Saturday, March 01, 2014

Geek TV: Dr. Shrinker

ShrinkerjayConcept: Mad scientist invents a shrink ray. When three young adults crash land on his island, he uses the ray to shrink them down, then tries to capture them to prove his ray works, while the trio tries to regain their normal size.

Total Episodes: 16 (as part of the Krofft Supershow)

Original Air Dates: September 11, 1976 – September 2, 1977

Original Network: ABC

Characters:

Dr. Shrinker (Jay Robinson): The title character, no wonder he decided to invent a shrink ray, it seems his name gave him no choice!

Hugo (Billy Barty): Dr. Shrinker's Assistant.

Brad Fulton (Ted Eccles), B.J. Masterson (Susan Lawrence), and Gordie Masterson (Jeff MacKay): Collectively referred to as “The Shrinkies,” Brad and the Masterson siblings spend each episode trying to get restored to normal size while evading Dr. Shrinker and Hugo.

Geek Pedigree:

Jay Robinson had previously been seen in episodes of The Wild Wild West (“The Night of the Sedgewick Curse”), Star Trek (“Elann of Troyius”), Bewitched (“Samanth's Caesar Salad” and “The Phrase is Familiar”), Planet of the Apes (“Tomorrow's Tide”), Kolchak: The Night Stalker (“Chopper”). He later appeared on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (“Planet of the Amazon Women”), The Sword and the Sorcerer, Voyagers! (“Created Equal), Tales of the Gold Monkey (“Last Chance Louie”), Dracula (1992), and voicing characters in the 1999 series Mad Jack the Pirate. He died on September 27, 2013 at the age of 83.

Billy Barty started his career acting opposite Mickey Rooney, playing his little brother, but his first genre roles were in Alice and Wonderland (1933, playing a White Pawn and the Baby), The Bride of Frankenstein (a baby again), was a regular on The Spike Jones Show, played the Court Jester in The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, played Googy Gopher and Orville Pelican in Pufnstuf, guested in two episodes of Get Smart (“Ironhand” and “Hello, Columbus – Goodbye, America”), played Sparky the Firefly in The Bugaloos, Sigmund in Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, guested in The Ghost Busters (“The Maltese Monkey”), The Lost Saucer (“Transylvania 2300”), and later appeared in The Man From Atlantis (“Deadly Carnival”), The Lord of the Rings (1978, he was the rotoscope model for Bilbo and Sam), and many other roles. He died in 2000.

Ted Eccles previously guested in episodes of Mister Ed (“No Horses Allowed”), The Munsters (“Herman the Great”), and voiced Dorno in The Herculoids and Tooly in the “Three Musketeers” segments of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.

Jeff MacKay didn't have any geek roles prior to this, but later played Cpl Komma in three episodes of Battlestar Galactica, guested in two episodes of The Greatest American Hero (“The Greatest American Hero” and “The Beast in the Black”), played Corky on Tales of the Gold Monkey, and voiced Fireflight on The Transformers.

Susan Lawrence had previously guested in an episode of Isis (“Girl Driver”) and later guested in two episodes of Mork & Mindy (“A Mommy for Morky” and “Yes, Sir, That's My Baby”).

Jack Regas directed several episodes, and he'd previously directed the 1975 TV movie version of It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman, seven episodes of The Lost Saucer, and also directed episodes of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, Wonderbug, and Out of This World. Fellow series director Bob Lally directed episodes of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and Land of the Lost.

Geek Guests: None

DVD Release: A few episodes have been featured on Krofft compilation DVDs, and a complete DVD set was being discussed in 2006, but nothing's come out so far.

Website: None 

Book and Record Set: GI Joe - Search for the Stolen Idol

Friday, February 28, 2014

Retro-Review: Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (Charlton) #10!

