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Mike Powers "mkp51" RSS Feed (Woolwich, ME USA)

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In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood
DVD ~ Robert Blake
15 used & new from $16.96

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest true crime movies ever made., December 19, 2014
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This review is from: In Cold Blood (DVD)
“In Cold Blood” is in every way a wonderfully crafted and multi-faceted film - part murder mystery, part police procedural, part crime thriller. Starring Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe, Paul Stewart, and Gerald S. O'Loughlin, it conveys with reasonable accuracy the chilling tale of the Clutter family murders, which occurred in November 1959, and about which author Truman Capote brilliantly wrote in his book of the same title.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, November 15, 1959, Herb Clutter, a prosperous farmer, his wife Bonnie, and his two teenage children, Nancy and Kenyon, were brutally slain in their home in Holcomb, Kansas. This horrific crime gained national attention and became the basis for author Truman Capote’s best-selling true crime detective novel “In Cold Blood.” That book detailed the story of how two ex-convicts, acting on a tip from a fellow criminal, traveled 400 miles across Kansas in order to rob the Clutters of a rumored large sum of cash. It also became the basis for the subject of this review: the 1967 film “In Cold Blood”.

The two ex-cons are Perry Smith (played by Blake) and Dick Hickok (played by Wilson). Smith, recently paroled from Kansas State Penitentiary, has just violated the terms of his release by returning to the state of Kansas. Smith is short, stocky, and in constant pain from injuries he received in a motorcycle accident. He has a volatile and violent temperament. His partner, Dick Hickok, is also a paroled ex-convict. He's an extroverted smooth talker who's got a plan to rob and murder a wealthy Kansas farmer.

On the night of November 14, 1959, these two miscreants drive 400 miles across Kansas to the tiny village of Holcomb, where Herb Clutter owns and operates a large farm. Smith and Hickok plan to force Clutter to open his safe, then steal his money and kill everyone in the house. They arrive at the Clutter homestead at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 15th...

...Later that morning, the Clutters' neighbors arrive to pick up Nancy for church. When nobody answers the doorbell, the neighbors go inside, where they discover the grisly results of Smith and Hickok's earlier visit: Herb, Bonnie, Nancy and Kenyon Clutter have been massacred with shotgun.

Local and state law enforcement agencies quickly respond. The lead investigators are Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) agent Alvin Dewey (played by John Forsythe) and Harold Nye (Gerald S. O'Loughlin). Dewey is a local area resident and a personal friend of Herb Clutter's. With meticulous care, he, Nye, and their team of investigators begin the task of searching for clues as to who killed the Clutters...

How do Dewey and his team finally track down Smith and Hickok? What clues do the investigators discover, and what mistakes do the killers make that lead to their capture? What really happened at the Clutter house on November 15, 1959? And what is the fate that awaits Perry Smith and Dick Hickok after their arrest? Watch “In Cold Blood” to find out!

“In Cold Blood” ranks as one of my favorite true crime dramas. This is a masterful movie in nearly every respect. The acting, writing, and cinematography are all superb. Robert Blake's portrayal of Perry Smith is especially noteworthy. Blake effortlessly brings to life the emotional instability and violent tendencies of this psychopathic criminal. Scott Wilson, a heretofore little-known actor, is equally brilliant as the garrulous, ingratiating, but equally violent Dick Hickok. John Forsythe and Gerald S. O'Loughlin bring just the right touch of restrained righteous anger to their roles as Agents Alvin Dewey and Harold Nye.

Richard Brooks wrote and directed “In Cold Blood”. His screenplay is written with intelligence and great respect for the facts of the case. Although the film contains precious little action, it maintains an excellent level of tension throughout its 2Ľ-hour running time. Brooks' choice of filming “In Cold Blood” in black and white was a master stroke. That, coupled with Conrad Hall's expert cinematography, gives the film a brooding darkness and heightens the sense of 1950s realism.

