Desert Island Discs

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Desert Island Discs

Postby Roy Hunter on Sun Oct 24, 2010 8:24 am

Desert Island Discs is a BBC radio programme that has been running since the 1940s. The guests (politicians, actors, musicians, the sort of people who used to be known as celebrities*) have to imagine that they are shipwrecked alone on a desert island.

In addition to all the food and water that they will need on their island, they can have eight records (CDs, albums, whatever you want to call them), one book, and one inanimate luxury item. They need to explain why they chose the pieces of music, the book and the item, so we get to know the person a bit better by their choices.

It seems to me this game would work just as well online, so I will start.

1: Rumour and Sigh by Richard Thompson. If I could take anyone's entire back catalogue it would be Richard Thompson, but I can't, so I will choose this album because it is marginally my favourite of his. I must have seen Richard Thompson live about eight or nine times now, and he is never less than brilliant, never less than inspirational, but he is not a mainstream 'star', he's a working musician who keeps re-inventing what he does, and never takes himself too seriously. Check out his cover version of Britney Spears' 'Oops I Did It Again', for example.

2: Abbey Road by The Beatles. The greatest band in the world at the peak of their power. Even when they were bickering and falling out (Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight), they did it beautifully (another band that fell apart with enormous grace and creativity was ABBA, but they will probably not feature in this list). While Lennon and McCartney were falling out, Harrison was producing gems like 'Here Comes The Sun'. Amazing album.

3: Wildwood by Paul Weller. When Wildwood came out, I had fallen deeply out of love with popular music. It was all acid house and rave music, or big hair metal. It had no soul, no feeling to it. I had advertised my drum kit for sale in the paper, but no-one had bought it yet. One of my friends brought his copy of Wildwood round to the house and played it to me. He said "You need to hear this, it will change your mind", and it did. That was when I actually remembered that I was into music, not the music business.

4: The Colour And The Shape by Foo Fighters. This is my workout album. It gets the heart pumping and the endorphins flowing, you feel better after listening to it. For someone with a bit of a history of depression like I have, having an album like this around is important, because it can get you out of that mood before it sets in and takes over. Plus it is a damn good rock album. Foo Fighters are another lot who see music as their job, as a piece of work to be done. They do it well.

5: Piano Works by Erik Satie. I find it easier to concentrate listening to piano music than guitar music, and whilst there are lots of other pieces of piano music I love (Pictures at an Exhibition, Goldberg Variations), there are moments of Satie's work that I wouldn't want to be without, like Gnossiene No. 1. Satie was an interesting guy in his private life, he experimented with all sorts of belief systems, including gnosticism, hence the title gnossiene, and you can pick up that thread of unconventionality in his work.

6: Asylum Years by Tom Waits. This is a bit of a cop-out: I couldn't choose a Tom Waits album, so I went for a 'best of' compilation. So shoot me. Tom Waits was a 'hidden' part of my musical upbringing: it wasn't cool to like Tom Waits, it wasn't hip. People used to judge you by your record collection (back in the days when music was 12" across and black, your records were a big object in the room, they were a focus of attention), and the guilty secrets like Tom Waits and folk music and so on got hidden away so no-one would see them when they came round to your house. It was quite a relief to discover how many of my friends had been doing the same thing with various different artists, including Tom Waits.

7: Elgar Cello Concerto, Jacqueline du Pre, Daniel Barenboim, London Philharmonic Orchestra. My dad had this record, then I bought it on cassette tape, then on vinyl, then on CD. The Elgar Cello Concerto is an amazing piece of music, and this performance is the definitive one IMHO. I grew up listening to it, it probably influenced my choice of musical instrument (I played cello when I was a kid), and it still sounds fresh and new despite having listened to it for nearly 40 years. There is always something new to hear in it.

8: Four Symbols by Led Zeppelin. Another amazing band at the peak of their powers, I find it difficult to pick one Led Zeppelin album over the others, but Four Symbols is probably it. I always found it strange that my metalhead friends who were so down on folk music and acoustic guitar stuff like Crosby Stills & Nash were into Led Zep, since they were so obviously influenced by the English folk tradition and the folk sound. Four Symbols led me to ask the question "Who is Sandy Denny?", which opened up a whole new world of music that I had never heard of before.

Book: Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino. I read this book on tour in France, it went round the tourbus, we all read it, we talked about it, it became the focus of the whole tour eventually. It is a book of short stories, but they are absolutely loaded with hidden meaning, yearning, misunderstandings and observations of human nature. You can dip in and out of it, and it stands up to scrutiny in a way that anything by Dan Brown never will.

