The Unswung Bat

Saturday, November 29, 2003
Talk to me, people

All a yall better sign my guestbook. that hit county-ma-dealer's getting up there, and none of you are talkin. Well start talking. If this is the first time you've ever been to this blog, sign the guestbook (victor). If this isn't the first time, sign it anyway. And keep signing it. Sign it instead of sending me icq messages. Sign it when you want me to pick up some groceries for you. Sign it if you're happy and you know it. You can even sign it if you are dumb and have no imagination, with the help of this special little gizmo.

'nuff talk, sign it.

Shower of Consciousness

Remember when taking a shower at midnight might have seemed a bit weird? Well I do, ya weirdo.

Still, this res has a seemingly endless supply of free hot water and I'm determined to use it in the best way possible, as much as possible, before I have to move out. For this hot water, as for many things, I have concluded that the best possible use is to drench my nekkid-as-a-jaybird self in it. Too much detail what now? The only things missing are all the luxuriant noises I could be making. You see, I don't have Clairol Herbal Essences, so no orgasmic shampooing experiences for me.

When I'm in the shower I think up TV advertising campaigns. Mostly for Mag Lite, lately (my slogan is "There's a million things you can do with 'em."), but I thought up another good one this morning. I forget what it is though. I'm not too into advertising, but thinking up TV ads seems to be an offshoot of the hilarious-video high school project mentality I acquired a ways back. I remember what the other one was. There was a guy in the shower, only you could only see the tiles 'cause this isn't a gay thing. And his hand appears in the frame reaching for something we can't see, comes back with shampoo, puts it back, this time comes back with a bottle of motor oil. And the slogan is "Now that's a car guy." I dunno what it's for. Maybe canadian tire. Possibly it was a subconscious reflection on the grunginess of the communal shower.

Yes, it's democracy: everyone has the same right to use the shower. Or rather, everyone has the right to use the same shower. Last week it flooded. There was water all over the floor. Like an inch deep. At least I hope it was the shower that flooded. I didn't go in there. I used one of two other bathrooms on the floor, in other houses. That means you gotta go into a part of the building where the hallways are different. I shuffled there in my bathrobe with no belt, holding the shampoo in one arm that was crossed over my chest to keep the bathrobe from flapping open. The soap was in my pocket, with my keys. Lindsay lives in the other house. She saw me, but I didn't see her 'till she said 'hey' and I said 'hey' back. There were a lot of us shamblers, dispossesed of our shower, padding through the hallways wrapped in robes or towels looking for somewhere else to bathe. Everybody wearing flip-flops and looking down. Group living means the group in a very strange way eats you. You are a totally unique cell huddled against all sorts of other cells and all of you are trying to do the same things. Like graduate. Or take a shower.

The shower was fixed today, though, and the floors were cleaner than ever. My hand is covered with white crackles in the skin. Old man hands. Not enough water. There has been a lot of work this week, and there's gonna be a lot more. I wonder how other people do it. Graham's room is clean. Crystal goes to the goddam gym every day. Victor doesn't need to sleep. If I had an airplane I wouldn't know how to fly it. Crystal on the other hand, would know how to fly it. She doesn't have a plane, but if she did she'd able and allowed to use it. What she does have, though, is a sixty-thousand dollar concert grand piano. I know how to use that. But you know what? She doesn't. Her multi-millionaire grandfather bought it for her four years ago when she decided to take up piano. She is not rich. She might sell the piano to pay for school. Her grampa, forgetting about the piano that he bought her four years ago with what was pocket change to him, may buy her another one. This is resourceful of her.

Whereas Chang's parents simply up and bought him a condo. Yet another thing I know how to use. They hadn't even seen it when they bought it. As soon as it's finished being built, Chang will move in. Meanwhile, here I am, scraping the gravel and taking practice swings. I hit a homerun once, in practice. I need to go back and study, so that physics will make sense. I have no declared major. I take english, physics, and anthropolgy. Mixing subjects can produce interesting results. Once, someone mixed physics with sex-education. This was written on the door of the shower stall. It seems to be a theory.

A good time to talk about sex is when you are:

. Both sober

. In a safe and comfortable environment, and

. In a non-accelerating frame of reference.

