Tuesday, 11 September 2018

I'm not Atomic Blonde; I'm Atomic Grey

I wore this lightweight snuggly-soft Yuzhe Studios coat on my inspiration walk today, inside-out because I was in the mood for the lighter grey colour of the inside. The pockets stick out like little hip wings, and we know how flattering a look that is. And I wore my man shoes and other stuff. 

On my way home, a young woman breathlessly ran up behind me, seeking my attention. I thought:
Why, look! A fan eager to prostrate herself at my feet after my recent media triumph. And so it begins - celebrity is mine! Bwahaha! Soon I'll need to buy a hideaway in a dormant volcano and hire a team of minions.
I slowed, put on my humble face, and smiled at her with benevolence.
Then she said in a breathless confidential voice:
Excuse me, but I think you have put your coat on inside-out.
Mel Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, inside-out grey coat, man shoes

[sound of vinyl record scratching
"Wrong line!" was scribbled in my thought bubble.

I said, "Oh, thank you for telling me. Actually, I know it's inside-out, but I prefer it like this today." Then I thought we'd exchange laughs. But no. She said, "Oh, okay. Sorry, I'm sorry," and power-walked away, red face blazing. I felt bad. How could she have known?

Perhaps the next time I wear this inside-out I need to affix a little label on the back that says, "This inside-out is right-side-out today," to spare awkward feelings all around.

And yesterday I wore this: Jacqueline Conoir suit jacket, altered with additional repositioned buttons, Anne Klein crepe wool, lined palazzo pants courtesy of Dross Into Gold, black glitter booties, and -

The Device 
scratch-built by my partner O 
(his art is here, Etsy here).

Mel Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, Jacqueline Conoir jacket, Anne Klein trousers, The Device by Osamu Kobayashi, glasses by Nordstrom

As for the glasses, Charlise Theron wore aviator sunglassses in her role as a British spy in the period action movie Atomic Blonde, so when Nordstrom wardrobe handed me these glasses on set, BAM, I was -

No longer mere Mel - 
I was Atomic Grey! 

I decided to recreate that badass state of mind with this outfit.

Mel Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, Jacqueline Conoir jacket, Anne Klein trousers, The Device by Osamu Kobayashi, glasses by Nordstrom

There's the Yuzhe Studios coat again, right-side-out. They sent it to me a couple of years ago.

Speaking of atomic, time now to switch gears for a little spacy tripping with this psychedelic vintage '70s outfit that Suzanne, suzannecarillo.com, gave me when I was in Toronto. I almost fainted with surprise and delight. 

The outfit is seductively soft, velveteen I believe. The unstructured midi-length jacket has lapels, slits up both sides, and a single hook/eye closure at the waist. The front is meant to overlap for a fitted silhouette, but I preferred it a bit looser to enhance that tux feeling, so I pinned it closed. The slacks (love that word) zip up the back.

Mel Kobayashi, vintage '70s psychedelic pantsuit from Suzanne Carillo with platform sandals from Nordstrom

To top it off, I wore my blue velvety platform sandals with studded heels from Nordstorm and a satin sleeveless ruffle-front orange blouse with a super-high collar from many years ago.

Mel Kobayashi, vintage '70s psychedelic pantsuit from Suzanne Carillo with platform sandals from Nordstrom

I took these photos with my tripod on Granville Island.

Mel Kobayashi, vintage '70s psychedelic pantsuit from Suzanne Carillo with platform sandals from Nordstrom
Mel Kobayashi, vintage '70s psychedelic pantsuit from Suzanne Carillo with platform sandals from Nordstrom

The grand exit, tux tails flapping.

That's all for this week. I'll link something up with Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style and Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb. See you there.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Time-travel wear, party wear, nail art, and film debut

Flash Gordonia. Aaa-ah. Caped crusader!

Oh my goodness - I'm in the time-warp tunnel, fleet-footed in my awesome velvety-soft, blue, studded-heel platform sandals made for this exact purpose: "For fleet-footed running in time-warp tunnels," it's right there on the box. 

