Facebook Portal video chat screens raise privacy concerns

Two camera-enabled smart devices for the home are unveiled in the midst of a privacy crisis.
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GMA’s Ginger Zee and Frozen’s Patti Murin Have a No-Judgement Chat About Their Mental Health Struggles

Two of Hollywood’s outspoken and passionate advocates about mental health are coming together to talk about their experiences and how they work to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

PEOPLE has the exclusive premiere of a candid conversation between Good Morning America’s meteorologist Ginger Zee and Broadway’s Frozen star Patti Murin — staged in support of Philosophy’s hope & grace initiative, which donates a portion of all of the beauty brand’s proceeds go to women’s mental health organizations.

Back in December, Zee, 37, opened up about her battle with depression in her book Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I Am One — revealing that she checked herself into a mental health institution just 10 days before starting her job at ABC News.

Murin, 37, has also long been transparent about her depression and anxiety, making headlines back in April when she revealed she had to call out of a Frozen performance due to a “massive anxiety attack.”

Both stars have been able to connect with millions of fans who are tackling similar mental health hurdles.

“Social media, it’s the best way to get the word out,” Murin says. “I feel like some sort of barrier was broken. I don’t know exactly when or how, but all of the big stars that people see on their favorite TV shows or movies are coming out and talking about it — like Kristen Bell and Mark Ruffalo. Look at what these people are doing, but also know that they feel like you.”

“That’s the point! It’s that it doesn’t discriminate,” adds Zee. “It’s not just for us that are on a more public scene. It’s the high schooler or the middle schooler …  That’s part of our job as humans: to sit down and to have a conversation and learn about somebody’s story. That’s going to make everybody’s mental health better.”

Zee says one of her struggles is feeling like she is “multiple people at one time.”

“That is a big hallmark of many people’s mental health challenges. For me, there was Ginger Zee, who was on television, and there was Ginger Zuidgeest, which is my really long Dutch name. And those people were very different people. It almost makes it easier because you’re able to for longer, hide from it.”

“I have the opportunity to step into somebody else’s shoes and I think that hindered some of my progress in my early acting years, before I went on medication and did research and realized this was a bigger thing I could not do on my own and handle myself,” Murin admits.

RELATED VIDEO: Ginger Zee on Battling Depression: ‘I Don’t Think Anybody’s Forever Cured’

And while both Zee and Murin have made major strides in their mental health, each admits to still be learning every day — and even from each other.

“The number of people that sent me your story because they wanted me to not feel alone was actually really special,” Zee tells Murin.

“It’s really nice to sit down and talk to somebody that, whatever you say, it’s going to be understood or at least not judged,” says Murin of Zee.

Learn more about philosophy’s hope and grace initiative here.


PEOPLE.com

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Google to warn when humans chat with convincing bots

Humans will be told if they are talking to bots that can convincingly mimic human speech.
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A Chat Room of Their Own

When thousands of women get together on social media, wryly invoking the suicidal author Virginia Woolf as their muse, what could possibly go wrong?
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Facebook Shut Down Employee Chat Room Over Harassing Messages

Facebook dismantled a popular anonymous discussion board for employees last year that had become a forum for conservative political debate that sometimes degenerated into racist or sexist comments.
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It’s Baldwin vs. Baldwin As ‘O’Reilly’ And ‘Trump’ Chat Sex Harassment ‘SNL’

Alec Baldwin faced himself on “Saturday Night Live,” but it wasn’t so very hard to do because he was playing two brothers from another mother: Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump.

When those guys get together, can the topic of sex harassment be very far away? Baldwin’s O’Reilly discovers during the skit that one of his reporters isn’t on the scene — and no longer works for Fox News — prompting O’Reilly to ask: “Did she get the check?” The reporter’s disappearing act is a dig about recent reports of payments to at least five women to settle sex harassment accusations against O’Reilly. Other disappearing acts? Some 60 Fox News sponsors who no longer want to be associated with the “O’Reilly Factor.” That leaves a room for a commercial promoting “Dog Cocaine” on the “SNL” skit.

Baldwin’s O’Reilly finally ‘fesses up that he’s been the subject of some fuzzy complaints from women involving “exciting opportunities” he has offered. Fortunately, notes Baldwin, someone who is “unimpeachable on all female issues” has stepped forward to defend him.

Cue “Hail to the Chief,” and there’s Baldwin — again — on the other side of a split screen playing Trump. “I see a lot of myself in you, Bill,” says Baldwin’s Trump.

“O’Reilly” thanks “Trump” for saying that he “did nothing wrong,” even though it appears Trump doesn’t really know the facts of the case. He had a “loose hunch,” says Baldwin’s Trump. “I’m more familiar with this case than, say … health care.”

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The New Trump-Obama Phone Chat On ‘Conan’ Is All Kinds Of Hilarious

President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama were featured in another spoof phone call on “Conan” Thursday ― and the lunacy delivered once again.

This time, the current commander in chief makes a fool of himself while discussing his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other topics on his addled mind.

As Obama says, “Every day you’re in power is a global nightmare.”

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Trump And Obama Finally Chat About The ‘Wiretapping Thing’ On ‘Conan’

President Donald Trump keeps pestering former President Barack Obama in a series of hilarious phone calls imagined by “Conan.”

But on Tuesday’s show, it got personal. Trump rang up the ex-prez to apologize for accusing him of wiretapping his phone.

Obama attempted to maintain his composure, even when Trump called to discuss another topic, Women’s History Month.

Guess how that went.

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This Secret Wine Purse Will Get You Through Your Family’s Next Chat About Politics

Times are tough. Wine helps. Wine that you can hide in your purse and pour at the touch of a button helps even more. 

Bella Vita’s PortoVino leather wine purse is exactly what you think it is: a tote that you can secretly fill up with wine and take with you on the go. (You can actually fill it with anything, but let’s be real, it’s probably going to be wine.) 

This $ 74.95 genius necessity comes in three colors and can hold up to 1.5 liters of wine in a refillable, insulated bag. What’s more? The tote’s spout is hidden until you pull it out to pour. 

