Author Archives: Kim Smith

CYRANO: FAST-PACED FAMILY FUN AT THE GLOUCESTER STAGE CO!

Cyrano: Fast-Paced Family Fun at Gloucester Stage Company

By Tom Hauck

With a script by Jason O’Connell and Brenda Withers, Cyrano, making its New England area premiere at Gloucester Stage Company, takes direct aim at our traditional notions of onstage storytelling. The opening scene, in which a group of people who appear to be real-life stagehands suddenly assume the roles of the characters, alerts us that this adaptation of the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand knows not the artificial boundary of the fourth wall. The costumes worn by the five energetic actors are a mishmash of ordinary street clothes, community-theatre “swashbuckler” capes, and various forms of period headgear, further reinforcing the idea that we’re seeing an edgy, improvisational performance.

The story is familiar and needn’t be told again here. During the two and one-half hour (including intermission) romp, the sparkling ensemble cast, anchored by Jeremiah Kissel as Cyrano and Andrea Goldman as Roxane, puts out enough comic energy to keep the audience riveted. James Ricardo Milord reveals the humility and humanity of love-struck Christian, and Erin Nicole Washington masterfully handles split-second costume changes to bring her five characters to life. Among his three other roles, GSC favorite Paul Melendy delights as Count De Guiche, the pompous commander of the army unit to which Cyrano and Christian belong, and who’s also smitten by Roxane.

Despite the slapdash appearance of the blocking, there are moments of precision choreography, most notably the breathtaking sword fight in which Cyrano efficiently dispatches a succession of foes. But again, the notion that we’re attending a contrived “play” is confirmed by seeing a vanquished actor roll off the platform only to spring to life, grab a different cloak, and attack again. Thus five actors economically create a swirling melee of dozens of combatants.

In keeping with the improv vibe, the set is minimal and the actors themselves are the stagehands, busily drawing curtains and positioning chairs as needed. Deftly directed by GSC artistic director Robert Walsh, Cyrano provides a feast of fine acting, frivolity, and family fun. Now through August 11. For tickets, go to www.gloucesterstage.com, or call 978-281-4433.

42 PAIRS OF PIPING PLOVERS NESTING AT CRANES BEACH!

July 9th 2018 – From the Trustees “The Piping Plovers at Crane Beach are doing great this year! 42 pairs have nested making this the third highest amount of nesting Piping Plover pairs since 1986. So far 42 chicks have spread their wings and flown. Many more chicks are still on the beach and we are waiting on more nests to hatch. Please remember to keep your distance and give these protected birds their space.”

I love how the pale seashell coral pink in the clam shells mirrors the orange hues of the PiPl’s beak and legs. I don’t know why this photo strikes me as funny, but it just does. Tiny birds with huge personalities!

A FLOOD OF MONARCH SIGHTINGS, SOME SHARING THE BEST THEY’VE SEEN IN YEARS!!!

GMG Reader Leigh writes,
I just took this pict today (Tuesday July 17) and then saw your post tonight about sharing monarch picts. Spotted this one in my backyard in Rockport— on a zinnia, but near the swamp milkweed.
I enjoy your blog!
 Pamela shares a recent sighting of a Baltimore Checkerspot at Appleton Farm.

Sharon M saw one at Wingaersheek, Catherine M at Niles Pond, M.J. in her Gloucester garden and one in Lanesville, Aurelia Nelson is seeing tons at her milkweed patch in Beverly, Beverly M saw one at Riverdale, Whitney C in East Gloucester, Peggy A at Old Garden Beach Rockport, Lisa W at Magnolia Avenue, Ellen A Beverly, Betty L Pasture Road Rockport, Nancy L at her milkweed field in Salem, and Patti Papows adds that hers are coming daily to her milkweed patch not by the ones and twos, but by the threes and fours! 

Today at my presentation in Beverly Farms, the North Shore Garden Club ladies report seeing tons in their gardens, and today I saw them in my garden, and while checking on the Piping Plovers, they were in the dunes at Good Harbor and on the beach at Revere. If this warm weather continues, 2108 could prove to be a promising year for the Monarchs. Please keep your Monarch (and other butterflies, too) sightings coming. Thank you! And feel free to email us photos of sightings: kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com

KIM SMITH MONARCH BUTTERFLY PROGRAM FOR THE NORTH SHORE GARDEN CLUB WEDNESDAY JULY 18TH

Monarch Butterfly and native wildflower Joe-pye

Please join me Wednesday morning for my lecture and slide program “Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly” at 10am for the North Shore Garden Club at St. John’s Church in Beverly. I hope to see you there!

