Posts tagged: Glee

Aural Fixation

My viewing habits are well documented, the majority of my blog posts begin or lead to a moment from the television screen. My wife and I tend to focus on watching television shows during the week and save our movies for the weekend. However, sometimes an old classic is shown on Film4 or ITV2 and you just cannot resist the temptation to watch. A prime example was the 1980s action classic Total Recall last summer. On Wednesday night, we decided to watch Pitch Perfect. I had toyed with the idea of watching at the cinema but as the saying goes, you snooze you lose, so by the time I had actually thought I would go and see it, screenings had stopped. Never mind, I perhaps would have a felt a little short changed if I had spent money on cinema tickets (even on Saver Tuesday at our local Empire).

My expectations were a family unfriendly extended episode of Glee, in a college rather than high school environment. I like a capella music but am not particularly fond of mash-ups (see previous blog post). However, putting that to one side, this movie was great fun! I was unaware that Brittany Snow was one of the leads. An actress I have only come across in the last few years. Although I had heard about the movie John Tucker Must Die I actually had not seen it until it was on television a few years ago. Michelle told me it was worth watching and very funny! Unfortunately there is zero trace of me noting watching the movie sometime in 2011 on Twitter, Facebook or this blog. This was the first time I came across the beautiful actress Brittany Snow. I will sidestep the topic of her amazing body and instead focus my attention on her acting ability which was fantastic but we have to give the caveat that this was just a high school teen movie. The reality is, I should not have been watching this movie so close to my 30th birthday. A few months later, we watched Prom Night as the 2008 remake re-imagining was on Film4. I recall during this time we were going through an Idris Elba phase (Michelle in particular), watching Luther on television (stupidly season two before watching season one a fortnight later). I wonder if he will become the next Bond after Craig?

As a big fan of Glee, I was the ideal audience for Pitch Perfect but my expectations of a gross-out comedy in the vain of Bridesmaids, were quickly put to bed. This was going to be a fun ride and all the performers were actually extremely good singers in their own right, we just had not seen any of them sing before. Rebel Wilson steals the show as Fat Amy! The soundtrack was excellent, particularly some of the older songs from the 1980s. Some of the mashups were good but I was disappointed that some of the songs featured so prominently in the movie were neglected from the album. While the movie is centred around Anna Kendrick’s character, Beca I feel the supporting cast steal the show in many scenes. Character development is much further down the list of priorities but as an audience we tend not to worry about such things. Particularly if the film is entertaining enough! Great fun and highly recommended. Do not just take my word for it, the movie is rated as 80% fresh over on Rotten Tomatoes. Particularly watch out for one of the actors from The Treble Makers who has a close resemblances to my brother-in-law.

Film Title: Pitch Perfect

While reviewing Wikipedia as you do after watching a movie, particularly one you have enjoyed, it was great to see an update (as recently as yesterday) that a sequel has been green lit and Rebel Wilson as actually signed up for another two movies. A movie dedicated to Fat Amy, now that I would pay money to see!

Never As Good, Second Time Around

Have you been watching ITV2 on Thursday nights at 9pm. Purely just the fact that Andi (with an ‘i’) Peters narrates this nostalgic trip down musical memory lane from the turn of the century, should be enough for most people. I am of course referring to The Big Reunion. The broadcasters attempt to bring back a selection of pop groups for a reunion concert at The Hammersmith Apollo. Ultimately the draw for me, was Liberty X. I was a big fan of their music, having watched them get rejected on ITV’s The Popstars (for mediocre Hear’Say) to winning a Brit Award and beyond. My second favourite band (based on number of songs I personally like) would be 5ive. I did not like their initial material but towards the later part of their career, before they hung up their microphones, I enjoyed Keep On Moving and Closer To Me. Finally, out of the other bands, it has to be the Honeyz. If they had released more material (or probably just been around longer regardless of line up changes) they would have been my second favourite. As as aside, I was a passing fan of Solid Harmonie (Mariama Goodman left the band to join the Honeyz) around 1998-1999 when they appeared on the Nickelodeon’s comedy series, Renford Rejects.

My dearest wife made the comment, that nostalgia has a way of tricking us into the illusion that it was better back then, than it really was. In homage to this conversation, I have used her exact phrase as the title of this blog post. Dedicated to the UK pop scene at the turn of the twenty first century. Were we truly spoilt as much as this? I am yet to be convinced but I do recall a period in the late nineties and early noughties when there was a different number one single almost every week!