It’s perfect for the beach, a picnic, seeing “Fifty Shades Darker,” or any time someone in your family starts talking politics.

Not into booze? Delish even suggests filling it up with ranch dressing, because nothing is worse than getting stuck sans salad dressing, right?

Head to Bella Vita to purchase.

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A Gay Man’s Chat With Mom Has A Life-Changing Effect On A Stranger

Private moments have surprise consequences in “Listen,” Liang Hu’s harrowing short. 

In the 2013 film, a British government employee spends his time monitoring civilian phone calls. When he overhears a series of emotional conversations between a gay man and his mother, the worker is inspired to mend fences in his own life. 

Hu based elements of “Listen,” which won acclaim on the festival circuit, on his own coming out. 

Get a sneak peek at “Listen” above, then head to Viddsee, an Asian company that curates and shares powerful short films, to view more

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“Nothing Comes Easy”: A Chat with Adrian Steirn About ‘The World’s Most Wanted Leopard’

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Sometimes nature gets caught up in the crossfires of conflicts and human issues. In the case of the Caucasian leopard, also known at the Persian leopard, the species has been stuck in war zones, and confined to barren, uninhabitable terrains. While our President Elect may not believe in global warming, he can’t deny that the world is in upheaval and migrations, by the millions and fueled by feuds, are happening around the globe. That leaves animals, often ones already on the endangered species list, to fend for themselves.

The positioning of the natural habitat of the Caucasian leopard puts its survival at risk. Listed as officially “Endangered on the IUCN Red List,” this large feline, the largest subspecies of the leopards, is now confined to the greater part of the Western Caucasus, between Iran, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, with a few more remaining in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

It is in fact in Azerbaijan that the upcoming Nat Geo WILD documentary The World’s Most Wanted Leopard takes place. Following filmmaker (and in my opinion diplomat, storyteller, nature aficionado and all around cool guy) Adrian Steirn and his team, which includes local guide and “Leopard Man” Babakhan Rakhmanov and Victor Lukarevsky, a world-renowned Russian big cat specialist, we the audience find ourselves in the midst of a thriller, complete with twists and turns worthy of a mystery narrative film. Will these men find the elusive leopard, and will they be able to outdo it in capturing its image for posterity? The answer is one I won’t give away, but lets just say the outcome of this film will affect us all, in real life. It’s that important.

I caught up with Steirn to find out more about his journey, which was aided in part by an organization in Azerbaijan called IDEA. Here’s what he had to say about his voyage to find this elusive, beautiful, mystical big cat, the result of which airs in December worldwide on Nat Geo WILD. And what we can all do, starting today, to help save the world.

In your documentary, you say something that really struck me — “I pick up my camera to do one thing — make positive change”. Shouldn’t that be the responsibility of all human beings, to work for a better place? And shouldn’t all artists pick up their artistic tools to make social relations, climate, human existence and nature better?

Adrian Steirn: Conservation is self-preservation; so making positive change is absolutely a shared responsibility. But humans are inherently self-serving. We only start to care when the water runs out, so to speak — we can always try to do more.

Do you have any updates on Babakhan, your wonderfully charming guide in Azerbaijan?

Steirn: Babakhan is immensely proud to know that the documentary is going around the world. He is an ardent conservationist and deeply appreciates the support.

What has happened since you filmed in 2014, with the Caucasian leopard, but also with the initiative started by you and IDEA?

Steirn: IDEA and the government of Azerbaijan are working immensely hard to ensure the continued protection of the Caucasian leopard. They are looking at breeding and relocation programs and pouring resources into their national parks and holistic conservation.

Do you think we, as human beings, hold the power of one, to make a difference as singular persons?

Steirn: One person can always make change by creating motivation for many. It starts with the individual, who has to empower a community.

You clearly are part filmmaker, part preservationist, part diplomat, part cross country athlete and all world saver. Does it ever prove challenging to be Adrian Steirn, and in which situations?

Steirn: Nothing comes easy. We only have finite time and resources on our planet. By surrounding myself with capable, resourceful people, I have been able to overcome certain hurdles. But nothing is ever as easy as you think it’ll be starting out.

And to someone who has never met you and doesn’t know you, how would you describe yourself?

Steirn: As a photographer and filmmaker with a high level of determination. I don’t give up easily.

Three things we can all begin to do today, that will help save the world?

Steirn: Educate yourself. Be empathetic. Find ways to take people with you — don’t preach at your audience.

Photos courtesy of Nat Geo WILD, used with permission.

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Donna Karan and Trudie Styler to Chat About the Designer’s New Book

Donna Karan will be sitting down with Trudie Styler to discuss the fashion designer’s new book, “My Journey.” The conversation will take place at the 92nd Street Y on Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
In her book (Ballantine Books, $ 30), which will be published Oct. 13, Karan shares her life story, including intimate and candid stories of her difficult childhood, her five decades working on Seventh Avenue, her two marriages, motherhood and her spiritual journey over the last 20 years, as well as her departure from her namesake label last June.
“Sting [Styler’s husband] and I were both born on the same day, Oct. 2, so we have a lot in common,” said Karan.
Tickets can be purchased through the 92nd Street Y Web site.

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9 Tidbits From George Lucas’ Chat With Stephen Colbert At The Tribeca Film Festival

The chance to see George Lucas discuss his career ranked fairly high in our Tribeca Film Festival priorities, especially with Stephen Colbert conducting the interview. Apparently we weren’t alone: The festival sold out one of its largest flagship auditoriums for Friday’s hour-long panel, part of the Tribeca Talks series, and spectators lined up with posters and DVDs for the “Star Wars” overlord to autograph. Inside, it took no time at all to realize there is very little the 70-year-old Lucas hasn’t already been asked about his well-documented career.

Even an adept moderator (and “Star Wars” obsessive) like Colbert couldn’t squeeze out many fresh tidbits from the talkative director, though he did display his signature wit throughout, particularly when Lucas sneezed and Colbert responded by saying, “May The Force be with you.” These guys! So silly!

