The Goodbye Girl (1977) – Herbot Ross (Friday’s Finest)

The Goodbye Girl

The Goodbye Girl is the first US film we have featured on ‘Friday’s finest’ for a while. I’m very partial to it because it is one of my mother’s favourite films. Also the film’s theme song was my favourite from the band – Bread. As you can imagine my brother and I got an obscene dose of this movie growing up! This one and Tootsie to be exact. Unless I’m mistaken, they don’t make excellent romantic comedies like The Goodbye Girl anymore. First and foremost the writing in this movie formerly a play by the legendary playwright Neil Simon is extremely intelligent, fluid and witty. And secondly we have the great actor Richard Dreyfuss star in his prime as an out of work actor. Dreyfuss won the Academy award for best actor in this role and Neil Simon the screenplay.

IMDB Storyline: A divorced woman and her daughter come home to find that her boyfriend has left for an out of town job with no warning. This has happened before. The second surprise comes in the form of another actor who has sublet the apartment from her boyfriend (who did not mention the pair of females who would be in residence). After some negotiation the two decide to share the apartment even though she has vowed to stay away from actors.

To give you a taste of how good this script is:

Paula McFadden : This is your room. I do not clean or make beds. You may use the kitchen or the bathroom when I am not in it and wash it up when you are through. You pay for your own food, laundry, linens and phone bills. I would appreciate some quiet between six and nine as that is when Lucy does her homework and I don’t care what you drink or smoke. As long as it is not grass in front of my 10 year old daughter. Now, we have everything straight?

Elliot Garfield : No.

Paula McFadden : No?

Elliot Garfield : No. I’m not crazy about the arrangements.

Paula McFadden : You’re not.

Elliot Garfield : Definitely not. I am paying the rent, I will make-a-da rules. I like to take showers every morning and I don’t like the panties drying on the rod. I like to cook so I will use the kitchen whenever I damn well please and I am very particular about my condiments so, keep your salt and pepper to yourself. I also play the guitar in the middle of the night whenever I cannot sleep and I meditate every morning complete with chanting and burning incense so if you’ve got to walk around I’d appreciate a little tip-toeing. Also, I sleep in the nude. Au buffo. Winter and summer, rain or snow with the windows open and because I may have to go to the potty or to the fridge in the middle of the night and because I don’t want to put on jammies which I do not own in the first place… unless you’re looking for a quick thrill or your daughter an advanced education I would keep my door closed. Thems my rules and regulations, how does that grab you?

Despite its Academy awards The Goodbye Girl remains largely unknown now which is strange and why its here in Friday’s finest. I think it’s one of the greatest romantic comedies I’ve seen. It is a wonderful tale of of family, of career, of relationships and of love. This is easily my favourite performance by Dreyfuss. Everything that makes him so precocious and appealing as an actor is manifested in The Goodbye Girl. The movie melts with humour from start to finishIt also has one of the most gorgeous endings I’ve seen on film.

Interesting IMDB Trivia:

* Marsha Mason recalled working with Richard Dreyfuss – “Richard was fast and funny. I was thoughtful and more serious. Richard was wild and free. I was a responsible wife and mother and an actress. I wanted so much to be like him. He was so sure of himself, so sure of his place and space, and he moves forward accordingly. He’s bright, bright, bright, incredibly well read, and comfortable with his intelligence.”

* The film’s theme song “Goodbye Girl”, sung and written by David Gates, went to No. #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1977.

* Sources point to this film as the first romantic comedy to gross 100 million dollars.

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Posted in Movies and TV

The ABC with Elmo and India Arie (Special Edition)

Elmo Singing with the stars

Today we commemorate with a special edition music post the ending of all songs starting with the letter ‘A’ in the music library project. Below is India Aria singing the ABC with Elmo. This lovely song is good refresher training to remind us which letters come next in the alphabet. Also if my maths is correct since we have officially concluded letter ‘A’ that leaves us with 25 letters. Given the quantity of songs remaining and my current posting rate of three song posts a week, this project should conclude in 320 weeks from this point. In 6.15 years give or take we would be done if I refrained from adding new songs to my library, which is highly unlikely. So 7 years is my best guesstimate.

