THIS CATHOLIC DAD IS VERY GLAD

Well friends, I owe you a big thank you. A few months ago I posted this blog “HELP CATHOLIC DAD SEE MORMON FILM”  about how you can help the nationwide expansion of the acclaimed movie, “Once I Was a Beehive”.  And now, On October 30th, my Dad will be in the theatre watching the movie near his home in Chicago (AMC RIVER EAST Theater). Just look how happy you made him:

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I’m not sure whats going on with the outfit, but I love the thought of him rummaging through his wardrobe and finding anything that resembles “camping”.  This photo preceded 8 other out-of-focus pictures sent by my mother (will the image of your parents using a camera phone ever NOT be funny?)

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I am as happy about the films expansion as my Dad is. See:

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Outside of Chicago, we are also expanding all over Texas, Northern California, Seattle and Portland areas, Atlanta and even to Times Square in NYC!  Amidst all the excitement of the expansion there is one conversation that I keep having:

“We loved your movie!”
– Beautiful LDS woman with such perfect skin that made me jealous of Mormon genetics.

“Thank you so much! Please tell all your friends to come”
– My robot self who is programmed to say this sentence.

“I will tell all my LDS friends”
– Beautiful Woman.

“You should tell ALL your friends”

“I don’t think my non-member friends would…’get it’.”

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You know how you apologize for wearing flats and not heels to a fancy dinner party. You feel the need to explain to everyone why, but no one actually notices much less cares?

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I argue people do get it.  But since so many people have the same reaction I started to wonder. Maybe since I am married to a Mormon my perspective on this was skewed.

So I asked my friend Kaley (you may know her as “Mindy”- the red-headed favorite”):

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…who visited her hometown in North Carolina to promote the film how it was received among the “Gentiles”.

Me
“How was it?”

Kaley
“The high-school reunion was great, but HE didn’t even show up!”

Me
“He is a little boy trapped in a mans body” (we digress, but to know more about the boy-who-didnt-show-up you can ask Kaley on Facebook) “How did the “Beehive” screenings go?!”

Kaley
“Wonderful! Everyone loved it, just loved it.”

Me
“How much of the crowd was Mormon?”

Kaley
“Like no one!  But it didn’t matter, everyone loved it!”

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Check out what all these non-LDS sources had to say:

An Asheville, NC native:

“When I walked out of the packed theater, I felt such a loving warmth…it did feel as if I had received the biggest and best hug ever. Yes, ONCE I WAS A BEEHIVE will hug you tightly and leave you feeling loved.”
-Jean Caldwell
Or an Arizona paper:
“Once I Was a Beehive” has an optimism that, before all is said and done, is easily instilled in moviegoers of all ages and faiths.  It gently but genuinely promotes its principles, leaving viewers feeling uplifted and hopeful, assured that the bonds we build and nurture will get us through absolutely anything. “
Or a North Carolina newspaper:
 “It is a charming film about faith, healing and coming of age. It is not preachy. It is touching. It is as sweet and rich as honey.”
Kai Elijah Hamilton – For the Times-News
The movie doesn’t feel “Mormony” to people who aren’t Mormon.  They don’t think is it too “inside” because there are “Beehives” in it because they don’t know what a “Beehive” is outside of an actual nest of bees.
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“Beehive” is a slice of Mormon life. And I can tell you from everyday life experience, that when it comes to the Mormon religion,  its much easier to have a slice of the pie rather than digest the whole thing at once.
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ONCE I WAS A BEEHIVE is “… a film everyone can connect with. It is not a Mormon film. It is a film where the characters happen to be Mormon.”
Hendersonville News. North Carolina
Let’s help people connect. 
We only have a few more weeks in theaters as “Beehive” spreads to different cities. Ill bring my Catholic Dad, you bring your agnostic co-wroker and we can all sit around a campfire to discuss love, lose, hope, healing, Donald Trump and all those HUMAN emotions we can all relate to.
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After all Christianity is not, and never was, suppose to be about exclusion.
Clare
xo.
Check out this link to see where and when it is playing.
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MUCKRAKERS

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Hard to stay clean when you’re playing in the mud.

New York City 1895 – Following a young female heroin, a group of Muckrakers take it upon themselves to expose corruption and hypocrisy in turn of the century New York City.

muckraker: (def) Reform-minded American journalists who relied on their own investigative journalism reporting working  to expose social ills and corporate and political corruption.