“In Cold Blood” remains one of the finest true crime movies ever made. It accurately brings to life one of the most harrowing criminal cases in American history. It's brilliantly acted, written, and produced, and a "must-see" for anyone interested in a great true crime story!

LG Electronics BH5140S 500W Blu-Ray Home Theater System with Smart TV
LG Electronics BH5140S 500W Blu-Ray Home Theater System with Smart TV

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent home theater system in nearly every respect., December 19, 2014
My ancient and venerable Philips home theater system (HTS) recently expired due to a power surge that burned out one of its main circuit boards. I decided to buy a new HTS rather than repair the old one.

My choice was the LG BH5140S Blu-ray HTS. Because it fits my needs so well, I chose very well indeed. It's best suited for a small room like my home office/den. Since I installed my LG BH5140S nearly a month ago, it has consistently proven itself an excellent performer in nearly every respect.

The LG BH5140S HTS contains a 3D Blue-ray player capable of handling nearly all BD, DVD, and CD formats with aplomb. The unit supports video resolutions up to and including 1080p; video quality for both BDs and DVDs is consistently crisp, bright, sharp, and highly detailed.

This 500-watt unit contains both DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound circuitry, and produces highly realistic and immersive audio with a very nice balance of low, mid, and high range frequencies. The sound is surprisingly good for a unit equipped with very small satellite speakers and subwoofer.

Features (including FM radio, aux input, video and audio equalization settings, and an excellent remote) abound in the LG BH5140S, and all are easy to access and use. However, the unit is lacking one significant feature: wifi connectivity. Users can access their favorite online video streaming sites (Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, etc.), but only by way of a LAN cable. Many people may find this a major inconvenience, but I don't, since I already have a Roku 3 streaming device connected to my TV.

Overall, the LG BH5140S Home Theater System is an excellent unit that will perform best in smaller rooms. It will provide users with an excellent high definition video and an impressive 5.1 surround sound experience. Highly recommended.

Road To Perdition [Blu-ray]
Road To Perdition [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Tom Hanks
Price: $9.11
23 used & new from $4.67

5.0 out of 5 stars "Road to Perdition:" "We are only murderers in this room!", December 18, 2014
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"Road to Perdition" is a beautifully crafted movie that clearly belongs on any list of "greatest" gangster movies. "Road to Perdition" features a superb cast, a thought-provoking and highly original premise, and a story line that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats for the film's entire two-hour running time.

"Road to Perdition" centers on a Prohibition-era, small-town Irish Mafia "family" of bootleggers, led by John Rooney (Newman), an outwardly benevolent, aging patriarch whose genteel exterior masks a savage ruthlessness. Michael Sullivan (Hanks) is Rooney's chief "enforcer." Sullivan, quiet and tightly controlled, is a family man with young sons, twelve year-old Michael Junior (Hoechlin) and eight year-old Peter (Liam Aiken.)

At the heart of "Road to Perdition" is an examination of father-and-son relationships. At the outset, there is a distant, aloof relationship between Sullivan and his oldest son Michael, and a much more demonstrative relationship between Sullivan and Peter. There is also a very close relationship between John Rooney and Sullivan; Rooney shows much more affection for his chief enforcer than he does for his own son and heir not-so-apparent, Connor.

While Michael Sullivan Jr. struggles to understand why his father seems to love Peter more than him, an embittered, middle-aged Connor Rooney seethes with jealously as he watches his father give the senior Michael Sullivan the paternal affection that Connor feels rightfully belongs to him.

How this drama between fathers and sons plays out forms the central plot of the film. Michael Jr. is curious to know what his father does for a living, so he stows away in the family car just as his father and Connor go on a routine "enforcement" mission. While hiding, the boy witnesses Connor and his father commit an act of murder.

Sullivan and Connor quickly discover Michael Jr. hiding at the scene. Here is a golden opportunity for Connor to rid himself of his perceived rival for his father's affections! He orders a "hit" on Michael Sullivan, but the alert Sullivan adroitly avoids assassination. While this is going on, Connor visits the Sullivan home and murders Sullivan's wife and son... but it's the wrong son he kills. Now Connor must face the wrath of both Michael Sullivan and John Rooney.