But even the nerdiest of “Star Wars” fans can stand to revisit morsels about the iconic franchise — and hey, maybe there’s even something in here that you didn’t already know. Here are nine quickies from Friday’s conversation:

1. George Lucas is not a fan of being a celebrity. He’s happy to wear sneakers and avoid Hollywood galas, which has prompted some in the industry to liken him to the reclusive Howard Hughes.

2. There’s at least one downside to directing “Star Wars.” “The one thing I regret about doing ‘Star Wars’ is I never got to see it,” Lucas said when asked whether he’s anticipating “The Force Awakens,” which opens in December. “I never got that thrill.”

3. “American Graffiti” started as a dare from Francis Ford Coppola. The duo became pals after Lucas won a scholarship in film school that allowed him to work on a Warner Bros. project of his choosing. He selected “Finian’s Rainbow,” Coppola’s 1968 musical starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark. (Coppola was 29 when “Rainbow” opened; Lucas was 24.)

In 1969, the directors opened their own studio, American Zoetrope, which released Lucas’ infamous 1971 sci-fi flop “THX 1138.” (It was a joint venture with Warner Bros., which “told Francis Ford Coppola and me, ‘We want our money back,'” Lucas said. In order to pay off that $ 350,000, Coppola made a little film called “The Godfather.”) Coppola then told Lucas to lay off the experimental “robot” stuff, daring him to write a comedy instead. Confident he could do it, Lucas channeled his California youth to write “American Graffiti,” which went on to earn five Oscar nominations and become 1973’s third-highest grossing movie across North America.

4. Lucas is fully aware of what you think about his most recent “Star Wars” scripts. “I’m notorious for wooden dialogue,” Lucas said, presumably referring to criticism that defined the franchise’s second trilogy. Frankly, he doesn’t care, largely because dialogue, in his mind, is secondary to visuals and sound. In keeping, he considers “Star Wars” a silent film that generates meaning from its movement. “You could be 2 years old and not understand what anyone’s saying, but still understand the movie,” he said.

5. The only one of Lucas’ director friends who supported “Star Wars” was Steven Spielberg. Lucas’ posse includes Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese, but Spielberg was the only one who said “Star Wars” would be a hit after Lucas screened it for his buddies. De Palma, who released “Carrie” a year before 1977’s “A New Hope” opened, instead asked, “What the hell is The Force?”

6. Lucas learned of the “Star Wars” momentum from a news report. Alan Ladd Jr. was the producer who gave “Star Wars” the green light, and he remained Lucas’ only supporter when 20th Century Fox wanted to nix production due to escalating budgets and location snafus. Lucas insisted Ladd wait a few weeks after “A New Hope” opened to gauge its performance, once the movie could transcend the fanatics who will show up for any sci-fi flick. A week after the movie hit theaters, Lucas was on vacation in Hawaii when he saw a CBS news story showcasing the fandom that had already erupted — it was then that he grasped its proliferating impact.

7. But Lucas never wanted to make Hollywood blockbusters. He was interested in experimental films, à la “THX 1138.” Today, he says he’s retired and tinkering around with the type of movies that studios didn’t want him to make. “They’ll probably never get released,” he joked. “I’m just screwing around in my garage.” He can afford to screw around because he worked to secure “Star Wars” sequel rights from 20th Century Fox after “A New Hope” became a hit. “That’s how I got to be rich,” he said, smiling.

8. As of Friday, Lucas hadn’t seen the latest “Force Awakens” trailer. And he has no idea what the new movie is about, despite receiving a “creative consultant” credit. (He didn’t watch the first teaser until almost two months after it debuted.) “I’m excited, I have no idea what they’re doing,” he said. The original, however, remains a family saga — his intent was to make a movie about “the father, the children, the grandchildren.”

9. Lucas thinks Colbert should replace Jon Stewart. “Don’t you think the perfect choice to replace that Jon Stewart fella would have been you? And now you’re working at ‘Late Show,’ where nobody sees you,” Lucas quipped, to which Colbert responded by saying that he was previously on at 11:30 p.m. and will now be on at 11:35. He never wanted to take Stewart’s gig because he would forever live “underneath his shadow.”

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A Quick Chat with Steve Miller and Journey’s Neal Schon & Jonathan Cain, Plus Introducing Jamie Eblen

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A Conversation with Steve Miller and Journey’s Neal Schon & Jonathan Cain

Mike Ragogna: Journey and the Steve Miller Band recorded a few of the most popular albums ever made, especially Escape and Greatest Hits 1974-1978. And soon, you’ll be touring together with Tower Of Power. What is it about your bands that resonated with pop culture?

Steve Miller: I think Journey and Tower Of Power and the Steve Miller Band, we’re all part of the core of original groups in the San Francisco music scene. This is a social phenomenon as well as a musical phenomenon. These bands are an integral part of music and art and production of a whole new approach to music. Once you start changing the way people attend concerts, what happens to concerts, then you’re in an unusual creative environment that San Francisco was in for three decades–really, the sixties, the seventies, and the eighties. There’s really just an amazing amount of creativity that came out of there. I think that’s what shaped bands like Journey and us. We made a lot of records. If you look at Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing” and all the albums that they put out in a row–Infinity and then Evolution, Departure, Escape, Frontiers–that was like in five years. I think we put out five albums in the first eighteen months that we started recording. Five albums in eighteen months is pretty amazing. The creativity was fast and the response from the audiences was instant.

At the same time we’re doing this, we were building brand new stages, brand new sound systems, brand new light shows. All that really added, I think, to what made the music mean more than just a string of hits. Tower Of Power is in there too. This is a phenomenal band. When you look at the music that came out of it, it makes sense that it’s become so classic. Journey proves it, Tower Of Power proves it, people are still listening to these songs, they’re still buying these songs and they’re still coming out and they want to hear and see the bands perform. So that’s a different thing from just producing hit music and writing hit singles. There’s a lot more to it than just that music.

