Josh Jay

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby ropeadope » 12/17/08 02:12 PM

Just saw Josh on today show. He was his usual great. Eould have been better if those two gababout gals would have let him perform without all their noncessant talking . Was way to short before they rushed into another commercial, nevertheless he handled them well.
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Postby Bob Gerdes » 12/17/08 03:17 PM

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Postby Joe M. Turner » 12/17/08 03:30 PM

Kathie Lee had a pretty challenging attitude about the whole thing. "You just got rid of one..." and "I caught you!" She was really busting Josh's chops, and I don't know why she would feel it necessary to do that.

Wonder what KLG would think of a chat show host who had her on to sing and promote a new album, but interrupted her during her set to say, "You were flat on that note. I heard it."

Ahhhh, whatever. Josh managed the situation very well. It just bugs me that you get on national tv to promote something you worked hard to produce, and one of the hosts decides to be a little antagonistic so that they can come off looking like they outsmarted the magician.
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Postby David Alexander » 12/17/08 03:52 PM

Both women are in their mid-40s (or look like it) and Josh is 27...cougars and younger men. Also, both the women are constantly "on" and unless you're a BIG STAR who they can suck up to, you're just another form of prey.

I'm willing to bet that if he was ten years older they would have behaved differently.

Both of the women behaved like a slightly drunk and frustrated 40-something who is bored with her marriage to a rich, successful husband who is no longer interested in her for very good reasons. I've seen dozens of them in my time doing parties in Beverly Hills and Bel Air.

Jose handled himself well and earned the publicity he got for his book that day. I can only imagine the hell it must be for the staff of that program.
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Postby Jim Maloney » 12/17/08 04:02 PM

Joe M. Turner wrote:Wonder what KLG would think of a chat show host who had her on to sing and promote a new album, but interrupted her during her set to say, "You were flat on that note. I heard it."


I always have a problem with this kind of argument. While there are a number of parallels between magic and music, there's one important difference: magic, particularly close-up magic, is an interactive performance, whereas music is not.

Then again, if a singer screws up, it's not unheard of for an audience to boo them.

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Postby Naphtalia » 12/17/08 04:10 PM

Jim Maloney wrote:I always have a problem with this kind of argument. While there are a number of parallels between magic and music, there's one important difference: magic, particularly close-up magic, is an interactive performance, whereas music is not.

Then again, if a singer screws up, it's not unheard of for an audience to boo them.

-Jim


Live performance of any kind should be interactive at some level...otherwise, what's the point of live performance?

That said, I was annoyed as I watched at the lack of generosity and courtesy displayed by other professional performers to a guest on their stage.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/17/08 04:28 PM

This sounds like that SNL cougar skit. So basically he was not coached to flirt with them beforehand? Or at 27 he was too old for them?

BTW he was on TV to amuse the hosts and their audience - whether or not he got to do what he wanted was likely not so high a priority for the show staff.
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Postby Jim Maloney » 12/17/08 04:32 PM

Naphtalia wrote:Live performance of any kind should be interactive at some level...otherwise, what's the point of live performance?


There is nowhere near the same level or type of interactivity in a music performance as there is in a close-up magic act.

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Postby Joe M. Turner » 12/17/08 04:40 PM

I didn't intend to draw an exact comparison. I think I understand the interactive nature of close-up magic reasonably well, and I'm not unfamiliar with the nature of musical performance, either.

Maybe he did dump the extra card at a moment that wasn't optimal. Even so, there was no reason to try to embarrass him.

No, it's not unheard of for an audience to boo an obvious error. But I do think it is unprofessional and ungracious for a host in that setting to call as much attention as she can to a small flaw that would otherwise be unnoticed by anyone else.

But as long as they were all amused, I suppose that's showbiz.

I don't even watch the show -- I owe my viewing of this to my wife calling me into the kitchen from my office with a loud, "Joe, there's a magician on... do you know this guy?" :)

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Postby Steve Hook » 12/17/08 04:43 PM

Shades of Mariette Hartley's rude treatment of Darwin Ortiz on CBS's The Morning Show in, I think, '87.

Lots of psychological behaviorisms from these women to be analyzed, if it was worth the effort.

Which begs the rhetorical (and serious) question: When has Kathie Lee Gifford NOT been annoying?

