Those in search of atypical fantasy need look no further than Glen Cook’s The Black Company. It’s as atypical as it gets. Dark, gritty, at times overwhelmingly bleak, it’s a far cry from classic works of the genre with their prancing elves, noble wizards, and stalwart heroes. No archetypal struggle of good vs. evil here. The characters that people Cook’s novel range from dark as night to dark as dusk. There are no good guys here, only bad, worse, and the dissolute crew whose mercenary exploits we follow. The latter are, if not exactly our heroes, then certainly the best of a very bad lot.

Their story is told from the point of view of one of their own, Croaker, the unit’s physician and historian whose job it is to chronicle the adventures of the legendary Black Company. The first person narrative has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it allows for a sense of familiarity that immediately immerses the reader in the story; on the other hand, it can be confusing at times as this familiarity also assumes an awareness of certain background elements, forcing the reader to play catch-up through-out. But while challenging at first, the task becomes less difficult as events progress and pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Cook’s narrative style is straightforward and concise (to be expected from a member of this sordid troop), devoid of endlessly detailed descriptions about the local fauna or the scents and sounds of the surrounding countryside.

We are introduced to The Black Company as the bottom is falling out on their latest commission to the corrupt Syndic of Beryl. They are vastly outnumbered by the northern army about to overrun their position. The outfit may be made up of some very unsavory personalities, yet they adhere to a code of conduct that forbids them to break a contract. They’ve been contracted to defend the syndic and the city, so things look very bad for The Black Company – until someone points out if not a loophole then certainly an opportunity to exploited in their agreement. They’re beholden to serve the Syndic so long as their employer is alive….

Fortunately for Croaker and co., the Syndic meets with an unforeseen accident. Their contract null and void, they beat a hasty retreat and are offered a rescue of sorts from a mysterious, masked individual who introduces himself as Soulcatcher. He offers them a new contract under the service of The Lady who is warring with The Rebel in the north. The Black Company is thankful for the new opportunity but, as events unfold, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell the bad guys from the badder guys and Croaker begins to wonder whether they’re fighting on the right side of the conflict, especially when he makes the acquaintance of The Lady’s generals – The Taken, a grotesque collection of undead wizard kings given to battling each other.

The Black Company is dark, military fantasy that punctuates descriptions of the soldiers’ downtime with sudden, grisly accounts of battle. Given what I’ve heard of real life combat experiences, this is an accurate reflection of what soldiers endure – the long waits and then the sporadic bursts of violence. Furthermore, it’s interesting to note that, despite the infighting that occasionally plagues the outfit, the loyalty of the soldiers who make up The Black Company is first and foremost to one another. When asked to comment on this book series’ popularity among soldiers, author Glen Cook said the following in a 2005 interview with Strange Horizons: “The characters act like the guys actually behave. It doesn’t glorify war; it’s just people getting on with the job. The characters are real soldiers. They’re not soldiers as imagined by people who’ve never been in the service. That’s why service guys like it. They know every guy who’s in the books, and I knew every guy who’s in the books. Most of the early characters were based on guys I was in the service with. The behavior patterns are pretty much what you’d expect if you were an enlisted man in a small unit.” (http://www.strangehorizons.com/2005/20050117/cook-int-a.shtml). It should come as no surprise that Cook served in the U.S. Navy.

Although confusing at times and at times a little too sparse in its description (I thought the story would have really benefited from some insight into the cultural, socio-political or economic backdrop of the land they were fighting over), The Black Company was an engrossing read. And, at a little over 200 pages, a quick one at that.

Well, those were my thoughts. Let’s hear your opinions on The Black Company. And, of course, start posting your questions for author Glen Cook.

To those of you wondering about the wrap party – yes, Amanda was there and I did take some photos of her, but a combination of the camera flash and where we were standing resulted in some iffy pics so, rather than post them, I prefer to direct you to this
(http://josephmallozzi.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/dsc01057.jpg) much better photo I took of her the other day. In fact, I took three times as many photos as posted but only selected the ones that, in my opinion, so my apologies to whoever didn’t make the cut. No photos of Rachel as I missed her at the party. According to Marty G., she arrived late and left early. I didn’t take any pictures of Joe or David, but I did exchange “best wishes” emails with David this morning. And for those of you asking what I wore to the party – scroll down to the bottom of this entry and check out today’s installment of the Weird Food Purchase of the Day: Shredded Squid.

Hey, look! It’s the mailbag!

Ivon writes: “I have been waiting all day for this… I was having a tough time trying to remember the night (last night). Well, except for your speech… it brought tears to my eyes.”

Answer: Hey, what happened? I went home for a power nap and came back like I said I would but you’d already left! So lame.

Lcshepp writes: “Side note…sometime when SGA is long done, I would really like to know what your true feelings are/were about the cancellation. I can’t believe you are going quietly into the night. I also know that the ‘team’ concept, franchise politics, and career moves dictate many comments.”

Answer: I think I was pretty clear about my feelings. While I wasn’t necessarily surprised, I was very disappointed.

Kellyk writes: “What if when it comes time to do the movies the cast already have other jobs?”

Answer: We’re going to try to time the shooting of the movie to make it as convenient as possible for the actors to participate.

Mark Nicholson writes: “yeah, you should have dropped of those shirts, then the model shop might not have been forgotten, like it always seems to be J”

Answer: Damn. Shirts and socks. Of course, a huge thanks to the model shop!

Belouchi writes: “1. We found out in season 1 that there were 60 Hive ships or more in the Pegasus galaxy, now with so much that has transpired ( Our team taking out a few, the wraith civil war, the asuran-wraith war) approximately how much do you think are still out there and will it be adressed in one the season 5 episodes?”

Answer: We will not cite a specific number but it is strongly inferred the wraith have been greatly weakened by the time season five unfolds.

Belouchi also writes: “2. The season 4 episode harmony makay said that hes been looking for that place for months because it was where the ancients first developed drone technology. Well since the ancients didint go to the pegasus galaxy untill the whole plague thing that would mean that when they left earth, the outpost didint have any drones there and they didn’t develop drone technology until they got to Pegasus. Well if that is indeed true, then why would the ancients make thousands of drones when they got back?”

Answer: I actually answered this question way back after Harmony first aired. The reference was to, specifically, the testing of the mini drones. It wasn’t clear.

