Friday, October 30, 2009

Adventureland

I watched the movie Adventureland on DVD last night.

I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the film that I kept thinking about it all day. In fact, I think I may go out and buy it.

I liked the actors and really liked the story, but I loved the script.

If you've read and enjoyed any of my older posts where I tell a story with dialog, you'll abosultely love the dialog in this movie. It's actually much better and more thought out than those posts, obviously, considering it was made into a movie.

But the bottom line is that the writing is superbly brilliant in my opinion.

It's smart, funny, subtly intimate, and very witty. I can't say enough how much I loved the writing from Greg Mottola. For me, it's an instant classic.

I can't exactly put my finger on why I enjoyed the writing so much; but it just seemed so refreshing. I don't know if it's because Mottola is around my age, but I really related to it a lot, and I remember thinking the characters were saying things that could have come right out of my own brain.

As I watched, it was as if Mottola wrote the script with me in mind, just for my amusement. It hit that close to home.

For example, the main character, James -- he had a trip across Europe, and was going to get his Master's Degree in Journalism at Columbia University in New York City to become a travel writer when he returned.

Um, hello! That's just my dream life condensed into one sentence right there.

So basically, Mottola had me at hello!

I loved all the references both literary (Charles Dickens) and musical (Lou Reed).

The movie is so perfectly balanced with heartfelt moments and witty humor. I really can't say enough about it. I really loved the movie and can't wait to see it again.

Here's a small morsel from the movie that made me laugh:

Sue O'Malley: What are you majoring in?
Joel: Russian literature and Slavic languages.
Sue O'Malley: Oh wow, that's pretty interesting. What career track is that?
Joel: Cabby, hot dog vendor, marijuana delivery guy. The world is my oyster.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

That's a Big Bitch!

I don't know where this guy keeps such a ginormous dog living in New York City, but I'd love to witness that place. I mean, I shot this photo in the West Village, and I didn't see very many places in the neighborhood with the kind of space needed for this big fella.

Hopefully, his owner has a lot of money and can afford some huge apartment big enough for the two of them! Otherwise, that is a seriously interesting living situation.

"A dog owns nothing, yet is seldom dissatisfied." -Irish Proverb
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Bird Whisperer

Walking northeast from the west southcorner of Washington Square Park, I noticed this interesting scene: two men having a conversation, with one of them surrounded by a gaggle of pigeons, on him and all around him.

I really didn't think much of the shot when I took the photo, but after I saw it, I really liked it. I wish I would have stopped for a moment to take it, but it was a spontaneous shot on the move and my camera settings weren't prepared, so it's actually a little blurry.

In any case, I think I've discovered the Bird Whisperer!

"The opportunity for brotherhood presents itself every time you meet a human being." Jane Wyman
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Monday, October 26, 2009

Green with Envy


With nearly every inch of this house in the West Village covered in green foliage, it's as if the vines are giving it a perpetual hug.

There's something about homes like this that makes me feel so relaxed and at home, just from looking at it.

I always have to stop to appreciate scenes like this whenever I see them.
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Music = Soul Food

This photo is from an outdoor performance this past September, next to the Washington Square Park fountain in Manhattan. I wish I would've asked for her name. For a better view, look here.

"Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life, bringing peace, abolishing strife.” ~Kahlil Gibran
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Saints Rise Again


(warning: adult language & theme)

I'm a huge movie buff.

As a general "rule of thumb," I probably watch about 5-6 movies a week, thanks to Netflix.

Unfortunately, I haven't been out to the movies very much lately.

I'd say it's because I can't seem to find the time, but in reality, I think it's just easier to watch them on DVD before bed.

In other words, I have no life and I'm basically a lazy ass.

There, I said it.

But this lazy habit of watching movies at home after work will change very soon. In fact, October 30th, 2009, is the date this new habit will begin.

If you're wondering what is so special about October 30th, it's the date the movie Boondock Saints II is released in theaters (at least for me, locally).