Overall, good job, Josh. (And I saw the book...great job!)
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Postby Cugel » 12/17/08 04:45 PM

Anyone who's ever table hopped at a corporate banquet has met these ladies. They weren't too bad. (In fact they were very sharp - "is that the same card?" etc) Josh handled them extremely well.

He's a terrific performer with a very natural style - and I'm a big fan.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/17/08 05:00 PM

Kathie Lee didn't do anything any ordinary spectator wouldn't do: first, she was suspicious that the dupe signed card was the same card (the Too-Perfect Theory in action?); then she saw him steal the card and add it to the top of the deck and she said something about it. It made noise, his timing was slightly off, and the card was sitting askew on top of the otherwise squared deck. He's got balls, though, because he kept going and with a limited amount of time you can't dawdle. Would it have better to do a Double Lift followed by an immediate KM Move to show that the card on top of the deck was not a dupe of his signed card?

I don't want you to think I'm busting Josh's chops, I'm just pointing out what you can see and hear in the video. And I'm not saying that I could do any better on national TV because I make no claim to being a professional performer. My hands would probably shake so much they would think I was having an attack of epilepsy. However, he did something not as well as he should have and she busted him.

He also did the more impressive trick first: the bottle production. They were more interested in that, even afterward.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 12/17/08 05:20 PM

Josh was great. Most importantly, he got his book seen and pushed.

The hardest people to fool are fools and these two babbling bimbos are good examples. Kathie Lee didn't see anything -- she was just guessing.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/17/08 05:50 PM

I disagree, Bob. She saw exactly what he did, when he did it.
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Postby Cugel » 12/17/08 06:13 PM

Bob Farmer wrote:Josh was great. Most importantly, he got his book seen and pushed.

The hardest people to fool are fools and these two babbling bimbos are good examples. Kathie Lee didn't see anything -- she was just guessing.



They weren't fools, even if they may have looked like bimbos. They reacted as women sometimes do when shown magic: cynically. You can actually get a lot of comedy out of messing with women like that in shows, but you have to be careful not to make them become hostile. Then it's all over, red rover.
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Postby Doc Dixon » 12/17/08 06:15 PM

Don't take this the wrong way guys, but I think some of the posts here are a little over the top. (Unless the meaning of the word "bimbo" has changed drastically over the past 10 years :eek:)

Were the hosts ideal for a magic performer? No. Johnny Carson was the gold standard (for that and many other things).

But (as David and Cugel alluded to) were they all that different from a lot of people you find in the real world of performing in non-TV land? Male or female? No, I don't think so. Of course, tv made it a bigger and different kind of challenge, but nothing Josh couldn't handle.

Excuse me for over stating this, but I get the feeling just because they didn't start genuflecting and chanting "Jo-shu-a, Jo-shu-a" they're being considered less than polite. Were they genteel and completely co-operative? Well, no. Were they rude? Well, I've only watched the tape once, but I'd have to say they were fun and at least sober, which is more than some cocktail party guests are.

And I agree with Richard: KLG nailed it, but Josh handled it very well. Like many of you, I can remember the late, great Doug Henning's hands shaking on the Tonight Show, so that keeps things in perspective for me.

Just my disorganized two cents.

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Postby David Vamer » 12/17/08 06:24 PM

Josh should have pointed out in return that the makeup doesn't REALLY hide KL's wrinkles...
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Postby Brad Henderson » 12/17/08 06:33 PM

Jim Maloney wrote:I always have a problem with this kind of argument. While there are a number of parallels between magic and music, there's one important difference: magic, particularly close-up magic, is an interactive performance, whereas music is not.


-Jim


While this is undeniably true, I think it misses the point. It's an honor among thieves thing. Everyone on that studio stage should have one goal in mind - to give a great show. It would be rude for Joshua to comment that Kathy Lee looks a lot older in person than she does on TV (an undeniably interactive moment) just as it would be rude to create a tense performing environment for someone who is working to make you look good.

I would think (perhaps naively) that a host would be aware that their job is to make the talent look good (and vice versa). Now, if he had truly SUCKED or screwed up, that's an elephant in the room that cannot be ignored. But there are enough pressures to playing to the camera, appealing to the audience, and interacting with the hosts (on top of just doing your job) that I do not understand why someone would try and make that more difficult for the performer.

The real world is one thing. But this is not the real world. These are all professionals who should be working together to produce a quality product, no?