These are the same shoes I wore to the Nordstrom launch party for their True Nord ad campaign, which I blogged about in my previous post, here. That was more an out-of-body travel experience to Cloud 9 than a time warp. Make sure you also check out Shelley's writeup of the event on Forest City Fashionista, here.

As you can see, these sandals are the perfect all-round transportation device for any determined foot passenger. I highly recommend them as a neutral wardrobe staple that can be worn with all outfits with confidence and joie de vivre (French for "exuberant enjoyment of life").

Below is a flat lay of the full outfit I wore to the launch, except I forgot to include my Ribkoff clutch bag. Drats! 
Note the groovy sunglasses, eh? Nordstrom's personal stylist Farah picked them out for me. We had a blast putting together this outfit. Plus, red is very suitable for a Canada-themed ad campaign because our flag is red and white, although this dress is slightly orangy red. Actually, paisley, florals, beige, and plaids are also very patriotic because we get to wear whatever we damned well like. Heh.

What I particularly love about this dress are the long bell sleeves, the maxi length, and the rufflies along the cuffs and hemline. Again, see previous post, here. I had neon orange nail polish professionally applied to finish the look, but I didn't get a photo.

The clutch is partially visible in the next shot. It's got a pearly iridescent shine and zipper trim detailing.

Photo by Shelley, Forest City Fashionista. It's the only one with shades.

All of these pieces are available in Nordstrom's online shop: Simon Miller dressearrings (on sale), sunglassesclutch. This post is not sponsored and I don't get paid a penny if you click or buy anything (insert Lucille Ball-type Waaaa!!! here). I'm just sayin'. But I did receive the outfit as a gift for the party.

I customized the shoes by painting the studs on the heels with nail polish. The shoe design is a riff on a vintage sandal style, but through my rose-tinted sunglasses, they are badass Elton John.

The rib-knit fabric of the dress lends itself to high and low styling. Below is a more casual combo. I could also wear an oversized pullover and/or pants with it, although not the matching pants as shown in the online shop, too matchy for me.

Vivid reds always blow out on my camera. Vexing. Anyone know how to deal with that?

And below. I was sitting at my desk one night when O presented me two almost-invisible filaments with tiny, tiny red balls on the end that glistened like fish eggs. 

Hahaha. I insisted that we take photos for here and my Instagram. These antennae bend like willows in a breeze. And while they were really stuck on there, one would need to rely on one's maid to carry one's shoes about and do all the housework. I'm going to wear these everyday now! Although I'll have to rehire myself in preparation for the extra workload.

In the next shot I feel like a Vespa-riding secret agent in Moscow or London during the 1960s. Don't we all feel like that from time to time? The antennae activate my high-tech GPS tracking device (it's only the '60s, remember). I must accomplish my mission - if I could remember what it is. My memory seems not to have returned from Cloud 9.

You can see more of O's art on his website, and he sells magic loupes and rings in his Etsy store, OSK Micro-art Studio. He constantly amazes me with his imagination.

And one more thing:

KEEP IT IN THE STREETS documentary update

You might recall that I was in a feature-length documentary called Keep It in the Streets by Everett Bumstead and Sam Koopman, which I blogged about HERE. It's a skater/arthouse/street photography/Humans of New York (Vancouver) film and plans were to premiere it on the film fest circuit.

Well, in the following video, Sam and Ev share a startlingly heartfelt evaluation of where the film is at and their direction in filmmaking. "Make yourself feel awkward every day," Ev says, and, "I feel like an idiot all the time." These are men after my own heart.

They may be feeling down but they're definitely not out! You can subscribe to them on their YouTube channel and IG. There will be a premiere of Keep It on the Streets on the big screen, perhaps soon, and when that day comes, I hope all of you will join me, Sam, Ev and the other cast and crew to celebrate. Moving, timeless works about the human condition never go out of style.

There may even be collaborations with Ev and Sam in the near future as well. Stay tuned!

That's all for now. I'll link up with Patti at her Visible Monday, Not Dead Yet Style, and Catherine at her #iwillwearwhatilike, Not Dressed as Lamb.

THANK YOU for all your cheering on my big adventure. Hahaha!! You guys are THE BEST!!! We can move mountains together - although bulldozers are fun too. And those super-mega-earth moving machines too. And tunnel-boring machines.

