Ryan Beltram Where did the week go

Where Did The Week Go…


When you think about the history of video games, one of the names that comes up is Atari. With games like Pong, Ms. Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Frogger, Atari helped pioneer the video game industry to what it is today. But you might be surprised to learn that since the mid-80s, Atari has been nothing more than a name in the industry.

Both the U.S. video game company and its French parent have declared bankruptcy. Citing the need to focus more on mobile and downloadable games, Atari made the decision this week following “significant losses” in 2012.

The Atari name is an attractive one.

Since the companies’ hey day in the mid ’80s, Atari has been passed along more times than a game controller. From Time Warner to Tramel Technology to Hasbro, the company has seen a significant drop off in popular content.

But last year marked the fortieth anniversary of the company name. For more than a decade, different companies have tried to turn it around but have failed. The fact that more and more game makers continue to take a chance on the struggling business shows you just how appealing the Atari name is. Despite more bad news for the company, you can bet the name will live on for a few more decades.

Netflix Instant Pick: Commando 

In celebration of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to movies, I thought I’d recommend one of Arnie’s old classics. Let’s hop in a hot tub time machine and go back to a time when gratuitous violence, nudity and harsh language was okay. When plots to action movies were simple and they didn’t take themselves too seriously. Let’s go back to the ’80s.

In Commando, Arnie plays retired special agent John Matrix. Following a decorated tour in the armed forces, Matrix has traded a life of war and death for a secluded area in the mountains where he can raise his daughter and feed the deer.

But when members of his elite unit begin to die, Matrix is believed to be the next target. Following a raid on his home, mercenaries kidnap his daughter and force Matrix to assassinate a South American president to start a revolution and get an exiled dictator back into power.

A quintessential Arnie movie.

That seems like a lot, but really the movie boils down to two things: kill everybody, get daughter back. This movie easily could have been called testosterone or machismo because Arnie spends most of the film gunning down bad guys and flexing his muscles. According to IMDB, Arnie kills 81 people in this movie (That’s gotta be some kind of record) and he does it in a variety of ways (Hand-to-hand, guns, knives, explosives). Throw in Vernon Wells as the villain (swapping leather he wore in The Road Warrior with kevlar in this) and Rae Dawn Chong as kind of a love interest and you have a memorable ’80s action flick.

The other great thing about Commando is all of the blatant movie mistakes in it. In one scene Matrix drops his wallet and leaves it. A few minutes later he takes it out of his pocket to show a picture to Chong. From damaged cars magically being fixed to clearly visible wooden men standing beside an exploding building, Commando is the quintessential action movie of its time.

So if you need a break from modern action movies with too many superheroes and CGI, check out this nostalgic shoot-em-up.

Fan half-court shots

In the past two weeks we’ve had not one but two miraculous half-court heaves from fans. Last Saturday, Butler hosted ESPN’s College GameDay show which previews all of the days matchups in college hoops. But who knew the best shot of the day would come before any of the games started.

At the end of the show, a Butler student was given a chance to hit a half-court shot in 18 seconds to win $18,000 in a contest sponsored by State Farm insurance. Predicting he would make it, Kevin Schwartz, a junior who serves as a practice player for the Butler women’s basketball team, wasted no time by draining the shot on his first attempt. Looking at the video, Schwartz showed good form for making a shot from that far away.

Lebron tackles fan
That’s a flagrant foul!!!

I can’t say the same thing about the second fan however. Michael Drysch, a computer technician from Illinois, stood sideways without a care in the world and decided to do a one-handed sky hook like he was Kareem Abdul Jabbar. To all you kids out there who get this opportunity, don’t do it like Drysch did because the odds of making it are like one in a million.

Drysch doesn’t care about style points however because not only did he walk away with $75,000, he also got tackled by Lebron James.

“That was awesome, man,” James said. “I was excited for him. When he wound up like that, I was like, ‘Oh no, there’s no way.’ And then when I saw it in the air, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s got a chance.’ I was happy to be a part of that.”

So other than winning all that cash, Drysch will always be remembered as the guy LBJ bear- hugged. Years from now he’ll probably think more fondly of that than winning the money.

Where Did The Week Go…


On Monday, it was reported that CNET, one of the first and most influential sources of gadgets and tech news on the Internet, was in the middle of a corporate scandal as staffers and editors quit over allegations that its annual Consumer Electronics Show awards was influenced by upper management.

According to The Verge, CNET parent company CBS asked the site to remove Dish’s Slingbox Hopper from consideration for its Best of CES Awards due to a lawsuit between CBS and Dish. After learning that the gadget was going to take the top award, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves requested that the site remove the gadget.

The acclaimed tech-news website has lost some credibility.

For a website that has been celebrated for being unbiased in its reviews and news coverage, CNET looks really bad here. This story reeks of that scene in Network when Howard Beale meets with the corporate overlords at the big-boy table over news content. Only instead of shouting from the rooftops “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore,” CNET editors caved in to the power of a pending deal between two big media companies.

A number of CNET reporters did resign, including one publicly on Twitter, but the website still should have showed more ethical judgement.

CBS’s statement in response to the report by The Verge reads, “In terms of covering actual news, CNET maintains 100% editorial independence, and always will. We look forward to the site building on its reputation of good journalism in the years to come.” The steep hill back to respectability may be a hard one for CNET to climb. While it isn’t news that large corporations own tech-news sites, we don’t like to be reminded of it when public scandals like these occur.

Netflix Instant Pick: 24

For my Netflix pick this week I decided to recommend season one of 24. It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a decade since this exhilarating show debuted on Fox. I planned on just watching the first season. Sort of take a trip down memory lane with one of my favorite shows. But as the seminal “first day” reminded me, you can’t just experience one. So when I finished the first one, I immediately watched the first episode of season two just to see where these characters were at in their lives. Unfortunately, now I’ll have to see what kind of shenanigans they can get into for another 24 hours.

But let’s get back to where it all started. Watching the first episode was a bit alarming. There was badass Jack Bauer (Looking a lot blonder in that first season than I remember) sitting comfortably at home playing chess with his daughter. If you’ve gotten through the entire series you know, this is the most chill and relaxed you will ever see Jack. A part of me wanted to scream through the television telling him to pack up his wife and daughter and leave town immediately because it’s all down hill from here.