I guess I should go ahead and mention that I'm a big fan of the first movie. Not in a mentally unstable female teenager with a bumble-bee haircut who's screaming and in tears at a Beatles concert kind of way--but a fan, nevertheless.

My appreciation for the movie basically started about the day the movie was released on video.

I used to be a manager for Blockbuster Video a little over ten years ago.

So, whenever new movies came out on video, I would help the reps who worked for me prep the new movies for public display on the shelves.

This was back when video store shelves were still stocked with VHS movies.

Wow, do I feel old.

Pretty soon I'll be complaining about teenagers and drinking Metamucil.

Anyway, I don't remember the exact year it was when I first saw the VHS version of the movie with its black cover box, and the now infamous picture of Norman and Sean (the 2 main actors) on the front, with their guns pointing down in the same direction...

But I do remember that it definitely caught my attention.


I believe it was sometime between 1998 and 2000, I'm not exactly sure.

I remember thinking the cover reminded me of the cover box for Reservoir Dogs, for some reason.

Somehow, pictures of dudes with guns in random, unrelated movie ads usually get affiliated together in my brain, because, well...they're dudes with guns, I guess.

And dudes with guns are basically considered bad-ass in the eyes of most males between, uh, about the ages of about 2 to 99 years-old.

True story.

Falling into this demographic myself, I was of course, drawn to the bad-ass looking cover box at first.

Then I watched the movie.

Long story made short, I loved every minute of it.

Maybe I just have low standards, or maybe I just 'get it,' depending on who you ask.

Whichever it is, all I know is I found the writing fun, very refreshing, witty, and quite funny in many ways.

I liked the Irish humor, the way it was directed, the characters and actors were great, and I thought Sean and Norm were perfect for their roles.

I also remember thinking how much I liked the whole jeans, t-shirt, tattoos, sunglasses, and p-coat thing--it was totally my style.




Now that I think about it, I think this movie is what put Boston on the map for me. I absolutely fell in love with the city the moment I stepped foot on the ground at Logan International Airport.

Since then, I've been to Boston several times and it's one of my favorite places to be.

In fact, I partly credit the movie for making me a Boston Red Sox fan. If it weren't for the movie, I may never have gone there, and may never have gotten to see a game at Fenway Park.

Or should I say, Fenway Pahk.

What a wicked pissah good time Boston is, man. It's a great, great town.

In any case, back to the movie. I definitely related to it, somehow. This despite not being Irish or from Boston.

But then again, I've always loved all things Irish for some reason. It's strange, but I've always felt a strong kinship with every Irishman I've ever met.

The movie influenced me in many ways back then, and it definitely strengthened my already strong love of Irishness in general.

Hell the movie influenced me so much back then, I was even inspired to wear a rosary under my shirt for a while.

Oh, to be 28 again.

Damn, I feel old.

But alas, here I am, ten years later and about to see the sequel in about a week.

From those days of blurting out lines from the movie with my buddies, up to now, I've seen and read a lot of negative things about the writer/director Troy Duffy, and have also read a lot about how people either love the movie or hate it.

Now, I can understand if someone isn't really into it because it's not they're type of movie--you can't please everyone--but to actually hate it? I mean, seriously?

I must say, in total honesty, the only people I've ever encountered that actually hated it also happened to be total douches.

Coincidence? I think not.

Now, I have lots of friends at work who happen to be homosexual. I respect them not only because they're cool people, but because they're not afraid of people knowing that they're gay.

They've got a confident, 'we're here, we're queer, and we're proud of it' type of attitude--a genuine 'here's what I am, take it or leave it' kind of thing going on, which I admire. It takes balls to do that.

Plus, I tend to appreciate authentic people more than most.

But the guys I've known who've actually hated the movie--the total douches--well, they were mostly latent homosexual frat-boy types who were in total fear and denial of their ravenous love and sexual desire for men.

True story.

As for the Duffy, I can't help but think the guy got a bad rap...and a raw deal. Only he can really say whether or not his misfortunes, either partially or entirely, are a result of his own actions.

