Melissa’s Un-authoritative Midrash on the Academy Awards

So, did you watch the Academy Awards 2009 last night?

I almost missed it myself but thanks to a true friend of popular culture who thought to remind me, I caught the last several hours. Most award shows can’t sustain my attention but last night I thought the presentation was stunning.

I had several favorite moments but since it is Monday and we all have way too much to do, I’ll just give you two:

1) The dance tribute to the Musical for once again gaining momentum. The stage was full of fun performers like Beyonce’, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Amanda Seyfried all celebrating the once much-loved genre making its way back into mainstream popularity. Oh and I feel like inserting here: I still don’t like Musicals. I’m just not sassy enough to appreciate Musicals but my personal deficiency at this point does not steal my joy for those who are.

2) The gathering of five female Hollywood hall of famers (Shirley MacLaine, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Sophia Loren, Halle Berry) to recognize the five female nominees for best actress in a leading role (the nominees were: Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie, Melissa Leo, Meryl Streep, and Kate Winslet). Shirley MacLaine’s speech to Anne Hathaway was so kind and gracious that I could barely make out that hideously mean yet brilliant character Ouiser from Steel Magnolias. And then I remembered why she was on the stage in the first place.

For those of you who didn’t watch, Kate Winslet won the much-coveted award for best performance by an actress in a leading role. One of the delightful things about watching the Academy Awards is that actors/actresses who often play it cool and composed can’t help but get expressive. Even though they’re all dolled up, they appear surprisingly taken off guard and even corny. I found the moments of cheesiness to be a little bit refreshing. For instance, the exquisite Kate Winslet was no longer a calm and sophisticated socialite restrained in a tight corset like she once was in Titanic, for she resembled a giggly little girl whose bursts of excitement hindered her words from keeping up with her heart. She even waved to her Daddy out in the crowd. I loved when she said:

“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t made a version of this speech before, I think I was probably eight years old and staring into the bathroom mirror. And this (holding up her statuette) would’ve been a shampoo bottle. Well, it’s not a shampoo bottle now!”

Oh the glory of seeing the fruit of one’s hard work and determination actually realized. You can almost be emotionally moved by it.

I bash Hollywood quite a bit. I’m especially hard on the women. I wonder if it has anything to do with how beautiful they are…? But, I’ve gotta admit, those chics work hard! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that they are dang good at what they do, even if we personally wouldn’t morally approve of the movie they star in. Now, you’re thinking, “Do you have any idea how much they get paid, Melissa???” Point well taken. But still.

I’m taking their example of hard work and excellence as a challenge this week. Notice that I didn’t say I am taking their moral excellence as a challenge. Please don’t misunderstand me. But back to the point– Since I am paid to be a research assistant what this means for me is sitting down with my technical books, articles, and commentaries and reading them like Angelina Jolie would read her script. Now you might think that my job sounds fun and easy, but it isn’t all fun and games. There are days I read small print for eight hours straight. Did I mention I have bi-focals? That’s because I never wear them. Anyway, there are times during the day when I get bored and want to take a nap just like you probably do. I love my job and I find great satisfaction in it but it is still a job and sometimes it is very hard.

This week I don’t want to just do a good job; I want to do an excellent job. From the corporate woman, to the student, all the way to the stay-at-home Mom, we’ve all been given important and often daunting tasks. Let’s be excellent at what we do here on this earth. We may never single-handedly change the world and get to sport Oscar de la Renta evening wear all at the same time but we can be excellent in the various spheres of influence we’ve been given by the Lord.

And on a broad spiritual level, may we continue to persevere in our callings and prove ourselves to be good stewards of our time and resources so that one day we may taste sweet and ultimate victory. A life lived excellently as unto the Lord. No earthly acknowledgment, not even Shirley MacLaine’s toast to Anne Hathaway, could ever hold a candle to the Master’s words:

“Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master.”


158 Responses to “Melissa’s Un-authoritative Midrash on the Academy Awards”

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  1. 1
    Beth says:

    Melissa, I thought EXACTLY the same thing when those five women walked out on that stage! Five women who have excelled in their fields. You’ve gotta give ’em that. I thought, let there be women of excellence among the people of God! We were thinking the same thought, young lady. Love this post! I want to pursue excellence this week, too. Lord, overtake and enable us.

