Whoosh! Issue 71 - August 2002

INSIDE THE HEAD OF ROO
By Amy Murphy
Content © 2002 held by author
WHOOSH! Edition © (c) 2002 held by WHOOSH
4941 words


Introduction (01)
Roo's Head (02-184)
Roo's Stories
Acknowledgments
Articles
Biography



INSIDE THE HEAD OF ROO



Introduction

I hope I don't 'roo' the day I said I'd do this interview.

A male kangaroo is called a boomer, a female is called a flyer,
a baby is called a joey, and a Xenite fan fiction writer is called Roo


[01]After I had first met Roo, the feeling that stuck with me was that she has a kind soul. I met her in Pasadena 2001 for the Convention, and she had a great sense of humor to match that kind soul. She also has a strong talent for writing.



Roo’s Head


Interviewer:
[02] Why did you start writing?

Roo:
[03] Because even at the age of eight, I thought I was capable of delivering or telling a better story than I was seeing on television at that time. Being a child of the boob tube, I had no clue what a "book" was. Had I, I would never have presumed to be capable of bettering the storylines of the print media because when I was a kid, the dictum was: "If it's in print, it must be true."

Interviewer:
[04] If you had to do it all over, would you be a bard?

Roo:
[05] I don't think I had a choice in the matter the first time around. I was born and had a Bic thrust into my hand. That's what Fate is.

Interviewer:
[06] Give us a brief day in the life of Roo.

Roo:
[07] There is no such thing as a brief day, but I'll hit the highlights. I rise at 2:00 am, again at 3:00am, and finally, for the last time that morning, around 5:00am, I drag myself to work at a newspaper when I am Page Layout Coordinator, a kind of architect of the daily newspaper and special print products. All that "truth in print" crapola I was handed in my formative years must've paid off for someone.

[08] Anyway, I spend 10 hours a day, or thereabouts laying out the newspapers, adjusting news hole budgets, placing retail advertisers just where they want to be -- Page A-3, Local Section. They all seem to think we have a bottomless bag of that position! After a few hours of that, I like to think I leave the building a little more confused than I found it and I head for home, perhaps stopping briefly at the BP station for a Barq's in the bottle. Dinner at home.

[09] In a perfect world, I walk in the front door and smell it on the stove. I do not live in a perfect world. My dog, Trinket, a Basenji, greets me, wagging her entire body and I fall in love again. She's my heart. I eat dinner, feed my dogs and cats, shower, and get into some comfortable clothes.

[10] Check my email and if the muse is cooperative, I stare at a blank page for an hour or so. If she's feeling generous, I crank out a few paragraphs. Lately, she's stingy as H---. Failing the bard thing, I might watch a little TV, play with the dog, read anything I haven't already read -- like the daily paper -- then hit the sack about 11:30 pm. These are the good days.

Interviewer:
[11] How do you handle stress?

Roo:
[12] I don't. It handles me!

Interviewer:
[13] Years from now, how would you want to be remembered?

Roo:
[14] When my ashes are scattered to the four winds, I think I would like people to remember me as someone with a good sense of humor and a healthy sense of my own self. I can look in the mirror and deal with that reflection and I am OK with it. I'm over the compulsion to correct and/or change myself to please others. So, if I were to pass away tomorrow, I think my friends and family know me well enough to tell strangers -- "If she went, it's because she was ready to go."

Interviewer:
[15] What is your pet peeve?

Roo:
[16] This question implies A: that I HAVE a pet peeve, and B: that I am entitled to only ONE pet peeve! When I do have peeves, and more than one, too, but I will confess that the top of my Peeve List is people who use the turning lane in the highway to pass slower drivers. Oh, I want to hunt them down, find out where they live and ring their doorbell and run!

Interviewer:
[17] Who is Roo?

Roo:
[18] When I find out, I will let you know. No, honestly, who am I to say who I am. It's only my opinion. I realize that this response alone says something of "who I am". I guess I am at heart, a smart mouth - I love words -- love to talk, love to write. I have a great sense of humor. That's a fact. In this world, a sense of humor is as essential as air to breathe.

Interviewer:
[19] What is the most sensitive part on your body?

Roo:
[20] Oh, gee...four ex-fiancées ALL know the answer to this! The backs of my knees. I am putty in the hands of a skilled tickler.