Following a small conflict at home with his wife and daughter, Jack is called into CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) to investigate a lead on a possible assassination attempt on US Senator and future President David Palmer. But what Jack doesn’t know is that plans have been put in motion that not only  involves him, but his wife and daughter as well.

The definition of the word addictive.

For the next 24 hours, Jack has to save his daughter and his wife, pretend to want to assassinate Palmer but not really while also trying to prevent it, weed out not one but possibly multiple moles inside CTU and set a record for henchman killing and cell phone usage. The last three I mentioned will become a 24 staple as you continue watching the show (Seriously, who is hiring these people at CTU and where can I get one of those phones?)

It’s kind of weird that 24 debuted just two months after 911. In a strange way, I was sort of introduced to the word terrorist through these two events. Looking back, I can’t recall how the public reacted to the show following 911 but I do remember 24 becoming this phenomenon. Was it an outlet for people seeing the government get back at the terrorists? Or was it simply the concept of the show, events happening in real time, that made it so unique? Probably a bit of both. Somehow, the idea that one episode was one hour made it feel that much more intense and vital.

The first season wasn’t perfect. The portrayal of female characters in particular was distracting. The term “damsel in distress” has never been more apparent on a show and by the end, I had a hard time rooting for even one female character (Where’s Chloe O’Brian when I need her!) There were other minor complaints like the soap opera cliche of temporary amnesia or the constant over-acting by minor, three-episode characters, but overall this was one of the better seasons of the show (Trust me, you won’t see frustratingly annoying female characters until later.)

I’d like to think I don’t have an addictive personality. I’ve never been big on drugs, or even taken them for that matter, but if I did I think viewing 24 would come the closest to experiencing such a thing. Watching it on Netflix streaming is the definition of addictive so I warn you. If you’ve never watched the show and plan to, be sure to set aside several hours because like a bag of Lays Chips, you’ll have a hard time consuming just one.

Trout Catches Fish

Mike Trout
Trout is even catching things off the field.

Yes you read that headline correct. Last season, Mike Trout completed one of the greatest rookie seasons in baseball history. If not for Miguel Cabrera becoming the first player in 45 years to win the triple crown (Leading the league in homers, RBI’s and batting average), Trout easily would have won the award as he could seemingly do it all on a baseball field.

But how about a consolation prize that sounds equally as cool considering his name. This week, while vacationing with family, Trout caught, not one of the many home run balls he robbed during the season, but a 500-pound fish. I know what you’re thinking. Sadly, it wasn’t a trout.

The outfielder caught a Goliath grouper off of Key West, Florida. The photo of his latest catch was tweeted Monday by Trout’s girlfriend, Jessica tara Cox. Weighing approximately 550 pounds and more than five feet long, the fish proved to be too heavy for them to bring on board so Trout released it.

Let’s be honest, the only reason I’m mentioning this story is because of all the great puns that can go with it. But seriously, what can’t Mike Trout do? Baseball analysts were comparing him to great baseball legends like Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle on the field. Williams was known for being an avid fisherman so Trout can already say he’s matched him off the diamond. Let’s just hope he can avoid the thing Mantle was good at off the field; drinking.


Where Did The Week Go…


One of the many pointless but great conversations in the movie Clerks was whether or not independent contractors who were working on the uncompleted Death Star were innocent victims when it was destroyed by the Rebels. But perhaps they should have been having a more serious and realistic discussion about the construction of the Death Star. One that involves job creation and universal defense.

Apparently many people have had this thought as a petition to the White House (Is this going to be the thing in 2013?) was created to fully fund and begin construction on a Death Star by 2016.

Death Star
Maybe we should hold off on building this thing for a few years.

After drawing more than 34,000 signatures, the White House was legally obligated to respond to the petition and rather than quickly shoot down the request, the higher-ups decided to respond in a funny and creative way.

The official statement, cleverly titled “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For,” lays out a cheeky yet plausible reason for denying the request. Here’s a few highlights from the White House (per the official website), written by science and space administration adviser Paul Shawcross:

“The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:”

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man star-ship?

It makes sense to me. Shawcross goes on to say that this denial shouldn’t sway you future rocket scientists from being ambitious about the future and he creatively infuses some Star Wars references to bring home his point:

“We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.”

“If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.”

Seattle might get their Sonics back

For more than a year now, a group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer have attempted to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle.

It looked as if that plan was dead at the end of last season, but in the eleventh hour, the Maloof family (Owners of the Kings), backed out of an agreement with the city of Sacramento to help pay for a new arena. According to Yahoo! Sports, not only is the deal to sell the team to Seattle back on, but it looks as if the rainy city will have their team back for the 2013-14 season.

Sonics Fans
Rejoice Sonic Fans!

The sale is for approximately $500 million and with support of the NBA, the team would play two seasons in old Key Arena before moving into a new facility. Of course the approval of a new arena proved to be one of the key reasons why the Sonics left Seattle in the first place. The city did not want to pay for a new arena and as a result, owner Clay Bennett moved the franchise to Oklahoma City in 2008.

But Hansen and Ballmer were able to get a $200 million bond from the city of Seattle to help finance a new venue for the Sonics to call home. And I say Sonics because if the group is able to get the Kings to the Northwest, Seattle will reclaim the SuperSonics name, logo and colors.

This is great news for a franchise with a lot of history. The team had success in the late ’70s appearing in back-to-back NBA finals including their lone championship in 1979. The ’90s was perhaps the Sonics’ most successful decade as Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp helped lead the team to multiple 50-win seasons and a trip to the finals in ’96.

Not only is this great news for Seattle fans, but it also renews the I5 rivalry with Portland. We’ve felt a little lonely up here as the only representative of the Pacific Northwest. The move to Oklahoma City left a bitter taste in Sonic fans as that franchise has become a perennial title contender with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. At the very least, the move will allow Sonic fans to stop coming to Blazer games in protest when the Thunder are in town.