Belouchi writes: “3.What ever happened to the other three planets from Weir’s list in the episode Before I slept containing ZPMs?”

Answer: Checked out and came up empty.

Anais33 a ecrit: “S’il vous plait donner moi une adresse où je puisse vous écrire???!!”

Reponse: moorsyum@yahoo.com

Anna writes: “Way back when the network made you change the title of Red Shirt Diaries – was that because it’s similarity to Red Shoe Diaries?”

Answer: The network has never made us change a title. In the case of The Red Shirt Diaries, the story was spun in another direction, sans red shirts and/or diaries, so the script necessitated a title change. It became Prodigal.

78 thoughts on “September 22, 2008: The Black Company and The Return of The Weird Food Purchase of the Day AND the Mailbag

  1. Now you have me concerned…how many sofa cushions have you been eating lately??? Especially ones left out in the sun too long? You might have been let out in the sun too long if you’ve decided to try that stringy looking fishy tasking leathery stuff Fondy brought back with her from Tokyo. It probably was a good thing you had enjoyed the evening prior to taste testing that little item! You boldly go with food where I dare not tread!

  2. Shredded Squid, haven’t tried that before, but now you make me want to. Just out of curiosity have you tried jellyfish salad? Its pretty good.

  3. Joe, you are a fun drunk. You’re slightly more goofy and noticably relaxed inebriated. I loved the little “going down the steps” ala Austin Powers that you did at the beginning. lol “Sofa cusion left out in the sun too long” is probably best eaten *only* when drunk. Sounds like you had a good time at the cast party. Thank you for posting the pictures from it. And I do hope that your speech and maybe even highlights from the party will be included on the Season 6 box set.

  4. wow shredded squid!!

    ive tried raw squid…it tasted like…..i dunno!there was the distinctive fish taste then it felt like i was chewing ice..
    .
    .
    .
    dera Bob i hope it was squid i tried!!!:P

    hope all is well!

    how are your canine sidekicks????

  5. Hey Joe!
    I haven’t been around a lot since school has started a couple of weeks back, school has been kicking my butt. I have two papers due tomorrow! Already! The professors are EVIL! I’ve got one done…almost. I’m screwed aren’t I?

    You didn’t like the shredded squid, I think it’s so good! Hey you should try sour plum juice next. LOL I was laughing throughout the vid, you did look a little tipsy. Are you a “economical date” (as I like to call it) too? Also, thanks for the wrap party pics, I hope everyone has sufficiently recovered from their hangovers.

    Thanks for the entertainment. Also, thanks to the cast and crew for a great 5 years. I know it’s a bit late but it still needs to be said.

  6. Your video today, along with the fact that I had some calamari last night for the first time in many months, reminds me of the first time I had calamari as a kid. We were at a Red Lobster and my brother told me to try these little fried ring things. I asked what they were and he said, “Just try it.” Now, ordinarily I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food. I like to know what I’m eating. But in this instance, I just ate a piece and said, “Yeah, that’s pretty good.” To this, my brother responded, “It’s squid!” like he expected me to spit it out or make a disgusted face or something. I’m afraid my considered “huh” disappointed him terribly.

    As it turns out, I’m more than willing to try different varieties of animal flesh (provided that it consists of the muscle and is not some domesticated animal, like puppy, kitten, or ferret, and preferably is not still in some recognizable form of whatever animal it is), while I remain extremely leery of most vegetables. (Incidentally, the Pacific Northwest is not the best place to get alligator. I doubt it tastes much better fresh, but thousands of miles away from alligator country probably does not provide an optimal experience.)

  7. Your video reminds me of when I got drunk on wine at a sushi place and my friends tricked me into eating squid. It was not a pleasant surprise. lol

  8. aaaaaaaahahah at the sound of glasses and stuff when you turned the camera off! You were drunk 🙂

    You still haven’t tried triple salt licorice yet!

  9. At a tapas bar in Madrid I was tircked by my spanish teachers to try fried calimari. It looked like an onion ring and, while I thought it strange for the tapas bar to have onion rings, I believed my teachers when they affirmed my guess about it being an onion ring. I tried it after completely missing their smirks and shared glances. I quickly realized that what I was eating was not what I expected. It’s not that it tasted bad, but it was like chewing a deep fried rubber band. Which was not pleasant at all.

    Hope all is well with you.

  10. Ok, firstly, sounds like Astrid might be a little tipsy (lol).

    It is about time Fondy chose the wierd food purchase, but I am surprised you know what a sofa cushion left out in the sun too long taste like. Now that makes for an interesting story.

    As for drunk, wow, if that is you drunk, that is good. I was feeling no pain saturday either, but I somehow don’t feel as composed as you look. I always try to make it look like I am not drunk and end up looking more so, go figure.

    Finally, even drunk, I never eat that stuff!

  11. HA! My mother happens to be from Hokkaido — maybe that’s why we grew up with squid jerky? I haven’t had it in years, but I like it, even with its weirdly fishy taste.

  12. Hi Joe — thanks for the wrap party pics, but your WFOTD squid sounded pretty nasty.

    I honestly tried to read the Chronicles of the Black Company, but it was too dark for my taste. I had trouble with the extremely pared down narrative style, and although I understood it was written from a soldier’s laser-focused perspective, it just didn’t “grab” me. At least not in the first 50 pages, which is as far as I got before giving up.

  13. Very busy lately…just some things…

    Alan is like, James Bond, or something. I still swear he’d make one hellava fine-looking Wraith.

    Speaking of which, I guess you’ll never answer any more of my Wraithy questions, so I give up.

    You don’t act any different when you’re drunk – so now I’ll never know when you’re sober, and when you’re not. So, I’ll just assume you’re inebriated – all of the time. 😀

    I’m still waiting to see you tackle the 100-year old egg (my niece is in Hong Kong/Philippines/Bali right now – I could arrange for her to ship you one… 😉 )

    Another spider. Whoopie. I think I scare THEM now.

    Watched Tracker again – and noted a few other things I liked about these Wraith: They didn’t chit chat. It was effective, under the circumstances, made them a bit more ‘vicious’, even if they were sucky as hunters. I loved their longer coats. Saw at least one nice tattoo. They were all terribly attractive. Was it Jeff, Bam Bam or someone else who chased Rodney? Not that you’ll answer that. 😉

    Nice pics from yesterday. Glad it all went well. Thanks, again – to everyone, and thank you, Joe, for sharing the evening with us.