Michael Sullivan takes his son and leaves town, planning to avenge his family's murder. While he plots his revenge against the Rooneys, he seeks the protection of the Al Capone family in Chicago. Rebuffed by Capone's chief lieutenant, Frank Nitti, (played by Stanley Tucci), Sullivan heads toward his sister-in-law's home at Perdition, a small lakeside town in the Midwest. Meanwhile, an eccentric but highly effective "hit man" named Maguire (Jude Law) has been retained by Nitti to deal with the Sullivans...

Although "Road to Perdition" was first released in 2002, I only saw it for the very first time about two weeks ago. My initial reaction was that it is one of the finest "gangster" films I've ever seen, ranking alongside the likes of "The Godfather" trilogy, "Goodfellas," "Donnie Brasco," and "The Departed." The film is truly an artistic and technical triumph. Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, Stanley Tucci, and the then fifteen year-old newcomer Tyler Hoechlin all turn in remarkable performances. The screenplay, adapted by David Self from the graphic novel written by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner, is intelligent and thought provoking. The sets and costumes reflect a tremendous attention to detail. John L. Williams and Thomas Newman's musical score is sumptuous and always a perfect compliment to what's going on on the screen. And the late Conrad Hall's Academy Award-winning cinematography gives the movie a beautiful texture.

There is a dank, rain-soaked pessimism that permeates "Road to Perdition." A gloominess fueled by a resignation that all the characters' lives are somehow consigned ahead of time to whatever Fate determines. Despite its outward melancholy, however, "Road to Perdition" still manages to retain a sense of optimism in the face of the most horrific of environments in which the characters find themselves. As the film's end credits rolled, I somehow found myself feeling good about the way "Road to Perdition" ended, and the overall message it conveyed to me...

The Blu-ray version of "Road to Perdition" certainly does justice to this outstanding film. Video quality is exceptional. It faithfully conveys director Sam Mendes's and cinematographer Conrad Hall's artistic intentions. Video is clear and detailed, with just the right amount of grain. The DTS HD Master Audio Multichannel soundtrack fills the room with accurately placed dialog, explosive gunfire, and the beautiful music score.

The Blu-ray disc contains many of the most popular "extras" that people have come to expect: director's commentary; a "Making of..." documentary; deleted scenes; production notes; and most notably a tribute to the late Conrad Hall.

Although "Road to Perdition" may not appeal to every movie viewer's tastes, it is an extraordinary film that, in many ways, transcends the typical "gangster movie" genre. Highly recommended!

Samsung Galaxy S4 Case - OtterBox Defender Series - Black
Samsung Galaxy S4 Case - OtterBox Defender Series - Black
Price: $29.00
15 used & new from $18.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A “life preserver” for my Galaxy S4, December 18, 2014
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When I bought my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone earlier this year, it became immediately evident that the first accessory I needed for it would be some kind of protective case. I chose the Otterbox Defender, and I chose very well indeed. In fact, it has turned out to be the perfect choice.

An impact resistant inner case/screen protector assembly serves as a “cocoon” that shields the phone. This inner case is given added protection by a heavy duty silicone outer shell. A belt clip that snaps on to the Defender case protects the phone’s screen when not in use.

The Otterbox Defender does add weight and size to the phone, but it’s still surprisingly unobtrusive in daily use. Still, the advantages of having it far outweigh the disadvantages of its added bulk. By itself, the Galaxy S4 is a pretty fragile device; drop it once, and that nice, pretty glass screen or eggshell-thin back are very likely to break. However, I’ve managed to drop my Otterbox Defender-protected phone a few times – once onto a concrete floor. The phone literally bounced off the floor, without so much as a scratch on it!

In a nutshell, the Otterbox Defender has proven itself several times to be a “life preserver” for my Galaxy S4. Highly recommended!