Strange Observation

Get some clothes on!
Get some clothes on!

Has anyone else noticed the guy who wears shorts in 30 degree weather? Every year without fail, I’ll see someone walking around town in nothing but a pair of Nike shorts and a t-shirt.

Today, it happened to be a t-shirt, shorts, sandals and high black socks. No seriously, that’s what he was wearing. Oh, and he didn’t have a car to drive in. He was waiting for the bus. I stepped out of my car today wearing a baggy fleece zipped all the way up my neck and this was for the 20 seconds that it took to walk from my car to the mall entrance.

I don’t know how these people do it. I’m a skinny guy, not a lot of meat on my bones, but this guy today was skinny like me. Maybe it goes back to when I was a kid and my mom insisted that I bundle up on my way to school. You know, like that scene in A Christmas Story.

Have I become soft? Is it my mom’s fault? I don’t know. I never get sick so that’s a plus.

Where Did The Week Go…


Hello again EDN readers. I hope you had a great Christmas and a fun New Years. It’s been a while since I’ve discussed stupid criminals, but it looks like my first column of 2013 will do just that as yet another “Social Media Bandit” as managed to surface.

An Oregon teenager was arrested after police found out about something he’d posted on his Facebook page (Seriously, another Northwest idiot). Sharing with his friends as if he had just won something, Jacob Cox-Brown boasted about his latest drunken bender.

The latest Facebook Idiot.
The latest Facebook Idiot.

“Drivin drunk … classic ;) but to whoever’s vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P” said Cox-Brown. After his early morning post, two of the teenager’s Facebook friends contacted the Astoria Police Department to report it. The 18-year-old was later arrested at his home in the coastal city.

I’m not sure how many times this has to happen before people realize that breaking the law and sharing it with hundreds of people is not very bright. Maybe Cox-Brown and all the rest are really doing this on purpose just to get their 15 minutes. Anybody can be famous on the internet these days and it seems like people become short-term celebrities two ways; being really talented or really dumb. Cox-Brown falls into the latter category.

Dying fan gets to see new Star Trek film early

J.J. Abrams is known for being extremely secretive about his movie projects. In this day-and-age with trailers, movie blogs and people with cell phone cameras, there really isn’t any surprises anymore when you go to the theater. Abrams seems to be one of the few who makes a concerted effort to somehow hold on to that sense of discovery by withholding information about his films.

As someone who is guilty of consuming too much information about movies before they’re released, I can honestly say that there have only been two times in the past seven years where I’ve gone into a movie theater and seen a trailer for something I knew nothing about beforehand and they were both Abrams projects; Cloverfield and Super 8. The director seems to relish in creating brilliant marketing campaigns by giving viewers just a hint of what they’ll see when the movie is released.

But for once Abrams decided to ignore that level of mystery about one of his projects. In this instance, the Hollywood director decided to break precedent and allow one dying man the chance to see the new Star Trek film four months before its release date.

The highly-anticipated sequel.
The highly-anticipated sequel.

A man named Dan was diagnosed with a non-treatable form of cancer. On Christmas Day, his friends and family took to the internet, posting his story on Reddit, with one plea: Help get him an advance screening of Star Trek Into Darkness.

Upon seeing this, Abrams decided to make Dan’s wish come true. After the screening, Dan’s wife wrote about the experience and the director’s generosity.

“It was truly amazing that a filmmaker as secretive as J.J. Abrams was kind enough to show this to us. It is also so wonderful for his friends & family to finally hear some good news from us, they know how important film is to Daniel & could not think of a better way to please him. So this gesture really has brought a lot of smiles all around,” she continued.

“It was a wonderful thing to see with Daniel and a wonderful thing to see Daniel enjoy – Making someone as ill as he to smile for any length of time really makes a difference (At this point making me smile is good too). This is also so poignant as J.J. Abrams took so much care in the first Star Trek movie to at least TRY to get everything ‘right’ for the fans and we were so touched when he was concerned that we wouldn’t 100% enjoy the screening as it’s still being worked on…… Be assured we enjoyed it 110%!

“We are so grateful thank you, thank you, thank you…..”

Abrams is known for being a really good guy. This story reaffirms that. What a great story to kick off 2013.

ESPN sports ticker includes Rex Ryan tattoo story 

Last night I was enjoying a lovely evening of NBA basketball when suddenly I looked down at the sports crawl on ESPN and noticed the headline: Rex Ryan Tattoo. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but this is what followed that headline: “A vacationing Rex Ryan was spotted and photographed Thursday with a tattoo of a woman who appears to be his wife, wearing only a green jersey with Mark Sanchez’s No. 6 on it.”

Rex Ryan Tattoo
It must have been a slow news day right?

This vital news story went on to say, “A person close to Ryan says that Ryan’s ‘had it for years.'” I don’t know which is more absurd. The fact that this person had to protect an un-named source about a tattoo someone got or that ESPN put this TMZ-esque story on its sports ticker in the first place.

Does Tim Tebow and anyone in the Jets organization have naked pictures of ESPN executives? What is it about this team that merits so much attention? The other New York team has won two Super Bowls in the past six years and they don’t get as much publicity as this overrated organization that hasn’t won a championship since the Johnson administration.

The New York media scene truly is unlike any other and with ESPN adding more fuel to that fire, I’m now rooting against the Jets ever winning another Super Bowl. If they get this much attention when they’re bad, imagine what would happen if they won. We’d never hear the end of it.

PlayStation 2 production ends in Japan

Wednesday marked the end of an era as Sony’s PlayStation 2 – the best-selling gaming console of all-time – ceased production in its native Japan. Active for nearly 13 years, Sony’s second console sold more than 150 million pieces of hardware worldwide.

To be honest, I was surprised they were still manufacturing PS2s as the console has been irrelevant for a few years now. But I look back at the system fondly as it was the first video game machine to include a DVD drive. And let’s not forget the great games: Grand Theft Auto III, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Jak and Daxter, God of War and Shadow of the Colossus among others.

