Logan: finally, after 17 years

LoganThe number 17 has been a significant number in my life. I was born on the 17th, as was my husband. He asked me to be his girlfriend on his birthday, which made our dating anniversary the 17th. My line number upon becoming a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is 17. Our now wedding anniversary is August 17th, but that was done intentionally. My son was due March 25th, we thought “wouldn’t it be great if he was born on the 17th?”, but he wasn’t. He was born on the 14th…March 14th…..3/14…..3 + 14=17!!!!!! So I guess it was fate that I had to go through 17 years of waiting, until I was finally able to see a worthy Wolverine film. Don’t get me wrong he has been in some awesome X-Men films, but the solo Wolverine movies have been less than stellar. Thursday, we finally saw what all the hype was all about, and it was well deserved hype because Logan was spectacular.

I think this is the first time we’ve seen a movie within a week of its release since become parents. We were debating between seeing “Logan” or “Get Out”, both movies have been all the rage on social media, so I was faced with a choice…. “Do I please my inner nerd or my inner militant pro-black self?” I chose my inner nerd, as I always do when it comes to seeing movies in theaters. I prefer to see superhero, action, sci-fi movies in theaters. I’ll catch anything else on Netflix, Redbox, or maybe still the movies if another opportunity presents itself. It might be wrong but, sorry…not sorry.

The movie opened up and showed you what it was going to be all about. Wolverine’s limo was being stolen, while he was in it. He began to brutal beat the foolish cholos down in true Wolverine fashion. There was no sparing of blood and guts. It was completely raw and animalistic. You also saw that he obviously not his normal self, he had trouble retracting his claws and he was taking the beating worse than usual, but even still he was able to easily beat them until the survivors fled for their lives. The raw, goriness was what many Wolverine depictions in the past were lacking. I thought they were going to do it with “The Wolverine”, I never even saw that movie after I read so many abysmal reviews. I know we have the success of  “Deadpool”to thank for the “R” rating. For what ever reason, I’m glad we finally got what we were asking for.

For all the energy and ferocity Logan was lacking in his old age, we got it from Laura. I mean she was a relentless BEAST. Even X-24 couldn’t handle her. I believe it came from a combination of her upbringing as a weapon and the genetics she inherited from Wolverine. The other children were not like her. They fought when attacked and in order to save their lives, as did she, but it wasn’t the same. We barely got to see their powers. Although I did catch that Rictor, the supposed leader, had Magneto’s power.  I think her energy will replace Wolverine’s in future films if that is the intention; I will however still miss Wolverine and Hugh Jackman. For one, Wolverine is the most popular X-men, and one of the most popular superheroes period. Also, 17 years of my 28 of life have been with Jackman as Wolverine. But I think that would be another reason not to recast him for a while.

This was an extremely emotional movie. You had so many circumstances involved here. Its the last film with Jackman as Wolverine, most of the beloved X-man characters are dead, the patriarchal Professor X is but a fraction of his normal self, children are being bred, experimented on, and now exterminated, and then of course the whole “daddy issues” theme between  Laura and Logan. One aspect of the movie that I did expect to hit close to home was Charles Xavier and his seizures. I heard that he had a seizure that killed all the X-men, but I didn’t know his condition would be such a big part of the film. You see, my husband has a seizure disorder and has since he was a child. There is no cure or treatment that has seemed to help with it. So seeing Wolverine caring for the ailing Professor, forcing him to take medication, stabbing him with the anticonvulsant, and having that medicine make him a lesser version of himself struck a nerve. My husband and I will forever have the joke now of Charles sticking his tongue out when Logan demands to see that he’s taken his medicine. Although it was extremely emotional to watch, that tear jerking effect is how you know its a good movie.

“Logan” was not your average superhero movie. There was not a Earth threatening villain, and multiple X-men showing off their powers. It was personal. I only wish we had gotten this from every Wolverine film in the past. But I guess that had to experiment to get it just right so it could end with a “bang”, or in this case a “slash”. Hopefully moving forward they can make sure to bring this into every X-men film in the future.

 

Luke Cage series Review, finally.