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Time once again for me to grab a random comic book from my collection, and this time around, it's Charlton's Scooby Doo... Where Are You! number 10. Now, one would think that writing Scooby Doo comics would be fairly simple, all one has to do is follow the formula: The gang arrives on the scene in the Mystery Machine, find that there's a ghost causing problems, split up to investigate (Fred with the girls, Shaggy with Scooby), having a few encounters, Shaggy and Scooby use disguises at one point to interact with the ghost, Velma finds clues and says "Jinkies!", the ghost chases them a time or two, a trap is set (with Shaggy and/or Scooby acting as bait), the ghost is captured and unmasked as someone who's trying to get people scared away from something so that they can get something, the clues being revealed, and finally, the inevitable "I would've gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids," closing with Scooby saying, "Scooby-doobie-doo!"

Well, that's not the case here! The first story is called "It's Dynamite!" and it opens at Fort Rocks, where the gang has arrived in the Mystery Machine because Velma's Uncle Rudolph (an uncle she doesn't have) has written asking for their help. So far, so good, right? Well, in the first panel, there's a menacing-looking car following the van (the headlights even look like eyes!), and crooks spy on the gang as they check in at the Fort Rocks Hotel! The boys and Scooby share one room, the girls the other. Since there's only one room, they draw straws to see who gets it, and Fred (who's called "Mark" by Shaggy for some reason!) draws first. Scooby wins, despite the fact that Shaggy only took two straws, so Shaggy wins!

Meanwhile, the crooks who were watching the gang have gathered dynamite and bombs because they're planning on blowing up the Mystery Machine. Two of them, despite being Americans, talk in German and Italian accents, because they are spies, and figure they have to talk like them. Their plan is that when the Mystery Machine is inside the fort, they'll call General Rudolph Rudolph and tell him to load the van with gold or they'll blow up the fort. The kids wake up after the sabotage has occurred (Fred is still being called Mark for some reason), and they head to the Fort. Inside, they're brought to General Rudolph, who knows he's not Velma's uncle, because he has no nieces or nephews. Rudolph is called by the spies, who obviously were the ones who sent the letter, and they make their threat. Rudolph asks the gang if they're part of the scheme and Fred/Mark says there's no explosives in the van (Scooby thinks otherwise), and Rudolph decides he has no choice. Scooby whispers to Shaggy (who is portrayed as the only person who understands Scooby), and a plan is hatched. The gang leaves the fort with the gold to meet the spies, but when the back doors of the van are opened, the gang is faced with a cannon manned by Shaggy! The spies give up, Velma wishes the general really was her uncle, and Scooby is given credit for the plan.

This causes Scooby to think, "The general's getting a little flakey, he's beginning to think I can talk too!" and then says, "Which I can... when I want to!" Fred/Mark asks who said that, and Shaggy says, "If I tell you, you wouldn't believe me anyhow, Mark!"

Weird, right? Well, it gets weirder with the second story, "The Wishing Well." The gang is driving the Mystery Machine when it starts overheating, and they stop at an abandoned house to get some water from the well for the radiator. Fred's got his name correct this time around, at least! Velma suggests getting permission before getting water, so Fred knocks on what's left of the door. At first there's no answer, but then an older couple come out of the house (Scooby notices that they walk through the cobwebs without breaking them) and tell the gang that their well is a wishing well, and by taking a drink, they can make a wish, and it'll come true.

They pull up a bucket of water, give some to the Mystery Machine (which actually drinks the water... someone must've confused the Mystery Machine with Speed Buggy!). Daphne is the first of the gang to drink, and becomes rich and wealthy (which is odd, as she's always been portrayed as being wealthy to begin with). Velma takes a drink and becomes Miss America, which is really odd, as she's always been portrayed as the intellectual type, and you wouldn't think that she'd want to be sexy like Daphne is! The old man tells them they only get one wish, and can't go back to the way they were.

Shaggy's wish is for a humongous dish of ice cream, which he gets. Fred's next, and he becomes president (which he claims is his one ambition since he was a kid). Scooby wants them back the way they were, so his wish is that he wanted every wish that anyone had come true to be taken back, and so the gang changes to normal, but the old couple has vanished from sight! It seems that the couple's wish was to live forever, but that made them unhappy, so now they've passed from this mortal veil, and are now ghosts, and thank Scooby for his wish.

