Film

New Ways to Kill Yourself

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/10/2018 - 4:05am in

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Film


At one point, watching Cruise skitter through Paris on a motorcycle, I realized I didn’t know who was chasing him or where he was going. I didn’t care; I could see Cruise’s face, and it told me he was on the run from something, while trying to get somewhere else, quickly. The threat of the bomb always looms, and Hunt never wavers in either his love for his friends or his will to do his job well. He is thus spared from making any ethical compromises—he really can have it all.

Branson’s Spaceplane and Kubrick’s 2001: The Legacy of a Vision

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/10/2018 - 10:24pm in

Today’s I also carried a picture of Richard Branson hanging out of the portholes of one his spaceplanes, waving a model of the craft he claims will shortly take paying passengers for a trip into space.

This follows his announcement yesterday that, after over a decade of delays, one of his spacecraft will launch sometime in the next few weeks. And then, a few months after that, Branson himself would take a journey into the High Frontier. There’s supposed to be a race on between Branson, Bezos and Musk over which will be the first private company to send people into space.

I’ve got my doubts that it will be Branson. He’s been telling the world that his Virgin Galactic spacecraft will be taking people up there in a year’s time since the late ’90s. For a moment, it did look as though he might actually do it, until one of the spaceships crashed due to a design fault, killing one of the co-pilots. Moreover, investors and those worried about the state of the NHS should look very carefully at what else is going on in Branson’s empire when he makes these announcements. There was a story in Private Eye a few months ago about how Branson uses them to direct attention away from other projects, which might be controversial. He was quoted as saying that he made one announcement, that his planes were ready to fly, to distract people from the fact that his private healthcare division, Virgin Health, had just one a whole slew of NHS contracts and was ready to open several clinics around the country.

And several times in the past Virgin has had problems with its finances to the tune of hundreds of millions or so. Private Eye was threatened several times with a libel action from Branson, claiming it was all false. The Eye later ran a story about this, quoting Branson himself as saying that he tried to silence the satirical paper because it was true, but he didn’t want the public, investors or the banks knowing because it would stop him getting more money from the banks.

Now that he’s declaring that they’re nearly all set and raring to go, we’re entitled to ask whether this is really the case, or is it just another distraction from him eating up more of our precious NHS, or the possible collapse of one of his other companies.

As for the spacecraft itself, I was struck by the similarity between it and the Orion spaceplane of Kubrick’s SF masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

As you can see from the cover for the DVD version of Kubrick’s epic, the two look very similar.

And I’m not surprised, as this shows the very thorough research Kubrick did to get the look of the space vehicles just right. Clarke’s a Hard SF writer, which means that his fictions are based in scientific fact, although often with more than a little extrapolation and fantasy. There are, after all, no real black alien monoliths in the solar system, which form stargates to alien realities. Kubrick also wanted to make the greatest SF movie ever, and so he turned from relying on artists to real space scientists and engineers to design the spacecraft.

Which is why the spacecraft in 2001 – the spaceplane, orbital space station, Moon shuttle and the Discovery spacecraft itself – look utterly convincing as well as cool. The film was shot in Britain, and as well as using experts from NASA and American aerospace companies, he also used British firms, especially for the one-person space pods.

I think if Branson really wanted to get into space, he would have been better off ringing Kubrick up for a few hints about spacecraft design. He’d also have been in the enviable position of being in charge of the first company whose promotional film would have won and academy award.

Branson may be set to go into space, but Kubrick and Clarke got their first. And it was awesome.

And here’s a video from YouTube showing a bit of the spaceplane from 2001.

Outrage at Sun and Israel Lobby After Jackie Walker Film Cancelled due to Bomb Hoax

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 29/09/2018 - 5:01am in

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, 25th September 2018, a film about the vicious smearing and attacks on the former vice-chair of Momentum, Jackie Walker, was due to have its premier at Blackburne House, Liverpool. It was to be shown as a fringe event of the Labour conference then being held in that fair city. Directed by Jon Pullman, it took its title, The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker, from a blog post written by the redoubtable critic of Zionism, Tony Greenstein, The Jewish Labour Movement and its Political Lynching of Jackie Walker. There has also been a play about her mistreatment, The Lynching.