Tell me your secret mission.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

How to be in an ad campaign

Pinch me! No, don't! I want to ride this surreal wave for as long as possible. You may ask, what's going on, Mel? Well, I'll tell ya. 

I'm in Nordstrom's first-ever Canada-wide advertising campaign. Gaaaa! Picture me happy dancing around the room when I was asked, the Mel football touchdown dance, as it were, not a pretty sight. Be glad there's no video footage or a soundtrack, which would go something like this, "Oof, oof, ouch," as I ran into furniture.

Of course, I should be droll and say, Oh, pfft, another campaign? Pulleeeze, make the carousel stop. I need another break in St. Tropez STAT. Pick me up in the yacht at eight. And shoo those pesky paparazzi off the driveway!

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in Nordstrom's True Nord media campaign
Just so you're not confused, Mel in the red dress is BEFORE, normal-sized head; Mel in the suit is AFTER, swelled head. (Campaign launch party, Broadview Hotel, Toronto, Aug 27)

This campaign is called True Nord, which is a clever play on words: Nord, short for Nordstrom, and nord, French for north. The team flew me into Toronto for several days last month and put me up at a fine hotel, then flew me in again for the launch party earlier this week. 

What did I have to do in this project? Well, try on new, fabulous Nordstrom clothes, pose like mad, and act, just a little. Oh, and get paid for it. Hahaha.

There are several key points I learned from this experience I'd like to share with you. 

1.  Being in an ad campaign is a lot like being a secret agent

You're not allowed to talk about it. This was verrrry difficult. Someone would ask me, "What'sup, Mel," and I'd shrug and mumble, "Oh, you know, same 'ole, same 'ole," maybe jingle the keys in my pocket or look up and comment on the weather, while inside I'm screaming my head off with excitement. 

Now I know why secret agents can be tortured souls - they get a big break and they're not allowed to say anything. Next time you ask your friend, "Hey, what'sup," and she shrugs and says, "Oh nuthin'," you'll have to ask yourself, whoa, is she in an ad campaign?!

2. It takes a village to look good

Hairstylists, makeup professionals, style/wardrobe gurus, executives, creatives of all sorts. It was incredible being surrounded by so much talent, all top of their field. So, yes, it took a village to make me camera-ready. 

But what was so cool is how everyone on set and off brought their personal best to the project, not merely to do their own job well, but to bring out the best in their colleagues too, like they did with my makeup, hair, and wardrobe. There were ricochets of positive energy everywhere. True teamwork on every level. So impressive.

3. I am proud to be Canadian

The True Nord theme of the campaign really made me think about Canada and what it means to me. I shamefully admit that I had forgotten the words to our national anthem because they have changed through the years, so I looked them up on Wikipedia. Imagine my delight to discover that four of the song's ten lines have exclamation marks. Vindication! I use !!!'s all the time because it's in my friggin' blood, people!! 

Also, the campaign showcases how Canada is inclusive, diverse, and welcoming. Right on! Other keywords enshrined in our anthem are in there too, such as "strong and free." I celebrate all of this. Plus, Canada grows the best comedians. I think there's even a statistic for that in our GNP.

4. Friends make everything better

Yeah, I always knew this, but the point really hit home at the launch party. Shelley of Forest City Fashionista bused in from London, Suzanne of Suzanne Carillo drove in from across town, and Patti of Not Dead Yet Style flew in all the way from Florida. What a night we had celebrating each other, dreaming big, laughing, and taking pictures. Suzanne did a write-up here. Shelley did a write-up here.

Patti Not Dead Yet Style, Suzanne Carillo, Shelley Forest City Fashionista and Mel Kobayashi before Nordstrom True Nord campaign party
Patti, Suzanne, me, Shelley taken with Suzanne's selfie stick. Hurray! The only photo of us together. Check their blogs and IGs for more photos. And the Nordstrom website/IGs.

We met in my room at the Broadview Hotel beforehand and Suzanne surprised us with celebratory drinks and gourmet chips. She knows me so well! After the party, we went to a nearby restaurant for a late-night bite. 