Interviewer:
[21] How do you handle life with an illness?

Roo:
[22] Again, I feel like I don't have a choice in how I handle it. It really dictates how I spend my day -- how long I stay at work, IF I go to work, what my attitude is that day, how I treat my dog, my family, my friends. I am, on a bad day, a slave to something foreign growing in my body. But most days are good, and I am a peach. Kind of fuzzy on the outside, warm and juicy on the first bite -- with a poisonous black pit in the middle. It's the pits we should worry about and deal with.

Interviewer:
[23] What advice can you give others who are fighting an illness?

Roo:
[24] Don't lose your sense of humor, it will save you. If you don't have one, find a reputable dealer, and buy one at any cost. You are very likely going to be poked, prodded, scanned, opened and closed, injected, inspected, and exposed in more ways than you can count. Unless you're willing to turn up your toes at the first diagnosis of any potentially devastating disease, make a reasonable effort to keep on going. Attitude plays such a large part in the ultimate prognosis. Never submit. Never surrender.

Interviewer:
[25] What do you see yourself doing in the future? Any future projects?

Roo:
[26] I assume you mean writing projects? If so, I have three projects I am currently working on, all in about the same stage of construction: a synopsis and characters, an idea of what I want to say and how I'd like to say it, but not much else.

Interviewer:
[27] How do you handle depression?

Roo:
[28] I have to admit that when deep depression sets in, the temptation is to go with it -- like a whore, let it have its way with me because at that point I am just so immeasurably tired, I can't conceive of fighting it. But normally, at that point, I have friends around who will stand in line to kick my ass. God Bless 'em.

Interviewer:
[29] What was the hardest thing you ever did?

Roo:
[30] When my friend, Diane, who had been so ill for so much of her life, finally ended up in the ICU of Keesler AFB, whittled away by diabetes and cardiac disease, she asked me to help her leave this world. It wasn't the first time. But it would be the last. Her family, consisting of a surviving daughter and son, had also been asked to assist her should the situation arise. All they had to do was act as her advocate, approach her attending physicians, convey their mother's wishes to have a vital medication which was keeping her constantly low blood pressure elevated discontinued. She had previously been assured that were it not for this medication, she would certainly die in that hospital bed. Both children adamantly refused, and if Diane had been my mother, I probably would have done the same. But she was my best friend -- the walking representation of my beating heart.

[31] After 3 months on ICU, hooked up to every machine and every monitor conceivable, half of her left foot gone, and left speechless by the intubation device down her throat, we conversed daily, she in writing, about the quality of her life , and what she could look forward to should she be able to leave the hospital this time around. Gradually, as the days wore on, her once florid, legible and semi-optimistic scribbling on the clipboard grew more negative, less lengthy -- the handwriting changed from beautiful script to a spiky, wobbly scrawl and she conveyed everything with heartbreaking confessions like "...not enough air..." "...hurts to breathe..." "...so sad..." and "...love you best..."

[32] Once I got the message through my thick head, we "talked"...she laid down her questions that I would ask her doctors: "Will it hurt? Can we keep the breathing tube in? Will it happen right away?" I wrote these questions down, repeated them back to make sure I had everything just as she wanted it. She told me she would like her small desk fan kept on afterward, what radio station she would like her boom box tuned to, what book I might read aloud to her, if I felt like I wanted to do so. She was extremely thorough, and brave. So, I assumed up a courage I didn't feel in the least, took the clipboard in hand and approached one of her doctors, practically dragging him to her bedside, where I repeated her questions word for word...and where he, after ascertaining that this was absolutely her wish, proceeded to lay down, in explicit detail, how the event would probably proceed.

[33] That night, her son and daughter gathered at her bed, along with a dozen techs and nurses. We said good-byes... we kissed her, talked to her, and she looked so calm about it. Her doctor turned off the machine responsible for delivering that life-sustaining medication and we waited...waited for the hour or so the doctor had said it would take. The techs crouched against the wall at the foot of the bed, some in tears as they had known her and treated her for years...her children there, holding her hand...me, meeting her eyes when she cast them on me. She would drift off... and we waited...and she would open her eyes, fix on the wall clock directly in her line of sight and then turn this frown on the doctor -- I know I read it perfectly: "I'm alive...what the hell am I still doing here?!"