The system may not have had HD quality visuals, advanced online gaming or wireless controllers, but the PlayStation 2 was vital in revolutionizing the kinds of games that are popular today. Whereas Nintendo focused on games for the whole family, the PS2 will be remembered for games that were not only for adults, but that offered great gameplay and compelling stories.







Where Did The Week Go…


Heat: Nintendo Wii U Style

Someone’s going to have a very Merry Christmas. On Tuesday, it was reported by ABC News that more than 7,000 Nintendo Wii U consoles had been stolen. At a warehouse at SeaTac’s Seattle Air Cargo, thieves drove two diesel trucks into a Nintendo distribution site on Saturday evening around 9 o’clock. Using forklifts within the warehouse, the thieves loaded $2 million worth of the latest Wii console into two 53-foot semi-truck trailers along with an additional large box-truck van.

By noon the next day, employees noticed a few empty Nintendo pallets on the warehouse floor as well as missing trucks.

Did you pay for that sir?
Did you pay for that sir?

“I’ve been a cop for 28 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Sgt. Cindy West. “This has come straight out of the movies.”

Yeah, straight out of the movie Heat. For my own personal amusement, and because I love the movie Heat, I’m going to picture these men wearing hockey masks, carrying assault rifles and monitoring police scanners because they were “on a clock.” West pointed out that if they don’t get any tips regarding the robbery, they will eventually capture the criminals when they attempt to sell the consoles.

One of the robbers will be a creepy, Buffalo-Bill looking biker dude named Waingro (A character in the movie Heat for anyone who is totally lost right now), who’s a last-minute addition to the group. Badly wanting cash so he can go down to the nearest dive bar, Waingro will sell hundreds of Nintendo Wii U’s at once on eBay. This will lead to his arrest along with the rest of the crew.

If you’re familiar with the movie Heat, you’ll notice I didn’t have the men engage in an epic gun battle with police. That’s because we’re talking about video games here, not a bank robbery.

My mind wanders.

We Made It!

Everybody…You can come out of your bunkers and bomb shelters, we survived. Friday, December 21, 2012 marked the end of a 5,125-year cycle in the Maya Long Calendar, an event that for decades in the U.S. has been known as a kind of Armageddon for the Mayans.

In anticipation for this event, I decided to check out Netflix and find as many end-of-the-world movies as I could find. Because if we can’t experience it in real life, why not watch the Earth get blown up in movies.

That looks like a great vacation spot.
That looks like a great vacation spot.

To my surprise when I entered 2012, nine movies about this “exaggerated” American urban legend popped up. All made between 2008 and 2011(You got to squeeze them in before the subject becomes passe), the films range from the ridiculousness: 2012: Ice Age, 2012: Zombie Apocalypse, 2012: Doomsday, to theoretical: 2012: Time for Change, 2012: Science or Superstition, 2012: An Awakening.

If I had to pick between documentary and cheesy-action movie, I’m choosing the latter. Who doesn’t want to see New York become a frozen wasteland or see the White House get washed away by a giant wave. Plus, if you can somehow work zombies into it, why not.

So in celebration of our survival, I recommend you check out 2012: Zombie Apocalypse. Zombies check. Made-for-TV check. Ving Rhames in the lead check. After reading the synopsis, I’m not sure what 2012 has to do with this particular apocalypse, but who cares it’s December 23 and we’re still here.

The New Orleans Hornets and the NBA register five trademarks for their new team name.

A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that the New Orleans Hornets were in the process of changing their team name to the Pelicans. If you live in Louisiana, the name makes sense as it is the state bird. For many people outside of the Bayou, the name sounded ridiculous. I can already see the cartoonish pelican on the front of the jerseys with a basketball in its mouth.

But it seems that “Pelicans” isn’t the only name under consideration. After looking at the other choices, perhaps it isn’t as bad as it sounds.


As originally reported by KL Chouinard for the Milwaukee Bucks blog Behind the Buck Pass (via The New Orleans Times-Picayune):

Anil V. George, the attorney who typically handles the trademarks involving NBA brand names, filed trademarks on five new potential franchise names on behalf of the New Orleans Hornets NBA Limited Partnership.

The five names trademarked: Pelicans, Rougarou, Mosquitoes, Swamp Dogs and Bullsharks. Let’s go over these shall we.

Rougarou: I have know idea what this is. Apparently it’s a creature of Louisiana folklore similar to a werewolf. This name may be intimidating, but ever since Twilight became popular five years ago, werewolves are more associated with teen heartthrobs than fierce animals. The minute the team’s bad, people will be calling them the Jacob’s. Plus the name is hard to spell and pronounce. SKIP IT!

Mosquitoes: This is too easy. An annoying, blood-sucking insect as your team name? I can hear the puns now: Miami swats the Mosquitoes in a blowout. Utah draws first blood in series with the Mosquitoes. NEXT!

Swamp Dogs: This name sounds kind of cool. But if this is a nickname for alligators, why not just stick with that? Oh wait. I know why. Because that would lead to fans in the stands using their hands to chomp-clap. Plus there’s the hole thing about dogs and violence. NO THANKS SAYS MICHAEL VICK!

Bullsharks: No we’re talking. It sounds awesome, but you still don’t know quite what it is. But any name that’s associated with a replacement curse word is fantastic. New Orleans beat Portland? THAT’S BULLSHARK!

Where Did The Week Go…


In a new ESPN Films documentary entitled “Going Big,” which premieres next week on ESPNU, former Trail Blazer center Sam Bowie admitted that leading up to the 1984 draft, he may have misled Blazers doctors regarding his health.

“I can still remember them taking a little mallet, and when they would hit me on my left tibia, and ‘I don’t feel anything’ I would tell ’em. But deep down inside, it was hurting,” Bowie said in the documentary. “If what I did was lying and what I did was wrong, at the end of the day, when you have loved ones that have some needs, I did what any of us would have done.”

In an interview with The Oregonian on Wednesday, Bowie denied lying to Portland about the validity of his injuries before the ’84 draft and said one paragraph out of the hour-long documentary was blown out of proportion.

Portland’s had a run of bad luck when it comes to centers.

