An Interview with Elaina Mittleman

We sat down to talk with Elaina Mittleman, a playwright of a new work titled Suspended. Elaina Mittleman is also the President/Co-Founder/Artistic Director of Blacklist Theatre. She recently graduated from Meredith College with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and is pursuing a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. As a co-founder of Blacklist, she hopes to create a space in which stories of underrepresented groups can be told and honored. She believes in the importance of art as a vehicle for change and is excited to offer a platform for powerful perspectives. Here is her story.

What inspired you to write Suspended?

Initially, I was inspired by a friend of mine who committed suicide within the last year. I was struggling with the idea that her beautiful mind is no longer in existence. I started to ask myself hard questions about my spiritual beliefs and the possibility of an afterlife, so I wrote it down. Mental health issues, in general, are very important to me and I think that society is still using the wrong language around these issues. We have made great strides in the last few years, but I think we need to focus less on why people are mentally ill and more on what can be done to help.

Who are your greatest influences?

Sarah Ruhl was the first playwright who I really fell in love with. Reading her work inspired a new kind of love for theatre that is outside of the box. She addresses tough issues in a way that is artistic and raw, yet soft. I am just all about it. The poet Jeanann Verlee has also been a huge influence as of late. She candidly recounts her own experiences in a way that is bitingly brave. I love the idea of making something beautiful out of hardship and diving into something that many are afraid to touch.

This is the first show for Blacklist Theatre— why was it important to choose this one?

Blacklist Theatre is a company that has a lot of heart. We all care deeply about the work that we do, so I thought it important to kick off our first season with something very personal. Honestly, at first I was a little hesitant to dive right in a produce a piece that I wrote, but the feedback that I have received on the play made it clear that it fits perfectly into our goals as a company.

If 2017 was a year for anything, it’s a year when Millenials got really into mysticism— crystals, astrology, tarot, and straight up witchcraft. Tarot plays a huge role in your play— why did you choose it?

Yes! I love how we’re opening up to different spiritual ideas. Tarot has always been something of interest for me and as a writer, it served as a great plot device. This is my first one-woman show and I was initially intimidated by the prospect of moving the plot forward using a single voice. I needed to find a way to help the character make discoveries about herself. Tarot is great in that it plays on previously held beliefs. So it worked well for offering a glimpse at the character’s thought process.  

What does it mean to you?

I’m not sure how much clout I’d put into the validity of tarot, but it is something that is important to me. Through my own mental health journey, there was something comforting about turning to the cards when things got tough. For me, it was a way of initiating self-reflection and helping me figure out my next steps.

What do you see in the future for Blacklist theatre?

That is a very big question. I hope to see Blacklist become a respected presence in the community. We’ve seen a lot of great companies in the triangle come and go and I would love to offer a place for artists to continue to create. A huge dream is for us to become financially stable enough to offer compensation to actors, designers, and our production teams. Mounting a production is hard work and those involved deserve payment for their time and efforts.

What do you want people to take away from Suspended?

I don’t want to give too much away, but I really hope Suspended makes an impression. I want audience members to go home and continue to think about the content. Ideally, the relatability of the main character will help to personalize the content for those who have little experience with or understanding of mental illness. Most importantly, I hope that I have honored those who have been touched by suicide.

Do you see the piece growing after this? Is it standalone or do you see it becoming a larger work?

Nothing is ever perfect. I will absolutely continue to make edits and do rewrites post-production. I think that it could find a nice place in a larger work, but I have no concrete plans right now.

There’s not a lot of one woman shows around here— why do you like the form? Why do you think this is best as a one-woman piece rather than any other form?

I wanted to create a play that is completely honest. I think the one woman format is best for this. The character has no reason to alter the truth, she’s not trying to elicit any sort of response from anyone. I also think that the majority of the storytelling that we do is inside of our own heads and I intended this to be a sort of snapshot of that. Unadulterated female voices are always hard to come by and this felt like the perfect opportunity.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help make this production a reality, please consider donating or sharing her IndieGogo.

Plucky Picks: Best Movies of 2017

Watching movies has always been a huge part of me and Katy’s lives. 2017 was a year that a lot of bad stuff happened, but luckily we had a lot of great films to get us through. Here are our top picks of movies this 2017 in no particular order!