  2. 2
    Melinda says:

    This was my prayer this very morning, as I looked at my daunting list of to-do’s and asked the Lord to multiply my time and help me be a good steward of it. I so want to be excellent in the work I do for Him, be it a huge, flashy task or one completely mundane.

    I have to confess, however, that I wouldn’t mind a little Oscar de la Renta every now and then! :o)

  3. 3
    Xena says:

    Excellently said Melissa. I’m personally not that taken with awards shows though I know many who are. I do believe it is important to watch the path of our culture and as unfortunate as it is, Hollywood does play a part. I WAS excited to hear that a small budget film casted and made in India, with unknown actors, with rags to riches story, made a huge sweep with the awards. Now what does that say about our culture?

  4. 4
    T. Anne says:

    Interesting post. For sure it gives me food for thought.
    I caught a little of the show last night, mostly in snippets. I did love Miley’s dress!

    I’m off to clean the house as if an ‘Oscar’ depended on it!

  5. 5
    Dionna says:

    Wow. I love your insights and encouragement. I can strive for excellence in my home, with my writing, etc. Thanks, Melissa.

  6. 6
    Simply Sara says:

    Wow! Thanks for reminding me to do my very best everyday, in ALL I do! I needed to hear that this morning 🙂

    Yes, Lord help me to remember that you have place me here to do an EXCELLENT job as a mommy to these three precious little ones!

  7. 7
    Melissa says:

    Well said, Melissa. Thanks for that challenge.

  8. 8
    Angela says:

    I have a lot to do this week, so this is perfect for me. The most important thing is to host a wonderful bridal shower. And while planning and preparing for that I still have my full time job of Mommy and I have to catch up from being sick. So when I work this week, I must be excellent, so I don’t have to do it again later. 🙂
    Thank you for the challenge.

  9. 9
    Amanda Taylor says:

    I love the analogy here. What a great challenge. I’m looking forward to working in excellence this week 🙂

    ~Amanda Taylor

  10. 10
    Ann says:

    I loved what you said and how you said it! The comparison was wonderful! Thank you for the reminder to work hard in “our sphere”… AND to anticipate God’s words (and rewards) for us! He definitely deserves our best!

  11. 11
    ThirtysomethingMom says:

    Amen. I want to give my very best to the LORD through the tasks that I am given to do at my job…which happens to be school teaching. Trying to love these 7th graders and teach them something at the same time is the goal. Thanks for reminding me of pursuing excellence for the LORD.

  12. 12
    Anonymous says:

    I have been challenged by this post! I don’t want to rush through anything today, but to really enjoy it. Thanks!!

    Are you writing a book?

  13. 13
    Anonymous says:

    Well-said! And Shirley MacLaine’s “toast” to Anne Hathaway was by far the most eloquent and gracious of the five, that’s for sure! I want to take as my role model for excellence, earthly, anyway, that Queen of All Things, Meryl Streep!

  14. 14
    Kelli says:

    This is the second time this week that I have been challenged to excel at my job as a stay at home mom with excellence. I just finished reading a book that said the same thing. THANK YOU for encouraging us with the visual of the Lord welcoming us in!

  15. 15
    Amber says:

    I have been convicted about this very thing and needed this post. May this be the last blog post I read while I’m at work! May everything I do, be for the Glory of my sweet Lord!

  16. 16
    Siesta OC says:

    Right On! Melissa,

    I loved your best moments, they were mine as well. I also loved the speech the Ledger family gave on behalf of Heath; But I have to say, my most touched and remembered moment was the speech given by the best screenplay winner who wrote MILK. He expressed so kindly and truthfully to the young Gay and lesbian population that “they are of worth” and that “God loves you,”
    These are true words and I enjoyed that even though the church is the LORD’s, the gentleman seemed to separtate the fact that the church may act hateful sometimes but GOD LOVES YOU! I want to remember that! God saved me to, from rebellion and sin that seemed unredeemable; not for Him.

