Star Wars: The Force Awakens

by Brad Nelson12/18/15

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens today. And I feel a disturbance in that Force. To expect anything but schlock from J.J. Abrams is expecting too much. The only question in my mind is how vociferously people will apologize for the mediocre.

Still, Lawrence Kasdan is credited as one of the writers. He wrote and produced for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But given Abrams’ last horrendous effort, Star Trek Into Darkness, there is no reason to believe that this new Star Wars won’t be little other than more nose-picker yute fare…suitable, at most, for 13-year-olds with little or no taste. (I can remember having at least some taste at that age.)

Anyway, I have not come to praise Vader but to bury him. This movie, somewhat like the travails of Bruce Jenner, might be of greatest service in reminding us of what once was. We can dust off those old real Star Wars movies and enjoy them again and realize that their kind will not likely pass our way again.

Anyway, if the movie is good I’m more than prepared to eat crow. If you’ve seen it, by all means share your general impressions without giving away any of the plot points.

Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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39 Responses to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    In many ways The Empire Strikes Back might be the best of the lot, but I note that I saw the first movie several times, far more than I’ve seen any of the others. Revenge of the Jedi had a lot of good points (the forest chase was grossly unscientific, but no one expects better from Hollywood), but the final scene was a bit of a gagger. I haven’t seen the final movie of the prequel trilogy, but the other two were decent enough. Indeed, The Phantom Menace was the last movie I saw in a theater.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I have no problem with someone saying that The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the lot. If not for the Ewoks, I think Return of the Jedi would rate higher than it typically does. The story, direction, and editing were masterful. I didn’t have quite the visceral reaction against the Ewoks as many of my friends did. But given what Lucas did with I, II, and III, I now understand that the instincts of my friends were spot-on. They saw the Disneyfication of Star Wars coming even then. This will apparently culminate in the present movie.

      Whether the movies have become so degraded because they are merely a vehicle for toys and video games is debatable. Frankly, I do think this motivation has severely interfered with creating a coherent movie instead of a series of loosely-tied segments. One review says about “The Force Awakens”:

      I jut got just back from the cinema, watching a movie everyone has been waiting for since 1983, me included. And i got to say, I’m starting to get a little bit tired of watching a 2 hour movie about destroying a death star.

Because here we go again! George Lucas did not succeed with his follow-up movies, and there is many reasons for that. And no, it is mainly not because of Jar-Jar, it is because he just threw in one epic battle after the other, without having any good story, or any good plot, and at times horrible acting to come with it.

Michael Bay has this as his trademark, but he is still very successful and his movies makes billions. And why is that?. Because kids. And the Star wars and transformers franchises have in common that they sell toys, in large quantity. This is what really makes the big bucks over time. Not the movies themselves. The movies are just big commercials for toys.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I believe it was a German newspaper that estimated the Star Wars franchise is worth up to US$30 billion. If this is the case, Lucas sold out for much too little. (US$4 billion). And it is all the secondary products like toys which are worth a fortune, literally.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          The toys and such used to be a byproduct of the movie…at least from a fan’s perspective. A Star Wars calendar might be cool. Maybe something else. Now I see people obsessing over buying all this crap. It seems to be the point.

          I think these schlock movies fit hand-in-glove with the dumbed-down tastes and expectations of the degraded movie fan. Sure, some are willing to call it like it is, and more power to them. But many more will buy the toys and immerse themselves in plastic becoming the unwitting equivalent of a commercialized Darth Vader who cannot live without his artificial life support system.

          Again, and I know we’ve had this discussion before, perhaps before decrying Philistines such as J.J. Abrams, we might come to understand that perhaps these pikers understand the market better than we suppose they do…just as many Republicans understand the constituency better than we suppose they do, and are accordingly dismissive.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            we might come to understand that perhaps these pikers understand the market better than we suppose they do…just as many Republicans understand the constituency better than we suppose they do, and are accordingly dismissive.