The next two pages are a text story called "Giant Size," and given the "quality" of the first two stories, I think it's best to skip that (although at least a brief perusal reveals that Scooby's talking more or less normally in that tale).

Finally, we come to "The Ghost of James Jesse," which at least from the title sounds more promising! The gang enter a town as it's being robbed by the ghosts of the James Jesse Gang, although they're using real bullets. The bank manager didn't take the robbery serious at first, as it's the 100th anniversary of the bank being robbed by the real James Jesse gang, but the bullets convinced him otherwise. The gang go to the library, figuring they'll see where the gang struck next, which will tell them where the ghost gang will strike. The next crime was a stagecoach holdup in the nearby town of Tipton, so they decide to convert the Mystery Machine into a stagecoach and start heading to Tipton, with a pair of horses hitched to the van (at first, Shaggy hitches the horses to the back of the disguised Mystery Machine). About three miles out of Tipton, the gang strike, holding the gang up, and taking their strongbox, which contains a fake snake, which scares the gang. Now captured, the crooks complain that the Mystery Inc. gang isn't fighting fair, and Shaggy realizes that they're not ghosts (duh!). After the crooks are jailed, Shaggy suggests heading for Chicago next, but they figure that if they head there, they'll run into gangsters from the Roaring Twenties!

Clearly, there was little knowledge of Scooby and the gang by whoever wrote these stories! If it weren't for my obsession with picking up cheap Charlton comics, I'd probably have never bought this issue. It's been decades since I read any of the Gold Key Scooby stories, but they have to be better than this issue... I know for sure the Marvel ones were better, as the issues I've read were written by Mark Evanier!

Fandom Library: Batmania #16!

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Comics They Never Made!

Time for another short gallery of my made-up comics covers!

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Here's one where I really wish I had access to PhotoShop, instead of the freeware Gimp software I'm stuck using... I was trying to get this to look like a painted cover, but I couldn't get the filters I had to work right!

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There were Captain Scarlet comics published in the UK, but not in the US!

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The Beatles Cartoon, Episode 12!

The first story in this episode is called "Everybody's Trying to be My Baby," with the featured song being that self-same song, which was originally written and performed by Carl Perkins, and covered by the Beatles (with George singing lead). Just as a side note, the Beatles were big Perkins fans, and they also covered Perkins' "Matchbox," with Ringo singing lead.

beatles12_01The episode opens with the Beatles driving a car along a road, when suddenly John stops the car, saying it doesn't look like the road to Tokyo. Ringo looks at the map, but he can't even find Japan, much less Tokyo. George folds the map into what first looks like a dunce cap, but when it's put on Ringo's head it more resembles the stereotypical Chinese coolie hat. At a nearby temple, four Japanese men are bowing down to a statue of one of their forefathers, praying for the return of him. Lightning strikes the temple, sending the four running away. Meanwhile, the Beatles, seeing the storm brewing, decide to stop somewhere for the night... and Ringo spots the temple, so they park and enter.

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They find an entire meal laid out, as well as the cloaks and hats left by the four Japanese men, and don the clothes and bed down for the night. The next morning, the four men return to the temple, and call for the return of the honorable ancestor by banging a gong, but one of the Beatles (you can't tell which, as you only see their arm) briefly opens the door long enough to hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign up. The Japanese men assume it's their ancestors inside, and block the door with boards and a chain and lock, so their honorable ancestors will stay with them forever. Ringo grabs the gong through an opening in the boards, deciding they need to call on the real ancestors. The men start crying at this, and break into the temple, and start chasing the Beatles as the song begins.

beatles12_03The song is edited slightly, first eliminating the first verse and going right into the chorus, then briefly stops when the Beatles open a door, finding a room filled with Japanese women, who of course also believe the Beatles are their ancestors. The Beatles leave that room, and the song begins again halfway through the second verse, and as the first instrumental break begins (cut in half, with only the second half of the guitar solo playing), they duck into another room, where they find a dragon costume. They get into the costume just as the Japanese men enter that room, but they see through the disguise immediately. The chase resumes and the song ends as the Beatles run into their pursuers.