I’m too young to have experienced the Sam Bowie era in Portland, (although my generation essentially relived it with Greg Oden), so hearing this news doesn’t really bother me. It happened. Portland picked Bowie over Michael Jordan. It was the worst draft decision in sports history (Boy do I sound bitter), but after all these years, I don’t really blame Bowie for seeing a way to help his family financially, I blame the Blazers medical staff for choosing him in the first place.

Like any potential draft prospect, Bowie went through the necessary tests during his pre-draft examination. Every conceivable way to determine how strong his bones were and if any previous injuries would linger were apparently done. In the end, team doctor Robert Cook okayed Bowie’s health.

But the thing is, you can do all the tests in the world and not really know who’s going to stay healthy and who isn’t. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. Grant Hill was healthy throughout his college career and his first six years in Detroit before missing 374 out of 574 games over seven seasons in Orlando due to injury. In the case of Sam Bowie, it wasn’t bad luck. They should have just seen the warning signs in college.

Bowie missed two seasons in college due to severe injuries to his shinbone. He’d actually developed leg trouble as early as high school. But the Blazers team of doctors chose to ignore the history because Portland needed a center to complement Clyde Drexler, Jim Paxson and Kiki Vandeweghe.

So the news of Bowie lying or not lying about being healthy at that time is irrelevant at this point. Should he have been more forthcoming regarding his injuries, absolutely. But it was up to the trained medical professionals to look beyond the data and science and look at the history. What’s that quote about history repeating itself?

Unusual Baby Names of 2012

The folks over at Baby Center revealed their list of the strangest baby names of the year. With nearly half a million parents sharing, the world is now able to see the truly unusual (perhaps horrible) mistakes they’ve made.

Here’s a few of my personal favorites for each gender.

Girls: Ace (perhaps they love the hardware store.)

Jagger (One of Mick’s many children?)

Juju (After the candy from that Seinfeld episode?)

Excel (Somebody loves spreadsheets!)

Thinn (I could go somewhere with this one but I won’t.)

Yoga (Teaching a healthy lifestyle way too early.)

And here’s a few more: Admire, Fedora, Gilmore, Jazzy, Jury, Oasis, Rogue, Sesame and Shoog.

That baby looks like a Yoga.

Boys: Alpha (I can already tell this guy’s gonna be a cocky son of a B.)

Ball (Your potential first word can’t be your name.)

Drifter (The unemployment rate is high enough as it is.)

Espn (I love sports too but come on!)

Turbo (This guy better be an Olympic sprinter.)

Thunder (This guy better play for the Oklahoma City Thunder.)

Vice (Should the name of your son be a word that refers to a bad habit?)

There’s so many more: Bond, Burger, Casanova, Four, Google, Hurricane, Jedi, Legacy, Popeye and Tron.

So the next time you scoff at a celebrity naming their baby Apple, Moses or Pilot Inspektor, remember that there are just as many ordinary people doing the exact same thing.

Netflix Instant Pick: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

What if Santa really was real? What if instead of being a jolly-old man eager to spread Christmas cheer, he was an evil bastard who punished and tortured any children who were even remotely naughty during the year?

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale presents this very unusual, but kind of intriguing scenario. In Northern Finland, an archaeologist has unearthed Santa’s apparent evil underground lair. You would think the children in the small town would be excited to know Santa really exists. But as I said earlier, Santa kind of dislikes children so one-by-one, they all start to disappear.

Rare Exports
A strange and unique take on the Santa fable.

A young boy and his father, who just happens to hunt reindeer, accidentally capture who they think could be old Saint Nick. Wanting to earn money for their small town, the two of them try to sell him to the corporation sponsoring the dig. But Santa’s evil (and very naked) elves will do anything to free their notorious leader.

At a lean 84 minutes, Rare Exports doesn’t run long enough for viewers to determine what it is. It can’t quite decide whether it wants to be a straight up Christmas horror movie or an unusual holiday fable about the spirit of Christmas. There’s a small amount of violence, perhaps the most amount of full-frontal male nudity I’ve ever seen in a film and a little language.

And yet despite all of that, it still comes off as kind of a sweet holiday film that tackles father and son issues, believing in things unimaginable and lifting the spirits of children. The last scene in particular is very “Christmasy” and a little unusual considering the tone of the rest of the film.

But If you’re a little tired of the same holiday films every year and want something completely original and strange, Rare Exports is worth a look.

CALM Act Finally Goes into Affect

On December 15, 2010, President Obama signed a bill into law that was long overdue. On Thursday, that law finally went into affect. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, which was introduced to Congress by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), says that TV stations, cable operators, satellite TV providers or other multichannel video program distributors must apply standard audio levels to commercials transmitted to viewers.

In other words, every time you’re sitting down enjoying a fine episode of Jeopardy, you don’t have to worry about suddenly being jolted out of your recliner by ads for the GAP or Outback Steakhouse.

When Brick Tamland says it’s too loud, it’s too loud.

Congresswoman Eshoo said that it was by far the most popular bill she’d ever sponsored in her 18-year career in the house. Of course it was. Millions of Americans can’t be bothered with the notion of searching for the remote to either mute or lower the volume when commercials come on.

Individually, we probably all thought we were crazy when advertisements would be louder than the programs we were watching. And then finally, two years ago we all heard the news about the CALM Act being introduced and collectively we all said, “I’m not crazy. Other people notice it too.”

Where Did The Week Go…


Disney can be a little pretentious sometimes. Hey, when you own companies like ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel and now Lucasfilm, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Like Apple, Disney has a tendency to either not put their products on sale (And when they do, it’s only a dollar) or lock them “in the vault” after a while. They’re very precious about their movies and by threatening to take away some of them, demand goes up and you suddenly become more willing to pay full price.

That’s why it was so surprising that on Tuesday, Disney struck a deal with Netflix to stream their titles. Beginning in 2016, films theatrically released from Disney, Pixar and Marvel, both live-action and animated, will stream exclusively on Netflix’s streaming service.

Netflix and Disney are joining forces.