According to Muppet Wiki: India Arie Simpson (b. 1975), known famously as India.Arie, is a two-time Grammy Award winner R&B singer-songwriter. She sang “The Alphabet Song” with Elmo in Sesame Street Episode 4100 and a song about jumping on the video Happy Healthy Monsters.

Being ElmoI really enjoyed watching Elmo sing with the stars when my kids were younger. Some of my favourite guest appearances include Jason Mraz, Ricky Gervais and Andrea Bocelli. Also the highly acclaimed documentary film Being Elmo (see image inset) about the puppeteer behind Elmo – Kevin Clash was released in 2011.
According to wikpedia:
The film focuses on Clash’s early career in Baltimore, Maryland. It covers his meeting and interactions with Sesame Street creator Jim Henson, puppet maker Kermit Love, and the phenomenal success of Elmo. Clash joined Sesame Street in 1984.

So to officially sign off to the letter ‘A’ in the music library I present to you India Aria singing the ABC with Elmo:

 

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Posted in Music

Colombia’s 5 Best Secrets – Travel Article

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about the Camino Real (Royal Road) – The road between Barichara and Guane which featured in a travel article I once wrote. I thought I would use this Wednesday literature space to present the entire article. I should preface by saying the title is sensationalized. Their are arguably hundreds of other sites in Colombia which could be considered more obscure and satisfying for travelers who like getting off the beaten track. But I made my own short list from the places I had visited up to when I had written the article.
See if you can spot my son Jesus Mateo who features in the first photo when he was just 3 years old. He is now 9!

Colombia’s 5 Best Secrets

If it’s life you want, then its life you will get. Colombia is one of the world’s five richest countries in biological diversity, coupled with its unspoilt colonial heritage and colourful festivals. As the Colombian travel slogan says ‘the only risk is wanting to stay’.

Parque Jaime Duque – Bogota

This is Colombian culture at its most quirky yet fascinating best. If an eerie water tunnel boat ride through a medieval castle of Dante’s Divine Comedy isn’t quite your thing, then perhaps a guided tour of 113 scenes of the most pivotal moments of the history of man in the Universe is.

How to get there: From Bogota travel by Transmilenio bus to Portal Norte calle 170 then catch a bus to Autopista Norte and get off at Briceño.

Parque Jaime Duque

Chicamocha Canyon and ‘Camino Real’ – Department of Santander

Located 50 km south of the city of Bucaramanga, Chicamocha canyon boasts spectacular landscapes and a wide variety of adventure activities. The aerial cable car ride allows tourists to view it in all its splendour. South of Chicamocha Canyon is the spiritually rejuvenating three-hour walk ‘Camino Real’ between two of Colombia’s most charming colonial towns Barichara and Guane – an almost surreal experience; a pilgrimage into a different age.

How to get there: Frequent buses travel north from Bogota to Bucaramanga or you may decide to stay in San Gil situated just 10 kilometers from Barichara. Alternatively, fly directly to Bucaramanga and take a bus south 1.5hours to Chicamocha or San Gil.

Chicamocha Canyon

Islas del Rosarios and Playa Blanca – Cartagena

Sit back on the speedboat and hold onto your hat as you rocket past Cartagena’s ancient castle of San Fernando de Bocachica and arrive a little bit wetter at the island hotel. Go swimming or do some snorkeling, then succumb to your saltwater-induced appetite with a tasty hot pescado lunch. In the afternoon visit the aquarium and marvel at the acrobatic dolphin display. On the way back, drop in at the Playa Blanca, sit under a coconut tree and unwind with a delicious piña colada served straight from a coconut.

How to get there: Frequent flights, international and domestic, go to Cartagena. Boats leave from Muelle Turístico between 8am and 9am and return 4pm to 6 pm.