beatles12_04Finally, the Beatles say that they're not the ancestors, but the Japanese men reveal they know this now, as the Beatles have no braids, which is a requirement! The Beatles are kicked out of the temple, and land in their car. Ringo looks at the camera, asking who ever heard of calling up ancestors by ringing a gong, and rings the gong himself, causing two of the ancestors to appear! The Beatles drive off in a hurry.

beatles12_05Next, it's time for the singalong! George introduces the singalong this time, and as he's trying to encourage the kids to sing along, Ringo interrupts, and George tells Ringo the next song is coming on like gangbusters. Since Ringo's still filling in for the prop man (as he's done in every episode), he rushes offstage and comes back dressed as a Chicago gangster, complete with Tommy gun, which he fires! When George says it's not him who's supposed to come on like gangbusters, it's the number, Ringo doffs his trenchcoat, revealing himself in prison attire, and points to his chest, saying he's got a number, too!

beatles12_06The singalong begins, with "I'm a Loser," which features images of Ringo dressed as a boxer, and the others as his trainers. The first bad lyric comes up almost immediately, with the line "There is one love I should never have crossed" coming out onscreen as "There is one girl I should never have crossed." As the first chorus begins, the Beatles slide back the other way, with Ringo having been knocked out. The scene switches to a casino, with Ringo betting and obviously losing, as his chips get collected row by row. It turns out that George is the croupier, and John and Paul have been winning. Next, we're in a theater, and Paul is already sitting there when Ringo and his girl sit next to him. The lights go out, and when they come back on, Paul's stolen Ringo's girl! By the way, half of the harmonica solo is cut out here. The next scene is on an old train, with the Beatles entering it dressed in 1930s clothing, and Ringo missing the train. The song's ended before the complete final chorus and outgoing solo can be heard.

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George is back onstage again, saying the kids did a great job. Ringo's told to create an atmosphere to get the folks watching at home to really sing up a storm, and Ringo runs off, throws some levers, and a fake cloud appears over George, dousing him with water. When George goes to complain to Ringo, Ringo douses him with more water, courtesy of a fake flower on his lapel! George punches Ringo, and the song begins.

beatles12_08The second singalong is "I Wanna Be Your Man," which the Beatles originally wrote for the Rolling Stones (the story goes that John and Paul wrote it on the spot when they met the Stones, writing it in only about 15-20 minutes... when the Beatles recorded it themselves, Ringo sang lead). This opens in a movie theater, with a girl watching a film of the same title as the song. Well, it's more like a slide show, with new scenes sliding into place, and a Beatle dressed appropriate for the scene sliding in (such as John as a sailor on a navy ship, or George as a waiter in a restaurant). A nice surprise is that the lyrics are all correct on-screen!

beatles12_09The final segment is called "I Should Have Known Better," featuring the song of the same title that originally appeared in the film and album A Hard Day's Night. It opens in Italy, where the Beatles are supposed to be making a movie directed by Senor Bombasto, but the sets have all burned down. John and the other Beatles blame Ringo for starting the fire by rubbing two drumsticks together. By the way, Bombasto's voice is the same as Boris Badenov's, with an Italian accent. Anyway, they find a new theater to perform in (I guess the performance is part of the movie), but there's a poster for a grand opera on the outside of it, and a rehearsal is begun.

beatles12_10As the Beatles start to tune up, a woman opera singer (decked out as a valkyrie straight out of The Ring of the Nibel√ľngen) starts warming up her voice. Her voice causes all kinds of damage to the set, sending walls falling down on everyone, including the Beatles. They move on to a new theater to rehearse, this one advertising a ballet! Like the previous theater, there's a sign (unnoticed by the Beatles or Bombasto) saying that there's a rehearsal going on. Again, they start to tune up, but then the ballet performers start practicing! Ringo's knocked through the stage floor, and he finds a lever labeled "spring lift" that he pulls, sending him flying back up onto the stage, where he then hits a lever starting an artificial storm! The storm floods the theater, sending the Beatles out.