Neal Schon: I think the reason Journey is still prominent and out there is because we basically work our asses off and tour every year and continually play the music and have new audiences coming all the time, maintaining younger fans. Also I think we just got it right. We wrote a lot of really great songs, the three of us–myself, Steve Perry, and Jonathan Cain. We just got some things right, and I think that’s why it’s etched in stone.

Jonathan Cain: I’d say the thing is that time period that [we all] had our success, people were hungry for the combination. American music is blues, it’s pop, it’s soul, and it’s the combination that makes it unique. I think all of us have that in common. We grew up loving soul and the blues and great melodies. I think the melodies were contagious, they were in the air, people wanted to be able to sing along with stuff, people wanted to party. We had Bill Graham, one of the greatest promoters of all time. He really invented the rock concert. He was a local guy who brought the Bay area together. We had the Bammies–the Bay Area Music Awards–a brotherhood celebration, if you will, of artists who shared the passion in the Bay area. It was a time and place when the Forty-Niners were close to the town and they would show up with Bill Graham at concerts.

I think we in the seventies and eighties enjoyed some of the greatest moments with our fans because the ticket prices weren’t crazy, they were out there buying our albums–two hundred and fifty thousand a week. It’s unheard of, that amount of participation with our fans, sharing this thing, and we happened to [be on] one of the greatest record companies in the business, Columbia. There were a lot of shiest-y ones that didn’t pay you. But I have to say, Columbia always took care of us. Their army of soldiers helped sell these phenomenal records, well over a hundred million, which is hard to believe. We would not be the brand without all of those wonderful people who helped us in those years.

It took a village to make a hit record, to make brands like Journey and the Steve Miller Band last. We had the good fortune of having all of those people, the distributors, the handlers, the ones that got the records out to the stores before Best Buy and all these other people took over, that was amazing. You go to met these folks; they were grassroots people. We were very blessed to have that kind of backing. I think that contributes to a lot of our success today, while we were still out there doing it. Without the radio people–the DJs, the personalities, the Kid Leos of the world who promoted bands and had you on the radio that wanted to know how you were and had you on an interview; those kind of things where you actually went on a radio station and talked to the city and checked in with those people. “How are you doing?” That was an amazing time, where artists really got a look at the fans they were looking at, taking phone calls on the air, and really, really knowing your audience, looking them in the eye, saying, “Yeah!” Me joining Journey with Steve Perry was a crapshoot. They picked me out of The Babys and little did I know how much Steve and Neal and I would have in common musically. Together, we wrote some pretty cool songs. I’m very proud of that.

MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

NS: My son is an aspiring guitarist and he’s amazing, I’m always looking for ways to help him out and get him out there–with the demise of record stores and pretty much the whole record industry I tell him, “You’ve got to go out and you have to play and you have to be seen.” It’s very difficult, I realize it is, for young artists to be seen because it’s so backwards. It’s A-S-S-backwards! You have to pay to play a lot of times in these clubs, a lot of Mom & Pop clubs are closing down, so it’s very difficult. But I just say, “Jam with whomever you can, who’s got a decent name and a decent band and be seen as much as you can in a live sense.”

JC: My advice to new artists is to be true to what you believe you’re best at, and not to try to chase the trend. If you’re a hip-hop guy, stay a hip-hop guy. If you’re a rock guy, be the best rock guy you can be. Go with your strengths and try to get your music and your brand out there on the internet. It’s really the best place, with social media and all these sites that you can go on and put your music out there. Just try not to give it away. That’s the one problem…people are giving out their music for free.

MR: Steve, what is your advice for new artists?

SM: My advice for new artists is to forget about all of this and take acting and dancing lessons and become a video star.

MR: [laughs] But what if they’d prefer to play music?

SM: I’ll tell you the truth. When I started playing, the only hope there was, was to work in night clubs. This was before San Francisco. When San Francisco opened up, I left Chicago where I played with Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf and James Cotton and Junior Wells and Buddy Guy and immediately went to San Francisco because it was a chance to play in a ballroom to twelve hundred people instead of a bunch of drunks in a nightclub. It’s sort of like the same world for new artists. It seemed impossible when I was a kid. I never thought that I would be able to make any kind of records and never thought seriously about a musical career because a musical career was being Fabian or Frankie Avalon or something. It didn’t make any sense. There wasn’t any possibility to get into that world.

It’s kind of like that for kids now. I just had an eighteen year-old kid opening for me in Canada a couple weeks ago, Matthew Curry. Wonderful guitar player, great songwriter, in the Stevie Ray Vaughan area of virtuosity and originality. He’s really great. I’m looking at this kid and he’s driving in a van so he can open for us. I brought him up on stage to play with us and I’m sitting there trying to figure out, “How is this kid going to actually make it in this world where it takes five million dollars and a corporate sponsorship from Pepsicola to have a hit record nowadays?” It takes thirty million dollars to sell two million albums; it’s crazy.

I don’t really have any instant advice for these kinds of kids except to be true to yourself. Suffer for your art and hang on and maybe something will change where you actually have a chance. Right now, I don’t think they have much of a chance. I think all this “Get it on the internet!” stuff is BS and nonsense. You have to really connect with people. There aren’t very many clubs, there’s no place for people to develop and play. It’s a bad time right now for young artists. It’s not always about huge, giant commercial success; it’s about art, it’s about creativity, it’s about virtuosity. I worry about that, because it doesn’t look really good, but when I was a kid, it didn’t look good either. Big time success then was to be on a bus with seven other bands doing a gig where you did ninety shows in eighty days. I wasn’t kidding when I said, “Take acting lessons and work on your video,” because without that…

JC: Steve, we can look at a guy like Joe Bonamassa. I wrote a couple of songs on his album and Joe has forged a career out of basically using internet and his live playing and staying current with his fans and has made a career.

SM: Joe’s like me! He’s a guy who won’t be denied. Joe Bonamassa’s been grinding now for twenty years. He plays club by club, small gig by small gig, going to Europe and working and working and working and working and working and people love him and he’s a great guitar player. He should be forty times the size of the artist he is.

JC: Sure, but he’s still surviving in this business. My hat goes off to him.

