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Tag Archives: art

Met Worthy

7 May

Sorry sports fans…this entry is not referring to baseball players worthy of wearing a Mets’ uniform (in fact, as a Yankee fan – I am not even sure what that means anyway).  Quite the contrary – this entry is dedicated to Oscars of the East Coast, otherwise known as the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala.  A once a year event that unites the entire fashion world together and brings designers and muses to the red carpet dressed in head-to-toe perfection.

The day is now upon us and in its honor  – I have compiled a list of “Met Worthy” looks that I hope to see grace the red carpet.  Each designer will bring a “display date” – I.E. a beautiful piece of arm candy to model one of his/her most outstanding gowns.  Here are a few looks from designers and their confirmed dates.

LEFT: Karlie Kloss, Jason Wu’s Date RIGHT: Jason Wu Pre-Fall 2012 Gown

LEFT: Azealia Banks, date to Alexander Wang RIGHT: Potential Wang dress – although it will need to be “glammed” up for the event. That said, her knock out bod will look great in a simple, figure hugging classic black gown.

LEFT: Arizona Muse, date to Erdem Moralioglu RIGHT: Erdem gown…in need of some work – lengthening perhaps? BUT – the color pink is perfect for honoring Schiaparelli – the real star of the evening.

LEFT: Karolina Kurkova, date to celebrity stylist and designer Rachel Zoe RIGHT: Rachel Zoe Fall 2012 Gown

LEFT: Bite-sized Christina Ricci, date of Thakoon Panichgul RIGHT: Thakoon dress – perhaps in need of tightening and lengthening.

And here are looks that I truly hope make an appearance on the muses yet unknown…

SHOW STOPPER! Giambattista Valli Spring Couture 2012

Christian Dior Couture Spring 2012

Monique Lhuillier Pre-Fall 2012

Zac Posen Pre Fall 2012

And finally – the vintage that I hope to see… As the gala is to celebrate the opening of the Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations exhibit,  I am excited about the possibilities of a variety of beauties gracing the red carpet in Schiaparelli’s famous pink and puffs!

Vintage Schiaparelli Gown

Vintage Schiaparelli circa 1951

Vintage Schiaparelli circa 1955

Vintage Schiaparelli Gown

Elsa Schiaparelli circa 1933

Be sure to watch the live stream of the Costume Institute’s red carpet for the first time ever!  Follow the link: http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2012/impossible-conversations/audio-and-video

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Farewell to Russia

13 Feb

Our last day in Saint Petersburg was divided between a quick tour through St. Isaac’s cathedral (just across the street from our hotel), a bit of shopping, and a bit of errand running.  We don’t normally have errands to run on vacation…but then again, we don’t normally get fined for trying to enter a country illegally – therefore forcing us into “fine paying” errand running.

First stop – St. Isaac’s.  I am so glad that we did not leave Saint Petersburg without seeing the inside of this gorgeous cathedral.  Like everything else we saw, it is gilded and decorated in an over-the-top manner.  One thing is sure, the Russians certainly believe that Jesus prefers gold leaf to wood; however, according to Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade…this is not the case.

Inside the stunning St. Isaac's Cathedral

Brett on top of the colonnade at St. Isaac's. It was freezing...but it was worth it! Beautiful views of the city.

View of St. Isaac's Cathedral from our hotel room

St. Isaac's Interior

Second stop – random Russian bank.  With the help of our hotel concierge, we located a nearby branch of the bank that would accept payment for our Immigration fine.  So, we took in the sloppily, handwritten form and hoped for the best.  Fortunately, without so much as one word of English spoken, we were able to complete the task, get a copy of a very official receipt, and head on our merry way.  Based on our debacle at the airport, we allowed 2 hours for this, but surprisingly – we were in and out in about 30 minutes.  Kind of makes you think that it happens a lot, right?

Third stop – a bit of shopping.  We couldn’t leave without buying a few trinkets!  We picked up some traditional gifts for friends and family at home (you will get them when we come home in May!) Here are my favorite items that we picked up for ourselves…

"The Woman in the Red Hat" by local Saint Petersburg artist Aminov Khalim. Oil on Canvas. The oranges and reds go perfectly in our apartment. Plus - I love a lady in a hat!

