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The Simpsons

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Lawyers, Guns, and Money.

Lots of catch-up to do in the Trailer Bin…

Finally out of The Master‘s clutches, a lonely Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with, for all intent and purposes, Siri (Scarlett Johansson) in the first trailer for Spike Jonze’s Her, also with Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pratt, and Rooney Mara. I believe this is called going the full-Lars. (Also, I’m never not going to hear the name of this film as “Her?”)

Alan Rickman and Donal Logue — now there’s one of the best buddy pairings on film since Ray Winstone and Brendan Gleeson in Beowulf — meet a lot of 24 Hour Party People American-style in our first look at CBGB’s, with Ashley Greene, Freddy Rodriguez, Johnny Galecki, Bradley Whitford, Rupert Grint, Justin Bartha, Stana Katic, and Malin Ackerman (as Debbie Harry?) I see Severus is now teaching young Mr. Weasley a completely different set of Dark Arts. Hrm, maybe.

Michael Fassbender finds he’s taken a wrong turn into Cormac McCarthy land in the newest trailer for Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, with Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Goran Visnjic, and Dean Norris. Looks very McCarthyish, and no mistake. The good news is Ridley Scott still owes Fassbender a solid film after Prometheus.

It belongs in a museum! WWII soldiers George Clooney and Matt Damon put together a crack team to save priceless art and artifacts in the first trailer for Clooney’s The Monuments Men, also with John Goodman, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, and Cate Blanchett. As one wag aptly noted on Twitter, this is basically an Elseworlds Ocean’s movie, but I trust Clooney’s choices. Still, here’s hoping it works out better than Clooney & Blanchett’s last trip to Germany.

Over an unfortunately poppy soundtrack, Idris Elba and Naomie Harris channel Nelson and Winnie Mandela in the first trailer for Justin Chadwick’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. This looks a bit standard-issue-biopic-y, I’ll admit. But I’ll watch just to see Elba as Mandela — just no Henley poems, k?

Team Silver Linings Playbook joins forces with Team Fighter (sans Wahlberg) to dabble in the luxurious world of art forgery in this brief trailer for David O. Russell’s next, American Hustle, with Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Louis CK, Jack Huston, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Pena and Elizabeth Rohm.

Lowry? Has anybody seen Sam Lowry? Er, sorry, that would be Mitty, as in Ben Stiller’s adaptation of James Thurber’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, with Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott, Patton Oswalt, and Shirley MacLaine. I have to admit, this looks much fresher than I anticipated. Definitely maybe.

A terrible accident, an unexpected boon, and A Simple Plan all add up to another bad day for Sam Rockwell in the trailer for David Rosenthal’s A Single Shot, also with William H. Macy, Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Wright, Kelly Reilly, Ted Levine, Melissa Leo, and W. Earl Brown. A great cast through and through, but you had me at Rockwell.

And if you need another reason to worry about Found Money, Alice Eve gets into trouble with the Russian mob, in the form of Bryan Cranston, in the trailer for Cold Comes the Night, also with Logan Marshall-Green. If nothing else, it’ll be good for Cranston to get some more menacing reps in before signing up with LexCorp (although, in that department, Mark Strong’s a solid choice as well.)

Where’s a mermaid when you need one? Tom Hanks is in considerable peril on the sea in our second look at Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, also with Catherine Keener, Max Martini, Yul Vazquez, Michael Chernus, Chris Mulkey, Corey Johnson, David Warshofsky, John Magaro and Angus MacInnes.

I thought Greengrass’ most recent film, 2010′s Green Zone, was an overly preachy dud — I get annoyed with edutainment that aggressively berates me to endorse opinions I already hold. (I’m looking at you, Aaron Sorkin.) But Greengrass has a lifetime pass after United 93, Bloody Sunday, and the Bournes, so hopefully this is a return to form.

Thor Odinson, meet Clarice Starling: In a tight spot with a new Big Bad, Earth’s mightiest Asgardian (Chris Hemsworth) is forced to enlist help from his brother in the joint in the second trailer for Thor: The Dark World, also with Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Christopher Eccleston, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Jaimie Alexander, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard, and Ray Stevenson.

After The Dark Knight, Skyfall, and ST:ID, I’m not sure we need any more villains unfolding their master plans from behind prison bars this decade — Heck, even Loki himself was doing this same shebang in The Avengers last year. Still, the first Thor was better than expected, and Marvel’s on a pretty consistent streak at the moment. I’m in.