    Went to the zoo yesterday – the tiger pissed on everyone 😆 (not me, I know this tiger well…). As I was looking at his magnificence, all I could think of was Todd…only, Todd doesn’t spray on everyone.

    I hope…

    When can we start asking Tyler questions??

    That’s it. I gotta get back to life now. Had a party tonight, gotta go clean up. Funsies. 😛

    Nite.

    das

  14. Hey Joe!

    Drinking a little bit, were we? I would never ever ever try shredded squid. I like seafood, but I try to stick away from the calamari. 😛

    Glad to hear that Amanda, David, Joe and Rachel made it to the party. Thanks for the update!

    As always,

    – Enzo Aquarius

  15. Loved the pics of the wrap party. Hope you and everyone had a great time. And drinking tends to make anything taste better than it actually is.

  16. 8 charles cooney

    How big is a wraith hive ship compared to a super star destroyer from star wars?

    Well the Super Star Destroyer is estimated at 19 km long according to the Star wars ships of the line Book. Unfortunately, for the Wraith Hive ship length, its not very clear. Since the Hive ship is approximately 13 times longer than the Daedalus from the analysis of the screen cap in the episode Allies; if according to Wikipedia the Daedalus is at 335 meters long it would put the Wraith Hive ship at around 4,355 meters long. But if the Daedalus is 586 meters long according to the Gateworld ships forum discussion it would the Hive-ship at a length of 7.6 km long. Either way its huge but not as huge as the Executer class super star destroyer. I hope this helped, but the real man to answer this is none other than Mr. Mallozzi.

  17. If you think that stuff is weird tasting, you probably should avoid whale jerky. If you want some, though, I’ll see if I can get my relatives in Tuktoyuktuk to send some down…

    -Jock

  18. there’s a reason food (yeah, right) like that shredded shrimp is sold in such large packages. its called packing material.

  19. So Joe,

    I been wondering, has any frequent poster, ever posted a comment on your blog that made you laugh out loud?

    Have you received any good spam lately of the money laundering type? And when will we see a reappearance of Baron Destructo and Cookie Monster?

    What ever happen to the premise you that might add an advice section to your blog hosted by Baron Destructo and Cookie Monster? Inquiring minds would love to know what kind of smarminess has been repressed lately! Bring back the tongue firmly in cheek,,, sarcasm, please! I could use a good chuckle or two!

    Thanks!
    Patricia Lee

  20. Thank you for the party pics, yesterday, Joe. I hope you all had a good time. 🙂

    Got a nice pressie in the mail today — a friend sent me a beautiful bunny quilt. 🙂 My bunny came out into the living room *right* after I laid it out on the back of the couch — and she stopped right in front of the couch, stood up on her hind legs, and *stared* at it for thrity seconds or so. It was kinda creepy! XD Aaaanyway, my friend also sent me some old horror movies and some other DVDs of stuff I’ve wanted to see. ^^ And there was a new Terminator tonight, and 2 eps of Heroes … so why do I feel blue? 🙁

    Oh, I know! Because SGA’s not on at 5 pm est weekdays on Sci fi anymore!! *cries*

    Well, I did a little better on getting the column in this week, at least. Right day, anyway, just evening instead of morning. XD

    http://www.pinkraygun.com/2008/09/22/stargate-atlantis-tracker/

  21. Hi Joe:

    BLACK COMPANY THOUGHTS:

    I am glad I’m not the only one who felt lost at times in the narrative. While I enjoyed the book I felt it was a battle for me to keep focused on what was happening, who was on what side, and where – in general – I was at certain points in time.

    Initially I accepted the writing style of Mr. Cook as a break from the norm I was accustomed to. But what I found I needed was a bit more fleshing out of the history. Who were the Black Company? Who were the Dominator and Lady? What happened to make them the people they were? I would have enjoyed reading a chapter just on the Taken.

    Characterization was good. I like Croaker as our “voice”, and Raven as our “vengeance.” I was sufficiently terrified of The Lady, Limper, Whisper and the rest of the Taken. Come on, who in their right mind would want to work side by side with The Taken?!

    Darling was one of the characters I really wanted more information on right away. I think Raven’s taking her in was a great plot twist and one I wasn’t expecting. By the end of the story, Mr. Cook had me cheering Raven on and actually hoping he wouldn’t come to blows with Croaker and Silent.

    ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS:

    1. Why did you choose not to include more details about the Dominator and the Lady as their rule was the harbinger of the darker times the story is set in?

    2. You seemed to put distance between the reader and the Rebel. By simply naming them that way (eg. the Rebel) I never felt connected to them or their cause. Did you want that? To keep the reader entrenched with the company?

    Thank you for your time. I am reading the second book now.

    Trish in Texas

  22. Ahhh, squid jerky … a ubiquitous Honcho-Dori bar snack. So drunk is a good idea. I love good calamari, emphasis on good, but dried ika? No thanks, I have a pack in the basement pantry that has to be ten years old. I very much doubt it improves with age. I’m not even fond of smoked squid on a stick. If you ever get the chance to try festival street food in Japan, do it. But not the smoked squid, unless you viddy the experience for our enlightenment.

    I always stare at the kitchen cupboards behind you during weird food segments shot in your kitchen. Teapots intrigue me, so I’m always trying to see the ones in the background.

    The good wishes must be helping, my brother is now making his own white blood cells, which means the stem cell transplant took. Yay! Progress. I am doing cautious happy dances.

  23. Hi Joel, I’ve always enjoyed your work on Stargate. I’m curious if you or any of the other PTB considered using the Sam/Jack theme at all during the episode Unending.

  24. Hahahaha, that’s so great! You are a brave soul. I love drunk food but I don’t know about shredded dried squid. Poutine on the other hand though.

    The wrap party looks like a great success. Thank you for the pictures in the last post. The prospect of losing Atlantis still saddens me! But hey, all good things.

  25. Mmm…shredded dried squid! I’m munching on some now — seriously yummy. I like the spicy versions most but the normal ones are also nice as well. And you should go and get some of the really shredded ones, not so touch and much softer to eat.