(syn) – Watchdog Journalism

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“the men with the muck rakes are often indispensable to the well being of society; but only if they know when to stop raking the muck…”
Theodore Roosevelt


SYNOPSIS

At the height of the Progressive Era, a group of investigative journalist take it upon themselves to expose corruption and hypocrisy within the city’s police department and political machine.

Following our female heroine, Elizabeth Jordan, a young reporter with a dark past, who arrives to New York City with a foolish determination to create a name for herself in a world where women had to choose between a career and a family.

After bullying her way through the doors of the famous “The World” paper, Elizabeth is thrown into the smelly heap of New York City’s political structure. Making her way downtown where she witnesses the sorrowful, drunken faces of Manhattan’s Lower-east side. She finds herself feeling obligated to use her words to tell people’s stories whose voices disappear beyond the tenement walls.

Elizabeth joins “The muckrakers” a small group of investigative journalist who decide to use the power of their words to expose the diseased veins that run the city, including the police department and the highest boss: Tammany Hall whose monopolies and greed have run the city for half a century – causing the poor no chance of growth and the rich no chance of falling . They must go undercover, manipulate, cheat, and fight to get the pieces of their puzzle for their “beats” (stories). But, as every good reporters knows, there are always two sides to every story, and perhaps these reporters vigilante acts are not as clear as they appear. But drastic change is the result of drastic acts and change is certainly what this city needs.


MEET THE MUCKRAKERS

 

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OUR HEROIN

  1. ELIZABETH JORDAN-late 20’s

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A forgetful face with an unforgettable voice.

We meet Elizabeth Jordan as she is arriving to Manhattan for the first time. The seemingly bright eyed and bushy tailed reporter talks her way into a job within hours of arrival. Her persistence and overbearing determination mixed with her heightened attention to detail make her a strong reporter. She asks the hard questions while noticing the drink in one’s hand and the books on one shelf. She is constantly needing to be put her in her ‘place’ but she only stays for a minute until the next shiny object pulls her out. She is driven by the need to know and relay information.

The one and only thing Elizabeth won’t talk about, is herself. We slowly find out that she is running from her past life; after writing a very controversial series of articles that exposed a ring of abortion clinics, Elizabeth was sent away to a mental institution by her abusive husband who wanted to silence her voice. So Elizabeth fled, with little money, a new surname, and a lost family, all the way to Manhattan, a place where new identity could be found. So while she will talk your ear off about political reform and where to find the best espresso she will shy from any romantic affection or personal information.

Her initial goal is to hide and make money the only way she knows how – to write. But in this competitive field she must speak louder and faster than the rest to succeed and Elizabeth would rather succeed and be vulnerable than fail and be safe.

When an unforeseen romantic connection with fellow muckraker, Lincoln Steffens, Elizabeth must come to terms with not only her past but also a woman’s place in this progressive world.

THE FATHER-FIGURE

  1. JACOB RIIS – 50’s

The father of thejacon riis Muckrakers. A presence both physically and intelligently. An already acclaimed journalist, praised among the people, hated among the ‘bosses’. Growing up among the poor immigrants, he taught himself to read and write and worked his way into the newspaper business. He has a deep hatred for indecency but a judgemental eye towards human intelligence. He is smarter than most, has a sharp tongue that can win almost any battle, and
a sarcastic humor make him one step ahead the rest. He wants nothing more than to see the Police department and Tammany hall fall on its face. 

Hs flaw: He wants change in the police department so strongly, that he will take down an entire fleet to get to the captain. He has little faith in man. 

He is secretly romantically involved with an African-American woman who runs a help-house for recently freed slaves. Although we believe he really loves her, he uses their relationship for leads and information to get to his story.

His ultimate goal – Bring in Theodore Roosevelt to reform NYC. 

THE FEISTY SUFFRAGETTE

  1. BRITTA BLACK – 20s

brittaYoung and beautiful, she weaves through different groups with social ease. She uses her charm to get men to follow her orders. She drinks, gambles, sleeps around, not willing to follow any rules or restrictions of society. She goes undercover as a saloon girl to spy on Tammany Hall boss, Richard Croker. She slowly takes to Elizabeth, despises Winnie and can’t help but fall for David Graham Phillips, who can rival here in spontaneity, causing a passionate but destructive relationship. 

Her flaw: She uses men the way men the way man use woman.

Her ultimate goal – Help women get the vote.

 

THE VOICE OF REASON

  1. LINCOLN STEFFENS – late 20’s

lincoln steffensAn introverted writer whose quiet observations sing with human depth. He is kind and sweet with a nervousness that pushes him to the back of the otherwise rowdy group. He sees the world in black and white and has a hard time mingling in the grey area. He immediately takes to Elizabeth and tries his hardest to get close to her. Working closely with Riis, he be-friends police officer to gain information, but struggles when he begins to feel sympathy for the enemy.