Inanimate luxury item: a Gibson J-200 acoustic guitar. I can play guitar a bit, but I am not a good player. If I had the time and a decent instrument, I would love to learn to really play the guitar. Being stuck on a desert island with a nice Gibson seems an ideal opportunity to me.

*Before 'celebrity' came to mean 'vapid person with stupid haircut who will be famous for 15 minutes'.
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby Almighty Doer of Stuff on Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:02 pm

Interesting.

I recently bought "The Colour and the Shape" at a yard sale, but I haven't listened yet. I bought it strictly for "Everlong" which I "acquired" previously and which I like well enough but it's never been one of my favorites. If you think it's that good, I'll have to give that record a closer listen than I had been planning to when I get around to it.

As for what I would take? In no particular order:

Record 1: The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Record 2: The Beatles - Abbey Road
Record 3: Queen - A Night At The Opera
Abbey Road is there for similar reasons to why Roy listed it. In general, though, these three just have nothing but really great songs on them and have long been among my favorites. Sgt. Pepper particularly features numerous songs that were in the Yellow Submarine film, which got me into music in the first place, so it holds a special place in my mind. They're also all good to listen to straight through, and are all very dense sonically, so they're very absorbing and entertaining to listen to. It's impossible to choose highlights from any of them, because they're all so excellent the whole way through.

Record 4: Kelly Yost - Still...Still...Still
I believe it was the "Currently listening to..." thread where I described this. Solo piano, instrumental Christmas music, some well-known, some obscure. Very relaxing.

Record 5: Nobuo Uematsu - Final Fantasy VII Official Soundtrack
I know technically this is four CDs, but I'm going to count it as one anyway since it's a singular work and not a compilation box set (I think choosing The Beatles' 2009 Stereo Remastered Box Set would probably be cheating, though. :wink: ) Of all the Final Fantasy soundtracks I've heard (IV, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI) I think VII is by far the most creative and beautiful, despite being rendered in crappy synthesizer. Unlike the other soundtracks, each track is memorable and usually melodic, with no mediocre, uninteresting ambient music. Final Fantasy VII has been one of my favorite games since I first played it, and the high-quality music is a large part of that. There's music in the soundtrack to suit just about any mood as well.

Record 6: They Might Be Giants - Factory Showroom
This would be my workout album, similar to Roy and the Foo Fighters album, although this is also just one of my favorite albums with some of my favorite songs. They're very fun to sing along to as well, which would keep my vocal chords from atrophying. Highlights: S-E-X-X-Y, Till My Head Falls Off, Metal Detector

Record 7: Rammstein - Reise Reise
Another good workout album, as well as being one of my favorite albums with some of my favorite songs (like #6). In addition, it's VERY VERY ANGRY, and is good for venting stress. I imagine being alone on a desert island would be very frustrating indeed, and I think it would be important to have some angry music to aid in working out that frustration. Highlights: "Morgenstern" which is one of their few songs with a positive message, "Mein Teil" which is inspired by that German cannibal and includes several loud, wordless shrieks during the chorus, which I imagine would be very therapeutic, and "Ohne Dich", which is about heroin addiction and is slow, sad, and forlorn, which I think would also be therapeutic when I happen to be feeling that way (probably often).

Record 8: Berlin Philharmonic/Karajan: Holst: The Planets
Berliner Philharmoniker's recording of Gustav Holst's neoclassical "concept album" orchestral suite "The Planets" is one of my favorite classical works, and like several others on my list, contains a range of moods and styles, is very sonically dense and complex, is great for listening to both straight through and for individual tracks, and is just downright beautiful. Highlights: "Venus, Bringer of Peace", "Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity", and "Uranus, The Magician".

Book: I don't really have a big book collection, but I think I would bring "Grapefruit", by Yoko Ono. The book was an inspiration for me, and I think the thought exercises contained therein might keep me from going insane. Or, on the other hand, they might drive me completely insane. Either way, it's better than being in an uncomfortable state of semi-sanity! :facewall: :facewall: :nefyoobash: :nefyoobash: :nefyoobash: :bounce: :bounce: :bounce: :paranoid:

Luxury item: Assuming that I'm granted my meds and a CD player with headphones and lots of extra batteries (no point bringing records if you can't play them. :tongue: ) I would probably bring Honeybear, my stuffed bear I've had for as long as I could walk. (When I got him, he was as big as me and I insisted on carrying him around in front of me everywhere, much to my mother's annoyance.) It's not the same as having a real person for company, but it's bound to get lonely and Honeybear would provide some comfort.
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby ET, the Extra Terrestrial on Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:21 pm

Ooo, good thread, Roy!

