Reflections In the Mind

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I am not sure what this blog post is going to be about. I am just writing. So, I’ll start with this tree.

I am sitting here watching the reflection of a most interesting looking tree from across the road outside my window, reflected through my computer screen and I am thinking more about that tree than what I am supposed to be doing.

I took pictures in all angles of it, even from behind my back but it still looks nothing like the reflection in front of me. Why is it that I have never been able to capture with a camera the way my eyes see something?

One may say it’s because I haven’t been trained as a photographer, that I don’t have the knowledge or the skill but I am not sure that that’s it either. On one side it’s everything, from the angle to the lighting to the depth of field and all that fancy camera settings stuff and then on the other hand it’s nothing.

The camera cannot see what I see because what I see is in my mind. Is trying to capture an image of how the tree looks to my mind even possible for it? I am trying to catch a glimpse of something mysterious and magical, something that only exists in that reflection and disappears as soon as I turn around and look at the tree. My camera is not even coming close.

I find myself like this sometimes, searching, trying to grasp onto something that isn’t really there, that’s only in my mind. I understand that it is, but who am I kidding. I have always been like that.

daydreaming-daydreaming-17680161-1300-975

I am a daydreamer. You know that feeling where what is going on in your head is much more real and important than what is going on outside of it? You don’t? Okay.

Not to say that I am not active and hardworking. Being a daydreamer doesn’t mean that I care to sit around all day trying to dream the do into my life. I am very busy, very determined but I am always there in the clouds somewhere, in a world apart from the one I am in. It means that I come off sometimes as being cold and aloof to people but honestly most people I meet aren’t serious enough about life to be taken seriously anyway.

Those who are get my attention, bring me down from the clouds for a spell to enjoy the seriousness of life with them but then I’m gone again. But there are times when I feel compelled, no, driven to ‘write or die’ and that’s when I know I need to come to terms with reality and come down from the sky on my own to sort things out.

I have to face the fact that there are certain relationships in my life that I just need to stop fighting with and step away from because things won’t change, while there are others I thought were stable and are not and I have to decide whether to leave it as it is or to keep fighting to keep it together. Even the fact that I am okay with either one of those options is a revelation, a sign my mindset has changed.

I also have to face the fact that maybe I might not get everything I wanted, next month, next year or ever. It’s not that I am not willing to work for it or can’t create the opportunity. But every goal I have takes a piece of me with it when I strive towards it and I have to admit that I am not okay with that sometimes. I hate when something takes over my life but even more, I just need all of me. But keeping all of me means keeping a goal close to my heart instead of letting it out into the world, and that isn’t always okay with me either.

And most importantly I am facing the fact that what is reflected in my mind will only go as far as my daydreaming and writing can take it, and that I might always feel this disconnected and out of place.

One thing I know for sure is that life is going to change for me very soon. I can feel it. Something’s coming. I don’t know how or what yet. Okay, well maybe I have a few ideas but I’ve been having those ideas and feelings and suspicions for years now. It could be anything.

The difference between now and then is but a blink of an eye in time. In that blink of an eye I have grown. I do feel different than I did then. Things aren’t as urgent for me as they once were and in that sense, knowing the irony of life, when you put something down is when you will suddenly have a reason to pick it back up again. Ah well, I’ll see.

The empty house today seems like such a big contrast to yesterday which was full of family, and food and noise and laughter. But now it’s quiet. I am looking at a reflection of a tree in my computer screen, whose once ordinary branches shake and drip in the breeze with laughter as well. I am looking down from the clouds at it and all seems well with the world, all but me.

– Written by Travesaou

Copyright © 2010-2016 Critics May Lie All Rights Reserved

The Sleepy Hollow Soucouyant That Wasn’t

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I would like to apologise. Cannot believe I am starting my blog with an apology but as we like to say where I come from, ‘I taking in front before front take me’. So remember this apology Sleepy Hollow fans when you finish this article. What am I apologising for? I’ll tell you at the end.

So, this is a Sleepy Hollow Season 3, Episode 6 review. My Twitter and Facebook suddenly blew up last night about how the Caribbean folklore tale of the Soucouyant was featured on said Sleepy Hollow episode. Now Sleepy Hollow is one of the few shows that I actually watch and I knew since November 2015 that they had a show referencing the Soucouyant. I know how the season ends, but don’t worry I won’t be giving any such spoilers today, especially about Jenny and that red stone.

But I was busy at that point and was still plodding through season 2 anyway so I put if off and put it off and forgot to watch it altogether. So, when I started seeing the rave tweets from among my fellows who had just seen it I decided now would be the time to watch it, finally.

Our Protagonists

Our Protagonists

Now let me just say this. I am from Trinidad and Tobago (if you didn’t already know). I grew up in the time when a TV was the most popular and coveted electronic item around. A ‘tablet’ was still something you got at a drugstore and the word ‘internet’ was not yet in the dictionary. So what did this bright youth have for entertainment? My books and our traditional folktales. So while attempting to get the folktale right might not mean much to some, simply because they weren’t grown with them, I was. It means something to me.

And while I read a lot of folktales from other countries in books, the ones from here, at home, were passed down at my cousins house from my uncles or at home on a night when there was no current (you see, I call electricity ‘current’ that should be an indication of how country I am), when my mother would tell of all the near jumbie encounters she would have (or thought she would have) with her brothers when they were little.

So, the folktales of my homeland hold a connection to me that feels like family. I don’t need to Google Soucouyant to know what the story is, but after watching last night’s Sleepy Hollow episode, my friends, my Trinbagonian friends, I think some of yu’all need to. But I’ll do you the favour, as was done to me, of passing down oral traditions. Not orally evidently but still… Eh-hem.

The Soucouyant or Soucriant is an evil spirit, a form of jumbie as we call it, that masquerades as a wrinkled, old woman by day but by night sheds her skin and travels around as a ball of fire searching for human blood.

