NEW FICTION: Bourbon & Blondes has arrived!

From the bus stations of Rt. 66 to the smoky, neon-tinged jazz dives of the big cities, these wanton tales of longing introduce us to vixens on the fringe and those shifty men that drove them there.

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Watch: The 'Bourbon & Blondes' Book Trailer

Get your shot glass ready because you're about to enter a retro world of showgirls, drifters, barmaids and thieves.

The eternal question for scribes?

In this new social media landscape, the question becomes: Is blogging dead? It just may be...

Watch: The 'Front Page Palooka' Book Trailer

Read the pulp novella that one reviewer called 'A potboiler in the style of old school writers like Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler...'

Friday, October 29, 2010

LAFFING SAL (#fridayflash)

Please click play for some mood music

To this day, I hate boardwalks.

It was Halloween weekend and the last place I wanted to be was at the shore. It was the year my folks took their sweet time closing up the beach house. Instead of hanging out with friends embarking on more tricks than treat, I was stuck wandering the cold and damp planks of a boardwalk that's seen better days.

And man, nothing creepier than a boardwalk off season. The first thing that struck me was the silence. And God, how everything was so still but the ocean raged more violent than I've ever seen it.

Looking at the amusement stands that were normally so filled with verve, I started to fill in the blanks with the echoes of the summer -- children screaming in the distance, that creepy accordion of the carousel, bells and whistles from the pier and those ding dongs of retro pinball machines.

And then someone whispered my name. It was a woman I think.

I snapped around but no one was there. Was it the wind? I put my Walkman headphones back on and cranked the Bruce that somehow seemed so apropos. Times were good to him on this wooden way but it seemed like such a long time ago.

The buildings were timeworn and weather-beaten and some cried to be condemned. The gyro stands, pizza joints, corn dog shacks and penny arcades (which was false advertising by the way) were lonely now and had to wait another long winter to wake up.

A wind whipped up from behind me and knocked over a trash can as I watched it roll in front of an arcade. Then I heard a maniacal laugh. Almost demented.

The laughing grew louder. She said, "Come in..."

I spun again and noticed this time that the arcade was open but no one was inside. Were the owners trying to drum up off season business? I wandered in and noticed all of the machines were off.

Then in the corner, she blazed on.

'Laffing Sal' taunted me with her uncontrollable and almost demonic cackle.

My blood ran cold when I saw her.

She was made of papier mache over steel coils and frame. She had a detachable head, arms, hands and legs and was held together with fabric, staples, pins, nails, nuts and bolts.

She had a wig of non-human hair with a large gap between her evil front teeth and had to be at least 6 feet, 10 inches high.

The laughing continued and truth be told, she broke me. As I ran out of the arcade, I dropped my Walkman - Bruce tape and all. I didn't turn around until I was down the ramp and on the street of my cozy shore home.

* * *
When I went inside it was warm and I smelled my mother's cooking. She smiled and asked me how my walk I was.

"Fine..." I said not letting on. "But I'm gonna need a new Walkman."

"Anyone on the boardwalk?" she asked.

"Eh, a couple people," I darted back before I went into my bedroom trying to make sense of what just happened.

I never exactly found out. But like I said, to this day, I hate boardwalks.

Photos: ksweatherford and shoregal via Flicker

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Nothing like a giddy gal announcing that she's on the make... Any takers?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


... Or at least one as cool-sounding as "Spike Morelli."

How cool, right?

But who in the eff was Spike Morelli? Good luck finding that one out. Little is known about the guy. Was he American? British?

The post-war books are said to be British. The titles are pure pulp with names like "Death for a Doll," "Coffin for a Cutie," "This Way for Hell," "More Than Kisses, Baby," "Deal me Out" and "Take It and Like It."

Fantastic Fiction says Morelli was a pen name for a scribe named William Newton (William Simpson Newton) who also wrote under the names Francis Donaldson, Gilroy Mitcham, Macdonald Newton and Gene Ross.

Can anyone shed light on the mystery? Until then, I'll just savor his cool pen name that just oozes whiskey and sin.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Man, they gotta mess with everything...