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Postby Cugel » 12/17/08 06:40 PM

The one parallel in regard to music/magic and interaction, is jazz and blues. In that case you're talking interaction between the musicians.

On a related tangent, what I've never agreed with is the characterization of the analogy drawn between jazz and "jazzing" or "jazz magic". Magicians use jazz as the analogy because (they argue) it has no structure and can go anywhere - just like their magic. But this thinking is inaccurate and flawed. Except in rare (unlistenable) cases, jazz has structure. Interestingly, so too does the best improvised magic.

Sorry. Add music nerd to the list next to magic nerd.
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Postby Doc Dixon » 12/17/08 06:42 PM

Brad,

Good points. Particularly the "honor among thieves" line

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Postby David Alexander » 12/17/08 06:56 PM

Brad is spot on - the hosts of a program are there to make the guests look good. Carson was the Gold Standard, but others did a good job as well...Dick Cavet comes to mind...another lover of good magic and an excellent host who was respectful of his guests. Steve Allen had plenty of good magic on his various shows over the years.

A gracious host would NEVER make a rude and childish comment at catching Josh's small error. Kathi's responsibility is to make certain her guests show well.

Unfortunately, her ego is far beyond her fading talent and she has to be the center of attention at all times. Josh was interfereing with that process the moment he produced the bottle.
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Postby Cugel » 12/17/08 07:06 PM

Brad Henderson wrote:
I would think (perhaps naively) that a host would be aware that their job is to make the talent look good (and vice versa)....

[snip]

...the real world is one thing. But this is not the real world. These are all professionals who should be working together to produce a quality product, no?

Brad


I think that is naive in a sense. What you are describing is an older sensibility. It's one I find appealing and wish it would operate. But it doesn't. To expect a TV show host to think that way in the current age is out of step with the zeitgeist. In her mind she's "the star" and in the producers' minds, too. (There are exceptions but they are people of a certain age and class - like Michael Parkinson).

The show would have thought they were doing Josh a huge favor by letting him stand close to their "talent", and that the way she interacted with him is all part of her star power. They would not
have viewed it in the negative way that it has been characterized here. Indeed, they did do him a favor, from a marketing perspective.

This isn't a theater show. It's a modern TV show with all the bad behavior that is expected. (And I still don't think they were in any way bad for real world audience members).

Josh did a great job.
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Postby Jeff Haas » 12/17/08 08:07 PM

The hosts reacted very typically, like a lot of people do in closeup. They know the magician is out to fool them, they regard magic as something for kids, and they're not going to let this magician get the better of them. So it becomes a battle of wits as you go through the trick. You're trying to keep it on track and they're trying to knock it off the rails. You run into this all the time with adults, especially anyone successful and/or in a position of authority (salespeople, senior execs, etc.) You're entering their space, and it would be fun to mess with this guy and his little card tricks.

They also are quick to pick up on anything inconsistent. Kathy established this at the top - "You're supposed to keep the secrets, but you wrote a book?!"

Tricks that have a longer process, like the signature fusion that Josh used, are vulnerable in those conditions. You need fast, short material that doesn't telegraph where it's going. The longer process bores people who are used to chatting quickly and making a lot of jokes.

This seems to be amplified when someone's on TV; you can always sense the host thinking, "Get on with it!" And then they makes jokes or bust the performer's chops so that there is something entertaining happening. (Remember David Roth on Letterman? Same thing.)

If you're going to do closeup, you have to learn to deal with this. Otherwise you'll be eaten alive by some salesperson in front of his buddies - and he won't even work that hard to do it, the bastard.
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Postby Kurt Ruckman » 12/17/08 10:09 PM

Interesting discussion and video clip. All the more so because Josh Jay got busted and called out by Kathy Lee--something that has happened to all of us at one time or another. I understand that she should perhaps have been more polite as her role as TV host is a bit different than that of an ordinary spectator. But isn't it one of our main burdens as magicians to somehow get rid of the "challenge" aspect that is inherent in a fooling art?
It seems to me that Josh did not establish the story or emotional hook that we've all been taught is necessary in turning a trick (to be figured out) into an effect (to be experience). For example, the typical fused card plot (e.g. Doc Eason's version) involves a couple. The magical fusion is the climax of the love story developed along the way. Josh started with an interesting and relevant premise-collecting autographs, but he didn't develop it, and the fusion part wasn't organic to the theme. Obviously part of the problem was the extreme time burden of being on national TV.
Standard disclaimer: I'm not as good a magician as Josh Jay, I'm a fan of Josh Jay, yada yada. I hope this doesn't disqualify me from daring to analyze his performance, and hopefully learning something from it. Josh was exceptionally poised, and he has a real presence and likeability that really shone through the whole segment.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/17/08 11:04 PM

As usual with a clip - it makes good sense to watch with the sound off and see who's looking at who or what and when.