  26. The alcohol has no doubt affected your taste buds. Or my memories are failing me. This is one of the few weird foods you’ve mentioned I’ve actually had. It used to be a favorite snack food of mine, actually. Pleasant memories…
    And thank you for letting get a look at you in your sartorial glory. Hopefully the repercussions to your cranium were mimimal after your libations of the night. And glad to see both the mail bag and weird foods make an appearance.
    Now, The Black Company. I enjoyed this particular offering, though there was a certain grimness to the novel. The opening chapters are the hardest reading, as I found trying to sort out all the colorfully named characters a bit of a chore at first. But the action unfolded at a satisfying pace, and I found the lack of heavy exposition to be a relief. It was enough to get the tidbits of information and extrapolate as to the kind of world Cook was painting.
    Among the things I enjoyed in the novel. Croaker’s fascination with The Lady, and how he discovered the truth of the axiom “be careful what you wish for”. The internal politics, if you will, of the Taken was something I did wish had been elaborated on more, but after Whisper’s converstion to the ranks of the Taken, I think it’s just as well we are spared too much insight into their internal thinking.
    I also love the sense of decay, of loss, morally and physically the permiates the book. This could be a pessimist’s bible, with each chapter demonstrating more strongly than the last bringing on a stronger sense of increasing entropy. The fact that the characters differ only in degree of depravity makes this work stand out from the more traditional good vs bad tales of teh genre.
    And my favorite aspect of the story was that of Croaker as the Annul keeper for the Company, and his unflinching dedication to that duty, appealed to me in a visceral way. It’s the dominant driving force in Croaker’s existence, even above that of being a physician. I also found the Lady’s appreciation of this part of his character to have influenced my feelings towards her. Even Evil for Evil’s sake can appreciate the value of truth, or at least unvarnished facts.
    My biggest disappointment was probably in the character of Raven. He almost felt like a character visiting from another novel, though he was certainly dark enough a creature through most of the book. Perhaps it was his stereotypical aptitude with his knives, and his too-close-to perfect combat skills. I don’t think the removal of Raven would have skewed the outcome of the plot significantly.
    A few questions for Mr. Cook. First, what was your MOS, and you final rank in the navy before you rejoined the civilian world? How much influence did your military experience play on your developing the Black Company novels? When you did the Black Company, did you at the time see it as a starting point for a series of novels, or is it something you just kept coming back to? If you did see it as a series, how far ahead had you outlined the story arcs when first doing Black Company? Finally, under what conditions do you prefer to work when writing? thank you very much for your time and participation in Mr. Mallozzi’s blog, and thank you also for a great reading experience.
    Mr. Mallozzi, just one question. What’s on your agenda over the next two months, before your well deserved Asian escape? I know you have a script to work on, but I’m curious as to the process you’ll use. Have Fondy lock you in the cellar until you produce a script? Shamelessly harrass Mr. Gero, Mr. Binder, and your writing conferate Mr. Mullie until a story pops out of your skull? Sorry I don’t have the patience to sit back and wait, but I’ve never considered patience to be a virtue anyways. thanks for all the work and time you put in here, that you might otherwise be using to read even more books…

  27. “Thank God I’m drunk”
    Hehehehehehe I’m so glad the Weird Food is back!!!!
    Again, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but you’re hilarious and this blog always brightens my day, so thanks =)

  28. Belouchi wrote:

    Unfortunately, for the Wraith Hive ship length, its not very clear.

    Martin Wood said in a commentary that a Hive ship is a kilometer long.

    Anne Teldy

  29. The Black Company

    Mr. M wrote:

    The first person narrative has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it allows for a sense of familiarity that immediately immerses the reader in the story; on the other hand, it can be confusing at times as this familiarity also assumes an awareness of certain background elements, forcing the reader to play catch-up through-out. But while challenging at first, the task becomes less difficult as events progress and pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Cook’s narrative style is straightforward and concise (to be expected from a member of this sordid troop), devoid of endlessly detailed descriptions about the local fauna or the scents and sounds of the surrounding countryside.

    I spent the weekend trying to put together words to describe my feelings about the first person narrative, the confusion it engendered, and the blessed lack of “detailed descriptions about the local fauna or the scents and sounds of the surrounding countryside” and came up with nothing. You stated beautifully what I was thinking. I honestly don’t know why I bother trying!

    Mr. M also wrote:

    The Black Company is dark, military fantasy that punctuates descriptions of the soldiers’ downtime with sudden, grisly accounts of battle. Given what I’ve heard of real life combat experiences, this is an accurate reflection of what soldiers endure – the long waits and then the sporadic bursts of violence.

    This is why I had so much trouble with the book. Too many battle descriptions. And then there was this:

    The Captain agreed reluctantly. He just does not have much stomach for plunder and rape, much as they are part of our business. I think he is a secret romantic, at least when females are involved.

    I tried to soften his mood. “They asked for it, taking up arms.” (chapter 4, p.101)

    It upsets me greatly when educated people take such an attitude and say “They asked for it” when women are raped. I try to tell myself Mr. Cook was simply being realistic as to how such a band of men would have behaved — which is bad enough — but then he had Croaker agree with it. It certainly jarred me out of the story and made it very difficult to keep reading.

    Mr. M also wrote:

    I thought the story would have really benefited from some insight into the cultural, socio-political or economic backdrop of the land they were fighting over

    I agree completely. I think KaziWren is spot on in suggesting some backstory for the Lady, the Dominator, and the Taken.

    So Mr. M, are you going to read the rest of the Chronicles of the Black Company If yes, because you’re interested or just because you have them handy?

    Anne Teldy (Thanks again, skgraff!)

  30. Joe are you going to set up a thrust for further episodes? as you would for season six would scifi let you do a couple episodes instead of what is planned? will twins make the playoffs?

  31. Hey Joe,

    I haven’t finished The Black Company. I’m not sure if I will. The book had my interest, but the macabre storyline doesn’t sit well with me.

    As with a lot of people my age, my Grandparents and Great-Grandparents were in the World Wars. My Grandfather kept journals. I read them. I don’t watch war movies and I don’t like reading about them either. I’ve read first-hand how horrible it was, to read more will not increase it’s effect on me. It will already be everlasting on my psyche.

    As a side note, amongst all of the horror that my Grandfather saw, he made friends with a number of “enemy”. A few flew out to Australia for his funeral.

    To see that even in the worst of times friendships could be formed, differences put aside, it makes me wonder how these same people would feel seeing their Grandchildren who have settled in their new country hating other countrymen because of incidents in their home countries all of those years ago.