I love this eery, old drawing of a Soucouyant shedding it's skin. The site was in French so I am not sure who did it but, you know, if you can read French. I can't anymore... https://www.clubdesmonstres.com

I love this eery, old drawing of a Soucouyant shedding it’s ‘skin’. The site was in French so I am not sure who did it, but you know, if you can read French. I can’t anymore… https://www.clubdesmonstres.com

Basically the Soucouyant is the Caribbean version of a vampire just without all the tall, dark(haired) and handsome charm vampires are portrayed with these days. But their motive remains the same. Find someone, suck their blood. Closing the window at night just wasn’t about not catching a cold. If you weren’t careful a soucouyant might fly in an suck your blood while you were asleep. Except the only evidence of this in the morning, should one survive, would be visible dark bruises on the fleshy parts of the body, like the arms and the legs where the soucouyant took it’s fill.

At night the old woman would return to her skin before the sun rose and use the blood she collected to barter with the devil for her witch like power. Now I am not going to go into the details of how to get rid of a soucouyant and what to do to ward it off because you know, neither did Sleepy Hollow.

That show vex me. To the point I had to laugh. The episode was interesting but it was not about the Soucouyant. The Soucouyant would roll in their grave, if they had one, to know they were so grossly misrepresented.

I expected mention of flying balls of fire at night which ‘roused suspicion’ (just imagine Crane saying that, ‘roused suspicion’). I expected them mistaking it for an actual vampire, getting lost on the trail until Crane’s research told them otherwise in the nick of time leading them to capture and destroy the soucouyant. I could have written a bad-ass soucouyant story for them! But apparently they didn’t want one.

But what I got....

Pretty intriguing but boldfaced-ly inaccurate

What we got was something whose look resembled more of a human jep. A beautiful Face Off makeup, but not a soucouyant. I got a swarm of marabunta (they even pronounced the shit wrong), jeps, jack spaniards or whatever you grew up calling it, instead of a ball of fire. Stinging people to death after driving them mad (they actually referred to it as a ‘Trinidadian Paranoia Monster’) instead of drinking their blood. The ONLY friggin accurate correlation was Soucouyant —-> Trinidad.

I'm beginning to doubt your research Crane.

I’m beginning to doubt your research Crane.

And no, I am not jumping on the, ‘they big up Trinidad so is okay’ bandwagon! And here’s why. I was ready to loan Crane a few of my own books or books of my fellow writers because I’m sure I am not the only person who thought the folktale was off in more than one way. I thought apparently his grungy old leather-bound was misinformed. But upon further inspection of his material *puts on professor spectacles* his book had it right too.

What's this? Not a Soucouyant. But the text is an exact word for word reference from Wikipedia, who actually had it right.

What’s this? Not a Soucouyant. But the text is an exact word for word reference from Wikipedia, who actually had it right. So what really is your scene, Crane?

I

Never thought I would say this, but thank God for Wikipedia. Check it yourself!

Now you won’t normally catch me irritated about how our culture here is represented out there because half the time the people doing it just don’t know what the hell they are doing. It was like the argument over the internet about Miss Minaj using a Jamaican accent in one of her songs or not using a Trinidadian accent or … something last year, I don’t know.

It was not an issue for me. Why? Because I don’t expect Minaj to know anything about a Trinidadian accent to begin with. Yes, she was born here, but she spent the majority of her life, and still spends the majority of her waking, sleeping and living moments in the place she grew up in and considers home, America. I see her as American first and it is typical American behaviour to mix up peoples accents. I was not surprised at all. That didn’t matter to me but this does.

Maybe it’s because I am a writer, and I would hate to have my story misrepresented.

Maybe it’s because I am currently writing a story involving particular characters from Caribbean folklore. I am in it everyday so the differences are more glaring.

Maybe it’s because despite the fact that I grew up with the folklore I still took the time for a few months before I started my book to research the characters and how different Caribbean islands represent them to make sure that at least on some level, albeit an imaginary one, I have my facts right.

Sleepy Hollow did that, I’ll give them the credit, then ignored it and made the soucouyant into whatever they wanted it to be anyway.

Which means, all my dears who were excited about Trinidad being ‘bigged up’, it was never about Trinidad and Tobago. They (FOX) don’t care to big ‘us’ up in the least. It’s about them and their falling Season 2 ratings that they are trying to regain by enticing what seems to be an extremely naive audience. It’s for their gain. If we happen to benefit, that’s minor matters.

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It upsets me that I can no longer trust that any of the great supernatural detective work that I have come to enjoy on this show had any merit or resemblance or similarity to the history/folklores that they claim to be about. Did I ever trust that it was? Not really. But I really liked this show and the entertainment value has been considerably diminished for me. Instead of just suspecting that they were talking shit now I know they are. Damnit!

But what really upsets me. Sigh. I am so, so, so, so very disappointed that so many of my fellow Trinis believed it. Really, did you? Please tell me you didn’t. Please! I mean, have you really never heard the story of the Soucouyant before? Is it really okay to just be happy Trinidad is being mentioned and to hell with the rest?

Who cares if they mentioned Port-of-Spain when according to BarTab (no your drunkenness does not excuse you!) most people here think Port-of-Spain was ALWAYS the capital of Trinidad. What’s the sense being excited that somebody is putting your culture out there when you don’t know it? They could hit you, and the rest of the world, a six for a nine and it would pass because you can’t verify shit. It says to me that our original folktales are dying and not being passed on the way they should and that is heartbreaking.

Well, this was supposed to be a review so, I guess I’ll try to recap something of this folly!

The thing that is not a soucouyant was summoned by Pandora and she sent it off to kill the judge who just happened to be handling Crane’s case I believe. Clever way to fix that. The thing that is not a soucouyant then attacked a teacher, was it? Danny got stung, took off with Mills, was acting all crazy like, ‘you playing me, bitch?!’, and Mills took him down.

Yes, this is what you get for slapping a woman's phone out of her hand. Knee to neck!

Yes, this is what you get for slapping a woman’s phone out of her hand. Knee to neck! Now stay down.

They then figured out the weirdest riddle ever using Jenny’s party girl days (yes FOX, we know, she’s the bad sister) and Crane’s logic. How do you take ‘…watching foul flies roost in the spice tree…’ and come up with bird pepper, Crane? We call that putting two and two together and getting six. No sir, that not adding up, at all.