Islas del Rosarios

Mompòs – Department of Bolivar

Mompòs is a town bordered by boggy rivers and dense vegetation located on the eastern branch of the Magdalena Río in the northern Colombian interior. Time may have passed Mompòs by, but the tourists have just started exploring this once-forgotten land. The colonial architecture is something to behold as is the town’s specialty gold jewelry and furniture making.

How to get there: Mompòs is a bumpy six-hour bus ride from Cartagena. You’ll arrive at Maganguè and board a boat for Bodega and then continue by bus to Mompòs.

Laguna de La Cocha – Pasto

La Laguna de La Cocha is a high Andean lake located in the southern Andes of Colombia just 27km east of the city of Pasto in the Nariño Department. Hop on a boat to cross Colombia’s second largest natural body of freshwater and visit the flora sanctuary on the island Corota. More than just a breath of fresh air, La Cocha is a wetland ecosystem of international significance.

How to get there: Frequent flights operate to Pasto. Buses for the lake leave from in front of the Iglesia Santo Sepulcro at Calle 22, Carerra 7.

La Laguna de La Cocha

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Posted in Reading, Sport and Adventure

Axur, re d’Ormus (1788) Finale – Antonio Salieri

Antonio Salieri

The very short finale excerpt featured today in the musical library is from Antonio Salieri’s opera Axur, re d’Ormus. I had heard it for years on my Amadeus soundtrack because it featured in the movie. A lot of the music from the soundtrack is peppered through this musical library project, because Amadeus remains my favourite movie soundtrack.

This music from Salieri is astounding and it was used in the movie to great affect depicting Salieri striking back at Mozart by giving every ounce of compositional talent he could muster. And he doesn’t disappoint. Salieri comes off as the historical loser in the movie, but it’s said that he had a long and enjoyable life and was more famous than Mozart. He was highly successful throughout Europe. Only after his death did the taste of public change over time and he fell into obscurity. So its like a ‘Riches to rags’ story at least in terms of public opinion. But don’t let the movie fool you, Salieri was a great composer perhaps not outstanding in the ‘Mozart’ sense, but great nonetheless. Fortunately there are still conductors, singers and record labels that are championing Salieri’s works.

F. Murray Abraham as Antonio Salieri won best actor for his role in Amadeus. It contains some of the most extraordinary acting I have seen and despite some of the controversy surrounding how Salieri was depicted in the movie I think F. Murray Abraham did great service for Salieri’s music and in terms of character he had so much lovely depth.

Axur, re d’Ormus is renowned as a beautiful and moving opera. According to wikipedia: It is an operatic dramma tragicomico in five acts by Antonio Salieri…. Axur premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 8 January 1788, the title role being sung by Francesco Benucci, Mozart’s first Figaro. It became one of the most famous operas in Vienna, being performed much more frequently than Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which was first performed in Vienna on 7 May 1788.

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Posted in Music

5/11 – 11/11 incl. Shrinking Population, Edward Norton and Russia

news on the march

Welcome to Monday’s News on the March – The week that was in my digital world.

Article at The Hofflebrock:

But who knows. I’m the sort of tragic character who cuts his hair to exert control. Who says fuck everything and climbs into a hole, plastering the walls with pictures of what I’m pretty sure the world looks like, and that’s fine enough. I don’t need to go out and see what’s really out there because I’d have too much to keep track of. I might get lost. My cave paintings, though, they don’t move. I can forget they’re even there. I can stare off into nothing and feel freedom from time and space.

I’m writing this story. These stories. I’m writing about writing. I’m writing about writing about writing. Instead of doing. Instead of teaching. “Those who can’t even…” I want that on a tshirt....… (read more).

Video interview at the Agenda with Steve Paikin:

Dire predictions about an impending overpopulation crisis have loomed large in the human imagination for centuries. Darrel Bricker and John Ibbitson co-authors of, “Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline,” say these predictions have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, the global population is on the decline. They join The Agenda to discuss a shrinking planet and the myriad challenges it poses...Watch entire interview

You tube interview at Powerful JRE:

Edward Norton’s perspectives about those artists who have had the biggest influences in their given field, including Marlon Brando and Bob Dylan were fascinating.