It

via The New Yorker

 

In this remake of It by Stephen King, they hit all the right marks for a great horror film. The children gave truthful and hilarious performances, while Skarsgard found a balance in Pennywise’s disturbing gleeful mania. Every single element that you would want from this Stephen King novel was implemented well to the movie. It was a treat for any horror movie addict out there that loves the classics along with the new age of horror.

Coco

via ABC News

You could be captivated by just watching all of Coco’s amazing animation and concept art. Coco’s story, however, adds so much more and does not disappoint. Along with 2016’s Moana, Pixar is exploring what it really means to love your culture and family. Coco explores what it means to pursue your passions while also learning to keep in touch with where you came from.

Wonder Woman

via DC Comics

Wonder Woman was the movie that we needed in 2017. It gives you everything you need. Kick-assery, beautiful designs, impeccable acting, and most importantly LOVE ETHICS. This was a hard year for many people, and Wonder Woman was the perfect movie to get you out of your funk and KICK ASS.

Get Out

via Jet Mag

Get Out was just so good. This was a horror movie, but it went so much deeper because it explored topics and things we see every day. What seems to be a microaggression has a far more insidious undertone that Peele explores with this movie. Get Out conveys the reality of many Black Americans today. Peele creatively flipped classic horror tropes on its head by revealing that there’s more to be scared of than just ghosts.

Girls Trip

via Vogue

This movie is a masterpiece in that it’s an ode to joy and sisterhood. Girls Trip had all the right elements of heart and comedy that was perfectly balanced. All the actresses were hilarious, especially break-out star Tiffany Haddish, who stole the show. It’s a great feel-good movie that you won’t regret watching.

 

The Shape of Water

via The Atlantic

The Shape of Water is Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece. He masterfully crafted a movie that celebrated “otherness,” beauty, acceptance, and love. From beautiful design, a captivating story, and impeccable acting, The Shape of Water is a masterpiece that should not be missed.

That’s it for our top 6 movies of 2017! Be sure to come back for more sweet content! 

The World is Kinda Horrible, More Content Pls?

Plucky Media

I’ve been very angsty and disappointed in the world this week, but thank god the Weekend is here so I can sleep and consume content. Here is some stuff to watch, read, and listen to. Hope you like it.

What to Watch

  • The Good Place: This show reminds me of the good old simple days of The Office and Parks and Rec. Also, it makes my little absurdist heart happy.
  • Nathan For You: I love this cult show. Nathan Fielder’s ability to create comedy with real people’s reactions is just good. Watch it.
  • AHS: Roanoke: I’m definitely late to the game, but this show was so unique and worth watching. I definitely think it captures like this Blair Witch Project essence in a totally unique way.

What to Listen to

  • Whiting Wongs with Dan Harmon and Jessica Gao: Dan Harmon and Jessica Gao talk about writing and race in television. This is the first podcast in awhile that made me genuinely laugh out loud. It’s uncensored and two well-meaning people that try to figure out how they can do better about representing all people in TV.
  • The 1st by Willow Smith: Willow pulled it out for this album. It’s personal, gorgeous, and a treat to listen to.
  • Melodrama by Lorde: So I’m a very emotional young woman that’s trying to navigate a very uneasy world, and this album really resonated with me. If you want to tap into your feminine energy, I highly recommend listening to this.

What to Read

That’s all folks. Thanks for bearing with us during this hiatus. We’ll see you next week with some cool (and maybe a little spoopy) content. 

Meet Mackie!

Plucky Media

Hey, everybody! Plucky Media is proud to announce our new contributor, Mackie Raymond! She has some kick-ass content coming your way, so be sure to stay tuned for all the great stuff she’s about to publish! Everybody give her a warm welcome! Here is some of her information below!

Mackie is an actor, singer, and visual artist living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is also a fourth-year student at North Carolina State University, studying Communication Media, Vocal Performance, and Arts Entrepreneurship. She works part-time for NC State’s Crafts Center and NC State’s Disability Services Office, and as Raleigh Little Theatre’s first annual Jack Hall Artistic Intern. Mackie has performed with a number of local theatre companies, including Bare Theatre, Theatre in the Park, Temple Theatre, Burning Coal Theatre, Sonorous Road Productions, and NC State University’s TheatreFest, and is a co-founder and managing director of Star Pocket Theatre Collective. In her free time, she’s usually reading graphic novels, listening to podcasts, playing PC games, and geeking out about Steven Universe. Yes, simultaneously.