Jenny and Joe ‘sitting in a tree…’ Eh-hem, sorry, couldn’t help it, they went off to find ingredients for a treatment for Danny and met an ‘obeah man’ with the most muddled Caribbean accent I have EVER heard. He could have been from any island, (hence all the flags up in his shop) except Trinidad apparently, because an actual Trinbagonian would know that that flag is upside down.

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You see. That is how much they care to ‘big up’ our country.

And like anybody really believes ‘Shadow Beni’ aka ‘Bandanya’ aka ‘Culantro’ is on a RED list. Jenny find a farmers market and forget that fraud, bringing out thing in suitcase like is ammunition he packing. Gimme a chance.

Anyway they made the treatment, found the thing that is not a soucouyant and stopped it from causing anymore trouble with highly concentrated (and apparently unstable) Det spray and clove oil! What? No. Abbie, being the bad ass she is, took down the hive without one sting and for the moment we don’t have to watch Pandora talking to herself in the dungeon anymore as she’s fled the scene all dressed up for a hot date through the enchanted tree.

Pan sou

Had this been a regular episode of Sleepy hollow with a demon Queen Bee or something it would have been not too bad at all. But I’ve been jilted. Sleepy Hollow has officially made themselves into a fraud in my mind. And not just any fraud but a fraud that knowingly reinvents the ‘truth’ any way they want regardless of who it affects and how.

I won’t be able to watch anymore without skeptically Googling and researching all their shit and I know it’s just a show. It’s all made up stuff in the end. They have to bend and twist things to fit their story line but I wish they could find a way to do it without actually doing that as many of these stories represent a culture.

So what was I apologising for at the beginning? For what seems to be the fact that my fellow Trinbagonains have completely no sense of their own folklore to tell when it is wrong and for the fact that I might not enjoy one of my favourite shows as much as I used to. What’s that? Did you think I was apologising for the backlash this might attract (I doubt) from Sleepy Hollow fans? No, never. After all, you don’t have to take my opinion as law, because critics may lie.

– Written by Travesaou

Copyright © 2010-2016 Critics May Lie All Rights Reserved

Christmas! No Christmas!

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There are a lot of things that made me feel down this year.

The Attacks on Paris. I actually was listening to the Dark Knight soundtrack the same time I was reading the news on it. Sinister violins, chilling evacuation horns and the hammering of drums behind real life Gotham-esque events? Too real.

People treating the Paris attacks as if it was the only act of terrorism committed this year or, EVER. Too aggravating.

The fact that Jared Fogle got BAIL! Is there no hope for humanity?

The fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a married man. This is old news but I honestly did not know! I know that means zilch for some women but for me, that’s a deal breaker, right there.

Good-bye, Joe.

Good-bye, Joe.

Dude knew how to rock a pinstripe suit, god-damn! Why? Nope. I am not going through that heartache again! I am over it!

And there were a host of other hurtful family spats that had me truly wanting to curl into a ball and never see the light of day again.

But little did I know that Christmas, yes Christmas. The time for joy and happiness and togetherness and giving was what would put me in the worst slump of all. Okay, it’s a close second maybe third, but it was unexpected which is what makes it so horrible to swallow.

Christmas in my house is something I never have a problem feeling. I am the one decorating and blowing up balloons and helping the smallies with their crafty Christmas cards and dragging everyone out of their beds 6 o’clock on Christmas morning to open presents and making Christmas breakfast.

But this year Christmas feels dead in my house. Completely lost. I live among people who have zero to no Christmas spirit and I am that tired of being over Christmasy every year to make up for it. The scales have officially tipped and I am about ready to let the scrooges win this round. I give up.

This song is my life right now.

Except shut up, Cindy Lou! At least you have a house full of nice Christmas shit. One little Christmas tree. That’s all I have.

Where did it all go wrong this year? The last Christmasy person I know moved out. The Christmas tree went up late (in December, yes this is late). And since I am the only one who cares to put it up and I have been madly busy for the last 4-5 months to have the time, nobody else bothered.

I have to listen to the constant babble from the ‘Scrooge’ about what a waste Christmas is, and what a waste it is to waste the effort of Christmas on such a waste of a Scrooge from everybody else! You know, so why bother?

My charity got cancelled. Christmas giving pumps me up so this just … sigh.

I feel alone in the fight for Christmas this year. I feel as if everyone is moving on with their lives and their Christmas without me. And given that this is the most depressing time of the year for me, for other reasons, I look forward to Christmas to distract me.

But I feel nothing. And the darkness is slowly closing in.

Don't be fooled by my wide eyed grin. I am not okay.

Don’t be fooled by my wide eyed grin. I am not okay.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a sympathy seeking kinda person. I just needed to get that out, and now I have. You see, among my few friends I am known as the one to go to for advice. The one who always has an answer or a solution or just a friendly ear to listen. But I don’t have that. When I get into a rut there’s no one I can go to. It’s up to me to get myself out of the ditch I am in.

I particularly don’t like when people try to cheer me up either. I don’t like to force anything. A gentle nudge is alright but if I am not into being cheerful right now, stop trying to wring it out of me. So if you are trying to ‘cheer’ someone up and they just seem to be getting more and more annoyed with you, take this into consideration. My feelings will work itself out in time. So this is just me, working my way out.

So, normally I pray, listen to some inspirational music, dance like a crazy person, cry and get it out and soldier on. I am going to reassure myself that I can fix Christmas. I don’t believe myself but I am reassuring myself anyway. Because that’s what I do. That’s how I survive and take care of myself.

It does give perspective though. I always watched those shows where people are all ‘I can’t feel the Christmas Spirit’ and wondered ‘how can you NOT feel it? Christmas is Incredible!’ Well, now I know just how friggin hard it is to get yourself Christmasy again. You know, all that ‘true meaning’ of Christmas crap doesn’t seem to be working. I tried it! Heck, I’ve preached it! But I don’t give up easily (Thank God), so I’m gonna try it AGAIN!!

