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My life, your life, our lives inside and outside of Los Angeles and its angels.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Book Review: "For those who have loved passionately..."

Title: Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged [All’s Not Fair in Love or War]
Author: Marlan Warren
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Kindle E-Book Only: 332 pages
Publisher: Roadmap Girl Publications
Pub. Date: Feb. 23, 2015
Author Contact: memoircity at gmail
Facebook: Marlan Warren, Author
E-Book Available on Amazon Kindle:

New Book Review by Barbara Tira!
     When I found "Roadmaps," I put down the best-seller-turned-movie I was reading at the time, so I could savor Ms. Warren's story until the very end. As a longtime Los Angeleno, I was immediately drawn back into the lifestyle, loves, and struggles in the expansive, diverse, and incomparable Los Angeles of 20 years ago, the likes of which is just a memory today. But whose emotions, challenges, and successes remain Universal.
     This novel/memoir is for anyone who has ever known the epitome of joy and the profound depths of despair. For those who have loved passionately, and for those whose hearts have been trampled to shreds. For those who have found, or for those who are still seeking the strength and spirit to rise again.

     I eagerly await the sequel! I want more!!!!!
Barbara Tira is the author of the upcoming memoir:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Remembering Yuri: Treasuring Links of Friendship

Opening Night of "Bits of Paradise" at The Marsh Theater, San Francisco (Nov. 2008): Marlan Warren (L); Yuri Kochiyama (M); Ruth Ishizaki (R); Photo by Victoria Yang

I wrote the following memorial last year when activist and justice crusader Yuri Kochiyama "made her transition" from this mundane world to whatever glory no doubt awaited her in the next. I had posted it on my Open Salon blog, "Dancing in the Experience Lane," because that blog seemed to get the most attention of all my blogs. However, with the sad news that Open Salon has shut down its operation, I re-print it here. For more info on the documentary-in-progress that I've been working on since Dec. '08, please visit

 "To never break one link of friendship, regardless of the time or distance that separates me from that friend, even if that friendship is only a memory stored away in my heart and mind."--Yuri's Creed

Yesterday I did not listen to the radio or TV. It was a busy day full of Light and people carrying Light. I ended up at a Buddhist Temple in L.A.'s Chinatown which is dedicated to a Sea Goddess, and sat for hours with my friend whom I call "Tiger" who was spending time with a couple friends. One was a filmmaker who had not met Yuri Kochiyama personally but admires her, and we spent an hour or so talking about my Crusaders film project that I began shooting at the end of 2008, and that is now in need of funds for post-production. It was not until this morning, June 3, that I woke up at 4 a.m. and saw a message on my phone that Yuri (aka "Mary Nakahara") had died in her sleep yesterday afternoon. Around the time that I was walking into the temple to light incense and send prayers for loved ones.
I have never met anyone else as egoless as this woman.

Yuri had that rare gift--like that old saying "The charming woman is the one who finds ME charming," she would light up at the sight of you and say things like, "Oh how is the acting going? I thought you did such wonderful acting in that play!" As she did to one actor who was in "Bits of Paradise" (Jean Franco) when he saw her again during the shoot we did all day in her room at the San Pedro Hotel. When Jean told her that he was in "Milk," Yuri cried, "Oh they made a movie about Harvey Milk! I must go see it!" And when Jean showed her a clipping from a paper with a photo showing him in the crowd scene with Sean Penn, Yuri said, "Oh! That yellow just sets you off!"
I had the good fortune to meet Yuri when she was 87 years old; at a time when all that she had done and lived through had blended into the layered personality that was hers and hers alone.
She asked me to come the day before the shoot and help her organize her papers so they could be easily put aside in the tiny room, and not clutter up our visuals: "Bring red folders and green folders and yellow folders..." and she requested colored tabs and rubber bands.
Yuri was writing to 200 political prisoners at the time (the T-shirt she wore for our interview says "Free Mumia" on it). And when I arrived to help her, she quickly assigned me the role of "assistant" and I had the pleasure of observing her still-sharp mind in action as she went through the voluminous mail so we could file it.
 "Oh I haven't read this one yet...It goes in that pile with the red folder...."
And when we started shooting the next day, I wasn't sure if the sound equipment we brought would be adequate. I muttered, "Maybe we'll get lucky." Right there on camera, Yuri says sharply, but not unkindly: "Oh it's not a matter of LUCK, is it?" or words to that effect.