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There's no theaters left in Rome to practice in, but then Ringo spots a postcard with a photo of the Colliseum, but it's not large enough for Bombasto... but they go there anyway. And that's when they start the song! Unfortunately, this song is enough to start making the Colliseum become even more of a ruin than it was to begin with, with sections of columns starting to slide out of place. As the song goes on, columns begin to fall, as well as statues. I should note that the Beatles' performance in this video is animated much better than usual, as they all perform "in character" as we've seen in concert performances, complete with John's wide stance and more bobbing up and down than just tapping his toes. As the song ends, the place is a complete wreck.

Ringo quips, "They sure don't make Rome like they used to!"

Overall, I'd have to say this was a pretty enjoyable episode, particularly the last segment. The only thing I didn't really like was the portrayal of the Japanese in the first segment, but I suppose that can be forgiven, given the stereotyping still going on in cartoons of the day.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Government Comics!

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Comic Book Ads: Marketing the Marvels!

With the popularity of Captain Marvel, followed shortly by Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel, it only made sense that the Marvels would be marketed... and marketed they were!
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There were a number of toys featuring the Marvels, especially paper toys! Here's one of several Picture Puzzles produced!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Essays on Comic Book Characters #2: Captain America

captam_kirby-adkins.JPGI'm guessing that some of you probably thought I'd follow up the first essay in this series with Batman, but I thought that'd be an obvious choice. Besides, I figure why not change comic publishers each time? So here goes...

The idea of a super-soldier was not a new one to comics. One only has to look back to Greek mythology to characters like Achilles to find the concept of a super-soldier, someone who is seemingly undefeatable in battle, nearly invulnerable.

In Captain America Comics #1, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby redefined the super-soldier for comics readers – and Americans – like no one has before or since. Right away he was controversial, smacking Hitler in the jaw before the US had officially entered World War II. Oh, comics heroes had been battling Hitler-like characters, usually with names somewhat punning on Hitler, but this was the first time that a superhero had taken the step to directly battle the Nazis and the associated Axis.

Comic Reading Library: Blast-Off #1!

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Fandom Library: Star Trek - The Crier in the Emptiness Book and Record!

Yes, it's Power Records time again, and since I haven't gotten around to producing videos of the Star Trek sets, I'm continuing to keep them in the Fandom Library rotation!
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The Indexible Hulk #57

Tales to Astonish 100Issue: Tales to Astonish #100

Title: Let There be Battle!

Credits: Written by Stan Lee, penciled by Marie Severin, inks by Dan Adkins, letters by Sam Rosen

Supporting Cast: Rick Jones, Major Talbot, General Ross, Betty Ross

Villain: The Puppet Master

Guest-Stars: Sub-Mariner... Sort of. This issue of ToT was a full-length team-up tale between the two stars of the book!

Plot: Prince Namor is watching the surface world on his Computo-Viewer when he sees the Hulk plunging to his apparent death from the explosion of the Living Lightning's base. Namor ponders how the Hulk could be a mighty ally for him. Since his own people have branded him a traitor, he's friendless and forsaken, but teamed with the Hulk, they'd be invincible!

When Namor breaks the surface off the southeastern tip of the USA (yes, he noted the Hulk was in the southwest earlier), he's fired upon by the crew of an experimental hydrafoil craft who are under the control of the Puppet Master. The Puppet Master had ordered the crew to fire on anyone approaching the craft as they brought it to him. After Namor cripples the craft, the Puppet Master recalls how Namor last defeated him.

Since the Puppet Master can't control Namor, he decides to find someone he can control... And he sees a newspaper headline about the Hulk being buried in a landslide (apparently some time passed between Namor's viewing and his arrival off the coast of the US). He quickly fashions a puppet of the Hulk out of his radioactive clay, and takes control of Greenskin, ordering him to free himself. As the Hulk breaks free from his stony tomb, the Puppet Master gloats that while the Hulk will be the victor against the Sub-Mariner, the triumph shall be his.