Mackie already has some sweet recommendations on her The Weekend Mix from September 15! Check it out here! We’re so excited to have her onboard!

I’m Dreaming of a Grubby Tap

Plucky Media

Hey! I dunno about you guys, but this week took it OUT of me. Anyways if I’m not alone on feeling blah this week, I hope you can find some time to do stuff that you love this weekend. So yeah! Let’s put this week behind us and get to the GOOD STUFF! Here’s my take on the weekend mix!

What to Watch:

  • South Park: If you hate them, I don’t blame you…keep on scrolling to the next recommendation if you have no interest. South Park, however, is airing right now on Wednesday nights, so if you wanna hop in, now’s the time. So yeah, I will say that South Park’s last 3 seasons are the best that they’ve ever been. I also really think it’s very interesting that they make almost every episode in 6 days. It’s current, and it talks about stuff as it’s happening. They got thrown off by the 2016 election, and the final episode of last season (unfortunately) derailed but watching their commentary was incredibly compelling and relevant. I’ve never 100% agreed with them, but I do think that *some* of their criticisms are valid. Anyways…if you hate them I understand.
  • Drag Makeup Tutorial: Trixie Mattel’s Legendary Makeup:I love Trixie Mattel, and I think you should too. Fun Fact: I love watching makeup tutorials, especially drag makeup. I love how their makeup tells a story about their characters and it’s such a cool art form. Also, Trixie is hilarious. Enjoy!
  • Salad Fingers: Ugh you may hate me for recommending this, but I DON’T CARE. I’m not kidding or being ironic when I say this, but I LOVE SALAD FINGERS. SUE ME! I think it’s such a cool little story, and it’s also such a cool historical thing in the youtube community that I think everyone (within reason) should watch. It took 10 years to make! History! AH! Old school flash animation is such an important part of internet culture, and Salad Fingers is arguably the Magnum Opus✨ of this art form. Watching Salad Fingers is a rite of passage for any internet-y kid out there! I will say that it’s very unsettling and features some gore, so if that’s something that isn’t cool for you, then you should just skip it. Also, when you finish watching the whole series, check out these theories by The Film Theorists! The links to the theories are down below!

What to Read

Here are some great essays to check out as well:

What to Listen to

  • Bad With Money: Ok Gaby Dunn taught me so much about financial literacy. I had to figure out a lot of finances on my own growing up, so having her podcast has been great. I’ve learned about how banks really operate, the stock market, and lots of other great things. The guests she brings on really help, and she talks about money in a very relatable way. Finances are hard, especially as an artist! You learn financial literacy with her and you don’t feel so alone.
  • Wisecrack’s THE SQUANCH: Rick and Morty PodcastIf you’re watching Rick and Morty, it’s really cool listening to these guys takes and opinions on what’s happening. I wiiiill say that they kinda piss me off because they’re almost too analytical, but I do enjoy most of it. So yeah, if you’re obsessed with Rick and Morty, and always want more, then it’s great getting a mild Rick and Morty session with these guys.
  • Hopeless Romantic by Michelle Branch: UMMM HAVE YOU GUYS LISTENED TO HER NEWish ALBUM????? Okay, okay, this album has been kinda my go to this past Summer. It talks about romance, broken hearts, and moving on while still keeping hope. Typically I kinda stray away from listening to tooooo many romantic things, but Michelle Freakin’ Branch, Y’ALL (I love her). Ugh, it’s just such a GOOD album you guys. I believe you can listen to it on Apple Music as well as Spotify.

That’s it, everybody! I hope you have a great and peaceful weekend! We’ll see you next week! 💖

 

The 🍵 Tea 🍵 on Every Zodiac Sign !

Plucky Media

If there are two things we love at Plucky Media HQ, it’s our expansive tea collection and the zodiac. Whether you get your zodiac content from the @poetastrologers, @astrologyheaux, or through zodiac based tumblr memes, there’s nothing better than the intersection of the zodiac and pop culture! Also, NO TEA NO SHADE NO PINK LEMONADE, but the other tea article we read got everybody’s tea COMPLETELY WRONG, so I had to fix that!!!! Anyways, here’s the tea on every zodiac sign bbys.