            Frankly, it is no surprise that some take advantage of the sheeple. P.T. Barnum had it right.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    But given Abrams’ last horrendous effort, Star Trek Into Darkness,

    Now you have scared me. I didn’t realize Abrams directed “Star Trek Into Darkness”, but if you will recall, I thought that movie didn’t even rate the term “turkey”.

    Guess I won’t be going to see the latest Star Wars flick.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      One of the early reviews of The Force Awakens at IMDB is from a guy from Sweden. And he shares a similar belief that I have (especially regarding Spielberg and Lucas regarding Crystal Skull): “It feels like they wanted to mock the fans.”

      Granted, one is out on a very thin limb with all the money involved to believe that these power-brokers of Hollywood would intentionally sabotage their own film. And yet who can look at Crystal Skull and not see the raping of these characters which was the specific theme of a South Park episode the dealt with that horrendous Indiana Jones movie?

      Who knows what heart of darkness exists in those who are on the Left? Haven’t we always said that they wish to shit on anything and everything of excellence?

      Of course, just bad liberal taste could account for some of it. As Dennis Prager notes, everything the Left touches, it makes worse. And we can likely include Star Wars in this as well (if we couldn’t before considering the horrible I, II, and III).

      Here’s a review with an angle I did not expect:

      It is not a sequel, but a remake

      Author: sonofhades ( from Earth, 3rd planet of system Sol

      16 December 2015
      *** This review may contain spoilers ***
      Sad but true. When the opening credits filled the screen (Episode VII… blah blah) I was already grinding my teeth because the plot sounded idiotic. Then the huge star destroyer filled the screen. The fun bit is that the star destroyer had some sort of antenna or whatever at the front and it looked liked the ship was showing the middle finger towards the viewers. 

I have to congratulate the film makers as that was pretty much how the film worked from that point forward.


1) A droid has important information that must be delivered to the good guys (Episode IV, anyone?)


2) so the bad guys hunt for the droid on a desert planet (IV)


3) Storm troopers raid a village, killing everyone (IV)


4) A girl is captured by the bad guys and the good guys rush to the base to the rescue. (IV)


5) The girl and the boy have a friend zone relationship through the film (Ep IV, Luke & Leia, wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they are siblings in Episode IX)


6) The stormtroopers, elite soldiers of the bad guys, still can’t hit a barn door. On the other hand, the good guys always hit, even when they use a weapon for the first time in their life


7) Supreme Leader Snoke = Emperor with a silly name


8) The bad guys have a magnificent new weapon that can destroy planets (Ep IV)


9) They use it to destroy a planet loyal to the rebels (IV)


10) The weapon has shields that can be destroyed by going down on the planet and disabling the shield generator (VI)


11) The epic villain wears a mask that distorts his voice (IV) and sadly, looks better with the mask on than without it.


12) The good guys can only destroy the weapon with an attack by X-Wings on the exact target (IV)


13) The X-Wings have to fly in a tight trench in order to reach their target (IV)


The screen writers had absolutely no new ideas to show for their money. A bunch of monkeys could have written better dialogue. A 1st grader could have made a plot that had less holes in it. The special effects were pretty much of the same quality as in the first Star Wars movie that was released 1977. I’d expect something way better in 2015.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Yes, I’d already read that the new movie was too much of a remake of the original. Why bother? They could hardly hope to improve on it (other than teaching Harrison Ford that a parsec isn’t a unit of time).

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I’m giddily pessimistic that this movie will be a piece of trash. Why? Well, two reasons: J.J. Abrams and Disney. How can any real Star Wars come from that combination? I truly despise what these clowns are doing to sci-fi (and every other genre).

          Still, somewhere out there is another George Lucas waiting to do that which isn’t on the radar of today’s soulless, witless, artless filmmakers: tell a good story.