Edward Norton is an actor, writer, producer, director, and filmmaker. His new film “Motherless Brooklyn” opens in theaters on November 1.… (Watch full interview).

ABC News Australian podcast at ABC:

When is an invasion not an invasion? When Putin’s propaganda machine is involved, sowing false narratives, confusion and fear.

From Putin’s motorcycle gang to his ‘little green men’ and his hip-hop loving head of misinformation, Russia tried everything to convince the West it wasn’t invading Ukraine.

The propaganda push worked – sort of, and tells us a lot about the misinformation Russia has gone on to do in the West.…. (Listen to podcast)

Poem Mike’s Manic Word Depot:

a tarnished silver tray
in the flickering
candlelight
of a darkened room
fruit
long into rot
moulders
under the constant buzz
of flies  (Read entire poem)

news on the march the end

Posted in News

Awesome God (2001) – Michael W Smith

worship

This is the second song to feature from American Christian singer Michael W Smith. You can find more information about Michael W Smith at my post about his version of Agnus Dei.

This song Awesome God and video below demonstrates the power and wonder of community worship. It’s one of the most covered songs in Christian music. I still get goosebumps when I hear it. It was released on Michael’s 16th album called ‘Worship‘ which went double platinum. Remarkably the album was released on September 11th 2001.

According to wikipedia: Awesome God” is a contemporary worship song written by Rich Mullins and first recorded on his 1988 album, Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth. It was the first single from the album and rose to the number one spot on Christian radio and subsequently became a popular congregational song. Its title is inspired by a biblical expression (Nehemiah 1:5, Nehemiah 9:32, Psalm 47, Daniel 9:4, etc.), variously translated as “Awesome God”, (JPS, in the old-fashioned meaning “awe-inspiring”), “great” (KJV), among other alternatives.

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from Heaven above
With wisdom power and love
Our God is an awesome God

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Posted in Music

Wild Tales (Argentina 2014) – Damián Szifron

Wild Tales

Recently we discussed an Argentine movie called The Secret in their Eyes which won best foreign film at the 2010 Academy awards. Today we jump forward to look at an other Argentine movie which was shortlisted / nominated for the Academy Awards in 2014. Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes) is a an Argentine / Spanish black comedy anthology film composed of six standalone shorts, all written and directed by Damián Szifron, united by a common theme of violence and vengeance.

Each unconnected story which runs between 20 and 30 minutes duration is captivating from start to finish. If you hold a short attention span in movies and want things to just happen ‘already’, then Wild Tales should hit all the right buttons. It’s a smorgasbord of events where due to unforeseen circumstances people find themselves at their wits end or in their most desperate hour. What sets Wild Tales apart is the originality of each story concept and none of them are the least bit predictable in how they will turn out. Despite their darkness you cannot help but be entertained by the comical undertone of each extraordinary circumstance. Below is a short plot description of three of the stories taken from the IMDB Storyline:

 (2) “The Rats”: A waitress recognizes her client – it’s the loan shark who caused a tragedy in her family. The cook suggests mixing rat poison with his food, but the waitress refuses. The stubborn cook, however, decides to proceed with her plan. (3) “The Strongest”: Two drivers on a lone highway have an argument with tragic consequences. (4) “Little Bomb”: A demolition engineer has his car towed by a truck for parking in a wrong place and he has an argument with the employee of the towing company. This event destroys his private and professional life, and he plots revenge against the corrupt towing company and the city hall.

I wouldn’t say this is a philosophical film, but it is clever entertainment, that makes you think if these wild tales are actually that wild. Even though these stories are taken to the extreme, everything feels somehow possible when you look back. I would class Wild Tales as a modern cinema classic. The acting and writing in this gem from Argentina are superb, and the beautifully photographed segments keep you thrilled and unable to guess just what crazy turn they will take next. A wonderful joy of a film for film lovers with a rather twisted sense of humor.