I know its been ages since the rest of the world saw and talked about Luke Cage. But its hard to see all the shows and movies I’d like to see. Between watching our current anime and Nick Jr for my son, there’s so much I miss. I actually started it a while ago, but stopped right at the last episode of the season, finally I finished it. I will do it in the form of a layered compliment sandwich; starting and ending with positive aspects, with some negatives in between. So here are my 2 cents, even if it is ridiculously late.

1. African American Representation

As an African American, thirsting for fantasy and sci-fi characters to identify with, it was a breath of fresh air. I know there was outrage over the “lack of diversity”, meaning lack of white people, but this is the same way people of color feel watching TV and other media outlets most of the time. This was not something that was created out of the blue “just for black people”. The comic was created like this. It was created to reflect the blaxploitation films that were popular during the 70s, like Foxy Brown and Shaft. This version is a modern day interpretation of that. There some variations from the original comic, like characters and settings, but that is pretty much to be expected. It especially liked the idea of the bulletproof black man wearing a black hoodie. It was a direct homage to Travon Martina and the other countless, murders at the hands of police. There were major white people in the show, most of them just happened to be the bad guys. This show and the comic is set in Harlem, where there are mostly Blacks and Latinos, so once again it all makes sense.

2. Bad Acting

Some of the acting is just bad. Particularly from the leading man, Mike Colter. Its just too corny and unauthentic sometimes. Maybe the corniness stemmed from his use of the phrase “Sweet Christmas”. I know his character had a lot of integrity and didn’t like cursing or use of “the n-word”, but I think it could have been accomplished without being as corny as it was.  The scenes that were particularly painful to watch were to romantic moments between Cage and Claire.

3. The Love Triangle

It was however spicy, to see the somewhat of a love triangle between Misty Knight, and Claire as the former and Cage’s relationship started to bloom. The scenes with Misty and Clair together in the restaurant basement gave some comedic relief to the drama that was going on around them. Their continuous use of the analogy of coffee was a bit overdone throughout the series though.

4. Mariah

She starts as kind of a victim; a politician who can’t let go and stop helping her crooked cousin. We later see that it is much more than that. She is the real manipulator, blinded by her lust for power. It saddened me so, to learn that Mariah was referenced to being in my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. The “oo-whoop” (spelled this way on Netflix’s subtitles) which is actually typically spelled “oo-oop” (maybe they changed it on purpose), is a greeting for fellow sorors. Misty kept referring to a “skee-wee” which is the call of our rival sorority, I was hoping she was “one of them”, but she was corrected by her superior Priscilla. You’re probably confused if you are unfamiliar with Pan Hellenic council Fraternities and Sororities, but that’s neither here, nor there.  I can’t decide who’s running who in the Mariah-Shades relationship. What made me really cringe was seeing Mariah kiss Shades at the end of the last episode. Dear God, I hope that doesn’t become a thing.

5. Character Backstories

I’m a sucker for back story, so seeing the story of his relationship with Diamondback was good, but it still seems unrealistic that everybody knew he was he brother but him. I almost can’t stand it when villains just get obsessed with something like this. Ok, you were an illegitimate child, it happens. But it wasn’t Cages fault. At least be mad at the right person. But I guess if that happened there would be no villains. I also enjoyed the story of Luke Cages time at Seagate, it gave some real insight to his character and the thing he has gone through to make him who he is. This dang Super-Soldier serum keeps messing peoples lives up in Marvel. The flashbacks to Mariah and Cottonmouth’s youth were also good. Seeing how Mother Mabel influenced and molded them into who they turned out to be was interesting.  Cottonmouth was the classic villian, that could’ve been a hero, or at least a law abiding citizen, had he been given a chance. The real villain in this is Mariah, who ended up getting away, for now.

6. Lackluster Action Scenes

I understand that he doesn’t have Incredible Hulk strength, and that this wasn’t one of the blockbuster Avengers movies, but I think the audience deserved a little bit more than what we got. In one of the first action scenes, we see Cage punch and completely crush one of Cottonmouth’s men’s fist. They set it up so good, but almost nothing else lived up to this action. The story of each episode also, dragged a bit. I’m used to dealing with things being dragged on and on with anime, but not with a regular action television series.