Yuri was a woman who carved her own swath from Day One. It has always been my intention to cover the WOMAN rather than the political activist (which she most certainly was so that is of course infused in every frame). Since that day in 2001 when I happened to read the first of her letters in The Crusaders Scrapbook in the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, I have wished I could grow up to be Yuri Kochiyama (to paraphrase the Blue Scholars terrific song title). In other words, I wanted to be able to roll with the punches the way she had, and not be depressed by oppression and loss. Yuri lost her father to FBI interrogation right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and soon found herself in the Santa Anita Assembly Center (aka "first concentration camp in Southern California where they held law-abiding Japanese American citizens because they were of Japanese heritage).

"Hello Boys" one of her cheerful missives intended for "any soldier in need of a letter" starts out, "Are we bothering you for the first time or the fortieth?" Cartoons, jokes ("I said, 'Bring in all the jokes you can find," she tells me during the interview when she's looking at a copy of one of her pamphlets.
When World War II ended, her "intended." Bill Kochiyama sent her a telegram warning her that he was alive but broke with no prospects. Not much to build a future on, so if she wanted out. I don't have the words in front of me right now, but she sent him a telegram back telling him that they would have love, adventure and each other.

Yuri Kochiyama and Jean Franco at her 88th birthday bash (San Francisco); 
Photo by Marlan Warren 
Yuri Kochiyama was born "Mary Nakahara." In the interview, I asked her what Mary would think of Yuri. She answered, "Two different people. Totally!"

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New Kids Book Takes Aim at the Tooth Fairy: Kelli & Kelly Books for Kids on TV!

"New Children's Book Takes Aim at the Tooth Fairy"

Two moms have written a book that perfectly sums up a child's mixed feelings about losing a tooth. But -- "I Am NOT Selling My Tooth" goes a bit deeper than that, and ends up being a touching look at children's fears of letting go of their childhood. Author Kelli Nielsen and illustrator Kelly Hawkins joined guest hosts Suzie Wiley and KING 5 Evening's Jim Dever to talk about their book and upcoming projects.
--"NEW DAY" Website (Seattle, KING 5 TV)

If you'd like to see Kelli Nielsen and Kelly Hawkins of Kelli and Kelly Books for Kids on KING 5's "New Day" Talk Show (which aired Mon., 3/2), here's the link:

Title:                           I Am NOT Selling My Tooth!
Author:                      Kelli Nielsen             
Illustrator:               Kelly Hawkins
Pub. Date:                  11/23/14
Genre:                        Children’s Picture Book (Ages 2-8)
ISBN:                           978-1503366077
Paperback                 Pages: 40             List Price:     $9.97 
Publisher:                 Kelli and Kelly Books for Kids
E-Mail:                        kelliandkellybooksforkids at gmail
Order at:                    Amazon

Mon., March 2 Mom Entrepreneurs Kelli Nielsen (Author) and Kelly Hawkins (Illustrator) of Kelli and Kelly Books for Kids were featured on Seattle's "New Day" morning show (KING 5 at 11 a.m. and KONG 16 at 2 p.m.) introducing their newest book, “I Am NOT Selling My Tooth!”—a picture book that supports children’s need to make their own decisions about how to cope with life changes.

“We are so grateful to New Day for inviting us,” Nielsen said. “It’s a great opportunity to share this book with a wide audience and talk about our dream which is to market quality children’s books.”

Last week the Washington publishing partners launched “I Am NOT Selling My Tooth!” at the Children’s Museum of Skagit County in Burlington and Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett in honor of Children’s Dental Health Month.

Nielsen and Hawkins will return to the Children’s Museum of Skagit County Sat., March 7 to participate in activities and share their book again.

Cate Anderson, Executive Director of the Children's Museum of Skagit County, said the museum is "excited" to host Kelli and Kelly because "not only does their book tie in perfectly with our theme, but it really speaks to how many children feel about letting go of their teeth...and their childhood."