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Posted in Movies and TV

Ave Maria (1944) – Marian Anderson

marian anderson

Ave Maria is one of the world’s most recognisable songs. It was composed by Franz Schubert in 1825. It was composed as a setting of a song (verse XXIX from Canto Three) from Walter Scott’s popular epic poem The Lady of the Lake. I stumbled across Marian Anderson’s version (at the end of this post) by accident and it floored me.  Apart from possessing a divine voice, she showed exquisite style and grace.

Marian Anderson (February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993) was an American singer and one of the most celebrated of the 20th century. She performed opera arias, traditional American songs and spiritual. She was offered roles in many important European Opera companies, but she declined because she had no training in acting. She preferred to perform in concert and recital only.

MarianAndersonLincolnMemorial

Anderson in her 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial

According to wikipedia: In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. The incident placed Anderson into the spotlight of the international community on a level unusual for a classical musician. With the aid of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the capital. She sang before an integrated crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience in the millions. 

She participated in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, singing at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Anderson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.

In the late 1930s, Anderson gave about 70 recitals a year in the United States. Although by then quite famous, her stature did not completely end the prejudice she confronted as a young black singer touring the United States. She was still denied rooms in certain American hotels and was not allowed to eat in certain American restaurants. Because of this discrimination, Albert Einstein, a champion of racial tolerance, hosted Anderson on many occasions, the first being in 1937 when she was denied a hotel before performing at Princeton University. She last stayed with him months before he died in 1955.

The description of Ave Maria below – the much-loved Schubert song comes from a short 1944 ‘Christmas Carols’ feature, filmed specially for American military personnel stationed overseas, in which Leopold Stokowski conducted the Westminster Choir and a small orchestral ensemble. The great African-American mezzo Marian Anderson had a solo spot in this film and here she is, sensitively accompanied by the great Maestro.

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Deciding not to be a bitch – The Sun Also Rises (Final)

Gertrude Stein

Wikipedia: – Gertrude Stein in 1924 with Hemingway’s son Jack. She coined the phrase “Lost Generation”. Read more here.

Americans were drawn to Paris in the Roaring Twenties by the favorable exchange rate, with as many as 200,000 English-speaking expatriates living there….Many American writers were disenchanted with the US, where they found less artistic freedom than in Europe. (For example, Hemingway was in Paris during the period when Ulysses, written by his friend James Joyce, was banned and burned in New York.)

Hemingway scholar Wagner-Martin writes that Hemingway wanted the book to be about morality, which he emphasized by changing the working title from Fiesta to The Sun Also Rises. Wagner-Martin argues that the book can be read either as a novel about bored expatriates or as a morality tale about a protagonist who searches for integrity in an immoral world – Wikipedia

Today is our final encounter with Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. The last time we visited this book we looked at our protagonist’s reflections on what it was like to be back in France after the week of fiestas and watching the running of bulls in Spain. This week we look once again at the aftermath of the fiesta. As Jake is about to return to Paris, he receives a telegram from Lady Brett Ashley asking for help; she had run off to Madrid to join her young bullfighter lover Romero. Jake finally meets up with the disheveled Brett at her hotel.

She looked away. I thought she was looking for another cigarette. Then I saw she was crying. I could feel her crying. Shaking and crying. She wouldn’t look up. I put my arms around her.

“Don’t let’s ever talk about it. Please don’t let’s ever talk about it.”

“Dear Brett.”

“I’m going back to Mike.” I could feel her crying as I held her close. “He’s so damned nice and he’s so awful. He’s my sort of thing.”

She would not look up. I stroked her hair. I could feel her shaking.

“I won’t be one of those bitches,” she said. “But, oh, Jake, please let’s never talk about it.”

We left the Hotel Montana. The woman who ran the hotel would not let me pay the bill. The bill had been paid.

“Oh, well. Let it go,” Brett said. “It doesn’t matter now.”

