The Case of the Unsung Hero

If we were to ask you, “Who is the hero of Die Hard?” You would have to say John McClane. What about The Princess Bride? Why, Westley and Princess Buttercup of course. Well sure, they’re the OBVIOUS heroes. But what about the people on the side? Who are the heroes in the background? Every once in a while, the outcome of a movie hinges on the presence of one character; and sometimes that character gets overlooked.

This week, we discuss the idea of an Unsung Hero in movies. We name some of our favorites, try (and sometimes fail) at finding examples in certain films, and question whether every movie has one.

Unsung Hero

  • What is an unsung hero?
    • A character with a relatively small role in comparison to the lead
    • This character makes a choice or performs an action that allows the protagonist to succeed in their goal
    • This character sometimes only appears in one scene, but without them the movie could not have continued forward
  • Does every film have one?
    • An unsung hero only serves a purpose in certain stories; If a story doesn’t involve a character attempting to achieve a particular goal or have a main protagonist, it’s more likely to not have an obvious unsung hero
      • For example, we struggled to find an unsung hero in stories like, “A Walk to Remember,” and “Dirty Dancing.”
    • In some films, the unsung hero is more obvious than in others. Not every film hinges on one moment or character. These characters are sometimes really fancy plot devices
  • Let’s name some classic films and which character is the unsung hero
    • Emperor’s New Groove: Kronk
      • Without his decision to spare the Emperor’s life, the story would have ended short for Kuzco. 
    • Die Hard: Sgt. Al Powell
      • His bravery and ability to keep the LAPD, SWAT, and FBI informed.  He also was able to restrain them from doing anything too rash.  In the end he also saves McClane by shooting Karl (Gruber’s right hand man).
    • Blade Runner: Gaff
      • His subtle decision to show that he spared Rachael’s life by leaving an origami unicorn at the apartment.
    • Finding Nemo: Nigel (the pelican)
      • Nigel conveys the message of hope to Nemo that inspires him to escape the tank
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Narcissa Malfoy
      • There are a lot of unsung heroes in the Harry Potter universe but one of the most unlikely is Narcissa Malfoy
      • Because of her choice to put Draco before the Dark Lord, she lies to Voldemort. This gives Harry the upper hand and allows him to defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named
    • A Christmas Carol: Jacob Marley
      • In death and without any reward he comes to Scrooge warning him that his wicked ways will send him to an afterlife with chains.
      • There is no clear reward for Jacob Marley besides the knowledge of Scrooge’s redemption
    • Argo: Sahar 
      • Not only did she help to shelter the Americans but she lied to an intelligence officer convincing him that the guests were not American and had only been there two days (not the actual 5 months)
    • The Music Man (film) – Tommy Djilas
      • Tommy is the town trouble-maker that Harold Hill recruits to lead the band
      • In the end, Tommy comes through and actually shows that the band can play, much to Harold Hill’s surprise
    • The Neverending Story – Bookseller
      • Without his intentional reverse psychology in getting Bastian to take the book there would be no Fantasia to save and he would not have the courage to stand up to his bullies
  • We decided to name some films and try to find their Unsung Heroes on the spot! It didn’t work out as well as we would have hoped, but it was still fun
    • Princess Bride
      • The Dread Pirate Roberts before Westley became him.  This is because he spared Westley’s life, thus allowing Westley to save Buttercup
      • Possibly Miracle Max as well for bringing Westley back to life so he could storm the castle
    • Newsies: Bryan Denton
      • He helped bring attention to the strike with his writing and helped the boys to produce their own flyer gaining the public’s sympathy
    • Jumanji
      • We found out we need to see this movie again….
      • We had a difficult time deciding, wondering if it was Bentley, the cop that protects the children’s aunt and attempts to slow down Van Pelt (the gunman); Or was it Nora Shepherd, the aunt that bought the old Parish home?
    • Jurassic Park
      • Possibly the Raptor that killed Ray Arnold (AKA Samuel Jackson)
      • Or Samuel Jackson himself
    • The Princess Diaries: Lily
      • She brought attention to the fact that being a Princess will mean that Mia would be able to influence a lot of people, and that turning it down would be a waste of an incredible opportunity
      • We also considered Joe, who comes to Mia’s rescue and brings her to accept her position as Princess of Genovia
    • The Goonies: Rosalita
      • If she had not found jewels in the marble sac before Mikey’s dad signed the house over, then the treasure hunt would have been for naught.