I also thought the Nick Stoller’s 2011 reboot of The Muppets was decent enough, but I’m not getting good vibes at all from this first teaser for James Bobin’s Muppets: Most Wanted, with Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Salma Hayek, Frank Langella, Till Schweiger, Debby Ryan, Danny Trejo, Ray Liotta, and Christoph Waltz. Early yet, and I do like Stoller and Bobin’s prior output, but right now this looks like it’ll hit at about Smurfs 2 level.

So, yeah, Harrison Ford hasn’t gotten all that much better at voiceovers since Blade Runner, has he? Anyway, there’s also a new trailer for Gavin Hood’s Ender’s Game, also with Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, and a ridiculous number of clichés (the Inception BWOMP, “We’re running out of time,” etc.) Everyone wants a Ford comeback, but it’s hard to imagine this one getting my money, even if Orson Scott Card wasn’t a jackass. Oh well.

Don Headroom.

“People want a dance that makes them feel safe. They’ll do anything for it, even leave their friends behind.” Also by way of The Late Adopter, Buzzfeed collects some of the best hits of 80′s Don Draper. “Imagine this: not just one Corey, but two.” For more fun, read the very funny Twitter feed. “Simon isn’t about remembering a bunch of colors and sounds. It’s about remembering who we are.”

Speaking of Mad Men, I liked Forrest Wickman’s Chevy-is-Vietnam reading of last week’s strange, Dr. Feelgood-enhanced episode. That being said, the agency is starting to lose me — Don’s been spinning his wheels all season, and while it may be true-to-life, it’s not all that compelling to watch the main character become ever more repugnant and self-pitying while making the same mistakes, over and over and over again. (With that in mind, it’s become especially clear this season that Matt Weiner cut his teeth on The Sopranos.)

Also, nothing on the show is dumber or more show-stopping than 30′s whorehouse Dick Whitman. Every time we flash back to that ridiculous thicket of hyper-Freudian backstory, I’m reminded of nothing so much as Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel.

At Least Homer Read It.

Social Media friends and Flickr followers have probably already noticed that my actual doctoral diploma arrived in the mail last week. (Speaking of which, there’s a good economics dissertation to be written on the bizarrely high cost of professional framing.) On the same day, I also received this sweet congratulations gift from my girlfriend Amy: A print of the estimable Professor Frink examining Homer J. Simpson’s (lack of) brainwaves as he peruses the old dissertation, while Berk and I look on.

FWIW, this particular piece of awesome was drawn on commission by former Simpsons illustrator Gary Yap, who can be found on Etsy for custom works. He also apparently perused my Flickr feed and/or GitM for our look and general inspiration (Note the back of the book and Berk eyeing the Roomba.) I wonder if he made it as far as the shelves of old Simpsons toys, currently collecting dust and resale value in a Chesapeake, VA attic. In any case, very cool.

Panetta/Burns or Bust.

“Think of the economy as a car, and the rich man as a driver. If you don’t give the driver all the money, he’ll drive you over a cliff. It’s just common sense.” As a public service announcement of sorts, the estimable C. Montgomery Burns explains the fiscal cliff. (See also Tom Tomorrow on this.)

The 39% of Americans with an opinion about Bowles/Simpson is only slightly higher than the 25% with one about Panetta/Burns, a mythical Clinton Chief of Staff/former western Republican Senator combo we conceived of to test how many people would say they had an opinion even about something that doesn’t exist.” Speaking of a different Burns — Conrad, not Monty — a Public Policy Polling survey finds that Simpson-Bowles fares only slightly better than completely imaginary legislation in the public mind. As it should!

Actually, if you’re a looking for a good summary of the Simpson-Bowles plan, it’s hard to beat this one by Kevin Baker (via Past Punditry): “A prescription for hunting down every last remaining vestige of the middle class in this country and beating it to death with a stick…By the way, if the notion of putting a crazy old, obnoxious right-wing coot and Bill Clinton’s chief fund-raiser at Morgan Stanley in charge of a committee to make the very richest people in America still infinitely richer while at the same time ripping open the underbellies of working people in this country from stem to stern seems like a puzzling idea coming from the great avatar of hope and change, you’re onto something.

Also in PPP’s findings: “49% of GOP voters nationally say they think that ACORN stole the election for President Obama. We found that 52% of Republicans thought that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama, so this is a modest decline, but perhaps smaller than might have been expected given that ACORN doesn’t exist anymore.” [rimshot]

Good Fences Make Good (Intergalactic) Neighbors.

“‘We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.’” As seen all over the place of late, Stephen Hawking warns of the perils of First Contact. “He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is ‘a little too risky’. He said: ‘If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.‘” Hey, don’t blame me. I voted for Kodos. (FWIW, many astrobiologists disagree.)