Monarchs and native New England wildflower Smooth Aster

 

WHAT’S FOR BREAKFAST MAMA?

To and fro, to and fro, flying from the branches of the majestic old oak tree to the garden beds, and then into the thickest part of the small shrub at the edge of the vegetable garden, then back to the sheltering oak above, a pair of Chipping Sparrow parents tirelessly fed their hungry brood of tiny hatchlings. Chipping cheeraree cheeraroo all the while, despite beaks overflowing with worms, and every kind of larvae you can imagine.

Chipping Sparrows are easily identified with their rufous red beret-like cap and cheery chipping. Massachusetts is part of their northern breeding range. Come fall they will begin to flock together and migrate to the southern US and Mexico. Chipping Sparrows were once more of a woodland species but today, they have become well-adapted to human habitats and nest in gardens, parks, and farmlands.

Like all song birds, Chipping Sparrow young are altricial, which means they hatch semi-undeveloped and are blind, naked, and helpless, needing constant care and feeding by the parents. Species of Plovers, such as Piping Plovers and Killdeers are precocial. They are fully mobile and can feed themselves within hours after hatching. The adults are needed to keep them warm and to protect the chicks from predators. Birds in the tern and gull family, such as Least Terns, are semi-precocial. They hatch with their eyes open, are covered with downy fluff, can walk (and in some cases swim) but must be fed by the parents.

Chipping Sparrow Nestlings

PLEASE SHARE YOUR MONARCH SIGHTINGS!

My friends Lauren from Manchester, Patti P from East Gloucester, Eric from Rockport, Cheryl from West Gloucester, and DB from Essex have all reported seeing Monarch butterflies and caterpillars in their gardens. Please keep your Monarch sightings coming (and any other beautiful butterfly or moth you may see)!

Patti shares photos from her garden –

Monarch and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Patti Papows ever expanding patch of Common Milkweed attracts a bevy of pollinators.

Eric Hutchins shares a photo of a Monarch on his Common Milkweed, grown from seeds he purchased at our milkweed seed sale a few years back.

BEYOND BEAUPORT BOOK LAUNCH

YOU’RE INVITED…

BEYOND BEAUPORT BOOK LAUNCH

JULY 29 

6:30-8:30 PM

ROCKY NECK CULTURAL CENTER

GLOUCESTER, MA

**RSVP REQUIRED SEATING IS LIMITED. PLEASE RSVP BEFORE JULY 25.**

Join local author James Masciarelli to celebrate the launch of his novel, “Beyond Beauport”. The evening will include a presentation by James, opportunities for mingling, a book signing, wine & cheese, soft drinks, and a few surprises.

James’ discussion will include remarks about the journey he took to publication and fascinating little known facts about Gloucester’s seafaring characters of the past. James will also touch upon his novel’s main character, Shannon Clarke, and her mid-life quest for her seafaring ancestry. Her childhood dream of becoming a sea captain is revived when her long-lost Uncle Patrick comes to town with salty tales of their family’s connections to famous Gloucester sea captains and infamous pirates of the Caribbean. Shannon and her uncle take to the sea in Patrick’s brigantine in a voyage fraught with raw forces of nature, past traumas and present-day sea raiders. Their beliefs about family, identity and purpose are shaken to the core. James would be honored for you to join him for this special evening.

Seating is limited please RSVP today. Looking forward to seeing you!

RSVP AT EVENTBRITE.COM AND USE KEY SEARCH WORDS “BEYOND BEAUPORT”OR CLICK HERE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/beyond-beauport-book-launch-tickets-47446611091

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A BABY BUNNY NEST IN YOUR GARDEN?

I can’t tell you how often I have accidentally uncovered a bunny nest while in the garden. The nest is usually only an inch or so below the ground surface, tucked under a perennial such as lavender or asters, and only covered with a thin layer of the mother’s fur.