    Let us encourage others who are not saved. We don’t have to trade in our faith for favoritism or even pop culture – just live with a closed fist/open hand. We will never let go of the truth, because the truth will never let us go or forsake us – But let us show the love we know in our lives, let Jesus shine through us. And if you are like me and you are not sure if that is happening or even how it happens or if it ever will; talk to God and He does the rest.

    “The word of God is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it, you just turn it loose” Charles Spurgeon

    Let’s let God turn it loose and love those around us. remember the opposite of love is hate.

    PS: My mom and I are going to Stagecoach for my birthday in California – Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney…I AM SO EXCITED!

  17. 17
    ~Truly Tina~ says:

    Melissa, your thoughts and admonishments were beautifully stated!

    By the way, your position DOES sound exciting.

  18. 18
    Sharon says:

    Dear Melissa,

    Thank you for your encouraging and challenging words!

    Much love,

  19. 19
    Sharon says:

    Oh, I pray that you and your man had a wonderful 1st wedding anniversary!

  20. 20
    Bobbi says:

    I haven’t wanted excellence in quite a while, I got preoccupied with enduring. And now that I think about it, it has been rather miserable, this constant dread of needing to complete the next task.
    So, I’m in, I’ll go after excellence this week, because I can’t help but think there is a LOT of joy in excellence. I want that thrill of ‘Well done Good and Faithful servant.’ I get excited just typing those words.
    Whoo Hoo, thanks Melissa what an awesome post.

    PS- Wasn’t Penelope Cruise (Best Supporting Actress winner) sixty year old Balmain couture gown, the stuff of fairytale princess dreams? Swoon.

  21. 21
    Rose says:

    E- Effort meets Excellence
    X- eXtra dose of tenacity
    C- Challenges are stepping stones
    E- Exceed and proceed with grace
    L- Live for the prize set before me

    Here’s how I’m thinking.


  22. 22
    lori says:

    Love this post. And I was so happy last night for “slumdog millionare”

  23. 23
    Kim Safina says:

    The Journey Continues ~

    🙂 LOL ~

    YOu are correct in your assumption of actors Melissa!

    Actors = (that is what they call themselves whether male or female), are dedicated to their desire to dialogue!!
    As Shakespeare put it
    "They are the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time."

    I come from a family of Actors, directors and musicians ~ Our family members have actually receive that "shampoo bottle" as Kate shared, on more than one occassion. Having a HEAVY Golden Trophy does not get you to Heaven! It opens the doors of life on earth ~ Let's PRAY for more CHRIST CENTERED ACTORS TO FILL OUR THEATER'S, STAGES,~ I was actually surprised by the comments of an actor on Barbara Walters after the Oscars…. He said a Oscar doesn't feed you, nor does it bring you love=relationship(changed this quote)nor does it get you to Heaven! SO great! Also, loved hearing that the Jonas brothers are Christians who all wear purity rings… saving themselves for their future spouse!! AMEN ~
    (I am the FIRST to raise my hand) ~ some are given gifts that others wish & dream for, and some are given gifts that are humbling and bring the most important gift of all L O V E to OTHERS!!!

    I alway's enjoy your thoughts and comments Melissa,Beth, Amanda ~
    You are all ACADEMY AWARD WINNERS TO US SIESTA'S ~ you bring truth, heart, voice, music ( that one is for travis – sorry beth) and desire to bring HIStory to us with APPLAUSE AND STANDING OVATIONS!!!!

    With "Heaven Bound" blessings,
    Kim Safina

  24. 24
    Kim says:

    It was refreshing to read this post. It can be easy to get caught up in our own world and forget everything else going on or to just look at Hollywood from the wrong view. Excellence is excellence. LPM is excellence. The work we all do for God should never be anything less.

    Kim . . . who is
    Grafted by Grace

  25. 25
    Nichole's Mom says:

    Yes Father, Excellence which can only be achieved through You. Please let it be all about You… I thirst for You and long to just climb into Your lap and have You wrap Your arms around me… Until then, give me Your heart.

  26. 26
    Jennifer says:

    Melissa those words were just what I needed today. Thanks for the encouraging post.

  27. 27
    Donna @ Way More Homemade says:

    I, too, was touched by Shirley McLaine’s speech to Anne Hathaway. And I was touched by Ms. Hathaway’s tearful response. While there were certain actors that I out loud told to “SHUT IT,” I had to marvel at the humility that seemed to be demonstrated by certain others.

