10  Oct

If you are reading this article it is likely because you have enjoyed and/or abhorred what I have had to say over the years, regarding many different aspects of our time in this life. Well, you have had a free ride to date so to speak, and all good things must come to an end - At least somewhat. In the future, if you wish read the majority of my various rants and ramblings, you’ll just have to purchase a copy of my new book once it’s released sometime in 2012 if all goes as planned. If you are nice enough, I might even sign it for you! Hah…

So, keep an eye out for Opinions Vary by yours truly, August Donnelly.

In the meantime, feel free to check out this official website for updates or to email me any questions or comments you may have. I hope all is well with all of you.    

Remember: You Just Might Learn Something…  

- A.D.   


Posted by August Donnelly, filed under . Date: October 10, 2010, 10:10 am | No Comments »

Forty years ago today, on September 18, 1970 the world tragically lost the tremendously talented and visionary Jimi Hendrix at the youthful age of twenty-seven. Albeit lesser headline news, one year ago today, on September 18, 2009 we lost another genuine talent and indeed a good friend to many.

Despite his flaws, it was his ability as a poet, writer, and indeed somewhat of a renaissance man that makes me proud to call the late James (Jamie) Hamilton both my cousin, and my friend. Although I had not the privilege of knowing Jamie in earlier years as my father did, I was fortunate enough to have known him in later life, finally at peace with so many things, and finally content with so much of the cosmos. It is for this reason and others that I am happy to share with you, my loyal readers, one of my favourite poems entitled “Thanx for the Lift”.

This verse is taken from Jamie’s fourth book, Oiseaux, published in 1977.

I am certain that many of us miss him deeply and think of him on this day, however, I am equally confident that although no longer at home in Parkhill, Ontario; regardless of where Jamie may rest now, the birds still sing…           

I’d still be stuck in Dryden

In the beer of an evergreen bar,

But out of the smoke of the paper mill

Dropped an airplane disguised as a car.


A strange looking pair were the pilots

Unshaven and sneering and shifty,

They were chewing on cold blue memories

Of beating up cops in the fifties.


Their hung-over eyes needed plasma

As I skeptically opened the door,

“Jump in”, said Walter, the Blackfoot,

“We’ve always got room for more.”


It smelled like a Hillbilly Whiskey Still

And I contemplated not getting in,

“We were all pissed-up at the Ojibwa Bar,

And Tom broke a bottle of gin.”


Well I weighed my memories of Dryden

With a pound of desire to leave:

Desire is always a heavier load,

I jumped in with an ounce of relief.


And we drove, and we drove, and we drove…


At one point, far up ahead was a Chevy,

It was dragging both of its heels,

And catching up we could see that there

Were weeds growing out of its wheels.


A quick tap-dance on the throttle

And the Hollywoods howled so mean;

The places we were going

Became the places we had been.


Needless to say, on that flat, dusty day,

The ride wasn’t as long as all of Elvis’ songs

Pumping out of the four corner speakers:

Twenty-four hours of oldies but goldies

Would make anyone wicked and weaker.


But soon we’d left it all behind,

The buses, the cars and the truckers –


“Thanx for the lift to Calgary, men, and rock on you motherfuckers!!”



Posted by August Donnelly, filed under . Date: September 18, 2010, 3:03 pm | No Comments »

23  Apr
About A Girl…

It often takes us many years to develop and come to terms with a genuine understanding of ourselves, and why we are the way we are. In many cases it takes a lifetime. Although I am most certainly still deeply entrenched in a lifelong undertaking of enlightenment and self-discovery, I have also been somewhat touched by an epiphany of late: My first love took her own life, and that has left me irreparably marred.

Why would such a glaringly apparent tragedy take fifteen years to finally sink in? One can only guess really, as we all live in denial, subconsciously or otherwise, concerning many facets of our lives. In fact, even the most level-headed, well-adjusted individuals have their share of skeletons in the closet so to speak - We all do. The sooner we realize this the better off we all are. We are all flawed, often impetuous beings clambering for acceptance, understanding and perfection throughout the duration of our imperfect existence, regardless of the front or skin we may wear whilst facing the world. Despite this, we are, by and large, beautiful creatures capable of great things.