8. Misty Knight

My favorite character of the series, was of course the smart, beautiful, and natural haired, Misty Knight. She had more of an emotional roller coaster in this series than anybody else.  She went from being the super confident cop, with all the right answers, to a confused woman trying to figure out who or what to trust. The ending of the series brought it all together for me seeing her in the quintessential big afto, hoops, and strapped red garb. I hope she’s found herself, and becomes the Misty Knight of the comics.

Even with the downfalls, Luke Cage was a win for me overall. I have to catch up on January Jones and Daredevil now, so I can prepare for the upcoming Defenders in the future. I hope any future seasons are able to rectify some of the issues, so it can be as great a show as it has the potential to be. What did you all thinkabout Luke Cage? Was it a hit for you? Or did it fall flat?

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Now I’m off to get some coffee….(I had throw it in there somehow)

Anime in Physical Education

I never miss an opportunity to show my students how much of a nerd I am. I might  teach them Muggle Quidditch  or have a bulletin board of the Physical Education components each represented by a different superhero. The health room I have created a word wall called “Wonder Words” it is decorated with a wonder woman theme and has vocabulary from the current unit. The current unit we are doing is Martial Arts. I am in no means a martial arts instructor, but I teach them what I’ve learned from self-defense, cardio kickboxing, and Tai Chi classes. They are working to earn a class from a martial artist that I bring to class. I want to also focus on the character building aspects of martial arts. We discuss topics such as confidence, discipline, and respect. What better way to explore this than inspirational anime clips.

I begin each class with a video clip and they answer a reflection question. The first two I used were from “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “Karate Kid”(the remake with Jaden Smith). Even though they aren’t anime they were still very meaningful messages. With the Karate Kid clip we watched the “Jacket On, Jacket Off” scene. We discussed the importance of following directions and understanding how to learn form mistakes and experiences. The Kung Fu Panda clip was about finding inner peace.  I also intend to show a clip from “The Last Samarui” this will tie in Social Studies concepts of imperialism (you like how I did that). These are just some of the things I want them to focus on rather than fighting.

Now to the best part, the anime. Action anime are full of inspiring scenes and characters I could draw from. At the top of course are Naruto and Goku. I’ll lean towards those because I fell like those are characters that the largest amount of students would be familiar with and therefore draw a connection.  For Naruto I intend to have students establish their “Ninja Way”. In Naruto they work in integrated teams. Meaningful collaboration is a huge buzz word in education. Cooperation and teamwork is major in Physical Education. Using some of the teams in Naruto to illustrate this only seems natural. Goku uses determination and consistent training to reach every goal, even after death. This is another important concepts I want them to understand.  I also think using some “Attack on Titan” would be good. I teach at an urban school, with the majority of my students being at-risk. In this anime the characters live in constant fear and struggle, I think a lot of my students can relate to this. Fullmetal Alchemist, Hunter X Hunter, and Bleach are some others that come to mind that I think would have powerful messages.

I always strive to teach my students to be open minded. Everyday my goal is to teach them how to improve their physical, as well mental, and emotional health. These are themes that run throughout many Anime. These strong fighters battle personal conflict and keep their morals along the way. Hopefully they don’t think its too lame and are able to gasp the message I am trying to send.

Are Orcs the Blacks of Middle Earth?

I have mentioned the influence of my race a few times. It goes without saying as I am discussing various aspects of natural hair care. In the world of geekery I am interested in African American Sci-Fi and Fantasy characters. Because African Americans have been under represented in vaorcsrious forms of entertainment, since I was a child I find myself yearning for characters that “look like me”.  So my first time watching a “Lord of the Rings” film I found myself asking “where are the black people?”

I’ve read “The Hobbit” and the “Lord of the Rings” books. And although descriptions of characters are given their race, as far as color, is not. But I believe European characteristics are the “default” of what people imagine in their minds if it is not specified. Much like the outrage of Hermione being cast as black in “The Cursed Child” to which author JK Rowling responded on twitter saying “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione”. The film makers who bring the movie to life create their own interpretation of the world the writers created. So in the Middle Earth created by Peter Jackson, the only people with dark complexion were the Orcs/Goblins.