    The squid must have been reeeeeeally bad, because usually everything tastes great after a few too many drinks.

    The tux suits you. Very dapper. Did it require any special adjustments for getting it on?

    Have a good night.
    Hope the meeting with your agent went well.

  32. Dude! Whatever you do, you so do not want to boil that stuff to reconstitute it! It may not be quite as bad as the cuttle fish they use like that in Korea, that stuff is enough to make your sinuses crawl down into your freakin’ toes to get the hell away from the stench. Great googley moogley I remember coming home to the NCO billets from pulling duty when I was stationed in Korea and opened the front door, only to be knocked back on my ass by the utterly overwhelming, nearly visible miasma rolling out of the place. We went in and opened every door and every window, but it was still horrendous. We were finally able to track the source of the stench to the room that the house Ajima used as her office/kitchen/workroom, where she was boiling some dried cuttle fish to reconstitute it. Needless to say, we took a sizable collection of money from all of the NCOs in the barracks and paid her not to ever, under any circumstance, bring that stuff into NCO billets again. It took over a week to get rid of the stench and I had to wash all of my BDUs and civvies twice, as well as my bedding. My poor pillow was also trashed because of the smell and I had to buy a new one. Seriously man, they could use that stuff as a chemical agent. *shudders and gags at the memory, even after 10 years*

    As a hangover cure, I can imagine that stuff would work pretty well, since anything already in your system would want to find the very most expedient way out. *shudders* Yucckkko!!! I really hope you’re feeling better soon. *hands you the ice pack and dark sun glasses*

  33. @14 Charlie’s Angel

    The Black Company Books are extremely dark and not for everyone. The carnage and body count is staggering, even just in the 1st book. Which doesn’t have really large scale battles.
    >
    >
    >
    @ 25 KaziWren

    Most of your questions will be answer in the later chronicles of the Black Company. Be warn, they dribble out at a maddening slow pace for most readers. It’s like reading first half of the Two Towers in the Lord of the Rings trilogy without the preceding and afterward materials.

    for your 1st question. See above.

    for .your 2nd question. You are not suppose to connect with Northern rebels in the first book. For the simple reason that the Black Company have so little dealings with them other than to smite them. Also see above.

    To really enjoy the early Black Company books. You should read all four (The Black Company, Shadow Lingers, The White Rose & The Silver Spike) and you should have most of the answers to your questions. I see the 4 books as one huge novel broken up for publishing reasons.
    >
    >
    >
    @Mr M

    What exactly does the shoulder patch on Amanda’s costume on the 19th represents. Moonbase Command perhaps. Or must we wait until the final episode to find out.

    You should ask Mr Cook if your role as showrunner strangely matches Croaker’s tasks and responsibilities. Is the Company Annalist seems similar to being a TV series showrunner. Heck you even look like some of description of Croaker in the later books. Hehe, could just imagine you dress up as the living embodiment of Croaker in plate mail armour waving a black sword.

    Got to go through my old copy of The Black Company for few issues for Mr Cook to enlighten upon.

    What’s so weird about shredded squid. But you not suppose to eat them raw. Glad to see TWFPOTD is back.

  34. Ohhh, I’ve missed WFPotD! Yes, thank God you were drunk. It might explain why you said it tasted like sofa cushion that had been left out in the sun too long. Have you been nibbling on abandoned sofa’s in you spare time?

    I swear, my comments get crazier every day.

    maggiemayday I am glad that it seems your brother is making progress =]

  35. *waves*

    Hiya just want to say thanks for the tummy pics, and I’m glad everyone had a great time at the wrap party. It all just seems so final now. 🙁 I’m still pissed off that it SGA got cancelled, but thanks for sharing what must have been a great night.

    Once again, best wishes and all the best. Oh meant to say that I really enjoyed the Tracker an it was refreshing to see some pretty good CPR techniques from Jewel, and I loved that she went as far as she did for her patient. So please pass on my thanks to Carl and Jewel for a good performance. Only one critique, not enough Shep or Teyla. :LOL: did you film many of the eps concurrently, just do I can brace myself.

    *hugs*

  36. I find those things not too bad…kind of like a fishy beef jerky! Especially the spicier kind! yum!

  37. Joe would you rather do a couple episodes instead of the movie? i d buy more two episode dvds

  38. Hi again Mr M!

    Love the WFPOTD!! Great vid…particularly time frame : 38 seconds….This is where I went…Mmmmm…perhaps one glass of wine too many? Or even champagne? In any case, well deserved after 5 years of fab SGA!

    Thanks again for all the photos!

    And finally…Ivon Bartok…Is that you posting a comment? What other famous person in the Stargate World posts here?

    Shirt’n’Tie

  39. What impresses me most about your Wierd Food Purchase of the Day clips is that you have yet to react so violently to something that you have to spit it out right away.

    Shredded squid. That would make me spit it out.

  40. 25 KaziWren wrote

    …” I was sufficiently terrified of The Lady, Limper, Whisper and the rest of the Taken. Come on, who in their right mind would want to work side by side with The Taken?!…

    Well, you want to be one of the ones being chase down and disposed off by the Taken? It’s much better to be the chaser than the chasee. Besides the The Black Company don’t have a choice, they have to honour their contract with the Lady.

  41. Will the Atlantis movie wrap up the wraith storyline?When will the members of the production who were at Vegas be finished with their filming?

  42. @ Joe – I had this wild idea: What if the Wraith accept the gene therapy, learn to survive on normal food, but need far MORE food than humans require, and turn into locusts, eating everything in sight, and thus remaining a plague in the galaxy? Kinda like an entire race of Rodney McKays, or something.

    @ WK – RE: Yesterday’s post – whoa, you posted our entire discussion? JM will think we’re totally nuts. Well, more nuts than before. I like to believe that what I say at Gateworld is never seen by anyone other than my fellow geeks and OCDers. But now… 😉

    @ Sulienn & A Honshuu – Aaawwww…come on, now. Sheppard…and McKay????! This is Sci Fi. This is formulistic tv. This is a family show!

    Besides, we all know Sheppard wants Todd. BAD. So bad, he can taste it. heh. I mean, did you see how Shep agreed with Larrin about the gift of life feeling ‘kinda good’?? I swear, if that wasn’t an ‘I got drunk once in college and woke up in bed with my roommate…it wasn’t so bad’ confession-type expression, I don’t know what is. On top of that, remember how he talked Wallace into being Todd’s din-din in Miller’s Crossing? Geez! Talk about living vicariously through another! Did you see Sheppard’s expression afterwards? He felt soooo dirty, and yet…so very good. Poor man has it really bad for the lean, green feeding machine.