SM: Oh, me too. My point is he’s tougher than five thousand other guitar players for all those reasons. That’s how hard it is to actually make it. He’s a perfect example of somebody who’s really, really strong and works really hard. He knows who he is and what he’s doing; he’s not some talented little kid with a manager who’s going to make his career. That’s rare…that’s really, really rare. There are a lot of great guitar players that you never get to hear. It’s been that way all my life. You finish doing a gig in front of twenty thousand people and go back to the hotel to The Boom-Boom Room at the top of The Sheraton and there’ll be some guy in there who will blow you away that nobody will ever hear of because they’re not tough enough to win in this gangster world of music, you know?

Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne

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A Conversation with JuiceBox and The Rad Trad’s Jamie Eblen

Mike Ragogna: Jamie! Okay, first of all, what is JuiceBox up to lately?

Jamie Eblen: JuiceBox is in a transitional phase. We just started working with new management and getting new gig opportunities. We also recorded an EP, First Cut, about a year ago, and at this point we’ve got about two more EPs’ worth of material, so we’re trying to figure out a time to get back into the studio more. And we’re gearing up for some shows this summer, so lots of things are in the works.

MR: Great. What are you doing regarding the EP? Is it only online, or are you pressing physical products?

JE: We do have physical CDs that you can order off our website, and we’ve also been making downloads available through iTunes and Band Camp, as well as CD Baby and I think Amazon.

MR: Do you find there are more sales from downloads or CDs?

JE: I’d say we get more downloads because the only place we’re really selling CDs is at shows, and the sales there are definitely less. It’s an impulse buy in a lot of ways.

MR: Gotta have the swag too, no?

JE: We’re working on getting some merchandise together. We don’t have shirts or anything like that at this point. It’s pretty much the CDs and the business cards… so you know where to find us!

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photo courtesy of JuiceBox

MR: [laughs] How did you get your gig with JuiceBox?

JE: I was the last member to come in. The band kind of formed out of a collection of people at NYU. Our singer, Lisa Ramey, is the only other one who didn’t go to NYU, and I came on late in the game because they were going on a tour to Italy and the drummer couldn’t make it. Nick Myers, the saxophone player, called me and said, “Hey, man, you wanna go to Italy?” I had just come back from study abroad in Florence for five months, and I was about to jump on any opportunity to go back to Italy, so that’s kind of how I came into it. They had existed for about a year or two before I joined them.

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photo credit: Daniel Gootnick

MR: But you came into it with a solid jazz background, in addition to a rock background.

JE: Yeah. My favorite drummer hands down is John Bonham, so I’m always coming from that and the jazz perspective, as well as funk and soul. But the band definitely has a jazz vibe to it, with the horns, guitar and organ; our organist Dave Mainella is fantastic. So it’s got a lot of different stuff happening, which is what I really enjoy about the band.

MR: Your parents, Ed Eblen and writer Robyn Flans, are pretty much music biz fixtures.

JE: They definitely are. Both have great faith in music, my dad being a drummer and my mom being a person who writes about drummers and musicians. So it’s been a life full of music education.

MR: Your dad taught you how to play, right?

JE: Yeah. I spent a lot of time digging up old drums with my dad and figuring out how to play rock beats that he taught me. When I was really young I had a little CB drum set. I got that when I was in sixth grade, and he taught me rock beats. Also he and my mom hooked up Ed Shaughnessy’s old drum set to be in my bedroom. So that was kind of amazing to have that.

MR: Was that inspirational?

JE: A little bit, yeah. The first groove I learned on that drum set that my dad helped me with was the “Come Together” groove.

MR: Nice. Your dad’s very experienced, having played in a lot of clubs and with different bands in California, Nashville, and all sorts of places.

JE: Yeah, Vegas, Nashville, New York recently; many different places. So over the course of time I imagine I will have travelled a lot of the same places as he has. I just went on tour with another band, and I was calling him from different places, like, “Hey, I’m in Indiana now, you ever been here?” It was funny.

MR: What are the elements of JuiceBox, insofar as how do you guys create the material?

JE: I would say it’s very democratic; someone brings an idea or a really fleshed-out song, it varies, and then we all sit together, play through it a bunch, talk about it, but we try to keep it mostly to the playing. I find that, as a band, when we get to work and just play the song over and over it sort of evolves over the course of a rehearsal. And then we record a tape, send it out, everyone listens to it, and then we workshop it the next time. But it all starts either with a jam vibe, which I’d say is less happening now because everyone’s bringing songs to the band then having band fully flesh them out. Or people will bring out fully written out charts. It varies.

MR: Are you hoping the listener is grooving to the music and wants to dance to it, and/or do you want them to just sit back and listen to the arrangements?

JE: Ideally, we play a room with a wide-open floor, no tables, no chairs, and a lot of people. That’s our ideal room. But we do a lot of other stuff. We play this club in New York called The General, and that’s much more of a dinner club vibe, and they’ve got tables and chairs and people sit. And they’re grooving, and I’d say that’s what we want. We want people grooving. If they’re grooving in their chairs, that’s fine with me.

MR: Did you bring in any of your Broadway experience into the group, you know, because you’ve been in Broadway musicals, etc.?

JE: Yeah. I’ve worked with Jason Robert Brown on various projects; Honeymoon in Vegas the most recent. There are a lot of things I bring from that experience. They all inform one another–the JuiceBox experience, the musical theater thing, playing a lot of different percussion, I’d say is an interesting thing about the Broadway world that I would be carrying over into JuiceBox. It’s hands-on a lot of different stuff which is a great sound for both vibes.

MR: You’re based out of Brooklyn. So they actually have music in Brooklyn? Whaaa?

JE: [laughs] I think it’s at a great place. There’s a lot of great music to find pretty much every night, and a lot of it’s close to me, and there’re music clubs opening up all the time. I’d say it’s definitely a burgeoning scene. I don’t know if there’s anything specifically at the helm of the Brooklyn scene because there are so many different things happening. It’s indie, and whatever it is that encompasses that. Folk rock; funk and jazz; it’s kind of a hodgepodge, which I think is what Brooklyn’s great at, but it’s also not necessarily focused. Right where I live in Prospect Heights there’s two jazz clubs within walking distance, and lots and lots of musicians. We have sessions at my apartment all the time with various jazz guys, or the Trad jazz band that I have.

