The Blog of Chloë and Pete  

Two characters (that would be Chloë and Pete) looking for love, safety, and Krispy Kremes. A book looking for readers and a publisher. An author (Jessica) looking for an agent, a life, and a region-free DVD player.

email: jessica_lynn -at- watchmail.com

About Me 23.07.02

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The WeatherPixie

The WeatherPixie


 

You haven't seen fan devotion till you've seen Planet BH0712, devoted to Joint Security Area / Harmonium in My Memory / Bungee Jumping of Their Own star Lee Byung-heon. He was really good in JSA, so I didn't think of him as such a pretty face, but damn, the man can sell donuts.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:14 |


31.5.02  

 

Matt and Emmanuelle, I'm so sorry. It sounds like your friend Julien was a wonderful guy.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:50 |


30.5.02  

 

For those of you traveling to Korea for the World Cup, and those of you who briefly considered traveling to Korea for the World Cup, and even those of you who actually are much more interested in the Lakers-Kings series than the World Cup, I present a public service: The Ultimate and Authoritative Guide to Life in Korea, as Gleaned from About a Dozen Recent Popular Movies. Feel free to clip and stick in your wallet.

10. If your little brother is taken to the police station, cry and bow until the cops are embarrassed, then beat him up.
9. Best Place to Have Sex in Seoul: Your local arcade.
8. Never go into an amusement park after hours unarmed.
7. Don't go up to the roof. Seriously. Nothing good will happen on the roof.
6. If your boss puts you in a headlock, tickle him.
5. That friend who teases you about that time you got castrated by a dog? Not your friend.
4. North Korean soldiers have good taste in music.
3. Puking on the subway might lead to true love.
2. No matter how hot the topless chick who brings food to your fishing houseboat is, leave her alone.
1. Always, always, always fill your tank.

Meanwhile, here's an excellent World Cup blog.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:38 |



 

Words of wisdom about marriage and New Orleans Hurricanes from the (engaged) Allison. I earlier predicted that on her wedding day, both she and the MOC (the Meat of Cheese, her fiancé) would have their heads stuck in books, at least one person would Come Up Missing, and JoLo, mother of the bride, would have to unleash the full fury of her essential take-no-bullshitness in the way that only a true Southern lady can. I take it back now -- I suspect the Wedding of Cheese will proceed splendidly.



  posted by Jessica @ 22:19 |


29.5.02  

 

The Sun plans to "name and shame" evil bosses who won't let workers support England during office hours once the World Cup starts Friday. Given that my office is London-owned and half British-staffed, the main question here is who's going to organize the World Cup pool. Once games actually start I expect productivity to fall dramatically.

Actually, the main question here is: who will I root for? In '94 I got to see Bulgaria upset Germany, thus forever etching the names "Hristo Stoitchkhov" and "Iordan Letchkov" into my brain, and in '98 I unapologetically cheered Allez les Bleus! and wished I'd waited an extra couple of months to leave France. But I don't think les Bleus can pull it off again this year. Besides, rooting for France . . . hmm. My backup team is normally Denmark, but again . . . hmm.

Then there's Slovenia. How can I not love Slovenia? I had to sit through an entire movie about Laibach once in college! Besides, the Slovenians have a pretty good-looking goalkeeper and as many guys playing soccer in Israel as they do in England! Oh, I think this is settled. I think there will be great heaps of kicking ass and sending the names back to Ljubljana. Or at least I'll be able to spell "Ljubljana" by the end of the cup.



  posted by Jessica @ 16:22 |



 

Dear Lord, they're still trying to find out who won the Indy 500. I was pretty convinced when ABC showed split-screen images of Helio Castroneves being in front of Paul Tracy when the wreck happened, but that's not what matters, apparently; what matters is whether Tracy passed Castroneves before or after the yellow caution light went on (since you can't pass during a yellow). This is why they have professionals to decide this, not random women who stop and watch every year while putting henna in their hair. (And speaking of women and the Indy 500, can we have another one, please? Sarah Fisher's biggest accomplishment this year was to not crash. Which is more than I could do, granted, but either she needs a better car or we need more women racers out there. Or, preferably, both.) The timing of the wreck was terrible for Tracy -- without the caution he would have almost certainly passed Castroneves -- but on the other hand, would he have been able to finish second if Tony Kanaan and Tomas Scheckter hadn't crashed?