 Kelli and Kelly Books for Kids are offering dentists a 20 percent discount.

“We believe dentists will find this book an educational tool,” Nielsen said, “for their young patients who are facing this exciting rite of passage.”

The dynamic duo will also read and sign “I Am Not Selling My Tooth!” March 22 at the Everett artisan co-op gallery SugarShak by the Sea at 5 p.m.

 Nielsen and Hawkins were inspired by their own children’s resistance to “selling” their teeth to a tooth fairy. “They all still have bags of their baby teeth.” Nielsen said. She dedicated her book to her “wonderful” son Austin: “Thank you for giving me the words.”

Hawkins credits her two daughters with giving her “inspiration every day.” In addition to book launch appearances, she will be teaching art workshops at the Young Authors Conference at Skagit Valley College March 23 through 27.

Kelli and Kelly are Skagit County natives and longtime friends whose first book  “You Will Always Be My Son” sold over 1000 copies. Niesen said, “We are two moms with an inspiring dream to bring quality children's books to market.” 

3/2: "New Day" TV Appearance 
3/7: 11 a.m. Children’s Museum of Skagit County. Kelly Hawkins will present art activities for the kids. Signed copies of "I Am NOT Selling My Tooth!" and "You Will Always Be My Son" will be for sale. 
3/22: 5p.m.SugarShak by the Sea Art Coop, Everett, WA
3/23-27:10-2 p.m.: Kelly Hawkins will conduct art workshops at the Young Authors Conference, Skagit Valley College.  

Children’s Museum of Skagit County
550 Cascade Mall Drive
Burlington, WA 98233
(360) 757-8888
Adults $5.25

SugarShak by the Sea (Artisan Coop Gallery)
3710 W Mukilteo Blvd
Everett, WA 98203
(425) 322-6564

Author Contact |
Facebook | Kelli and Kelly Books for Kids
Facebook | I Am Not Selling My Tooth


This book never talks down to children, but is right there with the child’s need to have some self-leadership in coping with life changes.—Midwest Book Review

 Beautifully told and sweetly illustrated...a treasure for children young and old. Almost everyone will identify with the themes.—Cate Anderson, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Skagit County

Austin is a child whose worries and fantasies reflect feelings children may have as they begin to realize that growing up means more than getting taller. He goes through a comic identity crisis, stubbornly refusing the reassurance of adults, and insisting on coming to terms with change in his own way. Playful and original!—Leslie Bolinger, Children’s Librarian, San Diego, CA

I build dental offices, many of which cater to children, I will recommend this book to all my clients!—Bryan J. Alar

 About the Author and Illustrator

 Kelli Nielsen and Kelly Hawkins are also the author and illustrator, respectively, of You Will Always Be My Son. Kelli is a Certified Life Coach and former European model whose two adventurous sons inspire her. Kelly is an artist and teacher whose two daughters’ wit, charm and silly moments provide continuous ideas for drawings. Natives of Skagit County, Kelli Nielsen lives in Everett, WA and Kelly Hawkins lives in Clear Lake, WA. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Amazon launches “Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged: All’s not fair in Love or War” with E-Book KDP Giveaway (3/7-3/8): “Fifty Shades of Hot”

Summary: L.A. Author Marlan Warren’s new novel “Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged: All’s not fair in Love or War” will be offered as a free e-book via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform Sat., March 7 through Sun., March 8.

Marlan Warren is a witty, wild, highly observant writer who has her way with words. ‘Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged’ is crazy, sad, sexy fun. An intimate look at the wild side of cross-cultural relationships and the power of the Tao.—Judith Fein, Author of “My Life Is a Trip: The Transformational Power of Travel”

Title: Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged [All’s Not Fair in Love or War]
Author: Marlan Warren
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Kindle E-Book Only: 332 pages
Publisher: Roadmap Girl Publications
Pub. Date: Feb. 23, 2015
Author Contact: memoircity at gmail
Facebook: Marlan Warren, Author

On Sat., March 7 and Sun., March 8, Roadmap Girl Publications in collaboration with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) will launch Marlan Warren’s debut novel, “Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged [All’s Not Fair in Love or War]” with a Kindle E-Book Giveaway.