The film was shot in Britain and Europe, and followed Walker’s activities for over a year, as she worked, performed and interviewed her across her kitchen table, including comments from her friends and enemies, in order to get the real issue behind the headlines, and show the woman behind the activist.

Walker, you will remember, was smeared as an anti-Semite because members of the Jewish Labour Movement hacked into a private conversation she was having on Facebook about Jewish involvement in the slave trade. They took her words out of context and passed them on to that libelous rag, the Jewish Chronicle. They claimed that she had said that Jews were responsible for the slave trade. Walker has made it very clear that this is absolutely untrue.

She said

Yes, I wrote “many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade”. These words, taken out of context in the way the media did, of course do not reflect my position. I was writing to someone who knew the context of my comments. Had he felt the need to pick me up on what I had written I would have rephrased – perhaps to “Jews (my ancestors too) were among those who financed the sugar and slave trade and at the particular time/in the particular area I’m talking about they played an important part.”

For the record, my claim, as opposed to those made for me by the Jewish Chronicle, has never been that Jews played a disproportionate role in the Atlantic Slave Trade, merely that, as historians such as Arnold Wiznitzer noted, at a certain economic point, in specific regions where my ancestors lived, Jews played a dominant role “as financiers of the sugar industry, as brokers and exporters of sugar, and as suppliers of Negro slaves on credit, accepting payment of capital and interest in sugar.”

The producers had hoped that it would be shown as part of Momentum’s The World Transformed event, but Momentum refused, banning not just the film but also Free Speech on Israel and Labour Against the Witch-Hunt. The film was cancelled in its new venue after the organisers received an anonymous call claiming that there was a bomb in the building.

Mike, Tony Greenstein and Martin Odoni have all written pieces about this. Mike believes that the hoaxer may have been inspired by a piece in the Scum by one Hugo Gye. The Scum had been outraged by Momentum’s refusal to allow their journalists into their event, and bitterly complained. Then Gye wrote his piece in the rag describing the film and play. He called Walker herself a ‘far-left activist who was kicked out of Labour for making anti-Semitic slurs’, and quoted the Labour MP and member of the Israel lobby, Louise Ellman, as saying that it was ‘disgraceful’ for other party members to tolerate banned activists. This nasty piece of character assassination masquerading as journalism also included an image of a flier for the event, giving its date and venue.

See Mike’s article at: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/09/25/did-walker-movie-bomb-threat-arise-from-bitchiness-by-the-sun-over-momentum-ban/

Martin has cautiously suggested that the hoaxer may well have been a Zionist, noting that there have been a number of attempts by Zionists to disrupt meetings of left-wing Jews over the past couple of years, including one of Jewish Voice for Labour this same week. Martin goes to ask

Perhaps Labour right-wingers like Margaret Hodge and Luciana Berger, with their ridiculous histrionics-for-the-cameras with needless bodyguards, and comparisons to the Holocaust, would like to consider that a real threat is being aimed at the very people by whom they claim to be threatened? There is every chance that this threat was made by one of Hodge’s/Berger’s allies. If that is the case, what will they have to say about that?

See: https://thegreatcritique.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/breaking-news-bomb-threat-against-jackie-walker/

Greenstein, however, believes very strongly that the hoaxer was probably inspired by Marie van der Zyle (pictured below) and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Yes, the joke’s getting old now, but it’s still funny.

Zyle and the Board have done their level best over these past few years to stop Walker speaking. When Walker and Greenstein spoke in Brighton and Nottingham, the Board phoned the venues beforehand and tried to get them to cancel them. They did the same in 2016, when Walker was due to speak at a church in Bradford, slandering her as ‘an unapologetic Jew-baiter’. They also tried the same stunt to stop her appearing at the Edinburgh Festival.