Although I have read and digested her suicide note many times, I will never fully understand, nor will anyone else I don’t think, why she chose to end her life at the tender age of sixteen. Worthy of mention was her reference to a phrase credited to Neil Young in the aforementioned letter, in that it is “…better to burn out than to fade away”. Is there perhaps some tragic truth in this; regardless of the age at which we pass on into the great unknown? My first love will never grow old, never endure the suffering of a chronic or terminal illness, never sort through the ordeal of divorce as approximately half of all married adults now do, etc. She will never know many of life’s hardships. However, she will also never again see a sunrise or sunset, hear a beautiful, euphonious piece of music, laugh at a good joke, etc…which is all the more tragic, because believe me, she was quite a joker.

I suppose the situation is somewhat akin to Peter Pan: Admired, beloved, and adept beyond her being, but she will never grow up. She will always be a young, vibrant, beautiful girl, and the envy of all of her friends at the time of that fateful April morning in 1995.

Exactly fifteen years to the day, so many thoughts run wistfully through my mind: She was so young. Next year she will be dead as long as she was alive - Sixteen years. Had she lived, she would even then be only thirty-two, still so very young. I still don’t know whether to cry at what we all lost, or laugh at the fleeting fun I will always remember. I really don’t. To be honest, I still don’t think I ever properly grieved for the end of my youth which blindsided me that day. Perhaps I never will.

I do know one thing though: It is definitely better to fade away, than to burn out in a blistering hypernova of raw emotion. Passing quietly into the night after the long and admirable life she would surely have lived would have left far less devastation in its wake. If it isn’t already known to all who read this, suicide is a permanent solution of sorts to temporary problems. It is therefore not an option. It is a selfish and thoughtless act in so many ways. But I cannot remain angry with a nihilistically temperamental teenager of the past. As mentioned, she never grew up. Think of the big fish you had to fry when you were sixteen. If you are reading this article, chances are you lived through it. You are also likely a better person for the lessons you learned, harsh as they may have been.

Ali, imagine what you could have done in time, when you had already made such a profound impact on the people in your life and you were just sixteen!

Sweet Sixteen…

Posted by August Donnelly, filed under . Date: April 23, 2010, 3:51 pm | No Comments »

Yes indeed, it is a great time to be proud Canadians.

Following our exemplary performance at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, our nation can certainly find great happiness in not only the initial triumph of claiming the most gold medals of any host country to date, but also amassing the best golden performance of any nation at an Olympic Winter Games.

With a total of twenty-six medals at Vancouver, one must also consider that we finished third in the overall standings behind only Germany and the United States, countries which absolutely dwarf Canada in terms of population and resources, both financial and infrastructural. Canada, an undeniably talented nation of some thirty-four million people at present, dominated the second and first place finishers with well over 80,000,000 and a whopping 309,000,000 inhabitants respectively - nearly triple and ten times our populace!

Of course, given my usual biases, I am elated to remind my readers that many of our gold medals hang from the necks of persons born and/or bred in my home of London, Ontario. The golden skating duo of Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, as well as Christine Nesbitt and NHL superstars Joe Thornton, Rick Nash, Corey Perry and Drew Doughty were all born in London or have lived a significant portion of their lives there, calling it home to this day.

Perhaps the icing on the cake came with yet another double gold medal showing in Men’s and Women’s Hockey. In May 2005 I was seated with friends at a posh downtown restaurant, bending my elbow amidst one of The Forest City’s largest parties. Our invincible London Knights were just about to win their first Memorial Cup Championship in their forty year existence, and in the process completely shut out the Rimouski Oceanic and the most highly touted prospect since Wayne Gretzky. This time around I was thrilled to see Sidney Crosby finding the back of the net via a quick wrist shot in overtime against team U.S.A., reminiscent of a young Mike Bossy and indeed the mark of a true champion. An almost sixth sense indeed, knowing how to be in the right place at the right time. For Crosby, a Stanley Cup Championship and an Olympic Gold Medal in eight months aren’t bad additions to his resume.

In short, emotion is running high at present, and I know that my fellow countrymen share this sentiment from sea to sea.

That’s Right - “With glowing hearts we see thee rise - The True North strong and free!”