In the Middle Earth of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” there are a few races which include Elves, Men, Dwarfs, and Orcs/Goblins. I’m not even sure if I sure include Wizards as a race, since there a few of them one serve as guardians. Technically other than “Man” the other races of Middle Earth aren’t “men” (if you get what I’m trying to say) but nonetheless they were chosen to be cast as Whites in the films. Then you have the Orcs. Their skin color varies greatly in the films. Some appear the palest of  white like Azog the Defiler.  While others are yellow, pinkish, red, brown, and black. Some of their hair is matted in a way that reminds me of dread locks, I’m thinking primarily of Lurtz, the Uruk-Hai scout leader. The Orcs appearance is the most distorted of all the Middle Earth creatures. I’d imagine that is to reflect what these creatures have endured (sound familiar).

Saruman describes the orcs as “elves taken by the dark powers, tortured, and mutilated. A ruined and terrible form of life” he goes on to say “Now, perfected, my fighting Uruk-Hai.” These creatures are typically shown controlled and following orders of either Sauron or Saruman. Saruman “the white”, marks his soldiers with his white hand insignia. They are used for their physical strength, and depicted as unintelligent, savage creatures. They will turn against each other if it suites the individuals needs and follow orders of their leader with little question. They are largely regarded as villains in these works, although have little to gain from their “sides” victory other than remaining in servitude. Obviously, works in particular locations and time settings would not accurately have blacks, but why not if it is fantasy? Why could there not have been black Elves, Men, Dwarfs, or Wizards? Orcs are the only character that seemed to physically fit the bill. Then when I looked closer, I thought “maybe it wasn’t coincidence?” It is believed that Tolkein wrote these books to reflect what he saw during World War I. Could have also been showing his thoughts of the treatment of blacks during that time and over the course of history?

My intention is not to race bate or offend. I am merely stating my observations.  I have read “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” as well as seen the films, although I have not read “The Silmarillion” (future gift idea). These stories may close some gaps and give me more answers proving or disproving my hypothesis. Have anyone else had similar theories?

The Force is with Me

*Spoiler Alert: For anyone who hasn’t seen Star Wars: Rogue One*28661518704_3696355db9

Yesterday, December 27th, 2016 Carrie Fisher, the actress who plays Princess Laia in the Star Wars movies passed. It was also the day that I finally saw Rogue One, although I did not plan it out that way. I am not writing this necessarily as a movie review, although I will be giving my overall opinion of it. This is my telling of how the universe or “The Force” if you will, led me to finally seeing this blockbuster movie.

My birthday was the 17th of this month and our original plan was to see either “Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them” (that’s a long title) or “Star Wars: Rogue One”. My birthday is typically near the release of some awesome Sci-Fi/Fantasy film and it has kind of become a tradition to go to the movies to celebrate. Last year we saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and previous years we saw the Hobbit trilogy movies. In the pre-baby days we went night of my birthday, whether I had to work or not. Now we have to schedule it on a weekend and if we can find a baby sitter. This year I had a friend’s party to attend and circumstances did not allow me to go to the movies on my birthday, even though it was actually on a Saturday this year. We just put it on the back burner and decided we would go when the opportunity presented itself again.

Fast forward to December 27th. We planned to meet up with family and go out to eat. Each year my father asks for one thing for Christmas, which is to go out to a restaurant with his daughters and grandchildren. My parents also wanted to keep our son a little longer over the break. So when we parted ways it was just my husband and I.  It seemed that the opportunity to finally go to the movies had presented itself again. We were low a cash post-holidays, but we remembered we had a gift card for Regal Cinemas on stand by. We did not have that theater where we live, but the city we met in for dinner did.

On the way I was still trying to decide which I wanted to see “Fantastic Beast” or “Rogue One”? I had heard equally positive reviews from friends for both. I have equal love for both franchises so this tough for me. I knew “Fantastic Beast” had been out longer and wouldn’t be in theaters for much longer. But I also didn’t know if I’d have another chance to see “Rogue One” before it was removed. I was told both were movie theater worthy, so I decided to just go and decide when I got there. When we got to the box office it was about 4:30 pm. There was only an 11:00 showing of “Fantastic Beast” (not even sure if it was pm or am) and a 5:00 showing of “Rogue One”. The universe had decided for me. It was even matinee so the gift certificate covered the cost of the tickets, with us only having to spend a couple dollars to get popcorn and soda. Although we had just eating, popcorn and a Coca-Cola are a must for us at the movies.  We were ready, just us, to finally enjoy my birthday movie date.