His flaw: He has a hard time seeing the larger picture. He has too much sympathy for all, trusting people he shouldn’t and letting guilt and empathy rule his decision making.  

Ultimate goal – To be with Elizabeth and start a family.

THE STRANGE BRAIN

  1. GEORGIANNA MARKS – 30’s

gertrudeA rare breed in looks in personality. She stands out in a crowd for many reasons, including her fire colored hair and tall stature. She is a reporter driven by her fascination with the weird. She finds death intriguing and absurdness invigorating. She is a proud member of the Christian-Science church (the fastest growing religion at the time) and views the world through a metaphysical lense.

Internal Conflict: Growing up in an Amish family and struggling with her new religion. She doesn’t understand the unknown and struggles with a higher power.

Her flaws: She lacks empathy. 

Her ultimate goal: To have things explained. 

 

THE SNARKY A-HOLE

  1. DAVID GRAHAM PHILLIPS – 30’s

dgpToo handsome, too smart, too confident. Money and fame drives his journalism, wanting to stay ahead of everyone else. He plots and manipulates, making the rakers turn against each other. Although usually butting heads with Riis, they share a hatred for politics.

Internal Conflict: Although his attitude would lead you to believe he has a good home-life, he is troubled by being the sole care-taker of a mentally handicapped brother. He falls for Britta, but won’t ever be with someone who is not the ‘typical wife’.

His flaw: He thinks selfishness is the path to success.

His Ultimate Goal: Become the next Pultizer.

THE BEST FRIEND.

  1. JACK A BECKETT – 30’s

fidardo-landi_headshotElizabeth’s confidant, her closest friend. A closeted homosexual who uses alcohol to ease his loneliness.  He is handsome and likable and most importantly hysterical. He does not take his reporting seriously and although he is good at it, he finds it exhaustingly stupid. He pokes fun at the others who would die for their story, while he doesn’t bother getting up before noon for an interview.

His Flaw: He would rather take his own life than have people find out the truth about his sexuality.

His Ultimate Goal: Human Connection.

 

PICTURE-PERFECT

  1. WINNIE JEFFERSON – 20’s

winnie jeffersonA beautiful southern bell. She is polite,  respectable and very wealthy. Conservative in attitude and opinions, she stands for what woman of the time SHOULD be. She typically writes about women’s fashion and lifestyle but joins the muckrakers to expand her career – they take her in only because of her connections around town. Her and Britta have great disdain for each-other as Winnie is an anti-suffragette.

Internal Conflict: Her traditional values are constantly being challenged by change. She does not understand why things can’t stay the way they are. 

Her Flaw: She is always trying to be what people want her to be. She wants to be the ‘picture perfect’ woman.

Ultimate Goal – To find a man who shares her traditional values but allows her to write.

 

THE BAD GUYS 

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THE POLICEMAN:

Run as the Irish mob with Thomas Byrnes as the leader.  Bribery and theft make the policeman some of the richest people in Manhattan. They raise rent for the poor, make saloon owners pay fines, and throw away anyone who questions their orders. They are run by:

TAMMANY HALL:

The original organized crime group:

Run by Richard Croker, this political machine has run the town for half a century, nominating their own members into political power – they have a golden pass to do whatever they want. Owners of most of the saloon, gambling rings and brothels, they are only looking out for their own kind. They bully churches and leaders in anyway they can to further their financial income and power. On top of all this they start a trafficking ring where they ship young immigrants to different brothels around the world.

 

THE GOOD GUYS
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THE POOR:

A poor Jewish family whose lives represent all challenges that Immigrants face. When their daughter befriends Elizabeth, they become the spies within their own community. Grateful for the extra pay but fearful of their neighbors.

THE RICH:

Hearst & Pulitzer run this game and each with their own agendas will cause speed bumps in the Rakers play.

THE SUFFRAGETTES

A constant presence of the show – the suffragettes put pressure on Britta to gain momentum. After fighting for over 50 years, their impatience has made them turn to riskier political moves.

THE GUEST STARS

Let us not forget all the amazing innovators who the Rakers bump buns with, including:

Mark Twain

Margaret Sanger

Helen Keller

Oscar Wilde

Albert Einstein

Nikola Tesla

Susan B Anthony

Upton Sinclair

And, most importantly, Theodore Roosevelt.