Gold, black enamel, and diamond egg pendant created by local Saint Petersburg jeweler Alexey Pomelnieov. A sweet reminder of our trip and a symbol of new life and love. A big thank you to my wonderful husband!

A thank you kiss for my "little egg" !

Enjoying one last glass of champagne at The Kandinsky Bar at the Hotel Astoria before heading to the airport.

Farewell Saint Petersburg!
We had such a lovely time, and we hope to come back to visit again soon.  Perhaps, our next visit will be in the springtime…(That said, I recommend that “first timers” experience the “real” Russia and go in the winter.)

Royal Russia – Day 3

6 Feb

The majority of our 3rd day in Saint Petersburg was spent strolling through the room after room of the majestic Hermitage.   Of course we only saw a tiny fraction of the treasures that the Hermitage holds (it would take 365 days of touring for nine years to see every item in the collection) but what we did see was remarkable.  In actual fact, the building itself is outstanding even without its contents.

My wonderful husband intently studying one of the exhibits in the Hermitage.  I couldn’t stop myself from intently studying him!

Then…I suppose – he was studying me!

Snapping a photo of the above hallway – one of the more famous ones in the Winter Palace would have been nearly impossible in the summertime.  But again, we were rewarded for braving the cold and had much of the Hermitage to ourselves.  The only downside being that the Museum workers snapped at me for wearing high-heeled boots that made “too loud of a noise” when I walked.  Had others been around…I don’t think they could have singled me out!

Honestly, I don’t know the name or anything about the artist of this statue – but of all the things we saw that day, it was my absolute favorite.  Most likely because it reminded me of my two darling and very best friends – Mary Kay Bowden and Kimmy Willson.  Not that they look anything like the statue!  It just reminded me of our days as little girl ballerinas dancing together.

After hours of art and culture – we decided to treat ourselves to proper cocktails and appetizers at the Lobby Bar in the Grand Europe Hotel just off of the Nevsky Prospect.  Great company, great drinks, and great people watching.  The furs alone made my mouth water.  Sorry PETA.

We ended our night with a divine meal at Mix – the new Alain Ducasse restaurant in the W Hotel.  Once again we filled our bellies to the point of explosion!  Below are two images of our favorite dishes…

Our first courses were our favorites. LEFT: Brett's Chicory Ham and Black Truffle. RIGHT: My Soft Boiled Egg, Tender Lentils, and Toasted French Baguette.

Just as expected, day 3 in Saint Petersburg did not disappoint – but just like the 2 previous days, we were absolutely spent at the end of it.  There is so much history to learn, so much beauty to absorb, and so much food to eat that our brains and bellies needed to rest!

Up Next: Royal Russia – Day 4…Off to the Ballet!

Calling All Wine, Art & Diamond Lovers!

19 Dec

This should cover a lot of you, so I am expecting an extra-large number of readers today.  If you fall into one or all (like me) of those categories, then Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa is a definite destination spot for you.

Laurence Graff, known to many as the “The King of Diamonds” is one of the few humans in the world that can spot a flawless stone with his bare eyes.  No loop required.  So how does this translate into his estate nestled into the wine country just an hour outside of Cape Town?  The answer is – flawlessly.  He has not missed a single detail of perfection.  From the villas, to the gardens, to the museum quality art collection, to the food, to the wines, and last but not least the impeccable service – we could not have been more impressed.  Though our stay was short, Brett and I took advantage of everything Delaire had to offer.  To be honest, any length of time would have felt too short.

Here is the story of our stay summed up in photos.  The pictures speak much louder than my words.

View of the vineyards from our villa. Taken while sipping on the champagne that was waiting for us in the room upon arrival. I love the way these people think.

Brett flipping through the Graff Diamonds coffee table book in our living room. That incredible view (from the previous picture) is just in front of him. Although, I prefer the view with him in it!

Enjoying the bubbly and the warm clean air. I took on a whole new appreciation for air quality after moving to Beijing. It is the small things in life, you know? Like being able to breathe.

The happy couple right before our wine tasting commenced. You can tell because our teeth and lips are not purple yet! I know you are supposed to spit it out...but who does that on their honeymoon?