Even though I had been trying to decide which movie I wanted to see, surprisingly, I did not search the internet for reviews. Maybe the business of the holidays kept me from it. But I didn’t know much about the movie going in. Before I talked to others, I wasn’t that excited about it because I thought it was going to be some rinky-dink spin off.  Even in talking to friends they didn’t reveal much about the movie itself. I was wrong, it was not just a rinky-dink spin off. The one thing that caught my eye about the movie when I was trying to make my decision, was the fact that Donnie Yen, was in it. I loved him in the IP Man movies and knew that he would be great in “Star Wars”. There is always a snarky droid in the movies, in this case it was K-2S0. I couldn’t help but envision Sheldon Cooper, from “Big Band Theory” as he spoke. I was also excited to see Forest Whitaker in this movie. When the movie first started I was wondering where in the cinematic timeline did this movie fall. Was it after or before the events of “The Force Awakens”? Or maybe somewhere in between? It became evident as the movie continued that it was set in between the prequel trilogy and the original. When it started to be clear to me a tried asking my husband, but he only trolled me saying it wasn’t as revenge for talking to him during the movie. It was somewhat of a bridge that led directly to the events of “Episode I: A New Hope”. The epic battle scene on the beach seemed like what D-Day on the beach of Normandy might have been like. The most devastating part was to see Chirrut Imwe die. I just new IP Man would survive, at least. The biggest thrill of the movie was the appearance of Darth Vader, voiced by the original James Earl Jones, and to see him welding his lightsaber annihilating everyone in his path to grasp hold of the death star plans.

Hope was a theme that kept coming up in this movie. I believe it was done intentionally to create that connection to Episode I. But everybody gave everything in this movie, for hope. There could be no survivors if the events of the next movie in the timeline were to make any sense. The last scenes showed everyone grasping at straws to try to make the plan work. It was like watching dominoes, each fall giving way to another step. At the very end the plans narrowly escaped Darth Vader and reached Princess Laia, partially digitally portrayed by the ,on this day, deceased Carrie Fisher. It was at that moment that I realized “The Force is with me and I am one with the Force.”

4 Reasons I’m Loving Pokemon Go

Aside from the recent tragedies, social media is all abuzz about Pokemon Go. The beta dropped on July 6th and it was an instant hit. My husband told me about the game and I let it pass through my mind like most of his rants and excitement about up coming games. It didn’t register actually what the game really was. On the release day when he downloaded it and said, “look I caught a Pikachu”. Time paused, and I thought “wait a minute, what?”. He showed me the Pokemon character sitting right in out living room and I instantly downloaded it, to experience the fun for myself. Here are the top 4 things I’ve gotten out out the ever so popular fad.

1. Increased Physical Activity

There is a meme currently circulating that states “Pokemon Go has done more for childhood obesity in the past two days, than Michelle Obama has done in 8 years.” Please don’t get me on that soapbox, but yes Pokemon Go gets you up and moving. When you see that symbol that says a Evee is 300 years away, it doesn’t take much for you to jump up an go after it. You travel through neighborhoods and parks going from Pokestop, to Pokestop to gather pokeballs, potions, and eggs, and ect.  Mind you, its not vigorous physical

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A Pidgeot on my window shield!

activity for the most part, but its better than nothing. Its been great for me because during the summer, even while teacher summer school I am up walking around only a fraction of what I usually do on a typical school day. Since my everyday calorie burn has decreased it had become difficult for me to lose weight even with proper eating habits and exercise. So the extra steps that I’ve been taken looking for Pokemon will do my body good.

2. Bringing Gaming to the Real World

Pokemon Go is essentially the opposite of virtual reality. Instead of bringing you into the gaming world, its brings the game into the real word. You are actually embarking on a Pokemon adventure. You can choose to remain within your neighborhood, or venture out into your community and even the world period. There are water  Pokemon available around bodies of water, and common Pokemon like Pidgey, Rattata, and Weedle are found around are home. You have to travel to places that are verified as Pokestops to get supplies and go to gyms to fight your Pokemon. It is like living the game and I’m loving it. You could literally get a backpack and become Ash Katchum.