But I have to give it to the guy. He got it done, against all odds. Twice.

So when I see him in his Red Sox hat, I always think about how he, in many ways, is an embodiment of the Red Sox prior to 2004 (at least in my demented mind).

Two words:

Perenial. Underdogs


Boston fans and natives know what I'm talking about.

They remember all too well the dreaded Curse of the Bambino.

The Sox were the team that for about 86 years, were often winning...before they lost it all. They were the team that people like myself, who always cheer on underdogs, couldn't help but hope that someday they'd make it back to the top.

They eventually did.

And I hope Duffy has the same good fortune.

All kidding aside, if you haven't seen Boondock Saints, you should keep an open mind and give it chance.

For the sake of full disclosure, I will say that it's not for little kids or people who dislike adult language and a good deal of action/violence.

But if you've got a sense of humor, an open mind, and just love movies...you just might like it.

Then again, you may actually love it.

So check it out before October 30th, then go see Boondock Saints II when it comes out.

I doubt you'll be disappointed if you're open-minded or young at heart.

In the meantime, I have to go "make like a tree, and get the fuck outta here!"

Those damn teenagers next door are making too much noise. That, and I need to see about this Metamucil stuff so I can go take a crap.

*If you had no idea what some of the references were, see the movie and you'll get it. Other references to being old and crapping were just me being a moron.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Enigmatic Black & White

If you're not from New York, haven't seen episode 77 of Seinfeld titled 'The Dinner Party,' or don't happen to have a strange obsession with all things New York (like me), you may not have ever tasted or even heard of a black & white cookie.

If it's made right, it's quite delicious.

But don't take my word for it. Go there and have one!

In the meantime, this link describes it much better than I can (the link says episode 74, but it's 77).

Yum!

Here are parts of the scene from the Seinfeld episode:

Elaine and Jerry at the Royal Bakery

"ELAINE: Mmm, I love the smell of bakeries.
JERRY: Oh look Elaine, the black and white cookie. I love the black and white. Two races of flavor living side by side [mumble?] It's a wonderful thing isn't it?
ELAINE: You know I often wonder what you'll be like when you're senile.
JERRY: I'm looking forward to it.
ELAINE: Yeah. I think it will be a very smooth transition for you."

Later on…

"JERRY: Uh, I don't feel so good.
ELAINE: What's wrong?
JERRY: My stomach, I , I think it was that cookie.
ELAINE: The black and white?
JERRY: Yeah.
ELAINE: Not getting along?
JERRY: I think I got David Duke and Farrakhan down there.
ELAINE: Well if we can't look to the cookie where can we look?"
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

MoMA Mia

I enjoy going to museums to look at art exhibitions. But you really do have to try and keep an open mind about what you're looking at.

Actually, I think you really have no choice but keep an open mind in order to give certain pieces a chance.

That said, I've never been much of a Modern Art type of guy.

I know art is subjective, which is a good thing, but sometimes I just have a tough time understanding why certain art is actually considered interesting; especially if it's something that I or even my 8-year-old nephew could do.

I have an even tougher time comprehending how certain exhibits end up in well-known museums like MoMA in New York City.

Take this one below, for example, which was taken with my iPhone.


I don't remember who the artist was that made this, but it's basically a bunch of horizontal brush strokes of white paint in various places on a white canvas.

I hate to pick on this piece because it probably meant something to someone, but I really just don't see anything interesting or even good about it.

To this day, I'm baffled as to why it was hanging on the walls of MoMA.

To each their own, I suppose.

Maybe my ever-expanding horizons are still too narrow to appreciate it, I dunno.

The next one I just happened to see shortly after the white-paint-on-white-canvas one, and could appreciate it simply because I could see that it took talent to create.



Even though this wouldn't normally be my cup of tea either, the jolly doctor with a full-size belly did get a smirk of appreciation from me.

This one, unlike the first one, I wouldn't be able to do myself.

The next and last one was in the photography section of the museum.