But there’s no reason why you have to be as depressed as me. This is for you!

pic @ dreamstime.com

pic @ dreamstime.com

Wishing you a Christmasy Christmas. One where you feel it and live it and want to have more of it. Give gifts but most of all give love.

So I was going to review the Hunger Games, Mocking Jay part 2 but yu’all know me, if it’s already been said, I try not to say it again. So read the review below. It’s all I would have said.

Mocking Jay Part 2 Review

– Written by Travesaou

Copyright © 2010-2016 Critics May Lie All Rights Reserved

Jan Carew – The Sister’s and Manco’s Stories

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It’s book review time!

The Sister's and Manco's Stories written by Jan Carew

The Sister’s and Manco’s Stories written by Jan Carew

I have had this book with me for awhile now. I won’t say where I got it from because it might incriminate me in a court of law. *eh-hem*

Anyway, had I known it would have been this pleasant to read I would have read it a lot sooner.

Written by Jan Carew from our neighbouring Guyana, the book is separated into two parts. The first half being, The Sisters and the second part, Manco’s Stories. The stories are based off of Guyanese folklore, which is a fusion of Amerindian and African mythology. Yes, I copied that directly from the synopsis at the back of the book.

Yes, I did.

Oh yes, I did.

The first thing that stuck out for me in this book were the descriptions. This is how every English teacher wants their students to write! From the very beginning the metaphors are rampant.

Excerpt (From the FIRST page!!):

And, from its source in mountains that wore a permanent headdress of clouds and snow, the Great River wound its way through all four regions like a golden serpent. Fed by hidden springs and melting snows, it gathered strength and rushed with a breathless ardour through green valleys, tumbled down a succession of rocky staircases, and its white water spilled over steep escarpments as waterfalls

This ‘breathless ardour’ for storytelling continued for the whole book. It was strangely dizzying but at the same time drew me in like a magnet. Completely engaged, I even walked with it during my lunch hour. While it did make me look intriguing at the food court.

image51

:P

I just really wanted to keep reading and my regular ‘reading while I commute’ practice wasn’t enough! It has been so long since I’ve read a book with such lovely, engaging descriptions. Most reads these days are written in the casual tongue because the times have changed.

I’m sure there was a time when words like ‘escarpment’ was littered in regular, every day conversation and vocabulary but no one speaks like this much anymore so why should people write like this much anymore, right? Rhetorical question.

And the book’s not even that old. According to the publishing information it was first published in 2002. It really reminded me of the classic old literature books I used to read as a child though. The same beautiful, captivating descriptions.

But back to the actual stories.

I really enjoyed the first part. The Sisters. At first I thought that it would be about Elana having to learn to become a better person under the wings of her grandmother despite everyone loving her because of her beauty so she could eventually be a kinder queen than her mother. But I quickly realised it was going to be much more about her sister Marta’s awakening to her own strengths more than anyone else.

But all in all it was really about both sisters at the end of the day and I encourage everyone to read this story. It feels like a fairy tale almost with the two banished princesses but still has the classic feel of old fables which tell of what really should matter in life like kindness over beauty, mutual respect over blind esteem for those in authority. And what will happen to those who make the mistake and choose the wrong one. Yup, morals! But like a good story it was shown, not told. Which I like.

The second part, Manco’s Stories, on the other hand while just as engaging in the descriptive department felt more like authentic folklore. There was lots of talk of gods and their children and how they interacted with each other and us poor mortals. Manco himself seemed to be a man-god who would come down and tell stories to the people every season, hence the second part being called Manco’s Stories.

There were six stories in this section my favourite being The Sky-God and the Sun Children. Many of the stories depicted the weather and elements like the wind and thunder as if they were real beings or animals like great birds, but I particularly liked this one because it reflected a lesson that I had set during my writing camp which required the same thing. Writing as if everything has a mind and a soul, from the wind to the sun to the rivers and create actual conversation between them.

All in all, the book was very well written. And I would refer it to anyone looking for an experience in folklore from other countries.

– Written by Travesaou

Copyright © 2010-2015 Critics May Lie All Rights Reserved

ADDITIONAL EDIT!

So I normally put a link where you can get the book but forgot this time because I was literally falling asleep on myself while writing this at one in the morning. O_O !! But I am wide awake now! So here it is! See link below!

The Sister’s and Manco’s Stories by Jan Carew published by Macmillan Caribbean Writers

 

When You Go To Vote Today

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Morality. It is many times reserved to be a personal sense of what is right or wrong, different from one person to the next but we all know there is a greater sense of morality that governs all of us because every time someone steps outside of the invisible line everyone can see it and they are chastised by society accordingly.

Why am I talking about morality. Today, the 7th of September 2015 is general elections in my country, Trinidad and Tobago. Today we vote in a ‘new’ government into our parliament. And after a month of annoying political campaign ads every other minute on television and radio and the internet (every time I load a Youtube video. Every. Time.), I now have to cast my vote.

Untitled-1_105

Yes, ‘have to’. I know many people don’t agree with me but I will always exercise my right to vote. Our political candidates have yet to become so glaring corrupt and evil as some other leaders in the world that go so far as ordering genocide on their own citizens to get rid of those who they know will vote against them.

When that happens here, when things have become so bad that on all sides there is no lessor evil to choose from, I will keep my vote. Until then I will not forfeit a right that many people around the world are denied or have died trying to have because I am annoyed by a politician.

What pleasing politicians are there anyway? I challenge anyone to name one politician that hasn’t aggravated someone at some point in time with their political bull. That’s not a reason not to vote. It’s better you say that you don’t want the pressure of deciding who runs your country, that you could never make such a decision and live with the consequences. That would be a better answer.

But this wasn’t meant to be a post about politics. I don’t care much to talk about politics really. I don’t hate the thing but much like makeup, I feel sometimes that it is a necessary evil. So for those who will be voting today, I actually should have posted this earlier since the polls were open since 6 o’clock this morning. All my family has probably voted by now too. *straggler —>ME*

But for those who are going to vote today, just remember. Despite who you vote for, once you vote with your conscious and not in ignorance, you will cast the right vote at the end of the day.