If you’re like me and you feel like 2016 is a long ways away, the two companies also struck a separate multi-year deal that will make catalog Disney titles available on Netflix immediately. Movies like Dumbo, Pocahontas and Alice in Wonderland are available to watch right now. Of course when you type in other titles like The Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, they aren’t available to stream. Hopefully these titles will also be available at some point.

But in the mean time, this is great news for Netflix. It’s been a rough couple of years for the company as they have lost not only subscribers following the price hike in 2011, but also license deals with companies like Starz. Teaming up with a giant like Disney ensures that Netflix not only will become a leader in kid-friendly content, but also ensure that the company will remain one of the leaders in the streaming business.

Netflix Instant Pick: Headhunters

Roger Brown appears to be a stuffy, successful businessman on the surface. He lives in a nice home, has a beautiful wife and seemingly lives a comfortable life. But as he says in the opening of the film to another person, your reputation is everything.

In reality, Brown is struggling to keep the facade of a successful life going. In his spare time he steals expensive art and swaps it out for a fake. Up to this point, he’s been successful at stealing (mostly because he hasn’t been caught), but he’s still buried in a mountain of debt.

Then he meets Clas Greve, a successful businessman himself who just happens to have a piece of art worth millions. After yet another successful heist, Brown believes he’s finally scored the ultimate prize. But like Brown, Greve has a secret of his own that causes Brown to wish he’d never stolen from him.

A dark and twisted thriller.

Headhunters is a Norwegian film and you can tell the filmmakers were influenced by the Coen Brothers. The main character gets in way over his head and before long, he’s involved in a dangerous game that could affect him personally. Like a Coen Brothers film, Headhunters mixes scenes of intense violence with a strange and dark side of humor. In one scene a character gets his head blown off and in another, two characters engage in playful gun battle while in the nude.

The best thing about the film is that it’s constantly unpredictable. Because it has a twisted edge about it, you never quite know Mr. Brown’s motivations. Flawed protagonists are always more fun and Brown certainly fits the bill. He lies, cheats and of course steals, but by the end you still find yourself rooting for him.

The film could have used a little more humor, especially in the second half when things go absolutely crazy, but it’s still entertaining throughout.

‘The Hobbit’ Might Cause Motion Sickness

Movies are becoming more and more interactive these days. With the advent of 3D, IMAX and full high definition picture and sound, movies have never looked or sounded better. The theater experience has become so immersive, it’s hard to imagine what they’ll come up with next. But it sounds like they already have and it might be going a little too far.

The highly anticipated film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, doesn’t come out for another week in the states, but for those who have already seen it, the film might be a little too real.

Films have always been shot at 24 frames per second. But director Peter Jackson felt his new Hobbit movie needed something more so he filmed it at 48 frames per second. The higher the frame rate, the sharper, more real the image.

Going to the movies may soon be as intense as going on a roller coaster.

But now that select audiences and film critics are seeing the film, they’ve complained that certain scenes may cause ‘motion sickness’ during action scenes. Over the summer, footage of the film was shown at CinemaCon and the response then was that the 48fps made it feel like you where on set with the actors as opposed to sitting in your seat marveling at everything on the screen.

Now that the entire film is done, the 48fps might be a little too immersive for some. Warner Bros. released a statement on Wednesday saying that none of the thousands who have seen the film projected in the new format expressed any issues.

The film is reportedly available in the traditional viewing format of 24 frames per second too so any viewers worried about leaving the theater sick can still choose the format they’ve grown accustomed to seeing.

I’m all for innovative technology when it comes to movies (Digital VS. Film, IMAX, 3D), but as much as I want to feel immersed in the experience, I don’t want to get to a point where I’m uncomfortable. I can recall a few times where I’ve had a headache after seeing a movie on the big screen (every Michael Bay movie), but if it goes beyond that, then we might want to slow down a little bit with the immersion and focus more on just telling a great story.

My experience going to a theater should in no way feel similar to flying in an airplane. Let’s hope we don’t get to a point where every theater is not only passing out 3D glasses, but also vomit bags.

Where Did The Week Go…


There’s a fine line between art and graffiti. But you know it when you see it. A little over a year ago, (sub)Urban Projections highlighted local artists who used buildings, parking garages and street lamps to digitally paint their artwork. Not only was it highly creative, but it also meant that there wasn’t anything permanently on the buildings so people didn’t freak out.

Turning boring parking garages into something more.

I bring this up because once again, the city of Eugene has found a way to creatively use the city as a canvas for creativity. If you make your way downtown anytime soon and decide to use the Overpark parking garage, you’ll find another example of why Eugene is a truly unique place.

In the south stairwell, the city has installed 10 plaques, each of which present a short story or “Flash Fiction” of 200 words or less. Each story is written by artists as young as middle school and they all relate in some way to Eugene’s 150th anniversary. The top and bottom floors offer a table of contents like any book, but instead of flipping through pages, you’re using your feet to get to the next story.

So now when you’re walking up the stairs to get to your car, you can take a breather and read a short story. Exercising your body and your brain.

Netflix Instant Pick: Lost in Translation

The feeling of loneliness can be a difficult thing to bear. You feel as if you don’t exist to anybody and nothing you do is ever good enough. You feel helpless and with no one to confide in, you shut yourself off and live in a state of isolation.

But how do you deal with that in a foreign country? You find someone going through the same issues, who speaks the same language, and you hang out with them.

Of course the feeling of emptiness, loneliness and depression can occur at any age, but it seems like it happens the most when you are in your twenties; trying to discover who you are and what you want to do with your life, and when you’re in your fifties; looking back at your life so far and feeling regret.

A terrific film about loneliness and friendship.

In Lost in Translation, Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are dealing with these problems. Bob is a fading American film actor visiting Tokyo to appear in a commercial to endorse whiskey. Charlotte is a recent college graduate and new wife tagging along as her husband is in Japan on business. Bored and weary, Bob and Charlotte form an unlikely bond in an unfamiliar place.

A conventional film like this would have the two characters fall in love and live happily ever after. These characters have an obvious attraction for one another, but like in the real world, they know it can never be anything more than that. They’re just seeking a temporary companion to help them get through this week before they go their separate ways.