1. Aries

Plucky Media

“I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.”

– Joan Crawford, Aries

Aries is known for being courageous, optimistic, being incredibly passionate (and sometimes aggressive). The Aries mind is always active and ready to tackle anything they put their mind to. Passion Tango Herbal Tea. It’s a sweet, warming, and packs a punch, just like the Aries!

2. Taurus

Plucky Media
via Today

“Success isn’t overnight. It’s when every day you get a little better than the day before. It all adds up.”

– Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Taurus

You’re a down to earth person that’s steadfast, secure, a little stubborn, and has that bit of fire. Your tea is going to be Constant Comment by Bigelow Tea. You and Constant Comment are both bright, bold, and sweet (with just a little spice).

3. Gemini

Plucky Media
via Giphy

“A strong spirit transcends rules.”

-Prince, a Gemini, amiright?

If you’re a Gemini, then you are high-energy, witty, and rarely stay still for long. Because of your changeable and flexible nature, you’re the Rooibos Tea. Rooibos or “red tea” isn’t technically a true tea, but an herbal infusion. It’s harvested as a young plant, and because of that, it tastes sweet, grassy, and floral. The innocent and carefree nature of Gemini pairs so nicely with this type of tea.

4. Cancer

Stay Plucky

 


Oh, Jaden, you sweet baby Cancer. You and your emotions go hand and hand. You seek safety and value the closeness with others, especially family. Because you crave comfort, you are the Royal Myanmar Tea Mix. People in Myanmar typically drink their tea with condensed milk. It’s sweet, indulgent, and the perfect comfort tea for a Cancer sign.

5. Leo

via tumblr

Cole Sprouse— #classic Leo.

Leos are larger than life and the center of attention. They can command a crowd in seconds. The perfect tea for the Leo is Egyptian Licorice Tea. Egyptian Kings used to ingest licorice for it’s bold and sweet flavor. Licorice is also good for the throat and will help the mighty Leo roar on.

6. Virgo

via Odyssey

“I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.”

-BEYONCE

Like Beyonce, Virgos are the most hardworking, precise, and practical of the signs. They value order and carefully approach everything they value in life. The perfect tea for the Virgo is Builders Tea. Builders Tea is an incredibly strong black tea that will get the busy Virgo through anything. It’s bold and perfect for the focused Virgo.

7. Libra

via GIPHY

Kim K, the Libra to Kanye’s Gemini.

The whimsical Libra strives for balance, beauty, and harmony among their peers. The perfect tea for any Libra is any Chamomile Tea. Chamomile is known for being a great tea to help with stress, sleep, and can even make your skin and hair glow! Chamomile is also a beautiful plant, perfect for any Libra’s aesthetic goals. Chamomile is the perfect cup of tea for the Libra that seeks order and harmony.

8. Scorpio

via Newsweek
“I don’t have pet peeves, I have whole kennels of irritation.”
-Whoopi Goldberg

Like Whoopi Goldberg, Scorpio’s are very passionate, steadfast in their ways, and incredibly loyal to those they love. Their piercing nature can intimidate many, but once you’re in their inner circle, you will be so thankful for their loyalty. The perfect tea for any Scorpio is Mate. Mate is praised to have almost the same strength as coffee. This tea is bold, caffeinated, and can pack a punch just like any Scorpio.

9. Sagittarius

via Pinterest

 

Tyra shook the earth when she proclaimed “Kiss my fat ass!” on The Tyra Show. Like her, the crazy Sagittarius is fun loving, a free spirit, and incredibly social. You are often the center of attention and are very popular. Your tea is Kombucha. Kombucha is a fizzy, unique, and can keep you on your toes! If Kombucha isn’t brewed just right, then it could ACTUALLY kill you, just like if you test a Saggitarius. Kombucha is perfect for any Sagittarius, but make sure you buy it from an actual store.