Perhaps I was a little old to be into this cheesy brand of manufactured popular music, first time around. The reality, which I have no problem admitting, is I till love my pop music. No matter how cheesy and lack of credibility that may come across for a man almost thirty two years of age. It is not the only music genre I listen to it but I enjoy it for what it is. I was looking forward to the show most for the concert at the end, but it was great to hear about all the stories from the band members themselves. Unaware at the time what was truly going on, as we were just fed whatever the record label machine was pumping out onto the airwaves and television screens.

It is the Honeyz that I feel the greatest deal of sympathy. Having signed to Def Jam records, they were on the bring of international stardom. For a member of the act to just walk out, would have left me completely devastated. Now I appreciate everyone will have their own reasons and we have to respect everybody’s desire to do what they feel is right at the time they feel it is right. Turning your back on what could have been an extremely successful recording career in the States and beyond, should not be a decision taken at the drop of a hat. Who knows what they would have achieved as potential rivals to Destiny’s Child.

Pure Pop

Boybands only came onto my musical radar in 1999, when Backstreet Boys released I Want It That Way. Since that point, as a young first year college student, I have never looked back. In 2003, I created an album exclusively of boy-band tracks. I have been listened to it again recently due to the fact that Glee in episode sixteen of season four, “Feud” pitted two of the biggest American boy-bands of all time against one another in a sing off come mash-up. Now, let me set you straight, I have tended to strongly dislike the mash-up concept, particular the songs used in Glee. However, on this occasion, the songs surprising do contrast each other well and we had pop perfection performances from Will Schuester and Finn Hudson. My only complaint is that the song is not long enough. After a difficult few episodes, I believe Glee is back to it’s best. I probably have spoken to soon and the show will once again hit the buffers. We catch the show on Sunday mornings while eating breakfast. It is perhaps the perfect pick me up to get you through the remaining hours of the weekend. In our case, we have to complete our weekly food shop at the supermarket as soon as the show finishes.

Identifying Songs

When I hear a song I do not know, I have to quickly identify it. For a while, when my HTC Desire was brand spanking new (late 2010) I had Shazam installed and would use it at every available opportunity. However, over two years later, my Desire lacks the memory space to hold any useful apps, so I have Shazam installed on my Nexus 7, not the most mobile of devices but it does work perfectly – most of the time.

Let me take you back five weeks, to Friday 25th January. My colleague Harps offered me a lift home in his beloved white BMW 330d cabriolet. (Surprisingly this was the first ever time he was giving me a lift home, even though we have worked together for almost exactly a year!) The journey started off with Luda (who else!) but Harps was switching to various songs on his MP3 CD. It then switched to an Unknown Artist – Unknown Track (I of course, would never have such an epic fail on my audio collection, all my ID3 tags (v1) are fully compiled). The song was instantly catchy and I asked Harps to name the artist, when he could not, so I switched on my tablet and Shazam’d (is that even the adjective?). This song would be the soundtrack to not just my weekend but the rest of the month! I downloaded the song from the internet and then had it burnt onto CD for a drive to Oxford (via Aylesbury on Sunday afternoon). The song, which is of the RnB persuasion rather than HipHop, is called Who Booty (Remix) by John Hart featuring French Montana.

Glee has been a mixed bag of late, at times becoming a parody of itself in this it’s fourth season. However, in places the quality has improved, as the the new characters develop and make bonds with each other. Episode eleven, “Sadie Hawkins” we had very low expectations for, but it actually proved to be quite a good visit to Ohio, not just for bringing in some interesting movement to the plot but also some fantastic songs! The highlight for myself was the cover of TLCs 1999 comeback hit “No Scrubs”. However for my dearest wife, it was the cover of the much more recent Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven (even if some of the lyrics are risqué for a family friend television show). Straight after the girls performance, a song kicks in on the dance-floor but apart from a few patchy lyrics, there was no way for me to identify the song. The audio volume is just far too low and with characters (Kitty and Puckerman) talking there was no chance of me identifying the song. I noted down a few lyrics after listening a few times and then went over to Google. My searches were rather fruitless but I was not the only person whom had noted the song and wanted to know who the artist was. My first port of call was TV.com, registering and leaving the question as a comment. I had little response, so a few days later I tried entering the few lyrics I could make out into Google and sure enough was taken to a Glee forum. Sure enough, I was not the only person looking for this unidentified song, but so far the trail had run suddenly from hot to cold, as all the suggested songs were not the song in question. We were left thinking that this was an unreleased song, which had been produced specifically for the show. I had lost hope of ever finding out the artist and track name. This was until Thursday morning, when I happened to go back to the forum to check if there had been any updates. There had and the answer to the question that had been on my mind for the past few weeks was finally there on the web page. The artist was Rae, the song was 305 and it featured, in a slightly different mix on the Hop soundtrack. Mystery solved.