          • David Norris says:

            Brad – I just finished a book called “SJW’S Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police”, and in it the author describes how the left has infiltrated the world of science fiction and has attempted to marginalize many current and past authors by tagging them with the usual labels of racists, misogynists, homo-phobes, etc.. He also write about the “gamer gate” scandal.

            The best part of the book however is the the list of methods on how to defend oneself against these self-identified “social justice warriors”. A really good read.


            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              David, I’ll put that book on the BookShelfper your recommendation. I see that it’s available in Kindle format so — woo hoo! — all the better.

              No doubt this author has some firm and thoughtful insights on the phenomenon of the dumbed-down arts. It’s probably worth a read just for a sentence or two on that.

              Dennis Prager has a saying: “Everything the Left touches, they make worse.” This is true. But that’s a description of the overall result, not the “whys” and “hows” of it. Here’s my take on the phenomenon as I currently understand it:

              1) By hook and by crook, Hollywood now markets to the 13-year-old demographic, somewhat regardless of whether the movie is PG-13 or R. Whether this is cause or effect would make for an interesting discussion.

              2) “Grit,” foul language, morally ambiguous characters, and pessimism are considered proper subjects for hip, smart, and cool people. With ideas such as religion having been marginalized (good for “social justice,” if anything), themes of honor, goodness, courage, justice, and good-fighting-evil are somewhat considered the domain of dolts, halfwits, and religious fanatics.

              3) Many movies are now mere advertisements-in-disguise for selling toys, etc. We saw this clearly, for instance, in the pod racer segment of “Star Wars I” — a segment that did not advance the story one jot, but it made for a great vehicle for video games.

              4) Lack of depth and perspective. The Progressive mindset has no need to watch Casablanca, Citizen Kane, or North by Northwest to see what previous masters have done. Hey, those movies are in black-and-white — reason enough to dismiss them in this superficial, special-effects-oriented age. But a mind driven by the vagaries of pop culture can do little more than fashion movies according to that culture. We see this abrupt turnabout in “Crystal Skull,” for instance. The earlier Indiana Jones movies generally had good stories.” This one was a compendium of short-memory cultural cliches.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                One might note the Alan Alda movie Sweet Liberty, in which he plays a history professor who wrote a historical novel about the battle of Cowpens and sees it being made into a movie. He’s very unhappy with the director’s changes, but the director notes that most movie viewers are adolescents who mainly want to see rebellion, explosions, and people taking their clothes off (there was a fourth point, but I don’t remember it).

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    Want a great adventure movie without all the maturbatory CGI? Huston’s “The Man Who Would Be King.” A great adaptation from Kipling starring Connery, Caine, and Plummer. A rollicking good yarn…….

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I watched that the other month or so…and not for the first time. It has two of my favorite actors in it. Good stuff. One of Plummer’s better roles as well.

      One of the reviews I’ve read of Star Wars is none too surprising. It said the special effects were good. I’m constantly amazed that they are good at the technical aspects but generally horrible at the thematic aspects. It’s as if Hollywood screen writers and directors were all afflicted with Asberger’s Syndrome and simply can’t relate to another human being (outside of stale cliches) but are very good at math.

      • Rosalys says:

        “I’m constantly amazed that they are good at the technical aspects but generally horrible at the thematic aspects.”

        One of the casualties of a high tech world is substance. Razzle and dazzle them enough and hope no one notices the vacuity.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I think good taste to some extent has to be developed, Rosalys. I think if one is in the liberal bubble (or just the mass-marketing bubble…a big bubble, I’ll grant you), one’s tastes will be reduced to that of a 13-year-old male, which apparently is exactly the demographic they shoot for.

          Also, consider that your average 13-year-old male isn’t the one who by this age a century ago was hunting, working hard on the farm (or factory), and near the age where marriage was suitable.

          Granted, it’s understandable that movies are marketed and manufactured for maximum profits. God help us if Casablanca were conceived of in the day of mass-marketing of movies and the avalanche of product spin-offs. As much as Old Hollywood could (and did) stamp out their share of crap, they didn’t totally lose touch with the fact that film is also art.