If you find a nest, do not disturb. If you have accidentally disturbed the nest by raking or tidying up, place the fur back on top of the babies.

If the baby bunny has been accidentally handled or touched, still return it to the nest. The greatest myth is that Mama Cottontail will reject the baby if handled by a human. This definitely is not true and the Mama will definitely want her baby back!

Eastern Cottontail mothers do not stay with the nest all day. Rabbits are a prey species, in other words, they are hunted, and she does not want to draw attention to the nest. Cottontail Mamas typically return twice a day, at dusk and at dawn, to feed the babies. She nurses the babies by straddling the nest, so you want to keep everything as it was when you found the nest.

If you are worried because you have not see the Mama return to the nest to feed the babies, lay two pieces of string over the nest in an X shape. If after twenty four hours the string looks disturbed and the babies look plump and well-fed, you can be sure that the nest is not abandoned.

EDITED: To our Cape Ann readers- for bunnies and other small mammals that need rescuing I recommend contacting wildlife rehabilitator Erinn Whitmore.

It has just been pointed out that Erinn Whitmore is away until the fall. Erin Parson Hutchings also does small mammal rehabilitation and she too is a Mass Wildlife licensed rehabber. You can contact Erin through facebook.This tiny Eastern Cottontail was found today by Ari at Wolf Hill, in a nest located in some gravel. She accidentally uncovered the nest while tidying up around the plants.

 

FOUR WAYS IN WHICH WE CAN HELP THE GOOD HARBOR BEACH PIPING PLOVERS SUCCESSFULLY FLEDGE CHICKS: OUR RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE MAYOR

Dear Readers,

Last Tuesday we sent our letter to Mayor Sefatia and the City Councilors with a short list of recommendations, based on the past three years of daily Piping Plover monitoring by myself and our core group of volunteer monitors. We purposefully kept the recommendations modest out of consideration to both the Piping Plovers and to our Good Harbor beach going community. Please find below the recommendations suggested by the Piping Plover volunteer monitors.

July 9, 2018

Dear Mayor Romeo Theken and Gloucester City Councilors,

We, the Piping Plover volunteer monitors, are submitting our short list of recommendations regarding the Piping Plovers nesting at Good Harbor Beach. Our goal is to have in place by next April 1, 2019, measures and ordinances that will greatly increase the likelihood that the hatchlings of this tiny threatened shorebird will have a fighting chance at surviving life on Good Harbor Beach.

Piping Plovers began nesting at Good Harbor Beach in 2016. Each year, the PiPl are coming earlier and earlier. In 2016, they arrived mid-May, in 2017 they arrived at the beginning of May, and this year, they arrived on April 3. It would appear that the same pair is returning to Good Harbor Beach, as the male marks his territory and attempts to build a nest scrape only several feet from the previous year’s nest (at Boardwalk #3 nesting area). More Plovers than ever were seen at Good Harbor Beach this spring, and if not for constant interruptions in the Boardwalk #1 nesting area, we would have had two pairs nesting on the beach.

Why are the birds arriving earlier and earlier? We can presume that the pair are more experienced travelers and that Good Harbor Beach is their “territory.” Does this mean we will eventually have dozens of pairs nesting on Good Harbor Beach? No, because the PiPl are very territorial and they will defend a fairly large area, preventing other PiPl from nesting in their site.

This year the PiPl pair hatched four chicks. All four chicks were killed by crows, gulls, and dogs. All three are human-created issues, and all three can be remedied. The following are the four recommendations and actions we wish to see take place.

Recommendations

1) Change the dog ordinance to not allow dogs on the beach after March 31.

Currently, dogs are allowed on the beach from October 1 to May 1. The Piping Plover volunteer monitor core group, Dave Rimmer from Greenbelt, Ken Whittaker, and Mass Wildlife’s John Regosin, all agree that dogs should not be allowed on Good Harbor Beach beginning April 1, but that it would be safe for Piping Plover fledglings and other migrating shorebirds for dogs to return after September 15.

This new suggested time frame will allow birds to nest on the beach (as opposed to in the parking lot), with far less interruption, shorebirds will nest earlier in the season, which will help with the chicks survival rate, and the chicks will be stronger by the time Good Harbor fills with summer crowds.