“I can’t believe how fast this process moves,” said Warren. “Amazon announced it as a ‘Hot New Release in Divorce’ a few days after it was published as a Kindle E-Book. Reviews and sales are already popping up."

“Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged” is set in the City of the Lost Angels in the mid-90s with the O.J. trial in the background. It follows the hot romance of a divorcing Jewish American woman with a Japanese American man who bears the scars suffered by his family during World War II. As both are on the rebound, the woman’s girlfriends cheer from the sidelines, but issue warnings.

“One of my favorite lines is from one of Carrie’s friends who says, ‘The mind cannot process sex,’” said Warren. “It sums up the book."

"Roadmaps" has its roots in Warren's 1994 diary entries and now stands as a “fictionalized memoir.” The veteran documentary filmmaker and screenwriter added: “The first draft was finished before there was a ‘Sex and the City.’ But it covers similar topics. The 90s produced stories of women exploring their sexual ‘freedom’ and feeling less than thrilled with the results.”

Warren credited the 70s "Fear of Flying" author Erica Jong with opening the literary door. "Jong boldly wrote about sex and made it sound like a necessary component to learning how to care for one's soul."

For those who may be Kindle-less, Amazon offers a free download app for smartphones. "And I have some excerpts on the book's blog," Warren said. "They give more plot points than the 'peek inside' option."

"The Asian man/Caucasian woman dating aspect in the book is not a small thing," said Warren. "A lot of Americans know nothing about the Asian American experience. It's rare for media to portray Asian American men as romantic leads in fiction. I tried for years with other projects and hit the wall every time in Hollywood."

Just how sexy is it? “Not as graphic as earlier drafts,” Warren said with a laugh. “But it’s still very erotic when it needs to be. I’d say about Fifty Shades of Hot.”

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Free EBook Giveaway Today: "Murder in Hand" by Celia Conrad (Dead Lawyers and Puccini in this Italian Crime Romp!)

Barcham Books fights “Forces of Evil” with holiday KDP Giveaway (Dec. 13-14) of Celia Conrad’s Italian Crime Romp “Murder in Hand”: Bone up on your Puccini!

SUMMARY: Interview with “tough little cookie” Celia Conrad: The British author shares her journey from law to crime fiction as she endorses Barcham Books launch of “Murder in Hand” via Amazon KDP E-Book Giveaway (12/13-12/14/14)

Copyright: 2012
Publisher: Barcham Books       
Trade Paperback and All E-Book Formats         Pages: 352
ISBN 13: 978-0954623340       
ASIN: B00A1O1YQE               

The greatest pleasures lie in Celia Conrad's refusal or inability to write for the lowest common denominator. Instead she aims for the highest.—
Midwest Book Review (Murder in Hand)

On Dec. 13 through Dec. 14, Barcham Books will gift readers with Book 3 in Celia Conrad’s Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy (AAI), Murder in Hand (MIH), as a free e-book via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program.

 “It’s our way of saying thank you and wishing everyone a happy holiday,” said Barcham Books’ Jane Hall. “We are very pleased that Midwest Book Review features Murder in Hand this month. Everyone, it seems, just loves 

This cerebral legal murder mystery turns on Italian international corruption, Puccini and dead Probate attorneys as it hails the return of Alicia Allen, the potato chip loving half-Italian London lawyer who never lets her thriving relationship with a handsome lawyer cohort stand in the way of fingering a culprit.

“The beauty of Murder in Hand is that it can be read as a stand-alone,” said Hall.
Celia Conrad

We recently sat down with Celia Conrad to discuss her author’s journey from law to legal crime fiction:

Q: All the AAI books deal with the darker side of the legal world. Did you draw from your experiences as a London attorney?
A: As a solicitor I met some rather obnoxious people and a few shady/unsavory characters.

Q: Did you ever find yourself pursuing a murderer in your law practice?
A: My world is far less dangerous than Alicia’s, although we do share love for Italian culture and a crisp that rhymes with “Tingles.” We both like researching and analyzing complex legal issues.