Immortal Beloved [Blu-ray]
Immortal Beloved [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Gary Oldman
Offered by Media Favorites
Price: $13.02
18 used & new from $9.86

5.0 out of 5 stars A great "what if?" on the life of Beethoven..., December 12, 2014
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Journey with me now into the heart of one of the most enduring unsolved mysteries in history: the mystery of Beethoven’s "Immortal Beloved."

Sometime after Ludwig van Beethoven’s death 1827, a letter was found among the composer’s personal effects – in the words of one Beethoven biographer, "...the only unalloyed love letter of his bachelor existence” – addressed to an unidentified woman who was obviously the great love of Beethoven’s life. The mystery of exactly who was Beethoven’s "Immortal Beloved" remains unsolved to this day.

"Immortal Beloved," a marvelous film written and directed by Bernard Rose, seeks to explore the greatest riddle of Beethoven’s life. The film stars Gary Oldman, Jeroen Krabbé, Isabella Rossellini, Johanna ter Steege, Valeria Golino, and the music of Ludwig van Beethoven.

"Immortal Beloved" has many attributes of a movie biography – a "biopic" – but it would be inaccurate to characterize this film solely as such. It is, at its heart, a fanciful flight of film fantasy with historical elements mixed in, wrapped in the brilliance of early nineteenth century costumes and sets, and presented to viewers in an attempt to get to the mind of Ludwig van Beethoven through his music.

"Immortal Beloved" is certainly is a well acted, well written, and highly entertaining film! It’s imbued with wonderful performances from an excellent ensemble cast.

Visually, "Immortal Beloved" is absolutely stunning. It was filmed in Prague and the surrounding countryside. The interior and exterior sets are mostly actual buildings in the Czech capital! As Rose points out, they were still a bit worn looking in 1994, and that added an aura of authenticity to the film. They are also gorgeous to see! Huge paintings fill gigantic halls; gold leaf encrusted, authentic nineteenth century furnishings abound. And the impeccably accurate costumes are simply brilliant.

The centerpiece of "Immortal Beloved" is, of course, Beethoven’s music. From the opening moments of the film to its very end can be heard excerpts from many of Beethoven’s greatest works… at the film’s outset: Missa Solemnis, Op. 123, the only mass Beethoven ever wrote, as the backdrop to the grand funeral and eulogy of the composer; and during other key points in the film: excerpts from Piano Sonata No. 14, Op. 27, No. 2 "Moonlight;" Violin Concerto, Op. 61; Symphony No. 3, Op. 55 "Eroica;" Symphony No. 5, Op. 67; Violin Sonata No. 9, Op. 47 "Kreutzer;" Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 73 "Emperor;" and, at the great, shattering climax of the film: excerpts from the majestic fourth movement of Symphony No. 9, Op. 125 "Choral," including Beethoven’s passionate paean to freedom, "Ode to Joy." At every turn, the music is played with perfect precision and passion at just the right pace to help tell the story and help the viewer "get into the mind" of the composer.

It took a few viewings of "Immortal Beloved" for me to understand this movie for what it really is: a fantasy on the life of the man many consider to be the greatest composer of all time. The first time I watched the film (on VHS, in "pan-and-scan" format), I dismissed it as a load of utter nonsense. I’m a man who likes my history factual, and here I was watching a film with some attributes of a "biopic" and a whole lot of highly charged romantic conjecture.

When I viewed "Immortal Beloved" again on Blu-ray in its original 2.40:1 widescreen format, I had the benefit of seeing the entire movie as the director intended. I was also able to watch the "special features" documentaries on the DVD, in which Bernard Rose admits that the film he’s created is a mixture of fact and fantasy... intended to "get at the mind of Beethoven through his music." Now I understood!

And with that, the movie evolves from being that "load of utter nonsense" to something else: a brilliant speculation... a great "what if?" on the life of Beethoven. For me, it no longer had to be historically accurate. I now see "Immortal Beloved" as an entertaining detective story filled with an exciting new possibility to consider.

