Archive for the ‘the Tree of Life’ Category

SatMar201210

Travels with Oscar, Smithville TX shines

 

This article is from the Orange County Register, Feb 23, 2012

 

Best Picture town: Smithville, Texas, in “The Tree of Life

People tend to either think Terrence Malick is one of the few artists left working in film, or the maker of insufferably obtuse movies. I have to admit I’m conflicted.

Though I’m a big military history buff, I couldn’t endure the endless shots of waving grass in “The Thin Red Line” and dropped out about 45 minutes into it. I know a lot of people didn’t make it that long into “The Tree of Life,” Malick’s defiantly nonnarrative rumination on the battle between the states of grace and nature over endless time. The opening sequences of the creation of the universe (dinosaurs?) and the corner of the world where Brad Pitt and family will live out their lives feel a lot like the start of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Maybe “The Tree of Life” just hit me at the right moment – it’s my favorite movie of the year. Battling congestion one late night in January, I popped “Tree of Life” into the DVD player. Maybe it was the combination: cold medicine, alone, dark and quiet house, Blu-ray on high-definition TV. I couldn’t take my eyes away.

The heart of the film is the town where Pitt alternately hugs and bullies his boys. I was transfixed by the simple beauty of the town – the trees, the houses, the shadows, the road and the faces. At the end of the movie, I scrambled to find where the film was shot. Though some shots were done in other parts of Texas, the core of the story is told in Smithville, just outside of Austin. I’ve explored the Hill Country west and north of Austin but never ventured to the east. The town of wide streets and an old-style downtown has been featured before, in “Hope Floats.” I want to go, though I don’t know what I’ll do when I get there or what I would see. Just life, I guess. Sounds like a Malick film.

P.S. Our B&B, the Katy House is eight blocks from the house used in “Tree of Life”  The Smithville Chamber has a new brochure listing most of the places in town used in the movies filmed in Smithville.


FriFeb201224

Review of Malick’s Tree of Life, filmed in Smithville

Back Stage

SASA MAJUMA

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth?
The Tree of Life (2011) is one of the best films from last year. It is being shown at the Gaborone Film Society tonight at 7 pm atMaru-a-PulaSchool in the A/V Centre. It is by the great director Terrence Malick who only makes about one film every decade.

He is famous for Badlands(1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998) and The New World (2005). With The Tree of Life his approach has changed: he currently has four new films in production.
 
At the 64th Cannes International Film Festival The Tree of Life swept the Palme D’Or (but not without boos, jeers and great applause from a divided public). The line that divides reactions to this film is strong for it begins with the cosmos, the Supreme Being, the meaning of life, birth and death, and how life may be lived.

The catcalls come from viewers who want modern entertainment, not Great Issues. Nick Pinkerton writing in The Village Voice says of Malick that, He’s one of the few American filmmakers operating on the multiplex scale who makes movies feel like undiscovered country.

In Genesis, 3:22-24 in the Garden of Eden the tree of life has fruits that give eternal life. In science the image is used to represent the evolutionary divergence of all living creatures.

In Kabalism the spheres of life or the 10 attributes of the infinite belong to the tree of life. This film spends considerable time probing images of the past. From the Hubble telescope, the birth of the universe is observed. At one point the earth belonged to the dinosaurs (an injured plesiosaur contemplates his wounding), then they were extinct.

“I made him feel shame …how did I lose you?  Mother was I false to you? …. Where were you? Who are we to you? 
  From the Red Centre, to the nebulae of outer space, from eruptions, to the feeding frenzy of circling hammerheads and Saturn’s rings, We cry to you, my soul, my son”. 

Light of my life I search for you. At the start and in conclusion the audience can see only a flickering flame Ð is this the beginning and end of our universe?

The creation leads us to a family inWaco,Texas, in the 1950s Ð yes, the same town of the famous massacre, but there is no link established between it and this movie. It was actually filmed in Smithville, nearAustin,Texas.

A gentle, warm, loving Mother O’Brien (acted by Jessica Chastain, inGaboronepreviously in The Help in Texas Killing Fields, The Debt and Wilde Salome) is the lodestone for her three sons. Her path is the opposite of her husband’s. “Love everyone. Love every leaf, every ray of light,” she tells her sons.