    And then there was The Queen. Oh my, it was right out of a Jane Austen novel! The smitten Mr. Darcy…I mean…Sheppard… strolling side-by-side with his beloved, complimenting him on his decorating, making smiley eyes back at him across the table?? And don’t forget John’s line, “I could stop waiting for the chance to kill you.” Obviously, in the original draft, the line was “I could stop waiting for a chance to KISS you”, but it was considered too risqué for a nice family show.

    Todd. The women want him, the men want him, the queens want him…who next??! Ronon?? Or is that a given already? I don’t know about anyone else, but when Ronon confronted Todd in The Queen, the tension was so strong I yelled at the screen, “Would you two just get a room already!”

    Poor Todd…he’s just too sexy…*cue the music*

    I’m too sexy for my hive, too sexy for my hive…
    Hive’s going to leave me.
    I’m too sexy for my coat, too sexy for my coat…
    So sexy it hurts.
    And I’m too sexy for Lor-ne, too sexy for Lor-ne…
    Teyla and Ronon.
    And I’m too sexy for your jumper, too sexy for your jumper…
    No way I’m flying with you.

    I’m a model, you know what I mean…
    And I do my little turn on the catwalk.
    Yeah on the catwalk, on the catwalk, yeah…
    I shake my little tush on the catwalk.

    I’m too sexy for my dart, too sexy for my dart…
    So sexy, so smart.
    And I’m too sexy for my hair, too sexy for my hair,
    Yeah, too sexy to care.
    I’m too sexy for my queen, too sexy for my queen
    Poor lonely, poor lonely queen.
    I’m too sexy for my hive, too sexy for my hive…
    Hive’s going to leave me.

    And I’m too sexy for this show.

    *sigh*

    I may have posted that before…but after The Queen, it just seems so appropriate to post again…ESPECIALLY since I’m trying to keep my spirits up, seeing as how we have a coastal storm – with wind and rain – due to hit FRIDAY. Every Friday, usually when Wraith-based episodes air, my satellite signal has been screwing up. This sucks SO bad, and not in a good, Wraithy way, either. Guh.

    das

  43. Coucou Joseph!! sa va ??
    Merci pour cette video je suis contente de vous revoir♥

    ….oh, je parler pas d’adresse email, vous devez être au courant que je veux une adresse Postal pour vous envoyer votre carte d’anniversaire…mais la il faut ce dépécher car le 16 ce rapproche, en sa met au moin 2 a 3 semaine je pense, de plus la poste francaise fait beaucoup de gréve en ce moment =(!
    Bon on va faire un truc OK?
    Je vous pose la question sur moorsyum@yahoo.com
    Et cette fois répondez moi =D

    Merci quand même d’avoir répondu a ma question et désoler de ne pas avoir présicer qu’il s’agissé d’un adresse postal.

    Bisou! je vous adore♥

  44. Hilarious Weird Food Purchase installment. Thank God I’m drunk, lol. I totally agree with the decision to put forward only the best and most relevant pics from any given photo-session. It just brings the whole post down when bad pictures sit at the top.

    On the Black Company: This was my first journey back into BOTM Club after a brief hiatus (moving across country and new jobs will do that). The first-person narration did put me off at the beginning, but like you said the pace and story pick up quickly.

    All in all I’m not a big fan of the war novel genre, but done through the auspices of fantasy it did seem much more enjoyable. I typically have some basic expectations when I pick up fantasy novels (creatures, magic, etc.).

    Thanks for another great BOTM selection!

  45. Afternoon, Joe

    Re: the shredded squid.. Ick. I tried calamari once and decided thereafter that anything with more than four legs/tentacles/limbs, was definately *off* my dinner plate. I am curious to hear more on the experiences with chewing on sun-lounged sofa cushions.. I would assume that’s a bit like dreaming of marshmellows and waking up to find your pillow gone?

    Soo.. a revelation hit me at 07:00 this morning. That was shortly after reading about the unfortunate romp of an african couple on busy train tracks (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7629433.stm) and just before wincing at you eating the leathery squid. SG1 weren’t the first ones to step through the Stargate. T’was Mr Ben and his ‘magic portal’.

    http://www.toonhound.com/mrbenn.htm

    Can’t remember exactly *why* I was thinking of the little man at such an unearthly hour of the morning, but I was. I am glad that I don’t do breakfast, however. After watching you mamf your way through that squid, my gums felt like bleeding in protest. Think i’m gonna start saving the vids until later on in the day and for a time where i’m more awake. I can do without the early morning traumas to the mind and stomach.

    Oh.. splendidly dressed by the way. I’d dare say ‘shiny’, but I might get my ear cuffed for the privillege.

  46. This is Joe. This is Joe drunk. This is Joe drunk eating dried squid. This is Joe drunk eating dried squid comparing it to sofa cushions that have been left out in the sun too long.

    I so wanna party with you.

  47. Bon je vais faire mes devoirs.

    Je prie pour que vous répondiez à mon email car je voudrais bien envoyer la carte demain.

    bisou, je vous adore!
    A demain♥

  48. *waves*

    Tummy pics??? Fraudian slip? Or too fat fingers for my new iPhone lol.

    Oops!! Ah well maybe I was thinking of JF, and it slipped out. 😉

  49. Joe, my 3rd grade son suddenly started wearing a watch to school this week. I wondered why, since he doesn’t care about being on time. (Much.)

    Turns out he and his friends are running around the playground pretending to have teleportation devices like they saw in “Tracker”.

    Thought that was pretty funny…

    Doubt anyone will have to convince them to turn on Stargate Universe when it arrives.

  50. Joe,
    In your comments about “The Blade Itself” you wrote about the characters:

    Sure, they’re reprehensible in some respects, and yet they all possess a humanity (one might even say vulnerability) that makes them sympathetic

    This statement and another you made about how Abercrombie’s book (and Lynch’s) completely changed your expectations of fantasy brought Glen Cook’s Black Company books to my mind immediately back in May. I’ve read many fantasy books over the years and was starting to get bored with them. Then a good friend loaned me his copy of the first Black Company book. I was blown away.