    Thank you for that thoughtful obvservation and challenege this morning. Just what I needed.

  28. 28
    Jenifer Thigpen says:

    Awesome post, Melissa! I loved it when they had the previous winners acknowledging the current nominees. It was like a hall of fame. So true how you said about pursuing excellance in our walk. It reminds me of in the Beth study, “Believing God” when she talks about the “Halls of Faith,” and when she asks if at the end of Hebrews 11, if there was one extra verse and if it said “By faith, [your name here]….” and what your story would be in the “Halls of Faith” that God would write about you. That has stuck with me for years. This was a very encouraging word for this week, Melissa. Bravo! =)

  29. 29
    Anonymous says:

    When i first saw the title of the post I thought there wouldn’t be anything in there that I’d find intriguing. I sort of bash hollywood too. But, oh you must have your mother’s gift.

    Thanks for the reminder especially in these times where it would be easy for some to quit working hard and just depend on maybe someone like the government to take care of us.

    Our sermon at church yestereday was on something very similar so I believe God is hitting on something here.

  30. 30
    Mally says:

    I have been in such a rut and struggling with doing a good, no excellent job at those mundane things. I needed a boost, a kick in the seat, if you will, some inspiration/motivation and this post has helped me see the purpose. Thanks for the lift!

  31. 31
    Rachel in Louisiana says:

    These are very timely words for me. I’m a returning student as a mom of three kids ages 17 and 12 yr old twins. I’m in nursing school and it’s really tough (not just on me, but the family too). Last week I hit an all time low, doing the worst I’ve ever done on a test. I think it was fear, but mostly embarrassment as I don’t usually do that low. Pride crept in. I started to doubt that I’d be able to finish this May like I planned.

    The very next day I found myself in an awful situation….I had to do CPR on a grocery store employee who had had an apparent heart attack while he was at work. I was scared to death. He didn’t make it, but it really pressed heavy on my heart that I’ve been taking too lightly all the studying and the things I’m learning. While I study hard, it’s just not enough. People’s lives are affected and I shouldn’t take this calling lightly. No one, no matter what the calling is, should take it lightly.

    I pray that God finds my effort worthy. And that I pass too. 🙂

  32. 32
    Susan says:

    Thank you, Melissa!

    Although I didn’t watch last night, I hear ya.

    Funny that this morning was already on my, er…His schedule to begin a new daily routine which includes/has the (hopefully) outcome of improved excellence.

    We’re all winners in Him.

    Hugs and Blessings…

  33. 33
    Tammie says:

    I needed this today! I am not even close to being motivated to do school – and I AM A TEACHER – though, i am a student right now. The last three days – I feel like an emotional bowling ball has hit me and I just can’t scrape myself up – anyone have a spachula? (sp? who cares.) See! pathetic…but, I am fighting this with Truth – telling myself ” you are full in Christ!” praying against the onslaught of my own insecurities and fears….He has won the Victory…Glory!

  34. 34
    Beth.. One Blessed Nana says:

    Melissa – As always, you post a great message. I love to read your writings. Your mom raised 2 terrific girls!

    May I always do everything unto the glory of the Lord.

    In Him,

  35. 35
    Momuv2 says:

    I love this scripture from 1 Corinthians 15:58 (Amp):

    “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose].”

    I love the thought of being “superior, excelling, doing more than enough” not for any reward here on earth, but for an eternal reward in Him.

  36. 36
    Christal says:

    Thanks Melissa! This is exactly want God is trying to teach me in this season of my life. That whatever work he places before me that I need purse excellence without complaining and negativity no matter want. What a welcome and needed confirmation!

  37. 37
    Marilyn in Mississippi says:

    I,like you, do not want to emulate the morals or lifestyles of these movie stars but there have been many, many times that I have admired how HARD they work to achieve their goals! And I have wondered why I can’t work as hard to achieve the goals I have as a Christian!

    Thanks for the challenge you have given us today!


  38. 38
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you Melissa for that challenging post! I am a stay at home mom with a husband who travels…I want to be the best for my boys as well as my husband even when he is not at home! Glory to God!