It is your democratic right to vote for the party you support. However it is your moral duty to your country to vote for the candidate who will do the better job.

And I guess this is where morality comes in. There is a lot of party loyalty and ‘tribal’ voting that goes on in pretty much any election. I am sure that there are people who just vote for who their parents voted for in the past or for the party that best represents their ethnicity.

Need I even say how damaging this is to a society? When citizens do not look at the real issues affecting their country instead of voting according to who handles them best? This helps no one in the long run and just stagnates your country’s development.

Can an entire society have rotten moral judgement and you be the only one with sane moral thinking. Maybe? Many movies have been made out of such a concept. Several of them involving zombies. In that case, someone should go with their gut of what they believe is morally right.

But in a regular political system, leaning towards democracy with a public consciousness that in general wishes harmony and good for their nation, one would draw upon the collective moral consciousness held by society, not your own personal moral judgement when voting. Simply because your vote will not just affect you alone, it will affect everyone in your country so you cannot afford to make it personal.

– Written by Travesaou

Copyright © 2010-2015 Critics May Lie All Rights Reserved

What My Own Writing Workshop Taught Me

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For July this year I held a writing workshop for young adults at the public library in the city.

During this time I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer, while trying to guide others through their own writing experience. I’ve also come across some misconceptions people and prospective writers have about writing in general. So I thought I would share them with you this month.

1. Most people don’t understand what it takes to be a writer.

Writing, like painting or dancing or sculpting, is a creative art. But while it is acceptable that a painter take careful time to paint a portrait or a dancer through daily diligence works to choreograph a piece or a sculptor patiently chips away at a block to achieve the correct form, I think most people believe writing happens all in one creative blast when you are suddenly inspired and BAM! a story magically appears on a page.

Though I have experienced incredible bursts of what seemed to be writing genius in my life, especially while writing poetry, everything else has taken time.

Writing a creative piece is a process of working through and working out your story. It takes time and dedication, and sweat and tears and anxiety and stress and long nights and busy days trying to sneak writing in at every corner and missing being apart of the party to work on your book and everything else in between that comes when you work hard for something you want.

It is WORK and it is WONDERFUL to see it form under your hands and the more time you put into it the better you get at it but what it ISN’T is fairy godmother magic and ‘poof’ a book appears.

Bibbidi bobbidi boo! No, eh!

Bibbidi bobbidi boo! No, eh!

2. Procrastination is the bane of a writers existence.

Writers need to write. If you don’t write you will not get anywhere. So putting it off until tomorrow or when you have time (you will never have time! And when you do you’ll end up browsing Yahoo and Facebook) is not helping you get your writing done any faster. Just do it. Now. You cannot have a story if you don’t write one and you cannot write a story if you don’t sit your butt down and start writing it.

3. You are not serious about writing until you set a deadline to finish your work.

Serious writers set deadlines for their work, and they actually work on completing it by the end of that time. They give themselves a daily word count that they have to reach every day and they get into the habit of writing every single day and they keep writing until their book is finished.

hour-glass

That’s how you get to that first draft. That’s how you get your whole story down so you can edit it. That’s how you get something workable that you can take to publishing. Not by putting off writing. Not by saying you’ll do it tomorrow and then never doing it. You set a deadline and you stick to it. Otherwise you’re just dreaming about being a writer really.

4. A first draft doesn’t take long to write and is mediocre at best.

Now, if you just have a vague idea and it’s not a story yet then maybe you should spend some serious time brain storming and building plot points. But outside of not knowing where you want your story to go, a first draft once you stick to it and put in the work writing everyday, does not take long to hash out. Two to three months tops.

I have literally had people look at me cross-eyed, from academics to regular joes, when I tell them I do NaNoWriMo every year (sometimes twice a year) and I crank out 50000 words in a month. I have had people doubt the quality of work that comes out of such a neck breaking writing sprint but there’s no reason to doubt the quality.

First, because 50’000 words ain’t all that much to begin with once you’ve done it a few times and second, because I know it’s mediocre quality. So is every first draft, whether you take one month or one year to write it down.

A first draft is a blue print to build on. Under no circumstances, I don’t care if you are the most celebrated writer ever, do you take this to publishing. You do not want to go down in history as the writer who published a first draft or the publisher who let them. I won’t call any names but let’s just say your situation will be very grey if you do.

And it’s okay if it’s mediocre. That’s what revision is for. You can go back and fix it later once you have your core story down. Having that base to work with, having a completed albeit rough story is so much better than plodding along, nit-picking and fixing everything and making sure every sentence is perfect before you move on. It is tiring and discouraging. Get it all down, then fix it.

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5. Revision is your best friend

This is where the true magic happens. This is where you sew your awkward caterpillar of a book up into a cocoon and work on making it a beautiful butterfly. Do not throw that cocoon under the bed or stack it in a book shelf thinking you are done because you wrote the words, “The End.” Whether you are considering publishing or not, if you want your book to be the best it can be revise and rewrite it.

Editing a first draft takes a while. Sometimes years. Tolkien worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy for 12 years before he took it to publishing and even then it took about four years to actually hit the book stores. Think of the bazillion amount of drafts that manuscript probably went through in that time to get to the celebrated literary piece that it is today which was evidently worth it.

Your book will go through many drafts as well until you are satisfied with it. Of course you don’t have to take as long as Tolkien did. Clearly his work creating a whole civilization with different cultures and history and languages was a magnanimous under taking.

Magnanimus undertaking

Magnanimus undertaking

But things like grammar and sentence structure, more detailed descriptions, plot sequence flow, everything that you had leave to vaguely ignore for the sake of getting your story down in your first draft, revision is where you fix that.

5. The only way to know if something is worth writing is to write it down

Every writer thinks their idea isn’t good enough at some point. Whether at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of your story. You will feel as if what you created isn’t worth being written far less for being published for others to see.

You’ll read bad reviews about books you thought were actually pretty good and doubt your intellectual tastes. But here’s where the ‘why’ behind your writing comes into play, and reviews and the perceived worth of your written work has nothing to do with that.