The Office, I’mma Let You Finish, But…

“The Simpsons is quite simply one of the best TV shows of all time. When people nitpick and say, ‘That wasn’t a very good season’, I want to go, “No, it wasn’t the best season. But it was still the best thing on TV that year”. It’s wickedly satirical, they take on everything and they nail it so that you can never go there again. It’s the only thing I’m a real nerd over.” In The Guardian, Ricky Gervais professes his love for Springfield.

City of Glass.

The Superman exists, and he’s American.” Several months after the fact, the Philip Glass-scored, Comic-Con Watchmen footage finally leaks onto the tubes. This looks more promising than the last trailer…but it’s always easier when nobody’s talking.

Update: In related news, see also Matt Groening’s Watchmen. (Via LMG and mkh.)

On the Couch, In the Attic.

Some amusing pilfered links: Via The Late Adopter, watch every opening Simpsons couch gag, in just under 5 minutes. And, by way of all over the place (see Ted, The Oak, Supercres, Web Goddess, PCJM, etc.) do you know what Velcro, slinkies, Alaska, and Scientology have in common…?

Way Down in the Homer. | Deus Ex Cylonica.

Via What’s Alan Watching?, and much like these Battlestar Galactica images from two years ago, David Simon’s Baltimore goes Springfield. (That’s McNulty & Bunk down at the tracks above, but you probably already figured that out.)

Speaking of BSG, does anyone else feel like Battlestar is on the verge of entering late-season X-Files territory at this point? (Or as Starbuck (and MC Hammer) might screech, WE’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!!) I was never sold on the Watchtower Four or all the Vision Questing at the end of Season 3, but figured i’d see where the show goes thereafter…maybe the Cylons really do have a plan. But this season to me, the Cylon civil war notwithstanding, has seemed mostly meandering and purposeless, and last episode (particularly the Tigh-Ellen-Six stuff) bordered on incoherent and self-parodying. I’m not giving up on Galactica just yet, but the show is definitely starting to lose me.

The Rite of Springfield.

I’m not about to give away the splendid opening sequence of The Simpsons Movie, suffice to say it includes a hilarious JFK homage and culminates with Homer (Dan Castellaneta) declaring something to the effect of “Why would anyone want to pay for a movie you can see for free on TV? Everyone in this theatre is a sucker!” Well, true, but this is The Simpsons, after all. And while this movie basically just plays out like a longer episode of the long-running, award-winning, much-beloved TV show, there are much worse ways to spend eleven bucks and 90 minutes of your time than an extended visit to Springfield. I caught this movie at a Friday afternoon matinee, and it basically felt like watching TV in a very big living room, with lots and lots of friends over, all enjoying themselves to the fullest. So, if you have any fondness at all for the Simpsons clan (and I presume that includes most of America, if not the western world), definitely check out the flick — You know what you’re getting, sure, but the getting is good from opening logo to closing credits. (And if you’re of the mind that the show has lost a step in recent seasons, have no fear — this is the primo, vintage stuff.)

At the start of The Simpsons, life continues in Springfield much as it has this past age — Homer is still an amiable oaf; Marge a long-suffering homemaker; Bart an anarchic terror; Lisa, an earnest intellectual; Maggie a silent enigma. But developments soon arise which threaten to shake the very foundations of this small-town American idyll: Grandpa Abe Simpson experiences what might have been a religious epiphany during Rev. Lovejoy’s Sunday service, Lisa realizes the nearby lake is lurching toward ecological catastrophe, Bart takes a second look at neighbor Ned Flanders as father material, and Homer adopts a pig. And, just as Lisa tries to warn the (rather disinterested) town — in her presentation, “An Irritating Truth” — about the dangers of overpolluting the local loch, Homer, in the throes of donut addiction, disposes of his new pet’s droppings in said lake, precipitating a Malcolm Gladwell-ish tipping point that immediately turns the waters black and causes the EPA (yes, this is the first movie since Ghostbusters where the EPA are the villains) to seal off the town in a large, unbreakable, transparent dome. As you might imagine, the town doesn’t take too kindly to their new total and utter isolation, and when a trail of (rather obvious) clues lead back to the culprit…well, let’s just say “D’oh!”

There’s more to the story from there, including definitive proof that this Springfield isn’t in Alaska. (In fact, it borders Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky.) But all of it is in general keeping with what you’ve come to expect from the television show: jokes, witticisms, and sight gags delivered at rat-a-tat speed in sly, warm-hearted and/or vaguely misanthropic fashion. (My favorites include the aforementioned opener, a sight gag involving Moe’s bar and the Springfield church, “You’re the five people I’ll meet in Hell!”, Santa’s Little Helper’s subtitles, and most anything involving Kent Brockman, Hans Moleman, Capt. McAllister, Comic Book Guy, or Professor Frink.)