Greenstein writes

Even if the hoax bomb caller was unknown there can be no doubt that he was doing the work that Marie van der Zyl, Jonathan Arkush and the Board of Deputies have been doing these past two years.

Even if their methods were slightly different the objective was the same. To prevent Jackie Walker exercising her right of free speech. Defence of the pernicious and racist Israeli state was the aim of both Marie Van Der Zyle and the hoax bomb caller. Whereas Ms Zyle merely threatened, cajoled and lied to the owners of venues which she contacted, the anonymous person who phoned on Tuesday simply promised to blow people up Israeli style.

Both Martin and Greenstein also describe the immense hypocrisy of the Board and the Groaniad, who have tried to make political capital out of the incident by describing it as ‘anti-Semitic’. The Groan’s headline about the incident was so misleading that one Peter C. Burns, tweeting about it, apparently believed that it was the Zionists, who had been threatened.

Greenstein points out in his article that the hoaxer did call it a ‘Jewish event’ in his phone call, even though it wasn’t. And it’s rich that the Board has used it to tweet a message about how we must all stand together against anti-Semitism, when they themselves have been whipping up hatred against Walker, libeling her as an anti-Semite. This has resulted in Walker being sent vicious abuse, expressed in foul and anti-Semitic language from other Jews. Because, as Greenstein himself has experienced, Zionist Jews hated Jewish critics of Israel more than gentile anti-Semites.

Greenstein also notes the monumental lack of interest in this by the media, with the exception of the Guardian. He observes that if this had happened at a Zionist event, then Luciana Berger, Ellman and Margaret Hodge would all be shouting about how they were being victimized and needed protection.

Both Mike and Greenstein write in their articles that far from shutting down interest in the film, this will only make more people interested in it. And Mike asks if her accusers’ case is so fragile, their only answer to Walker and her film is to try to stop it being thrown through bomb threats.

Greenstein’s article is at: http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/09/bomb-hoax-in-liverpool-we-shall-not-be.html

It also includes some prize examples of the abuse Walker has received. It’s nasty, racist and viciously misogynist stuff. ‘Lying sack of excrement’ is one of the least foul terms her abusers use. So decent, sensitive souls be warned.

On a more positive note, he also includes a brief trailer for the film, which is very much worth watching.

DCPs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/09/2018 - 10:38am in

10+ years ago, when I was preparing Sita Sings the Blues for film festivals, I had to make heavy, unwieldy, and expensive 35mm film prints. Thankfully I don’t have to do that any more. Instead, today’s cinemas use DCP (for Digital Cinema Package) hard drives. These take advantage of advances in digital technology, as fucked up by a film industry that can’t cope with advances in digital technology. Thanks to the insane and byzantine encoding protocols designed by Hollywood to thwart what computers are inherently best at – copying – making DCPs has long been shrouded in mystery and prohibitive costs.

Since I’m cheap and have practically no income these days, I didn’t want to use a DCP-making service (called a “lab,” as if). Instead, after begging around for favors, and doing much research online, I made them myself.
logo

I used DCP-o-matic. It’s Free Software, created and maintained by Carl Hetherington, to whom I and many other small filmmakers owe a debt of gratitude. I can’t recommend it enough. Apparently many screening venues now use it themselves. I used it to make 2K and 4K DCP files, and English and French “version files” for subtitles. I also burned in English subtitles over “Paroles, Paroles.”

New-DCP-Verify-05

Once I made the DCPs, I had to get them onto portable hard drives, which is no small task. You can’t just drag-and-drop copy them like normal files. Fortunately I found DCP Transfer. It’s not Free, but it is affordable – $25 a month (ugh, subscriptions) plus a $25 initial charge. Today my subscription auto-renewed, just in time for me to be gone for a month, so I contacted the company to cancel and they refunded it. That’s good service! The software works great, too. I had no problem formatting and copying DCPs onto most external hard drives. The exception was flash drives, aka thumb drives; these overheated and usually failed. It’s a pity, since flash drives are so small and convenient. But I found some relatively inexpensive 320GB USB3 portable hard drives, and made enough DCPs to satisfy film festivals.