It's a shame that the finish was such a limp, because the race itself was pretty cool: a very fast track, no major driver injuries thanks in part to the new "safer" walls, crazy antics during pit stops ("Dude, the hose is STILL IN THE CAR!"), lots of lead changes, and tension right up till that last yellow light. I hadn't had such a good time watching the Indy 500 since the 2000 race, when it was delayed by rain, so my dad and I flipped over to Speedvision and watched Grand Prix interspersed with commentary from James Garner.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:25 |



 

Somebody on Mobius today casually mentioned a Chungking Express DVD, and the mention caught my eye. Between my friend L and me, we own Ashes of Time, Happy Together, Fallen Angels, As Tears Go By, and In the Mood for Love -- in other words, the majority of Wong Kar-wai's films -- on DVD, and yet Chungking Express has been nowhere to be find, not even a bare-bones equivalent. (I'll be shocked if my copy of Happy Together has a menu.) Well, turns out there is one now, presented by Quentin Tarantino. I should mention that it's Region 1 only, and I don't know of any others; a search on the Region 2 Project for "chungking" comes up empty. I mean, between this and the upcoming all-region Tartan DVD of Battle Royale, I'm a very happy girl, but the Brits ought to be in on the Chungking Express fun too.



  posted by Jessica @ 18:23 |


28.5.02  

 

I just got caught up on the latest Sluggy happenings. And . . . damn. If you're not reading it, you should, absolutely. Really to get the full impact of today's comic you have to have been following it for quite a while.

And for the record? I've met both Pete Abrams, a.k.a. The Artist, and Tom the Shirt Guy -- in fact, somewhere buried on the Sluggy.net site are a couple pictures of me, taken about the time I became a Sluggy Belly Girl -- and they are both super-nice guys. There is no downside to becoming a Sluggy fan. Just don't start with today's comic. Here's the first strip, from August '97, and you can also buy the books.



  posted by Jessica @ 14:39 |



 

Hee. According to Grady, I missed a lot when I missed Hum Tamhare Hain Sanam. And I trust Grady's judgment, even if he did try to convince me that my life was the poorer for not having seen Pistol Opera. (My exact quote upon walking out of that movie: "If I'd spent the last two hours stabbing my eyes with this pencil, I would've had a better time." Since then I've decided I didn't give it enough of a chance, but let me tell you, don't go in expecting a fast-paced movie, because you will be bored. out. of. your. skull.) Meanwhile, Grady's sister is holding her own Asian film festival in Charleston, SC, starting this week. How cool is that?

Grady is, for the uninitiated, one of the brains -- and the mouth, and the very swank tiger-print suit -- behind Subway Cinema, the film group singlehandedly responsible for my Asian film love. In one weekend, thanks to them, I saw Green Snake, Peking Opera Blues, Chinese Ghost Story II, The Blade, Swordsman, and Swordsman II -- Memorial Day weekend last year, as a matter of fact. If his sister can run a film festival half as well as he and Paul and the rest of the Subway guys can, then the Charlestonians should be running, not walking, to the theater.

This weekend -- to show you how new my Asian film love is -- I saw A Better Tomorrow for the first time. It's one of the classics of what people now think of as Hong Kong cinema, and, with The Killer, basically made Chow Yun-fat into an international star. He owns the movie. Leslie Cheung, Ti Lung, and Waise Lee all turn in good performances, but it's all about Chow sticking the wooden end of a matchstick in his mouth and fighting the good bullet-riddled fight. It should be noted that, although Tsui Hark (director/producer/writer/some combination thereof of the six movies I mentioned earlier) produced the film, it's very much a John Woo film -- focusing almost exclusively on the relationships between men; with the exception of Emily Shu's Jackie, who is essentially useless, all the major characters are men. Tsui told Lisa Morton (I own a copy of her book, The Cinema of Tsui Hark) that he wanted to give one of the major parts to Michelle Yeoh, and have the conflicts be between women -- which, if you're at all familiar with his work, is completely unsurprising. (Peking Opera Blues, which revolves around Brigitte Lin, Sally Yeh, and Cherie Chung, was made only two years before ABT.) I'm not sure if it would have changed the film for the better; keeping the chemistry between Ti Lung and Chow off the screen would've been a great loss.