Sure I’ve scuffed at my fair share of books that I thought were horrible. I’ve been honestly upset over published pieces that made what I want to do and try to be as a writer seem inferior. However if the writing of that piece helped to cleanse or heal or fulfill something in the writers that wrote it, then the book did it’s job and just for the sake of that it should exist.

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Because writing is therapy for many people. It’s power and inspiration and living and breathing, fulfilling a deep need that only writing your words down can fill.

I can try to describe what writing means to me a billion times and I will NEVER feel as if I did it adequately enough. My best explanation of why I write is still to this day a quote from a woman who used to write in the editorial section of one of our daily newspapers.

If I don’t write, I’ll die. – Jaye-Q Baptiste

Simple. So if you want to write something down and it’s killing you that you are not then just write it. You can decide if it’s good enough when you are done but for now remember that writing is for you first, everyone else later.

6. Writers need to get out of their head.

So this is a note on editing (revision!!). I found that many of the writers struggled with developing their main characters but one of the best ways to do that is to put a little work into your supporting characters and the relationships your protagonist has with them.

If you understand ALL your characters and why they do what they do it makes their interactions with each other feel more real. Otherwise you can also run the risk of making assumptions about your other characters that make no sense. Especially if you are writing from inside your main characters head.

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Seriously. Get out.

One of the excerpts I read from a story during the workshop had one main character whose father had left when she was eleven and turned up again when she was eighteen. Her anger and frustration at him leaving suddenly and not keeping in contact was understandable but it wasn’t understandable why her brother who had the same man leave him at the same age as well didn’t seem to have any hurt feelings towards their disappearing dad.

Matter of fact he didn’t seem to have any feelings at all about it. Whether he was upset or not upset that his father had abandoned their family was unknown and it made the story seem very unbalanced as for pages I had to read of how upset the main character was about it and how everyone else was understanding of how upset she was about it. But eventually I found myself wondering, why is she the only one upset about it? It’s like the rest of her family wasn’t apart of her family when her father left and didn’t miss and love him too. It made no sense.

Maybe the brother just had a different temperament than she did. Maybe he was upset but was hiding his feelings. Maybe he wasn’t as close to their father as she was. I don’t know, but it was never clarified and made the protagonist seem unreasonable and rash which I don’t think was the way the writer had intended for the reader to view them.

The brother’s character was never developed past being a side prop for his sister’s emotions. And that’s one of the ways writers ‘write in their heads’. Creating a dynamic between her brother’s feelings and hers and how he felt about their father, whatever his feelings were, and using it to develop the story would have made it more interesting and her main character more understandable.

GREY'S ANATOMY - "This Is How We Do It" - Richard is desperate for Derek and Meredith to accept Adele into their Alzheimer's trial, but will Adele stand in her own way? Meanwhile Mark and Arizona have conflicting ideas of the kind of baby shower Callie wants, Teddy is freaked out when Henry has another health complication -- leaving them both a little exposed -- and the competitiveness amongst the residents for the Chief Resident position is amplified when Richard receives the green light for his diabetes clinical trial, on "Grey's Anatomy," THURSDAY, MARCH 24 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/RON TOM) SANDRA OH, ELLEN POMPEO, CHYLER LEIGH

Think GREY’S ANATOMY’s former sister duo. Same father, two very different feelings towards him but was Lexie a side prop, no! Their relationship gave the story a lot of life and aided Meredith in working out the issues she had with their father

Explaining too much is also a fault of writing in your head (points at self) so there needs to be a balance in how much you explain for the reader to build a connection with your characters.

A simple way to help fix this, and most rough spots in your story really, READ YOUR STORY OUT LOUD. If what you are reading doesn’t make sense to you or the person you are reading it to, you will be able to tell when you hear it ‘outside’ of your head. Hopefully the holes in your plot will be clear. Well, if you are open to seeing them. :D

Congratulations to the writers and illustrators from the workshop! You all did well.

Congratulations to the writers and illustrators from the workshop! You all did incredibly well. Photo courtesy La Red Graphic Studios

– Written by Travesaou

Copyright © 2010-2015 Critics May Lie All Rights Reserved

Chinese economic crisis is affecting everyone, even people trying to dry their laundry

Oh dear. Just proof to show how much an economic crisis can affect the complete psyche of a nation, including value for one’s own life.

RocketNews24

laundry 1

After several years of unprecedented growth in the Chinese markets, investors are feeling the crunch following the Chinese stock market crash of 2015. While the stocks have still seen overall growth this year, the past four weeks have taken their toll on anyone with money invested there.

A notice was recently spotted in an apartment in China announcing they were closing off certain “high up” areas of the building. You don’t need to be able to read Chinese to figure out that someone is worried that a sudden loss of money can easily lead people to taking drastic measures.

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Book Launch Vanessa Salazar’s Selima and the Merfolk

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Last month I went to a book launch at the National Library of Port of Spain. It was the first book of new author Vanessa Salazar, Selima and the Merfolk.

I hadn’t planned to go. I actually came to the capital to see a man about a computer. It went something like this.

-_- Well, something like that.

-_- Well, something like that.

And ended up in the library’s audio-visual room for the small book launch. But I was glad that I stayed (they had snacks! :D ) and I made some good contacts. But let’s get back to the book launch. I have not read Selima and the Merfolk. I believe it is in the children / young adult age range and I can’t promise yet if I will be reading it or doing any reviews.

However, many a book was given away that day to the excited youngsters who I am sure will read it or at least leave it lying around in the proximity of someone who will. I will give descriptions for the pics I took but if you see your self or realised that I captioned something wrong please feel free to highlight it in the comments.

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Author, Vanesssa Salazar (far left) gave out by random selection about 20 books to the school children who attended the book launch.

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The author (far left), one of the lucky winners (center front), Candice Clarke-Salloum, a representative from BG T&T who sponsored the raffle (center back) and a young woman whose name I did not get who portrayed one of the merfolk characters in the book (far right)

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Another happy winner!