Our view during the wine tasting. Just stunning.

In the cellar learning about Delaire's wine making process. Probably should have done the education portion before the tasting...

Touring the cellar... Apparently, I got confused and thought we were taking a dance team picture.

A pristine 2008 red wine barrel at Delaire Graff Estate.

On our way back to the villa to rest and freshen-up before dinner I made a quick stop to kiss the iconic statues of Delaire.

One of many powerful paintings by Lionel Smit

A dip in the pool before dinner. Don't judge - I think I may have counted this as my bath...

Sunset at Delaire Graff Estate. Our view as we walked to dinner.

Dining at the Delaire Graff Restaurant for dinner. We chose Indochine for lunch which was also very tasty. The decor of both spaces is lovely. Be sure to check our Delaire's dining options for even more images of the property. Breathtakingly beautiful.

Sadly, our stay at Delaire had to come to an end. It was certainly too short! But the adventure continues. Here is Brett boarding our tiny "crop duster" to take us to Chitwa Chitwa Private Game Lodge. Let the safari begin!

Stayed tuned for lions, leopards, and ellies galore!

Frankie Morello’s Leaning Ladies

25 Sep

The title of this blog is not a typo  – the models you see here are not leading ladies, they are leaning ladies.  Inspired by the marvel of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Frankie Morello’s Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear collection pays homage to this wonder of the modern world.

This photo was snapped at the perfect moment...but think about it - she splits the tower with every step she takes!

 

This is as close as a designer can get to a literal "column" dress (okay column jumpsuit, but still...)

 

Hint...hint, Mr. Brett Hutchinson - I would like for "Santa" to bring me this hat for Christmas!

 

Dear Katy Perry, I am counting on you to sport this look down a red carpet. Sincerely, The Blonde in Beijing

Images courtesy of http://www.vogue.it

An Upstaged Bride

19 Aug

A Bride and Groom might assume that at their own Circus of Love Celebration – they would be the main attraction…but in our case –  Mr. Sean Platt, caricature artist extraordinaire, stole the show.   And…we couldn’t be happier about it!

Morgan and Brett Hutchinson's Circus of Love Caricature by Sean Platt

Originally, we hired Sean for two hours – but after being told numerous times that our guests were waiting in line for almost an hour for his services, we asked him to stay for the entire six hours.  He had a line out of the barn for the rest of the night!  I am not even sure if the poor guy got up to use the men’s room!  Thankfully, I do know that my Aunt Lorna and my mother were providing him with water.  Well – I assume it was water and not bourbon…although Brett and I were the last to get our caricature drawn, and I look a bit more like Kelly Ripa than Morgan Hutchinson and he looks a little more like John Travolta.  That said – Mr. Platt was wonderful and we highly recommend him!

Now I would like to call on all of you who had your caricature drawn at the party!! Please email them to me at morganbhutch@hotmail.com and I will add them to this post!  I already have a few…  Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog so you will receive a notification when I upload a new caricature drawing.

If you live in the Central Ohio area and you are looking for a caricature artist for your next party or event – Mr. Sean Platt is the guy for you! http://www.seanplatt.com/

Mona (Mother of the Bride) and Joe Bolin. Mom - how is he supposed to draw you while you are cackling like a hyena? By the way, Joe - he nailed you!

Mom and Joe. The Finished Product!

Two of our favorite New Yorkers... Michael Zorich and Greg Reed!

Greg....I totally recognize this facial expression! It is so you!

Dione and Greg Schwartz. D...I loved your sparkly toes that night! It's a shame they can't be seen in the drawing! If only you were a circus acrobat...

Craig and Lisa Lomonico. The first two Ohio friends I met of B's. LOVE them!

Christa (my beautiful friend from college...although you really can't tell from this caricature!) and Michael Ketchum.

Please send me more!

Brett’s Birthday Get Away to The City of Lights

22 Jan

La Tour Eiffel! FASHION: Multi-Colored Fox Fur Jacket with Brown Suede Over-the-Knee Boots

I love Paris in the Springtime….I love Paris in the Fall!  Ahh – gay Paris!  Is there any other city so full of romance – delicious wines, the creamiest butter, and steak tartare served to perfection?  I think not.  So – I decided to surprise Brett with a trip to The City of Lights for his birthday celebration.