10. Capricorn

via Pinterest

“But generally speaking, I tend to be quiet and introspective”

-Rowan Atkinson, a Capricorn

Rowan Atkinson, or Mr. Bean, like most Capricorns, not only has great business savvy but has a great sense of humor. Capricorns are ambitious, always purposeful, and take responsibility (and everything) very seriously. The tea for the Capricorn is Shu Pu-Erh. This tea is actually a brick tea. This traditional tea is incredibly dense, sweet, and earthy. It is brewed only when it should be ready. The Capricorn will warm up to you when they feel like it’s the right time. Shu Pu-Erh is perfect for the Capricorn’s old soul.

11. Aquarius

via Oprah

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

-Oprah, a Aquarius

The Aquarius sign, like Oprah, is known as the humanitarian amongst the entire zodiac. They believe in community, humanity, and are very progressive. The perfect tea for the Aquarius sign is Matcha. Matcha is a slow release caffeine and provides a powerhouse of health benefits and energy. Matcha is the perfect pairing for the progressive Aquarius. It will give them the energy they need to change the world!

12. Pisces

via Glamour

“It’s tougher to be vulnerable than to actually be tough”

-Rihanna, a Pisces

The Pisces is the most gentle and whimsical of all the signs. They rely heavily on their intuition and emotional intelligence. Though they do sometimes have a “martyr complex,” they do generally care about the overall well-being of others. Because the Pisces sign performs a lot of emotional labor, they seek the solace of alone time and rest. The perfect tea is actually any Sleepy Time Tea, particularly Bigelow’s Sweet Dreams Tea. It’s a blend of chamomile and mint that quiets the mind and is perfect for the Dreamy Pisces.

And that’s all folks!

If you like what you see here, don’t hesitate to contact us with suggestions for what you’d like to see covered! Also, all of our writers work for zero money, and we’re trying to change that. Send us a tip if you’d like!

Mercury is out of Retrograde! Time to Get Back On Your Bullsh*t

Plucky Media

Hey, Y’all! We can all look forward to this weekend because MeRCuRY iS oUt Of rETroGrADe! Woo! However, the full moon was in Pisces/Neptune earlier this week, so if you’re a dreamy person, please try to protect your energy when you get to the weekend! The early part of this week was probably pretty emotionally taxing, so just be aware and conscious of your energy. If you need to take the time to recharge, then you totally should take it.

Anyways, here are some of our picks of media you should look at this weekend. As always, if you have suggestions, comments, or concerns for things you’d like to see featured, then let us know!

Here we freaking GO.

What to Watch

  • Bojack Horseman: Bojack Horseman is a cartoon that takes place in Hollywoo, CA where anthropomorphized animals and humans cohabitate together. Bojack Horseman, a 90’s star from his show Horsin’ Around, struggles with inner demons, the entertainment industry, and celebrity culture. This show is an amazing. It has equal parts humor meets equal parts darkness. It’s an amazing beautiful mess that you can’t take your eyes away from. The show comes back THIS FRIDAY(9/8/17), and you should totally check it out.
  • Sailor Moon: Sailor Moon was one of my favorite shows when I was little. It faded into a distant memory in my childhood brain as a show with a beautiful color palette. I’m trying to reclaim it. Also, I’m getting really back into astrology, witchy stuff, and girl power, so this is something that has been a great joy rewatching.
  • Rick and Morty: Please, please, please don’t let some Rick and Morty fans ruin the show for you. Rick and Morty is definitely very dark, but it’s also just a well-made show. Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland are masters of storytelling, and it’s just FUN (and existential…but I’m all about that shit).

What to Read:

Okay, so you definitely need to stay informed of what’s happening with DACA. Dreamers are a huge part of what actually ‘makes America great.’ Here are some resources to check out:

Other Great Reads:

What to Play:

  • Tap Tap Fish: This is a cute game where you pretty much have the ocean on your screen. It’s a very relaxing game where you can raise your own fish and manage a coral reef. It’s a very relaxing and very pretty game.
  • Viridi: This is a game where you raise your own succulents. You visit it every day to water it and help it grow. It comes with a beautiful soundtrack and lots of facts about succulents. I’m a terrible plant owner, so this has been great for me to learn about plants without feeling the guilt of being a bad plant mom. Also, you can play this on Steam or a mobile device! I couldn’t get the app to download to my phone because my phone is old, but I like the idea of it as an app!
  • Stardew Valley: Ugh I’m sorry this isn’t a free game, but I FREAKIN’ LOVE STARDEW VALLEY. It’s a big world, wholesome, and beautiful. It’s the Harvest Moon we’ve ALWAYS deserved. It’s about $15, but it’s given me hours of entertainment.