Q: The Italophile Book Review recommended MIH for “Italophiles, Anglophiles, fans of traditional British mysteries, and fans of cozy-murder-mysteries.” Would you agree?
A: Absolutely. And I was thrilled when the Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Award Review said Alicia “should be on the top of every woman’s reading list.” My fan mail shows AAI readers like strong but not perfect female detectives, and they love the repartee between Alicia and Alex. 

Gianni Schichi

Q: Book 1 sends Alicia through London’s urban dangers. Book 2 takes her to Australia, and Book 3 spans New York, London, Italy and Sicily. Italian culture provides color and clues. What inspired you to use Puccini in Book 3?
A: When I first saw Puccini’s opera, Gianni Schicchi, I hoped to use it in a plot of my own, and it did prove most “handy” in Murder in Hand.

Q: How would you sum up Alicia Allen in one sentence?
A: She’s a tough little cookie who will stop at nothing.

Q: And the theme of MIH in one sentence?
A: Forces of darkness are everywhere.

Q: What inspired you?
A: Paul Marsh at the Marsh Agency suggested my experiences could make good novels.

Q: AAI Clues reside in Shakespeare, Italian opera and art. Why the Classics?
A: I’ve always loved the Classics, thanks to my mother who also loved theater. Before she passed away, we read and acted out scenes from the trilogy.

Q: This is a re-launch. Why?
A: AAI never had a launch because I was caught up in the losses of my mother and Paul Marsh at the time of publication. Paul thought MIH my best work yet. He said Alicia Allen deserved to find her audience. That support continues to sustain me.

 Contact:  Celia Conrad |

Online Sites:  Kindle version is FREE today. You can download App to Smartphone if you don't have a Kindle.

Amazon U.K.

Amazon U.S.

Author Website |
Author Blog |
Twitter | Iwrite2b
Facebook | Celia Conrad Author

Friday, November 14, 2014


AFI Poster Featuring Sophia Loren

This just in from Los Angeleno Barbara Tira who experienced--as many of us do from time to time--A Day from Hell in L.A.--yesterday. I've wondered a long time why pain is so funny after the fact. It just is. 

Barbara and I went to a matinee in Hollywood (the REAL Hollywood, folks--Hollywood Blvd. at Highland which resembles now more than ever that opening scene in "Children of Paradise" on the Boulevard of Thieves in Paris, circa 18th Century). After the film, on our way out of the maze that is the indoor mall that houses Grauman's Chinese Theater, I stopped to ask a guard why there was a red carpet in front. Who were they expecting? He just shrugged and said, "Celebrities."

Two days later--yesterday--Barbara returned to experience her own little corner of Hades. If you've read "Day of the Locusts," you're already halfway there. Barbara, take it away:
Last night I found out (the hard way, of course) what the red carpet was for at AFI.  Against my better judgment, I agreed to meet Carolin there, ticketless, with highest hopes of somehow getting in to "Marriage Italian Style." As she was already on the west side, I thought it best to take the bus and meet her there and drive home together.  So much for good thoughts.  

I raced to Echo Park and Sunset and waited for the long overdue #2 bus.  Arriving at Sunset and Vermont, already being late,  and hearing the announcement for the Red Line, I thought to debus and hop the train to speed up the commute.  At the bottom of the stairs I realized I needed the lost-in-the paper-chaos-at-home TAP card to board.  Scurrying to the rants of a crazy young girl drinking a Red Bull, I headed upstairs to get back on the #2 bus that I just got off and paying once again to be even later.  After spinning around on the corner a few times, I caught sight of a #2 Bus and made it aboard.  I plunked in my 55 cents and was called back by a voice saying, "It's 75 cents."  

After a confusing interchange and learning that on Sept. 15 the senior fare was raised, I dug deep, encountered and entered a dime, when I realized I needed more.  Meanwhile, the foreign lady who boarded with me was also called back and called upon to cough up more coins.  The poor woman had no comprehension of what was going on.  I scrounged up the last remaining coin on my person, a quarter, and added it to the kitty, now over paying, but happy to have that last cent to not be thrown off the bus.  I noticed that eye exchange between the clueless foreigner and the determined driver and added,” Maybe she could get some credit from the extra I put in," while envisioning the poor woman being ejected from the bus.