We left Beijing on a red eye flight on Aeroflot – a Russian Airline that offered a first class fare for almost the exact same price as the coach fare of Air France.  So that was a no-brainer.  Thank you Kayak!  We did have a quick stop in Moscow – which was actually kind of fun, and we arrived in Paris at 7AM.  By the way, I would recommend this airline.  Their fleet of planes might be a little older than other airlines, although the interiors do appear to have been updated, the service was excellent, and the price was right.

On Plane to Paris

I knew we would have plenty of time to freshen up once we arrived at the hotel seeing that Paris doesn’t really wake until almost 10.  Gotta love the 30 hour work week!  We stayed at Hotel Cambon – a sweet little boutique hotel across from the original Chanel store and Coco’s actual apartment.  All the rooms have a different, very modern and eclectic design, and ours even had a balcony overlooking a section of the Tuileries Gardens.  It was lovely.  I had arranged for a chocolate birthday cake and champagne to be in the room upon arrival. Okay…8AM might have been a little early to pop the bubbly – but it was 3PM Beijing time – and that is definitely happy hour in France.  So when you do the math – it was clearly acceptable.

In Front of Brasserie Lipp

Our first day was spent at the Musee Dorsay to visit the Impressionists followed by a late lunch at Brasserie Lipp in Saint-Germain to devour steak tartare and escargot.  The evening was spent at Guy Savoy – a 3 Michelin star restaurant.  We gorged ourselves on a 7-course tasting menu with wine pairings that included Guy’s infamous truffled artichoke soup – quite possibly the best thing I have ever put in my mouth.  I think it is obvious that our clothes fit a little bit tighter after our trip!

The next morning we awoke bright and early to wonder the streets while most Parisians were still warm in their beds.  We hit many of the necessary spots…a kiss on the Lover’s Bridge, a stroll by the Seine, the L’Arc de Triomphe on Champs Elysee. And, when our feet (I should say my feet in 5″ heels) couldn’t take anymore, we stopped by Cafe Marly overlooking the Louvre for a mid-morning snack.  For lunch (yes – the trip was based around eating) we went to Nomiya on top of the Palais de Tokyo modern art museum.

Nomiya at Palais de Tokyo

I had read an article about this place in the NY Times a while back, and it sounded very interesting.  Honestly, it exceeded every one of our expectations, and it was one of our favorite activities during the trip.  The lunch – which you must make reservations for well in advance – hosts 12 guests and no more.

Lover's Bridge

Perched on top of the museum in a tiny glass building, we ate great food at a communal table with interesting guests and a panoramic view of the city.  It was a great time – and as it turned out, the woman sitting across from us had lived in Murray, Kentucky (my off the beaten path tiny hometown) for a couple of years as a child.  What are the odds?

The Louvre. FASHION: Ivory Bunny Fur Jacket with an Eggplant American Apparel Lycra Skirt, matching tights, and Fuchsia Gladiators. Taupe Bottega Veneta Top Handle Tote

The remainder of the trip was spent at many other Parisian classics – The Bar at the Ritz, George V, the Pont Neuf, Hotel Costes, some shopping for the birthday boy in the Marais, window shopping on Faubourg Saint Honoree, Plaza Athenee (for drinks with my cute friend Jenny Leeper, her handsome fiance, and her very sweet mother) and a grand finale stop at La Tour Eiffel.  All in all – a perfect trip.

More Pictures from Paris….

Breakfast at Hotel Costes

Le Pont Neuf

Self Portrait at Plaza Athenee

“Obama’s Mosque”

8 Oct

Entrance to The Hanging Church

On our 3rd day in Cairo, our wonderful tour guide, Jasmine, took us to a variety of historical religious sites.  Although every place we visited was educational and intriguing -for me, as a Christian, the Hanging Church, St. Sergius Church, and the Coptic Museum were the most moving.