On the way out, I heard crickets and cicadas in the park across the street - absolute magic. It's been a long, long time since I've heard them as they seem to have abandoned downtown Vancouver. So friends and bugs, it doesn't get much better than that.

True Nord commercial 

This campaign speaks to my heart - it emphasizes such a great message of hope and acceptance. I was thrilled that they included me, an "oldster," (word from Lost in Space TV series, 1968, "Promised Planet") who is also from Canada's West Coast. 

It was a privilege to be in a scene with Harjas Singh and his "daughter," Estelle Habermayer, which was filmed while riding a streetcar through Toronto. I couldn't even make this stuff up. There is a multitude of people whom I thank from the bottom of my heart for making this experience possible.

Below are a few photos from the pre-party and party taken by Suzanne and Shelley. I was too busy working the room, as they say in the biz, to remember my camera. 

 With model/stylist Mirian Njoh. She is a designer and sewist as well.

With Ishie Wang

True Nord cast with Michelle, Nordstrom Canada Executive VP, next to me

Patti Not Dead Yet Style, Suzanne Carillo, Shelley Forest City Fashionista before Nordstrom True Nord campaign party
 Patti, Shelley, Suzanne

Patti Not Dead Yet Style, Suzanne Carillo, Shelley Forest City Fashionista and Mel Kobayashi Bag and a Beret before Nordstrom True Nord campaign party
 Patti, Suzanne, me still with clips in my hair

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret with Nordstrom photo from True Nord campaign August 2018
It's the end of a long day. A framed photo from Nordstrom worn as badass necklace. They also gave all of us bottles of champagne when we left the party.

And that's my story, folks, or one small part of it. I've been feeling squished in my blogging lately, needing to keep all of this news under wraps, cloak and dagger. Consider this post a big exhale, a great big satisfying exhale. Now you know. 

What else have I been up to? "Oh, nuthin'." Jingle, jingle. "Nice weather we're having."

I'll link up this amazing outfit, which is also from Nordstrom, to Patti at Not Dead Yet Style and her Visible Monday, and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb and her #iwillwearwhatilike. See you's guys there!

Exhale!!!! ←Exclamations because I'm Canadian, eh? Has anything caught your breath lately?

Monday, 20 August 2018

Zip me up, zip me down

Ah, the beach! Tidal-line trails of plants, bugs, and plastics, grit in your hair, in your clothes, between your toes, under your fingernails, critters, fallen food that can't be saved by the five-second rule, unless you're partial to a little extra crunch. Yes, the only trouble I have with beaches is sand. Minor detail.

Today I wore my boots to the beach. So practical, seriously. I felt I could stomp safely anywhere I wanted on this wide, empty stretch of sand downtown.

The weather was cool enough that I could wear long sleeves and boots without breaking a sweat.

It's still peak tourism season and this waterfront was deserted. More space for me!

I bought the T-shirt, XXL, and track pants by Triple Five Soul at Talize thrift store on two separate expeditions. Note the cool feature: the pant legs zip open from the hem - air-conditioning on demand.

See? I wasn't kidding about that zipper action. I can unzip them "up" all the way to the waistband.

Below, a photo suggesting motion because I certainly was not exercising in this sporty attire. Get real! Well, except for the jumping shots. I had to go have iced tea after that.

But wait! Below, check out this extra extra bonus feature: the pants also unzip down from just under the waistband to the hem. Double-wide air-con!

These pants are ultra handy for, for, for showing off your underwear! They aren't really stripper pants though because, while there is bi-directional zip action, you can't separate the front panel from the rear. If you were working out at the gym this venting might cool you off, but wouldn't you just wear shorts?

The flapping pant legs would add attractive flourishes for when you break into ballroom or flamenco dancing. I guess it doesn't really matter what the zips are for; these are damned cool track pants. And a few passersby appeared entertained or scared; sometimes it's hard to tell what those crooked smiles mean.

Being at the beach, such a summery place, made me think of this favourite song by Chicago, "Saturday in the Park," except the park in this particular song is filled with people celebrating - singing, laughing, eating ice cream, and playing guitars. My beach was filled with sounds of me taking photos - beep beep beep, oof, ack, grrr, pffft.