The other thing I should note is that it's not as bloody a film as I expected; there's actually not much more gunfighting and blood-gushing-from-noses shots in ABT than there is in As Tears Go By, which was made by Wong Kar-wai. I have a feeling ABT was just Woo getting started, and that in later films he really refined the shoot-'em-up style he's known for now. But it's definitely a character-driven, not action-driven, film. It's very good, and if you're not getting the Chow Yun-fat love from his English-language movies or Crouching Tiger, then you should definitely see it.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:16 |



 

Some of the beta readers already have the whole book, while some, because of email inbox space limitations, &c., are getting one chapter at a time. I started sending out the first chapter Wednesday, and have already had a request for the second. Yay! (Another advantage to strangers reading -- I don't have to worry that the only reason they're reading so quickly is to get my constant queries over with.)

I plan to spend some of the weekend editing, some of it taking care of my roommate's chinchillas, and some of it, possibly, listening to J-pop. I actually got an invitation to the warmup party last night, but I didn't go because I thought it was tonight. I also got an invitation to a media preview of Hum Tamhare Hain Sanam for last night, but couldn't make it out to Jersey in time. I made up for the sheer idiocy of missing both events by calling my best friend down in D.C., but I'm still kicking myself.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:56 |


24.5.02  

 

Which blogger was it that wanted a contest to find the first pundit who said that Cynthia McKinney deserves an apology? We have a winner.

I should probably be careful, because by this time next year I will probably have met the author, at least socially. Atlanta's a very small media town. I've worked with people who've worked for the Journal-Constitution, who've worked in PR, who've worked for what was Poets, Artists & Madmen and then changed its name to Atlanta Press and then died, and met people who've freelanced for just about every local publication, which is possible because there are so few. Which doesn't mean people at one publication don't talk crap about every other publication at every opportunity. (And it doesn't mean that they don't talk crap about their own publications.)

I'll tell you this: if in the next few years I leave my current employer -- I hope I don't -- I probably won't stay in Atlanta, because the media market is so small.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:12 |


23.5.02  

 

Thanks for allowing me to share just a bit in your dream, said an email today from the newest beta-list member. I was touched by the generosity of his spirit; it's not a small thing, I know. Most people prefer to read books without fear of being hounded by the author: "Is it good? Is it good? Huh? Huh? You're going to tell me it's good so I feel better about myself, right? Tell me it's good! I'm going to stand here and throw a fit until you tell me! Tell me tell me tell meeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Hi, I'm Jessica, and in person I am only slightly less neurotic.

Explanation: For the last two years I've kept an online journal -- I'm not linking to it from here, because it's pseudonymous and thus very different in style and substance, but you can find it easily enough. I talked about this book, which I've been working on longer than I have the journal. I asked people who read the journal if they wanted to join a "beta list" and read a finished-but-not-edited version on which they could comment. So far I have 18 people on the list, and might hear back from a couple others by the end of the day. Some are heterosexual, some are not; some are happily married, and at least one is going to be happily married very soon; some are in grad school and some are about to enter grad school; some are old friends and some -- most, actually -- wouldn't recognize me if they passed me on the street, or I them. About the only thing these 18 people have in common is that they've been reading the journal and like the idea of getting a steaming pile of crap -- I'm sorry, novel -- sent to them privately. (And they're prompt in responding to my emails. Yay, promptness!)

This is, in truth, a double exercise: it's not just about making the book a better book -- as my boyfriend has commented in the past, I often make decisions "by committee" -- but also to see how well I can handle criticism. Because the odds are that the worst thing anyone in this group says about the book will be thousands of times more gentle than the worst thing an agent/publisher/reviewer might say. The beta list is a sort of trial by candle.

Blanche, bless her heart, worried over IM about the dangers of putting my novel, unfinished and without a copyright on it (actually, there is one in the file, but it's small -- I have a hard copy now, anyway), into the hands of strangers. I thought about it for a while and finally decided that the benefits outweighed the risks. I need strangers on this list. The Bad College Novel was read only by friends, and the process didn't work; partly because they all knew the backstory, partly because they were more willing to give me the benefit of the doubt, partly because it later fell victim to the inevitable wear and tear of long-distance friendships. Besides, if this novel gets published, strangers will be reading it regardless. I can't protect my baby forever. Especially if my worst fears come true and it is a steaming pile of crap.