Most of the buzz on Superman these days is the recently announced Christopher Nolan-produced David Goyer-written, Zack Snyder-directed tentpole flick, set during Big Blue's "early days" where young reporter Clark Kent walks the Earth to see where he fits in.

This week, though, DC Comics will release "Superman: Earth One," a new graphic novel not related to the upcoming film. That said, it will give new insight into Clark Kent’s transformation into Superman and his first year as The Man of Steel.

Written by J. Michael Straczynski, best known as the creator/writer of "Babylon 5," and the screenwriter of Clint Eastwood’s "Changeling" and James McTeigue’s "Ninja Assassin," he has also written for "He-Man," "She-Ra," "The Twilight Zone," "The Real Ghost Busters," and "Murder She Wrote." So there's a pedigree here. In fact, Straczynski wrote the first screenwriting book I ever owned.

Interestingly, however, this new book is the first in a new wave of original DC Universe graphic novels featuring top writers’ and illustrators’ unique takes on their characters much like Marvel's Ultimate Universe.

But is that good? Do we mess with what's isn't necessarily broken? Unlike Marvel's take on their iconic heroes, it seems that DC is radically altering their mythos.

Maybe it's me but I want my Superman to ...well, look like a man... receding hairline and all (see Chrisphor Reeve, below). I want him to look mature, not like a kid who should have a skateboard scooped under his arm with Green Day on his iPod.

Wikipedia says that Straczymski wanted to retell the beginnings of Clark Kent coming out as Superman, but bring in the thoughts of what-if Clark thought of becoming something else instead of being a superhero. As JMS stated; "he could have been rich as an athlete, researcher, any number of things.

There’s a flashback scene to when Martha Kent finishes his uniform and gives it to him as a gift, hoping he’ll go that way. He looks at it and says, in essence, “Shouldn’t there be a mask?" She says no, that "when people see how powerful you are, all the things you can do, they’re going to be terrified... unless they can see your face, and see there that you mean them no harm. The mask... is that what you’re going to have to wear the rest of your life?"

Among his ideas; the villain featured will be brand new, and have a connection to Krypton to explain its destruction. Artist Shane Davis’s approach was to remove all the stereotypes associate with the design of Clark Kent, both in his civilian and superhero identities. As a 21 year-old male in the book, Davis had Clark wear layers of clothing, showing that he is trying to blend in; “he doesn’t want to stand out” as said by Davis. He also re-imagined Metropolis. Historically depicted as an art-deco expanse, Davis designed it to look and feel like a more realistic place.

From the flap: This is a Superman for the 21st century. With "Superman: Earth One," Straczynski and Davis inject the folk tale and legend that is Superman’s origin with a modern, vital and forward-looking energy that makes for a refreshing, epic and challenging super-hero adventure. In "Superman: Earth One" – the first original graphic novel retelling Superman’s origin — Clark Kent is a man looking for meaning in a new city and an age of failing newspapers, hand-held devices and instant gratification. But when you can fly through the sky and burn objects with a glance – things become a tad more complicated. Doubly so when a fleet of alien ships arrive on your doorstep. "Superman: Earth One" channels the best tales of Superman with a look toward the future, by two of the brightest talents the industry has to offer.

The new 136-page hardcover graphic novel will be released in comic shops tomorrow and bookstores the next Tuesday.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Another week of excitement from "Boardwalk Empire." Some key events:

• After the brazen robbery of one of his Ward Bosses, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) turns up the heat on Lucky Luciano.

• An emboldened Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald) stands up to Lucy at the dress shop, and then accepts an offer from Nucky to change her circumstances.

• In Chicago, Al Capone's (Stephen Graham) frustration over family issues spills over into his relationship with Jimmy.

• Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) scores points with Johnny Torrio for a bold power play involving mob heavy Charlie Sheridan and the neighborhood of Greektown.

For my full recap, historical footnotes, episode videos, tunes from the era and other thoughts, click HERE.

Friday, October 22, 2010

THE SAD BRIDE (#fridayflash)

Please press play for some mood music

As I vacuumed the hallway at The Hotel Traymore, a gorgeous woman in a wedding dress ascended the stairs to the landing where I was. She was breathtaking but at the same time seemed so sad. I asked her if she was okay.