This all seems like good advice. Thank you, shower.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

It's about time

For me to write something new. So I will.




as soon as I get back from the shower.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Luke, being luke, has found some cool stuff on the internet - and I mean cool in a remote and alien sense - that I never would have turned up in a million years. How cool? Well, it is the first thing I mentioned. I, being me, am just writing. Max, being max, is stranded on a desert island a million miles from somewhere, locked in furious contemplation of the endless present I've never been told how to deal with - though someone did ask me my opinion, once. A former friend, she was, before some real shit happened. But that was ages ago. I don't think anyone ever told him how to. Max. Maybe it's best left unspoken, in which case I'm already screwed and so are you for reading. Or maybe words just slide off of it like water off a candle, being that a moment wrapped in words either becomes a memory or a plan, a thing of some other time than now.

I think Max needs to quit his job. Maybe not yet, but before the longest day of the year.

Ach, tell me this isn't a winter coming.

In other news, Ian, in touching postmodernism, believes he is playing wi th fire. A poetry reading left me with nothing to say and the notion, which articulated itself over eight or nine hours, that we have these vast and unimaginable nebulae in our heads that we could explode if only given the right kind of spark. Hey brother, got a light? I have a new set of business cards, and am busily drawing away on them. I must be approaching 200. I'll do something with them eventually. And Dave wrote a poem sounding very, very much like a prayer. Erika will be mad that I didn't mention her, since she reads this. Erika Erika Erika. There. With a k this time. Meanwhile back at the lab, I am an hour and a half late for bed. Thanks, man, that's been bugging me for a while, I really wanted to get it off my chest.

ten minutes later

Okay, Erika, now you're the star. I just posted a little bit a comment on this post of yours, with the longest email address in t he universe. Well, it's not that long, but neither is the Tao Te Ching. It's:

sillydaftkid.wellitisratherwitty.buttonyourlipy ouoldhag.howlongcanigo.thisco
oreoften.itssorta.liberating.inanodd.unexp ected.way.ihopeidont.losethis.illco

Monday, November 17, 2003
Wanna Be in a Play?

Commme on, you know you do.

I'm writing one for the Tarragon Theatre's Paprika festival this march and...I need actors. The fun bit about the Paprika fest is, anyone can be an actor. It's for artists under 21, no other credentials necessary. well, 'course the script has to get in, but that's my job.

I need me five winsome lads / strapping lasses to fill the roles, and if anyone wants to be the nominal stage manager I need one of them too. Not much work, 'cause it's a pretty simple kind of play without any flying chandeliers, swordfights, or deep soliloquys. Not yet anyway, but we can always talk. The good thing about this play I'm doing, which is a play within a play within a play (the outermost play is A Midsummer Night's Dream), is for people who aren't necessarily Actors with a capital a. Ya just gotta get up there.

So give me emails, people. I'll buy you pizzas or something.

Sunday, November 16, 2003
Paradise Restaurant

Too many notes?

With a jangle from hanging bells the restaurant door lets me in, and Doug Yee's head pops up like it were strung to the swinging door by an invisible cord on a pulley. An activated puppet, though from the shoulders down he is still leaning against the counter, slumped on his elbows in front of a Chinese newspaper.

It is hardly possible to write his accent, but English was to him just another of the rusty tools of business, like the cash register at his shoulder, a decade older than me at least, that coughs with a nasal blatt every time it's opened. Sure, he does fly right over his L's, barely sounding them, as though they produced a bad taste in his mouth. In fact, he generally avoids consonants whenever he can, pronouncing the phrase 'table for one' using only the letters T, F, and N, and a chimeric set of vowels that begin as one thing, end as another, and sometimes pass through an intermediate on the way. But those are only the roughest outlines of a caricature of his speech, which though it it didn't suit him as well, to my mind, as a wearily articulate rasp drawn out from the mouth of a tired shopkeeper, was familiar enough to make up for its imperfections. Doug's face is tight pockmarked flesh without fat or muscle and only the bare minimum of hair, kept as neatly as the frown that never leaves his lips. I've heard him speaking Cantonese in quick and fluid yaps to the other people who come here, and he seems to take on a different personality when he does, but from him I'll only ever want the flat, rough sketch of language I've always gotten.

Two years I think it's been I've come here, and Doug's changed not even as much as the dead-green fake plants that crowd out what would be a fine broad view of the street, curtains of wax shaped like the splayed fronds, drooping clubs of leaves, and trailing blossoms of the tropics. I nod a yes for my taye fo' one.