Meanwhile, another beta reader has a birthday today. Happy birthday, J!



  posted by Jessica @ 10:17 |



 

One comment about the Danny Pearl video and the debate over watching it: I don't know where to find it, and don't plan to watch it. I read a description of it over at The Corner and that was more than enough for me, thanks.

The idea, apparently, is that if you watch the video you can get an idea of how dangerous anti-Semitic murderous conscience-free Islamofascists are. Okay . . . and then do what? If it motivates our troops to go kick ass, then by all means show it to them; but most of the people with enough access to computers to view the video won't have an immediate outlet for the resulting patriotism and fear. So I might see the video and then . . . well . . . talk about how much it disturbed me? If you don't blog, the terrorists will have won! Fortunately my sense of self-importance is not that inflated.

We're not getting a sense of how we civilians can contribute to the war effort; Tom Friedman complained about this months ago. I really can't think of anything I can do, right now, that would be an appropriate and useful response. Knowing me, I'd just freak out some more.

It reminds me, for some reason, about a picture I saw taken at Oradour-sur-Glane, a French town which was essentially wiped out -- the men shot, the women and children gathered into a church which was locked and set on fire -- in June 1944. It was of the charred corpse of a child. I stumbled around for a few days after seeing that photo, with new evidence of man's inhumanity to man -- and did what? Studied. Looked after my host mom's grandchildren. Took the tram to Place Notre-Dame, checked my email at the local cybercafé, had a really good quiche Lorraine at a little restaurant nearby. Nothing that showed I could bear the responsibility of that photo.

I haven't done much since about the responsibility of 9/11, either. I wave to firefighters more often. That's about it.

Is this my moral failing? Probably. Would seeing the death of Danny Pearl correct that failing? Doubt it. Does anyone want to suggest something?

I finally gave money to Magen David Adom, but still.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:38 |


22.5.02  

 

Back in 1992, at the close of the Barcelona Olympics, we all got to meet the mascot for our Olympics, the '96 Games. And boy, were we not happy with the blue sperm thingy we got. All the Games since have stuck wisely to real-life creatures -- Nagano had owls; Sydney, a kookaburra, an echidna, and a platypus; Salt Lake City, a hare, a coyote, and a bear (which Google had all sorts of fun with). But Izzy has now lost the Worst Mascot Ever, International Competition Division, title. Irrevocably. Irretrivably.

Click on "Mascot Zone" here and you'll see what I mean. You need Flash 6 and a willingness to suspend all disbelief.

And the Best Mascot Ever? I have a soft spot in my heart for Schuss, but far and away it's Blaze.



  posted by Jessica @ 16:09 |



 

My boyfriend has been reading the second draft on and off for the last couple days, which means we've been having variations on the "Does it suck yet?" conversation for the last couple days. He's about halfway through, and so far the answer is no. He did catch one very embarrassing typo -- one of those that you mean one word and type another, but correctly, so spellcheck won't mark it -- which will be corrected before I send the book out to the beta readers.

I'm terrible at judging the quality of my own writing: often I think it's terrible and other people disagree (some of my college friends actually hung around to hear me read excerpts from the Bad College Novel, and at least one person subjected to it has stuck around to be a beta reader for this next one), though on occasion the reverse happens, that I think I've written something great and the wider response is a big yawn. Right now I'm inclined to think the book is a steaming pile of crap, which may bode well for it.

He guessed, accurately, that Chloë is based (to some degree) on me. I told him that I have spent entirely too much time in Chloë's company lately. I'm fond of Pete; Chloë, right now, not so much.

Later today I'm going to start sending the manuscript off to beta readers (with that embarrassing mistake corrected; if they're really curious, I'll tell them what it was later). I still haven't decided whether the blog will go public or not. On the one hand, why not? On the other, as the boy has pointed out multiple times, writing in the blog (or the journal) doesn't relax me; it leaves me jumpy, worrying if I'm missing out on the Next Big Blog Meme. Or something like that. It's one of my greater weaknesses -- I don't like feeling left out -- and instead of comforting me, having a public journal/blog only plays to my most narcissistic and insecure side. Because there will always be someone who doesn't link to me.