As Bernard Rose says in the "Beloved Beethoven" documentary: "I dare anyone to prove me wrong!"

Twisted Veins Three (3) Pack of (3 ft) High Speed HDMI Cables + Right Angle Adapter and Velcro Cable Ties (Latest Version Supports Ethernet, 3D, and Audio Return)+a microfiber cloth +a led key chain
Twisted Veins Three (3) Pack of (3 ft) High Speed HDMI Cables + Right Angle Adapter and Velcro Cable Ties (Latest Version Supports Ethernet, 3D, and Audio Return)+a microfiber cloth +a led key chain
Offered by SPN Performance
Price: $8.69

5.0 out of 5 stars These outstanding HDMI cables perform beautifully!, December 12, 2014
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I bought two three-packs of these Twisted Veins 3ft high-speed HDMI cables in order to connect all my HDMI devices to my TV through an HDMI switching unit. These are outstanding cables that perform beautifully in every way! They're ruggedly built, just the perfect length for my needs, and the supplied Velcro cable ties and right angle adapters helped me practically to eliminate the unsightly tangle of wires behind my entertainment center. In addition, I perceive a distinct improvement in both video and audio quality over what I was getting with my older, cheaper cables. Twisted Veins simply makes a great product... highly recommended!

Puppy Surprise Zoey Plush
Puppy Surprise Zoey Plush
Offered by OneLessProblem
Price: $31.23
64 used & new from $26.70

5.0 out of 5 stars A granddaughter's constant companion..., December 12, 2014
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This review is from: Puppy Surprise Zoey Plush (Toy)
We bought Zoey Plush for our granddaughter's birthday in October 2014. She absolutely loves it! Zoey and her puppies are her constant companions. A wonderful toy for small children. Highly recommended!

Etekcity®4K x 2K 3 Port High Speed HDMI Switch With IR wireless Remote and power adapter Supports PIP 3D Xbox/PS 1080P
Etekcity®4K x 2K 3 Port High Speed HDMI Switch With IR wireless Remote and power adapter Supports PIP 3D Xbox/PS 1080P
Offered by Etekcity
Price: $27.99
2 used & new from $24.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for any entertainment center with multiple HDMI devices, December 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The EtekCity 4k x 2K HDMI switch is an excellent device that has brought badly needed organization to my home entertainment center. I have four HDMI components (two Blu-ray players, a Roku 3 streaming device, and a DirecTV receiver) and an HDTV with only two HDMI ports. With my devices connected through the EtekCity HDMI switch, I can choose which component I want to use with the simple press of a button on the EtekCity’s supplied remote. The EtekCity unit switches between my devices almost instantaneously, with no loss of video resolution (supports up to 1080p or 4K) or audio quality (supports DTS-HD, Dolby TrueHD, and others).

The EtekCity 4k x 2K HDMI switch is very well designed and constructed. The remote, although a bit on the small side, is reasonably responsive when buttons are pressed.Overall, this is an essential accessory for any entertainment center with multiple HDMI devices. Highly recommended!

Hawaii Five-0: Season 1
Hawaii Five-0: Season 1
DVD ~ Alex O'Loughlin
Offered by westcoastmedia
Price: $19.89
12 used & new from $15.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hawaii Five-0, Season 1: NOT your Daddy’s Hawaii Five-O!, October 3, 2014
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This review is from: Hawaii Five-0: Season 1 (DVD)
On September 20, 2010, exactly 42 years to the day that the original “Hawaii Five-O” TV show premiered, an all-new version of “Hawaii Five-0” (note the number zero replaces the letter "O" in the title) premiered on CBS. I had been waiting in somewhat less than eager anticipation for that inaugural episode. I say "less than eager anticipation" because I've developed a healthy skepticism over the years for the quality of TV shows and movies that are remakes of older, "classic" shows. I've found that remakes have usually proven themselves to be poor and ultimately unsuccessful imitators of their forebears, and I figured this remake of “Hawaii Five-O” would probably be no different. As the "all-new" “Hawaii Five-0” began, I was all set to give it a begrudging benefit of the doubt... but not much more.