Enough of a yellowish sheen coats the place that I feel like it's my eyes that have lenses of grease, glossing every image with the same appearance of varnish thick and soft and a few shades darker than the tinted afternoon. A strip of dark sunglass-yellow cellophane lines the top third of the door and window, taped there for the purpose of protecting Doug at the counter from the sinking sun.

There's a picture, about whose subjects I've never before thought to wonder, on the column that separates door from window.

The boy is at least a foot taller than the girl, who wears a pretty lilting ponytail that somehow reminds me of the hanging flowers of Doug's plastic window garden. Boy and girl are both Chinese, both with the bare and exuberant expressions that seem normal for figure skaters and childrens' tv hosts. I think about them instead of the menu, which I know anyway.

Part 2

Wednesday, November 12, 2003
More as the Story Develops

Hustling into the phone booth, I have to push against one of the yawning doors and lean against the other, and then slowly shuffle around in order to end up inside the box. In the process, the newspaper I'm carrying gets scraped out of my hand and I have to lean over, bumping against the walls of the booth and gingerly bending my knees in order to reach it. I can barely see the floor but for some reason it's covered with peanut shells that my hand is sweeping around like a shepherd of dead bugs. There's also an empty yogurt container. Mostly empty, I discover when my gloved hand comes back with three fingers coated in milky film.

Finding my page again requires me to pull one of my gloves off with my teeth. I do this to my clean glove, which comes off reluctantly and, since I can't spare a hand to hold it, gets dropped on the floor.

A little shifting around gets the newspaper nestled into the crook of my arm and with my one free hand I leaf through it until I find the picture again.

Saturday, November 08, 2003
Film Studies 101

I'm buying you a pizza!

Mad Props Accepted Here

Actually, I don't really need any mad props, though if you have some you want to get rid of, I'd be happy to take 'em off your hands. 'Cause I mean nobody doesn't like mad props. They're mad. And props. So it's like the best of both worlds.

I would like some corroboration here. Andra does background acting for some film production company, since the pay is good for mostly standing around or reading, and she has the time to spare. Splendid, good to see women doing it for themselves out there in the work force. Last week, as I'm writing the little autobiographical blurb for my book, my cell phone went off, with the special ring it does when she calls. But when I pick it up and say, in my smoothest of lovin' voices, "Hey, you," I find myself, to my chagrin and alarm, sweet-talking her brother, Vic.

The first thing he asks me is 'Is Andra there?' and that's a Big No. No, Andra is not hiding away in my room at night without telling her family where she is.

The second thing he asks me is why I said 'Hey, you' to him in such as sweet sweet voice, but he figures it out.

Well, Andra was way up in Etobicoke doing another one of these background shoots, as I knew, and she had not come back home or called, though the shoot ended two hours ago, and he can't reach her on her cell, which is why Vic called me.

Now, though I am prone to all manner of stubbornly irrational fears, I am seldom one to throw a fit. So, now in my most reasonable-sounding of in-control voices, I tell Victor and myself that the shoot has doubtlessly dragged on longer than expected, and she obviously can't leave her cell phone on during filming. But call me back when you hear from her. Okay. Click.

Then I settled down to stare at my door for what seemed like a long time, and into the momentarily empty cloister of my brain there entered, like the wails of distant banshees, a thousand nagging wisps of worry. Some of them involved the police, or headlines. I found myself suddenly imparted an awareness of the vast distance between me and Etobicoke, largely in terms of dingy subway stops and dark streets. And I became ever so aware that, if someone decides they want something bad to happen, we're all pretty much at their mercy.

So I called her, knowing full well she wouldn't pick up, and left a message, something to the effect of "Victor just called me to say he hasn't heard from you. Gimme a call when the shoot ends." And I thought to add a little disclaimer assuring her that no, I was not freaking out like her parents do.

And I didn't freak out or call the police or jump on a train to Etobicoke. I just left the message, and stayed put, and tried to work on my story.

And waited.

For about an hour. Why is this hour not like any other hour, asked the youngest child. Then I called her again.

She picked up, of course, totally unaware that anyone had been worried. God I love her. She doesn't even know how to check her messages (neither do I, bear that in mind if you ever send me voicemail). So I explained the thing.