It does make me think, how much harder life was before the interweb. How did we ever get the answer to more deep and meaningful questions, rather than some random song played within the context of a high school prom on a television show. Back in June 2005, I had a similar problem with a song I heard on my portable DAB radio. It did not take me that long to find that song, as I actually had the title of the track from the chorus. Do you not just love this connected, always on world we live in, with the possibility of so much at our fingertips? I sure do!

You would class “305″ or is it “The 305″, as bubble gum pop, whereas I prefer to use the term pure pop! The lyrics and overall production remind me of the opening track from the Resse Witherspoon movie, Legally Blonde. The track which plays during the opening credits is Perfect Day by Hoku. The 305 even includes the lyrics, “It’s a perfect day” in reference to the older song by Hoku – pure coincidence perhaps! It is almost seven years ago since I was naming checking this romantic comedy, the song and even quoting the lyrics on my blog!

Rae Tweets The 305

One Headline, Why Believe It

Mid to late September is a crucial time for the US television networks. As the nights begin to draw in, the television schedule kicks off again with all of our favourites and some new shows to consider. Glee, now in series four, started a few weeks back and the majority of shows kicked off this week. Thursday 27th September (yesterday) being the season opening night for many shows. This works perfectly for me, as I can then plan to catch the shows on Friday evening and over the course of the weekend.

There was a time in my life I would hide the fact I am a certified Gleek! Instead I am posting online for the world to know that I adore the show and in particular two characters Blaine and Santana (for two very different reasons!). Episode four was screened this week and opened up with my one of my favourite songs of all time. The moment I heard the opening guitar rifts, I jumped up from the sofa and put the volume up. My favourite singer – Blaine Anderson was about to cover Tears For Fears. As my wife would note later, “His voice is just perfect for 1980s songs!”. True.

Blaine

Everybody Wants To Rule The World probably sums up the whole decade in four minutes. In context here though, it takes on a very different meaning. How do you keep yourself busy when your boyfriend lives on the other side of the country? Just when you thought Glee may be losing some of it’s sparkle (some students have now graduated so their stories are fragmented from the remaining New Directions) it comes along and surprises you from the opening minute. Long may the trend continue.

Defying Gravity

During 2010, my wife Michelle was a fan of Glee along with me and we were watching series one at practically the same time. Although I was a few episodes ahead, on my weekly TV diet, she would watch episodes in major blocks. We watched an episode together, “Wheels”, one weekend (I think I may have already seen it) but she was catching up. The episode in question, featuring Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel performing a musical number. Where is this from, I asked! Wicked, my dearest fiancé replied. I had heard of the Broadway musical. In fact many years earlier my Mum had actually gone on a school trip with her school girls into the West End to see the show! I really enjoyed the song and it soon became a personal favourite. Of course Rachel’s version is much better because it was always written with the idea of a female vocalist. Even though in the show, Kurt fumbles his lines on purpose (not hitting the top note) to miss out on a lead role. I did want to see the show myself, Michelle had been lucky enough to see the show early into the West End run with Andy Garcia in a lead role! Would she really want to go and see it again?

My birthday was on the horizon and I asked Michelle that I would like to go for a nice meal and to see the show Wicked. She instantly agreed and went ahead with all the arrangements. I do have an amazing wife! I was looking forward to the show, I knew the plot device, an alternative back story to The Wizard Of Oz. After our meal at The Athenaeum Hotel, we rushed across to Victoria in a Hackney Carriage and made it just in time to take our seats before the show started. In fact, I even had a chance for a call of nature, but heard music being played as I made way back from the toilets to our seats. A fantastic stage, I really like the Art Deco feel of the Victoria Apollo. It was another sold out performance of the smash hit show.