As it turned out, the "rebooted" “Hawaii Five-0” is a most worthy successor to its venerable forerunner! The new version is based on Leonard Freeman's original concept, and the "reboot" retains many links to the old show. The story still centers on a four-person special team of investigators under the leadership of Steve McGarrett, (now played by Alex O'Loughlin). As in the previous show, McGarrett is a former Navy SEAL who's been hired by Hawaii's governor to tackle the toughest and most high-profile criminal cases in Hawaii "with no strings attached." McGarrett is once again ably assisted by Danny Williams, Chin Ho Kelly, and Kona "Kono" Kalakaua. Together, these four make up the new "Five-0" special investigations unit of the Hawaii State Police.

All four of the lead characters in “Hawaii Five-0” are much more fully developed and complex than were the characters in the original show. Steve McGarrett is now the son of Jack McGarrett, a former Honolulu police officer who is murdered by terrorists. Danny Williams (played by Scott Caan) is a transplanted New Jersey cop who follows his remarried ex-wife and young daughter to Hawaii so that he can maintain a close relationship with his daughter. Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim, formerly of "Lost") now has a past to live down; and Kona "Kono" Kalakaua (Grace Park) is now a beautiful young female rookie cop who's also a champion surfer.

From the outset, Season 1 of this show made one thing abundantly clear: this ain't your daddy's “Hawaii Five-O!” In fact, it is much better in many respects. For one thing, the acting is uniformly superb. The new Steve McGarrett is no longer the straight-laced, buttoned-down "top cop" with perfectly coiffed hair and an immaculately tailored suit. Instead, he's a modern day "action hero," dressed in cargo pants, pullover shirts, and athletic shoes, who has plenty of "attitude" to spare. There's an especially strong chemistry that's readily apparent between Alex O'Laughlin's "Steve McGarrett" and Scott Caan's "Danny Williams." These characters' relationship can best be described as a contentious "bromance," with many of the same humorous overtones that exist between Agents Tony DiNozzo and Tim McGee on NCIS. The scripts are marvelously written; most often they are a near-perfect combination of character-driven crime drama with generous dollops of technology-driven police procedural thrown in for good measure.

The original “Hawaii Five-O” is still a great police drama, even though it has not aged particularly well. (It's been overtaken by four decades' worth of changes in American culture and technology.) The new “Hawaii Five-0,” now entering its fifth season on CBS, takes the very best that its predecessor had to offer - an original concept, excellent story lines, and Hawaii's magnificent scenery - and transforms them all into a 21st century viewing delight. Highly recommended!

Roku 3 Streaming Media Player
Roku 3 Streaming Media Player
Price: $77.99
65 used & new from $69.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roku 3 Streaming Video Player: An essential - and inexpensive - addition to our entertainment center., October 3, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My wife and I are seriously considering “cutting the cable” (or, more accurately, satellite link, since our TV programming provider is a satellite company). While working on this decision, we decided to give streaming video a trial run, in an effort to determine if it will be an acceptable alternative to the increasingly expensive satellite TV.

Our streaming video player of choice, based primarily on hundreds of reviews here at Amazon, is the Roku 3. It certainly has met – and exceeded – every expectation we had for it! It was easy to set up; it is absolutely flawless in its performance; and it provides countless hours of TV entertainment at a fraction of the cost!

In fact, there are so many programming choices available on the hundreds of channels available on Roku 3, we found it imperative to narrow our choices to a manageable number of channels. Of course, Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime lead the way for us, followed by Netflix, Vudu, Hulu+, and about 20 others. But it’s nice to know there are many, many other channels available when we want them.

We haven’t made a form decision to cancel our satellite TV subscription… yet. We still have a while before we can say “good-bye” to our satellite TV provider without paying its exorbitant early termination fee. However, if – and when – we do make that decision, we are ready. Our Roku 3 is now connected, and is providing the majority of our TV viewing every day. Highly recommended!

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