Head of the Society of Poets T&T

Kasi Sengor, friend of the author and PRO for local group Circle of Poets T&T spoke at the launch

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Author of Selima and the Merfolk, Vanessa Salazar addressed the audience.

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Those stories her grandfather told her when she was six about mermaids in Las Cuevas rivers sure came in handy!

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A representative from Marios Pizza (far left) gave out three vouchers as door prizes. Free pizza!

Each class from the attending schools lined up with their teacher at the end to take a picture with the author and the mermaid!

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Sophia Lezama (far left) from Bishops Anstey High School came especially on request by the author to read Chapter 3 from the book to the audience. A very good reader too!

Sophia Lezama (far left) from Bishops Anstey High School came especially on request by the author to read Chapter three from the book to the audience. She was a very good reader too!

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Author Vanessa Salazar was in even higher spirits as it was also her birthday. She declared the book launch to be the best birthday present she could have.

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And if you were wondering who the backs of the two heads are that were in so many of my photos, they belonged to these two, Jason Jarvis (far left) the book’s cover illustrator who also spoke at the launch and Derick G. Smith (far right) who did the cover’s layout and graphic design. They joined the author and the mermaid on the stage for a quick photo!

So for my first book launch, attending that is and albeit an unexpected one, it was good! I was fed, so I was happy. :D And maybe I will read Selima and the Merfolk someday when I am not writing my own fantasy stuff.

Published by Xlibris, Available on Amazon and (I hope) in local book stores as well.

http://www.vanessasalazar.com   Published by Xlibris, Available on Amazon and (I hope) in local book stores as well.

– Written by Travesaou

Copyright © 2010-2015 Critics May Lie All Rights Reserved

Say Hello Anyway – Street Harassment Killing Random Friendliness

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I can never understand people who don’t think street harassment is a serious thing. Women and men alike. Apparently you’ve either never experienced it before or you have and don’t see it as that. Which I do not understand even more because if you have been harassed in the street and don’t see it as serious you are either:

1. lying to yourself about how uncomfortable and maddening it is.

2. so messed up that you actually think street harassment is ‘just’ harmless flirting.

3. or you are a complete simpleton. Unaware of or ignoring anything going on around you. Sometimes I feel I would love to be you but most times, not so much.

Don't think you can get much more awkward than that    pic@forums.mangafox.me

Don’t think you can get much more awkward than that    –    pic@forums.mangafox.me

I am not about to try to define what street harassment is or isn’t. Personally, a ‘hello’, ‘good morning’, ‘have a nice day’, from a man or anyone else on the street does not bother me. I live on a Caribbean island. I am not trying to approve any tropical islander cliches here but we ARE relatively very friendly, outgoing people here. If you make eye contact with a stranger while out, for whatever reason, it is still the social norm here to greet someone, smile or wish them well. Yes, EVEN IF YOU DON’T KNOW THEM.

I do not and have never answered to catcalls simply because I am not a dog. And if you insist on calling me the same way you call an animal, I will ignore you til thy kingdom come. Even a ‘good morning, beautiful’ or ‘you look nice today’ from a complete stranger does not rub me the wrong way. If that bothers you well then okay. I can only speak for myself. I say ‘thank you’ to them, return the compliment if it seems fitting, but many times we’re both already on our way for any more words to pass between us.

However, if said stranger then proceeds to follow me and grope his private parts! We have a problem.

holup

Sir, where do you think you are going?

So somebody told me I shouldn’t talk to strangers and yes, if you are alone on a deserted road and the stranger WAITING FOR YOU could potentially be a man-eating wolf on the prowl in disguise that your mother specifically warned you about (red flags!!) then, you probably shouldn’t talk to them either.

Bustling throughout everyday life though? Is that what is left for us to do in society today then? To turn into these cold shouldered, unfeeling, empty-hearted bunch of drones who brush past each other without a care in the street and who stifle our own friendliness and eventually our compassion because the perverts cannot control themselves?

Now, I am not exactly the most social person in the world. I have been known to avoid social gatherings of any kind but I want to choose to do that because I would rather be home relaxing on my own. Not because I’m afraid that someone out there, or on the street in this case, will make me feel uncomfortable through social interactions.

I'm taking my chances. "If you never talk to strangers, you may never make a friend..."

I’m taking my chances and my power back.

I am unapologetic-ally NOT okay with that. Perverts cannot have that much power over me. And you shouldn’t let them have that much power over you either and kill your joy for meeting new people and your friendliness towards your fellowmen because you’re afraid that your ‘good day’ or ‘hello’ might be taken to mean something more and they might respond inappropriately to it.

Frankly that’s their problem and you don’t have to make it yours.

Because I have been harassed without ever saying a word to supposedly “instigate” harassment, and I’m sure a lot of people can agree with me. Just walking down the street, minding my own business and suddenly boom! Even sometimes while covered from toes to neck to wrists in broad daylight, so CLEARLY it’s not anything I’m doing. It’s them.

So I am going to keep doing what I’m doing, and say ‘hello’. It does not seem fair that I should have to be cold and unfriendly when these people will harass you either way, with or without you speaking to them.

And just because I like to mess with your heads because you know, at the end of the day you should decide how much you are going to let harassment bother you. I’ll show you this video of a show waaay back when I was a smallie. I was Gargamel thrilled by it!

That's the wolf and she doesn't know! HEhHEhHEh pic @ smurfsfanon.wiki.com

That’s the wolf and she doesn’t know! HEhHEhHEhHEhHEhHEh
pic @ smurfsfanon.wiki.com

Kinda creepy now though. :/ Miss making a new friend by not talking to strangers or risk getting eaten by a wolf if you do. The reality is the wolf would have probably eaten her whether she spoke to him or not but a lovely social puzzlement all the same.

Just a side note here.

I’ll tell you what I feel like doing when I am harassed. The words can be ignored really and eventually (most times) they get the point and end up looking like an ass but you see those crazies that like to play with themselves in front of people. I really want to…

But then again.