Whatever my complaints about DCP, it sure beats making (and distributing!) film.

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Conspiracy Book’s Debunking of Holocaust Denial

The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups: The 100 Most Disturbing Conspiracies of All Time, Jon E. Lewis (London: Constable & Robinson 2007).

As the book’s cover tells you, this is a popular treatment of 100 assorted conspiracies, ranging from the assassination of JFK, 9/11, the Da Vinci Code, the death of Princess Diana, the Men In Black of UFO lore, the belief that Roosevelt knew about the coming Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour?, the Illuminati, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and so on. It’s a selection of conspiracies and conspiracy theories that were current at the end of the 1990s and early part of the 21st centuries.

As you might expect of a popular work of this size, the individual chapters tend to be brief. Many are only about two or three pages long, and so this isn’t an in depth examination of them by any means. Most of these theories are absolutely spurious, and so get properly debunked. Most, but not all. Some conspiracies, like the Iran-Contral scandal and the Masonic lodge P2, which was deeply involved in Italian Fascism, the Mafia and had connections to the CIA.

Lewis writes in his introduction that his aim has been to understand and treat the conspiracy theories objectively, to find which are true, and which aren’t.

Hostility to conspiracy theory is as useless in understanding the world as an indiscriminate acceptance of it. The task, surely, is to disentangle the mad and bad conspiracies from those that illuminate the darkened, secret corners of power. To this end The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups takes a considered, objective scalpel to one hundred of the most compelling conspiracy theories of modern times. The theories are arranged alphabetically, assessed and interrogated. Where appropriate, the relevant documents are reproduced, and details of where to look to find out more are listed. Each conspiracy theory is assigned an “Alert Level” rating indicating its likely veracity. (p. 3).

One conspiracy theory that the book thoroughly debunks is Holocaust denial, discussed on pages 180-2. The first two paragraphs briefly state what it was, and how its existence is supported by a mountain of very trustworthy evidence.

The Holocaust is the name given to the extermination of some six million Jews and other “undesirables” by the Third Reich of Germany between 1933 and 1945. To industrialise the genocide process, the Nazis purpose-built a number of death camps such as Auschwitz, which gassed the Jews in batches; most victims, however, simply died of malnourishment in concentration camps. In occupied Eastern Europe, from where more than five million Jews were taken, special SS killing squads, Einsatzgruppen, sometimes shot Jews in situ.

A wide spread of sources confirms the nature and extent of the Holocaust: the thousandfold testimonies of camp survivors; film and photographs taken by Allied reporters as the camps were liberated in 1945; the confession by Auschwitz SS camp commandant Rudolf Hoss; the prosecution of Adolf Eichmann in 1960-2 and his sentencing to death for “crimes against humanity”. But all of this is dispute by a number of historians and politicians, who speculate that the Holocaust, if it happened at all, was on at most a minor scale. (p. 180).

It then goes on to discuss David Hoggan and his The Myth of the Six Million, one of the earliest and most influential books pushing the lie that the Holocaust never happened. Hoggan claimed in it that the Jews had falsely accused the Germans of genocide in order to gain reparations. This set the pattern for later works, claiming that the Jews had made it up either to gain money or international sympathy. It was the latter which led the United Nations to look kindly on the creation of Israel as a Jewish homeland. The book notes that from 1970s, the most prominent mouthpiece for Holocaust denial in the US has been the Institute for Holocaust Review, led by the neo-Nazi Willis Carto. Publications from the Institute and similar organisations in the US speculate that the gas chambers at Auschwitz weren’t there to kill Jews, but to kill the lice they carried. There are many versions of Holocaust denial. One of these is that there was indeed an extermination of the Jews during the Nazi occupation, but that this was small and not official Nazi policy. This was the view of the notorious David Irving, who claimed that the Nazis were too busy fighting the war to organize the mass extermination of the Jews, and that Hitler was unaware of it.