Can you think of an unsung hero from a favorite film? Let us know! Thanks for listening!

The Case of the Underrated Disney Classic

When we think of a Disney Animated Classic, the same movies tend to come to mind (for example, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and Aladdin.)

With as many as 57 movies that fit this category, it’s only natural that some films will fall to the wayside. This week, we ranked our favorite somewhat-forgotten Disney Animated classics. We didn’t choose the MOST forgotten, just our favorites that tend to be less popular.

Black Cauldron Diaries

Some underrated movies that we didn’t list:

  • Home on the Range
  • Saludos Amigos
  • The Three Caballeros
  • Make Mine Music
  • Fun and Fancy Free
  • Fantasia / Fantasia 2000

Some movies contain Disney animation but we did not consider them for this list because they were made by a studio other than Disney Animation Studios.

  • A Goofy Movie
    • 1995
    • Stars:  Bill Farmer, Jason Marsden, Jim Cummings
    • Rated G
      • Gross USA: $35,348,597

  • Pete’s Dragon
    • 1977
    • Stars: Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Jim Dale
    • Rated G
      • Budget: $10,000,000 (estimated)

      • Gross USA: $40,100,000

  • James and the Giant Peach
    • 1996
    • Stars:  Paul Terry, Joanna Lumley, Pete Postlethwaite
    • Rated PG
      • Budget: $38,000,000 (estimated)

      • Opening Weekend USA: $135,378, 26 July 1996

      • Gross USA: $28,934,758

Our Top 10 Underrated Disney Animated Classics

  • 10. The Sword in the Stone
    • 1963
    • Stars:  Rickie Sorensen, Sebastian Cabot, Karl Swenson
    • Rated G
      • Budget: $3,000,000 (estimated)

      • Opening Weekend USA: $2,230,614

      • Gross USA: $22,182,353
  • 9. The Black Cauldron
    • 1985
    • Stars:Grant Bardsley, Freddie Jones, Susan Sheridan
    • Rated PG for some scary images
      • Budget:$44,000,000 (estimated)

      • Opening Weekend USA: $4,180,110

      • Gross USA: $21,288,692

      • This movie is one of Robin’s favorites! Here’s a picture of her as the Horned King for Halloween

Horned King

  • 8. Oliver and Company
    • 1988
    • Stars:  Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel, Cheech Marin
    • Rated G
      • Budget: $31,000,000 (estimated)

      • Opening Weekend USA: $4,022,752

      • Gross USA: $74,151,346

  • 7. Meet the Robinsons
    • 2007
    • Stars: Daniel Hansen, Wesley Singerman, Angela Bassett
    • Rated G
      • Budget: $150,000,000 (estimated)

      • Opening Weekend USA: $25,123,781

      • Gross USA: $97,822,171

      • Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $169,333,034

  • 6. Atlantis
    • 2001 popularity up on IMDB?
    • Stars:  Michael J. Fox, Jim Varney, Corey Burton
    • Rated PG
      • Budget: $120,000,000 (estimated)

      • Opening Weekend USA: $329,011

      • Gross USA: $84,052,762, 30 December 2001
      • Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $186,053,000

  • 5. The Great Mouse Detective
    • 1986
    • Stars: Vincent Price, Barrie Ingham, Val Bettin
    • Rated G
      • Budget: $14,000,000 (estimated)

      • Gross USA: $38,600,000

  • 4. Brother Bear
    • 2003
    • Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez, Rick Moranis
    • Rated G
      • Budget: $128,000,000 (estimated)