The Hanging Church, given its name due to its suspended nave above the ruins of a Babylon fortress first built by the Persians in the 6th century B.C., houses some of the oldest Christian icons.  The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and its most cherished icon is a painting of Mary and Baby Jesus dated 18 A.D.  In a 5 minute span, we were able to witness an abundance of different races of Christians light candles and pray for forgiveness or for loved ones under this very sacred image.  As a small town girl who grew up in an all caucasian Methodist Church, I was touched and grateful.

After lighting a few candles, we listened to Jasmine tell us about a 24 million Egyptian Pound restoration project spearheaded by their Muslim President Mubarak.  I thought to myself…with all of the anger and fear that many Americans hold in their hearts toward the Islamic religion – why has this very positive news not been mentioned?

Egyptian Ankh

From the Hanging Church we walked to the Coptic Museum.  I highly recommend visiting this spot.  It only takes about an hour to tour and the building itself is quite striking.  I was fascinated by the mix of religions as they gradually transformed – the Egyptian Ankh into the Christian Cross, as well as, Christian scenes incorporating Egyptian Gods.  The museum holds the history of the way religion evolved.  The treasure I was most excited to see was the Nag Hammadi Manuscripts – early copies of Christian writings including the Gospel of Thomas (a gospel not included in the Bible).

Stairs Leading to Where The Holy Family Rested

The final Christian site we visited was the Church of Saint Sergius.  Honestly, this 4th century church itself is not all that spectacular.  Of course it has many precious icons and a beautiful pulpit, but the main attraction is a tiny staircase that leads down to a dark cave where the Holy Family – Mary and Joseph once rested with Baby Jesus after their journey into Egypt.  Realizing that I could be standing on the exact same ground where Jesus was once kept was a truly remarkable experience.  To think of all of the history in between then and now – all of the wars fought in His name…I was moved and so was Brett.  It was a very sweet moment to share with him.

Standing Inside The Sultan Hassan/Obama Mosque. FASHION: Black H&M tank, White Zara Cardigan, and Lavender and Taupe Linen Hoop Skirt. Tailor Made in China.

From St. Sergius Church we took a car to see our first mosque.  This leads me to the title of today’s blog.  As we drove, Jasmine began to tell us about our next stop…”Obama’s Mosque”.  With my manners flying out the window – I abruptly interrupted her to ask, “What…Obama..not our Obama (meaning the USA’s) right?”  “Of course your Obabma”, she responded with a big smile.  It was apparent to me at that moment that Obama’s visit to Egypt in June of 2009 had a very profound influence on many Egyptian Muslims.  So profound that they are willing to refer to one of the major monuments of the Islamic world by a different name.  The true name is The Mosque of Sultan Hassan, commissioned by its namesake in 1356 A.D.  It seemed unbelievable to me that a country so proud of its heritage would so quickly refer to 664 year old sacred structure by a different name.  I began to think that perhaps this story was for our benefit – perhaps it is their way of showing respect and appreciation for President Obama’s visit and for his words of peace and concern for the non-extremist Muslims (which make up the majority of the religion).  But in truth, referring to a mosque by the President of the United States name is probably the last thing that many Americans want to hear.  I recently read a survey taken in late July of this year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that 1 in 5 Americans already believe that President Obama is a Muslim.  It made me wonder what the percentage might be if every American was able to see how President Obama is perceived in a Muslim country?

The Hanging Church

The recent uproar over the mosque at Ground Zero, the burning of Qur’ans in Florida, the protests, and even the Saturday Night Live spoofs suggest that this battle between Muslims and Christians is a tragic and never ending cycle.  But for me, a life long Christian, sitting in the Sultan Hassan/Obama Mosque was a very peaceful experience.  Jasmine and I reflected on the many stories that we had both been taught as children – the story of Abraham and Sarah, of Moses, and even of Jesus.  I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that even with so many similarities: morality, prayer, and love of others – we continue to fight and harbor anger toward one another because of the extremists of both religions.  It is exactly was God would not want us to do.

After leaving the mosque, I reflected on the entire day.  It was wonderful – yet completely mentally exhausting.  I learned so much – about tolerance and compassion – and at the same time my faith was completely rejuvenated.

TRAVEL TIP: While it is not necessary for Western women to cover their heads inside mosques and churches, all women should cover their shoulders and arms.  I would advise against shorts or short skirts.  I took light cotton cardigans and wraps with me everywhere we went and used them when necessary.