Wicked London

Michelle (who I am sure would have wanted to whisper to me more during the performance) only prodded me moments before the climatic close to Act One and smiled. Defying Gravity is a pure pop song. I love the lyrics, the change in mood, the feeling it invokes within. It means so much and has the possibility of living a life without limits and a boundless energy! I am disappointed I did not see the show performed on the Beeb’s I’ll Do Anything. Although having said that, I have tended to avoid these Graham Norton vehicle, Andrew Lloyd Webber backed talent hunts. Maybe I should dig it up on YouTube? Now having seen the show, do I really want to dampen my memory with a low-par (apparently out of tune performance) from television?

Even The Principal Is A Hero

Iqbal Theba is somewhat of a hero of mine! Let me clarify this by making that a small time television hero, not the super street fighting kind. He starred in a handful of episodes of Sister, Sister, with the classic line, “This is AMERICA! Everything is for SALE!”. However, he has outdone himself as Principal Figgins on Glee. Watching the most recent episode this week (I believe I am a good few episodes ahead of the E4 schedule). Just check out this dance move as he mashes it up, while the Glee club, New Directions before a cover of Ke$ha hit, “Tick Tok”.

Principal Figgins

He also starred in an episode of Chuck in the very early days, as some kind of millionnaire playboy, with a hot babe on each arm. (I am sure Chuck made some comment about how hairy the “villian” of the week was in the episode, even referenced in the title, Chuck Versus The Wookie) You can read about Theba’s other acting credits from the 1990s over on Toob World.

As I come to the end of my week off, I feel I have achieved very little that I planned to do. However, having said that we have been able to move forward with the planning of the wedding to a stage where all the major, “big ticket” items are now in place and there is a minor break for a month or so before we get into clothes, flowers and music selections. I had to make a quick trip into town this morning and parked, as I usually do in the George Street car park. I noted the Parking Attendant or Ticket Warden was making his rounds, so was quick to get a ticket and walk into the town centre. (I never try and park for free – honest it is just not work it and my total career parket ticket count over a decade is a meer two!). You can imagine my surprise, to return to my car, to find a green ticket under the wiper. I could not believe it, but then realised that parking tickets are yellow. It was in fact, a parking services customer feedback form! Wycombe District Council really know how to put you in a state of dispair. I wonder which smart alec at the council dreamt up this scheme? Will I be answering the “How are we doing?” form? Probably, if only to give them a piece of my mind that there are better ways to ask for customer feedback!

Wycombe District Council Car Park Feedback

Coming Out As A Gleek?

I have been watching Glee since it was recommended to me by my girlfriend’s friend Shabana (who over the past year and a bit has actually become a my BBF, even if she is not great at answering her phone!) back in late October last year. I watched the first series religiously but was rather disappointed with the ending of season one (so much so that it took me several weeks to get around to watching the final episode). Do not get me wrong, the mid season finale was fantastic and I absolutely died at Rachel’s performance of Don’t Rain On My Parade! The start of season two was pedestrian, even with the influx of new characters. In my humble opinion, the show had lost some of it’s magic, that special glow that had made it such compelling viewing in the past. My favourite song, or rather I should re-phrase, ‘performance’ to date was Safety Dance in the episode Dream On (which was named with a nod to one of my favourite all time songs – Dream A Little Dream Of Me!). That all changed this Monday evening, I had mentioned to Shabana on Saturday night in Reading that I was a few weeks behind the US airings. She recommended I watch the latest version featuring a famous Musician’s wife – a “great performance from a rather boring actress”. I sat down to watch Never Been Kissed straight after Eastenders around 8pm. I was hoping my sister Natalie or even Julie would join me but they quickly departed the lounge. I was on my own for this guilty pleasure. There would no validation from my siblings.

Generally speaking televisions shows go in peaks and troughs. Few are consistently on the money but they tend to have a very short shelf life as being so hot on the money is difficult to span out over several seasons let alone years. I had a feeling Glee was back on track. The fast paced action, the short sharp comedy cutbacks, indulging in adolescent make believe. This should have been enough for me and I was more than satisfied, then after the eleventh minute mark, something happened.