The demanding, harsh and judgemental father O’Brien (played by Brad Pitt) imparts survival lessons that are intended to promote individualism, competition, and Looking Out For No. 1. Pass the butter please, Sir.  

O’Brien disciplines his sons like the family was an ancient military camp and the offspring the uncouth foot soldiers. 

They must learn how to avoid being bullied, to fight back, and to master the art of self-defence, to face DDT spray without flinching. Do you love your father? Yes, Sir. His message to his sons is one of loyalty and obedience coloured by cunning. The world lives by trickery … if you want to succeed, you can’t be too good.

As they grow a little older, Number One, Jack (played by Hunter McCracken) becomes a bully with his two younger brothers R L and Steve (Laramie Eppler and Tye Sheridan). He also articulates his rebellion and his hostility against his father’s repressive regime.

“You can hit me if you want.” O’Brien tells Jack, I want you to grow up strong, be your own boss. Jack becomes the axis of the film. He even tries to talk to God. Can we hear the answers?

O’Brien has 25 patents, a thankless job, that comes to an end, loves classical music, but is a failed musician. His sense of failure permeates the film. He wants more for his sons. To accompany its unfamiliar images The Tree of Life is filled by some of the best In music by Bach, Couperin, Mozart, Mahler, Smetana, Gorecki, Respighi, Holst and others.

To find the young actors, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan and Hunter McCracken, who play the three preadolescent brothers, months were spent searching and 10,000c non-professional applicants interviewed. The results are a credit to this prolonged search.

Sean Penn gives a taut portrayal of the troubled first son, Jack, now an adult, who struggles to find the best in his harsh, disciplinarian father. As an actor he somehow expected more. He is quoted as saying: I didn’t at all find on the screen the emotion of the script, which is the most magnificent one that I’ve ever read.

A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact. Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing there and what I was supposed to add in that context! What’s more, Terry himself never managed to explain it to me clearly.

The adult Jack keeps looking back on his past. One of his younger brothers has died. He is working as an architect in a glass skyscraper in downtownHouston,Texas(little is really explained about who he has become, as it is his remembered past that occupies the screen).

Still, this is a film about mysteries, well worth watching and debating.  It is a poetic movie, but you don’t have to be a poet or a true believer to watch it.

Thus may be The Tree of Life, but in this resurrection it is the American suburb of half a century ago with its green lawns, cars to wash, and sibling rivalry to be transcended. It is a coming-of-age story with a difference. 

The Tree of Life is two hours and 13 minutes long. It is rated 12+. The director is Terrence Malick who also wrote the script. The cinematographer is Emmanuel Lubezk. The editor is Mark Yosikawa. The music is both by and arranged by Alexandre Desplat. 
sasa_majuma@yahoo.co.uk

(our bed and breakfast, the Katy House is 10 blocks from the home used in Tree of Life. Sallie Blalock)

 


TueJun201121

Smithville, TX Goes Hollywood

 Who would have thought that we would get to meet movie stars and have them stay in our Bed and Breakfast?  Check out  this new  article from the Houston Chronicle. I love the last line: “They are beyond film-friendly,” Patterson says. “There’s something almost magical about filming in Smithville.”