          That fact is gone from most top-line movies. You can still find some good independent film-makers or good foreign films. But the industry, much like the music industry, has projectile-vomited any sense of good taste and artfulness.

          This is a shame. But more than that, it shows not only a truncated, juvenile taste but cynicism because a well-made movie with a great story will make more money than most of these movie shysters can manufacture via their current methods.

          I keep waiting for the movie-going audience to tire of the blockbusters that are presented to them, whether in the form of the many mediocre movies based on comic book characters or otherwise. But bad taste seems to be caught in a positive feedback loop with the targeted 13-year-old marketing.

          So if you want to know why I enjoy watching quality movies (which often are decades old), it’s because I have no desire to be inside that loop. I know what that loop can do. It will cause people to accept crap and call it caviar. I see this over and over again when mediocre (if not outright horrible) movies are typically given rave reviews. People get caught in these crap cycles. It’s as if they *need* these movies to be good to validate the entire crap-cycle they are spin-drying their brains inside of.

          Not me. I’ll stay with Casablanca, thank you. And I urge others to watch out for what they watch lest the be pulled into that crap cycle.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I’m constantly amazed that they are good at the technical aspects but generally horrible at the thematic aspects. It’s as if Hollywood screen writers and directors were all afflicted with Asberger’s Syndrome and simply can’t relate to another human being (outside of stale cliches) but are very good at math.

        A film with great special effects but no story is like having sex without a partner. One is mental and the other is physical masturbation. Both are emotionless and miss the point of the exercise.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I recall Connery and Caine, of course, as the two British infantrymen who want to take over Kafiristan and loot it (and, for a while, they get half of their goal). But who did Christopher Plummer play? Kipling?

      By the way, there was actually a Bactrian Greek kingdom there for a while, a legacy of Alexander.

      • Rosalys says:

        Michael Caine is a favorite of mine. “The Man Who Would Be King” is I remember is a good one, though it’s been a while.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          He was also excellent as Lieutenant Bromhead in Zulu (in which Chief Mangosuthu Gotsha Buthelezi played King Cetshwayo, his ancestor). A friend has said Caine wanted to play Private Hook, thinking it was a better role.

  4. Glenn Fairman says:

    Sicander or Iskander. Some called him Deity and others “thief.”

    Plummer played Kipling. The screenplay has Caine running into Kipling before their adventure and at the end. (Caine steals his watch in the railcar). Kipling reveals much about human nature in this story. A man can aspire to be king, but what about a god? Connery’s folly lies in hubris, and only at the end does he recover. Both pay dearly.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Sicander or Iskander.

      One still runs into these names in South and Southeast Asia.

      I think the movie did justice to Kipling’s story. But then again, Kipling is such a great story-teller that anyone with half a brain should be able to bring his writings to the big screen.

      Kipling reveals much about human nature in this story.

      Lying to others is harmful, but once you begin lying to yourself, you are lost.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Note that Alexandretta (originally Alexandria-by-Issus) became Iskanderun after theTurks de-hellenized their city names. And as for movies based on Kipling, what do you think of Kim? George MacDonald Fraser was rather critical of it in his excellent study of historical movies, The Hollywood History of the World.

        • Glenn Fairman says:

          I’m currently reading “Lawrence In Arabia” and Alexandretta plays prominently in Lawrence’s Strategy—a strategy that is dismissed by Kirchener and the sclerotic war dept. Instead of taking control of a region that was logistically valuable both offensively and defensively, Gallipoli was pursued and doubled down on. This is one hell of a book, I must say.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I’ve read some material about Lawrence as well as hid own Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Liddell Hart was a big fan of the Alexandretta offensive (he was also an early biography of Lawrence). Moving from there to Aleppo would have cut Anatolia off from Syria (and points south) as well as Mesopotamia.