The Warballs - Teenage Dream

There is something pure about songs sung in acapella, without any instruments that has always intrigued me. Although originally Christmas number one when I was only two years old, it was played all the time, as it was not necessarily a festive song. Only You by The Flying Pickets was my first appreciation of an acapella song. Having the original version by Yazoo in the charts around the same time, made it easy to distinguish between the two. Even being a child of the electronic 1980s, I preferred the cover! Since then there have been always been acapella songs in the car or on my computer. Three years ago, my sister Natalie introduced me to Penn Masala and even more recent incarnations such as Reality TV star Anoop Desai. He performed in a college accapella group don’t you know! (Although this may be more up your street!)

That brings us back to Glee, as Kurt is whisked through the corridors of Dalton Academy, I had no idea that the song to be performed was a recent favourite. However, their performance added something to the original, which I never thought possible with male vocals. The deconstruction of the song to the bare essentials and the pitch perfect harmonies combine to give the care free first love feeling. I was never a big fan of the original, apart from perhaps the bridge in the middle when Perry actually pushes her singing out of her comfort zone.

Disagree with me? Take a look and let me know what you think. Now can anyone spot a guy trying to rip off my trademark dance moves? Trust me, you cannot miss him!

Movie Mistakes

I rarely can find the time to blog in recent weeks. So much has been going on and my evenings tend to be packed with either catching up with family, friends, or television. (Occasionally sport, mostly American imports). I thought it would be good to have Friday evening to myself to catch up on things, sort things out (my room is a tip and my Dad is constantly reminding me to clear it up!). I just have been too busy and when I have had the time or at least planned the time, other things have happened to knock me off course.

The past few weeks have been busy and I am trying hard to work out what is worth mentioning. My usual source would be notes I have made, but I have tended to not have the time or chance to do that these days (perhaps this will change now I have my Desire and can upload notes to Google Mail or somewhere else in the cloud quite promptly). Twitter is usually very good and pinpointing my movements, emotions and activities, but even on that side of things I have been rather lapse on the tweets.

I was recommended the Yoruba Girl Dancing blog, by Michelle, as it was written by her friend Bim. She was also using WordPress, which was the blogging platform I was trying to migrate over to (at a tortoise pace) and she was able to offer me some advice and useful links to check out. It was her post from late May that appealed as it mentioned an upcoming brand new TV show by JJ Abrams starring the gorgeous Gugu Mbatha-Raw. (Firstly, as anti double barrelled names as I am, in this case I will make an exception. Secondly she was the hot sister of Martha Jones from Doctor Who and she would have made a better assistant Russell T. Davis!). I left a comment as you do, promising to catch the show when it aired Stateside in the fall. The first episode screened late last month and I watched it on Saturday evening. I am yet to e-mail Bim with a full review, but will do soon after this post goes live (or at the very least at some point over the weekend!). It was good clean fun, not too taxing on the brain but enough going on to keep you occupied. It is too early to say whether it will last beyond the first series (I am not sure how many episodes NBC have ordered) but I enjoyed the ride. It was funny too, good to see a show not take itself too seriously. However, I just feel there are already enough spy shows on television (particularly US television) so cannot see how this will last (apart from the fact that the two main characters are black – that can only be a good thing). Gugu’s American accent is very convincing and she even gets the chance to drop into her Received Pronunciation during the course of the opening episode.

As I am on the subject of television, the old favourites are back: Chuck, Fringe (which I am watching on Sky1), Glee (only seen the first episode so far) and The Big Bang Theory. I find as I have less time in the evenings than when I lived and worked in Newbury it is hard to fit in all the evening entertainment, alongside a square meal and some time online. I forget how much a luxury it was, to finish work at 5pm and be home within ten minutes and have the whole evening of some six hours, stretching out before me. I tend to have an hour or so in the evening to perhaps slot in an episode but then really have to get myself into bed. Waking up at 5:45am is hard work, but the knowledge that I will have a less stressful journey into work and being able to leave the office promptly at 4:30pm, which makes all the difference to my journey back home. Throw into this mix, the new TV shows, such as Undercovers as well as the remake of Hawaii-Five-O (I only watched the opening twenty minutes with my Dad, who instantly took a disliking to everything the producers had done in this update).