Texas’ quaint Smithville goes Hollywood

By MELANIE WARNER SPENCER
Copyright 2011, HOUSTON CHRONICLE

June 21, 2011, 12:09AM

 Road trippers, business travelers and other rambling types who have driven the stretch of highway between Houston and Austin likely have spied the big “Smithville, Home of Hope Floats sign off of Texas 71. Despite the town’s proud history with the 1998 Sandra Bullock movie, Smithville likely isn’t the first place to spring to mind when most people think about Texas film. Since 2008, however, when Texas writer/director Terrence Malick shot much of his Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or award-winning opus The Tree of Life in Smithville, the sleepy hamlet has served as the backdrop for nine feature films and a variety of shorts, commercials and Web series. “It’s a beautiful town,” says John Patterson, location manager for The Tree of Life. “For six weeks, we filmed in one neighborhood. Part of the idea was having a neighborhood in the ’50s where the boys could run yard to yard without fences and without knowing whose yard they are in.”The film is set in the Midwest and focuses on the relationship of the eldest of three sons, Jack (played by Sean Penn), with his father (Brad Pitt). It tackles questions about relationships, faith, innocence lost and the meaning of life. Smithville offers a wealth of virtually untouched ’50s-era architecture, as well as Victorian, ’60s, ’70s and contemporary suburban streetscapes.The former made it a natural location for the movie, but according to Patterson, Smithville had much more to offer than just a great look. “We really got to know the town,” Patterson says. “Some of the cast and crew lived right in town and rented houses and rode their bikes to the set. It’s a pretty unique way to make a film.” Rather than using the ubiquitous trucks and trailers for hair and makeup, wardrobe and stars dressing rooms, they rented out a house for each department or actor to use as a base. While logistics and location are key, there is one thing that comes up every time you talk to a person who has worked on a film in Smithville: “It comes down to the people who live there,” Patterson says. “They all know it’s a special place. They are happy to be there and happy to show it off.” Quenby Iandiorio, a wardrobe supervisor and set costumer who moved to Austin from Los Angeles in 2010, has worked on three movies in Smithville in the past year: Beneath the Darkness, a thriller starring Dennis Quaid; Doonby, a drama featuring John Schneider; and Natural Selection, a dark comedy starring Rachael Harris by writer-director and Houston-native Robbie Pickering.The latter swept Austin’s South by Southwest film festival in March, nabbing the Grand Jury Prize for narrative feature filmmaking, the festival Audience Award and jury prizes for music, editing and screenplay, as well as breakthrough performance honors for Harris and Matt O’Leary. Iandiorio has both commuted to Smithville and lived there during production. (Beneath the Darkness is due in theaters in October; Doonby and Natural Selection are awaiting distribution deals.)”I totally dug it,” Iandiorio says. “It was a small town, and it’s really easy to get to work every day and change locations. When I was living there, it was magnificent. To be able to ride your bike to set blew my mind, coming from L.A.”While it was at times challenging to find clothing at the last minute, Iandiorio says it’s just part of doing this kind of work in Central Texas. “No matter how much you prepare for a trip, something comes up,” Iandiorio says. “Even in Austin there aren’t the resources that I’m used to having (in L.A.). It’s more challenging to get what the director wants if it’s not already in your collection. But nobody is going to have everything. … You have to shop for it and go secondhand and vintage.”Echoing Patterson’s sentiments, Iandiorio says it’s all about the residents, who are quick to assist the crew and for whom hometown hospitality is matter-of-fact. “Everyone lends themselves to the production,” Iandiorio says. “The small filmmakers wouldn’t be able to do these productions without their assistance. Film commissioner Sheila Tamble really rolls out the red carpet for people and opens up her house. Her husband’s cooking is amazing. Robert would cook for 70 people for lunch at night when we are shooting.” For Tamble, a Smithville native and real estate broker who got into the business quite by accident after showing a house to Malick prior to the shooting of The Tree of Life, it’s about bringing something unique to her community. “What I like is exposing our youth to different opportunities,” Tamble says. “They use the kids a lot in the films. They see the hair, the wardrobe. Our school district, like a lot all over Texas, can’t afford the arts. It’s the best way to show the children up front what it is.”Tamble and other enterprising community leaders in Smithville also recognize the economic benefits of being a film-friendly community. They have made permitting, security and other processes and procedures quick and easy for filmmakers. The mayor allows crews to office out of and hold casting calls at City Hall, and the police department is available to lead directors through the proper steps of a crime scene investigation. In return, thousands of movie-making dollars flood into the town and into the hands of its business owners and residents, who rent out their businesses, homes and guesthouses to crews. They have been known to lend or lease personal property, including planes, vehicles, a bottle of champagne in the middle of the night, farm equipment and even livestock to productions. Tamble’s rooster, Colonel Sanders struts his stuff in Doonby and Five Time Champion. (The latter was an indie favorite at SXSW and Dallas film festivals.)Local nonprofits reap the benefits from the industry, too. Tamble says producers from The Tree of Life, donated fruit trees to the community gardens. During the filming of Beneath the Darkness, Quaid participated in a Blue Santa benefit that raised more than $10,000. And Darkness director Martin Guigui is planning to return in October for the Smithville Music Festival. “The economic impact is something we see more because we are a small community,” Tamble says. “Tree of Life’s impact was about $725,000, not including what cast and crew spent on their own time.”The chamber of commerce has also gotten in on the action, creating a city map that pinpoints locations from the various movies and revamping its website, http://www.smithvilletx.org/, to include up-to-date details on current and past movies. Its tagline is: “A film-, family- and business-friendly community.” “They are beyond film-friendly,” Patterson says. “There’s something almost magical about filming in Smithville.”