I'm watching for grimaces, sighs and distracted looks for clues to what happened.
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Postby MaxNY » 12/18/08 12:15 AM

Hey, speaking of cougars...That HBO documentary "Dancing with Tigers" is getting rave reviews in the NY press!
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Postby Mark Paulson » 12/18/08 12:34 AM

David Alexander wrote:Both women are in their mid-40s (or look like it) and Josh is 27...cougars and younger men...
Both of the women behaved like a slightly drunk and frustrated 40-something who is bored with her marriage to a rich, successful husband who is no longer interested in her for very good reasons. I've seen dozens of them in my time doing parties in Beverly Hills and Bel Air.



Actually, Kathy Lee is 55. Hoda is 44. Joshua was lucky to get out of there alive. From what I've seen of her, Kathy Lee always behaves like that.
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Postby David Vamer » 12/18/08 05:57 AM

KL would never have pulled that crap with P&T...but it sure would have been fun to watch her try!
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Postby Cugel » 12/18/08 08:39 AM

Alrightey, then.
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Postby Paul Cress » 12/18/08 11:38 AM

Topic caught my eye so though I would watch the clip under enforced silence.
Bottle production was clumsy, obvious, and handling too contrived, you even see the cork in thumbpalm (well I hope it was the cork?!?), card work was on par. Not impressed.
ps. No axe to grind or hidden agendas here, Ive seen him do a LOT better.
The two 'ladies' didn't help but as a seasoned pro that shouldn't be a problem for him.
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Postby Dave Mithaca » 12/18/08 11:57 AM

Josh did a great job getting the show back on track; however, as an arm chair QB, I wish that he would have used the method that Doc Eason uses of having both cards placed back into the deck for the fusion. Going back to the deck while the supposed signed cards are being held, even if not to do anything tricky, seems to me to be unmotivated and a natural inviting of skepticism. Props to Josh for his well-earned success!
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 12/18/08 02:57 PM

Just to clarify something... In our discussion of the behavior of the hosts on that segment, nobody here has suggested that the only alternative would have been overt cheerleading. Just because some of us thought what we saw from KLG was unnecessary and perhaps a touch unprofessional doesn't imply that we thought she should have been chanting Josh's name. Neither does it suggest we thought it was some unforgivably heinous hosting crime.

Josh did the right thing by not over-reacting. Perhaps we all take that as the best lesson of the event.
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Postby Gary Kosnitzky » 12/18/08 05:40 PM

It was a real treat watching Josh perform, even if it was just a couple of pieces.
I don't think it was that unpredictable on how these 2 ladies behaved. They are talentless and need to be in the spotlight, David Alexander summed it up when he said:

" Both of the women behaved like a slightly drunk and frustrated 40-something who is bored with her marriage to a rich, successful husband who is no longer interested in her for very good reasons. I've seen dozens of them in my time doing parties in Beverly Hills and Bel Air."

Hoda did seem a little shikker.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 12/18/08 05:57 PM

On the point made above that Josh needed a better emotional hook, I would have said this to Kathie Lee:

"If you select the right card from this deck, it will tell you exactly what Frank is doing right now with your personal assistant, Veronica."

That would have shut her up.

One thing that was unclear and should have been to sell the book: were the tricks Josh performed in the book? That would seem to be the hook to sell the book.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 12/18/08 06:48 PM

There are lots of issues to consider here, and KLG is only part of the equation.

First, Joe is right. Cheerleading would come off as fake, and I do not think anyone would suggest that. But there is a difference between being insincere and doing what it takes to work together to produce a succesful show. But as someone pointed out, this isn't a theater troupe, this is TV and the cult of the celebrity.