            • Glenn Fairman says:

              After Gallipoli it was again considered, but French reason of state declared the theatre off limits since the frogs had their hands full with the Hun. A case where political aims in “the great loot” trumped the task at hand. If France could not capitalize on the corpse who refused to die, then no one would.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                As I recall from the Churchill bio, the French were consistently against any campaign in or around Alexandretta as this was too near their Syrian sphere of interest and they did not want the Brits to come anywhere near it.

                Of course, throughout the war, their first, second and last impulse was to through more bodies into the trenches on the German front.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          what do you think of Kim?

          I have never seen the movie, but you have given me something to look for.

          "Soldiers Three" and "Gunga Din" (even though based on a poem) are old fashioned movies, but I still liked them. While I prefer actual Indians to play the parts of Indians, I am not overly worried by Sam Jaffe playing the role of Gunga Din.

          I liked "Captains Courageous" and believe it captured the mood of the book. Even Freddie Bartholomew was good.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I believe it was Gunga Din that was later made into a Western, Sergeants Three, which I saw (and read the accompanying book) long before I ever saw Gunga Din.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              “Soldiers Three” is an earlier movie based on a collection of Kipling’s short stories bound under the same name. As I recall, they were two Englishmen and an Irishman.

              I don’t recall if I ever saw, “Sergeants Three”, but probably have.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                It involves 3 sergeants involved in a struggle against an Indian death cult that had just wiped out a small town. One of them wants to leave (his term is almost up) to marry, but has to rejoin to help his friends against the Indians. You’ll recall that a similar subplot is used in the movie Gunga Din, though the ending is different. (In Gunga Din, the key is getting rid of the enlistment papers; in Sergeants Three, he simply deserts — as indeed many did from the Army in the West.)

                Addendum: Checking on wikipedia, I find that the title is Sergeants 3, and featured the entire Rat Pack, with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Peter Lawford as the sergeants. (The fact that I didn’t remember this gives you a good idea how long ago I saw this.)

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                After reading your post, I don’t think I have seen the movie.

      • Glenn Fairman says:


  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    the director notes that most movie viewers are adolescents who mainly want to see rebellion, explosions, and people taking their clothes off

    The wonderful thing about movies is that they can combine art and popular appeal. It’s a false choice between hifalutin and popcorn. The reason that Star Wars: A New Hope was such a breakthrough film is because it artfully combined a number of compelling cinematic components: story, grand themes, characters, action, special effects, and just the “wow” factor of weaving this all together and letting you get lost in a place you’ve never been before.

  6. Timothy Lane says:

    There was an interesting negative review at the Daily Caller, citing what the reviewer considered the bad aspects of The Force Awakens (and not even counting how derivative it was of A New Hope). The link is:

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Sounds like a straight cave to feminism: We have the obligatory ass-kicking female. Yawn.

      Also, there’s no surprise that most reviews would be positive. Does anyone criticize Jesus? Well, same with the culture that is so thoroughly steeped in entertainment. And Star Wars is close to being Messiah-like for that culture.

      Yours truly, when he eventually views the movie, will tell it like it is, good and bad, with no prejudices. Hey, if the ass-kicking female is a good one (like Linda Hamilton in Terminator), then I’ll say so.

      But a lot of the first reviews I would certainly expect not to blaspheme The Wars. And as far as Jesus is concerned, I don’t see a lot of room for criticism, but you can depend on me to call even that as I see it.

      I expect this Star Wars to be thoroughly stupid and that whatever entertainment value it has will be based on special effects. It will lack a soul. It will lack characters that you care about. It will lack any kind of Big Space Opera aspect.

      If it has any of those things, I’ll report on it, honestly and fairly. But my expectations are very low for this.

  7. David Norris says:

    As is said, “forewarned is forearmed.” So after reading so many less than stellar reviews for Star Wars, I went with very low expectations, and in turn was not disappointed, and was able to enjoy this movie for what it was; a pretty piece of retro pablum.