She sniffed back a few tears. "I'll be fine," she muttered. "I just need to find Franklin. Have you seen him?"

I shook my head. "No one but you..."

"Oh dear, we're set to start soon," she said. She asked me for the time and I thought nothing more of it as I watched her enter the bridal suite.

* * *

When I was finished with my shift, I asked innkeeper Mr. Finley, if he had seen Franklin and he just chuckled.

I felt dumb so I asked him what gives. "Oh that's just Lady Margaret..." he said. "She won't be bugging you anymore."

"Who?" I asked, watching the cozy fireplace crackle.

"She visits all of our new workers" he said matter-of-factly.

My blood ran cold. Was he telling me what I thought he was telling me?

"In 1925, Margaret was all set to be married here. Biggest shindig in three counties. The story went that Franklin got cold feet and flew the coop. Never came back..."

"And..." I said, knowing there was way more to the story.

"And... she was so distraught that she hung herself in the bridal suite."

Old man Finley went on to tell me that ever since, Margaret has been roaming the halls of the Traymore searching for Franklin and asking every new face -- worker or guest -- for the time.

But I wanted to help her. Even ghosts need closure, right?

* * *

The next day, I went up the staircase and stood still on the landing. I called out for the sad bride and said that I had information about Franklin.

In the nicest and most gentle way possible, I told Margaret that her groom was not coming back and that she should just let go.

That's when the weeping started. And then came the violent nudge.

When I hit the bottom of the stairs, I saw Mr. Finley looking down at me, shaking his head.

"What'd you go and do?" he asked.

What was I gonna say? Oh nothing, just antagonize a sad ghost while cracking three ribs and breaking my arm in the process.

He thought it best I give my two weeks notice right there and then.

Last I heard, the sad bride was still roaming those halls.

Photos by Sunnybrook100 and Matt Andrews at Flickr. Music by Curt Siffert, "Dirty Water."

Thursday, October 21, 2010


... Enjoy his tune "Groovy Man" circa 1947.


So much to love about this picture of actress Cathy O'Donnell... What a beauty.

In 1945, while under contract with Samuel Goldwyn, she made her debut in an uncredited role as a nightclub extra in "Wonder Man." The next year she had her first major role in "The Best Years of Our Lives," playing Wilma Cameron, the high-school sweetheart of double amputee Homer Parrish, played by real-life World War II veteran/amputee Harold Russell.

She was loaned out to RKO for one of her most memorable films, "They Live by Night" starring with Farley Granger. The two actors later reteamed in 1950, for another movie, Side Street. Later Cathy starred in "The Miniver Story," as Judy Miniver and also had a supporting role in "Detective Story." She appeared as Barbara Waggoman, the love interest of James Stewart's character in the western "The Man from Laramie."
Her final film role was in Ben-Hur, where she played the title character's sister, Tirzah.

O'Donnell died of a cerebral hemorrhage brought on by cancer at the age of 46, on her 22nd wedding anniversary.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Lots going on in "Nights in Ballygran," Sunday's episode of "Boardwalk Empire."

The highlights? On the day of the annual St. Patrick's Eve dinner, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) deals with his jealous brother Eli's oratory ambitions. Adding insult to injury, he also must deal with a group of disenchanted "Leprechauns."

In New York, Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) worries about his involvement in the fixed World Series, while in Chicago, Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) copes with the aftermath of a vicious attack orchestrated by Torrio rival Charlie Sheridan.

And finally, Margaret Schroeder (the enchanting Kelly Macdonald), hoping to do something about the booze in her neighborhood, visits Nucky at his office along with Temperance League den mother Mrs. McGarry.

The ladies tell Nucky about the barrels of beer unloaded behind Margaret's home.

When Nucky doesn't do anything about it, Margaret takes matter in her own hands.

The result? Hmmm, you'll have to read the recap. But let's just say, she finally got Nucky's attention.

For my full recap, historical footnotes, episode videos, tunes from the era and other thoughts, click HERE.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

SOMETHING BRAND NEW (#fridayflash)

Please click play for some mood music

My five year-old daughter Lexi and I were making a fresh start.