[34] Eventually, she did slip into a coma...the techs went back to their stations because there were patients to be tended, and her family and I kept vigil...for 35 hours...at 1:25am January 8, 1998, the doctor pronounced her. The three of us stood there, looking at her...waxy, her hair sparse and lank. To give them time with her, I said my good-byes, kissed her forehead and whispered in her ear -- "Honey, I hope it's everything you hoped it would be." I miss the hell out of her.

Interviewer:
[35] What was the easiest?

Roo:
[36] Well, since I can't recall every event in the last 40 years of my life, I will have to say that RECENTLY, the easiest thing I have done is respond to this interview.

Interviewer:
[37] What advice can you give to future writers?

Roo:
[38] Write what you know, but God gave you an imagination, too. Stretch. Write what you feel. Write true dialogue. Even if the utterance of your character is, "I have to stay dead", make the readers believe that SHE believes it.

Interviewer:
[39] How did it feel to be published?

Roo:
[40] Initially, it's terrifying...then you read the hard copy and are abhorred that the careless editor omitted a key phrase and also had the nerve the change the title you had given so much thought to.

Interviewer:
[41] What has the show Xena meant to you?

Roo:
[42] It has been a source of joy, fascination, disgust, passion and apathy, creativity, and originality. But most of all, it has led me to so many friends I might not have met under other circumstances.

Interviewer:
[43] How do you feel about its end?

Roo:
[44] Oh, sad that the well is dry, and that it petered out in such an inauspicious manner. Missed opportunities. Sad. But it was time to end it. The joy had been gone for some time.

Interviewer:
[45] What are you dreams? Hopes? Wishes?

Roo:
[46] Oh, I want to be 20 again and know what I know now! I look at my life and it's almost over, so to speak. I don't feel as though I have accomplished a great deal at all, and I really would like to leave a mark on this earth, a legacy of some kind.

Interviewer:
[47] Who do you trust?

Roo:
[48] My mother. She is my best friend, my worst critic, my most devoted fan, and my personal advocate.

Interviewer:
[49] What would you say every writer needs?

Roo:
[50] Ambition. And discipline. A writer writes! Even if it's drivel, WRITE!

Interviewer:
[51] Do you believe in prayer?

Roo:
[52] Yes, I believe in the power of prayer. No other explanation is necessary.

Her face artistically bathed in moonlight, Xena seeks clarification on the meaning of Season Five.

Xena was known to have prayed once or twice


Interviewer:
[53] How do you feel about subtext?

Roo:
[54] I admit it. I was a late bloomer where subtext is concerned. But I am, WAS, so much in favor of it, that the ending to Xena dashed me on the rocks. It hurt to know that Gabrielle would never ever again be complete.

Interviewer:
[55] What makes your best friend your best friend?

Roo:
56] Her tolerance, and generosity. The fact that we're separated by 1000 miles but that neither of us thinks much about picking up a phone or talking for hours and hours on ICQ. Her willingness to lay her life bare before me. Her trust. Her candor. Her name doesn't hurt either, as I believe there is something inherently special about women named...Diane.

Interviewer:
[57] Have you ever experienced you or someone else reading one of your stories aloud in public?

Roo:
[58] I generally make a final proof of a story by reading it aloud to myself, or to any audience that is patient enough to listen as I "perform" the text -- because that's what it is, especially when we're talking Mel and Janice. I slipped back and forth from Midwestern to Southern belle liked the worst kind of schizophrenic, but it helped me to refine the dialogue and catch errors I might have missed otherwise. I love to perform. I'd read anything of mine aloud in a heartbeat.

Interviewer:
[59] What's the most romantic thing anyone has done for you?

Roo:
[60] Set me free. I still love him for it. I hope his wife's okay with that.

Interviewer:
[61] What theme would you like to tackle in your next work?

Roo:
[62] Something hard hitting...something cathartic. We'll see.

Interviewer:
[63] What was the last thing that made you smile recently?

Roo:
[64] My dog, Trinket. I look at her and smile. She's the only child I will ever have and your children should make you smile.

Interviewer:
[65] What made you angry?