Meanwhile, Ross has ordered a blasting crew to clear the rubble and find the Hulk, but Rick protests, saying if the Hulk is alive the explosions might kill him. Talbot stays the Hulk is too dangerous to be accounted for. Suddenly, the Hulk breaks free! Rick approaches the Hulk, but as he does, the Puppet Master tells the Hulk all who live is his enemy, and the Hulk swats Rick aside before leaping away. Ross swears that he'll get the Hulk, even if it takes forever.

It doesn't take long for the Hulk to leap from the southwest to the southeast coast, where he finds the Sub-Mariner. Namor offers the Hulk a chance to join forces, but since Jade-Jaws is mind controlled, he hits Namor! And so, the battle is on!

It's obvious that the Hulk has an advantage while they fight on lend, so Subby tries to goad Greenskin into following him to the sea! The Puppet Master realizes this, and orders the Hulk to strike again. Namor tries to use his ability to fly as an advantage, but the Hulk can leap wherever Subby can fly.

As the fight goes on, the Hulk grabs Namor by the arm, and then as the Puppet Master thinks victory is at hand, the Hulk throws Namor out to the sea! Angered, the Puppet Master orders the Hulk to go after Namor.

Meanwhile, Betty arrives at the scene of where the Hulk broke loose, having heard someone was hurt and fearing it was Bruce. Seeing it was Rick, and learning the Hulk injured him, she fears Bruce is lost to her forever. Talbot ponders that he wants Betty's love, but not because she can't have Banner... But how can the Hulk be killed?

Back at the battle, Namor has been invigorated by the water, and wanting to kill the Hulk, he breaks the surface, flying back to his foe. The two re-engage in battle at the beach of Miami. Namor forces the Hulk into the water, where the Hulk starts losing the advantage. The Puppet Master orders the Hulk to get out of the water, and he does so.

Back at the missile base, word of the battle comes in, and Talbot offers to lead a missile-armed task force to stop them. Ross turns him down, as you can't fire missiles over a populated area.

The battle rages on into the streets of Miami, but when Namor starts to fly off to get a breather, the Hulk leaps after him, and accidentally strikes a police helicopter. Namor saves the policemen inside, but the Hulk approaches again... But something is different! Though the Puppet Master orders the Hulk to kill Namor, the Hulk does not want to kill. His hesitation gives Namor the edge, and the Sub-Mariner forces the Hulk into the water again.

The battle churns the waters of the sea, and suddenly, the Puppet Master loses control of the Hulk! Then, suddenly, the Puppet Master realizes that a tidal wave, caused by Namor's gyrations in the water, is about to strike the Puppet Master's island stronghold, and when it hits, it apparently kills him (as if... He returned from the dead almost as much as Doctor Doom). 

Meanwhile, Namor allowed the Hulk to wash ashore, but when he gets to the shore, he doesn't find the Hulk, only Bruce Banner. Since Namor doesn't know who Bruce is, he assumes the Hulk perished, and he returns to the sea once more.

Invention Exchange: Namor's Computo-Viewer, the Hydrafoil craft.

Reprinted In: Marvel Treasury Edition #5, Essential Hulk #2.

Notes: It's never specifically mentioned who built the Hydrafoil craft... Was it a Hydra design? AIM? Stark Industries? We will never know. Eventually it's determined that the Hulk is at least resistant to mind control.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Special Feature: Captain Marvel Paper Toys!

We interrupt the regularly scheduled installment of "Random Acts of Trivia" to bring you a special feature! As you may have already seen in the "Comic Ads" feature, Fawcett Comics marketed the Marvels quite a bit, and that included some paper toys! So today, I've got some high-resolution scans of some of these toys... after the jump will be the high-res, the lower res ones are here!

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Puzzle Time!

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