Prior to seeing this, I had never really took notice of how lovely Elizabeth Taylor was in her youth. I don't think I fully understood how she was so popular among men in her heyday.
But, after seeing this photo of her, I was surprised at how beautiful and feminine she looked.
I now understand why men made such a big deal over her back then. This is, I think, an excellent photo of her.
I must admit, I found that most of the art in MoMA really didn't fit my taste. I tend to like the Renoir and Monet type of paintings the best.
So far, I would say, of all the museums in NYC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has the best variety.
I still have yet to visit the Guggenheim, so the jury is still out on that, but you really can't go wrong with The Met, in my opinion.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Post Meridian, How I Love Thee

I am not a morning person. Not by any means.

Whatever the opposite of a morning person is called, that's me.

As I do everyday from Monday through Friday, I walked into the office today hoping no one would notice. It's not that there's anything wrong, per se, it's just that I'm awake.

This is a problem for me.

Being completely dressed and at my desk by 9AM is always a source of discontentment during the early hours of the day.

If Walt Disney had created a character that was the exact combination of both Sleepy and Grumpy for the film Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs, that would be a perfect example of how I feel at work before noon.

Which brings me to my next thought.

I don't know if it's just me, or if anyone out there like me feels the same way, but the last thing I ever want to hear from anyone as a greeting in the early hours of the day is, "Good morning."

I'm not sure exactly what it is about the words, "Good morning" that I hate; all I know is that it irritates me, makes me feel worse, and all I want to do immediately after hearing it is throw things at the person who said it.

Foul things, preferably.

But at the very least, things that make lots of noise when they break or things that smell bad.

In truth, the good intentions behind those words are, for some reason, filtered in my morning brain as pure smugness.

When I hear those words, I'm always thinking something like:

"Oh, sure...good morning she says. Easy for her to say. Look at her with her smug little morning grin and peppy little morning steps...stupid morning."

No offense to morning people, because I'm sure you're awesome, lovely people. I just don't want to experience your cheeriness or hear your upbeat voices in the morning.

But you would think that I'd be glad to hear someone say, "Good morning."

Right?

I mean, it's usually said in such a nice tone and the person usually goes out of their way to say it. They probably meant for it to be a cheery start to the day.

So, in a way, I sorta feel bad after I give a scowl-and-grunt, or give a cheesy fake smile, or say it back in that sarcastic, monotone, 'what's-so-good-about-it' kind of way.

Okay, fine. So I'm exaggerating a little.

When I say sorta, I really mean, 'for a split second.'

But still, I might as well just say something like, "Bah, humbug!" for cryin' out loud.

Oh no...I'm Ebenezer Scrooge!

Well, before noon anyway.

Lunchtime is another story altogther. I cherish and look forward to lunch-time.

Oh, glorious and wonderful lunch-time.

Especially today. Hopefully I'll get to hear, "Good afternoon" instead.

That just sounds so much better...music to my ears.

The words, "Good afternoon" or even "Good evening" are such lovely reminders that it's no longer After Meridian.

Is it just a coincidence that the words 'Morning' and 'Mourning' are so similar?

I think not!
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Beat Street


Among the millions of things I love about New York City, one of my favorite things is randomly finding talented musicians or performers doing their thing.

On this day, after spending the first part of our day in Brooklyn, our long journey on foot brought us back to Manhattan, and to this corner on Broadway & E Houston St.

We stopped and watched this guy use all of these odd, everyday items as percussion instruments. He used everything in the picture that you see within his reach (including the sidewalk), and literally played for at least 30 minutes before we had to move on.

With so much to do, we usually wouldn't have stayed for so long, but this guy was totally JAMMING! At one point, the crowd must've reached about 20 people. We all had to work together to form an opening for passersby on the sidewalk to get through.

My friend and I, not to mention just about everyone else, couldn't help but nod our heads up and down to rhythm of the beats. This fella was playing some really funky stuff. I really enjoyed it.

All I got was this photo on my iPhone, but my buddy recorded most of it on his camera. I hope he posts it to youtube.com or something, so someone can find this guy to see if he's already got things lined up.