MR: So, Jamie Eblen of Juicebox and let’s not forget The Rad Trads. What do you want to do with your life, young man!

JE: [laughs] It’s an interesting time right now. There’s a lot of different stuff that’s happening, but not necessarily a lot of stuff that’s happening right now, if that makes sense. This Broadway thing’s on hold; all this JuiceBox stuff is happening, and JuiceBox is my passion project; I write for this band and it’s very important to me. So I’m trying to go where the wind blows me, but I’m still involved in all of these things which is ideally what I want. It’s a limbo moment.

MR: What influences have Brooklyn and Manhattan had on your music?

JE: The vibes from across the river and in Brooklyn are very different, but you can find a lot of the same things in both places. I’d say every time we play a Brooklyn show, we’re playing to a lot of really excited young people, which is what we love to do. People who are either just out of school, still in school, or ten years out of school. And sometimes when we play Manhattan, especially at more dinner club vibes, that’s definitely an older crowd sitting and grooving to the music, which we love equally as much. But it is a much different vibe and we bring a different energy…not that we bring a different energy, but there’s a different energy in the room when we play those opposing shows.

MR: Where to do you feel jazz is going?

JE: Honestly, I don’t know. Modern jazz is modern jazz and that will be a thing that’s happening. I listened to a lot of it years ago, and my personal taste has taken me elsewhere. I’m sure I’ll come back to it, but there’s an interesting resurgence of hot jazz and that kind of thing in New York City. People love that, and there’s tons of it.

MR: Does it feel like your career is coming at you quickly now?

JE: It’s kind of an illusion; it feels like that, but it’s not necessarily the case. I’ll wake up every day and think, “Okay, same thing,” and I never think it’s going to be a thing where I wake up and something’s different. But as I said, a lot of things are on hold, so it seems like I’m just in a crazy place.

MR: You also have a wonderfully talented musical sister, Taylor Leigh Eblen, right?

JE: [laughs] I do. She’s currently working on her teaching degree at Queens College. She’s doing really well, she loves teaching and working with kids.

MR: Does she ever jam with you?

JE: Most recently, we’ve just been working on music together. She has to learn a lot of percussion and other instruments for her classes. She has to be able to do everything at least a little bit, so I’ve been working with her on percussion stuff, so we haven’t really had time just to jam recently.

MR: Do you think that may be coming down the pike at some point? The Eblen assault on the music world?

JE: Definitely. I’d love to collaborate with her and record some stuff.

MR: What’s your advice for new artists?

JE: It depends on where you are. I’m very New York City-minded right now, but I’d say to just keep on keeping on. That’s my thing, because you go through very different phases, highs and lows, and you have to be as stable as you can be and still enjoy every moment of it.

MR: Stable as in trying to have a stable life?

JE: Stable as in not letting what you do affect how you live. If things aren’t going well, then not treating that as an excuse to not live healthily.

MR: Nice. Speaking of living healthily, rumor has it you currently are living in an apartment with about ten people…

JE: [laughs] I’d say during the weekdays, it’s five and during the weekends, it’s twelve. We have a lot of people coming through this apartment–people from Boston, people from Philly, etc.; friends to play music. It’s crazy but it’s really fun. So yes, I currently live with four other guys also doing music and writing-relating adventures.

MR: Has the environment evolved into a workshop?

JE: Yes, in a lot of ways. Everyone’s been picking up the sticks recently and we have drum circles, and people listen to other people’s songs and we learn and play them, so it’s a pretty cool vibe we’ve got going on here.

MR: We spoke about Manhattan and Brooklyn, but you’ve been a bit of a globetrotter, as well. Is it a goal to play more places in the world?

JE: Oh, definitely. That’s a major goal for me. That’s my motivation for all of this, the motivation to travel. I love doing that and playing music abroad and experiencing different cultures, through music especially. I find that sharing that experience with any audience is pretty universal, but it’s also different in each place you go, and that I love. JuiceBox went to Italy twice now, and both times were so incredible.

MR: How do you picture yourself five years from now?

JE: That’s a tough question. I’m loving living in New York City right now, but I would say that with how expensive things are here, I would need to be at the next level musically, gigging and all that, just to be able to live comfortably. And going back to L.A. isn’t really a thing I want. In five years I want to be here but also traveling. I’d love that. Spending a little time in New York and a lot of time somewhere else, and using New York as a launching pad. Traveling the US is something I’d really like to do, too, because I haven’t done a lot of it.

MR: Think you might be working on any sort of father/son project with your dad?

JE: There’s been nothing talked about, but that sounds awesome. I’d definitely be down to record some drums. We’ve jammed and worked on music in the past, but nothing is officially documented, and that is something to be done.

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photo credit: Michael Fatum

Transcribed by Emily Fotis
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A Conversation with The Both’s Aimee Mann & Ted Leo, Plus A Quick Chat with Dolly Parton

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A Conversation with The Both’s Aimee Mann and Ted Leo

Mike Ragogna: Of course everybody’s asked you this, but how did you guys decide to become The Both?

Ted Leo: Well we were on the road together, we were touring in the fall of 2012. I had a song that I had actually been writing with Aimee in mind, and luckily it happened to be a song that she she responded to and approached me and asked if she could join me onstage playing it, which spared me the angst of asking her to join me on it. From that point on for the rest of the tour, our sets began cross-pollinating a little more. I was joining Aimee on a duet of hers and we started spending more and more time on stage together. It was just such a fun and energizing thing to play with her that when the tour ended and we had the conversation that people often do when these things happen, which is like, “Yeah, we should do something together sometime.” It was more serious than the usual conversation and very quickly, we began kicking ideas back and forth and churning out some songs.

MR: What’s the creative process for The Both. Is it pretty evenly balanced?