The devastatingly funny South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut upped the ante for the big screen by really reveling in the no-holds-barred vileness that’s often only alluded to on the show. But, other than a brief bit of full-frontal nudity, Otto with bong in hand, and Marge swearing (frankly, as out of character as it was for Mrs. Weasley in Hallows), The Simpsons Movie mostly just feels like TV writ large (There’s even a FOX commercial at one point.) But, again, to my mind, that’s not a bad thing — If it ain’t broke and all. I do kinda wish that the movie had been less family-centered and held more for Springfield’s large and splendid supporting cast to do. (For one, shouldn’t Mr. Burns have been behind the big plot? Where were Apu, Principal Skinner, and Groundskeeper Willie? And, as I said of the trailer, why isn’t McBain president? Then again, I’m a fanboy like that.) But, I’m guessing the show will be on again this Sunday (and then some) if I need a Simpsons fix, and, as Maggie notes in the credits, there’s always room for a sequel…

Spider-Pigs and Bumblebee Men.

In a world where small towns such as the sleepy haven of Springfield can be threatened by mystifying unseen forces and the desperate actions of President Schwarzenegger (um, shouldn’t that be President Wolfcastle?), it’s up to one typical small-town American family (and spider-pig) to rise to the occasion… Yep, you guessed it: the new trailer for The Simpsons movie is now online.

Mama said you’d be the chosen one.

Making the rounds today, Hillary (and Bill) Clinton — enjoying a bounce in the polls (as is Fred Thompson on the GOP side) — hamhandedly riff on The Sopranos finale (with the aid of Johnny Sack) to announce the new Clinton campaign song, (ugh) Celine Dion’s “You and I.” Celine Dion? There’s yet another good reason to support Obama or Edwards in this primary contest.

Straight Outta Springfield | Pegg Legs It.

In the trailer bin today, Homer and family are ready for their close-up in the third preview for The Simpsons Movie, due out this summer. And Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz‘s Simon Pegg embarks on a ruthless fitness regime, tiny shorts and all, in the new You-tubed teaser for Run, Fatboy, Run.

Slaughter, Infidelity, Donuts.

In the movie bin, Homer J. Simpson gets stuck between a rock (Iraq?) and a hard place in the trailer for The (long-awaited) Simpsons Movie; Edward Norton (brandishing a surprisingly lousy accent) and Naomi Watts struggle with a loveless marriage by way of W. Somerset Maugham in the trailer for The Painted Veil (also with Liev Schrieber, Toby Jones, and the always lovely Dame Diana Rigg); and Wilbur the pig picks up a “spin” doctor with a way with words in a new Internet-only teaser for Charlotte’s Web (Between Julia and Buscemi, it seems like the voice-work is going to be really distracting.)

Boomer meets Homer.

The cast of Battlestar Galactica, Simpsonified. (Via Freakgirl.)

Homerian Epic.

The Superman-themed teaser for The Simpsons Movie premieres online, with a street date of July 27, 2007. Excellent.

Couch Potatoes.

The live action Simpsons intro. (Via Ed Rants/Hit or Miss/Lots of Co..)

Thems Kinfolk!

Kevin Bacon Game alert: The TNT midnight movie after Thursday’s NBA marquee match-up of Dallas versus San Antonio — it’s on in the background right now — is Next of Kin (1989), a rednecks-versus-the-mob Patrick Swayze vehicle that’s surprisingly chock-full of stars. Husband to Helen Hunt and brother to Cletus-ish psycho Liam Neeson, Swayze’s a cop out to discover who killed his other brother, Bill Paxton. And whodunnit? Mob thugs Adam Baldwin and Ben Stiller in the opening moments, both of whom report to mafiosi Andreas Katsulas (R.I.P.) and Del Close. Swayze notwithstanding, I wonder if this is on any of their resumes these days.

Freedom of…D’oh!

Here’s a depressing civics poll: While one in five Americans (22%, doesn’t that seem low?) could name the five members of the Simpsons family (Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie…but you knew that), only 1 in 1000 could name the five rights protected in the First Amendment (religion, speech, press, assembly, petition), and only a measly 8% could name even three of them. I got all five in both, but, then again, in the inimitable words of Marge Simpson: “Don’t make fun of grad students, Bart. They just made a poor life decision.

Mr. Burns & Mr. Brent.

“He caught our tone exactly, and then added his own Ricky Gervais/David Brent patheticness.” By way of Plasticbag, The Office and Extras mastermind Ricky Gervais has written and will star in a forthcoming Simpsons episode, and Matt Groening wants more. “[Gervais] moves into The Simpson household with Marge as the family take part in an episode of Wife Swap, while Homer moves in with his wife.”