With her mother finally out of the picture, I wanted to make sure she had nothing but tranquility around her. We needed to get out of our urban jungle and enjoy our newfound freedom.

There needed to be trees and grass. I wanted her to smell wet leaves in the fall and charred wood from cozy neighborhood hearths all winter long. I managed to find a an old fixer-upper buried deep within wooded Northern New Jersey, far removed from the industrial smokestacks Lexi had come to recognize.

The new house, located in an old town known for its revolutionary lore came complete with a charming mailbox by the small road and a babbling brook near the back porch.

# # #

I don't think we were there two weeks before I noticed it. I was in my study unpacking books (Lovecraft, in this case) when I heard Lexi's voice. She was laughing and utterly engaged in a conversation. I smiled at her sweet voice and basked in the comfort of our new home.

The next night, Lexi was at it again and I called her into the study.

"What'cha laughing at, sweetie?"

"He taught me something funny, Daddy," she answered.

"Who did?"

"The ghost... He taught me a funny dance. Wanna see?"

Keeping my cool, I instantly chalked up her new buddy as an imaginary friend as she showed me some silly contortion.

I laughed it off and she went back to her room. I heard her giggling some more, super engaged in a conversation. One that I was even able to follow. I called her back into the study and a few seconds later she came bopping in.

"Honey..." I said trying to play along, "Why don't you ask your ghost friend his name."

After a moment she returned and said, "Regulus..."

That was no ghost name.

We were in the land where Washington marched his patriot army and if it were a ghost, shouldn't it have been something like "William" or "Thomas" or some old fuckin' name like "Nathanial"?

I shrugged it off and told her that she should hang out with me for a while and she helped me with my books.

# # #
I didn't sleep that night.

The rain kept me awake while the wind whipped against the house. That's when the footsteps started. It wasn't Lexi because she was with me in bed snuggled in a ball.

They didn't start from far away but from right outside my bedroom door. Chronic creaking. Floorboards wailing. A door squeaking. This happened all night.

At dawn, I got up and opened a few hallway lights, thinking that could possibly matter and as I walked by my study, I saw them -- all of my books on the floor - except that Hawthorne.

# # #
"Why are you moving," the realtor asked me. "This house is just so..."

"Charming..." I said nodding. "It's just too damned quiet up here."

"Where you headed," she asked plunking the sign into the dirt.

"Back to the city," I said. "Something brand new..."

ART: Courtesy of morguefile. MUSIC: Composed by choplin, can down be downloaded HERE.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Here's a new one. Nomi Malone gave me an award. Who woulda even thought she was in the blogosphere? And if you just happen not to know who Nomi Malone is, check out the video below.

Actually, Malone comes in the guise of blogger Micael Chadwick. While I don't know how I stumbled across his blog The Journey, all I can say is that I did. And I'm glad. Why? Because it's probably the most brutally honest blog that I read - pound for pound. He's feral, open, honest, angry, happy, sad... A jambalaya of creation. Poems. Musings. Rants. Screeds. And it all bleeds onto the screen.

I urge one and all to check it out. He's also a damn talented designer (I love how his template changes from day to day).

Here's the skinny in his own words: "I quit trying to force some semblance of rhyme or reason to it and just decided to blog whatever wants blogged. It's much more freeing. It also is beginning to serve as a reflection of living with AIDS. It will be interesting to look back and see where I was at each step of the process... Already the narrative is fascinatingly varied from post to post."

"There will be no guarantees along Theg Journey. I am over trying to blog - I am just blogging. Don't expect much - but watch for everything. (Couch Dress anyone?) It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will probably piss you off. It's quirky and serious and sometimes both, all at the same time and smattered into a big ol' wad of what-the-heck-just-happened. (And I tend to curse too much. I'm workin' on it...)"

He's the real deal. Check it out HERE.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Blogger and fantasy writer Barry Northern recently asked me to lend my voice to a poem at Cast Macabre, the meticulous online project and podcast he curates. And what a production it is...