Albums (in no partiular order)

Black Sabbath - Witchcraft (their first album)
I think this is the first album I ever bought. It seeded my love of heavy and dark music, which I really indulged in back in the 70's, and which evolved into my appreciation for some of the more gymnastic electric guitarists and styles that are out there today.

Emerson Lake and Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery
Karn Evil 9, Jerusalem, Still... -- what an album.

Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
I cannot not have Kashmir. If the rest of this album sucked I would bring it for just that one song. But the rest of the album is pretty effing awesome, too.

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall
Dark Side of the Moon is part of my life from way back, and the line "I'll see you on the Dark Side of the Moon" is written on a friend's headstone, erected many decades too soon.
The Wall came out while I was in college, and really fit my perception of my life at that time. Also, the lead solos on Comfortably Numb are two of the most emotionally draining solos I know of.

Santana - Moonflower
If Europa was on the album "Supernatural", I'd have chosen it instead. Can't not have Santana, and must have Europa. Supernatural is a heluvanalbum, though...

The Who - Quadrophenia
This is me.

Debussy - La Mer/Mussorgsky - A Night on Bald Mountain
Somewhere in the mountains of vinyl and heaps of CD's I have an album the has these two pieces recorded by the same orchestra. Haven't seen it in years, but I can hear the introductory bits of "Bald Mountain" right now...

Book - damn good question, that. Probably have to be The Hobbit, unless I can get a singly-bound volume of The Wheel of Time...

Luxury item - a guitar, of course. I'm so pleased with my Taylor after these past almost-three years, I'd probably just take it without drooling up some supernifty custom job. Gotta have a big box of extra strings and picks, though.
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby Almighty Doer of Stuff on Mon Oct 25, 2010 11:33 pm

Quadrophenia, Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall are among my favorites as well, but I opted to avoid the really depressing stuff. Actually, I might as easily have replaced Sgt. Pepper with Quadrophenia. I probably would, actually. Wonderful album.
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby TwistedSister on Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:43 am

Wait just a gosh, darn minute there!
ADoS brought up a good point. What good is having your favorite CDs/ records if you have nothing to play them on and no electricity?? :confused:
I would think everyone's luxury item would be a CD/record player that runs on solar energy.
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby daftbeaker on Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:53 am

TwistedSister wrote:Wait just a gosh, darn minute there!
ADoS brought up a good point. What good is having your favorite CDs/ records if you have nothing to play them on and no electricity?? :confused:
I would think everyone's luxury item would be a CD/record player that runs on solar energy.

It's a radio programme Twisty. I'd be slightly more concerned about the infinite supply of food and water than the music playing apparatus :wink:
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby DavidH on Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:34 am

Twisty, when the programme started in 1942 wind-up gramophones playing 78s were still pretty common and I've always guessed that was the idea. I've never heard it talked about on the show. Anyway, your one luxury could be an old bike with a dynamo, which you would sit on and pedal like hell in the 130° heat. Image
I dunno about the food supply. I suppose that for the book (as well as the bible and Shakespeare, which everybody gets) one should choose Growing Stuff On Sand For Dummies.

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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby black bart on Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:27 am

Yarrgh...If I wuz marooned in this ere desert island, I'd make sure ta kill thee cannibals first...especially thee Fine Young Cannibals. Then I'd look fer buried treasure for a few days an make sure me rum wuz chillin.

I'd have to listen thee followin shanties loik, in no particular order:

1. Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie.

Glam Rock at it's very best. From the haunting drum beat of 'Five Years' to the classic "Rock n Roll Suicide'...a brilliant album. It reminds me of my school days when everyone wanted Bowie haircuts and platform boots.

2.Liege & Lief by Fairport Convention

featuring both Sandy Denny's glorious voice and Richard Thompson on guitar. Perhaps the most influential Folk Rock album of all time. I got to like it when I was living in Wanstead with a couple of mates. We influenced each others tastes in music but I never did get to like Bob's copy of Geno by Dexy's Midnight Runner...in fact I had a part in smashing the record to bits. We used to go to the Fairport Convention Annual Reunion at Cropredy every year.

3.Foxtrot by Genesis

Genesis and Peter Gabriel at the height of their creative genius and featuring 'Supper's Ready' one track taking up the entire side of an album. Genesis were the first band I got to like as a teenager...I was lured by the album art on Nursery Cryme featuring a girl playing croquet with someone's head.

4.Forever Changes by Love

A masterpiece and another album I got to like whilst living in sunny Wanstead. We had cows in our front garden.

5.The Hissing of Summer Lawns by Joni Mitchell

I think I'm tiring of this album but it's a work of greatness.