The genius of Lost in Translation is that it’s an intimate film without the intimacy. You always feel like you’re right in the room with these characters, sharing in their conversations and moments. In one terrific scene, Bob and Charlotte are lying on a bed (but not in bed) as she asks him what to expect later in life. When the question of having children comes up, Bob gives one of my favorite lines of dialogue ever delivered.

“Your life, as you know it… is gone. Never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk… and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.”

Besides these wonderful quieter moments, the film can also be very funny thanks to the always charming and hilarious Bill Murray. In a scene where he is shooting the whiskey commercial, he’s having a hard time communicating with the Japanese director on how to turn his body, hold the glass and look intensely at the camera. There are a number of memorable “lost in translation” moments for Murray as he struggles to talk to people in Tokyo.

Some may find the film to be slow and boring, maybe even a little pretentious, but you should still find the time to watch this unconventional story about two people not seeking love, but friendship; however long it lasts. Both Murray and Johansson give outstanding performances, director Sofia Coppola shows why the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to making great films and the soundtrack always seems like it comes in at just the right moments.

Good Old Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich is my favorite coach in the NBA. Besides the fact that he’s the best coach in the league and has won four championships, he’s also an old-school guy who can be a little surely to the media, but who also can find time to have a little fun. Between messing with Shaq, Charles Barkley and anyone else who even remotely irritates him, the Spurs coach has earned his reputation as a throwback coach in the vein of Red Auerbach, Bear Bryant and Sparky Anderson.

Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich.

But deep down, Pop cares about one thing; his team’s success. Over the last several seasons, he’s been notorious for sitting his top players out of games for the simple reason of allowing them to rest. And he hasn’t exactly been subtle or duplicitous about this. He even made a joke about it last season when the Spurs listed 36-year-old Tim Duncan as “OLD” for the reason he didn’t play in a game.

But Popovich’s latest decision to sit players isn’t being met with humor. On Friday, the NBA fined San Antonio $250,000 when they didn’t bring Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili or Danny Green to Miami for the final game of the six-game trip.

According to NBA Commissioner David Stern, the Spurs “did a disservice to the league and our fans.” Stern went on to elaborate that the team’s failure to inform the league, their opponent and the media in a timely manner of their intentions was the main reason for the hefty fine. But in reality, this “message” by the league is about one thing, money.

This game was against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat and was nationally televised on TNT. The league makes nearly $5 billion a year and in order to make their fans happy, teams need to have their best players on display. If this had happened late in the season when teams typically rest players for a playoff push, this might not have been much of an issue. But a month into the season when the league is doing everything they can to get fans interested is an entirely different thing.

Maybe Popovich will think twice this year about listing one of his players as “OLD” when he rests them later in the season. But knowing him, he’ll probably do it again only this time, he’ll list three or four guys.

Where Did The Week Go…


Last year I wrote about the ridiculousness of Black Friday and how it seems to come earlier and earlier every year. Last year Wal-Mart decided to open at 10 pm Thanksgiving night. Other retailers such as Target and Best Buy opened at midnight, but it was only a matter of time until those major retail chains followed Wal-Mart’s Black Thursday plan. This year, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Sears and Target will all open as early as 8 pm Thanksgiving night.

With all of these retailers trying to outdo one another in the biggest shopping day of the year, employees have apparently had enough. One frustrated California Target employee set up an online petition asking the retail giant not to open on Thanksgiving.

Black Friday is turning into Black Thursday.

In a petition titled “Target: Take the high road and save Thanksgiving,” a woman by the name of C Renee wrote to the president and CEO of Target Corp urging them to reconsider the 9 pm opening of the store. She highlighted the fact that retail workers typically have only three days off for the entire year including turkey day and that it’s a day that should be reserved for giving thanks and spending time with family.

So far more than 185,000 people have signed the petition and about 40 other petitions have popped up on Change.org protesting the earlier openings. While these petitions are a great way for workers to be heard, creating change may prove to be more difficult. Petitions have been created in the past few years to protest the Black Friday/Thursday problem and so far it’s done little to change retailers minds.

Last year, Black Friday sales increased 6.6 percent as U.S. consumers spent $11.4 billion according to Bloomberg.com. When you’re talking about revenue in the billions on a single day, convincing retail giants to think about lowly workers could be an impossible task.

A group of Wal-Mart workers are planing to strike at about 1,000 stores on Black Friday. Perhaps it will have to come to that for retailers to give in.

Netflix Instant Pick: Super 8

During the summer of 1979, a group of friends set out to make a zombie movie using a super 8 camera. While filming at a train station, they witness the cause and aftermath of a train derailment. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and strange events begin to occur in their small town. The local deputy tries to uncover the truth surrounding the train derailment while also dealing with the government’s attempt to hide what’s really going on.

A nostalgic trip back to early Spielberg films.

Super 8 is a nostalgic trip back to early Steven Spielberg films including Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. Director J.J. Abrams attempts to make an old-fashioned summer blockbuster focusing on characters over spectacle. The star of the film, young Joel Courtney, more than holds his own as a boy coping with the loss of a parent while also dealing with the usual teenage problems: girls, puberty and fitting in.

While the film was better than most blockbusters during the summer of 2011, it still felt a little disappointing. Abrams seemed to focus more on trying to make a film that reminds us of an old Spielberg classic rather than making his own original movie.

The film features good performances by the child actors and a couple of spectacular action sequences. But the father-son relationship at the heart of the story could have been developed more (although the ending between them is truly moving) and the alien creature didn’t seem interesting or original.

But if you’re in the mood for a summer blockbuster that isn’t a superhero movie or a sequel, Super 8 is worth checking out.

The ups and downs of fantasy football

This past Sunday I enjoyed both the joy and sorrow of playing fantasy sports. But before I get into that let’s go back.

A little over a month ago I was invited by a friend to join his fantasy football league because someone in his league had apparently given up after starting 0-4. It had been years since I had played so I thought, what the hell. After seeing the crater-like hole this guy had dug me, I realized this could be an enjoyable challenge.