The boots are from My Sister's Closet, which is run by Battered Women's Shelter Services. And the RayBan sunglasses are from Ah Love the Pug's family, here.

And there I am with one of my journals. I seem to have two on the go now. I fill their pages with sketches, ideas, bad poetry, lists, prose, and musings on my day. 

That's all from me this time. I am well again! Bwahahaha! Thank you for all your powerful healing vibes.


Margaret Manning of Sixty and Me, her second batch of interviews with me are now all open on her YouTube channel. Go watch, have a laugh. It's great fun chatting with her, part of my great big show and tell. (I'm 56 so don't freak out):

  1. Fashion After 60: One Signature Piece = Many Amazing Looks!
  2. Fashion for Women Over 50 Acquiring Awesome Accessories
  3. Fashion After 50: The Search for Funky Treasures
  4. Fashion After 50 *SHOCKER*! Should We Borrow From Men's Style?

Okay, now that's all. Heh.


I'm going to link up with Patti's Not Dead Yet Style and her Visible Monday, and Catherine's Not Dressed as Lamb and her #iwillwearwhatilike

Stay cool, my friends. I know you do!! xo

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Surrendering in a green oasis

"I surrender to the chaos" is what I painted on this tank dress a few years ago. I don't surrender all the time. For the big stuff, I fight back with vigilance and persistence, snarling, gnashing of teeth, and curled toes. 

These shots were taken by my friend Elizabeth Zvonar in a little green oasis not far from my home. I'm still shaking off vestiges of that pesky summer cold, so this nearby location was perfect. The next photo is my favourite of the bunch.

I like being dwarfed by nature. It's a feeling I definitely could use more of. 

Again, my mug by artist/stylist/designer Ann M Bray (IG and other links), which features many of my favourite bloggers. You saw it my last post too, on sale here. And my Lily-Lark parasol. All unpaid mentions.

I was going to choose a song for this post, but they all made me tired. Nature sounds are what I really crave right now. Get me away from the trucks and honking and screaming and loud mufflers (a pathetically great oxymoron).

Don't feel you have to stay on this page while you listen to the whole YouTube. Heh.

When I put a photo of this dress on IG, lots of people thought it said, "I surrender to the chaise (chair)." Yes, in fact I do.

Those legs really throw off my camera's white balance.

Below is my "flat lay," nothing to do with the bedroom, folks. Get your minds out of the gutter! It was in another post on the "Silver Foxes and Vixens" party I went to at Vancouver's Fluevog shoe store, where I got to meet the man himself, John Fluevog. He was immediately drawn to my elven shoes, which he told me are rare, made in a limited run. I bought them in the late '80s. Too bad they bite my baby toe, although that's probably what has kept them so pristine.

Soaking up some rays. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. 

It's a rather tame post this time. A rather tame life at the moment. 

I'm linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style and Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb.

I hope all of you are keeping cool, or warm, as the case may be. Thank you so much for visiting. xo

Monday, 6 August 2018

Floral vintage jumpsuit with microscope

Don't you hate it when you go into one of your favourite cafés and you can't find an outlet for your microscope? Right? I hate that. 

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret, vintage floral jumpsuit and microscope

Who said only laptops and cellphones and tablets can go for walkies and coffee? Really, how tiresome. 

Bye-bye woman-with-coffee-and-laptop selfie; hello woman-in-awesome-vintage-'70s-jumpsuit-with-palazzo-pantlegs-with-coffee-and-microscope selfie! I think the security guard understood what I was doing.

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret, vintage floral jumpsuit and microscope
Coffee mug by Anne M Bray, featuring sketches of 
many of my favourite bloggers. You can buy one here.

What would the world be like if scientists suddenly starting taking over cafés with scientific gear, setting up mini research institutes each afternoon with free outlets and caffeine on call. 

I suppose occasional shouts of "Eureka!" would crack the humming silence as breakthroughs were made in solving world hunger or health and wellness issues. If I were a savvy shop owner, I would create a "Eureka Lunch Special" with a sandwich and your choice of soup or salad. 

Clearly, below I am hurtling toward my own Eureka moment. 