6.Thanks to ET for suggesting Moonflower,

I too require Europa...I was thinking of Abraxas as well, if only for the naked buxom women on the front cover.

7. Aja by Steely Dan

It's very difficult for me to leave all the other Dan albums behind to be honest but this one features some of the Dan's best work including Peg and Home at Last which is inspired by Homer's odyssey (appropriate if you're stranded on a desert island).

8. Rings around the World by The Super Furry Animals

There are some beautiful songs on this album by the best band that Wales has ever produced.

An inanimate Luxury Island girl (assuming we do have to stick to the inanimate bit?).

Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky because I haven't read it yet and it would make good fuel for a fire if I needed it.
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby Roy Hunter on Wed Nov 10, 2010 4:49 pm

OMFSM - I was born in Wanstead!

I love Forever Changes - Alone Again Or is my party piece when they pass the guitar around. Lots of air trumpeters, once they've got a drink in them.
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby PKMKII on Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:47 pm

Okay, when Roy first posted this I was all "wow, great idea, I'll come up with my list and post it."

Then I discovered, it was really hard for me to make this list. 8 albums? What are my criteria? How diverse should it be? etc, etc. I don't think it's due to a general indecisiveness, either. I think the problem is that I'm too much a product of a generation that sees the album as an optional way to catalog music, not the only way. So my mind doesn't necessarily think of music in album terms. Or to put it another way, if you instead made the decision "You're getting stuck on a desert island with an MP3 player that has room for 80 songs. Construct a playlist for it," I would have come up with a list that would definitely not solely be the contents of these eight albums.

Ultimately, I decided to go the artists I really like, albums that do well for replay value, and to mix up the genres. Here is the list, in no particular order:

New Order - Substance 1987

Okay, kind of cheating here as it is a double album. But 99.9% of the reason I'm picking it is for the first disc. It's a showcase for the melodic, sonic, and songwriting brilliancy of New Order. All of these songs have lyrics that are accessible, catchy, yet have depth. It's also one of those albums where no matter how many times I listen to it, I never get tired of it.

Rush - Moving Pictures

I had to include a Rush album on this list, and I feel that this album was the perfect nexus of songwriting genius and accessibility. The concept albums of the 1970's, while great from a construct perspective, were a bit too bloated and heavy for a lot of repeat listening. Whereas, once they got into the late 1980's, it had become obvious that they had gone into the "we're making albums so we can launch another tour" mode that so many long-time artists fall into. Plus, being "thinking man's" rock, it can give me things to ponder while sitting on the beach.

Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf

Rock music often suffers from a paradox: Stray too far from the source, and you alienate audiences and often wander into territory that's just plain silly (see: late '90's rap metal). Stay too close to the source, and it becomes stale, predictable, or even worse, ends up worshiping a status quo that's antithetical to rock in the first place. This album successful nailed that perfect middle ground, delivering rock music that rocked while venturing into new territory. The sound is heavy metal crossed with psychedelic rock and a Hunter S. Thompson novel. Plus, it arrived at a time when rock sorely needed a kick in the pants to get out of the rut of unimaginative cookie cutter new metal and pretentious, pseudo-indie "The" bands of the late '90's and early aughts. Plus, if that wasn't enough, you got Dave Grohl on drums with solid, spunky beats. You could just hear how much fun he was having getting to drum on album again. I know this will piss off the fan boys and girls, but Grohl has proved to be the most talented member of Nirvana.

Ministry - Psalm 69

A classic of industrial metal, Ministry maintained a strict dedication to their sound over their nearly 30 year career. The sound and lyrics are relentless on this album; no where on this album is a single punch pulled. Drugs, Reagan/Bush era politics, religion, war; Al Jourgensen let you know exactly how he felt about them. The album pulls off a great dissident balance. The sound is both confrontational, yet you feel that there's no way you couldn't listen to it. Just check the video for "New World Order" and see what I mean.

They Might Be Giants - Then: The Early Years

Once again, I'm cheating here; this is a double album, and it contains the entirety of both of the first two TMBG albums, plus a bunch of B side and rarity tracks. But it's simply too good. TMBG are one of the few bands that can be described as being a genre onto themselves. The quirky combination of off-kilter rhythms, a vast array of musical sounds, lyrics with an emphasis on geeky word play: "I love the world and if I have to sue for custody, I will sue for custody." I dare anyone to listen to "Ana Ng" and not end up bouncing around the room, singing along.