Besides having the best quarterback in football, Aaron Rodgers, a pretty good core of wide receivers and a great tight end, the rest of the team was a bit of a mess. Players on injured reserve were still on the team, other players on their bye week were still in his lineup and positions altogether went unfilled. It would take some time, but I thought I could turn this team around.

I forgot how competitive this silly game is.

And turn it around I did. Four weeks later I had the team at 4-4 with a challenging matchup on Sunday. With my enthusiasm for fantasy football reinvigorated, I was looking forward to another victory. But after getting off work I checked my matchup and realized I was down 106 to 101 with my kicker and his running back left for Sunday Night Football.

Now I was fully invested in the Bears vs. the Texans, two teams I could care less about otherwise. Watching the first half, I realized this was going to be an ugly game. With the rain falling, neither team could muster much offense and as a result, the halftime score was 10-3 Texans.

Now you could look at this scenario two different ways: The weather is bad so that means fewer scores, possibly more field goals than touchdowns. Or it would go the other way, conditions so bad that the Bears can’t even get into field goal range for my kicker to put up points.

And then Jay Cutler went down just before halftime with a concussion. Now I had to rely on backup quarterback Jason Campbell. My opponent had Matt Forte at running back, but he only managed 39 yards on 16 carries. After a second field goal by Bears kicker Robbie Gould, I had managed to tie the score at 109.

I was suddenly hearing Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber saying “So you’re telling me there’s a chance… YEAH!!” Early in the fourth quarter, Campbell got the team close enough for another field goal. With the way Forte had been running, I realized this could be a winning kick. At 48 yards I knew it would be difficult, but the reliable Gould had gone 6 for 7 on kicks longer than 40 yards this season so I was feeling pretty good.

After the ball was snapped and the kick went up, it looked like it was going right down the middle. And then, suddenly, it veered sharply to the left. He missed it. As a result I dropped one point. I ended up losing 109 to 108. My undefeated streak since taking over had ended.

This seemingly forgettable Sunday night game cost me as I’m sure it cost a lot of other fantasy owners, but that’s what’s great about playing. You’re invested in almost every game in some way. Here’s hoping this Sunday is just as dramatic, but with a different ending.





Where Did The Week Go…


If they gave out irony awards, the winner would undoubtedly go to the production set of an upcoming film.

Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, based on the biblical story, is filming in Oyster Bay, New York. The location was chosen specifically because hurricanes almost never hit the Northeast, and certainly not at this time of year… normally.

Aronofsky built his ark to the measurements outlined in the bible in terms of the height and width. Measuring 450 feet long and 75 feet tall and 45 feet wide, the structure is outdoors and may have been severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

According to Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, the storm has set a “new record” for fallen trees and as a result, no one from the Noah production has been able to get to the ark to see what remains.

Russell Crowe as Noah.

In Noah, which is set to hit theaters on March 29, 2014, Russell Crowe plays the hero, who is tasked by God to build an ark to save a male and female animal of every species before a torrential downpour washes away the rest of life on the planet.

It remains to be seen weather (see what I did there) Noah’s ark will be seaworthy once the crew has a chance to see it, but in the mean time, consider this event a sign that authenticity should only have to go so far.

Emma Watson, who co-stars in the film, summed up the event perfectly.

“I take it that the irony of a massive storm holding up the production of Noah is not lost @DarrenAronofsky @russellcrow @MattyLibatique,” Watson tweeted Sunday night before the storm.

Netflix Instant Pick: Get the Gringo

Get the Gringo is a film that was released straight-to-disc earlier this year. Normally an action movie that avoided theaters has two things in common: It stars Wesley Snipes, Val Kilmer, Steven Seagal or Steve Austin and it’s probably terrible. Fortunately for Gringo, it surprisingly avoids both.

Starring Mel Gibson, Gringo begins with Driver (Gibson) being apprehended by the Mexican authorities following a botched robbery. But unlike every other American who’s ever lived, Driver prefers to be sent to a Mexican prison rather than an American one because it keeps him one step closer to a bigger stash of cash hidden south of the border.

Sent to a prison that apparently doesn’t believe in bathing, Driver must use his gifted grifter skills to survive fellow inmates, corrupt policemen and guards, and an outside force aware of his secret stolen loot. Being the only “white guy” there, Driver befriends a 10-year-old boy who helps him not only navigate through the prison, but also plan an escape.

An oldschool action movie.

Mel Gibson has had a rough few years to say the least. Once an A-list actor and director, Gibson has seen his star fall considerably following a number of incidents involving the police and ex-wives. Personally, I could care less about actor’s personal lives as long as they can continue to churn out entertaining movies (see Tom Cruise).

Get the Gringo shows that Gibson is still capable of being a movie-star. Perfectly balancing the hard-nose tough guy with a sly sense of humor, Gibson effortlessly carries this entertaining thriller down unexpected paths. Reminiscent of his performance in Payback, Gibson plays a character not entirely likable, but still worth rooting for.

At 56, Gibson is certainly showing his age (You can practically count the rings on his face), but with Get the Gringo, Gibson proves why he’s still worth seeing. Hopefully his next film returns him to the big screen where he belongs.

N.Y. Times Circulation up 40%

The Audit Bureau of Circulation released a report Tuesday showing that The New York Times’ circulation has jumped 40 percent. But don’t think that significant increase is because of print circulation. As expected, the Times has seen its digital side create most of the revenue.

Where the nation’s newspaper circulation was down 0.2 percent to the same period last year, the Times has seen its Monday-Friday circulation increase mainly because of digital subscription packages. The Times now has about 25 percent more digital subscribers during the week than print subscribers. On Sunday however, print subscriptions still exceed digital.

Newspapers aren’t dead yet.

The increase of digital usage and the decrease of print usage is no surprise, but to see overall circulation numbers up for The New York Times is a welcome sight. There always seems to be this notion that people (young in particular) only get their news from things like The Daily Show. To see that the most respected newspaper in America is seeing a rise in circulation in any form shows that people still value good, hard-nosed American journalism.

While late-night talk shows and 3-minute videos on the Internet offer a convenient way of consuming news, it’s still important that we stay informed by reading from the professionals and learning every facet to a story. At the very least it’ll make you feel smarter.

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