It's official description: "New horror audio fiction. At Cast Macabre we showcase new talent in the horror, whilst revering the classics. Look out for new works of short fiction, flash fiction, and maybe even the odd classic public domain reading. Old meets new at Cast Macabre."

Barry asked me to read a piece called "California Noir" by Bruce Boston. In fact, the whole podcast is dedicated to Boston. His work has appeared in hundreds of publications, including Asimov's SF, Amazing Stories, Realms of Fantasy, Strange Horizons, Weird Tales, The Pedestal Magazine, Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, and the Nebula Awards Showcase, and received a number of awards, most notably the Pushcart Prize, the Asimov's Readers' Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Rhysling Award,
and the Grandmaster Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. He holds the distinctions of having appeared in more issues of Asimov's SF than any other author.

His work stretches from broad humor to literary surrealism, with many stops along the way for science fiction, fantasy, horror, and noir. He's published forty-five books and chapbooks, including the novels The Guardener's Tale and Stained Glass Rain.

Check it out HERE. The poem I read comes in roughly at 12:35.

It's a stupendously professional production with many many creepy pieces just in time for Halloween. Grab a drink and settle in by the fire...

Monday, October 11, 2010


Another Sunday, another pretty damn decent episode of "Boardwalk Empire" ... perhaps the best of the season.

The theme of duality or being on the run was pretty apparent in last night's episode "Anastasia." Named for the Russian princess who may or may not have been on the run (and settled anonymously in America), we see shades of her in Margaret Schroeder, perhaps wanting to adapt to a lifestyle seemingly like Nucky Thomspon's girlfriend Lucy. Then there's Pearl -- Jimmy Darmody's new squeeze who tells him she wants to eventually venture out to La La Land and make pictures. And then Jimmy telling Al Capone that he's just passing through and laying low so no one will see him.

There are even two Nuckys -- the backroom savvy deal maker and the frontroom politician who can so very easily charm a wonderful lady like Margaret. Like Anastasia herself, we can never usually tell who these people are. It depends who they're talking to and what they want at the moment.

And don't even get me started on that awesome Chalky White scene...

For my scene by scene recap, historical footbotes, music and historical observations, click HERE.

Friday, October 8, 2010

WHO SHOT SAM? (#fridayflash)

Click play for some mood music

Edith saw him walk in to the roadhouse. The Wurlitzer blared what Wurlitzers usually blare as she sipped her scotch and adjusted her skirt.

He was alone. Then again, so was she, but this was her bar and she was out with friends so it was on the up and up. And plus, the only reason she was stag to begin with was she eighty-sixed Martin when she found out his bowling night was really a rum-and-coke night with some strumpet named Sally two towns away.

She noticed that he made a beeline for the phone booth. Edith wondered who he'ld be calling this late. That was shady enough. And what was with those clothes? This clyde couldn't wear a blazer?

He looked at his watch, approached the bar and got himself a hefty glass of Jack Daniels.

When he sat down at an empty table," Edith approached.

"May I?"

"Sure help yourself," he said. "The name is Sam..."

"Sam..." Edith repeated. "That's a good enough name."

He lit a Camel and Edith thought he was trying to be like Montgomery Clift. She stifled a laugh.

"Something wrong?" he asked her.

She didn't answer and motioned toward the phone booth, "What's with the phone call?"

Perplexed by the question, Sam said that he was checking in with some family. Edith figured that was the dumbest alibi she's ever heard. There was probably some wanted poster in some post office with this guy's mug on it.

"And what's with those threads, Sam? I mean Don'cha wanna meet a nice girl?"

"You're not a nice girl?" he asked, noticing now that her friends eyeballing them.

"Depends. You don't look like you go in for nice girls" Edith snapped.

"Say, are you writing a book?" he asked keeping his cool.

"As a matter of fact I am," she answered. "It called 'How to Spot a Stiff from a Mile Away."

"Girlie, you couldn't handle this stiff..."

"Oh, so you think I'm some sort of vulture, huh?" Edith said.

Sam took one last drag on that Camel, gave her a once over and exhaled. "No, Edith, I don't consider you a vulture," he said.

"I consider you something a vulture would eat..."