This is a very logical and simple solution. Disallowing dogs on Massachusetts coastal beaches where shorebirds are nesting, beginning April 1, is the norm. Allowing them to return after September 15, and in many cases after September 30, is also very common. For Piping Plovers and other nesting shorebirds, protecting their habitat and sharing the shore is a matter of life and death.

2) Rope off the nesting area by April 1.

Poles, with threatened species signs, and a triple row of roping of nesting sites, to be in place no later than April 1. Essex County Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer will assist with this measure.

3) Enforce the existing ordinances regarding dogs (and littering) at all times throughout the year.

Only enforcing dog ordinances at Good Harbor Beach during nesting season is creating hostility toward the Piping Plovers.

Additionally, we do not recommend extremely high fines as we feel that may become an impediment to issuing and collecting the fines. We know of at least one example where the magistrate dismissed the tickets issued to a woman who claimed to have a service dog. This woman was running rampant on the beach and throughout dunes with her service dog off leash throughout the entire time the PiPl were nesting, from April through May. Despite the fact that former dog officer Diane Corliss caught the woman on camera with her dog off leash on the beach, and in the dunes, all her tickets that were issued by the animal control officer were dismissed. This is neither fair to the officers who are working hard to keep the dogs off the beach or to the plover volunteers who are spending inordinate amounts of time trying to keep the PiPl safe.

4). Increase trash collection.

When no barrels are placed at the entrances to the beach, people dump bags of trash there anyway. When barrels are in place, people put trash in the barrels however, when the barrels become full, they again resort to leaving bags of trash behind, only next to the barrels. In either scenario, gulls and crows are attracted to the trash. Both gulls and crows rip open the bags and the trash is blown throughout the parking lot and marsh, soon finding its way onto the beach and into the ocean. Hungry gulls and crows waiting for people to leave their trash behind eat tiny shorebirds.

A friend who lives on a North Carolina beach shares how her community keeps their public beaches looking pristine. Not only do they have barrels, but every few weeks, police patrol the beach and hand out fines for littering. This is taken as a wake up call, everyone is good for a bit of time, but then become slack about littering again. Out come the officers for another round of ticketing.

Thank you for taking the time to consider our recommendations.

Sincerely yours,

Kim Smith

cc Paul Lundberg, Steven LeBlanc, Val Gilmam, Ken Hecht, Melissa Cox, Jen Holmgren, Scott Memhard, Sean Nolan, Jamie O’Hara, Dave Rimmer, Ken Whitakker

Piping Plover chicks coming in for some snuggles.

MORGAN FAUDLS PIKE’S GREAT RED FOX CAPTURE!

Gloucester sculptor and designer Morgan Faulds Pike’s arrestingly beautiful works of art are often inspired by the wildlife and wild habitats of Cape Ann. I love her description of a Red Fox she recently spied. Go here to Morgan’s website to see a collection of her stunning sculptures, carvings for pipe organs, and drawings. And of course, you can always visit her “Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Memorial” on the boulevard.
Thanks so much to Morgan for sharing!!
Hello  Kim,
Heading home Tuesday from an early morning run around the quarries, I saw this fox cross Granite Street toward the Tool Company. She munched on something under a bush in the empty lot while crows, and later mockingbirds, harassed her. I got out of the car and watched her calmly cross at the crosswalk, then head up Curtis street on the sidewalk. A beautiful animal with ink dipped feet and ears and a white tipped fat fur tail. Sorry it’s only iPhone resolution…
Morgan Faulds Pike

Red Fox are so elusive. We used to see them all the time in East Gloucester, especially on the backshore beaches, scavenging early, early in the morning. I see them now much more frequently in West Gloucester (and Gray Fox, too) and Joey recently saw one trotting along in East Gloucester, after years of no sightings.

I read that where you have a greater concentration of Eastern Coyotes there will be fewer Red Fox. I also read that because of habitat competition from the Eastern Coyote, they are now denning closer to people’s homes as these sites are deemed safer from coyotes. Coyotes typically sleep out in the open and don’t usually make a den, unless it’s pupping season, and then they may use a fox’s den.