      • Opening Weekend USA: $291,940

      • Gross USA: $85,336,277

      • Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $250,397,798

  • 3. Treasure Planet
    • 2002
    • Stars:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, Martin Short
    • Rated PG
      • Budget: $140,000,000 (estimated)

      • Opening Weekend USA: $12,083,248

      • Gross USA: $38,176,783

      • Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $109,578,115

  • 2. The Emperor’s New Groove
    • 2000
    • Stars:  David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt
    • Rated G
      • Budget: $100,000,000 (estimated)

      • Opening Weekend USA: $9,812,302

      • Gross USA: $89,302,687

      • Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $169,327,687

  • 1. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    • 1996
    • Stars:  Demi Moore, Jason Alexander, Mary Kay Bergman
    • Rated G
      • Budget: $100,000,000 (estimated)

      • Opening Weekend USA: $21,300,000, 23 June 1996

      • Gross USA: $100,138,851

      • Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $325,338,851

Honorable Mentions

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Chicken Little
  • Robin Hood
  • The Aristocats
  • The Fox and the Hound
  • The Rescuers
  • Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  • Bolt

A Case Submitted for your Approval

Premiering in Canada on October 31st 1990, “Are You Afraid of the Dark” was a horror anthology series for children. It aired on Nickelodeon until 1996 and followed a group of kids that gathered once a week to tell stories. They referred to themselves as “The Midnight Society.”

With stories that ranged from terrifying to downright silly, this show was a fan favorite on the SNICK line-up. This week we discuss this 90s classic and our hopes for the upcoming film set to release this October.

BDC-AYAD_2

*We mention the screenwriter for “Are You Afraid of the Dark” (2019) as the screenwriter for “It” (2017). His name is Gary Dauberman and he is credited as one of three screenwriters for “It” (2017).

Main Characters of the original series 1990-1996:

  • Gary- Played by Ross Hull, Gary was the lovable leader of the Midnight Society. A magic fan (his dad owned a magic shop,) Gary incorporated magic into his stories. For example, he created the character Sardó, a magic shop owner who sells questionable merchandise to unsuspecting kids. Gary showed romantic interest in Sam, who seemed to reciprocate those feelings.
  • Frank- Jason Alisharan played this resident 90s bad boy. Frank told great stories and gave us the incredible Dr. Vink! He also had a thing for Sam but those feelings were never returned
  • Kiki- All the women of the Midnight Society were bada**, but none more than KiKi. Portrayed by Jodie Resther, her tough attitude and spooky stories made her a lovable member of the group.
  • Betty Ann- The quiet, mysterious Betty Ann always told the strangest stories. Her stories weren’t scary in the conventional way, but they had a way of giving you an unsettling feeling. She was played by Raine Pare-Coull
  • Kristin- One of the original cast members, Kristin was played by Rachel Blanchard. She would often dress up for her stories. One story she told, “Locker 22” is one Marci listed as a favorite.
  • David- Played by Nathaniel Moreau, David was an early member that left the same time as Kristin. This lead us as kids to believe that they were siblings, but in the show they just happen to move away at the same time.
  • Eric- Played by Jacob Tierney, Eric is a character only in the first season of the show. He disappeared in Season 2 without an explanation. He only told two stories, one of them is considered by many to be one of the scariest in the show’s history: The Tale of the Dark Music.
  • Sam- Played by JoAnna Swisher, Sam became a quick favorite. She told some of our favorite stories (The Long-ago Locket.) Originally introduced as a friend of Betty Ann’s, Sam surprised the group by being a girl (girls can also wear flannel and be named Sam.)
  • Tucker- Gary’s little brother, played by Daniel DeSanto. Tucker replaced David from the earlier seasons and later took over as the leader of the Midnight Society when the show returned for seasons 6 & 7. In “The Tale of the Silver Sight,” we learn that Tucker and Gary’s grandfather started the Midnight Society.
  • Stig- Played by Codie Wilbee, Stig was a friend of Tucker’s and a replacement for Frank (though he could never replace Frank in our hearts). He clashed with the rest of the group, and had to tell two stories before getting accepted.