Roo:
[66] Well, not angry, exactly...put out, perhaps. I have family staying over and have given up my large double bed for the married couple. I don't have access to my clothes, my books, my THINGS! When it's 2 o'clock in the morning and you don't have access to those things that help the time to pass, you feel a little bit...put out. But I'm over it now.

Interviewer:
[67] You now have absolute authority over the world. Omnipotent in all areas. What is your first move?

Roo:
[68] Hand the reigns over to someone who knows what the h--- to do with that kind of power.

Interviewer:
[69] How would you categorize your best writing, and give the URL's for them if posted?

Roo:
[70] I would love to be optimistic and say I haven't done my best writing yet. But so far, to date, my best online effort has been Home Fires. http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Station/2159/fires.html

Interviewer:
[71] What stupid thing did you do as a teen?

Roo:
[72] In an effort to please my father, I was the only one of six children to enlist in his beloved Navy. There is a d----- good reason that Navy is an anagram for Never Again Volunteer Yourself.

Interviewer:
[73] What, if anything, can stop you writing, if only for a while?

Roo:
[74] The final episode of Xena may well have p--d on the charcoals to my fire.

Interviewer:
[75] In your opinion, do you fit your astrological sign?

Roo:
[76] I'm an Aries...April Fool's Day. I think I fit my birthday more than any attribute of my astral sign.

Interviewer:
[77] What to you is the worst feeling in the world?

Roo:
[78] Failure...acknowledged failure, even if only by myself.

Interviewer:
[79] The best feeling in the world?

Roo:
[80] Contentment.

Interviewer:
[81] Favorite song of the moment?

Roo:
[82] Jodie Messina's Burn

Interviewer:
[83] What is the first thing you think of in the morning?

Roo:
[84] I think about putting the dog out before she has an accident.

Interviewer:
[85] Is there one part of the writing process where you usually get stuck? What have you tried to change that, successful or not?

Roo:
[86] My narrative skills are less than enviable. I sweat every descriptive I put down on paper. The sun doesn't just rise...no...it'll take me an hour to write "dawn was a pale intimation in the sky"...and it still sucks!

Interviewer:
[87] Does the best writing flow for you, or does it come from rewrites?

Roo:
[88] Definitely rewrites and revisions, and refinements...oh my!

Interviewer:
[89] Which part of writing do you enjoy most and why? (E.g., Taking the original notes, final rewrites...)

Roo:
[90] The final revision, when the in essence is told and any clean up I do at that point is tell the story more convincingly, with fewer words...God, how I love words!

Interviewer:
[91] How often do you think about a piece when you're working on it and when do you think about it?

Roo:
[92] I fuss over it constantly...at work mostly, where I have absolutely no chance of doing anything at all about it! The best I can do is email myself a few notes when no one is watching.

Interviewer:
[93] When someone walks into your bedroom, what are the first five things that they're likely to notice?

Roo:
[94] The proliferance of stuffed, carved and ceramic kangaroos. I have over 55 now. The fact that my bed is against a bank of windows. It looks horrible, but I feel safer. The Alvarez guitar in the corner, gathering dust. The lovely oil painting of gardenias my mother painted expressly for me. The two fans, one on either side of my bed. I sleep in a wind tunnel.

Interviewer:
[95] Do you feel in control of your writing, or do your inspiration or characters carry you away?

Roo:
[96] If I am carried away, if I feel the characters are simply using me to tell their story and record their thoughts, no control is the best control.

Interviewer:
[97] If you consider yourself to have a muse, what exactly do you mean?

Roo:
[98] I wouldn't have used the word "muse" 6 years ago. I would have said inspiration and it wouldn't have been an incorporeal being, just a feeling...a nagging feeling to rise at 1:00am and take my notebook and favorite pen out to the kitchen table to record my thoughts. Now I know there was a muse flicking me on my ear to wake me.

Interviewer:
[99] Tell the truth--are you your favorite writer, or in your own top five? Why or why not?

Roo:
[100] I still believe you should be your own biggest fan, but your own harshest critic. So, having said that, I would probably put me way down on the list of favorite writers.

Interviewer:
[101] Would the world be a better place if women ran it or would it the same?

Roo:
[102] Not gonna touch this one.

Interviewer:
[103] What is your favorite spot where you live now?

Roo:
[104] The beach, in winter...it's empty and foggy and bitter and I adore it.