That’s all Folks! We’ll see you next week! 😘

The Ultimate Survival Guide for Your Next All Nighter

Plucky Media

Hey, You! Yeah, You! Oh no, do you need to pull an all-nighter? Well, I got you! Here are 5 ways that can (hopefully) make them way less painful!

1. Create Boundaries

Boundaries are important. They help keep things in balance when it comes to yourself, friends, families, coworkers, loved ones, etc. It’s also important to create boundaries for how you study/work.

Here are some things I’ve done to keep myself more focused.

StayFocused

The StayFocused web extension basically has you put in websites that are just going to distract you. You can allow yourself a certain amount of time for different parts of the day. With the extension, I decided that from  9AM-5PM I could only have 15 minutes of my ‘banned sites’ during that time period. When you reach your budgeted time, the extension shuts you out of those websites. This worked for me a little, but then it just fizzled out. I felt like I was punishing myself, and it just didn’t work well for me. I know tons of people who love this extension, and it’s definitely worth a try!

Separate Your Browsers

This is actually the method that worked the best for me. I use Chrome as my web browser, and I have four separate chrome accounts for very specific uses. When I am working, I use “Sarah Work,” which only has the bare essentials of what I need for to work. The same goes for my other browsers. This is what it looks like:

Having this separation has made the world of difference for me. It’s all about what you think works for you. Try to find some way to create boundaries that will serve you well.

2. Budget the Night Smarter

I’m a horrible procrastinator. I did almost every assignment up to the last possible moment…and it was always pure, terrifying chaos. I would do this thing where I would sit at my computer screen in a haze until it was done… and it was always excruciating.

It wasn’t until I started working from home when Katy introduced the Pomodoro Technique into our work schedule. Katy just (lol) published an entire breakdown of how this system works. Check it out here if you want more in depth information. Basically, you have a series of sessions where work for a total of 4 highly focused sessions for 25 minutes with a 5-minute minute break in between each of them. After you’ve completed 4 successful 25-minute sessions of focused work, you earn a 25-minute break! Allowing yourself organized rewards and breaks, as opposed to just sitting at my computer “until it gets done” makes the whole process way less painful. But yes. Please try the Pomodoro technique. I’ve never been more productive in my entire life.

3. Reduce Eye Strain Where You Can

Staring at a screen for hours can really take its toll on you. Computer screens and phone screens are supposed to shine like the Sun, and this can mess up your circadian rhythm when you stare at it late at night. If you aren’t working on a type of project that requires editing pictures, creating graphics, or anything that requires you to deal with the full spectrum of color, then you need this software called flux. The software warms up your computer screen as it gets later in the day. It helps you keep working at your computer screen without giving you that horrible buzzing and nauseous feeling that comes from staring at a screen too long.

If you think this would interest you, download Flux here:

4. It’s Okay to Take a Step Back If You Need It

It’s okay to not be able to push through for the entire time. If you need to just go to bed. Do it. If you need an extension. Email the Professor. Sometimes you hit a wall and it’s okay to not be able to finish something.

When you’re coming up to deadlines, it can be easy to prioritize your well-being second. Body and mind are so closely intertwined. If you are coming across that feeling where everything is awful, take a step back. Take a shower, drink some water, stretch, or do something little that makes you happy. Don’t deprive yourself of something because you haven’t ‘earned it.’ If your body is telling you that you need something, then chances are it’s a good idea to listen to it. No paper or assignment is more important than your overall well-being. Remeber that.

5. Drink Some Water You Animal

Just do it. I can go on and on about what water does for your body, but chances are you’ve heard it all before. So just do it. Put the coffee down, you caffeinated fiend!

And yeah…

I hope this helps. I actually learned all these things after I graduated college (lol), so I hope this could help somebody else. Because let’s face it, college burn-out is real, especially towards the end. I’m still recovering from it. Take care of yourself. You deserve it. <3

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