*We only covered episodes from the original 5 seasons. Nickelodeon created a revival show that lasted two seasons under the same name in 1999. We do not consider this the same show because it had different writers, actors, and directors. It was more like a soft reboot.

  • Scariest episodes
    • Midnight Madness (Season 2, Episode 2)
      • Dr. Vink offers a struggling theatre a chance for salvation by letting them show his mysterious vampire film. The film, a version of Nosferatu, draws in big crowds.
    • Dead Man’s Float (Season 5, Episode 1)
      • A young nerdy boy discovers a hidden pool at his school and attempts to use it in order to impress a girl. After the girl convinces the school to reopen the pool, the kids soon discover its dark past. 
      • This episode is notable for its effects. The antagonist has incredible make-up and costume design.
    • Dark Music (Season 1, Episode 11)
      • After moving into a house left to his mother by an uncle they never knew, a young boy discovers a dark presence in his basement. The evil force responds to music and will give him whatever he wants. The catch? He needs to feed it. 
    • The Lonely Ghost (Season 1, Episode 3)
      • A young girl named Amanda spends summer with her snotty cousin. In order for her to be accepted into her cousin’s friend group, she must spend the night in the creepy house next door. After just a few minutes, Amanda discovers there’s more in the house than just dust. 
    • Ghastly Grinner (Season 4, Episode 9)
      • An aspiring artist accidentally brings to life a creepy comic book antagonist known as “The Ghastly Grinner.” 
    • The Doll Maker (Season 3, Episode 5)
      • Melissa finds out that her best friend has gone missing (as if that isn’t traumatizing enough.) After spending time in her house, she discovers that her friend is not missing but instead has been turned into a doll.
    • The Night Shift (Season 5, Episode 13)
      • A shape-shifting green-skinned vampire (more like a wraith but still has a coffin?) has been sucking the life force out of a hospital staff. It’s up to Amanda and Colin, two teenagers, to save the lives of everyone working the night shift.
      • This was the final episode of the original series. The story was told by Sam and ended the show on a spooky note. The story also had romantic themes because Gary revealed in the show’s beginning that he and Sam do have feelings for each other but she’s not interested in dating him.
    • Quicksilver (Season 3, Episode 11)
      • Aaron and Doug just moved into a new house. They quickly discover it is haunted by two ghosts. One is an evil poltergeist. The other is a spirit of a young girl who died trying to trap the poltergeist. After Doug falls ill and gets captured by the evil spirit, it’s up to Aaron to save his little brother.
  • Favorite Episodes
    • The Dangerous Soup (Season 3, Episode 13)
      • Dr. Vink appears again but this time with a SOUP-er delicious soup.  Two young workers discover the dark secret to how this soup is made.
    • Dream Girl (Season 3, Episode 10)
      • A teenage boy working at a bowling alley begins to be haunted by a female spirit after unknowingly putting on her school ring.
    • Bookish Babysitter (Season 3, Episode 6)
      • Books come to life to show a young boy that they can be just as exciting as television.  As he begins each book and tosses it aside the villains come to life and he must imagine his own ending in order to put things right again.
    • The Long-ago Locket (Season 4, Episode 2)
      • On his way home from school, Jimmy gets transported back into 1775. He meets a doomed minuteman named William and Jimmy soon discovers that he must help him escape the red coats so William can stop the woman he loves from marrying another man.
    • Laughing in the Dark (Season 1, Episode 2)
      • A fun house burns down and after being rebuilt is said to be haunted by the clown Zeebo who perished in the fire.  A teenager named Josh is dared to steal Zeebo’s red clown nose to prove that it is not haunted.  He soon finds out that the stories may be true as strange things begin to happen.
    • Midnight Ride (Season 3, Episode 1)
      • The classic tale of the headless horseman from Sleepy Hollow is told through
    • Whispering Walls (Season 2, Episode 8)
      • It’s a full moon on leap year when a babysitter named Louise gets lost on the way home from the park with the two children named Andrew and Claire. She enters a mysterious mansion to get help, but doesn’t return. It’s up to Claire and Andrew to save their babysitter from the terrors inside.
    • Locker 22 (Season 2, Episode 3)
      • An immigrant who attends a new school finds that her locker transports her to a past time where she discovers that the former occupant of the locker had passed away due to a science lab gone wrong.  She and a friend must then figure out what went awry.