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret, vintage floral jumpsuit and microscope

Ice cream - diet ginger ale - chocolate chip cookies! And a giant pretzel for something salty. 

This past month has been a white-knuckle ride that has tested my fortitude and gumption, in a good way. I've come through intact, with a big silly grin even, except I caught a bug on a plane. Cough cough pitui!

As a result, I have been in the wearying daily routine of wearing a face mask. Believe me, this is a bug I don't want to share. I'm almost cured now, but a summer cold? There's a heatwave and I have a friggin' cold?!!! GAAAA! This shoot was my first real solo outing in a week.

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret, vintage floral jumpsuit, face mask, and microscope

I'd like to share details of what I've been up to, but I am contractually bound to secrecy. It's all very cloak and dagger, just the way I like it.

I leave you with the following photo - just another day at the café. Probably nobody uses microscopes like this anymore (I bought this one for O a couple decades ago), but it's my Year of the Prop, and this instrument caught my eye as I was going out the door. My first prop shoots of the year were here and here

A tricky tripod shoot in a café - I had to snap and scram. 
Can you see my tripod?

While I'm at it, I propose a caffeinated toast to women of science. You blaze trails and inspire. Thank you. I hope you have better gear than I do. And I suspect that a lot of it is in your laptops. Hahaha!

I shall link up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style and her Visible Monday and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb and her #iwillwearwhatilike - if I can still remember my way there. Heh. 

Stay fabulous, everyone. All will be revealed in the weeks to come.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Not quite minimalist, but trying hard in Mel Nation

Having fun in the summer sun, although that day I had to wear this houndstooth Pepe Jeans London jacket to keep off the morning chill. I got it at Talize thrift store in Delta, BC, during a blogger meetup in early June. See my post HERE. I liked this outfit so much, I defied gravity. It was uncanny.
Oh behave!! WHAP! Hm, I seem to be enjoying that action a bit too much. 

Who, me? I am the model of robotic poetry.

I was wearing this and that. The floaty blouse and runners, which I farked, are originally from My Sister's Closet eco thrift boutique, proceeds to Battered Women's Shelter Services in Vancouver.

The parasol has become a summer staple. I have two, both from Lily-Lark, to suit every mood. No more skulking in shadows, except my own. That would make me a self-skulker. 

The jumpsuit below is vintage '70s I'm guessing, and I sold it. What was I thinking?! I opened an Etsy shop called Mel Nation and this was the first listing - my only listing. Mel Nation is ultra, ultra exclusiff; it has nothing to do with me being lazy or decision avoidance, no, nothing whatsoever.

If you want to see my empty storefront, it's here. So exciting. When I replenish my entire inventory, I shall invite you to become citizens of Mel Nation as well. No borders, just fruity drinks with umbrellas by the poolside and a secret handshake, which I'm currently choreographing.

With the brown belt above, with no belt below. This piece is on its way to Oslo. If you hear maniacal laughter coming from the sky above, wave, as it's the jumpsuit flying overhead. 

With this massive sell-off, life here is so calm, so KonMarie, in reference to Marie Kondo's bestselling book, "The life-changing magic of tidying up." Sigh. Ohmmmm.
I made these sketches in 2015 - on the same day. Clearly, they are as relevant now as they were three years ago in Mel Nation, which, come to think of it, sounds almost like damnation. How weird is that? They were originally posted on July 1, 2015, "Let your clothes choose your profession, and Hat Attack." 

Below, obviously these are white wolves at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Vancouver.

You can see the brolly bag below. Slung over my shoulder it reminds me of Asian weaponry. Whap! 

And red.

With Turniphead. Because.

I know I'm late, but in case you missed it, Sherry of Petite Over 40 made an awesome video of our June meetup. I laugh every time I see it. Her post is Blogger Meet-Up Proves Vancouver's Got Talent. Suzanne's meetup posts are Strike a Pose Blogger Style - Blogger Meet Up 2018 and Breakfast at Tiffany's Prom Do Over.

VIDEO by Sherry, Petite Over 40

That's all from here. I'm going to link up to Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday, and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for #iwillwearwhatilike.

I hope you are all well. Big hugs to all. Thank you so much for dropping by!!

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