melanie.spencer@chron.com
Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/main/7618946.html#ixzz1Pwdol9q9


MonJan201124

Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament in Smithville, TX

Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament – new event for our Thunder on the Colorado Biker rally. The Tournament will be held at Riverbend Park here in Smithville, TX

  Our Bed and Breakfast rooms are filling up fast. Please make your reservations as soon as possible. (512) 237-4262

 Here is the basic information on the Tournament:   2011 Entry Form  Friday, March 18 – Riverbend Park, Smithville, Texas

Players must be seated by 8 p.m.  Tournament ends at 11 p.m.

 ($30 entry fee gets $10,000 buy-in and full three-day admission for Thunder on the Colorado Biker Rally.  Additional buy-ins available for first hour of tournament.  For rules and additional information, visit http://www.thunderonthecolorado.com/.  Participants must be at least 21 years of age.  No guaranteed spots for walk-ups as seating is limited.  Prizes for top 4 finishers.  No cash prizes.)

 Player name: ____________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________

City: ________________________ State: ______ ZIP __________

Phone: _________________________________________________

Email: __________________________________________________

Checks should be made payable to:

Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 716,  Smithville, TX 78957

 For your convenience, we accept all major credit cards (circle one):

 VISA         MASTER CARD      AMERCAN EXPRESS    DISCOVER

 Name on card: _____________________________________________________________

 Card number: ______________________________________________________________

Exp Date: ____________ Signature: ____________________________________________

Questions?  Email chamber@smithvilletx.org or call 512-237-2313


FriDec201017

Katy House B and B sends Christmas Wishes

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Bruce and I love this time of year. The Katy House is decorated for Christmas, the weather is cooler and downtown Smithville is decked out for the season with trees and four-foot Gingerbread Men up and down Main Street. As guests come and go this season, we are reminded that the very best thing about owning a Bed and Breakfast is the wonderful and interesting people we get to know.

This is a perfect time of the year to give a gift certificate to the Katy House. You know someone that would love to come and visit Smithville. One night is $160 for two, including breakfast, all the trimming and the taxes. We’ll mail the gift certificate to you, or send it to the recipient. It will be a gift that will be remembered for years. Maybe it’s time for you to return to Smithville, so buy one for yourself!

The Annual Festival of Lights, December 4th, was a fun-filled Saturday, with a lighted night-time parade then a free live theater production called “Frosty vs. the Abominable Snowman,” by Smithville Playhouse. The movie, “Beneath the Darkness,” filmed part of the parade. As the Smithville High School Band marched and played, a man ran through the band, with a policeman chasing him down.

Smithville continues to be a “film friendly” community. “Tree of Life,” starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn will be in theaters May 27.th In the last year there have been several films made here. We’ve had the pleasure of visiting with John Schneider, Jenn Gotzen, Ernie Hudson, Robert Davi, Will Wallace, Joe Estevez and Erin Way. They were here in the spring filming “Doonby.” Watch for these movies to open in 2011: “Tree of Life,” “Five Time Champion,” “Natural Selection,” “Doonby,” “Bernie” and “Beneath the Darkness” as all or part were filmed here. Dennis Quaid’s trailer is parked across the street right now.

We’ve had a fun and busy year at the Bed and Breakfast with lots of wonderful guests that are now friends. Bruce has now retired from the Union Pacific Railroad. He still runs trains as a volunteer engineer for the Austin Steam Train. He has also been restoring the caboose and it will eventually be a guest cottage.