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THE WORLD

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New York City – 1895
“Oh, God! That bread should be so dear, And flesh and blood so cheap!” – JACOB RIIS

Einstein and Tesla argued, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde caused controversy, Suffragettes marched, Workers striked, and Reporters covered it all.

As the wealthy pranced their fine leather boots along the smooth ground, new street lights casting yellow shadows along their sober faces chatting about the latest headline “Three more bodies found in Hudson River”, their joyful voices echoed into the night and south, not much further, 2 miles, the echos evaporating as a young boy reads the same headline while tossing stolen bear nuts into his  mouth, he tilts the paper closer to the trash fire to lit the words on the page.  Manhattan, an island divided, a place where the rich fought for power and the immigrants fought for their lives.

The Great Connection: NEWSPAPERS FOR ALL
The age of information. Daily papers filled the minds of all, making it the engine for reform.

 

HELP CATHOLIC DAD SEE MORMON FILM!

An open letter to the Mormon movie-goers of Utah.

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Disclaimer: I am not Mormon. You may label me as an east-coast Catholic girl, a non-member, an investigator, or even a sinner. In the fog of my college days, I met a fair-haired, blue-eyed guy who denied splitting a bottle of wine with me and took me out for ice-cream instead, because he was a member of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” to which I replied, “Never heard of it.” This week marked our 5 year wedding anniversary. He is still a very devout Mormon. I’m still drinking that wine (not currently), but I do attend church with him sporadically (still afraid of Relief Society), I spend my holidays in Provo, UT and sometimes I have to wash my husband’s garments, so consider me a “Mormon enthusiast.”

I am one of the producers of the Mormon-esque film, “Once I Was a Beehive” (the only non-member producer) and when my husband, Maclain Nelson (producer of “The Saratov Approach” and also the actor who plays Elder Propst ) told me he wanted to create a movie about a Mormon Girls Camp, the conversation went something like this:

Clare
(disdainfully)
Please don’t.

Maclain
(sweetly, like always.)
Why not? The stories I hear from girls camp are hilarious and I think we can make it inspirational.

Clare
Those two words never go together well.

Maclain
Trust me on this one. It’ll be like “The Sandlot” with girls.  

…A long beat.

Clare
Will you give me a good part?

Maclain
Can you pull off an 18-year-old Mormon girl?

Clare
(imitating an 18 year old Mormon girl)
“I think President Uchtdorf is sooo handsome!”

Maclain
Fine. But you have to trust my vision.

Clare
Fine. But please, no long, emotional testimonial meeting.

Maclain
Yeah, that’s probably gonna happen.

Luckily, he ignored my initial reaction and we went on to make the film. When it was finished, both the critics and I were pleasantly surprised. In fact, it is the highest reviewed LDS film in over a decade. Here are a few snippets.

“Faith-based cinema” is such a disaster on such a regular basis that it’s almost startling when someone gets it right.”
– City Weekly

“As good as the Hollywood product…” 3.5 out of 4 stars
-The Salt Lake Tribune

Once I Was a Beehive is not only the best movie of the summer, but also the BEST Mormon movie ever made.”
-Celestial Shine Magazine

“Once I Was a Beehive” achieves a quality few LDS-themed films have managed to reach: accessibility.”
– Deseret News

MOVIE TRAILER

Perhaps the recipe for such widespread acclaim and “accessibility” begins with the story’s point-of-view – which is told through the eyes of a 16 year old, non-LDS girl, Lane Speer (portrayed beautifully raw by actress Paris Warner) who “does not know what she believes”. After having lost her liberal-tree-hugging-christian father, her mother remarries your ‘typical mormon guy’ and just like that Lane is thrown into a world she knows nothing about, culminating in a week at a Mormon Girls Camp.

It is here where Lane, and all other non-mormon audience members, slowly realize this Mormon world is not something as foreign as we may have thought, rather a place where people are dealing with hope, fear, loss, gain, or should I say: standard human emotion.

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Having married into the Mormon culture, I started to understand the GAP between perception of Mormons and the reality.

My pretty-yet-näive friend Carly once asked, “So…like I know Mormons can’t drink before they are married…but what about after they get married?” and “Are Mormons allowed to have sex on Sundays?” The point is, the “Carlys” out there could watch this film from beginning to end and not only ‘get’ everything that’s going on, but also learn more about Mormons .(other than the fact that they are most-likely-always-sober) To quote another somewhat reliable source:

“This movie made Mormons seem so normal! Everyone should see this!”
– My kind-of-Protestant friend Monica from high school.