In high school I took theater classes, without taking the idea of myself as an actress seriously (after I completely blew my audition for Guys and Dolls junior year and got cast as a "band member" -- they had a policy to give everyone a part; I quit, not seeing the point of going to endless hours of rehearsals to be able to walk across the stage once). But being online for me is like being on stage, only there are lots of stages, and lots of competition, and the near-constant feeling that I didn't get the right script, or haven't spoken loudly enough, or my audience secretly hates me, or even that I'm morally obligated to get off the stage and go back to work.

Or all at once. Which is more than a little exhausting.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:56 |



 

It just occurred to me that if professors -- like this one and this one -- are going to start blogging more regularly (after all, they can't get fired!), then I want to nominate a few. Specifically, I hope some of the current Shanghai scholars jump on the blog train. When I was researching my thesis three years ago ("Creating Chinese Nationalism: The 1905 Mixed Court Riot" -- long story), I liked feeling like I had discovered this subset of new research. Now I don't have an excuse to read the work from people such as Jeff Wasserstrom of Indiana, who once co-wrote an interesting paper on whether there ever was a "No Dogs and Chinese Allowed" sign posted at a Shanghai public park; Frederic Wakeman of Berkeley, whose Policing Shanghai covered, among other things, Chiang Kai-shek's gangster past; Bryna Goodman of Oregon, whose book basically gave me half my argument; and Hanchao Lu of Georgia Tech, whom I intend to look up soon as I get back to Atlanta, because Beyond the Neon Lights is a really cool book.

It could be that all these people already have blogs somewhere, on shanghaistudiesblog.com, and I haven't found them yet because I don't get to read about early-twentieth-century Shanghai all day anymore. Clearly I'm hanging out in the wrong section of the blogosphere.

My old history prof Tim Burke would also make an excellent blogger. And I can't believe the idea hasn't occurred to him yet, given that I remember hanging out with him and Justin Hall -- yes, that Justin Hall -- waaaaay back in the day. They had basically invented this one-on-one intensive seminar on cultural studies, and I got to join in one lunch because I'd read Where the Girls Are on a whim.

That was great fun, actually. Professor Burke, if you find this by Googling yourself, hi there. Now go start a blog.



  posted by Jessica @ 15:48 |


21.5.02  

 

Last night's conversation:

Him: So I'm only on page 7 [of about 430 -- he double-spaced it], and already I'm making edits.
Me: Oh God.
Him: You clearly haven't known anyone who's gone into the military, have you? Because you don't buy supplies. You show up with one set of civvies, and they give you everything else. Underwear, shoes -- everything.
Me: Well, as long as we're dealing with factual errors . . .
Him: Let me read this one line to you --
Me: No, you don't have to. No, really. You don't. No. Really.
Him: [chuckling] Okay.
Me: Just tell me it doesn't suck.
Him: Not so far, no.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:45 |



 

This photo made me tear up.

(Link via Dan Lewis's new sports blog -- yay! -- which in turn was linked by my secret newspaper-developing blogging boyfriend.)



  posted by Jessica @ 10:14 |



 

My boyfriend today, in regards to the book: " . . . and now you're seeing the possibility that it might suck ass, and it's freaking you out. Now, I don't think it will, but you have to be prepared for that possibility."

Because I finished the second draft -- all 121,846 words of it -- Saturday night.

And yes, I am freaking out just a bit.

More later.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:26 |


20.5.02  

 

Instaman is still in favor of boycotting France. I see his point, but I want my beloved Grenoble left alone. It treated this American Jew very well for five months in 1998 (a hell of a lot better than Salamanca did -- note to future Jewish travelers in Spain: don't do Salamanca during Holy Week). Plus, Grenoble has a remarkably Jewish-friendly recent history: for the first half of the war, unlike many cities in Vichy France, it was mainly occupied by the Italians, who didn't care quite as much (not as much as the French did) about Jewish deportation; so until 1943 or so Grenoble was a bit of a Jewish haven. Plus, the surrounding Alps were perfect for the maquis resistance fighters' hiding bases, so a lot of resistance activity was coordinated in Grenoble.