The Katy House Baked Egg recipe is perfect for a special breakfast for visitors.
Just email us and we will send you the recipe.

We hope you have a blessed Christmas Season and hope to see you in Happy New 2011!

Sallie and Bruce Blalock
And Corgis Buddy and Carter
stay@katyhouse.com
www.KatyHouse.com
(512) 237-4262
Smithville, Texas 78957

Look for us on Facebook and follow our blog.

   




WedJul201014

Smithville, TX is a busy little town!

The production crew filming “Doonby”, with John Schneider, Ernie Hudson, Will Wallace, and Robert Davi,  has now left Smithville.  But, word is, two more smaller production crews are coming soon. You can become a “fan” of Doonby and the Smithville Film and Music Commision,  on Facebook.com  We still are waiting for “The Tree of Life”, with Brad Pitt,  to open. I think it’s getting close to being in the theaters! I will keep you posted if we hear a date.

Smithville has a busy weekend coming up. The new Playhouse Smithville will have its opening and first performance on Friday, July 23rd, 2010.  The opening show is  “LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.”  The show will run from July 23 to August 7, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30.  Tickets are $10.00 and can be purchased at www.playhousesmithville.com.  Seating is limited and tickets are selling fast.

Bruce and I already have our season tickets.  Playhouse Smithville,  110 Main Street,  Smithville, TX 78957,  512-360-7397  playhousesmithville@yahoo.com

On Saturday, July 24th, the Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring Casino Night.  It’s a really fun night. Here is more infor on this annual event:

Smithville’s “Little Las Vegas”Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 7:00 PM Smithville Recreation CenterThe gambling action at Casino Night is hotter than the July temperatures outside as Smithville’s Recreation Center is transformed into a Vegas-style venue. Featuring such games as blackjack, Texas Hold Em, roulette, craps, and the ever-popular slot machines, it’s a sure bet that there’s no more exciting fundraiser around!  Always on the fourth Saturday in July, it’s a can’t miss event.Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the Italian buffet and some fun, before the action starts at 7 p.m.Tickets are $25 each prior to the event (purchased through the Chamber of Commerce) and $30 at the door. Ticketholders must be at least 21 years of age to be admitted. Price includes admission to gaming floor, a trip through the Italian dinner buffet, adult beverages, and $10,000 worth of chips. At night’s end, turn those chips into chances at great prizes! Silent auction prizes are also available for bidding upon (to donate prizes, please call the Chamber).For more information, call the Chamber of Commerce at 512-237-2313.  And remember to save the date.  You can purchase tickets in advance below.

We hope to see you there!


WedMar201017

Biker Rally in two days! – Smithville, TX

Thunder Biker Rally, near Smithville, TX

the count down is two days till the great Biker Rally in our park!

 March 19,20, and 21st is the Fourth Annual Biker Rally, Thunder on the Colorado, at our beautiful RiverBend Park. Presented by the Smithville Chamber of Commerce.Sponsored by TrustTexas Bank. The park is 2 miles from our Bed and Breakfast, the Katy House. Rooms are still available. Ask for the 10% biker discount!   (512) 237-4262

 for more information see the web site. www.thunderonthecolorado.com


FriMar20105

Thunder Biker Rally, near Smithville, TX

 March 19,20, and 21st is the Fourth Annual Biker Rally, Thunder on the Colorado, at our beautiful RiverBend Park. Presented by the Smithville Chamber of Commerce.Sponsored by TrustTexas Bank. The park is 2 miles from our Bed and Breakfast, the Katy House. Rooms are still available. Ask for the 10% biker discount!   (512) 237-4262

 for more information see the web site. www.thunderonthecolorado.com


WedFeb201017

Smithville, Tx gets ready for Biker Rally

The 4th Annual Thunder on the Colorado Biker Rally is March 19-21, 2010. The location is beautiful RiverBend Park, Hwy 71, in Smithville, Texas. This is a really fun weekend!  Our city park is full of large beautiful trees, and is next to the Colorado River.  There will be live music, a Bike Run, a Swap Meet, a Bike Parade, a Bike Show and much more.  The entry fee is $15 for the entire weekend. No glass, knives, weapons or pets will be allowed in the Park. The event benefits Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), Texas National Guard Family Support Foundation, and the Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce.  The park is only 3 miles from our Bed and Breakfast, the Katy House.  For more infomation on this fun weekend see www.ThunderOnTheColorado.com


SunFeb20107

Smithville High athlete signs scholarship

Here is a great story about one of our Smithville, Texas boys.