And then she made fun of me.

Now I don't have one of those huge egos that require constant maintenance because they are big enough to repel a seige by the Red Army. I'm a pretty down to earth, just-happy-to-be-here guy. I can take all sorts of poking, pinching, pointing, and laughing. Bring it on, I love it.

But I would like somebody's confirmation that the events of the aforementioned night were, in fact, cause for at least a little legitimate worry. If you think so, just post something in my guestbook, since I don't use that 'comments' feature on this page (and never will, so there). If you don't think so, shut up. I told you already, I want corroboration.

Well, now that I'm talking to you directly, there's something else I wanna get off my chest. We all know that Hip-Hop at large, like most music produced today, is crap. It's a spongy meatloaf, overly redolent of onion soup and stale breadcrumbs, that takes up most of the shelf space in our figurative fridge of funk, whereas the real good stuff is in the little unlabelled yogurt container at the back that doesn't get much attention. Fine. But the meatloaf, bad as it is, is growing an obnoxious fringe of green mould around the edges.

No one expects originality from big acts, of course. In fact, people seem to be shocked whenever they do find little traces of it. It's the meta-rappers out there who're bugging the shit out of me. I mean, it's all well to make fun of hip-hop. If you can do a good job, I say go for it. But in recycling the same painful "jokes," they're wallowing in the same shit as the music they say they're making fun of. Fighting clichés with clichés? That's so five minutes ago. Die.

That old woman singing Rapper's Delite in The Wedding Singer was kinda funny at the time, but since then it's stupid on Saturday Night Live, it's stupid on Who's Line is it Anyway? and now that there are Gangsta sheep pushing Sealy mattresses I wish more than ever that a university education could give me the power to unleash fiery psychic destruction at will. It's like watching a moronic puppet show making fun of a retard. And the puppets' heads keep falling off. And if ever again I hear someone tell someone else to shizzle anybody's nizzle, I reserve the non-exclusive right to plunge twin, gleaming forks into both their eyes, thereby producing a satisfying pop followed by a juicy squish.

Max likes the flow of my cadence and the markings it bears. Well that's great, man. I've always felt that cadence-flow was one of the most important parts. In a similar vein - and if you're not familiar with this particular vein you could benefit from a scroll through Max's guestbook, good ol' Snaps now says Max, though still presumably adept, needs more exercise, water, vitamins, chillage, and internet dating. Now that, my friends, is the funniest thing since some guy's mom ran over his foot with a truck.

Hey, it was funny at the time.

There's a little hit counter ticky thingy on the sidebar now, 'cause I want to see if I can generate enough hits per month to support a dot tk domain. I put it up yesterday, and it's already at 50. I don't mind saying that I'm responsible for at least 15 of those hits, though, just from editing tha blog.

That's all I can think of but I know there was more.

That would look good on a tombstone.

Monday, November 03, 2003
About the Author

André Bovee-Begun, the son of a poor Spanish surgeon, was almost certainly born in 1547. He served in Italy in 1570, and fought in the battle of Lepanto, among other engagements, until he was captured by pirates while returning home and taken to be the slave of a renegade Greek in Algiers. He tried to escape several times unsuccessfully, and was ransomed in 1580 by a former friend and fellow officer who had ascended by way of glory and marriage to the rank of Baronet of Estremadura.

Returning home in shackles, he took up residence in the attic of a smithy, where the heat bothered him, ultimately causing him to forsake sweaters, in a solemn vow which he upheld forever after. Driven by restlessness, he wandered off and shortly came to be a figure of some reknown at the Aragonian Duchal court, where his boasts of skill in riding and swordsplay proved well-founded. Nevertheless, he did not stay long before his wanderlust carried him away in dramatic fashion: after breaking into the Duke's stables and besting the guard in single combat, he absconded with the palace's most prized racehorse, as well as a number of valuable items including a pearl-encrusted box in which he found the Duke's personal seal. Using this to manufacture forged documents, André assured his amicable reception by the Duchess of Andalusia. In her household he found every comfort, though he was somewhat oppressed by the dowager's unwelcome advances on him, but in short order he was kidnapped by Moorish brigands after passing out in a tavern.