In retrospect it takes that history fairly seriously. The bus and tram stops are all named for prominent resistants, one of whom was shot in plain sight at Place Victor Hugo. I remembered that because the bus near my host mother's apartment ran directly to Place Victor Hugo, so I went there every time I went into the centre-ville. After going to the Museum of the Resistance and the Deportation and seeing the photograph, I would occasionally stop -- it was spring, with the fountains merrily at work and the flowers in bloom -- and think, It was here.

I have a picture of my host mother's father, in his 80s, and her grandson, then 2 1/2, sitting in front of the Quick at the north end of Place Victor Hugo, hacing a Coke together. If my (Orthodox Lubbavitcher Sephardic) host family is still safely hanging out in plain sight at the Quick -- and I haven't heard otherwise -- then that, as far as I'm concerned, is enough to keep Grenoble in the clear.

And if you're looking for another city to boycott: may I suggest San Francisco?

  posted by Jessica @ 11:20 |


17.5.02  

 

My favorite Battle Royale fan site has confirmed a rumor I'd heard earlier: that on May 27th, Tartan is releasing a Special Edition -- NTSC scan, Dolby sound, digital subtitles, blah blah blah bellsandwhistlecakes, but all-region.

WOO-HOO!

You can take your fingers out of your ears now. I'm going to go buy a DVD player.



  posted by Jessica @ 16:49 |


16.5.02  

 

Yesterday Ken Layne wondered why anti-globalization protestors don't go after Subway the way they do, say, McDonald's. It's because Subway knows its roots, man.

Let me explain. You know how every Subway features wallpaper made of old pictures from the building of the original IRT construction? Apparently, according to Banvard's Folly, at least one of those pictures is of Alfred Ely Beach's original pneumatic tunnel, which ran between Warren and Murray Streets for a brief period in the early 1870s.

Beach never got to expand his tunnel, due to a combination of opposition from Boss Tweed and the 1873 panic. A brilliant idea, stopped in its tracks (so to speak) by corrupt out-of-touch politicians and economic hardship caused by an expanding financial system! What else could be more true to anti-globo hearts? They know a fellow traveler when they see one.

Seriously, the chapter on the Beach tube in Banvard's Folly is worth reading. The tube was something the Betamax of the New York subway system -- better, in some ways, than what eventually became widespread (the car was very posh; the "station" had a fountain), but only ever experienced by a few. It would have been hard to expand Beach's idea into the network we have now: how do you propel a car from, say, the northernmost tip of Manhattan to Rockaway Beach?

Much of the current subway system has been in place for over half a century: if you look at this 1948 map, it's got most of the stations now being served. If anything, the subway map has contracted a bit, as elevated lines were abandoned.

Now I'm curious about that elevated line that apparently ran up 3rd Avenue.

There's been some talk about a 2nd Avenue line, but I don't know how it's going to happen. Construction costs are so high, and it takes so long to do even minor repair work, that I don't see how they'll be able to tear up the East Side to put in a new line . . .

Anyway, this history lesson has been brought to you by a foot-long turkey & ham on wheat with lettuce, pickles, and oregano.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:02 |



 

[as she taps the mic] Testing . . . testing . . . are we on?

Okay, good.

I figured if I was going to be so egocentric as to start a blog, it might as well have some kind of hook, and not the "I'm pro-Israel, too!" kind of hook. So here's the short, short version: I'm 23, I'm an American half-Jewish half-Southern bisexual bilingual (almost) woman, I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan for the website of a magazine I usually refer to as Really Cool Weekly, I'm moving to my hometown of Atlanta in a couple months, and I wrote a novel.

(Actually, two novels. The first is referred to as the Bad College Novel. We do not talk about the Bad College Novel.)

This blog is about my book, and my beta readers' comments on the book, and my attempts to get said book published. On occasion ramblings about life and music and books and Asian films will appear as a bonus.

So sit back, grab the drink of your choice, and enjoy the Schadenfreude.

About the blog's title: the book's working title is The Adventures of Chloe and Pete. And that is, in all honesty, the first time I've said that out loud.



  posted by Jessica @ 19:07 |


14.5.02  
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