    My buddy was not so fortunate. I was willing to share my advanced ‘reconnaissance’ on the film with him, but he just kept saying, “No spoiler alerts, no spoiler alerts!” Afterward, he would say, “I wish you had told me about it.” How would that have made a difference I inquired? “I would not have gone and wasted ten bucks!”

    The movie was a complete reload of the first, the only difference being, a more diverse cast for the young up-and-coming multi-cultural generation. My buddy railed on and I had to agree, how did those two young leads (“Finn” and “Rey”) know how to use a light sabre without any previous training? There were other inconsistencies as well, and so suspension of disbelief was frequently necessary.

    Something I found interesting however had nothing to do with the movie, but rather with the previews. Four out of the five previews all had to do with armageddon/
    apocalyptic themed stories: Alien races coming to enslave humanity, warring tribes set against each other by dark forces, dangerous magical creatures released into the population and terrorizing them, friends once fighting on the same side, now mortal enemies set against each other by a mysterious figure, or a group of heroes divided by government bureaucrats.

    I began to feel a lump in the pit of my stomach…”What is going on….what is the message here?” The fear and anxiety that had built up in five minutes was soon quickly allayed by an innocuous Disney cartoon preview about sloths working at the DMV.

    Everyone laughed, and then the show began.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      “No spoiler alerts, no spoiler alerts!” Afterward, he would say, “I wish you had told me about it.”

      LMAO. That’s funny, David.

      Love your analysis/reporting regarding the coming features. Rush often notes the doom-and-gloom (including self-hatred) that is being indoctrinated into young skulls-full-of-mush.

      This is a culmination of the infection of The Big Three (Marx, Darwin, Freud)…filtered and strained through the enviro-whacko mix: Man is a plague on the planet. Self-hatred is the norm. There is no meaning to anything.

      These movies are a sign that people think there is nothing that can be done. Europe, for one, is living that way. There is nothing that can be done about the disintegration of society. Live for today. Let others worry about tomorrow.

      This infection is deep in America now. Why is religion important, in particularly authentic (not goofball kumbaya) Christianity? Because it has a completely different vision of our place in the universe. We are not a plague. We are instead specially created. We didn’t just happen. Instead, we were designed. The universe is not a cold place where what will happen will happen. We can make good moral choices and plan for the future….and we should.

      The “should” is missing from the worldview of today. So what’s left but to be entertained by apocalyptic visions? There is every reason to believe that when Islam starts setting off nukes, they will push the West into its own grave, and we will go willingly.

      This is at the heart of the infection regarding Islam. We have become so alienated to the good that Western Civilization is, we have no way do defend it. All that is left is to pretend that we must be “diverse” and accept the bad as good. Again, we’re being pushed into our own grave and we go willingly.

      What I suspect regarding Star Wars, particularly from your review, is that it contains no soul. It is about a bunch of things moving on the screen. But I doubt there is very little character development. As one reviewer said, where do you go from here? The main character is already fully-developed, unlike Luke who took three movies for his journey to becoming a Jedi like his father.

      There’s no sense of grandness from the left. Kids now are alienated from any sense of moral goodness. And if you are not in touch with moral goodness, you cannot do much more than just move a hell of a lot of pixels on the screen at one time and cater to every stupid PC notion out there (including the idiotic ass-kicking female stereotype…dare I say, the feminization of Star Wars…it had to happen).

      Hey, I give you credit for seeing it. I will too, but only as part of my job as movie reviewer.

  8. Rosalys says:

    With all the reviews I’ve read about “The Force Awakens,” plus the fact that episodes I, II, and III were so mediocre, I expected not to like this latest milking of the “Star Wars” franchised cow. But, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it very much – perhaps because my expectations were so low. It is just a movie and I don’t worship at the altar of the Force.

    I was dismayed to see in the coming attractions, that Disney has remade “The Jungle Book.” It looks to be a computer generated movie, and the previews seemed too realistically frightening to be suitable for young children. I think it may give them nightmares. Just who then is this movie’s targeted audience?

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