    God, give me strength and encouragement even when things get tough and I don’t feel like I make much of a difference. May all I do be done to your Glory!

    Thanks again, Melissa! Happy (belated) Anniversary! Isn’t marriage the best??

    Gena T.

  39. 39
    Mary w/ no cool blog name says:

    Melissa — I’m with you — these women do excel in their fields and to excel means you work hard. You may get a lucky first break, but that won’t sustain you.

    For you it’s research and that’s means reading alot to glean the nuggets needed.
    For me, it’s writing and marketing. I have to put my fanny in the chair and write the words onto the page. I can ask God for His grace as I do this and I can ask for His help, but I have to sit down and do it.

    It’s all work. Whether you’re wiping the nose of a toddler (been there) or writing a book (been there) or managing a Fortune 500 company (haven’t been there) or acting in a movie(haven’t been there, either). It’s work and you have to show up and do it.

    I’m praying that the Lord gives me the wisdom to know which task to tackle first. I want to glorify Him in all I do.

  40. 40
    HisTreasuredPossession says:

    Good stuff! I found myself cleaning heartily last night instead of watching these awards, kinda thinking the same: am I working at my SAHJob as well as I should? Hmm…giving myself some grace for being overwhelmed with kids at home all the time, I still have to say I slack a lot more than I should. Great thoughts to keep my tail moving in the right direction, on the right path!

    BUT!! I *will* be checking out those yahoo best dressed pages after I submit this! 😉

  41. 41
    Holly says:

    Me, too.

    Although, I have to admit, Melissa, I am extremely disappointed that you do not like musicals.

    We have good friends, who are missionaries. And John always says that he hates musicals, because people don’t just break into song like that. However, after 20 years of friendship and seeing our family doing just that–I hope we have changed his mind for at least that one point.

    We just break into song all the time!

    Love you like crazy, Melissa! Really. And praying for your prayer to be answered in a mighty way.

  42. 42
    Donna Sava says:

    What an AWESOME post! And what a great challenge to all of us siestas! I was thinking the same thing about those 5 women and the nominees!

    If only we pursued the course God has given each of us striving not to get through each day…but striving for excellence in every single thing we do! We could change the world…one sphere of influence at a time!

    I SO love being a part of this community of women! I can’t Thank God enough for all of you!

    In His love,
    Donna (the mom of twin boys)

  43. 43
    Shannon says:

    In response to a comment upthread: let’s remember that some of our own siestas, as well as other people just as worthy and who also reflect the Imago Dei, may be relying on government assistance right now, and there is no shame in that. If you need help, get it. And unless you’re supporting an impoverished family in addition to your own–I don’t mean giving a little bit of help, I mean unless you are the *only reason* they’re not on TANF–let’s be careful about slamming programs that help folks who need helping.

    Melissa, well played. I am writing a paper today and had convinced myself I didn’t need to aspire to excellence, just to “good enough.” I may not hit the mark on excellence, but I should at least aspire to it! How else do we get better? As a professor of mine said last year, “You have not yet become what you are.”

    And how much did I love Sean Penn saying “I want to make it clear that I know how hard I make it to appreciate me often”? Who among us can’t say that? “I realize I’m unloveable at times, thanks for loving me anyway.”

  44. 44
    Anonymous says:

    I came in this am and started a whole new calendar in Outlook that includes a prayer reminder. I am asking Jesus to help me love and know him more and sense the Holy Spirit so I can know Jesus more.

    And now adding:
    Help me do well in my job and pursue excellence by: having focus, drive, and be good steward of time and resources.

    Thanks Melissa for the last part. Thank you Beth for teaching the first part.

    Love you all.


  45. 45
    Melissa says:

    Shannon, when Sean Penn said that I nearly lost my dinner. That was absolutely hilarious. I will need to stay disciplined NOT to plagiarize that line!

  46. 46
    Melinda says:

    I was just reading through these comments and was totally taken aback by Bobbi’s thought:

    “I haven’t wanted excellence in quite a while; I got preoccupied with enduring.”

    Wow. If that doesn’t hit the nail on the head, I don’t know what does.