This is from the American Statesman, from Feb 4th, 2010. Smithville High athlete with cystic fibrosis signs scholarship!

For the full story see  http://www.statesman.com/sports/smithville-high-athlete-with-cystic-fibrosis-signs-scholarship-211151.html


“SMITHVILLE— Back in the summer of 2004, the Nieto family of Pflugerville shared their story with this newspaper, and it was a story of hope and salvation through the primal act of running.”

“Brice Nieto, who was 12 years old and struggling to manage cystic fibrosis, was about to compete in the 38th National Junior Olympic Games.”

“His parents, Laura and Jimmy, started Brice in running when he was a younger boy with too much mucus in his lungs. Their story included the strong belief that Brice would be better prepared to manage the genetic disease if he were in top physical shape.”

“Brice discovered that he actually loved running. He ran varsity track as a freshman in high school, and when his family moved 45 miles east of Austin to a 10-acre plot of land with fishing tanks and a couple of horses, he made the varsity track team at Smithville High School.”

“He ran in the Texas Relays.

He earned his letter jacket at Smithville High.

The story gets even better.

On Wednesday, Brice sent his letter of intent to Oklahoma City University, where he will join the track team in the fall.”

“Brice earned an athletic and academic scholarship at the private school of 2,100 undergraduate students. Brice and his mother toured the campus on his official visit. It felt like home, they said.”

“The coaches told Laura Nieto they expected Brice to grow. As an athlete. As a person.”

“I liked to hear that,” she said.

“Life changes for all college students when they leave home. For Brice, the change will be drastic.”

“He soon will be individually responsible for taking his medicines, wearing the vibrating chest that loosens his lungs and going to the hospital, if he needs to, when he needs to. Because he has to.”

“I think I’m ready for it,” Brice said.

“His parents worry. They also see reasons for optimism and opportunity.”

“Brice said he believes his running helps him stay one long stride ahead of the cystic fibrosis, which has no cure.”

“Jimmy and Laura Nieto take comfort in that fact. They know their son will do what he has to.”

“I need to,” Brice said.

“Brice is a year-round runner. After school, he runs three 400-meter sprints and three 500-meter sprints. On weekends, he stretches and performs lunges and high-knee kicks that keep his body moving the way he wants it to.”

“If people told him what he couldn’t do,” said Smithville athletic director Justin Wiley, “he wouldn’t be here today.”

“When Brice was diagnosed at the age of 9, his parents reasoned that scaling the bleachers and running around the track at Connally High School would make Brice stronger.”

“I’m really glad they did it,” Brice Nieto said. “Now that I look back on it, I’m really glad. It made me who I am.”

“His story begins with running.”

“For us it’s working,” Jimmy Nieto said. “So we’re not going to stop.”

“It continues with running.”

“He has a willingness to do whatever’s necessary,” said Oklahoma City University track coach Micheal L. Houston , who noted that Brice has “the heart of an athlete.”

“And he has the mind of a student. Brice took a chemistry class as a junior at Smithville. He enjoyed it. Chemistry made sense to him, he said.”

P.S.   All of us in town are proud of Brice.  I invite you to visit our small town.  Smithville Texas is 43 miles from Austin.  Come see many beautiful historic homes and old buildings.   There are lots of antique shops on Main Street and super small restaurents in town.  But lately, the town is getting known for being “Texas Film Friendly!”  We have had 2 major motion pictures filmed here in Smithville, “Hope Floats” and “The Tree of Life.”  There have been a number of smaller films, also.  Check out the Chamber Web Site for a listing of productions.  Our Bed and Breakfast is just off of Main Street. Come stay with us and explore Smithville.  Sallie Blalock, Innkeeper – Katy House Bed and Breakfast www.KatyHouse.com


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