3. Creates family bonding

We have created a routine of everyday after I get off work, my husband comes with me to pick up our son from daycare and we go to a nearby park that has an abundance of pokestops and gyms. We walk together and stop and each pokestop, my husband beat gyms, and our son enjoys walking and running through the park. It is a historical park so my two year old looks at the forts and historic buildings in amazement. He actually said today that it was “the best day ever”, and that’s just from walking around the park. We also witness other families and couples playing Pokemon as well. This could replace T.V., video games, and social media for some. Although people still have their phones in their faces, the interactive part make it a little different, and more personable. This only works if everybody’s into it thought. If its just the husband or children its pretty much just another video game.

4. Takes me back to my childhood

As a mentioned in My Kind of Nerd, I felt into nerdom late in life. Pokemon is different. I grew up watching he anime (although I had no idea it was called that at the time) and playing it on my Game Boy pocket and pocket color. My sister had the blue verson and I had red. She also chose Squirtle first and I Charmander. Just for nostalgia I picked Charmander first for this as well. I have seen some post on social media pretty much making fun of or blasting adults playing this game. And I’m thinking how is the different that people obsessing over the outcome of a basketball or football game. Or any other hobby or interest that is thought of as “adult”. I do a lot “adulting”, so this is just one more thing that helps me keep my sanity. This was especially good timing with all the turmoil that has been going on in the world. I can escape all of that and catch me some Pokemon.

Amazing though it may seem, it has not been all peaches and cream. My experience has been overall positive. Of course their are serious problems with the server, but this is a beta with an enormous amount of traffic so that’s to be expected. Then there’s the “play to win aspect”. You can pay real money for money within the game or earn it. But it is very difficult to earn it, especially where pokeballs are concerned. I’m not trying to create an extra expense to I’m just playing the best I can with what I can get for free, needless to say I won’t be able to be “the very best, like no one ever was.”  The game itself has some questionable aspects. The whole action of catching the Pokemon sometimes seems random, although that could just be my lack of skill.  From Girlie to Nerdy offers some great tips about how to be more successful catcing Pokemon and battling gyms. But you have to remember that its still just in the beta stages. There are also be reports of things like car accidents, robbery, and harassment due to the game.  I even read a post about how Pokemon Go Could Be a Death Sentence for Black Men. Pretty much stating that black men could get in trouble to looking suspicious while travelling various neighborhoods looking for Pokemon. So even while I was playing it as an attempt to escape the realities of the world, they still have a way of finding me. People have to be better than this. Play the game responsibility and just to people have their fun. I sure have.

Strawberry Avenger Waffles!

My family has 2 weekend breakfast traditions.

#1: On Saturdays we get fast food breakfast. This breakfast is McDonalds 90% of the time, but occasionally we will get Taco Bell or Bojangles. I know I am supposed to be all about healthy eating, but this is pretty much like my bargaining tool. Most other days and meals are homemade and healthy but Saturday morning breakfast is fast food. My husband is a fast food junky so I have to make compromises.

#2: I always make a homemade Sunday breakfast. It is typically just good old fashion food, so pretty much weekend breakfasts are our cheat meals. I like this because it reminds us both of home. For me it was the breakfast my mom cooked and for my husband, his grandmother. Its nice to recreate that family bound for ourselves. With breakfast, as with most meals we watch an episode, or 2, or 3, or more of what ever anime we are currently watching.

This past Sunday I used a Christmas gift that I finally got from my mother’s house, an Avengers waffle iron. I wanted to find a wonderful Paleo and Vegan recipe for the waffles, but alas, I could not find one that I could make with the ingredients I had on hand. In the future I’ll do some tinkering and figure something out. This time around I used the simple mix in the box and just added water according to the directions. I added some fresh chopped strawberries to the batter and followed the directions for using the waffle iron.  I drizzled the waffles with a little honey. Horrible I know, but the wonderful Avenger’s logo made me forget about all the additives, chemicals, and ingredients I actually allergic to. At least there were strawberries and turkey sausage.  FYI: This would make a great treat for Father’s Day coming up!

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