We rode in a taxi down to the Palace Hotel, left the bags, arranged for berths on the Sud Express for the night, and went into the bar of the hotel for a cocktail. We sat on high stools at the bar while the barman shook the Martinis in a large nickelled shaker.

“It’s funny what a wonderful gentility you get in the bar of a big hotel,” I said.

“Barmen and jockeys are the only people who are polite any more.”

“No matter how vulgar a hotel is, the bar is always nice.”

“It’s odd.”

“Bartenders have always been fine.”

“You know,” Brett said, “it’s quite true. He is only nineteen. Isn’t it amazing?”

We touched the two glasses as they stood side by side on the bar. They were coldly beaded. Outside the curtained window was the summer heat of Madrid.

“I like an olive in a Martini,” I said to the barman.

“Right you are, sir. There you are.”

“Thanks.”

“I should have asked, you know.”

The barman went far enough up the bar so that he would not hear our conversation. Brett had sipped from the Martini as it stood, on the wood. Then she picked it up. Her hand was steady enough to lift it after that first sip.

“It’s good. Isn’t it a nice bar?”

“They’re all nice bars.”

“You know I didn’t believe it at first. He was born in 1905. I was in school in Paris, then. Think of that.”

“Anything you want me to think about it?”

“Don’t be an ass. Would you buy a lady a drink?”

“We’ll have two more Martinis.”

“As they were before, sir?”

“They were very good.” Brett smiled at him.

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“Well, bung-o,” Brett said.

“Bung-o!”

“You know,” Brett said, “he’d only been with two women before. He never cared about anything but bull-fighting.”

“He’s got plenty of time.”

“I don’t know. He thinks it was me. Not the show in general.”

“Well, it was you.”

“Yes. It was me.”

“I thought you weren’t going to ever talk about it.”

“How can I help it?”

“You’ll lose it if you talk about it.”

“I just talk around it. You know I feel rather damned good, Jake.”

“You should.”

“You know it makes one feel rather good deciding not to be a bitch.”

“Yes.”

“It’s sort of what we have instead of God.”

“Some people have God,” I said. “Quite a lot.”

“He never worked very well with me.”

“Should we have another Martini?”

The barman shook up two more Martinis and poured them out into fresh glasses.

“Where will we have lunch?” I asked Brett. The bar was cool. You could feel the heat outside through the window.

“Here?” asked Brett.

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Posted in Reading

Autumn Leaves (2015) – Bob Dylan

Bob_Dylan_-_Shadows_in_the_Night

According to Bob Dylan, a singer has to have lived a little to get to the song’s meaning. “You sing that and you have to know something about love and loss and feel it just as much,” Dylan told AARP magazine, “or there’s no point in doing it. It’s too deep a song. A schoolboy could never do it convincingly.”
– The Financial Times ‘Autumn Leaves – the song about death that lives on

Last time we explored Eva Cassidy’s Autumn Leaves, today it is Bob’s turn. Bob Dylan’s version of Autumn Leaves was released on his 2015 Shadows in the Night. I’ve written about Shadows before. I consider it a modern masterpiece from Bob – certainly a top tier album from him. The Irish Times hit the nail on the head in their review:

Those who complain that Dylan can’t sing are treated to a masterclass in timing, phrasing, nuance and interpretation. Even the cracks in his voice leave a poignant trail.
Irish Times

Bob unearthed 10 traditional crooner standards made popular by Frank Sinatra in Shadows in the Night. Bob said this in a press statement at the time of its release:
I don’t see myself as covering these songs in any way. They’ve been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day‘.

His rendition of Autumn Leaves is wonderful and it demonstrates this exercise of his vocal technique whereby it’s an intimate, almost whispering in your ear delivery, where every intake and outtake of breath makes us think he is singing to us individually. Once again the original studio recording doesn’t exist on you tube due to copyright restrictions, so I searched for a decent live recording. The live recording below features video (as well) from his October 3rd 2015 concert in Konserthuset. Unfortunately it doesn’t include the lovely introduction, but I think he does a very fine job with it.

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Posted in Music

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