And Homer Makes Six.

We’ve gotta crack open your head and scoop out those DVDs.” So, I picked up the Simpsons Season Six set today (along with Farscape Starburst 5, Sin City, and Layer Cake), and while normally I’m obliged to speak ill of Fox, I must admit they’ve done an admirable job in keeping the Simpsons fanboys (such as myself) happy with their Alternative Packaging Program. For only $2.95, they’ll mail you a standard Season Six box to replace the plastic Homer Head it currently comes in.

Fanboy Post-Mortems.

Some pop culture quotes that, applicable or not, have been flitting about my head the past few days:

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

“Where is the horse and the rider?
Where is the horn that was blowing?
They’ve passed like rain on the mountain, like wind in the meadow.

The days have gone down in the West, behind the hills, into shadow.”

- Theoden, The Two Towers

“Ladies and gentlemen, er, we’ve just lost the picture, but, uh, what we’ve seen speaks for itself. The Corvair spacecraft has been taken over — ‘conquered’, if you will — by a master race of giant space ants. It’s difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive earth men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain, there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.”
– Kent Brockman, “Deep Space Homer” (This last one birddogged, after much mutual quoting, by Mark at Nofeblog.)

Capital W.

“I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” (For some reason, I’m reminded of Homer Simpsons’s cabin fever…”I have powers…political powers!“) To his credit, Dubya gives us fair warning in his press conference today about what to expect from the coming second term. Some choice Dubya quotes, via Value Judgment: “Now that I’ve got the will of the people at my back, I’m going to start enforcing the one-question rule. That was three questions.” or “Again, he violated the one-question rule right off the bat. Obviously you didn’t listen to the will of the people.” Also, by way of Looka: “I will reach out to every one who shares our goals.” The rest of us, it seems, might be in for some trouble.

Homer and the Butterfly.

The trailer for Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder, starring Ed Burns and Ben Kingsley, shows up online, and I’m getting the sense the Treehouse of Horror V version might just be more entertaining. And what’s up with Kingsley’s flat-top? With this, Thunderbirds, and Suspect Zero, he must be making a huge down payment on a house or something.

Sunset over Springfield.

D’oh! Playmates announces the end of the World of Springfield Simpsons figure line, which should mean more petty cash-in-hand and shelf space in these parts.

Space Cadet.

General Wesley Clark stumps for faster-than-light travel in New Hampshire. “I still believe in e=mc², but I can’t believe that in all of human history, we’ll never ever be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to go. I happen to believe that mankind can do it…It’s my only faith-based initiative.” Well, I guess he’s up on Dubya, who’s still trying to work out evolution. At the same rally, Clark introduced Professor John Frink as his potential National Science Advisor. “Suppose we extend the square beyond the two dimensions of our universe… along the hypothetical Z axis, there…”

Hawking v. Voltron in the Land of Chocolate.

I’m generally pretty quiet about my side hobby of Simpsons-collecting in this space, but, at the risk of coming off even more Comic Book Guy than usual, two points of interest: Season 3 – “best season ever” – is available on DVD today, and the 13th wave of figures includes this great sculpt of Stephen Hawking (per his request), which I expect will have more crossover appeal than most of the recent (obscure) characters.

Gollum sings the blues.

Oh what to do? I am sad and blue. If only that I knew, that he would take The Precious! He had better flee, for I am thin and mean, and my eyes have seen, that he did take The Precious! Because the world demanded it (or somebody did, I guess), 2005 will witness the opening of the Lord of the Rings stage musicial in London (flash-heavy official site here.) Oh my, this sounds grisly. Will Troy McClure be in it?

The D’oh of Homer.

Since we’re discussing philosophy, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention those paragons of postmodernism, The Simpsons. On the eve of Springfield’s 300th episode, EW picks the top twenty-five episodes of all time (Via Listen Missy and this archetypal contrarian-for-the-sake-of-it Slate story.) In the spirit of Comic Book Guy, the fanboy sensei, I have actually amassed a sizable World of Springfield collection. I would put up a picture for you, but that would invite social humiliation [as with Foopster's now-lost reaction to this old desk pic posted years ago (6/19/00)], and my life already has too many Ralph Wiggum moments as it is, thank you very much. So I’ll leave it at this: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie – here’s to another 300.


“Oh, Aquaman, you can’t marry a woman without gills!” Speaking of the fanboy nation, can we just stop for a moment and give big ups to our patron saint, Comic Book Guy? (Via Footprints.)

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