 A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO LEONARD BERNSTEIN AT THE ANNISQUAM VILLAGE CHURCH 

Annisquam Village Church

2018 Concert Series

Sunday, July 22, at 8 PM

 A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO LEONARD BERNSTEIN 

 

Offered during the centennial of his birth, this program is a tribute to one of Massachusetts’ greatest composers, the controversial international legend Leonard Bernstein.  Like other programs under the artistic direction of Beverly Soll, it adopts a trademark informality and direct communication with the audience as it explores the essence of the man and his music.

Because Bernstein himself made no distinction between art songs, operatic solos, and pieces for the Broadway stage, the performers won’t either, weaving together favorites from the vast repertoire of Bernstein’s music theatre, operatic, and art songs.  Bernstein famously said in one of his first Young People’s Concerts, “Music is never about anything. … Music just is.”  In this spirit, the recital opens with the first music he composed for voice and piano in which the 25-year-old composer proclaims, “I hate music, but I like to sing,” and goes on to complain about “the big, dark hall where people really don’t want to be at all.”

The program follows the wild comet ride of Bernstein’s life exploring his concerns and thoughts about social consciousness, love, and politics in songs from West Side Story, Candide, Trouble in Tahiti, and On the Town, and finally about religion, closing with the words of the street priest in Mass, “Sing God a simple song … for God is the simplest of all.”  In a 1950s “This I Believe” NPR radio broadcast essay, Bernstein said, “I believe in people. I feel, love, need and respect people above all else.”  His music reflects this incredible honesty and a search for a better society.

Performers are soprano Tiffany Baxter, mezzo soprano Angela Jajko, and baritone Mark Morgan, with artistic director Beverly Soll and husband Andrew Soll at the piano, all of whom are active professional musicians well known on the North Shore and in the greater Boston area.

 

Tiffany Baxter, Angela Jajko, Mark Morgan, Andrew Soll & Beverly Soll

The concert features a brief guest appearance by Les jeunes émissaires de Jeanne d’Arc (young students and campers from the CAPE ANN ARTS ALIVE program) in a reprise of their pageant based on the creation of Anna Hyatt Huntington’s iconic equestrian statue of Joan of Arc. Bernstein’s incidental music for Jean Anouilh’s play, The Lark, marks a moment when the tide had turned for France under Joan’s banner and her ‘emissaries’ celebrate her victories.  Sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington’s studio was on the causeway between Goose Cove and Lobster Cove, just footsteps away from the Village Church.

Settled in 1728 as the Third Parish of Cape Ann, the historic Annisquam Village Church offers ideal acoustics in an intimate, New England setting.  Located at 820 Washington Street (corner of Leonard and Washington Streets), the church is 3 miles from Grant Circle)

Handicap accessible.

General admission: $20 at the door or in advance with Brown PaperTickets:  https://tributetoleonardbernstein.brownpapertickets.com     Students $15. (at the door only)

 

GOOD MORNING GOOD HARBOR BEACH BABIES!

The Good Harbor Beach Killdeer Family has hatched a second clutch of four chicks!

The first nest was located in the dunes, the second on the edge of the parking lot. The staff at the GHB parking lot placed two large stones on either side of the nest. A week or so later, an orange cone.

Nesting patiently and well hidden in the scrubby parking lot growth. 

Mama and Papa Killdeer successfully distracted many a beach goer from getting too close to to the nest with their broken-wing distraction display.

Killdeers are a species of plovers, as are Piping Plovers, Semi-palmated Plovers, Black-bellied Plovers, and Wilson’s Plovers. It takes about the same amount of time for the eggs to incubate, approximately 24-28 days.

Both male and female Killdeers brood the eggs. It is not easy to tell the difference between the male and female unless side-by-side. The male is typically a bit larger than the female.

Three of the eggs had hatched by nightfall, the fourth hatched early the next day. This new little Killdeer Family safely made it out of the parking lot the day after hatching, heading into the marsh, just as did the brood that hatched earlier in the summer.