    My enthusiasm may have been influenced by my excitement that this book was completely unlike any other fantasy I’d read. I loved (though ‘love’ with this dark series is a relative term, I guess) the hard realism of this fantasy novel. The characters all reside in a grey moral and ethical area. No grand quests, no clearly marked ‘good’ to root for and no clearly marked ‘evil.’ The two reside together in most persons in varying balances. The motivations are unclear, actions taken have dire consequences, lots of less than admirable qualities live alongside the more revolting ones and those not on the inside don’t know who to trust. THis kind of story was altogether new for me

    Cook’s spare writing also flies in the face of fantasy convention.

    JM said: (I thought the story would have really benefited from some insight into the cultural, socio-political or economic backdrop of the land they were fighting over),

    Do you think this would have made the current situation more understandable or the characters more sympathetic? I need to think about that some more; my first reaction is that I don’t think that kind of detail was essential to the basic tale being told. Partly i think in a tale this dark, you have to stay tightly focused on closer issues at hand so that the reader doesn’t get detached from or lose sight of the narrator. Also, providing that larger backdrop might have interfered with the rhythm and pace of the story. Cook’s adept enough he could have done it, but I’d hate to have a “As you know, Bob” series of moments to give the bigger picture (and would you as a reader want to linger longer in this world so you could get that information?)

    Joe, Going back to your quote that I put above: Did you find anything sympathetic or redeemable or engaging about any of the characters in this book?

    Having said all this, I will confess that the given the darkness of this book and its sequels, I haven’t ever returned to them to re-read for pleasure. I admire the craft, the unqiueness, the style, but I can’t re-read these kinds of tales again. I’ll read new ones with a similar vein, like Abercrombie’s (I liked Cook’s tale more), but even those I’ll not read again.

    To Glen Cook: You’ve written a few series over the years. Do you have a world that you prefer to write in? Do you get bored with your characters the further in you get? If you do get bored or annoyed with them, how do you adjust your approach to them? Have you ever looked at your older books and thought about what you would have done differently in them?

  51. Only me again. 😆 I can finally watch the vid… don’t know why you can’t on these high tech stupid phones, but anyway, you actually look pretty good for someone who’s pissed. And coherent!! 😆

    I had squid the other day thought i’d try it out since I don’t mind fish food, but OMG did you know you had to eat the squid with the tentacles still on?! It’s like eating fish eyes…eeeeew or the head of the fish when you’re eating white bait. It’s just wrong. 😆

  52. Me revoila Joseph =)
    Juste avant d’aller au lit, je voudrais vous dire MERCI =D

    c’est trés gentil de m’avoir répondu!!
    l’adresse est marquer sur la carte et je la poste demain!! Je rêve quel arrive le 16^^!

    En tout cas sa ma fait trop plaisir que vous me répondiez!!

    Merci encore!! Bisou!!
    A demain! JE VOUS ADORE!

  53. When SGU goes into production will all the SG1 AND SGA crew members be there or will it be a much smaller crew?

  54. OMG, that wierd food purchase brought back memories. I had a friend in high school who was oriental, she always brought in this package of dried squid or fried squid, from what I remember hers was crispier looking, stunk up the whole classroom for the rest of the day.

    I wonder what happened to her..

    Hope your hangover wasn’t to bad. The party looked like fun, thanks for the photos. My husband did the same thing writting a speech for a nursing graduation. At the last minute in the car before delivering the speech he scribbled something out and gave an awesome memorable speech. Sometimes our best work comes to us when we aren’t thinking it to death.

  55. Re: The Black Company

    I was both excited and trepidatious about the selection of this book for the BOTM. I had read the book 20 years ago and had really liked it. However, I have found that my tastes have changed somewhat in the last 20 years, and what I liked as an 18 year old, sometimes seems silly or lame to my 38 year old self. Thankfully, this was not one of those times. I still enjoyed the book, but noticed that my perspective had definitely changed. I think the first time I read the book I was seeing the world as much more black and white, whereas now, with age, I am much more aware of the various shades of grey. This book definitely deals in shades of grey. There are no “white hat” hero-types in the world of the Black Company. Even the rebels are presented as being as power-hungry and ruthless as the Lady and the Taken. I think I accepted this more with my more “mature” perspective this time around and had an easier time relating to the characters and understanding the choices they made. I like the fact that the story is dark and gritty and that the “hero” isn’t a noble man on a noble quest to save the world. This is a much more intimate story. As to Joe’s comment about the lack of information on the land they were fighting over; I don’t think that would have felt right to include that, given that this story was being told by a mercenary who was used to going from one job to another. It gives you the feeling that those kinds of details aren’t important to the job at hand, and thus aren’t important enough to be included in the Annals. To me this lends a sense of realism to the story.

    I know others have expressed a wish to know more about the back-story of the Lady and the Taken, and that is covered in the later books. I would definitely recommend reading the other books in the story, as they provide more back-story to characters and further examine the shades of grey ideas; especially regarding the varying degrees of evil represented by the Taken, the Lady, and the Dominator.

    Questions for Mr. Cook:

    1) Did you have a story line for the entire Black Company series in mind when you started writing, or did you “make it up as you went along”?

    2) I’ve read that you based the character of Croaker on yourself. How much similarity is there between you?

    3) There has been a lot made about the fact that the Black Company series is so dark and gritty. Are you more interested in “less than perfect” characters or would you ever write noble-hero-on-a-noble-quest-to-save-the-world type book?

    4) What make a book interesting to you?

  56. Hey Joe!

    I’ve been busy… Ugh. I hate being so busy. Jeremy and I are going to NYC on Thursday and I can’t seem to catch up on life since Dragon*Con and my baby sis’s wedding.

    Anyway… GREAT pics and stories about the 5 year/series wrap party. Everyone looked fantastic. It sounds like it was fun. It makes me sad, though. *sigh*

    So you ate shredded squid… *cringe* That’s something Allie would eat and LOVE. My wish would be to have you and Allie in a WFP eating contest. I have a feeling my little girl would take you down! 😀 And she’d do it sober. 😉

    Horray for mailbag! Boo that I was too busy to post anything.

    My questions for Joel Goldsmith: Thanks for guest blogging! I love your music. It’s on my cell phone. How did you get into composing? What did you study as a child, musically? How many instruments can you play? Both my girls take piano lessons. Their teacher is heavy with the music theory and composition. I’m not sure if either of my girls will grow up to be composers. I would love any advice you have to share with them. How did you land your job for composing music on Call of Duty 3?

