracts that accept violence as a way life, which exist in all cultures. Extreme examples would be slavery, or war. The killing of animals for meat is also an act of violence, one we accept because we're taught we have the right–maybe even the responsibility–to eat meat. But whether that's true or not doesn't make the members of a society any less complicit in the violence perpetuated by that act.

There are a lot of themes in the novel: obsession, dreams, conformity and acting "normal," choosing to act morally and choosing not to. Which of these themes stood out for you the most?

I would say each part of the book focuses on one theme more than the others. Part 1 was about conformity and Yeong-hye's rebellion against society and her husband's and family's expectations. Part 2 was more about obsession and allowing it to overtake your life to the point where right and wrong don't matter as long as you can make your fantasies a reality. Part 3... well, that one was a little muddy for me. I would say normality and how there's no such thing as "normal," but I don't think Part 3 was as well-realized as the previous two parts of the book.

Finally, what did you think of the ending? Does it negate the previous sections of the book?

To be honest, when I first read it I hated the ending. I thought the point of Yeong-hye's story was that she wasn't crazy, people just thought she was because she was rebelling against a false construct wherein she had to put up with raw deal she never agreed to. But the ending implied Yeong-hye was certifiably insane. So if that was the case, her family was right and choosing not to eat meat was the act of someone with "hints at hysteria, delusion, weak nerves and so on".

However, later I read this review of The Vegetarian, where the writer suggests that maybe Yeong-hye's gradual starvation is a form of sallekhana, a fast to the death practiced by Jains in order to "extricate... the devotee from the endless cycles of violence in which we are embedded." That sounds like it fits into the themes of the book better than just making Yeong-hye crazy. But it's hard to say for sure if that was Kang's intention.


Have you read The Vegetarian? What did you think?




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Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 2017 #Readathon

24 hour readathon

Another Readathon has come and gone, whomp-whomp. I did manage to complete my goal of reading The Vegetarian by Han Kang, so yay! That makes it the first and only book I've ever started and finished in a single Readathon. I wouldn't say I enjoyed reading it, but I'm pretty sure it's not meant to be an enjoyable read anyway. It was really dark and violent and weird and disturbing. But, if you can get past that, well worth the time to read I think.

If you read The Vegetarian too, be sure to check out my discussion post for it on BBI.

CLOSING SURVEY

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Honestly, there were a lot of daunting hours. The three hours it took to make dinner, which turned out to be a disaster, for example. Also around 2am I was just really tired and fed up with reading The Vegetarian.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year?

No.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?

Idk, I kind of miss the cheerleaders. Maybe people could commit to a length of time and platform?

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

Even though I got annoyed with it, reading one short book during the Readathon worked out better than I expected. I may do something similar next time.

5. How many books did you read?

One (and on a side note, how do people manage to read multiple books??? I know I got a late start, but I was also up until 4am, so it's not like I wasn't putting time into reading)

6. What were the names of the books you read?

Don't make me type it again.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

I didn't.

8. Which did you enjoy least?

All of them.

9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I will definitely participate if I am able!


STATS

Mini-challenges completed:

  • One Night Reads
  • Show Us the Weather
  • A few of the #IGReadathon challenges
  • Summer Road Trip
Consumed:
  • 2 glasses of water
  • 1 cup of coffee
  • A piece of breakfast casserole
  • Snacks: grapes, apple, hummus and pita chips
  • Roasted chicken, paprika-parmesan corn, yeast roll
  • Wine/martinis
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Hallo hallo. For those of you who don't know, today is the 24 Readathon, aka the bibliophile's Super Bowl. I'm getting a late start on the Readathon this time around, even by my standards, but I am awake at last a ready to read!

Let's get this party started with the opening survey. I'll be updating this post throughout the Readathon instead of creating new posts because laziness.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

"I believe I have seen hell and it's white, it's snow-white."

A snow-packed Colorado.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

My goal is only to read one book this time around, The Vegetarian by Han Kang, for a readalong I'm hosting over at Book Bloggers International. It's a live readalong!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I don't really do snacks. I am looking forward to the breakfast casserole I currently have in the oven, and maybe leftover enchiladas for lunch.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Okay! I have three dogs: two Scottie/schnauzers from the same litter and one miniature schnauzer who's a rescue dog. They enjoy watching Cesar Millan and Animal Planet.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Usually I just try to finish what I'm currently reading during the readathon, but this time I'm focused on getting through one book. Fortunately Andi said it was a fast read and she was right! I'm already 10% through it and I literally just woke up.

MID-EVENT SURVEY

It's the middle of the Readathon already??? Wow, time flies when you sleep in till 10. Here's the mid-event survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

The Vegetarian

2. How many books have you read so far?

Zero!

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

I'll probably pick up What Did You Eat Yesterday? Vol. 3 if I ever get through The Vegetarian (I'm actually more than halfway through already, I just know that after dinner when Doctor Who comes on and everyone piles into the living room it will be a challenge to focus on reading).

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Not really. I took a shower.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

It's been a pretty quiet Readathon. I wish it was warm so I could sit outside with a glass of rosé, but otherwise it's been what I imagine an ideal Readathon would be like.


Are you joining in the Readathon today? What are your plans?



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