Arriving at AFI and the all shenanigans going on there, I shouldered my way through the horde gathered.  Finally finding someone who could bother to talk to me, I was forcefully shooed away and forbade entrance.  

Carolin called, frantic.  "I'm at the parking garage and there's fire trucks all around and cops are yelling at me to leave, saying there's a fire.  I'm trying to get out but all the streets are blocked.  I don't know where I am.  I'll call you back when I can safely stop and see and use the phone."

As I walked the labyrinth through the Chinese Theater Complex searching for Hollywood Boulevard, there next to me, walking down the red carpet was the black beaded gowned, 4-man bodyguarded Sophia Loren, smiling, waving, signing autographs with each tentative step, probably wishing more than me to be outta there.

I thought only you, Marlan, could appreciate this Hollywood fiasco. 


Barbara Tira is longtime resident of Echo Park in L.A., Body Harmony and Family Constellation Practitioner/Healer, and the Author of the upcoming memoir (working title):

Friday, November 7, 2014

"PROBATE!" SHE WROTE: Celia Conrad's brilliant Anglo-Italiano mystery "Murder in Hand" not for dummies

Lawyers aren't the most popular people, Miss Allen..."
Murder in Hand

     In her cerebral legal mystery, Murder in Hand, Celia Conrad pulls her feisty London Probate/Estate lawyer heroine, Alicia Allen, deeper into the quagmire world of unscrupulous attorneys, the unfortunates who work with them and their unsuspecting innocent victims. In this third book of the Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy (AAI), Conrad hits her stride as a bona fide puzzle master in the tradition of Agatha Christie. The easy-to-follow plot line keeps readers guessing and the pages turning, while great pleasures lie in Conrad's refusal--or perhaps inability--to write for the lowest common denominator of brain power. Instead she aims for the highest.

     If you want to roll with Alicia Allen...better bring your A-Game (and some knowledge of the Classics wouldn't hurt).

     Murder in Hand could be enjoyed as a stand-alone book if readers don't mind not knowing the history between the justice-loving attorney Alicia Allen and her adoring cohort Alex Waterford; her investigator friends, Jo and Will; or her cultured elderly neighbor Dorothy. 

     The story takes off when Alicia's Italian American client Fabio confides that he believes someone is trying to kill him. Fabio's family ties span New York, England and Italy/Sicily; and when his sister is killed in the midst of doing some family estate research in Italy, Alicia embarks on a quest to find the killer.

"I can't leave you alone for a few hours without 
somebody else being murdered."Murder in Hand

     As in Books 1 and 2 (A Model Murder and Wilful Murder), Alicia leaps where proverbial angels fear to tread, resisting Alex's concerns for her safety. and soon he is helping her sort the puzzle pieces as the body count goes up (with the neat twist that as they hone in, it is lawyers or their assistants who are now dropping dead). Their relationship has matured into an easy partnership built on love, trust and the potato chip that rhymes with "Tingles." It provides a soothing stability that contrasts with the dark, random world of mayhem they are navigating together 

"I generally advise my clients to make both 
a British and an Italian Will."Murder in Hand

     All the AAI books turn on classical theater or operatic references or clues. Murder in Hand pays homage to Gianni Schicchi (which Puccini based on Danté's Divine Comedy), a comic opera about a dead man's Will gone wrong, schemers and estate swindlers. And it won't be spoiling too much to divulge that key action takes place in the Italian town that hosts an annual Puccini festival.

     The book's title is a double entendre. British police refer to an investigation in progress as "in hand." And as for the other meaning...well, you'll just have to read the book, won't you?

     (Hint: Bone up on your Puccini!)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

22nd Annual Thai Cultural Day: Los Angeles 8/21/14 - Photos by Marlan Warren

Thai Cultural Day happened last Sunday at Barnsdall Art Park in L.A. If you've never been, please try it next year. It's a photographer's paradise. And a chance to go to Thailand without a passport. Very warm, friendly, beautiful people! All photos here are by Marlan Warren, copyright protected.

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