    I have so many more questions but I will end it here. Thanks so much for answering our questions! I am sure I will be hearing your work in future shows, movies, and games.

    Trish 😀

  57. @maggiemayday: I wanted to express my well-wishes for your brother. ((((Hugs))) to you and your family, too. It seems the last four years have been insane for me and my family. Many deaths and freaky things have happened. I’ve lost three of my grandparents. The last one is on her way out. Plus my aunt’s house was beaten badly by Hurricane Charlie. The day after Thanksgiving my aunt died from brain cancer. The next day after that I found out one of my closest friends has kidney cancer. I’m thrilled to say she’s beating the odds like I knew she could! She’s been cancer free for almost a year now. There is seriously so much other crazy stuff that my family and I have been through. Life is hard! I just want you to know that I am thinking of you and your brother often. I’m so glad you’ve had Burning Man to keep you sane. I’ve discovered sci-fi cons and David’s squirrels do that for me. I’m so glad your brother is doing better. He will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

    Trish

  58. Hi Joe,

    for someone who said he was drunk – you were remarkable coherant!!

    dried squid – YUK; Wrap party outfit – YUM!!

    —————————————–

    Susanthetartanturtle said Not sure if I have already posted this – funny clip.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGJxOnE5CrU

    This clip has amused me so much I just had to pass it on.

    Susan

    John Clark (the man being ‘interviewed’) is a FANTASTIC NZ comedian, who sadly, now lives in Australia. But to watch 30 minutes of his comedic talent, and your ribs would almost break from laughing so much. Thanks for posting the clip.

  59. Am I too late for questions for Joel:

    1. Have you completed the Universe theme? What can we expect?

    2. In your opinion what makes a successful score? What are your favourites?

    3. How different was it composing for Atlantis as opposed to SG1?

    4. How do you feel about the trend for shorter opening credits?

    5. What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies?

    Cheers, Chev

  60. Mr. Mallozzi,

    The Black Company series by Glen Cook sounds interesting. I have ordered the first book in the series to check it out. It’s always good to find a new author to read!

  61. I’ve had shredded dried squid before; I love Japanese food actually, but I always find this type of “junk food”, which I suppose is our equivalents to potato chips, a little too salty or too “beany” tasting. Japan and Korea make many pastries with bean paste, which are aesthetically beautiful to look at, but taste a little chalky to me. My favourite Japanese dessert is red-bean rice cream and eel flakes.

    WK

  62. susanthetartanturtle
    I’m intrigued how you came across that You Tube vid of John Clark.

    I listen to Ross Stevenson and John Burns on morning radio. John Clark and Ross Stevenson team up to make mockumentaries every now and then.
    They are like a Yes Minister and Monty Python morph.
    Great laughs but you really have to listen hard!

  63. Regarding The Black Company, the one thing I’d disagree with you about, Joe, was that it was a quick read. The faithful adherence to Croaker’s POV meant we had to jump on the moving train, so to speak. There was no mercy granted for we newcomers. 🙂 The short sentences and the use of adjectives for character names made me have to really concentrate on each sentence. So, in summary, I didn’t finish in time. What I did read was atypical and cleverly done, if a bit dark for my escapists tastes.

    How is filming going in Las Vegas? I would be stalking the production but I was there 2 weeks too early. 🙂

  64. @ wolfenm – Killer bunny? 😉 I hate it when my cats stare into another (supposedly empty) room…all alert…like somebody’s there. Usually it’s just a bug. 🙄

    @ maggiemayday – Encouraging to hear about your brother. You both continue in my thoughts and prayers.

    @ lindagagne – I wish I had such an excuse. But, alas…I’m just like this by nature, and usually worse after a good night’s sleep…or, not enough sleep. The Shep/Todd thing – that was after a good night’s sleep. The first thing I posted – that was not enough sleep (and only high on apple pie and ice cream).

    @ Trish – Wow. You too? *hugs*

    @ All the shredded squid lovers out there – BLECH!!!! 😛

    Lived all my life at the seashore, and I do NOT like seafood. I can handle fresh fish (the really fresh ones I slap! 😀 ), but hate shrimp, and crabs and things like that, especially boogers on a half-shell. *shudder*

    Some things should just be left under water – like bottom feeders, and mob informants.

    das

  65. This will have to be a quick comment, I haven’t got a lot of time to expound.

    I was at a serious disadvantage reading this book as the only free time I have had to read in the last month was on the bus. Much of the appeal of this book is lost when read in fifteen minute chunks. It makes keeping track of the characters difficult and amplifies some the the confusion issues ten fold. As a result some of my comments are skewed.

    I did love the shades of dark in this book. As may be apparent from my comments in the past, my inner evil side just soaks up this sort of thing. I found the commentary on the nature of evil to be the strongest part of this book and really kept me invested in the story. The apathy of Croaker to the actions of his fellow soldiers made him very real for me. The constant hurry-up-and-wait nature of the narrative made it more tangible and easier to stick with the book.

    As a side note I was intrigued by Croaker’s fantasies of the Lady. It seemed like he was trying to rationalize his service of her into some pretty easily-digestible package. I loved that in the end he was disappointed.

    The disadvantage of reading a few pages at a time exacerbated my biggest complaint which is that I found it incredibly difficult to keep track of all the characters. Several of the Black Company only show up peripherally at the beginning and end of the book. I knew that I had heard the names before, but I couldn’t remember why they were important. I had a similar issue with the Taken that were introduced at the end, and found it difficult to keep them strait (i.e. who was in league with the Soulcatcher and who was loyal to the Lady).

    The other complaint is more of a personal preference. I’m not a big fan of large scale written battle descriptions. I think those are best described in a visual media, like those rectangles on CGI fields they have on the History Channel. Its easier for me to follow the action.

    Overall the book was pretty good. I think it might have been really good if I’d had more time to put into it.

    Unfortunately I can only think of one question for Mr. Cook.

    Q: I saw Croaker’s fantasies of the Lady as a means of validating his actions. Do you find that this sort of romanticizing is common among soldiers? Was this something you found yourself doing while you were in the service?

  66. awesome. thank you for answering my question because I really have been wondering (as odd as that may seem).

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