Aimee Mann: Well, more or less, it turns out to be even. A song has to get started somehow, so one or the other of us will come up iwth an initial idea and sometimes that can just be a riff or a chord progression or it could be a whole verse and a chorus and then person A hands it off to person B to come up with th enext section. There’s a lot of talking back and forth about, “What did you intend with this first verse? Where would you like it to go? What’s the narrative, or do we want to keep a narrative?” I would say one or two songs are a little more impressionistic than that but in general we do kind of have conversations about what comes next and we make sure there’s not too much time in the song before the other person chimes in with either a harmony or takes over the lead vocal. In general we tend to sing the verse that we wrote. There’s usually a lot of back and forth.

MR: And it seems like a pretty even distribution of intellegence and pop through this project. Some of my favorite lines on this project is from “You Can’t Help Me Now.” “Any time you establish a need to atone, you’re prone down the tracks you map on the seams of your own broken bones.” Wow. The visual and intelligence behind it really speaks a lot about your talents. With a lot of collaborations, I think it can be very hard to get to that point where you have a deep level of communication because you’re usually compromising within a collaboration.

TL: I appreciate you saying that. What you said at the end there is kind of crucial to how we work. The compromises that we arrive at, we make a very conscious decidion to now have it be designed by committee. It’s not the kind of thing where edges get whittled away until it’s sort of blandly acceptable to either or both of us. We really kind of challnge ourselves to get to a point with every line or even specific words within lines where we’re actively excited about what we’ve come up with and we’re not just settling for something. If one or the other of us doesn’t understand what the person is saying or has a challenge to it or thinks they might have a better idea, we really made an effort to remove our egos from the process and look at each song as a really fun collaborative puzzle to be solved and made the besat that we can make it as opposed to allowing any kind of clinging or ego-driven hurt to impede the process.

MR: Speaking of fun, was the song “Milwaukee” truly inspired by the Fonz?

AM: Yeah, in part. That was a song that I started. It was the second song we wrote together and I started it with the idea of, “I’m going to write a real Ted Leo song.” What does that translate into? A fast shuffle beat and a lot of chords. So to have placeholder lyrics I started writing about this day that we were hanging out in Milwaukee. It was probably a show pretty early on in the tour and we were walking along the Milwaukee River Walk and stumbled upon the Bronze Fonz. The Bronze Fonz is pretty ridiculous for a lot of reasons. We have since become obsessed with it and have tried to analyze all the reasons we think it’s ridiculous, but for our purposes now we don’t have to go into every reason, but just to know that as a gag I was writing about this walk and the Fonz and this other bronze duck and it was really windy. I was just putting in these details of this time when we were hanging around, but then as we were both working on it we kind of felt like, “I’m sort of into this. I’m into this very Milwaukee-specific referedce.” I do remember that show very well, it was the first show that I got to see Ted’s set all the way through and it was the first show where I thought, “I can really see how the two of us could have a musical collaboration,” I could see what it would sound like. This song, “The Gambler” was very key to that. But that was the first time I saw Ted’s show all the way through and started to think that we should do something together.

TL: Lyrically regarding you bringing up “fun,” I think we both attempt to actually kind of write about something germaine to human nature or something relatively serious when we’re writing. I think it’s kind ofrare in both of our catalogs to have something like “Milwaukee” which, while it kind of branches into other places it is essentially our origin story song. That’s part of what makes it so fun for me. I rarely write or sing about something like that. It reminds me of the fun amid which our project was created and then it adds a change of pace from our normal dark concerns. It remains fun to play and sing.

MR: You mentioned writing about human nature, and to that, one of my favorite songs lyrically on the album is “The Inevitable Shove.” How did that come about?

AM: That was started by Ted. Ted sent me this piano figure that I really liked because it is a completely different thing. It’s actually not un-showtune-like, which is actually weirdly another thing we share, we both really like musical theatre. It has a little bit of a Godspell feel, in the best way possible. I don’t want to offend you, Ted.

TL: No, no, I take that as a compliment. I’m happy to get onboard the Godspell train. Lyrically it’s just about things that we were both going through in our lives, other interpersonal issues and coming to terms with the fact sometimes that you can’t control what other people are going to think or do even in regards to yourself and you sometimes have to let go of your attempt to manipulate and control situations and let people do what they’re going to do and continue on your own path.

MR: One that’s sort of a foil to that is “Volunteers Of America.”

TL: It is sort of flipside to that. Do you want to pick that up, Aimee?

AM: “Volunteers…,” that’s a song that you started musically, I think. I wrote the chorus to it.

TL: You wrote one of the verses, too.

AM: Right, and I think I started the theme of a vague idea of the line between being helpful and of service to people and being co-dependent and a martyr and where the lines in that quadrant get drawn and how being brought up in catholocism contributes to that with the idea of faith versus work, although I’m not a catholic. That’s sort of another attempt for me to try to crawl into Ted’s brain and write from his point of view.

TL: Lord knows my lapsed Catholocism gets sprayed all over the page sometimes.

AM: But it’s in you, and it never gets out.

MR: While we’re on that subject, what’s in the news that’s got your interest?

TL: Oh God, yeah. For example, I’m most recently mortified at the situation with HSBC getting off the hook for laundering all of that Columbian drug money while there are people getting busted on the streets with a small amount of cocaine or a joint or something in a state where it’s not yet legal, or serving jail time. Stop me if I’m going too far into the weeds here, but it’s an example of going back to Eric Holder’s comment when he was Assistant Attorney General about going easy on corporate fines because of how it might affect people who need jobs if these companies go under, it’s another example of the whole idea of “Too big to fail” and the benefits of being wealthy. You can very easily fine people involved in the company without bankrupting the entire corporation. This is just yesterday, but this goes on.

AM: I love that he’s really hooked you in!

MR: [laughs] And we haven’t even talked about the Nevada rancher yet.

TL: I’m mad! But I’m always mad about something.