Oh Canada!  


Posted by August Donnelly, filed under . Date: March 1, 2010, 1:26 pm | No Comments »

At the time of this article, the Donnelly Family of Lucan, Ontario had approximately twelve hours to live. It is said that James Donnelly Sr. made purchases the afternoon before his death on account, stating that the shopkeeper could “…charge them to the Queen, for he may well not be around to pay the debt himself in future.” – A chillingly accurate premonition to say the least.

In the months leading up to the massacre, a drunken, vengeful mob of thirty or more men had gathered for regular, late-night meetings at the Cedar Swamp School on Highway 23 to plot the downfall of one of Southwestern Ontario’s most prominent and prosperous families. On this night, one hundred and thirty years ago, they fully intended to shed blood – As Orlo Miller put it:

The Donnellys Must Die.

Shortly after midnight on February 4th, in the deeply religious lands of Biddulph Township, four Donnellys including a cousin visiting from Ireland, were brutally bludgeoned at the hands of their fellow parishioners. The victims were laid out to burn in a crude cremation of sorts, as their home was torched in an effort to destroy any evidence of the crime. The fifth and final murder of that fateful night came from gunshot wounds inflicted at point-blank range, which tore the torso of John Donnelly like a machete through paper-mâché. Thankfully, a young boy named Johnny O’Connor escaped the massacre at the Donnelly Homestead and lived to tell the tale in court, while John’s brother Will and others witnessed his assassination from only yards away. Interestingly enough, not a single conviction was made in the capital murder trial, and the entire travesty has become the stuff of legend. Often mistaken, always controversial and rarely fully understood.

Nearly a century and a half later, this crime remains one the most bizarre and perverse in the annals of Canadian History. Lest we forget that a lynching occurred only seventeen miles north of London, Ontario in 1880 – The infamous “Biddulph Tragedy.”

As a primary benefactor and honoured sponsor of The Lucan Area Heritage & Donnelly Museum, scheduled to celebrate its grand opening in May; I fully appreciate the cultural significance of this crucial facet of our past. It is my sincere hope that through continued education and understanding, the lingering memories of the Donnelly Family and their raucous times in 19th century Ontario will serve to proliferate a concussion which blasts through our collective psyche with as much fervor as it did during their lives.


At Rest – Biddulph, Ontario


Posted by August Donnelly, filed under . Date: February 3, 2010, 12:33 pm | No Comments »

24  Jan
Exhibit Eh…

Of late, a frequently aired television commercial has me yet again shaking my head at the hopelessly pathetic hold we as Canadians have on our identity and national treasures. According to spokespersons Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, TD Bank is “America’s most convenient bank.” Well shit the bed! When did the Toronto Dominion Bank of Canada become America’s most convenient bank?

Seriously folks.

I fully realize that Tim Hortons locations have sprung-up all over the Northern United States for several years now, but I don’t see Americans lining up in droves to claim Tim Hortons as their own. They are happy to enjoy its delicious sundries en masse, however they will always make the distinction between Dunkin’ Donuts and its Canadian counterpart south of the 49th parallel. Perhaps that is because Tim Hortons, while existing as a Canadian institution in many regards, is what it is, for all intents and purposes: A coffee and donut shop, nothing more.

Conversely, The Toronto-Dominion Bank is the second largest bank in Canada by market capitalization and deposits, and the sixth-largest bank in the whole of North America. Should this extremely lucrative enterprise not be a source of national pride? After all, this institution has operated by its own means since 1855, a whopping 155 years in a country that is only 143 years old! Sadly, I see TD Bank becoming “America’s most convenient bank” for the same reason that Baseball is “America’s Pastime”, despite having its confirmed origin in Beachville, Ontario. Let‘s also not forget Basketball, being an American juggernaut despite being invented by a Canadian Doctor named James A. Naismith. In fact, The Basketball Hall of Fame, which has enshrined the likes of Michael Jordan as recently as last year is formally known as The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame!