Dancing with Wolves

21 Jul

Mr. Li Jiwei's "Yun. inForm. 798"

Several weeks ago we attended a party hosted by the German Embassy and BMW.  The event launched a new BMW inspired exhibit by Chinese born artist Li Jiwei.  Though Li Jiwei’s art  installation was engaging, the far more remarkable work was created by a relatively unknown Chinese artist.  An artist who must have a thing for wolves…

After the gallery unveiling of Mr. Li Jiwei’s exhibition, Revolverheld, a German rock band, performed an open air concert in the 798 Art District Originality Square.  As we walked into the space we were immediately taken aback by the sight of over one hundred life-size bronze wolves.  It was as if a pack of wolves decided to have a night out of the woods to listen to a classic rock band.

Wolf pack rocking out to Revolverheld. They are so into it!

Brett and I pretty much spent the rest of the evening taking photos of ourselves riding the wolves and posing with other various pieces of art.  Clearly, we are very classy art connoisseurs!  I expect a call from the Met any day – begging me to take the head curator position.  Here are a few of our masterpieces….

Taking in Revolverheld on a wolf bench

Riding a random white horse. There is an entire series of these...not intended for public viewing!

Oh yes...this is Brett in the most cliché pose of the night. I am sure I convinced him to do this!

I am not even sure what this is...a big baby angel? I am pretty sure; however, that I wanted to take the picture because I thought my blue jumpsuit matched it perfectly!

Brett...looking cute as always!

“Toto – I Have a Feeling We’re Not at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Anymore!”

13 May

Model Wearing Dress from Wardina Summer 2010 Collection

While I am in love with all things fashion, I am undoubtedly NOT a  fashionista or a frugalista. In fact, just the sound of those very overused words makes me throw up a little in my mouth.  They represent a diva mentality to me, which in my opinion, cheapens the beauty and the art of the fashion industry.  I mention this because while those words now seem stale and uninspiring, a fashion show that I attended a few weeks ago here in Beijing was anything but.

After I decided to move to Beijing in December, I knew that I would not be able to attend any shows during New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in February.  So, when I learned of the Wardina Launch Party for their Summer 2010 Collection, I was thrilled!  To be totally honest, I had not heard of the brand before I received an email about the event.  After a bit of research, I discovered that Wardina is a line of Middle Eastern Couture.  I.E. – super long dresses.  For those of you reading this that know me personally, you might be aware that  I am not afraid to go short.  And yes, sometimes perhaps I have gone too short.  But the thing is, even my very tasteful great-grandmother, Birdie Bass, told us to wear short skirts before the hail damage sets in.  My days are numbered so I am living it up!

I did suspect that the show might have a slightly different feel than previous shows I have attended; however, nothing prepared me (and certainly not Brett) for the mayhem that came down the runway.

Artist Performance by YETING

It all began with an artist performance by YETING.  The room was dark with only one spotlight on the artist and her giant canvas (which appeared to be a massive piece of newsprint). She began with a pencil, quickly switched to an oversize paint brush with basic black paint, and finished with black spray paint creating shading like a graffiti artist.  The entire performance did not last more than 3-4 minutes.  It was fascinating, and yet it was just the appetizer of the show.

Belly Dancer

The lights flashed, the artist disappeared, and the first group of dresses sashayed down the catwalk.  All long.  All very Middle Eastern in style. All completely not my scene – but very beautiful in their own right.  Lights flashed again.  A belly dancer gyrated up and down the runway to the DJ’s crazy beat.  Lights flashed yet again and revealed another group of dresses.  This pattern continued to include a Hip Hop ballet recital, more Wardina Summer 2010 Collection pieces, and an African dance performed by The Africa Queen Dance Troup.  Wth it’s circus nature, I felt disappointed that the models were not bearded ladies juggling bowling pins.

A night of sensory overload it was indeed.  It’s true that the actual fashion collection played second fiddle to the entertainers, but Brett and I had an absolute blast. We hope to experience many more thrilling nights like this one.

Moya Li and Me (Morgan Harbin)

A special thank you to my beautiful friend, Moya Li, who invited us to this extraordinary event! She certainly knows how to entertain!

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