If he doesn't, someone needs to get this guy some gigs or a job in their band!
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cobblestone Brooklyn


There's something about these old streets in NYC that I love. This shot was taken with my iPhone in Brooklyn, close to the East River, between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.

'Twas a nice, cozy little area that's only one subway stop away from Manhattan...
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Angels In My Midst

I'm at a point in my life where I find myself constantly thinking about starting over in life and moving in a new direction.

People who are older than I am tend to believe I have plenty of time, but I can't help feeling that I need to make a move sooner rather than later.

For me, time has become most precious, now more than ever.

Thus, as the days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years--a perpetual sense of urgency to change direction and begin a new journey presses at the forefront of my thoughts.

So, I frequently find myself hanging out in book stores, reading, drinking espressos, and lingering around the store in deep contemplation.

Today, as I sipped on my Doppio Espresso, I was thinking about a quote that's attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald, which I've heard and read a few times from various sources. I've heard it once in a movie that I love (Purple Violets), but mostly, I've read it in various places online.

The quote is: "There are no second acts in American lives..."

Most often, it's only used in a context which is supposed to prove that the assumed meaning behind the quote is incorrect.

But as I sat there working things out in my mind, thinking about my life and what my second act could be, the quote kept popping up in my brain.

I thought to myself:

"There's no way that's true! It can't be."

I figured if you're lucky enough to live long enough to try, then it can be done. Heck, it has been done by many.

Now, I happen to love reading Fitzgerald's work; mostly for his prose, first and foremost. Just from what I know of his work, I couldn't imagine he would really believe that. So I decided to dig a little deeper into the issue.

I found a link to a piece written in 1995 by Earle Palmer Browne about the quote for the American Journalism Review.

In it, he points out that "not only did Fitzgerald never publish the line--it was found out of context in a mishmash of jottings for his unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon--but that it's possible the phrase 'second act' has to do with the old three-act plays of the time, and thus the quote could mean that there are no transition periods in the hectic lives of Americans."

That could very well be the idea that sparked the unpublished line. Only Fitzgerald knew for sure.

One thing I do know is I would love to start over--not only from a career perspective, but with life in general.

In reality, it would actually be more like I'm getting a late start, but in essence it's the same thing.

If I am anything, I am certainly a late-bloomer (assuming I'll eventually blossom); and judging by this interesting piece in the New Yorker from October 2008, there is hope after all from a career/occupational perspective.

Three things from that article that gave me reason to stay optimistic:

"Forty-two per cent of [Robert] Frost’s anthologized poems were written after the age of fifty."

"Mark Twain published Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at forty-nine."

"Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at fifty-eight."

There are actually many, many different examples, but in reading this piece, those examples stood out to me.

While I'm on the subject, I should mention that during my visit to Barnes & Noble today, I grabbed one of the books that caught my eye as I walked around. It was called Late Bloomers by Brendan Gill.

I gathered a few more books (I can never pick just one), then got a muffin with some coffee.

As I sat quietly drinking espresso in my little two-seat bistro table, I initially scanned the pages for interesting stories that might inspire me.

In between moments of reading and drinking espresso, I occasionally looked up to observe my surroundings.

People watching is a spectator hobby of mine that I often indulge wherever I am.

I lifted my eyes as a thirty-something year-old mother shuffled by with her young daughter in arms. The little girl couldn't have been more than 3-4 years-old, but as soon as I looked up, there she was, with a big, shinning, adorable smile on her face.

She was just smiling at me as if she was so happy and excited to see me, for no particular reason. I don't know about you, but seeing such a sweet and innocent face light up to smile at me that way is a sure way to brighten my day.

It's the little things that often matter the most, and sometimes, they can truly make your day better.

I grinned back at her with the same enthusiastically genuine smile that she gave me--which was a gift from the angels, I concluded.

As I digested the moment with an unexpected appreciation, I placed my cup back on the table with what felt like a content expression on my face.