I will be the first to admit that I appreciate, and in many ways admire our neighbours to the south. In fact I have a great deal of family and friends there. Regardless, let’s do our best to not allow all great things Canadian to be exported without duty paid, so to speak. Believe it or not, Wayne Gretzky was not born wearing a Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues or New York Rangers uniform. He marvelled fans on a global scale long before he ever travelled south of Windsor. He skated on the Nith River, and his parents, as well as much of his family still call Brantford, Ontario home.

Speaking of Brantford, while in Boston, Massachusetts recently, I saw a plaque marking the site where Alexander Graham Bell supposedly first perfected his famed invention, the telephone. Oddly enough, Brantford has for ages been known as “The Telephone City”, while any and all reliable sources also cite Brantford, Ontario, Canada as being the birthplace of the telephone. Perhaps the fact that Bell happened to be in Boston at the time his patent was being challenged by American Elisha Gray renders this purely Canadian invention an American idea after all?

Permit me to tell you what America, in all its glory has given the world: Bourbon Whisky, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, The Marlboro Man and M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. Overall, I jest on this point, but seriously, it is food for thought…

In short, a great deal of good has come out of Canada, eh?


Posted by August Donnelly, filed under . Date: January 24, 2010, 9:03 pm | No Comments »

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King:

“Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last!”

For a team that has lost precisely seventy-five percent of their playoff meetings to date, defeating the Montreal Canadiens in four consecutive games this year is nothing short of enigmatic emancipation for the Boston Bruins.

In habitual, tactless Montreal fashion, prior to game three as the series moved to the Bell Centre, loud derision and jeering were easily audible from the capacity crowd during the singing of the American National Anthem. Once again, the Quebecois collective fail to realize that without our allegiance to the United States, Canada would be little more than a third world nation raped by every global power that wished to have its way with us. Pitifully, the same, ignorant taunting was already denounced in March 2003 when a sellout crowd of 21,273 at Montreal loudly booed throughout The Star Spangled Banner before being handed a 6-3 loss by the New York Islanders.

Make no mistake folks: Patriotism is one thing; blatant disrespect for your ally in all matters is another thing entirely. As Boston’s star goaltender Tim Thomas said in a recent postgame interview: “Being an American I try not to let it affect me…But I thought once Obama was elected that sort of immaturity would stop.”

Like many Boston supporters, I consider this monumental victory comparable to winning
Hockey’s Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup.

In the end, I wish to offer my congratulations to the Montreal Canadiens’ laughable, pathetic tribute to this, their centennial season. What a fine celebration indeed: Being outscored 17-6 and eliminated in four successive games after barely qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Adding insult to injury was Michael Ryder, a former Montreal player deemed unfit to extend his stay with the Canadiens, but capable of tallying three points in the deciding game for Boston.

Aux Fans de les Montreal Canadiens Je Dit: “Mange Merde!”

August Says:   Indicative of the grossly overrated athlete he is, Montreal’s Carey Price showed with remarkable clarity his significant immaturity and inexperience during a press conference one day after elimination:

“It’s a great place to play when things are going well, but it’s not so much fun when things are rough. It’s not a situation that I’m used to…I’ve never been in something like this before, where I was getting harassed in my own rink.”

Carey, you made it all the way to the NHL to play in the professional Hockey Mecca of Montreal for millions of dollars, and you have never been heckled or harassed in your home rink? What the fuck are you saying, you overpaid, overvalued amateur? Who was holding your hand and telling you that everything would be all right until now? It’s time to grow up and realize that professional sport was never supposed to be a slow ride to Grandma’s house. Do you remember time-honoured expressions such as “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game” and “Winning isn’t everything”? As you are no longer a toddler, these expressions no longer apply. Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser. What did you expect, you hopeless halfwit?

Posted by August Donnelly, filed under . Date: April 22, 2009, 10:15 pm | No Comments »

It really is hard to believe. Fifteen years ago today grunge music died, and along with it one of the most understated talents of a generation. The death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain paved the way for the Brit Pop movement and surging record sales from legendary bands such as Oasis. What more can be said of Cobain fifteen years later, or another fifteen years hence? What has not already been said? 

Despite their respective neurosis, perhaps his farsighted claim about another deceased artist was accurate. Frances Farmer may have her revenge on Seattle after all.