I probably shouldn’t say that here. It may implicate me in a court of law someday. What I will say is that I am not one of those scream and run kind of women. Take care perverts and crazies. Go too far with me and it just may be your last time harassing anybody.

try me

Seriously though, the thought that is always in my head…

What if this had happened to one of my nieces? Or some little boy or girl on their way to or from school, travelling alone. What would they do? How would they feel? I want to shield all of them from these people. This same pervert can torture someone else tomorrow who is not so adept at giving them the, “if you value your life, stay away from me” evil eye.

I literally do feel like taking them out! One less pervert on the street will make the world such a better place. Because it is uncomfortable to be going about your happy way in life and suddenly, this! It is upsetting. It is unfair. It feels as if the experience is being forced upon you whether you like it or not.

Even if you get away or make the person stop, it still already happened. There’s no escaping the after effects. It’s as if something was taken away from you without your permission and I think that is what they want at the end of the day. To feel like they got a piece of you. And all that’s left behind for you is just anger and frustration that you now have to write a blog post to get over!

Because you can’t strangle or maim them! There I said it. Put me behind bars for wanting to rid the world of this scum.

hannibal-lecter

I think it has taken way too long for the conversation on street harassment to happen. I would like not to have to burden my bag with weapons in case I have to defend myself. Alright? So if someone says ‘good day’ it does not mean anything more than ‘good day’. Go have your good day and leave me out of it! It is not an opening for you to violate my right to live in a safe, stress free public environment.

That being said I will continue greeting people out on the street like my regular self. I am not going to stay home to avoid you but I think you probably should avoid me, if you value your life. I swear to God yu’all if you hear I’m in jail one day…. you know why.

But don’t let these crazies kill your happy walking down the street. Say ‘hello’ or ‘good day’ and keep walking. And if someone is mad enough to follow you introduce them to Smith and Wesson, Madea style.

Critics may lie!

– Written by Travesaou

Copyright © 2010-2015 Critics May Lie All Rights Reserved

A-dziko Simba Gegele – All Over Again

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It’s book review time! Book excerpts in Italics

Yes, this is my first, and yes, it is going to be a thing that I will be doing now. Book reviews! But only books that I read on the rare occasions that I get to read these days. I’m not reviewing books just for the sake of popularity.

So, I took about a month to read this which is sad because it is just 148 pages. There were days when a book this length would get read in an hour but in my defense I am no longer 13 years old. Back then my only dilemma was reading too many books instead of doing my lessons. These days, reading is a luxury that I only get to do on my commute to work, that is when I’m not busy writing.

Now All Over Again by A-dziko Simba Gegele was honestly not a choice I made myself. I stole it off my mother’s reading list which happens to be the Caribbean Books reading list. I choose it because it was safe, meaning it didn’t pertain to any genre I am currently writing which I try to stay away from when reading to avoid any unconscious plagiarism.

It took me awhile to get used to the main character and their thought processing and there is a lot of repetitive thought processing going on. But by the third chapter I got used to it and it even made sense as a writing style. It felt like I was reading an old Republic Reader ‘Boyo and Carla’ Caribbean reading book at times.

Not the version I used to read but still very close.

I am SURE that I am not the ONLY one that could make these four sentences into ONE.

Now, I understand why Republic Reader did it. It teaches and drills in the building up of basic sentence structure. Yes, we get it. But…

You are going mad. They are going mad. Everybody in the place is going mad.

But, you could have just said the last sentence straight away to begin with. Yes, right? And my fourteen year old niece noticed the trend on her own and she’s not a big reader or writer. But then I reminded myself that this is a book for ages 7-12 and I have heard children of this age talk in much the same way. So, it fits.

The good thing though was that only the actual thought process of the young boy was like that, the rest of the book’s descriptive landscape was engaging (even though technically it still was coming from his thought process) mainly because it captured the open and honest exclamations of a child. Which were immensely hilarious.

From somewhere in your mind you hear your mother’s voice

‘Now, no bother get your father unreasonable, you hear?’

She tells you this all the time. She thinks it is you. It is not you. It is him. He gets unreasonable all by himself.

And when he gets himself unreasonable, he asks questions, unreasonable questions like, ‘You think me stupid?’ or ‘So me and you born same time?’

He has hundreds of them. Questions that no one in their right mind would even try to answer.

allover

I also only realised while I was doing this review that the author never actually mentions the name of the main character, the young boy whose eyes we are viewing his world through. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

I honestly do not know how to rate this tactic. I think it is brilliant that she pulled it off with little need to make it necessary to know his name. How many times have I battled over the perfect name for a main character? I would love to do that and she did it effortlessly. It was an ingenious move that could have gone awry. I didn’t miss it. The book didn’t need it. But correct me if I’m wrong and it was there.

I particularly love that she touched on so many troubles/adventures/experiences that a growing young man could go through during that time in his life and the relationships he shared with those around him. The book has the potential to be relatable on many levels and across many age groups.

It waves the flag of ‘boy days’ high and I am sure either gender will find it nostalgic despite the fact that the book seems to be set in our current time. They had cell phones and ‘silver-grey Lincoln MKZ’s and NO marbles!

Pitch!

Pitch! It can also be played inside so you never know! Today’s children may know what marble sports really are about!

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So I think we can safely say that the book is in our current time.

It’s good. It may not be a fantasy story but it’s a relatable story. It may not have vampires and werewolves and armies raging wars but it can suddenly be as fast paced and move with the same urgency. A-dziko’s ‘boyo’ is experiencing new responsibilities and new feelings during his twelfth year. He’s finding that some of those things are hard to swallow and are even harder to understand but some of his experiences he would do all over again.

So read the book, it’s good, end of review. :D

All Over Again – A-dziko Simba Gegele

When you reach Seven Valleys, you and all the other people come spurting out of the bus like shook up soda spurting out of a bottle. Your body is all bent out of shape – you think you have time to worry about that? You crazy? You are in the middle of Victoria Avenue and Victoria Avenue is full of cars. You weave in and out of the cars, weave like you dribbling ball. Weave and dodge and LOOK OUT! … Oh God man, you want to kill yourself?” ;P

– Written by Travesaou

Copyright © 2010-2015 Critics May Lie All Rights Reserved

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