AM: I think that what’s always most interesting is to see how people’s personal issues impact politics and public policy and just as a broad example to see how the need to be right about things like denying climate change or people’s need to believe that that’s not possible or people confusing a vague religious belief with a political belief with a sense of anger and irritation at what they perceive to be the other side, well literally their desire and desperation and need to be right is literally leading the planet into being completely destroyed. It’s just amazing. I have a friend who says, “Yeah, you’re right. Dead right. They’ll put that on your grave stone.” “I was right.”

MR: It’s sad how so many people always vote against their best interests as well.

TL: I actually feel that there’s a willful disregard for accepting or allowing themselves to believe facts that are often presented to them that are based in–as Aimee was saying–a certain indignation, a certain need to feel agrieved or to feel that they’re the ones being put upon. It’s almost like a psychological problem that presents one from accepting facts that don’t allow them to be the agrieved party in any situation.

AM: I think the other factor is there’s this real mistrust of science and facts and a feeling of just the “other,” that somehow science and facts are the province of some undefined elite and “In defiance, I’m not going to believe what the elite is telling me,” whether it’s correct or not. People really have a problem–everyone has a f**king problem with thinking a feeling is a fact. They have a feeling about it, they’re convinced about it, and it’s a f**king fact. No one’s exempt from that, intelligent people aren’t exempt from that, educated people aren’t exempt from that, everybody has it and that’s why for me self awareness and self knowledge is the most important thing in that area. I’m always interested in that angle because I feel like it impacts everything. It also saves me from having to learn actual facts because I’m too dumb to remember them.

MR: [laughs] What advice do you have for new artists?

AM: Oh my God, Ted, you get it.

TL: Do something else.

MR: [laughs]

AM: I don’t know what somebody would do if they were just starting out. Honestly? Be good. Care. Give a s**t. Give a s**t about making good music because that will always resonate to other people who care. If all you care about is being famous, there’s no advice for you. I don’t know what to say. There are a million ways to become famous, none of them savory. It’s not that hard to become a notorious person, but caring about what you do will always resonate with you on some level.

TL: I could not have said that better.

MR: Wait Ted, it’s your turn!

TL: [laughs] I will just add that, for example, we didn’t set out doing this project with anything in mind other than crafting something that was really enjoyable for us to do and that we wanted to put a lot of work into making good. Whatever happens with that happens with it. Lord knows the music business is incredibly difficult these days. But never forget that whether you wind up making a living off of it or not, you’re making art and art is important in people’s lives. Like Aimee said, if you care about what you’re doing it’s going to reonate with somebody.

MR: Nice, beautiful. Aimee, Charmer was your last release, and Ted, you had The Brutalist Bricks. Is The Both the next step from those projects in your musical evolution? Is The Both the next part of the conversation?

TL: It feels like that for me. I wouldn’t have said that, going into it, because it feels like at the time I was still thinking about what was going to be happening with my own next “solo” project, but it really does feel like that for me now. It feels like this is the next part of the conversation. If I can speak for you for a second, Aimee, I think we both agree that we’re going to certainly keep this going for as long as we can.

AM: Agreed.

Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne

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On May 13th, Dolly Parton’s new album Blue Smoke will be released, it covering a wide range of styles from gospel to mountain to pop, taking on Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice,” the witty “Lover Du Jour,” and eye-poppers like Bon Jovi’s “Lay Your Hands On Me” and literally a killer version of the classic “Banks Of The Ohio.” Album guests include Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers, and on April 27th, Dolly will be appearing on QVC for a pre-sale of the album. The following is probably the shortest interview I’ve ever done, the result of there being like twenty other participants from Reuters to health and music zines and beyond. But it gets to the heart of what I wanted to learn about this smart, warm and honest performer.

A Tiny But Lovely Q&A with Dolly Parton

Mike Ragogna: Dolly, you’ve had an amazing recording and music history. When you look back at young Dolly Parton, what would you tell her?

Dolly Parton: [laughs] Well, I would tell her I’m pretty proud of her, because when you get older, you really reflect and you really think so many things. One of the things I think about is just how fortunate that I have been to have been able to actually see my dreams come true, because I know so many people that can’t say that. I know so many people that are far more talented than me and that have worked just as hard and came to town the same time I did and never really made it big. So you wonder, and you kind of go back to that Kris Kristofferson song, “Why Me Lord?” You just really think about all those things. But more than anything, I just think that little girl who moved here back in ’64 to try to make those dreams come true and now here I am at sixty-eight years old and so many of them have come true. But what’s so funny is I still feel like that little girl. I’m still dreaming, dreaming big. I’ve still got new dreams to dream, new dreams I hope to come true, so I just love the music, I just love to write, I love to perform and I hope to be doing this until I keel over dead in about thirty years.

MR: [laughs] Dolly, I have to ask you my traditional question. What is your advice for new artists?

DP: Well as I’ve often said, I try not to give advice, I just try to pass on some information. But I think it’s true with anything, like that old saying, “To thine own self be true,” I think there’s really so much to that, that people know what they really want, they know what their strength and their talent really is and I think you need to be willing to sacrifice that if you have to. You’ve got to protect it, you’ve got to fight for it and if you really are that good and you really have that much faith in it, if you really stay in it long enough changes are it will happen and if it don’t I’ve always said, if you’re really dreaming an impossible dream, you should know that it’s okay to change dreams in the middle of a stream. If it’s something that’s not going to happen you can still rework it and apply what you’ve learned from the other stuff to a new dream.

MR: These are very sweet answers, thank you so much.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

Disclaimer: Zac Efron never once removed his shirt during either of these interviews.
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LeapFrog Chat & Count Phone

LeapFrog Chat & Count Phone


The LeapFrog 19145 Chat & Count Phone lets your kids sing along to songs as they learn the numbers, counting, and phone routines. Your children can explore more than 15 phone activities and call on Scout for learning fun as you trade calls and voicemails with your puppy pal. Whenever your little ones press any button from 1 to 10 in this Leapfrog cell phone the animated Scout appears on the screen making them smile. This Chat & Count cell phone keeps your kids amused and entertained for long hours. Parents can connect to the online LeapFrog Learning Path for customized learning insights and ideas to expand the learning. The instruction set is included in this toy mobile phone helps in easy operation.

Price: $
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