Sold to a Indian mercenary captain, André found himself Shanghaied onto the crew of a warship bound for China, under contract by the British to form part of a war party to force trade concessions from the Emperor. As fate would have it, the ship was never to reach China's turqoise waters. Instead, André was liberated from this, his second captive stretch, by the fury of a tropical typhoon. It is not known whether there were any other survivors of the shipwreck, but André's claims about bestial shark-mawed mermaids devouring the crew and then carrying him to safety are certainly not to be trusted. However the means, he washed up on the exotic shores of Burma, where he styled himself a tiger hunter and amassed a considerable fortune in pelts and precious gifts and tributes from grateful natives.

Having spent sufficient time there, and longing for more temperate climes, he set out upon the silk trail with a band of seven hundred followers and over three thousand camels. As the line pushed on through the desert, André's first lieutenant Samal began to plot against him, and persuaded a large splinter of the caravan to join him in a revolt to steal the riches they were meant to guard. In a bloody battle, this mutiny was soundly crushed, though Samal himself and a handful of his men escaped into the deadly wastes.

Nothing else of much consequence happened for three more months, until the caravan, now reduced to a third of its former size, reached a small village that lined the walls of a steep canyon. Scarcely had André and his contingent settled down to rest than the air was filled with thunderous tramplings, and an army on horseback appeared over the canyon's jagged lip, charging straight down its nearly sheer face. A powerful warlord, having heard of André's fortune from the treacherous Samal, had vowed to slaughter him and claim the prize for his own.

Rallying his men and the villagers from their panic, André organized a hasty defence. With fire and steel, the marauders were kept in check, largely thanks to the assistance of an ancient local wizard, who conjured a dust storm to sow confusion in the enemy's ranks. Circling behind the attackers with a crack contingent of his finest men, André cut through the raiders and claimed their leader's head, as well as that of the evil Samal, for his trophy, which he displayed on a spear at the front of his column, to the elation of the oppressed countryside.

With his reputation for valor, wealth, and cunning, he acheived what the British with their ships of war could not: an audience with the Chinese Emperor. There, André was granted a medal expressing the gratitude of China's god-emperor. While staying in the forbidden city, he stole into the emperor's harem and incited his concubines into wild revolt, engineering their uprising and escape from Beijing to lower Manchuria, where, somewhere in Lesser Khingan, he claims to have discovered a mystic well whose water not only slaked his thirst, but also fought off hunger, weariness and disease. Here, with the escaped women, he founded a small village that grew to be a mighty city, which he grew tired of and drifted ever eastward, travelling from one Pacific island to the next aboard a flimsy raft. He reached the Phillipines, and journeyed there extensively, supporting himself through pearl-diving and acrobatics, until the outbreak of World War II, when he stowed away in what he took to be the cargo hold of a Japanese bomber. It was not until daybreak, by which time the plane was well above the clouds, that André could see clearly by the thin light that entered into the hold that the space he had darted into without looking was in fact the bomb bay. Shortly thereafter, he was clinging for dear life to the bracketed maintenance railing, dangling thousands of feet over Pearl Harbor as the bombs dropped.

He was delivered from this untenable position by the Americans themselves, who shot down the bomber with a barrage of anti-aircraft fire that blew a gaping hole in the airframe not two feet away from his head, that bled fuel and coolant. Of course it is miraculous that he survived the crash at all, let alone that he was able to rescue the co-pilot, dragging him to safety in the Hawaiian jungle. There, he and the co-pilot, Haraguchi, stumbled for five weeks through thick vegetation, sucking mud, and almost unbearable humidity, until they were taken captive by a band of uncontacted natives.

Treated initially with suspicion, André soon won the tribe's respect for him and Haraguchi, and lived among them for several years. Knowing that the tribe's isolation would not last much longer, and perhaps scenting change in the wind, André snuck away in the black of night and arranged passage aboard a fishing trauler headed for Tasmania. During the voyage, however, he became fed up with the ship captain's shortsighted arrogance, and took the chance passing of a trading junk, which drew up beside his vessel, as an opportunity to throw himself overboard and be rescued by the other boat, from which he refused to depart. This did not please the trading junk's crew at first, but André secured their support with tales of a vast fortune in the Orient that he would share with them, showing the medallion from the Chinese emperor as proof.