So when my Catholic family asked when will it be coming to a theatre near them (Chicago)? I had to answer: ” Well, it might not be…” Because the hard truth is, unless this film does well in its limited theatrical release in Utah, the filmmakers won’t be able to expand to furthering states, which ironically is really where this film really needs to be viewed. In short, or as my dad put it:

“So if Mormons don’t go see this Mormon movie about Mormons than we non-Mormons don’t get to see it?”
Dad.

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But he wasn’t worried because… “A highly reviewed, hilarious and heartfelt film about Mormons should do well in the highly concentrated LDS communities, right?” Well that’s where it gets tricky.  The behemoth juggernaut we call Hollywood, has spent billions (Ok fine…millions) enticing us with big budget features that spend more on marketing than on the film, so they can steer our brains to their shiny content.  Its why our little film (literally not figuratively, there are a lot of small humans in it) can’t compete with “Straight Outta Compton” and “Man from U.N.C.L.E” and that remake with the handsome scientologist who keeps jumping out of things…But “let us be smarter than the juggernaut!” –Oprah

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I have noticed that Utah film goers enjoy talking about “appropriate media” but when they get to the box office they are steered toward the shiny object, (“Squirrel!”).  Don’t be distracted, you have the internet, read the the reviews, and go see this film! Especially if you are either of the following:

  • Woman: since this is the type of film you should be supporting, not “Fifty Shades of Grey” (which, fun fact: cleaned up at Utah box offices). With a cast of 80% women, this film is already a Hollywood minority. 
  • Man: I know, your wife/girlfriend/girl you like but won’t text you back right now but maybe she is on vacation knows, and your mom knows how vivaciously Mormon men support and praise women (I say that with much seriousness), but again with the media vs. reality GAP,  Mormons are often portrayed as somewhat chauvinistic, old-school- thinking type men. So, you too should be rallying behind strong female stories, which are, after all,: just human stories. Prove to Hollywood that you really do support the gender equality and score some major points for taking a girl to a movie that you thought was just for girls but you realized that you cried harder than the 12 year old in front of you.

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Let us rally together to help spread the unrealized norm that :Mormons are trying to reach out to the world by example and not judgement an overall theme of the movie. Do I not convince you? How about these guys:

“I saw this with my daughters and we loved it. Great movie!”
– Ty Detmer, Heisman trophy winner and Former BYU and NFL Quarterback

“..a lot of belly laughs, we recommend it to everyone!”
– Whitney Call, Studio C

“Everyone who has reared a daughter will want to see this film.”
–  Richard L. Bushman, Author, Rough Stone Rolling

“Funny, honest and pulls at the heart strings”
– Branden Campbell, Bassist for the Neon Trees

“This film is pure joy”
-Eric D Snider, film.com

“Clare Bear! I love it, I’m so glad there’s no aliens or dragons in this one.”
-My mom

I think I’ve made my point, and now to tell you why it matters. Well actually, let this guy tell you why it matters:

“I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.” (Elder David A. Bednar- you know who he is)

The rain can start with Utah, the nest of your values, from there, the water can fill other’s souls and eventually flood to the non-members home, where they can connect with the ‘weird- mormons- who- drink- milk- instead- of- whiskey’. Because, spoiler alert, this film is about all of us being God’s children.

You will understand the irony in this metaphor when you see the movie.

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You deserve to be portrayed better than the “Book of Mormon” musical or Mitt Romney’s SNL skit. So let yourselves be. Support people who support you. I challenge you to make a ‘choice’ and hold yourselves ‘accountable’ (I’ve learned a lot about the young women’s values) and go see “Once I Was a Beehive” over “Fantastic Four”: since it “is a pile of something, you fill in the blank”. (Peter Travers; Rolling Stone) . Although I think Mormons are allowed to say ‘crap’. Plus if  Utah doesn’t show their love and support it will not expand to other states and Monica and Carly won’t be able to go see it on girl’s night after happy hour. Worst of all my dad will be so sad he didn’t get to see it that he will  eat a whole box of Flavor-blasted Goldfish and go into a Smooth-Jazz tailspin on his rooftop deck.

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To those of you who have been supporting this little gem of a movie.  We thank you a million times over. You’re the ones that keep independent film alive. Keep spreading the word and quickly before another “Fast and the Furious” movie is made. Isn’t it time to give “The Rock” a break?

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Luckily the thousands of people who have supported us already have earned us at least one more week in theaters and the expansion to at least Arizona and Idaho. And for those who haven’t see it, like any good scripture story, there is a chance for redemption. 

Let us see what will come to pass…

P.S – I will let you know if Monica wants to meet with the missionaries.

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  • Clare Niederpruem

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