The chapter goes on to describe how Irving’s version of the Holocaust and Hitler’s involvement was challenged by Deborah Lipstadt in her 1993, Denying the Holocaust. This accused Irving of anti-Semitism and distorting evidence. Irving sued her and her British publisher, Penguin, for libel. Lipstadt and Penguin defended themselves by hiring the Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans, who then went through Irving’s works. He found that Irving had deliberately used unreliable documentation. One such was the report made by Fred Leuchter, who designed gas chambers for the American prison service. Leuchter stated that he found no significant deposits of cynanide at Auschwitz. However, this was in 1988, nearly 40 years after the camp was used and Leuchter himself was not trained in forensics. Evans also found that Irving also expressed very anti-Semitic sentiments in his books, such as calling Jews ‘the scum of humanity’. The court found in Lipstadt’s favour, with the judge declaring Irving to be ‘an active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-Semite and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism’.

The chapter also makes it clear that Hitler knew very well what was going on. He knew its scope even if he didn’t know all the details about every train of victims going to Sobibor. He set the agenda for the Holocaust, as shown in his speeches. In 1939, for example, he declared

If international Jewish financiers inside and outside Europe again succeed in plunging the nations into a world war, the result will be … the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe. (p. 181.)

Fifteen other leading Nazis attended the Wannsee conference in 1942, which was held outside Berlin on how the extermination of the Jews could best be arranged. The meeting was minuted, and its protocols used to incriminate those present.

The chapter concludes

The Holocaust happened. Most reputable historians put the lower limit of Jews, gypsies, Romanies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the disabled and the mentally ill exterminated by the Nazis at five million. The upper limit is as high as 11 million.

In 1979 the Institute for Historical Review offered a $50,000 reward to anybody who “could prove that the Nazis operated gas chambers to terminate Jews”. Mel Marmelstein, an Auschwitz survivor, forwarded to the IHR affidavits concerning the fate of his family in Auschwitz plus other documentation, and duly claimed his money. When the IHR failed to give him the $50,000 he sued. The court awarded him the $50,000 plus an extra $40,000 for distress. In other words, the leading outfit for Holocaust denial, giving it its best shot, could not convince a neutral jury of its case. (p. 182).

The book properly gives Holocaust denial an alert level of zero, as it is a completely false conspiracy theory.

It also has a short bibliography, which includes the following two books debunking Holocaust denial:

Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, 1993; and

Michael Shermer, Alex Grobman and Arthur Hertzberg, Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It?, 2002.

Journey to a Land Free of White People

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/09/2018 - 5:47am in

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Crazy Rich Asians might best be described as a big-tent romantic comedy. It makes plenty of room for a multigenerational family saga, a modern day fairy tale, a domestic marital drama, a satirical comedy of manners, a slapstick farce, and an epic heroic journey. There are catty asides and subtle and not-so-subtle power plays, farcical set pieces and relationship turmoil. The director John M. Chu, the writers Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, and the entire cast turned Crazy Rich Asians into a trojan horse for all the unmade Asian American movies audiences have missed out on their entire lives.

How Asia Got Crazy Rich

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/09/2018 - 2:42am in


What the film’s central conflict turns upon is not simply strife between rich and poor, Asian and American, but rather the friction between different forms of accumulation—landed rents, financial interest, industrial profits, et cetera—that are historical in character and can be located throughout the diasporic division of labor that has evolved across Asia the past half-century. These tensions are a palpable reality in everyday life in Asia today, bubbling up periodically in the tabloid press, from the Kyoto locals who deride the recent influx of Chinese tourists as “pollution” to Hong Kong TV commercials in which Chinese actors wear dark makeup to portray Filipina domestic workers. Such economic racism is perhaps the clearest marker of all of modern Asia’s shared resemblances with Europe and America.

Doctor Who Moves to Sunday for Season 11, Begins on October 7th

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/09/2018 - 10:16pm in

It’s official. After 13 years on Saturday nights — and decades before that as well — Doctor Who will move to Sunday nights for the upcoming season/series 11 starring Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor. The premiere episode will be titled ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’.