The ship cut a speedy course through the Palk Strait that separates Sri Lanka from the Indian mainland, and there in the strait's shallow and fickle waters a storm appeared like a primordial beast out of the clear sky, churning up the water into waves and twisting eddies. Most of the crew abandoned ship, and of them all but a few were lost at sea scant miles from the port of Rameswaram. André stayed on board with the captain and a skeleton crew, fighting the sea for control of the ship, and succeeded in guiding the obstinate craft to the port of Talaimannar, on the opposite side of the strait. There, on dry land, the captain and crew all swore off the nautical life and bestowed the ship upon André as a token of thanks for saving their lives in the battle against the storm.

Forced to recruit a new crew, André began searching through the Tamil port for brave sailors seeking adventure, and caught the ragged ear of a scarred and grey-haired Russian hardened by many a storm and salty wind. The Russian, Volodymyr by name but known as Pyshna, told André of a diamond horde he'd been forced to leave buried in Norway, that he could retrieve if only he could find a crew willing to undertake the journey in exchange for a cut of the riches. Not believing the old sailor, but intruiged at the prospect of visiting Scandinavia, which Pyshna described as a land of savage and icy beauty, André took him aboard and reached Scandinavia in no time.

Upon their arrival, Pyshna, ecstatic to be back on European soil, was overwhelmed by homesickness for his native Siberia, and told the crew they could keep all the diamonds for themselves, for he was going home at once. Not a trusting bunch, they took this to mean there was no treasure after all, and would certainly not have let Pyshna get away with it, had not André interceded, persuading all present that the decision of how to deal with Pyshna would be best considered after a good night's rest and recovery from the hardships of the ocean, which make a man's mind as harsh and treacherous as the sharpest sunken reef, and promising that he, personally, would keep watch over the prisoner.

Rather than detain Pyshna, however, André waited until the trusting crew had gone to sleep and then snuck the old man out of the inn, and the two of them, laughing like maniacs, shot out of town on a stolen dogsled. They quickly made their way to Russia, covering expenses by travelling as a Strong Man act. There, they parted ways. Pyshna headed homeward, whereas André made for Moscow. There, preceded by his reputation as an outrageous raconteur, he had the ears of Russia's highest social circles, who invited him to all their functions and conferences. It was at just such a conference, one with a scientific bent, that André talked his way into a polar expedition.

And so, a short while later, he set sail with the other members of the expedition aboard the icebreaker Yamal from the port of Murmansk, bound for the pole. It was a brutal trek, a constant war against the elements, made worse by the fact that André wouldn't wear a sweater, but the team reached the North Pole in just under eight months. Here, André bid them farewell, knowing the time had come for him to settle down, at least for a little. Tearfully and reluctantly bidding him goodbye, the Soviets gave him one box of meat, one of bullets, a small but strong stove with enough fuel to thaw the meat, and a trusty pistol. With this kit, he set out South to Canada, leaving behind him the Soviets, who were heading South to Russia.

By carefully rationing his meat supply, he made it last for six weeks, in which time he travelled far enough from the inhospitable pole that he was able to find native animals to hunt, and survived on fish, seal, fox, and other Arctic creatures until he reached the northernmost fringe of civilization. Eventually he was picked up by a snowmobile in what were then the North-West Territories, and hitched a ride aboard a prison convoy to Calgary, where he took a train East.

André spent the Vietnam war years in Toronto amid the protest community that sprung up as American draft-dodgers flooded into Canada. He earned his way first as a street vendor, then as the bodyguard of the founder of House of Anansi Press, who was the target of constant assassination attempts by conservatives and establishmentarians. Getting bored of this, he became a street musician and in one performance moved the American President Nixon, who was in Toronto for a trade conference, to tears with an anti-war song. Touched to his very soul, Nixon asked André to journey to Washington D.C. to sing before the U.S. congress so that they might be persuaded to support his attempt to end the war. André did this, and after accepting a Congressional Medal of Honor with Distinction, caught a Greyhound to California, where he rejoined the protest crowd in Berkeley for a few more years before getting tired and moving on.

He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, and since then has travelled extensively throughout North America and accepted honorary degrees from a number of schools including Stanford and Duke University. Together with his love of half of a thousand years, he lives in a large house currently located in Massachusetts. This is his first book.

original site + text contents ©2004 twenty oh four by me called it

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