KMFDM - Symbols

Much like Ministry, KMFDM are industrial legends, and this album had the just-right balance of electronic and distorted guitar. Melodic yet dissonant and dirty, and rhythms that are just as easy to dance to as they are to head-bang to. Lyrically, it was deliciously subversive and irreverent: "Nihilistic mystics, Apostolic Alcoholics. Messianic Manics ,Cataclysmic and Prolific. In the age of super-boredom, Hype and mediocrity. Celebrate relentlessness, Menace to society," or "I'm the illegitimate, son of God."

Dave Brubeck - Ken Burns JAZZ

I knew I needed some Jazz on this list, and this compilation of Brubeck is one of my favorites. He was part of a new, post-war movement that eclipsed Bebop with Cool Jazz. His sound push the limits of the genre, integrating traditional music forms and odd time signatures, without losing any musical quality. This collection has classics like "In Your Own Sweet Way," the subtely subversive "The Real Ambassador," "Take Five," and "Blue Rondo A La Turk," which I believe is the best composition of the 20th century.

Outkast - The Love Below & Speakerboxxx

Gah, for the third time, I'm skirting the rules by choosing a double album. But much like with Substance 1987, this is only on here for the The Love Below disc. This album proved that Andre 3000 is the Paul Simon of the group, and and Big Boi is the Garfunkel (technically, each disc of this album is a "solo album" from each of them). He integrated elements of funk, jazz, and rock into hip hop, pushing the boundaries of the genre sonically. Lyrically, he passes from playful to funny to sexy to dramatic without hesitation, often within one verse. I say this with no doubt, this is the best album of the aughts.

Book:

"Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" by Hayao Miyazaki

Is it impossible for me to not push the boundaries of the rules with this list? Technically, this is not a "book," but rather a graphic novel. It's also typically published in 3 or 4 volumes, but it's one narrative so I think that counts. I chose this "novel" for two reasons: One, this list precludes any sort of visual media, so I feel that the graphic novel format will satisfy that desire. Second, it is a story that has all my mind would want: great characters, a compelling storyline, and a subtext that aggressively disregards the hubris of man, to the point of sacrifice. It really opened my mind to how we, as a species, view ourselves and our relation to the world, and why the notion of "best interest" being limited to humanity is not a best interest at all.

Luxury item:

My Framus Hollowbody guitar:

This one would be good for all-around playing; the hollowbody means it will project, but the low action and jazz strings don't limit me to just acoustic-y sounds.
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby TwistedSister on Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:29 pm

I've been pondering this since Roy posted the topic.
My problem is I would rather have eight books and one album.
I'm still trying to work out the eight albums and one book thing, but my luxury item would have to be a mature grape vine. (so's I can make wine)
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby Ubi Dubius on Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:54 pm

TwistedSister wrote:I've been pondering this since Roy posted the topic.
My problem is I would rather have eight books and one album.
I'm still trying to work out the eight albums and one book thing, but my luxury item would have to be a mature grape vine. (so's I can make wine)

Books on CD?
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby TwistedSister on Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:45 pm

Ubi Dubius wrote:
TwistedSister wrote:I've been pondering this since Roy posted the topic.
My problem is I would rather have eight books and one album.
I'm still trying to work out the eight albums and one book thing, but my luxury item would have to be a mature grape vine. (so's I can make wine)

Books on CD?

Smart man you are. I've tried books on CD, I'd rather hold a book in my hands, read it and flip the pages.
Nothing, IMO beats actually holding a book and reading it.
Guess I'm just an old fashioned type of girl. (well, o.k., not girl, but creeping on middle aged woman)
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby black bart on Thu Nov 11, 2010 7:04 am

TwistedSister wrote:
Ubi Dubius wrote:
TwistedSister wrote:I've been pondering this since Roy posted the topic.
My problem is I would rather have eight books and one album.
I'm still trying to work out the eight albums and one book thing, but my luxury item would have to be a mature grape vine. (so's I can make wine)

Books on CD?

Smart man you are. I've tried books on CD, I'd rather hold a book in my hands, read it and flip the pages.
Nothing, IMO beats actually holding a book and reading it.
Guess I'm just an old fashioned type of girl. (well, o.k., not girl, but creeping on middle aged woman)


Yes, and of course an Ipad or a kindle would be no good on a desert island unless you had some way of generating electricity ... you can't beat a real book I say...

...hang on a mo...what's running my record player?
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Re: Desert Island Discs

Postby daftbeaker on Thu Nov 11, 2010 8:51 am

black bart wrote:Yes, and of course an Ipad or a kindle would be no good on a desert island unless you had some way of generating electricity ... you can't beat a real book I say...

...hang on a mo...what's running my record player?

Deja vu? :facepalm:

I suppose I'm not allowed any 'Best Of' albums am I? :annoyed:
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