Given the opportunity, I am confident that Cobain’s morbid sense of humor might have lent itself to an epitaph akin to the following:

Here Lies Kurt Cobain – No Longer Reliant on Oxygen”


Kurt Donald Cobain (1967 – 1994)


Posted by August Donnelly, filed under . Date: April 8, 2009, 6:40 pm | No Comments »

13  Mar
Black Beauty…

Why is it that recurrent undertakings of Friday the 13th seem to bless me with good fortune while cursing others with misery?

I have been fortunate enough to collect a small lottery winning, be released from hospital following successful, major surgery and even be advised of a work promotion, all on various recurrences of Friday the 13th. However, my latest stroke of luck on this supposed unluckiest of days came with the acquisition of another vintage vehicle:

An immaculate 1982 Ford Mustang GT – The legendary 5.0 Litre Muscle Car.

As the first mass-produced automobile to make its debut halfway through a model year, The Ford Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan unveiled the Mustang on April 17, 1964 at the New York World’s Fair. In fact, the Mustang remains Ford’s oldest model in continuous production, and still stands as their most successful new vehicle launch, with only the 1927 Model A considered comparable.

By the time my Mustang which I have affectionately dubbed Black Beauty, rolled off the assembly line at Dearborn, Michigan the “Pony Car” legend that the Mustang had given rise to nearly two decades earlier was already firmly established in the annals of Americana. In effect, my particular Mustang was already one of the most beloved muscle cars of all-time.

Originally fitted with a small-block, 289 cubic-inch V8 engine twenty years earlier; by the 1980’s the Ford Mustang had been significantly enhanced by boring-out the original engine in favour of a more powerful block. By increasing the displacement of each of the eight cylinders, Ford was able to produce an engine across the river from Detroit, which has indeed become as synonymous with style and power as its very name: The 302 cubic-inch Windsor V8, better known as the 5.0 Litre. Even rap music’s first Caucasian mogul, Vanilla Ice made reference to this engineering marvel in his multi-platinum single Ice Ice Baby:

“I was rollin’ in my five-point-oh with the rag top down so my hair can blow…”

Never one to shy away from individuality, my Mustang GT, now deemed a classic car at more than twenty-five years of age, bears many customizations. Unlike its antiquated origins which produced a modest 200 horsepower, my pony car is quite dissimilar to the majority, to say the least.

The original 5.0L V8 engine has been removed, bored-out and completely rebuilt, now boasting a 318 cubic-inch displacement, equivalent to 5.2 Litres. This significant augmentation, in addition to long-tube Hooker Headers, two deep-breathing, four barrel Holley Performance Parts carburetors, a K&N cold air intake, a K&N high-flow air filter and an MSD multi-spark ignition system, as well as other modifications have my classic Mustang producing more than 400 horsepower at the engine flywheel, and a little over 300 of the same at the rear tires!

I take pleasure and find humility in speaking with the many people who make contact with me at gas stations and while sitting at traffic lights, discussing the awesome power and thundering, inimitable sound of American Muscle. It is truly one of the simple joys that automobile enthusiasts seek in this life. However, I am equally if not more so amazed by the number of tinker-tots who attempt to impress me with their high-performance, four cylinder Japanese machines. While I am never one to dismiss the tremendous engineering accomplishments of European and Japanese automakers, let us always bear in mind that when debating which car is superior, we are comparing apples to oranges in many regards. All and sundry may be deemed brilliant in their own right, however, each can do things the other cannot even begin to attempt.

Call me biased, but aside from grossly overpowered supercars, I liken this matter to something Chuck Berry said many years ago in his hit song Maybelline:

“I saw a Cadillac rolling on Old Glen Road, but nothing outruns my V8 Ford.”


1982 Ford Mustang GT


Posted by August Donnelly, filed under . Date: March 13, 2009, 4:25 pm | 1 Comment »

27  Feb
Life on the Box…

As artists we search for inspiration. As writers, we seek much of the same, and then endeavor to put our thoughts to print. I only hope that this small piece will serve as an adequate testimony to one of the most influential artistic personas in my life, and a woman truly larger than life itself.

The late Wendy Richard, MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) was indeed a model personification of every facet of the creative process.