Interviewer:
[105] What books are you reading now? What about it/them is holding your attention?

Roo:
[106] A couple of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta mysteries. I love her attention to detail.

Interviewer:
[107] What would your friends say is your worst trait?

Roo:
[108] My temper. It's unholy.

Interviewer:
[109] Do you type with your fingers on the right keys?

Roo:
[110] They start out there, yes.

Interviewer:
[111] What is the longest any plant in your home has been with you?

Roo:
[112] They don't live long at all. I grow dead things.

Interviewer:
[113] Do you have any particular bedtime rituals that you follow every night?

Roo:
[114] I put a fresh glass of water on the night table, do a walk through the house to check that the doors are locked. That's about it.

Interviewer:
[115] If you find a spider in the bathtub, do you help it out or squish it?

Roo:
[116] I help it out...and then flush it.

Like kangaroos, bard-headed spiders are indigenous to Australia.

Don't flush me Rooooooo


Interviewer:
[117] What was the last thing you bought that you really didn't need?

Roo:
[118] Something Xena related...does anyone really NEED Xena merchandise?

Interviewer:
[119] Have you ever smoked cigarettes?

Roo:
[120] I don't and never have smoked. I lived with a family of seven smokers.

Interviewer:
[121] Who is your favorite Greek God?

Roo:
[122] If we're talking Xena, it would have to be Ares...sexy beast.

Interviewer:
[123] Why do fools fall in love?

Roo:
[124] Because life is cruel...and kind.

Interviewer:
[125] Do you keep a diary and if so what do you call it? If so, what effect has it had on your writing?

Roo:
[126] No, no diary.

Interviewer:
[127] How has online writing affected your life and how you see yourself, your goals?

Roo:
[128] Well, I would never have thought of serializing any of the stories I had written if not for the immediacy of online feedback. It spoiled me.

Interviewer:
[129] What skill would you like to have that you don't have now?

Roo:
[130] I would love to play the guitar with proficiency.

Interviewer:
[131] Who is your real life hero and why?

Roo:
[132] My mom. She's just the best human being I know.

Interviewer:
[133] What fan fic story touched you so much that you still remember it vividly?

Roo:
[134] Rebecca Hall's Heaven Down Here. http://www.xenafan.com/fiction/content/heaven1.html
It's articulate and funny and accurate, and it made me a believer in subtext.

Interviewer:
[135] Do fans ask much from stars?

Roo:
[136] Ask too much? I don't know. EXPECT too much, yes.

Interviewer:
[137] If you could only choose a single climate with no variation, would you prefer it to be sweltering hot or freezing cold?

Roo:
[138] Cold. I feel like I can always get warm, but I can't always cool off.

Interviewer:
[139] What is the first thing you notice about someone when you meet him or her?

Roo:
[140] Do they meet my eyes?

Interviewer:
[141] Have you ever done something that accidentally caused something to happen to someone?

Roo:
[142] I hope not...not to my recollection, no.

Interviewer:
[143] How is $25 well spent?

Roo:
[144] In a flea market, getting the most for that money.

Interviewer:
[145] Would you rather live in a sociable suburb, or alone in the deep woods?

Roo:
[146] Suburb.

Interviewer:
[147] What literary character did you most identify with as a child?

Roo:
[148] I didn't.

Interviewer:
[149] What is the source of your inspiration?

Roo:
[150] Necessity. The need to tell the story.

Interviewer:
[151] Where do your ideas come from?

Roo:
[152] A missed opportunity, when it comes to Xena...an episode that didn't fulfill its promise in my opinion.

Interviewer:
[153] What do you find most satisfying about your job?

Roo:
[154] That it's always challenging, never the same thing twice. I am never bored while I am working.

Interviewer:
[155] What are the three things you enjoy most about writing?

Roo:
[156] A sense of accomplishment...the research. I have been known to choose my subject matter based on the amount of research it may call upon me to do. But most of all, I enjoy the feedback, the idea that someone is reading, and hopefully enjoying my efforts.

Interviewer:
[157] What were your favorite book, TV show, and movie when you were a teenager and what do you think of them now?

Roo:
[158] Favorite book, then and now, is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Favorite show was Laverne and Shirley. It's dated as h--- now. Favorite movie as a teenager...Poseiden Adventure. I bought a copy the other day. It's good, escapist fun with over-the-top performances.