Doctor Who revitalised the Saturday Night family viewing experience on BBC 1 back in 2005, alongside entertainment shows such as Strictly Come Dancing — remade in the US as Dancing with the Stars — and saw dramas such as Robin Hood and Merlin commissioned in its wake for the early evening Doctor Who slot when it wasn’t on air.

Of late, those dramas have dropped away with just reality entertainment talent show television filling its space. So now it’s time to try and do to Sundays what Doctor Who did to Saturdays. And to try and create those school playground discussions the Monday afterwards.

So, also, don’t expect it to air too late… it will be a school night after all. Here’s the trailer announcement.

In the USA, only the first episode will air at the exact same time as the UK — expect lunchtime-early afternoon — followed by a special encore showing in its new regular primetime evening slot, where it will stay for the full 10-episode series. 

The post Doctor Who Moves to Sunday for Season 11, Begins on October 7th appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

Corruptions and Duplicates of Form

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/08/2018 - 1:32am in

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reviews, Film


This post-Wonka kids’ movie about future video-game competition in dystopian cyberspace contains every pop 1980s reference imaginable, including “Blue Monday,” and stuffs them by the handful into a recycling bag like cans worth five cents each. The movie is cynical and manipulative because the ’80s it exploits means nothing to Spielberg. He uses items from that decade because he noticed that’s what kids are into, even though the movie takes place three decades from now. To Spielberg, the digitized fodder of Ready Player One is not truly classic, and can therefore be further trivialized for any reason. If money can be squeezed out of it from an undiscerning audience of nerds, so it should be and must be. Here, Spielberg has truly become Disney.

Thank You, Neil Simon, For Making Us Laugh

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 27/08/2018 - 2:12am in

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The much-honored and beloved playwright Neil Simon has passed away at the age of 91. I re-post my recommendations for two of his most entertaining movies, and gratitude for making me laugh very hard many times:

***

There is an above average Jimmy Stewart movie called “No Time for Comedy“, in which he is cast as Gaylord Esterbrook. Gaylord writes hilariously funny plays yet feels he should write dramatic productions of greater weight in order to be a “serious writer”…but his effort to do so is disastrous. The movie always makes me think of Neil Simon. When he tries to be dramatic he is often manipulative, soppy, boring or pretentious. Films like “California Suite” make me ape Homer Simpson’s reaction to watching Garrison Keillor (Homer beats the idiot box yelling “Stupid TV! BE MORE FUNNY!”).

But when Simon gets over himself and just tries to be funny, he can be absolutely, rib-ticklingly, delightfully enjoyable. This week’s double feature recommendation highlights Simon at his gutbusting best in two loosely linked comedies directed by Robert Moore: Murder by Death (1976) and The Cheap Detective (1978).

Both films are affectionate parodies of fictional detectives from the movies. Nick and Nora Charles, Charlie Chan, Sam Spade, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot are sent up in Murder by Death. The Cheap Detective focuses only on Sam Spade (renamed Lou Peckinpaugh) as he works his way through the plots of many Humphrey Bogart classics, including the Maltese Falcon, the Big Sleep and Casablanca. There is murder and intrigue in both films and a plot as well, but who cares?: The purpose is laughter and laugh you will if you have a funny bone in your body.

The cast is gold, a simply stunning array of talent (some of whom appear in both movies): Peter Falk, Eileen Brennan, James Coco, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Alec Guiness, Peter Sellers, Marsha Mason, James Cromwell, Nancy Walker, Elsa Lanchester, Sid Caesar and many more. Everyone knows what they are doing and gets every conceivable laugh out of Simon’s scripts.

My favorite bits are hard to choose from such an embarrassment of comedy riches, but I will try. In Murder by Death: The best ever update of “Who’s on First”, featuring a butler named JamesSir Bensonmum and his father Howodd Bensonmum. In the Cheap Detective: Betty DeBoop’s stage number and first encounter with Lou Peckinpaugh (“You made me swallow my gum”).

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