But I think a little armchair quarterbacking could be beneficial. First, I know Josh and consider him a friend. I also know that he is critical of his own work. So, I see nothing wrong with turning a critical eye to his appearance with the intent of learning from it. While those such as TheDean may confuse criticism with "not getting along" I hope others realize the difference.

The biggest problem I saw was Josh's lack of presence in the moment. It seemed as if he had already worked out what he was going to say and do, and was not willing to LISTEN to the hosts and RESPOND appropriately.

While all performers should have a plan and script, these encounters are about interaction. Josh didn't interact. Occasionally he acknowledged their comments, but he quickly tried to force things back on his own track. You could almost hear him thinking, "Ok, great, but what I was saying was..."

"Magic is like a story." Where did that go? It was forced and out of place. He was rushed. There was something there, but he did not take the time to expound on it. They didn't find it interesting or important, so we have a conversational mishmash with word vomit, not presentation.

When they were introducing him, he was not making ye contact and was not listening. He was playing with the balloon.

He did not acknowledge the post production pat down - a very real moment. "Real" is what people connect to. There was an opportunity here and it was missed.

Likewise, when the first card moment occurred, he should have let it breath. It was stunning. But (and I'm not saying I wouldn't have done the same thing in the moment) he seemed more interested in "getting to the punchline" than allowing this "real" moment to play out.

Now, I do not think this excuses KLG's gaff. But it became clear that there was a power struggle going on. The women had questions, Josh wanted to do tricks.

Would I have done better? Can't say. Hindsight is 20/20 and even more clear when one is looking at someone else's work. In this "magicians helping magicians" [censored] world we have created, people assume that criticism is condemnation. I am not here to condemn Josh, but to learn from him.
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Postby Cugel » 12/18/08 06:54 PM

I think you're over analyzing things. Josh was nervous and who can blame him? Still and all, he did a great job and I seriously doubt ANYONE here would have done any better.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 12/18/08 07:29 PM

Why not over analyze things. You kind of have to if you want to ever learn from an experience.

We have an artifact in the form of a video clip. What made it what it was? Would other choices have impacted what it became?

I think these are fascinating questions and ones we can learn from.

Of course, this "brotherhood" nonsense means that any criticism is considered taboo. But to think that a performance couldn't have been better is equally nonsensical. So I don't think Josh needs defending (and it saddens me that we as a community would feel compelled to need to). Of course he was nervous.

But that doesn't mean we can't evaluate his choices and consider others.

Great actors do it.

Maybe that's why they suck less than we do.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/18/08 07:41 PM

Over analyze? As if everyone here already knows how to avoid those problems? As if all here know how to handle a situation where one's script delivery has gotten out of sync with their audience?

Okay let's over analyze - how about the way he set down the bottle, should the label have been facing the hosts or the camera?
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Postby Tim Ellis » 12/18/08 07:48 PM

First a message to Josh - your personality was perfect for TV. Full of energy and expression and not too over the top. I think you have a great future an as on camera performer.

Regards to KLG catching Josh do the move... to some extent, dont we as magicians ENCOURAGE this sort of reaction with sucker effects? Perhaps she thought the move was so obvious Josh wanted her to point it out?

Regarding the pat down - I think that was a potentially much funnier moment because what WERE they looking for? The bottle had been produced and they wanted to feel where it COULD have been? Weird spectator logic.. did they think he'd have more in there?

But yes, the two ladies were behaving exactly as spectators in that situation would:

Where did the bottle come from? Must have been from his sleeve or his jacket.

He won't say how he did the trick, but he wrote a book telling the secrets?

The signed card from his hand is now under our hands... is it the same one?

He dropped a card on the deck, better let him know I saw it!


Alternatively, they could have sat politely and let him do his tricks, plug his book, and clap at the right times. But then it would have been the Joshua Jay show.
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Postby Stuart Beck » 12/18/08 07:55 PM

An obervation...if Josh (who I think is terrific by the way) who is promoting a book...would of had had a copy in view throughout the appearance or at least had either himself, Kathy or Hoda hold up the book at the end so the TV audience could get a good look at the cover.
It was only flashed for a second right at the beginning.
Are the tricks he performed from the book? Thinking from a layman's POV...I'd like to have seen a few things from the book and get a glimpse at the cover so I could go to Border's and find it easily you know?

We've all encountered audiences like that...I thought he handled her fine just fine...
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