Interviewer:
[159] What's your idea of a perfect world?

Roo:
[160] Oh, no world hunger, no war...no politicians.

Interviewer:
[161] How real is your fiction to you?

Roo:
[162] It's very real at the time I am writing it. In retrospect, depending upon how good I think the story is, and how well it was told by me, its "reality" quotient varies.

Interviewer:
[163] What Disney character do you most identify with and why?

Roo:
[164] I don't...don't care for Disney.

Interviewer:
[165] Who do you read for inspiration?

Roo:
[166] To Kill a Mockingbird...a story so well told it is new to me every time I pick it up...and that's been more than 25 times.

Interviewer:
[167] What's your favorite web site?

Roo:
[168] Xena related? It's the Ultimate Fan Fiction Directory.

Interviewer:
[169] When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

Roo:
[170] A jockey. Those that know me now can chuckle at that.

Interviewer:
[171] What are the limits in sacrifices for true love?

Roo:
[172] Well, in my personal experiences, I draw the line at self-sacrifice. I have never met a man I would give my life for, which is likely why I am single. But does such a man exist??

Interviewer:
[173] If you could interview your favorite author, what questions would you ask?

Roo:
[174] In the world of Xena -- anyone who knows me knows I think Vivian Darkbloom is, hands down, the best fan fiction author out there ( http://ausxip.com/bards1.htm, and go to the Vivian Darkbloom listing). I don't have any questions for her. Though I wouldn't mind being in her presence for a while...maybe some of her talent would rub off. Outside Xena, it's Harper Lee. I would like to know just one thing: why just the one book?

Interviewer:
[175] What makes a great kisser?

Roo:
[176] Nice, full, pliable sweet lips...give and take...someone willing to be satisfied with a kiss...just a kiss.

Interviewer:
[177] What have you learned from your animals?

Roo:
[178] Unconditional love.

Interviewer:
[179] Does our society glorify violence to the point we have become desensitized to it and the consequences?

Roo:
[180] Quite simply, yes.

Interviewer:
[181] What is your motto?

Roo:
[182] Life is short. Don't f--- it up.

Interviewer:
[183] What do you think we take too seriously as writers?

Roo:
[184] Our own impact on the reading public. In the scheme of things, it's not that big a deal.

The mother of all fan fiction strikes again

Gabrielle can be a very serious artiste




Roo's Stories

Roo's e-mail address: ctoups@digiscape.com

All stories can be found on Roo's site: http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Station/2159/fires.html

Sleeping with the Enemy
A general or Classic Xena novel featuring the return of an underused villain, in this bard's opinion. Manus, the tall, dark and evil right-hand man of Morpheus from the first season episode, DREAMWORKER. In short, it's a combination angst- comfort and/who's gonna do it story.

Home Fires
My first uber alt story featuring Melinda Pappas and Janice Covington takes place in the expansive setting of the Australian outback where a slightly peeved Janice searches out her ex-lover Mel Pappas for a few answers.

Prelude to a Good Kiss
A Good Kiss,
More internal monologues than stories, the former is Xena's thoughts upon the build up to that first kiss with Gabrielle, the latter is Gabrielle's take on the subject.

I am currently working on a sequel to Home Fires titled The Slow Burn as well as an original story tentatively titled Flights of Angels.



Acknowledgments

Thanks to Kamouraskan for the beta.







Articles

L. J. Maas and Murphy Wilson [Amy Murphy].One Step Beyond ... Uber, That Is. WHOOSH #49 (October 2000)

The "Inside the Head of..." series in Whoosh issues #58, 61-66,68-71







Biography

a woman of mystery Amy Murphy
Thirty-one-year-old Amy Murphy resides in Indiana, and is an avid reader of Xena: Warrior Princess Fan Fiction. If it exists in the Xenaverse, chances are she has read it! Murphy has also tried her hand at writing fan fiction, turning out two very nice pieces that reside on a couple of web sites throughout the Xenaverse.


Favorite episode: IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (24/124)
Favorite line: "I Have Many Skills" Various episodes
First episode seen: TITANS (07/107)
Least favorite episode: LYRE, LYRE HEARTS ON FIRE (100/510)

 

 

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