  47. 47
    Melissa says:

    Melinda, I was struck at Bobbi’s comment as well. Loved it!

  48. 48
    Bullock Family says:

    Amen sister!!!!!!!! This stay at home mom who does in fact still have her pj’s on at 1:30 in the afternoon needed to hear that! I loved the post and you have motivated me to give it my all this week! Step 1, a shower! hahhaha Love you girls to death!

  49. 49
    Lisa and Erik says:

    As a home schooling mom of 3-I needed that! Thank you!

  50. 50
    Anonymous says:

    Hey Melissa,

    Thanks so much for the reminder and encouragement. Like most women, I have a million and one things to do, especially in the next two weeks…mid-terms (almost done!), TAKING CARE OF A FAMILY and to make my life even more uh, interesting, I’m getting a puppy. I need to get one and train her now before I graduate and go to work in the world.

    I did not watch the awards, what did I watch? Oh, I did watch Charles Stanley last night (I needed two sermons yesterday, because I can get so ugly). I wanted to watch my Billy Graham DVD, but it didn’t happen. I love that man and I can’t wait to hang out with Ruth Bell in heaven. She has been my biggest influence since becoming a Christian and your Mom is the best Bible teacher EVAH and has brought me closer to Christ through her studies. Both of them have given me things, in different ways, that I can’t even express how much they’ve meant.

    I’m sorry, but I LOVE Shirley MacLaine. I have watched “Terms of Endearment” more times than I can count and I love her in “Steel Magnolias” too. I’m a big Debra Winger fan, if I’m a fan at all, b/c that girl plays such realistic roles and she is one great actress. I just wish that some of these awesome movies did not have cussing. I watched “On Golden Pond” the other night and I had forgotten how much cussing is in that movie and it does not need to be there. I watched it when I was little, but I was totally desensitized to cussing then. I bragged on myself for finding it at Goodwill and then I go to Target and they have the DVD for five dollars more. Poor Jeff Bridges is so under-estimated. He is such a great actor, playing such a dufus on ToE. He got me in “Because of Winn-Dixie”—one of the greatest movies of all time.

    My husband used to give me grief over liking Shriley MacClaine b/c of her beliefs. He would say “Doesn’t she believe you come back after death and turn into pencils and stuff?” I was like hello, the majority of things we watch and love have people in them or making them or whatever that reject Jesus. I had to remind him about George Lucas. They do not influence me at all, I feel sorry for their lost souls and pray that they will come to Christ somehow (if I did, anyone can). Hey, a lot of people that we think are Christians may not be. That is not for us to judge.

    In a world of rampant eating disorders and having a teenage daughter, I get upset over the images put out by Hollywood. I do live in the real world, however, and I just teach my daughter about air brushing, personal chefs, personal trainers, etc. She knows that most of what we see is not real. We have to remember that these under weight women have as much insecurity as the girls in Jr. High. At the end of the day, my children see with their own eyes what becomes of all these people. We are able to enjoy a good movie without idolizing.

    I do have a couple of Beyonce’ songs on my iPod, not the dirty ones. It helps me when I get on the eliptical, which I have not done FOREVER. Now you have made me wish I at least watched the Best Actress part b/c of Shirley. I tell ya’, she is a great actress. I like to watch her on T of E b/c I act so much like her with my daughter. My son doesn’t “force” me to act that way. That is why there are so many movies about mothers and daughters. She is a great reminder for me to try and NOT be like that. I pick at my daughter and she will start slapping me (like when Shirley is adjusting “Emma’s” bra straps). Oh my goodness, I do that stuff. I would never tell my daughter she is not special enough, but I would have a fit if she wanted to marry a dufus. I had her at 20, so we
    have kind of grown-up together.

    Anyway, I don’t know how anyone rears children without Jesus.

    Again, Melissa, thank you. I will be making A’s this week. I still want to teach you some Italian cooking. You may want to wait, we have been one sick bunch around here. I have “wash your hands” signs up everywhere and lecturing about worms in the brain to no avail. Oh well. Have a great week. It’s always great to read your posts. You may not like musicals, but you are definitely sassy enough, in a good way, never be apologetic about that (not that you would, that is why we love you so much).

    Much love,

    Barbara S.-Katy, TX

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