As I sat back in my chair, I took a second look to see if the little one was still within view, when I heard the voice of an older gentleman sitting directly across from me.

"Late Bloomers, that looks interesting."

He was an older man, older than me anyway. Somewhere in his late fifties or early sixties. His face was similar to some of the old black-and-white photos I've seen of Red Cloud, a Native American Chief of the Sioux from the 1800s.

He had an indomitable and astute presence about him, yet his tone was friendly and affable. His shoulder-length, black hair was straight and peppered with gray streaks. His face had a light golden-brown glow to it, with the types of wrinkles around his eyes that you get from spending a lot of time squinting in the sun.

He spoke at a even pace, like a man with plenty of time on his hands and no reason to hurry. In fact, he had a captivating way of delivering his words, deliberately pausing between sentences.

I sensed that this man was probably a great story-teller.

"Ah, yes. I, uh, I'm thinking of making some life changes, and thought this might spark some motivation and encouragement. I'm kind of a late bloomer myself," I responded.

He looked at me, nodded his head in acknowledgment, and said, "I can see in your face that you're not only relating to the book quite well, but judging by your facial expression, you seemed both determined and concerned."

"Yeah, it's uh... it's been on my mind quite a bit lately."

"I've known many people who were what you might call 'late bloomers' myself," he responded.

"But if you don't mind me saying, don't beat yourself up about it too much."

He continued, "You appear to be laboring under a misconception that our culture seems to constantly beat into our heads: that one must somehow be amazingly successful and wealthy before they hit their 30s--especially men."

He paused for a moment to drink his hot tea, and continued, "I remember speaking of this with old friends when I was much younger. Success comes in many forms, and it used to be something that was expected by the time you reached your late forties; but the bar seems to be getting higher and the age expectation seems to keep getting younger and younger as the years go by. It's a very destructive meme. Along the lines of the 'eternal beauty' nonsense that women have to endure."

I sat in silence for a moment, having just had a stranger put the issue into an excellent perspective for me. I looked at his wise, gray eyes and nodded in agreement, then thanked him for sharing his thoughts.

I decided to close the book, put it down on the table, and continue my conversation with the stranger who reminded me of Red Could.

Feeling as though a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders, at least for the moment, my mind was cleared of trouble. I no longer needed the book for encouragement, and I was able to sit back in my chair and simply enjoy the moment for what it was:

A relaxing moment in a book store with angels in my midst.
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Coming Up for Air!

It's been about 2.5 weeks since I returned from my trip to NYC, and I'm really just now starting to come out of the recovery of returning to South Florida.

The first thing I needed when I returned was time to rest, as my body was literally pushed to its limits while I was in The City. I came home exhausted, both mentally and physically. But, I was determined to squeeze everything I could out of my time there.

I had an overwhelming desire to experience each day to the fullest. It was like not being satisfied with a bone-in-ribeye steak, but also wanting to suck the marrow out of the bone; and I very much wanted to suck the marrow out of my time there.

I think I literally must have walked the equivalent of at least 50 miles. By the second day, my left calf was cramping badly and I could barely walk; but I still pressed on.

I snapped off about 800+ photos in 4 days. About half of those were probably duplicates, though. I like to take several shots of each subject, just in case.

Check the photostream on the top right to see them. So far I have about half uploaded.

I also returned to work with over 200+ emails to read and/or respond to and follow-up on. Between my recovery and trying to catch up on work, it's been a crazy busy few weeks!

I'm actually still very busy with work, but I'm caught up just enough to take a moment and breathe. I'm currently in the middle of an intensive analysis for Operations Reviews on behalf of Expedia.com and Travelocity.com.

Without getting into it too much, part of what I do at my day job is to identify ways to improve business performance via data analysis and consultation. My responsibilities fall primarily within the Travel Industry.

Anyway, both are currently taking up most of my time, but I hope to be able to get back into the swing of writing and photography again.

Hopefully, I'll be able to post a few entries relating to my recent trip to Manhattan. Until then, enjoy the photos!
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