Links referenced in this Case:

This is the JonTron video referenced in the episode. He covers the first two episodes (shown on the DVD) and the Tale of the Dark Music.

This is the Are You Afraid of the Dark intro for the pilot episode which aired in Canada on October 31st, 1990.

This the classic intro that Adam refers to as the reason he never watched the show as a kid.

And of course, I feel the Fear! This iconic music video aired on Nickelodeon after a special “Midnight to Midnight” marathon. We don’t know when it first aired on Nickelodeon, but Robin still has the VHS recording of the marathon with this video.

Sources: IMDB

The (Brief) Case of the Not-so-Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the biggest night in American sports. People all over the country gather to watch and eat junk food as two teams battle for the recognition of being the year’s best team in American Football. This year, we didn’t tune in so much to watch the game, but more to watch the commercials, the Toy Story 4 sneak peak, and above all, an ultimately disappointing halftime show.

These are our thoughts on the Not-so-Super Bowl 53.

The missed tribute:

In this episode, we discuss the expectation we had to Maroon 5 to sing “Sweet Victory” from a season 2 episode of “Spongebob Squarepants.” Because the song in the episode is performed at the “Bubble Bowl” (we’re guessing the underwater equivalent to the Super Bowl), fans have been asking for the halftime performance to include the track for years. This year, however, it was especially requested as a tribute to Steve Hillenburg, the late “Spongebob” creator. Here is a link to the online petition:

https://www.change.org/p/nfl-have-sweet-victory-performed-at-the-super-bowl

The song was not played, however. Instead, there was a brief animation teasing the song, followed by a performance by Travis Scott. Here is a link to the song as it was performed (by David Glenn Eisley) in “Band Geeks” (2001)

We briefly mention a Gus Johnson video in response to the halftime show. You can find it here.

We also discussed some of the ads aired during the Super Bowl. This wasn’t the best year for ads in recent history, but there were a few gems. Here are links to ones mentioned:

Audi

NFL 100 Years

Pizza Hut

Bubly

The Twilight Zone

Burger King

Bud Light/Game of Thrones

Kia

The Case of the Book is Better

We’ve all heard the phrase, “The book is better.” Whether you’ve said it yourself or heard it from a friend, it’s a popular commentary on book to movie adaptations.

In this episode, we discuss some of our favorite and least favorite book-inspired films and attempt to answer the question, “Is the book always better?”

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Successful Adaptations Mentioned (in our humble opinion):

  • Holes
    • Book by Louis Sachar 1998
    • 2003 movie starring Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight
  • Pride and Prejudice 
    • Book by the amazing Jane Austen in 1813
    • BBC Series 1995 starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle
    • 2005 movie starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyn
      • Marci is our expert on this one, and she felt that the mini series was a better adaptation. This one works as well.
  • Jurassic Park
    • Book by Michael Crichton in 1990
    • 1993 movie starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum
  • Bridge to Terabithia
    • Book by Katherine Paterson in 1977
    • 2007 movie starring Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb
  • Tuck Everlasting
    • Book by Natalie Babbitt in 1975
    • 2002 movie starring Alexis Bledel and Jonathan Jackson
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
    • Book by Harper Lee in 1960
    • 1962 movie starring Gregory Peck, Mary Badham
  • Stand By Me
    • Novella by Stephen King called “The Body” from his 1982 collection “Different Seasons”
    • 1986 movie starring River Phoenix, Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell with a brief and devastating appearance by John Cusack
  • The Hunger Games
    • Book by Suzanne Collins in 2008
    • 2012 movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson
  • Ready Player One 
    • Book by Ernest Cline in 2011
    • Screenplay co-written by author Ernest Cline
    • 2018 movie starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, and TJ Miller
    • We weren’t sure where to put this one. The movie follows the basic plot fairly well, but changes many aspects of the story to make the film more visually exciting. For example, we understand that watching a car race with a DeLorean is more exciting than watching someone play Pac-man for 30 hours.