I watched two rather poor movies last weekend. On Saturday evening at Michelle’s house, we were wondering what to watch in the afternoon after lunch and could only find Sorority Row on Sky Movies HD. I remember seeing the trailer at the cinema over a year ago but this was not a film I had wanted to really see. Horror movies are not my cup of tea and in particular these teen slasher movies (which started with Scream series). I can recall a very bad experience going to UCI Wycombe Six to see I Still Know What You Did Last Summer with all my college friends in May 1999 (we took up the entire row in the biggest screen at the multiplex). This genre of movie is completely ridiculous, with directors/producers trying to come out with more outlandish ways to kill off the cast. It was a remake (I have not seen the original and doubt I ever will) but this was just a complete waste of two hours of my life that I will never get back. I am surprised there is still a market for these movies, but then I forget what I was like as a sixteen year old, but then perhaps these movies are packaged for people my sister Julie’s age.

Michelle wanted to see an action movie, so we headed to Wycombe with her brother, Steve to watch Buried. (Yes, I am well aware that this is not the action movie that Michelle had asked for her but it was her choice plus the 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes had clinched the deal.) Although having said that there were not a great deal of options at the the cinema last weekend. The only viable alternative would have been Back To The Future. While I would have loved to had seen the movie on the big screen, I have seen it so many times I do not feel I am missing anything if I am honest. Again, we had seen the short, thirty second trailer for this movie a while back, I think when we went to see Knight & Day back in August. I had not picked up from the trailer that the star of the movie was Ryan Reynolds. Having said that, he puts on a great performance, but it is hard to get away from that fact that this is ninety minutes of a man trapped in a coffin trying to find a way out. It was mediocre at the best of times and the ending was rather a let down. If I am honest, it is not a movie I would have gone to the cinema to see, or even rent on DVD. I may have caught it on TV, if I did not have anything more interesting to do. Great to see Reynolds taking on deeper serious acting roles and showing his depth (he was a surprise in Blade Trinity, if you recall his macho physique) but this is not a movie I would recommend. I think if you are in the right frame of mind and happy to go on the emotional journey, then perhaps this may be for you.

I am finding it hard to come up with other things worthwhile mentioning. My HTC Desire is working a dream. Received my case and screen protector from Proporta on Wednesday, so my mobile is now fully covered from what life can throw at it. I have downloaded a great deal of apps, in the first few days. Including, Shazam, as I often find myself listening to songs on the radio but never getting the chance to find out who the artists or track name was. I usually resort to Googling (is that a valid verb?) any of the lyrics I have cared to remember. The official Sky+ Remove Record application from BSkyB, IMDB, Movies by Flixster, and the fantastic XBMC Remote. I see myself going on the Market on a daily basis and scouring the web to find the must-have applications for Android. Thankfully the phone came pre-loaded with Froyo and no Vodafone bloatware!

How many numbers in your phone contacts do you actually speak to on a regular basis? I have too many contacts on my E65 and although I am sure there is a way for me to sync these to my Desire, I have decided against this. Even if that may mean a sync to Outlook and then Outlook to the HTC handheld but I am opting to do the old school manual input. Why? Well I need to “cut the fat” so to speak and actually keep only the numbers I need. My phone has already scoured Facebook and added those with their mobile number on their profiles into my Contact List. Great! However, like most people I have too many “friends” on Facebook who are just really casual acquaintances, people I once worked with or went to school with several years ago. I am going to try to transfer across my contacts this weekend, before finally wiping my last ever Nokia and giving it to a family member.

Google Android mascots

If anyone has any apps they think I would find useful, please get in touch! I am keen to make the most of the device! I think it will be fully tested, when I go to visit my best friend Dave in Wrexham at the start of November. There will be a great deal of tweeting and uploading images to FlickR during the course of the weekend, including photos of Jayden.

Yorkshire Tea
Talking of David, several months ago, Dave tweeted about having a nice brew of Yorkshire Tea. I replied, hoping he would make me a cup or two over the first weekend in November when I am up in Wrexham. His response was no, I would have to make do with Tetley or PG Tips. You can imagine my surprise, therefore to receive a bag of Yorkshire Tea with my Proporta order. I saved this cup for Friday afternoon, after I had signed off from work! Dave was quick to respond on Twitter, apparently I would never go back!

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