Wendy Richard entered the world as Wendy Emerton in Yorkshire, England on July 20, 1943 to parents Henry and Beatrice. Her tenacity was evident even as a youngster, however, notwithstanding her stalwart emotional constitution, Wendy found life as an only child difficult at times to say the least. In fact, it was Wendy who found her father’s corpse at the tender age of eleven, as a result of his apparent suicide. It was shortly before her father’s untimely death that a youthful Wendy Richard moved to London, England with her parents, and found herself already in the company of celebrity. Amongst others, cinematic icon Elizabeth Taylor and Photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, the first Earl of Snowdon and husband of Princess Margaret Rose, younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II frequented the tavern Wendy’s parents operated in Shepherd Market.

Although her career spanned a remarkable forty-nine years from 1960 until 2009, Wendy Richard’s initial successes although significant, were seemingly sporadic. Around 1961, having already made several appearances on television and yearning for a permanent spot “on the box”, Wendy decided to enroll at the Italia Conti stage school in London, financing her efforts by working in the fashion department of London’s legendary Fortnum & Mason store, established in 1707. Perhaps it was this real life experience which lent such credibility to her acclaimed role as Miss Shirley Brahms from 1972 to 1985 in the critically acclaimed British sitcom Are You Being Served?  Regardless, her diligent efforts in world of retail proved fruitful, landing her a television gig alongside one of the biggest celebrities of the day, Sammy Davis Jr. in Sammy Meets the Girls. Perhaps her greatest breakthrough came in 1962 when Wendy lent her distinctive cockney voice to the backing vocal on Mike Sarne’s number one pop single Come Outside – A song she recorded again two decades later with Are You Being Served? co-star Mike Berry.

Following her departure from the role of Grace Brothers’ sales assistant Miss Brahms after nearly fourteen years, Wendy found new work in what would become perhaps her most celebrated and widely-recognized performance in EastEnders. As Pauline Fowler, the matriarchal figure of the fictional London community of Albert Square, Wendy acted as a stoic, opinionated, battle-axe who came to represent an entire social class in England and abroad in more than 1,400 episodes. This character has become nothing less than a popular culture phenomenon and an institution in television history. In fact, so widely admired was Wendy’s portrayal of Pauline Fowler that by 1986, only one year into production, more than thirty million viewers were tuning into episodes of EastEnders in the United Kingdom alone – More than half of the total population.

Despite the countless accolades Wendy received during her illustrious acting career, it seems as if the ghosts of her youth eventually caught up with her. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, and following successful surgery and treatment, remained cancer free until 2002 when the disease that would eventually claim her life came out of remission. After another course of countless, grueling cancer treatments, she was again given a clean bill of health in 2005. However, nothing lasts forever. In January 2008, malignant cells were found in Wendy’s left armpit during a routine visit with her oncologist. Further clinical investigation found that this, her third bout with cancer was going to be a felling blow. The cancer she had beaten twice had now metastasized to her left kidney and into deadly sarcomas, and settled in the bones of her ribs and spinal column. During her final television interview in December 2008, Wendy told host Stephen Nolan:

“I’ve had breast cancer three times now. I wasn’t too happy the first time, I was angry the second time, and believe-you-me I am hopping mad now, I really am. How dare it come back…Hard living and hard work age you, but I am determined to fight.”

…And fight she did. Britain’s original blonde bombshell drew her last breath on the morning of February 26, 2009 at the age of sixty-five. In the end, she admitted that her indulgent lifestyle and heavy smoking likely contributed significantly to her demise, despite the optimistic countenance she always employed. Her distinctive cockney accent, hard-living, sharp-tongued attitude and timeless sex appeal will endure as a testament to the better world she left in the wake of her brief time here. On the eve of her death, while vacationing in Mexico, I found myself looking up at the same sky we all see, merely from differing vantage points. More than anything else, I was reminded of how very fortunate I am to have spoken with Wendy while still full of life in 2006. Albeit a brief encounter, I had the pleasure of communicating with one of the great people of our time, during hers.

Mike Sarne was right Wendy: There really is no time to spare.

Wendy Richard (1943 – 2009)


Posted by August Donnelly, filed under . Date: February 27, 2009, 3:00 pm | No Comments »

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