 

NEW ENGLAND PREMIERE OF CYRANO OPENS AT GLOUCESTER STAGE

NEW ENGLAND PREMIERE OF

CYRANO

OPENS AT GLOUCESTER STAGE

A New Version of the Classic Tale with a Contemporary Spin

Gloucester Stage Company continues its 39th season of professional theater with the New England premiere of Jason O’Connell and Brenda Withers’Cyrano from July 13 through August 11 at Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA. Gloucester Stage Artistic Director Robert Walsh directs this adaptation of Rostand’s 1897 classic, Cyrano de Bergerac. According to Walsh, “Cyrano, a new adaptation of the famous play by Edmond Rostand (Cyrano de Bergerac), by Brenda Withers & Jason O’Connell, is a fast-paced, contemporized version featuring a small cast breathing fresh life into this large-scale classic.  Witty, clever, insouciant and fully enjoying the poetic bravura through a modern-day lens and very approachable language, this New England premiere will be perfect for Gloucester Stage!  A beautiful tale told with panache.”

A cast of five plays a multitude of roles in this imaginative retelling of the classic story of Cyrano and his love for Roxane. Acclaimed Boston actor Jeremiah Kissel makes his GSC debut as Cyrano. Andrea Goldman last seen at GSC in 2016’s The Last Schwartz, returns to play Roxane. Salem resident Paul Melendy, last seen at GSC in 2016’s The Last Schwartz with Ms. Goldman and in 2017’s Bank Job returns to play DeGuiche. James Ricardo Milord and Erin Nicole Washington both make their GSC debut as Christian and LeBret/Duenna. Jason O’Connell and Brenda Withers’ Cyrano had its world premiere in February 2018 at Amphibian Stage Productions in Fort Worth, Texas.”

Artistic Director and Cyrano director Robert Walsh has worked at Gloucester Stage as both an actor and director for over 20 years. Most recently, in 2017 he directed Bank Job, in 2016 he directed Songs For A New World and in 2015 he directed the Elliot Norton Award winning The New Electric Ballroom and starred in Gloucester Blue. Walsh’s other GSC directing credits include North Shore Fish, FightingOver Beverley, The Widow’s Blind Date, The Primary English Class, and Our Town. As an actor he has appeared on the stage in Gloucester in Sins of the Mother, The Subject Was Roses,The Barking Sharks, and Two for the Seesaw. He has also served as the Producing Artistic Director at the American Stage Festival where he directedBus Stop, Intimate Exchanges, Jacques Brel…, andLend Me a Tenor, among others. As Artistic Associate at Actors’ Shakespeare Project he has directed As You Like It, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Coriolanus, Twelfth Night, andMeasure For Measure. Other productions directed include:Othello with Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; Round and Round The Garden, Table Manners, K2, Later Life and HolidayMemories at Merrimack Rep; Rancho Mirage, Race, Speed-The-Plow, andTrue West with New Repertory Theatre; The Secret of Sherlock HolmesandThe Goatwoman of Corvis Countyat Shakespeare & Co.; MisallianceandA Life in the Theatre at Two River Theatre Co.; I Hate

Hamlet with StageWest; The Little Foxesat Barter Theatre; and Of Mice and Men at Stoneham Theatre, among others. His roles in recent feature films include Black Mass, Patriot’s Dayand the upcoming, Altar Rock. Mr. Walsh directed the on-field ceremonies for the ’99 All-Star Game at Fenway Park. He is on the faculty at Brandeis University.

Jeremiah Kissel makes his Gloucester Stage debut as Cyrano. Winner of the 2003 Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence, Mr. Kissel is a thirty-five year veteran of Boston’s professional theaters, and has played leading roles for The Huntington, American Repertory, Merrimack Rep, as well as The Lyric Stage, Shear Madness, and various out of town companies when they passed through Boston. His recent appearances include Old Money and King Lear for Commonwealth Shakespeare, and Fiddler on the Roof and Two Jews Walk Into a War for The New Rep. He is the winner of Helen Hayes, IRNE, Hatch, Graniteer and Arts Impulse Awards as well as several Elliot Norton Awards including most recently, Best Actor for playing Bernie Madoff in 2014, and most notably, the very first Norton Award given to a local Boston actor in 1990. His screen credits include The Town, The Fighter, Joy,Stronger and The Wrong Car, and he can be seen in the upcoming Hulu series, Castle Rock. The last time he was in Cyrano, it was as Christian at The Theater at Monmouth, in 1983.

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