book to movie

Unsuccessful Adaptations Mentioned (in our humble opinion):

*A film can be an unsuccessful adaptation, but still a successful film

  • Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince
    • Book by J.K. Rowling in 2005
    • 2009 movie starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint
  • Eragon
    • Book by Christopher Paolini in 2002 (He began writing it in his teens)
    • 2006 movie starring Ed Speleers, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Guillory, and John Malkovich
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
    • Book by Ransom Riggs in 2011
    • 2016 movie starring Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench, and Sam Jackson
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (I love the movie but as an adaptation…ehhhh)
    • Book by Lemony Snicket AKA Daniel Handler in 1999
    • 2004 movie starring Jim Carrey, Liam Aiken, Emily Browning, and Jude Law
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    • Book by Michael Crichton in 1995
    • 1997 movie starring Vince Vaughn, Julianne Moore, and Jeff Goldblum
  • Twilight Series (Monetary success but not a good adaptation)
    • Book by Stephenie Meyer in 2005
    • 2008 movie starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner
  • Blade Runner
    • Book by Philip K. Dick called “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?” in 1968
    • 1982 movie starring Harrison Ford and Sean Young
    • Although the film is considered a Sci-Fi classic, it takes many liberties with the original work
  • The Hobbit
    • Book by Tolkien
    • 2012-2014 movies starring Martin Freeman and many others

Is the book always better?

  • Mary Poppins
    • Book by Pamela Lyndon Travers in 1934
    • 1964 movie starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke
    • PL Travers was not shy about how she hated the Disney version, but the film is a classic. In this case it may be possible that the book isn’t better, just different.
  • The Shining
    • Book by Stephen King in 1977
    • 1980 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall
    • This is another case of an author not being happy with a film adaptation of their work. Stephen King has recognized that this film is important to the horror genre and that he appreciated the visuals, but felt that the main character lacked an arc. He also felt Jack Nicholson was wrong for the movie.
  • The Princess Bride
    • Book by William Goldman in 1973
    • 1987 movie starring Robin Wright and Cary Elwes
    • Can the movie ever be just as good if not better than the source material?
    • Is the movie better because you saw it before reading it?
      • This could be due to nostalgia
      • The moment you have seen a book adaptation, the film or show has already directed you to see characters or events in a certain way. So, when you read the book, you may see it differently than if you had read the book before seeing the film.
    • Why is it so common to believe that the book is better?
      • The mindset of the viewer
        • Imagination is limitless, unlike a movie budget or runtime
      • The difference between the book and movie medium
      • The quality of special effects
    • What about a movie adaptation makes it disappointing? Is it that it does not follow source material? Is it possible for a movie adaptation to live up to expectations?
      • We believe this is possible, but the viewer should keep an open mind and remember that the minds behind the film may have a different vision than they do
  • Food for thought
    • Can you think of a book that you believe would have been a good original screenplay instead of a novel-turned-movie?
    • Marci thinks Pride and Prejudice was a successful adaptation. Is this because a mini-series or a series in general is a better way of bringing a book to visual media?
      • The Hobbit was split into three movies
        • Based on the smallest book in the series, strangely took out parts of the book and yet added what some may say is very unnecessary scenes/plots (ex. Love between Tauriel and Kili)
          • This is an example of how runtime does not solve all the issues with a screen adaptation
        • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017)
          • This Netflix series was another successful adaptation, possibly because of the time the show was able to dedicate to the complex characters and themes

IMDB.com

https://www.theguardian.com/film/commentisfree/2015/sep/15/mary-poppins-disney-film-remake-pl-travers-book

https://www.quora.com/Why-does-Stephen-King-hate-what-Stanley-Kubrick-did-with-The-Shining

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