Walking three miles back to his broken down rig, Sam marveled at how things have changed and couldn't wait to be in bed next to his wife.

Art: "The Pick Up" by the amazing American artist Rafael DeSoto. His work can be seen here. Music: "Who Shot Sam" by Wanda Jackson. It can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


The great Jen Brubacher who blogs from the blog scribo ergo sum has tagged me with a bunch of fun questions. Check out her blog, it's a great portal of her own creative writing as well as musings on all things literary.

That said, with this virtual tag, I have to answer eight questions and tag five other bloggers. So here goes:

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?

I'd would absolutely love to time travel. I'd live it up in the Jazz Age (and so many other eras) and record it all ... right here.

2. Who is your style icon?

Well... being that I'm sort of a clothes hound, I will first answer for threads and next for writing.

I've always believed that the great aspect of men's fashion is that styles really don't change. if you look at all the dapper dudes throughout the 20th century -- Fitzgerald, Gable, Cary Grant -- none of their clothes seem out of place in a modern context.

My fashion icons? Hmmm... There's a reason why men like Clooney, Sinatra, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen (pictured) and Jack Kerouac are mentioned as stylish every year in GQ or Esquire. They kept it simple and simple is timeless. A great suit. A pair of jeans or khakis, white T-shirt and a blazer. 'Nuff said.

Ok, now that that's out of the way -- writing style. Again, I love to keep it simple. I hate overwriting. Hate it with a passion. I think I gravitate towards guys like Hemingway, Raymond Carver (and obviously Bukowski) because I think the prose is accessible. They don't overwrite but I'll be goddamned if their work isn't long on meaning. Five words can do way more damage than, say, some ridiculous run on.

3. What is your favorite quote?

From the Simon and Garfunkel tune "Mrs. Robinson." ... I love the powerful subtext of :

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
A nation tur
ns its lonely eyes to you
(Woo woo woo)
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson
'Joltin Joe' has left and gone away?
(Hey hey hey - hey hey hey)

The statement longs for a better time... When this nation meant something to the world. Joe DiMaggio was more than a legendary Yankee. He stood for grace, elegance, pride and dignity. By the tumultuous '60s, that sense of "Joe DiMaggio" was all but gone... He was America when America was great and everyone wanted to be Joltin' Joe. Yep, that quote resonates.

4. What is the best compliment you've ever received?

That's a good one... I guess that I actually am quite honored that some of the flash and poems that I've put up here in Bukowski's Basement have been so well-received. As many of you know, there's always that moment when you press "save" or "publish" that the insecure writer always thinks, "Maybe I shouldn't have done that..."

5. What playlist/CD is in your CD player/iPod right now?

I tend to have really odd playlists. There's one, "HARD ROCK" that really isn't hard rock per se, but tunes that I heard while on vacation at The Hard Rock in Vegas. Another, MAIN STREET, USA" is a playlist of tunes that you may hear during the early part of the century while driving down any main drag in the country.

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

That's easy. Night owl. 'Nuff said.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

To paraphrase the great George Carlin: I really love the shallow affection of a dog. My own pooch (now dead), used to go apeshit every time I came home -- even if I came home four times a day... didn't matter ... I was home. Even with kids, you don't get THAT kind of response. Life's hard. That goes a long way.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

Bukowski's Basement grew out of another blog I started (which is now defunct). The other blog (Hemingway's Lounge) was a portal of basically regurgitated entertainment news that you could get anywhere. After a couple of years I pretty much got burnt out and the traffic wasn't faithful -- meaning people landed there through Google searches instead of loyal readers. I also needed a place to put my original writings and the more I thought about it, I needed a blog of purely creative stuff. And what better reason to theme a blog after one of the century's most colorful scribes? hence, Bukowski's Basement...

I will now tag a few scribes that would do these questions justice...

Alan W. Davidson
Cathy Webster
John Wiswell

Monday, October 4, 2010


There's a new bootlegger in town and his name is Chalky White. Chalky is the ex-boxer who runs Atlantic City's African-American community and goes into business with Nucky Thompson... Read my scene-for-scene recap with historical footnotes and video from the show HERE.

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